Did Christianity Today Refuse to Post Op Eds Refuting James MacDonald’s Abusive Op Ed? Guest Post by Wade Burleson.

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=7372
First image of a black hole

A lawsuit is to ordinary life what war is to peacetime. In a lawsuit, everybody on the other side is bad. A trial transcript is a discourse in malevolence.-Janet Malcolm

______

Years ago, Wade Burleson gave TWW permission to repost articles from his blog and I am so thankful.

I believe that James MacDonald’s Op Ed in Christianity Today was abusive and that abuse was aimed at Julie Roys, in particular, as well as The Elephant Debt editors and their wives.This was hardly a theological discussion. I was disturbed that such a poorly written and abusive OpEd was chosen to *grace* the pages of CT.

Mark Galli appeared to say that such a piece was meant to move the discussion regarding lawsuits between *believers* forward. The piece I saw did no such thing. In fact, it appears that MacDonald was possibly *bearing false witness” (inadvertently or not) to Wayne Grudem’s actually role as stated in the piece.

When I talked with James by phone, I referred him to the section, “The Necessity of Responding to Slander,” on pages 334-335 of my book Christian Ethics. I also referred him to the notes on 1 Corinthians 6 in the ESV Study Bible. I stand by what I wrote in Christian Ethics and I agree in principle with the notes in the ESV Study Bible.

I have not expressed any opinion on the merits of the specific lawsuit that James McDonald has initiated, nor have I looked into any details about that lawsuit or the accusations from the people who have criticized his ministry online. Nor do I intend to.

—Wayne Grudem

To make matters worse, it appears that two people did try to move the discussion forward by submitting Op Eds to CT. Apparently, CT was having none of it and refused to post either response which, in my opinion, would have moved the discussion forward. But maybe these guys didn’t know the right editors to advocate on their behalf?

I am deeply disappointed in CT. It is becoming difficult for me to believe that there isn’t a good ol’ boys network out there. Why am I left with the impression that had these two rejected pieces been written by BFFs of the editors, especially those who had been given *voluntary love offerings,* things might have turned out differently. Then again, I probably don’t understand the professional customs and values of the Christian publishing industry

There have been many Christian entities that have disappointed me in the past year. Besides CT, I’ve had to add ECFA, Harvest Bible Chapel and Willow Creek in the last few months.

Thankfully, Wade Burleson has stood his ground on many things that concern me. I am grateful to know that I am not alone.


James MacDonald and Christianity Today

Last week I wrote an article entitled Boys and Their Toys: Understanding the Southern Baptist Convention’s Celebrity Leadership Politics. In essence, I challenged Christianity Today’s decision to publish a guest editorial(Nov.2, 2018), written by James MacDonald, the pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel. In his CT guest editorial, Pastor James MacDonald defended his decision to file suit against three families – Julie Roys, Scott Bryant, Ryan Mahoney, and the men’s respective spouses – for their writing of articles that outlined what the authors believed to be Pastor MacDonald’s’ gross mismanagement of people, resources, and ministries at Harvest Bible Chapel. Eventually, James MacDonald dropped the suit that he defended in his CT editorial. Subsequently, the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel fired James MacDonald for some of the very things the one-time defendants of his lawsuit revealed in their writings.

In the comment section of my blog, Mark Galli, the Editor in Chief of Christianity Today, entered into a written dialogue with me. I appreciate Mark’s transparency as he took issue with what I wrote. He said the decision for Christianity Today to publish James MacDonald’s opinion piece was his alone, and it had nothing to do with James MacDonald giving a vintage 1971 VW Beetle automobile to Ed Stetzer. Ed is a contributing editor to Christianity Today.

In the dialogue, I asked Mark this question:

“If Julie Roys (one of the defendants in James MacDonald’s lawsuit) wrote you an email and asked for an editorial on the abusive power of celebrity pastors, or if Ed Stetzer connected Julie Roys with CT (and you) and she requested to write an editorial about the dangers of power run amok among celebrity pastors, would you have responded positively?”

Mark responded:

“Absolutely. Under the same restraints: It would have to have been a biblical argument about the abuse of power in general. The challenge would have been taking the argument forward because we have editorialized on that very theme often over the years.”

After reading this exchange, a pastor friend in Florida, Brett Maragni, contacted me. He told me he had two written pieces that had been submitted to Christianity Today for potential guest editorials in response to James MacDonald’s opinion piece. Mark Galli and Christianity Today chose not to publish either one of these two written opinion pieces.

David W. Jones, James MacDonald’s research assistant for ten years, wrote the first editorial piece and submitted it to Christianity Today for publication.
Joel Anderson, a long-time staff member of Harvest Bible Chapel wrote the second opinion piece and sent it to Christianity Today requesting publication as well. Neither man had conversed with the other before writing and submitting their individual articles, and neither man even knew the other one was writing something to send to Christianity Today.

Again, Christianity Today rejected both pieces for publication. The question that keeps ringing in my head is “Why does James MacDonald receive permission to publish a guest editorial in Christianity Today and others who wrote opinion pieces –  better-written articles, definitely more biblically grounded, and more reflective of Christianity today – did not receive permission from CT editors?”

Could it be “Boys and Their Toys” is far closer to the truth than some would like to admit?

Both men rejected by CT for publication of their articles have given me permission to make public their written responses to James MacDonald’s opinion piece.

Then read the two guest editorials rejected by Christianity Today (below).

After reading all three pieces, it may be time to draw your own conclusions about the state of Christianity today. Using the little “t” for “today” in the previous sentence and not the big “T” is intentional. So is the pun.

Here are the two articles rejected by Christianity Today. 
_____

Is It Biblical to Sue Another Christian?
by David W. Jones

On October 17, 2018, megachurch pastor James MacDonald and his church, Harvest Bible Chapel, filed a defamation lawsuit against five individuals: Scott and Sarah Bryant, Ryan and Melinda Mahoney, and Julie Roys. The lawsuit seeks damages and a temporary restraining order. The catch?  All five defendants are professing Christians.

Aware that 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 forbids Christians from suing other Christians in secular courts, Pastor MacDonald wrote an opinion piece to explain why his lawsuit is biblically justified. (1) To make his case, he needed to prove two things: (1) that Scripture’s prohibition on Christians suing other Christians is not absolute, but rather allows for certain exceptions; and (2) that his specific situation qualifies as one of these exceptions. His argument fails on both counts.

Did God Actually Say?

Regarding the interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, MacDonald argues for what he calls “a deeper understanding of Scripture.” He asserts, rightly, that we must look at all relevant texts regarding an issue, not just one primary text (in this case, 1 Corinthians 6). So he puts forward three additional texts for consideration: Matthew 18:17, John 8:49, and Romans 13:1-7. Yet MacDonald does not demonstrate how these texts give Christians the freedom to set aside 1Corinthians 6 and sue other Christians. An examination of each reveals no such justification.

Matthew 18:17 describes the end of the church discipline process. If a sinning church member refuses to repent after multiple appeals by other members, the sinner is to be excommunicated and treated as an unbeliever. MacDonald infers that the person can then be sued. Yet Jesus does not actually say that; lawsuits are foreign to the context.

Regarding John 8:49, MacDonald cites Wayne Grudem’s recent book on Christian ethics. (2) Grudem shows that, even though Jesus remained silent on his way to the cross, he did not normally allow his character to be slandered. Rather, the Lord responded to critics. Grudem then infers that we need not suffer in silence when our character is maligned. We can follow Christ’s example and refute false statements made about us. This is a valid point and helpful. Yet Grudem does not mention suing fellow Christians, as MacDonald implies. In fact, 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 does not appear in that section, nor anywhere else in the book.(3) So Jesus may have corrected his opponents, but he did not sue them (nor their spouses). The record can be set straight without resorting to secular courts, especially for a megachurch pastor with multiple communication platforms.

Romans 13:1-7 does not apply to Christians suing Christians, either. It says government has been ordained to carry out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer, literally, ‘the one practicing evil’ (verse 4). In the same verse, Paul says a ruler ‘does not bear the sword in vain,’ which is widely understood as a reference to capital punishment. So this passage refers to criminal behavior, such as murder and the like. Presumably, the wrongdoer is not a Christian. So Romans 13 is talking about criminal law, not civil law. (4) Also, it immediately follows Romans 12, which contains one of the longest and clearest passages in the New Testament about not seeking revenge, but rather treating your enemy better than he or she deserves (see Romans 12:14-21). Surely that colors any application of Romans 13:1-7.

So MacDonald uses three texts that are not about civil suits to explain away the one text that is about civil suits (1 Corinthians 6). He also ignores completely the biblical teaching on nonretaliation (e.g., Leviticus 19:18; 1 Samuel 24:12; Proverbs 20:22; 24:29; 25:21-22; Matthew 5:38-45; Mark 11:25; Luke 6:27-36; 23:34; Acts 7:60; Romans 12:14-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; 1 Peter 2:19-23; 3:9, 14-18; 4:8; Hebrews 10:32-34 et al). In light of these texts, MacDonald’s so-called “deeper understanding of Scripture” appears shallow and unconvincing—a ham-fisted attempt to justify unbiblical behavior.

Missing the Sarcasm

MacDonald’s handling of 1 Corinthians 6 is also inadequate. He does not seem to grasp how incensed Paul is over Christians suing other Christians. The word dare in verse 1 denotes insolence or presumption. It could be paraphrased, “What nerve you have!” The apostle asks whether they are incompetent (verse 2). He explicitly shames them (verse 5). He incredulously asks rhetorical question after rhetorical question, concluding that the presence of lawsuits shows they are already defeated (verse 7). Commentator Gordon Fee refers to this passage as “the most biting sarcasm in the letter.”(5)

MacDonald, who is normally fluent in sarcasm, downplays this. He says, “1 Corinthians 6 deals with two brothers in a single church dealing with a trivial matter that should just be ‘let go.’” Now the word trivial does appear in verse 2, but it must be understood in context. In verses 7-8, the apostle spells out what was going on: wrongdoing and defrauding. The former term denotes behaviors that harm, such as slander and injury; the latter, various types of cheating, such as breach of contract and property right infringements. Why, then, does Paul call such civil suits trivial? For rhetorical effect. In verses 2-3, he says believers will judge both the world and angels—a reference to eschatological judgment. Craig Blomberg says, this “does not mean that the Corinthian litigation did not involve serious offenses, merely that all human litigation is trivial when viewed in the light of Judgment Day.”(6)

So the Corinthians were not simply arguing over the color of the church carpet. Some believers had wronged others, though not to the level of criminal court. Paul does not just dismissively say “Let it go.” He wants them to resolve their disputes—only among believers (verse 5). If a matter cannot be resolved privately, the apostle urges them to suffer the injustice and be defrauded, rather than parading the church’s dirty laundry into the public square (verse 7). The testimony of Christ and the unity of the church trump personal rights. (7)

MacDonald also seems unaware of the social context. Romans with higher social status had an unfair advantage when it came to civil cases. (8) The rich could hire good attorneys; the poor could not (9).  Juries were typically composed of wealthy citizens, who may be peers and perhaps even
friends of the plaintiff, and thus not completely objective. Justice could also be perverted by a bribe, which the wealthy could afford, and the poor could not. All of these factors made it difficult for a poor person to get justice in civil court. So it is possible that wealthier, more powerful Christians were taking those less fortunate to court, in order to power up on them. This almost certainly factors into Paul’s sense of outrage.

