So Why Are They So Afraid of Bloggers That They Have to Make Up Stuff?

 

I’m like a renegade and that rubs people wrong. David Carradine


As things continue to swirl around the fact that major Christian entities think that it is perfectly fine for one of their own to accept a valuable gift like a car, Greg Gordon, founder of Sermon Index, is the next in line of Christian male leaders who are are denouncing bloggers.This means bloggers are making a difference and the men who used to control the microphone in the pulpit now have competition.

The Christian Post published his article; Renegade Christian bloggers and the fascination of failure.

Gordon overlooks the reality of Scripture

Gordon overlooks both the Bible and historical figures. I like to take a long view of Scripture. If one looks at many of the leaders and people in the Old Testament, one sees God clearly outlining their many diverse faults. Moses, David, Samson, Adam and Eve, Noah, and on and on.

Now, slide on over to the New Testament. We’ve got Peter and Paul getting miffed at one another. Revelation reports on entire churches like Sardis and Ephesus who were rigid, loveless and dead.The Corinthians seemed to revel in their freedom, accepting a man who was sleeping with his mother in law.

News flash: the failures of God’s people necessitated the coming of Jesus because we were and are helpless sinners. We are positionally holy but are functional sinners. And guess what? Despite our obvious failings, the Gospel spread throughout the world. I believe that it was the willingness of the faithful to boldly confess their sins while at the same time pointing to a Savior who forgives those sins that drew people to the faith. Most people get that they are sinful. And, even more importantly, they know that all of those Christian leaders are just as sinful.

It is wrong to pretend that the world is looking for perfect leaders whose only sins appear to be ignoring the speed limits and eating too much at the Golden Corral. They are looking for truthful leaders who live out their lives in front of a watching world. We are to be a city of the hill, a gathering of those under the spotlight who are comfortable in their skin: positionally holy and functionally sinful. The Gospel demands that we speak to that reality. The New Testament particularly commands that church leaders be role models; not role models of perfection but role models of those who are humble, repentant and honest.

Gordon overlooks the actions of historical Christians

This blog is named after the castle in which Martin Luther hid when the Pope was looking to punish him for his behavior. What was that behavior? He published his 95 Thesis: a treatise on the unbiblical nature of indulgences. Luther would go on to criticize many of the practices of the church. Luther didn’t keep his mouth shut. He spoke out quite loudly and critically. The Gutenberg press, which came into broad usage in 1500, printed much of what Luther wrote. It was the internet of that day. Luther pointed out the failings of the church because he was compelled to do this. An assignment from God…Others such as Jan Hus and William Tyndale were others who would not stay silent

Yet, Gordon would commend these men who were so critical of the church and its leaders. He would say that they were godly. Why? Because history would prove them to be so. Yet Gordon does not think the same of those who would speak out against sex abuse, misuse of church funds, foul speech, etc.

Let”s take a look at some of Gordon’s exact statements. I sure wish he would have done the same.he didn’t do his homework. His post is a simplistic “I don’t like them.”  No proof just lots of whine.

Like feeding fresh bloody fish to a group of swarming sharks, the frenzy ensues as web links are made and a new viral news article is born at the great expense of the character of a Christian leader as well as the testimony of Christ.

What does he mean that the exposing sin of a leader hurts the character of a Christian leader? Pastors who sexually abuse children and women, who use donations to lead privileged lives, who abuse people who ask question about their ministry, etc. have character? That isn’t character. That is sin and, in some instances, crimes.

What does he mean that exposing sin hurts the testimony of Christ? The Christ I follow gave a pretty clear testimony that human beings are all sinful. The testimony of Christ is clear in our sin and failings. We need Him. We are mess ups.

There is a lost world looking on as we quickly share articles that accuse brothers and sisters of things that are not provable facts in many cases.

So, what does Gordon want us to do? Pretend we are good when we are not? Is that what the Gospel teaches us? Also, the watching world sees through our smoke screens. They know we aren’t good. Many of them have been victims of our less than stellar public witnesses.

As for provable facts, I do the best that I can do in that area and I have a pretty good track record.Those bloggers who I have been privileged to know also do a good job. Gordon, of course, makes a claim without pointing out examples. Is he being truthful here or merely overstating his unremarkable case.

…worse yet, mainstream Christian internet news have embraced them as the most credible sources of information for the next failure of a Christian leader or organization.

This may be the real reason for his post. It is obvious that Gordon has little experience with mainstream media. He doesn’t seem to know that these groups must do significant background checking before they print a report. For example, Robert Downen of the Houston Chronicle had to check and recheck his information before publishing his remarkable report of child sex abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention. They have fact checkers, lawyers, editors, etc.They have to get it right so they don’t get sued. Some are actually in the business to tell the truth.

Actually, many mainstream media outlets have broken down the cone of silence amongst well known Christian leaders who were determined to keep the heinous actions of their friends buried deep in the Texas soil.

These bloggers consider themselves judge, jury, and executioner at the same time. …their insatiable appetite is never filled and they continually ask for more punishment, retribution, and supposed justice on the individuals.

Hmmm. I can”t be judge or jury. Those churches who have hired men like Andy Savage who I believe molested Jules Woodson have to make the decision to either fire them or not. Law enforcement should be brought in to investigate and to prosecute a crime if one has occurred. Also, Is Gordon saying that a pedophile pastor shouldn’t be punished?

it is never enough, because some of the main motives behind their accusations are things like self-promotion, unforgiveness, or seeking popularity and acclaim.

Gordon must be God’s right hand man because only He can know motives. I never judge the motives of people because I do not know what goes on in their hearts. The 10 Commandments warns us to not bear false witness. I challenge him to prove what he says here. I always link to the claims that I make. He didn’t give one example in his post. It was merely a rant.

The word picture Francis depicts is someone by the words of their mouth in gossip and slander (or words from their blog) taking a sledgehammer to the very temple of God, whom all true Christians are a part of.

It appears that Gordon does not understand the definition of slander. Slander is carefully defined in Scripture as purposely telling a LIE in order to bring malicious harm to another. I wrote a post on this called Slander or an Inconvenient Truth. Sadly, Christian like to shut people up by spouting words like slander or gossip. Slander must be a lie so therefore Gordon must prove that *renegade* bloggers all lie. Gossip is usually used to refer to casual conversation. “Dee spends too much money on shoes.”  Gossip is not reporting to others that James MacDonald is using his church money to buy friend’s cars. This is a serious situation and is sinful. In some situations it might even be criminal. It’s not gossip.

Also, Gordon overlooks something very important. I am a part of the church and I love the church. I also think that churches should not be blowing off sexual abuse or misuse of funds. When I critique the church, I do so as an active member of my church. I have no problem with people criticizing the church for serious sin. I think God wants to clean out the church. Even Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers in the Temple.

Can’t we judge others or correct them when they sin? My answer is yes and no. Yes, Church leaders can be corrected, but it has to be done in the right spirit and the right way. There is not one New Testament Scripture that gives any believer license to gossip, slander, or criticize 

I don’t know what in the world he means to have the *right* spirit. It is proper to be angry when a pastor molests a student. God does give us a license to point out sin in the church. Take a look 1 Corinthian 5. Paul told the church to deal with sin.

Many take this passage as a personal liberty of a Bible-believing Christian to publicly defame a Christian leader without remorse, 

Once again, Gordon does not seem to understand the definition of defamation. It means to purposely tell a LIE to harm someone. Of course, God wants us to point out serious sin in the church, especially when it involves the leaders of the church who are supposed to be role models. Its ridiculous to think that God doesn’t want us to do something about pedophiles or embezzlers.

The scriptures do not tell us to criticize Church leaders but to pray for them. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). That Scripture is not only true for us as believers but also for all Church leaders. No one is without fault. Therefore, everyone is absolutely in need of God’s mercy continually.  Let’s be conscious of our own failures and call out personally, “Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!”

Ah, yes. The great sin leveling game. ” Pastor Joe may have been molesting a kid but I’m just as bad of a sinner because I cussed out the driver who cut me off.” Nope. Some sins are far worse than others. Some sins, like child sex abuse, affect people for their entire lives. Many of those abused never step foot in a church again. I have documented a number of examples on my blog which carefully links to information unlike Gordon’s poorly documented rant.

Yes, it was a rant. It was a rant with no proof. In this post I did what Gordon should have done. I linked directly to Gordon’s words. Gordon just made a bunch of innuendos.

So, if being a renegade blogger means that I am willing to expose abuse in the church, I will gladly take on the title. Someone on Twitter suggested ai should call myself *Stan Renegade.* I kind of like it.

Question for readers:

One of our readers asked how he could do something to express his concerns about the seeming lack of ethics in the James MacDonald, Ed Stetzer, Mark Galli, Christianity Today, Wheaton College situation. Thoughts?

 

 


Comments

So Why Are They So Afraid of Bloggers That They Have to Make Up Stuff? — 145 Comments

  1. i have over looked many things in the church one of them that women cannot be elders, I have stayed in the church despite as a women not having the same value as man and I’ve just kept it to myself never making waves about it, BUT I will not standby as the church makes this ridiculous claim that bloggers are wrong and bad. This idea is backwards and their fear of the voice of bloggers shows they truly are corrupt!

