Bethlehem Baptist Church Deals With the Sexual Abuse of a Child. Why Do Some Lead Pastors Avoid Contact With Victims and Their Families?

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“The human race tends to remember the abuses to which it has been subjected rather than the endearments. What’s left of kisses? Wounds, however, leave scars.”  ― Bertolt Brecht


Have you heard of  Bethlehem Baptist Church?

This is the church John Piper pastored until quite recently. If you wish to learn more about this church, here is a link to what the church calls their *DNA.*

Although not excplicitly spelled out in this document, the church practices a hard core 5 point Calvinism.

Within the linked document we learn that the church:

  • practices church discipline as a function of church membership
  • practices Christian hedonism- a term dreamed up by John Piper in which joy and happiness is found solely in the pursuit of God
  • heavy emphasis on small groups in order to carry out the *accountability* of the church member
  • effective biblical counseling which believes in the absolute sufficiency of Scripture to deal with psychological issues
  • a tight handed grasp of strict gender roles within biblical™ manhood and womanhood

Although John Piper has stepped down from the pulpit, one can assume that his DNA is all over the various statements of belief and practical applications of that faith.

The church adheres to strict biblical leadership as found in the elders who oversee the flock and guards them from all falsehood.

The church covenant which is a legal contract,

This covenant is stressed immediately, front and center, in the About Us section of the website. It is fairly typical. It’s important to understand this document as we discuss the child sex abuse situation within the church. It is my opinion that this legal contract is viewed within the church as a method for ensuring the safety of the children in their programs. I will explain why I believe that this naive shortly.

*Note to Bethlehem Baptist members: Your church covenant is a legal contract. If this wasn’t explained to you prior to your signing, then the church has been remiss in their duty to fully inform you of the legal consequences of your signature.

You can read about the implications of signing this contract posing as a covenant in Attorneys Boz Tchividjian and Mitch Little Help a Sex Abuse Victim in Her Quest to Hold Matt Chandler and The Village Church Accountable

We acknowledge that implicit within this covenant is the consent to be governed by the Relational Commitments* that have been officially adopted by the church and that address peacemaking and reconciliation, accountability and church discipline, marriage and divorce, counseling and confidentiality, and the protection of our children.

The preaching and vision pastor of Bethlehem Baptist is Jason Meyer.

Although the church is not a member of the Southern Baptist Convention, Meyer received his training in that denomination.

Jason holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree awarded in 2007 and a Master of Divinity degree in 2002—both from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The church is a member of the Baptist General Conference which is now known by the catchy, millennial name as *Converge.* (Maybe that will stop the decline …)

A small child was molested by a juvenile volunteering in the Early Childhood Center of the church in 2018

Subsequent quotes will be taken from The Letter from the Elders

last year, an incident occurred in which a juvenile engaged in sexual misconduct against a child in our Early Childhood Ministry at a Bethlehem campus (ed. note:The church has multiple campuses)

Good: The church immediately notified the police.

This is exactly what each and every church should do upon hearing of such an incident.Slowly, church are getting the message.

When a Bethlehem leader learned of the situation through a letter sent by the victim’s parents, he immediately called law enforcement, which began an investigation.

 According to Bethlehem Baptist, they informed by law enforcement that this was an isolated incident.

The statement is somewhat vague. Was it only an *isolated incident* at Bethlehem Baptist or only an isolated incident anywhere involving this juvenile? I wrote about the problems with teen molesters who target kids more than 5 years younger than them which is the case in this situation. The following section is from that post.


Begin quote from post

Can a teen be a molester?

I have included just one article in this section but read about 10 others. Although there is some disagreement about the effectiveness of treatment and recidivism, all articles agree that teens molest and, in particular, teens who show interest in a much younger child (like in this case) may have developed a serious problem. Juvenile Sex Offenders: When Your Teenager Is the Offender.

Sexual interest in much younger teens or even younger children is a red flag, says Ballantyne.

The concern here is not with typical teenage romances, even if there is some age difference or one party is under the age of consent (which is at least 16 in every state). It’s more about age differences that suggest a developmental and power differential, like a 16-year-old showing interest in a 12-year-old.

“That would send up red flags,” says Ballantyne. “For one thing, if there is any follow-through, that is clearly illegal. If we’re talking about a 16-year-old and a 12-year-old, that’s a really concerning age span.

“Those who feel powerless [in other areas of their lives] may try to gain power in ways that are not acceptable, and included in that would be sexual activity with somebody much younger.”

End of quote from post.


Good: The juvenile was, at first, allowed to attend the church with an adult chaperone but was eventually asked not to attend the church.

A molester should NEVER be allowed to be in the same church as the abuse victims and their families. This is dangerous for victims as well as painful to those who have been harmed. Thankfully, the church leadership  corrected their initial action.

Good: They alerted the new church of the offender’s history.

Sadly, many churches neglect this step.

Bethlehem is working to ensure that appropriate precautions are taken so that the offender is not a threat to the church body at the offender’s new congregation.

Naive and worrisome: Only the families whose children were in the ministry area as the abuser were notified.

It is assumed that the juvenile did not have contact with any other children in the church. For example, did the juvenile abuser ever use the restrooms in others parts of the building? Did he have access to unused classrooms. This abuser was adept enough that people in the same room with him (who were supposed to be watching him) did not know he was molesting a child. (More on that in a minute.)

I believe that all families who had underage children in the church should have been alerted.

If you have not been contacted, our records showed that your child was not in the ministry area in question.

Needs clarification: Was only one child involved or were there more?

Read this statement in the elder letter. Once again, I believe that all parents of children should have been notified unless the juvenile was observed 24/7 in all areas of the church. It is possible that the plural word  *children* was used to describe both the molested child and the juvenile offender but that makes little sense.

The word *juvenile*is confusing. My guess is that a child would not be allowed to work in the young children’s area. So, does juvenile mean *teen* or *middle school age* or what?

Because of this, and since the incident involved children, we did not believe we should immediately make the incident known beyond those immediately involved.

Bad: This molestation took place while adults were in the room and no one seemed to notice.

  1. It is our policy that volunteers are never alone with children. The juvenile was not alone with the young child. Bethlehem has allowed juveniles to serve in the ministry area in question when adults are present. This juvenile filled out an application, had an interview, and was approved to serve in the ministry area……We have been unable to determine how this incident occurred unnoticed while other workers were in the room.

Could it be that the adult volunteers were not doing their job? Maybe they were overwhelmed by the number of children? Maybe they were all eating Betty Lou’s famous pound cake and were distracted from their number one priority which is the safety of the children. Yes, that priority is even higher than presenting Doctrines of Hedonism for Pre K.

Naive: Screening should catch the potential abuser.

Although each of these things are nice, they will not catch a person who is determined to abuse a child unless they have already been registered as a sex offender. Offenders are charismatic individuals who are willing to misrepresent themselves in order to get access to children.

They will sign *membership covenants,* have great references from friends and only 10% of offenders are ever registered. This is why people working with children must be urged to do their jobs and make safety of the children their priority, even if it means shortening the lesson plan.

Currently (as in the past), all adult workers are screened through an application process, interview, background check, reference checks, and a signed ministry covenant.

Good: They have engaged GRACE to teach them how to protect they children and youth.

We have engaged ​GRACE​ (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to help us to continue to fulfill our priority of protecting the next generation and to help us find any ways that could better safeguard the children of Bethlehem. GRACE will provide training for our leadership on Saturday, August 3, and for the entire congregation on the weekend of August 10/11 at each campus. We pray that God will heal those affected by this situation, especially the young victim, and help and guide our congregation as we move forward.

Suggestion: Insist that all parents read and sign the policies for these acitvities.

Parents, do your job. Protect your kids and don’t assume that church leaders will do it for you. Not only should you review the procedures, I would suggest that you consider being a chaperone to these events. No one protects kids better than the parents who love them.

Along with written guidelines and policies for our regular ministry, we have specific guidelines for our All-Church Winter Retreat and Summer Camp. GRACE is currently reviewing these policies to help us further strengthen them. We would be glad to share these policies with parents or with others who desire to review them. Each campus is also able to provide details on the precautions they take for their specific events and retreats. We welcome you to contact your campus’s youth leadership to request more information.

Bad: Why in the world didn’t Jason Meyer give more support to the family?

There is something concerning going on out there when it comes to large churches with well- known pastors, especially of the authoritarian kind.

