The Gospel Coalition Presents a Worrisome View on How to Respond to a Church Leader Who Is an Abuser

 

“In the same way a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble–because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ Himself carried out.” – ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity


Special thanks to a reader who pointed me to this article.The Gospel Coalition posted 3 Ways to Respond When a Church Leader Is Found Guilty of Abuse written by Christopher Ash. Folks, we have a long way to go when it comes to this crowd and their perceptions surrounding abuse by church leader.s

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes are from the above linked article.

The unhealthy focus on specialness of leadership by the Calvinist dudebros

First and foremost, the following Bible verse has been used by churches to deny or overlook a charge of sex abuse in the church. It is rare that abuse of this kind is witnessed by 2-3 people.

Also, note how they say that false accusation are sometimes leveled at church leaders. I’ve got news for you. False accusations are leveled at lots of people beyond church leaders. However, when it comes to sex abuse, false accusations are in the minority. It was The Gospel Coalition which propped up CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries when there was accusation after accusation of sex abuse in the ministry and then coverup by the leaders. A number of members of TGC signed all sorts of suck up letters declaring the righteousness of Cj Mahaney in spite of the plethora (that means more than 2-3) of witnesses.

Also, churches are in no position to determine if the reports are false. Pastors/leaders are not trained to make this determination. They must leave reports of this nature up to the police.

In 1 Timothy 5:19, Paul writes, “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” Referring back to an Old Testament law, the expression “two or three witnesses” is a biblical idiom for careful and independent attestation of the truth of the accusations. This acknowledges that false accusations are sometimes leveled at church leaders.

Sin leveling, gossip, and being glad when a leader fails.

Sin leveling:

Did you know you are in *great danger when you express horror and outrage* at abuse? Grave, awful danger…because you are guilty of sin yourself and you better acknowledge it. Whenever I read stuff like this, it worries me.  Even the Old Testament speaks to some sins being worse that others sins. The sex abuse of a child has life-long ramifications. It is far, far worse than eating two sundaes when you are on a diet. We must acknowledge that some sin is much worse that other sins. Some sins are even crimes. Even our justice system has different punishments for differing levels of crimes. Sin leveling is a game played at lots of churches to play down a truly awful sin.

Gossip:

Also, you must not take an *unhealthy* interest in the abuse that has occurred. This reminds me of CJ Mahaney who told a person asking questions that they were *sinfully craving answers.* In some ministries, the word *gossip* is used to prevent people from asking healthy questions. That happened in a former church in which the members were admonished not to gossip about the names of kids who were abused and to leave them alone. Except…questions should have been asked as I later found out. Questions like *Did the kids get counseling?* But, according to this author, that is like looking at porn. Now that is a troubling comparison.

I say ask all sorts of question in order to ascertain if the victims have been treated well or to see if other actions must be taken. No, this isn’t just up to *leadership,* no matter what they tell you. Everyone in the church must make sure that the victim is well cared for and that the perpetrator is brought to justice.This means talking about what happened.

But it’s easy to gossip, and there is a danger of indulging a prurient interest and craving to know more. Sinful behavior of any kind sticks to us like dirt; indeed, knowing about ugly actions is a little like pornography—it lurks in our memories and drags us down in our thoughts and emotion

Rejoicing that a leader has fallen:

Rejoicing over sin is wrong. It should break out hearts. However, rejoicing that an abuser has been found out and is being punished is appropriate. It is a good day when the abuser can no longer hurt people.

But do not gloat over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune; do not rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their ruin” (Obad. 12; cf. Prov. 24:17–18). This is a danger for us, perhaps especially when a Christian leader falls.

Our total depravity means we are all capable of committing the same terrible sins.

Once again, we are looking at sin leveling. Let’s take sexual abuse. Abusive behavior is not just a sin. In many instances, it can be a crime as well as a profound psychiatric disorder. And no, not all of us are capable of committing this kind of *sin.*

There is a painful sense of loss, akin to bereavement. How are we to make sense of this apparently senseless confluence of good and evil in one person?

We must remind ourselves of the depth and extent of our own depravity. The heroes of Scripture were flawed people. The great King David committed adultery (if not rape) and was complicit in murder (2 Sam. 11). Solomon had great wisdom yet failed terribly. And we remain deeply sinful even as regenerate people (Rom. 7). Any one of us is capable of committing terrible sins. If we think we’re not, we must take heed lest we fall (1 Cor. 10:12).

Even worse, this author, in another post, Church Leaders Fall, says the following.

When I hear about a fallen minister, it frightens me to know I’m entirely capable of doing just what he’s done—or worse. I share a sinful nature.

No, not all of us are capable of doing just what an abuser has done. I am not going to suddenly become a pedophile. In fact, if the author is convinced that he could do the same or worse, he needs to seek psychiatric help immediately. There is something seriously wrong here.

A leader’s fall brings the gospel into disrepute. I disagree.

In his other post, the author says this.

Scandal rocks the church; it brings the gospel into disrepute; it can close doors for gospel work

I don’t know how he defines the Gospel but the one with which I’m familiar indicates that the reason the Gospel was necessary was due to the fact that all men and women are sinners and in need of redemption. In fact, we who know the Gospel should not be startled when sin occurs. One of my pastors said that those of us who get it should be the first to confess our sins.

Each weekend my church has us recite a confession of sins. Afterwards, we are reminded that our sins are forgiven. It is a humbling moment in my week and yet one that is essential to my view of self. Unfortunately, many churches spend most of their time telling the world just how obedient they are because they’ve been regenerated, unlike the wicked world around them.

I think the church needs to do a better job of confessing their sins and failures to the society around them as opposed to pointing their holy fingers at the sinners outside of their sanctified enclave.

The church is reviled by *mockers* when abuse occurs

So, the pastor is an abuser and the author is upset that people think that those in the church are hypocrites? Did the author consider the fact that the church appears hypocritical because it presents the Christian community as a group of people who are regenerated and somehow just a bit more obedient and less sinful than everyone else outside the church?

The author seems to be concerned that the church is surrounded by critics whose raison d’etreis to make life miserable for Christians.

We’ll be taunted as hypocrites.

…Some who are lifelong enemies of the gospel will use these sad events as a vehicle to make life miserable for Christians.

I think the author should present this as an opportunity to show our humility by confessing our failures to the watching world. Imagine what those watching might think when we admit that we are still sinners instead of discussing how sinful all of them are. You know, like the Gospel informs us?

And people will be driven away from the Gospel? Ummmm- this from a Calvinist group?

How is this possible if this group is Reformed? It is my understanding that Calvinists believe that the salvation of individuals is predetermined by God before the beginning of time. I am not a Calvinist so I may have this wrong. How can a person who is predestined unto salvation be tragically driven away from the faith due to hearing about a pastor abuser?

Others—and this is more tragic—who might have had a genuine interest in the Christian faith will be driven away from a message whose messengers now appear to them as hypocrites or worse.

Summing it up

I have to admit that I am still quite concerned about the understanding of abuse in the clergy by the clergy. There appears to be a lack of understanding at the very basic level. Let me try to sum this up.

  1. Pastors who abuse usually have profound psychiatric disorders. It is not simply “a sin.*
  2. Some acts of abuse may be crimes as well as being sins and psychiatric disorders.
  3. Getting the abuse out into the open is not gossip. It is essential to preventing a culture of coverup. We should talk about it openly and learn from it.
  4. Sin leveling is dangerous. Contrary to this author’s opinion, we are NOT all prone to abusive behavior. Yes we are all sinners. We are not all abusers.
  5. If this author believes he is prone to abusive acts, then he needs to see a psychiatrist pronto and resign from the pastorate until he knows he is safe to be around. I am dead serious about this.
  6. It is appropriate to rejoice when an abuser is caught and removed from any position in which he can hurt others. I rejoiced when I hear the pedophile from my former church was sent to prison. Justice should be celebrated otherwise why would God have instituted a justice system?
  7. The Gospel is not hurt when we fall into sin. We need the Gospel because we are still sinners. It’s stupid to pretend otherwise. The Gospel continues to shine even when we fail. Jesus doesn’t need perfect little Christians to buck up the Gospel. He knows that’s not possible. He took care of it because we couldn’t. I’m  glad that the Gospel does not depend on a perfect Dee.
  8. The church is mocked because we pretend that we are just a bit better(sometimes even loads better) than everyone else. If we were quick to confess our sins and demonstrate our humility to a watching world, perhaps we would be mocked a whole lot less. Sometimes we deserve to be mocked. Also, being mocked presents us with a great opportunity. What did our Lord do when He was mocked>? He forgave them in the midst of His pain and suffering. If only we could do the same.

Comments

The Gospel Coalition Presents a Worrisome View on How to Respond to a Church Leader Who Is an Abuser — 318 Comments

  1. What is hurt when we fall into sin is us, not Jesus, not His gospel. But some people conflate “the Gospel” with themselves and their authority and reputations, perhaps. Therein lies the problem: anything that’s bad for their reputations must be bad for the gospel—because them and their systems IS the gospel.

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  2. Rejoicing that a leader has fallen?

    If the leader is an abusive pervert.

    I rejoiced that Keith Raniere fell.

    Keith Raniere believed he should have his bottom kissed at all cost also. He believed he was special and powerful.

    Most of the creeps who have fallen have much in common with Keith Raniere. Selfish, misogynistic, perverts on power trips.

    I was also relieved when they made Michael Jackson go to trial. He won but I will always believe he deserved to die in prison for child sexual abuse.

    What these arrogant, self-important, know-nothing men can’t believe is most of us have them in the same category as Harvey Weinstein, Michael Jackson, John Casablancas, Bill Clinton, Jack Schaap, Donald Trump, Jeffery Epstein, Warren Jeffs, R Kelly, and Keith Raniere. Powerful putrid sickos on self-serving power trips.

    Caligula was important and powerful. That doesn’t mean he didn’t deserve to fall. Creeps not being in charge is a good thing. Only another creep would disagree.

    I guess Caligula and Keith Raniere deserved to have their bottoms kissed because they were so-called leaders.

    The Gospel Coalition is so childish, uninformed, and embarrassing. A club of little boys who can’t live without getting their bottoms kissed.

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  3. I agree.
    Two points:

    The Neo Cals equate “gospel” with “Jesus” but they are not the same. 0ne is a story that can be altered or interpreted. The other can’t. “ Gospel” is one of their favorite buzz words. Watch for it.

    In all the “lamenting” and explaining and dealing with abuse I still haven’t heard anyone who is willing to blame the guilty clergy. The blame belongs with each man who was or is so selfish that he should never be allowed near a pulpit again.
    Making an example of him with the harsh treatment he deserves may serve as a deterrent.

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  4. 3rd!

    There seems to be huge lack of basic understanding of abuse among church leaders. I was recently told that the abuse experts and advocates are just “hyper vigilant” and that they need not be consulted. And there’s lack of trust with experts outside the church. How can this ignorance be overcome? And with all the stories coming out, there doesn’t seem to be enough expertise to go around.

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  5. This was kind of obtuse:

    “It’s not difficult to see how wholesome pastoral care might morph into something much darker, and the younger disciple end up being used for the purposes of the older pastor rather than the older pastor sacrificially serving him. Who knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart in this process? The leader is not likely fully aware himself—such is the deceitfulness of the human heart.”

    This paragraph makes abuse sound like an accident rather than a carefully planned and executed mission. I read this paragraph and though, “Hasn’t this man ever heard of grooming?” Predators don’t just accidentally kill their prey as they go about their business; they strategize, watch, wait for a long time, and generally blend in so that they can catch their prey by surprise. They are skilled and very intentional.

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  6. May I ask a serious question, one I am still trying to answer for myself? I think Christopher Ash attempts to answer this in his article, but I agree that he does an abysmal job of it.

    How do you process when a role model or idol (pun intentional), from whom you have genuinely learned helpful things, turns out to have a major failing and shows no remorse? Should I go through my bookshelves and throw out everything by a growing list of pastors/authors? On a more personal note, we left a former church because of authoritarian leadership, but that pastor has a sermon on how the church views certain cultural clashes that is still my go-to for that particular topic. And Chandler’s “Jesus wants the rose” story helped provide healing for me, but seems at odds with what is currently coming out of his church. How do you reconcile “Jesus wants the rose” with “you want me to say more?” as to why TVC didn’t tell parents the whole truth as to the firing of Matt Tonne?

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  7. With regard to Calvinists being concerned about anything that may “turn people away from the gospel”, yes, it DOES fly directly in the face of their doctrines of election and meticulous providence. They do this ALL THE TIME and are rarely called out for it. This kind of cognitive dissonance should always be pointed out. It is a major flaw in Calvinist philosophy.

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  8. I found this article so disturbing. How many ways can you say ‘They. Just. Don’t. Get. It.’?

    One of the many issues is the continuing attempt to conflate premeditated abuse with ‘accidental’ sin. There is a huge difference. Even in the sexual area. There is a huge difference between two people in love, perhaps even engaged, finding themselves getting too physical and an abuser who plans how to groom, manipulate, isolate and abuse someone. Especially when the intended victims are children, or other vulnerable individuals.

    The two scenarios cannot be set forth as similar. Any healthy adult might find themselves in a situation in which they are tempted to commit sexual sin with another consenting adult, but no healthy adult plots how to abuse an innocent victim. They. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

    Nor is there any justified excuse for hiding or covering up abuse in the church, leader or not. If your gospel cannot hold up under the sin of false teachers, you need a better gospel. Talking about abusive situations, whether to warn others or to deal with the unavoidable trauma of the situation is not sinful gossip. They. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

    “So, the pastor is an abuser and the author is upset that people think that those in the church are hypocrites?” Well, if and when those in the church seek to hide or cover up the sins of their leaders, they are hypocrites. Genuine, honest people confess their sin, admit their wrongdoing, seek to make restitution and take steps to prevent further abuse. When it is all about protecting the reputation of the church rather than the members, the church is practicing hypocrisy. They. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

    Lastly, Dee, you are absolutely right in challenging Calvinists to live as if they believe what they teach. But almost none do. It is nearly impossible, without losing your faith, hope or your mind, to live like a Calvinist. If all is predetermined, if evil comes from the mind of God, if nothing one does or doesn’t do has any eternal significance, then life becomes pointless, meaningless and hopeless.

    So, you will find Calvinists preaching their predestination and eternal decrees for an hour on Sunday, then living the rest of the week as if what they think, say and do actually matters. You will find them warning and challenging their members to greater faith and sanctification, as if their future progress – or lack thereof – is not all in the hands of the God who predetermined and brings all things to pass exactly as he has planned.

    They will warn people to resist sin, as if God has not already irresistibly decreed their every thought, word and deed. They will speak of their love for the lost, as if they have greater love for mankind than their God who predetermined so many for eternal damnation. They will urge their members to take steps to win sinners to Christ; as if ‘elect’ sinners could be in danger of escaping their predetermined destiny.

    It is all stuff and nonsense. They do not live out what they teach. Nor should they. It is ugly, cruel and destructive. It leaves men without hope, when the very reason Jesus was born into our world was to bring hope, peace and joy to mankind.

    I’m sorry, but saying one thing and living the opposite, day in and day out, year in and year out, cannot help but create hypocritical, double-minded people. They become so used to hiding the unpalatable aspects of their theology, that hiding (lying) becomes second nature. They become so adept at convincing themselves and others that scripture does not really declare that God loves and desires to save all men, that they cannot help but begin to view those they believe rejected by God as not worth caring about.

    I’m sorry at how this sounds to those who believe they embrace this theology. I honestly don’t think most people who call themselves Calvinists truly believe what their theology demands about God. They have been persuaded by their pastors and teachers that they can believe both Calvinism’s ugly assertions and the exact opposite truths taught in scripture, and just chalk the antithetical contradictions up to ‘mystery’.

    God so loved the world he decided to send most of it to hell. Believe and be saved, only, wink, wink, you can’t unless God predestined you to do so and transforms you with his magic wand, bwahahaha! If I sound like I detest such ugly, horrid claims, it is because I do.

    Nor can you rightly claim I do not understand Calvinism, for I researched it for years before serving in a Calvinist church (for over a decade), and have continued to intensively study the history and theology of Calvinism since escaping it several years ago. I could correctly quote the Calvinist script for nearly any question you might ask – but no longer accept any of it as true.

    There are marvelous, beautiful, hope-giving interpretations for every faulty teaching Calvinism asserts as inescapably true. The good news is that the gospel truly is good news! God truly does love, and desire to save, every single human being in whom he has breathed life. There are none – NONE – eternally, hopelessly rejected by God and irresistibly condemned to destruction; so take hope, my friends, and offer the same to all you meet.

    I apologize for the sermon. That’s what Calvinism does to me.

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  9. Wild Honey,

    I’m by no means qualified to answer this, because it is a really hard question. It’s a variation of “can you separate the art from the artist.” I’ve heard a number of comedians, most notably Dave Chappelle grappling with the fact that they idolized Bill Cosby but now they don’t know what to do with that former respect.

    Personally, I think you can retain lessons/good advice from someone who has since failed publicly in a major way. But, it definitely leads to increased skepticism bordering on rejection of anything they say moving forward. It’s something I’ve really thought about because I really respect Karl Barth’s theology, but new revelations of his personal life are very troubling.

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  10. I’m so glad you wrote about this. Ash’s 1st section about “Guarding Our Hearts” was straight out of the “How to Spiritually Abuse Your Flock” handbook that TGC must pass out at conferences. Here’s my experience with it in my 9Marks SBC church last year:
    Me: “Hi, Elders. We just discovered that Pastor D has a criminal conviction of child sexual abuse. Here’s an organization that might help us respond well to this problem.” [Hands elders a paper listing contact info for GRACE, and a copy of the state police background check showing his conviction record.]
    Elder 1: “Yeah, we know about that conviction. It was 20 years ago. Do you want YOUR sins from 20 years ago written into the bulletin this Sunday? You might want to check the plank in your own eye. Read Matthew 7.”
    Elder 2: “I see you have done a lot of research into Pastor D’s criminal and employment history. Why are you digging into this man’s past? Are you spending this much time meditating on your own sin? It seems that your priorities are upside down.”

    And after Pastor D “retired” a few months later and I requested (again) that the congregation be told the truth about his history:
    Elder 1: “You seem to delight in his downfall. He retired early…isn’t that enough? And now you want to harm the reputation of this man, his family, the church, and the preschool by spreading this gossip? I don’t understand why you enjoy seeing him suffer.”

    At no point in time did I display “a twisted gladness.” But my elders assumed that’s what I was experiencing.

    About the “craving to know more” that Ash describes:
    If I didn’t have a “craving to know more”, we would still have a child molester as our pastor and Preschool Superintendent. We would still believe the lies told to us by the elders in an effort to protect themselves and their institution. That “craving” is what shone light on the dark, dark sins lurking in the leadership of our church. Thank God for the “craving to know more” so that I can indeed live out the mandate in Philippians 4 to think about “Whatever is TRUE, whatever is JUST”, etc.

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  11. Wild Honey,

    Yes, toss out the books. If what they teach and how they act are exact opposites, one was a manipulation. Abusers use model behavior to enlist trust, to distract others. It doesn’t matter if they are trying to control a single family or a congregation. JMac and John MacArthur are great examples. I trashed all of my John MacArthur books.

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  12. Wild Honey: How do you process when a role model or idol (pun intentional), from whom you have genuinely learned helpful things, turns out to have a major failing and shows no remorse? Should I go through my bookshelves and throw out everything by a growing list of pastors/authors?

    When I found that the pastor I had looked up to (and, yes, idolized as I was groomed to do) was, in fact, a serial sexual predator and a narcissist, every cassette, every DVD, books of sermon notes, all went into the dumpster. It had to, because no matter how good or how appealing or how ‘sound’ a teaching may seem, if the pastor is a predator, their is poison in the water. And no matter how pure we may think the water is, even a couple of drops of poison taint the whole glass.

    When I threw all of that in the dumpster, it was hard, but once done, there was a sense of freedom. Also, 12+ years out, I can see much more clearly how manipulative his sermons were. I couldn’t see that clearly then, but I knew I needed to break it all off.

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  13. It’s not “misfortune” when a criminal is brought to justice, so Proverbs 24:17-18 has no bearing here.

    These guys are so transparent. It’s amazing how they get away with this stuff. They must feel contempt for the people who are so easily manipulated.

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  14. And people will be driven away from the Gospel? Ummmm- this from a Calvinist group?

    How is this possible if this group is Reformed? It is my understanding that Calvinists believe that the salvation of individuals is predetermined by God before the beginning of time. I am not a Calvinist so I may have this wrong. How can a person who is predestined unto salvation be tragically driven away from the faith due to hearing about a pastor abuser?

    They speak out both sides of their mouths, doctrinally. It seems to me that they will use whatever position will keep them in control and other subjected to them.

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  15. Anthony Dare: In all the “lamenting” and explaining and dealing with abuse I still haven’t heard anyone who is willing to blame the guilty clergy. The blame belongs with each man who was or is so selfish that he should never be allowed near a pulpit again.
    Making an example of him with the harsh treatment he deserves may serve as a deterrent.

    Yes, like they do to the people they consider under them.

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  16. chris s: Fletcher – like John Smyth – was involved camps run at Iwerne by the Titus Trust (the so called ‘Bash’ camps).

    Fletcher’s brother was in charge of the camps?
    The late Fred Catherwood was also an Iwerne/TitusTrust insider (Eden Baptist Church layman, big in govt/industry, an early booster of Mark Dever)

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  17. Whistleblower4Jesus: At no point in time did I display “a twisted gladness.” But my elders assumed that’s what I was experiencing.

    People impute what they experience to others. They make the assumption that others must be feeling what they are or would be feeling. A liar assumes all people are lying. So they are telling you more about themselves when they say these things than anything about you. As the Bible says,

    “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.”

    Don’t be surprised; churches are filled with and led by the unbelieving. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. Anyone can learn the lingo and make lengthy prayers. But how do they live? How do they relate to others? How do they handle truth? How much do they really trust God and how much do they think everything is up to their own fallen skills?

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  18. chris s: The occasion of this article is the following story, originating from the conservative evangelical section of the Church of England (with which Ash is affiliated):

    https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/5-july-1/news/uk/fletcher-faces-allegations-of-naked-beatings

    Incidentally, Fletcher – like John Smyth – was involved camps run at Iwerne by the Titus Trust (the so called ‘Bash’ camps).