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  2. The funny thing is the real slander was Mr. Gordon’s reckless diatribe. Some people are just always learning and never getting one step closer to the truth. I cannot judge his motives or judge him all in all, but if Mr. Gordon reads this, I’d suggest first that he learn to write a little more rationally than an overamped teen. Next, I’d suggest that he try to act vaguely like a Christian.

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  3. Putting it all on the cross with Jesus is the opposite of hiding in fear of truth. That’s what we do as Christians, by very definition; we don’t hide sin – in particular from those we have sinned against – which would make a mockery of our confession.

    Of course, we don’t take a bath on Broadway to get clean. However, these are public figures, taking their livelihood from the public supporting and endorsing and following them. Therefore, their public constituency has a right to know what/whom they are supporting, endorsing, following. It’s what the leader signed up for, but it seems lost on some of these leaders.

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  4. Erasmus could be blunt (and funny) in his criticism of church doings:

    “Julius Exclusus”
    Desiderius Erasmus
    1513-1514

    [Pope Julius II, on dying, arrives in heaven expecting a glorious welcome, but Saint Peter demands that he, like any other heaven-bound soul, justify his entrance.]

    Julius: What the devil is up? The gates not open? Someone has monkied with the key.
    Spirit: Maybe you have the wrong key. You’ve got the key of power.
    Julius: It’s the only one I ever had. I’ll bang. Hey, porter, are you asleep or drunk?
    Peter: Immortal God, what a stench! I’ll peek through this crack till I know what’s up. Who are you?
    Julius: Can’t you see this key, the triple crown and the pallium sparkling with gems?
    Peter: It doesn’t look like the key Christ gave to me. How should I know the crown which no barbarian tyrant dared to wear? As for the gems and the jewels, I trample them under my feet.
    Julius: Come on now. I am Julius, the Ligurian, and I suppose you know these two letters [pointing to his chest] “P.M.” If you can read.
    Peter: Pestus Maximus.
    Julius: Pontifex Maximus.
    Peter: I don’t care if you are Mercury Trismegistus, unless your life is saintly.
    Julius: Saintly! For centuries you have been only a saint and I have been most saintly, sanctissimus, with six thousand bulls to prove it.
    Peter: You are called sanctissimus, but are you sanctus? You don’t look it: cassock over armor, eyes savage, mouth insolent, forehaead brazen, eyebrows arrogant, body poxed with debauchery, reeking with drink, a shambles of a man.
    Spirit: Graphic!
    Peter: I expect that you are Julian the Apostate back from Hell.

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  5. I call it bullying. You might even make a case for calling it slander. Gordon makes all sorts of ugly accusations, including ‘gossip’, ‘slander’, ‘defamation’ and ‘taking a sledgehammer to the very temple of God’.

    Nice try, but the scare and shame tactics are no longer going to work. People are finally realizing that they have a right to tell their stories – no matter how important or powerful their abuser might be.

    Gordon’s rant could have come straight from the mouth of one of the Pharisees, accusing Jesus of coming to destroy ‘The Law’. With him we can assert that we are not here to take a sledgehammer to the very temple of God – but to the false facades that wolves and charlatans have built in his name.

    Yes, like Jesus, we are furious at those who use the very name of God to fleece the children of God. If we overturn a few tables of corrupt profiteers, I don’t think it’s going to do God’s temple any harm. One might even say it’s a rather Christlike thing to do.

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  6. Observation: Hierarchy/ hierarchical structure with the big guy at the top, a layer/cadre of men who have forgotten that their first love is supposed to be Jesus, and not their guy at the top, a next layer of assistants for this and associates for that, and the bottom layer made up of the “flock” that seemingly needs to be protected from everything because the pastor(s) never presented the message about putting on the full armor of God, or that one about equipping the saints; and the bottom of the bottom flock layer composed of the women. These hierarchical, siloed, insular groups sound so fearful when it comes to any kind of scrutiny or questioning. My heart grieves for all who have been led to believe this is “church” and for all who have turned away from the Gospel because of their experiences with these groups. Thank you, again, Dee, for standing firm.

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  7. drstevej:
    Erasmus could be blunt (and funny) in his criticism of church doings:

    “Julius Exclusus”
    Desiderius Erasmus
    1513-1514

    [Pope Julius II, on dying, arrives in heaven expecting a glorious welcome, but Saint Peter demands that he, like any other heaven-bound soul, justify his entrance.]

    Julius: What the devil is up? The gates not open? Someone has monkied with the key.
    Spirit: Maybe you have the wrong key. You’ve got the key of power.
    Julius: It’s the only one I ever had. I’ll bang. Hey, porter, are you asleep or drunk?
    Peter: Immortal God, what a stench! I’ll peek through this crack till I know what’s up. Who are you?
    Julius: Can’t you see this key, the triple crown and the pallium sparkling with gems?
    Peter: It doesn’t look like the key Christ gave to me. How should I know the crown which no barbarian tyrant dared to wear? As for the gems and the jewels, I trample them under my feet.
    Julius: Come on now. I am Julius, the Ligurian, and I suppose you know these two letters [pointing to his chest] “P.M.” If you can read.
    Peter: Pestus Maximus.
    Julius: Pontifex Maximus.
    Peter: I don’t care if you are Mercury Trismegistus, unless your life is saintly.
    Julius: Saintly! For centuries you have been only a saint and I have been most saintly, sanctissimus, with six thousand bulls to prove it.
    Peter: You are called sanctissimus, but are you sanctus? You don’t look it: cassock over armor, eyes savage, mouth insolent, forehaead brazen, eyebrows arrogant, body poxed with debauchery, reeking with drink, a shambles of a man.
    Spirit: Graphic!
    Peter: I expect that you are Julian the Apostate back from Hell.

    It’s been so long since I’ve read Erasmus. I’ve forgotten how well he could skewer the pompous and Julius II certainly needed skewering.

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  8. The Christian Post
    Christianity Today
    Christian Authors
    Mega Church Pastors
    Christian Conventions

    What do Christian ministries, speakers, publishing businesses have in common?

    Dependency on our dollars. Whether in the form of tithe, offering or payment for services rendered (buying goods such as books and magazines), their salary depends upon selling us pew peons their wares.

    When Stan Renegade reveals their sins and/or crimes to us, we become wise and may decide to withhold our dollars from enabling them. Oh Stan! How pesky you’ve become!

    Dee, remind us again of the salary you’ve made off of us for your service to the Christian community after all these years. How much do you charge us for your articles and subscription service. How much do advertisers pay you? What is your hourly fee talking to people abused by professional Christians? You must sell Stan Renegade merchandise in you blog store. Surely you don’t research and publish an average of two articles per week for free!

    How foolish you make those career and professional Christians look for selling God!

    How dare you tread, uninvited, on their Holy Soil!

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  9. I read Gordons entire diatribe. His root issue seems to be that only “ordained” ministers can correct others pastors and leaders.

    Sure. God to Abraham, “I’ve chosen you to be the Father of THE FAITH because you got the best marks at University of Ur”

    God to David, “I’m gonna annoint you king because you’re the best Torah scholar in Bethlehem.”

    God to Peter, “you’ve really distinguished yourself in theology out there on Lake Galilee. I’m gonna make you one of the 12!”

    Good night, have these men read anything in the Bible other than Paul’s writings? Even a cursory reading just once from cover to cover shows God rarely used anyone of noble birth or great theological education in any significant way.

    By his standards Gordon wouldn’t allow even Amos (shepherd from Tekoa) or Priscilla and Acquilla (makers of tents) to correct him.

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  10. The responses of these evangelical leaders thus far have made me a great deal more cynical than I was. This seems like a desperate attempt to retain the followers they have left, scare them off of finding information that these corrupt leaders would rather they not see. Yes, I think they are corrupt, otherwise they would not respond in this way. You don’t go on the offensive like this if you don’t feel threatened. I think
    Remnant and
    Fisher nailed it.

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  11. Well said. Here in the UK anyway, the authority of figures – police, clergy, doctors etc was never questioned in past decades. Which is how some got away with abuse for so long. It seems to me christian authority figures can’t make the transition to realising authority is always questioned now, we don’t hold such leaders in high respect just because they decide we should. My husband, when a pastor, used to say of the high pulpit from which he preached that standing in it, did not put the preacher ‘six feet above criticism.’ – which is how the likes of Gordon wish it could still be…but never will be again. And as others have said, he has books to sell and fears for his income probably and is lashing out from fear of that happening.

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  12. Sandra:
    I can’t help but wonder if the authors of these recent anti-blogger articles get their knickers especially in a twist due that it’s women taking the lead and exposing the filth. Hmm…

    Oh yes, they have a real problem with Women IMO.

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  13. “Yes, Church leaders can be corrected, but it has to be done in the right spirit and the right way.”

    Question – if these “unforgiving, self-serving” bloggers hadn’t done the work they are doing, just how much correction would these church leaders have received? I think we all know the answer to that.

    As for the rest of his diatribe, as my grandfather would have said, “The speared pig squeals loudest.”

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  14. What I find most troubling is that believes these “renegade bloggers” are ruining the reputation of Christ. However, I fail to see where he says that pedophile pastors, greedy church leaders and ‘back-room-dealing’ elders damage Christ’s reputation as well.

    Frankly, I believe these pigs in the pulpit are far more damaging to the name and cause of Christ than those who expose their evil deeds! When they get all riled up like this, that means the bloggers are hitting the target. Keep your foot on the gas and don’t let up!

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  15. “(W)hat does Gordon want us to do? Pretend we are good when we are not?”

    I’d guess that the assumption is that the world will be impressed if it sees us as perfect happy folk with perfect impressive leaders. Which shows that Gordon hasn’t had any meaningful interaction with any real skeptic/None-Done/spiritual seeker in some time, if at all.

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  16. mot,

    That is why separation of church and state is key, along with freedom of the press. When I was young, I felt significant pressure to be in “full time Christian service”. Now that I lives a significant amount of my life ( even if I live to a 100!), I can honestly say, NOT being in “full time Christian service” was the best thing I did. I could NOT been part of system that routinely covers up for bad behavior.

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  17. Jeffrey Chalmers,

    ‘Full time Christian service’ = what all genuine christians do by living out their faith. They serve at the breakfast table, in the board room, in the classroom, at the gym, in the grocery store and ANYWHERE they are. No seminary degree required.

    In the old days it signified a life not in pursuit of money – seems like that has been discarded along the way.

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  18. Jeffrey Chalmers:
    mot,

    That is why separation of church and state is key, along with freedom of the press.When I was young, I felt significant pressure to be in “full time Christian service”. Now that I lives a significantamount of my life ( even if I live to a 100!), I can honestly say, NOT being in “full time Christian service” was the best thing I did.I could NOT been part of system that routinelycovers up for bad behavior.

    I am a former SBC pastor and I can tell anyone that those 18 years of my life where very difficult. When I met with the ordination council in 2000 the first question was what did I believe about the role of women in the ministry. My answer did not go over very well with several of the council members. I do not consider myself SBC anymore.

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  19. re: “They have fact checkers, lawyers, editors, etc.They have to get it right so they don’t get sued. Some are actually in the business to tell the truth.”

    This leaped out at me — once again an illustration of the superiority of secular professional practices to institutional church practices.

    As we are seeing, a way many powerful institutional churches (I’m thinking especially of the neo-cals but perhaps the practice is spreading to other traditions) deal with the threat of law suits is to impose covenants which forbid them.

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  20. I used to think that “the church” was kind of a “ceiling” ethically, in the sense that one could not expect “the world” outside to adhere to higher standards than prevailed in the churches. For goodness’ sake, the people in the churches, from top to bottom, fear God while the people outside do not. Surely that would make a difference.

    I no longer believe that.

    In terms of ethics, “the church” is a leaking ship, and it appears that the senior officers among the crew are less interested in bailing the boat and patching the hull than in keeping the passengers quiet and ignorant of their peril.

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  21. TS00:
    Dee, I hope some artistic person creates a nice logo for you, a fierce little Renegade Stan with a sledgehammer in her hand. Eat your heart out, Wonder Woman.

    PErhaps a representation of Jesus overturning the money-changers’ tables in the Temple courts; watch them flee in dismay. There are many historic representations of this already; some may be in the public domain.

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  22. TS00:
    Dee, I hope some artistic person creates a nice logo for you, a fierce little Renegade Stan with a sledgehammer in her hand. Eat your heart out, Wonder Woman.

    It’s unrelated to the suggested “handle”, but I think that a good representation of the spirit of Dee’s work might be along the lines of Jesus weeping over the impending destruction of Jerusalem.

    The people Dee calls out are so deep into it that in many cases they aren’t able to perceive what is wrong.

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  23. Samuel Conner,

    I am about to participate in a National Science Foundation review panel. I just signed a six page document outlining potentials Conflicts of Interests as well as ethical vs unethical behavior..
    Trust me, if I received a Classic VW, I would be disqualified…

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  24. I don’t think it’s just bloggers. I think it’s anyone who doesn’t toe their their line. This is why they are so enamored with check discipline.

    If you check out Gordon’s other parts, most are about not disagreeing with New Cal leaders.

    #1 sign of a cult of that they don’t allow disagreement with leaders.

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  25. Lynne:
    Thank you, Dee, for your careful work.Your title for this chapter says it all: they are afraid.
    You aren’t. Truth gives its bearers courage.

    Exactly! It reminds me of Proverbs 28:1–“The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are bold as a lion.”

    Our former Neo-Cal pastor was afraid when we called him out as a liar and deceiver when he failed to tell the search committee that he was reformed and was going to try to “reform” and “revitalize” our church–the 9-Marx way! If Calvinism is so great, why all this sneaking around to get it into churches?!? That’s NOT God’s way, I’m convinced of it!

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  26. Ken F (aka Tweed): But pastors are special. I know this to be true because a pastor said so: https://ftc.co//resource-library/blog-entries/pastors-are-special.

    The lies are thick in that one.

    “I can think of almost no situation where a church member would lose his job over another member’s disappointment with them or disagreement with them — unless that other member happened to be their employer, I suppose — but many pastors are at constant risk of this”

    Why don’t we start reviewing the list of sinning New Calvinists pastors and how easy it was to get rid of them, eh, Jared? Let’s start with James MacDonald…

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  27. The comments at the CT article are pretty revealing. I’m surprised they allow them.

    I’m still pondering the idea that “the ordained” are beyond criticism from us, the unwashed masses, the sheep. It sounds like a caste system. And it really bugs these guys that the sheep have a voice.

    I also tried to get into “full-time ministry” many years ago, and even visited a couple of seminaries. Somehow, I couldn’t talk God into it, and I’m thankful. I think the toxicity of the profession and of Christian culture would have wrecked my faith.

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  28. Sue: i have over looked many things in the church one of them that women cannot be elders, I have stayed in the church despite as a women not having the same value as man and I’ve just kept it to myself never making waves about it

    If your loyalty is causing you pain, you could look into churches that allow women to serve in other roles. In the church where I grew up, it helped me to see women added to the group of ushers. (Our current church has had women clergy for decades, but not everyone believes in ordaining women.)

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  29. Sue:
    i have over looked many things in the church one of them that women cannot be elders, I have stayed in the church despite as a women not having the same value as man and I’ve just kept it to myself never making waves about it, BUT I will not standby as the church makes this ridiculous claim that bloggers are wrong and bad. This idea is backwards and their fear of the voice of bloggers shows they truly are corrupt!

    The thing is, you can make a case for that from scripture. Whether one agrees with it or not, there is a textual basis for arugment.

    There is no argument that leaders should never be questioned, that people should avert their eyes from any information that might seem critical, or that pastors should be immune from church discipline or the ethics expected of an elder, especially if they are celebrities and “look at all God is doing here!”

    I’m disappointed that this needs to be argued, but you have the celebrity personality cults now fighting back, because they can’t control the narrative anymore. It worked before social media, but they can’t run their church like North Korea anymore.

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  30. GSD [Getting Stuff Done]: I’m still pondering the idea that “the ordained” are beyond criticism from us, the unwashed masses, the sheep. It sounds like a caste system.

    Paul wrote that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.

    But he also was very clear about his strong sense of call to be “the apostle to the gentiles”. I think that part of our present problems stem from (mis-)appropriation of the concept of “call.”

    Decades ago when I was considering vocational ministry (I started along this path at an evangelical graduate school of ministry but did not pursue that after graduation, for which I am enduringly thankful; I would have drowned in the group-think) one of the things that was strongly emphasized was the necessity of an unshakable sense of personal calling from God. In addition to biblical precedents, it was argued that this was a practical necessity because otherwise one would be likely to grow discouraged by the hardships and “turn back after putting one’s hand to the plow.”

    Teachers influence their students, and I have seen in the decades since then that many people who go into ministry do indeed cling to a conviction that they are personally called by God to do what they are doing. Of course, if you believe something like that, you are also going to believe that God has endowed you with authority and with what is essentially “divine right” to do what you believe needs to be done to fulfill the commission you believe you have received from God. And I have seen this produce bad fruits when the conscience is informed more by the subjective personal sense of calling than the objective precepts of Scripture.

    And this IMO leads to a conception that while in Christ there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female”, there is in Christ “clergy and laity” as a permanent caste system.

    My present view is that in the present way way post-apostolic era, we should be cautious about subjective beliefs about calling, which practically speaking operate as a kind of “personal revelation” and should give more priority to the ancient biblical concept of “wisdom.” I’m still quite Reformed in my thinking at this point — God may indeed decree that certain people are to perform certain functions in the churches, but we don’t know the details in advance and only discover ‘what was going on’ after the fact. Sometimes someone who seems to be “the person God wants to lead this group” turns out to be a bad actor who should never have been allowed anywhere near a pulpit.

    Back to the OP, public scrutiny of public figures is arguably one of the means God decrees for distinguishing those who really should be functioning as leaders in the churches from those who should not.

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  31. When Mister Rogers was a child, distressed by any scenes of fire or collision, his mother told him, “Always look for the helpers.” Renegade Stan is such a helper.

    There are other helpers, too. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has sent out the story of a human chain that rescued items from Notre Dame de Paris even as the building burned. Her photo of salvaged items is the eighth one down in this piece from the BBC:

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-47937775

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  32. Some words of advice from Mark Galli in 2011

    “The Most Risky Profession
    — by Mark Galli
    Why you need to pray desperately for your pastor.

    It’s refreshing news to hear of pastors taking a leave of absence not over sexual or financial misconduct, but over pride. Such was the case with John Piper last year, and this week with C. J. Mahaney. Mahaney has been president of the church planting network Sovereign Grace Ministries, which according to its website now includes “about 95 churches,” mostly on the East Coast. He is the founder of the megachurch Covenant Life Church, which he handed over to Joshua Harris after pastoring there for 27 years. He is also one of the leaders of the Together for the Gospel Conferences, and one of the most popular speakers in the neo-Reformed circuit.

    The story behind his leave of absence is still unraveling. But he has publicly acknowledged that he has succumbed to “various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment, and hypocrisy.”

    It’s an interesting list of sins—ones that pastors all over America commit week in and week out. This is not to excuse Mahaney or to take such sins lightly. It is to suggest that the state of the modern American pastorate has been shaped so that these sins—especially pride and hypocrisy—are impossible to escape. For this reason, our pastors need not our condemnation, but our prayers. They are in a profession that is about as morally risky as they come.“

    You can read the full article here. It’s the second article down.

    http://desiderantangeli.blogspot.com/2011/07/?m=0

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  33. Samuel Conner:
    I used to think that “the church” was kind of a “ceiling” ethically, in the sense that one could not expect “the world” outside to adhere to higher standards than prevailed in the churches. For goodness’ sake, the people in the churches, from top to bottom, fear God while the people outside do not. Surely that would make a difference.

    I no longer believe that.

    In terms of ethics, “the church” is a leaking ship, and it appears that the senior officers among the crew are less interested in bailing the boat and patching the hull than in keeping the passengers quiet and ignorant of their peril.

    Your statement is becoming hard to refute. This is a nadir for the ethics of the church in recent memory. But there have probably been worse times, such as when Calvin ran a tyrannical reign over Geneva and proved that reformers could be every bit as capricious and hateful as the Roman Catholics they rebelled against. Of course, the cheap tactics used by the Roman Catholics centuries ago, such as selling indulgences, were no small fraud either. There’s nothing new under the sun. Look at Hophni and Phinehas, 3,000 years ago, with a father, Eli, who did a lot of good things but in the end declined and ended up becoming a symbol of look-the-other-way-and-protect-fellow-dudebros-in-power. People are corrupt. The Bible really means it when it says there’s none who does good, not one.

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  34. Lowlandseer,

    I find it revealing that Mr Galli does not suggest “looking for a smaller church which is less a stumbling block to its leaders”; I think he embraces the idolatry of “Scale” even as he calls attention to it and criticizes it.

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  35. Maybe we should be rejoicing as the house of cards known as the evangelical industrial complex collapses!

    We left our Wesleyan group due to the increasing left wing political pressure (and no, I would not have wanted right wing political pressure there either) and due to moving away from their traditional theology.

    We found a pretty decent independent fundamentalist Baptist church and were prepared to settle there until extreme young earth creationism (are not saved unless yec) took over so we left it.

    Tried a Missouri Synod church but laughing about those “unelect” left us cold.

    So we have settled into attending a large SBC. They consider themselves mildly reformed. I consider them Word of Faith. Same way I feel about all the materials coming out of the denomination now. Truth be told I would rather be elsewhere but for now we are both sure this is where we are supposed to be. We partake where we can and skip the rest.

    Would they were to have a true revival, not another hyped up famous speaker coming get your endorphin fix here session. At this point, although I am not dispensational, I would relish a real revival of that, or of real reformed Baptist theology (which is not at all hyper Calvinist or neopuritan ala John MacArthur.) I have Joel Osteen materials and Joyce Meyer materials and compare them to what is taught on Sunday. Same thing. Sometimes same words, which ought to tell ya something. Some of the material is Rick Warren which is not all that different either.

    We stay because there is still a core group of people who do recognize the fake worship and the fake teaching to itching ears. We refuse to join because we cannot support this tripe. And we are blessed at times to see God use us (we believe at least)to speak a word here or there drawing folks back to the real gospel. And we sit on our wallets while in the building, putting our offerings (we do not believe in the tithe for Christians)to direct service for the Lord by meeting folks needs.

    In short, we stay as Baptist missionaries to the SBC. We pray for blinded eyes to be opened. For entertainment worship to disappear. For Word of Faith teaching to be cleaned out of the SBC. (To all who read this who are WoF, go in peace and serve the Lord in WoF churches, please!) We pray for the idea programs and devices of man, like Rainer and his replant/revitalize etc go away. God sends revival or He doesn’t, we cannot engineer it.

    In short we pray for a real revival sent by the real God based on repentance for sin and faith in Jesus and for all the money changers to be swept away.

    And to that extent we rejoice as the Evangelical Industrial Complex collapses.

    The fire at Notre Dame yesterday was so sad, but I kept thinking that no thing we build “for God” is going to stand. Nothing. He does all the leading and building and creating.

    We need to get our eyes off ourselves and onto Him for a change.

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  36. I’d add the clergy that adds to the Scriptures, weaponizes them, and abuses single people and anyone else that doesn’t fit the married-with-2.5 kids-suburbs-white picket fence model. This is church, not a country club.

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  37. Pingback: Linkathon! - Phoenix Preacher

  38. Lowlandseer:
    Some words of advice from Mark Galli in 2011

    “The Most Risky Profession
    — by Mark Galli
    Why you need to pray desperately for your pastor.

    It’s refreshing news to hear of pastors taking a leave of absence not over sexual or financial misconduct, but over pride. Such was the case with John Piper last year, and this week with C. J. Mahaney. Mahaney has been president of the church planting network Sovereign Grace Ministries, which according to its website now includes “about 95 churches,” mostly on the East Coast. He is the founder of the megachurch Covenant Life Church, which he handed over to Joshua Harris after pastoring there for 27 years. He is also one of the leaders of the Together for the Gospel Conferences, and one of the most popular speakers in the neo-Reformed circuit.

    The story behind his leave of absence is still unraveling. But he has publicly acknowledged that he has succumbed to “various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment, and hypocrisy.”

    It’s an interesting list of sins—ones that pastors all over America commit week in and week out. This is not to excuse Mahaney or to take such sins lightly. It is to suggest that the state of the modern American pastorate has been shaped so that these sins—especially pride and hypocrisy—are impossible to escape. For this reason, our pastors need not our condemnation, but our prayers. They are in a profession that is about as morally risky as they come.“

    You can read the full article here. It’s the second article down.

    http://desiderantangeli.blogspot.com/2011/07/?m=0

    It’s not risky if you’re not vain, money-loving, deceitful, selfish. Having worked in the clergy before (one year on paid staff), I don’t consider it a very risky profession at all, at least compared with many others in which I’ve participated, such as lawyering, B2B tech sales, or management for a multinational corp. All of those professions had greater hazards and temptations by far than working for a church. It wasn’t even close.

    It’s also funny that he seems to think that perhaps the greatest and most destructive sin of all, pride, the original sin that took down Lucifer and a third of all the angels, would be almost as a refreshing change from sexual sins and financial misdeeds. Does Galli read the Bible?

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  39. Law Prof,

    I’m sure that the “ignore the ‘bloggers” people do read their Scriptures, but perhaps selectively. For example:

    … the Lord hates … a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

    Of course, in context it’s considerably more complex than that:

    There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
    17 haughty eyes,
    a lying tongue,
    hands that shed innocent blood,
    18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
    feet that are quick to rush into evil,
    19 a false witness who pours out lies
    and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

    The argument appears to be that in order for the laity to avoid committing #7, they have to ignore or forbear clergy who commit #s 1,2,4,5 and 6.

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  40. Samuel Conner: the Lord hates … a person who stirs up conflict in the community

    And I’m certain they wouldn’t consider going into a church and reforming it against their will “stirring up conflict”. It’s only when people outside their group do things that they will consider it wrong.

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  41. Ishy,

    Because they are the ones with the “correct theology/philosophyIt is always OK if you are the correct one! You are “reforming”, not causing conflict! I am not really being a smart a$$, these are the motives that leads people to commit some of the worst types of crimes…. just look at History..

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  42. TS00: Yes, like Jesus, we are furious at those who use the very name of God to fleece the children of God. If we overturn a few tables of corrupt profiteers, I don’t think it’s going to do God’s temple any harm. One might even say it’s a rather Christlike thing to do.

    When somebody piously admonishes you with “What Would Jesus Do?”, remind them that flipping out and throwing tables around is a Biblical option.

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  43. Law Prof: People are corrupt. The Bible really means it when it says there’s none who does good, not one.

    What I used to call “The Gospel According to Beavis and Butthead: For All Have Sinned and Fallen Short of the Glory of God”.

    Because every character in B&B was seriously messed-up; B&B were just the two most obvious.

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  44. It’s like employee drug testing. They can test me anyday they want. I have no fear of the test as I’ve never done drugs. So …..the church leadership should have no fear of being analyzed…..unless there is something they are hiding…….hmmmmmmmm

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  45. Samuel Conner: In terms of ethics, “the church” is a leaking ship, and it appears that the senior officers among the crew are less interested in bailing the boat and patching the hull than in keeping the passengers quiet and ignorant of their peril.

    And TITHING TITHING TITHING.

    “When coin in PASTOR’s coffer rings…”

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  46. Samuel Conner: Sometimes someone who seems to be “the person God wants to lead this group” turns out to be a bad actor who should never have been allowed anywhere near a pulpit.

    You see that is Godly(TM) politics, too.

    Ever since the Eighties, “GOD’s Anointed Choice for POTUS(TM)” has been getting scuzzier and sketchier with each election cycle.

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  47. Bridget:
    It seems to me that Christian leaders want to be untouchable. Between this guy and Piper, they sure are trying to toot their own horns.

    “TOUCH NOT MINE ANOINTED!”
    — Benny Hinn’s favorite go-to Verse when he comes under scrutiny

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  48. Remnant: Dee, remind us again of the salary you’ve made off of us for your service to the Christian community after all these years. How much do you charge us for your articles and subscription service. How much do advertisers pay you? What is your hourly fee talking to people abused by professional Christians? You must sell Stan Renegade merchandise in you blog store. Surely you don’t research and publish an average of two articles per week for free!

    That is why all Gordon can fathom for our incentive is some sort of sick enjoyment. While I only experience heartache over the expose’ of corrupt Christian leaders and their victims, I must confess light entertainment at Gordon’s temper tantrum. Thinking deeper however, I become infuriated, as Gordon and others like him are guilty of stopping the ears of would-be rescuers of corrupted leaders.

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  49. Can’t we judge others or correct them when they sin? My answer is yes and no. Yes, Church leaders can be corrected, but it has to be done in the right spirit and the right way. There is not one New Testament Scripture that gives any believer license to gossip, slander, or criticize

    So, I guess he doesn’t consider Ephesians 5:11, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them,” to be in the Bible?

    Gossip- idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.

    What would be considered the “private affairs” of a public person whose behavior affects many people? A public person who expects others to hang on their every word and follow them?

    Is corruption behind the scenes a private affair? Is abuse a private affair? Stealing money? Seducing women? Committing fraud? Are these all private affairs?

    The fear of “gossip” has led Christians to keep quiet about evil to the point it has destroyed many lives.

    Slander- the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.

    If the facts are true, it is not slander. I notice they will throw the accusation of slander around, yet not deny the truth of any of the facts involved.

    Criticism- the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.

    So, in other words, every attempt to weigh facts, engage in discernment, discuss those facts and come to a conclusion is not allowed? Don’t make me laugh! This is an abuser’s and narcissist’s paradise.

    So if one can’t discuss private affairs even if they are criminal, or engage in figuring out the merits of anything, what then is this “right way” to correct reprehensible behavior on the part of the upper caste? Is it what the elders had tried and failed to do with James MacDonald for all of those years? Which had no affect and allowed his behavior to go further and further off the rails? Which allowed so many to be harmed and their faith decimated?

    These characters pose as protectors of the flock but they actually will not protect them from anything real. They spend all their time warning them about imaginary things they are supposed to be afraid of, like the so-called decline of society or whatever, but they will not allow them to be warned when an actual person in their congregation has engaged in criminal or abusive behavior. They’ll send pedophiles quietly out the back door; too bad for the next victim. They’ll send an elder who tries to stand for truth quietly out the back door, gagged with an NDA; too bad for the next victim. A pastor who is seducing women in the congregation? Who are you to pass judgment? Too bad for his next victim. A pastor stealing money out of the collection plate? Too bad for the future givers!

    We are instructed to speak the truth in love. That love needs to extend to the victims and future victims.

    All the years I was in church I lived under this imposed silence of “not gossiping” until I recognized that it was unhealthy and ridiculous. The freedom to speak the truth and discuss actual reality and call a spade a spade is something I will never give up again!

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  50. Lowlandseer: For this reason, our pastors need not our condemnation, but our prayers. They are in a profession that is about as morally risky as they come.

    These guys are really not in touch with reality. I can think of quite a few jobs much more morally risky than being a pastor. The big problem is they have isolated themselves so much from reality that they have lost sight of the moral compass that guides others.

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  51. Question for readers:

    One of our readers asked how he could do something to express his concerns about the seeming lack of ethics in the James MacDonald, Ed Stetzer, Mark Galli, Christianity Today, Wheaton College situation. Thoughts?

    I had hoped for more discussion of this question from Dee, but I don’t see any yet.

    Here are a few quick ideas.
    1) In your local congregation, investigate what controls are in place to prevent such situations. If relevant, try using one of them. (For example, some churches will reveal a budget and allow members to see line item details for any line if they ask. So take a line that might be subject to abuse and ask if that situation applies.)
    2) Study the situation, summarize it, and then bring it up as a discussion topic in a small group. (Possibly take advantage of resources for the “case study” method of teaching commonly used in many law and business schools.)
    3) Write to organizations you are already involved with stating your concern and how you think it applies to them (e.g. Christianity Today, ECFA, mission orf this or that).

    Do any of these have merit?

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  52. Ken F (aka Tweed): The big problem is they have isolated themselves so much from reality that they have lost sight of the moral compass that guides others.

    Ed Stetzer today tweeted a comment the perfectly illustrates my point:https://mobile.twitter.com/edstetzer/status/1118193083022237697?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet.

    Finished up my talk for the upcoming Marketplace Chaplains Summit. I’m so thankful for the men and women who serve in companies, factories, and more. It’s a fascinating and important ministry. I learned much preparing to talk to them!

    Let’s all pat him on the back for spending a bit if time prepping to talk to people people with real jobs. He makes it sound like it was quite a stretch for him.

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  53. Ken F (aka Tweed): Let’s all pat him on the back for spending a bit if time prepping to talk to people with real jobs. He makes it sound like it was quite a stretch for him.

    It is. He has to risk contamination by such Fleshly and Worldly Heathens.

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  54. SiteSeer: So if one can’t discuss private affairs even if they are criminal, or engage in figuring out the merits of anything, what then is this “right way” to correct reprehensible behavior on the part of the upper caste?

    Submit and (winsomely) sing the praises of He Who Holds the Whip.

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  55. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Please note the author, Jared C. Wilson. Of course pastors are special. Jared works for a seminary. He definitely will be promoting pastors. From his bio.

    “Jared C. Wilson is the Director of Content Strategy for Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church, and author of numerous books, including Gospel Wakefulness, The Pastor’s Justification, and The Prodigal Church.”

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  56. SiteSeer: So, I guess he doesn’t consider Ephesians 5:11, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them,” to be in the Bible?

    There are a fair number of verses (besides Eph.5:11) in the NT that tell us to expose and even publicly rebuke unrepentant sin… especially in regards to false teachers who are in it for “dishonest gain”. (Titus 1:11; 1Tim.5:20; etc.)

    The verses in Revelation 2 are directed to the church body… they were ALL expected to discern when teachers were wicked hypocrites and they were not to tolerate it. (Rev 2:2 I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.)

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  57. I’m not sure if everyone on the thread had time to read both this Opion piece, and the December 29th, 2018, Francis Chan article. They are linked.

    These would seemed to be Mr. Gordon’ main points:

    1. God communicated (“recently” but undated) to Mr. Chan he was to convey a warning to the Church, as a whole from 1 Corinthians 3:17.

    Said verse concerns the destruction of certain believers in the afterlife. This is not referencing a loss of reward, as already covered in verses 13-15. Verse 17 specifically refers to destruct of the person, not the person’s works.

    A. This is a most serious warning.
    B. It is not consistent with the Fifth Head of Doctrine. (Canons of Dort) Issue (b) would seem to raise a number of questions regarding a belief, or non-belief, in Calvinism.

    2. The more recent article refers to certain bloggers as renagade. It would be good to remember a renagade is a traitor. It would appear Dee Parsons and Proffessor Throckmorton are traitors to The Kingdom of God.

    3. Mr. Chan explicitly calls for the shunning and turning over to Satan, of these unidentified contentious persons. It is not implied.

    4. Mr. Gordon ties back to the December article, and identifies individuals lending their voices to Satan. Those persons are the blog commenters.

    My question to Messrs. Chan and Gordon:

    Have you or any associates prayed for the death or debilitating medical condition/s of we commenters?

    If you have not done so, have you disobeyed the recent warning of God, given to Mr. Chan?

    Since the purpose of God speaking to Mr. Chan was a warning to the Church, is God angry because of anti-GFA comments made here and on Throckmorton’s blog?

    Does God require repentance of the anti- GFA comments?

    Messrs. Chan and Gordon: If a watchman does not warn the wicked man and the wicked man is taken away…

    One of the alleged wicked is asking you if it was GFA that angered God.

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  58. Law Prof: The Bible really means it when it says there’s none who does good, not one.

    I can see how this dictum is true in a hyperbolic sense, but not in a straight across the board one-verse-fitz-all conditions.

    There are millions of people who do good things every day with their kindness, compassion, and love for the gift of life. And they hail from all walks of life, people of faith, and people of no religious belief.

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  59. Nathan Priddis,

    What you just did here s what we are instructed to do in the NT. I am not one to go around an d quote verses, but this is what the “Bereans” were commended for. If we all did this more, at least some of the craziness would be reduced…. Also, some good old fashion logic…. unfortunately, most pew sitters have been trained/bullied/enticed to be passive sheep..

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  60. SiteSeer: corrupt

    I have trouble with evangelical “leaders” lining up to defend buddies when their ministry comes under a moral cloud. These folks by and large revolve in the parachurch world. Many are simply businessmen in the god business, not ordained ministers. They have no ecclesial relation to the congregation. They do not pastor the flock in question, and I fail to see any scriptural basis for inserting themselves. They are independent operators who run businesses. Where is their standing to butt in?

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  61. Muff Potter: I can see how this dictum is true in a hyperbolic sense, but not in a straight across the board one-verse-fitz-all conditions.

    There are millions of people who do good things every day with their kindness, compassion, and love for the gift of life.And they hail from all walks of life, people of faith, and people of no religious belief.

    Of course, and I don’t think that verse from the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament is necessarily meant to mean that no one ever does anything decent, but in the larger sense, there’s not a single person who won’t let you down at some point, who won’t drop the ball, who won’t commit ugly sin, who isn’t deeply flawed. Just the way it is.

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  62. Samuel Conner:
    Law Prof,

    I’m sure that the “ignore the ‘bloggers” people do read their Scriptures, but perhaps selectively. For example:

    … the Lord hates …a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

    Of course, in context it’s considerably more complex than that:

    There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:
    17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,
    18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil,
    19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

    The argument appears to be that in order for the laity to avoid committing #7, they have to ignore or forbear clergy who commit #s 1,2,4,5 and 6.

    I tend to think that #7 is violated by the likes of MacDonald and Stetzer and Galli and such every bit as much (or more) than the laity.

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  63. Lowlandseer: For this reason, our pastors need not our condemnation, but our prayers. They are in a profession that is about as morally risky as they come.“

    Mr Galli forgets the NT injunction to never compare ourselves to others but simply reflect on our personal situation with sober judgement. (2 correct 10:12)

    Having said that I do think being the main teacher and CEO leader of a modern neocal/9marks/harvest kind of church is actually dangerous to one’s soul. Here’s why.

    Week after week these men get 30-50 minutes of uninterrupted time to talk. Everyone listens. People even take notes! Some churches also mandate all their small groups talk about that sermon midweek.

    In church service no one can interrupt. No one can question them later either , not their elders not even other full time Christian servants (esp not the latter, as peoole in that category are seen as a serious threat to the pastors authority and rule- yes, speaking from experience here).

    The outcome of such a system where no one can challenge you? Big surprise.. pride! And they don’t even see how the institutional system they so vigorously defend lead them right to it.

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  64. “One of our readers asked how he could do something to express his concerns about the seeming lack of ethics in the James MacDonald, Ed Stetzer, Mark Galli, Christianity Today, Wheaton College situation. Thoughts?”

    Wait for Francis Chan, Greg Gordon, and the reader’s local church elders to run his concerns through the Gossiptron 3000

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  65. “One of our readers asked how he could do something to express his concerns about the seeming lack of ethics in the James MacDonald, Ed Stetzer, Mark Galli, Christianity Today, Wheaton College situation. Thoughts?”

    Write the publisher of Christianity Today and the Chairman of the Board of Directors.

    Harold B. Smith is publisher and CEO until May 1 then Timothy Dalrymple takes over.
    Eugene B. Habecker is Chairman of the Board of Christianity Today.
    Here is the list of Christianity Today board members:

    Thomas Addington, Miriam Adeney, Claude Alexander, David Bere, Sandra C. Gray, Tami Heim, Alec Hill, Darryl L. King, Michael Lindsay, Samuel Rodriguez, Meritt Sawyer, Harold B. Smith, John M. Sommerville, Annie Tsai

    Christianity Today
    465 Gundersen Drive
    Carol Stream, IL 60188

    I don’t know if CT has a working board or a caretaker board. Either way, members are probably shielded from public reaction, so contacting them after going to the top might be helpful.

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  66. So I just finished listening to the 50 minute recording of JMac talking to Jeremy Weber of CT. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-H74qlcCnts&feature=youtu.be I actually got the feeling that Weber was pretty fair, and was giving MacDonald a chance to present his argument in an op-ed. Certainly reasonable. My suspicion is that these guys at CT gave MacDonald more credit than he deserved, and published it without reading it closely. Had they done so they would have seen that it was more a hit piece than an objective setting forth of arguments.

    It is a good example of how JMac manipulated, flattered, played humble, etc. in order to get whatever he wanted. People who had no reason to suspect him would easily be won over by JMac’s smooth technique.

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  67. Fisher,

    Fisher, the overarching pattern I’ve seen with these kinds of editorials is that whether they’ll admit this or not, these kinds of writers are appealing to, I promise I’m not making this up, in Four Theories of the Press, what used to be called “the authoritarian theory of the press”. Only those with the formally vested authority are thought fit to handle media and this is a default position among Christian media outlets more or less regardless of formal views on the political or theological spectrum. Another way to put it is that members of the formal press only take their own group’s work seriously, and those who could be regarded as official sources. To those who embrace the authoritarian theory of the press it’s not going to be a sign of hypocrisy or double standards that only they get to use the press because that legitimacy for them and not for others is built into the nature of the theory and …

    the problem with the tacit assumption that the authoritarian theory of the press applies is that if the bloggers a church leadership team finds itself dealing with endorse a libertarian theory of the press or a social responsibility view of the press (that’s me, I don’t subscribe to either the authoritarian OR libertarian theories of the press and have said so repeatedly at my blog) then they’re broad-brushing bloggers as somehow anti-authoritarian without attempting to consider the possibility that that’s not what is going on.

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  68. “One of our readers asked how he could do something to express his concerns about the seeming lack of ethics in the James MacDonald, Ed Stetzer, Mark Galli, Christianity Today, Wheaton College situation. Thoughts?”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    connect with Robert of Downen at the Houston Chronicle? Connect with Paul Glader of The Media Project?

    Ask to write to an opinion piece.

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  69. elastigirl,

    ““One of our readers asked how he could do something to express his concerns about the seeming lack of ethics in the James MacDonald, Ed Stetzer, Mark Galli, Christianity Today, Wheaton College situation. Thoughts?””
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    pool money for a billboard?

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  70. Samuel Conner: Paul wrote that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.
    But he also was very clear about his strong sense of call to be “the apostle to the gentiles”.

    I agree, and I do see a role for leadership, and an emphasis in the NT on training new leaders for the growing movement. What concerns me is the attitude that being a leader, “being called,” means that you are above the rest, that you are beyond the criticism of the “sheep,” because they can’t understand the pressures of your calling. I’ve seen this patronizing attitude in church leaders, and it bothers me.

    Paul proved his calling as an Apostle, not by showing the size of his ministry budget, or the number of Twitter followers, but by listing his spiritual sons, and taking his shirt off to show his scars.

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  71. There’s so much here, but let’s focus on some obvious issues:

    “There is not one New Testament Scripture that gives any believer license to gossip, slander, or criticize others.”

    Conflating gossip and slander with criticism, the latter of which by definition can be legitimate and Biblical. Pathetic. Oh, and read Galatians 2 as well as what John said about Diotrephes, as well as a dictionary for the definition of criticism.

    “Any Scripture relating to correction is through ordained Church leaders correcting other leaders and that done in gentleness, prayer, and a spirit of humility, realizing we will be judged by the same measure in which we criticize and judge others.”

    Any Scripture? What about Balaam’s donkey for starters?
    And as far as gentleness, was that always on display when Jesus addressed leaders including the disciples? How about Paul and the way he spoke?

    Galatians 5:12 “I wish those upsetting you also will emasculate themselves!”

    Citing this brings up another point, which is that per human nature and Paul’s words in Acts 20, “grievous wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock”. The reality of wolves had been addressed previously in Matthew 7:15-16 — “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will recognize them. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”

    Anyone notice a restriction to wolves to outside of leadership? And wouldn’t false prophets naturally seek to assume a place of leadership and divine authority? As Christ’s caution to beware went out to everyone hearing the sermon on the mount, wouldn’t all examining the fruit of leaders and speaking about it appropriately be logical?

    Upon re-reading, I have to ask: is this guy actually proof-texting his way to implying that ONLY “ordained Church leaders” can correct “other leaders”? Besides the offense against common sense of muzzling correction that’s needed, who is to say who is worthy to ordain? Since he leaves us hanging on that point, let’s turn to the interwebs to seek enlightenment:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordination

    “Apostolic succession is considered an essential and necessary concept for ordination, in the belief that all ordained clergy are ordained by bishops who were ordained by other bishops tracing back to bishops ordained by the Apostles who were ordained by Christ, the great High Priest, who conferred his priesthood upon his Apostles.”

    So do we need to do an apostolic succession check on “leaders” back through the triple Popes and before for said proper ordination and the right to issue gentle, snuggly correction? Does Francis Chan — who this guy quotes — pass the test?

    Back to relevant Scripture notably unaddressed by this guy:

    Eph. 5:11-13 “And do not have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even expose them. For it is shameful even to mention the things being done by them in secret. But everything being exposed by the light is made visible, for everything becoming visible is light.”

    Was this written to “ordained Church leaders” alone? Well, the letter is addressed to “all the saints” and the faithful in Jesus. It is noteworthy that those given instruction in chapter five are called “beloved children” (verse 1) who are to walk as “children of light” (verse 8).

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  72. “A common Scripture is Matthew 18 which instructs us to tell the sins of others “to the Church” (Matthew 18:17). … Telling it “to the Church” was to address it to the ordained leaders and, specifically in this case, to the Bishop of the region of the Church.”

    Not forgetting that the same chapter includes the cutting/casting off of eyes and hands, let’s seek better context of who “us” is. I’m curious who this guy would say the “Bishop” would’ve been at the time when Jesus gave this scenario, and admit that further contextualization is necessary. This is especially as the ‘church’ (Gr. ekklesia) generally means the church body rather than solely “ordained leaders” and in this case does not make the specification this guy suggests.

    The initial scenario in the Matthew 18 case describes both a relative equality of participants (brother to brother), and something in which an internal matter between two Christian siblings as it were had occurred. For contrast, the Greek addition ‘eis se’ is widely translated “against you”. What is written in 1 Cor. 6 also corrrsponds to internal confrontation of a personal dispute or matter (Gr. pragma). In this case, the result of not going to an earthly authority appears to at worst represent someone being wronged (Gr. adikeisthe) or defrauded/cheated (Gr. apostereisthe).

    Context seems to strongly indicate personal tort matters between siblings as it were. Also adding perspective is the goal in Matthew 18 of being heard and gaining a brother, implying this is in large measure a matter of fellowship rather than uniform dispute settling of criminal matters. Again, looking at the end result, the penalty as it were in this case is a loss of fellowship (being treated as a heathen or tax collector). Does that sound like the way a criminal situation, let’s say involving sexual assault, would be settled?

    Scores of stories on this blog and others do not appear reducible to the Matthew 18 and 1 Cor. 6 process. Many do fit rendering unto Caesar and turning things over to civil leaders who per Romans 13:4 do not bear the sword in vain, from physical and spiritual abuse to frauds financial and otherwise. And too often, the insulation provided to grievous wolves in sheep’s clothing from within 501c3 autocratic echo chambers cannot be penetrated through counting on the good graces of said grievous wolves.

    And even if the one doing the wronging is not a wolf but someone in authority with lapses in judgment, Scripture makes clear (1 Tim 3, Titus 1 for starters) there are standards of blamelessness and being above reproach to be met and maintained. It is common sense, as they are to represent Christianity to all including the world, for as Paul notes in Romans 2:24 when quoting the Old Testament: As it has been written: “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you.” Thus, even the leaders who aren’t false but in error are subject to correction and — brace yourselves — removal from leadership and authority, even if they’re “ordained”.

    Used wisely, blogs like this give voices to people in situations that call for it. They even allow for people to offer context, including from Scripture, when such context is lacking while charges — vague and otherwise — and strawmen are stacked against such blogs.

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  73. Apparently, criticism CAN be offered publicly from the author’s message board where he is the moderator:

    http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=61960&forum=35

    This is added at the end of the initial post: “(Do Share this article on your social media accoutns, lets be a part of the solution not the problem)”

    (One hopes all criticism is from ‘ordained Church leaders’, doesn’t one…)

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  74. Ken F (aka Tweed): I suspect my sarcasm did not come through clear enough. Too bad we don’t have a sarcasm font. Maybe Nick could help us with that.

    WordPress provides limited options for styling comments, but here’s a thought.

    If you type exactly this:
    <code>sarcasm</code>

    you get this:
    sarcasm

    That is, a monotype font. It’s subtle, but maybe it could indicate sarcasm. Or we could use other than angular brackets (which browsers interpret as HTML). Like this:

    [sarcasm]I love Driskle’s theology[/sarcasm]

    IHTIH

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  75. Thank you for articulating why you stay. You affirm how people in the pews can-and should be- making their own decisions as to what they will and will not do, and how they are going to allocate their offering money. I pray that your ministry there will be protected and blessed.

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  76. my daughter wanted to watch the dystopian film The Giver tonight.

    Boy, it makes me think of the alternate reality promoted by Greg Gordon. makes me think of christian culture as inhabited & run by professional christians.

    some themes:

    –a rigidly controlled society. everyone looks and acts basically the same. Everyone is unfailingly polite.

    –Everything is planned and organized so that life is as convenient and pleasant as possible.

    –In exchange for their peaceful existence, the people have lost the capacity to feel deep passion about anything. including things that are wrong and unethical, and the will to speak out. (let alone the freedom to do so)

    –The society has also eliminated choice. no one in the community has ever made a choice of his or her own.

    –Everything is controlled by “the Elders. even down to thoughts & memories and feelings.

    –The community understands little of the past, as it is rewritten by the Elders.

    –The community understands the present through half truths, distorted truths, and untruths as communicated by the Elders.

    —-Citizens who break rules or fail to adapt properly to the society’s codes of behavior are “released”. They don’t realize that it means they are killed.

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  77. Pingback: Wednesday Connect | Thinking Out Loud

  78. JDV: Used wisely, blogs like this give voices to people in situations that call for it. They even allow for people to offer context, including from Scripture, when such context is lacking while charges — vague and otherwise — and strawmen are stacked against such blogs.

    Thank you for your excellent discussion of bible teaching and their contexts. Much appreciated.

    I’d also add that blogs like TWW offer the wounded a safe place to vent steam, gain new perspective and grow in gracious boldness. Men like Gordon see no need for any of that because their goal is keeping people in their “correct theological place”. They honestly believe that’s what God wants. Which is just bizarre given Jesus direct harsh words to Pharisees and teachers of the law who did the same thing.

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  79. __

    Broadsides: “Banefully Broad-Brushing Bloggers, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Gordon has apparently made no provision for those ‘professionals’ within the proverbial present day 501c3 religious ‘sinkhole void’ that habitually ‘abuse’ the Word of God.

    He does not caution the silence of his targeted listeners, he demands it.

    ;~)

    – –

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  80. This referenced Gordon article is apparently a ‘cheap shot’ attempt to banefully poison, and silence the climate of gathering religious conviction —that the very Words of God are being habitually abused by 501c3 religious professionals.

    ;~)

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  81. elastigirl,

    I am of the opinion that the best thing someone can do is to leave these “churches” and never go back. I believe that they have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are not the church is any way, shape, or form and that we now have a template, based upon the actions HBC, WC, et al., that we can use to measure other organizations against.

    The spiritual health of the individual believer is far more important than any organization of group, no matter what the size or form it takes. Even more important, initially, than warning other people.

    But once a person has their bearings again, and is healthy, then warnings to others may be warranted. However, in spite of the warnings people will continue to populate, give, and be fleeced by these hucksters no matter what we say or do to try to stop them. I’m sure we all have experienced that.

    It’s painful to watch others destroy themselves. But we can be available on the other side for them when they are finally led out of the system.

    I believe that these things should be exposed, as others have said. I’m thankful that they are and support those who are led to do that work. And I think we still want to try on an individual basis. But people will still be drawn into the apostasy and will still pursue their own idols, no matter what we say or do. Sometimes it takes people years to see the truth.

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  82. Noevangelical,

    Much of this pattern of abuse is predicated on the long-conditioned belief that we must be an active member of a church, some church, any church. I can’t number the people I have heard explain that they aren’t exactly thrilled with certain beliefs or practices of their current church ‘but we’ve tried all the others. There is nowhere else to go.’

    That, IMO, is a huge part of the problem. That, at one time, was me.

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  83. TS00,

    At some point we must progress beyond the ‘No church is perfect’, with which we have been programmed, to ‘No church is so necessary that I must tolerate evil.’ Doing church is not equivalent to serving God. I miss it, but I do not ‘need’ it. And the longer I am out, the more free I become to think and grow in wisdom and maturity without the stunting influence of groupthink.

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  84. “Blogs made it possible for people to compare notes and connect dots. Suddenly, the pixelated events result into high definition and the picture shows a breathtaking consistency. The stories contain striking uniformity in pastoral conversations and actions. They contain profound similarities in the emotional, spiritual, and psychological pain of those who have suffered.” -John Immel

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  85. Let’s face it: spiritual abuse; clergy sexual abuse; clergy manipulation; clergy intimidation; clergy control mania, and everyday spiritual tyranny is rampant in today’s 501c3 church. Without hardly any effort at all the blog owner of this website could easily compile (by internet search) a blogroll under “Abuse” in this website’s sidebar.

    ;~)

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  86. The extent to which church officials will turn a blind eye to the lies that clergy tell in order to try to shut down blogs is amazing and appalling.

    In my case, my former rector Bob Malm falsely stated under oath that my Mom contacted him repeatedly, making appointments and no-showing. That’s an interesting claim, given that Mom is dying of COPD, can’t use a phone, email, or leave her home.

    So, I’m a little slow. How exactly did she do this? Nor is this inconsequential; indeed, it is one of the reasons Bob Malm cited in court for his stated belief.

    I’m also curious: How does the phrase “psychological torture,” which was a quote ABOUT BOB’S BEHAVIOR, constitute a threat?

    Oh, and BTW, I have a disciplinary complaint filed against Bob Malm’s for his perjury. Given the Episcopal Church’s track record thus far, I will be very surprised if it does not find some excuse to ignore the matter. Most likely, it will claim it can’t get involved in a court matter, despite the fact that church canons expressly state that church discipline is entirely an ecclesiastical matter and not subject to review by the civilian courts.

    Truly, The Episcopal Church is morally bankrupt when it’s okay for clergy to commit perjury.

    Feel free to quote me on that.

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  87. I’m in agreement with the person above who mentioned how one cannot really see it until one is “out”. For me, I saw a lot of little things that raised red flags for me, but after having been out of the structured church I see so many giant size red flags that whatever there is that is good is now so covered in red flags that I cannot even see it.
    Ugh. That’s all I have today, just one huge sigh of UGH.

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  88. I continue to be amazed that no matter the differences in theology, doctrine, or practice, the abusive tactics are always the same. It’s always, don’t say anything bad about the leaders, God put them in authority over you, who do you think you are! I heard all the same
    stuff in Maranatha. If the article had mentioned a root of bitterness I think we would have had Bingo.

    Seriously, we should document the abusive rhetoric and teach every high school student how to recognize it.

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  89. Eeugh, who on earth thinks this old boys club (white pastors club) that has allowed so much child abuse to happen in their churches, so much spousal abuse, so much re-victimising in the (alleged) name of Christ, have any moral credibility at all? Who the heck actually cares what they have to say about bloggers who care more about ‘the least of these’, than about power & status?

    Frankly, Gordon, we don’t give a damn.

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  90. ” … at the great expense of the character of a Christian leader as well as the testimony of Christ” (Greg Gordon)

    It’s because of the lack of Christian character demonstrated by certain church leaders and their poor testimony of Christ before a watching world that some of us participate in the blogosphere. We must speak; to know what to do and not do it would be sin. This abuse of the pulpit must stop!

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  91. GSD [Getting Stuff Done]: I’m still pondering the idea that “the ordained” are beyond criticism from us

    In what Bible book, chapter and verse does it indicate that only the ordained can rebuke the ordained? This is a problem inherent with elder-rule polity vs. congregational governance if the elders don’t hold church leaders accountable. They didn’t at Mars Hill … they didn’t at Willow Creek … they didn’t at Harvest Bible Chapel … until they had to, as wayward ministers were exposed. Any child of God should be able to approach another person who claims to be Christian (in pulpit or pew) to rebuke and correct them when they are behaving badly … the precious Name of Christ is at stake.

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  92. Max: In what Bible book, chapter and verse does it indicate that only the ordained can rebuke the ordained?

    My former pastor once interpreted the ‘mote’ and log in your eye passage to suggest that only men like himself had removed the motes from their own eyes, making them uniquely able to reprove and judge we mere peons. I kid you not. I’m afraid my conversation at lunch – with a good friend and elder – was rather heated. Everyone was so blind the guy could get away with saying virtually anything.

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  93. Max: In what Bible book, chapter and verse does it indicate that only the ordained can rebuke the ordained? This is a problem inherent with elder-rule polity vs. congregational governance if the elders don’t hold church leaders accountable.

    Max,
    This really is the key. We just had a business meeting last night. The monthly treasurer’s report was examined, questioned, discussed, and passed. Transparency appears to provide the necessary checks and balances to keep everything above board, knowing that any member in the congregation can see and examine where the all money and efforts go. Little wonder that MacDonald wrote his piece about how ‘congregational government is from Satan’!

    I continue to pray that the Holy Spirit will show the people of HBC and other ‘elder-led’ congregations that they’re not only being taken for a ride, but they’re also making the car payments and filling the tank with gas! When you have no say in anything in the church, that’s NOT ‘biblical’ membership in my book!

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  94. Root 66: Little wonder that MacDonald wrote his piece about how ‘congregational government is from Satan’!

    And then recanted of that opinion in order to become a card-holding member of the Southern Baptist Convention. The majority of SBC churches have congregational polity … for now, but no for long as New Calvinism sweeps through the ranks.

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  95. It is ironic that Greg Gordon should accuse others of ‘tearing down’ the body of Christ as it is what he has done over the years on his forum Sermon Index, when sanctified believers have been drawn with the sermons and writings of those have believed and taught the doctrine of entire sanctification, which was the point of the Holiness Movement in America, and then discover that Gordon would not allow that doctrine to be discussed without the member being shown the door.

    His fate was sealed because of it and the lack of spiritual discernment has led him downwards to betray the many who lost their lives in the Catholic Church’s persecution of genuine believers as he slips down the slope towards either Catholicism or Orthodoxy and ignores the pleadings of many upstanding evangelicals.

    Nothing good happens to those who are in a position of leadership and influence who deny the truth of holiness teaching. Gordon’s lack of discernment was so entrenched that he could not see that a web-site that printed the works of those who were both for and against the doctrine was going to bring confusion.

    He has also shown a very controlling nature on his forums, stopping things like private messaging, not allowing links of those who did not fall in line with him, and banning people at the drop of a hat if they did not kowtow to his grandiose sense of self and insistence that people ‘be nice’ rather than speak the truth.

    Now he is failing to answer his critics who object to leaders thinking they are beyond the pall. You have a lot to answer for Mr Gordon in the way you are stirring up trouble.

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  96. “One of our readers asked how he could do something to express his concerns about the seeming lack of ethics in the James MacDonald, Ed Stetzer, Mark Galli, Christianity Today, Wheaton College situation. Thoughts?” (Dee)

    IMO, preachers of the Gospel ought to hold each other accountable for bad-boy behavior. But they won’t, lest they too come under scrutiny – the professional ministry is such a mess in America (particularly mega-mania) and there are other bad-boys out there fearing exposure. Seldom do we have other ministers offering rebuke and correction … they leave that to the blogosphere and then cuss us for speaking truth into error, calling us accusers of the brethren, gossipers, devils, etc. I would advise the brother who had this inquiry to keep posting his concerns on TWW and other watchblogs – more and more folks are tuning in here for the ‘real’ news.

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  97. Brenda Redshaw: His fate was sealed because of it and the lack of spiritual discernment has led him downwards to betray the many who lost their lives in the Catholic Church’s persecution of genuine believers as he slips down the slope towards either Catholicism or Orthodoxy and ignores the pleadings of many upstanding evangelicals.

    Sorry you never heard the reformation Wars are over, Brenda, but the positions have reversed over the past 500 years. These days you’re more likely to find “persecution of genuine believers” coming from the stages of Megas and Truly Reformed pulpits than you are from a Catholic altar.

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  98. Max: Root 66: Little wonder that MacDonald wrote his piece about how ‘congregational government is from Satan’!
    And then recanted of that opinion in order to become a card-holding member of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    i.e. A member of the Inner Party/Inner Ring of the Anointed Rulers of Tomorrow.

    Never mind “follow the money”, follow the Delicious Scent of POWER.

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  99. Root 66: I continue to pray that the Holy Spirit will show the people of HBC and other ‘elder-led’ congregations that they’re not only being taken for a ride, but they’re also making the car payments and filling the tank with gas!

    Don’t forget the bills for those Classic Cars, high-end Harleys, overseas safaris, and Rolexes for the Inner Ring of Elders.

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  100. Headless Unicorn Guy: Classic Cars, high-end Harleys, overseas safaris, and Rolexes for the Inner Ring of Elders

    Turns out that JMac had an annual $1 million discretionary fund for stuff like that, in addition to his $1 million salary. Didn’t HBC members know the source of those funds were their hard-earned tithes and offerings?! Were his sermonettes really that good?! Was the band that tremendous?! The espresso coffee that great?! The fun and fellowship worth it?!

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  101. Headless Unicorn Guy: Sorry you never heard the reformation Wars are over, Brenda, but the positions have reversed over the past 500 years. These days you’re more likely to find “persecution of genuine believers” coming from the stages of Megas and Truly Reformed pulpits than you are from a Catholic altar.

    The dogmas of the RCC have not changed, which were the reasons for the opposition which led to persecution. The watchword now is false unity.

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  102. Max: Were his sermonettes really that good?! Was the band that tremendous?! The espresso coffee that great?! The fun and fellowship worth it?!

    When all they’ve ever known is Burger King, Micky D’s, and Pizza Hut so to speak, yes, for them it was and still is very worth it.

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  103. Brenda Redshaw: The dogmas of the RCC have not changed, which were the reasons for the opposition which led to persecution. The watchword now is false unity.

    Is that true? My understanding (perhaps flawed and incomplete) is that Vatican II, which is incorporated into the corpus of RCC dogma, acknowledged the possibility of salvation outside the RCC in non-C sects (indeed, as it was described to me decades ago by an evangelical seminary prof, it went further than that and envisioned the possibility of salvation outside even the non-C sects). It certainly wasn’t full ecumenical unity, but it significantly moderated the conception of “what is at stake” at the boundary between the C and non-C communions. Provided that this view is widely embraced, I don’t see why one would expect persecution to break out from that direction in future.

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  104. Brenda Redshaw: The dogmas of the RCC have not changed, which were the reasons for the opposition which led to persecution. The watchword now is false unity.

    Dogma or no, I think it’s ironic that Catholicism has kept pace with the Enlightenment and The Rights of Man far better than has Evangelical Protestantism.

    From what I’ve observed, rank and file Catholics have far greater freedom of individual conscience than what’s allowed in a fundagelical mega-church, ideas and mores on human sexuality would be a good example.

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