Gallup Reports That American Trust in Clergy Is At an All Time Low


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Most Christian leadership is exercised by people who do not know how to develop healthy, intimate relationships and have opted for power and control instead. Many Christian empire-builders have been people unable to give and receive love. Henri Nouwen

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The Christian Post reported that Americans’ trust in honesty, ethics of clergy hits all-time low in Gallup ranking of professions.

“The public’s views of the honesty and ethics of the clergy continue to decline after the Catholic Church was rocked again this year by more abuse scandals,” Gallup noted in its observations.

One of the biggest scandals occurred in August when a Pennsylvania grand jury released a 1,300-page report, revealing that at least 301 priests had abused over 1,000 children in the past several decades. What is more, it was found that many of the perpetrators were protected by the church’s hierarchy and moved to other churches.

The Christian Post noted both Protestant sand Catholics have been affected by scandals.

Sexual abuse claims, involving both children and adults, have rocked churches across the U.S., South America and Europe this year, affecting both Protestant and Catholic congregations.

This reflects itself in the stats. My prediction is that Protestant positive perception of clergy honesty and ethics will continue to decline as more sexual abuse become known.

In the Gallup poll, 48 percent of Protestants rated clergy positively, compared to only 31 percent of Catholics.

According to Gallup, the public perception of clergy has experienced a steady decline since 2012.

Gallup has measured Americans’ views of the clergy’s honesty and ethics 34 times beginning in 1977, and this year’s 37% very high/high rating is the lowest to date. Although the overall average positive rating is 54%, it has consistently fallen below that level since 2009. The historical high of 67% occurred in 1985.

Positive views of the honesty and ethics of the clergy dropped in 2002 amid a sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, and although positive ratings rebounded somewhat in the next few years, they fell to 50% in 2009 and have been steadily declining since 2012.

Gallup claims that the continued revelations of Catholic clergy abuse is contributing to the continued decline.

The public’s views of the honesty and ethics of the clergy continue to decline after the U.S. Catholic Church was rocked again this year by more abuse scandals.

An analysis by Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones in Effects of Year’s Scandals Evident in Honesty and Ethics Ratings seems to indicate that the decline of Catholic perceptions of clergy was more precipitous than that of Protestant perceptions.

Catholic respondents give slightly lower average ratings to clergy, 50%, than do Protestants, 57%. An analysis of past data shows that the Catholic priest sexual-abuse scandal appears to have dragged down Catholics’ ratings of clergy’s honesty and ethics more than it has those of Protestants. In 1997, Protestants (62%) and Catholics (64%) gave similar ratings that were above the overall average of 59%, whereas now Catholics’ ratings of the clergy are below the overall average and noticeably lower than Protestants’ ratings.

Sadly, those without any religious affiliation have especially negative perceptions of clergy. I believe that this will have a negative impact on churches and groups which focus on outreach to the religiously unaffiliated. I would keep an eye on the baptismal rates in evangelical churches. If this trend continues, I would expect the baptism and conversion rates to continue to fall.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the current ratings of clergy are especially negative among those who have no religious affiliation. Just 30% of this group rates religious leaders’ ethics highly.

I believe that churches will need to respond to the increasing public perception of dishonest and ethically challenged church leaders. The good men and women will be affected by the dishonest ones. How to change this perception will be a yeoman’s task.

On the other hand…

Guess which profession ranks the highest in perception of honesty and ethics? According to Gallup Nurses Again Outpace Other Professions for Honesty, Ethics. Just to remind you, Dee is a nurse…


Comments

Gallup Reports That American Trust in Clergy Is At an All Time Low — 100 Comments

  1. Well, it’s obvious to me that the trouble with all of you is that you’re looking for the perfect church.

    What I would say is, if you ever find the perfect church, don’t join it – you’ll spoil it.

    Yours Sincerely,

    Arnold Smartarse

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  2. There’s a lot of drama and interpersonal messiness in the world of US media celebrities. Do people “trust” media celebrities? That’s not what they are for.

    Is “edifitainment” a word? “edifying entertainment?” The flock doesn’t need to know the edifitainer at a personal level, or be known by him/her. “Trust” is not really needed, is it?

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  3. I am shocked, shocked! I tell you, that the reputation of the clergy is at a low. This is the rotten fruit, this is the damage that narcissistic fools like Driscoll, MacDonald, and on and on bring into the world. And the World takes notice, and says “see – moralizing hypocrites”. And too often they are right, and another group of souls is turned away from Jesus, perhaps forever.

    This is the real evil these false teachers perpetrate, and may God have mercy on them, even though they know full well what they do.

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  4. Well, what else are folks supposed to think?! Thanks to clergy shenanigans, the world looks at the church and says “See, there’s nothin’ to it!” The Protestant pulpit in America is catching up quickly to its Catholic cousin with bad-boy reports.

    “Son of man, do you see what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? For they are saying, ‘The LORD does not see us'” (Ezekiel 8).

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  5. These statistics denote the importance for all state legislatures to consider requiring 501c3 mandatory reporting with perhaps stiff associated failure to report penalties.

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  6. yea, not sure why anyone is surprised, nor believe that at some time in history clergy should have been trusted more than anyone else; at least by those who were able to read a bible. The clergy is certainly a big issue. Preaching of a holy God and supposed to be a model of Christ’s love, but many are not. Also to blame are believers who place many said clergy on pedistools even while failing to live out a faith they proclaim they have. Mixed responsibility from a survey. What should be the right answer anyway. Faith and trust, and obedience, is rightly placed in the Chief Shepherd anyway, not man.

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  7. In my opinion, this is a healthy trend. It means people are becoming more grounded in reality. I don’t believe it reflects a change in the clergy, it reflects people becoming more aware of what has always been happening.

    The sad thing is that behind these changes in perception are a lot of sad stories.

    My own experience mirrors Henry Nouwen’s quote up above.

    And, indeed, 2Pet 2:2 “because of them the way of the truth will be maligned”

    At this point it is anything but a way of *truth*

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  8. I have read that most US voters have a very dim opinion of Congress as a whole, but a much higher opinion of their own representatives.

    Perhaps a similar dynamic is a work with respect to the reputation of clergy. It’s hard to not notice and agree with the public reputational harm the profession has suffered, but people may be inclined (and, absent evidence, one would hope that they would be so inclined) to think well of whoever they look to for pastoral leadership.