When a bunch of teen boys were molested income of my former churches and the seminary student volunteer arrested by the police, the senior pastor refused to comment back from his Sabbatical. He left it up to his subordinates and refused to apologize.

Now, take a look at Matt Chandler’s loathsome response to the family of a girl who was raped at a church camp: Attorneys Boz Tchividjian and Mitch Little Help a Sex Abuse Victim in Her Quest to Hold Matt Chandler and The Village Church Accountable.

Instead, she watched on Jan. 20 as Mr. Chandler rose to address the congregation. She still had barely heard from him. He had mailed a short handwritten card to the Braggs back in July, apologizing for not being in touch. When Mr. Bragg suggested coffee, Mr. Chandler’s assistant offered a time that was months away.

In my discussion with victims, I have begun to see a pattern emerge. The senior or designated celebrity pastor will not meet with the victims or their families, often designating lower lever pastors to take care of *it* for them.There are all sorts of excuses made. For example, “It happened at one of our satellite churches and it’s a long drive for me.”

I believe that this is a tactic used by these churches to protect the lead pastor. Unfortunately, its not working and it’s time to bring this unbiblical practice into the light and call if for what it is. The senior or lead pastor is a wuss who hides behind the skirts of his underlings.

Sadly, it appears something similar happened at BBC. Here is a comment from someone who was present at the church this past Sunday.

Jason Meyer repented publicly in this morning’s sermon that he wasn’t personally directly involved from day 1, and that the elders regret they weren’t in as much contact with the victim’s family as they should have been during the process (he said they have asked for forgiveness which the victim’s family graciously gave them).

This person said:

“If you can’t clear your calendar to take care of something like this, your church is too big.”

I would add that your church has no heart and is far more interested in applying church discipline to the members (not the pastors) than caring for those who have been hurt.

Yeah- the family *graciously* forgave him. Now, what will Meyer do the next time?  Sadly, I think we will see this pattern repeat itself, both at BBC and other like-minded churches.

I think that the *elders,* or maybe the members in this case, should apply church discipline to ALL of the pastors and elders who didn’t surround this family with love and support. That would give me hope for real change in the church. I believe Meyer knew about this situation since some time in 2018 and didn’t apologize until this past week. Maybe he should be disciplined for his hard heart that lasted for months and maybe as long as a year?

Or is this trend of ignoring victims some sort of a legal gambit? Protect the lead pastor in case the church gets sued? If so, the church has lost its way.

Join me in praying for the victim and the victim’s family. I’m so grateful that GRACE involved in this situation. It gives me hope that truth will be told and lessons will be learned so that no further children will be harmed in the children’s program.


Comments

Bethlehem Baptist Church Deals With the Sexual Abuse of a Child. Why Do Some Lead Pastors Avoid Contact With Victims and Their Families? — 159 Comments

  1. “Why Do Some Lead Pastors Avoid Contact With Victims and Their Families?”

    Because they are more “Lead” than “Pastor.” They are above dealing with such matters, preferring to delegate the task to underlings. When you’re too big to get involved with hurting people, you’re little in God’s eyes.

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  2. Dee: Thanks so much for writing this comprehensive analysis. I think it’s important to acknowledge the things they did right, as well as those they didn’t, as you’ve done here.

    Regarding “children”: Yes, I understood that to mean the victim and the (underage not-adult) abuser, not multiple victims. The elder letter says “Law
    enforcement’s investigation identified only one isolated incident” and I think they’re relying on that in who they’ve contacted and what details they’re sharing.

    But I don’t agree with that decision. What if the abuser lied convincingly to the police, “It was only that once, I swear”? I think they should have notified all parents, much sooner, so they could be watching for signs of abuse in their kids, opening dialogue as appropriate, etc. Err on the side of caution and protection! Don’t risk a little one having to carry that burden unaware.

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  3. The response still has a “do the minimum required so we don’t get sued or criminally charged” response. The minimum now having more requirements. The lead pastor’s lack of personal response shows this. 🙁

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  4. There seems to be an inherent tension between:

    A: Parents of the abused who want the abuse addressed with the guilty dealt without everyone knowing including news coverage, web-analysis etc. This can brand the person as the “molested kid/teen” making their recovery more difficult.

    B: Identifying all of the victims so they can be cared for and additional abusers discovered and dealt with.

    I recall the adage: “For every problem there is a simple solution… and it is wrong.”

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  5. Things can happen without adults noticing for several reasons:
    -Not enough adults in the room for numbers of children.
    -A “free” play period where many activities are happening at the same time-play kitchen in the corner, cars on the carpet, books with a teacher, etc. If a volunteer gets someone on their lap in the corner, or gets into a “tickling” match with a child (and best practices discourages tickling/rough housing/wrestling in such settings, as it’s very easy to have something happen and not notice.)
    We had a church in my area where a preschool teacher was feeling up kids on his lap during story time. I guess if you “know” (sounds so sick) what you want to do, you’ll find a way.
    Best practices now with young children include fist bumps, high fives, pats on the back and really discourages close contact (including laps).
    I don’t know what happened at BBC, but it can happen, especially if you’re not expecting it. The older I get, the more careful I am, and I pray, pray, pray for God’s protection.

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  6. It’s really good to see that they have GRACE giving them guidance on how to improve things and it’s heartening to see that they reported to police right away. I share the belief that all parents should have been notified. It’s only pure assumption that the person did not have access to any other children in the church.

    It’s very hard when you put your trust in a church home thinking they will be there for you when something hard happens in your life, only to find out you are kind of swept aside and ignored. This family deserved personal care. This happened to their child on the church’s watch, so they, of all people, especially deserved personal care.

    I have heard from too many people who were surprised to find that at a time of need (serious illness, death in family, etc) their church did not have time for them. It leaves a sense of betrayal. I mean, isn’t this a huge reason people join churches?

    I found this interesting-

    practices Christian hedonism- a term dreamed up by John Piper in which joy and happiness is found solely in the pursuit of God

    That’s interesting. I do remember reading some of this from Piper. I wonder how many people are pedaling as fast as they can and wondering when the joy and happiness is going to start? And how many are faking it? And how many are feeling like ‘failures’ because they’re not feeling it? And how many are feeling guilty because other things bring them joy and happiness?

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  7. drstevej,

    There’s no way to notify parents that an incident happened without sharing the fact that this happened to a child.

    I haven’t been in the shoes of the parent whose child this happened to, and I would like to know how they feel about it. I am guessing that if their child was not the only one, they would want to know it?

    I don’t think secrecy is a viable solution. How does a church handle this with sensitivity?

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  8. I am glad to see that they did better than most in their handling of the situation – especially that they called the police and they brought in GRACE. To me, considering who they are and what they teach, this is remarkable (it shouldn’t be, but it is).

    As to the lead pastor not being involved…here’s a bit of my experience with the cult/church I was in, the ‘senior pastor’ was the one I’ve mentioned before. One of the things he did was delegate things to people he would choose and ordain as ‘associate pastors’ or ‘department leaders’ – things like funerals, hospital visits, counseling (unless it was marriage counseling…). He had body guards (to my knowledge, before I left he had never been threatened abd attrndance peaked at about 350), and a back exit out of the church next to his office so he could avoid the ‘meet & greet’ after service. These guys believe they are above the average pew sitter. He required the leaders to sit in the front two rows to ‘protect his anointing’ from people whose faith might be off. They don’t want to get their hands dirty…or their minds bothered…with the trivial stuff of the ‘flock.’

    So I’m not surprised that Jason Meyer didn’t get involved. It didn’t surprise me when Chandler didn’t get involved. It’s part for the course with those are for hire, not called….

    That said, I’m glad that he has at least apologized for that…there’s hope, maybe…

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  9. Thinking about victims, I was reminded of a poem I wrote several years ago. I originally wrote it for the survivors of the SGM mess and it was in the comments on the post RHE did for them. But it applies to survivors from all forms of abuse:

    In the middle of the night, when the doubts roll in and you are unsure if you are the one to blame, I am with you.

    When you step out of your front door or get out of your car and the irrational fears come and panic tries to take hold, I am with you.

    When something triggers the memories and you find yourself back in that place, reliving the pain and the fear and the confusion, I am with you.

    When the anger floods in and you want to scream – scream at the abusers – scream at God – it’s okay. I am with you.

    When you feel so small and just want to hide somewhere safe and not have to face the reality of what was done to you, I am with you.

    When your faith wavers, stumbles, falls or even stops, I am with you.

