Thanking Sarah Stankorb and The Washington Post for Drawing Attention to Bloggers Who Are Fighting Abuse in the Church

Heart Lake Mars-NASA

To love is to be vulnerable. C S Lewis


Crusading Bloggers Exposing Abuse in Protestant Churches: No one was paying attention — until these armchair investigators came along

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For those of you who know me, this Washington Post article was a real stretch. I like being in my quiet house, pecking away on my computer with my able pugs who advise me and keep Steve trapped under the table (Inside joke.) Besides, I am here to tell the stories of victims, along with observing trends in evangelicalism and helping folks to avoid hyper authoritarian churches who just love to discipline their members. It’s not really about me.

When I was first approached about the possibility of an article, I have to admit that I was a bit frightened. Journalists are different than bloggers. They elicit your thoughts and then they fact check. There is no guarantee that they will see what you want them to see. They may negatively view what you do.

Jesus said that we are to be lights on a hill. That means that people can see who we are and what we are doing. Was I willing to risk this? Or did I want to hide behind the door and only hang out with those who won’t challenge me? Recently, someone wrote on a blog that all they want to do is find nice, happy people who don’t stress them out.

Jesus saw things quite differently. He saw those who are hurting and spent time with them. He didn’t hang around the *happy* people. In fact, His disciples could be a royal pain in the butt at times.

They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”(Mark 10:37 NIV)

If Jesus thought we should all attain a stress free, happy life, He sure had a funny way of modeling that to us. When we get to heaven, will we proudly say “Hey Jesus, I just cruised on through life, maximizing my happiness and avoiding all that unpleasantness?” Meantime, Jesus will be standing there with the nail pierced hands and scarred back…

So, one day, I threw my hands up in the air and said “Ok, God. I’ll give it a go.” Sarah Stankorb from The Washington Post came to my house and sat at the kitchen table with my pugs adding to the ambience. We began a conversation that lasted over 2 hours. I knew she was really good at what she did because I was surprised to see how fast the time passed.

We talked about the good things. For example, I spoke about how wonderful it is to meet so many wonderful people, like those who comment on the blog, as well as other bloggers. I spoke of my frustration in trying to put out all of my posts and not having time to make things like spelling come out perfectly. By the way, I enjoy putting out the posts and that is why I keep on writing. Spelling, not so much….

I told her about the pain I feel when I listen to victims’ stories and how I cannot believe that leaders in the church universal would do such things. But I should know this because the gospel not only saves me but educates me about the pervasive sin in this world and that sin is also found in the church. Yet somehow leaders want to cover it up to *protect the church.* Protect the church from what? From admitting that their leaders are also sinners and some of those sins are even crimes?

And over the next number of months she asked me all sorts of questions. Then, she called churches, pastors and predators that I have known. And you know what? I found out that some of those churches have become a lot more serious about protecting their churches from predators. Maybe, just maybe, we’ve made little progress. However, looking at some notes I got today, we still have a long way to go.

What clinched the deal for me is this. Maybe, the next time a victim comes to me and I call a church, they will take my call more seriously. Maybe people like Joe Carter, editor of The Gospel Coalition, will hesitate before calling me pathologically dishonest and listen to what I’m saying, Or, maybe not. People don’t stop covering things up or calling people names when they are challenged. The Bible tells me that this is part of the human condition and I’d better be ready for the next challenge.

Thank you for walking this journey with me. You are the real heroes. You speak out even when it is hard. You express love and support towards victims. And many of you are the victims who continue to hope that things can be different in the church. You put your hearts on the line.

I was also thrilled to be on the same pages with Jules Woodson, Julie Anne Smith and Amy Smith. I count them all as my friends and I deeply admit their work. This is one group of gutsy women! Jules made me cry with what she said. What I wouldn’t give to spend a week with them on beach in the Turks and Caicos, sipping on frosty Sangrias, laughing and crying.

I want to thank Sarah Stankorb for writing this story. She taught me that maybe I can trust well known journalists from well known publications. I respect Sarah and it gives me confidence that there are good people in the world of journalism. Thank you, Sarah. I took a chance and it was worth every text message with a new question. (She wants the names of my pugs?)  🙂

I know she has a job to do. But, I also believe that this is a woman who gets abuse. I hope she knows that her willingness to write this post will help more victims to gain their voices and seek out those who will write their stories. I wouldn’t be surprised if she writes one or two herself. From my keyboard to God’s ears…

I bet you may have some question for me. I will try to keep an eye out for them once I get some sleep tonight (after my hands stop shaking.)

This was my most favorite part of the post. Sarah made me cry- a good cry. She gets it.

Parsons told me about a quote from C.S. Lewis that she considers a driving force in her life. It reads, in part: “The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.” She and her fellow watchdog bloggers keep returning to their computers because the stories keep coming. In the process, they lighten others’ loads by risking the same reproach, fear and self-doubt the survivors feel. And isn’t that the measure of a church anyway? Not thousands in pews, or secrets held in shame to protect the powerful — but a community of people, with shared faith, who care enough about one another to build sanctuary.

Let me add one more Lewis quote. This is dedicated to those who seek stress free lives, seeking happiness by avoiding those in pain. Jesus calls us to stop being self centered. He commands us to love others, and in so doing, we will find deep, lasting joy and meaning. When we take on the burden others, paradoxically we find ourselves feeling lighter. Thank you all for being there for one another and for me.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

 

 


Comments

Thanking Sarah Stankorb and The Washington Post for Drawing Attention to Bloggers Who Are Fighting Abuse in the Church — 147 Comments

  1. I don’t comment here much anymore but when this blog first started back in 2009 I could barely keep my thoughts to myself leaving comments all over this baby blog.

    I’m sure a lot of my comments were poorly fact checked and overly heated but I’ll never forget the fact that Dee and Deb kept cheering me on and telling me to ask more questions.

    I stayed away from church for many years and Dee was there quietly cheering me on saying “she’s on the right track, she’s smart for questioning, she’ll get to where she needs to be one day.” There are no words for how much that support meant to me.

    I’m so proud of the impact this blog has had on so many people but allow me to be selfishly grateful for the impact Dee has had on me over the years. And I think it speaks to their true heart and reason for writing this blog the kindness they showed 17 year old me who word vomited in the comments section on a monthly basis.

    Ten years guys. Wow.

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  2. Good to see a light shone on the ones shining the light on abuses in churches. Back in the early days of “watchdog blogs”, I watched the big boys pooh-pooh the bloggers: just disgruntled church members sitting in their basements. You know, sociopaths are these bloggers, daring to criticize men appointed by God to save people from their ignorance.

    Just to point out how far things have come, I want to remind your readers that back in 2007, the Georgia Baptists passed a resolution condemning blogging at their annual meeting, as reported here by ABP: https://baptistnews.com/article/georgia-baptist-resolution-criticizes-baptist-blogs/#.XPXps3dFxzk

    Their resolution contained the following:

    “….the messengers of this convention oppose blogging when it is used to cause division and disharmony among the members of our Southern Baptist family…. All personal attacks should cease immediately … [we] call upon bloggers to cease the critical second-guessing of these elected leaders; and be it further resolved that all Georgia Baptists respectfully request and expect that individuals who disrupt the fellowship through blogging repent and immediately cease this activity and no longer cause disharmony for the advancement of their own personal opinions and agendas.”

    Well done, Dee, keep up the good work!

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  3. “my able pugs who advise me and keep Steve trapped under the table”

    … and that makes the PUGS the official watch dogs !!! This is one complementarian situation that works.