    I suspect that, given the realities “on the ground”, that the reputational trend is a good thing. Perhaps the pastoral “profession” should be “desacralized” and recognized to be a career like any other, and no less vulnerable than others to being pursued by bad-hearted people. There’s nothing especially “special” about the character traits in the NT “qualifications”. Good character and lack of avarice are desirable traits in practically every honest occupation.

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  9. JustThii: Preaching of a holy God and supposed to be a model of Christ’s love, but many are not.

    The reason we don’t hear much exhortation to holiness from American pulpits these days is because the pulpit is not holy. Not too many preachers these days would be described as Christlike.

    There are exceptions to that, however. I praise God for those who still stand for righteousness, who still hold the Name of Christ above all names, who are not in the ministry to take but to give, who put their trust in God rather than the teachings and traditions of men. You usually don’t find them in mega-church, but on obscure fields serving Christ and the Body of Christ with love. They are rare and endangered species, needles in the haystack.

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  10. “Who you gonna trust?”

    Not particularly the “discernment” blogs – dryly

    Mod: If you’re trying to start a fight, just go away. If not, put some meat on your comments. Otherwise you’re just trolling.

    No attacks on SG folks.

    GBTC

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  11. Doubtful,

    Three things you should know about Arnold Smartarse:

    1) His avatar pic is identical to mine – this may, or may not, be a coincidence (I couldn’t possibly comment)
    2) He has commented before, and he says exactly the same thing every time he comments. Almost as though someone just copied and pasted from a text file on their Mac desktop, complete with html tags around the “I”. (Again, I couldn’t possibly comment)
    3) He has a joke name – you know, like Sillius Soddus or Bigus Dickus

    Again, this may purely be a coincidence (I couldn’t possibly comment) but I have both heard in person, and read in letters to the editor of Christianity magazine, this comment time and time again. The really odd thing about it is that the person saying it always seems to say it as though they were saying something not only clever but powerful and original. In fact it is a hackneyed cliché, and even the very first time anyone said it, it was banal nonsense.

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  12. The church my wife attends is all about giving…to the church. Give time, give money…seems they prefer money. Dodgy “mission” trips to such heathen countries as Jamaica, the Philippines, France (are you flipping kidding me?)
    Pop psychology sermons…tears…lots of tears.
    I don’t see any relevance.
    Never mind the religiously unaffiliated. It’s us ex christians who are probably going to excert just as much influence.
    If a convert can be your most fervent believer then what do you think someone who once truly believed and deconverts becomes?

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  13. “I believe that churches will need to respond to the increasing public perception of dishonest and ethically challenged church leaders. The good men and women will be affected by the dishonest ones. How to change this perception will be a yeoman’s task.”

    Perhaps they can shift some of their privilege confessions to confessions regarding privilege enjoyed by leadership (sic) when the level of discipline they seek and position themselves to exert on the ‘sheep’ — fruit exams, financial transparency and demands, personal conduct, accountability and confession, etc. — doesn’t seem to extend to themselves and others in leadership (sic).

    Perhaps they can distribute books about this at their next season of conferences and lead small group studies which encourage the ‘sheep’ to actively examine the reality of ‘grievous wolves’ emerging, even from within, and not sparing the flock. Perhaps they can train said sheep with oversight and accountability exercises, as not doing so would logically leave too much of that responsibility at a top-down level where wolves could use their power (NDAs, legal threats, charges of divisiveness and so forth) to harm the flock. Perhaps they could reiterate the ‘above reproach’ Scriptural references to further bolster the priority of accountability flowing down-up as well as horizontally.

    I wait with baited breath for T4G, SBC and associated seminaries, and so many others to prioritize this.

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  14. Jack: Pop psychology sermons…tears…lots of tears.

    The American church started going South when Christian psychologists showed up in its pulpits … more psychology and philosophy being proclaimed than Gospel … more emotion-driven ministries than Great Commission-driven people of God.

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  15. I wonder what would happen if American churches lost their tax exempt status. If they did pastors could preach whatever they wanted without being politically correct. People in the pew would give from their heart. If giving lessened only pastors who were not greedy would stay….

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  16. Arnold Smartarse,

    And, all of these blogs that defend, and give voice to the victims! If you all would just go along with the program, and cover up all the depraved behavior of your leaders, clergy would have a much better reputation!

    Sadly, that is the message that ai seem to here from so many of the relgious “leaders” we hear about……. yup, real Christlike…

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  17. Doubtful,

    Whoops…hit enter too early.

    Ah, you have enlightened me. My sarcasm detector must have gone down in all the wind storms we’re having in the North West. Thanks for hitting the reboot.

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  18. Max: The American church started going South when…

    Firstly, I concede straight away that I’ve taken half of one of your sentences out of context. There is a reason for that, though, which is that I submit the church has always been south in one way or another.

    Consider, for one thing, the number of arguments among the Twelve about who was the greatest. More than one is recorded in the gospel accounts, and I think it not unlikely that there were others. One of them happened at the Last Supper!

    There’s more subtle stuff at work, though. Jesus might have said, Och, it wouldnae be right fer Me tae neglect the Upper Room Discourse tae wash feet. But actually, he washed his disciples’ feet as an important part of the Upper Room Discourse. Somewhat later, the Twelve did decide that their teaching role was too important for them to spend any time serving tables. Now, obviously, that’s not a perfect like-for-like comparison, and in any case Luke only gives us a brief summary. Maybe there was much soul-searching discussion at the time.

    But I find that wee passage interesting. Not too many years later, Paul seems to be very grudging about distributing food to widows at all. (In fact he seems highly disdainful of widows as a category.) Maybe he did once say that widows who acquit themselves well, especially in washing the feet of the saints and bringing up children, are worthy of double honour. If so, it didn’t make the canon. ISTM that the division of the church into first- and second-class citizens has always been there.

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  19. Doubtful,

    Nae bother! It so happens that when “Pastor John” first posted here, it took me ages to get the joke. You would have thought that I, of all people, should’ve spotted it!

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  20. JDV:
    “I believe that churches will need to respond to the increasing public perception of dishonest and ethically challenged church leaders. The good men and women will be affected by the dishonest ones. How to change this perception will be a yeoman’s task.”