The piece raises issues of practical application. To paraphrase MacDonald, what if there is collateral damage? What if the matter is serious, perhaps even illegal? What if the plaintiff and defendant are from different churches? These are legitimate questions, though it should be recognized that they deal with the application of 1 Corinthians 6, not its interpretation. Paul provides no exception for collateral damage or illegality. He urges the Corinthians away from the secular courts, even if it means allowing oneself to suffer injustice or be defrauded. The issue of different churches does pose a difficulty, but it is not insurmountable. In Roman law, a citizen might opt for private arbitration rather than dragging a matter through the courts. (10) Paul points out that Christians could do the same. Surely, there are wise Christians in the area who can step in and mediate—leaders who are respected and trusted by both parties. So MacDonald has not made his case that the Bible allows exceptions to its prohibition on Christians suing other Christians. Both his interpretation and application of the relevant passages
are wanting.

Brother Goes to Law against Brother

The second thing MacDonald needs to prove is that his lawsuit constitutes an exception to the general prohibition in 1 Corinthians 6. Several factors make this highly suspect.

First, the piece says MacDonald is suing “three outspoken critics.” As mentioned above, the lawsuit actually specifies five defendants: two bloggers, their wives, and an independent journalist. The inclusion of the wives casts the lawsuit in a different light.

Second, the bloggers have published little in the last few years. Why sue them now, especially since MacDonald admits that some of the criticisms had merit and bore good fruit? Why try to get a temporary restraining order against them after six years?

Third, the inclusion of the journalist was initially puzzling, because she had not published anything about MacDonald or Harvest prior to the lawsuit. How could she be labeled an“outspoken critic”?  Why seek a temporary restraining order against her? Turns out that Mrs. Roys had been working on an article about MacDonald, and the latter got wind of it.11 The temporary restraining order appears to have been an attempt to keep the article from seeing the light of day. Mrs. Roys quipped, “I always knew I ran the risk of being sued for speaking the truth. But I always envisioned that it would be for something I actually published, not for something I merely indicated I was going to publish.”(12) If this is the motivation behind the lawsuit, it should be recognized as an attempt to limit freedom of speech.

Finally, MacDonald ends by denying he seeks vengeance. He also denies seeking damages (although the lawsuit does request damages in multiple places). He expresses a willingness “to give grace and forgive,” but that of course assumes it is the bloggers and journalist who sinned. Until MacDonald answers the charges made about him (apart from simply painting them all as “lies”), the question remains open as to who is telling the truth. MacDonald says he prays for “the blogger’s peace,” although that is hard to reconcile with the decision to sue these families for damages. Like the wealthy citizens of Corinth who used the courts to their own advantage, he almost certainly has resources at his disposal beyond that of the defendants.

So MacDonald has not made his case that his lawsuit qualifies as an exception to 1 Corinthians 6. On the contrary, several factors call into question the motive(s) behind the suit.

WWJS—Who Would Jesus Sue?

As a general rule, when someone contravenes the express teaching of Scripture, and then tries to justify it with a “deeper understanding of Scripture,” discerning believers should take note. The question, “Did God actually say?” landed the first couple—and the rest of the human race—in a world of hurt. Jesus says, ‘whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:19). Later, in the same
chapter, the Lord instructs us to turn the other cheek, renounce our rights in court, and go the extra mile (verses 39-41).

To answer the question posed in the title of this article, it is not biblical to sue a fellow Christian. Perhaps there could be an exception. But MacDonald has not made a case for why his lawsuit is that exception. Mediation is the preferred way of resolving disputes among Christians. Thus, I would urge the leadership of Harvest Bible Chapel to withdraw its lawsuit against these five believers and seek private mediation with a third party.

Dr. David W. Jones is Senior Pastor at Village Church of Barrington in Barrington, Illinois.
From 2001 to 2010, he served at Harvest Bible Chapel as James MacDonald’s research
assistant. He was also Associate Editor for The Holy Bible: English Standard Version
(Crossway, 2001).

Footnotes:

1 James MacDonald, “Why Suing Is Sometimes the Biblical Choice,” Christianity Today, Nov 2, 2018, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/november-web-only/james-macdonald-harvest-bible-chapel-suing-ourcritics-bibl.html.

2 Wayne Grudem, Christian Ethics (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2018), 334-35.

3 Grudem has made a statement regarding this lawsuit: “I have not expressed any opinion on the merits
of the specific lawsuit that James McDonald has initiated, nor have I looked into any details about that lawsuit or the accusations from the people who have criticized his ministry online. Nor do I intend to.”

4 In the Roman world, slander and libel were matters for the lower courts, as they are today. See Bruce Winter, “Civil Litigation in Secular Corinth and the Church: The Forensic Background to 1 Cor 6:1-8,” NTS 37 (1991): 559-72; cited in Thiselton, 420. So also Brian S. Rosner, Paul, Scripture, and Ethics: A Study of 1 Corinthians 5-7 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 112-15.

5 Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, NICNT (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1987), 229.

6 Craig L. Blomberg, 1 Corinthians (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1995), 117.

7 Sadly, the “Friendly Atheist” (Sarabeth Caplin) has already picked up on Harvest’s lawsuit and blogged about it. https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2018/10/26/chicago-megachurch-files-defamation-lawsuit-againstbloggers-and-journalist. Accessed Nov 8, 2018.

8 A.C. Mitchell, “Rich and Poor in the Courts of Corinth: Litigiousness and Status in 1 Cor 6:1-11,” NTS 39 (1993): 562-63; cited in Thiselton, 419.

9 Gerd Theissen, The Social Setting of Pauline Christianity: Essays on Corinth (Philadelphia: Fortress,1992), 97; cited in Thiselton, 420.

10 Winter, “Civil Law and Christian Litigiousness,” 67.

11 Julie Roys, “Hard times at Harvest,” World, Dec 13, 2018, https://world.wng.org/2018/12/hard_times_at_harvest. Accessed Dec 13, 2018.

12 Kate Shellnutt, “James MacDonald Sues Harvest Bible Chapel Critics for Libel,” Christianity Today, Oct 30, 2018, https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/october/james-macdonald-harvest-bible-chapel-sueelephants-debt-jul.html. Accessed Dec 3, 2018.

____________

James MacDonald and The Elephant’s Debt: The Issues Underneath the Issues
by Joel Anderson

It was 1995 and my wife and I had just moved to the Chicago area to attend seminary. We were in a bagel store where the college student working the counter commented on Christian shirt I was wearing and invited us to church. What college kid is that fired up about their church? We’d been in town less than two weeks and decided to take her up on the offer.

That was our introduction to Harvest Bible Chapel.

We loved the simple, clear and urgent way Pastor James taught God’s Word and the
fresh and meaningful worship. We were hooked.

I joined an early morning men’s small group led by Pastor James, and in a matter of months, had been given an opportunity to join the staff—a dream coming true for a hungry seminary kid.

The church was in a season of explosive growth and moving into their first building. I thrived on the fast-pace of the team and appreciated the strong leadership and uncomplicated, no-nonsense vision Pastor James provided.

We were part of the team that birthed the church planting vision, planted two churches with Harvest (numbers 2 and 27), saw the birth and growth of Harvest Bible Fellowship, served as a founding board member and later served on the Harvest Bible Fellowship staff, recruiting and training church planters.

All told, we’ve served at six different Harvests over 22 years.

During those early days, I served as the young adult pastor and ministry partner for bothScott Bryant and Ryan Mahoney, the authors of The Elephant’s Debt blog. They were small group leaders and helped teach.

All that backstory to say this, I know and love personally each person embroiled in the lawsuit brought by Pastor James and Harvest Bible Chapel against Scott, Ryan and Julie Roys (the only person I haven’t met personally). Through my journey, I’ve been through the ringer because of my own sin and have been shown unbelievable grace, mercy, love, forgiveness and a redemptive path through it all—and that’s what I ache for.

I have no axe to grind and no loyalty or agenda to foist on an already complex matter. My heart is only to attempt to bring some clarity from what may be a unique vantage point.

It may sound trite, but my sole desire is to see Christ honored through this apparent impasse, offering a model for the body of Christ, and a watching world, of what an ambassador of reconciliation truly looks like in the mire of real life.

After reading the first report of the case and the follow up editorial Pastor James wrote, I felt compelled to plead for a Christ-honoring path to “come reason together.” With a legal case pending, those being sued are in many ways, locked out of the public forum to provide an apologetic for their blog. Just as Pastor James has written to offer further clarity, I believe there is helpful, and necessary, dialogue to be added.

My primary concern is this: the presenting issue (the biblical grounds for believers suing believers) isn’t the primary issue. The issue under the issue are the claims Scott, Ryan, and Julie have made, and their right to make them. That’s the real issue. If we allow the discussion to be diverted toward an apologetic about lawsuits, the squirrel has taken our eyes off critical substance that compelled TED to go public with their concerns.

Were their facts correct and do they have a right to report their concerns? That’s the question we should be discussing.

I get it and I’ve been there. None of us love our laundry put out for public display and possible scrutiny. But aren’t we encouraged to bring matters into the light? What often causes fear (and subsequent anger) is what unexpected and undesired exposure will cost us.

But if the Christian’s economy is truth, let’s seek it, and refuse to allow the damage control machinery to engage. The world’s concern is controlling the narrative. That’s not the playbook for the body of Christ. No church or pastor is perfect and shouldn’t be held to an unrealistic and impossible standard. And, no blogger or radio host is perfect either.

So what do we do? We work through it. If the facts are true, own it. If they aren’t, provide the missing data. This is Christ’s church we’re talking about. And if ministry is done in the open and with integrity, what do we have to fear?

The precious tension in an elder-governed church (Harvest’s model) is what the body “gets to know.” The TED blog exposed details of the Harvest financial story that weren’t public. While we can get stuck in the debate about how much information is necessary and helpful for the body to know, that again isn’t the issue. Were the facts reported accurate and do they have the right and freedom to go public with it?

The answer, I am convinced of, is a clear “yes.”

I love Pastor James. He was a mentor who gave me more than I could return. I love Scott and Ryan and don’t believe their intent was to spread lies or be exacting or malicious. But it isn’t about that either—who we love or like or appreciate or don’t. It’s about honoring Christ in the mess and trusting that He will guide us as we humbly defer to wise counsel, His Word and Spirit.

Bottom line, we cannot allow the matter of suing another believer to eclipse the substance and inception of this debacle. What is true and do people have the right to know and report it?

Shut down the legal process. Stop draining kingdom resources and appeal to godly spiritual peers to help corral and guide this toward a Christ-honoring process of reconciliation.

We’re broken people who need the Gospel every day. Let’s admit our need and work it out.

Let’s get to the issue under the issue and let the church and watching world learn from our frailty that we serve a God who is able to supply all our needs.


Comments

Did Christianity Today Refuse to Post Op Eds Refuting James MacDonald’s Abusive Op Ed? Guest Post by Wade Burleson. — 150 Comments

  1. ……”I also referred him to the notes on 1 Corinthians 6 in the ESV Study Bible. I stand by what I wrote in Christian Ethics and I agree in principle with the notes in the ESV Study Bible.”….

    Without re-reading the previous call transcript, was there not a mention of a revision in the ESV study notes? Is the ESV interpretation inerrant, or is it in flux?

    If on the other hand, one alleges a deeper understanding of Scripture, would it not bring to mind the Little Horn spoken of by Daniel the prophet. He understood dark sayings.