    When the waves of sadness and pain overtake you and all you want to do is cry – then cry – let the tears purge the pain. I am with you.

    When the voices in your head scream at you that you are the one to blame and you are ‘bad’ and ‘ruined’ or ‘tainted’ or any of the myriad things you were told by the so-called adults in your life, know that you are none of these and I am with you.

    When that taunting voice mocks and tell you you deserved it, that voice and the one behind it is a liar. You did not deserve to be abused. You did not look for it. You did not ask for it. You did not want it. It was shoved at you and you survived. Thank you for surviving.

    When people stand and accuse you of lying or being any number of hateful things, know of a certainty you are none of these. You are stronger than you know. You have a depth of wisdom few have. I know this because you are here – alive – you survived. Your courage is a beautiful thing and as you stand and speak the truth, I am with you.

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  10. SiteSeer: share the belief that all parents should have been notified. It’s only pure assumption that the person did not have access to any other children in the church.

    For example, what if this teen was babysitting for other families in the church? What if there are neighbors with children who also go to the church?

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  11. SiteSeer: I haven’t been in the shoes of the parent whose child this happened to, and I would like to know how they feel about it.

    I am one person out, but when this happened to my relative’s child, the molester was not only the pastor – but her father-in-law. Despite the great pain and trauma, she wanted everyone to know this had happened, so that they could be more prepared than she was to prevent it. I was actually, at the time, cautioning time to heal before sharing this with all she knew, but her concern was that this not happen to someone else because of naivete or ignorance. She would say ‘Tell all for the safety of all’.

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  12. This thought is a bit cynical, but in a church with a “members more vulnerable than leaders to discipline contract”, one might wonder how genuine “gracious forgiveness” actually is. This has been repeatedly noted in prior posts, but perhaps bears mention again: in the conventional interpretation of the Mt 18 reconciliation process, the victim is commanded to forgive one who repents. If the victim (or victim’s family) does not forgive, for whatever reason, they can be regarded to have become the transgressor, and in cases where the one seeking forgiveness has the power to institute discipline for any reason, …

    One can imagine that in such cases, the ones sinned against might reckon that they have to at least say they forgive in order to avoid a disciplinary process directed against them.

    That might be another argument against such contracts. It could cheapen reconciliation in instances in which the transgressor is part of the leadership.

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  13. SiteSeer: It’s really good to see that they have GRACE giving them guidance on how to improve things

    In this religious tribe, everything is grace-this and grace-that. They toss the word around so much that they dishonor it. It’s the cheap grace that Dietrich Bonhoeffer described: “the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance … grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” They are focused on doctrines ‘about’ grace rather than a personal experience ‘of’ Grace, an encounter with the living Christ. As “hedonists” they certainly have a passion, but it is a misplaced passion.

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  14. For years I assumed I was the only victim in our youth group. My case was handled silently after I accidentally divulged it to the youth minister. Only in recent years have I faced the possibility of other victims.

    And now Dee writes, “did the juvenile abuser ever use the restrooms in others parts of the building? Did he have access to unused classrooms.”

    The predator in our youth group invited me to tour the Sunday school classrooms during an overnight lock-in. I said something like, “I’ve been there before. Those were my Sunday school rooms. We just haven’t come to church for the past couple of years.”

    He led me toward those dark empty rooms anyway. I now believe he used the classroom tour ploy on other girls, new to our great big youth group, who were not members of our church.

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  15. Press release from Mohler & Co.:

    T.P. Jones to head up seminary’s new, important “winsome apologetics” initiative!

    http://news.sbts.edu/2019/07/02/new-center-christian-apologetics-continue-southern-seminarys-legacy-defending-truth/

    “the new center will extend Southern Seminary’s longstanding role as a hub for winsome Christian apologetics.”

    Although “historic Christianity has often been criticized”…”the church has trusted The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to defend it”

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  16. Max: SiteSeer: It’s really good to see that they have GRACE giving them guidance on how to improve things

    In this religious tribe, everything is grace-this and grace-that. They toss the word around so much that they dishonor it.

    I think SiteSeer meant https://www.netgrace.org/

    And I agree with SiteSeer. Glad they went with GRACE instead of Ministry Safe.

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  17. Jerome: Although “historic Christianity has often been criticized”…”the church has trusted The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to defend it”

    I note the “historic Christianity” in that sentence. Pretty sure it will not include all of “historic Christianity”, but just the parts that support Calvinism.

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  18. “Jason holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree awarded in 2007 and a Master of Divinity degree in 2002—both from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    so curious to know the substance of a doctorate in philosophy from an institution that seems to ‘teach’ by way of narrow indoctrination.

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  19. ishy: I note the “historic Christianity” in that sentence. Pretty sure it will not include all of “historic Christianity”, but just the parts that support Calvinism

    Yes “historic Christianity” = Calvinism to these folks … just as Gospel = Calvinism. Of course, 90% of Christendom has historically disagreed with this.

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  20. Jerome: “historic Christianity has often been criticized” … ”the church has trusted The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to defend it” (Southern News, SBTS)

    Sooo … the “church” doesn’t trust any other Christian group to defend the faith? SBTS is the last bastion of truth? There is no other “historic Christianity” but what SBTS serves up? Does anyone else sense a hint of arrogance here?

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  21. This molestation took place while adults were in the room and no one seemed to notice.

    “It is our policy that volunteers are never alone with children. The juvenile was not alone with the young child….……We have been unable to determine how this incident occurred unnoticed while other workers were in the room.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    ha (a cynical one)….

    my friend was molested on christmas day in the living room with all her family and extended present.

    she was young enough to be sitting on laps. she sat on a male relative’s lap. he did things to her in secret that went completely unobserved. right there, inches away from others.

    it was traumatic to her.

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  22. SiteSeer: That’s interesting. I do remember reading some of this from Piper. I wonder how many people are pedaling as fast as they can and wondering when the joy and happiness is going to start? And how many are faking it? And how many are feeling like ‘failures’ because they’re not feeling it? And how many are feeling guilty because other things bring them joy and happiness?

    Which is why I call it ‘Piper Piffle’.
    I don’t have to chase God.
    He came to me.
    Fully human (and Almighty God at the same time), born of Mary.

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  23. Pingback: Linkathon! - Phoenix Preacher

  24. Jerome: Press release from Mohler & Co.:

    T.P. Jones to head up seminary’s new, important “winsome apologetics” initiative!

    The opening sentence could be a line out of The Onion: “Secular culture is more antagonistic to the Christian faith than ever before.” Yeah, it’s obviously much worse now than it was in the first few centuries of Christianity before the edict of Milan. It’s interesting that they think the solution is apologetics, because apologetics mostly answers questions the secular world is no longer asking.

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  25. Ken F (aka Tweed): It’s interesting that they think the solution is apologetics, because apologetics mostly answers questions the secular world is no longer asking.

    This is a very good point. But I doubt their audience is really the “secular” world. It’s non-Calvinist Christians, particularly Baptists.

    I no longer believe them whenever they claim a purpose for something, because I’ve seen firsthand that they are often being dishonest about their motivations.

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  26. Friend,

    Thinking aloud: Pedophiles are hunters, hunters of children. Like hunters, they uuse the right camouflage for the terrain, the right weapons, and where to set up a tree stand or blind, and whether to keep moving or remain stationary.

    It’s all calculated, not a sudden loss of control.

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  27. Brian,

    I prefer to view it that way.

    I’m thinking in terms of how Mt 18 has been used to punish people who were deeply wounded. Personally, I would be reluctant to extend forgiveness, and certainly not trust, until I had persuasive evidence that the offender really had experienced a change of heart, and was not simply claiming to have.

    An illustration of how the victim can end up treated worse that the transgressor is in this post from SGM survivors:

    http://www.sgmsurvivors.com/2018/03/22/a-theory-of-why-sovereign-grace-churches-seemed-to-side-with-perpetrators/

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  28. elastigirl: he did things to her in secret that went completely unobserved. right there, inches away from others.

    Larry Nassar molested gymnasts in front of observers. He even made training videos [shudder]. YouTube took down his Gymnastics Doctor channel in 2018. He had some 37,000 images on devices.

    If anybody has the stomach to read details, the Indianapolis Star covered this sick behavior in detail: https://www.indystar.com/story/news/2018/01/25/heres-what-larry-nassar-actually-did-his-patients/1065165001/

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  29. Hmm…concerning repentance and forgiveness. I think genuine repentance is required for true forgiveness. Does God require genuine repentance? Would He require of us more than He requires of Himself?

    As to forgiveness being required without repentance, I have often encountered this. I see it in memes and such regularly. Sigh. The world, and following along as the institutional church seems to do, now the church seem to think forgiving whether the person repents or not is required. I call BS. There is a difference between forgiveness and letting go and walking away. Where there is no repentance, freedom comes from letting go of them – turning their outcome and justice (if there is no reportable crime) over to God – and walking away. If, of course, there is a crime, turn them over to the civil authorities. Forgive? No. Let go of the hold their actions have in and on you (this is usually a process, not instantaneous) and walk away? Yes – this is freedom.

    Concerning the person who molested me from 7 – 12 years old, I have given him a couple of opportunities to show remorse. He has refused them. Reporting him – the statute of limitations had expired by the time I was well enough to consider that. Forgiven him? Nope – I can’t give what he has not asked for. Care about his outcome? Yes. Let him go, turning him over to God’s love and justice? Yep. Free? More than I’ve ever been.

    Oh, and the “you must forgive” BS that churches spew at victims creates a dynamic where abusers can come and say, ” said I was sorry, now you have to forgive me.” I’ve seen it much.

    Observation: if an abuser is demanding forgiveness, true repentance has not occurred.

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  30. elastigirl: it was traumatic to her.

    That is probably an understatement. As someone else observed, these people plan carefully for known opportunities. I would add that they probably get off on doing the deed “in plain sight” without getting caught. Also, they plan and observe in order to be ready if an unexpected opportunity presents itself. Hmm…if someone, no matter who they are, is holding your child on their lap, pay attention to where their hands are….

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  31. Jeannette Altes: There is a difference between forgiveness and letting go and walking away.

    A useful way of putting it, thanks.

    I have thought of this as two forms of reconciliation: either with the other person participating; or in one’s own head, if the other person is unavailable or unwilling. It can be hard to do the latter if the person is still in one’s orbit. I have found it helpful to talk with others who understand the harm that I experienced. Time helps, too.

    This reconciliation within the self is worth the effort. We deserve the inner peace and whatever wisdom emerges.

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  32. Friend: This reconciliation within the self is worth the effort. We deserve the inner peace and whatever wisdom emerges.

    Yes, it is so worth it. It also takes time. Those in the process should not be pressured to do it faster. I have heard, “get over it already” too often. Well, once is too often…
    But anyway, the process requires time and pealing away the effects one or two layers at a time.

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  33. Samuel Conner,

    They’re taking the last parable in Matthew 18, verses 23-35, and applying it to everything.

    Were they of the “children are little vipers” crowd too?

    It’s like using the same template that’s used in making two kids apologize for fighting in the sandbox.

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  34. ishy,

    In my experience, Calvinists rarely bother with the ‘unsaved’ – they leave them to the Baptists, whose theology of love is far more appealing than Calvinism’s roll of the dice. They are almost 100% focused on poaching believers from other, ‘non-historic’ faiths.

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  35. Brian: Pedophiles are hunters, hunters of children. Like hunters, they uuse the right camouflage for the terrain, the right weapons, and where to set up a tree stand or blind, and whether to keep moving or remain stationary.

    It’s all calculated, not a sudden loss of control.

    This is such an important point. The church will never ‘get it’ until they understand the evil, deceptive and predatory nature of abusers. They are clever, careful con artists.

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  36. “last year, an incident occurred in which a juvenile engaged in sexual misconduct against a child”

    I don’t know if this is a common communication about molestation, but I don’t like it. It downplays the crime. I mean, just what is sexual “misconduct?” It sounds like “whoops” someone just slipped up and used poor judgment sexually when they were babysitting in the nursery. At least they said “against.” But a molester does not “engage” in sexual relations involving a child. A molester perpetrates power sexually against a victim. It does not matter what kind of details are in this story. Pedophiles think they are engaging a child when they lure and entice a child to do sexual things with them through non painful means. And that is why the author’s use of the word engage in this communication disturbs me.

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  37. TS00: They are clever, careful con artists.

    I still have the “apology” letter from my daughter’s molester from over 30 years ago. She was 4 and he was 11. Every now and again I take it out and read it because even at that age, his letter rings “con artist.” I have a good memory from very young. When I was 4, 11 year old boys might well have been adults to me.

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  38. Jeannette Altes: Yes, it is so worth it. It also takes time. Those in the process should not be pressured to do it faster. I have heard, “get over it already” too often.

    This was my grave concern, along with the fear of my dear ones getting ‘biblical counseling’. My recommendation was professional counseling, as well as forgiveness if and when you are ready. If it takes until your deathbed, so be it. It’s the victim’s timetable, not the church’s.

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  39. elastigirl,

    My father had a friend 50 years ago who was a deacon in his church, pillar of the community, etc. He really liked to have little girls sit on his lap. I was never allowed to because, for some reason, he creeped my mom out. When I was 11, he was arrested for the molestation of many little girls who had sat on his lap, in many public places. It was a different time, so he was fined, but they did have enough sense to remove him from any duties in the church. Things can happen anywhere, and often go unnoticed.

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  40. Jeannette Altes,

    When my pastor was covering Matthew 5 and came to verses 23 and 24, he went over to Matthew 18:15-35. Readers Digest version: If someone has wronged you, you confront them (not accost them) and they don’t apologize, walk away let go. That was the generic template. I’m waiting to meet with him to get down in the weeds a bit.

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  41. Brian,

    Hmm….I wish you well, strength, and peace when that time comes.

    It’s interesting. I have long since ceased being angry with him. There was a time I was and it was a necessary part of the healing process. Now, when his pic pops up in someone’s fb feed, I feel a slight pang and then mostly sadness for him. He is not happy and can’t stand to be alone with himself. He has to have the tv or radio going constantly to distract and drown out his own inner voice(s). I wish he could face his own inner self and find freedom….but that is in God’s capable hands.

    It’s interesting…when the perpatrator is family, the emotional connections can be very convoluted and complicated. Relative to some of the discussion above, he was a child, himself, just several years older than (and twice as big as) me. Well…I have also accepted that as long also I reside on this still broken earth, it will always be a part of me. It just no longer has access to the driver’s seat.

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  42. Hmm…one of the things I realized during the process is that one of the things a victim may do (maybe should do?) is grieve for what was lost. I explained this to a friend and it was like a light bulb went of…for both of us – grief for the death of innocence and security…of who you might have been…

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  43. “I think that the *elders,* or maybe the members in this case, should apply church discipline to ALL of the pastors and elders who didn’t surround this family with love and support.”

    What kind of church discipline do you have in mind? At my church, the first step is to confront the offender, see what he has to say, criticize him if it seems he’s really offended, and figure out if he’s really repented. Almost always, it stops there, and nobody else is told. (That’s Matthew 18, right?) Sometimes, even if he repents, he is barred from communion for a while, quietly. Sometimes, even if he repents, his sin is publicly announced. This would happens with even a decades- old sexual sin involving minors, for example, which would also be reported to the police. If he repents, he would be allowed to stay at the church, ordinarily (I don’t know if someone like the offender in this case would; he might be lovingly told to attend another church.)
    One thing the post doesn’t tell us is what church discipline was applied to the offender, and whether he repented. What does Wartburg Watch think the appropriate church discipline would be?
    Anyway, the pastors seem to have publicly repented. What other discipline would be appropriate for them?

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  44. Eric: What does Wartburg Watch think the appropriate church discipline would be?

    His sin of ignoring the victim and family began in 2018 at some point. He continued on in that sin until sometime just before they announced what had happened. As far as I can see, he existed in a state of neglectful harm, showing little to no kindness or compassion directly to the family. Now, he got to keep it all a big old secret because they claim that were abiding with the request of law enforcement.

    So, he got to cover it up for a long while. It was a consistent sin that lasted a good long while. I would think that Meyer should be chastised by the board of elders and made to sit out of the pulpit for a short period of time, even a few weeks, to show just how serious a breach of expected compassionate care to a family whose little child was molested in their church. There is a heart problem here. Can you imagine not contacting and caring for a family whose little child was molested?

    I think it is about time that a pastor actually gets disciplined.

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  45. Patti,

    You bet they are downplaying it by playing with language. I believe that the church may bear some responsibility here. For some reason they can’t seem to explain how a kid could be molested in full view of all of the volunteers. What was going on in those classrooms?

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  46. Friend,

    Nasser used the draping of the exam table conceal his activities. Everyone expects a person to get covered up on a doctor’s exam table. Parents did not know common examination techniques and so the doctors was a able to pull of his devious activities.

    I would really like to know how a kid could be molested with a number of adult volunteers reportedly looking on in a room. If some teen covered a kid up with a blanket and commenced to doing things under that blanket, I would think a normal adult volunteer would walk over to see what was going on.

    I have a feeling that the volunteers were not paying attention. If so, there is possible liability here. There may have even been a settlement which has already occurred.

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  47. dee,

    Thanks. I like specific suggestions like that.

    Do pastors really not get disciplined at churches that practice church discipline? At mine, no pastor has gotten disciplined, but elders and deacons in good standing with the leadership and pastors’ and elders’ relatives have been publicly disciplined.

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  48. dee there may have been a settlement reached behind the scenes with the family and the pastor a,

    Sounds quite possible to me. That might explain the delay too. The leaders may have been afraid of being sued if they admitted any deficiency.

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  49. Eric: At my church, the first step is to confront the offender, see what he has to say, criticize him if it seems he’s really offended, and figure out if he’s really repented. Almost always, it stops there, and nobody else is told. (That’s Matthew 18, right?) Sometimes, even if he repents, he is barred from communion for a while, quietly. Sometimes, even if he repents, his sin is publicly announced. This would happens with even a decades- old sexual sin involving minors, for example, which would also be reported to the police.

    I agree with Dee that discipline needs to be meted out to all responsible adults in the case under discussion.

    More generally, I don’t understand the use of Matthew 18 as a step-by-step process. “Sexual sin involving minors” is rape or statutory rape, not a disagreement between people in the church.

    From what I have read, those verses are often used to horn in on troubled marriages, prevent members from leaving, and keep members in line. Healthier churches handle crime by calling police. Healthier churches handle family matters through counseling—only if the family requests it. Healthier churches let people come and go. Healthier churches stay together through prayer, worship, and service, modeling 1 Corinthians 13.

    As a lifelong Christian, I have never attended a church with a Matthew 18 process, and I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything. What sin warrants withholding communion? What sins are announced? Who does the criticizing, confronting, and figuring out true repentance?

    Please forgive my tone. I know you did not invent this process. It is late, and I am just dismayed that what you describe is a familiar practice where you worship. This is unheard of in many, many traditions.

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  50. dee: I would really like to know how a kid could be molested with a number of adult volunteers reportedly looking on in a room.

    Molester was really slick when it comes to Misdirection?
    And/or grooming third-parties on-the-spot?

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  51. dee: You bet they are downplaying it by playing with language.

    My Dear Wormwood,
    I refer you to my previous epistle regarding Semantics.
    Your Ravenously Affectionate Uncle,
    Screwtape

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  52. Brian: Thinking aloud: Pedophiles are hunters, hunters of children. Like hunters, they uuse the right camouflage for the terrain, the right weapons, and where to set up a tree stand or blind, and whether to keep moving or remain stationary.

    Also, Pedophilia is where they “live and move and have their being”. Their core, subordinating every other facet of their being to support behavior servicing and aiding that core.

    Like that woman in The Great Divorce who “became a Grumble”, they become nothing more than Pedophilia possessing and animating a body.

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  53. Max: In this religious tribe, everything is grace-this and grace-that. They toss the word around so much that they dishonor it.

    “The more adjectives about Democracy there are in a country’s official name, the nastier a dictatorship it is.”
    — TV Tropes, “People’s Republic of Tyranny”

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  54. Friend: I don’t understand the use of Matthew 18 as a step-by-step process. “Sexual sin involving minors” is rape or statutory rape, not a disagreement between people in the church.

    Yes, in such cases, “911” supersedes Matthew 18.

    Friend: I agree with Dee that discipline needs to be meted out to all responsible adults in the case under discussion.

    Agreed. This is an inherent problem in elder-ruled churches. When all church leaders (pastor + elders) are on the wrong side of a matter, the congregation can’t easily step in to mete out discipline (e.g., fire the bad boys).

    What keeps emerging in these discussions is the unhealthy nature of elder-ruled 9Marks-type churches. Believers should know that “church” (1) is voluntary (no membership contract required), and (2) should have congregational polity (this was the NT example). Elder-rule drives a separation between clergy and laity that should not be.

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  55. dee: Did any of them get disciplined for being mean?

    Yes, when a church leader is mean-spirited, they should be disciplined.

    While all believers are called to exhibit Christlike character, pastors/elders particularly should be examples of love before the congregation. IMO, if they stray from any of the elements of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, the congregation should be concerned and consider if some form of discipline is necessary.

    “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Cor 13:4-7)

    Impatient, unloving, arrogant, disrespectful, selfish, mean … characteristics which too often pop up describing church leaders in TWW posts!

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  56. Max: Elder-rule drives a separation between clergy and laity that should not be.

    Depending on one’s view of Communion, those elders are also seeking to stand between God and a worshiper. God, of course, is infinitely more powerful than an elder board; but many worshipers would feel deeply wounded and humiliated if they were denied Communion.

    I once attended a WELS church where the worshipers had to write their names on index cards and hand them to ushers before being escorted to the Communion rail in groups of four. The process was very visible. I think a long-term member who stayed in the pew would be noticed and discussed.

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  57. Friend: More generally, I don’t understand the use of Matthew 18 as a step-by-step process. “Sexual sin involving minors” is rape or statutory rape, not a disagreement between people in the church.

    BINGO!

    I still don’t get what they don’t ‘get’.

    Child sex abuse IS A CRIME AND A FELONY in all 50 states.

    Matthew 18 or Hannibal Lecter 19 for that matter is totally irrelevant, Law Enforcement should always be the first point of contact.

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  58. Friend: Depending on one’s view of Communion, those elders are also seeking to stand between God and a worshiper. God, of course, is infinitely more powerful than an elder board; but many worshipers would feel deeply wounded and humiliated if they were denied Communion.

    Exactly. When it comes to communion, Paul advised believers “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28). A believer is to examine himself, not to be examined by others, in regard to his worthiness to partake of communion. If he has committed a sin and genuinely repented of that sin (examined himself), no one has the right to say that he is not worthy to take communion; not even a pastor or elder has God’s authority to deny him from that sacrament. Churches which have an overlord structure of this sort are operating outside of God’s plan for His people.

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  59. Eric,

    Honest question, no intention to verbal hammer you. 🙂

    How many times is public discipline applied in your church? Is it on a regular basis or only for the most extreme issues?

    Also, Romans 12, the chapter on interaction within the church, specifically verse 10, how does that apply to church discipline?

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  60. Brian: How many times is public discipline applied in your church? Is it on a regular basis or only for the most extreme issues?

    Also, Romans 12, the chapter on interaction within the church, specifically verse 10, how does that apply to church discipline?

    Public discipline is rare, occurring perhaps once every year or two.

    Romans 12: 10 says “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” A first question is “who is “one another”? That would seem to be other church members. If your literal brother does something wrong, you tell him and try to make him stop it. If a stranger does the same thing, you usually don’t bother, because you don’t love him enough, though if it’s bad enough, you call the police.
    Thus, if someone in the congregation is accused credibly (which is not necessarily being accused convincingly) of child molesting, you call the police, as legally required, but you also talk with them, investigate, and punish as a church whether or not the police do anything, but with an eye towards repentance, not expulsion— though excommunication will turn out to be the result if they’re not repentant.
    The idea is that the church has its job and the civil state has a different job. Some things need the force of the state, some don’t, and the state won’t address many things. Note, too, that criminal punishment requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which often is not available in cases of rape or child molesting— “more likely than not” is not enough for conviction.

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  61. Question to those that were let down by the both your local congregation and your family by failing to get protection from your abuser: Did you find it difficult to make any kind of a familial bond with anyone person or group?

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  62. Jason Meyer, called by God to be a vocational church elder:

    https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/because-god-leads-the-story-of-jason-meyer

    It was his grandfather, a Reformed Church elder, who first suggested that Jason Meyer switch to a ministerial career. “Jason was content to be an occupational therapist, a Christian one…who really cares about his clients. The ministry idea seemed odd. Nevertheless, he couldn’t shake it.”

    “he…wanted to be sure he was doing the right thing. He wanted a clear sign. He wanted God to speak. And as he sat in church the next Sunday, God did. The pastor…looked out at the congregation and said there were some present who needed to answer God’s call.”

    Jason Meyer…reminisced in a recent phone conversation: ‘I developed an insatiable longing for the word.’ One, he explains, that was accompanied by compassion and boldness he had never known before.”

    “he heard about The Bethlehem Institute…moved to Minneapolis…for two years of vocational eldership training. From there he went on to study at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky…[then] to Louisiana College where he became the professor of New Testament”

    “Sensing God’s call, Jason moved his family back to Minneapolis where he began teaching at the seminary and became involved in the life of Bethlehem Baptist Church…[when] the search for a successor to Piper’s 32-year preaching ministry at Bethlehem [was announced] Jason was in the congregation and found himself praying…’This is why you’ve led us back here’.”

    “Following the three-decade long ministry of John Piper is a position to be pitied, not sought. But here is God’s leading…Beginning January 2013, because God leads, Jason Meyer will become the Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church.”

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  63. dee: Out. of curiously, why was discipline instituted against those elders? Was it purely for sexual sin? It seems like that is the kicker in churches. Did any of them get disciplined for being mean?

    Or how about giving really terrible advice? The sort that leads to ruined lives? Are they held responsible for this couple’s divorce, that woman who abandoned her children or the known felon they aided and abetted until someone turned him in? (I have no idea who. 😉 ) But the guy the pastor’s wife doesn’t like gets excommunicated for being the same needy person he was the day the pastor brought him into the church.

    I recall when the pastor spelled out how charges against a pastor or elder had to be made publicly. What do you think the chances are that he would have ever given the platform to someone like me who had serious charges to make, even had I rallied up the 2 or 3 required witnesses – who had already left the church in disgust – to back me up?

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  64. Eric Rasmusen: Public discipline is rare, occurring perhaps once every year or two.

    You call that ‘rare’? Most churches have gotten by for decades or centuries with no ‘discipline’ cases. My eighty-something mother, who had spent her entire life in church without seeing any excommunications or ‘disciplines’ was shocked and appalled that they were annual at our Calvinist church, usually more often. She was more than relieved to leave, in spite of having to leave good friends behind.

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  65. Bridget: What makes you think this?

    Bridget: proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which often is not available in cases of rape or child molesting

    Most criminal arrests do not result in convictions because the evidence is too weak and prosecutors’ offices too understaffed. Just think about it: how often are you going to get evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt”? That’s stronger than “very likely he did it” or “probably he did it” or “any reasonable person would think he probably did it”. Rape often comes down to one witness and no material evidence. In the case of child molesting, it can be just a child who is confused about what was going on. The cases you hear about in the news are the ones that get convictions, where there is a massive amount of evidence, but that’s unusual. Churches can’t just leave it up to criminal law.

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  66. Eric Rasmusen: The idea is that the church has its job and the civil state has a different job.

    I agree with this statement. The idea of public discipline in a church is completely foreign to me and church as you’ve described it is a bit too oppressive for my liking.
    I suppose this is all well & good for those joining of their own free will, feel bad for those born into it.
    The whole structure is based on compliance through fear (no matter how lovingly it’s applied).
    An organization like GRACE won’t work in this paradigm.
    Too much conflict of interest, questions are strongly discouraged and conformity is prized above all else.
    Maybe I’ve been out of the faith too long but there’s nothing here that make me consider membership.

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  67. Eric Rasmusen: Thus, if someone in the congregation is accused credibly (which is not necessarily being accused convincingly) of child molesting, you call the police, as legally required, but you also talk with them, investigate, and punish as a church whether or not the police do anything, but with an eye towards repentance, not expulsion— though excommunication will turn out to be the result if they’re not repentant.

    There is no way that a pastor and a batch of church volunteers are competent to investigate child molestation and figure out whether the molester has repented. Predators are highly practiced, with sociopathic personalities or narcissistic personality disorder. They will con the leaders and keep on raping while the pastor and elders sing their praises.

    For a different approach, check out the final couple of comments by the Rev. George Conger in a recent TWW post, specifically his remark that “An Episcopal priest is not permitted to conduct his own examination in these matters — it must be handled by the state when involving children…” http://thewartburgwatch.com/2019/07/10/its-time-for-the-conservative-evangelical-wing-of-the-church-of-england-to-get-up-to-speed-in-dealing-with-abuse-istandwithfletchersvictims/#comments

    Church folks cannot and should not step between a person and God. Church folks should protect children from predators. Bar the bad guy from the premises, by legal means, and let God read the mind of the “repentant” molester.

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  68. Friend: There is no way that a pastor and a batch of church volunteers are competent to investigate child molestation and figure out whether the molester has repented. Predators are highly practiced, with sociopathic personalities or narcissistic personality disorder. They will con the leaders and keep on raping while the pastor and elders sing their praises.

    Yes. This. Unless you are a trained professional in dealing with sociopaths / psychopaths / narcissists, you WILL be out of your depth. It is not the job – it is never the job – of clergy or laity (a non-scriptual distiction, byw, but I digress…) – it is never the job of non-law enforcement and non-mental health professionals to investigate whether a report is true. Report the information and let them do their job.

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  69. Founders ‘Ministries’ needs lots of $$$ to get out its documentary exposé of the “unbiblical agendas being advanced under the guise of honoring and protecting women”:

    https://founders.org/founderscinedoc/

    “Founders Ministries is producing this cinedoc to sound an alarm and issue a call for pastors and churches to stand firm against this onslaught”

    Also announcing: the Founders Alliance subscription service

    https://founders.org/give/become-a-monthly-partner/

    Join the F.A.M. – become a Founders Alliance Member

    TROWEL SUBSCRIPTION | $10 / MONTH
    SHIELD SUBSCRIPTION | $25 / MONTH
    SWORD SUBSCRIPTION | $50 / MONTH

    All tiers get the ‘Founders Package’ consisting of a 1689 Confession of Faith booklet as well as “weekly exclusive content”.

    Premier subscribers get additional Founders ‘merch’ and a seminary level theological education via the Founders Study Center online academy.

    I’ll pass LOL.

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  70. Jerome,

    Oh THANK YOU for pointing that out. Here’s my favorite quote from the shrill plea to underwrite their propaganda film: “…in the name of social justice, many unbiblical agendas are being advanced under the guise of honoring and protecting women, promoting racial reconciliation, and showing love and compassion to people experiencing sexual dysphoria.”

    That’s right! Without the future Founders movie, you poor saps might accidentally honor, protect, reconcile, and show love and compassion to the wrong people for the wrong reasons. Only the Founders can save you!

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  71. TS00: You call that ‘rare’? Most churches have gotten by for decades or centuries with no ‘discipline’ cases. My eighty-something mother, who had spent her entire life in church without seeing any excommunications or ‘disciplines’ was shocked and appalled that they were annual at our Calvinist church, usually more often. She was more than relieved to leave, in spite of having to leave good friends behind.

    Typical churches don’t want to offend anyone by calling any specific person a sinner or criticizing them in anything but generalities. If gross sin appears, they hush it up, often immediately expelling the offender without any attempt to get them to repent or to check the story, because what is offensive is the publicity, not the sin itself (and so guilt doesn’t matter either).

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  72. Brian: Question to those that were let down by the both your local congregation and your family by failing to get protection from your abuser: Did you find it difficult to make any kind of a familial bond with anyone person or group?

    Lifelong task. For a long time I did not even want to burden a potential suitor with my baggage. And I know (without minimizing anything) that others had it far worse than I. Fortunately I have managed to heal pretty well.

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  73. Brian:
    Question to those that were let down by the both your local congregation and your family by failing to get protection from your abuser: Did you find it difficult to make any kind of a familial bond with anyone person or group?

    Yes. Even when I am part of a group, I often (less now, but still) feel like I’m outside looking in. The way I used to describe it was that it was like there was an invisible barrier between me and other people that no matter how nice they were, I couldn’t seem to break through. Part of it was a feeling of beong so completely different that I couldn’t relate to them and vice versa. That has lessened to a large degree, but is not completely gone. Probably a subconscious defense mechanism to prevent trust…because trust was far too dangerous.

    I hope that makes some sense.

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  74. Friend: There is no way that a pastor and a batch of church volunteers are competent to investigate child molestation and figure out whether the molester has repented. Predators are highly practiced, with sociopathic personalities or narcissistic personality disorder. They will con the leaders and keep on raping while the pastor and elders sing their praises.

    I’m agreeing that they should call the police. What if the police say there’s not enough evidence and they can’t prosecute? Should the church just let the matter rest? To make the example more specific, suppose the accused is a middle-aged banker, respectable externally, but known to people in the church as weak, and the victim is a child, of below-average intelligence,but known to people in the church as honest. I don’t see how a criminal conviction would be possible. Should the church just report the matter and then forget about it?

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  75. Ken F (aka Tweed): How many typical churches have you been involved with? How many denominations? What is your sample size? Your statement does not match my experience.

    I’ve attended perhaps 10 churches for at least a year regularly and visited perhaps 30 others at least once. Only two had even a single example of public church discipline.

    My church had one person up before a judge on criminal charges, and at the sentencing hearing, the judge said he was impressed because he’d seen two kinds of church reactions: (1) total rejection of the accused, and (2) denial that the accused was guilty. He’d never before seen admission that the culprit was guilty, public church discipline, and then lots of the same church people showing up in support of the repentant sinner.

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  76. Jeannette Altes,

    Jeannette Altes: The way I used to describe it was that it was like there was an invisible barrier between me and other people that no matter how nice they were, I couldn’t seem to break through.

    I’ve heard pastors say that they can tell when a woman has been abused as a child because of the lasting, subtle, fear, and that it’s far more common than most of us realize. Most churches refuse to admit the possibility that their own members would do such bad things, so it’s natural for victims to think they’re alone in being victimized.

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  77. TS00: dee: Out. of curiously, why was discipline instituted against those elders? Was it purely for sexual sin? It seems like that is the kicker in churches. Did any of them get disciplined for being mean?

    Or how about giving really terrible advice? …

    I recall when the pastor spelled out how charges against a pastor or elder had to be made publicly….

    I don’t want to go into exactly what sort of sins they were, but it wasn’t connected with their church offices.

    I can imagine situations where a pastor or elder should be publicly disciplined for harshness or unfairness, even if they repent— notably, if their harshness and unfairness was also public, as in the Harvest Bible Chapel events of the past decade. I don’t think bad advice deserves discipline at all. Elders have a hard job, one I wouldn’t want to have to do, and like doctors they will make honest mistakes— even stupid honest mistakes sometimes. Not all mistakes are malpractice.
    Charges against elders should be like charges against anyone, I think. Usually, confront the offender first privately (though not always; it depends on the circumstance). Then, recruit someone else. Then, go to the elders as a group. If they fail to respond, appeal to a higher authority–presbytery, denomination, or their peers in other churches. As a last resort, go “public” in the church and the world. (Of course, if it’s a criminal offense, calling the police early on might be added to this– tho not necessarily.)

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  78. Jerome:
    Press release from Mohler & Co.:

    T.P. Jones to head up seminary’s new, important “winsome apologetics” initiative!

    http://news.sbts.edu/2019/07/02/new-center-christian-apologetics-continue-southern-seminarys-legacy-defending-truth/

    “the new center will extend Southern Seminary’s longstanding role as a hub for winsome Christian apologetics.”

    Although “historic Christianity has often been criticized”…”the church has trusted The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to defend it”

    You winsome, you lose some…

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  79. Patti: Pedophiles think they are engaging a child when they lure and entice a child to do sexual things with them through non painful means. And that is why the author’s use of the word engage in this communication disturbs me.

    Yes, it’s a creepy way to put it.

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  80. Eric Rasmusen: Thus, if someone in the congregation is accused credibly (which is not necessarily being accused convincingly) of child molesting, you call the police, as legally required, but you also talk with them, investigate, and punish as a church whether or not the police do anything, but with an eye towards repentance, not expulsion— though excommunication will turn out to be the result if they’re not repentant.

    Child molesters can be very good at faking repentance. They are living a lie every day of their lives, after all, and usually very practiced at it. I hope they are not allowed back into positions of trust where they have access to children.

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  81. Eric Rasmusen: In the case of child molesting, it can be just a child who is confused about what was going on.

    Confused about what was going on, like you mean they thought the person was doing something sexual to them but the person has a different explanation? Or maybe I’m not following you. Do you have an example?

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  82. Brian: Question to those that were let down by the both your local congregation and your family by failing to get protection from your abuser: Did you find it difficult to make any kind of a familial bond with anyone person or group?

    After your trust has been shattered, you try to heal and rebuild it but it feels like it is held together with tape and band aids. There is a barrier to fully trusting, the need to protect myself from further harm stops me.

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  83. Jerome: Press release from Mohler & Co.:

    T.P. Jones to head up seminary’s new, important “winsome apologetics” initiative!

    http://news.sbts.edu/2019/07/02/new-center-christian-apologetics-continue-southern-seminarys-legacy-defending-truth/

    I suspect that this new endeavor at Southern Seminary will be more focused on an apologetic defense of reformed theology than Christianity. Gospel = Calvinism to them … “historic Christianity” = Calvinism, the only authentic expression of truth in their minds.

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  84. SiteSeer: Child molesters can be very good at faking repentance. They are living a lie every day of their lives, after all, and usually very practiced at it.

    The problem with deception is that you don’t know you are deceived because you are deceived. The average church member can be easily fooled – they are too trusting for their own good and bad-boys in their midst will take advantage of that.

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  85. Friend: That’s right! Without the future Founders movie, you poor saps might accidentally honor, protect, reconcile, and show love and compassion to the wrong people for the wrong reasons. Only the Founders can save you!

    Isn’t that Priestcraft, like the accusations the Reformers made against the RCC hierarchy?

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  86. Jeannette Altes: Yes. This. Unless you are a trained professional in dealing with sociopaths / psychopaths / narcissists, you WILL be out of your depth.

    Because you’re just an amateur and they’re an experienced Professional.
    You have a job and a life and other interests/personality facets. They don’t.
    You’re still human. They’re Narcissism & Psychopathy animating a meat-puppet body.
    They’re not “sinners”. They have become SIN like that woman in The Great Divorce became a Grumble.
    Selfishness and Deceit and Getting My Way are where they “move and live and have their being” 24/7/365.

    Which is why they will always have the advantage over you.

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  87. Max: Elder-rule drives a separation between clergy and laity that should not be.

    Again, isn’t that the exact same beef the Reformers had with the RCC of the time?
    The Heresy of Clericalism — only Priests, Monks, and Nuns matter to God and the rest of us can all go to Hell?

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  88. Headless Unicorn Guy: The Heresy of Clericalism — only Priests, Monks, and Nuns matter to God and the rest of us can all go to Hell?

    Yes, there is no doubt a hint of that in the new reformation.

    Whose job is the ministry? Every believer has a part! Dividing the ranks into shepherds vs. sheep was never in the divine plan.

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  89. Max: Exactly.When it comes to communion, Paul advised believers “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28).A believer is to examine himself, not to be examined by others, in regard to his worthiness to partake of communion.If he has committed a sin and genuinely repented of that sin (examined himself), no one has the right to say that he is not worthy to take communion; not even a pastor or elder has God’s authority to deny him from that sacrament.Churches which have an overlord structure of this sort are operating outside of God’s plan for His people.

    In my RCC experience, this pretty much holds true as well.
    You can come forward for Communion, or you can stay in your seat, that’s your decision. I’ve never seen a priest or deacon give anyone in the communion line (or staying in their seat) the third degree about their worthiness.

    And this is the RCC — the oldest and most hierarchical of Western-Rite Liturgical Churches, with its own scandals past and present.

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  90. Headless Unicorn Guy: You can come forward for Communion, or you can stay in your seat, that’s your decision. I’ve never seen a priest or deacon give anyone in the communion line (or staying in their seat) the third degree about their worthiness.

    Seems so un-Christlike, doesn’t it? Some groups practice “closed communion” where they restrict the serving of communion only to members of their church or denomination. I never thought that practice was “Biblical” either. If you are a believer, and have “examined yourself” (1 Cor 11), you should not be denied communion anywhere, IMO.

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  91. Friend: many worshipers would feel deeply wounded and humiliated if they were denied Communion

    When Piper was at Bethlehem Baptist, he taught his congregation that they were wretched poor and helpless worms … how wounding and humiliating is that?! So, being denied communion fits with the program if you are nothing but worm sweat.

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  92. Eric Rasmusen: I’ve attended perhaps 10 churches for at least a year regularly and visited perhaps 30 others at least once. Only two had even a single example of public church discipline.

    That is actually a very small sample size, which means you don’t really know what a “typical church” is. What you seem to believe is the only way to know if a church is taking sin seriously is if they are publicly disciplining people. This is called Phariseeism.

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  93. Eric Rasmusen: Should the church just report the matter and then forget about it?

    Let’s separate criminal allegations versus sin(s) not clearly defined under criminal law.

    Crime: If a member is alleged to have molested a child, but allegations are not proven, all parents should still be told what is known. Statute of limitations expired? Child will not testify? Let parents know. The person can legally be barred from the premises without a criminal conviction. Above all, that person should have no access to children in that church.

    Sin: Ann Landers wrote, “A church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.” While sin leveling is bad, less attention is paid to sin cherry-picking and sin invention. There are plenty of sermons against yoga pants, but rather few about rejection. What is your experience of individual sinners being called out in church?

    You write, Only two [churches] had even a single example of public church discipline. This seems to contradict your assertions that churches discipline people routinely, and public calling out of sin is desirable; yet you imply that most churches are hypocritical:

    Typical churches don’t want to offend anyone by calling any specific person a sinner … they hush it up, often immediately expelling the offender … what is offensive is the publicity, not the sin…

    Which churches expel sinners? The churches I have belonged to handle sin through counseling requested by the sinner.

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  94. SiteSeer: Child molesters can be very good at faking repentance. They are living a lie every day of their lives, after all, and usually very practiced at it. I hope they are not allowed back into positions of trust where they have access to children.

    Just because you think someone has repented doesn’t mean you trust them not to fall again. Rather, you need to protect them and others from temptation. Thus, the repentant embezzler should not be church treasurer and the repentant child molester should not do child care. This is also a reason to keep them in the same church, though the situation of the victims may make sending them to another church–with warning– better in many cases.

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  95. SiteSeer: Confused about what was going on, like you mean they thought the person was doing something sexual to them but the person has a different explanation? Or maybe I’m not following you. Do you have an example?

    I think getting into details might be too gross. I don’t have a real-world example in mind, though.

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  96. Headless Unicorn Guy: I’ve never seen a priest or deacon give anyone in the communion line (or staying in their seat) the third degree about their worthiness.

    One of the age-old problems of the Roman Catholic Church is that it doesn’t enforce its own rules (e.g, against image worship as opposed to legitimate uses). It is very clear in the official doctrine that non-Catholics and those known to be in gross in are to be denied communion. For example, one papal decree says:

    “The judgment of one’s state of grace obviously belongs only to the person involved, since it is a question of examining one’s conscience. However, in cases of outward conduct which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, the Church, in her pastoral concern for the good order of the community and out of respect for the sacrament, cannot fail to feel directly involved. The Code of Canon Law refers to this situation of a manifest lack of proper moral disposition when it states that those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin” are not to be admitted to Eucharistic communion.”https://web.archive.org/web/20151221023647/http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2T.HTM

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  97. Brian: As a survivor of child molestation myself, they do know when they are being violated. It’s a visceral feeling. Where did you hear that a child could just be confused?

    Someone can be stimulated to climax without the source of the arousal knowing it— even an adult source. This helps explain why there can be other adults in the room too who don’t realize what’s happening.

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  98. Eric: Do pastors really not get disciplined at churches that practice church discipline?

    I realise you were asking rhetorically, so I’ll pick up the baton.

    Churches_that_practice_church_discipline are generally founded precisely so that the senior managers can live their adult lives out without ever being disicplined.

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  99. Friend: Which churches expel sinners? The churches I have belonged to handle sin through counseling requested by the sinner.

    If these Reformed churches believe they should call out sin, and excommunicate sinners, what about the pastors? My Calvi-pastor stated every Sunday that all men, including him, sinned in thought, word and deed every day of their lives. Yet they decide if any particular ‘sin’ deserves ‘the treatment’. And somehow, their own never does. How convenient.

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  100. Nick Bulbeck,

    In the New Testament, the rare cases that called for the extraordinary step of excommunication were judged by the congregation, not by the elders. Which would mean that the congregation should decide if someone is worthy of discipline. Including pastors.

    Now, I cannot even imagine joining a group which held the threat of expulsion for unstated crimes, and which could, upon a whim, declare you guilty of not measuring up.

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  101. ___

    501c3 Church Non-Attendance: “A Blueprint For Being Somewhere Else, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    A secondary product result of such blogs as Wartburg Watch viewing after ‘501c3 Abuse Awareness’ ™ is ‘Finding God Elsewhere’ ™ …

    huh?

    Church today stat. : “2 in 5 Millennials find God elsewhere…” -Barna

    What?

    Kind Folks are seeing from social media awareness that 501c3 Church is becoming dangerous and irrelevant in the extreme.

    SKreeeeeeeeeetch!

    Dangerous as in attracting such individuals types as Sociopaths, Narcissists, Psychopaths, Pedophiles, and Dishonest Wolf Pastoral Professionals.

    Irrelevant as in worldwide online religious, music, educational books, videos and social media content has grown exponentially, -much of it free.

    The message of Jesus is no longer listened to and promoted just in 501c3 Church…

    It pays to ta do a ‘flybye’?

    Could b. 🙂

    Why have one where ‘twelve’ will due…

    hum, hum, hum…’time keeps slipping’ into the future, do do do dow…’

    ATB

    Sòpy

    Intermission:
    Corey Heuvel -“Fly Like An Eagle” (a Steve Miller acoustic cover)
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4-awWzNUJIo
    Bonus: James Hill – “Billie Jean” With His Imaginary Band
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2gyxeXW_2T8

    [1] https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Barna%3A+Millennials&ref=nb_sb_noss
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DxWGNCfEw9c

    ;~)§

    – –

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  102. Brian:
    Eric Rasmusen,

    Are you saying children can be aroused by adults who have never been molested?

    I had not noticed that particular comment of his, but it is extremely disturbing. It suggests that adults can unknowingly cause children to have a… I’m sorry, I can’t even type that.

    I’m going to flag Dee separately and ask her to weigh in.

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  103. Benn,

    After years/decades of being “overcome”, something snapped in my spirit one day that perhaps I should be an “overcomer” in Christ … life hasn’t been the same since. It’s amazing what believers can do through the power of the Holy Spirit, who lives within them, who convicts them of sin and helps them resist the beginnings of temptation. Of course, it took me nearly 70 years to learn that.

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  104. Eric Rasmusen: Someone can be stimulated to climax without the source of the arousal knowing it— even an adult source. This helps explain why there can be other adults in the room too who don’t realize what’s happening.

    I would take strong issue with that comment.

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  105. Jeannette Altes: Are you saying children can be aroused by adults who have never been molested?

    My take on his comment was that he meant the pedophile could reach…. without anyone knowing. But I could be wrong and agree about letting Dee know.

    That’s right. It never entered my head that the child could be sexually aroused.

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  106. Eric: That’s right. It never entered my head that the child could be sexually aroused.

    Exactly what are you talking about? Who is getting aroused, about whom, in what kind of gathering? I do not ever recall being in a group where someone was climaxing, and the object of the arousal was unaware, and the group kept on socializing. Are you imagining the thoughts of a pedophile?

    You seem to have a strong academic background. Please give specific information, with data.

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  107. Eric,

    I thought that is what you meant. That said, the comment is still disturbing. You are surely aware, having read through the comments on these posts, that there are a number of commenters who endured this type of abuse as children.

    Your comment has an almost clinical feel to it. It feels like the words of some who is either a clinician who deals with pedophiles or someone who studies them – seeming to have some specific knowlegde. Whatever the case may be, the comment leave me a bit queasy and a little uneasy.

    And it is a comment that can cause survivors pain.

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  108. Credentialism is a vice. Don’t believe someone just because they have credentials, especially in fields like psychology, the ministry, or journalism. That said, I’m pretty good in terms of general credentials. Yale BA/MA, MIT PhD, taught by numerous economics Nobel laureates, chaired professor at a top business school, several books, 40+ articles, positions at UCLA, Harvard Law, Yale Law, Tokyo, Indiana, Oxford, Chicago, perfect score on the LSAT law school admissions test. I know enough to know that you can’t trust experts in many fields— look at their arguments, not their assertions, and if they cite experience, see if it rings true with your own knowledge.

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  109. Eric Rasmusen,

    Okay then. Your reply that grossed Friend, Jeannette, and myself makes you come across as a pedophile. I asked you where you headed it and you never answered that question. So, I aso the again, how can a child be confused about if they were molestesd or not? If you can’t can answer in a clear and concise answer, I’m going to have to assume you’re a pedophile.

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