Update: Joshua Harris and the Elephant in His Deconstruction Tour

Juno's View of Jupiter's Southern Lights
Juno’s view of Jupiter’s southern lights-NASA

“There is a much greater skepticism toward the memories of those who claim abuse than toward the memories of those who deny it.” ― Sue Campbell, Relational Remembering: Rethinking the Memory Wars


When I began this blog about 10 years ago, I spoke with Barbara Dorris from SNAP about my thoughts. She gave me a simple piece of advice that I continue to heed. It was really quite simple but I have discovered how profound it is. It goes basically like this. I used this advice for this post.

You are going to hear a lot of stories and get involved in complex situations. Never forget to keep the vicim in front of you.

You don’t know about the sex abuse scandal in Sovereign Grace Ministries?

Here is the perfect article so that you will understand my views in this post. The Sex-Abuse Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch: Inside the rise and fall of Sovereign Grace Ministries.

Joshua Harris claims he might not be a Christian anymore and slips in the words  *divorce* and *forgive me* into the mix.

Here is his statement on Instagram. I highlighted some portions that stood out to me.

My heart is full of gratitude. I wish you could see all the messages people sent me after the announcement of my divorce. They are expressions of love though they are saddened or even strongly disapprove of the decision.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
I am learning that no group has the market cornered on grace. This week I’ve received grace from Christians, atheists, evangelicals, exvangelicals, straight people, LGBTQ people, and everyone in-between. Of course there have also been strong words of rebuke from religious people. While not always pleasant, I know they are seeking to love me. (There have also been spiteful, hateful comments that angered and hurt me.)⁣⁣
⁣⁣
The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is “deconstruction,” the biblical phrase is “falling away.” By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Martin Luther said that the entire life of believers should be repentance. There’s beauty in that sentiment regardless of your view of God. I have lived in repentance for the past several years—repenting of my self-righteousness, my fear-based approach to life, the teaching of my books, my views of women in the church, and my approach to parenting to name a few. But I specifically want to add to this list now: to the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry. I hope you can forgive me.⁣⁣
⁣⁣

  1. He now admits that his initial statement was not about *separation* but about divorce. I wish he had said so in the first place.
  2. We have no way of knowing the standards by which he defines Christianity in the here and now. I know what he affirmed as a leader in Sovereign Grace Ministries with CJ Mahaney and Covenant Life Church after CJ Mahaney but not how he defines it today. He was taught by Mahaney who appeared to believe that being a chameleon in one’s faith expressions is convenient.
  3. He repents for all sorts of things but does not repent for the many reports of sex abuse coverup which came out of SGM while he was there. For many of us who’ve followed and written about those sex abuse scandals, sex abuse is the first thing we think of when we hear the words *Sovereign Grace Ministries” (now going by Sovereign Grace Churches as if it matters.) His omission is unconscionable, in my opinion.
  4. He asks for forgiveness for many things but overlooks the need for forgiveness for the elephant in the room-. That is the sex abuse cover up scandal for which he holds some responsibility as a leader in the ministry.

Some of us who remember this sex abuse have been reminding folks this is not just about deconstruction and has everything to do with with victims of sex abuse and coverup in Sovereign Grace Ministries.

Todd Wilhelm from Thou Art the Man called me to talk about Harris’ statement on deconstruction. The very first thing he mentioned was that Harris didn’t say anything about sex abuse in SGM.

Ashley Easter was asked to be part of the Harris documentary about his changed views on his book, I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Here is the trailer from the video.

Update:7/30/19 

It appears that shortly after I posted this trailer, it has been removed from public viewing. I checked a number of websites.

Just found one at Amazon. Let’s see how long this one lasts. I have a feeling scrubbing is occurring.

In subsequent communications with Josh Harris, she stressed the need to tie the purity teaching in with the allegations of sexual abuse in Sovereign Grace. This did not happen as you will see if you watch the entire film.

What has Harris said about the sex abuse scandal at Sovereign Grace Ministries?

Sandi Villarreal in Sojourners Magazine 7/19/19, wrote QUESTIONING FAITH AFTER PURITY CULTURE: IN CONVERSATION WITH JOSHUA HARRIS.

… And then we left our denomination and right at that time, our church and the movement was hit with a lawsuit related to sex abuse and it was just total chaos. I was in crisis mode for about five years — which, I think it was all tied together, even the issues of how sex abuse was reported with regards to pastors feeling like they had all the answers and that they could handle things when really we didn’t know what we were doing.

…When it comes to something like sex abuse, we just did not have the training. We needed to be calling in other people, we needed to be, obviously, making sure that — and we did report many cases of sexual abuse, but in some cases obviously we made huge mistakes.

So there’s sort of a web of problems. But I do think that a very patriarchal, male-centered, low view of women has connections to sexual abuse in different cases.

“We left the denomination and our church and movement was hit by a lawsuit and it was chaos for 5 years”

This occurred in 2012, shortly after Mahaney, realizing that he was in trouble, took off to Louisville where Al Mohler of SBTS attempted to protect Mahaney from his past. There’s little question in my mind that all of this movement occurred due to the impending lawsuit. Other leaders left like Dave Harvey who still hasn’t take ownership for his role in this fiasco.

This lawsuit was actually a lawsuit comprising a number of victims. Go to this page to read about some of those victims. However, there were other criminal convictions of abusers, the most telling was the trial of Nate Morales. CJ Mahaney’s brother in law, Grant Layman, another pastor at Covenant Life Church, said he did not report the abuse to the police even though he knew he should.

I believe that there was chaos because all of these pastors, including Harrs, spent their time figuring out how to cover their butts. The lawsuit got thrown out due to a state of limitations issue but the church kept claiming it was due to insufficient evidence and far too many people believed them.

Now what might happen if the state of limitations is changed Maryland…?

It may have been chaos for him. So sad… I wonder if he wonders what it was for those who suffered the abuse?

“Pastors got reports of sex abuse and the pastors felt they could handle things handle even when really they didn’t know what they were doing.”

I believe that in many instances that they knew exactly what they were doing. Read Grant Layman’s confession under oath in court. This confession causes me to believe that CLC, Mahane, and others were well aware of a some sort of belief that the police should not be involved in such cases.

If that is so, then they knew exactly what they were doing. They were not going to law enforcement in some cases. Actually we don’t know how many but my guess is that the word *many* rathe than one or two would be closer to the truth.

“We just didn’t have the training.”

If Josh was a kid in high school, Id give him a break. However, he was in his 30s (b.1974) when this stuff was happening. He also was a leader and could have demanded that training occur. It appeared to not be a priority for him or for anyone else in leadership. Ignorance of the law is not excuse. Ignoring the pain and suffering of children and parents is beyond ignorant. Some might say it is downright evil.

“We needed to be calling in other people, we needed to be, obviously, making sure that — and we did report many cases of sexual abuse, but in some cases obviously we made huge mistakes.”

I’m afraid that this is an admission of guilt here. He did not say they reported all cases of of sexual abuse. he says they reported many. I would love to know how many is *many.*

“We made huge mistakes.”

This was in the same paragraph as sex abuse not being reported in all instances.