    Horrifying, absolutely horrifying.

    And he is pulling out all the stops to get people to keep it quiet. What does that say about this man?

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  19. Wild Honey,

    “How do you process when a role model or idol (pun intentional), from whom you have genuinely learned helpful things, turns out to have a major failing and shows no remorse? Should I go through my bookshelves and throw out everything by a growing list of pastors/authors?

    …How do you reconcile “Jesus wants the rose” with “you want me to say more?” as to why TVC didn’t tell parents the whole truth as to the firing of Matt Tonne?”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    i have a few thoughts.

    1. that they were capable of majorly failing, and astonishingly without remorse, means they were never worthy of being a role model to begin with.

    such a leader is pathetic. and a christian leader? ha — double pathetic. who needs him?

    the fact of the matter is there are so many leaders and others who do not wear the christian label whose personal standards and integrity would not permit them to do the things Matt Chandler does. and so many other pathetic christian leaders i can think of.

    who needs ’em?

    christian culture’s standards are abysmally low. if i want to find people to inspire me toward having personal high standards for myself, i simply have to look outside of christian culture.

    well, actually, a correction: all i have to do is open my eyes. outstanding human beings are everywhere. sans church. and quite frankly, sans christianity.

    (which is not a reflection on Jesus Christ but on the people who run around doing things representing the brand they built off his persona)

    2. are the books all that great? wouldn’t a clean and tidy shelf with a few photographs of loved ones be nicer?

    3. “Jesus wants the rose” is indeed a very meaningful story. it’s much too good to be associated with the likes of narcissistic-zero-Matt Chandler (who, it seems to me, loved hearing the sound of his own voice as he told it), and unfortunately will be forever spoiled as long as it is.

    You could write it out in your own words, in your own voice, your own handwriting, and keep it that way.

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  20. Whistleblower4Jesus,

    “About the “craving to know more” that Ash describes:
    …That “craving” is what shone light on the dark, dark sins lurking in the leadership of our church.”
    ++++++++++++++

    yeah, let’s go live under a rock in the dark.

    this ‘craving to know more’ is based on the outrageous notion that “above reproach” actually means something. and that it actually matters.

    and they say they have a high view of scripture…

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  21. SiteSeer,

    “It’s not “misfortune” when a criminal is brought to justice, …”
    +++++++++++

    i daresay creation deeply sighs with relief and hums a hymn of thanksgiving when that happens.

    plants, bugs, trees, birds,… and people who still own their thoughts, enough to be moved by the obvious.

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  22. The part about this article that troubles me the most is their item #2. We Must Face Our Disillusionment. With Trust In Christ Alone. First of all, it is 17 paragraphs where part 1 is two paragraphs, and part 3 is 6.

    But the subject matter is even more troubling. It sounds like a lot of excuses for the behavior. Like “but, mom, I was really hungry, and you shouldn’t have left those cookies on the table, and I only ate half of them!”

    Quotes: But if we’re not careful, even this kind of relationship can go wrong. The older believer begins to think of this younger believer as “his”—not only his pastoral responsibility, but even his prerogative.

    It’s not difficult to see how wholesome pastoral care might morph into something much darker, and the younger disciple end up being used for the purposes of the older pastor.

    Who knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart in this process? The leader is not likely fully aware himself—such is the deceitfulness of the human heart.

    we must face the frightening reality that the blessings we thought we’d experienced through this leader might not be true blessings at all. Might they not be in some way invalidated by these revelations, tainted beyond recovery by the sin with which we now know they were associated? [Note: This feels like victim-shaming to me]

    But what if we discover that one from whom we learned the things of Christ didn’t have the integrity and godliness we thought he had?
    ….And yet, we must come back to the fundamental truth that all our blessings come through Christ alone, [Note: again, don’t sweat the little things, you got saved didn’t you?]

    Suppose someone came to faith in Christ through the ministry of this now-fallen leader……. How are these now to view their conversion?

    The answer, I think, is this: They may be grateful to God for his overwhelming kindness to them, that he appointed a channel through whom they heard the gospel, through whom they grew in grace, through whom they entered ministry. (End Quotes)

    WOW. Nothing about how the abuse might damage someone, or about the church”s responsibility to be sure the victims are nurtured and cared for. Just thank God you got saved and don’t think about the screwed up view of God, or of sex, or of any authority that so often comes from this kind of evil.

    Really, really, terrifyingly sick.

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  23. Anthony Dare: The Neo Cals equate “gospel” with “Jesus” but they are not the same

    This isn’t the case. They equate “Gospel” with “Calvinism”. The focus is on God saving, and Jesus is often left out of their teaching entirely except for mentions of penal substitutionary atonement.

    Now, these guys are smart. They know that “gospel” is supposed to mean “Jesus” and they will sometimes define it as such in a public setting. But most of the time, they will never define “Gospel” when they mention it. For example, when they are mentioning that everything is a “Gospel issue”. You can look at their sermons and find out that they almost never talk about Jesus’ life and ministry. They do a heavy emphasis on the Old Testament, with mentions from Romans, Ephesians 5, and the pastor passages in the NT. And a whole lot of talking about each other.

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  24. The problem is that Christianity has become big business. People cover up for abusers because they are worried it will affect their brand. My motto, for the last few years, is that I won’t buy any book by a Christian author unless they are dead. There are a couple of exceptions, as I have bought a few children’s books. It’s a good policy for a couple of reasons. 1) They can’t profit off the Word 2) There is less chance of something coming out that says they are a creep. I also won’t go to a large church. Once something gets over a 1,000 people, it becomes a beast. The pastor is probably being paid too much and the potential for something like this being covered up becomes greater.

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  25. Ricco: It’s something I’ve really thought about because I really respect Karl Barth’s theology, but new revelations of his personal life are very troubling.

    Barth (1886-1968) appears to have had a long-term adulterous affair with his assistant, even moving her into his family home. No doubt this caused infinite pain to his wife and children. Barth’s behavior was not publicly exposed during his lifetime. We cannot know how he would have reacted, and whether he would have been cast into disgraced obscurity, with book deals and academic appointments canceled.

    But we can see how malign pastors and their posses behave today. The predators do not slink off into repentant obscurity. Instead of being fired, they are exalted. And if they are rooted out, they come back like the Giant Hogweed.

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  26. BJ,

    Seems like a wise motto to me !

    I have purchased a few Christian biographies of late but that’s about all. I don’t listen much to Christian radio either.( a long ago staple ) Never watched Christian TV except when I’ve been shut in from illness.

    I have to admit I am 68 years old and it’s only been the past 14/15 years or so, before I realized reading, hearing, viewing a steady diet of these pastors was not spiritually healthy. I’d slowly been sucked in by their preeminence in Christian circles. I’d misplaced the Berean spirit through my own inertia to think for myself.

    I am thankful for the various blogs ( especially this one ) that are willing and able to pull back the curtain and expose what’s really occurring in these groups, churches, organizations.

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  27. “Others—and this is more tragic—who might have had a genuine interest in the Christian faith will be driven away from a message whose messengers now appear to them as hypocrites or worse.” —Christopher Ash

    If they are so worried about the souls of non-Christians, they should behave irreproachably.

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  28. Friend,

    That’s true. There is a distinction between adultery and abuse. Barth wasn’t preying on underage victims or vulnerable who sought counseling. It’s still disgusting, and, coming from a family where my father cheated on my mom, I know how destructive that can be. For a man who was so courageous standing up to the Nazis to do something like this. . . It’s hard to square that circle. Much like it’s hard to come to terms with the greatness of MLK and the recent reporting from the FBI files that were released. Maybe it is easier to be a great man/woman than a good one.

    I’ve gotten rid of most of the Christian books that I used to own. I think it was because I was disgusted by these people AND I no longer agree with anything they say. Why would I read a book by someone with no other qualification than being a “professional Christian.” Now, I’ll read something from a qualified academic or someone with a unique experience or point of view, but I won’t feed the Christian Industrial Complex’s network of grifters, fake intellectuals, and spiritual abusers.

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  29. This TGC article is so disheartening. Sometimes I wonder if the current leadership of American Christendom is acquainted with the life and teaching of Jesus.
    I have been stunned by how many people witnessed my own abuse and neither said or did anything to intervene, but rather allowed “leadership” to explain it away. Perhaps this article is an example of the community grooming which took place.

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  30. knowing about ugly actions is a little like pornography—it lurks in our memories and drags us down in our thoughts and emotion

    I’m sorry but what?

    Any one of us is capable of committing terrible sins.

    Are we though??? Where is this written. And points for ‘king david was awesome and super Christian (LOL) but still was a rapist murderer so it’s all good’.

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  31. Went to the article…how fascinating that they’ve said this:

    “We rightly distance ourselves from abusive behaviors and see how terribly wrong they are. And yet the moment we do this, we are in great danger and must guard ourselves: ”

    GREAT DANGER! Really? Recoiling from abuse puts us in great danger? No.

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  32. Wild Honey: How do you reconcile “Jesus wants the rose” with “you want me to say more?” as to why TVC didn’t tell parents the whole truth as to the firing of Matt Tonne?

    Anne Frank said something that has stuck with me. *There’s a little good in everybody.* She wrote this while in hiding from the Nazis.

    We are all created in the image of God. perhaps within that image even the smallest amount of good or insight or experience can teach us.No one is perfectly evil gexceptfor Satan although some people come darn close like Hitler, Pol Pot, Nero, etc.I bet if we looked into their lives, we might find an occasional act of kindness, etc.

    Take Ted Bundy. Oddly enough, he had a girlfriend who stayed with him before learning he was a serial killer. Was she just his cover or did he truly care for her? I really don’t know.

    Some of what Tullian Tchividjian wrote about grace (before going off the deep) wan’t bad. he then made the mistake Paul warned about-we can sin all we want so grace will abound. He became a proponent of cheap grace.

    My husband heard CJ Mahaney when he first started speaking at Jesus festivals. he remarked that Mahaney had some good things to say at that time. Sadly, Mahaney went down the shepherding road. But, did he say something good back then? Probably.(or maybe not since we cannot see into the hearts of others like God.)

    So, if that recording on culture is of help, use it. At least the guy go that right.

    Am I saying we should become proponents of the works of CJ Mahaney? Absolutely not. TGC made that mistake as did many seminary leaders. However it does appear that his adult kids love him and enjoy spending time with him or so they say. Maybe he got that right and directed his awful sin sniffing, stupid theology towards others. Would I read him? No, unless I was doing some prep for a post.

    Also, in regards to Mahaney, I discovered his problem with a focus on the sin of those in his church by reading The Cross Centered Life. I deeply disagree with the premise of the book but I learned something that helped me n writing about him and Sovereign Grace.

    Hope this helps.

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  33. Lea: “We rightly distance ourselves from abusive behaviors and see how terribly wrong they are. And yet the moment we do this, we are in great danger and must guard ourselves: ”

    GREAT DANGER! Really? Recoiling from abuse puts us in great danger? No.

    “Just keep enduring the abuse” is the message I’m getting.

    The other message I’m getting is that these guys must be really abusive people.

    You know, these guys never seem to think they deserve getting fired, or not make a lot of money being pastors. They only use worm theology when it suits them to keep down peons. They certainly think they deserve a lot of good things for not doing good things.

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  34. Lea: GREAT DANGER! Really? Recoiling from abuse puts us in great danger? No.

    This is a ploy to get people to take their eyes of the real problem-the abuser. I just learned that Ash is writing this with a view to a scandal in the UK. A reader in the UK is helping me piece together the story for a post. I shall tie it into this one.

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  35. TS00: One of the many issues is the continuing attempt to conflate premeditated abuse with ‘accidental’ sin. There is a huge difference. Even in the sexual area. There is a huge difference between two people in love, perhaps even engaged, finding themselves getting too physical and an abuser who plans how to groom, manipulate, isolate and abuse someone. Especially when the intended victims are children, or other vulnerable individuals.

    This isa point I wished I had covered.

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  36. Having finished the article, it strikes me that the main problem with all of these analysis is that they feel like these predatory actions *just happen by accident*.

    Once you realize it’s by design it’s much easier to see it clearly. Predators go for positions of authority. They groom victims and those around them. They go for the weak, the young, those who are alone or separate. Just think of lions on the sahara, not ‘bob is such a good guy he just ‘feel into sin/it could happen to any of us’. NO. Bob is a predator, he did all of this on purpose and you need to understand that to deal with it.

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  37. Whistleblower4Jesus,

    You church’s elder and leaders are downright abusive. They are trying to cover up what happened by playing games. They are ignorant when they compare the deeply twisted mind of a pedophile to a simple sin everyone else committed 20 years ago. It is well known that pedophile is not curable at this time. With counseling the person should be able to avoid reoffending but that person still struggles with these felling every second of every day.

    If that person was truly repentant, he should be willing to tell the church about his crime. if he doesn’t, then I would suspect that he wants to hide it in order to continue in this behavior.

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  38. Lowlandseer: This is a more measured, unbiased, view of Christopher Ash’s article.http://churchsociety.org/blog/entry/jonathan_fletcher/

    Why is it more *unbiased?* Is it because they liked Ash’s uninformed piece? If that post is recommending Ash’s views, then I would say the church has some serious problems when it come to abuse.
    I will be writing about the Fletcher incident. I am getting loads of info from the folks in the UK.

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  39. jjuulliiee,

    I am learning more and more about the background of this article. Apparently it is written in response to a messy situation in the UK. I am seeing a trend here. I followed the Iain Campbell mess and there appeared to be an effort to clean up the mess of a pastor and famous theologian who couldn’t keep his hands of a bunch of women.he was a true abuser. In the incident, I posted a bunch of info I got from a source which caused a bit of an uproar in the UK. Dee irritates people all over the place.

    Given the response in this situation, I believe another story is brewing and I need to look into it. isn’t it interesting that I picked this post from AThe Gospel Coalition and had no idea about the background. I stand by my assessment that Ash’s very article spells *danger* (to use his word) to potential victims of abuse.

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  40. Whistleblower4Jesus,

    Omg…your experience almost mirrors mine! They tried to argue that the pastor had changed and that outside experts weren’t needed because they didn’t know us and were just hyper vigilant. They were really afraid of what the experts would recommend (investigation, professional help, training, and resignations) which might upset the organization.

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  41. dee,

    Yes, they absolutely were abusive! Don’t worry…we left.
    And Pastor D did eventually make a “confession” to the church about his crime and his prison sentence. But, true to the abusive church script, he described it as a “one-time inappropriate touch above the waist.” Due to my “craving to know more”, I got the police report and the court records, and, uh, no. His “confession” greatly minimized the situation. Oh, and the other leaders got up after his confession, insinuated that he plead guilty only to spare his family the trauma of a trial, and isn’t this such an amazing model of confession and repentance… oh, and now let’s all lay hands on him and pray for him in this difficult season, and if you congregants have any questions, make sure you come directly to the elders and don’t talk about it amongst yourselves, but really there shouldn’t be any questions because you now know everything you need to know and next week we can get back to worshipping Jesus. I went running out the back door and kept saying through tears, “I’m in a cult. I’m in a cult. I’m in a cult.” Meanwhile my beloved church was laying hands on an unrepentant child molester. One of these days I will have the guts to let you share my story if you want to.

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  42. jjuulliiee: The answer, I think, is this: They may be grateful to God for his overwhelming kindness to them, that he appointed a channel through whom they heard the gospel, through whom they grew in grace, through whom they entered ministry. (End Quotes)

    WOW. Nothing about how the abuse might damage someone, or about the church”s responsibility to be sure the victims are nurtured and cared for. Just thank God you got saved and don’t think about the screwed up view of God, or of sex, or of any authority that so often comes from this kind of evil.

    Really, really, terrifyingly sick.

    Sounds to me like a desperate attempt to head off the logical assumption that these guys are a bunch of phonies, and everything they ever taught should be subject to re-examination. It is a really sick twisting of the truth that God can bring good out of anything into a ‘Hey, just because we’re child abusers doesn’t mean we can’t teach people about the love of God. So we’re a little ‘too loving’; nobody’s perfect.’

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  43. Dee, I agree with much of your critique here, but I think you are wrong on this front:

    “And no, not all of us are capable of committing this kind of *sin.*”

    I’ve heard you say this before, and I’m surprised that you would say this, as much abuse that you have seen.

    I think your statement here fails the test of both scripture and the scripture and experience.

    Scripture, in that Paul rebukes Christians for some pretty selfish sins that hurt others, and King David’s stealing of another man’s wife is just the beginning of examples of God-followers who went down a very bad path. The Bible deceives our hearts as deceitful, needful of constant self-watch, lest we be led astray.

    Experience shows us in history that very large groups of people can be convinced to commit heinous crimes. Was a majority of the German nation simply that much worse in their hearts than we are? Or would we have also been tempted to blame our troubles on an immigrant group of Jews? The difference between a loyal German soldier and Bonhoeffer was not that Bonhoeffer was “incapable” of mistreating his fellow man, but that he chose not to.

    Even the “best of us” (not a phrase I even think should be used), if we give in to temptation, can be led down a path leading to a very bad end, using our imagined end to justify sinful means that can grow in severity.

    I appreciate your looking out for those abused, but I believe this is a blind spot of yours that can lead to an artificial dividing of sinners, and, ironically, may actually perpetuate and allow more abuse, if we focus on identifying those “special” abusive people, rather than helping all people recognize and avoid the paths to callousness toward others.

    I agree that some sins are worse than others. Some sins hurt others worse than others. But I also believe that those who commit those “worst” of sins are those who began by indulging in smaller thugs without remorse or resistance.

    I’d love to hear your further thoughts on this.

    Thanks,
    -Andy

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  44. Whistleblower4Jesus,

    “Oh, and the other leaders got up after his confession, insinuated that he plead guilty only to spare his family the trauma of a trial, and isn’t this such an amazing model of confession and repentance…

    oh, and now let’s all lay hands on him and pray for him in this difficult season, and if you congregants have any questions, make sure you come directly to the elders and don’t talk about it amongst yourselves”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    these leaders’ top concern, their top priority, is their careers and lifestyle.

    imagine that… lying, deceiving, manipulating in the name of God for money, pleasures,comforts, and convenience. and maintaining a straight face of piety.

    but this is old news, isn’t it.

    gawwwwwwwwwwwwwwd, who needs ’em.

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  45. About throwing away books…
    I spent more than a decade as a librarian at a small church. The budget for books was small. This caused me to be choosy and to read books on my own before I purchased them. OH, THE GUILT!!
    I walked away from organized religion 10 years ago, but I still feel an odd responsibility for having read and purchased books by so many fallen leaders.
    In my personal library, I throw away the books that no longer ring true. I do not donate them. And, when I find certain books at my locally run “christian” thrift store, I buy them just to throw them away (especially anything by the Pearls).
    I have learned more from reading the posts and comments at TTW than I have in the 50 years I attended ‘church’. Not by blindly following whatever anyone says, but by the hunger I find here to search out the truth.

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  46. Andy: Experience shows us in history that very large groups of people can be convinced to commit heinous crimes.

    And even on pain of death, there are people who will never be persuaded. And there are a huge amount of in between folks, who simply refuse to see the evils, while not committing them themselves. I fear your examples are not showing what you claim.

    All you’ve shown is that we need to be wary of anyone trying to convince us to ignore evil, or to call evil good.

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  47. Andy,

    “an artificial dividing of sinners, and, ironically, may actually perpetuate and allow more abuse, if we focus on identifying those “special” abusive people, rather than helping all people recognize and avoid the paths to callousness toward others.”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    1. what’s artificial about observing when christian leaders opt for low standards of integrity and ethics (in the name of God, no less), versus so many human beings (atheists and agnostics, as it turns out) who opt for what is right (for the sheer reason that it is right), at their own expense?

    the whole point is is that there is choice. making the lazy, self-serving choice versus taking the high road regardless of the cost.

    those who choose what is unethical while hiding behind Jesus in the name of God, deliberately harming others in order to protect what’s theirs, are indeed a unique category of human being. whether it’s nature or nurture is beside the point.
    .
    .
    2. “may actually perpetuate and allow more abuse, if we focus on identifying those “special” abusive people, rather than helping all people recognize and avoid the paths to callousness toward others.”

    seems to me the first step to recognizing the paths of callousness is to call out their callous and corrupt leaders.

    if you’re a consistent reader, perhaps you’ve missed how dee not only calls out corrupt leaders, she takes the time to justify what she writes. this includes parsing out what is wrong, why it is wrong, and how it harms others, with corroborating data to back up what she is saying.

    TWW does a fine job in bringing back the value of people, the individual human being, as opposed to callous adherence to principle no matter how cruel, and informing its readership along those lines.

    if this isn’t helping people in her sphere of influence to recognize and avoid the paths to callousness toward others i don’t know what is.
    .
    .
    3. as to those “special” abusive people, they would be christian leaders. Does above reproach mean something or does it not?

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  48. Hope the aside is okay, but wanted to let you all know that Mark Aderholt just pled guilty to abusing Anne Marie Miller. Sentencing is probably not today, so I am sure we’ll hear more later.

    It can’t turn back time, but I hope it gives Anne Marie a little closure.

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  49. Ricco,

    My thoughts exactly on buying books from Christian authors. I always picked them up in thrift stores. I used them like commentaries.

    Now, if I can find them, I buy stuff on church history or religion’s impact on history.

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  50. elastigirl: the whole point is is that there is choice.

    Indeed.

    I think the catholic concepts of venial and mortal sins is helpful here. From a quick google

    “In Roman Catholic moral theology, a mortal sin requires that all of the following conditions are met:
    •Its subject matter must be grave.
    •It must be committed with full knowledge (and awareness) of the sinful action and the gravity of the offense.
    •It must be committed with deliberate and complete consent.”

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  51. Andy:
    Dee, I agree with much of your critique here, but I think you are wrong on this front:

    “And no, not all of us are capable of committing this kind of *sin.*”

    I’ve heard you say this before, and I’m surprised that you would say this, as much abuse that you have seen.

    I think your statement here fails the test of both scripture and the scripture and experience.

    Scripture, in that Paul rebukes Christians for some pretty selfish sins that hurt others, and King David’s stealing of another man’s wife is just the beginning of examples of God-followers who went down a very bad path.The Bible deceives our hearts as deceitful, needful of constant self-watch, lest we be led astray.