    Perhaps they can shift some of their privilege confessions to confessions regarding privilege enjoyed by leadership (sic) when the level of discipline they seek and position themselves to exert on the ‘sheep’ — fruit exams, financial transparency and demands, personal conduct, accountability and confession, etc. — doesn’t seem to extend to themselves and others in leadership (sic).

    Perhaps they can distribute books about this at their next season of conferences and lead small group studies which encourage the ‘sheep’ to actively examine the reality of ‘grievous wolves’ emerging, even from within, and not sparing the flock. Perhaps they can train said sheep with oversight and accountability exercises, as not doing so would logically leave too much of that responsibility at a top-down level where wolves could use their power (NDAs, legal threats, charges of divisiveness and so forth) to harm the flock. Perhaps they could reiterate the ‘above reproach’ Scriptural references to further bolster the priority of accountability flowing down-up as well as horizontally.

    I wait with baited breath for T4G, SBC and associated seminaries, and so many others to prioritize this.

    Just to add to the thoughts about ‘sheep’ — one of the favorite images of authoritarians and/or grievous wolves who don’t seem to lay down their lives for said sheep as much as shear them.

    Does Jesus tell Peter to feed Peter’s lambs and Peter’s sheep in John 21, or does He say “feed My sheep’?

    Peter got the message. “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-3).Note the priorities: being an example, not,lording over the power, and recognizing that it’s God’s flock. And oversight, what a notion…

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  21. Max,

    As long as the “spiritual impact” is meaured by # of butts in the pews, we will contiune to suffer clergy scandals…. I am NOT saying this is the only cause of scandals, but the worship of #’s, which has a strong coorelation to $’s, is just to much of a temptation….

    After all, isn’t being a “winner” most important?

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  22. Maybe we should turn the position of “senior pastor” over to registered nurses. I say that has a spouse of a registered nurse.

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  23. senecagriggs: “Who you gonna trust?”
    Not particularly the “discernment” blogs – dryly

    What makes you say that? Why should people not trust “discernment blogs”?

    Is this a discernment blog?

    To me, it’s a blog that is pointing out how churches are failing to protect and love people, especially in cases of domestic violence or child abuse.
    The Bible tells Christians to be do that very thing, to hold other self professing believers accountable.

    Curious that you continue to visit or post to a blog for all these years that clearly annoys you. You’ve also snuck on to my Daisy blog under two false names in the past to leave comments, especially under posts I’ve done that challenge and criticize gender complementarianism.

    I suspect it really rankles you when people simply do not agree with your understanding of the Bible or the Christian faith.

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  24. Jack: The church my wife attends is all about giving…to the church. Give time, give money…seems they prefer money.

    I think a lot of churches are doing this, and IMO, most people are seeking to belong. People want a community, they need and want companionship, but most are not getting it when they attend a church, even for years, and even if they volunteer for every activity their church offers.

    I recall reading an interview with a woman who was recovering in her hospital.

    She was a divorced lady with a couple of children.

    Despite the fact she went to the same church for a few years and had told her church members that she would be in the hospital for a week or so, and would they please visit or call her, not a single one did so.

    She said she was lonely. She had joined that church and thrown herself into every activity and volunteer group they had, and still, she could not seem to connect with anyone and make real friends there.

    But anytime she mentioned not having friends, the Christians around her just told her to join a church, stay in a church, and/or volunteer in a church.

    Her response was, I’ve already done that, I’ve been in that church for years, and I’m still on my own.

    Churches have really dropped the ball on meeting people’s deeper needs.
    But then I guess most of them are run by preachers who are greedy narcissists who view a church as a business, and they only want people’s money. They don’t care if they are really helping the church attendees or not.

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  25. Jesus is my Shepherd, so I shall not want any other titled clergy man or woman as a replacement for the only One who saves. While having Jesus as my Teacher, there is one thing that rings true: Jesus has not once lied to me, never ever, nor has He begged me for money so He can go out and purchase a big fancy house or live high on the hog so to speak, nor has He led me to believe that I must sit under a pope, a pastor, a priest, a nun, a church board leader, a deacon/deaconess, an elder, a superintendent, or a reverend to learn more of Him….Jesus said there is only One Rabbi, One Teacher….and that is Jesus Christ.

    There is only One Name by which man/woman can be saved, and that is the Name of Jesus. No other man nor woman in our church system has ever fit that bill. Praise the LORD for that truth!

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  26. Daisy: Despite the fact she went to the same church for a few years and had told her church members that she would be in the hospital for a week or so, and would they please visit or call her, not a single one did so.

    Sadly, that’s fairly common these days. Young pastors, particularly the new reformers, don’t do hospital and nursing home visits, preach funerals, nor call shut-in members to check on them. But they find plenty of time to tweet their lives away in local coffee shops.

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  27. Jeffrey J Chalmers: “spiritual impact” is measured by # of butts in the pews

    Anyone with a little charisma, a gift of gab, a working knowledge of the Bible, and a gimmick or two to draw a crowd (e.g., a cool band) can lead a church. It doesn’t matter whether or not they are “called” into the ministry; undiscerning gullibles will follow and bankroll them. That’s why we are in the mess we are in.

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  28. Max: Anyone with a little charisma, a gift of gab, a working knowledge of the Bible, and a gimmick or two to draw a crowd (e.g., a cool band) can lead a church.

    Moreover, by declaring their pet project to be a church, they inherit special favour from God to cover and protect their acolytes from all sorts of spiritual attack that a mere para-church organisation doesn’t have authority to protect them from.

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  29. Daisy: What makes you say that? Why should people not trust “discernment blogs”?

    I can’t help but wonder what classification his blog falls under? Honestly, I laughed when I saw his comment.

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  30. JDV:
    Peter got the message. “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-3).Note the priorities: being an example, not,lording over the power, and recognizing that it’s God’s flock. And oversight, what a notion…

    “..not for filthy lucre” got my attention. That would disqualify a lot of the pastors that get covered at TWW…

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  31. Abigail: I wonder what would happen if American churches lost their tax exempt status.

    That hasn’t happened, but federal income tax deductions to churches and other nonprofits are far more restricted under the 2018 law. From Kiplinger’s: “Due to the higher standard deduction, the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, and other changes, fewer than 10% of taxpayers are expected to itemize in the 2018 tax year. That’s down from 30% now. Without itemized deductions, most people will lose all tax benefits associated with charitable giving.”