In the end, Harris got out of Dodge and ran to Canada to attend seminary. He was still beloved by The Gospel Coalition and Al Mohler at SBTS at that time. He would have been warmly welcomed by the CJ Mahaney apologists at the SBC seminaries. Some believe he was attempting to avoid potential litigation. Some believed he was running from his mess. No one but Harris knows.

Harris’ deconstruction pales in comparison to the sex abuse scandal of Sovereign Grace Ministries.

It appears that Harris knew there was sex abuse going unreported if he is being accurately quoted and that is the real problem for me. I am more concerned about that than I am about his wavering or supposed lack of faith and his playing games with the words of separation and divorce.

I once asked a friend who had a doctorate in economics how things were going *belief wise.* He said it was like the stock market (years ago) in that it had its ups and down. Many years ago I went through a brief period of doubts surrounding issues like the veracity of Scripture, etc. It was the best thing that happened to me. It forced me to look at exactly what I believed and I did so by studying just about anything I could find which dealt with the difficulties of faith and Scripture. I emerged a stronger Christian. Doubt can be a kick in the pants to get a move on and learn.

In my years on this earth, I have seen people I would have bet would stay far away from the faith become deeply committed Christians. Then, there are those who I thought are far more thoughtful and committed Christians than I am, clearly and logically deny their former faith.

The longer we live, the more most of us realize that life rarely works out the way we predict. There is only One who sees the now and the future and I’m content to let it rest in His Hands. None of us know where Harris will be in the years left to him.

In the meantime, I will continue to press him to come clean about the child sex abuse cover up allegations in former ministry. I hope I”m wrong but I bet he stays largely silent.

The email sent to members of Harris’ old church-Covenant Life Church. What a history when it comes to their lead pastors!

I received this email from several sources. It appears to be the same one as posted one Julie Roys website and SGM Survivors.

Covenant Life Church has lurched from pastor to pastor with all sorts of problems. The most recent fail was PJ Smyth who is the son of John Smyth who died before the UK could convict him. Cj Mahaney to Josh Harris to PJ Smyth…what a history!

Dear Covenant Life family,

This week our former Lead Pastor, Josh Harris, shared some significant news. First, he and his wife Shannon announced that they’re separated. Then in a follow up post, he said “by all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”

These updates are hard to hear. We love Josh and Shannon. For most of us, Josh isn’t just some distant public figure. He’s a beloved former pastor and friend. So this news isn’t just a lot to process theoretically. It hits home personally.

How do we process the news that someone who was a spiritual leader in our community, who taught us God’s Word, who ministered to us, no longer considers himself a follower of Christ?

Today, after I got the news, I read through Paul’s first letter to Timothy and found it very grounding. Several times Paul mentions former Christian leaders “swerving from,” “wandering from,” or “making shipwreck” of their faith. So while this is sad and confusing, it isn’t new. Christian leaders occasionally veered from faith at the very beginning. Paul says some had gone off course theologically. Others behaved in ways that violated Christian conscience. For others, it was greed. In every case, Paul’s hope was for redemption and restoration. That these leaders would develop “love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Tim 1:5) That should be our hope and prayer for Josh as well.

Paul’s primary instruction for us when leaders swerve from faith is that we make it an opportunity for greater resolve in our own faith, not less. Seeing leaders who taught us the gospel veer from it should deepen our commitment to “guard the good deposit” entrusted to us. And “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” (1 Tim 6:11)

So, Covenant Life, pray for our friend Josh. Pray with sincere hope for a redemptive end. And ask the God of all grace and power for fresh resolve in your own fight of faith. “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.” (1 Tim 6:12)

In Love,
Kevin

P.S. – If you’re having particular trouble processing this, any of the pastors would be glad to talk with you. If you’re specifically wrestling with how to process teaching you heard from Josh, you may find this video from John Piper helpful.


Comments

Update: Joshua Harris and the Elephant in His Deconstruction Tour — 464 Comments

  1. “How do we process the news that someone who was a spiritual leader in our community, who taught us God’s Word, who ministered to us, no longer considers himself a follower of Christ?”

    I’ll respond with another question:
    How do we process the news that our pastors included sexual predators and those that covered for them?

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  2. The other elephant in the room is that we’ve heard almost nothing from his former wife — just him speaking for her. Forgive me for being a little cynical, but after Tullian, Tony Jones, Bill Hybels, Derek Webb, et al I’m waiting to say too much more about all of what this means (other than what Dee said about him shirking his duties and apologizing to all of the safe people).

    I’m hoping both the exvangelical crowd and his former Calvinist fans can hold off on their thoughtpieces for the time being. Again, I know I’m being cynical – but history is telling me that there’s more to be said.

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  3. When people want to dodge hard looks at erroneous and questionable practices within professed Christianity, those foisting them, and the methods employed, they engage in efforts to distance themselves. The yay grace ‘cuz oopsie that shows up so often appears on display here, with some twists. The defining how people can react is there (you spiteful detractors, you). The moving past the mess on which untold thousands of dollars (and maybe millions voter enough years) were built appears to be deployed.

    Sorry, but the guy signed up for leadership, led with advice and instruction, and evidently got paid handsomely for it. Criticism and warnings about patterns associated with responsibility dodges are warranted.

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  4. You seem to have a very strong impression and your judgment is usually spot on, Dee. I don’t know the man or what is motivating him. I’m sure you know him better than I do, which is zero. But I have seen the viscious things people are posting about him, it’s enough to make anyone considering becoming a Christian to run the opposite way. My instinct is to speak but with patience & kindness until I see how things will progress, but then I have no history or familiarity with him whatsoever.

    I would guess that just being mentored by CJ Mahaney would be enough to convince a person that the faith is bunk. I have no way of knowing what he may have seen and heard in the circles he traveled. After reading the accounts of life with Bill Hybels I can only imagine what life was like in SGM behind the scenes. I’m thinking any kind of confession would necessarily bring in others, meaning legal repercussions. Makes me wonder if he has had legal advice on that.

    So far he has been the only leader I’ve ever seen change direction or apologize at all, in any way, for anything. I am hoping with time he expands this confession to everything it should be, and also that he stays out of professional religion.

    Oh what a tangled web we weave…

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  5. “How do we process the news that someone who was a spiritual leader in our community, who taught us God’s Word, who ministered to us, no longer considers himself a follower of Christ?”

    Not by turning to Piper, please…

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  6. I’m going to take a slightly different tack here.

    First of all, let me state that I agree with Dee about pressing Harris regarding his involvement in the sex abuse scandals at CLC and within Sovereign Grace. This is a huge gaping hole and him just walking away isn’t going to answer the many questions.

    Second, I have seen that Harris’ apologies to other communities he harmed has been poorly received. The people who were badly hurt by following his ill-advised book, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” are still annoyed at him for not really apologizing. And the exvangelical LGBTQ community is rightly suspicious of Harris. They too were hurt by IKDG. Both groups are pretty open about their feeling that this is just Josh trying to reposition himself for a rebranding or makeover, a la Tullian Tchvidjian.

    Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I’d like to just say that the way other Christians treated Harris since his Instagram post came out last week has almost completely destroyed what remaining faith I have in Christianity as a religion. No, it wasn’t a “Goodbye Rob Bell” as John Piper did years ago. It was more quoting of 1 John 2:19 by the Calvinist crew: “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”

    This is not merely giving Harris the left foot of fellowship. This is worse than Christians shooting the wounded faithful. Rather, this pushing Harris into the Christian airlock and then venting it to vacuum. Or to put it in different words, a scorched-earth policy that pretty much makes clear that Harris is dead to them.

    I’ve had it out, both on Twitter and on Facebook, with people who have so consigned Harris. Again, just to make clear, I am NOT a supporter of Harris. My concern is this kind of behavior is just nasty, and directed against a person who may be mentally fragile, it could push that person over the edge. I speak from personal experience here. I had forgotten about this until two days ago, but I remember being 19 years old and suicidal, because I couldn’t live up to the high standards preached at my church. I was always sinning against God, and I thought the only real way out was to just eliminate the problem by killing myself. Thankfully, the mother of a friend of mine figured out I was in bad shape and spoke to me about the grace of God, and that gave me a reprieve.*

    My plea is for people to stop beating up exvangelicals, leavers, defectors, new atheists, agnostics, those who don’t believe like you anymore, etc. Just stop. You don’t know if your hellfire and damnation warnings are going to send an already very upset person over the edge. When I ended up in the hospital 20 years ago, nobody at work knew I was actively suicidal because I made a point of going into work, doing my job and then falling to pieces after work. So my managers were shocked when they were informed I was being held on a locked psych ward for my own protection. In fact, the friend who stood over me while I signed the papers to commit myself told me not to underplay the symptoms of my illness, as I had done in the past.

    Plus, it’s my opinion that if Harris gets told over and over again he’s going to hell because he apostatized from the faith, it’s likely he’s going to dig in his heels on the child sexual abuse coverup at CLC and SGM and we’ll never get closure.

    =====

    *It would be another two decades before it became clear that I had chronic major depression that could manifest itself as suicidal ideation in the face of a crisis of faith. I am grateful for the invention of evil psych drugs that give me the ability to beat back irrational thinking. Yeah, I still question and doubt, all the time, but I’m not wanting to kill myself over it.

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  7. Max: He was a storyteller.

    “I’m Joshua Harris and I know how to use story to reach an audience.”

    All of this slick marketing stuff (including the video clip above) leaves me cold. By nature, it is inauthentic.

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  8. This post is a good reminder to keep the main thing the main thing.

    I’ve been impressed by how Harris has handled his apology for I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I know it’s a super low bar, but can you imagine the Ezzos or Voddie Baucham doing the same apology for their beliefs about beating children? Harris seems to be one of the few to address his past errors head on.

    But, writing a bad book at 19 is much easier to apologize for than it is to address sex abuse cover-ups while a pastor in your late 30s. He HAD to at least know the real reason CJ left. And he knows that the only thing that saved them was the statute of limitations.

    As for his Christianity, places like CLC have no idea how wide the stream of Christian thought is. Great saints like Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Macrina would be denounces as heretics in NeoCal churches in 2019. The reason I’m still a Christian is that I discovered that Calvinism isn’t the only way to be a Christian. Hopefully Harris can do something similar. Our forefathers and mothers have given us a great gift if we would only look beyond the narrow slice of the tradition we may have come from.

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  9. Over 6,000 people have liked his post, so it must have been the right decision, right? Right?

    Additionally, why do I get the feeling that more layers of this onion will get pulled away over the next couple months…? What I mean is there is subtext to both of his posts that will come to light sooner rather than later.

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  10. Ricco,

    “Our forefathers and mothers have given us a great gift if we would only look beyond the narrow slice of the tradition we may have come from.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    i appreciated your comment.

    today i somehow ran across a tiny bit of information about “The village of Fioletovo in northern #Armenia is home to 1,500 Molokans, a Christian sect which split from Russia’s Orthodox Church in the 16th century.”

    and the evangelical church in America fancies itself God’s proxy on earth & the one true biblical way, with its 3 fast song and 3 slow songs followed by announcements and all the packaged everything just like hamburger helper…

    …how incredibly stupid, sheltered, presumptuous… (oh, i could have quite the adjective-fest, here)

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  11. I don’t believe there is any chance of Harris giving an apology or any other information about what he knew at SGM. I feel certain that SGM made him sign an iron-clad confidentiality agreement. If he did say something, Mahaney might send out one of James MacDonald’s “hit men” to get him. Who knows?

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  12. This is a very sad story about Josh. I agree that if he knew of any abuse going on that he had an obligation of speaking up. As to why Josh left the faith? Only he really knows and for anyone to speculate with limited to no information would be wrong. Some have claimed it was due to Mahoney, extreme fundamentalism, etc. While this mayor may not be true, to make such claims is foolish. It could be as simple as personal sin, period. That being said, Ms. Easter’s request that he tie purity teaching with abuse is totally foolish. Attempting to tie biblical principles to abuse is wrong. OTOH, misusing biblical principles for personal gratification is just as wrong.

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  13. And least we forget, Joshua Harris’s book, just like SGM, Calvary Chapel, 9 Marks, neo Cals, Founder’s, etc, etc all claim at their peak of fame that they have the “True Way”, or they have captured “the original church”, orso e other catch phrase…
    This is the problem with living to long, you live through several “flashes in pan”…

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  14. “How do we process the news that someone who was a spiritual leader in our community, who taught us God’s Word, who ministered to us, no longer considers himself a follower of Christ?”

    Good Lord! How in the heck are CLC members supposed to process a long line of dysfunctional “pastors” at their church?!! I would process my family out of there!

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  15. John: Over 6,000 people have liked his post, so it must have been the right decision, right?

    Whew, that in itself is a sign of the condition of the church in America. It’s sort of like the standing ovations that Savage and Hybels received when their failures were reported.

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  16. I’ve been sitting here with my 3rd cup of coffee this morning ruminating on the following words by a young lady in the video clip:

    “When there is a hyper-emphasis on anything, it becomes this weird sort of monster that it was never meant to be.”

    That’s it in a nutshell. Harris’ life has been filled with weird monsters: the purity culture, the Mahaney mess, New Calvinism. I’m certainly not defending him, but he continued to step into deep holes filled with aberrations of faith … monsters competing with Truth.

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  17. Dan Saunders: Ms. Easter’s request that he tie purity teaching with abuse is totally foolish. Attempting to tie biblical principles to abuse is wrong.

    Forgive me for not knowing the context of Ms. Easter’s request. Will you please say more about your understanding of biblical purity teaching?

    I am fairly sure you will agree that the following suggests an environment ripe for abuse, as well as some examples of abuse. Purity teaching is not just about physical modesty and waiting till marriage. It refers to a specific, novel, recent movement. Proponents push the idea of marrying girls off at menarche. Fathers are supposed to pick out their daughters’ husbands. There is a highly disturbing idea that a girl’s father is her first boyfriend. Boys are told that as husbands they will be kings. Boys and girls alike are supposed to put marriage ahead of college and even high school. Girls have been shamed as cups full of spit. They are forced to wear skirts in one school, and banned from wearing skirts in another school. As wives, they are to submit to their husbands in every single way, including painful and unwanted sex and physical discipline. Quiverfull is a big part of the purity movement.