    This HBC tempest seems to be a broader microcosm of unsettled issues of the Faith. My contention is these issues crossover into the next life and will result in future conflict, in Heav as on Earth. For example:

    -Do prominent members of the faith have authority to form alliances to alter the nature of the Church, in this life and in the next.
    -Do persons of prominance, such as discussed in this article, have authority to determine interpretation for lower level saints.
    -Is there authority for prominant saints to carry out retribution aimed at lower level saints in either Earthly, or afterlife disagreements, in similar fashion as such alleged by HBC.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  2. Perhaps there needs to be a little something accompanying those requests–seems as if a classic car to one listed as an editor at CT greases the skids, sets up the magic phone call, and voilà–a whole world of access to the Christian public opens up like a magic door. You can then use CT as a platform for any personal vendetta and take shots at whomever you please. Of course, you can also make things up about that person to further your agenda and warp the Bible into whatever twisted mess you want to make of it.

    And as an added bonus, that special touch of service, Mark Galli will thereafter continue to have your back (and of course, er, his own) and devise any manner of perfectly ridiculous justifications for you, such as claiming you were making some kind of THEOLOGICAL point that ADVANCED the conversation. Ha! Ha! That Mark Galli, oh he is quite the kidder, quite the master of hijinks, no? What a funny guy!

    Oh, it’s a real side-splitter at CT, fun fun fun—at least for overfed mega pastors who have access to the magical properties of mega celeb influence and the even more magical properties of other people’s money. Oh yes, Mark Galli aims to please!

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  3. I found both of these articles to have much more substance than the original by MacDonald. If genuine opinions as these were given voice, we would have some open debate over important issues in the church that truly would advance things. How refreshing that would be. As it is, we seem to get handed a narrative crafted by those with the most money and their spinmeisters. Whatever fits it, gets air; whatever doesn’t, gets buried.

    One thing, as an aside. I constantly hear “a watching world” given as the motivation for doing right. I believe people mean well in using this to try to motivate others to do what’s right, but I disagree with it. I think we would be much better to think of a watching God. I doubt the world is watching anywhere nearly as much as we imagine. Most people are living their lives with their own issues to deal with and really don’t have the time or interest to care much what Christians (or Buddhists or Hindus or any other group) are doing until it impacts their public actions that affect everyone.

    To me, using this as the motivation smacks a little of the parents who are always trying to motivate their children by “what would the neighbors think.” They are not teaching their children to do what is right because it is good for oneself and others, but rather to do what will impress others we don’t even really know. How about, doing what is right for each other because it is good and right? Our brothers and sisters in Christ are our family, right? How about caring about our own enough to do right by them? If we did this, public opinion would follow, kind of like a caboose, but when you try to make it the engine, it’s becomes problematic.

    When the impression you think you are making on the “world” is your motivation, it wouldn’t be a surprise if it leads to the problem we have with dishonesty/hypocrisy/putting on a false facade, which is rampant. The church today is all about appearances. We have image consultants, marketing gurus and “brands.” We’re all about trying to make those people out there we’ve never met think something about us. We convince ourselves this is the most altruistic thing. Meanwhile, we are not taking very good care of each other, and scandals and failings are continually being revealed. Jesus called this kind of religion whitewashed tombs.

    Instead of being all about those people out there we haven’t even met and what we want their impression of us to be, what if we cared about God’s opinion of us, and what if we cared for our own, those we sit next to each week and whose lives are involved in ours? What if church was the place we could trust others? The place we found true acceptance and belonging? The place others cared about our welfare and our souls? I guarantee you word of mouth would bring in more people than glitzy marketing does, and it would be of genuine value.

    I guess that is just a naive pipe dream, though…

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  4. Nathan Priddis: This HBC tempest seems to be a broader microcosm of unsettled issues of the Faith. My contention is these issues crossover into the next life and will result in future conflict, in Heav as on Earth.

    I am not following you. Can you explain how peoples’ actions in this world could result in ongoing conflict in heaven?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  5. SiteSeer: I am not following you. Can you explain how peoples’ actions in this world could result in ongoing conflict in heaven?

    Ok. Let’s start with the here and now.

    This article is about a group that is building the Kingdom. (HBC) The Kingdom is built through influence. HBC is headed by influential men.
    Over a period of years a struggle ensues, both internal and external, to advance their vision of the Kingdom.

    Due to the need to suppress reports of financial troubles, they attempt to influence CT, for the purpose of, influencing Evangelicals on a National level. The need for expanding influence was conceptually like telling a lie, and then telling a bigger lie to cover the first lie.

    My here and now assertion-

    HBC struggles and internal divisions are a smaller version of the Church as a whole. The Church has fault lines. It is a house divided.

    My here after assertion-
    Our actions today, do alter the hereafter. This is the basic premise behind religious faith.
    There are exceptions of course. The Sadducees didn’t believe in an afterlife quite like others. But generally, we think good or bad behaviour here, results in good or bad outcomes later.

    Where I am different is I claim actions here can result in a war later. The struggles for position and influence will have consequences later. However, nobody can see this, or ask themselves where this Kingdom building is going to lead. I am not referring to wars in a figurative sense at all.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  6. Law Prof,

    I don’t know Mr Galli, so I’ll leave him personally out of my reply; but the MacDonald op ed does fit into a wider context of rich and famous religious speakers with a church funding base. They don’t like bloggers commenting about them, and the ones whose deeds are evil have a special antipathy to any kind of light. They rule by diktat rather than setting an example in word and deed. So it’s only to be expected that they would aim to post what amount to blog posts themselves; MacDonald’s op ed was just that.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  7. SiteSeer: Can you explain how peoples’ actions in this world could result in ongoing conflict in heaven?

    Well… Imagine if God let me into heaven.

    I suppose He could give me my own wee space for when I was being especially irritating, though, so that may not be the same thing.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  8. Nick Bulbeck: So it’s only to be expected that they would aim to post what amount to blog posts themselves; MacDonald’s op ed was just that

    I think I agree. It’s all about fame to CT. They may have posted Julie’s op-ed, had she submitted one, because she has a certain amount of notoriety. They may have posted a response by someone else well-known. These two other guys don’t have sufficient followings to rate an op-ed. They could have posted their own thoughtful analysis. But they really don’t care about content; they care about celebrity and clicks and followers.

    Which opens a whole new can of worms about CT…
    -They are not a news organization.
    -They are not journalists.
    -They are a Christian celebrity magazine.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  9. So, that’s the pastry base cooked (for the pie) and the buffalo shoulder steak (for the pie) is in the oven. On the downside, that’s the oven occupied on a low heat for several hours, so I’ll need to wait before I put the cake in. Which is why I haven’t made the cake yet. In fact I’m not even sure was für ein kuchen to make yet.

    So, that’s us probably off climbing.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  10. So, that’s us back fae the climbing wall. Didn’t really get up anything today, but I did have a decent bash at a couple of hard routes. I suppose you can’t make an omelette without grasping a few nettles by the horns.

    Anyway, that’s us off for a walk round some local woods to find some bluebells – they’re a bit late this year, but they’re out the noo and they look really good.

    On the fitba’ front, Spurs lost at home to neighbours West Ham at lunchtime; bit of a surprise, though Spurs may’ve had one eye on the Champions’ League semi-final against iAxe next week. I’ll give you an update when we’re back from the bluebells.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  11. I would point you back to the start of the chapter.

    …”for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.”..

    We live in the first earth, God lives in first heaven. We are seeing the Kingdom under construction right now. It has been exactly so since the Ceasarea Phillipi discussion about the Rock and Gates of Hell.

    No only can sin exist in Heaven, Satan can come and go as he pleases because he works there. He is there now.

    There will even be a civil war among Angels. I have no presupposition that the Saints will stay out of that conflict.

    So. Back to Mr. Macdonald and fellow hordes of Kingdom builders:
    Macdonald has a legitimate claim on the Kingdom, just as the rest of the horde. I do as well. I have no ability to pronounce Macdonald’s work to be sin. I can bring a rival claim, and seek specific remedies.

    Mr. Macdonald’s vision and mine are not compatible. We have two separate solteriologies that can not co-exist. We are not unique.

    This means the Kingdom is divided against itself, and it’s fate is granted by Court Verdict, as seen twice by the prophet Daniel.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  12. “I have not expressed any opinion on the merits of the specific lawsuit that James McDonald has initiated, nor have I looked into any details about that lawsuit or the accusations from the people who have criticized his ministry online. Nor do I intend to.”

    —Wayne Grudem
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    i suppose that’s another way of saying,

    “We’re very lucky in the band in that we have two visionaries, David and Nigel, they’re like poets, like Shelley and Byron. They’re two distinct types of visionaries, it’s like fire and ice, basically. I feel my role in the band is to be somewhere in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water.”–Derek Smalls, This Is Spinal Tap

    the christian leaders’ economy: no sex rules were broken? i stay silent. i stand for nothing.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  13. Of course they did. Next question?

    Sorry for the sarcasm, but it’s been abundantly clear whose side CT was on in all of this. But CT messed up in the beginning when Galli, etc., let MacDonald write his heinous article. One could make the argument that he libeled Julie Roys, but given the trouble James is in right now, it’s really not worth suing him. But that article should never have been published. Seriously, CT, you done messed up.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  14. “I am deeply disappointed in CT. It is becoming difficult for me to believe that there isn’t a good ol’ boys network out there.”–dee
    +++++++++++++++++

    “I was a part-time, topic producer for Janet Mefferd until yesterday when I resigned over this situation. All I can share is that there is an evangelical celebrity machine that is more powerful than anyone realizes. You may not go up against the machine. That is all.

    Mark Driscoll clearly plagiarized and those who could have underscored the seriousness of it and demanded accountability did not. That is the reality of the evangelical industrial complex.”–Ingrid Schlueter

    https://www.wthrockmorton.com/2013/12/05/ingrid-schlueter-resigns-from-janet-mefferd-show-over-mark-driscoll-plagiarism-controversy/

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  15. Nathan Priddis,

    -Do prominent members of the faith have authority to form alliances to alter the nature of the Church, in this life and in the next.

    -Do persons of prominance, such as discussed in this article, have authority to determine interpretation for lower level saints.

    -Is there authority for prominant saints to carry out retribution aimed at lower level saints in either Earthly, or afterlife disagreements, in similar fashion as such alleged by HBC.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    prominent members of the faith…. persons of prominence…. prominent saints….

    you mean those who are useful to the powerbrokers’ agenda and are thus promoted into “prominent”?

    i say we all just fahrt in their general direction instead of pondering such things.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  16. SiteSeer,

    “One thing, as an aside. I constantly hear “a watching world” given as the motivation for doing right. ”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    or, virtue signalling for good PR?

    sick gross

    maybe if i make that move to the alaskan tundra and build a cabin i’ll be able to escape this ridiculous religion of mine.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  17. Onyway: back to the fitba’.

    Cardiff lost to already-relegated Fulham earlier today; Cardiff remain on 31 points with two games (that is, a maximum of six points) remaining. Southampton drew at home with Bournemouth, moving thereby to 38 points; Cardiff cannot therefore catch them. Burnley are on 40 points with two games remaining, so the only team who can still – in principle – be relegated instead of Cardiff are Brighton, who are currently hosting Newcastle – Newcastle are 1-0 up at half-time at the time of writing. If the score remains thus, Brighton would be 3 points ahead of Cardiff, but with much better goal difference, so one more win would keep Brighton safe. Cardiff remain favourites for the drop, in other words.