    In addition, there is a new 21% tax on certain benefits for employees of churches and other nonprofits.

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  32. senecagriggs: “discernment” blogs

    Much of discernment is simple observation … watching closely, listening carefully. Watchblogs wouldn’t be addressing the ails of the American church if wayward ministers and ministries weren’t misbehaving so much. Watchmen on the wall inform and warn based on what they see and hear. Those ensnared by crafty charlatans are often too enamored to realize that the wolf is in the sheepfold.

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  33. ishy,

    This too is off topic, but a young Saudi woman, Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun , has been granted refugee status by the United Nations.

    She’s in Thailand at the moment, and Australia is considering allowing her in so she doesn’t have to go back to Saudi Arabia.

    All Wartburgers please join with me in petitioning the Almighty that Australia will grant her safe haven.

    The very real possibility of torture and death awaits her in her country of origin if forced to return.

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  34. GSD (Getting Stuff Done):
    Maybe we should turn the position of “senior pastor” over to registered nurses.I say that has a spouse of a registered nurse.

    That would clear out the anti-vaccine crowd in a hurry. Which would improve the (physical) health of a congregation.

    But it might cause a problem with the pro-alcohol crowd when they start bringing up the cirrhosis and addiction stats.

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  35. Daisy,

    Daisy. You’re crossing the line. It is up to Dee and I for now to decide who can comment here.

    If you want to go after his comments fine. His motives, nope.

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  36. I have lost faith in church leaders here in the UK too. This week I met an old friend who had been abused by her husband and she said that she was declined membership in her local church as she was “not in good standing” with another church nearby (which is part of the same Reformed family). However her abuser is still accepted and welcome.

    Another friend told me that he left his church (another one geographically close to me) because he was being abused by another member of the fellowship. The elders ignored the evidence he put right in front of them and just told the congregation “he has left because he could not resolve a disagreement with x”.

    Some years ago I made a complaint of racial hatred at my former church and gave some evidence. The elders ignored it and said they did not want to know. When I walked out the door I was told by an elder “we are sad that you have decided to separate yourself from the local church – I hope you will reconsider”. A while later I spoke to the “lead pastor” who acknowledged the wrong, temporarily restored my faith but when he left, it got worse.

    In my experience, local institutional churches are about power, money and control. There is actually no Biblical basis for churches to employ a full time paid pastor and the Holy Spirit, not man, appoints elders to care for the flock. A 30 or 40 year old professing to be an “elder” because the pastor appointed him, or because he was “voted in” is a fraud. The church system creates the situation for abuse to happen. Whilst there are some good pastors and leaders, they are in spite of the system and not because of it.

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  37. GuyBehindtheCurtain: Daisy. You’re crossing the line. It is up to Dee and I for now to decide who can comment here.
    If you want to go after his comments fine. His motives, nope.

    I have sent you an e-mail to the “Technical issues with the blog” e-mail address.
    I hope you read it very soon.

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  38. ishy: Daisy: What makes you say that? Why should people not trust “discernment blogs”?

    I can’t help but wonder what classification his blog falls under?

    “Direct from GOD’s Lips to This Blog”?

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  39. Max: Young pastors, particularly the new reformers, don’t do hospital and nursing home visits, preach funerals, nor call shut-in members to check on them. But they find plenty of time to tweet their lives away in local coffee shops.

    It’s called “Building Your Brand”, and as someone with 40+ years experience in several Fandoms, I’ve seen it in action. And those with no jobs or lives can spend 24/7/365 “tweeting their lives away in Starbucks” Building Their Brand.

    There’s a local big-name fanboy, 50+, hasn’t held a job in decades, spending 24/7 on Social Media from (literally) his mother’s basement. But in Social Media (Facebook & Twitter), he’s a Major Playa in Hollywood and Master of Mighty Magick and The Occult. When anyone dissents, he calls Jihad and his 5-to-50,000 followers and friends attack. On WikiFur and similar, he camps out looking for any mention of himself and within hours of its appearance replaces any critical/realistic entry with a Puff Piece of Praise. His Brand is Strong (to the point of CELEBRITY) on Social Media, and the rest of us have jobs and lives and can’t compete.

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  40. Headless Unicorn Guy: His Brand is Strong (to the point of CELEBRITY) on Social Media

    While social media has been used effectively to create Christian celebrities of various brands, I’m convinced that the New Calvinist movement and its icons (Piper, etc.) would not exist without it. Tens of thousands of new reformers tune into Twitter each morning for the latest Piper Points, Mohler Moments, Dever Drivel, Mahaney Malarkey, etc. and then retweet them across cyberspace to build the brand. On the positive side, social media (e.g, TWW) has also been used effectively to challenge aberrant faith and bad-boy preachers.

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  41. ZechZav:

    In my experience, local institutional churches are about power, money and control.There is actually no Biblical basis for churches to employ a full time paid pastor and the Holy Spirit, not man, appoints elders to care for the flock.A 30 or 40 year old professing to be an “elder” because the pastor appointed him, or because he was “voted in” is a fraud.The church system creates the situation for abuse to happen.Whilst there are some good pastors and leaders, they are in spite of the system and not because of it.

    Re: “power, money and control”; this is IMO justified in present-day thinking in part by the conventional vision of personal eschatology — infernalism — on the view that “so much is at stake that the ‘success’ of the ministry overrides all other considerations [in practice, including explicit biblical considerations]’

    Readers who are willing to venture into unfamiliar theological waters may be interested in Andrew Perriman’s “P.OST” weblog on “historical/narrative” readings of Scripture. He sees a different and historically conditioned understanding of ‘wrath’ and consequently a different meaning of ‘the gospel’ and of what the task of the churches is.

    I’m of uncertain opinion about the question of “full-time paid” overseers (clearly compensation for work is instructed in Paul’s writings; the question is full- versus part-time), but I do think that it is discernibly un-biblical to hire pastors/overseers from a pool of “circulating ministers” rather than from among long-standing members of the local congregation who are sufficiently well-known to the people who will be asked to trust them that they can indeed be trusted. This would also discourage the “ordination” of young people, which appears to be in line with Paul’s concerns.