    Experience shows us in history that very large groups of people can be convinced to commit heinous crimes.Was a majority of the German nation simply that much worse in their hearts than we are?Or would we have also been tempted to blame our troubles on an immigrant group of Jews?The difference between a loyal German soldier and Bonhoeffer was not that Bonhoeffer was “incapable” of mistreating his fellow man, but that he chose not to.

    Even the “best of us” (not a phrase I even think should be used), if we give in to temptation, can be led down a path leading to a very bad end, using our imagined end to justify sinful means that can grow in severity.

    I appreciate your looking out for those abused, but I believe this is a blind spot of yours that can lead to an artificial dividing of sinners, and, ironically, may actually perpetuate and allow more abuse, if we focus on identifying those “special” abusive people, rather than helping all people recognize and avoid the paths to callousness toward others.

    I agree that some sins are worse than others.Some sins hurt others worse than others.But I also believe that those who commit those “worst” of sins are those who began by indulging in smaller thugs without remorse or resistance.

    I’d love to hear your further thoughts on this.

    Thanks,
    -Andy

    Andy – All fall short of the righteousness of the Lord. There is no one without sin. But we are all unique creatures, all with unique strengths and weaknesses. If you think everyone is capable of anything as they are presently configured you’re just wrong, Andy, and the Bible does NOT back you up. You’ve been sold a lying bill of goods, and you need a reality check. I’ll be that.

    History may have shown that people can do crazy and awful things under certain circumstances, but history has never shown that everyone will do them. There was a strong resistance against Hitler, people died rather than give in. Many of them did so because of their love of Jesus. Most Germans had no idea of what was happening other than dark rumors, which they didn’t want to believe because they were too horrible to imagine. In other words, it was a small percentage of people committing the atrocities, and some ethically challenging acquiescing, and a great majority in ignorance.

    If the Milgram Experiments in the 1960s showed that 2 out of 3 people were, under certain circumstances, capable of potentially killing another if an authority figure insisted, the flip side of that is that 1 out of 3 refused no matter what sort of manipulations and cajoling came from the authority.

    I research a field related to this stuff, corporate fraud, and some things, some people are incapable of doing, their brains just don’t go there. For example, my brain and the vast majority of people’s brains do NOT go there when it comes to sexual abuse of a child. It’s insulting and “fails the test of both scripture and the scripture and experience.”

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying anyone is above sin. That’s the whole point of Jesus’ death. I am not saying that if I’d had a different nurture and set of circumstances in my upbringing, that things might not have turned out very differently—who can say?

    But if some church elder or you or anyone wants to tell me “Now you can’t judge Brother Jimmy for molesting half the kids in the nursery, because Bro LP, you’re capable of the same thing.” I’m going to tell them “bull, total bull.”

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  52. BJ:
    I also won’t go to a large church.Once something gets over a 1,000 people, it becomes a beast.The pastor is probably being paid too much and the potential for something like this being covered up becomes greater.

    For me it’s 200. I’m asking a lot I know. People roll their eyes and tell me all the good things happening at megachurches, but I stand by my opinion. Hence, one of the many reasons my husband and I are kinda/sorts Dones.

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  53. Many thanks for this, Dee. Ash’s “biblical” response is far from unique. This is exactly why seminaries need to train the next generation of pastors on the dynamics of abuse, otherwise, they’ll apply Scripture to these situations poorly.

    I found it interesting that Ash said, “The great King David committed adultery (if not rape)…” Although he uses the word “if,” Ash tends to imply that seeing Bathsheba as a victim of sexual assault is an interpretive stretch.

    Often, such an attitude will distort anything a pastor, theologian, or Bible scholar says about sexual assault, rape, sexual abuse, clergy abuse, etc. There’s a great chapter on this in Vindicating the Vixens, ed. Sandra Glahn.

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  54. Lea: I think the catholic concepts of venial and mortal sins is helpful here.

    Unfortunately, you have an uphill fight against “SIN IS SIN! AND GOD HATES ALL SIN!”

    And your source is automatically suspect – “NO POPERY!”

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  55. Law Prof: But if some church elder or you or anyone wants to tell me “Now you can’t judge Brother Jimmy for molesting half the kids in the nursery, because Bro LP, you’re capable of the same thing.” I’m going to tell them “bull, total bull.”

    Even if I were doing something that evil, it doesn’t mean that we should let it go. Though I totally agree. I also agree with Lea that the Catholic view might be a better way to look at it.

    So what if we’re all capable of evil sin? That doesn’t mean there won’t be earthly consequences for committing those sins. If TGC really believed in this theology, then they would also believe they get what they deserve.

    Isn’t it interesting that the TGC keeps sin leveling when they also keep having some of their biggest name commit horrible crimes and found to be abusing people? Awfully convenient theology, isn’t it? Not to mention that they go on and on about what horrible things everybody deserves, but the ones who get caught throw huge tantrums about losing all the toys they’ve amassed.

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  56. jjuulliiee: WOW. Nothing about how the abuse might damage someone, or about the church”s responsibility to be sure the victims are nurtured and cared for. Just thank God you got saved…

    The end result of a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation.

    And didn’t Christians justify the African Slave Trade in that the enslaved blacks would be preached to and their Souls (not them, just their Souls) Saved? (A justification that Jerk with his Kirk in Moscow Idaho repeats to this day.)

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  57. Sin-levelling is just a fancy way to say “BUT EVERYBODY’S DOING IT!”

    (I once had a sexual predator try to get into my pants with a variant of that line. As in “Everybody’s Bi, you’re just in denial….” I didn’t fall for it.)

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  58. Brian: Is he being investigated for any other rape/molestation crimes?

    There’s a couple investigations going on, though I wouldn’t trust IMB’s “independent” investigation. I guess we’ll hear more if it comes out.

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  59. Lea,

    And predators are drawn to places where that are good “hunting grounds”-lots of friendly people, children/youth who naturally trust adults and don’t think it unusual to be alone with them, activities, like counseling, where they may be alone with a “client.” All of these factors make churches attractive for abusers. That’s something so many of the dude-bros just don’t get.
    My church has added several new staff in the last three years as our older staff have retired. One thing I have been pleased about has been tightening up on volunteer requirements, windows in all the classrooms (big ones), proper check-in/out procedures, visitor sign-ins at the office on regular work days, partner policies in the children/youth ministries, etc. I miss the old days when I could just take a group of kids from the neighborhood to VBS in my own car, and then take them out to lunch at McDonald’s, but I understand. It’s safer for everyone. And, we still have fun with the kids, and actually I find I develop deeper bonds as we are all working together for the greater good.

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  60. Lea,

    They don’t read Proverbs? The story of David and Bathsheba? Peter denying Jesus? Herod and the beheading of John the Baptist? The adventures of Samson flirting with sin? They don’t know their Bibles as well as they think the do.

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  61. Lowlandseer,

    I have to say that the only mention the linked article makes of Mr Ash’s article is this one:

    Christopher Ash’s article, ‘How to Respond When Church Leaders Fail’ gives very helpful advice for those of us not directly affected.

    But to be fair, the same paragraph includes links to a number of other articles; for instance:

    Duncan Forbes has some valuable thoughts about what not to say in response to an abuse story.

    I had a look at Mr Forbes’ article. His points are rather different. I think a representative (if rather hurried) summary of them is:

     Pray for the survivors and for justice, before praying for the wolf (Forbes’ own word);
     Say “I was duped” before saying “But I benefited from [the wolf’s] ministry!”
     Protect the vulnerable, not the brand
     Take responsibility for any enabling that [generic] your organisation has, or may have, done
     Recognise that victims may’ve tried to come forward but been silenced BOTH by the wolf AND by his support network

    Interestingly, Forbes refers to “us survivors”. He doesn’t go into details in this article, nor could I find any on his blog, but the clear implication is that he too has survived abuse.

    There were three other links, to more different articles. So, although I wouldn’t say the article you referenced presents any real view on Mr Ash, it is reasonably broad-minded.

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  62. Law Prof: Most Germans had no idea of what was happening other than dark rumors, which they didn’t want to believe because they were too horrible to imagine.

    What follows might take your remark out of context, so please forgive me. The Third Reich built on centuries of anti-Semitism. Even if some Germans remained innocent of the existence of concentration camps, they were certainly aware of the Hitler Youth, Nuremberg rallies, Kristallnacht, mandatory boycotts of Jewish-owned businesses, the invasion of Poland, etc., and service in Hitler’s military. And if all of that escaped their notice, I had a couple of close kin dropping objects on them from rather noisy airplanes. (Thus endeth the history lesson.)

    Any nation can work its way into conflicts in which its citizens commit atrocities. As you assert, it does not follow that just any random good-hearted Sunday school teacher is going to transform—poof!—into a child molester.

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  63. Linn: They don’t read Proverbs? The story of David and Bathsheba?

    I mean, they seem to think David is a great story to explain why people who do terrible things are really just good folks…to the point where when one of these guys mentions David I immediately see all the red flags.

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  64. ION: Sport

    In the Laddies’ Cricket World Cup, India booked their semifinal place today with a 28-run win over Bangladesh at Edgbaston. New Zealand will confirm theirs tomorrow with a win over England at Chester-le-Street.

    In the Lassies’ Fitba’ World Cup, England and the USA kick off their semi-final in 17 minutes’ time. The USA are favourites, especially with England goalie Karen Bardsley injured.

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  65. Nick Bulbeck:
    Law Prof,

    I think that’s a little unfair. Lowlandseer provides a dissenting voice, and would be of great value here (IMHO) even if for no other reason.

    No one ever accused me of being fair before. I’m a lawyer, for goodness sake! He just irritates the blazes out of me. I don’t mind dissenting voices. Truly. But I like to throw arrows, too. Again, I’m a lawyer…

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  66. Done One,

    you could shred them (the plain paper, not the covers) and feed them to compost worms.

    Lea: I mean, they seem to think David is a great story to explain why people who do terrible things are really just good folks…to the point where when one of these guys mentions David I immediately see all the red flags.

    An interesting point about using David as an example of “restoration to ministry after a grievous fall” is that David continued to passively stumble, arguably in part because his moral authority over his own children was greatly diminished. And trouble did not depart from his family for the rest of his days. Even after his death, one of his sons (Solomon) put another (Adonijah) to death.

    Do we really want to appeal to this biblical story as precedent for restoring fallen leaders?

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  67. Law Prof: Andy – All fall short of the righteousness of the Lord. There is no one without sin. But we are all unique creatures, all with unique strengths and weaknesses. If you think everyone is capable of anything as they are presently configured you’re just wrong, Andy, and the Bible does NOT back you up.You’ve been sold a lying bill of goods, and you need a reality check.I’ll be that.

    History may have shown that people can do crazy and awful things under certain circumstances, but history has never shown that everyone will do them.There was a strong resistance against Hitler, people died rather than give in.Many of them did so because of their love of Jesus.Most Germans had no idea of what was happening other than dark rumors, which they didn’t want to believe because they were too horrible to imagine. In other words, it was a small percentage of people committing the atrocities, and some ethically challenging acquiescing, and a great majority in ignorance.

    If the Milgram Experiments in the 1960s showed that 2 out of 3 people were, under certain circumstances, capable of potentially killing another if an authority figure insisted, the flip side of that is that 1 out of 3 refused no matter what sort of manipulations and cajoling came from the authority.

    I research a field related to this stuff, corporate fraud, and some things, some people are incapable of doing, their brains just don’t go there.For example, my brain and the vast majority of people’s brains do NOT go there when it comes to sexual abuse of a child.It’s insulting and “fails the test of both scripture and the scripture and experience.”

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying anyone is above sin.That’s the whole point of Jesus’ death.I am not saying that if I’d had a different nurture and set of circumstances in my upbringing, that things might not have turned out very differently—who can say?

    But if some church elder or you or anyone wants to tell me “Now you can’t judge Brother Jimmy for molesting half the kids in the nursery, because Bro LP, you’re capable of the same thing.” I’m going to tell them “bull, total bull.”

    I’ll respond this way:

    1. “As presently configured” is an important caveat. I believe our choices shape us, and lead to future choices. A small act in disregard for, or taking advantage of, another can lead to greater acts.

    2. Your 2:1 example, it would seem to strengthen my argument that at least MOST people are capable of cruelty. (I still believe it is all, but that it manifests in different ways). Would it follow, that then 2 out of 3 people have the potential to abuse?

    3. I do not dispute differences among people…but those differences can have many different causes. On person may refuse to kill another out of stout conviction to follow Jesus above all others…while another may be an atheist who is deeply opposed to killing. Another may be a person who earlier in life Was a murderer, but who has repented and now will not kill. What I am disputing is that an individual can name a specific sin and say “I am incapable of that”, In some intrinsic way, other than, “I would never do that because I love Jesus too much, and value other humans too much.”

    4. What I wonder this discussion, is that we see an abuser as some special class of sinner, born forever somehow differently and incapable of repentance or change. I don’t believe that view fits with the biblical Gospel. Yes, it is true that most abusers do not really repent and change…but that is true of nearly all types of sinners. Most do not repent.

    5. If anyone reads this as a defense of abuse or abusers, they are not reading well. I agree that your Your last paragraph is an example of twisting the truth of “all are sinners”.

    6. I also actually think your second to last paragraph reveals to me that our positions may not actually be that far off. I am simply trying to say that anyone, given the wrong circumstances, and responding to those wrong circumstances, could head down a path that leads them to take cruel advantage of another. You seem to be saying something similar.

    Thanks for interacting,
    -Andy

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  68. Wild Honey: How do you process when a role model or idol (pun intentional), from whom you have genuinely learned helpful things, turns out to have a major failing and shows no remorse? Should I go through my bookshelves and throw out everything by a growing list of pastors/authors?

    Yes. If they have not been walking the talk, the books they write have been by the flesh not the Spirit. If they live by the flesh, they are without the Holy Spirit guiding the words they pen. Without the Spirit, they have only an ability to touch your mind and emotions not your soul … only what penetrates the soul is lasting. No use consulting their writings or passing them on to others. I see the works of such authors at yard sales all the time – their owners recognizing that they were just crafty bags of wind rather than genuine servants of God – they provide no fresh word from the Father that penetrates the spirit, just appeals to the reader’s intellect.

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  69. Friend: What follows might take your remark out of context, so please forgive me. The Third Reich built on centuries of anti-Semitism. Even if some Germans remained innocent of the existence of concentration camps, they were certainly aware of the Hitler Youth, Nuremberg rallies, Kristallnacht, mandatory boycotts of Jewish-owned businesses, the invasion of Poland, etc., and service in Hitler’s military. And if all of that escaped their notice, I had a couple of close kin dropping objects on them from rather noisy airplanes. (Thus endeth the history lesson.)

    Any nation can work its way into conflicts in which its citizens commit atrocities. As you assert, it does not follow that just any random good-hearted Sunday school teacher is going to transform—poof!—into a child molester.

    Fair enough. There’s no doubt that Germany had a terrible history of antisemitism. And a lot of people went along because they didn’t want to stick their heads up and have them chopped off, which was gutless. And a lot of people were ignorant and some willfully so. That was awful and wrong. Same thing that happens at a lot of cultic churches. But still, it was a minority of people who knew what was happening. And even if they’d have gone along with breaking windows, ugly and hateful as that was, it doesn’t mean they were OK with murdering four to seven million people in cold blood. The invasion of Poland was an elaborate hoax, the Germans thought they’d been attacked by the Poles, it was a big fake. The Nazis were absolute maters of lies and manipulations.

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  70. Law Prof,

    I wrote a longer response and lost it…but…

    Your second to last paragraph seems to be saying something similar to the main point I am trying to get across: That given the wrong circumstances, and the wrong responses to those circumstances, who among us can say we couldn’t have gone down a very dark and cruel path? Who among us can say that potential is not within us?

    And to your last point: I agree. Anyone who reads my comments as defense of abusers is not reading well. I don’t defend lying just because I am sometimes tempted to lie. Admission of common sinful potential does not equate dismissing sin.

    -Andy

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  71. Done One: And, when I find certain books at my locally run “christian” thrift store, I buy them just to throw them away (especially anything by the Pearls).

    I then there are the books you see for sale at places like Hobby Lobby that need to be thrown away. But you aren’t going to purchase them at full price just to do so. Buying it would increase the sales number anyway.

    When I saw “Love and Respect” at Hobby Lobby, I turned it around to face the other way.
    That book makes me so mad, I had to do something even though that hardly counts. At least I no longer had to see it’s glaring title as I waited in line to check out.

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  72. Lea: I think the catholic concepts of venial and mortal sins is helpful here.

    I second that. I absolutely, heartily reject the assertion that anyone could suddenly turn into an abuser. Absolutely false. There are many people who would never deliberately, in a premeditated fashion, set out to abuse or harm another person.

    That doesn’t mean my bad mood might not have unintended negative effects on my small child, but that is a far cry from plotting to physically abuse him for my own sick pleasure.

    No sir, I will never, no matter how low I sink, set out to harm another person for my own jollies. Nor would I do so if a gun was put to my head. This is a serious, destructive result of worm theology, leveling all sin to the point that we begin to believe in the hidden monster inside of us.

    I declare to you that those who have the Spirit of God within them will never do deliberate, repeated, abusive harm to another. Can’t happen. It has done great harm to lose the Catholic understanding of venial vs. mortal sin. And it is mostly used to excuse the truly evil wolves hiding under sheepskins in the christian camp.

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  73. Law Prof: But if some church elder or you or anyone wants to tell me “Now you can’t judge Brother Jimmy for molesting half the kids in the nursery, because Bro LP, you’re capable of the same thing.” I’m going to tell them “bull, total bull.”

    Amen. And I’d grab my kids outta there and never look back.

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  74. Samuel Conner: An interesting point about using David as an example of “restoration to ministry after a grievous fall” is that David continued to passively stumble,

    Moreover, Nathan warned David:

    Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.

    This was borne out by events.

    If only we could understand exactly why God couldn’t simply drop it and move on, we would understand a lot more about the universe than we currently do.

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  75. Lea: 200 sounds uncomfortably small for me Different strokes. I would never want to be in one of the 10k churches but they are pretty rare.

    I’m middle-aged (barely) and have always attended churches under 100. That is, until our current church adopted the seeker-friendly model and went through a great expansion. Now we have 200+. We gave it our best shot for a couple of years, but finally had had enough.

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  76. Heather: and have always attended churches under 100.

    Ah, maybe that’s part of it…I’m not used to it. Although we have a few services and I go to one that usually doesn’t have but 100 people in it so maybe that gives me the best of both worlds? Most of my friends go to different services.

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  77. Law Prof: Fair enough. There’s no doubt that Germany had a terrible history of antisemitism. And a lot of people went along because they didn’t want to stick their heads up and have them chopped off, which was gutless.

    Careful of attacking people from 80-90 years ago.

    My mother-in-law was born in Germany in 1928.

    The Hitler Youth comment betrays the lack of knowledge. EVERY child had to join the Hitler youth. Well every “real”German child. Or they got to spend their weekend at camps every week learning why they should join. So it was join or go to kiddie weekend jail.

    And my MIL had an older sister who was in University in the later 30s. People who just discussed things the wrong way would vanish from school and never be heard of again. Most likely sent off to a camp somewhere.

    There were lots of people who, like her family, resisted in little ways but Germany in the 30s was more like China under Mao than anything we can comprehend today.

    And yes there were people who were in total denial and pretended life was just moving along OK. But most knew what was up and had a hard time dealing with it.

    Plus in the case of Germany you have to dig deep into the history after WWI in the 20s to understand Hitler and the 30s. Sort of like how the events in China just after WWI led in many ways to Mao.

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  78. Andy,

    Andy – When I said “as presently configured”, I did not mean going forward. I meant that some people may, given whatever raw material they’ve been given and whatever nurture they had, become a child sex abuser. The vast majority of abused people do not (and I have in my close family more than one), but a certain number do, given whatever combo of nature and nurture. But that doesn’t mean that the average adult sitting in the church pews should worry about what they could do that would lead them down that path. In other words, I do not believe that most people could go down any path that would lead to them sexually abusing children, because most people have no inclination to do that at all and it does not compute in their brains. They would recoil in horror, the great majority of people. You could not hold a gun to their heads.

    Jesus did single out those who hurt/mislead “little ones”—remember millstones and seas? So there is some distinction there that Jesus made. It is a very small percentage of the population who even have such desires—for me and the great majority, again, does not compute, cannot be made to compute.

    There are too many people in the pulpits who control people in the pews by pointing a finger and saying “Ah, but it could be you, too!” If someone tells me that with regard to molesting a child, I’m going to tell them total bull.

    I am not saying people can’t become more cruel based on what they do. Of course they can. Am not saying normal people can’t do selfish things. Of course they can. I am not saying we are not all in absolute need of Jesus because we all sin and will struggle against it all our lives. But the context of this post and thread is child sexual abuse, and I’m not going to listen to any fool in a pulpit who tells me “It could be YOU, brother!” No, wrong.

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  79. NC Now: Careful of attacking people from 80-90 years ago.

    My mother-in-law was born in Germany in 1928.

    The Hitler Youth comment betrays the lack of knowledge. EVERY child had to join the Hitler youth. Well every “real”German child. Or they got to spend their weekend at camps every week learning why they should join. So it was join or go to kiddie weekend jail.

    And my MIL had an older sister who was in University in the later 30s. People who just discussed things the wrong way would vanish from school and never be heard of again. Most likely sent off to a camp somewhere.

    There were lots of people who, like her family, resisted in little ways but Germany in the 30s was more like China under Mao than anything we can comprehend today.

    And yes there were people who were in total denial and pretended life was just moving along OK. But most knew what was up and had a hard time dealing with it.

    Plus in the case of Germany you have to dig deep into the history after WWI in the 20s to understand Hitler and the 30s. Sort of like how the events in China just after WWI led in many ways to Mao.

    You got the wrong guy, I didn’t make the Hitler Youth comment. I married into a family of German immigrants. Both my wife’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from Germany, her first language was German, and she was actually conceived in Germany. My wife’s maternal grandfather was killed fighting for the Germans, her maternal step-grandfather was captured and ended up in Alabama as a POW, her paternal grandfather was shot in the back while fighting for the Germans, but survived (he hated the Nazis). I was over in Germany and talked to her grandma and step granfather about their experiences during this time when they still living.