    At the top of the table, things are also interesting. Man City are champions and Liverpool are runners up, but it’s the remaining two Champions’ League places wherein the excitement lies. Chelsea host a down-at-heel Manchester United tomorrow, and a win would put the Blues level on points with Spurs (who, you will recall, lost at home to West Ham today) but with inferior goal difference. Also in the mix are Arsenal, who play at Leicester tomorrow; a win there would put them a point behind Spurs and Chelsea.

    I’ll get back to Wartburg’s true national sport in due course.

    IHTIH

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  18. Nick Bulbeck,

    “So, that’s the pastry base cooked (for the pie) and the buffalo shoulder steak (for the pie) is in the oven. On the downside, that’s the oven occupied on a low heat for several hours, so I’ll need to wait before I put the cake in.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    omg

    can i have some?

    tell me more… onions and garlic? red wine? cracked pepper? will there be a top crust?

    what kind of cake?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  19. elastigirl:
    Nick Bulbeck,

    “So, that’s the pastry base cooked (for the pie) and the buffalo shoulder steak (for the pie) is in the oven. On the downside, that’s the oven occupied on a low heat for several hours, so I’ll need to wait before I put the cake in.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    omg

    can i have some?

    tell me more…onions and garlic?red wine?cracked pepper?will there be a top crust?

    what kind of cake?

    elastigirl, you stated so well what has occupied the back of my mind as I read through the rest of the comments after this one.

    Cooking, and climbing, and cake. Oh, my. (To paraphrase Dorothy and the Scarecrow and the Tin Man)

    Sort of a bright spot amidst the dismal landscape of modern religion.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  20. elastigirl,

    You’d be more than welcome to some – it’s a big pie and we’ve eaten less than half of it [burp] – but I’m not sure it would survive posting… we should have some way of doing this on Wartburg, though, methinks.

    Good questions all – this time around, I marinated the buffalo in red win and cajun seasoning overnight, but then we drained that off (for sauce) and cooked it in beef stock, mustard and worcester sauce. I still haven’t made any cake..! (#redFace) But Lesley’s made blueberry muffins. I may do a kind of vanilla and cinnamon sponge to go with them, though.

    But I’m open to suggestions!

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  21. Quoting from your article, but with adaptions in all caps:

    I believe that TODD’s Op Ed in WARTBURGWATCH was abusive and that abuse was aimed at DR. THOMAS. This was hardly a theological discussion. I was disturbed that such a poorly written and abusive OpEd was chosen to *grace* the pages of WARTBURGWATCH.

    WOULD YOU BE SO KIND AS TO ALLOW the discussion TO MOVE forward by ACCEPTING AN Op Eds to WARTBURGWATCH WITH ADDITIONAL TRUTHFUL INFORMATION? COULD YOU PUT ME IN TOUCH WITH the right editors to advocate FOR A MORE FULL TRUTH ON THE MATTER?

    Dee, I love your blog. I’m just so disappointed about the one sided hit piece on Dr. Thomas that only included information that would skew the reader’s understanding of what actually happened. It doesn’t matter how many hours Todd dedicated to it, he never included the full truth.

    Would you permit me to submit an guest post with an opposing view for your consideration to be published on your blog?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  22. Oh, and yes, we did a top crust. I did a shortcrust pastry base, but our son likes puff pastry, which was on offer in the local Co-Op [supermarket] the other day, so we had that on top.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  23. Also, Brighton equalised against Newcastle and it finished 1-1. So, Brighton are four points clear of Cardiff.

    But…

    Cardiff, essentially, have a game in hand, because Brighton’s final game of the season is at home to Manchester City and they cannot get any points therefrom. And their penultimate game is a tough one, away to Arsenal.

    This means that if Cardiff win their next match, at home to Crystal Palace (who have nothing much to play for at this stage), they may be only a point behind Brighton. Although Cardiff have vastly inferior goal difference, their final fixture of the season is at Old Trafford; United are in such disarray at the moment that it’s not inconceivable that Cardiff could win there.

    We’ll see…

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  24. Nick Bulbeck,

    I may do a kind of vanilla and cinnamon sponge to go with them, though…..

    so, this is the part that always confuses me. in every conversation i’ve had with an english person about cake, the word ‘sponge’ happens.

    is ‘sponge’ just cake? basic cake? like even from a cake mix from the grocery store? as opposed to pound cake or angel food cake?

    do you have angel food cake in england?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  25. refugee,

    you must be as hungry as me!

    and prefer savory things for breakfast? (it’s still morning where i am… still in bed…)

    some steaming buffalo pie with flaky crust and saucy chewy crust and a cup of very hot coffee would do me just fine right about now.

    …except the poor buffalo…

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  26. elastigirl,

    I’ll see what I can do here!

    “Sponge” is a kind of cake, and probably the simplest to make. So, margerine (or butter), sugar, and flour in a 1:1:1 ratio. Oh, and eggs. It has the texture of a sponge, hence the name; and, obviously, you can add various flavourings to it. Adding cocoa makes chocolate sponge, for instance. So, you could probably say that sponge is the most basic form of cake, yes.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  27. While I agree in general with David Jones and Joel Anderson’s take on the subject of suing other Christians, and that instead some mediation/reconciliation process is indicated by scripture when someone really feels that they have been seriously wronged by a brother or sister, the Institutional Church is a particularly horrible place to go for this.

    I say this not to excuse MacDonald and his lawsuit, but as an observation if people are really wanting to ‘move the discussion forward’.

    It’s been noted many times on TWW, pastors have a disturbing tendency to protect and support perpetrators rather than victims when real crimes (that should be tried in criminal courts) are committed, like child molestation, for example.

    But they also have this same disturbing tendency of protecting and supporting perpetrators of lesser offenses. I saw this happen over and over again in decades of church involvement and it would always throw me for a loop. Often the leadership would celebrate, promote and defend these people while they ran roughshod over people in the congregation.

    If you were ever to try to confront such behavior in a sober, straightforward way there would soon follow a sermon about judging, gossiping, taking the beam out of your own eye, etc. I think this was really a power play, reminding everyone that only the pastor has the discernment to hold anyone in the church accountable for anything.

    It is for this reason that I say that any mediation effort attempted in the Institutional Church will quickly be co-opted by leadership and turned into a farce.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  28. Nick Bulbeck:
    elastigirl,

    I’ll see what I can do here!

    “Sponge” is a kind of cake, and probably the simplest to make. So, margerine (or butter), sugar, and flour in a 1:1:1 ratio. Oh, and eggs. It has the texture of a sponge, hence the name; and, obviously, you can add various flavourings to it. Adding cocoa makes chocolate sponge, for instance. So, you could probably say that sponge is the most basic form of cake, yes.

    Sounds like angle food cake! Spongy.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  29. Sad Day: Dee, I love your blog. I’m just so disappointed about the one sided hit piece on Dr. Thomas that only included information that would skew the reader’s understanding of what actually happened. It doesn’t matter how many hours Todd dedicated to it, he never included the full truth.

    Would you permit me to submit an guest post with an opposing view for your consideration to be published on your blog?

    I feel like this is what the comments are for. CT doesn’t allow commenting, so there is no way for readers to see opposition views when they read a piece. But TWW has always allowed commenting by opposed views, so long as they aren’t attacking other commenters.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  30. Azaelea: Heaven is perfection.

    I have no desire for perfection, which is why I have no desire to go to Protestant ‘heaven’.

    I much prefer the Jewish version of ‘heaven’ (Olam-Ha-Ba) in which the fleshly delights of this world are made even better in the next.

    It makes more sense.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  31. Sad Day:
    Quoting from your article, but with adaptions in all caps:

    I believe that TODD’s Op Ed in WARTBURGWATCH was abusive and that abuse was aimed at DR. THOMAS.This was hardly a theological discussion. I was disturbed that such a poorly written and abusive OpEd was chosen to *grace* the pages of WARTBURGWATCH.

    WOULD YOU BE SO KIND AS TO ALLOW the discussion TO MOVE forward by ACCEPTING AN Op Eds to WARTBURGWATCH WITH ADDITIONAL TRUTHFUL INFORMATION?COULD YOU PUT ME IN TOUCH WITH the right editors to advocate FOR A MORE FULL TRUTH ON THE MATTER?

    Dee, I love your blog.I’m just so disappointed about the one sided hit piece on Dr. Thomas that only included information that would skew the reader’s understanding of what actuallyhappened.It doesn’t matter how many hours Todd dedicated to it, he never included the full truth.

    Would you permit me to submit an guest post with an opposing view for your consideration to be published on your blog?

    Heck, who’s stopping you from posting all the contra-info right there in the comments? My experience with Dee has been when she has found out she was wrong, she goes out of her way to correct it. By the way, it does appear to be unethical plagiarism to me, when I saw the side-by-side comparisons Dee put up. Putting those things up do not constitute a hit piece. In fact, the act calling that sort of thing a “hit piece” is arguably a hit piece. It looked for all the world to me like what I see lazy, unethical students do all the time. They find some article and then just rewrite it, changing up the words slightly. That’s pretty serious stuff, it’s ugly stuff, the kind of thing that gets secular academics fired and should by all means lead to serious consequences for Thomas.

    So, if you have something to say, why don’t you say it right here? But let me tell you what you’rte really doing. You’re just trying to make a cute point about the MacDonald-Roys issue and say Dee’s a hypocrite, and you’re what my teenage children call “butthurt” about one of your idols being exposed. So who is it? MacDonald or someone else?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  32. Azaelea: The only way we get to heaven is through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. No good deeds of ours get us to heaven.

    I don’t do good deeds, and realistically, my faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is not good enough either. My best option is to hope that the blood of bulls and goats can in fact take away my sins.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  33. Nick Bulbeck,

    “margerine (or butter), sugar, and flour in a 1:1:1 ratio. Oh, and eggs. It has the texture of a sponge, hence the name; and, obviously, you can add various flavourings to it. Adding cocoa makes chocolate sponge, for instance. So, you could probably say that sponge is the most basic form of cake, yes.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    huh….. well, all cake resembles a sponge… they’ll all soak up, say, raspberry puree or a bittersweet chocolate sauce (just to carry on with torturing us all with virtual gastronomy).

    would you say your recipe is ‘spongey-er’? is it different from the box of Pillsbury yellow cake mix, or Betty Crocker white cake mix, or Duncan Hines devils food cake mix?

    perplexed me for years — i have to get to the bottom of it, and today’s the day.

    then we’ll tackle ‘chiffon’.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  34. elastigirl,

    I think an important hallmark of cake is its ability to soak up sauces like unto those whereof you spake. (Or cream, or custard, etc etc.)

    I don’t actually know what Pillsbury yellow cake mix, Betty Crocker white cake mix, or stan’s food cake mix are like. So, we may be creating as many problems as we’re solving here. 🙁 But my recipe is definitely spongey. It’s quite moist on its own, but it’s also good for dunking in tea or coffee. I don’t know if I’m helping here!

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  35. BTW, it’s bedtime in Scotland the noo, so I’ll pick up tomorrow if need be. Whilst watching the London Marathon, in which Eliud Kipchoge is the strong favourite, but it’ll be interesting to see whether Mo Farah can run him close, and also whether Callum Hawkins (Scots laddie) can make the top three.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  36. Nothing here surprises me. Even forty years ago there were political and good-old-boy shenanigans going on in American white evangelicalism. I remember my father, a lifelong missionary, getting shafted out of a job he loved and was good at on the mission field by a slimy political church operative at the time.

