John Schouten, David McIlrath and Liberty Christian Academy: An Alleged, Unreported, Student Molestation Causes a Pastor to Lose His Job for Now…

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“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” ― George Washington

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Have you ever wondered what the back story is behind the headlines? Some readers mentioned the John Schouten incident when his story appeared in the Christian Post.

Here are the two stories from CP.

Lets take a look at a few of the claims from these articles.

  • Pastor John Schouten, founder of VGF Church, the largest church in Licking County, Ohio, has parted ways with his church after he was confronted with what was described as a “wrong, evil, and illegal” sexual sin he committed more than 30 years ago before he became a Christian.
  • The Newark Advocate reported that the church leaders were notified of the allegations against their pastor in an email during the summer and struggled with how to handle the situation. Schouten, who previously admitted to abusing drugs and cheating on his wife, Marilyn, during the early years of their marriage, has routinely talked about the wayward life he lived before becoming a Christian.
  • Church leaders told the congregation in a recent email that Schouten offered to resign once church leaders were told of his actions but they did not accept it. They chose instead to place him on paid administrative leave while leaders made a decision.
  • It was noted that Schouten committed “wrong, evil and illegal” acts that only involved one accuser and took place before his spiritual conversion in the 1980s.
  • But this week, a former Liberty Christian Academy student who knew both Schouten and the female student in question came forward to disclose more details about the situation to 10TV.”John would have been 25. He started sleeping with her when she was 14, she was a senior when I got there,” the former student, who chose to remain anonymous, explained. “He got her pregnant while his … pregnant wife Marilyn was working at the school.””I wanted to vomit [when] I heard that he was a megachurch pastor,” the student added.
  • (Schouten) he kept quiet about the fact that he had an illegal and adulterous relationship with a teenager during the 1980s.
  • since the crime was committed before the church was founded, the lawyer determined that the church didn’t have reporting responsibilities. The lawyer also advised that the statute of limitations on the crime had expired.“These were all moral issues essentially left, not legal issues,” Weaver said. “There are some odd facts here and it doesn’t quite line up with the stories you hear at other churches.”

So, we are left with an impression from Schouten that this was a 30 year old *incident* that happened before he was a Christian.

Where did this *adulterous and illegal* relationship take place? Who knew about it then and when and how did they know it? Thankfully, Mary (not her real name) will tell us. I know her real name and I know why she wants it protected.

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Mary’s Story

High school days at Liberty Christian Academy

I enrolled at Liberty Christian Academy in 1985 my sophomore year of HS. It was against my will and forced by my parents because they feared I would not be able to resist the “world” in the public HS. It was likely the most devastating thing that had ever happened to me and has affected my confidence and self awareness for my entire life. I had visited Liberty Christian Academy in 1984 again forced by my parents. I heard a rumor about a student and a teacher but I was unaware of who and figured it was just school gossip.

When I started to attend Liberty Christian Academy in 1985 the rumors started again. This classmate was never very friendly to me personally and we never developed any type of relationship that I would have been someone she would have confided in. I was severely depressed my first year at Liberty Christian and even attempted a weak suicide attempt. But I made it through my first hearing this rumor on and off all year.

Honestly, Mr. Schouten was my favorite teacher. He taught Bible and never acted inappropriate around me or any of us during the school day that I noticed. He would get us into intense deep biblical debate and really made me question and grow my faith. I loved the bible and wanted to learn. So I would tell my classmates to quit telling these rumors. I blew it off. I had never personally been sexually abused and had lived in a very protective religious “bubble” my whole life. I was very naïve of such things.

So in my junior year 1986-1987, a wonderful music teacher reached out to me. I believe in hindsight, it was her reaching out to me and seeing my talent and love for music I had lost when I was taken out of my public school that probably made the school bearable and saved my life. I had been deep into the music program at my public school. I was the main choir, orchestra, musical and choral piano accompanist and I loved it. I was devastated when I was forced to leave my passion behind.  I was a very shy kid and music had been how I found to fit in.

I did a bit better this year. Again at the lunch table there were becoming more and more details shared about the sexual and physical aspects of my classmates activities with my favorite Bible teacher. I began getting angry that the classmate was obviously spreading these lies. I couldn’t fathom the good looking, clean cut Bible teacher who spoke so strongly about morals, God’s Word and our spiritual growth could possible do something like this. He had NEVER been inappropriate with me or anyone I had seen. This rumor really started grating on me. I pushed it away and told my friends it couldn’t possibly be right and my classmate should not be saying stuff about our teacher. I felt is was very “un-Godly” of her.  I just kept quiet.

My favorite teacher, John Schouten was the brother in law to the very intimidating Principal, David McIlrath. David reminded me a lot of my dad. I always saw my dad as distant and intimidating so I was growing up so it felt normal to me. I loved my dad. My dad was a large financial contributer to Liberty Christian Academy and even went on a 2 week long hunting trip with Mr. McIlrath in the mountains of Wyoming. So I really trusted that they all were good people, and amazing Christian teachers. I looked up to all of them with a great deal of respect.

Mary reported the rumors to David McIlrath, the head of the school.

My senior year 1987-1988 I again was sitting at the lunch table and the rumors started up again. Something inside said, “Mary, you have to tell David McIlrath. If this isn’t true a good, godly teacher may have his reputation ruined.”  I told my parents of the rumor and they told me to call David McIlrath and he could take care of it. We trusted these people as reputable Christian leaders of the school. I called Mr. McIlrath and told him I didn’t think it was true but that the kids have been talking about a sexual relationship between my classmate and Mr. Schouten. He thanked me for telling him and said, he would look into it and handle the situation. He felt good about my decision and believed all would be OK.

The student and Schouten were kicked out of the school. (Dee will refrain from commenting but is gnashing her teeth regarding the student getting kicked out as well.)

The next day I walked into my first and favorite Bible class to find an empty desk and my classmate not there. I felt sick to my stomach. All the kid were in a flurry of discussions, rumors etc. I heard one student say if they found out who the student that told on Mr. Schouten was, she would beat the shit out of them. I was terrified, confused, upset and most importantly realized it was true. I think I went numb and the rest of my senior year a blur. I just wanted out of there. I figured David McIlrath was working with the parents and the authorities. I never saw Mr. Schouten again. My parents figured David was taking care of it too and is was the school’s business.  Once I graduated, I thought of my old classmate at times and just wondered whatever happened to her.

Two decades later, Mary discovered that her former teacher had been a pastor for 15 years.

Fast forward approximately 20 years on a Friday and I am reading my twitter feed of my favorite abuse advocates as I do frequently and there was the article about John Schouten. My husband asked what was wrong because I began trembling. I felt sick to my stomach. I never knew my classmate got pregnant with his child. I never knew he didn’t pay for his crime. I didn’t know he had been a PASTOR for the past 15 years!!!!!  It felt like everything was spinning around me.

I have experienced so much in the churches in my area since my HS days. Things that are so horrible I can’t ever speak of it. But here the past came back and I realized yet again I was deceived and lied to again by a religious institution. A thousand questions raced through my mind. A thousand questions are still going through my mind. I just happen to have a passion and have studied church “abuse” in my local area the past 2 years. So, here it is and I want the whole truth this time. We all deserve the whole truth this time, we did 30 years ago.

Mary was startled that Schouten was claiming he had not been a Christian while at the school since it seems he claimed to be.

In this article John and Marilyn Schouten give a “fairy tale” version of their marriage. It sound more like something out of one of those Cheesy Christian books. This is the first time I read this and my jaw keeps dropping. All I can think of is the fantasy con artistry in the article.

He never mentions being a bible teacher, or a Christian boys basketball coach at our school. He never mentions that his pregnant wife at the time he was molesting my classmate was the girls’ cheerleading coach at Liberty Christian Academy. I think these are important details to this story.

“When you are not raised in it reading the Bible, the concept of worship, singing, and praying is foreign, he said.”

This line just floors me. He led in-depth biblical discussions about the Charismatic gifts, grace, mercy, and many other doctrinal issues. He would ask thought provoking questions about God and speak with such authority that made so much sense.  It didn’t appear foreign at all the years I sat under his teaching. This seems to be a Disneyland version of someone else’s life? (1983-1988)

Yet he went to Promise Keepers in 1995 and “discovered a higher truth?” (Ed:This is when Schouten allegedly became a committed Christian)  What? What truth did he preach to us?

He went to Vineyard Leadership Institute in Columbus and then started Vineyard Grace Fellowship.

Mary read the news accounts of his story and was astounded by the *fairy tale* he presented.

So the church did know as late as 2016 that John and Marilyn had serious marriage problems including drugs and infidelity. He claimed it was “before he was saved.”  Well, he rewrote history and the church bought it…..   My question is, what was it that drove that story into the media in that year? Why not in 1999 or sooner?  I don’t know just a question.

Who did he start the church with? Jack King one of the current elders listed on the church website was the husband of the late, Lauren King who was our art teacher and close friends with the McIlrath’s during the years this took place at Liberty Christian Academy. I would be curious to the names of the other founding elders, donors and leaders in 1999 to see how many were connected to Liberty Christian Academy. Did the McIlrath’s John’s brother and sister in law help fund VFG? These are my questions. The current leaders are stating no one knew ever!

(From the church) Weaver said in Schouten’s sermons, he frequently referenced his “rebellious and sinful” actions, including drug use and infidelity, before becoming a Christian later in life. Schouten and his wife, Marilyn, talked to The Advocate about it as part of a 2016 story about themselves and their church.

Weaver said Schouten talked about that part of his life as a way of reminding church members about the teaching that sinners can be forgiven if they seek forgiveness and repent. However, Weaver said the specific details of those incidents were never discussed.

Mary looked at the claims made in the Christian Post.

1. The leaders were sent an email by one of my former classmates this summer when they found out John was a pastor.

“Church leaders told the congregation in a recent email that Schouten offered to resign once church leaders were told of his actions but they did not accept it. They chose instead to place me on PAID administrative leave while leaders made a decision.”

Why wasn’t his resignation taken immediately? Why was he paid and now being the rest of this year and all of next year? He should be paying back the money he took as a polished liar. My classmate is out of the state of limitations. and can’t press charges against the teacher

2.  Mark Weaver stated

“ The incident in question happened well before John Schouten was a Christian.” He was married but had not come to Christ. He came to Christ several years later. And of course, he became a pastor several years after that. He’s nearly 60’s years old.”

WHAT?? With the years they are talking about John should be over 80 years old!!  Are these people unable to add? John was 30 years old 1988 when we graduated and I told on him. So he wasn’t a Christian when, and when did he convert and when did he become a pastor? Fishy…..