    I’m also the product of German immigrants, though going back to the 1890s, so I don’t have that close cultural tie my wife has. But I have read extensively on Germany, lots of books, I started with Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” (which isn’t 100% perfect history, but is a darned good and entertaining read), and then went from there. Lots of books. Has been the main thing I’ve studied for leisure the last 20 years. I wouldn’t call myself an expert, there are history colleagues here at the university who fall into that category, but I’m a very serious amateur, probably more than 99.9% of the population. Outside of my own field of expertise, this is the one thing I know the most.

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  80. Andy,

    I’m going to very strongly disagree with you.

    I think we are all capable of serious sins, but I think very many of us could, hand on heart, say that we are NEVER going to sexually abuse a child, never torture an animal, never kill a person for fun…or any number of things. I think the idea that you could say to yourself ‘I am truly capable of that’ is horrific. Under what possible circumstances would you be capable of raping children? Apart from a runaway brain tumour causing this, can you really come up with a possible scenario? Really?

    What stops me is not just Jesus, but that those kinds of things are sick & unthinkable.

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  81. NC Now: And my MIL had an older sister who was in University in the later 30s. People who just discussed things the wrong way would vanish from school and never be heard of again. Most likely sent off to a camp somewhere.

    There were lots of people who, like her family, resisted in little ways but Germany in the 30s was more like China under Mao than anything we can comprehend today.

    Thank you for this. I’m responding because the original remark was mine. Yes, ordinary Germans were forced to go along with the Third Reich—but only after people chose to bring it into power instead of stopping it. My comment was simply pointing out that Germans were aware of what was going on in their own country. You seem to agree with that. If there is anything inaccurate in my comment, please let me know.

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  82. Jeannette Altes: Also, 12+ years out, I can see much more clearly how manipulative his sermons were.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s funny, one of the reasons this particular sermon stood out to me was because it was the only time in our nearly three years there that the pastor veered off of his prepared sermon and preached spontaneously “as the Spirit led.” He was in a series on Genesis and had come to Sodom and Gomorrah. His sermon became an exhortation against the evangelical church to not treat certain sins as “modern-day leprosy,” but to realize that Sodom and Gomorrah were instead condemned for their lack of repentance (my paraphrase of what I remember).

    In retrospect, I wonder if “the Spirit” (assuming that’s what it indeed was) was preaching as much to him as it was to the congregation. When my husband and I left, we communicated that IF we were to stay, we would want to be agents of positive change. After that, it was shun-on, and all talk of wanting to “work toward reconciliation” ceased.

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  83. elastigirl: are the books all that great?

    Not to blame shift, but most of the ones in question are actually from my husband’s seminary days, a number of which he never actually got around to reading, so neither of us can actually offer an informed opinion to this question 🙂 Good point!

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  84. All I can say is “Praise God!” for a segment of the Body of Christ which is willing to stand in the gap for those abused by church leaders – to gossip their heads off, refuse to buy the sin-leveling argument, and rejoice when pervert pastors are purged from their pulpits! Thank you TWW and commenters who exercise compassion and common sense in this regard and refuse to be shamed into silence by the likes of The Gospel (= Calvinist) Coalition.

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  85. Wild Honey,

    The pastor in my past would sometimes do that (preach of his planned topic). But even within that, the poison would still get slipped in. It’s funny – one of my jobs at that church was editing, archiving, and duplicating for sale all of the sermons. After I had been out for a bit and learned more detail about what he was really up to, I could see that he often preached to his wife – even changing his postion on certain things, depending on what type of control/threat he wanted to send to her.

    As to the shunning….yeah. I had people turn around and walk quickly the other way when they would see me in a store…or just flat leave if I came in a restaurant they were in.

    And that is the behavior of a cult.

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  86. Andy: What I wonder this discussion, is that we see an abuser as some special class of sinner, born forever somehow differently and incapable of repentance or change. I don’t believe that view fits with the biblical Gospel. Yes, it is true that most abusers do not really repent and change…but that is true of nearly all types of sinners. Most do not repent.

    Many abusers have sociopathic, narcissistic, or other antisocial personalities. They are cold, calculating predators who view other people as prey. They tend not to repent, because they do not have working consciences, empathy, the normal mechanisms that cause most people to refrain from wantonly harming others.

    Are they beyond God’s mercy? Not for me to say. But they are not like most sinners. They are more like rattlesnakes. Our job is to prevent them from accruing or keeping power and causing harm.

    I strongly challenge your assertion that “most [sinners] do not repent.” Do you really believe that most impulsive kids, for example, never see the error of their ways and mature into loving parents and grandparents? How do you define repentance?

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  87. NC Now,

    One of my cousins married a gentleman who was the son of a German scientist and his wife, but was born here in the States. His father was called back to Germany to work on a “project” about two years before WWII began. He took his family with him as his son had ever visited Germany. Once the nature of the project was revealed, dad immediately wanted to return to the States, but he was denied travel by the Nazis, as was his family. My cousin’s husband was automatically enrolled in the Hitler Youth organization. He hated it, but saying anything could have sent both him and his mother to the camps. The one time he was asked about it at a family gathering, he said it was hell, and he was thankful to have survived the war as the Hitler Youth were all thrown into the army near the end. He never said anything else, but my cousin said he and his mother ended up in a refugee camp and were repatriated to America given his citizenship. At some point his father died in the war. Any resistance meant losing your life, and if you were young, there wasn’t much you do at all.

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  88. Friend: Yes, ordinary Germans were forced to go along with the Third Reich—but only after people chose to bring it into power instead of stopping it. My comment was simply pointing out that Germans were aware of what was going on in their own country.

    Both of my wife’s parents were German children during the War. The situation was much more complicated than you state. Most people really did not know what was going on until it was too late. The German constitution had checks and balances in place to prevent the rise of the 3rd Reich, but those checks and balances failed. The people were also fed quite a lot of misinformation. If Germany had not been so utterly destroyed by the surrounding countries after WW1 the outcome could have been much different.

    My wife had relatives who disappeared/killed under the 3rd Reich for being politically incorrect. And she has ancestors who were kicked out of historically German areas that Poland annexed after WW1. The reason Hitler was able to pull of the lie about the invasion was because of the local attrocities commited by some Poles before WW2 – there were Polish activists who invaded German towns. Very complicated indeed.

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  89. AndyWhat I wonder this discussion, is that we see an abuser as some special class of sinner, born forever somehow differently and incapable of repentance or change.I don’t believe that view fits with the biblical Gospel.

    This notion absolutely fits within the biblical Gospel. The Bible speaks of those whose consciences have been seared, Romans 1 speaks of people like that, Jesus called out corrupt leaders for that all the time and referred to them as “sons of hell” and “whitewashed tombs” and the like. John spoke of a type of sin that we’re not even supposed to bother praying for, Paul spoke of people who are fakes and frauds, a “form of godliness, but denying the power,” and told us to have zero to do with such people—simply get away from them, they are corrupt. Even There is a ton of biblical support for our position here. I honestly can’t find any support for the notion that everyone is capable of every sin. There is not a single word ever said or implied in the Bible to support that point. Nothing. There is definitely the fact that we all sin, we all would be in major trouble without Jesus’ death for those sins, and that we will never get it right until after we’re dead and gone—but that is not the same as what you’re saying.

    As Friend pointed out to you, there is a percentage of people who simply do not have a conscience, they have NPD or are sociopaths, what the DSM 5 refers to as “antisocial personality disorder.” Having no consciences, they are, in effect, evil. They care about nothing and no one. They ARE different, Andy.

    One study has shown that these conscienceless, evil people are enormously over represented among pastors, as in up to 3,000 percent higher than in the general population. Let that sink in. These are some of the people who stand in front of the church and tell people not to judge, because they’re all capable of anything, anytime. Of course they do, this is a tool they use to keep the laity down, to keep them from rising up against the evil things they do. Why, if you’re capable of the exact same child abuse, who are you to say a word? And so people quake and do nothing, and let the evil continue. Nope, wrong.

    Andy, it’s a lie. Flat out lie, and you’ve been sold a bill of goods.

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  90. Ken F (aka Tweed): he reason Hitler was able to pull of the lie about the invasion was because of the local attrocities commited by some Poles before WW2 – there were Polish activists who invaded German towns.

    Do you have any information about this? Because aside from german fears about ‘communists’ I have not heard much about this. There is a wealth of information about pre WW2 germany of course, from currency issues to political stuff but not this. A quick google search gave me nothing.

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  91. Law Prof: I honestly can’t find any support for the notion that everyone is capable of every sin. There is not a single word ever said or implied in the Bible to support that point. Nothing.

    Yes, I said much the same. I don’t see any biblical support for that, aside from ‘all have sinned’ but that takes…a lot of skips to get to your mortal types of sin.

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  92. Lea: Yes, I said much the same. I don’t see any biblical support for that, aside from ‘all have sinned’ but that takes…a lot of skips to get to your mortal types of sin.

    Exactly!

    There are just so many things that preachers and their fans say that just are not biblical and are not true.

    That notion that everyone is capable of every sin all the time.
    That idea that calling out a leader’s sin or exposing child abuse or other misdeeds is “slander.”
    The idea that we should all trust each other, especially leaders (NOT in the Bible, rather the OPPOSITE is in the Bible).

    I’m tired of people making garbage up. It’s always self-serving garbage. People hear this stuff so much they come to think it true, it must be in the Bible somewhere, Preacher Niceface has said it so many times. Well, it’s not, none of the above is in the Bible.

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  93. Lea: Do you have any information about this? Because aside from german fears about ‘communists’ I have not heard much about this.

    My wife discovered it when doing ancestry research. It is not well known, but there are specialized articles on it (she recommends http://mypomerania.com/ as one portal if you are interested in digging into this). What she found matches stories her parents, grandmothers, and other relatives told her starting when she was very young.

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  94. In regards to the discussion on sin and all committing it…you folks need to recognize that there are many sins that are repugnant to people who are mentally “normal”. There is a distinction between normal responses and true psychosis. For example some people have sex with animals. Some people shoot up a classroom full of children. Some get their jollies looking at children sexually. These things are SINS and CRIMES but they are repulsive to most people of normal mental faculties. While we might all be tempted to steal or lie….most persons find some crimes abhorrent. I’m with Dee on this one.

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  95. I thought according to their own Reformed teachings that regenerate people weren’t “totally depraved”? Why bring up total depravity when talking about Christians? Or are they admitting they are wolves? A sort of Freudian slip?

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  96. Abigail:
    In regards to the discussion on sin and all committing it…you folks need to recognize that there are many sins that are repugnant to people who are mentally “normal”. There is a distinction between normal responses and true psychosis. For example some people have sex with animals. Some people shoot up a classroom full of children. Some get their jollies looking at children sexually. These things are SINS and CRIMES but they are repulsive to most people of normal mental faculties. While we might all be tempted to steal or lie….most persons find some crimes abhorrent. I’m with Dee on this one.

    Exactly, certain things “Do not compute” with normal people. Like hurting a child sexually. That does not mean that normal people don’t sin, don’t need a savior, don’t struggle with sin that would mean an eternal death without Jesus—of course we all struggle, we all fall short of God’s glory, but there is simply nothing there nor could it be put there in most people to hurt a child in that way.

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  97. Friend,

    I am coming from an evangelical Christian perspective, and it seems from both Scripture and experience that, in the most important sense, most people do not repent of sin and turn to Christ.

    And so whatever sin is the most manifest in such lives, most remain in those sins.

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  98. Law Prof: I honestly can’t find any support for the notion that everyone is capable of every sin.

    Well, I suppose the Calvinist position on “Total Depravity” would put everyone on that page – that human nature is thoroughly corrupt and sinful and therefore capable of every sin. In talking to some of the young reformers about this, I have surmised that they really mean “Total Inability” to do what God calls us to do because of our own sinful corruption. That’s where sovereign God steps in to save us from ourselves … because we don’t have enough will to make the right choices we are, therefore, bent to commit every sin given the opportunity. We’ve certainly seen enough church leaders play out that scenario by demonstrating to us that they were depraved totally in their sins. Perhaps Andy is coming from that theological perspective. I’ll just rest in my ole non-Calvinism and allow the Holy Spirit to convict me of my sins and empower me to overcome, to resist temptations at their beginnings by my own free will – a “system” that has worked in my life for the better part of a century.

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  99. Ken F (aka Tweed): My wife had relatives who disappeared/killed under the 3rd Reich for being politically incorrect.

    I am sorry to have stirred up such painful associations.

    Yes, there was much lying as the Third Reich accrued power. I knew a Holocaust survivor who said he was proud to wear the yellow star at first, before the intention behind it became clear. His entire family met their doom in gas chambers. My friend survived because he found people who were willing to hide him. Such people, the Righteous Among the Nations aka Righteous Gentiles, were very few in number. While in hiding, my friend was a resistance fighter, saving other people’s lives.

    The US Holocaust Memorial Museum has information about the Righteous Among the Nations. Some of it is here: https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/tags/en/tag/righteous-among-the-nations

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  100. Ken F (aka Tweed): Both of my wife’s parents were German children during the War. The situation was much more complicated than you state. Most people really did not know what was going on until it was too late. The German constitution had checks and balances in place to prevent the rise of the 3rd Reich, but those checks and balances failed. The people were also fed quite a lot of misinformation. If Germany had not been so utterly destroyed by the surrounding countries after WW1 the outcome could have been much different.

    My wife had relatives who disappeared/killed under the 3rd Reich for being politically incorrect. And she has ancestors who were kicked out of historically German areas that Poland annexed after WW1. The reason Hitler was able to pull of the lie about the invasion was because of the local attrocities commited by some Poles before WW2 – there were Polish activists who invaded German towns. Very complicated indeed.

    I didn’t know about the Polish activists, but I do know that the situation was more complex than most people know. For example, most of the land Hitler was grabbing throughout the late-1930s was what that had been taken from Germany in the aftermath of WWI. For a time, Germans felt that, rightfully, things were being put back the way they were before the war and people who were ethnically German were being brought back within the fold, such as the Sudetenland. There was a point to this, at least at first, and as evil as the former starving artist from Austria was, there were things that decent German people could get behind. As you say, it got out of hand and took on a life of its own that overran them. I think a lot of industrialists and common citizens thought they could ride Hitler back to power and prosperity. I know Von Papen thought he could. A lot of people underestimated the strange, petit bourgeois little corporal.

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  101. Description of Mark Aderholt’s SBC missionary service put out by the IMB and BP:

    http://www.bpnews.net/51243/former-baptist-leader-charged-with-sexual-assault

    “The IMB told BP Aderholt served with the board from 2000-2008.”

    However, I just found confirmation that he was also an SBC missionary from 1994-1996, before he assaulted Anne Marie!

    2018 Annual of Aderholt’s hometown local Baptist association:

    https://www.topotexasassociation.com/annual_2018
    p. 27 ‘Missionary Hall of Honor’ [!]

    “Mark E Aderholt & Christie Roberson Adherhold
    Mark was IMB Journeyman 1994-1996 (Norway & Romania)
    Christie was IMB Journeyman 1995-1997 (Russia)
    Both IMB 2000-2008 (Hungary Budapest), FBC Pampa”

    Why isn’t the SBC’s International Mission Board releasing the full account of Aderholt’s service with them?

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  102. About the books I’ve thrown away…
    No, I haven’t thrown away everything. If I believe it still has much truth and value my son either takes it for his library, or brings it to Baker Publishing’s used book store (I live in the area of Baker, Zondervan, Kregel, and Eerdmans.) But when the author has been caught in sin, and doesn’t repent? That books is GONE.
    Sadly, the most popular church library books during my time as a librarian were Jenkin’s and LaHaye’s Left Behind series.

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  103. Andy,

    A sincere request for Bible references so I can look into this further. 🙂

    I’ve been keeping my nose in the Bible in hopes to understand why I was at the receiving end of evil by a molester.

    Right now, from the information I have and from my own childhood, not everyone is capable of becoming a molester.

    Molestation victims instinctively know what’s happening to them is wrong. Even though their understanding on some stuff can become skewed after they escape the abuse. Since their visceral instincts know it’s wrong, they don’t “do a 180” and start molesting. So anyone who has never contemplated it, it’s hard to see them doing it.

    Please provide the Scriptural references. I will take a look. 🙂

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  104. Andy: in the most important sense, most people do not repent of sin and turn to Christ.

    And so whatever sin is the most manifest in such lives, most remain in those sins.

    I have stopped worrying about sin and repentance as defined by the church of my youth. It wasn’t sin, it was SSSINNNN!!!! Everybody had to have a testimony. But only certain sins made the headlines in the Repentance Gazette. Arguably we left out the most important ones: selfish pride, failure to love.

    People of faith mature in their faith. They leave sin behind. A job comes along and they cut back on drinking and late nights. A spouse comes along and they settle down. A baby comes along and they lay off the cussing. Meanwhile they are learning that life is hard, and it pays to be useful and kind.

    Yes, some people are delivered of horrific sin. But less dramatic things qualify as repentance, too.

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  105. Hi Leah,
    my husband told me about your questions regarding what happened to people living in Pomerania after the Versailles treaty (1918). I don’t know what your own personal ancestry is, but if you are affected by what happened back then and are interested in tracing your roots and finding out what your ancestors story might be, please feel free to let him know and contact me. I have found a lot of resources that help trace our ancestry regarding that whole region. If this is where you came from, I would be delighted to try to help you trace your ancestry. The whole topic is absolutely fascinating and I’m sure you would love to find out your family’s story.

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  106. Friend: I am sorry to have stirred up such painful associations.

    Thank you for your kindness. The history of 19th century European wars and bounderies would be fascinating if it was not so tragic. The hell my father-in-law went through as a child in post-WW2 Germany in the Russian zone would make your head spin. By the grace of God they survived and were eventually able to escape to the American zone, which is the reason my wife came into being. My mother-in-law in the West had it better – they were only carpet bombed nightly for a year and a half. Innocent people were burned alive by the phosphor bombs. Hers was the only house in the area still standing after the war. A few years ago he found the pictures of that house in a photo documentary. We were able to see that house a few years ago on a trip with them. It was the only old building in the area.

    In a desperate attempt to tie this back to the thread, political, military, and religious systems seem skilled at violating boundaries, abusing people, and rewriting history.

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  107. Ken F (aka Tweed): In a desperate attempt to tie this back to the thread, political, military, and religious systems seem skilled at violating boundaries, abusing people, and rewriting history.

    Yes, a common theme is noticing early signs and preventing evil people from getting a stranglehold on everything from a Sunday school classroom to a nation.

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  108. Andy: I appreciate your looking out for those abused, but I believe this is a blind spot of yours that can lead to an artificial dividing of sinners, and, ironically, may actually perpetuate and allow more abuse, if we focus on identifying those “special” abusive people, rather than helping all people recognize and avoid the paths to callousness toward others.

    I am going to strongly disagree with you on this one. You seem to be equating pedophilia with a simple sin when it is far more than that. It is a profound psychiatric disorder, one which is not able to be overcome by slapping someone upside the head and saying *Stop sinning.*

    Even with intensive therapy, a pedophile will still suffer with his/her obsession for the rest of his/her life.

    Let’s talk about a guy who decides he wants to have sex with someone. A normal man will seek to have se with a consenting adult. If he is married, then this is a simple sin.

    Now, let’s talk about pedophilia. A man decides he wants to have sex with someone outside of the vows of his marriage. He decides to have sex with a 5 year old child. This is not just a sin. It is a deep psychiatric disorder. It is also a crime.

    Few people in this life become pedophiles because it is abnormal behavior, a psychiatric illness and a crime.

    So if you want to argue that a married man might be able slip into an affair with a woman, I would agree with you. If you want to argue that any of us could become pedophiles, I absolutely disagree with you. I think it might make some church leadership to feel better about coddling a pedophile in the congregation. It’s not just another sin that anyone could fall into.

    Please do some reading on paraphilias to better understand what I mean about profound psychiatric disorders.

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  109. Andy,

    I feel quite strongly about what I’m going to say. If you believe that you are even remotely capable of molesting a child, you need to get some help. Molestation is not a simple affair. It is a psychiatric disorder, one that is not easily overcome. It is not something that you just slip into.

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  110. Andy: 4. What I wonder this discussion, is that we see an abuser as some special class of sinner, born forever somehow differently and incapable of repentance or change. I don’t believe that view fits with the biblical Gospel. Yes, it is true that most abusers do not really repent and change…but that is true of nearly all types of sinners. Most do not repent.

    Here is a post at my blog, one that is somewhat related:

    Soteriology – Are Some Types of People “UnSavable?”
    https://missdaisyflower.wordpress.com/2019/05/08/%E2%80%A2-soteriology-are-some-types-of-people-unsavable/

    And, the “Gospel” does not save everyone from every problem under the sun.

    I used to be a devout Christian for many years, and the Gospel / belief in Jesus / prayer / faith never did rid me of clinical depression, anxiety, and anxiety attacks.

    There are some things in life that “the Gospel” cannot save or fix.

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  111. Andy,

    This is the pattern I observed

    1. Abuse / molestation happened – multiple victims, police report, spends over a decade and even sentences passed.

    2. “Christian leaders” failed to acknowledge abuse / molestation happened

    3 “Christian leaders” refuses to 3rd party investigations

    4 “Christian leaders” sidelined/ignored the victims and publicly promote the offender

    5 “Christian leaders” NEVER publicly admitted they judged wrongly the situitation and did not offer tangible support to victims

    6 “Christian leaders” starts the rhetoric diverting attention away from the evil done to victims by the abuser, and their own sinful failures.

    Common rhetorics are
    1. Future oriented – “do better”, “ministry safe”, “church policy”

    2. Appeal to authority – “leaders know more than you do.”, “Leaders’ judgement is better than your.”, “Do not question leaders”

    3. Appeal to trust – “leaders meant to do good”, “trust your leaders”

    4. Self-introspection – “you should move on and not get bitter”, “you should forgive. You are a sinner as well”, “do not gossip”

    5. Remain silence to anyone that ask questions about their decisions and actions.

    Self-introspection type of rhetoric is the most powerful one – the center where all the other rhetorics reinforces and amplify each other.

    I see it evil to lead christians into the mental trap of self-introspection that prevents the Christian life of lamenting evil done, seek justice, care for the hurt, and bringing light to sin of the “leaders” for repentance.

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  112. Brian,

    The Bible does not discuss how to deal with serious psychiatric disorders just like it does not discuss how to cure cancer.One can quote Scripture out the wazoo and still not be able to understand issues like pedophilia. We live in a fallen world and we suffer psychiatric illnesses as well as cancer, etc. The Bible is not a medical journal discussing treatment options.

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  113. Law Prof: I honestly can’t find any support for the notion that everyone is capable of every sin.

    Somewhere in the Old Testament, God acknowledges that some people have different psychological make-ups from other people.

    I don’t recall exactly where in the OT, but there’s a portion where God has commanded someone (don’t recall who) to take men from Israel and march against an enemy (I think).

    Well, God tells whoever the leader is to weed out some men, and I think it’s here that God says something about some men having a more gentle, sensitive nature than others,
    so they would not have the fortitude to go into battle, so let those men go if they did not want to go off to war.

    It was something like that.

    Also, there was a passage in the OT where it mentioned some guy (I forget who) that God wanted to use as a king (or prophet??) was very shy – he was a wall flower type.

    Moses was also said to be rather shy and not comfortable with public speaking.

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  114. Law Prof: That idea that calling out a leader’s sin or exposing child abuse or other misdeeds is “slander.”

    Even putting child abuse aside, spend time on Wikipedia and true crime sites reading about what some serial killers did to their victims before killing them, and the vile ways they killed them…

    And I’d like to challenge any of these “all of us can sin horribly!” types to tell me they could do the same things that the serial killers did.

    I read some really twisted, revolting stuff, including (I’ll try to keep the language here clean) about one serial killer who decapitated his own mother, had sex with her head and then with her headless body.

    -This is in real life, this was not from a movie.

    I’d like for any of these Sin Leveler guys (usually Neo Calvinists?) to look me straight in the face (so to speak) and tell me they could or would ever do such a thing.

    I mean, please. It takes a special kind of evil warped individual to do things like that.

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  115. Daisy,

    Rats, I quoted from the wrong part of Law Prof’s post in my reply. I was trying to quote the part where he was talking about how some Christians say all of us can be guilty of any and all sins.
    I don’t know why a different quote showed up from what I was trying to quote.

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  116. dee,

    I not only agree with Dee, but the same can be said about murder. That is why our legal system has a different “degree” of murder, from accidental through to premeditated, and is now far to common, mass murder. And then you have the sickos that torture women (or men) to death for some sort of ““gradification”…. anyone of us could be careless and kill someone driving our car; I DO not believe any of us could become mass murders that get our jolly’s torturing people to Death. And, I think being pedo abusing kids ranks up there with murdering people for jolly’s….. especially when the kids have to live the rest of their lives with the damages that pedos do to them…

    I will spare you all my pontificating, but I like history, and many, many of really nasty Nazi’s and Japanese knew Damn well they were sickos and knew there goose was cooked near the end of the war….

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  117. dee,

    Thank you, yes. One of the things that made me keep coming back to this blog was your (and Deb’s) ability to look into dark places and still perceive shades of grey.

    And that was even before I learned about the pugs and cricket updates!

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  118. Ken F’s Wife,

    That’s very sweet but i’m not very german as far as I know and not at all polish. Mostly Scottish and Irish. I just like history and I did have a friend who was polish years ago, which made me a little more interested in that area. Things I know nothing about interest me!

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  119. dee: So if you want to argue that a married man might be able slip into an affair with a woman

    Even there, I would say there is a difference between an affair and conscious predication. Many of the later group try to play it off as the former.

    But yes, mostly people simply aren’t capable of molestation of a small child. (exceptions perhaps for other small children who are acting out their own abuse, which I believe is a recognized issue that can be addressed. Not the same as adults).

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  120. Daisy: Somewhere in the Old Testament, God acknowledges that some people have different psychological make-ups from other people.

    I don’t recall exactly where in the OT, but there’s a portion where God has commanded someone (don’t recall who) to take men from Israel and march against an enemy (I think).

    Well, God tells whoever the leader is to weed out some men, and I think it’s here that God says something about some men having a more gentle, sensitive nature than others,
    so they would not have the fortitude to go into battle, so let those men go if they did not want to go off to war.

    Gideon, right?

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  121. Ken F’s Wife,

    1/4 of me came from Pomerania, but they git the heck out in the mid to late 1800 before all the nastiness of the 20th century…. I had the pleasure to visit Rostock Germany around 2000, and the little places I stay had food just like my grandmother use to make…..

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  122. Law Prof: Fair enough.There’s no doubt that Germany had a terrible history of antisemitism. And a lot of people went along because they didn’t want to stick their heads up and have them chopped off, which was gutless.

    Don’t forget the Gestapo (secret police), or the possibility of having your family’s heads chopped off. My grandmother grew up in Germany during the war. Her father resisted joining the Nazi party until he lost his job and his family was starving because all work was “only Nazis need apply.” They actually gave my grandmother up for adoption so there would be one less mouth to feed, then changed their minds, joined the party, got a job, and got her back. My great-grandmother once gave food to their elderly Jewish neighbors. Within HOURS, Gestapo was knocking on their door and threatening her in front of her four children. She denied everything and got away with it, but the next day, that elderly Jewish couple was GONE.

    It is hard to know what any of us would do in such circumstances.

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  123. TS00,

    PREACH!!! I spent 5 years in a Calvinist church. Cognitive dissonance is the word. Yikes. The pastor at that church spoke about his unsaved dad with emotionally detached apathy. Never a single tear. During our time there, my own unsaved dad passed. That really woke me up to the fact that it’s impossible for me to have greater love for an unbeliever than God. And God who lives these unbelievers SO much must be a God who wouldn’t be so horrifically cruel as to create them incapable of ever choosing God.

    But, functionally, a Calvinist would have to believe they are wasting their emotions on someone who wasn’t “chosen”! And that is exactly what I observed!! They don’t care about the lost. Only the few elect they think are hidden among the lost. If they care about the “unelect” lost, they are being inconsistent with their core beliefs.

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  124. Jeffrey Chalmers:
    dee,

    I not only agree with Dee, but the same can be said about murder.That is why our legal system has a different “degree” of murder, from accidental throughto premeditated, and is now far to common, mass murder.And then you have the sickos that torture women (or men) to death for some sort of ““gradification”…. anyone of us could be careless and kill someone driving our car; I DO not believe any of us could become mass murders that get our jolly’s torturing people to Death.And, I think being pedo abusing kids ranks up there with murdering people for jolly’s…..especially when the kids have to live the rest of their lives with the damages that pedos do to them…

    I will spare you all my pontificating, but I like history, and many, many of really nasty Nazi’s and Japanese knew Damn well they were sickos and knew there goose was cooked near the end of the war….

    That’s the absolute truth. Many of them knew full well they were monsters, and they relished the fact.

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  125. Fellow wartburgers.. I have followed this blog a long while and totally support its’ mission of calling out abuse in the church. I have decided to not read or comment anymore. I am getting depressed by what I am reading and I cannot bear it any more emotionally. I wish you all well and I have enjoyed this online fellowship. Goodbye.

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  126. Andy: “And no, not all of us are capable of committing this kind of *sin.*”

    It is true. Not just anyone can fall into committing rape or sexually assaulting a child. There are some things that go beyond the kind of sin that anyone can be tempted by.

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  127. Wild Honey: How do you process when a role model or idol (pun intentional), from whom you have genuinely learned helpful things, turns out to have a major failing and shows no remorse? Should I go through my bookshelves and throw out everything by a growing list of pastors/authors? On a more personal note, we left a former church because of authoritarian leadership, but that pastor has a sermon on how the church views certain cultural clashes that is still my go-to for that particular topic. And Chandler’s “Jesus wants the rose” story helped provide healing for me, but seems at odds with what is currently coming out of his church. How do you reconcile “Jesus wants the rose” with “you want me to say more?” as to why TVC didn’t tell parents the whole truth as to the firing of Matt Tonne?

    I found myself asking this question in the past as well. My feeling about it is, whatever good that you gleaned from them, you’d have learned anyway. You did not need those books to grow or shape your spirituality.

    Sometimes I’ve gone back and read a little of a book that I thought was great as a young Christian and thought, good grief, what did I see in this?

    A little leaven leavens the whole lump. We can miss a lot of leaven as we concentrate on the good statements in a book but we do absorb it. I have a friend who reads a lot of Christian books. I have noticed her views slowly changing and becoming Calvinistic, but I don’t think she even realizes it, or recognizes that some of her beliefs are now incompatible with each other.

    And, finally, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the good things we’ve read were actually ghost written by someone else or lifted from somewhere else. I had a pastor in the past who used to teach some really great, freeing messages. Everyone was blossoming at that church! Then one day he got up and ‘repented’- said that he had not really believed what he was teaching but thought it would appeal to people.

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  128. I recently saw a real millstone on a “Little House on the Prairie” episode. Wow, Jesus wasn’t doing any “sin-leveling” for those who abuse children, when He used the millstone image. That millstone was huge, heavy, and dangerous to the operator! Dee, I appreciate your careful, step-by-step analyses to help me see through the “word soup” these “leader” guys are slinging around. I’m a close reader and retired reading/writing educator, but they have even misled me from time to time as I have analyzed their words. I’m on a personal study regarding the use of insider church-speak, and a huge red flag for me has been the referring to pew-sitters as “sheep.” When Jesus used this analogy, it came with love and compassion. So, Dee, keep us informed as you have been doing. The readers on this forum are reflective, and are doing the deep thinking we can only pray will start to happen for those who have been “obedient, docile sheep” for the wolves for far too long. I hope they will read what Jesus has to say about millstones.

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  129. Kate: “It’s not difficult to see how wholesome pastoral care might morph into something much darker, and the younger disciple end up being used for the purposes of the older pastor rather than the older pastor sacrificially serving him. Who knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart in this process? The leader is not likely fully aware himself—such is the deceitfulness of the human heart.”

    This paragraph makes abuse sound like an accident rather than a carefully planned and executed mission. I read this paragraph and though, “Hasn’t this man ever heard of grooming?” Predators don’t just accidentally kill their prey as they go about their business; they strategize, watch, wait for a long time, and generally blend in so that they can catch their prey by surprise. They are skilled and very intentional.

    I noticed that, too, and I think it is telling that he phrased it as “he is not likely *fully* aware, himself.” In other words, he has admitted that there is awareness, it’s just not “full” awareness. Maybe he is fooling himself. Or maybe it’s just plausible deniability.

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  130. Andy: 3. I do not dispute differences among people…but those differences can have many different causes. On person may refuse to kill another out of stout conviction to follow Jesus above all others…while another may be an atheist who is deeply opposed to killing. Another may be a person who earlier in life Was a murderer, but who has repented and now will not kill. What I am disputing is that an individual can name a specific sin and say “I am incapable of that”, In some intrinsic way, other than, “I would never do that because I love Jesus too much, and value other humans too much.”

    4. What I wonder this discussion, is that we see an abuser as some special class of sinner, born forever somehow differently and incapable of repentance or change. I don’t believe that view fits with the biblical Gospel. Yes, it is true that most abusers do not really repent and change…but that is true of nearly all types of sinners. Most do not repent.

    5. If anyone reads this as a defense of abuse or abusers, they are not reading well. I agree that your Your last paragraph is an example of twisting the truth of “all are sinners”.

    6. I also actually think your second to last paragraph reveals to me that our positions may not actually be that far off. I am simply trying to say that anyone, given the wrong circumstances, and responding to those wrong circumstances, could head down a path that leads them to take cruel advantage of another. You seem to be saying something similar.

    Thanks for interacting,
    -Andy

    Hi Andy.

    There are some people who have not developed a conscience during the formative period of their childhood. They are in a different class than people who have a conscience but fall into sin. They do not feel remorse. They are incapable of guilt or shame or of changing.

    We are not born with a conscience. It develops during the first few years of life in response to the nurturing of a loving and trustworthy caregiver. If it doesn’t develop then, it isn’t going to develop.

    These people are not able to love and, as a result, they tend to turn to the pursuit of power. Everything they do has at its base the purpose of being in control. They become excellent mimics of what is normal and good but they are just acting. They are capable of great evil while playing the good guy. They are capable of putting on an amazing performance of repentance and sorrow, as well.

    If you haven’t dealt with a person like that, it’s probably hard to visualize how deep the chasm between this person and a normal person is. But the fact is, they can purpose to commit sins that your conscience would never allow you to do. You might, unknowingly, fall into being abusive towards your children, for instance. But, in order to groom a child and commit sexual assault of them, you have to be lacking in conscience. Would anyone commit rape under the right circumstances, or torture a helpless person? No! Perhaps we could say “there but for the grace of God” in terms of, we might all grow up to be twisted people lacking in conscience if we had been through the experiences this person had as an infant (no one knows) but the fact is, there are taboos that a normal person will not overstep. And when you come across someone who finds it easy to overstep those taboos, never impute your own operating conscience to them.

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  131. Brian:
    Law Prof,

    If I found the same study you looked at, the extrapolated data from the Presbyterian Church Canada to the U.S., 1 in 3 churches in the U.S. has a pastor with NPD.

    Is a person with NPD the same as a sociopath?

    I’m not a psychiatrist, but I believe they’re in the same DSM 5 category of antisocial personality disorder. So not identical, but both conscienceless.

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  132. Reading Ash’s article I’m getting the following impression:

    1. If you show any interest in the situation, you must have s dirty mind yourself.

    2. You’ll disgrace the church family if you say anything.

    That’s not discretion or concern, that’s shaming.

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  133. I think a basic distinction can be drawn between

     what ordinary Germans were steadily drawn into in the 1930’s, bit by bit, with both carrots in front and sticks behind, and very powerful ones at that, and
     the steady and deliberate agenda of abuse, manipulation, deceit and control that an abuser pursues

    To keep it short, millions of ordinary Germans were caught up in something much bigger than any one person. Whereas the abuser initiates the behaviour himself or herself. (It may be that “herself” is less common – I don’t have figures – but, for the sake of victims targeted by female sociopaths, it cannot be ignored.)

    Could literally any of us sexually, or violently, abuse another person? Probably not. Could literally any of us be seduced or deceived into the complex web of enablers that a wolf in sheep’s clothing creates? That’s a much harder question. I say this as someone who was part of a cult. We left, and experienced all the usual shunning / slander / demonising etc, but not before we saw some very wrong behaviour without doing anything to stand up against it.

    That’s the important thing about the article by Duncan Forbes (What not to say in response to an abuse story) quoted by my far-seeing Central-Belt-dwelling friend above. Forbes makes the point strongly: the “good” people around the sociopath must not make excuses. They must frankly admit that, ab best, they were duped.

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  134. Nick Bulbeck,

    P.S. I recommend Forbes’ article: it’s quite short, and it articulates well many of the things for which Wartburg stands. I’ll quote a wee snippet from it, though:

    Another sad church abuse story has been officially admitted today. But I want to focus on the things we say in response, that whilst well-intended, can actually further foster a culture of abuse. So here’s some things not to say, and why:

    2. ‘There are lots of ways I benefitted from their ministry!’

    This centres the narrative on both the abuser, and the commentator, rather than the survivors. Furthermore, it misunderstands that these abusers ‘bless’ people in their ministries as a way of grooming by-standers. It is a strategy to get and maintain a network for abuse. The bystanders are unwittingly employed by the abuser to cast doubt in any allegations.

    Even in the minds of survivors, we can sometimes think, ‘but they did all those good things, maybe what they did wasn’t really abuse, maybe it was for my good etc.’ And then, when you hear other people talk about the good this abuser has done, it can cause you to doubt yourself, and not come forward.

    So it’s better to say, ‘I was duped.’

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  135. Nick Bulbeck: 2. ‘There are lots of ways I benefitted from their ministry!’

    After my friend and I left the cult/church, one person came to us to find out why we left and we told her of the pastor’s predation on the vulnerable women in his congrgation. She believed us, but it took her two years before she finally left (after she began to be shunned within the church for talking to us). Her reason for staying even after she knew?
    “I know he is bad, but his preaching is so good.” Abd, like most narcissists, he cold ooze charisma when he wanted to.
    Plus she had bought the lie that if she left, the healing she was praying for would be taken away.

    But back to her statement, “…the preaching is so good.” What this communicated to me was that good preaching was more important than the mental well-being of her friends.

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  136. Nick Bulbeck: We left, and experienced all the usual shunning / slander / demonising etc, but not before we saw some very wrong behaviour without doing anything to stand up against it.

    Perhaps the connection in all of this is the “Institution” (whether it be political, religious, educational, vocational, etc.) that grooms and enables abusive people to come to power to perpetuate the abuse. Jesus did not respect institutions and he did not come to establish a new and better one. Instead, it appears he came to establish a new humanity indpendent from any institution.

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  137. Brian:
    Reading Ash’s article I’m getting the following impression:

    1. If you show any interest in the situation, you must have s dirty mind yourself.

    2. You’ll disgrace the church family if you say anything.

    That’s not discretion or concern, that’s shaming.

    Which sounds exactly like what an abuser or someone close to an abuser would say, doesn’t it? These are the three things that have perpetuated abuse in the church for millennia.

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  138. Wild Honey,

    Your story is a GREAT example why we all need to stand up when we can for righteousness ( in the Jewish sense of the word). We need call out when evil when we see it…. covering up pedos, and other abuse, under the Christ is just plain evil. We need to call it our now, before it gets institutionalized like it did in Germany..

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  139. Law Prof,

    Sorry I was replying to the general thread. The Hitler Youth comment was a part of that. I do strongly disagree with your gutless attribution to the people there at the time.

    Protesting and getting killed or disappeared for with no effect on the situation is a waste of a life.

    It is hard for us in our current first world life to understand and relate in a meaningful way to what was going on in places like Hitler’s Germany, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia and so on.

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  140. ishy,

    I would not “put up” with an elder, or pastor, treating me/shaming me like that! I would go right back at them about covering for a pervert, or risking future abuse by allowing a convicted pervert in a position of potential abuse…
    I use to allow people to try to “sham me” with respect to young earth/ old earth controverse… I do not any more…
    To many “Christians” have been trained to attack the character on anyone ask hard questions..,..

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  141. Alana: But, functionally, a Calvinist would have to believe they are wasting their emotions on someone who wasn’t “chosen”!

    I don’t believe this idea of ‘wasting’ emotions is one that is fundamental to Presbyterians, who came out of the Calvin/Knox tradition. In my experience practically, the people I go to church with now are more caring in general about ‘others’ than a lot of non-Calvinist fundamentalist churches.

    Othering is common to humanity in general I think and religion in particular, sadly.

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  142. Jeffrey Chalmers: I would not “put up” with an elder, or pastor, treating me/shaming me like that! I would go right back at them about covering for a pervert, or risking future abuse by allowing a convicted pervert in a position of potential abuse…

    I still think it sounds like there is something they are trying to hide. And I don’t care what someone’s theology is–abuse should never be tolerated and ignored. It’s been quite clear that not only are many pastors ignoring abuse, many of them are the ones perpetrating it. It’s clear they won’t deal with it, so we shouldn’t let them anymomre.

    Any pastor that tells people to be quiet about abuse does not deserve the title of pastor or ministry leader and should step down.

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  143. Friend: But they are not like most sinners. They are more like rattlesnakes

    Ok, I don’t think rattlesnakes deserve this bad name! I as well as friends and family have encountered them on hikes. They don’t actually want confrontation and will warn people nearby to beware before striking if the warning isn’t heeded and one is too close or threatening. Not at all like abusers! 🙂

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  144. Daisy: I’d like for any of these Sin Leveler guys (usually Neo Calvinists?) to look me straight in the face (so to speak) and tell me they could or would ever do such a thing.

    Good point Daisy.

    And you know what else?

    I’d like to see one of those same types look me in the eyes and tell me how my jay-walking (to use a metaphor) deserves the same lake of fire as say Josef Mengele.

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  145. Jeffrey Chalmers:
    ishy,

    I would not “put up” with an elder, or pastor, treating me/shaming me like that! I would go right back at them about covering for a pervert, or risking future abuse by allowing a convicted pervert in a positionof potential abuse…
    I use to allow people to try to “sham me” with respect to young earth/ old earth controverse…I do not any more…
    To many “Christians” have been trained to attack the character on anyone ask hard questions..,..

    The reason I put up with it for so long was because I almost always stupidly assumed the best of anyone in a church, including leadership. Assumed they wanted to do the right thing and anything that was wrong must just be due to a misunderstanding or a wrong-headed notion that simple good-natured conversation could resolve. Surely they’d listen to reason, always told myself. So when some ugly attack came, it was always as a shocking surprise and I’d try to laugh it off or just stand there confused. It was people who had no conscience and scruples and who were absolutely ruthless taking advantage of a normal person, flawed, struggling with sin, but like most people Christian or not, generally trying to do the right thing.

    A person without a conscience can get away with a lot. After decades of always thinking the best and being run over, slandered, passive-aggressived, publicly humiliated, etc., it doesn’t work on me anymore. Last person in church leadership I got close enough to (small group attendance) who tried the surprise attack and wife and me got the surprise of their lives.

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  146. NC Now:
    Law Prof,

    Sorry I was replying to the general thread. The Hitler Youth comment was a part of that. I do strongly disagree with your gutless attribution to the people there at the time.

    Protesting and getting killed or disappeared for with no effect on the situation is a waste of a life.

    It is hard for us in our current first world life to understand and relate in a meaningful way to what was going on in places like Hitler’s Germany, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia and so on.

    Realize that I’m slamming my own. But I do think it was gutless. There are hills you should be willing to die on, and even though there were decades of antisemitism overtaking Germany (it was not a huge thing in the 19th Century, it really flared up in the early 20th), even though they were coming off a painful War and the Great Depression, even though, they were not idiots, and they could see that Jews, gypsies, anyone who didn’t fit the Third Reich’s idea of perfection, were being treated horribly. That was obvious. Not saying the Final Solution was obvious. Those were dark rumors. But still, more people should’ve stood up to them. Mein Kampf made obvious the intentions and plan. The National Socialists were never in the majority, never got a majority of the Reichstag, and were actually in a bit of decline right before Von Papen and the ironically-named Hindenburg made their fateful maneuvers to put the corporal in charge. This could’ve been stopped, but most (not all!) were about their own interests or didn’t have the guts to stand up.

    Also not saying we in the 21st Century are any different.

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  147. readingalong: Ok, I don’t think rattlesnakes deserve this bad name! I as well as friends and family have encountered them on hikes. They don’t actually want confrontation and will warn people nearby to beware before striking if the warning isn’t heeded and one is too close or threatening.Not at all like abusers!

    We’ve had two on our property in the last couple years that our 14 year old son and 20 year old daughter encountered. In both cases, the rattlers gave plenty of warning—which was terrifying! Our 20 year old daughter drove up in her car, opened the door, and there was the rattler right THERE just outside the door ratting, where she would’ve stepped out. She slammed the door, jumped out the passenger side, and ran in the house screaming.

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  148. Law Prof: The reason I put up with it for so long was because I almost always stupidly assumed the best of anyone in a church, including leadership. Assumed they wanted to do the right thing and anything that was wrong must just be due to a misunderstanding or a wrong-headed notion that simple good-natured conversation could resolve.

    My comment was directed to Ash and pastors and ministry leaders like him. His article was another “Shut up and sit down peons!” command from someone who thinks they have the authority to tell people to do that. Leaders like him have proved over and over again they don’t deserve to tell people they they are “handling it”. They aren’t. Either they are covering it up, they are intentionally allowing it to continue, or they are the abuser. And I think people who do the first two are often abusers themselves, just maybe financially or spiritually.

    No more. I don’t care who you pastors think you are. You aren’t telling people to be quiet anymore!

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  149. Random thought: leaders do not fall. Hang on a minute: duly appointed labelled educated men and women do fall. But just because we labelled them leaders did not make it true.

    The emperor had no clothes on. Real leaders are quietly leading, not building their own kingdoms and usurping power. I suspect God is laughing when our “leaders” fall. I suspect He never considered them leaders at all.

    And I suspect in heaven we are going to be absolutely totally shocked at who the real leaders and pastors were:)

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  150. ishy: My comment was directed to Ash and pastors and ministry leaders like him. His article was another “Shut up and sit down peons!” command from someone who thinks they have the authority to tell people to do that. Leaders like him have proved over and over again they don’t deserve to tell people they they are “handling it”. They aren’t. Either they are covering it up, they are intentionally allowing it to continue, or they are the abuser. And I think people who do the first two are often abusers themselves, just maybe financially or spiritually.

    No more. I don’t care who you pastors think you are. You aren’t telling people to be quiet anymore!

    Amen!

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  151. Andy,

    However, with respect to leadership, we NEED to expect ethical behavior, at some bad behavior should disqualify, irrespective of “repentance”. For example, we should not allow alcoholics to be airline pilots…. I do not care about heart attitude, repentance has nothing to with it… it is about public safety… Same for church leaders… the position is to easy for someone to abuse the “spiritual power” . So, an abuser can repent, and serve in a church, but they should not be a “leader”..

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  152. Abigail: I have decided to not read or comment anymore. I am getting depressed by what I am reading and I cannot bear it any more emotionally.

    So sorry to hear that, Abigail. Please take care of yourself!

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  153. Jeffrey Chalmers: church leaders… the position is too easy for someone to abuse the “spiritual power”

    I’m convinced that’s why some men “go into the ministry.” If they use their authority to abuse others, they obviously weren’t called to that office by Holy God. Let’s face it, the institutional church has become an easy place for abuser-wannabes to hide in plain sight. We are too darn trusting of anyone called “pastor” – we need to get over that! I used to fuss at folks who said there was a devil hiding behind every bush … until I discovered, in church, that there is a devil hiding behind every bush.

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  154. Brian:
    Done One,

    Was J. Vernon Mc Gee, Charles Swindoll, Robert Jeffress, John Hagee and Billy Graham on that list of expelled books.

    For me, the only person on your list was Swindoll, but yes, I did throw those books out. I also reluctantly threw out Gordon Macdonald, John Howard Yoder (that one really hurt), and a couple other Bible professors you’ve probably never heard of. I just can’t read them the same. I’m not sure why. I can’t listen to Bill Cosby anymore either. Just knowing what’s inside them is a filter that greys out all the good color in there.

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  155. ishy: “Shut up and sit down peons!” command from someone who thinks they have the authority to tell people to do that.

    Beware of church leaders who keep preaching hard against a particular sin … it might be a cover for the same sin they are in (remember Ted Haggard). Also beware of church leaders who attempt to shame Christians into silence for “gossiping” … they could be trying to avoid exposure of a hidden sin in their lives (remember James MacDonald).

    The authority of Christ is waning in the American church. In its absence, an illegitimate authority has set up shop. Think twice about what you join yourself to these days … all that glitters is not gold. Not all who call themselves “Pastor” have been called by God to that sacred office. Not everyone who has been handed an article to write or a mic to speak in Christendom, have something to say … TGC is not the final word on this matter.

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  156. Jeffrey Chalmers:
    Andy,

    However, with respect to leadership, we NEED to expect ethical behavior, at some bad behavior should disqualify, irrespective of “repentance”.For example, we should not allow alcoholics to be airline pilots…. I do not care about heart attitude, repentance has nothing to with it… it is about public safety… Same for church leaders…the position is to easy for someone to abuse the “spiritual power” .So, an abuser can repent, and serve in a church, but they should not be a “leader”..

    I have not said otherwise.

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  157. I mean, please. It takes a special kind of evil warped individual to do things like that.

    But where does such evil come from? What makes that person different?

    I don’t claim to know for sure how it all works. If pressed I would say it is a combination of 1. Inborn sinful nature due to the fall, that manifest differently in different personalities. 2. Environmental influences in childhood (because these tendencies do tend to be set pretty early) and 3. Personal choices in response to a particular environment.

    I do disagree with the poster above who said children are not born with a conscience. The Bible says we are created in God’s image, and that we have eternity written in our hearts. So it would seem we have BOTH: a sinful, fallen nature…and an inner knowledge that we are sinful, and that a good exists.

    I have yet to hear a biblical view of Mankind that explains why some people do terrible things and some don’t, that doesn’t include that we all have, or at least had at some point, the capability to do them.

    When God spoke to Cain, he said “sin is crouching at the door.” God seemed to be implying that Cain had a choice, he was not “without conscience”, or completely gone…but his decisions would take him deeper and deeper in.

    If the consensus among those posting here is that abusers and other sociopaths, narcissists, etc…are a different breed/class…what makes them that way? And does your answer align with a biblical view that accounts for: The image of God in Man, a sinful tendency resulting from the fall, a genuine offer of not only forgiveness, but sanctification and growth in godliness, for all sinners?

    Thanks,
    -Andy

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  158. When poliçe investigate molestation cases, do they use the reverse of the “broken windows theory”?

    If a church or denomination are playing protect the man-made corporation, maybe they fear more victims coming forward? Just thinking out loud.

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  159. Andy,

    This is a nice theological discussion, but abusers DO NOT belong in leadership roles in churches, and we pew peons do have a “right” to demand that our “Christian leaders” behave! Repentance has nothing to do with the safety of our children, and pew peons in general… this blog would not exist if “Christian leaders” did the “right thing” and STOPED covering up abuse….

    I am not saying you, Andy, are covering up for these abusers, just that many of on the blog are tired of “Christian leaders” telling us to “shut up”. No, we need stand on mountain top and yell about the abuse and cover ups until the “leaders” get it and do the “right thing”…. I can’t even comprehend if it as one of my kids that abused, and one these clowns covered it and told me shut up!

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  160. SiteSeer: We are not born with a conscience. It develops during the first few years of life in response to the nurturing of a loving and trustworthy caregiver.

    Some families have several children raised by the same parents, and only one of them grows up with an antisocial personality (NPD, sociopath, psychopath). Do you have thoughts about how that could occur?

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  161. The thing that gets me about Calvinist “Total Depravity” is how they double talk about it. I have not found one proponent who could use the term in a logically consistent way across all of the many ways they use the term. One guy wrote about how great TULIP was while admitting that every single name that was chosen was poorly chosen and, at face value, was misleading. This breaks any kind of common sense logic that I am aware of. If the labels are wrong and misleading, then how can the substance of what they mean be good? He was busy discussing how total depravity was neither total nor depraved. This kind of argument would get laughed out of court, I would imagine. It is gibberish that defies common sense.
    Beyond that, the abusive NPD Calvinists who use the term I do believe are actually totally depraved, along with all the other abusive NPD leaders in every other theological stream that exists in this world. They are simply totally depraved people committing the worse sin man has ever created.
    There is a lot of talk here about Nazis and Hitler, and while dictators like he are really nasty, we just look at sins from a human perspective. We can see the death and abuse of our fellow humans and relate to it. But the most evil sin that I have come to understand is to take the Holy One, the very Son of God, and manipulate His Word in order to start your own private personality cult where you are the one worshiped, instead of He. In heaven there is no worse sin then that, because of the greatness of the One sinned against. These men do many great evils to the sheep inside their personality cults, but, as King David said, who greatly abused his own authority and would know better than anyone, “it is against You alone that I have sinned!” I think this is the primary reason that the sin leveling arguments are used by these white-washed septic tanks. Those who commit the greatest evil are those who are most motivated to suggest that your sin of over-eating on your birthday is just as bad as their “Jim Jones” manipulations in order to eat as many sheep as possible even while the sheep worship the ground they stand on while they get consumed by the object of their worship.

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  162. Andy: I have yet to hear a biblical view of Mankind that explains why some people do terrible things and some don’t, that doesn’t include that we all have, or at least had at some point, the capability to do them.

    There’s been several in this thread, and you’ve ignored them. Not going to point them out again, because you probably don’t have an answer that fits in your current theological box, and that’s why you already ignored them.

    And so what? So what if you are right? How does that work out in civil society? You can’t seem to answer that question with your “biblical” theology.

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  163. Andy,

    I think Andy is having trouble seeing the trees for the forest. There is one question of where does the sin nature come from and how bad can it get given the right set of circumstances. This is a theoretical forest and I do not believe that question can be adequately answered by anyone less than God. The trees that all of your responders are talking about are something very different. It is just common sense that each person has weaknesses where they do sin and strengths where they do not. For this reason, Andy and everyone else are arguing passed each other. We are talking about trees while he is talking about the forest. We are mere human beings with a very short life span. I doubt that anyone here is qualified to answer your question Andy who has not lived for many millennia in the presence of Wisdom Himself, Jesus Christ. I think you are asking your question to the wrong audience. Let me humbly suggest that you kick it up to the right authority and be patient for your answer…

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  164. Andy: If the consensus among those posting here is that abusers and other sociopaths, narcissists, etc…are a different breed/class…what makes them that way? And does your answer align with a biblical view that accounts for: The image of God in Man, a sinful tendency resulting from the fall, a genuine offer of not only forgiveness, but sanctification and growth in godliness, for all sinners?
    Thanks,

    Yep- my viewpoint does align with Scripture as far as Scripture can go. The Bible is not a medical journal nor a psychiatric treatment plan as much as the biblical counselors like to claim that it is. Schizophrenia is a serious disease that is not *caused* by sinful actions although severel abuse in childhood can lead in some cases to the disease. In most instances , it just happens and oddly enough, it tends to rear its head in the late teens and early 20s which suggest that some crucial brain development goes awry. The person cannot make a choice to have the *voices* go away. The Bible does not address schizophrenia unless you wish to make the claim that they are all *demon possessed.* However, it does not appear that exorcism has been a successful treatment modality since it has been tried from time to time.

    There are a number of serious psychiatric problems that sadly, we know very little about. Psychosis, sociopaths, pedophilia and other paraphilias. Just like the body, the brain can became damaged. No one chooses to become schizophrenic just like no one consciously chooses to have prefer to have sex with children. Normal people have no desire to have sex with kids.

    I need to repeat this because you did not respond to what I said. People who molest children have a serious psychiatric condition. It is not something that some chooses to *slip into.*

    If you truly believe that you could *slip into* molesting children just like you could slip and go over the speed limit, you need to get help. I am getting red flags from your comments. Sadly, there are many people out there who would like to dumb down pedophilia into a simple sinful reaction. People who do this are attempting justify that their profound psychiatric disorder is simply a sin.

    In this manner, pedophiles are able to invade kid activities at churches by conning people into thinking that pedophilia is a simple sin. Confess, repent and all is well. And uninformed Christian leaders fall prey to this dangerous thinking.

    I called Highpoint Church in Memphis to alert them that they had a convicted sex offender on the music team. The pastor said to me *Don’t you believe in forgiveness?” He was doing exactly what you are doing: looking at sex offense as simple sins.

    Needless to say the church had to remove him from his position due to their anxiety that their view of forgiveness would not be well received. http://thewartburgwatch.com/2016/11/28/a-convicted-rapist-at-highpoint-church-how-to-understand-molestation-and-deal-with-it-properly/

    You see, normal people actually are concerned when there is a pedophile in their midst. They understand that reoffending is highly possible since pedophiles do not simply lose their desire to view children in a sexual manner. Many will suffer this affection for the rest of their life.

    Sometimes, stupid (or perverse) leaders will attempt to goad their members into accepting molestation and clergy abuse as simple whoopsies. Tis is a dangerous position to take.

    Again, please seek help if you believe that you could *slip into* pedophilia.

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  165. ishy: There’s been several in this thread, and you’ve ignored them. Not going to point them out again, because you probably don’t have an answer that fits in your current theological box, and that’s why you already ignored them.

    And so what? So what if you are right? How does that work out in civil society? You can’t seem to answer that question with your “biblical” theology.

    1. Sorry, I must have missed them. Several have said it’s because they are sociopaths. But have not explained why some are capable of abuse and others are not. One person said that people are not born with a conscience, but must develop one as they grow, and some people don’t. )that doesn’t seem to fit biblically. I have seen it stated THAT they are different, but not WHY.

    2. You are right, I do have my beliefs. As does everyone here.

    3. I have not been attempting to work out how to respond in civil society. In General, I would agree with many here about safeguards, reporting to authorities, not allowing known abusers back into leadership, Etc… Where I might differ is that while watching out or “Those people” is ONE part of the response…another side of things might be things like (1) seeking to instill respect and empathy for others in our children from a young age. (2) Guarding our church leadership structures such that no one person has all the power…not only to prevent a hardened power-mongers from gaining it….but a lot prevent initially well-meaning men from being corrupted by such power.

    4. As a side thought, not Biblical, and more related to spiritual authoritarian abuse than child abuse…., but more folk-wisdom: There is the saying:
    “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    I actually believe this, that a well-meaning, yet untested leader can be corrupted by power. Yet it seems many on this Blog believe it is ONLY the ALREADY corrupted, power-hungry narcissist who takes advantage of power.

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  166. Andy: I don’t claim to know for sure how it all works. If pressed I would say it is a combination of 1. Inborn sinful nature due to the fall, that manifest differently in different personalities. 2. Environmental influences in childhood (because these tendencies do tend to be set pretty early) and 3. Personal choices in response to a particular environment.

    You seem to be mixing a literal reading of Scripture with scientific understanding of human psychology. I do not believe that Christians are required to view the Bible as a work of science and history. Literalism can make people suspicious of human knowledge.

    Christian faith is about meaning and the relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of the Trinity, if you are Trinitarian. I believe simultaneously and comfortably that the virgin birth narrative is true, and that it is scientifically impossible. To me the virgin birth is a mystery. A scientific explanation that tries to prove or disprove it takes away meaning. The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55 KJV) has ample meaning apart from any scientific or historical proof:

    And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

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  167. Andy: Guarding our church leadership structures such that no one person has all the power…not only to prevent a hardened power-mongers from gaining it….but a lot prevent initially well-meaning men from being corrupted by such power.

    You realize the position you have taken is exactly the one used by many men who are now in jail or who have been dumped from their churches because of how they used that exact theology? That they don’t need to have consequences for their actions? Many of us have followed this blog for years, seen the same things happen over and over, and some of us were at these churches that get featured here. Two of my seminary classmates were arrested for child abuse, along with the best bud of my seminary president.

    Not all abusers have church or political level power. But those who do are the subject of the blog. That’s why we are all here. But we’re not supposed to talk about them? Seriously?
    Most of us have experienced those power-grabbing, abusing pastors personally. So what are you suggesting we do talk about on a blog about church abuse?

    There’s been huge numbers of studies on abusers with power or not, and the way they act to groom victims and those around them is not accidental. It happens with intention and over long periods of time. It doesn’t “go away” with what many consider salvation, contrary to popular Christian belief. It’s a wrench in nice, neat theological discussions. And that needs to be talked about.

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  168. Andy: it seems many on this Blog believe it is ONLY the ALREADY corrupted, power-hungry narcissist who takes advantage of power.

    TWW is not some sort of monolith, and I have never seen that viewpoint here. Yes, of course, there are awful people who happen not to have antisocial personalities. Most of us just don’t believe that Joe Pewsitter is going to transform—poof!—into a child predator.

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  169. Friend: Some families have several children raised by the same parents, and only one of them grows up with an antisocial personality (NPD, sociopath, psychopath). Do you have thoughts about how that could occur?

    I think nature and nurture work in concert, but sometimes the details are fuzzy.

    I have heard that many serial killers had head wounds in childhood, that might be an avenue for exploration. There may be other things we haven’t considered. I don’t know that there is science saying children have no conscience…I would be happy to read it if you are aware of it. At very young ages, their brains are not as developed as adults yet and how we raise them matters and shapes their moral views, but I’m not sure that’s saying the same thing.

    As for Andy, although he claims a ‘biblical’ perspective on this, I haven’t seen anything but a reference to David. Just because David was a bad guy in many ways (and he was!) doesn’t mean everyone is equally capable of quote/unquote ‘terrible’ sins.

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  170. Andy: Yet it seems many on this Blog believe it is ONLY the ALREADY corrupted, power-hungry narcissist who takes advantage of power.

    I think you missed all the comments (and there were many) about people seeking out power because they wish to take advantage of it. That isn’t to say that people *can’t* be corrupted by power, but they aren’t ALL.

    And if you have no sexual interest in children you will not ‘fall’ into that sin. Your position is the one that seems to lack nuance.

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  171. Lea,

    I knew one of Kemper’s victims, Rosalind Thorpe. She and my older sister were best buds for a while in high school, and she spent a lot of time in our home. Her younger sister (whose PTSD dates back to Roz’s death) still goes to testify before the parole board every time Kemper’s name comes up. How anybody could ever think somebody like that should be let out of prison is beyond me. Oh, wait, this is California. My bad.

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  172. Lea: I don’t know that there is science saying children have no conscience…I would be happy to read it if you are aware of it.

    Found this from NIH: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3783349/

    Since I had to look up terms, I can’t claim a full grasp of the material. The article looks at different temperament types with regard to the formation of the conscience. I don’t see anything about the child being a blank slate that receives a conscience from caregivers. Very young children have temperaments and other attributes.

    Long ago as a new mother I asked a clergy member, “How can I introduce my baby to God?” She answered, “God has already introduced himself to your baby.” That is my Biblical view. 🙂

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  173. dee,

    dee,

    Dee,

    Thank you for your reply. I do not claim to understand all that makes people the way they are, and discussions like this are helpful to widen my reading and thinking. I believe we have the same goal, to prevent abuse, both of children, and of churches by authoritarians. Perhaps it is simply my background and teaching so far, but I do believe that it is wise for each person to be on guard in their own heart against even sins that they don’t think they would, or could ever do.

    As an example perhaps of my current views: I believe homosexual acts are sinful. However I do not believe that most homosexuals chose to be same-sex attracted. I don’t fully understand why some are, but would guess that some natural inclinations mixed with environmental factors…however I believe they are responsible for their actions before God, that the non-choice factors do no mean they did not chose to sin.

    To answer your question, I don’t believe I would ever have desire to hurt a child. I also don’t think I would murder someone…but I also hear scriptures warnings against harboring anger, and want to take them seriously, lest I grow in bitterness and resentment that might lead me down such a path.

    I don’t really consider the things we are discussing “Simple” sins, but big, ugly complex sins…but yes, still sins.

    I would be curious if your answer to my other note: do you believe power corrupts, or only that the ready corrupt seek power?

    Thanks,
    -Andy

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  174. StillWiggling: I knew one of Kemper’s victims, Rosalind Thorpe. She and my older sister were best buds for a while in high school, and she spent a lot of time in our home. Her younger sister (whose PTSD dates back to Roz’s death) still goes to testify before the parole board every time Kemper’s name comes up.

    How sad!

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  175. Lea: I haven’t seen anything but a reference to David

    I’m getting weary with folks always dragging David in this! They talk about how God restored David after his gross sins. David wasn’t in the ministry – he was in the military! I’m not aware of any NT examples of church leaders failing morally who were restored to the ministry. Forgive them if they genuinely repent? Certainly! Restore them to ministry? NO!

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  176. Lea: As for Andy, although he claims a ‘biblical’ perspective on this, I haven’t seen anything but a reference to David. Just because David was a bad guy in many ways (and he was!) doesn’t mean everyone is equally capable of quote/unquote ‘terrible’ sins.

    I think that a lot of this ‘biblical perspective’ is based on the belief that a holy and righteous god cannot tolerate any form of ‘sin’, not even my jay-walking.

    So it follows then, that all sin is the same, even if you (generic you) don’t believe in that sort of thing, which I don’t

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  177. Friend: Long ago as a new mother I asked a clergy member, “How can I introduce my baby to God?” She answered, “God has already introduced himself to your baby.” That is my Biblical view.

    How utterly beautiful!
    That’s my ‘Scriptural’ view too.

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  178. Max: I’m getting weary with folks always dragging David in this! They talk about how God restored David after his gross sins.

    But they don’t talk about how (and apologies for repeating myself here) God did not simply drop it as if it had never happened, nor allow David to do so. The consequences of David’s actions – repentance or no repentance – never left him.

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  179. Muff Pottter: I think that a lot of this ‘biblical perspective’ is based on the belief that a holy and righteous god cannot tolerate any form of ‘sin’, not even my jay-walking.

    Then we have the 10 commandments, which does seem to call out specific sins as worse than others. But it is the “law”. I think even if God sees no difference in sin related to our separation from Him, you still have to have civil laws to keep peace and order. And those make distinctions.

    But even in the requirement for pastoral ministry, there’s some pretty strict limitations, so much so that I would argue that a majority of pastors today don’t qualify. And I agree with Dee and others in this thread that just because someone is made right with God in the sense of justification doesn’t mean they should be trusted to be pastors or faith leaders.

    Even if they were doing horrible things in their pre-Christian life, they should spend a long time proving they are changed, should we argue that they even deserve a chance to be a pastor at all. Paul spent years before being trusted by the apostles to be in ministry. And he took almost nothing from the people he served, working hard to support himself with a laborious job, which is a wide contrast from many SBC leaders today. If many of these leaders today had to work for a living in addition to being a pastor or missionary, would they?

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  180. dee: I am getting red flags from your comments.

    I recognize Andy (from his cool hat) as one of the regulars over at SBC Voices. He used to irritate me over there and on other SBC-related blogs when I frequented them (I gave up debating those characters long ago). The young reformers have some strange ways at looking at things. I’d say he has joined himself to his idols, so leave him alone. Sadly, I think he is a pastor.

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  181. ishy: But even in the requirement for pastoral ministry, there’s some pretty strict limitations

    Right? There are a ton of hops from David did evil (and as noted, was punished for it) to we should totally let this guy who abused people AS A PASTOR back in the same position to do it again because he ‘fell’. Honestly.

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  182. Nick Bulbeck: But they don’t talk about how (and apologies for repeating myself here) God did not simply drop it as if it had never happened, nor allow David to do so. The consequences of David’s actions – repentance or no repentance – never left him.

    So next time they do that, what someone needs to ask them is if they’d be OK with the consequences: as the Bible says, the sword never departed from his house. David lived to see the son of his adultery/rape of Bathsheeba die in infancy, two other sons attempt to have him assassinated or usurped (one of whom also raped his daughter), one of whom was killed by his right hand man, the other was assassinated by another son.

    When they think of consequences, they’re usually not thinking of death and destruction such as David faced, they’re usually thinking of a six-month to one-year paid vacation, then a triumphal return with a new book deal, new church, and new mantra of “Not perfect, just forgiven.”

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  183. And now, behold: Cricket

    The last remaining semi-final place will be decided – from a human POV – on Friday, when Pakistan play Bangladesh at Lord’s (a lesser lord, for those who were wondering). If Pakistan win by a very large margin, and in particular with a huge gain in their net run-rate, they will displace New Zealand. Otherwise the Kiwis will remain in fourth place and will play either Australia or India in the semi-final at Old Trafford.

    If you have ears to hear…

    Best regards,
    God

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  184. Max: I recognize Andy (from his cool hat) as one of the regulars over at SBC Voices.He used to irritate me over there and on other SBC-related blogs when I frequented them (I gave up debating those characters long ago).The young reformers have some strange ways at looking at things.I’d say he has joined himself to his idols, so leave him alone.Sadly, I think he is a pastor.

    I don’t know him from Adam, but I do know he turns tail and runs pretty quickly when he gets a little pushback on his bizarre notions. Maybe that stuff flies in a place where a lot of men secretly struggle with the desire to hurt children sexually. But around 97% of the population, they’re just going to look at you like you have three heads if you say that nonsense.

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  185. Andy: 1.Sorry, I must have missed them. Several have said it’s because they are sociopaths.

    I didn’t say that. I said some of them are sociopaths, I talked about the sociopathic and NPD personality type. But I don’t believe that everyone who hurts a child is an NPD or sociopath. I didn’t say that, don’t think it.

    Andy: I actually believe this, that a well-meaning, yet untested leader can be corrupted by power.Yet it seems many on this Blog believe it is ONLY the ALREADY corrupted, power-hungry narcissist who takes advantage of power.

    Of course, I believe that also. Who said otherwise? And who in the heck said that it was only already corrupted, power-hungry narcissists who take advantage of power? I didn’t say that, Andy. Some people are power-hungry narcissists, they are evil and w/o a conscience, they are hugely over represented in the pastorate. But they are not the only ones who take advantage of power.

    It sounds to me, in all candor, that you’re straw-manning us. And you’re not answering reasonable questions put to you. Just like you want to have your own debate with a person you make up, you put words in their mouths, then defeat them. I guess so you can go back to friends and parishioners and tell them about the debates you won?

    Andy, answer my question: Where in the Bible does it say that everyone is capable of all sins? Because that it something you have said.

    Answer my question, then I’ll take you seriously. Otherwise, young man, you’ll be a joke around here, and you will be seen as dishonest, which I personally think you are. You sure don’t debate honestly, at least not yet. Answer my questions.

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  186. Max: David wasn’t in the ministry – he was in the military!

    Ha! And I don’t believe I have heard a military chaplain hold David up as an example of an officer who recovered from credible allegations of fraternization and fratricide, and was subsequently promoted to five-star general.

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  187. Sin-leveling is a popular teaching within New Calvinist ranks – the idea that all sin is the same. Paul ripped into the Corinthian church for tolerating a god-awful sinner in their midst, but didn’t come against them with the same intensity for putting up with those who talked negatively about their neighbors or committed some other “ordinary” sin.

    Such stinkin-thinkin survives best in a patriarchy where the pew is shamed into forgiving the pulpit no matter what. If a person lies, he misses the mark (that’s what sin is) … but does he miss the mark the same as a church leader who abuses a child?! Is my “gossip” about a pedophile pastor the same as his ungodly sin? Sin-leveling tells a victim to forgive his abuser and go on, because the victim too has sinned along the way in some manner and God forgave him/her. Forgiving those who trespass against you doesn’t play out on a level field like some teach, IMO. It’s the stuff of another gospel. I just don’t find sufficient Scriptural support for this and conclude that sin-leveling is not Biblical.

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  188. Max: I recognize Andy (from his cool hat) as one of the regulars over at SBC Voices.He used to irritate me over there and on other SBC-related blogs when I frequented them (I gave up debating those characters long ago).The young reformers have some strange ways at looking at things.I’d say he has joined himself to his idols, so leave him alone.Sadly, I think he is a pastor.

    Max, I apologize if I have irritated you, or anyone here.

    I will likely leave this discussion as is for now…Thank you for all who have replied.

    I will say that my use of David was not to defend re-instatement, but simply that He was a man who was called Godly, yet did a horrible thing, simply as an example of my primary point, which I is only that each of us needs to humbly guard our own hearts. I agree with much that is said on this site, I’m sorry this point has made us feel at animosity.

    -Andy

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  189. StillWiggling: How anybody could ever think somebody like that should be let out of prison is beyond me. Oh, wait, this is California. My bad.

    I’m wondering why they didn’t give this guy life without the possibility of parole! He clearly cannot be given a chance in society again.

    At the time, the death penalty was suspended and is currently suspended again in California. California has consistently had the death penalty. There are 20 states who currently do not have the death penalty.

    Where there is no death penalty they should give life w/o parole so victims can live in peace without having to go to parole hearings to keep these horrific serial killers in prison.

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  190. Law Prof: When they think of consequences, they’re usually not thinking of death and destruction such as David faced, they’re usually thinking of a six-month to one-year paid vacation, then a triumphal return with a new book deal, new church, and new mantra of “Not perfect, just forgiven.”

    But I just haaavvveeee to be a six-figure pastor, Law Prof! How else can I support my family?

    (You know, I started to laugh, then thought of about 5 different pastors who’ve done this. It’s just sad, then.)

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  191. Andy: Max, I apologize if I have irritated you, or anyone here.

    I will likely leave this discussion as is for now…Thank you for all who have replied.

    I will say that my use of David was not to defend re-instatement, but simply that He was a man who was called Godly, yet did a horrible thing, simply as an example of my primary point, which I is only that each of us needs to humbly guard our own hearts.I agree with much that is said on this site, I’m sorry this point has made us feel at animosity.

    -Andy

    Come on, man! Don’t weasel out. I asked you a question. Remember, you were the one who said your’s was the Biblical position, and when I ask you to give me some biblical reference, you don’t. Then, you go and slink off. That stinks, Andy, that’s gutless. Jerk move, man!

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  192. Max,

    “I’m getting weary with folks always dragging David in this! They talk about how God restored David after his gross sins. David wasn’t in the ministry – he was in the military!”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    i’m curious what they mean by “restored”. do they even know themselves? (i reckon they haven’t really thought about it, but are simply parroting things they hear others say and write)

    let’s be clear: David was restored to nothing.

    seems to me one is restored to something because there was a code they violated.

    as far as David was concerned, there certainly wasn’t a code in place which forbade kings from having a harem & multiple wives, nor the method by which people became consorts and wives (Bathsheba). it all seems to be standard practice for kings.

    it’s hard to believe there was a code in place which forbade kings from having a human obstacle ‘removed’ for ‘political reasons’ (Uriah).

    David wasn’t restored to anything. except his relationship with God. which is between him and God. it has nothing to do with his role or relationship to human beings in an way.

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  193. ishy: But I just haaavvveeee to be a six-figure pastor, Law Prof! How else can I support my family?

    (You know, I started to laugh, then thought of about 5 different pastors who’ve done this. It’s just sad, then.)

    Man, fought my way through years of teaching, years of lawyering, and working on fourth degree in middle age and all those years of getting all that experience and all the failure and struggle and still just a mite shy of six-figures. And to think all I had to do was go three years to get a little M.Div. and run my mouth and dazzle people with recycled stories. I swear, I can make em laugh, make em cry when I speak—it’s the only thing I’ve consistently excelled at. If only I’d done that pastor thing, could’ve been rich, eh?

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  194. Law Prof: I swear, I can make em laugh, make em cry when I speak—it’s the only thing I’ve consistently excelled at. If only I’d done that pastor thing, could’ve been rich, eh?

    I saw someone on Twitter just this week in a thread about Tullian say, “But how can he support his family if he’s not allowed to be a pastor?” The stupidity of that argument is astounding.

    I was thinking about my earlier comment about Paul who mostly supported himself. It would be a real test of mettle for someone who wants to prove they are trustworthy to minister while supporting themselves with another job. I went to seminary while working 30 hours a week and did my post-bacc with a full-time job.

    So sure, let them go back into ministry, but they have to pay for it with an actual, physical job (and not writing books)! Better yet if it’s at Home Depot or in construction. I bet that would cut down on the Tullians and the Driscolls and the others who just want easy jobs with high pay.

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  195. Andy,

    “I will likely leave this discussion as is for now…Thank you for all who have replied.

    …I agree with much that is said on this site, I’m sorry this point has made us feel at animosity.”
    ++++++++++++++

    Hi, Andy.

    you’ve been polite. Thank you.

    i can put ‘animosity’ into some perspective.

    i’ll speak only for myself: i’m simply growing impatient.

    my agnostic relatives, my muslim friends, and my atheist friends have much higher moral/ethical standards than christians inhabiting christian culture do.

    considering that leaders inherently have a higher degree of responsibility, the ignorance, stupidity, self-interest, duplicity and corruption, all with a sweet smile, which I observe in christian leaders is revolting and infuriating.

    and then their entitlement to be richly rewarded for it all, seemingly oblivious to the fact that it comes off the backs of hard-working people who go without so they can donate.

    (i’ve loaded you down with adjectives, there — but you see, there simply aren’t enough to convey the magnitude of it all.)

    and now, christian leaders self-congratulate for supposedly taking the heroic high road… when really, it’s 1 baby step forward with simultaneous 4 leaps backward.

    my exasperation / revulsion is climbing. i’m losing patience with all the theological arguments that enable the abuse, corruption, and 2-faced gospel-sweetness or stoic piety.

    perhaps others feel as i do, too.

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  196. elastigirl: i can put ‘animosity’ into some perspective.

    I find people like Andy…well I don’t know if I should call them disingenuous but they *feel* that way because they do not engage as a person who really wishes to have a conversation engages. They act as if they are scoring a debate, but they are very bad at debating?

    Andy, people disagree with you and have made many good points…why do you not agree on points where you agree? Why do you run away at the disagreement pleading ‘animosity’ as if we are the ones at fault for daring to disagree with you?? How silly. It is much more fun to have a real conversation and admit where others have made good points and admit where your ideas are weak, while still disagreeing where you do.

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  197. ishy: I saw someone on Twitter just this week in a thread about Tullian say, “But how can he support his family if he’s not allowed to be a pastor?” The stupidity of that argument is astounding.

    I was thinking about my earlier comment about Paul who mostly supported himself. It would be a real test of mettle for someone who wants to prove they are trustworthy to minister while supporting themselves with another job. I went to seminary while working 30 hours a week and did my post-bacc with a full-time job.

    So sure, let them go back into ministry, but they have to pay for it with an actual, physical job (and not writing books)! Better yet if it’s at Home Depot or in construction. I bet that would cut down on the Tullians and the Driscolls and the others who just want easy jobs with high pay.

    Of course it would. Paul refused to be a burden to the church, so ended up in construction work (like Jesus) and it must’ve been a real humility thing for him, the greatest legal scholar of his generation, to be doing blue collar labor. I am a mediocre legal scholar, not even close to Paul’s intellect, and have to admit, it would be humiliating to build tents for a living. Not only that, but Paul was willing to die for the faith, not just humble himself for it—and of course, die he did, as did almost all the other disciples. We just have too many liars and money lovers in the pulpit and in positions of power. They’d never do what they’re doing if it meant giving up on money and prestige and risking their lives, like all of the apostles did.

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  198. Lea,

    Because if he did that, it would be a sign of humanity and good will, and I’m not certain he’s capable of either. If he is, he had every chance to demonstrate it—and adamantly refused and ran away rather than engaging anyone’s points directly. So pay him no mind, the best way to treat him is probably as the one who has the form of godliness, but denies the power of it—and we’re to have nothing to do with such people, because they do not care about the truth, do not care about fair play, and probably do not care one spit in the wind about Jesus.

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  199. Lea: They act as if they are scoring a debate, but they are very bad at debating?

    New Calvinists LOVE to debate. They have a file of arrogant “gotcha” moves which they borrow from others in their tribe to make contestants squirm. They pride themselves on their theological prowess, but they don’t have a spiritual bone in their bodies. You ask them a question and they counter with a question “Is that what God said?” They view themselves as great debaters who alone hold truth, but debating is not preaching the Gospel which they fail at miserably.

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  200. TS00: There are none – NONE – eternally, hopelessly rejected by God and irresistibly condemned to destruction; so take hope, my friends, and offer the same to all you meet.

    Well, Piper rejects what you say in his evening offering tonight: https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/is-god-just-as-sovereign-over-damnation-as-salvation

    No attribute of God that can be revealed for his glory shall be left in obscurity. His aim in creation and salvation and judgment is to reveal all the fullness of his glory, including the justice of his wrath and the beauty of his mercy.

    Jonathan Edwards stated the same thing. If true, it means god cannot be fully glorified if there is no eternal sin and evil. And he cannot be fully glorified apart from endless human torture. Sounds more like Moloch.

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  201. Max: New Calvinists LOVE to debate.

    They don’t debate well, though. I love arguing about stuff with people, but only if it’s in good faith with proper give and take. This style is boring. True believers who can’t even listen are boring. Has nothing to do with calvinism, I avoid these types in political debates as well. Dull as dishwater.

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  202. Law Prof: We just have too many liars and money lovers in the pulpit and in positions of power. They’d never do what they’re doing if it meant giving up on money and prestige and risking their lives, like all of the apostles did.

    “Lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive … treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

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  203. StillWiggling:

    I knew one of Kemper’s victims, Rosalind Thorpe. She and my older sister were best buds for a while in high school, and she spent a lot of time in our home. Her younger sister (whose PTSD dates back to Roz’s death) still goes to testify before the parole board every time Kemper’s name comes up. How anybody could ever think somebody like that should be let out of prison is beyond me. Oh, wait, this is California. My bad.

    They’re required by law to give regular parole hearings. I’d note that none of the infamous Manson Family members has never been released. For the record, Lynette (Squeaky) Fromme was a member but never indicted for the Tate/LaBianca killings. She did try to assassinate Pres. Ford in 1975. She served her time and was released on parole in 2009.

    So, no, California is just not releasing people willy-nilly.

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  204. Law Prof: Assumed they wanted to do the right thing and anything that was wrong must just be due to a misunderstanding or a wrong-headed notion that simple good-natured conversation could resolve. Surely they’d listen to reason, always told myself. So when some ugly attack came, it was always as a shocking surprise and I’d try to laugh it off or just stand there confused. It was people who had no conscience and scruples and who were absolutely ruthless taking advantage of a normal person, flawed, struggling with sin, but like most people Christian or not, generally trying to do the right thing.

    This is so many christians. I happen to be married to one who thinks this way, and would never think evil of anyone who called himself a christian. The sad thing is, some of our kids have picked this up. One daughter is dating, and soon to be engaged to a young man, son of a Calvinist pastor, who I swear is NPD. He is very manipulative and controlling, but my daughter is simply too sweet and good-natured to see it. I feel helpless to prevent her from what I foresee as great heartache.

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  205. You’ve got your Calvinist soteriology right but you forget how Calvinista Dudebros (c) carefully parse their words to obfuscate their beliefs.

    Case in point, the author reference “genuine interest in the Christian faith“. From a Calvinist perspective, anyone can have “interest” in Faith but only the truly saved are given faith (assuming they are on “the list”. See the shades of meaning?

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  206. Mercury: You’ve got your Calvinist soteriology right but you forget how Calvinista Dudebros (c) carefully parse their words to obfuscate their beliefs.

    If they clearly stated what they believe, and held to it consistently, I could at least respect them, however much I disagree. But it is all word games, semantic deception and hiding the unpalatable by distraction or other ploys. Because when it comes down to it, Calvinism makes God the author of evil, who creates, ordains and brings into being whatsoever comes to pass, which includes rape, murder, abuse, oppression, etc. This is the ugly, inconvenient truth Calvinists are always struggling to hide. Even from themselves.

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  207. I would most certainly classify sexual abuse as being sexually immoral. And, how does the Bible say that God will deal with the sexually immoral? Revelation 21:8 from their beloved English Standard Version: “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

    God’s grace is a wonderful gift, but it doesn’t give us free reign to do anything and not face the consequences.

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  208. Law Prof: . Surely they’d listen to reason, always told myself. So when some ugly attack came, it was always as a shocking surprise and I’d try to laugh it off or just stand there confused.

    This is how a normal person thinks (yes, that logically suggests I view you as normal 😉 )

    It took me several years and some therapy (from both man and God) to come to terms with the fact that when dealing with narcissists (my mother), siociopaths, or psycopaths, reasoning with them is not an option. They do not see the world through the same lens we do. They have no empathy and empathy is a requirement for seeing reason.
    It brought a new level of freedom when I finally understood that there was no case I could present nor quantity of words I could offer that would ever cause her to understand how she affected me. There was no power at my disposal to bridge that gap.

    Narcissism is a spectrum and we are all on it. A certain amount is required for self preservation. As you get to what I call the ugly end of the spectrum, you get into the personality disorders: BPD, NPD, sociopath, pychopath. I have know a number of people, including pastors, who are nudging up against the disoder (being in their own self-absorbed bubble), but haven’t crossed the line into malignancy – where they take pleasure in causing emotional or physical pain (my mother crossed this line in the emotional/mental area).

    I think, if a leader is displaying a sense that they enjoy causing pain, they are likely exhibiting a mental disorder. And, this is NOT to be confused with feeling of relief or even a sense of joy when a bully gets put in their place or evil is defeated – this is normal (though abusers would call it sinful). The Bible even says that the righteous rejoice when evil is gone.

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  209. Jarrett Edwards
    : I would most certainly classify sexual abuse as being sexually immoral.

    Oh good night! That is not the point that I’m making. Surely you know that. Pedophilia is not just a sin. It is far more. It is a crime and it’s a profound psychiatric disorder. To imply that it is a merely a sin and nothing else is dangerous and stupid. I doubt you are saying that unless you are one of those biblical counselor ACBC types who can’t see beyond the word sin to the deeper complexities.

    Pedophilia is also a crime. That’s why people go to prison for it. But you didn’t mention the word *crime.* So are you saying its just a sin? Please go deeper.

    Pedophilia is not cured by a simple confession of sin. Are you actually saying that these folks don’t need psychiatric intervention?

    There are really, really stupid leaders out there who actually believe that simple repentance is all that is necessary to get rid of the pedophila. Children in such churches are at risk.

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  210. Andy: I will say that my use of David was not to defend re-instatement, but simply that He was a man who was called Godly, yet did a horrible thing, simply as an example of my primary point, which I is only that each of us needs to humbly guard our own hearts

    David was a king and therefore could not be deposed in that system of governance. Remember, it was no longer a theocracy. In fact, if you read the history of the kings, the vast majority *did evil in the sight of the Lord.* David was no different.

    If David did what he did today, he would be tried and convicted in a court of law for rape and murder. If David repented in prison, he would be forgiven by God but he still would have to live out his sentence-be it life or even capital punishment.God would still love him in prison if he truly repented.

    To be frank, I’m glad we are living in this time period in this country so we don’t have to put up with murderous kings who rape women.

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  211. Andy,

    I’m sorry that you are feeling animosity. I’m not . I do want to repeat this since you are on your way at the door. If you truly believe that you might be prone to committing an act of molestation of a child, you need to get some help. I can truthfully say that I could never molest a child. The thought of it makes me sick to my stomach. Please think about what I’m saying. I have rarely heard anyone argue that they believe it is possible that they could molest a child and that such an act is no different than the sin of cussing out another driver.

    Red flags here.

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  212. This is a paraphrase of something someone told me today, Scriptural references are my own.

    Being judged when you’re opening up to someone, when letting people know how you feel. You’re not going to open up to anybody if you’re going to be judged. Luke 10:33-35; Hebrews 13:3.

    My own thoughts are how can a child report that they are being molested if they’re going to have to repent?

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  213. Friend: Some families have several children raised by the same parents, and only one of them grows up with an antisocial personality (NPD, sociopath, psychopath). Do you have thoughts about how that could occur?

    There’s most likely a multitude of things that can interfere with an infant’s attachment. Of course, we recognize abuse and neglect (and remember that parents are not the only ones with access to their children; there are babysitters, relatives, neighbors, friends, daycare workers, doctors, nurses, etc), but other possibilities might be illnesses or injuries that affect the brain, severely traumatic events that happen at a crucial time of development, or inborn genetic abnormalities.

    All psychology is theoretical, we can’t experiment on people to determine cause and effect, but we can observe and tabulate those observations and learn from them.

    It’s too big of a subject to go into here but if you are interested, look up the attachment sequence and how it leads to the development of trust which is the beginning of attachment to the human race, empathy, conscience, etc, and the research of child development specialists like Bowlby and Piaget and many others since.

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  214. Andy: If the consensus among those posting here is that abusers and other sociopaths, narcissists, etc…are a different breed/class…what makes them that way? And does your answer align with a biblical view that accounts for: The image of God in Man, a sinful tendency resulting from the fall, a genuine offer of not only forgiveness, but sanctification and growth in godliness, for all sinners?

    I think possibly what is confusing you is that you are looking for a principle that explains all types of sin? There are some types of sin that only a person lacking a conscience would be tempted by.

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  215. elastigirl,

    Hello,

    When I learned of John Calvin ‘not’ only ‘not’ turning the other cheek, or going the extra mile, but having his opponents brutally murdered, I could see plainly that something was amiss —wrong with his Christianity, i.e. his faith in Jesus Christ. Thus having all of John Calvin’s available works in various languages, only cement an understanding on how Augustinian Gnosticism, and distorted theology, and the misuse of scripture, can damage even the best of intentions. The Master said that we would know them by their fruits. His word is good enough for me. The actions of Dort reveal how improperly the gospel of Jesus Christ was actually understood in that day. That those who truly walked with the Savior, were pursued and persecuted, is no surprise. History is replete with such stories. Apostle Paul, was a very bad man prior to his Damascus awakening experience. Upon being touched by Jesus, he later became a true disciple, sharing the true gospel of Jesus until his death. May those who are beholden to the The Lord Jesus, today, and the true words of his gospel, be so graciously inclined.

    The fields are truly white with harvest,

    New wine belongs in new wine skins.

    ATB

    INS

    Sòpy

    ;~)§

    – –

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  216. __

    “Saved By Zero?”

    hmmm…

    In the end, the path that famed American comedian Robin Williams was on was found to be pointless. As seen in his tragic demise. All his genius comic laughter, and palifera of accolades received could not apparently save him.

    (sadface)

    Saved by zero?

    All the genius Calvinist theology will not save those who adhere to its tennets.

    That they continue to try, herein lies the rub…

    (sadface)

    Sòpy

    Intermission:
    The FIXX – ‘Saved By Zero’ (TCJ REMIX)
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=etioEkVF_cI
    Bonus:
    The Fixx – ‘Red Skies’ (Digital Visions Re-Edit)
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_t-xXXDR3No

    ;~(§

    – –

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  217. TS00: This is so many christians. I happen to be married to one who thinks this way, and would never think evil of anyone who called himself a christian. The sad thing is, some of our kids have picked this up. One daughter is dating, and soon to be engaged to a young man, son of a Calvinist pastor, who I swear is NPD. He is very manipulative and controlling, but my daughter is simply too sweet and good-natured to see it. I feel helpless to prevent her from what I foresee as great heartache.

    That’s an awfully tough situation. We’ve been through it with all of our adult children, the boyfriend/girlfriend whom we think is just there to use them. A lot of worry. I know there are multiple scriptures that clearly say not to trust people, but God alone, but it’s tough dealing with a young person who think’s this is THE one, they’ll see what they want to see. Will say that sometimes when they didn’t appear to be listening and seemed to be only arguing with us, they later told us they were internalizing some of our warnings. So you never know.

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  218. Alana: But, functionally, a Calvinist would have to believe they are wasting their emotions on someone who wasn’t “chosen”! And that is exactly what I observed!! They don’t care about the lost. Only the few elect they think are hidden among the lost. If they care about the “unelect” lost, they are being inconsistent with their core beliefs.

    I don’t think many Calvinists think this through to its logical conclusion. But men like Jonathan Edwards did. I could not find the Edwards quote, but I found a very similar quote by RC Sproul on Tim Challies’ site: https://www.challies.com/articles/can-we-enjoy-heaven-knowing-loved-ones-are-in-hell/

    Until we are glorified, our sympathies will rest more easily with human beings than with God—his glory and perfect justice. But as Sproul explains in his talk, “once sin is removed from my life… and I love the Lord my God with all of my heart and all of my soul in undiluted perfection, my compassion, my love, my concern will be much more for the vindication of God’s holiness than for a corrupt fallen kinsmen of mine.”

    So if this is how we will be in eternity, why not start now?

    The other aspect of this teaching is it brings into question what salvation means. If a person is changed so much that they could rejoice in the torment of a loved one, are they still the same person?

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  219. dee,

    I have always found it odd when one’s theology/political beliefs/philosophy trumps reality. I realize the distinction between the two ( reality vs xxx), is not black/white, but extreme sin leveling is just bizarre. And, the concept of judgement commensurate with the crime is a “ biblical principle”…. dare I say “Gospelly”… Christ did not end the crucifixion of the guy hanging on the cross with him, why should we reinstate abusers in positions were they can abuse again??

    Dee, your point about king David is a good one…. people seem to forget that the pain to not just him, but his family line and Israel was great….

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  220. dee: If Andy is a pastor … did he argue in circles at SBC Voices as well?

    He never responded to my inquiry upstream about whether or not he is a pastor.

    He posted on SBC Voices 3+ years ago before I stopped viewing things there. Most everybody over there is argumentative.

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  221. dee:
    Max,So, did he argue in circles at SBC Voices as well?

    It’s the most maddening thing, a person who is ever shifting the goalposts just a little, and you can never quite pin them down. Like the point of their argument is to win some fake rhetorical game of their own devising rather than get to the truth. It’s terrible rhetoric, fallacious as heck, but some people, they seem to think “they win” if they never admit making an incorrect statement and never respond to any direct questions that might force them to concede a point. I thought the whole purpose of talking with someone in this manner is so that you might teach them and learn from them, iron sharpening iron. But maybe some people have no iron.

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  222. Law Prof: It’s the most maddening thing, a person who is ever shifting the goalposts just a little, and you can never quite pin them down.

    That comes with the New Calvinist territory … elusive, ambiguous, incomprehensible, deceptive. Most of the new reformers get so argumentative in an attempt to get you, they forget their line of thought and shift their positions. After a while, they confuse themselves. Some of their blog posts remind me of a Scripture:

    “The assembly was confused. Therefore some cried out one thing and some another, and most of them did not know why they had come together” (Acts 19:32).

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  223. SiteSeer: attachment sequence and how it leads to the development of trust which is the beginning of attachment to the human race, empathy, conscience, etc, and the research of child development specialists like Bowlby and Piaget and many others since

    Thank you. I was looking for ways to differentiate among siblings. When a family has one “bad” kid, the others can suffer from guilt by association. Parents can also be unfairly blamed for things outside their control. Antisocial family members excel at blaming others, and claiming simultaneously that 1) they are superior, and 2) if they are rotten, the entire family is rotten.

    This situation can be a nightmare for a relative who wants to separate from the mess, and find humility and wholeness. Some of them come to TWW. I don’t want them to feel blamed, doomed, or lumped together with a noxious relative.

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  224. Law Prof: Like the point of their argument is to win some fake rhetorical game of their own devising

    It does feel that way at times, doesn’t it. As I said, it’s deadly dull. When I respond it is generally just to point out something that struck me as especially wrong.

    It’s a bit like a classier internet troll.

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  225. Law Prof: It’s the most maddening thing, a person who is ever shifting the goalposts just a little, and you can never quite pin them down. Like the point of their argument is to win some fake rhetorical game of their own devising rather than get to the truth. It’s terrible rhetoric, fallacious as heck, but some people, they seem to think “they win” if they never admit making an incorrect statement and never respond to any direct questions that might force them to concede a point. I thought the whole purpose of talking with someone in this manner is so that you might teach them and learn from them, iron sharpening iron. But maybe some people have no iron.

    I did that last week with a guy called LT over at Warren’s blog. Moving the goalposts is just so anti-truth. I think someone there complained that he was here in the past. It would not surprise me. But a guy who would laugh at the entire chapter of Woe’s to the Pharisees because Jesus was being “judgmental” well what can you say of such an attitude. Jesus’ words just makes me shake in my boots. And I just saw last week that Jesus is returning with a strong fear of the Lord soon when the world economy goes nuts, which it soon will. You may yet get the chance to humble yourself in construction. I have been there myself already for years…

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  226. Max: I’m getting weary with folks always dragging David in this!

    I’m with ya’.

    It (the King David thing) gets old, it really does, same ol’, same ol’.

    And what’s more?

    I have yet to hear a Bible teacher, preacher, whatever, point to the much larger life lesson in the prophet Nathan’s heart wrenching parable of the little guy and his ewe lamb.

    The King (David) had quite the bevy of consorts and fine courtesans, the Victoria’s secret models of his day, and still, it wasn’t enough, he took from the little guy (Uriah) everything he had, up to and including his life, just to entertain a passing fancy.

    And that’s the real tragedy (as I see it), not recognizing it for what it is and nipping it in the bud.

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  227. Max: That comes with the New Calvinist territory … elusive, ambiguous, incomprehensible, deceptive.Most of the new reformers get so argumentative in an attempt to get you, they forget their line of thought and shift their positions.After a while, they confuse themselves.Some of their blog posts remind me of a Scripture:

    “The assembly was confused. Therefore some cried out one thing and some another, and most of them did not know why they had come together” (Acts 19:32).

    I think they run scared, terrified of being exposed for their ignorance. I don’t think they’re used to having positions challenged, spend to much time congratulating each other in tightly closed groups, and usually have very little life experience. So they become very aggressive, or change the subject, or engage in ad hominem, or attack one tiny, peripheral point of your argument and ignore everything else, or just completely misstate what you said and attack the imaginary you who says the things they’ve learned to counter and play “gotcha” with.

    If all else fails, if they realize they’re either going to have to answer a simply-put question or admit they are wrong and need to rethink their beliefs, they will just up and run and claim that others acted in bad faith, like Andy did. It a shining example of ignorance, dishonesty and cowardice.

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  228. Mr. Jesperson: I did that last week with a guy called LT over at Warren’s blog.Moving the goalposts is just so anti-truth.I think someone there complained that he was here in the past.It would not surprise me.But a guy who would laugh at the entire chapter of Woe’s to the Pharisees because Jesus was being “judgmental” well what can you say of such an attitude.Jesus’ words just makes me shake in my boots.And I just saw last week that Jesus is returning with a strong fear of the Lord soon when the world economy goes nuts, which it soon will.You may yet get the chance to humble yourself in construction.I have been there myself already for years…

    That’s a new one. He was slamming Jesus for being judgmental. If one accepts the truth that Jesus created everything and everyone in the universe, and knows the hearts of all people, then it is a perfect non sequitur to suggest He could possibly be judgmental, because everything He had to say about anyone would be the absolute, unadulterated truth.

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  229. Friend: Thank you. I was looking for ways to differentiate among siblings. When a family has one “bad” kid, the others can suffer from guilt by association. Parents can also be unfairly blamed for things outside their control. Antisocial family members excel at blaming others, and claiming simultaneously that 1) they are superior, and 2) if they are rotten, the entire family is rotten.

    This situation can be a nightmare for a relative who wants to separate from the mess, and find humility and wholeness. Some of them come to TWW. I don’t want them to feel blamed, doomed, or lumped together with a noxious relative.

    I agree with you and I would feel terrible about that. And, also, I shouldn’t have gone off topic so much.

    I guess my point was not to go into human development so much as to say that, if a person has not developed a conscience by the time they are an adult, it’s a safe bet that it isn’t going to happen. I think all the experts would be in agreement with that. Some believe it is possible to teach such a person that it will be most beneficial to himself to live within normal parameters, I’m not sure how much success they have but we really need to have higher expectations for religious leaders than that.

    I agree with others that we need to differentiate, because all “sin” is not equal. Perhaps as some have put it, the mortal and venial. Because it is not always appropriate to extend our empathy and say, well, he just fell to temptation, it could happen to any one of us. Sometimes, yes, but other times we need to say, this person has a serious abnormality, he must never be trusted or be in the position where he can harm others again.

    Christians always seem to be wanting simple, one-size-fits-all answers and to avoid having to think too deeply and make judgments.

    Andy brought up “power corrupts” and I agree that power corrupts, and so does being surrounded by yes-men. Power can lead one to become utterly selfish and all of the sin that comes out of that. But simply being granted power is not going to turn a normal person into a child molester, rapist, serial killer or hit man. And when we see persons in places of power doing those things, I think it very well could be that they sought that position precisely because it allowed them the freedom to do so.

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  230. Friend: This situation can be a nightmare for a relative who wants to separate from the mess, and find humility and wholeness. Some of them come to TWW. I don’t want them to feel blamed, doomed, or lumped together with a noxious relative.

    (and, just to add, I, too, would be in that contingent)

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  231. SiteSeer: if a person has not developed a conscience by the time they are an adult, it’s a safe bet that it isn’t going to happen.

    Very useful statement.

    Also at some time during adulthood, most folks try to take responsibility for any childhood misfortune: owning their anger, treating depression, doing better by the next generation, finding reconciliation with people or at least inside one’s own mind.

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  232. In reference to John 9:39-41; is it possible pedophiles, predators, and rapist lie, saying they’ve accepted Christ as there Savior, but really haven’t to enlarge their victim pools?

    By their actions and their words they’re unrepentant.

    Just thinking aloud here. 🙂

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  233. dee,

    I completely agree with everything you said. My only point is that it is strange and inconsistent that many of these people have no problem calling out people in legal non-abusive consensual relationships for what they believe to be sexual immorality, such as same-sex relationships, straight sex outside of marriage, etc…, then they go out of their way to protect and dismiss sexual abusers, even though it is certainly the most immoral of sexual actions. Since the Bible regretfully does not mention sexual abuse, clearly, we have to assume that it is covered by sexual immorality.

    How can these people be taken seriously when discussing and condemning sexual sins in society, when they cannot be bothered to forthrightly condemn sexual abuse, which everyone expect for them seems to understand is categorically wrong.

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  234. Muff Pottter: I have yet to hear a Bible teacher, preacher, whatever, point to the much larger life lesson in the prophet Nathan’s heart wrenching parable of the little guy and his ewe lamb.

    Rather, they’ll continue to prattle on more and more about ‘a man after god’s own heart’ and other hippy-dippy-horse-poo-poo…

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  235. Muff Pottter:
    Jarrett Edwards,

    Great comment!

    It highlights the need for the church universal to have this discussion about human sexuality.

    A discussion that has its focus on practical reality rather than immovable dogma.

    I don’t mind immovable dogma, some dogma must be immovable if we presume a God Who created us and has a real stake in what we do and laid out bona fide standards for our behavior. But the problem is that the dogma the abusers and abuse apologists have is dead wrong and leads to awful, unbiblical results.

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  236. Hi all,

    I wanted to come back and attempt to answer some questions as honestly and directly as I can. I was trying to insert answers on my phone in spare moments Wednesday, and then drove 2 hours to spend the 4th with family. I hope you all had a good holiday as well.

    If I have missed yours, I apologize in advance:

    1. Max, yes, I have been a (non-senior) pastor in the past. My reasons for leaving that church after 10 years were due to myself no longer being able to support the Senior Pastor (in areas that had nothing to do with either calvinism nor child abuse, btw). the past several years I have been working in the construction industry.

    2. Law-Prof, as to “who said it is only power-hungry” who abuse power. It was not from this thread (which is more about child abuse than Leader-power-abuse)…but from many prior posts and comments here, which TEND (Not all) to make the following conclusion: If a Pastor/Leader is exposed as having a long-term Top-down authoritarian abusive leadership pattern…many here seem to automatically conclude that he was always a power-hungry person who intentionally took and grew his power from the beginning. It seems the possibility is not considered that he began with good intentions, but as his role grew, he did not respond with humility and leadership-sharing, but rather craved more and more power. I simply think both is possible, and that most often, we probably don’t know which it is. I agree that sometimes it is those who begin seeking power for their own gain.

    3. Law Prof, I have thought about where, in one passage, it says that all are capable of all sins, and I admit I do not have one for you that will be irrefutable. I am seeking to infer from scripture what is not explicitly stated. (which we must do on some issues). The ones I would point to would include those biblical examples of people I have alluded to, and also to the Apostle Paul calling himself the “chief of sinners.” I realize there is debate about whether he is referring to his past unbelieving life, or his current life.

    4. To follow up on that point, Due to the comments here, I believe I will need to study more on what I would say about the possibility of a TRUE BELIEVER committing the worst of abusive sins. You all have made me want to look at that again. It does seem that the NT warns even believers to guard their hearts many different types of sin, and I do still beleive that a believer can repeatedly sin in one area leading to a calousness and hardness that may lead to greater (worse) sins. However, I tend to also believe that if it is a true believer with God’s spirit, they will eventually come to repentance. For an unbeliever, I agree with those here saying that the issues involved are complex, but I also believe that sin, and the hardness of heart that comes from repeated sin, does play a part in why some people come to be capable of very heinous things.

    4. Dee, I thank you for your concern. If you had any reason to be concerned about me, it is right of you to say something. I suppose the best way I can answer your concern is this 2-fold Answer: (a) If you are asking me now, if I think I could, or would molest a child; I would say no. I don’t think I could or would. It does make me sick to think of anyone molesting or hurting one of my young children, or those children I know. My instinct is to want to protect them from any such thing. (b) However, my current understanding of scripture, and the way I see history and human nature, I do believe that, in ways we don’t fully understand, ways that are affected by our fallen natures, environmental things, personality/mental issues, and yes, psychiatric disorders, but also factoring in sinful choices…that it would be naive for me to say that I could not have been one of those who did such things. But for the grace of God go I…As I said, I will need to consider whether I believe a Current true Believer in Christ can go that far askew. Perhaps I will come to fully agree with you on that one.

    Bye for now,
    Thank you for making me think more deeply,
    -Andy

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  237. Oh yes, I also wanted to say that I will take your critique of being argumentative and take it to heart. You are correct on that point today can tend to press an argument, wanting badly to be right.… Sometimes creating more heat than light.So I’m sorry for that.

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  238. Jarrett Edwards: How can these people be taken seriously when discussing and condemning sexual sins in society, when they cannot be bothered to forthrightly condemn sexual abuse, which everyone expect for them seems to understand is categorically wrong.

    Geat point. The very ones covering up abusive sexual events ae quick to condemn any non-abusive sex outside of their definition of acceptable.

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  239. andy: Due to the comments here, I believe I will need to study more on what I would say about the possibility of a TRUE BELIEVER committing the worst of abusive sins. You all have made me want to look at that again.

    Andy, it might help to make the distinction that too many of us never think of making, between those who call themselves christians and those who truly have the spirit of Christ living within and leading them.

    Sadly, a large part of the visible church is made up of people who become a part of church for various illegitimate reasons. Some simply by habit, some for community and business reputations, some for social relationships, etc. I also believe that there are many who falsely view following the law as the path to God, and have never embarked upon a personal relationship with the living God.

    I am not saying that we can, or should necessarily strive to, judge the tares from the wheat, but that we need to be constantly aware that they are there.

    This leaves us with 1) deliberate imposters who are merely using the church to have access to naive victims, 2) nominal christians who think attending church or having the right doctrine is being a christian, 3) people who are simply ‘social’ christians and 4) genuine children of God who seek to avoid unrighteousness and grow in wisdom and maturity by following the Spirit of God. There may be other categories I have not thought of, but it is helpful to not simply view all church members, or leaders, as category 4 ‘saints of God’.

    I would contend that it is extremely unlikely that category 4 (genuine) christians will indulge in mortal, or abusive sin. One cannot love God and hate their brother. But the other categories of nominal or fake believers are much more susceptible to heinous sin.

    Thus, so-called christians are capable of anything, but genuine children of God, whatever they call themselves, are not.

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  240. TS00: This leaves us with 1) deliberate imposters who are merely using the church to have access to naive victims,

    On Wednesday, Justin Taylor posted a TGC article explaining why we should have church covenants. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/church-covenant-sample-can-use/
    But all he has, beside his church’s covenant they borrowed from Dubai, who borrowed theirs from Capitol Hill, is a quote from my favorite author (me). I say it’s like marriage vows. They’re both a necessity even though the Bible forgot to mention them ever even once. The practical result is that if church leaders happen to be large hungry canines, the mutton supply will stick around longer, because they made vows. OH MY!

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  241. Law Prof,

    As always Law Prof, there’s much we can agree upon by way of common ground.
    And were we don’t agree?
    That’s okay too, because diplomacy and compromise can always forge a road forward.
    Thank you for the dialogue.

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  242. TS00: Geat point. The very ones covering up abusive sexual events ae quick to condemn any non-abusive sex outside of their definition of acceptable.

    What does that tell you?
    Other than “SEX = ABUSE by Divine Command”?

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  243. TS00: This leaves us with 1) deliberate imposters who are merely using the church to have access to naive victims, 2) nominal christians who think attending church or having the right doctrine is being a christian, 3) people who are simply ‘social’ christians and 4) genuine children of God…
    There may be other categories I have not thought of…

    Autistic people. We’re neither social nor nominal and we’re **** at imposting.

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  244. Ken F (aka Tweed): Not one word about teaching them to identify and report abuse. Feature or bug?

    I like to give the benefit of doubt where feasible, and in this case, I want to believe it’s a bug.

    A bug because I think they’re still clueless about how child sex predators operate, and still don’t want to fully face that reality in their midst, by putting protocols in place that will greatly reduce the opportunity for predators.

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  245. Friend: Very useful statement.

    Also at some time during adulthood, most folks try to take responsibility for any childhood misfortune: owning their anger, treating depression, doing better by the next generation, finding reconciliation with people or at least inside one’s own mind.

    Thank you, friend, you are very kind and your point is well taken.

    I think I also would have been better to put it that conscience is not complete at birth- the capacity is there (at least, ideally, it is there) but it also requires time and input to develop and mature.

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  246. andy: many here seem to automatically conclude that he was always a power-hungry person who intentionally took and grew his power from the beginning. It seems the possibility is not considered that he began with good intentions, but as his role grew, he did not respond with humility and leadership-sharing, but rather craved more and more power.

    I agree with you that, in terms of just typical selfish abusiveness, this is possible, and I’m sure that it does happen. I think this can also happen to those who get drawn into an abuser’s inner circle, they can lose sight of the values they once held (bad company corrupts good morals). In some cases we’ve discussed here, though, there is evidence going back to a person’s beginning, showing them to have always had character issues.

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  247. TS00: so-called christians are capable of anything, but genuine children of God, whatever they call themselves, are not

    Yes, this is the best counter to Andy’s position that everyone is capable of committing every sin. Everyone who goes to church is not the Church … including a lot of church leaders who are capable of committing every sin!

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