    Nothing has changed. If anything, it’s gotten worse. It’s all about money and power and schmoozing the right friends who can advance your cause, however harmful or idiotic or unjust that cause is (and is usually all of those and more — that’s what selfish pride gets you).

    One result of all this is that any authentic witness and credibility of white evangelicalism is in shreds. Almost no one in their right mind will take them seriously on moral and spiritual issues anymore. I certainly don’t.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  37. Brian:
    Nathan Priddis,

    Are you an amillennialist?

    No. That is going in the opposite direction. If we where to assign all eschatological speculations into four historical groupings, they all have gigantic holes.

    Amillinislism feels more like a deceptive political effort from the late-Roman and Medieval centuries. I dont think of it as an attempt to explain or model the unseen reality.

    When I read something, I start with the concept that words (in the Word of God) mean things. A logical person wrote them, and they convey information. The objective therefore, is information, and would be the opposite objective of religious tradition.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  38. Nick Bulbeck: and realistically, my faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is not good enough either.

    Well, it turns out that maybe it’s not our faith IN Christ that saves us after all. Rather it appears to be the faith (or faithfulness) OF Christ that saves us. So we cannot even take credit for our faith (or lack thereof). If you search on “faith of christ” you will find articles like this: https://anabaptistwiki.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Faith_of_Jesus_Christ_(in_Galatians). I’ve heard this from different sources, but chose to include an Anabaptist link just to be different.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  39. __

    Talk Box: “Bashing Obtrusive Errant Calvinists, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Still lōōkin’ for clues at the scene of the crime?

    huh?

    The tires on this proverbial ‘viral blog bus’ ™ are wearing quite thin, huh?

    What?

    ‘Rocky blog way’ ™ better than the way we had,

    bump.

    With Macdonald out to pasture, time for Dee Parsons to (once again) ‘open fire’ ?

    hahahahahaha

    SKreeeeeeeeeetch!

    Wartburg wrecking ball, where’s the proverbial ‘magic’ ?

    KRunch!

    Learning that 501c3 religious life is better off without bad Calvinists…

    Quack, Quack…

    ATB

    Sòpy

    Intermission:
    Barnstormin’ Joe & Ringo – “Rocky Mountain Way”
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-pTHF1zGqD4

    ;~)§

    – –

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  40. Ken F (aka Tweed): Well, it turns out that maybe it’s not our faith IN Christ that saves us after all. Rather it appears to be the faith (or faithfulness) OF Christ that saves us.

    Have come across that in the past, but am now ready to look at it properly. (Freed from the bonds of my former religious brainwashing.) It makes so much wonderful sense, and deals with the problem of those who have never heard of Jesus, as well as the various religious traditions.

    I have a growing hunch that much of what passes for christian orthodoxy is institutional propaganda. Yeah, I know, I’m a heretic. Oh well, God loves me, and my trust is in him, not religion.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  41. LeRoy:
    Law Prof,

    Sounds like summer vacation can’t come soon enough for you.Let Sad Day have her say.I think Dee made a solid case but, personally, I believe that a gracious reception of an opposing view is noble – civilized even.

    I stand by my words, it’s an obvious attempt to mock Dee and try to set her up. CXheck the backstory with MacDonald and Julie Roys and the whole debacle where she wasn’t given her say. I think it’s noble and civilized to stand up for someone like Dee, who’s having a shot fired across her bow unfairly here.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  42. Bridget: Sounds like angle food cake!Spongy.

    Not quite. From what I recall, angel food uses egg whites only (not yolks), and no fat at all. I could be wrong, however. It’s been years since I made one.

    The 1:1:1 ratio reminds me very much of a pound cake. I don’t remember if those also have eggs, though.

    Nick, is there added leavening to a sponge, or do the eggs work as leavening? Are they beaten while, or are the egg whites whipped up separately and folded into the rest to provide an airy, spongy texture?

    Have enjoyed watching the Great British Baking Show, but the way they do cakes is quite different from what I have done before we went gluten free and my baking changed completely.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  43. refugee: Nick, is there added leavening to a sponge, or do the eggs work as leavening? Are they beaten while, or are the egg whites whipped up separately and folded into the rest to provide an airy, spongy texture?

    I think in theory the eggs partially work as leavening, if you can be bothered to mix them really hard, but the main raising agent is bicarbonate of soda. Things may be different in the US, but here you can buy plain flour (which is exactly that) or self-raising flour, which has bicarb already added. I forgot to mention this. Some people add baking powder (which is basically bicarb) as well as using self-raising flour.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  44. TS00,

    I suspect that there may be an “earthquake” in Protestant scholarly study of soteriology looming in our lifetimes. The “traditional” penal substitution theory of atonement has had a good long run but may have passed its “best by” date. “Christus Victor” is venerable and still very appealing.

    A few hasty thoughts:

    * from the standpoint of penal substitution theory, the mode of Jesus’ death scarcely matters; what is needed is simply a blood sacrifice. Stoning by the Pharisees could have served, or even assassination by a zealot. Yet Jesus seems to have regarded it as important that He die at the hands of the Romans, by the method of execution used for criminals and rebels. He evaded capture at other times when His enemies tried to harm Him, but finally, at Jerusalem, at Passover (with the city full of pilgrims who would hear of the events), He submitted to arrest, trial and execution and warned his followers not to interfere.

    * The arc of Jesus’ public ministry has the basic shape of “1) excite a lot of public interest through proclamation and healing, 2) be acknowledged as Israel’s Messiah, 3) go to Jerusalem to be killed **as Israel’s Messiah**.

    * there runs through Jesus’ prophetic warnings a significant echo of OT-style prophecy of national calamity (military defeat at the hands of Israel’s enemies) as a consequence of national sin. We tend to read Jesus’ “repent” sayings as if Jesus were a 1st Century Billy Graham, but He was much more like the great OT prophets than contemporary evangelists.

    * The religious leaders in Jerusalem were closely watching Jesus. After the raising of Lazarus, they grew alarmed — the news of this mighty work would increase Jesus’ following and might provoke the Romans to intervene and “take away our nation.” There’s precedent in Israel’s history for deportation of inhabitants from the land after the overthrow of both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. The worry expressed in Jn 11:48 is sometimes interpreted to be the loss of status by the elite in Jerusalem should the Romans intervene; I wonder whether something more calamitous is in view. Caiaphas, at 11:50, speaks as if the destruction of the entire nation is in view, and suggests that it would be better for Jesus to be done away with to avoid that outcome.

    * Jesus, on the Emmaus road, interprets the OT to some discouraged followers, and says that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer.

    * Pilate is determined that the notice on the Cross over Jesus’ head identifies Jesus as Israel’s Messiah. He may have been grieved, or at least annoyed, at the execution of an innocent, but he seems to have been pragmatic enough to use the injustice to set a warning to others: “This is what Rome does to Israel’s would-be Messiahs”

    It kind of looks to me like Jesus intended to be hailed as Messiah and then killed by the Romans **as the Messiah**. Why? I speculate that it was to avert or delay the looming war (how? by discouraging those who were looking for a warrior-king to lead them in a war of liberation from the Romans), and so save many lives.

    Easter was a week ago. I’ve always wondered why Jesus did not stay among the apostles or reveal Himself to Israel after the resurrection. It might be that the reason He did not do these things is that His visible presence as Israel’s king — a mighty manifestly God-approved king and a descendant of Israel’s greatest warrior-king, David — would have led to the war right then and there. So He had to remove Himself from the situation.

    On this reading of the events, Jesus’ death as Israel’s Messiah discouraged the “war party” in Israel, that was longing for the redemption of the nation — it’s liberation from pagan oppression — and made peace for a generation. In that interval of peace, the Church grew up around the apostles, the gentile mission was launched (which ultimately led to the overthrow of paganism throughout the Roman Empire) and Jesus’ “new Israel” became strong and widely dispersed enough that when the war between Israel and Rome finally came, it could weather the storm.

    Back to “Christus Victor”, if one thinks of the Rome/Israel conflict as a kind of “proxy war” between “the powers” and YHWH, the Cross is a defensive victory over “the powers” that delays the war (and so delays Israel’s destruction) by pacifying Israel for a time and de-escalating the looming conflict with Rome. It looks like “the powers” have defeated Israel by defeating Israel’s king, but actually it is “the powers” whose purposes are thwarted (for a while) by the Cross.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  45. __

    Precious Hope: “The Lifting Of The Brass Serpent, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Jesus likened Himself to the Old Testament Brass Serpent Of Moses.

    huh?

    Jesus’ Father laid out an blueprint for Him to follow. By the Spirit Of God, Jesus did what His Father asked of Him. Going to a solitary place, at times the Father would speak to Him. God was absolutely no stranger to Him. They walked and conversed. They saw eye to eye. In faithfulness He was lifted up as the scriptures foretold, and forecasted the prince of this world would be cast out.

    As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so it was imperative that the Father lift the Son of man (Jesus); that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

    As the self-clothing of the fig leaves in the garden were ineffective, stronger measures, forecasted divine garmets.

    The blood of Jesus, nothing else would do.

    A sincere action; a sincere faith in that action,

    Humankind, eternally better in both regards.

    (Please sēê your bible for details)

    ATB

    Sòpy

    ;~)§

    – –

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  46. Law Prof,

    I can’t speak for Dee, but it’s my observation that she is very capable of defending herself. I guess that it is surprising to me that someone in academia like yourself(as you have often reminded the reader) would feel threatened by another view. A purpose for this blog is healthy give and take. Sad Day’s choice of words were not the best, perhaps, But i didn’t sense any mocking. Anyway, I personally don’t fear opposing views.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  47. Law Prof: “butthurt” about one of your idols being exposed

    May there be an outbreak of that across New Calvinism, as cults of personality continue to collapse! When it comes to defending tribal leaders, arguments always begin with a big but … “But, …”

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  48. Each of these well written articles would have moved the theological discussion forward and produced a balanced exchange of ideas.

    But this topic isn’t about the content of the articles, it’s about Galli’s refusal to publish them, in order to control the narrative.

    Galli has not only failed to silence the ideas presented (because here they are, for all to see for free, on two blogs) but has stained his own reputation, perhaps permanently, and that of Christianity Today.

    The state of Christianity (little t) today, indeed.

    Reading here this morning, I feel compassion for Christianity in third world countries, those who gather in the name of Christ to worship the one true God, in spite of risk to life and limb. Those are ones who truly suffer for the sake of Christ.
    Compare that to the state of Christianity today in Chicago with pastors secretly vying for control over millions of dollars in “tithed” money and JM’s demand for more. This Christianity is about money and power and control. Worship of the one true God is a distant whisper.

    Mark Galli has a pulpit which could be used for God’s glory. Instead, he chooses to allow himself to be used as a pawn in an ancient demonic game. It’s such a shame.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  49. Nick Bulbeck,

    “the eggs partially work as leavening,…..baking powder…”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    so you have baking powder in England!