    My youth ministers preached an early version of purity teaching, and I found it harmful and confusing. I hope that you had a more uplifting experience.

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  18. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, Dee Holmes. I am so very sorry for what you went through, and your warning to other Christians is very much needed here.

    I completely agree with you & Dee Parsons that Harris should come clean about sexual abuse coverups at SGM.

    But all this piling on, this need so many evangelicals have to make pronouncements as to the state of Harris’s soul in the past, present and/or future… It says rather more about the emotional & spiritual needs of those making pronouncements than it does about Joshua Harris. I believe this phenomenon is coming from a place of rigidity and fear, and even an unwillingness to assess one’s own doubts, which is very common in evangelical culture.

    Not to mention a need to get a thumbs-up from our own Christian communities.

    In doing so, ironically, Christians making these kinds of statements are doing exactly what Joshua Harris was trained to do: focusing on one’s public image and the view others have of your faith life (doctrinal purity, ability to quote the Bible, etc.). Even expressing sadness over Harris’s soul is a way of doing this.

    Simple answers and formulas are comforting; that’s why IKDG was so wildly popular in the first place!!

    Instead, consider this hypothetical scenario:

    What if, say, Joshua Harris really did, truly trust in Jesus for his personal salvation when he was young? What if, in that context of being a real, actual, Christian, he had genuinely prayed that God would use his book IKDG for good in the lives of other Christians — only to discover, years later, that it had instead done a whole lot of damage to a generation of young people? Wouldn’t that be devastating?

    If I were Joshua Harris and had prayed and thought that way in the past, then I would wonder, did God even answer my prayers? What sort of a God is this? And maybe even, does God even exist in light of this, and how would I know? How would I trust Him? Why would I ever pray for Him to use me or guide me ever again?

    This scenario is entirely plausible. But it’s far easier to just say, “Nope, Harris was not a Christian.”

    I thought Harris going to Regent was an excellent move to quite possibly think through all these things.

    Anyway, folks, if you really grieve and worry over the state of Harris’s soul, it really is ok to just pray privately for him.

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  19. Friend,

    Rightly teaching both boys and girls the need for purity and sex only within marriage is biblical. Unfortunately, extremism on BOTH ends of the spectrum take away from biblical principles. I would say definitely not all proponents of purity pursue the things you have indicated. Those that I am acquainted with do not. As someone once said, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Because some have abused biblical principles does not negate the principles themselves.

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  20. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes,

    Thanks for your comments on Josh. I am of the same mindset. In particular, Brent Detwiler disgusts me with regard to his writing about Josh’s salvation. But I am not much of a fan of Brent simply because he was a big part of the problem with SGM and turning his writing towards abuse issues doesn’t clear him of the part he played at SGM.

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  21. Ken P.,

    “I feel certain that SGM made him sign an iron-clad confidentiality agreement. If he did say something, Mahaney might send out one of James MacDonald’s “hit men” to get him. Who knows?”
    +++++++++++++++++

    what might such “hit men” do?

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  22. Thank you Dee! This is an excellent article. We don’t tell you often enough how much your voice and your heart and your hard work are appreciated.

    I’m ashamed to say that it didn’t even occur to me, until you pointed it out, the gaping hole in Josh’s recent posts. I was too focused on IKDG, purity culture, his marriage, separation/divorce. He’s apologized (somewhat) for the book, he’s even apologized to the LGBT community, but he hasn’t apologized for how the victims of sex abuse were treated on his watch.

    So thank you for keeping the victims first, and continuing to push him on that. I hope someday soon he will.

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  23. I believe there has also been significant spiritual abuse at CLC. I have multiple close friends who came out of the Virginia Beach church, and all had absolutely horrible stories to tell about CLC. One was in an arranged marriage, but was not allowed to spend any time with their future spouse. Once married at a very young age, it was quite clear they both had some significant mental health issues. They divorced and left the church within a year, leading to harassment by the church. Another friend I went to college with was stalked by the church because her family moved for her father’s job. The church disapproved of them moving away for any reason, but insisted they come back for church discipline for not “respecting the elders’ authority”.

    Josh was not responsible for all of those, but I believe, from Brent Detwiler’s accounts, that he continued that abusive church culture as pastor. The same abusive culture that refused to protect innocent children from sexual abuse.

    This is not just a church that didn’t want to deal with child abuse, it’s a church that was actively abusing people itself and didn’t see anything wrong with that.

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  24. elastigirl: what might such “hit men” do?

    And further: What is RIGHT? This is the very thing that frustrated me most about SGM: They cared more about protecting their organization from legal consequences than they did about comforting CHILD victims of sex abuse. I know “WWJD?” can be a cliche, but seriously: Wouldn’t the path of a true follower of Christ be to say, “I don’t care if it costs us all our jobs, and all our buildings. We are going to care for the sheep.”?

    If Josh telling the truth might even now bring some comfort to these victims and their families, shouldn’t he do it?

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  25. Eli:
    Muslin, fka Dee Holmes, I believe this phenomenon is coming from a place of rigidity and fear, and even an unwillingness to assess one’s own doubts, which is very common in evangelical culture.

    In doing so, ironically, Christians making these kinds of statements are…focusing on…public image and the view others have of your faith life…Even expressing sadness over Harris’s soul is a way of doing this.

    Simple answers and formulas are comforting…

    It is also possible that Josh Harris never really experienced the real thing. That what he saw was abuse and tyranny, and it is not surprising considering the people he associated with and was raised around. That he rightly questioned what it all had to do with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, but then wrongly confused that with Jesus and rejected the faith in Him as nonsense without having ever experienced Him. That’s not a simple-minded answer and I’m not giving it from a state of ignorance.

    I’ve been on the inside of neocalvinism as an elder and seen some sausage made, then watched over the last ten years as person after person in that church went the way of Josh Harris or became Unitarian Universalists or the like. I’ve tried to tell people that what they experienced wasn’t the real thing, it was fake and pharisaical.

    Having known Jesus for 37 years, I don’t consider your hypothetical plausible. Have never never seen an honest prayer unanswered. Sometimes the answer has been “no”, but never seen Jesus just ignore someone and let them swing in the wind. Not His gig, not His style. I can’t know exactly what has gone on in Josh Harris’s heart or what he ever really believed, but I am not ignorant of the milieu he experienced. Do you have direct experiences with neocalvinism as I and many others here have?

    Finally, it’s kind of vulgar for you to tell us who wonder what the guy ever really believed, given the group he ran with, that we are basing our opinions on fear and are being simple-minded. Of course, that’s every bit as much the unwarranted speculation you condemn. And when you basically tell us all to shut up and pray quietly reather than speaking out about what we think, have you ever considered that there are many people here, regulars at a forum about spiritual abuse, who’ve been treated to that sort of bullying behavior in cultic churches, told to just pipe down and not speak out? Have you considered how that sounds to many here? Just wondering, you seem to have huge blind spots in your thinking. All-in-all, not a very thoughtful or well considered post.