3. Mark Weaver stated:

“ When asked if the illegal sexual sin could be classified as rape or sexual assault and if it a was a one time or repeat occurrence with the same person, Mark Weaver states, “We described it the way we described it so we can protect the privacy of the person involved.”

(Mary) So what does describing it for what it was have to do with protecting the victims privacy? How else did they initially describe it to the church? For who’s benefit is my question.

4. Mark Weaver stated:

“ The parties have gone their separate ways and the church will continue on with its mission, and I imagine John and Marilyn will continue on with their work as well,” “ He further noted to the Advocate that despite their differences, Schouten and church leader are still friends. Most of the leaders of the church remain friends with John and Marilyn…..”

(Mary) My questions are what work does the church wish the well in and why are the church leaders and the Schouten’s remain “friends.” Isn’t that a conflict of interest?

5. There are more stories that will be forthcoming.

Mary sent me a couple of emails but I think I will save it for another post.

6. In this article in the Columbus Dispatch, Schouten claimed that he conceived a child with the former student several years after graduation. Mary denies this.

(Mary) This is a lie, she was 19 and it was right after she graduated not several years.

7. Are the Schoutens starting a new church?

(Mary) I am told that John and Marilyn Schouten have started up a new church already (yeah, that’s quick) supposedly called Redeemer Church. I couldn’t find a website yet. I think it is just people meeting in his house like he started VGF.

8. What ever happened to McIlrath?

Well, it appears that the McIlraths are related to John Schouten!! According to Mary:

John is the brother-in-law to David Schouten and brother to his wife, Marilyn (Schouten) McIlrath.I have been told in recent years David and Yvonne divorced and she is still running the school and David started another school of some sort. He has also for many years run a ranch called the Eagle’s Nest for underprivileged kids. They started a charter school and got in trouble for tax and illegal issues there. It was Patriot Prepatory Academy.

He has also started a school for troubled kids known as Briar Patch (how cute…) (Dee: Dang, I can’t use the photo of him unless I pay! It’s not worth it.)

I think Mary’s comment sums it up nicely.

This is the Briar Patch facility for troubled youth that he started up. I hope he treats those kids better than those at LCA.

Summation by Dee:

If I wasn’t leaving for Israel on Monday, I would start making phone calls to the involved parties. I guess it will have to wait. if all goes well, and Mary reminds me in two weeks, I will try to get more information. If McIlrath did not report this to the authorities, then he should have. Therefore, I am worried about the safety of children under his care. Maybe someone could reassure me.


Comments

John Schouten, David McIlrath and Liberty Christian Academy: An Alleged, Unreported, Student Molestation Causes a Pastor to Lose His Job for Now… — 156 Comments

  1. Lol. Thanks. I made my share of typos when I was blogging, helps to have extra (friendly) eyeballs, doesn’t it? You are a compelling writer, we can’t all be our own copy editors all the time.:^)

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  2. I think there are two questions
    1. John Schouten actions which were definitely unethical and probably illegal then especially if the activity started before she was 16 (age of consent is 16 in Ohio and has been that since at least 1920).
    2. The school’s actions and in particular that the principal, David McIlrath, apparently failed to notify the authorities.

    Liberty Christian Academy is presumably the school of that name in Columbus, Ohio. School employees and authorities are mandatory reporters for child abuse in Ohio since at least 1967. Ohio Revised Code Section 2151.421. I’m unsure of when teacher/student relationships became illegal and must be reported (it is now a Felony of the third degree) 2907.03

    1987/88 is the year in question

    One hopes the victim who Schouten used and left pregnant and expelled is ok.

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  3. Editor’s comment: I think that Mr Jesperson believes in certain charismatic practices which involve prophesy. While I believe it is his right to do so, I do not subscribe to this sort of thing. I am leaving this comment up as an example of what I will be banning in the future. Anyone who is into these things may go to some other website that indulges in these practices.

    This reminds me of some friends who were into the Y2K conspiracy. They bought seeds, generators, provisions for making soaps, etc. and then loaded everything up and moved *off the grid.* They got upset when I told them that they were making a mountain out of a molehill. The husband carried around a briefcase with *proof* that the world was going back to the cave era and would cry as he tried to *warn* everyone else.

    On this blog we try to document the evidence for what we believe to be true. This cannot be done with this

    Finally what really irritates me is that this side show detracts from a very real case of sexual abuse in parachurch organization. That’s the problem with zealotry. Their unproven words become more important that hurting people.

    Please feel free to express your displeasure/agreement then return to the subject at hand. Mr Jesperson will be placed in permanent moderation so that this does not happen again.


    ________________

    FYI, this is a bit off topic for this blog but I have an important announcement to make. Back in 2008, before the Great Recession as it is now known was reported on national news outlets I received a couple of words that it was coming. I sent out an email to a short list of friends that I had warning them that this was imminent. Just a few weeks later the news broke as reported on every major news organization in this country.
    Since that time I have become aware that something worse than that was coming. A time of a great storm that would trouble the whole world and create much chaos and destruction in many places. The effect of this will be a great deal of economic, political and societal change. This storm will be the worst time that most Americans alive today have personally experienced. It will be the most difficult of times since the end of the Great Depression/WWII. It may even be worse than those times before it is over. On Christmas day I received a three-part warning to share with my family that the time is short and now is the time to begin preparing for what is coming. I have decided to share this with others as well because there are things that can be practically done to prepare for this international great storm. I do not believe that it will start as fast as what I saw in 2008, but I believe that it is now a matter of months before it hits instead of years.
    But do not take my word for it. Let me humbly suggest that if you are reading this that you decide to ask God if what I am saying is true. He can convince you in ways far greater than any means of persuasion I might try. Heck, I might not even wake up tomorrow. I am just as mortal as anyone. If I can get just one person to look up and take this issue to God, then I will have accomplished something far greater than these Narcissistic jerks who are selling a gospel for money and fame. True leaders point to Jesus Christ and tell you to become personally dependent on Him, not on their own “inherent greatness.”
    I have chosen to share this as a courtesy. You are going to need Jesus in ways much greater than the past. I myself will face real danger up close and need Him too. God always speaks to whomever He wants, because He is God and He can do whatever He wants. The Bible is full of warnings about the future. I hope that someone will take this seriously enough to at least seek God about this. Do what you will about this. What I have seen has me honestly quite concerned for all Christians around the world. May we start taking Him more seriously now before we are forced to by circumstances that are beyond human control. Soon enough there will not be any effective substitute for knowing God’s voice personally and choosing to trust it.
    If you want to comment on this or ask questions, feel free to on Warren’s blog. I read comments there regularly. I rarely do here.

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  4. Mr. Jesperson:
    If you want to comment on this or ask questions, feel free to on Warren’s blog.I read comments there regularly.I rarely do here.

    I am only an occasional visitor here myself, but I do have the courtesy to stay on-topic. And if you won’t even stick around to answer questions… don’t bother.

    Also, a word of prophecy is hardly necessary to know bad times are a’comin… you just have to be paying attention. As the great philosopher Bob Dylan said, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing”. :-/

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  5. “But since the crime was committed before the church was founded, the lawyer determined that the church didn’t have reporting responsibilities. The lawyer also advised that the statute of limitations on the crime had expired.” (Christian Post)

    There should be no statute of limitations for child sex abuse. Regardless of when such crimes occur, an abuser should never be given the sacred office of pastor. Forgive him if he repents? Certainly. Ordain him as pastor, restore him to ministry? NO!!

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  6. Eeyore,

    ‘A “bit” off topic’…
    Seriously?

    Meanwhile there is still work to do. Thanks Dee for “sticking to your knitting”. No misogyny intended.

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  7. Erp: John Schouten actions which were definitely unethical and probably illegal then especially if the activity started before she was 16 (age of consent is 16 in Ohio and has been that since at least 1920).

    1. The age is important BUT there isa huge caveat here. Teachers who have sex with a student, evening who is 18 in a high school are arrested, prosecuted and even sent to prison. They also lose their teaching licenses even when the parents and student ask that she not be arrested.

    https://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-br-new-britain-arrest-west-hartford-teacher-20180202-story.html

    Doctors, nurses, police, firefighters etc are also held to similar standards. If my husband, a cardiologist, had sex with a patient he would lose his license at a minimum and probably go to prison.

    Why do people in churches and parachurch organizations have lower standards than the population at large?

    2. Another thing needs to be taken into consideration. Was this actually a consensual relationship? Most predators are smart and know how to take advantage of vulnerable individuals. Consent is a tricky business here. For example when Andy Savage molested Jules, he claimed she was at the age of consent. As Jules has said, over and over, “I did NOT give consent so it doesn’t matter how old I was.” That is called rape.

    3. People in positions of power often utilize that position to prey on people. he was her teacher. presumably he had some say over her grades, letters for college, etc.

    So I have a jaundiced view of the both *age* and *consent* in the get out of jail free cared of the age of consent. So does the law and professional organizations.

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  8. Mr. Jesperson,

    I will let this comment stand as an example what I would like to avoid on this blog. I know you believe your have received a *word* about what is coming.I know you believe it with all of your heart. However, you will note that when I post, I link to specific things that can be verified. Unfortunately this is something that you cannot do.

    In the future, could you, as well as other, please refrain from prophesying on this blog.

    I am placing you in permanent moderation. So one as you stick to the topic at hand, your comments will be approved. I doubt that Warren Throckmorton will be pleased that you are using his blog as a messaging center but who knows.

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  9. The Mormons call it “lying for the Lord”. It sure seems many of the priciples in this story practice “lying for The Lord”…

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  10. Mr. Jesperson: But do not take my word for it. Let me humbly suggest that if you are reading this that you decide to ask God if what I am saying is true. He can convince you in ways far greater than any means of persuasion I might try.

    While it’s true that a gathering of believers shouldn’t be taking one person’s word for it, this isn’t the right approach, if I understand matters aright. The implications of the wording above is: Ask God to convince you that I’m right. But prophecy should be weighed, or assessed, and that’s not weighing it. More realistic would be, This is what I’ve got; does it resonate with anybody else? Is there some evidence that God is saying this via [at least] two or three independent witnesses?

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  11. I left a comment on the original comment as well. Warren Throckmortion is gong to have a cow if Mr. J uses his website as a personal messaging center.

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  12. A thing that draws my attention in this story is the way the (alleged) at-fault actor appears to hide behind “I did that before I became a true believer.” The motive for this narrative cannot be discerned with certainty, but it might be “I’m different now; please don’t impute guilt for prior transgressions” or “I should be reckoned righteous in Christ since I converted after those transgressions.” Another possibility is to avoid the very negative implications that would follow from having done this thing while publicly confessing Christ and teaching in His Name.