    (in my travels, it’s so interesting how what i consider some very basic things either don’t exist in other country’s grocery stores or else are in a completely different form and called something mysterious. part of my insular American mindset, i’m disappointed to admit)

    (i love perusing grocery stores in other countries. i’m especially intrigued with England’s vast gravy mix section. looks like the 25 square feet of cake mix section we have here)

    but back to what really matters, i found a Gary Rhodes recipe for sponge cake. it’s just flour, sugar, vanilla, and eggs. 6 eggs, in fact.

    i went and bought eggs.

    it’s hard to imagine what this will be like without the leavening.

    before i launch out, here, in your 1:1:1 ratio of butter:flour:sugar, if you are using 1 cup of each (let’s say), how many eggs? how much baking powder?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  50. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:21 CT and McDonald are obviously more concerned with damage control and protecting institutions.The are certainly not concerned with reporting the truth.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  51. SiteSeer: smacks a little of the parents who are always trying to motivate their children by “what would the neighbors think.”

    I know you’re referring more to a magazine than to actual parents, but your comment has caused me to think about what I have said to offspring. Sometimes, yes, it is “what would the neighbors think,” because the neighborhood is a child’s microcosm. Children learn abstract boundaries in part by learning about property lines. They learn empathy in part by paying attention to the reactions of friends, teachers, the mailman, et al.

    Yes, our brothers and sisters in Christ are our families, but they can sometimes be the narrowest and harshest of judges. Most of us live among Nones and Dones, and perhaps among people of other religions. I would like my own offspring to be a good representative of Christianity to them as well.

    We have mainly tried to live a Christian example and teach the values of Christianity, without implying that Christians are the only good people in the world. Since our own offspring watched in fear when I flamed out as a church volunteer, it does not feel right to uphold church as an ideal place, or Christians as ideal judges.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  52. Friend,

    “We have mainly tried to live a Christian example and teach the values of Christianity, without implying that Christians are the only good people in the world. Since our own offspring watched in fear when I flamed out as a church volunteer, it does not feel right to uphold church as an ideal place, or Christians as ideal judges.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    that’s neat.

    i agree. i’ve tried to impress on my kids kindness, honesty, compassion, helpfulness, work and hard work when needed.

    i’m dismayed at the fact that amongst some people i know none of these things matter — what matters is why aren’t they in church? what a disappointment this is turning out to be, and watch out because the sky is going to fall on your kids because they aren’t in church.

    i really don’t think so.

    but the comments i’ve received, i’m not sure if they’re more hurtful or more stupidly unreasonable.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  53. elastigirl: before i launch out, here, in your 1:1:1 ratio of butter:flour:sugar, if you are using 1 cup of each (let’s say), how many eggs? how much baking powder?

    Ah, now we’re heading into the territory of how-much-is-a-cup (I’ve no idea), so I work by weight. For the 1:1:1 mix, I use one egg for every 4 ounces (100 grams if you prefer) of flour. And if the amounts don’t divide by 4, I tend to err on the side of an extra egg.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  54. Nick Bulbeck,

    well, shoot, now i have to deal with ounces and grams. first, it’s driving on the left, now this.

    (if you could see the page covered in calculation scribbles and bar diagrams that’s up ahead…)

    tell me you have actual measuring spoons with tablespoon and teaspoon.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  55. SiteSeer: Do you think the actual body of believers is divided, or is this the evidence of wheat and tares?

    The Parable of Wheat and Tares, and and turmoil in Heaven are two separate things.
    W/T is describing an earthly issue. The timeframe spans at least 2000 years, with a harvest lasting several hundred.

    That’s if Jesus considered Penticost as the planting of the field. If the creation of man is the starting point, then I’m slightly off. Just a little bit.

    (BTW. Do you catch the irony of the name “Harvest” Bible Chapel, Rolling Meadows, IL / Parable of Wheat and Tares? The moral is, never name your church plant “Harvest.” It’s not a good omen)

    Back to your question…sorry.

    Christian’s becoming angry with God and each other, is a separate issue. I place this in Heaven and visualize it as an escalating process, not a single occurance.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  56. Friend,

    “Maybe because they wore sneakers to church and got the Death Stare. Not speaking from experience or anything…”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    in a manner of speaking, yes.

    ha, the same stare i got when i thought sarcasm would be funny.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  57. elastigirl: tell me you have actual measuring spoons with tablespoon and teaspoon.

    UK spoon measurements are different from US.

    But there is hope. To my surprise, most of my measuring spoons are also marked with milliliters, so conversions are seldom necessary. Religious conversion is hard enough, without running the risk of pulling a flat dense cake out of the oven.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  58. elastigirl: tell me you have actual measuring spoons with tablespoon and teaspoon.

    Well, we do, but we tend to use units of measure. By and large, a teaspoon is a standard size, and a tablespoon is a standard size, but you can never quite be sure of this. Which is why I have to be a bit flexible on how many eggs to use!

    Slight tangent here – I don’t use this in cooking – but the “yard” in medieval Britain used to be loosely defined by the length of the average arm (some say the standard was the reigning monarch’s arm). Everyone had a slightly different yard (and very few people had met the reigning monarch). The metric system is one thing the French did get right. The meter is defined in terms of the speed of light nowadays.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  59. __

    “A House Divided, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Does any pastor reading at Wartburg Watch blog know the answer to the following question? :

    Respectfully, there are those today entering 501c3 churches who (for what ever their personal reasons are) attempt to pass socially as the opposite sex. Many times you really don’t know unless these individuals inform you. The 501c3 Christian community in this regard has the potential of becoming divided. Q. Are those effected by what is currently medically known as gender identity syndrome welcome in 501c3 churches? And what parishioner education (if any) is necessary?

    ATB

    Sòpy

    – –

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  60. LeRoy:
    Law Prof,

    I can’t speak for Dee, but it’s my observation that she is very capable of defending herself.I guess that it is surprising to me that someone in academia like yourself(as you have often reminded the reader) would feel threatened by another view. A purpose for this blog is healthy give and take.Sad Day’s choice of words were not the best, perhaps, But i didn’t sense any mocking. Anyway, I personally don’t fear opposing views.

    Please, Leroy! The post was very obviously a “gotcha” post. It wasn’t made in good faith.

    You know that, I know that, there are monks in the remotest reaches of the Himilayas who haven’t had contact with another human in a decade who know that. It was an attempt to make her look bad and it was not intellectually honest. Plain and simple. Do you disagree? Do you think this person was really honestly wanting to have their say—or just trying to make some cutesy (and wrong-headed) point about how she was being a hypocrite? Don’t play games with me, either, Leroy. If you’re ignorant of the background that led me to make my comment, that’s not a big deal, you can easily cure that ignorance, just look into the background of this, then tell me if you think they really wanted to just have their say and get a fair hearing or if they were really just trying to say “Dee, you hypocrite!”

    As an academic, I like to call out arguments that are intellectually dishonest nonsense. I just called one out. You have a problem with that, I’m not really losing too much sleep, Leroy.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  61. Jeffrey Chalmers:
    Sad Day,

    Who is “Dr Thomas”

    He’s the guy, the seminary academic (I use the term “academic” loosely, as I’d use it for myself) who plagiarized. Dee put up the side-by-side comparison of his writings and sermons he’d obviously cribbed, then restated in his own words, right down the line, while claiming as his original work.

    So, knowing that Dee was critical of CT for posting the MacDonald hit piece on Julie Roys and not allowing Julie the opportunity to respond to some of James’s libel and cheap shots (kind of his modus operandi, as we all now know), Sad Day then used what Dee had said about CT in not allowing Julie a chance to respond (nor anyone a chance to say a single solitary word, because unlike most journalistic outlets, CT does not allow any comments on their articles), and claimed she’d done a “hit piece” on Dr. Thomas, and just changed the words around in a commentary Dee had made about the CT/MacDonald/Roys situation to try to turn the tables on her and claim she was being a disingenuous hypocrite. It was a cutesy attempt to use her own words against her. It was also intellectually dishonest, because unlike CT, TWW does allow people to make commentary and Sad Day had all the opportunity in the world to tell us just exactly how and why Dee’s piece was a cheap shot one-sided lie about Thomas. Of course, Sad Day then just disappeared and told us not one word that Dee had gotten wrong about Thomas.

    Of course, the point was not to defend Thomas, it was to take a cheap shot at Dee. It was obvious (at least to me) in context. Then Leroy jumped in, perhaps going off half-cocked, and took Sad Day completely at face value. And I called bull on Sad Day just like I call bull on Leroy.

    Anyway, that’s a somewhat convoluted explanation of what went on here. One thing I truly hate—and I think Jesus hated it too—is this doublespeak, shifty, passive-aggressive, “I’m so sad that you feel that way” nonsense that passes for righteousness in some quarters. I’ve come to hate it with a passion and have decided to call it out every single time and not be nice about it—because, of course, I think it’s hellish behavior. I think people just should shoot straight always. All else is garbage—it’d have to improve to just be worthless.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  62. Law Prof: One thing I truly hate — and I think Jesus hated it too — is this doublespeak, shifty, passive-aggressive, “I’m so sad that you feel that way” nonsense that passes for righteousness in some quarters … it’s hellish behavior …

    The New Calvinists always think they are on the high road about everything because they are elect and the rest of us are not … they alone hold truth, so defending their tribe is always OK regardless of the approach they take. It is “hellish behavior” but the new reformers are too blind to see it. They are definitely passionate about their mission, but it is a misplaced passion … what a waste.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  63. Max: The New Calvinists always think they are on the high road about everything because they are elect and the rest of us are not … they alone hold truth, so defending their tribe is always OK regardless of the approach they take.It is “hellish behavior” but the new reformers are too blind to see it.They are definitely passionate about their mission, but it is a misplaced passion … what a waste.

    Agreed. My best guess is some neocalvinists know the Lord, others just know doctrine. I look at some of the behavior and the smug, self-congratulating attitudes expressed by so many neocal leaders in particular, and I think “How can you possibly get this way with the love of Jesus in your hearts?”

    It’s a remarkable disconnect among many of them. They drive the theological point about the total depravity of everyone home with such passion, talk about how all of us are worthless garbage, monsters of iniquity, and then those same people will turn right around and tell you about all the great, righteous, godly men in the neocal celebrity constellation.

    If you dare to point out to them that if their theology is correct, then all those great, humble leaders are also monsters of iniquity, especially if you provide them evidence and anecdote and proof of it, they’ll come after you with such viciousness that you’ll feel the full force of total depravity right in your face.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  64. LeRoy:
    Law Prof,

    Many apologies.Praying for God’s richest blessing on you and your family.

    That was a little bit quick. Don’t know if you’re playing games with me or sincere. But I hope you’re sincere, not for my sake, but for your’s, because I wouldn’t want to play around with wishing God’s blessings in an insincere manner. I’ll assume you really mean it.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  65. Law Prof: I look at some of the behavior and the smug, self-congratulating attitudes expressed by so many neocal leaders in particular, and I think “How can you possibly get this way with the love of Jesus in your hearts?”

    “Love” is not a common descriptor of New Calvinists. “Arrogant” is usually the first word which comes to mind.

    “This is how everyone will recognize that you are My disciples – when they see the love you have” (John 13:35)

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  66. Max,

    Let them continue on their merry way.

    They will not last.

    There are too many people coming forward and telling their stories of the the dark under belly of the neo-cal beast.

    One story? Two stories? Those can often be dismissed as disgruntled sour grapes.

    But not the numbers that are coming out of hiding and blowing the whistle.

    In the end they’ll (neo-cal outfits) dry up and blow away like so many walmart bags snarled in chain link fences.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  67. Muff Potter: They will not last.