    OOH, just got a call from the WaPo but the pugs tell me just to let it ring.

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  4. That was awesome, Dee, cuz you’re … well, … Awesome Dee!

    And thank you, Sarah Stankorb, for your amazing job in capturing successfully what could have remained just abstract themes about the survivor blogging movement–but you also showed the real humanity of the survivors and bloggers we’ve come to know, who’ve embodied courage and truth, and have led the way forward. A most memorable piece.

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  5. Hmm….10 years ago, I followed Eagle over here from iMonk. I’m so glad I did. I used to comment a lot more. Life shifts have caused me to pull back from the internet some. But I do check regularly…

    As others have mentioned, this has become more than a watchblog – it is a community with its own name (Wartburgers).

    Dee, I applaud you. You have stood through waves attacks on your character and motive…and even your personal relationships and livelihood. And yet, here you stand. I’m reminded of a Luther quote: “Here I stand. I can do no other.” (Not sure I got it exactly right, but the gist, anyway.)

    Thank you for your commitmemt, tenacity, compassion, and sacrifice.

    Well done.

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  6. “Recently, someone wrote on a blog that all they want to do is find nice, happy people who don’t stress them out.”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    was this a professional christian who has a platform, by chance? was he sort of congratulating himself with this priority of his? too hard to be outside of his bubble?

    well, that’s the thing about living in a bubble. you don’t learn to be tough, but stay soft as a baby’s bottom.

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  7. Thank you and Deb so very much for all that you give. I have read from afar and been greatly encouraged. I feel someone has a voice on our behalf- & I’ve often felt not heard in churches. Or heard & then harassed. I enjoy & benefit from the many & varied comments too. Thank you all very much for commenting.

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  8. __

    Spiritual Sounds : “Can’t Find A Comforting Sancturary, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    “Life brings us all challenges. The coming in and passing on of life are what we all have in common. Then there are the unique challenges that everyone faces that we sometimes can’t even begin to comprehend. If you have it within you, take time to walk along someone’s unique challenges. Extend an extra bit of compassion, grace, and kindness. If you don’t have the energy to extend to others, then offer it to yourself because life is hard and you’re doing the best you can to get through it.” -Kathi

    Yo!

    Next time a un-vetted youth pastor detours a destination for sinister purpose down a lonely dirt road, just maybe the intended victim will be prepared, with Jesus’ armor, with some type presence of mind, a lawful deterrent, and cladded with our preventive victim prayers here at The Wartburg Watch.

    ***

    “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show you great and mighty things, which you know not…” -Almighty God

    ATB

    Sòpy

    Intermission:
    Steve Winwood – “Can’t Find My Way Home”
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VT-SFgkVlno

    ;~)§

    – –

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  9. This seems a good time to report a healing, since it happened partly by reading and sharing here at TWW. Nine years ago I burned out as a church volunteer. Our church is quite healthy, but I was vulnerable from earlier abuse, and took on far too much work during a hard transition for the congregation. Sunday church would set me up for a full day of despondency. Our offspring became frightened of church because I would come home, curl up in bed, and sob. To keep from cracking up, I dropped out of church for awhile. Then I went to occasional brief weekday services and did some committee work, mainly to make sure that the clergy and staff were listening to people.

    A month ago it dawned on me that the old pain and fear had fallen away. My husband and I have now gone to church four Sundays in a row, and felt at peace each time. We have invited our offspring but have not pushed. So perhaps this is the best thing: after church last Sunday, our son asked us what we believe. He told us that he prays. And he said, “God loves everyone, and nothing will ever stop that.”

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  10. Dee and Deb, you brave brave Christian women! Persistence pays off! Just read the article and since I personally know some of the people involved in the Providence incident, I would like to know when the leadership of Providence, including some of the elders who knew all about the cover-up, will ever walk up to the fancy new stage in their new state-of-the-art sanctuary and apologize to the victims, their families, to Dee and Deb, and offer to repay the thousands of dollars these families have spent on counseling. They should also personally go to each victim and family and humbly ask their forgiveness. Oh, the hardness of their hearts.

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  11. “Maybe people like Joe Carter, editor of The Gospel Coalition, will hesitate before calling me pathologically dishonest and listen to what I’m saying, Or, maybe not.” (Dee)

    Now we need an TWP expose’ on the ails of new Calvinism! The new reformation is littered with folks like Carter who abuse half the church with “the beauty of complementarity” … always trying to shut the mouths of female believers, particularly those who are on to their schemes.

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  12. So very thankful for this story in the WaPo magazine, for the reporter who “gets it,” for all of the sacrificial courage of the investigative bloggers and the survivors themselves.

    When church leaders want to sinfully control the narrative, the Holy Spirit will find another way!

    I hope and pray that this story helps more survivors to come forward, so that these horrific abuses come to see the light of day.

    May justice be done, may future abuse be prevented, and may the survivors find healing.

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  13. Tom R,

    You are someone who deserves a well done. You went to the mats with FBC Jax and you prevailed. your story was an encouragement to me as I faced blowback through the years.

    Do you remember that phone call I made to you. “You don’t know who I am but I started a blog and would like to write about you?” And you let me!! How crazy is that? I still giggle at the memory.

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  14. Max,

    I keep asking the question. I the church, I get where they come out with no female pastors/elders. However, I have asked and asked, “What is one thing man can do in the marriage that a woman cannot do? ” No answer except flipping around the *submit* word with no context.

    For example, last night my husband came home and was dead tired. He grabbed the plate of food I had saved for him and sat down to watch the news. He asked if I could get him something to drink. I was writing but I stopped and got him some iced tea. However, I have asked similar things of him when I’m tried and my arthritis is kicking up. So, was I submitting and was he loving me like Christ loved the church? I don’t see it that way. We both help each other

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  15. Dee:
    Your work, or better yet, your ministry, represents the best of a lost part of Southern Baptist tradition: “the priesthood of the believer.” That each of us must relate to and follow the path that God leads us upon. The individuality of each believer doing as God leads. I am thankful for the path you have taken . . .

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  16. I imagine Sarah, sitting at her proverbial kitchen table, fingers hovered over keypad, wondering how to tell your story…

    …and then she just let the words flow…

    I sit at my proverbial kitchen table, reading her amazing article, about amazing bloggers who braved into the world of big religious whigs and call them out with courage, clarity, facts, and impressive wisdom.

    Dee, I grew up in DC, reading the WaPo (and the Star in the afternoons), went to high school during Watergate, lived amongst friends whose parents, I later realized, worked undercover for the government, and amongst ambassadors and congressmen. This article will reign in my heart as the most highly treasured of all.

    Sarah captured your essence and passion and mission and heart.

    Thank you for giving your heart, first to the abused and hurting, and secondly, to Sarah.

    Not that you need it, but her article brings you bloggers to a new level of respectability. I mean, Sarah saw that you aren’t a teenager blogging in pjs in your parent’s basement, so it must be true, you daughter of Satin! Haha

    Anyway, well done … truly deserve the recognition for all your years of tireless service to the Body of Christ,

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  17. Many years ago my wife was director for a metro area Christian event. The city’s newspaper interviewed her and asked me for a few quotes. This wasn’t some famous national newspaper like the Post, just the Pioneer Press in St. Paul. But I was young and full of myself and in the “My Great Speaking Abilities and Righteousness (and secondarily, Jesus) will save the world!” phase, I figured this was a coronation of my greatness. Used my few quotes to spout off about how our event was going to become a Big Thing, 10,000 people in the near future, you watch us, people! It died out within a couple years, by the way and is no more. Wish I’d been more mature and about Jesus back then. More like the way you treated this.

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  18. dee: Still surprised that people read TWW. I am not kidding

    Never underestimate your misfit band of followers. You have created a great environment for both civil discourse and healing that we misfits need.

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  19. What I think what really comes through, both in the WP article, and reading TWW for a number of years, IMHO, is that the goal of the TWW is to give a voice to victims, or people that perceive themselves to be victims, of not just a specific abuse, or bad treatment/etc, ( we all experience them… part of human condition) but patterns of abuse, and subsequent “cover-ups”, and/or attacking the victim because they make the “powers that be” look bad.
    AND, the fact that The Dee’s, and in general the people that post, have no financial interest in maintaining the “status quo”.

    My hope is that as all of this moves forward ( and my bet is things will change with the WP coverage) this essence can be maintained.. As Dee routinely says, the NT clearly calls the “church” to be a light on a hill….. TWW has been, and I hope TWW will continue to be a Spotlight, especially on cover-ups of abuse of the “underaged”…

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  20. dee: We both help each other

    My wife and I are true “complementarians.” Our spiritual gifts complement each other as we work hand-in-hand to fulfill the Great Commission together, as God leads. I often submit to her teaching when the Lord gives her a word during her study of Scriptures, as she submits to me when I have a word to share. She will often lead out in prayer as moved by the Holy Spirit, if I don’t beat her too it first.

    Our version of the “beauty of complementarity” also works on the homefront. Not feeling well, she helped me with lawn work the other day; I washed the dishes later. It’s a complementarian life that has worked for us for over 50 years.

    I often tell her that she is one of the most godly men I know 🙂

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  21. dee: For example, last night my husband came home and was dead tired. He grabbed the plate of food I had saved for him and sat down to watch the news. He asked if I could get him something to drink. I was writing but I stopped and got him some iced tea. However, I have asked similar things of him when I’m tried and my arthritis is kicking up. So, was I submitting and was he loving me like Christ loved the church? I don’t see it that way. We both help each other

    That’s because you don’t think of everything in terms of Power Struggle. A Boolean world of Top or Bottom, Dom or Sub, no other states possible.

    “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”
    — Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones

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  22. “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

    If I remember right, the next sentence after the quote reads “The only place other than Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from the dangers of love is Hell.”

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  23. Speaking of complimentarianism, I know that Paul undeniably said what he said in addressing some of the issues with a proto-feminist cult in the church at Corinth. They were peddling a false creation narrative (so he dealt with that and said no, Adam was created first) and it appears the women who were part of the cult were dominating proceedings and were quite possibly not following Jesus, perhaps mixing pagan practices, such as Diana worship, with Christianity (so he dealt with that and told them to shut up). It’s hard to know for certain, because much is not explained. It was, of course, a letter written to address certain situations that the readers in that church would’ve immediately identified and that did not require explanation. It was inspired by God Himself and useful for knowledge about how we’re to live, but it was still a letter written for a certain place and time.

    Of course, none of this takes away from the many other things in the Bible that deal with there being neither male nor female in the Kingdom of God, and the Body of Christ being a co-equal royal priesthood, or Jesus, Who spoke with women, listened to them (such as performing His first miracle, when He dropped the argument and like a good Jewish son, obeyed mom—how about that?). You sure do have to throw a lot out to make out the complimentarian argument out of one little passage in the Bible.

    And one more thing: I can’t think of a single incident in the Bible where a man was the wise one and a woman was the fool. I think of Moses and Zipporah (listened to his wiser wife and lived), Nabal and Abigail (didn’t listen to his wiser wife and died). …or where a man was the courageous one and a woman was the coward. I think of the three women who hung by Jesus to the end, even when it looked like they were signing their own death warrants, and how all but one of the male disciples ran like cowards.

    Makes you wonder about he-man complimentarians. I’ve also noticed that they tend to run like cowards at the first sign of trouble…but unlike the disciples, they almost never seem to be willing to repent of it, turn around, and die for Jesus.

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  24. It’s nice to see everyone come back to visit!

    Although most of us are here because we were victims, or witnessed abuse first-hand, it’s unlike most other Christian communities who only have narrow theological votes and perspectives. I’ve learned so much here.

    Others should take lessons from this community on not only standing up for what is right, but on how to listen to people with different ideas and backgrounds.

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  25. Anthony: Gosh Max, you sometimes “beat her too?”

    Context is everything … lifting text out of context to make a point is a New Calvinist trick. 🙂

    I would never dream of striking my wife … if I did, I would be dreaming somewhere else.

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  26. Good article, so glad these things are coming to the forefront. Way to go to keep persevering, it’s paying off and blessing so many people…maybe even helping reconcile some to the tarnished faith of their youth (before the painful tarnishing occurred.)

    “Blessed are the peacemakers.” -Jesus

    Peacemakers, you heard me right. Those who, by pursuing righteousness, justice and mercy (for the oppressed) help restore people’s faith in the God of Truth, making peace between God and humanity.

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  27. It was a nice article. Highlights the importance of what’s done. TWW says you can still be Christian and think critically. The great irony is i found this blog by accident after reading a 9 marks article. I had been searching “leaving Christianity”
    The 9 marks article had been about not allowing people to leave your church (!) Seriously…
    The TWW article was about church covenants…
    Guess which website I continued to visit.
    A very safe space has been created here and it’s an accomplishment that can’t be understated.
    Great work on your first 10 years!

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  28. Did the Post interview Dr. Steve also? Is that going to be a separate article? I even have a title to suggest: “The View from Down Under (the Table)!”

    In all seriousness though, I appreciate the work being done on this site to keep these issues of abuse in the forefront. When I first Googled “Calvinist takeovers”, this site was one of the first hits I found. It became essential in my understanding of the phenomenon of hostile church takeovers which eventually led to our YRR, Neo-Cal pastor’s departure in our little SBC church. Light dispels darkness–so let your light shine!

    Since your interview with a world-famous Washington paper, though, I feel like I need to put on a coat and tie in order to comment now! 🙂

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  29. There is even a place here for a non-believer/former Catholic! I have worked with both Dee and Amy on different projects. They are both strong articulate women who have become feared by so many men in leadership roles in different Protestant denominations. It’s a honor to know them!

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  30. “By the way, I enjoy putting out the posts and that is why I keep on writing. Spelling, not so much….”

    My husband used to have a sign on his door from a comic, with the words:
    “Spellers of the world, Untie!”

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  31. Max: Now we need an TWP expose’ on the ails of new Calvinism! The new reformation is littered with folks like Carter who abuse half the church with “the beauty of complementarity” … always trying to shut the mouths of female believers, particularly those who are on to their schemes.

    I’m sincerely convinced that Protestantism is undergoing a kind of ‘New Reformation’.

    Slowly and steadily their (neo-cal) revenue streams are drying up as more and more people get wise to what they’re all about.

    Their ideology and organizations will not see the end of this century.

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  32. Friend,

    It’s really crazy and sad when you realize how much trauma from childhood abuse can effect your actions and reactions daily. It runs below the surface, like a computer program running in the background. 🙁

    II Corinthians 5:7 is my favorite verse to march forward by daily.

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  33. (This is my third post today, a record to be sure!)

    Dearest Dee and Deb,

    I ended up here at TWW having discovered the SGM Survivors blog and the Refuge blog when my local SGM church of 22 years was starting to implode with scandals locally and corporately.

    The Survivors blog had a list of hyperlinks to other blogs and The Warburg Watch was one that I would visit from time to time.
    I mostly read and posted at Survivors and Refuge because of our family’s experience in a SGM church.

    I discovered early on (in the days of Brent Detwiler’s document dumps) that I wasn’t crazy, out of order, or heretical for thinking or feeling the things that I was feeling. Women and children had been and were continuing to be abused and silenced in Sovereign Grace churches.

    We were shaken to our very physical and spiritual cores. We almost didn’t make it as a family. We still bear many scars—some physical and others, although they can’t be seen with the naked eye, are actually deeper and more painful, and are still in the process of being healed.

    A couple of years ago we took a leap of faith and
    joined a local EPC Presbyterian Church that had deacons and elders, a presbytery, and something called session. There was/is accountability and the members have a voice.

    The church isn’t perfect but it’s a kind body of believers and the pastors are humble and there are only three of them. Two are older than 50 and one is in his 70s. I mention ages because half the congregation is older than I am (54) and have white heads and wise hearts and minds. The food pantry and coat/clothing closet feeds and clothes hundreds of people each month. We have a mobile home park ministry that wraps pipes and cuts tiny lawns and delivers food to it’s constituents. We partner with our local Crisis Pregnancy center. We take care of widows and orphans.

    You may wonder why it m taking the time to write out what might be to some—ancient history?

    To be honest, I don’t know if we could have/would have survived 7-8 years ago had we not discovered the Survivor blogs and gotten our family out of that abusive and toxic culture.

    We had forgotten who we were. Forgotten that we were sons and daughters. Forgotten that we were beloved, worthy, forgiven, a Royal Priesthood. Loved!

    Thank you Dee, Deb, Kris, Guy, Jim, et al for your empathy, sympathy, support, wisdom, humor, tears, and HARD WORK on our behalf.

    Thank you for fighting the good fight.

    You are loved and so appreciated by me and mine.

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  34. From the post:

    [Sarah Stankorb] wants the names of my pugs?

    You shouldn’t be giving out their names. They’ll be getting spam texts asking for their bank details if you’re not careful.

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  35. Dee, I’m so glad for the WaPo article highlighting the work here and your advocacy, and help, for abuse victims, especially those hurt by church leaders and especially child victims and young victims. I’m glad for Rachel and Jacob Denhollander’s work on these issues, too. TWW is one of the sites that I point to for those that ask, in my sphere of influence, questioning the credibility of Christianity due to the inconsistencies in other professing Christian environments. Thank you!

    After my children and I went through trauma and then a church by law change that was not transparent, etc….same old story, in 2005-6, a Christian egalitarian told me about CBE and Mimi Haddad and through that site I began reading at TWW, too later on.

    This podcast, where Mimi Haddad was fairly recently interviewed is very meaningful to me.

    https://soundcloud.com/redletterchristians/may-27-2018-interview-with-mimi-haddad

    “The World Bank says that undermining patriarchy is smart economics and good for families, communities and whole nations…. CBE seeks to do this work and it is almost impossible to leverage humanitarian objectives without the support of safe communities and correct use of Scripture.”…..Mimi goes on to say that earlier in our history when churches held a high view of the cross, high view of atonement, that Jesus changes everything, social justice issues advanced. Then with, for example, JP on the scene arguing that Christianity has , not a Jesus feel to it, but rather a “masculine” feel, it has regressed our advocacy on social justice, which is viewed as a feminist agenda and a secular agenda.

    I really hear Mimi’s words, “It’s nearly impossible to leverage humanitarian objectives without the support of safe communities and correct use of Scripture.”

    Even with Kevin Gile’s book
    https://www.amazon.com/Rise-Fall-Complementarian-Doctrine-Trinity/dp/1532618662

    I heard trinity, marriage, etc, etc at a recent wedding that my children and I were at. Have any of you heard this at weddings? Is it common? I’m tying the two together (complementarianism, JP and WG style, and use of marriage to try to teach about the trinity in spite of Kevin Gile’s work).

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  36. Fjordview:
    First time commenter, long time lurker all the way from Norway. (Yes, I can see a fjord from my house..) I just wanted to say well done Dee! Takk! (Thank you)

    My dearest friend, Anna, grew up in Norway and is currently living in Sweden. I spent 2 weeks visiting her family in Oslo and Elnesvagen. Anna’s entire family lives in Norway,. Thank you for telling me you are following my blog, Your country is absolutely beautiful.

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  37. Ella,

    “I heard trinity, marriage, etc, etc at a recent wedding that my children and I were at. Have any of you heard this at weddings? Is it common? I’m tying the two together (complementarianism, JP and WG style, and use of marriage to try to teach about the trinity in spite of Kevin Gile’s work).”
    +++++++++++++++++

    i think it’s time to revisit commentary from the Evangelical Theological Society Conference 2016 in San Antonio, wherein Eternal Subordination of The Son (ESS, and its other similar acronyms) were roundly trounced.

    all its proponents were curiously silent afterwards. pretending it didn’t happen? busy reinventing themselves?

    its proponents are truly just pretending now. truly, emperors with no clothes. but i can see…. who else can see?

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  38. elastigirl: i think it’s time to revisit commentary from the Evangelical Theological Society Conference 2016 in San Antonio, wherein Eternal Subordination of The Son (ESS, and its other similar acronyms) were roundly trounced.
    all its proponents were curiously silent afterwards. pretending it didn’t happen? busy reinventing themselves?
    its proponents are truly just pretending now. truly, emperors with no clothes. but i can see…. who else can see?

    elastigirl,

    Thanks. I didn’t see Dr. GIles book until this past year, around the same time as hearing the podcast interview with Dr. Haddad.

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  39. “The End of the World as We Know It: Scenes from a Life,” by Robert Goolrick. Published 2007. He approximates 90,000 reported cases of child sexual abuse a year. He said estimates of 80 percent of actual cases going unreported, 500,000 children, boys and girls, are violated every year without anybody doing anything about it.

    That is why the bloggers like Dee are important.

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  40. Thank you Dee and Deb and those who influenced the shaping of this blog,
    I realize you had reason to be concerned by exposing yourselves on a national stage and it is a reporters duty to dig deep and expose duplicity. It speaks highly of your character that the the Washington Post sought you out. I was just telling my colleague (not a christian), skeptical of the fundamentalist mindset, that there are believers who are willing to grow and listen to a good argument and are also willing to call out abusers in the church. He did not even know that the evangelical church is going through its own moment and that it is not just the Catholic Church who are offenders. I related to him how the Wartburg Watch and its founders are gaining national attention as well-this was a day before you said the WP was going to be publishing an article on the Protestant church, abuse, and those who are taking a stand. This blog post was touching and I must admit that my eyes misted up a bit-it must be allergy season 🙂 Loving others often brings deep heartache.

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  41. Dee and her blogger colleagues fight child predators/pedophiles and their protectors. Pedophiles, only see children as objects to satiate their urges. They have no nurturing instinct towards children. They have no remorse for what they do to children.

    The priest, pastors, bishops, elders, and deacons that protect and whitewash the pedofiles turn their churches into Temples of Moloch and should no longer be considered Christian.

    These are who Dee and her fellow bloggers expose.

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  42. Your without monetary profit religious Internet work is extremely valued. It certainly didn’t take the distinguished nation’s capitol’s Washington Post news organization’s article to recognize that. 🙂 However, their third party assistance in the awareness fight against abuse is extremely noteworthy and commendable. Abundant appreciation is gratefully extended.

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  43. ___

    “When I Survey…” [1]

    hmmm…

    Trace Batton,

    HowDee!

    I am so happy you and your family have aggressively and faithfully pursued Christ amongst insurmountable odds. God be praised! You and yours are of the fortunate ones. Some other SGM’ers not so much. 🙁

    Over the years, Jesus has quietly raised up an scripturally armor cladded diverse prayerful army, all for the love of ‘His’ church.

    He said: (quote) “Look what they are doing to my church…” Many have answered His call.

    Many to this day prefer to remain unsung heroes held in the palm of His capable hands. He is their light and abundant reward! The extent of their work will more than likely never be known this side of heaven.

    Thank-You! for your touching, moving story, and your faithful service to the Savior. God Speed!

    (tears)

    ATB

    Sòpy

    [1] https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ylihJUH0gP4

    ;~)§

    – –

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  44. Brian,

    “Pedophiles, only see children as objects to satiate their urges. They have no nurturing instinct towards children. They have no remorse for what they do to children.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    to a great degree, i see those who champion principle over people the same way.

    people are no longer living beings with faces, who have feelings, hopes, dreams. who are each someone’s daughter, someone’s son, someone’s mom, someone’s dad.

    no — people are objects to satiate one’s need for power & control through rules they make and enforce.

    or else one’s need to fit in and run with God and God’s alpha dogs so much they adopt their rules and enforce them. people are mere objects on whom the principle is wielded — like a stick if needed.

    the principle itself is so important its adherents simply can’t see its cruelty. when they are told of its cruel impact on human lives, they don’t believe it. they believe in the principle instead.

    remorse? you must be joking. how can there possibly be remorse when principle is always right and constant as a wooden statue? when principle is all there is?

    such people bow down and worship the idol of principle, sacrificing human lives for it.

    amazingly enough, they think this is the Gospel. They think only they understand the Gospel.

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  45. Wow ! Great work, great article… I love love love when God uses a “nobody” to correct or takedown a “somebody”. He is mighty to save… These folks who hide behind their titles and credentials have nothing to be upset about, they created you and others like you and brought you into existence by their actions or lack there of. They MAKE us ask questions and push back against them because they are not doing right by the sheep. Thank you for all your work, our voice can no longer be ignored.

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  46. Trace Batton: We had forgotten who we were. Forgotten that we were sons and daughters. Forgotten that we were beloved, worthy, forgiven, a Royal Priesthood. Loved!

    Thanks Trace for sharing your story on TWW. Only those who have been in the valley can speak accurately about life in the valley. I’m so glad that you and yours have emerged from the religious darkness you were in. You can’t help someone out if you are still in. Praise God that you and yours are out! You are, indeed, Royal Priests!! Whose job is the ministry? Every believer has a part!!

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  47. elastigirl,

    Great analogy…. I literally experienced this focus on principle (or goals) by campus ministries over 30 years ago. They strategically “targeted” leaders of the Greek system, since they were “leaders” of the student body…. the concept, which they stated, is if we “covert” the leaders, the “masses” will follow the leader..

    This really came across to me that the ‘greek leaders” were just tools for the campus ministry to maximize their “ Impact”. Since this campus ministry “sold” their ministry to donors in most of its reports to its donors on “numbers of converts” and numbers attending their meetings, from a business perspective it makes allot of sense to target “ greek Leaders.

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  48. Trace Batton,

    “Women and children had been and were continuing to be abused and silenced in Sovereign Grace churches.

    We were shaken to our very physical and spiritual cores. We almost didn’t make it as a family.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Trace, I am so sorry.

    There are well-meaning christians who will reply something like

    “you are not shaken to your very physical and spiritual cores as your feelings and emotions may suggest, but rather have been saved (delivered) from God’s true wrath by the death of His Son for our sins. It is Christ who was destroyed on the cross because of our sin.”

    the reply is “who are you to complain?!?”

    your telling of your experience will be downplayed and framed as complaining and ignorance of how insignificant it really is in comparison to Jesus’ suffering. and compared to the significance of what Jesus’ suffering accomplished.

    if you are able, can you flesh out “We were shaken to our very physical and spiritual cores. We almost didn’t make it as a family”? How were women and children abused and silenced?

    i keep hoping the ideologues who reply as i describe will at some point actually believe us. that their compassion and empathy will wake up from their flaccid slumber under the sedation of principle over people. (i actually don’t know what it will take)

    Thank you, Trace.

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  49. Dee, congrats on the WaPo coverage.

    From https://www.foxnews.com/world/pope-francis-lords-prayer-our-father-change
    Pope Francis has approved a change in the Lord’s Prayer from “lead us not into temptation” to “do not let us fall into temptation,”. While not germane to this post I believe it represents a move away from support for Hyper Calvinism, a topic that does get a lot of attention on this blog.

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  50. Trace Batton: Women and children had been and were continuing to be abused and silenced in Sovereign Grace churches.

    And yet, Al Mohler and his band of New Calvinists turned a deaf ear to their cries by embracing C.J. Mahaney and enabling him to set up shop in the SBC!!

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  51. elastigirl,

    Hmm….my response to those who try to minimize the damage and pain caused by spiritual abuse (in all its, forms, including physical and emotional) is simply this:

    Jesus, who knew what lay ahead of him, knowing why He was going to do what lay ahead, told His followers that it would be better to tie a boulder around you neck snd jump into the ocean that to cause one of His lambs to stumble or fall….He did not say to the children, “Suck it up! I’m going to go through worse than anything you will.”

    Comparing level of pain/damage is a device to shut people up. Usually used by abusers. Case in point: any time I would express emotional distress to my mother, her response was to counter with a description of her own pain. Usually followed by comments on her own laudable stoic stance in the face of such pain. Left no room for me to speak.

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  52. Dee,
    Thank you for being a voice in the wilderness. This blog has been a resource and encouragement for those who are suffering and facing abuse within their church. God led me here a long time ago as we have been fighting back infiltration by the YRR at the church I pastor. We had spoken on the phone about that situation a while back.

    However, this blog forced me to look at the gender roles within the church and the reason behind them. We have always ordained women as a deaconess but had never allowed a woman to preach. After careful study and prayer, we are changing that stance. The call upon an individual is determined by God, not man. This blog raised questions that we needed to answer.

    So often the status-quo is never challenged and just accepted. That enables the abuses that take place to flourish. Thanks for asking the tough questions. Thanks for providing a community that seeks to shine a light in the darkness. My prayers to all the victims who have been abused within their church as well as my apologies for the status-quo that allowed it. All of You are the true light bearers.

    This was my first post. Thanks for enduring it!
    At The Doorstep of SBTS.
    Laboring In Louisville

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  53. Jeannette Altes: Case in point: any time I would express emotional distress to my mother, her response was to counter with a description of her own pain. Usually followed by comments on her own laudable stoic stance in the face of such pain. Left no room for me to speak.

    “Comments” or “Self-Praise and Self-Adoration”?

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  54. Jeffrey Chalmers: I literally experienced this focus on principle (or goals) by campus ministries over 30 years ago. They strategically “targeted” leaders of the Greek system, since they were “leaders” of the student body…. the concept, which they stated, is if we “covert” the leaders, the “masses” will follow the leader..

    Didn’t Screwtape say the same in his toast to Slubgob?

    And let me guess… It ended with campus ministry targeting leaders Chad and Buffy being all about Chad and Buffy holding Court at the Kewl Kids’ Table.

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  55. Brian: 500,000 children, boys and girls, are violated every year without anybody doing anything about it.

    “Fourteen hundred going today,
    Fourteen hundred going tomorrow,
    Fourteen hundred more going every day…”

    — filk of “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, Blue Oyster Cult

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  56. ishy: https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/religion/2019/06/05/southern-baptist-convention-sexual-abuse-church-birmingham/1304485001/

    ishy: I predict they will use the committee to oust non-Calvinists and credible accusations against Mohlerites will go ignored.

    Would make sense – most SBC committees these days are swarming with New Calvinist appointees who would like to purge the denomination of non-Calvinist belief and practice. Speaking of predictions, I predict that some New Calvinist will take the mic and nominate a woman for an SBC office and she will be elected by an overwhelming vote (since the annual meetings are now overwhelmed by young, restless and reformed) … they will want to come across as friendly to wimmenfolk (even though they won’t let them use their spiritual giftings to preach/teach to men).

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  57. ishy,

    In this day and age of fact based muckraking and high integrity blog-whistle-blowers, how long can they last?

    How long can they maintain a stranglehold over the cowed and docile pew serfs upon which their revenue streams depends?

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  58. Muff Potter: In this day and age of fact based muckraking and high integrity blog-whistle-blowers, how long can they last?

    How long can they maintain a stranglehold over the cowed and docile pew serfs upon which their revenue streams depends?

    They can’t, I don’t think. But I don’t think they will ever believe that until they are all out of ministry or in jail.

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  59. elastigirl,

    Thanks. My mother passed 4 years ago. After 7 years of no contact with her (my choice), I went to visit her in hospice. I got the closest thing to an apology a narcissist can give. She acknowledged that my “cutting her off” was because of “something she did.” We were at peace with each other when she died.

    The day she died, Papa gave me a wonderful gift. I felt her presence with me all day and it was completely free of all this earth dirt – including the narcissism. She was truly free and I tear up just thinking about it.

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  60. Tom R: “. . . and no longer cause disharmony for the advancement of their own personal opinions and agendas.”

    Well see now, they couldn’t be talking to bloggers like Dee, Deb, Amy, Jules, and Julie Anne. I mean really? Jack Graham really thinks they blog from selfish motives. Ha!!! What a slanderous statement. Instead, it is obvious that they are watch people who have seen and experienced the evil and have stayed behind in the trenches to warn and rescue other people whose only personal agenda is to escape and avoid the abuse that is always nurtured and protected by the worshippers of unity.

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  61. Patti,

    Remember, blindly and quietly following the leaders trumps all else, even leaders that molest under age boys and girls! And, I can personal state that cover-ups have been going on for over 40 years… probably greater than 1,500 years, given the age of the formal “church”

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  62. I am not a Christian, but I grew up that way. This site is a welcome respite from the dysfunction of the modern church. I am glad to see people behaving in the Christ like way that I remember.

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  63. Brian: Did your Mom grow up in a similar environment?

    Somewhat, a little, maybe? Her father was emotionally distant. But not a malignant narcissist. Her sister has talked to me some and says that even as a child, my mom was like that. Who knows what caused her to follow that path? My mom did tell me, once, in a remarkably candid moment, that she decided at the age of 6 to try not to be so mean to her parents. If what I saw was the result of that, I hate to think what she was like before. She was the first born not just of her parents, but of her generation in the family. She was the sole object of all the aunts and uncles affection (and there were a lot of them) for the first 15 months of her life. When her first sister came along, she was (her own words) very arngry and resentful.

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  64. Laboring In Louisville,

    Thanks so much for sharing this. It truly is encouraging to know that there exist pastors who are willing to re-examine long-held views in light of the obvious pain and destruction they cause to many. That is a sure sign that something needs to be given a closer look. So glad to hear you are willing to do that.

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  65. __

    Rooftop Religion ™ “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness gets da boot outa town, perhaps ?”

    hmmm…

    “Frankly, I think Mohler owes the SGM sexual-abuse victims and their families a personal apology, for dismissing their allegations so casually and making them feel all these years like their stories weren’t worth the time or energy to investigate.” -Janet Mefferd [1]

    [1] https://janetmefferd.com/2019/02/al-mohlers-incomplete-apology-my-story/

    ;~)§

    – –

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  66. ___

    Religious Dumpster Diving ™ : “The words of the prophets are now written on the Louisville dumpster(s) walls…”

    hmmm…

    Ooooh Myyyy God!

    “And in the naked light I saw
    Ten thousand people, maybe more.
    People talking without speaking,
    People hearing without listening,
    People writing songs that voices never share
    And no one dares
    Disturb the sound of silence…” – Paul Simon

    “But our words like silent raindrops fall
    And echo in the wells of silence…”

    As the victims of 501c3 sexual abuse are left to pick up the pieces.

    (sadface)

    And all Illustrious Doctor Albert Mohler [1] can say is : “ I am sorry for my silence…”

    And if the blind 501c3 religious leaders lead the 501c3 blind, both shall fall into the ditch…

    SKreeeeeeeeeeetch!

    KRASH!

    “Not only has there been no loving but firm pressure to submit to accountability and openness, the very dynamic I warned about in the Christianity Today article has been repeated. My gospel presentation and offer of forgiveness to my abuser was heralded nationally… until I applied those same principles to my own community of Reformed evangelicals.” – Rachael Denhollander [2]

    ***

    The “Silence like a cancer grows…”

    (tears)

    Sòpy

    [1] https://albertmohler.com/about/
    [2] https://heidelblog.net/2018/03/rachael-denhollander-to-sgm-on-the-spiritual-dangers-of-tribalism/
    Intermission:
    Jadyn Rylee : “The Sound Of Silence” (a Paul Simon cover)
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8xysVNigCsU

    ;~)§

    – –

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  67. __

    “For five years (2013-2018), Albert Mohler had been under the delusion the investigation included Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. and its leaders.  If he is being truthful, he had no idea the investigation by Lars Liebeler was confined to Covenant Life Church.  We must bear in mind, these lies are the same lies Mahaney and the Sovereign Grace Leadership Team have been telling leaders around the nation that come to them in “good faith…”   – Bret Detweiler

    ;~)§


    http://www.brentdetwiler.com/brentdetwilercom/the-inside-story-al-mohler-severed-all-personal-ties-with-cj.html

    – –

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  68. Brian,

    I was on paid staff at a PCUSA, we were regular attenders for years (then again, we’ve been regular attenders at just about every major denomination within the vague boundaries of orthodoxy). Our family was almost certainly the most conservative people there. I never could never quite come to terms with the spiritual fuzziness, but the people were kind and decent, and the polity was great, seemed to be the sort of place where rainbows that I didn’t care for might go up out front, but where spiritual abuse seemed extremely unlikely. Guess that shows how little I know.

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  69. Question:

    1. Shame, defined as painful consciousness of guilt; disgrace or disrepute; to disgrace,

    2. Abusers create a false shame in their prey, the abused, when the abused have never done anything guilty,

    3. Therefore, is their a verse or passage that speaks directly to the abusers actions, to comfort the abused?

    Thank you,

    🙂

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  70. Law Prof,

    Google’s algorithm made the article known to me. When I read the article, it reminded me of my stepfather’s sick logic. But, it was adult males being manipulated.

    I’m glad the author of the article was explicit. I know some people would’ve just looked at this from a sexual preference and consenting adults point of view if there wasn’t any details.

    I think the pride of Protestant denominations, when it came to the Catholics, that blinded them when abuse was happening under their noses.

    A moderate to liberal Baptist publication, I don’t remember the name, was claiming their anti abuse programs kept them from having the same problems as the SBC. That may be true, but once they start “resting on their program”, the more ambitious pedophiles and sexual predators will get through.

    Thank you for responding. 🙂

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  71. Law Prof: seemed to be the sort of place where … spiritual abuse seemed extremely unlikely. Guess that shows how little I know.

    The United Presbyterian Church, a staid mainline forebear of PCUSA, had a Calvinist incursion in the 1970s. Presbyterians with beliefs like any TWW villain’s struggled against proponents of earlier, more level-headed practices. Sometimes there was schism in the air and an authoritarian vibe. They battled over things like whether women were allowed to serve as ushers.

    Predators can slither in anywhere, unfortunately. This history may not be related to the awful story Brian mentioned. But the accused minister had a 40-year career, and he sexually abused men under the guise of performing exorcisms. Casting out demons is not really a standard Presbyterian thing. I feel very sorry for the victims.

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  72. Friend: The United Presbyterian Church, a staid mainline forebear of PCUSA, had a Calvinist incursion in the 1970s.

    I think we need to continue to distinguish the difference between classical Calvinists and their neo-brethren, the New Calvinists. The new reformers are totally different animals than old-guard Calvinists. As a 70-year Southern Baptist, I worshiped alongside classical Calvinists (a small SBC minority) and found them civil in their discourse and respectful of other expressions of faith. The New Calvinists, on the other hand, are arrogant, militant and aggressive … they alone hold truth, they think, and have no trouble deceiving their way into pulpits to takeover non-Calvinist congregations. While I don’t agree with the tenets of reformed theology which underlies both Old and New Calvinism, my beef is with the young, restless and reformed (and their iconic leaders) who are running roughshod over God’s people in various denominations.

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  73. Brian: Is J.I. Packer old school Calvinism or new school Calvinism?

    Older than the hills! But, the New Calvinists adore him. Packer, himself, may not agree with the message and method of the young whippersnappers, but encourages the radicals to push forward to seed the earth with the tenets of reformed theology. Before age caught up with him (he’s in his 90s), you could find him hanging out at New Calvinist conferences as a featured speaker.

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  74. Max: Packer, himself, may not agree with the message and method of the young whippersnappers, but encourages the radicals to push forward to seed the earth with the tenets of reformed theology.

    Maybe it’s articles like this that make Packer a New-Calvinist: https://www.the-highway.com/articleSept16.html. It’s difficult to know which sentence is best to quote, but here is a good example:

    Satanic malice and the natural darkness of the human mind are, no doubt, contributory cause of Arminianism in its various forms;

    Here is wat I find most ironic about Calvinism: if it is true, what one believes doesn’t matter. The only thing that really matters is whether or not one is on the list God made in eternity past of who will be saved. If one is on the list, there is nothing one can do to get off of the list. If one is not on the list, there is nothing one can do to get on the list. So for all the emphasis they place on believing the right things, it does not matter what one believes because the only thing that matters is whether or not a person’s name is on that unchangeable list.

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  75. Ken F (aka Tweed): Satanic malice and the natural darkness of the human mind are, no doubt, contributory cause of Arminianism in its various forms (J.I. Packer)

    Whew! I wonder what Packer really thinks about non-Calvinists?!

    The Gospel Coalition (= The Calvinist Coalition) endorses such stinkin’ thinkin’ by Packer by quoting him on their website: “Calvinism is the natural theology written on the heart of the new man in Christ, whereas Arminianism is an intellectual sin of infirmity.” Thus, you are not a new man in Christ if you aren’t a Calvinist. What arrogance!

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/erik-raymond/calvinism-is-the-natural-reflex-of-the-new-man-in-christ-packer/

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  76. Max,

    A quote from that TGC link: “Calvinism is what the Christian church has always held and taught when its mind has not been distracted by controversy and false traditions from attending to what Scripture actually says.”

    The problem with this quote is it is completely false. The only reason he can get away with making such an obviously false statement is because his groupies don’t fact-check him.

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  77. Ken F (aka Tweed): A quote from that TGC link: “Calvinism is what the Christian church has always held and taught when its mind has not been distracted by controversy and false traditions from attending to what Scripture actually says.”

    The problem with this quote is it is completely false. The only reason he can get away with making such an obviously false statement is because his groupies don’t fact-check him.

    If the New Calvinist “groupies” did check the facts, they would find that 90+% of Christendom have rejected the tenets of reformed theology for the last 500 years! Of course, they would say they alone are the “remnant” – that’s why their numbers are so few. The rest of us would argue that the majority of believers don’t find their version of the gospel supported by the whole of Scripture. Cherry-picking verses to support a pet theology just doesn’t work with Holy God, especially when it comes to His plan of salvation. Diminishing Jesus and the Cross of Christ for ALL people just isn’t a good idea. If I get to the Judgment Seat and find that I am wrong, well I would stand guilty of having too much love for every nation, tribe and tongue. If a new reformer is wrong, well …

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  78. Max: the majority of believers don’t find their version of the gospel supported by the whole of Scripture. Cherry-picking verses to support a pet theology just doesn’t work with Holy God …

    “The sum of thy word is truth” (Psalm 119:160)

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  79. Max: “…Calvinism is the natural theology written on the heart of the new man in Christ…”

    That should read: Calvinism is the natural theology written on the pamphlets of the new man in Calvin.

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  80. Max: I think we need to continue to distinguish the difference between classical Calvinists and their neo-brethren, the New Calvinists.

    I agree, but would suggest that the Neo movement has roots in the 1970s. I know of one church that had an ordained woman among clergy, but fought tooth and nail to prevent lay women from seating worshipers and collecting the offering. It was like two churches under one roof. Three or four if you count the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements in the congregation. The problem wasn’t the variety or desire for change, but the fighting about who was a Christian.

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  81. Max: Whew!I wonder what Packer really thinks about non-Calvinists?!

    The Gospel Coalition (= The Calvinist Coalition) endorses such stinkin’ thinkin’ by Packer by quoting him on their website:“Calvinism is the natural theology written on the heart of the new man in Christ, whereas Arminianism is an intellectual sin of infirmity.”Thus, you are not a new man in Christ if you aren’t a Calvinist.What arrogance!

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/erik-raymond/calvinism-is-the-natural-reflex-of-the-new-man-in-christ-packer/

    I think that what Packer is really referring to is the fact that true Christians automatically express Calvinism when they pray. Calvinists have beliefs that are consistent with what they pray; Arminians do not. (One could say, on the other hands true Christians express Arminian beliefs when they evangelize. Arminians have beliefs that are consistent with such words; Calvinists do not. Have Calvinists never appealed to the will, sometimes powerfully?)

    In the article Ken F. linked to, Packer calls Arminians brother evangelicals, drawing disagreement from the editor, who stated that they should be considered unregenerate until they can be determined otherwise by personal examination. Im the article you linked to: “Calvinistic thinking is the Christian being himself on the intellectual level; Arminian thinking is the Christian failing to be himself through the weakness of the flesh”.

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  82. I asked Packer yesterday what he thought of New Calvinists, eg stealth takeovers of churches and authoritarian practices. Such behaviors may have been news to him, possibly disturbing, and in any case I didn’t get an answer.

    Not a man of short answers, he had a fair amount to say about Calvinism itself. He called it a mental construct in contrast to, I forget what exactly, God’s perspective? direct words of Scripture? He accepted the label Calvinist for himself, but that designation could hinder as well as help. He compared us theologically to children on the beach with sand pails and spades beside a vast and unexplored ocean (God’s perspective).

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  83. Ken F (aka Tweed): To me he seems like a old Calvanist with the spirit of a New-Calvinist.

    If, as per an article by one of their own, New-Calvinists tend to be egotistical, often leading to harshness, arrogance, meanness, then Packer doesn’t fit. World-class achievers tend to be modest and unassuming, respectful, and helpful. It is mediocrities, narcissists who tend to conceited, critical, and contemptuous. Packer is, if anything, self-deprecating. One time, while being introduced to the class that he was to speak to, he and his good friend John R W Stott were compared with Paul (while being watchdogs of orthodoxy at a certain conference) “Thank you for those rose-coloured comments”, he began, saying that if he was in the presence of Paul, he would be taking his proper place. “Quite small.”

    The overall tone of his linked article, while uncompromising (eg “the Bible forbids us to take a single step along the Arminian road”), is nonetheless irenic. He attacks what believes to be a problem, but not those who believe in Arminianism. If anything he criticizes those Calvinists whose bad attitudes and behaviors partly explain the rise of Arminianism, ie a reaction, in part.

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  84. B Badger: He compared us theologically to children on the beach with sand pails and spades beside a vast and unexplored ocean (God’s perspective).

    The Gospel (the real one) is easy enough for a child to understand. Theology (man’s feeble attempt to define the Gospel) makes it more complex than God intended.

    “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Jesus)

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  85. B Badger: Calvinists have beliefs that are consistent with what they pray;

    Except that the informed, logical and consistent Calvinist would know how useless praying is, as all things are ordained/decreed/predetermined in eternity past and brought irresistibly to pass. The The Calvinist’s prayer will never change any of that. Prayer becomes simply a moral obligation, undertaken at the command of God, with no real power or impact.

    The Calvinist can only reasonably pray for those things which have already been promised, whereas the non-Calvinist prays to effect change: to overcome sin, intervene for the suffering of others and seek God’s mighty power to make a difference in looming events. The non-Calvinist has faith that prayer can overcome temptation, bring sinners to repentance or change the direction of a nation.

    The only logical Calvinist prayer is: ‘May your will be done. Of course, it always is, and everything that every individual thinks, says or does was decreed by you in eternity past, so I am not sure why I even said that. Except that Jesus said to. So I said it. There. Am I good now, or are there any other meaningless scripts I need to recite to bring you glory?’

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  86. Ken F (aka Tweed): Maybe it’s articles like this that make Packer a New-Calvinist: https://www.the-highway.com/articleSept16.html. It’s difficult to know which sentence is best to quote, but here is a good example:

    Here is wat I find most ironic about Calvinism: if it is true, what one believes doesn’t matter. The only thing that really matters is whether or not one is on the list God made in eternity past of who will be saved. If one is on the list, there is nothing one can do to get off of the list. If one is not on the list, there is nothing one can do to get on the list. So for all the emphasis they place on believing the right things, it does not matter what one believes because the only thing that matters is whether or not a person’s name is on that unchangeable list.

    I would guess that Calvinism is more nuanced than this. “The belief that God is sovereign in grace does not affect the necessity of evangelism. Whatever we may believe about election, the fact remains that evangelism is necessary, because no man can be saved without the gospel.” “Whatever we may believe about election, the fact remains that a man who rejects Christ thereby becomes the cause of his own condemnation. Unbelief in the Bible is a guilty thing, and unbelievers cannot excuse themselves on the grounds that they were not elect. The unbeliever really was offered life in the gospel, and could have had it if he would; he, and no one but he, is responsible for the fact that he rejected it, and must now endure the consequences of rejecting it.” – Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, J I Packer.

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  87. TS00,

    I believe that the Bible teaches that God is sovereign over the events of history, eg events predicted long ago that either have come to pass or will (determinism). It also teaches that we are entirely responsible for every thought, word, deed, attitude, and motive (free will). Since these two concepts cannot entirely be fit together, is it possible for either Calvinists or Arminiians to be logically consistent? Won’t reductio ad absurdum arguments reduce both to caricatures? Think of the Arminian prayer in Spurgeon’s “Free Will – a Slave”: “Lord, I thank you that I am not like those poor presumptive Calvinists. Lord, I was born with a glorious free will. I was born with power by which I can turn to you of myself. I have improved my grace. If everybody had done the same with their grace that I have, they might all have been saved.” It goes on, but in essence no credit is given to God, but all is taken for himself.
    Spurgeon also observed that Calvinists and Arminians “in prayer appear as one in word, and deed, and mind.” If Calvinists cannot be consistent with their beliefs in their prayers, wouldn’t Arminians be less so, eg giving God all the credit for their salvation, keeping none for themselves, and praying for the conversion of others?

    Are there no examples in Scripture of people praying for that which is foreordained? “He who is is the faithful witness to all these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon!’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” What is prayer for, anyway? It has been observed that prayer doesn’t so much change things as it changes us, and then we change things. If God already knows what we need, why ask? That we might get to know Him, it has been said. Are we to dictate to God or learn His will through prayer and then ask accordingly?

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  88. Max: The Gospel (the real one) is easy enough for a child to understand.Theology (man’s feeble attempt to define the Gospel) makes it more complex than God intended.

    “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Jesus)

    I agree that the Gospel can be presented simply. Can it be made too complex (a new idea for me)? Added speculation would muddy the waters. As for depth of knowledge to each according to his or her intellectual and spiritual need!

    Packer said that the label Calvinist could be a curse because party passion and love of the truth are mutually exclusive: one tends to wither the other. I can think of two young men that I knew, one a fervent Arminian, the other a fervent Calvinist. Apart from that, they were similar in a number of respects, not necessarily good ones. Both were egotistical and cruel to a degree; both were conceited know-it-alls. Each called the other position evil and seemed to have antipathy toward its adherents. The Calvinist once expressed surprise that I had chosen to write an assigned paper about a Calvinist preacher (Spurgeon) since I was an Arminian. He said that he would never have chosen to write about an Arminian.

    Yes, Packer can no longer do much. At the class, with discussion following, that he founded, he has not always been able to keep his speaking commitments, for physical reasons, and he now speaks sitting down. Before his last talk, he told us that he had prepared it the evening before, but that morning it had become scrambled in his head. He was able to give us a talk per se.

    He is naturally concerned about others carrying on his work and is glad that other speakers to the class are expanding the knowledge. A complementarian re husband and wife, I overheard him verbally pass on his theological mantle to a woman who had just spoken. (She had addressed the widespread influence of modern day Marcionism in and out of the church, eg de emphasizing the Old Testament in seminaries.

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  89. B Badger: The unbeliever really was offered life in the gospel, and could have had it if he would; he, and no one but he, is responsible for the fact that he rejected it, and must now endure the consequences of rejecting it (Packer).

    That quote from Packer is nothing more than word salad to try to make god blameless. If unconditional election is true, the only thing that matters is whether a person is on the list. If they are on the list, god will eventually give them the saving faith along with any needed changes in belief. If they are not on the list they won’t get saving faith. So no matter how one argues the point, it all boils down to whether or not a person was put on the list in eternity past. Nothing any of us do can change an eternal degree. The only way our beliefs could make a difference is if unconditional election is false.

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