    A point that I find intriguing is that “stage presence” and impressive public-speaking do not appear to have been among Paul’s strengths (2 Cor 10:10, which Paul did not dispute), yet these are mandatory in present-day “new hire” evaluations. That’s an open invitation to talented narcissists, which it is not hard to imagine were the kind of people who competed with Paul, and whom he called “hyper-apostles.”

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  42. Daisy: Churches have really dropped the ball on meeting people’s deeper needs.
    But then I guess most of them are run by preachers who are greedy narcissists who view a church as a business, and they only want people’s money. They don’t care if they are really helping the church attendees or not.

    I like the statement about deeper needs. And this hits the nail on the head. On my wife’s fathers side of the family they were not christian (catholic or protestant). They came from a Buddhist/moslem background. My wife’s aunt (the middle sister) was the one who brought the family to christianity after the death of father in the family. She convinced her elder sister, who convinced the mother and by extension the rest of the family.
    What did it was not flash or bang or miracles or expositions on the Trinity. It was kindness. The father had died, the mother was functionally illiterate, it fell upon the elder sisters in a primarily patriarchal place and time to keep the family business afloat.
    As I understand the story, the church was kind to them. It was kindness.
    And if we read the gospels, we see that thread of kindness throughout.
    The church as I have experienced it has become a social club and kindness is in short demand. At it’s worst, guilt and fear has replaced kindness when we consider the recent posts regarding some of the pastor and church shenanigans that have been documented.
    With money being the measure of success.

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  43. Jack: I like the statement about deeper needs. And this hits the nail on the head.

    the church was kind to them. It was kindness.
    And if we read the gospels, we see that thread of kindness throughout.

    This seems highly reminiscent of Romans 2:4

    When people actually “image” God to others, it is highly attractive.

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  44. ___

    Dee, Does The RCC Care?

    hmmm…

    Q. Respectfully, with a court documented 300 abusive RCC priests identified (a thousand victims coming forward) and involved in the state of Pennsylvania alone, will the Pope’s actions at this juncture, speak louder than his words?

    Q. Once again, will lawsuits bring U.S. RCC churches to bankruptcy closure?

    Q. If the RCC has to payout, will local parishioners, one again, suffer?

    ATB

    Sòpy

    ;~)

    – –

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  45. Samuel Conner: clearly compensation for work is instructed in Paul’s writings; the question is full- versus part-time

    I cannot see any basis for salaried ministers in Paul’s writings. Many preachers defend their position by misquoting 1 Timothy 5:

    17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18 For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. (KJV).

    It is a misquote because the word honour does not mean money. It means honour! It has the same meaning in chapter 6:1 “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour” and chapter 5:3 “Honour widows that are widows indeed.” They don’t preach paying fixed salaries to widows. And they know it would be ridiculous to suggest that servants should pay money to their masters. The word “reward” also does not mean money. It can have a variety of meanings and it does through the Bible. Also it says to give honour to elders not to the “pastor” and yet those who quote this verse only pay their pastors. They have twisted this verse in a number of different ways to support their fraudulent position.

    They may also quote 2 Corinthians 9 about cheerful giving but that was to support travelling missionaries and it was about gifts – not fixed salaries. They should follow Paul’s example in Acts 20:

    34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. 35 In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.

    Instead of expecting people to pay for them, true shepherds should work with their own hands to help the weak. Today we have it the reverse – People on the poverty line putting money into the collection and the priest/pastor being able to afford several exotic holidays abroad.

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  46. ZechZav,

    While I don’t fully agree with your view of the related texts, I agree that this:

    ZechZav:

    Today we have it the reverse – People on the poverty line putting money into the collection and the priest/pastor being able to afford several exotic holidays abroad.

    is deplorable. Leaders who encourage this IMO by that very fact are candidates for an informal assessment of sociopathy.

    While I agree that Paul’s example of self-sufficiency is admirable and highly useful in mission work, it’s less clear that he considered it obligatory to imitate in the local church context.

    More broadly, perhaps a draw-back of full-time salaried ministry is that it inevitably leads to “professionalization” of ministry, which separates the ministers into an “elite” class, which IMO is kind of the opposite of Jesus’ example of “kenosis and incarnation.” And the “qualifications” of elders in Paul’s writings are almost entirely related to character, trustworthiness, skill in relationships. Doctrinal orthodoxy and ability to teach are present, but not pre-eminent.

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  47. ___

    Yes, tucked away in the 2017 U.S. tax law was indeed a provision slapping certain nonprofits and charities, including houses of worship, with a 21% tax on the value of some employee benefits like parking and transportation passes. It went into effect Jan 1, 2018. All U.S. churches should now be paying this tax.

    – –

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  48. __

    As of Jan 1, 2018, the U.S. tax payer deductive incentive for giving to 501c3 non-profit churches was effectively eliminated.

    – –

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  49. Sòpwith: As of Jan 1, 2018, the U.S. tax payer deductive incentive for giving to 501c3 non-profit churches was effectively eliminated.

    Yes, this particular new regulation raised the cost of giving, unless one gives such a large whack of money that one still itemizes.

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  50. Samuel Conner:
    ZechZav,

    While I don’t fully agree with your view of the related texts, I agree that this:

    is deplorable. Leaders who encourage this IMO by that very fact are candidates for an informal assessment of sociopathy.

    While I agree that Paul’s example of self-sufficiency is admirable and highly useful in mission work, it’s less clear that he considered it obligatory to imitate in the local church context.

    More broadly, perhaps a draw-back of full-time salaried ministry is that it inevitably leads to “professionalization” of ministry, which separates the ministers into an “elite” class, which IMO is kind of the opposite of Jesus’ example of “kenosis and incarnation.”And the “qualifications” of elders in Paul’s writings are almost entirely related to character, trustworthiness, skill in relationships. Doctrinal orthodoxy and ability to teach are present, but not pre-eminent.

    Your last paragraph shows the very heart of the problem. Some say that this is what was called Nicolatianism which the Lord hated in Revelation.

    But Paul did encourage them to follow his example and whilst he did not explicitly say paid preachers were forbidden, it does go against the spirit of ministry. Can you please be more specific re the texts? Paul’s words to the elders were pretty clear and I encourage people to read Thessalonians 2 and 2 Thessalonians 3 where Paul talks about earning your own bread.

    My point was how they do not support the paid pastor position. Anyone who quotes them to get money out of people is either sincerely misguided or fraudulent. It just as fraudulent as using 1 Timothy 2 to condemn women preachers. On that note one of my former associates in a TGC church said women elders and pastors were “not appointed by God”. But he was not appointed by God himself because he was only in his 30s and he had been hand picked by the pastor because he was a “yes man”.

    If a church desires to support a full time paid pastor there is no text explicitly condemns this but there is no text to support it either.

    On the practical level it can corrupt his motivation. Many preachers and organisations will adhere to the party line on certain issues for fear of losing funds. By the way I am not saying that pastors should do the work unpaid – they should not do it at all! They need to find “secular” jobs and share the leadership with a plurality of elders which is the Biblical model.

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  51. Just an addition to my last note: I do not work hard for 40 hours a week to fund pastors to read John Piper books, blog and spend hours debating on social media. Especially when they promote articles by Thom Rainer titled “15 reasons why your pastor should not visit much”. I do not go to church anymore I just meet with Christian friends informally.

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  52. Max,

    “Tens of thousands of new reformers tune into Twitter each morning for the latest Piper Points, Mohler Moments, Dever Drivel, Mahaney Malarkey, etc. and then retweet them across cyberspace to build the brand.”
    +++++++++++++++

    These fortune cookie-worthy retweets are the stupidest, most trumped up little nothing-isms.

    what’s wrong with all these people?

    they’re truly like cult-follower caricatures from a few 1960’s comedies i can think of.

    and taking themselves soooooo seriously.

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  53. ZechZav,

    ZechZav…
    “I have lost faith in “church leaders” here in the UK too.”

    Seems the term “church leaders” is NOT in the Bible.

    And, NOT one of **His Disciples** called themself leader.
    Or christian leader. Or spiritual leader. Or church leader.

    Isa 3:12 KJV
    …O my people, *they which lead thee*
    cause thee to err,
    and destroy the way of thy paths.

    Isa 9:16 KJV
    For *the leaders* of this people
    cause them to err;
    and they that are led of them are destroyed.

    ZechZav…
    “Whilst there are some good pastors and leaders,
    they are in spite of the system and not because of it..”

    Hmmm? pastors???

    Jer 22:22 KJV
    The *wind shall eat up ALL “Thy Pastors,”
    (*wind = ruwach = breath, spirit.)

    Jer 2:8 KJV – ”The Pastors” also transgressed against me…

    Jer 10:21 KJV – For ”The Pastors” are become brutish…
    ( beastly, carnal )

    Jer 12:10 KJV – Many “Pastors” have destroyed my vineyard…

    Jer 22:22 KJV – The *wind shall eat up ALL “Thy Pastors,”
    (*wind = ruwach = breath, spirit.)

    Jer 23:1 KJV – Woe be unto ”The Pastors”
    that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!

    Jer 23:2 KJV – …thus saith the LORD God of Israel
    against ”The Pastors” that feed my people;
    Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away,
    and have not visited them: behold,
    **I will visit upon you the evil of your doings,**
    saith the LORD.

    And, NOT one of **His Disciples** called themself pastor.
    Or shepherd, Or under-shepherd, Or reverend.

    What is popular is NOT always “Truth.”
    What is “Truth” is NOT always popular.

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  54. ZechZav,

    ZechZav…

    “Whilst there are some good pastors and leaders,
    they are in spite of the system and not because of it..”

    Hmmm? pastors???

    Here are some verses about pastors…
    You’re NOT likely to hear from the pulpit.

    Jer 22:22 KJV
    The *wind shall eat up ALL “Thy Pastors,”
    (*wind = ruwach = breath, spirit.)

    Jer 2:8 KJV – ”The Pastors” also transgressed against me…

    Jer 10:21 KJV – For ”The Pastors” are become brutish…
    ( beastly, carnal )

    Jer 12:10 KJV – Many “Pastors” have destroyed my vineyard…

    Jer 22:22 KJV – The *wind shall eat up ALL “Thy Pastors,”
    (*wind = ruwach = breath, spirit.)

    Jer 23:1 KJV – Woe be unto ”The Pastors”
    that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!

    Jer 23:2 KJV – …thus saith the LORD God of Israel
    against ”The Pastors” that feed my people;
    Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away,
    and have not visited them: behold,
    **I will visit upon you the evil of your doings,**
    saith the LORD.
    ——-

    And, NOT one of **His Disciples** called themself pastor.
    Or shepherd, Or under-shepherd, Or reverend.

    What is popular is NOT always “Truth.”
    What is “Truth” is NOT always popular.

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  55. Karen,

    Me too…
    “Jesus is my Shepherd, so I shall not want any other
    **titled clergy**
    man or woman as a replacement
    for the only One who saves.”
    ——-

    In my experience with the “Title/Position” of *Today’s* pastor/leader/reverend…
    A “Title/Position,” that does NOT exist in the Bible…
    For one of **His Disciples.**

    “Titles” become “Idols”
    “Pastors” become “Masters”
    “Leaders” become “Deceivers”

    “Titles” become “Idols” ………….. “Idols” of the heart – Ezek14:1-11 KJV
    “Pastors” become “Masters”……..A big No, No. Mat 23:10 KJV, Mat 6:24 KJV
    “Leaders” become “Deceivers”….Isa 3:12 KJV, Isa 9:16 KJV, Mat 15:14 KJV
    ———-

    “Titles” will be used to “Separate” the brethren.
    I have a Title – You do NOT… I am – You are NOT…

    “Titles” will be used to “Elevate” one brethren over another brethren.
    I’m the shepherd – You are only sheep.

    “Titles” will be used to “Control” and “Manipulate” the brethren.

    Because I’m “The Pastor,” “The Shepherd,” “The Leader.”
    Don’t touch the head of God’s anointed.
    Your God ordained authority.

    “Titles” – Will “Separate”
    “Titles” – Will “Elevate”
    “Titles” – Will be used to “Control” and “ Manipulate.”
    ——-

    Job 32:21-22 KJV
    Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person,
    neither let me give “Flattering Titles” unto man.
    For I know not to give “Flattering Titles;”
    in so doing my maker would soon take me away.

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **THEIR shepherds**
    have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to
    the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

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

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  56. elastigirl: These fortune cookie-worthy retweets are the stupidest, most trumped up little nothing-isms.

    Yeah, most of them remind me of the paper fortune I found in a cookie once. I cracked open the delicacy to discover a simple message “Chicken” with the spelling of that word in Chinese underneath. The real message was on the other side.

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  57. ZechZav: If a church desires to support a full time paid pastor there is no text explicitly condemns this but there is no text to support it either. …

    I do not work hard for 40 hours a week to fund pastors to read John Piper books, blog and spend hours debating on social media.

    That’s a nice balanced view. If the ministry is also their living, pastors should do something vaguely reminiscent of the work of Jesus and the Apostles.

    The church into which I was born had paid clergy, so the idea has never bothered me. The pastors I’ve known are extremely hard-working. Some are middle class, others scraping by. All have visited the sick, preached at weddings and funerals, offered counseling, taken my emergency phone calls, and answered my emails. Our current church has scads of skilled volunteers, but we manage to keep three pastors busy, as well as some associates and seminarians.

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  58. Friend: That’s a nice balanced view. If the ministry is also their living, pastors should do something vaguely reminiscent of the work of Jesus and the Apostles.

    The church into which I was born had paid clergy, so the idea has never bothered me. The pastors I’ve known are extremely hard-working. Some are middle class, others scraping by. All have visited the sick, preached at weddings and funerals, offered counseling, taken my emergency phone calls, and answered my emails. Our current church has scads of skilled volunteers, but we manage to keep three pastors busy, as well as some associates and seminarians.

    Friend, it is really good that you have seen this with your leaders. The TGC crowd would benefit from learning from them as they do not follow their example!

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  59. Max: That’s just great!YRR “lead pastors” were looking for such a list to justify sitting in the coffee shop all day, tweeting their lives away.

    https://thomrainer.com/2016/08/fifteen-reasons-pastor-not-visit-much/?utm_content=buffer4e184&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    I agree – that article is awful on so many levels! So many of the problems he lists are a result of the “one pastor system” which he promotes. These self-appointed leaders create an non-Biblical job role in the first place and then complain about having to do it in the second place! My advice to Rainer and those who follow him: Quit and find a “secular” job like the rest of the congregation. Then let the work be shared by the whole team led by a plurality of elders.

    On another level, I have been told by pastors that I should be willing to lay my life down for the gospel. They have particularly focused on divorcees and gay Christians with this advice. They had no problem dooming them to lifelong singleness and offering no support. They just throw out comments like “we should all be willing suffer for the gospel”. Seeing the same pastors promote articles like this shows their hypocrisy. If they are not willing to visit people, it shows that THEY are not willing to lay their lives down for the Gospel or their brothers in Christ. They want nice, easy comfortable lives as CEOs. They are not practising for themselves what they are preaching to others!

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  60. ZechZav: My advice to Rainer and those who follow him …

    Rainer carries a lot of influence for the New Calvinist movement. As President of LifeWay, SBC’s publishing house, he leads the subtle indoctrination of Southern Baptists into reformed theology through Sunday School literature and other resources. The last time I was at a LifeWay book store, I nearly stumbled over a rack of books by New Calvinist icons (Piper et al.) strategically placed inside the front door.

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  61. Max: Rainer carries a lot of influence for the New Calvinist movement.As President of LifeWay, SBC’s publishing house, he leads the subtle indoctrination of Southern Baptists into reformed theology through Sunday School literature and other resources.The last time I was at a LifeWay book store, I nearly stumbled over a rack of books by New Calvinist icons (Piper et al.) strategically placed inside the front door.

    These churches are not places of worship. They are businesses.

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  62. Max,

    Sad. There goes a whole generation, growing up under neo-cal teachings, who will be inoculated against christianity and eventually walk away to become atheists or perhaps agnostics.

    Anti-evangelism at its most potent.

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  63. Not going to let through any more comments comments about the new tax code passed a year ago. Let’s not go there at this time.

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  64. I’m not sure what the intention was to publish this in this way. Trying not to judge the heart and intentions. It truly is tragic that there are those, Pastors & Christian workers, who have violated their responsibilities and trust in self serving. It is tragic. Those things ought to break our hearts — that our hearts are broken with the things that break the heart of God. However, I am absolutely convinced that the vast majority of Pastors and Christian workers faithfully serve God. This includes hardship, financial pressure, the pressure of the church (Paul writes about this in 2 Cor 10-10), etc. I have a colleague who is preparing to retire who has faithfully served God in the hills of Kentucky for decades to a church of 40-50 people. He has ministered in that community to generations and sought to help people through addictions, family abuse, adultery, heartache of families and all of the rest. He isn’t retiring to any fancy house, probably just subsisting on Social Security because the church barely paid him. There are a number of other pastors in the same situation. Others of us have had the same amount of training for being a nurse or even a doctor and we are on call 24/7 365 days a week. We can’t go home and forget about the church needs. Our salaries are nowhere near nurses or doctors but God has faithfully provided. And we bear the burden of the church as well as the joys of seeing faith in Christ and growth and everything in between. We have attempted to serve Christ faithfully knowing that we are going to have to give an account to Him as undershepherds of His flock — the one he purchased with His blood. A flock that doesn’t belong to us (1 Peter 5:1-4). But we have felt His call on us to do that. There are certainly much easier ways to make a living. We ARE burdened by those who violate this trust and bring harm to the name of Jesus. I’m having a difficult time understanding how this post helps to encourage those faithfully serving Christ. We do need to make abuse and wrong behavior known and individuals need to be held accountable. However, I think the fact that the violation of trust has led to a decrease in trust of those serving Christ should cause us to weep and not gloat. Thank you for listening.

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  65. refugee: Sad. There goes a whole generation, growing up under neo-cal teachings, who will be inoculated against christianity and eventually walk away to become atheists or perhaps agnostics.

    Vaccination: Introduce a subject’s immune system to a fake or dead form of a pathogen; when the subject is exposed to the REAL pathogen, their immune system will immediately and automatically REJECT it. Some vaccinations (like tetanus) require re-vaccination every few years; others are PERMANENT.

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  66. Headless Unicorn Guy: Vaccination: Introduce a subject’s immune system to a fake or dead form of a pathogen

    Therein lies the problem with aberrant faith. Inoculation with half-truth and mis-truth will keep you from getting Truth! False teaching/theology always contains a wrong view of God, man, sin and salvation … close but not the real deal.

    “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”

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  67. There’s also a lingering problem in all denominations due to the tendency to believe that all abuse is sexual. The reality is that abuse runs along a continuum, and has a shared starting point, which is the violation of personal boundaries by clergy and others in positions of power.

    Until churches learn to identify abuse in all its forms, and proactively prevent and respond to abuse, organized religion of all denominations will suffer.

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  68. Eric Bonetti: The reality is that abuse runs along a continuum, and has a shared starting point, which is the violation of personal boundaries by clergy and others in positions of power.

    Agreed. If church leaders are autocratic, narcissistic, and control the pew by manipulation and intimidation, you can rest assured that some form of abuse is happening or will. Of course, just sitting under a narcissist is abuse enough!

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  69. Don Jones: I’m having a difficult time understanding how this post helps to encourage those faithfully serving Christ. We do need to make abuse and wrong behavior known and individuals need to be held accountable. However, I think the fact that the violation of trust has led to a decrease in trust of those serving Christ should cause us to weep and not gloat. Thank you for listening.

    I am wondering why you assumed that we are gloating and not weeping? This loss of trust -a reality we need to face- is heartbreaking but it is happening for a reason; a reason that needs to be faced and dealt with. The church has been sweeping everything unpleasant under the rug for generations ‘for the good of the faith’ and there’s just no more room under there.

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  70. ___

    Last Lick: “Gloating?”

    hmmm…

    Don Jones,

    Hello,

    Illustrious Sir, This blog, which takes in absolutely no money,— among other things, is making abuse and wrong behavior known so that kind folk can steer clear of it.

    huh?

    501c3 criminal individuals need to be held accountable. —Obviously from the current statistics, they simply are not.

    What?

    Many of the commentators on this blog don’t go to 501c3 church anymore because of this particular patterned pernicious reason:

    Justice is wanting.

    Please estivate yourself from your presumed isolated 501c3 proverbial shallow pool, and get involved.

    Jesus’ little children are being harmed by countless senseless religious 501c3 professional adults that apparently should know better.

    (sadface)

    And I’m on my knees praying…”we don’t get fooled again…” (1)

    ATB

    Sòpy

    (1) 501c3 abusive ™ church: ‘EXIT music’:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VJ_DDTOF64E

    ;~)

    – –

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  71. __

    Not Enviable @All: “501c3 Church Elders Lōōk in the Mirror, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    “Oh, let the Sòn of God’s mercy beat down upon my face
    And Heaven fill my dreams
    I’m a traveler of both time and space
    To be insanely where I have been
    To sit with abusive 501c3 elders thereof?”

    huh?

    “Oh, Father of the four winds, fill my sails
    Across the sea of years
    With no provision but an open face
    Along the straits of 501c3 religious fear…“[1]

    (sadface)

    Sòpy

    Intermission: ([1] lyrics adapted, all ‘rigors’ reserved.)
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ItbeWX0T_70

    ;~)

    – –

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  72. Don Jones: I think the fact that the violation of trust has led to a decrease in trust of those serving Christ should cause us to weep and not gloat.

    Don, I have followed posts & comments on TWW for quite a while. You won’t find gloating here about the condition of the church; agonizing would be the best descriptor. Most of the commenters have experienced awful experiences in church causing them to lose trust in certain leaders. They speak to inform and warn others and desire justice to fall on wayward pastors, but don’t gloat when it does. They know that the vast majority of ministers and ministries are serving Christ and their congregations faithfully.

    It’s unfortunate that the bad actors in the pulpit are causing folks to look more skeptically at all churches, but it’s best to watch and listen more carefully these days than to be deceived. Praise God for the pastors who pass that test, who are serving God and not themselves, who truly know and love those entrusted to them, who raise the Name of Jesus above all names. It’s sad that some in the pulpit do not, who have caused the Body of Christ to be more cautious in extending trust to any of them until they examine the fruit of their ministries.

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  73. Don Jones,

    And another of the ManaGAWD’s Good Little Attack Dogs rings in, oozing Christian Concern and Compassion. Right on schedule. Happens every time.

    At least this one didn’t use a typical handle: “Concerned Christian”, “Fellow Human”, etc.

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  74. Trust is lost in ministers and ministries who demonstrate that “church” is more about them than the people of God they are supposed to serve. Trust is at the core of every relationship. It should not be too much to ask for it to exist between clergy and laity. When we gather with a group of folks in church, we should trust God, spiritual leaders, and one another. Without a nucleus of trust, the whole structure crumbles and we end up doing church without God, using and abusing each other.

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  75. Don Jones,

    Headless Unicorn Guy,

    HUG, I have to say that’s unfair. Don didn’t do TheUsualStuff whereof you spake. He did not, for instance, say that megachurch CEO’s are no more sinful that any of us, so they deserve 7-digit salaries; on the contrary. Likewise, he didn’t say we should shut up and move on, and keep quiet about the wolves in the pulpit because God is *****d if we don’t fake His brand identity. Again, on the contrary. He did use the phrase “Trying not to judge the hearts and intentions”, but in context, I think he meant he’s not trying to judge the hearts and intentions behind this thread, rather than saying we should keep feeding the wolves and not judge their hearts.

    Don did also use the word “gloat”, albeit just once. The rest of his comment did not contain a string of accusations against Wartburgers and wasn’t built around the central claim that this whole blog is a tool of Stan to attack Jesus and his kingdomchurch.

    +++

    Most (if not all) of us do indeed know clergy who faithfully get on with the job in obscurity, on a tiny fraction of the salary demanded by megachurch CEO’s, and would never consider marketing themselves on the speaking and authoring circuit. Even John Oliver noted this in his exposé on modern-day televangelist parasites ("There are roughly 350,000 congregations in the United States and many of them do great work: feeding the hungry, clothing the poor; BUT this is not a story about them.")

    I wonder, though, whether I should talk more about them. Paradoxically, the clergy that are least interested in fame are the ones who are most suited to being examples to follow.

    Don: I don’t know you, but I’ll stick my neck out and say: may your tribe increase.

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