    “If their purpose or endeavor is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them.” (Acts 5:38-39)

    Driscoll failed; Mars Hill was dissolved. Hybels failed; Willow Creek is on the decline. MacDonald failed; Harvest Bible Chapel is in chaos. etc., etc.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  68. Friend: I know you’re referring more to a magazine than to actual parents, but your comment has caused me to think about what I have said to offspring. Sometimes, yes, it is “what would the neighbors think,” because the neighborhood is a child’s microcosm. Children learn abstract boundaries in part by learning about property lines. They learn empathy in part by paying attention to the reactions of friends, teachers, the mailman, et al.

    In this case, a magazine, yes, but I’ve heard this mindset all through my years in church.

    The attitude I mean by, “what would the neighbors think,” isn’t the same as, ‘let’s genuinely be considerate of our neighbors.’ It’s an attitude of pride in wanting to appear perfect in front of others when we are not.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  69. Friend: Maybe because they wore sneakers to church and got the Death Stare. Not speaking from experience or anything…

    Omg, I once, more years ago than I want to count, visited Scott Memorial Baptist Church wearing pants. Not jeans, mind you, but nice pants. The looks I got are still searing me.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  70. Random thoughts and a question:

    Would that the new Calvinists WERE neoCalvinists. Might humble them a bit lol. But they are for the most part New Puritans rather than anything new in Calvinism and most do not seem neoCal at all.

    The NET Bible I have does indeed translate that passage discussed above as “the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.” Not our faith or faithfulness, but rather His saves. I have heard some Calvinists oppose that on the basis of “But what if given the definiteness of the atonement (root meaning of limited atonement) coupled with that verse it means He will save all eventually?” Then they go into contortions to eliminate even the vague possibility of universal salvation.

    And my question. Someone mentioned Paul Washer to me. Had not heard of him or what he teaches. Listened to two sermons. Sort of John MacArthur on steroids. I do think he genuinely is concerned that people will miss the boat and go to hell. Have to give him that. And he passionately preaches for folks to repent and trust Christ. Have to give him that. BUT he is a self described “reformed” preacher. So my question is this: if the reformed faith, excluding reformed Arminians, is correct, then folks will be in heaven anyway if elect and no amount of repenting and believing will save the nonelect. So why the passionate preaching if it is all settled anyway?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  71. SiteSeer,

    “Omg, I once, more years ago than I want to count, visited Scott Memorial Baptist Church wearing pants. Not jeans, mind you, but nice pants. The looks I got are still searing me.”

    You should try walking into a church sans pants….. Talk about the death stare….

    I’d rather walk on to the Death Star

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  72. The majority of Evangelical Christians do not read CT any longer. It has shifted tremendously to unorthodoxy from the days of Billy Graham, Carl Henry, L. Nelson Bell, Harold Lindsell, Kenneth Kantzer, V. Gilbert Beers, George Brushaber, Terry Muck and David Neff. Subscription and advertisement is down. They provide free one year subscriptions to inflate the numbers to the advertisers. I took up the free offer and do read it when I am on the throne eliminating waste. Their articles are not to educate with Biblical truth but to sensationalize current topics in the church to sell the magazine. CT has now become the National Enquirer for the liberal church.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  73. GJ: Their articles are not to educate with Biblical truth but to sensationalize current topics in the church to sell the magazine.

    I never looked at the magazine until today. Chose an article at random, failed to find sensationalism, came away feeling more informed about a complex and troubling current topic:

    https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/april-web-only/why-christians-refuse-measles-vaccinations-moral-grounds.html

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  74. GJ: Their articles are not to educate with Biblical truth…

    I’m fine with that. For anyone who wants to be educated with Biblical truth, I’d wholeheartedly recommend reading the Bible. It’s jam-packed with scripture.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  75. Law Prof,

    I will continue to say that men who act in corrupt ways as so very clearly as Galli and Stetzer have are of the same spirit as the Pharisees that John the Baptist and Jesus Himself called out in so very clear terms with some of the most abusive language that they could use. Men like these are white-washed septic tanks. They are leveraging their influence for Mammon and Fame both popular false gods in our society today. They will receive the same rewards as their fore-fathers the original Pharisees that Jesus prophesied of if they die without actually turning from their sins.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  76. linda: So my question is this: if the reformed faith, excluding reformed Arminians, is correct, then folks will be in heaven anyway if elect and no amount of repenting and believing will save the nonelect. So why the passionate preaching if it is all settled anyway?

    I’ve wondered this too.

    If it’s all rigidly determined from the foundation of the world, what’s the point?

    It’s a sincere and honest question.

    One can look through their spotting scope and then their main eyepiece so to speak, without signing onto their doctrine, just to see what they see.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  77. Muff Potter,

    This why “they” can get “huffy” and say “you just do not understand” when one asks these kinds of questions… I saw it 40 years ago with reformed advocates, not new to the “NeoCals”… while they pride themselves on their intellectual reasoning, there are clear “wholes in their arguments”….. to me, when people get “huffy”, you might actually be exposing real “holes” in their arguments… hense, emotions start popping out..

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  78. Muff Potter: If it’s all rigidly determined from the foundation of the world, what’s the point?

    Not too long ago I brought up this very issue with one of my older relatives who follows John MacArthur. I basically said, “If my salvation was decreed in eternity past and does depend on anything I do, then it does not matter what I believe or don’t believe because my actions cannot change a divine decree.” She got upset with me but did not offer a plausible solution to the paradox. I suppose I should not have also said, “If I am among the lost and you are among the saved, one day you will rejoice in my eternal conscious torment for the glory it brings to God.” This is, of course, a necessary conclusion, but probably not the best way to keep a conversation going.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  79. Muff Potter: linda: So my question is this: if the reformed faith, excluding reformed Arminians, is correct, then folks will be in heaven anyway if elect and no amount of repenting and believing will save the nonelect. So why the passionate preaching if it is all settled anyway?

    This is where they resort to explaining that God works through ‘means’. God first determines what will happen, then determines that individuals will irresistibly use the means he has determined they must, so the inescapable will occur. You can also add in predetermined prayer, which must bring about the unavoidable will of God. Not that it wouldn’t happen anyway, but it so pleases the peons to think they have some sort of impact on things.

    I suppose it is the best one can do to give the scripted theater of Determinism at least the illusion of a life worth living.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  80. Muff Potter,

    I have come up with a satisfactory explanation to this question, at least for me.

    The question started with something like this. Does God know what the weather will be like tomorrow? I personally don’t know of any Christian who will answer no. Likewise, does God know what the weather will be like next week, next year, a thousand years from today? The answer, again, is yes. God knows everything about the future. God transcends time. Therefore, it should be obvious that God already knows where we will end up.

    But that has absolutely nothing to do with us. We don’t transcend time, at least not when we are here. For lack of a better word, we don’t operate in the same “dimensions” as God. We are confined to the limited “dimensions” we (are created/allowed to) live in. Our future, to us anyway, has not been determined. And so we can fully affect our future. To us, we are not “predestined” to salvation or damnation.

    Look at it another way, didn’t God know what was going to happen to Adam and Eve before he created them? Didn’t God know what kind of trouble He was getting Himself into – no less than to have His Son die on the cross so we can be redeemed? And God created Adam and Eve (and us) anyway. God treated us as if He doesn’t know what our future will be. He will not withhold anything from us because He already knows what we are going to do. Why? I don’t know. I just concluded this is His character and this is how He operates.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  81. Jeffrey Chalmers,

    I increasingly suspect the high emotions come from the Calvinist who is desperately trying to fool himself that his life has any genuine meaning within his worldview. According to his theology, he is simply a puppet whose every thought word and dead were irresistibly scripted long before he was ever born. He would prefer to avoid thinking about that, and focus on declaring the ‘glory’ of God and all that.

    Most of the folk in my old Reformed church eventually jumped ship when the despair of the fatalism finally sunk in, despite the pastor’s attempts to keep such knowledge at bay.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  82. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    “I suppose I should not have also said, “If I am among the lost and you are among the saved, one day you will rejoice in my eternal conscious torment for the glory it brings to God.” This is, of course, a necessary conclusion, but probably not the best way to keep a conversation going.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    but what a point you made! it’s still probably lingering right there, wafting about in front of her. like floating smelling salts.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  83. Ken F (aka Tweed): I suppose I should not have also said, “If I am among the lost and you are among the saved, one day you will rejoice in my eternal conscious torment for the glory it brings to God.” This is, of course, a necessary conclusion, but probably not the best way to keep a conversation going.

    I have frequently been tempted to point out the same, but realized my friends simply were not prepared to grapple with the truth (under their adopted system) that if I jump off a bridge, become a mass murderer or choose drug addiction to escape the futility of life, it’s all God’s doing and there is absolutely nothing I can do to avoid it.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  84. Max,

    Yes, Calvinists always think they are right, not only because they are the elect, but because this line of theology draws narcissists. Most of us would be horrified to think that God chose some of us on a whim and then is sending others to a place of eternal conscious torment to glorify himself. Ick. But narcissist who thinks they are more special than everyone else is pulled into this line of theology without moral objections. Rachel Held Evans has a great post on this:

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/rachelheldevans.com/blog/calvinismmakesmecry%3fformat=amp

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  85. After the great Easter debacle, and considering the watered down invitation* where we are attending church, methinks we are going to half way jump ship. I say halfway, because the small groups we are part of are awesome and not Calvinistic at all. For now, that is.

    *Watered down because you really cannot give an invitation where there is no free will. So we get “come be part of our group” and “come get your emotional boo boos made to feel better” invitations.

    Talked to staff today at one of the mainlines, a more conservative leaning one. And the local church leans a little more conservative than the main body. Not about to jump up and join them, but think some extensive visiting is in order. Won’t conflict with our other small groups, can have the liturgy and hymns and people known in the community for reaching out to take Jesus to the world and free will theology. Shoot, even some “professional Baptists free will variety” say they would attend there if they still got their paycheck even if absent. Oh yeah, and should be able to have frequent communion.

    Mainly we are seeing a rapid rise in “eeny meeny miney mo, some for heaven but to hell you go” theology coupled with a really dramatic rise in pure manipulation and crowd mesmerizing antics with the music, temperature, lighting, etc. Like the Holy Spirit cannot do His job on His own without some shystering. No, just the bald fact is not everyone will respond to Christ positively and if you want a bigger paycheck you need more butts and bucks so whatever works.

    My dh says that sort of thing risks putting people in the diamond lane to hell thinking since they went forward and signed a card they are elect and headed for heaven, no repentance and faith required.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  86. Jeffrey Chalmers: This why “they” can get “huffy” and say “you just do not understand” when one asks these kinds of questions…

    I came across a comment somewhere quite recently – I can’t remember where, though it may’ve been here in Wartburg. Anyway, the gist of it could very reasonably have been interpreted as scoffing at those who “don’t understand secondary causation” and believe that God sovereignly ordaining sinful behaviour would make God the author of sin.

    Now, despite having studied history and philosophy of science at uni, I make no bones about the fact that I hadn’t come across “secondary causation”. So I looked it up.

    When I’d finished laughing, I couldn’t help musing on Saul of Tarsus’ observation: Professing to be wise, they became fools.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  87. linda: Mainly we are seeing a rapid rise in “eeny meeny miney mo, some for heaven but to hell you go” theology…

    More like “eeny meeny miney mo, ME for Heaven and to Hell you go!”