    This might be another illustration of the un-wisdom of entrusting spiritual teaching and oversight responsibility to young people (and especially to young men). No offense is intended to youthful readers; it’s just that a person’s character may not yet be sufficiently clearly manifested to warrant trust.

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  13. What astounds me is Schouten (and others like him) believe they can re-write history and that no one will show up one day to challenge the lies. That is some hardcore self-deception. What’s worse is the number of people, including his wife, who have gone along with it. There should be a specialized study done on deceptive, abusive religious leaders. These guys could seriously be profiled.

    The truth is as plain as the nose on your face – Schouten is a sexual predator, he was or claimed to be a professing Christian while teaching at LCA, he abused a student, impregnated her, and was subsequently allowed to slink away quietly with no consequences, not unlike Andy Savage. He believed that he could mastermind a ‘backstory’ to give him a loophole to allow him to pastor, and that this backstory would actually hold up under scrutiny. I suppose he could have actually created a new loophole for anyone whose past creeps up on them, “I wasn’t REALLY a Christian when I did those things.”….well that doesn’t matter. If you professed to be a Christian, it is presumed you were a Christian, therefore you will be held to that biblical standard.

    Unfortunately, most private Christian schools are not subject to the state laws that public schools are, and most teachers do not hold teaching degrees. I’m not even sure he could have been prosecuted for an improper relationship between teacher/student. He could have been been prosecuted for it if she was a minor, however.

    The guy is a creep, a fraud, and has no business leading a church, and everyone around him that has enabled him to continue in ministry is just as guilty. He certainly has more victims and I hope they find the courage to come forward.

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  14. dee: Was this actually a consensual relationship? Most predators are smart and know how to take advantage of vulnerable individuals. Consent is a tricky business here.

    A painful truth about sexual abuse: some attacks are designed to feel good.

    Anyone will recognize a painful assault. Grooming, deceit, and seduction are a different kettle of fish. The victim might feel special and happy while the contact is going on. Add a cup of spiked punch or a romantic secluded spot, and hey presto! She (or he) wanted it! They’re in love! But it is still destructive, and it is still sin, often adultery, a firing offense, and a crime. It could be either ra pe or statutory ra pe.

    Sudden, violent assault creates immediate trauma. A smooth assault on a groomed victim creates trauma that can take days or decades to unfold in the psyche. The victim is confused, by design.

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  15. ION: Cooking

    This, too, is a bit of a tangent, but I’ve been experimenting with variations on the recipe for crême patissière that I’ve been using off the interweb. And it turns out that you do NOT want plain flour in it – which makes it taste of flour – but should thicken it by adding a bit more cornflour.

    So, the ingredients become:
     Half a pint or so of full-lard milk
     25g castor sugar (not sure what that’s called on the left of the Atlantic, but it’ll certainly be a Thing)
     Vanilla to taste, but you MUST put some in – no excuses
     5 egg yolks
     2 heaped teaspoons of cornflour

    Result: a bangin’ vanilla cream sauce. Of course, if you add cocoa (about 30g) then you get bangin’ chocolate cream sauce.

    Alert Wartburgers will discern that obtaining 5 egg-yolks will simultaneously produce 5 egg-whites. I recommend chocolate mousse.

    IHTIH

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  16. Anna: I’m not even sure he could have been prosecuted for an improper relationship between teacher/student.

    Assuming that a girl was 15 and a teacher was an older married man when this started, I think an Ohio prosecutor in the 1980s would have considered charging the teacher. The girl, her parents, or the school would have had to report it to the police first.

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  17. Friend,

    Er… not sure whether a US pint differs from a UK pint, but the pint whereof I speak is 568 ml. “Half a pint or so” is therefore 300 ml or so. It depends on how many people are coming to dinner, and how thick you like your sauce, obviously.

    Full-lard… tell it like it is, say I!

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  18. Nick Bulbeck,

    “And it turns out that you do NOT want plain flour in it – which makes it taste of flour – but should thicken it by adding a bit more cornflour.”
    ++++++++++++++

    cornSTARCH, i presume? the silky white powder for thickening things?

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  19. dee: 1. The age is important BUT there isa huge caveat here. Teachers who have sex with a student, evening who is 18 in a high school are arrested, prosecuted and even sent to prison.

    Now they do but was this true in the 1980s in Ohio? I’m trying to figure out what the actual then prosecutable crimes were (as opposed to unethical but not officially illegal actions). The school certainly considered it immoral but that both parties were guilty; they failed to report it to the state for investigation as child abuse. I suspect but don’t know whether what they did was illegal then. This would definitely make the principal (and any others in the school administration who knew) unfit to be heading schools now (as opposed to a strong suggestion that they are unfit).

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  20. dee: I left a comment on the original comment as well. Warren Throckmortion is gong to have a cow if Mr. J uses his website as a personal messaging center.

    Are you even sure this is the real Mr. Jesperson? I went over to Warren’s blog to see if he’d posted this prophecy over there and he has not. This seems completely out of character.

    Outside of that, it’s a distraction and IMHO kind of like predicting the date of the Second Coming when “no man knows the day nor the hour.” In the meantime, there are sex offenders running churches who should not be!

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  21. They abuse started when she was 13 while babysitting the principal’s daughter at John Schouten’s house. Also, when the principal who already knew was “told” he convinced her parents that the victim would be blamed if they pressed charges! After she graduated and he had been fired he got her pregnant and told her she needed to get an abortion. Yeah, a real stand up guy. Even getting caught and off the criminal hook still pursued her. He should not be a PASTOR or around kids in any way………..

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  22. Hi,
    Sometimes I get confused who is talking on this post-sometimes it is a response and/or a direct speaker. Are Kr and Annon saying that they were students in the original classroom and have first hand knowledge of the specifics of this unfortunate situation?

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  23. My understanding of History is that the Roman emperor Constantine delayed his baptism as a Christian until he was on his death bed. The popular teaching at the time was that God would forgive everything you have done up until your baptism, but everything after your baptism was on you. So the logical thing was to wait to be converted and baptized until you were too old and infirm to really get in any serious mischief.

    This Schouten character seems to be trying to use a similar loophole. If there is something terrible in your past, clean it was before you became a Christian, a real Christian, and therefore it’s forgiven. All consequences are canceled and invalid. But this sort of loophole only works inside the church bubble.

    By the way, Dee, I appreciate the way you dealt with Mr. Jesperson. His words sounds very familiar. I was a young Christian in the early 1980s, when societal collapse and the secret return of Christ in a left behind style rapture were always just around the corner. I paid a very high price 4 living with that constant sense of dread, the lack of Hope in any kind of future, and the lack of motivation to build a life and career. As a result, I’m something of a fearoholic, and I have to stay away from that kind of thinking.

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  24. Nick Bulbeck: Er… not sure whether a US pint differs from a UK pint

    That pint of lager at your local is what we would call 20 ounces. Ours is 16 ounces. Apparently the nice big pint was standardized in Britain in 1824, but we retained the old measure. Did Britain become more cheerful that year?

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  25. dee,

    Frivolity aside, if you’d like any level of editing assistance, I’d be honoured (and I don’t think I’m alone in that). Anyway, you know where I live…

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  26. Anna: Schouten is a sexual predator, he was or claimed to be a professing Christian while teaching at LCA, he abused a student, impregnated her, and was subsequently allowed to slink away quietly with no consequences

    uhhhh … falls far short of the qualifications for “pastor”

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  27. I was in the class of 88 as well and can tell you John and David M. are scum of the earth. I also believe KR knows lots of rumors and some facts but does not know as much as she thinks she does if KR is the person I think they are. (It was a small class and only a few “K”s that it could be.)

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  28. From the Columbus Dispatch–which appears to have gotten the facts wrong as well…..

    Several years later, after the girl had graduated, the two got back together and conceived a child. Weaver said the girl’s identity will not be released to respect her and her family’s privacy.

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  29. I was also in the class of 88 at LCA. I was beat, humiliated and threatened on a daily basis by Dave. To the point I ran away and tried to commit suicide as well. John had even held myself and a friend after homeroom and asked us to get drugs for him. I told my parents but they wouldn’t believe me, because Dave and John were Christians and wouldn’t lie to them. Dave and John covered up the affair and threatened people not to tell. Dave and John are very sick and abusive people. Scum of the earth. I know first hand. They even tried to set up a burglary at the school to get me kicked out. What they did to me and others was horrific. I just spoke to a young man that attended the Briar Patch school. It was upsetting. He was beat and body slammed along with another boy at the hands of Dave’s stepson. And accused of theft to get him kicked out! The exact same thing Dave did to me!!! The abuse is still alive and active along with the same pattern. Dave you are an abusive piece of crap and a liar. And John is a pedophile. Period.

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  30. Thanks LCA and Kr for replying. I went to a private christian school in the early 80’s and my graduating class had a whopping 19 students. I often wonder how many are still walking a life of faith with the Lord. I walked away for many years, am still a bit jaded and and a tad disillusioned, but am on firm ground. I am proud to be called Evangelical but have come to odds with others due to the strong stream of Fundamentalism streaming through the veins of Evangelicalism and Calvinism. I do not mention to others in my church that mainstream geology shows that man did not lived with the beloved Dino’s. I find it interesting that in England many christians do not struggle with some of the issues that are so important to fundamentalists in America. It does not seem that Apocalypse fever has much traction in the greater christian world either. Life is already hell for many persecuted believers.

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  31. To all the former students of LCA

    I am so sorry for what you all have endured. I wanted to get this initial post out before leaving for Israel for 2 weeks. Usually I’m around to see what I can do to be of assistance.

    I have asked Mary to keep an eye on things here. I return late on 1/21 and would like to touch base at that time to see if we could post some further stories.

    I am so impressed with the comments from all of the former LCA students. I would suggest you all think about a way to join forces and maybe we could see about contacting media in your area. Think about writing a few stories and even collaborating on one or two posts. TWW is more than happy to post your stories at that time as well.

    Blessings to you all. I pray for Shalom.

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  32. Anna,

    Many states have had mandatory reporting laws regarding minors for all schools, both public and religious, as well as churches, going back to the 1980s. I know it isn’t true in all states, but many do. If you’re a teacher, pastor, social worker, health professional–basically any of the helping professions-you become a mandatory reporter as soon as you get your licensing and go to work. i was officially credentialed as a teacher in 1981, and the only years I didn’t take a mandatory child abuse reporting class was when I was overseas (but, my sending mission board did provide what information they could about reporting/social services within the country where I served, which was very little at that time). There is no excuse for churches not to report, and they end up causing bigger issues for themselves and victims when they are found out. I find it fascinating that churches who preach Rom. 13 so vigorously from the pulpit (being subject to the governmental authorities) will not make the legal reports they should.

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  33. My facts are from the survivor. I will take her word over any ones else’s. Sorry……. this LCA needs to answer some tough questions. Vineyard Grace Fellowship needs to have an independent investigation of the truth of who is clean and who is dirty. Vineyard Columbus needs to answer why they really broke rank with VGF in 2017 a year after the news story of John and Marilyn’s “fantasy” marriage story. David and Yvonne McIrath need to answer why they did not do their legal duty to report to authorities………. time is up…. it is time for some God Damn truth……

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  34. LCA Class of 88,

    My facts are from the survivor. I will take her word over any ones else’s. Sorry……. this LCA needs to answer some tough questions. Vineyard Grace Fellowship needs to have an independent investigation of the truth of who is clean and who is dirty. Vineyard Columbus needs to answer why they really broke rank with VGF in 2017 a year after the news story of John and Marilyn’s “fantasy” marriage story. David and Yvonne McIrath need to answer why they did not do their legal duty to report to authorities………. time is up…. it is time for some God Damn truth……

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  35. Friend,

    Thank you! As of 2 months ago I believed LCA and the McIraths had reported it to authorities and had done the right thing. 30 years later I am appalled at their actions.

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  36. LCA Class of 88,

    I was totally oblivious to the details or the fact that the school covered up the abuse. 2 months ago I was stunned to read the news articles. I even promoted LCA and sent my kids there for awhile with the trust what was right had been done. Since then I have talked to the survivor, other classmate and am appalled I believed in LCA. So if you have additional information to bring justice and protect future students by all means speak.

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  37. LCA Class of 88,

    I was totally oblivious to the details or the fact that the school covered up the abuse. 2 months ago I was stunned to read the news articles. I even promoted LCA and sent my kids there for awhile with the trust what was right had been done. Since then I have talked to the survivor, other classmate and am appalled I believed in LCA. So if you have additional information to bring justice and protect future students by all means speak.

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  38. Former LCA students,
    Thank you for sharing and forthrightness. There are things one never forgets. When things start buzzing on TWW, I have noticed that events start happening in the wider world and people start listening. The power of the internet is amazing if used correctly. I went to a small christian school for one year in Aberdeen, Washington and I did something wrong-I can’t remember what. With two other boys I had to grab my ankle and get whacked once with a paddle with holes in it. That hurt! This was back in 78.

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  39. Lance,

    “When things start buzzing on TWW, I have noticed that events start happening in the wider world and people start listening.”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    well, isn’t that the coolest thing i’ve heard all day!

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  40. Lance,

    I am so sorry. I have experienced abuse in the churches directly and indirectly over the years since graduating LCA. Sadly. Each time I chalked it up to one bad egg. But now years later I realize the abuse that goes on in religious institutions is regular and common, not the exception., The worse place in the world to be sexually exploited or abused is im a religious environment. The theology and unspoken rules and manipulation always favors the immoral abuses or protects the institution.. This needs to stop! The people that alllow this sickness are the people who attend and support these hell hole “Houses of God” . I will never step foot in another, as the state of these cult abuse places continue to run unsafejy without accountibuty. I believe “Evangelicals” are the most lost and clueless people in the world. They give excuse, cover up, junk theology to continue a culture that is unsafe. I personally am appalled that I was raised in it, believed in it, taught my kids about it and have any association with it. My life has been peace filled and joy since I left the organized church 2 years ago. They have nothing to offer spiritually and have so much potential for diabolical evil. So defend away the indefensible! I won’t be there to care. But I will be here on the outside to give the throw away victims the belief, being heard, justice and unconditional love the church can’t seem to muster. So please fill me in LCA class of 88. I am all ears.

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  41. Lance,

    “I find it interesting that in England many christians do not struggle with some of the issues that are so important to fundamentalists in America.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    well, Puritanism which took root in The New World has left a legacy of DNA in American culture. Taking things and themselves so seriously. Afraid of the human body and sex so that both are supercharged with allure.

    Having family and friends in a few European countries has been enlightening and good for perspective, to say the least.
    ————————————

    “It does not seem that Apocalypse fever has much traction in the greater christian world either. Life is already hell for many persecuted believers.”
    +++++++++++

    apocalypse fever… perhaps what happens when Puritan DNA meets leisure/wealth.

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  42. Kr,

    “The people that alllow this sickness are the people who attend and support these hell hole “Houses of God” .”
    ++++++++++++++++

    your comment as a whole is so very unvarnished. which i APPRECIATE!!

    chiming in to say the christian leaders who have too much to lose (career, income, power, significance) to be able to consider what is right & ethical & good & decent are the main players in allowing this sickness.

    i’ll refrain from naming them at the moment…(only because i’m hungry and spaghetti and meatballs are calling my name!!)

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  43. As little belief as I have in the institutions of organized Religion, I just want to say to all those who have spent their entire lives viewing ‘The Church’ as The Body of Christ – and that was me once – that they are not one and the same. Should the entire Institution known as Christianity lose much of its standing as the bastion of God on earth, it would not by any means lessen the truth of who God is and how he has reached out to us through his Son.

    Religions are man-made, and usually designed to bring power, wealth and influence to those who create and run them. God is real, faithful and loving. Please do not conflate the two or lose faith in that which is true and good due to the evil of that which is false.

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  44. Lance:
    Former LCA students,
    Thank you for sharing and forthrightness. There are things one never forgets. When things start buzzing on TWW, I have noticed that events start happening in the wider world and people start listening. The power of the internet is amazing if used correctly. I went to a small christian school for one year in Aberdeen, Washington and I did something wrong-I can’t remember what. With two other boys I had to grab my ankle and get whacked once with a paddle with holes in it. That hurt! This was back in 78.

    I think my school played you guys! What was your last year?

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  45. Nathan Priddis,

    Lance:
    Former LCA students,
    Thank you for sharing and forthrightness. There are things one never forgets. When things start buzzing on TWW, I have noticed that events start happening in the wider world and people start listening. The power of the internet is amazing if used correctly. I went to a small christian school for one year in Aberdeen, Washington and I did something wrong-I can’t remember what. With two other boys I had to grab my ankle and get whacked once with a paddle with holes in it. That hurt! This was back in 78.

    Oops. I meant to ask did you ever go back to games later?
    Btw. Did you have Gothard related curriculum?

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  46. TS00:

    Religions are man-made, and usually designed to bring power, wealth and influence to those who create and run them. God is real, faithful and loving. Please do not conflate the two or lose faith in that which is true and good due to the evil of that which is false.

    Well said!!! Religions are man-made and come with chains. The Savior, I serve and will continue to serve, only brings freedom from man’s chains!

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  47. Watchman on the Wall: Well said!!! Religions are man-made and come withchains. The Savior, I serve and will continue to serve, only brings freedom from man’s chains!

    I want to believe this, but I don’t see how to get around the fact that everything we know about the Savior is man-made in the sense that all the oral and written traditions (including the bible) were handed down by an organization calling itself the church. There were also competing christianities that the church condemned as various heresies. Did the right version of Christianity survive? How can we be confident one way or another since we don’t have anything but evidence that was filtered by man-made organizations?

    It seems like we have the choice of rejecting the institution entirely, in which case I don’t know what is left of Christianity, or choosing from among the plethora of institutions all calling themselves the real church in hopes of finding the best approximation of what the church is supposed to look like.

    In any case, I believe a true church would be quick to expose and purge all forms of abuse from its midst.

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  48. Ken F (aka Tweed):
    It seems like we have the choice of rejecting the institution entirely, in which case I don’t know what is left of Christianity, or choosing from among the plethora of institutions all calling themselves the real church in hopes of finding the best approximation of what the church is supposed to look like.

    “among the plethora” includes the long history of the churches, and the long history of the evolution of dogma. My intuition is that “earlier, with less and less well-defined dogma” may be closer to the Founder’s intentions.

    Ecclesiastes 5:2 comes to mind, especially “let you words be few”. That might be wise counsel concerning dogmas as well.

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  49. TS00: Should the entire Institution known as Christianity lose much of its standing as the bastion of God on earth, it would not by any means lessen the truth of who God is and how he has reached out to us through his Son.

    Amen! Jesus came to redeem and work through individuals, not institutions. The institution we call “church” is OK if it is reaching lost souls for Christ, discipling them in God’s word, equipping them to do the work of the ministry, and then releasing them into the world to fulfill the Great Commission. Anything less than this is doing church without God. Believers need to come to grips with the fact that much of organized religion is not the Body of Christ. If the Holy Spirit was lifted out of the 21st century church, most of the stuff would still go on. Instead of organizing, we should have been agonizing.

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  50. Linn: i was officially credentialed as a teacher in 1981, and the only years I didn’t take a mandatory child abuse reporting class was when I was overseas

    Thanks for the info. Beyond this, crude phrases such as “17 will get you 20” have been circulating among teenagers for a long, long time. Age of consent is not a novel concept taught only to mandatory reporters.

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  51. Mary: I was totally oblivious to the details or the fact that the school covered up the abuse.

    Just fyi, the paragraph that starts with this comment is posted under two different screen names. It happens…

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  52. Also class of 88 student: Briar Patch school

    Could there be an odder name for a school? For a Christian school for at-risk youngsters? Br’er Rabbit begs Br’er Fox not to throw him into the briar patch—but he secretly wants to go there, because he was born in the briar patch, and Br’er Fox can’t reach him there and cook him for dinner. (As for the associations with Disney and “Song of the South,” I’d need an espresso and a DSM-V.)

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  53. I speculate that once these assaults start to be reported timely, the cost of defending the resulting litigation and the subsequent increase in the costs of insurance will make private Christian schools financially unsustainable.

    Presumably these problems also arise in non-religious private schools. Are we seeing the beginning of end of private primary and secondary schools in US?

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  54. elastigirl,

    I still have a hard time believing that people listen to this blog. 10 years ago I thought I would get stuff off my chest and a few people might hear.

    The most important thing for me is this. Even though it is harder to manage when the blog gets busy, the fact that it is a busy blog means that people’s stories get told. That is wonderful!

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  55. dee,

    Dee, I agree. I think all of us who run blogs, FB pages or other reports on abusive religious environments thought we were the few, the only ones to suffer. In 18 months of starting Safe Sheep:Church Abuse Awareness I have 4500 followers and a monthly reach of 170,000 and over 60,000 +comments a month! Your blog was the beginning for me to believe maybe I wasn’t the only one. Churches/Christian environments have thrived for years by silencing, shaming, blaming and isolating their victims. But people like yourself have prove that this will no longer work well for these people and places. Obviously, a sleeping monster has been awakened and victims and survivors are finally gaining the platforms and support the churches denied them. Thank you for all you do as well as the many other advocates!

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  56. dee:
    elastigirl,

    I still have a hard time believing that people listen to this blog. 10 years ago I thought I would get stuff off my chest and a few people might hear.

    The most important thing for me is this. Even though it is harder to manage when the blog gets busy, the fact that it is a busy blog means that people’s stories get told. That is wonderful!

    Nature abhores a vacume. The fact that there is a demand for this medium, is a sign some take the Kingdom of God seriously, and it is worthy of contemplation.

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  57. Nathan Priddis: The fact that there is a demand for this medium, is a sign some take the Kingdom of God seriously, and it is worthy of contemplation.

    People who mind their P(s) and Q(s), and who don’t do the kinds of things to others they wouldn’t want done to themselves, need no king.

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  58. Samuel Conner: My intuition is that “earlier, with less and less well-defined dogma” may be closer to the Founder’s intentions.

    This is where it gets tricky. The earliest Christian writings outside the NT include letters from Polycarp and Ignatius (both disciples of John the apostle), the Didache, and 1 Clement. All of them paint a picture of the early church that looks much more Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox than anything protestant (with the possible exception of sacramental high church denominations). The structure of bishops, priests. And deacons appear to have been fully in place very early in Christian history, along with liturgical worship services. By the 2nd century Irenaeus was able to claim that all Christians everywhere followed the same traditions.

    On the bright side, those early witings highlighted the importance of morality and leaders setting the example. Much of the Didache is about how to spot corrupt leaders. And the Didache specifically condemns pederasty. So I suspect the problem is not so much the fact of an institutional church. Rather, it is the norms of the church that matter.

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  59. Nathan Priddis,

    I can’t remember the name of the school off hand as I moved around a lot back then. It was in 8th grade. I was told later that one of the leaders took off with a lot of money that was raised for this particular school. I remember hearing him at a fund raiser stating, “We need money”. Fortunately, our curriculum was not Bill Gothard based although I am very familiar with his ministry. He was a big thing in the 80’s and I went to several of his meetings-he would fill up the stadium in Minneapolis. As a high schooler my dad once to gave me a spanking ala B.G. theology. It did not hurt but I remember thinking how ludicrous the whole situation was. My dad was a good father but misguided by aberrant theology. Luckily, although B.G. was an influence on our faith community it was not taught in any Sunday School or curriculum. Recently I told my folks about all the victims of B.G. and they were quite shocked and did not realize the nastiness of his ministry. I remember liking the books and how they looked-I collected some but never read them much. Of course, Hal Lindsey and the Left Behind craze was in full bloom during the late 70’s and early 80’s. None of us wanted to be left behind and face the tribulation. It is telling that most believe the church will be raptured before the great tribulation-how convenient. Tell that to the middle eastern christians who have been beheaded for their faith. We also had Mike Waranke-the supposedly former Satanist who turned out to be a major con artist. We were told of all the satanic and witch covens who ritually abused all these children. We we also told that all rock was satanic and that subliminal messages were imbedded in the soundtracks-and don’t even get me started on Hotel California by the Eagles. The bright spot was Kieth Green-what an awesome artist and lyricist. Oh well-I survived with my faith intact. When your a student you are fed a lot of crap, and if your community and family are taken in by these false beliefs then most likely an impressionable youth will be. I am over 50 now and have been exposed to a world far beyond American Evangelicalism, but I have had to self study and seek out others who think differently. The Church are those people of God who worship Him in Spirit and Truth. Paul stated to not forsake the meeting of the Brethren. Christianity is not a lone wolf activity-when Jesus confronted Paul He asked him “Why are you persecuting Me? At that time Paul was persecuting the church. Jesus aligns himself with the Body of Christ. So whether it is a small group or an organized church-we need each other. I do not wish to sound preachy-but I am also responding to some of the other comments. Some bodies of believers are less jacked up than others and do desire to follow His example.

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  60. My stepdad was in the military for 41 yrs fulltime. He was tough and brutal and abusive. But honest. After I ran away because of the constant mental and physical abuse at LCA, he had a discussion with Dave Mcilwrath. I don’t know what was said, but I clearly remember him telling me years later, that McIlrath was a liar and something else bad was going on at that school. And he apologized for not believing me, about the things I went thru at LCA. First off, my stepdad NEVER apologized to anyone. And something about Dave set him off. I also found out later that the school would not assist in finding me, and no help to the police. Why? Because Dave did not want the police snooping around because he didn’t want them to find out about John the pedophile. Great Christian people!!! Snakes and liars. Trash. And I’m 99% sure the same abuse is happening at Briar Patch. And from 2 current victims they are being beat at the hands of Dave’s stepson.(allegedly) but what was described to me, it’s the exact same mental and physical abuse. The sad part is, nobody will help these kids at Briar Patch because they’re labeled as “troubled youth” and “liars” and nobody will believe them. I believe them, because their stories of abuse are almost and exact match to my story. Dave’s created his perfect utopia of slave child labor on his ranch, that’s supposed to be “helpful” as he gets all of his work done and collects lots of grant money for his school. Free money? Free labor? And gets to be abusive and controlling and nobody to tell on him.

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  61. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    “So I suspect the problem is not so much the fact of an institutional church. Rather, it is the norms of the church that matter.”
    ++++++++++++++

    all very interesting.

    in your research, are you trying to make a case for the institutional church? or just trying to understand the meaning of the institutional church?

    just trying to put words to my thoughts (moving around in my mind like a darting spot of light, impossible to catch)…

    civilization, society evolves. we learn, we grow. freedom from systems for self-determination seems to me to be the trajectory.

    if we can read and understand, it seems to me that what wants to happen is the shedding of the institution. (in the same way that species shed unneeded features over time)

    i don’t know how well i did, here…

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  62. elastigirl,

    …another try–

    it’s like, there will always be systems of organization. but i can’t help but see these systems as becoming lighter, the lines contracting to very fine and minimal instead of heavy, thick, and blocked/bolted/coiled together.

    weird-tangential-fest, don’t mind me.

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  63. If people couldn’t “sell” the name of Jesus or make a dime off His name…how many “Christians” would be?

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  64. elastigirl: in your research, are you trying to make a case for the institutional church? or just trying to understand the meaning of the institutional church?

    Trying to figure out where to participate in church. I quit my SBC church last spring because of its slow slide into Calvinism along with some personal things that happened. But my real quest began in 2013 when New-Calvinism started to destroy my sons. That caused me to do a lot of digging, which led me down the path of early church history. It turned out that the early church looked much different from what I had hoped and expected. But I stuck with the pursuit in hopes that I could find an expression of Christianity that would be close. Eastern Orthodox is possibly the closest, but even there I found inconsistencies. Right now I am back to my UMC roots until I figure out whether or not that is where I want to stay.

    As far as institutions and organizations go, I don’t believe the church should be an institution. On the other hand, I don’t think it can be avoided because we humans tend to organize around things we care about. So rather than shun organiizations and institutions altogether, the better path might be trying to find or create ones that have good norms. The early Christian writings seemed to stress this, but apparently not not very successfully and for very long. Or perhaps church institutions did not stick with the basics that were handed down. By now its like a Gordian knot.

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  65. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    “Or perhaps church institutions did not stick with the basics that were handed down. By now its like a Gordian knot.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    ok, had to look up Gordian Knot.

    mid 16th century: from the legend that Gordius, king of Gordium, tied an intricate knot and prophesied that whoever untied it would become the ruler of Asia. It was cut through with a sword by Alexander the Great.

    taking out $ / revenue from ‘church’ would be a great swing of the sword.

    (or shot from Indiana Jones revolver — moment of doom with scary sabre-master snuffed with one shot) [if you can quote the whole 1st film, like me]

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  66. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    “Trying to figure out where to participate in church.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    i wish you well.

    i’m on a long sabbatical. at the moment, i can only fathom something very liturgical. just enough to draw my thoughts God-ward, nothing more.

    i don’t need another sermon. i’ve heard ’em all. know exactly what’s coming, i can finish each sentence myself. certainly don’t need any more christian music. i just got my toes to relax from curling backwards for so many years…

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  67. Ken F (aka Tweed): my real quest began in 2013 when New-Calvinism started to destroy my sons.

    If you don’t mind sharing, what actions did you take? How are they doing?

    When I burned out, offspring associated church with my despondency. We taught beliefs at home, and waited for the “church = sobbing mother” link to die away as I slowly recovered. Theologically, I don’t worry about the salvation of offspring: we completed the faith rituals, and also see the next generation living out our values. I have returned to church, but others are not yet drawn to join me. Given the circumstances, I trust that God will forgive us.

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  68. I believe many of us here at TWW have been spiritually abused in the organized church and by the powers that be. I feel we love Christ and maybe understand His love and grace more than the “boys in charge”. Most of us have been on a journey of spiritual freedom from the organized church….and the journey has been long and hard.

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  69. Ken F (aka Tweed): This is where it gets tricky. The earliest Christian writings outside the NT include letters from Polycarp and Ignatius (both disciples of John the apostle), the Didache, and 1 Clement. All of them paint a picture of the early church that looks much more Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox than anything protestant (with the possible exception of sacramental high church denominations). The structure of bishops, priests. And deacons appear to have been fully in place very early in Christian history, along with liturgical worship services. By the 2nd century Irenaeus was able to claim that all Christians everywhere followed the same traditions.

    On the bright side, those early witings highlighted the importance of morality and leaders setting the example. Much of the Didache is about how to spot corrupt leaders. And the Didache specifically condemns pederasty. So I suspect the problem is not so much the fact of an institutional church. Rather, it is the norms of the church that matter.

    Agreed; my readings in the early Fathers has been mostly focused on trying to discern the contours of what early dogmatic “personal eschatology” may have been. There does not appear to be a consensus that resembles the present prevailing view. Along the way, I too have noticed that these earliest writers are already keenly concerned with authority structures within the churches.

    Behavioral norms are, of course, exceedingly important in OT religion. That there is so much of this in Jesus’ ethical teaching might be chalked up to the idea that He and His hearers were still “under the Law” and consequently His teaching was within those parameters. But I suspect that there is intended to be a lot continuity of this emphasis between OT and NT. Paul’s emphasis on “one another” and the idea of “adorning the Gospel” with “love and good deeds” might be illustrations of this in plainly post-OT context.

    From my readings in NT Wright, it appears that abstract doctrine, which is such a pre-occupation in (many of) the present-day churches was not such a big deal in pre-AD70 Judaism. NTW thinks that Paul basically founded christian theology as a way of creating boundary markers for the gentile churches that would function as symbolic replacements for the distinguishing marks of Old Israel (circumcision, Sabbath, food laws) that had excluded Gentiles from participation in the worship of YHWH.

    But Paul’s confessional markers appear to be to be surprisingly spare — one is “inside” if one confesses Christ as lord and believes that God raised Christ from the dead. This is something that both Law-observant Jews and non-observant Gentiles could do. That basic message (Christ’s resurrection and lord-ship) is, it seems to me, what “the gospel” actually was in Paul’s gentile mission.

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  70. Kr:
    Samuel Conner,

    I believe if they are places that children are being abused and not protected they need put out of business. Sad that this may be the reality.

    I’m not even certain that this is “sad”; it might be “just.” To the extent that the “ecosystem” of schools that work with churches to maintain social control is corrupted and co-opted into the unrighteous agendas of officers who are using their offices to advance their own perceived interests, rather than the interests of Christ and the interests of the people in their care, it should be swept away. It seems (to me) unlikely that it can be reformed.

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  71. Muff Potter: People who mind their P(s) and Q(s), and who don’t do the kinds of things to others they wouldn’t want done to themselves, need no king.

    Got today’s deep-ventilation belly laugh from this; thank you!

    It reminds me of an episode of “the 11th Doctor”, “A good man goes to war”

    MK: “The problem with good men is that they have too many rules”

    11: “Good men don’t need rules. (And today is not the day to find out why I have so many)”

    And THAT reminds me of Galatians 5:22-23, that those who manifest the fruit of the Spirit have transcended the constraints of Law. Law doesn’t really have anything to say to them.

    Or Romans 13:10, that “love does no harm to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law”

    And that leads me back to Ken F (aka Tweed)’s reading in Early Church hierarchy. I think that Paul’s intention was that “church officers” would be examples of Christ’s character who would lead by example and be instruments of the Spirit for transformation toward the likeness of Christ, “from glory to glory,” of their flocks.

    At some point this vision of “what the Church was about” seems to have been replaced (at least in the West) with a primarily protective concern to make sure that people avoided post-mortem punishments (via sacramental infusion of grace, or stimulation of true-faith through sound preaching and doctrine). I have the impression that in the East, the positive vision of transformation toward Christ remained closer to the center of pastoral concern.

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  72. Watchman on the Wall: I believe many of us here at TWW have been spiritually abused in the organized church and by the powers that be.

    No doubt about it! It’s clear that many Wartburgers have been in churches under authoritarian leaders who controlled their basic right to exercise free will in spiritual matters. From that experience, they inform and warn others.

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  73. elastigirl: certainly don’t need any more christian music. i just got my toes to relax from curling backwards for so many years…

    I feel the same.

    Most of ixtian music (but not all) is maudlin tripe (my opinion).

    Brahms 1st symphony, Beethoven’s pathetique sonata (2nd movement), Scheherazade, that’s the kinda’ stuff that inspires me.

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  74. Friend,

    “Theologically, I don’t worry about the salvation of offspring: we completed the faith rituals, and also see the next generation living out our values. I have returned to church, but others are not yet drawn to join me. Given the circumstances, I trust that God will forgive us.”
    ++++++++++++++

    i appreciate your comment.

    i seriously doubt there is anything for God to forgive.

    This is really our hope (isn’t it?) — the next generation (our family) living out our values. not the method or the form. just the values. you’ve done well.

    i see my verge-of-adulthood son being kind & responsible, with a good work ethic, and joining in on occasion when we all pray together. i assume wisdom will grow with experience.

    i have no reason not to be very proud, peacefully so.

    how he does the rest, well, there’s a variety to choose from and it’s entirely up to him. (in hope that kindness and common sense prevail)

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  75. Friend: If you don’t mind sharing, what actions did you take? How are they doing?

    Both are doing much better, but one of them was pretty much inoculated against Christianity. The brand of New-Calvinism that hurt him was combined with the missional movement and a strong “call-out” culture that convinced him he is not among the elect and that God does not love him. I did my best to counter it by diving into the lies that took him down, but the New-Calvinist logic was very convincing to him. I think Max said New-Calvinism is creating more atheists than Christians. My other son recovered his faith by feeding on writers like George MacDonald, CK Chesterton, and CS Lewis.

    As a side note, I discovered TWW because it kept popping up on my internet searches. I was skeptical at first but finally decided to participate in some of the conversations. The commenters here have given me lots of great leads.

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  76. Muff Potter,

    “Brahms 1st symphony, Beethoven’s pathetique sonata (2nd movement), Scheherazade, that’s the kinda’ stuff that inspires me.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    ohhhh, if only you could hear it….

    i’ve spent the last half hour searching for what i heard on the classical radio station a few years ago —

    Queen’s Who Wants To Live Forever, featuring either cello or violin with some back up instrumentation, or string quartet

    …but BLAST, a 30 minute cursory search yielded only copies of the cover.

    it was truly the most beautiful and moving thing i’ve ever heard. nothing comes close (at least for me).

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  77. Former LCA 88: Dave’s created his perfect utopia of slave child labor on his ranch, that’s supposed to be “helpful” as he gets all of his work done and collects lots of grant money for his school. Free money? Free labor? And gets to be abusive and controlling and nobody to tell on him.

    I’m afraid that’s the thought that occurred to me as well. A lot like Gothard, in his ‘camps’ and ‘university’ that used troubled youth to do all of his work, write his curricula, etc. and use for his perverted pleasure. Then there are the sad stories that come out of Hephzibah House in Indiana. I am no saying that no one truly seeks to help troubled children . . . but that all such children need to be questioned and listened to to ensure their safety.

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  78. elastigirl: Queen’s Who Wants To Live Forever, featuring either cello or violin with some back up instrumentation, or string quartet

    …but BLAST, a 30 minute cursory search yielded only copies of the cover.

    it was truly the most beautiful and moving thing i’ve ever heard. nothing comes close

    If you ever find it, please share . . . you’ve piqued my interest.

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  79. Lance: We also had Mike Waranke-the supposedly former Satanist who turned out to be a major con artist. We were told of all the satanic and witch covens who ritually abused all these children.

    Tell me about it.
    I was heavily into Dungeons & Dragons at the time. (Need I say more?)
    Fortunately I was also between “None” and “Done” at the time, so I was able to stay under the radar.

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  80. Ken F (aka Tweed): one of them was pretty much inoculated against Christianity.

    but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’ —Matthew 19:14

    I’m not finding the verse where Jesus says a person harmed by believers has an obligation to develop a robust faith and a lifelong habit of churchgoing. What I see is love and mercy.

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  81. Lance: Of course, Hal Lindsey and the Left Behind craze was in full bloom during the late 70’s and early 80’s.

    What do you think messed up my head in the Seventies? Especially when Lindsay’s “plain meaning of Revelation” was ALL about Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War. I coined the term “Christians For Nuclear War” to describe it.

    None of us wanted to be left behind and face the tribulation. It is telling that most believe the church will be raptured before the great tribulation-how convenient.

    Especially when it was Prophesied/Proven From SCRIPTURE that the Rapture would go down the second before the incoming Russian ICBMs detonate on top of you, so you get to watch the spectator sport from your catered box seat in Heaven. After all…

    “It’s All Gonna Burn.”
    “This World is Not My Home; I’m Just Passin’ Thru…”
    “Don’t Be LEFT BEHIND!”

    Do I need to tell anyone just how dangerous an attitude that is?

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  82. Kr: I think all of us who run blogs, FB pages or other reports on abusive religious environments thought we were the few, the only ones to suffer.

    “I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE!”
    — You do not know how many times I heard that from newbies who had just linked up with Gamer, Comics, Anime, Furry, or Brony Fandoms.

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  83. elastigirl: i see my verge-of-adulthood son being kind & responsible, with a good work ethic, and joining in on occasion when we all pray together. i assume wisdom will grow with experience.

    🙂

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  84. Friend: Thanks for the info. Beyond this, crude phrases such as “17 will get you 20” have been circulating among teenagers for a long, long time. Age of consent is not a novel concept taught only to mandatory reporters.

    As this 1957 R&B song I remember from Dr Demento:
    “JAIL BAIT” by Andre Williams
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w09ukTUUhBY

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  85. TS00: Former LCA 88: Dave’s created his perfect utopia of slave child labor on his ranch, that’s supposed to be “helpful” as he gets all of his work done and collects lots of grant money for his school. Free money? Free labor? And gets to be abusive and controlling and nobody to tell on him.

    I’m afraid that’s the thought that occurred to me as well.

    Same here.

    elastigirl: Queen’s Who Wants To Live Forever, featuring either cello or violin with some back up instrumentation, or string quartet

    …but BLAST, a 30 minute cursory search yielded only copies of the cover.

    Is it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Jtpf8N5IDE

    I note that Brian May released something in honor of the recent New Horizons flyby

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  86. Lance:
    Nathan Priddis,

    I can’t remember the name of the school off hand as I moved around a lot back then. It was in 8th grade. I was told later that one of the leaders took off with a lot of money that was raised for this particular school. I remember hearing him at a fund raiser stating, “We need money”. Fortunately, our curriculum was not Bill Gothard based although I am very familiar with his ministry. He was a big thing in the 80’s and I went to several of his meetings-he would fill up the stadium in Minneapolis. As a high schooler my dad once to gave me a spanking ala B.G. theology. It did not hurt but I remember thinking how ludicrous the whole situation was. My dad was a good father but misguided by aberrant theology. Luckily, although B.G. was an influence on our faith community it was not taught in any Sunday School or curriculum. Recently I told my folks about all the victims of B.G. and they were quite shocked and did not realize the nastiness of his ministry. I remember liking the books and how they looked-I collected some but never read them much. Of course, Hal Lindsey and the Left Behind craze was in full bloom during the late 70’s and early 80’s. None of us wanted to be left behind and face the tribulation. It is telling that most believe the church will be raptured before the great tribulation-how convenient. Tell that to the middle eastern christians who have been beheaded for their faith. We also had Mike Waranke-the supposedly former Satanist who turned out to be a major con artist. We were told of all the satanic and witch covens who ritually abused all these children. We we also told that all rock was satanic and that subliminal messages were imbedded in the soundtracks-and don’t even get me started on Hotel California by the Eagles. The bright spot was Kieth Green-what an awesome artist and lyricist. Oh well-I survived with my faith intact. When your a student you are fed a lot of crap, and if your community and family are taken in by these false beliefs then most likely an impressionable youth will be. I am over 50 now and have been exposed to a world far beyond American Evangelicalism, but I have had to self study and seek out others who think differently. The Church are those people of God who worship Him in Spirit and Truth. Paul stated to not forsake the meeting of the Brethren. Christianity is not a lone wolf activity-when Jesus confronted Paul He asked him “Why are you persecuting Me? At that time Paul was persecuting the church. Jesus aligns himself with the Body of Christ. So whether it is a small group or an organized church-we need each other. I do not wish to sound preachy-but I am also responding to some of the other comments. Some bodies of believers are less jacked up than others and do desire to follow His example.

    Nice to meet you!
    My memory is tanking these days but we came in 84/85? So its sounds like you where long gone.

    There was at least one track meet. I want to say Shelton football field. But I remember changing a school van flat at least a couple minutes west of Mcleary. It was on the highway, not the sideroad. I bet our schools met in Aberdeen for that too.

    I know our school’s one and only famous alumni, was in the van.( track-meet trip) He was junior high, but only one to do anything noteworthy with his life. Serving life sentence now. Even made Dateline, or some such broadcast.

    Money- Thats weird about missappropriated funds. 2 of 3 schools I was sent to had investment fraud shortly after I left. Sounds like it was sorta close to same timeframes. Hmm

    I had A.C.E for 5/6 final years. But there was non ACE added. I was supposed to go a weekend BG conferance as punishment. I escaped.

    So what happened? You sound like you never left the faith in any way, just changed.

    For me, I feel like I saw a fist in your face boot in the balls Christianity. I did get an education though, maybe just not the kind intended. It was not academic to be sure. I think all things work together for good.

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  87. Erp,

    he’s somethin else…. brought tears to my ears

    but no, it was all instrumental, strings — fitting in with other things in a classical radio station.

    i will find it.

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  88. Lance,

    “Christianity is not a lone wolf activity-when Jesus confronted Paul He asked him “Why are you persecuting Me? At that time Paul was persecuting the church. Jesus aligns himself with the Body of Christ.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    seems to me Jesus aligns himself, or identifies with anyone who identifies with him. group or no group.

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  89. Nick Bulbeck: This; and also, love music = love Bach.

    The Brandenburg Concertos are every bit as inspired as Scripture is.

    And Prelude and Fugue nr. 7 in e-flat major BWV 852 is not just prayer set to music,
    it is prayer.

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  90. Lance:

    Paul stated to not forsake the meeting of the Brethren.

    It’s important to remember the rest of that text in Hebrews 10: “but encourage one another to love and good deeds, and all the more as you see ‘the day’ approaching”

    The experience of many who have found it more difficult to follow Jesus inside the institutional churches than outside is that too often, what the leaders are encouraging people toward is less “love and good deeds” and more “fund my vision, which is the will of God for you.”

    Lance:

    Christianity is not a lone wolf activity …

    This wording is unfortunate and I assume that you are not intending to make a blanket condemnation of those who have fled abusive churches as “wolves”.

    Typically, in these situations, the problem is not that wolves are fleeing the flock, but that they are in charge of it and are preying on it.

    And this is not unique to our time. It happened in Old Israel (see Ezekiel 34, or Jeremiah 23) and Paul warned of it as well — for example the “hyper-apostles” who were taking advantage of the church at Corinth.

    I think this trend, of people fleeing toxic religion, is likely to continue. I have no idea what will follow or whether healthier forms of ‘christian’ assembly can become widespread or even normative.

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  91. Muff Potter: The Brandenburg Concertos are every bit as inspired as Scripture is.

    And don’t forget old Bach’s music for the solo pipe organ, especially the great preludes and fugues. Stokowski’s transcriptions of some of these for the modern symphony orchestra are also impressive.

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  92. Headless Unicorn Guy:
    “It’s All Gonna Burn.”
    “This World is Not My Home; I’m Just Passin’ Thru…”
    “Don’t Be LEFT BEHIND!”

    Do I need to tell anyone just how dangerous an attitude that is?

    At the risk of stirring up political controversy, a thought that has held my attention in recent years is that:

    * IF climate change is real (I think it is)

    and

    * IF humans are contributing to it (I think they are)

    and

    * IF in future, absent adequate and timely changes in the way we generate and use energy, there will be severe and widespread consequences that impair the habitability of the planet, the productive of crop-lands, etc (I suspect that there will be)

    THEN

    Future generations who suffer these consequecnes will regard with just scorn those who refused to recognize the looming crisis and respond timely. US government, both US political parties and US christians of evangelical and fundamentalist persuasion, who did not take the problem seriously, will likely become objects of reproach.

    This might have negative consequences for the credibility of christian truth claims in other areas.

    That’s a lot of IFs, but the present trends do not look encouraging to me.

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  93. Nathan Priddis,

    Nathan,
    My life of faith has never been easy as I am somewhat of an armchair intellectual. I walked away for about 10 years, got into some trouble,(work wise), felt a strong call to get my degree and get serious about my commitment to the Lord. I felt the strong conviction to be a part of my local church and give back to my community. I do admit that I have had to deal with anger in my life. It has gotten better:) If I find out about the name of the school I will let you know-I think I have a yearbook somewhere.

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  94. Samuel Conner,

    Samuel,

    I meant no offense by using the world “wolf” The expression is an older one that has been used often. I understand about fleeing abusive people or churches. We refer to these leaders as ‘wolves in sheeps clothing’. The Scriptures never teach us to walk the faith journey alone. We are all gifted in order to help each other and if you are alone in your walk that can be lonely too. There is always a remnant and I believe wherever we are we can find others of like minds. I do realize there is a lot of “toxic” christianity and abuse has life long negative consequences. And I am not being flippant with that statement. It is just unfortunate to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
    Sincerely,
    Vance

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  95. Lance:
    Nathan Priddis,

    Nathan,
    My life of faith has never been easy as I am somewhat of an armchair intellectual. I walked away for about 10 years, got into some trouble,(work wise), felt a strong call to get my degree and get serious about my commitment to the Lord. I felt the strong conviction to be a part of my local church and give back to my community. I do admit that I have had to deal with anger in my life. It has gotten better:) If I find out about the name of the school I will let you know-I think I have a yearbook somewhere.

    It was Faith Christian? I remember an old building, dark inside and rainy winter night.

    Mclear- So you where another kid with a long commute! In grade school (attended three separate in 12 years) it was 2 hours with pick- ups along the way. Church was 30 min opposite direction and opposite doctrine. From the age of 6 I had a compartmentalized life. I was raised to be compliant and silent. I most had zero friends after the school bell rang for the day.

    Today, I am very much a believer. Totally. But, also very changed. My life sorta crashed too. I thought I would be in ministry, but things changed.

    Oh. The northern approach to Mcleary got logged. Yes, the douglass fir that lined the road. Sacrilege! In case you haven’t been back to Mcleary.

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  96. Lance,

    Agreed, and I want to strongly affirm your concluding remark that “we need one another.”

    I hope that the present disorders in the churches do not portend the end of christian community. Unfortunately, it appears to me that “bad religion tends to drive out good” in that the kinds of community that are most conducive toward growing in “love of God and love of neighbor” are not necessary the most visibly attractive. And “what works” in the sense of “pulling people in” tends to attract notice and imitation, even if it isn’t best practice in terms of what we can learn in the NT of the Founder’s intentions.

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  97. Samuel Conner:

    Lance,

    Agreed, and I want to strongly affirm your concluding remark that “we need one another.”

    I hope that the present disorders in the churches do not portend the end of christian community. Unfortunately, it appears to me that “bad religion tends to drive out good” in that the kinds of community that are most conducive toward growing in “love of God and love of neighbor” are not necessary the most visibly attractive. And “what works” in the sense of “pulling people in” tends to attract notice and imitation, even if it isn’t best practice in terms of what we can learn in the NT of the Founder’s intentions.

    This, and your other comments as well!

    I guess what we have to ask ourselves is, if we were the Enemy of God, the Great Deceiver seeking who we can devour, how would we seek to deceive and consume?

    I doesn’t seem like rocket science to come up with the strategy of false teachers acting like superstar religious leaders. Better yet, an entire false institution (whether from the start of the original organized ‘Church’, or infiltration and corruption through the ages). What could be simpler?

    What do we think a wolf in sheep’s (or shepherd’s) clothing would say, if bleeting could be translated into words? Wouldn’t it be likely that they would say all the ‘right words’, about protection from wolves and hunger and storms? Wouldn’t they somehow have to win the respect and trust of the sheep before they could lead them into dark places to be quietly devoured, one by one? How would they keep the rest of the flock from catching on, and escaping their deceptive strategy?

    It seems to me that a wolf, with his ugly snout and long shaggy tail, would have to do some mighty fine talking and leading to persuade sheep to believe he was one of them. He would likely have to invest a great deal of time up front speaking convincingly and leading well; taking them to the best pastures and purest springs, to overcome any niggling suspicions. It might be helpful to hire in a few fierce wolves and ‘fight them off’ valiantly. Only after he had thus won their trust, over years, decades or even centuries, could he quietly begin the culling of the herd, devouring the flock, one by one, beginning with the young and naive, as well as the old and lame.

    I’m no genius, but this seems like pretty basic strategy to me. Why do we seem so shocked when we see it in action?

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  98. Samuel Conner: Christianity is not a lone wolf activity …

    This wording is unfortunate and I assume that you are not intending to make a blanket condemnation of those who have fled abusive churches as “wolves”.

    Typically, in these situations, the problem is not that wolves are fleeing the flock, but that they are in charge of it and are preying on it.

    And this is not unique to our time. It happened in Old Israel (see Ezekiel 34, or Jeremiah 23) and Paul warned of it as well — for example the “hyper-apostles” who were taking advantage of the church at Corinth.

    I think this trend, of people fleeing toxic religion, is likely to continue. I have no idea what will follow or whether healthier forms of ‘christian’ assembly can become widespread or even normative.

    There are many lonely believers, who have walked away from what they perceive as the false and abusive institutional church, if not the entire Religion of Christianity.

    They do not relish this position, not the loneliness, sadness and misunderstanding of loved ones that accompanies it.

    They call out to God, everyday, saying, ‘Please, please don’t leave me alone. I cannot walk the paths of life alone.’ Many persuade themselves to try ‘one more church’, ‘one more time’ again and again, in attempts to rebuild a community in which they can encourage and be encouraged.

    I once thought I was the only one.