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  26. elastigirl: what might such “hit men” do?

    Have you ever seen the movie “The Godfather”?

    MacDonald wanted to hire one for his son-in-law. Google James MacDonald hitman and see what pops up.

    I was trying to be facetious, but that doesn’t seem to work here sometimes.

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  27. Eli: But all this piling on, this need so many evangelicals have to make pronouncements as to the state of Harris’s soul in the past, present and/or future… It says rather more about the emotional & spiritual needs of those making pronouncements than it does about Joshua Harris.

    The New Calvinist community, who once adored Harris, have been particularly harsh in this regard. Instead of just dropping him like a hot potato, they want to kick the spud down the street for a while. It’s as if he let them down by damaging their brand. The really hardcore among them are probably thinking he experienced Calvin’s “evanescent grace”, a temporary fake grace given by God to the reprobate to make them think and act as if they were saved, only to later damn them for their deceptive behavior. That stinkin’ thinkin’ is, of course, not from God … such folks are in a great spiritual dilemma themselves. I wonder what Calvin thinks about “evanescent grace” now?

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  28. ishy:Another friend I went to college with was stalked by the church because her family moved for her father’s job. The church disapproved of them moving away for any reason, but insisted they come back for church discipline for not “respecting the elders’ authority”.

    Exactly what happened to our future son-in-law at our neocal church. The only difference was they disciplined our son-in-law immediately in a sneak attack meeting when he thought he going to visit with the head pastor to be prayed for and was met with the head pastor and five elders who proceeded to rip him to shreds for not clearing his plans to move with his leadership first (some of the “leaders” were in their early-20s, younger than he was). Those who’ve been here for a while have heard this story from me over and over ad nauseum.

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  29. Coming from the ‘none’ side, most of the nones who have commented aren’t sure what to make of Harris. Many of the exvangelicals raised in the “purity” culture are most concerned about whether he has fully realized the damage his books did and do. Those aware of his later career (much might depend on when they became ex and how much they kept up) are more concerned about the abuse coverup. See Libby Anne https://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2019/07/josh-harris-is-no-longer-a-christian-but-im-still-angry.html who states

    As I talked my feelings on this through with a friend, she noted that Harris was both “victimized” and “played a role in the victimization of others.” I think she’s onto something.

    She is putting his feet to the fire for his more recent actions such as the coverup since then he was older and more independent then, but, she is willing to listen.

    I do wonder whether his most recent statement is in part to draw fire away from his wife. Apparently at least some Christian bloggers have blamed the separation/divorce on his wife (note that most states require a period of separation before a divorce so they are separated and in the process of getting a divorce [or perhaps the divorce is now final]) and have described her in terms not appropriate for humane people to use.

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  30. Dan Saunders: Rightly teaching both boys and girls the need for purity and sex only within marriage is biblical.

    Chapter and verse?
    There’s more than one of us out here who believe no such thing.
    Muff’s one of the few who’ll admit to it and own it.

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  31. Muff Potter: Chapter and verse?
    There’s more than one of us out here who believe no such thing.
    Muff’s one of the few who’ll admit to it and own it.

    Come on, Muff. Ephesians 5:3 for starters: “sexual immorality” = “fornication” = having sex outside of marriage, treating it lightly, casually, like something you sell off cheaply. That’s pretty much the meaning of “porneia”, which is the operative word.

    Jesus designed this whole universe to be a reflection of His relationship with those whom He made and loves. Marriage is something of a metaphor for this relationship, as is sex itself. I shouldn’t have to go into all the ways this is so, you could likely lecture me on them.

    From a purely practical perspective, throwing the Bible aside, do you really think, at the end of the day, that when we are biologically designed to develop close emotional bonds to those with whom we mate (swans are just like us) and this is not a matter of much debate, there are biological things that go on that confirm it, when STDs are killing and maiming young people by the millions, when the Sexual Revolution has run exactly in line with the explosion of divorce rates, that a casual, anything goes attitude towards sex makes any sense at all?

    Nonsense.

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  32. bendeni,

    it’s easy for me to say, sitting up in bed here leaning against cushy pillow with my coffee —

    but why not challenge the non-disclosure agreement for the sake of what’s right?

    if the consequences would be a lawsuit (and wouldn’t that look scuzzy), perhaps there’s an individual/s of means or organization/s who could help fund such a thing on the challenger’s behalf.

    if the consequences are efforts to destroy the challenger in secret, well…. perhaps a private detective funded by individual of means / organization, for the purpose of exposing the lengths godly christian leaders will go to protect money and power.

    …or am i just a simple-minded git?

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  33. My perception of Harris is that his world revolves around him. He will pursue anything that keeps him in the spotlight, whether it’s commiserating with victims or ditching the faith. That’s why there isn’t any ongoing concern for the victims of SGM, just his perception that it brought “chaos” to his life.

    I hope he learns to thrive in anonymity, like the rest of us.

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  34. dee:
    Law Prof,

    I leave the ultimate decision of “who’s a Christian and who gets in to God.”In the meantime, I continue to focus on abuse and the church.

    If I don’t have the right to say “Those do not appear to be the fruits of a Christian, why that Il Duce Mussolini guy, I doubt whether he’s a follower of Jesus”, why does someone else have the right to say “Those appear to be the fruits of a Christian, why those guys and gals in my church, I believe they’re followers of Jesus”?

    Aren’t both statements about who’s a Christian and who gets into God? Unless you’re coming from a Universalist perspective, which you’ve shown no signs of, logically, both statements are identical. The only way to maintain a consistent perspective on this (aside from Universalism) is to either allow both or allow neither.

    In other words, if I can’t say the group that clustered around Mahaney who were involved with child sex abuse and cover ups to protect their institution, children be darned, were apparently not well representing Christ and that someone growing up in that environment may not have seen the real Jesus in it, why does someone else, you or me or anyone, get to say the converse about their fellowship, that we think they love Jesus and that one might likely experience Him there?

    One is the same as the other. Either we say nothing about anything, or we can say something about both (of course, with allowances for the fact that our judgment is not God’s judgment, that we see through that glass darkly).

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  35. “We needed to be calling in other people, we needed to be, obviously, making sure that — and we did report many cases of sexual abuse, but in some cases obviously we made huge mistakes.”
    I’m afraid that this is an admission of guilt here.

    Dee: What else do you want Josh Harris to say?

    I deeply respect and always appreciate you following the advice about keeping the victim in front of you. But with this whole Josh Harris “deconstruction” matter, your blogs about it feel tangential. Almost “click baity-y” or “shirt-tail-ish.”

    Yes, Josh Harris was “a leader” in the SGM churches. Yes, he admits he left to go to seminary around the time of the lawsuit. I don’t see how that means he now has to say anymore than you admit he already has about the SGM sex scandal. Josh Harris’ announcement about his departure from Christianity–which you showed us he has before tied to the sex abuse cover up–and its impact on his marriage are big enough deals in and off themselves. I don’t think by Josh Harris announcements on those matters necessarily means he isn’t heartbroken, guilt-ridden, etc., about the SGM sex scandal.