    …coupled with a really dramatic rise in pure manipulation and crowd mesmerizing antics with the music, temperature, lighting, etc. Like the Holy Spirit cannot do His job on His own without some shystering.

    Like this “Gigachurch Revival Meeting” from Man in the High Castle?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2akYIfxYbbE

    No, just the bald fact is not everyone will respond to Christ positively and if you want a bigger paycheck you need more butts and bucks so whatever works.

    Butt$ in $eat$, just like the gimmicks cataloged here:
    http://wrestlecrap.com/

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  88. Noevangelical: You should try walking into a church sans pants…..

    Well, I don’t think I’d want to try that, lol. Not at church or anywhere!

    I have no idea what the sermon was about that day or who even spoke but I can still hear all the ladies’ high heels clopping on the ground and their nylons swishing together as they rushed to and fro in their fancy dresses, doing ‘the Lord’s work’… lol

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  89. Julie: Calvinists always think they are right, not only because they are the elect, but because this line of theology draws narcissists. Most of us would be horrified to think that God chose some of us on a whim and then is sending others to a place of eternal conscious torment to glorify himself.

    Well, there’s Holy God and then there’s the Calvinist God. Fortunately, less than 5% of Christians worldwide are Calvinistic in belief and practice. After 500 years, Christendom has largely rejected the tenets of reformed theology. While other expressions of faith have narcissists here and there, New Calvinism certainly has more than its share!

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  90. SiteSeer,

    “and their nylons swishing together as they rushed to and fro”
    +++++++++++++++

    wow!! that’s one of my earliest memories of being in church! i think i was 3.

    i think i was thinking something like, “wow, how do their legs make those noises? it must be those see-through tights they’re wearing. i guess you have to be very important to move that fast to make that sound. and have thick legs that touch.”

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  91. I think we have our first baby steps towards potential legal exposure for JMac.

    …”..This account was a portion of the general compensation budget and was managed and controlled exclusively by a combination of three people in 2018: the former Senior Pastor, the former Chief Operating Officer, and the former Senior Administrator to the Senior Pastor. These three people are no longer employed by Harvest Bible Chapel…”..
    https://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/2019/04/27/church-leadership-team-update-april-27-2019/

    I’m not feeling the love in that last sentence.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  92. Julie: But narcissist who thinks they are more special than everyone else is pulled into this line of theology without moral objections.

    In order to buy into this ‘theology’ you (generic you) have to ditch all the conventional notions of fairness and justice that you may have acquired as an internal moral compass.

    Some of the most powerful clobber verses used to silence your moral objections that a jaywalker deserves the same hell as a mass murderer are found in Isaiah 55:8-9:

    For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
    For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  93. Muff Potter: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
    For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts

    I have always loved those verses. They suggest to me that God’s thoughts are higher, purer, wiser, etc., not, ‘You never know how low God might go, so don’t put him in a box’.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  94. Wrt the remarks that said I just disappeared… I’m heartsick about the article about Dr. Thomas and I had to step away from commenting mostly because of my own PTSD due to spiritual abuse I suffered, from which which I’m still healing.

    The article had glaring omissions in its information,a denigrating tone and defects in its logic; in used similar tactics that were used against me when I was spiritually abused.

    If Dee can identify my IP address, she would be able to track that I’ve consulted her blog for new articles often 2x to 3x per day for a very long while. This blog has been part of my healing journey. Yes, I’m a new commentor because of the article about Dr. Thomas. However, I’m a long time Wartburg Watch silent participant. Rather than being part of the complex defending misdeeds, I’m struggling to maintain an active participation in church life due to my past experiences. But for certain situations in my life right now that require otherwise, I’d just curl up in a ball in my living room to study on my own on Sunday mornings.

    I’ve been very sad, almost nauseous, to see that my “group” is not above abusing others either. The last few days have caused a new phase in my journey to realize that even groups that I thought were safe will engage in abuse themselves.

    If Dee is willing for me to write a post for her consideration to publish I would **love** to do it – but only if she agrees to give it serious consideration – because I have a full time job and a lot going on so I don’t have time to spend on it if it’s just a fruitless exercise.

    I haven’t read all of the comments after mine, but one question wrt publishing the post in the comments is: would we all have been satisfied if JMac got to write his scathing article in Christianity Today, headline and all, and Julie Roys et al were only afforded a space in the comments to reply? I wouldn’t have felt that was fair and wouldn’t have felt they received just treatment at all.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  95. Law Prof: Sad Day

    Maybe my “idol” was Dee and the Wartburg Watch community of people calling out abuse, which I leaned on during my own journey to heal from abuse.

    **I’m not very handy at the quotes function… maybe this will work better. Sorry for duplicate post. Hopefully it works this time.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  96. OK, third time.. I’m sorry all. We can’t edit our comments to try to fix the quote function.

    The quote I’m trying to respond to is from Law Prof who said:

    Law Pro:
    “But let me tell you what you’rte really doing. You’re just trying to make a cute point about the MacDonald-Roys issue and say Dee’s a hypocrite, and you’re what my teenage children call “butthurt” about one of your idols being exposed. So who is it? MacDonald or someone else?”

    Sad Day:
    Maybe my “idol” was Dee and the Wartburg Watch community of people calling out abuse, which I leaned on during my own journey to heal from abuse.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  97. Law Prof: I stand by my words, it’s an obvious attempt to mock Dee and try to set her up. CXheck the backstory with MacDonald and Julie Roys and the whole debacle where she wasn’t given her say. I think it’s noble and civilized to stand up for someone like Dee, who’s having a shot fired across her bow unfairly here.

    Not true. I’m not trying to set her up. I was really sad about seeing “my group” post an article which left out giant gobs of truth such that the article promoted a lie, and abusively so, even if everything that made it to the article was true.

    There’s a big difference between:

    Article A: A landscaper was working on school property during recess and suddenly exposed himself to the school children at recess while he was jumping around and screaming.

    and

    Article B: …. after he stepped on a ground hive of wasps and a billion wasps flew up his pant legs.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  98. Law Prof: He’s the guy, the seminary academic (I use the term “academic” loosely, as I’d use it for myself) who plagiarized.Dee put up the side-by-side comparison of his writings and sermons he’d obviously cribbed, then restated in his own words, right down the line, while claiming as his original work.

    So, knowing that Dee was critical of CT for posting the MacDonald hit piece on Julie Roys and not allowing Julie the opportunity to respond to some of James’s libel and cheap shots (kind of his modus operandi, as we all now know), Sad Day then used what Dee had said about CT in not allowing Julie a chance to respond (nor anyone a chance to say a single solitary word, because unlike most journalistic outlets, CT does not allow any comments on their articles), and claimed she’d done a “hit piece” on Dr. Thomas, and just changed the words around in a commentary Dee had made about the CT/MacDonald/Roys situation to try to turn the tables on her and claim she was being a disingenuous hypocrite.It was a cutesy attempt to use her own words against her.It was also intellectually dishonest, because unlike CT, TWW does allow people to make commentary and Sad Day had all the opportunity in the world to tell us just exactly how and why Dee’s piece was a cheap shot one-sided lie about Thomas.Of course, Sad Day then just disappeared and told us not one word that Dee had gotten wrong about Thomas.

    Of course, the point was not to defend Thomas, it was to take a cheap shot at Dee.It was obvious (at least to me) in context.Then Leroy jumped in, perhaps going off half-cocked, and took Sad Day completely at face value.And I called bull on Sad Day just like I call bull on Leroy.

    Anyway, that’s a somewhat convoluted explanation of what went on here.One thing I truly hate—and I think Jesus hated it too—is this doublespeak, shifty, passive-aggressive, “I’m so sad that you feel that way” nonsense that passes for righteousness in some quarters.I’ve come to hate it with a passion and have decided to call it out every single time and not be nice about it—because, of course, I think it’s hellish behavior.I think people just should shoot straight always.All else is garbage—it’d have to improve to just be worthless.

    I am not shifty or passive aggressive. I had to step back because the article was a hit piece and I was not expecting it from Dee.

    A hit piece, to me does the following:

    –leaves out exculpatory information, likely purposefully since it was very easy to find in this situation

    –has an odd origination (How was the plagiarism discovered? Was it discovered by someone who follows Dr. Ferguson’s teaching/knows him? If so, why did the person go directly to the publisher instead of to Dr. Ferguson? If not, what was behind this discovery? Was someone trying to take Dr. Thomas out because of a different reason and this was the path to do it?)

    –uses exaggerated calls to action and suggested remedies (selection of quotes previously culled by Lowlandseer):

    “Shameful behaviour”, “questionable character”, “be disqualified from the ministry and terminated from his job as a professor at the Reformed Theological Seminary”. “Iain Duguid is an honourable but……I would have resigned.” “I will be watching to see if the MOS team will now be willing to call out Derek Thomas on his plagiarism.” “You men who fancy yourselves leaders are rotting away on the inside, just like the old man in this video“ “RevKev is one of the men I refer to above who is rotting on the inside”

    In a comment Dee made on the other article, she mentioned she had been transparent when she had unintentionally used material without attribution. That is what Dr. Thomas was found to have done. Did we all use this type of language to chase Dee out of town? I hope we would not, and obviously not because she’s still here.

    –Reacting against others stronger than we react to our own is a form of dishonesty also. Perhaps one could say its a form of activism. What I’d like to know is who is activating wrt Dr. Thomas and what is their agenda?

    And finally, to my estimation, a hit piece presents things in a way to create an impression that is distorted such that a reasonable and prudent person (RPP) would not identify at all with the conclusions if they had the full information.

    Based on the information I found with only a quick and small effort, I believe that an RPP would not have come to the same conclusions or to the same call to action as advocated by the article.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  99. Muff Potter: used like a whip and a cudgel to silence any and all legitimate dissent

    Something scripture was never intended to be used as. Just as Paul’s words, so often despicably twisted, never intended ‘Who are you, O man, to question God?’ to mean shut up and ask no questions. In reality, he was saying, ‘How dare you, sinful men, pretend to be holier than God, with the right to question his character and second guess his actions?’

    God neither fears or resents earnest questions. But that is far different from the self-righteous hypocrite who suggests that God’s thinking is faulty and his choices unwise. And of course, it is another thing altogether to challenge man’s interpretation of God’s thinking and choices as faulty.

    I do not question why God would deliberately condemn helpless, guiltless people to destruction before they were ever born; I question how any man could think such a thing of a good and loving God who declares that he desires that none perish and sent his Son that they need not.

    I do frequently, with David, ask God ‘How long must sorrow and suffering persist?’ I haven’t the slightest doubt that God is not angered when we are discouraged by the suffering of so many.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  100. Pingback: Wednesday Connect | Thinking Out Loud

  101. TS00: ‘You never know how low God might go, so don’t put him in a box’

    That could very well be the unspoken thought of “ministers” who become the subject of TWW posts. Push the boundaries here a little and there a little, be culturally-relevant if it means crossing to the dark side, twist the Scripture until it justifies your theology and your behavior, etc. If the high road is too tough, take the low road … but don’t expect God to meet you there.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  102. Mr. Jesperson,
    Curious about the source of your handle.
    I can’t shake the feeling I’ve heard (or read about) the name “Jesperson” before. I keep getting an impression that you adopted the handle from the name of some fictional character. But the only hits I get on the name is the name of some RL serial killer, and that can’t be your source.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *