Do You Remember CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries/Churches? The Media Does and Needs Your Help


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“The truth is, we all face hardships of some kind, and you never know the struggles a person is going through. Behind every smile, there’s a story of a personal struggle”. Adrienne C. Moore

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Few people will forget Rachel Denhollander’s testimony at the trial of Larry Nasser. Some others were startled (and gratified) when she brought up her concerns about Sovereign Grace Ministries (Churches.) CJ Mahaney withdrew from the T4G conference (once again) but I predict he will be back again just like before. Quite a game going on here….

It appears that some from the media are still interested in the stories of the victims of this ministry. Remember, I believe the victims and so I call them victims. At the same time, some people are pretty self assured that all is well. Breaking at #T4G18: Mickey Connolly, Sovereign Grace, Tells Protestor, Deana Homes, “There Will Not Be an Investigation of Sovereign Grace Churches”

I was startled to receive this contact. I had given up on the whole SGM/Mahaney thing and it broke my heart for the victims who were left hanging. It looks like Someone is not finished with this story…

I spoke with the author of the following letter. I believe she is a safe and honest person. She is willing to keep your identities a secret if you so desire. If you feel unsure, contact me so I can reassure you.

After the letter, I’ve posted a link to the SGM/Mahaney story in the Washingtonian and have reprinted, in its entirety, Wallace’s Testimony for those of you who are curious about the stories of the victims.

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Hi guys,

I’m a fact-checker working with a writer on a forthcoming feature regarding the sexual abuse scandal and allegations concerning Sovereign Grace Ministries.

We are hoping to bolster the story by speaking with as many survivors as possible who have first-hand experience with CJ Mahaney and attempts (successful and otherwise) to discourage you from contacting authorities to report abuse. These stories are all on background, meaning they will be used as back-up to support stories of individuals who have agreed to go on-the-record.

I can share the name of the writer and the outlet once I’m in contact with you. We’d like to keep those details private until publication. Please rest assured that your privacy won’t be breached and your story will be kept between us. We are working very hard to produce an article with solidly-sourced and second-sourced details, so thank you in advance for your consideration.

I can be reached at:

elkins.hilary@gmail.com

or

919-593-1383.

I’d love to hear from anyone interested by Friday. Don’t hesitate with questions and I appreciate your help.

Best,
Hilary Elkins

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For those of you who found this blog after CJ Mahaney sought solace in the new and improved Southern Baptist Convention, (those New Calvinist sure love him) here are two stories to get you caught up to speed.

1. The Sex-Abuse Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch: Inside the rise and fall of Sovereign Grace Ministries by Tiffany Stanley. link

2. Wallace’s Testimony

(originally posted in The Gospel Coalition: CJ Mahaney Is Adored While Pain Continues in Sovereign Grace Ministries)

Wallace’s story is important. Not only did the family report this to the police, they had a followup with CJ Mahaney himself who appeared to be quite confused about the meaning of a subpoena. We have posted this story a few times and have reposted it here for your convenience.
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To blog critics and all others who assert that bringing these issues to the light somehow undermines or weakens the cause of Christ, we would say the behavior of some in the leadership of Sovereign Grace Ministries does far more damage to victims of abuse and to a watching world.

We share our story with the hope that those with similar experiences will be encouraged to write their own and bring it to the light.

My wife posted numerous times on the Survivor blog under the name “Happymom.”

We left the SGM Fairfax church in May 2007 because of the overbearing emphasis on personal sin and the cross.

During 12 years as members of the Fairfax church, two of our children were sexually molested by two different people who attended the church. The molestations did not occur on church property. We had completely forgiven the perpetrators. However, the subsequent mental and spiritual anguish we endured both times in dealing with members of the Fairfax staff motivate us to write and “tell it to the church.”

Here is a brief description of how Fairfax has in the past typically handled sex abuse issues in their church. This depiction can be affirmed by numerous former members who have had similar experiences. The perpetrator of a sex crime and his family were brought under the care of a pastor. This would involve counseling, accountability sessions and possible minor restrictions regarding movement in the church during services. People “at risk” were not notified. The victim and victim’s family, however, were usually confronted with opposition from leadership by minimizing and/or invalidating particular aspects of the victim’s story.

In 1998, we discovered our child; (child-A) had been molested by a young man attending the Fairfax church. We did not press charges and regretted this later on. The father of the young man was initially uncooperative in dealing with the situation until Steve Shank stepped in to handle it. This took place during the time frame Benny Phillips was stepping down from leadership. Steve Shank addressed our sin and asked the young man to apologize.

We forgave him; however, with minor restrictions imposed by the staff, he continued to intimidate our child during Sunday services to the point where our child was fearful of going to church. The pastors involved had little to say concerning this as it didn’t appear to be a priority for them.

In October 2007, we discovered that child-B had been molested. The molestation occurred 5 years earlier. Our child revealed to us what had happened only after being hospitalized 7 days for cutting and suicidal thoughts. We eventually found out through our child’s counseling sessions that fear and shame were the two main elements for not telling us about this sooner. Cutting was our child’s way of dealing with misguided guilt and self-loathing.

We then contacted the Police Department and pressed charges. The detective assigned to the case came to the house and listened to our child’s story. The young man confessed the crime to pastor SW (CJ’s son-in-law).

We were given the impression that pastor DH had also heard the confession. Two and a half years later in March 2010, we were told he did not hear the confession. Pastor LG (our brother-in-law) was also in the loop as we had asked him to supply information requested by the detective, but no information was given. Pastor LG said to me, “Have them send the request to us in writing.” The detective told us later on that Fairfax had been “uncooperative” in the investigation…. a fact they later denied.

During the investigation, pastor DH told us they “had a dilemma” because they were caring for the young man and his family. There was no visible concern shown during this time for our child by the staff including our brother-in-law and his family. No inquiring phone calls or emails. Our child had just been discharged from the hospital. When you leave an SGM church for disagreeing with or challenging leadership in any way, all relationships you once had there are severed.

Sometime during the following months, my wife noticed her sister, (wife of pastor LG) not speaking about anything associated with our child’s legal case. She would consistently change the subject when our child was mentioned. This led to a meeting we initiated with pastor LG in January 2008. As no other logical explanation for the silence could be seen, we asked him 3 times if he had advised his wife not to discuss with her sister our child’s case. Three times he answered “No”. We were told in a future meeting by pastor VH that pastor LG was, in fact, legally instructed to inform his wife not to discuss the case with her sister for two days so that the police could complete their investigation. When this was brought up to the leadership, our questions were ignored. Pastor LG lied to us and was not held accountable.

As a result of our own research, we became aware of the fact that pastor LG’s wife was not covered under Virginia’s clergy privilege statute. According to the legal process, she could have been liable for any information she had regarding the case, and therefore could have been called to testify in court on our child’s behalf. Pastor LG (our child’s uncle) put great effort into avoiding this possibility. The truth is that this scenario presented a conflict of interest to pastor LG and members of the Fairfax staff as they were caring for the young man and his family, as pastor DH had mentioned. Exactly why this presented a conflict is a mystery.

The trial took place in March 2008. Prior to the trial, not knowing how the young man would plead, we asked pastor DH to come with pastor SW ready to give testimony on our child’s behalf, if needed. Pastor DH made it known to us that they were not coming to the courthouse. I explained to him if the young man pleaded not guilty, our child would then have to get up in front of the court and reveal the entire ordeal, along with answering questions from the attorneys. It didn’t matter; they still weren’t coming. His response to us was: “I have my church’s reputation to consider.” Not sure what pastor DH meant by this statement. In a future meeting with the Fairfax pastors, he claimed not remembering making the “church’s reputation” statement and had no recollection of emphasizing the fact that he wasn’t coming to the courthouse.

I called the detective and asked her to issue a subpoena for both pastors to appear in court. Fairfax would later claim there was no need for us to request a subpoena because one had been issued months before. It wouldn’t have made any difference if we knew this information or not. Pastor DH expressed to us they weren’t coming. They also stated in a future meeting they knew the young man would plead guilty; therefore, coming to the courthouse wasn’t necessary. In reality, there was no way of knowing how he would plead. Nevertheless, it was put back on us.

Pastor’s DH and SW were at the courthouse for the trial. Pastor LG came a few minutes before the trial and left. His wife did not come. She also didn’t make any attempts to call her sister during the days leading up to the trial. My wife was abandoned by her family. The young man pleaded guilty to a felony.…. Our child did not have to get up and speak to the court.

A short time after the trial, my wife attempted to communicate to her sister the hurt, frustration and lack of care she experienced from her sister and family, and it was put back on my wife.

What followed during the next two years included a series of meetings, phone calls and emails involving Fairfax and Covenant Life leadership, two mediators, and an SGM pastor from South Carolina.

In December 2008, our child (child-A), now 18 at the time, was greatly affected by Noel’s story after reading it on the blogs. Our adult child contacted CJ Mahaney and asked him what SGM had to say about this. Not sure what the response was, however, our adult child also described to CJ what our family had endured from the Fairfax staff and as a result a meeting was arranged.

We met with CJ and he listened to our story. He was grieved by our experience and asked permission to contact the Fairfax staff. We asked him if he had any knowledge of our story. He said he did not. Over the next few weeks we received emails from him, thanking us for the opportunity to talk with us. He assured us that the Fairfax staff desired to meet and discuss these important issues with us.

In February 2009, the first meeting was set up at our church with 5 pastors from the Fairfax church, CJ, and a neutral third party attending on our behalf. Two days before the meeting, pastor LG appeared at our door wanting to apologize to our child. We had not seen nor heard from him or his family for 11 months. We asked him what specifically he wanted to apologize for and couldn’t get a straight answer. He wouldn’t answer our questions. Given the state of emotional torment of our child and to block any further confusion, we decided it would not have been in our child’s best interest and said no.

During the meeting, the pastors apologized for not caring for us and poor leadership but avoided our questions. We left the meeting confused and with a new list of questions. A few days later we discover CJ had given our neutral third party a check for 5,000.00……

A short time after, CJ urged us to begin meeting with pastor MM to iron out our difficulties with pastor LG and his family.

It is important to mention here that although we agreed to meet with pastor MM, we were well aware of Fairfax’s intentions to separate the mishandled sex abuse issue from the personal concerns we had with Pastor LG. The opportunity to minimize the situation to a “family disagreement” had presented itself. They could now step away from the spotlight of “sex abuse issues in the Fairfax church and the way leadership typically responds,” and let the light shine elsewhere.

A number of unresolved issues with pastor LG going back many years still remain, some of which are extremely painful for my wife and me. However, in March 2009, we began meeting with pastor MM with hopes of seeing some accountability leading to possible reconciliation with pastor LG. We presented pastor MM with a list of questions for pastor LG. After 4 months of meetings and numerous emails, none of our questions were answered. However, one hard question was answered; my wife asked pastor MM why they do not warn people at risk when a known sex felon is in their church. His response was, “that perpetrator could grow up and sue us for defamation of character.” So in pastor MM’s mind, the possibility of being sued sometime in the future takes precedence over protecting children from known sex offenders. At the final meeting pastor MM said to us, “I find pastor LG to be a man of integrity.” And then he dismissed us. (Simple logic would say, if pastor LG is a man of integrity, we must be liars) We were stunned….Fairfax had once again put the issue back on us.

In a future meeting with the pastors, pastor MM apologized for not answering our questions concerning pastor LG ….but still didn’t answer them.

We contacted CJ and expressed our dissatisfaction with the meetings and final conclusion. He suggested Peacemakers. We declined. He then offered to have SGM pastor JB from South Carolina step into the arena. Our options were diminishing, but we were not going to walk away from this. For the next 8 months we spoke to pastor JB on the phone at least twice a month. Our conversations focused on the “family disagreement” and Fairfax’s response to sex abuse. We had many questions regarding both topics — questions that had already been asked a number of times and not answered. During our many conversations with Pastor JB, he assured us that Fairfax would now be handling sex abuse related issues differently. After 8 months our questions for pastor LG and a few hard questions for Fairfax were still not answered.

In March 2010, a second meeting with Fairfax leadership had taken place. Kenneth Maresco, Pastor JB, and Jim P, moderator for the SGM Refuge blog were also present. We requested that pastor LG attend as well, but he declined. When questioned about this beforehand, pastor LG said, “I do not think my presence in the meeting would be helpful.” And Fairfax backed him up on this. The meeting was arranged in part as a follow-up from our time on the phone with pastor JB. Some of our questions were answered; however, a few of pastor JB’s answers had suggested that everything was just a big misunderstanding — that somehow we misinterpreted or perhaps judged motives incorrectly regarding both pastor LG and the Fairfax staff. Also in this meeting pastor DH forgot important information and pastor VH revealed that pastor LG was, in fact, legally advised by their attorneys back in October 2007. But in the January 2008 meeting (as mentioned above), pastor LG told us 3 times that he did not tell his wife not to discuss our child’s case with her sister. And Fairfax was ok with this.

In the same meeting the pastors would not let us ask any questions related to pastor LG. It appeared they did not want to deal with the fact that he had lied to us. However, they did want to apologize a second time for not caring for us and for poor leadership. We accepted their apologies but there were still unanswered questions.

An obvious pattern can be seen throughout the story; the pastors were eager to apologize for not caring for us and poor leadership expecting us to forgive, but they would not answer our hard questions. And for some reason they were protecting pastor LG from having to account for the issues we presented. Our forgiveness was premature.

In May 2010, we accused pastor LG of lying, specifically but not limited to the January 2008 meeting we had with him, and two consecutive apology letters he had written that were filled with deceptive statements. This led to an “accusation against an elder”. Fairfax’s solution to this was to hire an outside third party mediator to settle things — a professional conciliatory Christian mediator. He was thoroughly impressed with the fact that CJ Mahaney was involved with this. We reluctantly agreed to do it and had regrets later on. I challenged Fairfax to show us where in the Bible do we find that an accusation against an elder is brought to an outside mediator who gets paid for his services. They ignored the question. They were steadfast in maintaining that the struggles we had with the church and pastor LG stay separate and confined to a “family disagreement”. The reality is that Fairfax had relinquished their responsibility in dealing with an accusation against an elder so they could walk away from the entire situation. Maybe they were afraid of uncovering pastor LG’s pattern of deception. We had two sessions totaling 9 hours in which pastor LG persisted in avoiding our questions and claimed not remembering key facts. The mediator’s summation at the end was that pastor LG had not been deceptive and that we were “sinfully craving answers” according to James chapter 4. We were put in the same category as murderers and idolaters!

How did we end up here?

We started out down this road as parents of two children who were molested and ended up being thrown into the ring with murderers and idolaters!

Only SGM could orchestrate something like this…..

Fairfax was indifferent to the fact that we disagreed with the mediator’s conclusions.

In June 2010, we had our 3rd and final meeting with Fairfax, initiated by Kenneth Maresco and pastor JB as a follow-up to the March 2010 meeting. Kenneth Maresco was not happy with the pastor’s apologies in the March meeting. Apparently, they needed to be a little more sincere. They were given the opportunity to apologize once again for the same things they had previously apologized for, not caring for us and poor leadership, but this time the apologies were more detailed.

A short time after the meeting, our final interaction with SGM was at hand. As a last ditch attempt to at least work out our family difficulties, I asked pastor LG if he would agree to meet with us and another SG pastor. He said, “That ain’t happening.” And Fairfax backed him up on this. We wanted a person he worked with to witness his response to our questions. We asked CJ, Kenneth Maresco, and pastor VH to intervene and be the witness, and they all declined.

Pastor LG’s evasive behavior, supported by a shield of protection from Fairfax, is a symptom of a much deeper problem in their governmental structure…

The Fairfax church has a history of treating victims of sex abuse and their families in similar ways mentioned in our story. We know two other cases and have talked with someone who mentioned knowing FIVE… all involving the Fairfax church. Noel and Grizzly were told by pastor MM their story had inconsistencies… “Inconsistency” is an SGM euphemism for lying. What pastor MM really meant to say was Noel and Grizzly were lying.

In the minds of SGM leadership, they hear from God and tell us what God is saying. If what ordinary people discern fails to line up with their program, they are dismissed. This way of thinking allows them to continuously reinforce their spiritual agenda on a congregation conditioned to think they are being truly humble by accepting this. Where in the New Testament do we find this type of church government?

Summary:

  • The faith and well-being of child-B had been severely affected by the molestation and 3 year ordeal with SGM. Our child’s professional counselors have documented the adverse affects of family abandonment and how this contributes to thoughts of guilt and shame in a young child’s mind. Our child’s perception of a loving God had been distorted.
  • My wife feels the pain of family abandonment plus the abandonment of a church she was a part of for 12 years.
  • Child-A is grown up and doing very well.
  • For some reason Fairfax had chosen not to deal directly and not dig deeper into the claims we made concerning pastor LG. He was not held accountable for lying to us. Fairfax hired a mediator who ultimately made the decision as to who was lying and who was telling the truth.
  • A few of the pastors expressed genuine sorrow for the way our child and my wife and I were treated. Their apologies are nullified because in the end we were the ones “sinfully craving answers” – murderers and idolaters according to the paid mediator’s assessment. We assumed Fairfax was in agreement with this.
  • Fairfax would say our questions for pastor LG were answered. Here’s the problem; we weren’t there to hear his answers…. They were now finally able to close the door and move on to more important things.
  • The Fairfax staff told us they have made significant changes in the way they now handle sex abuse issues in their church. Assuming this is true, we applaud their efforts.
  • The question is how will Fairfax handle their past failures? Will they publicly confess their past sin before our family and the other families who have been hurt by their failure to lead, care, and protect, or will they remain silent and hope no one else comes forward. Will any restitution be made to the families involved?
  • In light of the damage done, has anyone involved disqualified themselves from professional ministry?
  • The clergy privilege statute exempts church leadership in Virginia from having to divulge any information to the authorities regarding sex crimes committed by church members. We had contacted a Virginia state senator who had been in the process of pursuing legislation to change this law.
  • The actions of Fairfax leadership in handling prior sex abuse issues in their church are good examples of why this law needs to be changed. The senator from Virginia heard our story and agreed.

Comments

Do You Remember CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries/Churches? The Media Does and Needs Your Help — 121 Comments

  1. thank you to those who are investigating this to expose the corruption that has been covered up and silenced for far too long… it’s the right thing to do!

    When we expose how the Kingdom Church/His Bride is being exploited, that does honor Jesus… it’s the leaderships’ abuse/exploitation of His Bride/His people that He cares about and is NOT ok with (Ezek 34)… When we, His people do what’s right and protect His people instead of those in power, He will get the glory.

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  2. The leaders that abuse their power, position, and people for their own wicked ends ARE the modern day equivalent of Pharisees. If they choose to do things in secret (instead of address things in a transparent manner) then they should not be surprised when their evil deeds are shouted from the roof tops. Hmmmm, that sounds just a tad Biblical.

    They are reprobates. In many cases (not nearly enough) their reckoning will come on earth. Pity the poor fools whose day of reckoning does not come on earth while they have a chance to still repent. Those whose day of reckoning does not come on earth may never see the light again – literally.

    I wonder if God keeps their eyes blinded because He has already passed judgement on them. I wonder if they are, to use a too often used phrase, “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction”.

    That is a deeply sobering thought.

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  3. Dee,
    Thank you for fighting the fight, doing what’s right. This is hard stuff not many could or would do what you are doing, exposing this.
    You have helped keep my faith in tact the last few years.
    Praying you can continue to spotlight n 2019

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  4. This story brings back heartbreaking memories of a similar experience I had with my home church when disclosing my abuse by my husband elder. Stunned each time by the similar tactics and strategies of those who have no apparent desire for truth or protecting the vulnerable while presenting themselves as victims yet smugly self-righteous. I hope this story finally gets the attention it deserves.

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  5. “The clergy privilege statute exempts church leadership in Virginia from having to divulge any information to the authorities regarding sex crimes committed by church members.”

    The State of Virginia clearly needs to exorcise its clergy privilege statute in regard to sex crimes committed in places called “church”. SGM/Mahaney is the perfect test case to support the change of this law. Additionally, there should be no statute of limitation in any State when it comes to sex abuse of children.

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  6. Thanks for this; I hope and pray that the writers will be able to carefully vet their information and produce an unassailable account.

    Re: “… who assert that bringing these issues to the light somehow undermines or weakens the cause of Christ, we would say the behavior of some in the leadership of Sovereign Grace Ministries does far more damage to victims of abuse and to a watching world.”

    “somehow” in this sentence suggests that the logic of this position is obscure, but it is not; it is crystal clear.

    I think that this attitude, like the “must physically punish disobedient small children” posture that became a topic of discussion in the prior post, can to a significant degress be attributed to beliefs about the meaning of “the wrath of God.” On the present mainstream understanding of “wrath,” the present suffering of a relatively small number of victims of abuse is a finite cost, while future ECT experienced by numerous people who, due to bringing to light the reality of abuse in the churches, would be repelled from the preaching of the Gospel and so never come to faith is an infinite cost. The two appear to be incommensurable and it’s not hard to imagine that even decent people who take ECT seriously would be tempted to sacrifice a few “under the sun” victims in order to preserve the public credibility they believe they need in order to be able to save a larger number from the worse fate of ECT.

    Of course, bad-hearted people will also hide behind this logic in order to protect themselves from “under the sun” consequences of their wickedness. But my point is that this logic is persuasive to decent people who embrace mainstream theology and thus see “saving people from post-mortem eternal torment” as the summum bonum of human existence and the principal reason the churches even exist.

    As TS00 suggested in a comment in the prior post: “judge the tree by its fruit”; “test all things and keep what is good.”

    I have come to believe that ECT is not clearly taught in the Scriptures; it appears to me that “the wages of sin” is simply “mortality” and that the salvation that God offers is “resurrection” and transformation into the the likeness of the now deathless exalted Jesus. From that posture, the calculus of costs and benefits of concealment versus disclosure is much less unbalanced.

    I wish success to reformers who aim to inculcate better practices regarding the tolerance of abuse in the churches. But I suspect that they will find it very hard going as long as the churches retain their current understanding of the meaning of “wrath” and what is at stake in the mission of the churches.

    I think that as long as the churches that have descended from the Western/Latin theological tradition

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  7. Samuel Conner:

    I wish success to reformers who aim to inculcate better practices regarding the tolerance of abuse in the churches. But I suspect that they will find it very hard going as long as the churches retain their current understanding of the meaning of “wrath” and what is at stake in the mission of the churches.

    I think that as long as the churches that have descended from the Western/Latin theological tradition

    to complete the prior thought (please pardon my clumsiness; insufficiently caffeinated at this hour)

    I think that as long as the churches that have descended from the Western/Latin theological tradition maintain their longstanding commitment to the dogmatic theology of ECT as the biblical meaning of “the wrath of God”, the calculus of disclosure versus concealment will, from the perspective of the people with authority in the churches to decide what to do when faced with incidents of abuse, generally weigh in favor of concealment in order to preserve the public reputation of Gospel ministry, for the sake of continued ability to save people from the terrible fate of ECT.

    One might be able to make a strong argument that over the long term, allowing the churches to become havens for abusers will have even worse and longer-lasting consequences for public reputation and gospel ministry efficacy, but people tend to discount the future when near-term costs are in view.

    May God have mercy on the people.

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  8. Samuel Conner,

    Samuel Conner: to complete the prior thought (please pardon my clumsiness; insufficiently caffeinated at this hour)

    I think that as long as the churches that have descended from the Western/Latin theological tradition maintain their longstanding commitment to the dogmatic theology of ECT as the biblical meaning of “the wrath of God”, the calculus of disclosure versus concealment will, from the perspective of the people with authority in the churches to decide what to do when faced with incidents of abuse, generally weigh in favor of concealment in order to preserve the public reputation of Gospel ministry, for the sake of continued ability to save people from the terrible fate of ECT.

    One might be able to make a strong argument that over the long term, allowing the churches to become havens for abusers will have even worse and longer-lasting consequences for public reputation and gospel ministry efficacy, but people tend to discount the future when near-term costs are in view.

    May God have mercy on the people.

    Samuel. I’m not entirely sure about where your coming from, but I think there is substantial confusion.

    Eschatology does not determine if one has a spanking fetish. A fixation on children does not arise based upon a personal feeling about the Latin/Western developement of Christianity.

    Are you concerned about your status in the afterlife? You bring up the afterlife more then on one occasion.

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  9. Samuel Conner,

    You raised the conundrum that exists among the “decent” church people. And that is why we must keep working toward exposure. The Christians who think that Jesus would cover up a child sex crime in his midst for the sake of the 99 not in danger of hell fire are misguided and need to be reasoned with. I know plenty of them and I get hushed all the time by them. How much more would that one who was lost through church coverup become a preacher for Christ’s church if the church showed them that it cared enough to see justice done for them. So backwards to think that lies ever solved a problem for God.

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  10. Nathan Priddis,

    My point is that “status in the afterlife” is a serious pre-occupation within the churches that descend from the Western/Latin theological tradition. From within that outlook (which I no longer share), tolerance of finite evils within the churches could be acceptable (perhaps almost mandatory, if one really takes the cost/benefit calculus seriously) for the sake of preserving the “option”, so to speak, of saving outsiders from the terrible fate it is believed they face if they do not become insiders.

    I grew skeptical of the Western/Latin vision of personal eschatology some years ago when I realized that it is absent from both OT and Paul’s writings (read Romans closely and notice how “wrath” is characterized, for example). NT Wright’s interpretation of Jesus’ public ministry to Israel (which is the context of the famous “gehenna” sayings which are the primary underpinning of the conventional vision [Revelation 20 being the other leg of the stool]) was also very helpful.

    Patti,

    So backwards to think that lies ever solved a problem for God.

    Well said!

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  11. Oh My! Pastor Ceej sure has made more than his fair share of mistakes. Golly! (pardon my French– I see myself as the new Calvin) If he’d been in my church, we would have disciplined him. Heck, we disciplined my own son! So why, you ask, do I love sharing the stage with him? He gets the gosh darn gospel right! Just like Pastor Doug, only Baptist!

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  12. Patti: So backwards to think that lies ever solved a problem for God.

    Church leaders/members who think this way need to remember who the father of lies is. Trying to justify half-truth, mis-truth, and lies for the good of the church is stinkin’ thinkin’.

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  13. Tenth Pres has formed a Women’s Committee to “assist” leadership
    Copied from tenth.org

    GOVERNMENT
    Tenth Women’s Committee
    by Phil Scribano and Earline Schmid December 4, 2018

    35
    As men and women of Tenth, let us “Glorify the Lord with me: let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:3). This past November Session meeting, a motion was passed to establish a women’s ministry upon the recommendation of a Special Session Committee on Women’s Ministry, in partnership with an ad hoc Committee for Women’s Ministry. The purpose was to establish a visible, accessible, effective committee to serve women of our congregation, called the Tenth Women’s Committee. The scope of the committee will include:

    Working in coordination with existing governance entities and ministries such as Session and its commissions and committees, the Diaconate and its committees, and other appropriate Tenth entities.
    Responding to Teaching Elders’ and Ruling Elders’ request, along with needs identified through the Diaconate, to assist in matters pertaining to women in the congregation such as encouraging, advocating, mentoring, and supporting access to biblical counseling
    Assisting in establishing procedures and policies at Tenth to address women’s needs or issues
    Being visible and accessible to the women of the congregation for prayer and listening.
    Encouraging the spiritual growth and increase of faith by facilitating access to resources for women in the church
    It is the intent of the committee to serve in four main ways:

    Wisdom, Insight, and Initiative—Assisting church leadership with wisdom, discernment, and counsel from the perspective of women. Recommending ministry initiatives to foster the particular mission of discipling and caring for the women in the Tenth community
    Communication—Working to centralize women’s ministry efforts by establishing a hub for information concerning women’s interests and needs
    Discipleship Training and Recruitment—Developing and identifying available resources to disciple and mentor women of the church and encourage the biblical relationship and responsibilities between older and younger women (Titus 2:3–5)
    Session Resource and Advocacy—Serving as a resource to Session when asked to help with a woman who may be in crisis, may require strategic friendship in times of need, or may need an advocate for a woman
    The Lord brought this need to our attention through several circumstances, including a conference in June 2018 hosted by Tenth, featuring Dr. Diane Langberg speaking on “The Church as a Refuge.” She offered insights on the topic of abuse and outlined the means of how a church could become a place of sanctuary and refuge. One of her recommendations was to establish a women’s ministry group within the church to come alongside the elders to help address these concerns. Such a formalized ministry did not yet exist at Tenth. This led to an effort to establish a women’s ministry to serve in a complementarian role to the Session and Diaconate.

    How should we understand this complementarian role? The role of Eve as helper to Adam was established early in creation when in Genesis 2:18, “The Lord God said, it is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.” God created men and women complementary for their benefit and that order is reflected in two institutions: the family and the church. Paul clarifies men’s roles in Ephesians 5:22 and 1 Timothy 2:12 as spiritual leaders in their homes and spiritual authority in the church, both determined by God’s ordained order and by man being created first.

    We acknowledge and embrace that ordained order. While at the same time, we ackowledge biblical examples of women serving in the church alongside leadership including: Miriam (Exodus 15), Huldah (2 Kings 22), Deborah (Judges 4), Esther (Esther 4), Priscilla (Acts 18), and Phoebe (Romans 16) to name a few.

    Women held a vital role in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was ministered to by Mary when she anointed him with nard in preparation for his death and burial (John 12:3). After his death, women went home to prepare spices and perfumes (Luke 23:56). After his burial, women were the first to seek Jesus, and a woman was the first to speak to him (Mark 16:9).

    These examples of complementarity of men and women in Bible history serve as reminders of how God intended the church to function “by equipping his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–13).

    A key fact acknowledged by our elders is that there is a great benefit to women of the church to live out their spiritual lives with an emphasis on discipleship to and by other women. Establishing a Tenth Women’s Committee demonstrates the commitment and priority to the spiritual well-being of women in order to foster a culture for women to excel in the exercise of their spiritual gifts and leadership skills within the church. Through discipling, teaching, advocating, providing hospitality, organizing, assisting in worship, praying, mentoring, and providing mercy to women in the congregation, we hope women of all generations will find encouragement by sharpening one another in faith, word, and deed.

    Pray with me concerning the establishment of this ministry. Specifically, I ask you to pray for the assignment of the Ruling Elder overseeing this work. Second, pray that the Spirit would provide wisdom to the members of the committee in prioritizing their work. Third, our work will be in vain if we don’t focus our eyes and efforts for the sole purpose of giving glory to our Lord, increasing our faith in him alone as we are perfected for his kingdom through discipleship and mentorship and by serving and fostering opportunities for women to use their gifts to serve his church today.

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  14. The thing that frustrates me the most about “complementatarian culture” as it plays out in many churches and homes, is that the emphasis has never been about learning from or working with women. The fact the Tenth Pres is only now forming such a “Women’s Committee” is illustrative. If one were to believe in truly complementary roles of men and women, this step would seem to be the bear minimum standard. Otherwise, the gifting of women would seem to be superfluous.

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  15. Nathan Priddis: Samuel. I’m not entirely sure about where your coming from, but I think there is substantial confusion.

    My guess is Samuel is coming from an Eastern Orthodox tradition, with his passage of “…as long as the churches that have descended from the Western/Latin theological tradition…”.

    I’ve run into too many Net Orthodox (probably Fundies who swam the Adriatic and got stuck in Cage Phase) whose Orthodox identity is centered around Bashing the Western Rite. So when I see a line like the above, it brings in the baggage. And even non-Fundy Net Orthodox like to toot the Eastern Rites’ horn as the Only True Church, free of Heresy.

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  16. Nathan Priddis: Are you concerned about your status in the afterlife? You bring up the afterlife more then on one occasion.

    Fixation on the Hereafter instead of the Here & Now was a factor that kept the West stuck in the Dark Ages and the East sucking up to Caesar. Let four out of five children die before puberty as long as their SOULS are SAVED. Die of Old Age at 30 with Contemplation on Eternity instead of actually figuring out sanitation and disease and nutrition and improving medicine. Theology Theology Theology without any Reality Check.

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  17. Glad to see someone is turning up the heat on CJ again, although I pity Hilary Elkins. She will be contacted by the defenders of CJ within Sovereign Grace. I would not be surprised if Mickey Connolly paid Ms. Elkins a personal visit.

    As for that Tenth Presbyterian women’s group, I’d just point out that complementarianism does nothing for the 50+ percent of American adult women who are either never married, divorced or widowed. AKA we have no headship. Way to make yourselves irrelevant, ladies.

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  18. What happened to Spiritual Sounding Board?
    Clicking on the link today just brings up a “Domain Expired” screen.
    Did she step on one Godly toe too many?

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  19. Samuel Conner,

    Status in the afterlife, is a universal concern. It’s not restricted to the Western Church.

    But, yes you are correct that the Church has historically contradicted the words on the
    Scripture’s page. And that includes specifically, things pertaining to the future. So maybe I was a bit rushed in claiming you where confused.

    Do you have an expectation of what will happen to you personaly? You don’t have to answer. It is a fairly personal question, and I don’t know if I would answer in public either.

    But, it’s there.

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  20. Headless Unicorn Guy: My guess is Samuel is coming from an Eastern Orthodox tradition, with his passage of “…as long as the churches that have descended from the Western/Latin theological tradition…”.

    No, though I see how my language could lead to that inference. My background is Western/Latin, specifically Protestant, with strong Reformed leadings. My last waypoint on my journey into post-evangelical exile was a nearly decade-long stint within the OPC.

    I’m just trying to write with precision. There are plenty of infernalists among the Orthodox/Eastern tradition churches, but they did not opt to make this view part of dogma. And it isn’t a big part of their conception of the mission of the Church.

    My point has been and remains that infernalism has an unhealthy hold on Christian imagination, a much stronger hold than the biblical evidence warrants. And this has implications for practice and for the calculus of what one is willing to tolerate within the churches for the sake of the overarching mission.

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  21. Nathan Priddis,

    I think that one’s posture on this matter should be a combination of humility and hope. Humility in that we don’t know the mind of the Creator well enough to clearly discern His specific intentions toward specific individuals (granting the assumption that He does have specific intentions; I suspect that He does though perhaps that is just a residue of my prior fascination with Reformed dogma), but hope in that (granting the assumption, which I do, that the Scriptures give us a clear vision — in the person of Jesus — of the character of the Creator) the Creator is both powerful and good, both just and merciful.

    As to me, personally? I would not presume to claim to know. But I have hope. And in the interim, I have a lot to do “under the sun.” Things like justice and mercy, humility and faithfulness. That is quite enough to occupy the evils of the present day, without worrying over-much about tomorrow.

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  22. Afterburne,

    “I wonder if God keeps their eyes blinded because He has already passed judgement on them. I wonder if they are, to use a too often used phrase, “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction”.”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    i think they are 100% responsible for their actions/inactions. Which they can change any time now.

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  23. Deborah,

    “I hope this story finally gets the attention it deserves”
    +++++++++++++

    seems to me it’s gotten a good deal of attention.

    corrupt christian leaders, their silence & propaganda, & the masses of impressionable apathetic christian weanies choose to live in an alternative reality of pretense where it never happened and yes it did happen so let’s do nothing so we can avoid the tension.

    and continue to reap the dividends of our christian community.

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  24. elastigirl:
    Afterburne,

    “I wonder if God keeps their eyes blinded because He has already passed judgement on them. I wonder if they are, to use a too often used phrase, “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction”.”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    i think they are 100% responsible for their actions/inactions.Which they can change any time now.

    Something that I keep coming back to is the belief that the Romans 1 dynamic of the “revelation from heaven of the wrath of God against the wickedness of people who suppress truth in their wickedness” can operate within the churches as well as within the realm of unbelief.

    If that’s right, then afterburne is on to something that ought to deeply concern church leaders — they should be asking themselves whether it might be that they themselves have turned away from the worship of the true God in favor of created things (public reputation, financial prosperity, visible signs of success), and are experiencing the darkening of their understanding and descent into evil practices that will lead to terrible “under the sun” outcomes.

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  25. Samuel Conner,

    “the wickedness of people who suppress truth in their wickedness”…..
    ++++++++++++

    love the 2 wickednesses.

    in other words, wicked is as wicked does. without regard to religious creed or affiliation.

    i can make Paul succint: people simply grow according to the direction in which they choose to go.

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  26. Samuel Conner: My point has been and remains that infernalism has an unhealthy hold on Christian imagination, a much stronger hold than the biblical evidence warrants.

    Infernalism is Useful.
    Threat of Eternal Hell can be quite a motivator to Stay In Line.

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  27. elastigirl:
    Deborah,

    “I hope this story finally gets the attention it deserves”
    +++++++++++++

    seems to me it’s gotten a good deal of attention.

    corrupt christian leaders, their silence & propaganda, & the masses of impressionable apathetic christian weanies choose to live in an alternative reality of pretense where it never happened and yes it did happen so let’s do nothing so we can avoid the tension.

    and continue to reap the dividends of our christian community.

    At the price of completely discrediting their own Cause.

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  28. Samuel Conner: My point is that “status in the afterlife” is a serious pre-occupation within the churches that descend from the Western/Latin theological tradition. From within that outlook (which I no longer share), tolerance of finite evils within the churches could be acceptable (perhaps almost mandatory, if one really takes the cost/benefit calculus seriously) for the sake of preserving the “option”, so to speak, of saving outsiders from the terrible fate it is believed they face if they do not become insiders.

    I’ll raise you one.

    I believe the doctrine of hell was created for the very purpose of control, as a means of manipulating the masses via fear and excusing not only cruel but murderous behavior of so-called men of God.

    I realize that the official narrative enshrines men like Luther and Calvin as great reformers who rescued christendom from the pagan Roman Catholics, (with apologies to all my Catholic friends!) but I view them more as the just another rendition of Pharisees, incarnated to step in when the Roman Church had become so infiltrated with abusers that it was despised and in danger of being completely rejected. (I might add that I believe all of these historical Institutional ‘Churches’ were probably a mixture of genuine servants and false shepherds, just as we see today. I also might add that many of the churches that revere the names and mythology of traditions and men have long been fed a well-crafted story, and can’t really be blamed. As in most of our official ‘history’ we only know what we are told, and the questions that arise from more intensive scholarly research tend to bounce around mostly within the walls of the Academy. The challenging of cherished myths is not generally welcomed.)

    Like all Pharisees/false teachers, these men, who initially fooled those who genuinely sought reform, spoke a good many things that were true and good; exactly as today’s false teachers do. Thus, one can pull up numerous writings and quotes and say ‘Ah, what wise and holy men’; and then one can pull up letters and documentation of other statements and actions, and say ‘What cruel tyrants!’

    I know, I know . . . bashing Luther or Calvin wins one as many friends as doubting the perfection of Billy Graham or the latest celebrity pastor. I was appalled, however, when I began to survey the totality of their words and actions, rather than focusing on a select few. Luther essentially justified the mass murder of countless peasants who trusted him, and many point to his writings as contributing to the hatred and murder of Jews through the centuries. Calvin oversaw the torture and murder of men, women and children personally, as well as granting approval of murder by other so-called religious leaders of so-called heretics, i.e., anyone who disagreed with his doctrines.

    Back to the issue at hand, all the ‘orthodox theology’ or fearful eschatology in the world does not make up for oppression, murder, or the coverup of abusive behavior. The essence of Calvin’s error (and all other false teachers’) is in claiming that the end justifies the means. Calvin dictates that we believe this about God (It’s okay to deliberately create millions with no chance of salvation, ever, if it brings him ‘glory’ in the long run.) thus persuading many to accept the same sort of cruel, controlling tyranny of their ‘leaders’. ‘Sorry gals, God made you to be second class human beings to bring men ‘glory’.’ Just submit to any evil we might perpetrate, trusting that it is good because we say so.

    I apologize for always seeming to go ‘there’, but in my opinion, as Samuel Conner suggested, modern spiritual abuse did not arise out of nowhere, but almost always stems from faulty theological teaching: We can beat our kids senseless, because God demands mindless submission. We can practice, or cover up, all sorts of unthinkable abusive behaviors, because we are in authority, and must control the ignorant peons who might get too big for their britches if we let them question us. Or any teaching that asserts that God is more about ‘his glory’ than about love. It is his marvelous, unfailing goodness and love that most brings him well-deserved – and unforced – praise and glory.

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  29. Samuel Conner

    “. . . that will lead to terrible “under the sun” outcomes.”

    It is truly sobering when you think about it. Especially if the outcomes are of the “no longer under the Son” variety of outcomes.

    Not to get into the “once saved, always saved”/predestined/you can loose your salvation debate here, but I have often wondered what the unforgivable sin of grieving the Holy Spirit actually is. Could it be that a leader who professes to follow Christ, yet does incredible harm to the body, might fall into this category? What could grieve the Holy Spirit more than that I wonder?

    Often the straw man of “the name/reputation of God” coming under suspicion is tossed around because of folks that point out evil. Never mind the doing of the evil in the first place. Don’t condemn that, only condemn the people that God has apparently chosen to use to reveal the wickedness done in His name. It’s as if they think that God does not have control over the revealing of wickedness. I personally think that God is in the business of shining light on wickedness and revealing evil and the doers of evil along with it. I would even say that He guides and perhaps actually chooses the servants to do His work in this respect.

    As an aside, I don’t think God is too threatened by our ability to sully His Name. He is well able to defend Himself. I could be wrong of course, but I don’t seem to recall very many scriptures that suggest we are the ones to make sure His name is “defended” – other than not doing evil in the first place that is.

    It seems that the only evil actions coming under fire from leaders are those committed by a member of the body. Most of the stories that have come out the last several years are about leaders abusing the body of Christ and end up being far worse than any imagined outcomes of other sins within the culture that are so often pointed out. Yet, leaders are quick to condemn the sin of non-believers, quick to condemn the sin of members of their church, yet strangely and horribly silent (except on rare occasions) with respect to the sins within the ranks of leaders.

    Pro-tip to Leaders. How about not doing evil in the first place? Let’s start there. Next pro-tip. How about not defending/covering up for/protecting those that do evil? What a concept. I get that we all sin. But the level of stuff we hear coming out about leaders is way beyond what the rank and file church member engages in. What is coming out about leaders is horribly egregious. And then to have the head leaders’ sycophants protect those leaders puts the elders/enablers/protectors at the same level of wickedness as the leaders that committed the original act – especially when victims are re-abused in the process of being shut down, ignored, ex-communicated, made to repent for something not their fault in the first place, or whatever else is done to them.

    Wickedness piled on top of wickedness piled on top of wickedness is the only way to describe it. What an incredibly sad state we have ended up in. What will it take for “leaders” to change? When will leaders start to lead? Oh wait, they are leading. Down the obviously wrong path, but they are leading none-the-less.

    Arghhh. I could go on an on here, but must stop at some point. Sorry for what turned into an overly long and somewhat cynical rant.

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  30. Headless Unicorn Guy: Infernalism is Useful.
    Threat of Eternal Hell can be quite a motivator to Stay In Line.

    So succinct, when my disappeared comment took an essay! I would just add that it can also serve as an excuse for any unfortunate ‘collateral damage’ that results from the Church’s attacks on ‘the enemy’.

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  31. Afterburne: Wickedness piled on top of wickedness piled on top of wickedness is the only way to describe it. What an incredibly sad state we have ended up in.

    It is what I believe scripture describes as ‘taking the Lord’s name in vain’. I have a secret dream of appearing before my former church’s ‘session’ as long ago requested, which I ‘politely’ refused. Then, after practicing enough to carry it off (it’s not really my style) I would swear up a blue streak, and shock them to their very core. Then, when they scolded me for ‘taking the Lord’s name in vain’, I would point out that God is far less concerned with my words than with their authoritarian, spiritually abusive behavior that leads to people believing monstrous things about God.

    Which more truly ‘takes the Lord’s name in vain’?

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  32. Taking the Lord’s Name in vain is not cursing up a storm.

    Taking the Name of the LORD our God in vain, is literally using His Name for personal glory, personal fame, and personal fortune; using His Name to make money for personal reasons.

    Using the LORD’s Name for personal gain of any sort, including lording it over others, is literally using His Name in vain.

    So precisely, who then do we worship; the vain philosophies of men; or the LORD?

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  33. In my view, this whole situation is covered by the application of three principles.

    One, priesthood of all believers.

    Two, by their fruits.

    Three, millstone.

    There. Succinct enough? 🙂

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  34. Pastor John: PS Make sure you all marry your bibles this year! (See my real-life twitter)

    I haven’t laughed this hard all year! 😉 Seriously, if these folks actually wanted to win any unbelievers to Christ, they should send John Piper on a very long sabbatical. To Antarctica. On the Titanic.

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  35. Headless Unicorn Guy:
    What happened to Spiritual Sounding Board?
    Clicking on the link today just brings up a “Domain Expired” screen.
    Did she step on one Godly toe too many?

    I was just reading over there yesterday, so I don’t think so.

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  36. Afterburne: What will it take for “leaders” to change? When will leaders start to lead? Oh wait, they are leading. Down the obviously wrong path, but they are leading none-the-less.

    They are not leading me. No one needs to be lead by the likes of any of these men or women. Every person is capable of knowing what is right and good and acting upon those things. God is not dependent upon leaders.

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  37. Off topic, but please remember our fellow Wartburger Nick Bulbeck in his hour of great emotional pain. I just received word that Liverpool have just fallen to a clearly superior Manchester City club by a score of 2-1.

    Chin up, Nick. You’re still at the top of the table.

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  38. TS00: if these folks actually wanted to win any unbelievers to Christ, they should send John Piper on a very long sabbatical

    Oh no! Leave Piper in place – he may be able to kill the New Calvinist movement single-handedly!

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  39. TS00: if these folks actually wanted to win any unbelievers to Christ, they should send John Piper on a very long sabbatical

    Oh no! Leave Piper in place – he may be able to end the New Calvinist movement single-handedly!

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  40. TS00: I haven’t laughed this hard all year! Seriously, if these folks actually wanted to win any unbelievers to Christ, they should send John Piper on a very long sabbatical. To Antarctica. On the Titanic.

    He would just stand on the bow and yell that he was the king of the world. 🙂

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  41. Elizabeth,

    Even the term “ruling elder” makes my skin crawl. It takes a man to make a women’s committee exist? Maybe I misunderstood as I only skimmed. Reminds me of the “spiritual sounding” email updates from Willow. If you can’t say it in plain English without weasel words with no Christianese, you need to think about it some more.

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  42. Karen: Using the LORD’s Name for personal gain of any sort, including lording it over others, is literally using His Name in vain.

    Yer’ goddang right it is!

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  43. TS00: I realize that the official narrative enshrines men like Luther and Calvin as great reformers who rescued christendom from the pagan Roman Catholics, (with apologies to all my Catholic friends!) but I view them more as the just another rendition of Pharisees, incarnated to step in when the Roman Church had become so infiltrated with abusers that it was despised and in danger of being completely rejected.

    What’s ironic (in my opinion) is that over the centuries and up into modern times, Catholicism has dealt with The Enlightenment and The Rights of Man in a much more constructive fashion than has Protestantism.

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  44. Deborah: If you can’t say it in plain English without weasel words with no Christianese, you need to think about it some more.

    Let’s see, it’s also known as lawyerese, politically correct speech, doublethink, newspeak and probably many more similar terms. What do they all have in common? They are the opposite of plain talk. The goal of the former is to allow the communicator to speak out of both sides of his mouth, claim contradictory positions, retain plausible deniability . . . anything but talk straight so that one’s meaning is clearly understood. That, my friends, is the mark of a deceiver.

    One of the things I cherish the most in others, and allows me to trust them, is straightforward frankness. In my family, we don’t ‘hit around the shrubs’ as my much-loved brother in law who speaks English as a second language once put it. I have little room for people who hit around the shrubs, or beat around the bush, as some might know it. 😉

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  45. On the topic of taking The Lord’s name in vain.

    We all know what happens to people who “gosh” and “darn” . . .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    They go to “heck”.

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  46. I was corrected by the church presidential police force for saying the word “geez.” He proudly stated, “that is a cuss word pertaining to god, and we don’t say that here.”

    I know how he treats his wife at home, for she has called me in tears and fears a number of times. Evidently his “speech” isn’t so holier than thou in his home.

    The fork-tongues snakes are alive and well within the church, are they not?

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  47. Ken P.,

    It was indeed a sad day yesterday.

    In other sporting news, India declared their first innings on a huge 622-7, with Pujara falling just 7 runs short of a double-century. Australia closed Day 2 on 24 without loss. India, of course, have to take 20 wickets to win the match; but they only need a draw to win the series as they’re 2-1 up. This would be their first ever series win in Australia.

    IHTIH

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  48. Daisy: Can a Calvinist Honestly Say “God Loves You” to Everyone? by Roger E Olson
    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2018/12/can-a-calvinist-honestly-say-god-loves-you-to-everyone/

    In my 70 year church journey, I have known Calvinists of various flavors. The hyper-Calvinists who crossed my path would never say that – they are some of the meanest people on the planet. Moderate Calvinists may not be so stoic, but those words are just not in their evangelistic tool kit. Much has been said about the New Calvinists on this blog and elsewhere … love is not a descriptor for the young, restless and reformed movement … you can know this arrogant bunch by the love they don’t have for one another. I suppose there are some species of Calvinists out there who would say they love me; I just haven’t met them in my neck of the woods. I suppose that is one reason why 90+% of Christendom worldwide have rejected their exclusive world.

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  49. TS00: I haven’t laughed this hard all year!

    Lots of folks have been having a chuckle at my expense over on tweeter. But Give Me A Break– I invented “Marry the Bible” as an 11th commandment way back in 1982! Lots of things have changed since then! Notably, I invented complementarianism. My Desiring God editor guy took it upon himself to dredge Marry The Bible up now for a New Years resolution. He didn’t think about how the two concepts might mesh.
    So if a woman marries the Bible, it’s all good. She cheerfully submits to its leadership. It leads, provides, and protects. It never needs to ask for directions.
    If a man marries the Bible, however, it must love, honor, and obey——- HIM. If the bible fails to keep a tidy kitchen, he must lovingly sit it down and confess his failure to be a good leader, and that the Bible’s sloppy agape is all his fault, because God holds him accountable. If the dishes still remain undone, he should haul its sorry assets to the church elders for discipline! The best way to avoid such heartache is to make sure it’s a Version before the wedding night– preferably the ESV, Permanent Version, so it’ll have the correct understanding of Gen 3:16.

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  50. Karen: Taking the Name of the LORD our God in vain

    A religious structure that would produce and promote such characters as C.J. Mahaney … with a theological system which distorts the very character of God … is to carry the Lord’s name in vain. New Calvinism is a misrepresentation of God. What love is this?!

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  51. Pastor John: Lots of folks have been having a chuckle at my expense over on tweeter.

    Oh my (chuckle). Pastor John, don’t worry, you still have a great multitude of followers who anxiously await your Piper Points on Twitter each day. They love to retweet your riddles across cyberspace – they are the lifeblood of the New Calvinist movement … along with Mohler Moments, Dever Drivel, and Mahaney Malarkey. So, tweet your life away!

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  52. Max: A religious structure that would produce and promote such characters as C.J. Mahaney … with a theological system which distorts the very character of God … is to carry the Lord’s name in vain.New Calvinism is a misrepresentation of God.What love is this?!

    Agreed.

    My perception of Reformed systematic theology is that it is, on its own terms, an admirably “tight” system — all the parts fit together and the system as a whole does work with no glaring gaps or internal contradictions. It’s internally coherent.

    I’m much less confident that it coheres well with the real world outside of itself (with the Scriptures, for example). But the biggest problem IMO is what it implies about “who God is.” Readers not acquainted with David B. Hart (not to be confused with D. G. Hart of the ‘blog “oldlife”, who is probably more conservative and traditional than the reformed superstars of the present moment) may be edified, or at least challenged, by his essay on the implications of the doctrine of ‘creation of the world from nothing’ for our understanding of God’s character

    http://journal.radicalorthodoxy.org/index.php/ROTPP/article/view/135/86

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  53. Samuel Conner: My perception of Reformed systematic theology is that it is, on its own terms, an admirably “tight” system — all the parts fit together and the system as a whole does work with no glaring gaps or internal contradictions. It’s internally coherent.

    I’m much less confident that it coheres well with the real world outside of itself (with the Scriptures, for example). But the biggest problem IMO is what it implies about “who God is.”

    Scripture speaks much about the sovereignty of God. Scripture speaks much about the free will of men. It all works together in a way that is beyond human comprehension. To put the mind of God into a neat systematic box (e.g., reformed theology) is to stand in arrogance before the Creator.

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  54. TS00: I’ll raise you one.

    I believe the doctrine of hell was created for the very purpose of control, as a means of manipulating the masses via fear and excusing not only cruel but murderous behavior of so-called men of God.

    I agree in the sense of suspecting that the appeal of this doctrine (in the Western tradition and to those in the Eastern tradition who find it appealing — some of whom in the present time, as noted by HUG, are converts from the Western tradition) is at least partly rooted in its usefulness for social control in the churches.

    I’d modulate your “raise” by wondering whether leaders in the churches created this idea, or simply adopted it from the pagan milieu. I have the impression that Tertullian, an important early infernalist, found support for this idea in the extra-canonical text I Enoch, which he considered worthy of inclusion in the OT Canon. From my own reading, it looks to me like infernalism is more clearly taught in I Enoch than in the canonical Bible, and I am tempted to suspect that this is one of the reasons Tertullian wanted 1 Enoch included into the Canon.

    Pre-christian Greeks had a concept of a place of post-mortem punishment — Tartarus, a term which is employed in 2 Peter in a use (prison for rebellious spirits) that resembles part of its pagan meaning.

    I suspect that the ideas were already available and were simply adopted into the churches because, as you say, they were useful for social control.

    A careful and thorough history of the emergence of these ideas in the Church would be really useful, IMO. I hope that we may eventually get one; Ilaria Ramelli’s multi-volume work on “apokatastasis” is projected to conclude with a study of the historical rejection of ‘universal reconciliation’ by the churches. Presumably that would include an account of what replaced it and why.

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  55. Max,

    Happy New Year Max and to all those whom you love.

    In the first few days of this New Year I’ve become increasingly disturbed by the growing hostility towards those who adhere to the Reformed faith and to Luther and Calvin themselves and in the way this has been expressed whether by misrepresentation, false association or plain fiction. What is missing now, that was present previously, is the acknowledgment that these people are – our could be – our brothers and sisters in Christ. In other words Christian charity is missing. Please don’t say that “we stand with the victims” if you don’t have it in your heart to stand with the alleged abusers. That is a one sided love that both Luther and Calvin spoke out against in their expositions of the Lord’s Prayer.

    I was going to quote them again but I thought this from “The Christian’s Only Comfort in Life and Death: Exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism” by Theodorus VanDerGroe was more appropriate as it emphasises the priesthood of all believers, showing that we each individually and corporately have a duty to the body of Christ.. I won’t be commenting much from now on so I wish you all the best.

    “3. As spiritual priests, believers must also continually pray for their enemies and persecutors, for they are commanded to do so by their Lord and savior: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5: 44). 4. God’s children, and thus believers, must as spiritual priests continually and ceaselessly bless each and every person by wishing and desiring that God’s blessing and grace would be their portion, thereby manifesting their love for everyone’s salvation, as well as their spiritual and temporal well-being. Solomon testifies regarding God’s people, “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself” (Prov. 11: 25). God’s children are emphatically and earnestly exhorted to do so in Romans 12: 14: “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not”; and in 1 Peter 3: 9: “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.” Paul also testifies this regarding himself: “Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it” (1 Cor. 4: 12). Dear reader, you have observed—that we all by the light received from the Lord would see it!—how all true and believing Christians have been vested with a holy and a priestly ministry, and that they all are spiritual priests of the most high God, as well as what constitutes this priestly ministry. We have extracted every component of our presentation from the Word of God and have said nothing for which we did not provide emphatic proofs from Scripture. No arguments can be advanced against this—except we deliberately wish to contradict God, His Holy Word, and the eternal truth. But if anyone were to engage himself in doing this, he would thereby seal his own perdition, and his damnation would be just. All that we have addressed and brought into focus in both this and our previous sermon belongs to the essence of being a true and believing Christian. If these matters are therefore not truly, essentially, and fundamentally found in a person, he cannot be a Christian, however much he may be called a Christian and boasts of and puts his trust in this mere title. That which Paul once said regarding the Jews in Romans 2: 28–29, we must also say regarding Christians: “For he is not a [Christian], which is one outwardly”; that is, he who bears this name publicly and is considered to be such. “But he is a [Christian], which is one inwardly”; that is, he that possesses the power and truth of Christianity in his heart, “whose praise is not of men, but of God.” However, in what we have considered today, it is a matter of specific concern for me that you, my readers, all consider yourselves to be Christians, and wish to be viewed and acknowledged as such. You cannot tolerate being shown from God’s Word, from your state, and from your conversation that before God you are not truly a Christian, and that you must first repent and believe in order to become Christians, and that otherwise you must eternally go lost. We do very much want to consider and acknowledge you to be Christians. Nevertheless, all that we have proven and demonstrated from the Word of God as being the essence of a true Christian, both previously as well as in this sermon, truly has to function and be found in you. You must indeed be such Christians as they are depicted and described for us in the Bible. If, however, your life is not such, and if, as to the root of the matter, you do not prove yourself to be such a person in word and deed, you are only a Christian in name and by no means one in reality. After all, how would it benefit you if you had the name that you live and are nevertheless utterly dead? Such was the testimony of the Lord Jesus regarding the congregation of Sardis: “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Rev. 3: 1). Therefore, tell me once more regarding the hope that is in you, and give an account of it before God’s omniscient eye. You who wish to be called Christians, are you all truthfully and in very deed such holy and spiritual priests as we have abundantly and clearly shown you from the Word of God? We have shown you that all true Christians are to be such priests in imitation of Christ their head and great high priest, for as Christians, they are named after Him. Are all the elements of this spiritual priesthood that we have identified in our preaching today also truly to be found in all of you? Can others by your conversation truly determine that you are such holy and spiritual priests unto the Lord, and can we also say truthfully to you what Peter said to the Christians of his day: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood”? Is this glorious and blessed promise also applicable to you: “But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God” (Isa. 61: 6)? First, are you thus completely holy and perfect in Christ Jesus, having been truly united to Him by faith? Have you truly become new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5: 17), having been born again as incorruptible seed “by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1: 23)? Is there no longer any sin or unrighteousness that has dominion over you, but have you all in Christ and by His grace died unto sin in order to live unto God? Is this evident from your entire conduct and conversation? Second, have you truly drawn near unto God as holy and spiritual priests? Have you learned to know, cherish, serve, and glorify this most exalted and eternal Jehovah as He is in Christ, His express image? Is your life characterized by a very intimate friendship with your God in and through Christ, and thus by a holy and spiritual union? Have you chosen and embraced Him as your portion to all eternity? Do you thus, by faith, continually maintain fellowship with the Lord, and are you able to say with Asaph, “But it is good for me to draw near to God” (Ps. 73: 28)? Is the opposite also true, namely, that it is your greatest grief and sorrow to live in alienation from God and from the Lord Jesus? Third, do you therefore find all your desire, joy, and delight exclusively in the service of the triune God? Is this service, more than anything else, supremely delightful and precious to you? Do you find all your spiritual bliss by glorifying no one but God and in keeping all of His commandments, and to that end, do you continually submit yourself to the work of the Holy Spirit, who thereby enables you to do so? Do you have a heartfelt hatred to all that pertains to the service of the world and of sin, and do you desire increasingly to deny yourself in all things in order to live unto God alone? Fourth, as spiritual priests, are you engaged daily in bringing all the holy sacrifices? Are you by grace thus continually offering yourself with soul and body unto the Lord? Are you continually bringing Him the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit? Is it your joy and delight continually to render unto Him the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for all His grace and benefits; to engage in heartfelt prayer, fervent supplications, and the giving of holy alms; and to do the works of love? Yes, would you consider yourself to be supremely blessed if you were even to be permitted to give your life unto the Lord as a sacrifice, and to shed your blood for Him and His holy name? Finally, do you belong to those who as spiritual priests continually and ceaselessly pray for others? Are you continually praying and supplicating on behalf of God’s people, for your minister, for my sacred ministry, for the unconverted among us and in all other places, for your government, for the nation, and for the church? Are you also praying for your enemies and for those who hate and persecute you? Is it true that you neither curse nor speak harshly to anyone, but rather, that your heart and mouth are continually filled with words of blessing? Are you always engaged in seeking the salvation and well-being of your fellow human beings? Beloved, what is your reply to all of this? You need to respond before the Lord. If all these fruits are not truly to be found in you and rooted in your hearts, you are then by no means holy and spiritual priests, nor are you servants of the Lord, and consequently you are not true Christians. You may bear this name, and boast and trust in it, foolishly imagining that you are good Christians and that you will be saved. However, in the end, you will most certainly be deceived. Neither the name of Christian nor your stubborn notion that you are good Christians will be able to help you in the least, for all of these things are but vain fig leaves and broken reeds that will not render you the least advantage or protection “in the time of your tribulation” (Judg. 10: 14). May it please the Lord to impress this sermon with power upon the hearts of men so that, thereby truly being confronted with themselves, they would in a timely fashion become aware of their wretched self-deceit and earnestly begin to yearn to become true Christians.”

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  56. Samuel Conner: My perception of Reformed systematic theology is that it is, on its own terms, an admirably “tight” system — all the parts fit together and the system as a whole does work with no glaring gaps or internal contradictions. It’s internally coherent.

    “If one has the answers to all the questions – that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble.”
    — Pope Francis

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  57. Lowlandseer: Happy New Year Max and to all those whom you love.

    And to you as well, Lowlandseer. I truly wish you the best in 2019. God loves you; Jesus died for you. If God so loved all men, I can do no other.

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  58. Samuel Conner: I agree in the sense of suspecting that the appeal of this doctrine (in the Western tradition and to those in the Eastern tradition who find it appealing — some of whom in the present time, as noted by HUG, are converts from the Western tradition) is at least partly rooted in its usefulness for social control in the churches.

    I’d modulate your “raise” by wondering whether leaders in the churches created this idea, or simply adopted it from the pagan milieu. I have the impression that Tertullian, an important early infernalist, found support for this idea in the extra-canonical text I Enoch, which he considered worthy of inclusion in the OT Canon. From my own reading, it looks to me like infernalism is more clearly taught in I Enoch than in the canonical Bible, and I am tempted to suspect that this is one of the reasons Tertullian wanted 1 Enoch included into the Canon.

    Pre-christian Greeks had a concept of a place of post-mortem punishment — Tartarus, a term which is employed in 2 Peter in a use (prison for rebellious spirits) that resembles part of its pagan meaning.

    I suspect that the ideas were already available and were simply adopted into the churches because, as you say, they were useful for social control.

    A careful and thorough history of the emergence of these ideas in the Church would be really useful, IMO. I hope that we may eventually get one; Ilaria Ramelli’s multi-volume work on “apokatastasis” is projected to conclude with a study of the historical rejection of ‘universal reconciliation’ by the churches. Presumably that would include an account of what replaced it and why.

    Go back even further in time.

    1. Read Job chapters 1-2. Only, read like your an atheist who has never set foot inside a church. You have never heard the “why do bad things happen to good people” tripe.
    2. Skip back forward in time to 1619, and Cannons of Dort.
    Same thing. Read like you have never heard the name “Reform.”
    Don’t let the five Heads format throw you off.

    Both are the same:
    They slander both God and man. Man is totaly corrupt. God arbitrarily rules and his decisions can be questioned. But the questioning us implied, not overt.

    They are different:
    One is human, and one immortal, as it records the words of the Cherub. Man is concerned about his justification and status in the afterlife. Is that not the point of Reform? Am I saved? How do I relate to God in regards to sin?
    Man is also concerned with personal superiority over other humans.

    The Cherub never concerns himself with a personal need for salvation. Why would he? He is again, immortal, and desires debasement of man, and elevation of himself with the Godhead.

    So they are predictably different. Am I wrong?

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  59. Nathan Priddis,

    To my mind, what little evidence there is in the OT concerning “the adversary” is deeply mysterious and I am reluctant to speculate. Perhaps two examples will suffice to illustrate the perplexity that I experience in contemplation of this evidence.

    In Job 2, YHWH’s interpretation of the harm suffered by Job is that “the adversary” had moved YHWH Himself against Job.

    Or compare 1 Chron 21:1 with 2 Sam 24:1.

    I’m reluctant to infer “the work of the adversary” in the history of the Church as if “the adversary” were a dualistic opposite of the Creator. This is a point at which I suspect that the Reformed have a sounder view of the biblical text — the adversary’s freedom, if freedom it be, to work evil “under the sun” is constrained by God’s purposes. “The adversary” may in fact simply be an unwitting agent of those purposes. That’s a troubling thought and I am troubled by it.

    I don’t think we should aspire to a clear view of what is going on “behind the curtains” of visible history. I think it’s enough to perceive the evils “under the sun” and to adopt a (small ‘p’) prophetic stance against them.

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  60. Lowlandseer: We have extracted every component of our presentation from the Word of God and have said nothing for which we did not provide emphatic proofs from Scripture. No arguments can be advanced against this—except we deliberately wish to contradict God, His Holy Word, and the eternal truth. But if anyone were to engage himself in doing this, he would thereby seal his own perdition, and his damnation would be just. All that we have addressed and brought into focus in both this and our previous sermon belongs to the essence of being a true and believing Christian. If these matters are therefore not truly, essentially, and fundamentally found in a person, he cannot be a Christian, however much he may be called a Christian and boasts of and puts his trust in this mere title.

    Your quote merely illustrates the issues many have with Reformed Theology and much that falls under the banner of historical christian orthodoxy. That does not in any way suggest a personal hatred for those who use distortions and faulty theology to oppress and mislead. I, and I’m guessing others, indeed pray for those who do evil, that they will acknowledge and repent of their wickedness, as each of us must constantly do of our own.

    What I do hate, however, and seek to expose, is their continuing tactics of manipulation and oppression. With the most pretty, multi-syllable words they can cobble together, they repeatedly opine on what men must believe and do, always clinging to the ‘Word of God’ as their sword and shield. Never mind that the true Word of God is Jesus, the revelation of God’s goodness, love and mercy toward men, even while they were yet sinners.

    How humbly and sincerely tyrants have always justified their cruel tyrannies by appealing to scripture, and their unremitting desire to protect and preserve ‘the kingdom of God’, when in reality they were all about building their own personal kingdoms. No longer able to burn dissenters at the stake – thanks be to God, and countless dissenters who gave their lives in pursuit of our precious freedom of conscience – authoritarians nonetheless continue to assert their right to dictate doctrine and belief. ‘Word of God’, ‘Word of God’, ‘Word of God’ they cry, as they bludgeon the masses with their immense leather bibles, and walk serenely away, convinced of their own righteousness.

    I continue to pray for the oppressors I left behind in my former world. Truly, I do not know their hearts, or how much they might be deceived and manipulated themselves by lofty but faulty theology. I pray for the wives of ‘compatibilist’ men, who I sadly observed being minimized, discounted and silenced; earnest, intelligent, capable women who were brainwashed into believing that they were ignorant, weak and helpless without a strong leader to tell them what to do and how to do it. I pray for children who are over ‘disciplined’ and have their thoughts, personalities, hopes and dreams squelched by oppressive, controlling ‘scriptural’ parenting.

    Does that imply that I think all that fall under this spell are monsters? No; but the sad reality is that the oppressed and mind controlled followers of abusive tyrants too often learn to mirror many of their controllers’ unhealthy practices. Any time a person is taught to ignore the twinges of their own spirits/consciences, they are susceptible to mindlessly practicing error and even evil.

    It is evil, in all of its forms, that I oppose, and will ever condemn. Do I struggle to not conflate evildoers with their evil practices? Without a doubt. Though much abused, I believe Romans 11:28 deals with this very difficulty, declaring evildoers ‘enemies’ for the sake of the gospel, yet beloved as individual children of God. I must sadly count my own spouse as one who defends the practices of authoritarian, legalistic fundamentalism and condemns independent, critical thinking as ‘rebellion’. I will ever pray for the opening of the eyes of my ‘enemies’, and even turn the other cheek to personal offenses; but I will never stand quietly by and enable their abuse and harm of others.

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  61. __

    “Aggravated 501c3 Church Aggression, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    501c3 Sovereign Grace Churches and their pastoral staff, are well known for having a long crucial documented historical pattern of non-reporting and rushing to forgive and support those who abuse and harm children, while making absolutely no mention of these harmed and abused children, nor coming to their aid.

    2013-2014 -During these years, 38 churches left Sovereign Grace Ministries.

    The decline in the number of Sovereign Grace Churches has apparently been the result, and apparently continues unabated because its leaders and pastoral staff are unwilling to acknowledge past and continued harmful wrong doing and renounce their questionable and possibly deceitful practices. 

    CJ had fun, fun, fun, until media and blog reporting blew the 501c3 brand away?

    *

    Was Rachael Denhollander on to something?

    “I am asking SGC (Sovereign Grace Churches formally SGM; Sovereign Grace Ministries) to support their recent claim that I am making “false accusation”, “mischaracterizing” and communicating things that “are not true and have never been true”, and instead show true care for the victims by finally dealing transparently with these concerns.” – Rachael Denhollander
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NeY_7O5BvD4
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=v4aekQwKIKs
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OyGiAANA8BU
    Rachael Denhollander at Harvard | Can We Reconcile Justice and Forgiveness?The Veritas Forum3.6K views4 months ago
    Rachael Denhollander: Brandeis School of Law Graduation 2018University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law255 views5 months agoCC

    Additional links:
    http://www.sgmsurvivors.com/the-stories/
    http://www.sgmsurvivors.com/transcripts/
    Responses to Lawsuit Filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries
    https://www.scribd.com/user/86813507/sgmwikileaks
    http://www.brentdetwiler.com/the-documents/
    http://www.brentdetwiler.com/past-posts/
    http://www.brentdetwiler.com
    http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/970485/22729095/1369068555133/Everything+You+Need+to+Know+about2.pdf?token=n1cfsSpccY5H0LbjaL%2F9wNo2Uxk%3D

    ;~)
    – –

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  62. Samuel Conner:
    Nathan Priddis,

    To my mind, what little evidence there is in the OT concerning “the adversary” is deeply mysterious and I am reluctant to speculate. Perhaps two examples will suffice to illustrate the perplexity that I experience in contemplation of this evidence.

    In Job 2, YHWH’s interpretation of the harm suffered by Job is that “the adversary” had moved YHWH Himself against Job.

    Or compare 1 Chron 21:1 with 2 Sam 24:1.

    I’m reluctant to infer “the work of the adversary” in the history of the Church as if “the adversary” were a dualistic opposite of the Creator. This is a point at which I suspect that the Reformed have a sounder view of the biblical text — the adversary’s freedom, if freedom it be, to work evil “under the sun” is constrained by God’s purposes. “The adversary” may in fact simply be an unwitting agent of those purposes. That’s a troubling thought and I am troubled by it.

    I don’t think we should aspire to a clear view of what is going on “behind the curtains” of visible history. I think it’s enough to perceive the evils “under the sun” and to adopt a (small ‘p’) prophetic stance against them.

    Yes Satan was able to extract a statement from God the he acted without cause. That doesn’t look good when a judge states this.

    It’s also obvious the despute was never settled, just as it is disputed in theological debates to this day. In fact, the whole book does not have a logical resolution. The players just stopped talking.

    Yes, these things did take place behind the curtain. But yet, the curtain was parted ever so slightly, was it not? And we have seen these things, so there must be a reason.

    You did notice some awfully hard things where said in the Cannons? And the Synod is an official Act of peolpe who will be in the afterlife? And will be placed in positions of great authority, such as judging angels?

    Are they going to soften the things said in the Cannons in the afterlife?

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  63. Lowlandseer,

    Oh, if only those behavioural exhortations were all taken to heart by those of the Reformed tradition, instead of the near constant misrepresentation of non-Calvinists as licentious idiots who are ‘barely Christian’ & the rest.

    Most of what you see here that is hostile is simply Calvinism/Calvinists reaping what they have sown in people’s minds, heart & lives, with the personal & religious trauma that has caused. Many of us here have gone 1000 rounds intellectually, emotionally, spiritually with Reformed theology, leading to, in my case, outright rejection & hatred of it, for good solid reasons. I won’t have a Calvinist book in my house, & consider it a false Gospel.

    Just to say this isn’t the average Reformed back-patting club you may be used to, & this ‘hostility’ is the actual result of Calvinism in real people’s lives, which you may have been shielded from previously. It’s not unfairness, it’s consequences.

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  64. Lowlandseer,
    Don’t remember who you took that quote from, but where I am that long a text without paragraph breaks is the sign of a kook rant. (Or John Galt’s chapter-long run-on sentence Objectivist speech in Atlas Shrugged — same thing.)

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  65. Beakerj: Just to say this isn’t the average Reformed back-patting club you may be used to, & this ‘hostility’ is the actual result of Calvinism in real people’s lives, which you may have been shielded from previously. It’s not unfairness, it’s consequences.

    I saw exactly the same shtick in the Liberation Theology/Social Justice attitudes of the Eighties, including the total condescending discounting of the “hostile” and “unenlightened” outside the back-patting Virtue-Signalling club.

    The only difference was then it was Communism instead of Calvinism.

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  66. Nathan Priddis: You did notice some awfully hard things where said in the Cannons? And the Synod is an official Act of peolpe who will be in the afterlife? And will be placed in positions of great authority, such as judging angels?

    Are they going to soften the things said in the Cannons in the afterlife?

    Is that a Threat of Eternal Hell?

    “And will be placed in positions of great authority, such as judging angels.”

    In Christianese AM Radio of the Seventies, this proof text was combined with one about “HE SHALL RULE WITH A ROD OF IRON.” Put them together, and The Godly Elect will be God’s Enforcers in The Millenium/Afterlife, a Cosmic SS.

    Couple that with James Dobson’s claim (contemporary with the above) that “We should be getting ready now for the positions God will reward us with in Heaven” and it explains a lot of the Attitudes of those Godly Elect.

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  67. Beakerj,
    Max: Scripture speaks much about the sovereignty of God. Scripture speaks much about the free will of men.

    And a lot of us on this and other blogs have been on the receiving end of Weaponized Scripture.

    With me it was Hal Lindsay instead of Calvin, but the pattern remains the same.

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  68. ION: Weekend weather

    Just read the following from the Met Office website forecast for Sunday:

    +++++++
    Weather

    A fine dry day across the Southwest Highlands with plenty of sunshine.
    +++++++

    Which is nice, because Lesley and I are planning to do Beinn a’Choin then. Our first Corbett of the year (we did a couple of Grahams on New Year’s Day).

    The phrases “fine dry day” and “Southwest Highlands” are not often seen in the same sentence. Unless it’s a sentence like “If you’re hoping for a fine dry day, keep clear of the Southwest Highlands where it’ll be passionate doon“.

    IHTIH

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  69. Nick Bulbeck,

    “The phrases “fine dry day” and “Southwest Highlands” are not often seen in the same sentence. Unless it’s a sentence like “If you’re hoping for a fine dry day, keep clear of the Southwest Highlands where it’ll be passionate doon“.”
    +++++++++++++

    all the beautiful photographs must have all been taken on the same day, then.

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  70. elastigirl: all the beautiful photographs [of the Highlands] must have all been taken on the same day, then.

    Well, let’s just say that if you want foties of the Highlands you have to be prepared to spend a lot of time there!

    We’re extremely fortunate in that the Highlands are on our doorstep, so we can take advantage of good weather at short notice.

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  71. Lowlandseer,

    My, oh my! If you could simply keep it to scripture and leave out all the added interpretation. Too many words spoil the simplicity of what is actually said in scripture, imo.

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  72. Headless Unicorn Guy: Is that a Threat of Eternal Hell?

    “And will be placed in positions of great authority, such as judging angels.”

    In Christianese AM Radio of the Seventies, this proof text was combined with one about “HE SHALL RULE WITH A ROD OF IRON.” Put them together, and The Godly Elect will be God’s Enforcers in The Millenium/Afterlife, a Cosmic SS.

    Couple that with James Dobson’s claim (contemporary with the above) that “We should be getting ready now for the positions God will reward us with in Heaven” and it explains a lot of the Attitudes of those Godly Elect.

    H.U.G.
    You have multple elements in your comment. Let me take them seperately:

    AM Christian radio- I not sure what you may have heard.

    Dobson- I am quit confident Mr. Dobson is eagerly anticipating the role asigned him. I am equaly confident, that many others, such as gay men, liberal college proffesors, lesbians and Democractic county chairpersons, are not looking forward to said future role, in the same eagerness.

    Humans placed in future authority over Angels- This is explicitly stated in Scripture.

    Humans placed in authority over other future humans- Again, this is explicitly stated. In light of Church history, this may or may not strike one as terrifying.

    I would put forward here, that a typical Christian, is not knowledgable regarding their own founding documents, and history. If they where, I suspect church attendance would suffer enormously.

    Christians enforcing righteousness both here and hereafter- After a personal desire for justification, and procurement of favorable future status, this is probabky the third most important motivation to pursue the Kingdom of God. This discribes the eschatological models of the Church, with perhaps a partial exception with Pre-Trib Dispensationalism. But I would say that is (Pre-Trib) partialy due to the desired removal from Earth. That model still calls for Christians sitting on thrones pronouncing edicts, at a later time.

    So to summarize a long answer. Yes, that’s a lot of thrones.

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  73. I like to read, even to read and learn the thinking of those with whom I disagree.

    I asked for a book for Christmas written, I knew, by a Calvinist of the new stripe. It concerns world views more than theology. And most of it (I am 2/3 way done) has been good, focused on the things the Reformed and the historic Baptist and the RCC and the Lutheran, etc, agree on and all seem to be working toward.

    So far so good.

    But now I have entered a section where the author is clear he sees an all out war, Reformed against all other evangelicals, indeed all other Christians, and that the opposition to Calvinism must be absolutely destroyed. I assume he means their teaching, not the people, but you never know, especially these days.

    His assumption is that anything other than 100% Calvinism of the nth degree is unbiblical, mocks God, assumes mankind can save themselves with no aid from God thank you very much, and is not intellectually rigorous.

    The funny thing is I am also reading a Wesleyan book and an RCC one and don’t find any of those things–no mocking God, no self saving, and certainly no lack of intellectual rigor.

    If only they would read more widely.

    And as an aside, do keep up with Thom Rainer’s blog as to replants and revitalization. Really shows the playbook on church stealing.

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  74. Max: The State of Virginia clearly needs to exorcise its clergy privilege statute in regard to sex crimes committed in places called “church”.

    From the OP: “The clergy privilege statute exempts church leadership in Virginia from having to divulge any information to the authorities regarding sex crimes committed by church members. We had contacted a Virginia state senator who had been in the process of pursuing legislation to change this law.”

    Is there a law specifically saying that Pastor Jim-Bob can refuse to talk to police after he sees a deacon ripping somebody’s clothes off? Or is this generally about the clergy privilege law?

    Either way, the Virginia Law Review suggests the situation is not as hopeless as we might think:

    This Article debunks the empirical assumption behind the clergy privilege, the evidentiary rule shielding confidential communications with clergy. For over a century, scholars and the judiciary have assumed generous protection is essential to foster and encourage spiritual relationships. Accepting this premise, all fifty states and the District of Columbia have adopted virtually absolute privilege statutes. To test this assumption, this Article distills data from over 700 decisions—making it the first scholarship to analyze state clergy privilege jurisprudence exhaustively. This review finds a privilege in decline; courts have lost faith in the privilege. More surprisingly, though, so have clergy. For decades, clergy have recast communications to ensure they fall outside testimonial protection—thus challenging how essential confidentiality actually is to spiritual relationships. This Article discusses both why clergy testimony frequently decides the question of privilege and the corresponding query of why some clergy break confidences. This understanding breathes new life into efforts to revise state statutes to reflect the narrowing privilege rather than perpetuate illusory promises of broad protection.

    Source: “Exorcising the Clergy Privilege,” by Christine P. Bartholomew, 103 Va. L. Rev. 1015 (2017) http://www.virginialawreview.org/volumes/content/exorcising-clergy-privilege

    Also… I asked a pastor about clergy privilege laws. He said the only thing covered might be information divulged under the seal of confession.

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  75. Lowlandseer: (quoting Theodorus Van Der Groe) But if anyone were to engage himself in doing this, he would thereby seal his own perdition, and his damnation would be just.

    This is very odd thing for a Calvinist to say because it contradicts TULIP. If a person can seal their own perdition then it means human choice is ulimately decisive instead of unconditional election. If a person is not among the elect there is nothing they can do to avoid being saved. And if they are not among the elect there is nothing they can do to be saved. If unconditional election is true it makes no sense to make statements like this.

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  76. A bit of faffing with google suggests that I’ve been commenting here at Wartburg since around March 2009 – so there’s some kind of 10th birthday coming up. Maybe Lesley and I should do Sgurr nan Gillean’s Pinnacle Ridge to celebrate (weather permitting). At that time, I was researching an arrogant young thug posing as a preacher in Seattle, who was gaining traction over here and who had won the admiration of someone in our congregation because he quoted the bible a lot. As he had already begun to overlap with stories of spiritual abuse, he had featured in an article here, which is how I stumbled across Wartburgland.

    This was not by any means the first professing christian Website With A Cause that I’d come across. There was, however, something different about it.

    Most such sites I’d come across obsessed over doctrine, and in particular, denounced their chosen targets as heretics on grounds often so petty they were not even wrong (to paraphrase Linus Pauling). TWW was/is about behaviour, and in particular, the way those without power or status are treated in christendom. This was, by then, a topic close to our hearts. Moreover, I quickly found that Wartburg is not just A Cause; it’s a community. People are free to drop in and comment off topic – as witness the tremendous appetite here for cricket. (Australia are 75-1 at the time of writing, BTW, still 547 runs behind.)

    All of which said, it’s bedtime the noo. I may get to the point tomorrow.

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  77. Lowlandseer: I’ve become increasingly disturbed by the growing hostility towards those who adhere to the Reformed faith and to Luther and Calvin themselves and in the way this has been expressed whether by misrepresentation, false association or plain fiction. What is missing now, that was present previously, is the acknowledgment that these people are – our could be – our brothers and sisters in Christ. In other words Christian charity is missing.

    This sounds reasonable, except that I’ve never seen anything on TWW that even comes close to the words and actions by Luther and Calvin directed toward those with whom they disagreed. Luther and Calvin were brutal. If they are the model for Christian charity, then the TWW team is missing the mark. But in the opposite direction from what you suggest.

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  78. Nathan Priddis,

    I do believe that when all is seen clearly, when we know as fully as we are now known, an awful lot of what has been affirmed in the name of God over the ages will be repudiated. Those who affirmed the most and the most stridently will probably have the most to repudiate.

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  79. Ken F (aka Tweed): Christian charity

    Servetus certainly didn’t receive it from Calvin – his opposition to the reformer cost him his life. Nor did hundreds of others in Geneva who disagreed with Calvin’s brand of Christianity – they were expelled from the city, imprisoned, or tortured by the strong arm of the magistrate on Calvin’s order.

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  80. Nathan Priddis: H.U.G.

    So to summarize a long answer. Yes, that’s a lot of thrones.

    It’s never been clear to me why, if “greatness” under the sun is seen in the degree of self-giving in service to others, why that would not continue to be the case in “the Age to Come.” Jesus is a king who lays down His life for the sake of His subjects.

    Do we really think that “high status” in the final eschatological state will be like what “high status” is regarded to be among unbelievers here and now? This line of thinking is like that of the apostles prior to the Cross, when they were envisioning and jockeying for high office in a visible kingdom over Israel. They didn’t know what spirit they were of. Do we?