    You need something more than “Josh Harris was an SGM leader, and so now that he is making headlines about leaving Christianity and divorcing his wife, he should say a whole bunch of things about the sex abuse scandal.”

    Are you angling for an interview with him? I mean, he’s admitted publicly it was wrong, poorly handled, illegal, etc. etc. What else do you want him to say that can help the victims? Without something more than coincidences of timing, I think you are coming across on this one a bit like those old-timey side-show strongmen who demonstrated feats of strength by holding back two trucks headed in opposite directions.

    Mod: Please pick a name and stick with it. You have also commented as A season of seasons, See baby not bathwater, Brent, and Brent Thompson. GBTC

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  36. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: I’d like to just say that the way other Christians treated Harris since his Instagram post came out last week has almost completely destroyed what remaining faith I have in Christianity as a religion.

    I feel the same way. Whatever you think about Josh Harris, this has been a devastating reveal of how relationships work in Christianity. In a way, I’m actually grateful for it because now there’s no illusions about what lies behind the happy church smiles. It’s best to know the reality of things.

    I’m sorry to hear of your struggles in the past, Muslin. I’m so glad your friend’s mom was there. I am sure a lot of church kids have been through the same thing with all the pressure that’s been put on them.

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  37. Law Prof: Jesus designed this whole universe to be a reflection of His relationship with those whom He made and loves.

    Unless you’re in a mass extinction.

    Maybe Jesus didn’t love the dinosaurs? Just sayin’

    The world isn’t simple and I don’t think the universe reflects anything other than the physical properties that run it. It is not good or bad.

    To Muff’s point, the Bible’s concept of “marriage” morphed mightily over the millennia depending on the society that wrote it. The patriarchs and kings of the Old Testament were hardly “like swans”.

    I think Harris’ motivations aren’t simple either. He may really have doubts about the faith or it’s just a grab for sympathy. (“no, Josh, please don’t leave the faith”) or it may be calculated plan to avoid culpability or he may go for a “season” (ie till it all blows over) and make dramatic return (after sufficient “restoration” of course) and then write a book about his triumphal return to bosom of the Lord….or he may shave his head and eat cheese.

    Nothing in life is simple, all life is suffering to some degree or other. The point of faith is to get you through it, not around it.

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  38. Max: Whew, that in itself is a sign of the condition of the church in America. It’s sort of like the standing ovations that Savage and Hybels received when their failures were reported.

    Maybe that many people have been through a similar crisis of faith and are showing support?

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  39. Law Prof: It is also possible that Josh Harris never really experienced the real thing.

    Sure, that’s possible. But my point is, only God really knows.

    A lot of real, faith-filled Christians sincerely pray to God and yet wind up doing a lot of damage. Bernard of Clairvaux & the Crusades. Martin Luther & the Jews. Jonathan Edwards & slaves. Today’s evangelical leaders & covering up sexual abuse. Etc. etc.

    Yes, we all have terrible blind spots. Yes, including me.

    I’ve read all of Dee Parsons’ blogposts here for over a year now, and many of the comments. I’m genuinely grateful for her gutsy exposure of victimization in the church as well as all the readers here who have emerged from formerly spiritually toxic environments of one sort or another, whole and healed.

    Yes, I think that Joshua Harris came from a very unhealthy Christian community. Yes, I think speaking out against spiritual toxicity, clergy sexual abuse & coverups, financial corruption, etc. etc. is important. Criticizing Joshua Harris for pushing harmful views, bad theology and covering up child sexual abuse at SGM is perfectly valid.

    However, I believe that Dee Holmes’ perspective, having experienced devastating spiritual damage herself, is also perfectly valid as well.

    I think it’s a good warning to Christians not to put the ultimate stamp of approval on someone else’s soul.

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  40. Law Prof: Come on, Muff. Ephesians 5:3 for starters: “sexual immorality” = “fornication” = having sex outside of marriage, treating it lightly, casually, like something you sell off cheaply. That’s pretty much the meaning of “porneia”, which is the operative word.

    Hmm…just an observation…
    There is a very wide spectrum between the purity culture in church and the ‘anything goes’ casual hook-ups you suggest. It seems as though you are suggesting a very binary view with no room for nuance, circumstance, and grace. Although I don’t know Muff’s exact views on this, like him, after much study and digging, I also no longer buy the black and white story the general church (in my experience) sells. If the black and white is true, there is no hope for the sexual abuse victim, for example.

    Do I believe relationships are important? Certainly. They are foundational. But the Greek word in the verse you reference – “porneia” – is generally, especially in the culture Paul was addressing with the Ephesians, about prostitution, especially the Greek and Romans practice of temple prostitution, which often involved the use of young boys. Surely there are more choices than the purity church message and the cultic practice of pedarasty.

    My two cents…

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  41. Ken P.,

    “I was trying to be facetious, but that doesn’t seem to work here sometimes.”
    ++++++++++

    it worked just as you intended.

    yes, it’s ridiculous that christian culture resembles the mafia. if i could clap 3 times, spin around & say nrwawawawawa to send crotch crickets to mafioso christian leaders it’d be at the top of my to-do list.

    but now i’m taking the proposition seriously. just how far would a famous-&-godly christian leader go in issuing consequences to someone for breaking the non-disclosure agreement? (for God’s glory, of course.)

    that they would require an NDA means they’re moral and biblical screwballs to begin with.

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  42. SiteSeer:…no illusions about what lies behind the happy church smiles. It’s best to know the reality of things.

    Exactly.

    It’s why we left the organized church. It wouldn’t have been so bad if there were some fake smiles, but the deeper we got, the more we realized they were virtually all fake smiles. We tried several churches—but the same old story. You often don’t learn that until you oppose leadership, then you find out who your real friends are. People cannot recreate the intimacy of the First Century church by setting up a church plant or building a megachurch and drawing together a scattered group of people from various states and sterile suburban communities and then just creating that closeness and intimacy with once-a-week small groups closely tended by lieutenants of the leadership team, whom you’ve never seen except on a stage. And then they try to tell you to trust them and each other, as if that’s a Christian virtue. It’s fake.

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  43. “He now admits that his initial statement was not about *separation* but about divorce. I wish he had said so in the first place.”

    I never thought it meant anything otherwise. I think you have to be deeply aware of the arguments over this in the christian bubble to have doubted they meant divorce.

    The trailer was interesting. Josh really does look like a baby to me in it! Highlights how very young he was.

    Dee: ““We just didn’t have the training.”
    If Josh was a kid in high school, Id give him a break. However, he was in his 30s (b.1974) when this stuff was happening. ”

    True, and I see that as a different issue than the IKDG stuff. However what WAS Josh’s education at that point beyond what his parents taught him and what CJ taught him? I think he sees and admits more than a lot of people but it’s also fair to say he doesn’t go far enough. I don’t feel like it was necessary for him to specifically address it in the divorce announcements or anything but his comments in the article are interesting.

    I don’t know Josh well enough to say that he himself was motivated by CYA or did simply lack the knowledge.. Could be both. Sometimes people convince themselves they are motivated by one thing they think is more defensible.