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  99. oldJohnJ: And don’t forget old Bach’s music for the solo pipe organ, especially the great preludes and fugues. Stokowski’s transcriptions of some of these for the modern symphony orchestra are also impressive.

    Yes!
    Yes!
    And yes!

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  100. TS00: a wolf, with his ugly snout and long shaggy tail,

    Personally, I think real wolves are beautiful (we were fortunate enough to see a few in Yellowstone recently), though I understand the context of “human” wolves and the ugliness there.
    Unfortunately, I bet almost none of the human wolves in sheep’s clothing would recognize themselves as such!

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  101. TS00: this seems like pretty basic strategy to me. Why do we seem so shocked when we see it in action?

    I hope that there is not an overarching “plan” behind the disorders in the churches, and that they can be attributed simply to garden-variety human weaknesses, and to love of power and prestige and prosperity.

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  102. TS00: if we were the Enemy of God, the Great Deceiver seeking who we can devour, how would we seek to deceive and consume?

    I doesn’t seem like rocket science to come up with the strategy of false teachers acting like superstar religious leaders.

    I don’t want to ascribe too much power to Satan. That leaves people off the hook. People are smart enough to devise a con. There are plenty of troublemakers in plain sight, without our having to battle the invisible.

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  103. Friend: I don’t want to ascribe too much power to Satan. That leaves people off the hook. People are smart enough to devise a con. There are plenty of troublemakers in plain sight, without our having to battle the invisible.

    Is it possible to believe both are true? That ultimately, the people who abuse, oppress or ‘devise cons’ are the ones who align themselves with ‘Satan’ or whatever you prefer to call the source of ‘Evil’? And those who resist such temptations choose to align themselves with the source of Good? I guess this is a belief that there is something spiritual and unseen that battles within each of us, that results in some choosing the good, and some choosing evil.

    Who isn’t tempted to do what most benefits themselves over what is best for others? I fight that battle constantly, but maybe I’m just more wicked than most. Whatever one might blame as the ’cause’ of this internal battle, I believe each person is responsible for their freely made choices and actions.

    The ‘problem of Evil’ is way over my pay grade. Maybe ‘bad guys’ are just born scum, but it seems to me that even well-meaning individuals can be led astray by the seductions of praise and power into becoming narcissistic users and abusers of others. I do believe it is always the result of choices made, but each bad choice, gotten away with, seems to slather that slippery slope that turns a charismatic charmer into a sociopath.

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  104. Friend: I don’t want to ascribe too much power to Satan.

    That IS an actual Heresy.

    When the Spanish Inquisition rolled on a Witchcraft case (a rare occurrence), that was the charge they’d bring.

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  105. Samuel Conner: I hope that there is not an overarching “plan” behind the disorders in the churches, and that they can be attributed simply to garden-variety human weaknesses, and to love of power and prestige and prosperity.

    We already have too much Conspiracy Theory thinking in general. Why add more?

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  106. TS00: Is it possible to believe both are true?

    Sure, but I think that most evil comes from human motivation, without an appeal to the supernatural.

    In my old prayer group, Satan got too much credit for acting in our lives. More credit than God, at times. We were such good Christians that the Devil was attacking us, you see.

    When we focused on terrifying old Satan, we lost sight of one another’s hardships, the needs of our church, the poor in our town. Our big problem was that Satan was giving us a cold (<—actual example).

    Satan is not God's equally powerful evil twin.

    I would rather focus on God than on his weak rivals. I would rather search my human heart for evil than believe it comes in from a separate being.

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  107. Samuel Conner: I hope that there is not an overarching “plan” behind the disorders in the churches, and that they can be attributed simply to garden-variety human weaknesses, and to love of power and prestige and prosperity.

    Samuel? Have you not read…

    …And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel…

    It’s a struggle. Or more like a war. It’s very uncomfortable.

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  108. Friend: Satan is not God’s equally powerful evil twin.

    I would rather focus on God than on his weak rivals. I would rather search my human heart for evil than believe it comes in from a separate being.

    I too once lived in the land where Satan was made too much of. I am more than willing to grant that he may be more a personification of Evil than a person. In my mind, it doesn’t matter all that much, but I always forget what a trigger word it can be.

    Perhaps ‘sin’ is a better word, but that too carries a lot of baggage and presuppositions. All I know is that Cain and Abel (whether viewed as literal beings or metaphors) shared parentage and experiences. There are different philosophical viewpoints as to why one did well and one did not, but the takeaway message I get from the narrative is that they both had choices to make, both could choose to do well or not, and they made different choices.

    Whatever it was that God warned Cain sought mastery over him, the implication is clear – only Cain could decide which it would be. Sin cannot ‘take’ mastery over us, but must be given rein over us. Cain made a bad choice.

    I get frustrated at my own inability to discuss such things without falling back on loaded terms or triggering concepts, or even into old ways of thinking which I no longer view as true or certain. I am willing to allow others (and myself!) a great deal of latitude on interpretations, but I still try to figure out what the takeaway message is that will instruct, warn and assist us in seeking right relationships with God and others. I’m afraid I often fall wide of the mark.

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  109. Nathan Priddis,

    TS00,

    I prefer minimalist theological constructions, where possible. Hebrews 2 seems to me to suggest that Satan’s ability to hold people in bondage is related to our innate fear of death, a fear which Christ overcomes through His resurrection (which I think is what the writer means in saying that Christ destroyed him who has the power of death), which we are offered to share in.

    The New Testament seems pretty emphatic that Jesus defeated “the powers.” I don’t know what that means or what the ramifications might be, but I suspect that we do not need to be pre-occupied about them.

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  110. TS00: I still try to figure out what the takeaway message is that will instruct, warn and assist us in seeking right relationships with God and others. I’m afraid I often fall wide of the mark.

    I think that’s the best we can do. All of us have different histories, triggers, notions of the literal, hyperbolic, metaphoric, allegoric. The group at TWW does a pretty good job of climbing into the bouncy castle together and sharing the space, and then climbing out and looking around for our shoes. 🙂

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  111. TS00: I fight that battle constantly, but maybe I’m just more wicked than most.

    Nope.
    C.J. Mahaney is the worst sinner there is (by his own admission) and he brags about it.

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  112. Headless Unicorn Guy: We already have too much Conspiracy Theory thinking in general. Why add more?

    I’m not commending some sort of global conspiracy theory (NWO, Illuminati, etc.). I figure if such a thing as a global conspiracy of men exists, it’s likely beyond what my imagination could conjure up. 😉 I do, however, admit to believing in the sort of spiritual conspiracy described in scripture, which promotes the opposite of all that God desires and intends for his creation. It is the most reasonable explanation I know for the existence of Evil.

    Few would deny that Evil exists; many even admit that it frequently entails the conspiring together of more than one individual. Some imagine that a Mahany or Driscoll arises independently and contrives evil on his own; others suspect a connection between manipulators who defend and enable one another. I posit no detailed plot, descending from Cain to Mahaney, and yet . . . I do believe in an invisible spiritual war that I don’t fully understand.

    Personally, I am less inclined to suspect a cabal of evil men who seek to tyrannically rule the world, than the more believable charge that those in positions of power are often convinced that they have the right to make global decisions – often without the knowledge and consent of the people involved – for ‘the greater good’. This authoritarian mindset leads to all manner of abuse, the sort of thinking that religious leaders like Mahaney and MacDonald use to justify manipulation and abuse in the name of God. Do I suspect that coordination between evildoers frequently takes place? I’m afraid I do, no tin hat required.

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  113. TS00:

    … those in positions of power are often convinced that they have the right to make global decisions – often without the knowledge and consent of the people involved – for ‘the greater good’.

    There’s an interesting recent article about research that suggests that there is something about the experience of having power that damages people’s ability to experience empathy

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/07/power-causes-brain-damage/528711/

    This might be a sympathetic interpretation of how ministries can start out seemingly good and eventually go bad. Success might be, in a sense, poisonous.

    ————————

    There’s a reputable OT scholar, Michael Heiser, who has interesting ideas about “the unseen realm” and the worldview of the authors of the OT. He thinks that the OT “sons of YHWH” are spirit beings (which is what he thinks the term “elohim” means; YHWH is the “most high” among the elohim) who function as servants of YHWH for the management of human affairs (the idea of “territorial spirits” is related to this). He thinks that the Dt 32:8 “dividing of the nations according to the number of the ‘sons of God’ ” refers to the assignment of responsibilities over the gentile nations to these powers. The nation that arose out of Jacob, however, was reserved by YHWH as His own “portion.”

    On this interpretation, Psalm 82 is a vision of God rebuking these ruling powers for maladministration of the nations entrusted to their oversight.

    I don’t know what to make of this; I’m not competent to hold an opinion.

    But if MH is right, it provides a possible referent to the “powers” that Christ is said to have defeated — the rebellious “sons of God” who are leading the gentile nations astray.

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  114. TS00: a connection between manipulators who defend and enable one another

    Yes, and this is a perfect example: https://t4g.org/about/

    You can add Mahaney to that picture. He continues to operate behind the scene at T4G as one of the original “Fab Four” who founded this militant band of New Calvinists … they stick together through thick and thin to Calvinize the American church.

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  115. Friend: I don’t want to ascribe too much power to Satan. That leaves people off the hook. People are smart enough to devise a con. There are plenty of troublemakers in plain sight, without our having to battle the invisible.

    Careful friend you are close to opening up the THEODICY dilemma, which in turn delivers us back on John Calvin’s doorstep…..

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  116. Friend: I don’t want to ascribe too much power to Satan. That leaves people off the hook.

    That which comes against the church falls in three categories: the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world and the flesh are doing such a good job disrupting the mission of the church that the devil seldom gets involved.

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  117. Samuel Conner,

    If the powers are defeated, they have amazingly regenerated.
    You have a paradox. The easiest solution is the defeat is future. Example, the war in Heaven as mentioned in Rev.

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  118. Benn: Careful friend you are close to opening up the THEODICY dilemma, which in turn delivers us back on John Calvin’s doorstep…..

    Max did a far better job than I of distilling my point:

    That which comes against the church falls in three categories: the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world and the flesh are doing such a good job disrupting the mission of the church that the devil seldom gets involved.

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  119. Friend,

    My comment may have appeared somewhat vague, but it was meant as tongue in cheek, as a slight poke at our Calvinist friends.

    Theodicy- the origin of evil, from where does it come, and who gets the glory from it.

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  120. http://newarkbiblestudy.com/

    John and Marilyn Schouten have taken a portion of Vineyard Grace Fellowship and are starting a new church. This couple have no conscience or compassion or empathy for anyone they have injured in the name of God. It’s all about ego and appearances.

    No shame…… no conscience.

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