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  81. Samuel Conner:
    Nathan Priddis,

    I do believe that when all is seen clearly, when we know as fully as we are now known, an awful lot of what has been affirmed in the name of God over the ages will be repudiated. Those who affirmed the most and the most stridently will probably have the most to repudiate.

    I think that an extreamly wise assumption.

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  82. Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Lowlandseer,
    Don’t remember who you took that quote from, but where I am that long a text without paragraph breaks is the sign of a kook rant. (Or John Galt’s chapter-long run-on sentence Objectivist speech in Atlas Shrugged — same thing.)

    I recently asked a Facebook Ranter to *please* break his novel-length responses into separate paragraphs for the sake of my tired old eyes. He ignored my request and kept right on posting entire oceans of unbroken text. I took this as a sign that I should ignore his rants. My life has been much more peaceful since.

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  83. GMFS

    Australia closed on 236-6, still needing 186 more to avoid the follow-on. India will be eagerly anticipating a first ever series win in Australia…

    IHTIH

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  84. ___

    Misalanious Milestones: “Possessing The ‘HighGround’, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Dear Lowlandseer,

    Respectfully,

    Calvinism is perhaps not gaining much forward traction here at Wartburg Watch these days, but you are more than welcome to discuss what you like about it.

    Note: Please remember to keep it simple due to the medium, and the populace.

    Many here are educated in, among other disciplines, Reformed Theology in particular. ..

    Some of us fortunately possess large libraries from places like the Puritan Hardrive and Logos Bible Software, to name the most providential, —hard copy libraries as well. Welding them is no small feat, but quite manageable.

    Note: When discussing theology, brief comments enable others to respond with richer comments.

    There is no internecine war here perceived or otherwise that I am aware of concerning Calvinism, TULIP, or Reformed Theology.

    As you are perhaps well aware,
    many here @TWW openly make a point with vigor of warning others of the 501c3 abuses of religion, and the possible traps others make for unsuspecting and uninformed kind folk.

    You are very welcome to start a blog yourself if you are so preferentially inclined, and educate others in what interests you. Just drop a link in your comments, and I’m sure there are some who would be happy to respond in kind.

    Please be aware, we do not wish to abolish professional teaching and to make every individual their own master, but if the proverbial brazened 501c3 sheepskin credentialed pulpit pounder will not teach Jesus’ good news gospel presented in a kind effervescent way, then kind folk must have the Scriptures as presented in their own New Testament copy of choice, —and read them concisely for themselves, taking God for their apt teacher, leading them stoutly into all truth. IMHO, He is more than able.

    ATB

    In conclusion, would that the heavens would open, and the Son Of Man would kindly visit with you… IMHO, He is more than able, (grin)

    Cheers!

    In my prayers,

    Sòpy

    Exit Music:
    https://youtu.be/pisnHD_JuJM

    ;~)

    – –

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  85. Karen,

    Karen

    Yes… Much agreement…
    “Taking the Lord’s Name in vain is not cursing up a storm.”

    “Taking the Name of the LORD our God in vain, is literally using His Name for personal glory, personal fame, and personal fortune; using His Name to make money for personal reasons.”

    *Name is the Hebrew = shem.

    And I’m-a-thinkn, this goes with…

    2 Chron 7:14 KJV
    If MY people,
    **which are called by MY *Name,** (*shem.)
    shall humble themselves,
    and pray, and seek my face
    and turn from their wicked ways;
    then will I hear from heaven,
    and will forgive their sin,
    and will heal their land.

    Who are those being asked to “humble themselves?”
    Who are those who are called by Gods *Name?
    “for personal glory, personal fame, and personal fortune;”

    What are some *Names of God?

    How about…
    Shepherd? Teacher? Leader? Reverend?

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  86. Karen

    “If MY people,
    which are called by MY *Name,
    Will humble themselves…”

    Who are those being asked to “humble themselves?”
    Who are those who are called by Gods *Name?

    What are some *Names of God?
    Shepherd? Teacher? Leader? Reverend?

    *Name – In Strongs – #8034 = shem –
    1 – a definite and *conspicuous position…
    …….(*conspicuous position = standing out, clearly visible)
    …….(Shepherd? Teacher? Leader? Reverend?)

    2 – an *appellation…
    …….(*appellation = a name or “Title”)
    …….(Shepherd? Teacher? Leader? Reverend?)

    3 – by implication honor, authority, character.

    Isn’t God asking “MY people”
    **which are called by MY *name,**
    (MY *Title – MY honor, authority, – clearly visible.)
    To humble themselves? Turn from their wicked ways?

    Who are God’s People, “called” by “God’s Name?” Today?

    What about, those who call themself…
    Shepherd? Teacher? Leader? Reverend?

    Aren’t these **names** (Titles.) that God is called?

    1 – God/Jesus = The “ONE” Shepherd.
    …there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd. John 10:16
    …returned to the **Shepherd** and Bishop of your souls. 1 Pet 2:25.

    And NOT one of His Disciples called themself shepherd.

    2 – God/Jesus = The “ONE” Teacher.
    … for “ONE” is your Teacher, the Christ…Mat 23:8 NKJV.
    If I then, your Lord and Teacher… John 13:14 NKJV.

    3 – God/Jesus = The “ONE” Leader.
    For One is your *Leader,* that is, Christ. Mat 23:10 NASB.
    God exalted him at his right hand as
    **Leader** and Savior…Acts 5:31 ESV

    And NOT one of His Disciples called themself leader.

    4 – God/Jesus is called – Reverend
    …holy and **reverend** is his *Name. (*shem) Psalm 111:9 KJV

    And NOT one of His Disciples called themself reverend.

    Hmmm? What about, Shepherd, Teacher, Leader, Reverend?
    Aren’t these **names** (Titles) that God is called?

    Are todays, Shepherds? Teachers? Leaders? Reverends?
    Taking Gods *Name in Vain?

    Are todays, Shepherds? Teachers? Leaders? Reverends?
    Willing to give up their “Titles?”And Power?
    willing to humble themselves?
    and pray? and seek God’s face?
    and turn from their wicked ways?

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  87. Catholic Gate-Crasher: I recently asked a Facebook Ranter to *please* break his novel-length responses into separate paragraphs for the sake of my tired old eyes. He ignored my request and kept right on posting entire oceans of unbroken text. I took this as a sign that I should ignore his rants. My life has been much more peaceful since.

    I remember the advice of an English prof. (may she awake to a goodly inheritance in Olam Ha-Ba) I sat under many years ago:

    “Never spend 3000 words on something for which 300 will do nicely.”

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  88. Nick Bulbeck,

    Nick Bulbeck,

    Nick Bulbeck,

    I’m in Australia, there was a follow on today, rain stopped play briefly, play on and off. Oz has 300 odd runs to beat India’s 622. I’m not an Aussie supporter, India have played brilliantly. Enjoying the Big Bash 20 over matches here at the moment. It’s wall to wall cricket here in summer

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  89. Muff Potter: “Never spend 3000 words on something for which 300 will do nicely.”

    “The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.” (George Burns)

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  90. A. Amos Love: Are todays, Shepherds? Teachers? Leaders? Reverends?
    Willing to give up their “Titles?”And Power?
    willing to humble themselves?
    and pray? and seek God’s face?
    and turn from their wicked ways?

    Wonderful Bible Study, A. Amos Love. Talk about building up the faith of the saints here! You are more like Barnabas, the encourager, in speaking truth in love.

    In answer to your important questions, my answer is no. No. No, and another loud NO! If church clergy are stripped of their titles, they would certainly give the Emperor in his new clothes, a run for the money! There are times when our childlike faith produces more wisdom and trust in our Good Shepherd, and all of the so called great theologians throughout history.

    My belief, is that the greatest theologian of all time is, well, Jesus.

    Church leaders really hate it when one follows Jesus instead of them.

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  91. Karen: Church leaders really hate it when one follows Jesus instead of them.

    That’s why many of them don’t talk about Jesus much these days. In the New Calvinist movement, for example, you will hear a lot about “God”, but little reference to Jesus, and hardly a word about the Holy Spirit. New Calvinist icons like Piper get more mention than Jesus.

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  92. Karen,

    Absolutly… Well said…
    “My belief, is that the greatest theologian of all time is, well, Jesus.”

    And, He, Jesus, wants to be our teacher.

    John 6:45
    It is written in the prophets,
    And they shall be ALL taught of God.

    John 14:26
    But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost,
    whom the Father will send in my name,
    he shall teach you ALL things…

    Deuteronomy 4:36
    Out of heaven he made thee to *Hear His Voice,*
    that *He might instruct thee:*
    ——-

    Yup…
    “Church leaders really hate it when one follows Jesus instead of them.”

    And, He, Jesus, wants WE, His Sheep, His Ekklesia, to Follow Him.

    John 10:27
    MY Sheep – Hear MY Voice – and I know them – and they Follow ME.
    ——-

    And “Church leaders” happens to be a term…
    That does NOT exist in the Bible…
    For one of **His Disciples.**

    Seems, in the Bible…
    The only one who referrs to Himself as…

    The “ONE” Shepherd
    The “ONE” Teacher
    The “ONE” Leader

    Is…

    {{{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}}

    John 10:16
    And other sheep I have, which are NOT of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “Hear My Voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.

    One Voice – One Fold – One Shepherd – One Leader

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

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  93. Max,

    “That’s why many of them don’t talk about Jesus much these days. In the New Calvinist movement, for example, you will hear a lot about “God”, but little reference to Jesus, and hardly a word about the Holy Spirit. New Calvinist icons like Piper get more mention than Jesus.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    soooo much easier to control that way. and build an empire of sorts.

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  94. Catholic Gate-Crasher: I recently asked a Facebook Ranter to *please* break his novel-length responses into separate paragraphs for the sake of my tired old eyes. He ignored my request and kept right on posting entire oceans of unbroken text.

    Kooks Magazine described this as “psychotically-dense, extending to the edge of the paper on all sides.”

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  95. FYI,

    The clergy privilege law is currently being challenged in the state of Virginia. Delegate Kerrie Delaney is sponsoring legislation to include clergy as mandated reporters. Fox News has already run a few stories regarding this. Please consider writing your local representatives and offer your support for this important bill.

    https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Virginians-Push-Law-Requiring-Clergy-to-Report-Child-Abuse-Neglect-504021411.html?fbclid=IwAR0_RVcjo0SetmFeKOE69crTqlAcw3QNiMLPrtLM-pCo6c0Ngx7fEIUTr5E

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  96. Samuel Conner:…the appeal of this doctrine … is at least partly rooted in its usefulness for social control in the churches.

    That’s an interesting hypothesis. You could prove it really by coming up with evidence that the churches themselves have or do claim the power to condemn people to Hell.

    Oh wait, most of them claim that very thing, don’t they?

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  97. hoodaticus: That’s an interesting hypothesis.You could prove it really by coming up with evidence that the churches themselves have or do claim the power to condemn people to Hell.

    Oh wait, most of them claim that very thing, don’t they?

    In my experience, the “social control” is somewhat indirect — “get with the program [ie, volunteer and fund] or other people will not be reached and will have terrible post-mortem consequences”.

    Anciently, I think that the control was more blunt. RCC famously at times used “interdict” (withdrawal of eucharist) over wide regions to pressure political leaders. In our day, the “keys” doctrine seems to be used (in “new reformed” circles, and perhaps beyond) to pressure people psychologically by calling their status as regenerate into question if they don’t conform.

    I’d love to see a history of how infernalism came to be dogma in the Western/Latin tradition churches. There are hints of extra-biblical/social control considerations here and there in the English ltranslations of ancient church literature. It would take a scholar of ancient languages to do the job properly. Perhaps Ilaria Ramelli will.

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  98. Happymom: The clergy privilege law is currently being challenged in the state of Virginia.

    Great info, thanks! People should research “clergy privilege law” in every state.

    I would point out a couple of things. Nothing is currently stopping clergy from reporting crimes under most circumstances. (That would make them the easiest possible victims.) Also, many clergy members are already mandatory reporters because of the work they do as teachers, etc.

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