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  44. Law Prof: It is also possible that Josh Harris never really experienced the real thing. That what he saw was abuse and tyranny, and it is not surprising considering the people he associated with and was raised around. That he rightly questioned what it all had to do with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, but then wrongly confused that with Jesus and rejected the faith in Him as nonsense without having ever experienced Him. That’s not a simple-minded answe

    I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it in this particular thread, but the impression I now have of Josh Harris is that he was the Christianese Culture War equivalent of a Child Star CELEBRITY with additional Famous Father Syndrome. His father was a Christianese Homeschooling CELEBRITY, and Josh was probably fast-tracked into Daddy’s position/pulpit.

    IKDJ established his CELEBRITY status in its own right (analogous to “Child Prodigy CELEBRITY”) and from then on the rules of CELEBRITY were in effect within his Christian Bubble circles.

    Remember how messed up Child Star CELEBRITIES get when they grow up? Add the fact that Josh admitted to being sexually molested as a child. Not only is that becoming the New Normal in Christian CELEBRITY Culture, it messes up your head by itself. Add the other above factors, and I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a breakdown/scandal somewhere on the calendar.

    Now that things are hitting the fan, I would expect a one-eighty flip to get as far away from his previous culture as possible. Such wild swings are common when spiritual abuse cases boil over; in a best-case scenario (like Eagle & me), the swings back-and-forth should damp out over the next few years, eventually stabilizing somewhere in the middle.In a worst-case, he transfers a Fundamentalist personality to the other extreme polarity and gets stuck there.

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  45. Jeannette Altes: Hmm…just an observation…
    There is a very wide spectrum between the purity culture in church and the ‘anything goes’ casual hook-ups you suggest. It seems as though you are suggesting a very binary view with no room for nuance, circumstance, and grace. Although I don’t know Muff’s exact views on this, like him, after much study and digging, I also no longer buy the black and white story the general church (in my experience) sells. If the black and white is true, there is no hope for the sexual abuse victim, for example.

    Do I believe relationships are important? Certainly. They are foundational. But the Greek word in the verse you reference – “porneia” – is generally, especially in the culture Paul was addressing with the Ephesians, about prostitution, especially the Greek and Romans practice of temple prostitution, which often involved the use of young boys. Surely there are more choices than the purity church message and the cultic practice of pedarasty.

    My two cents…

    Just to clear this one up, I despise the purity culture and believe the whole business was nonsense. I was only responding to what Muff said when he claimed there was nothing in the Bible that was against having sex with people to whom you are not married.

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  46. Jeannette Altes: There is a very wide spectrum between the purity culture in church and the ‘anything goes’ casual hook-ups you suggest. It seems as though you are suggesting a very binary view with no room for nuance, circumstance, and grace.

    Remember who we’re taking about and his background.
    Law is a profession and culture of precise definitions and Boolean logic.

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  47. SiteSeer: Whatever you think about Josh Harris, this has been a devastating reveal of how relationships work in Christianity. In a way, I’m actually grateful for it because now there’s no illusions about what lies behind the happy church smiles.

    It’s not only chickens that turn on and peck Defectives to death in the barnyard.

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  48. Iowa Steve: The “No true Scotsman fallacy”

    So, has it really come to this? I cannot propose even a possibility that someone raised in Harris’s environment did not experience a true representation of Jesus? Really? In a culture which has become known for tyrannical control, repeated lies, twisting of the Bible, child sex abuse and the cover ups thereof? Are those Christian virtues? No, of course not. You’re just fundamentally wrong here to accuse me of a logical fallacy. It’s a non sequitur, to be precise.

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  49. bendeni: I know “WWJD?” can be a cliche, but seriously: Wouldn’t the path of a true follower of Christ be to say, “I don’t care if it costs us all our jobs, and all our buildings. We are going to care for the sheep.”?

    Sadly, I think this attitude is almost non-existent in the church at large. I’ve been encouraged to see a couple of examples just in recent times but that’s it in 40+ years of being a Christian.

    As soon as a church organizes and there is a building to pay on and salaries to provide, there is a basic conflict of interest. Do you do what protects the organization, its investment, and the families that are depending on it for a paycheck? or do you purely do what is right without giving those a thought? Every church’s priorities will be tested in many ways. Brings to mind how Jesus kept himself free of encumbrances.

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  50. Law Prof: Having known Jesus for 37 years, I don’t consider your hypothetical plausible. Have never never seen an honest prayer unanswered. Sometimes the answer has been “no”, but never seen Jesus just ignore someone and let them swing in the wind.

    It has happened to me. The old trope that there was an answer but it was just ‘no’ kind of makes it impossible to assess, doesn’t it?

    The bottom line is that things happen to people. We can explain it as a yes or no answer to prayer, we come up with all sorts of creative “reasons” why God brought devastation instead of blessing, but when you zoom out from your situation, you realize nothing different is happening to praying Christians than is happening to everyone else.

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  51. Law Prof: Have never never seen an honest prayer unanswered. Sometimes the answer has been “no”, but never seen Jesus just ignore someone and let them swing in the wind. Not His gig, not His style.

    That was my experience with the faith – prayers unanswered.

    God says in the Bible he’ll meet my needs, but he has not done so. I’ve had to find non-spiritual work-arounds for some things in my life. When you stop depending on a deity or expecting him to answer, you have to figure out how to live life without him.

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  52. Law Prof: when the Sexual Revolution has run exactly in line with the explosion of divorce rates, that a casual, anything goes attitude towards sex makes any sense at all?

    I’m not disagreeing with you, per se, but there is more going on to affect divorce rates, so I don’t think we can just say this is cause and effect. Not so long ago, divorce was not acceptable. People remained in horrifying marriages for life. Believe me, I know some of them. People today do not have to consign themselves to a lifetime of misery just because they made a mistake in marriage. So, just to say, I think one has to have some other metric to measure the state of marriage than just divorce rates.

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  53. Headless Unicorn Guy: Remember who we’re taking about and his background.
    Law is a profession and culture of precise definitions and Boolean logic.

    Not in all respects, and if we do employ binary logic, it goes down through several levels of if-then propositions which gives one a wide range of nuance. The whole point of the actual practice of law and accounting (my other gig in academia) is of judgment and gray area.

    I was only responding to what Muff said about there being nothing in the Bible saying we can’t have sex with people outside of marriage.

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  54. SiteSeer: Maybe that many people have been through a similar crisis of faith and are showing support?

    Could be, but some might just be followers rallying to his side … Driscoll and Tullian had thousands continue to follow and support them during their crises. However, I’m sure Harris’ “likes” included others who have been on similar faith journeys.

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  55. SiteSeer: I’m not disagreeing with you, per se, but there is more going on to affect divorce rates, so I don’t think we can just say this is cause and effect. Not so long ago, divorce was not acceptable. People remained in horrifying marriages for life. Believe me, I know some of them. People today do not have to consign themselves to a lifetime of misery just because they made a mistake in marriage. So, just to say, I think one has to have some other metric to measure the state of marriage than just divorce rates.

    You’re right, we cannot automatically say cause-effect. The social sciences and human behavior are not as simple as test tubes (which are not so simple themselves). Agreed.

    But, if we’re going to say there is no relationship between having sex with multiple partners outside of the benefit of marriage and the jaded attitude that often leads to divorce, then we might as well say there’s no relationship between rigid patriarchy and the abuse of women.

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  56. DavidP: “The other elephant in the room is that we’ve heard almost nothing from his former wife — just him speaking for her.”

    I thought the initial announcement was a joint one?

    Dee: “I will continue to press him to come clean about the child sex abuse cover up allegations in former ministry.”

    I am curious what specifically you would like to see on this front. Details? Funds to the families?

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  57. LAWPROF: “the jaded attitude that often leads to divorce”

    ? Most divorces are a result of serious issues like adultery and abuse. If you want to talk about the underlying causes of those, fine, but I don’t think it’s sex before marriage personally.

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  58. Daisy: That was my experience with the faith – prayers unanswered.

    God says in the Bible he’ll meet my needs, but he has not done so. I’ve had to find non-spiritual work-arounds for some things in my life. When you stop depending on a deity or expecting him to answer, you have to figure out how to live life without him.

    Your needs have not been met. I am not you, and cannot judge you all-in-all, what you need or don’t need. But I know you have a fine mind having seen your posts here and suspect that a great number of things you really do need have been given to you. Whether you’ve always received what you want is another matter. I sure haven’t gotten all I wanted.

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  59. Eli: I completely agree with you & Dee Parsons that Harris should come clean about sexual abuse coverups at SGM.

    But all this piling on, this need so many evangelicals have to make pronouncements as to the state of Harris’s soul in the past, present and/or future… It says rather more about the emotional & spiritual needs of those making pronouncements than it does about Joshua Harris.

    I believe this phenomenon is coming from a place of rigidity and fear, and even an unwillingness to assess one’s own doubts, which is very common in evangelical culture.

    ….Simple answers and formulas are comforting; that’s why IKDG was so wildly popular in the first place!!

    I agreed with the whole of your post but just wanted to reference those parts of it.

    I wrote my own views and concerns about how the Christian community has been reacting to Josh Harris’ deconversion (or whatever it is) on my own blog
    (and I don’t totally agree with Dee’s approach, which I discuss on my blog here):

    Deconstruction, Deconversion, Joshua Harris, and the Awful Christian Reaction
    https://missdaisyflower.wordpress.com/2019/07/29/deconstruction-deconversion-joshua-harris-and-the-awful-christian-reaction/

    I also agree with “Muslin fka Dee Holmes'” take on this above, that you were replying to and agreeing with as well.

    The overall Christian response to Harris has, for me (from what I’ve seen on blogs and on Twitter), run the gamut from disappointing to horrifying to disgusting (depending on who we’re talking about, and the specifics).

    Most of the Christian reaction to Harris I’ve seen (which has run from judgmental, patronizing, harsh, and/or mean spirited, etc) isn’t making me sit there and think,
    “I’d sure like to stick with the faith and give it a second go, Christians are a-okay people!”

    I’m more like,
    “Yikes, after seeing the backlash against Harris, maybe I’ve made the right call distancing myself from the faith and from most Christians.”

    Many Christians are really uncomfortable and even hostile towards someone who steps away from the faith.

    Many Christians seem to dislike an Ex-Christian more than they do the pagan guy or atheist who’s never been converted in the first place, and I find that so bizarre and sad.

    I don’t recall the Bible anywhere instructing believers to hate, demonize, or hound non-believers, including the non-believer who has walked away.

    (It does talk about separating or correcting the guy who says he’s a believer and who yet is living in on-going, unrepentant sin, but that’s not the same thing.)

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  60. SiteSeer: So far he has been the only leader I’ve ever seen change direction or apologize at all, in any way, for anything.

    This is why I have more sympathy for him than any others. Even if his apologies are not enough because they can’t fix what was done, they *seem* genuine?

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  61. Lea:
    LAWPROF: “the jaded attitude that often leads to divorce”

    ? Most divorces are a result of serious issues like adultery and abuse. If you want to talk about the underlying causes of those, fine, but I don’t think it’s sex before marriage personally.

    Neither of us have statistics for that, and what statistics we would have, assuming they exist, would be dependent upon the accuracy and truthfulness of those claiming they got a divorce for a certain reason. I have personal experience with the lies people tell under such circumstances. Perhaps you’ve seen it as well.

    As for jaded attitudes, let’s be honest. Do you really think if 100 people who’ve had sex with 10+ partners before marriage are compared with 100 people who’ve known only their husband or wife, that the divorce rates between the two will be the same, ceteris paribus? Again, you’re fighting biology. We are designed to form deep emotional ties to the one with whom we have sex. The human race is designed that way, as well as various other species. The biology of this can be measured and observed. If people want to nuance the daylights out of the Bible and gray area it into oblivion, fine, but I am speaking at this moment about biology. Of course, I am also speaking about Jesus, Who created biology.

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  62. Law Prof: Whether you’ve always received what you want is another matter. I sure haven’t gotten all I wanted.

    I’m not going to go into a lot of details, but it’s all the same differences.

    If there’s a God, he hasn’t been meeting my needs.

    I want and need my mother. She was my best friend. She’s dead from cancer. God didn’t heal her.
    God has not replaced her in my life with a friend or a spouse.
    The bunk in the Bible about God placing the lonely in families is a crock and a half.

    And that is just one example. I don’t care to enumerate my other issues with the faith and with God.

    I loathe going into details about any of this with Christians,
    because most Christians like to play Defense Attorney for God (rather than empathize),
    which I mention in my blog post.

    I refer to this post:
    https://missdaisyflower.wordpress.com/2019/07/29/deconstruction-deconversion-joshua-harris-and-the-awful-christian-reaction/

    The result is the folks in the painful deconstruction or deconversion process – such as myself or Harris – end up having still-practicing-Christians want to get into these intellectual debates, or they want us to justify our reasons.

    It’s just a debate for you. And you’re quite happy with your Christian life.

    I’ve learned there is absolutely nothing I can say to a Christian in your position to get you to understand.

    The typical still-Christian person is usually more interested in proving there is a God, God cares, God is never wrong, and that Christian wants to defend their faith and the Bible.

    -That drive to want to defend God, to still believe him for yourself, takes prominence over anything I may say or any of my experiences that don’t line up with the Bible or with God.

    It’s like debating complemenetarianism with comp men – it’s merely an intellectual process for them, for the men, but following comp for years had real-life, negative, and painful consequences for me personally as a woman.

    My experience and pain from and with complementarianism counts for nada, because defense of complementarian is the foremost concern with comps.

    Same deal when discussing this stuff with Christians about why I don’t want to be a Christian anymore, the subject of unanswered prayer, etc.

    The only correct response is (and I get into this in my blog post about Harris) is something like, “I’m sorry, Daisy. I don’t know why God hasn’t been there for you, and I don’t know why so many Christians you’ve known have not been there for you, either.”

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  63. A few points.

    I agree with SiteSeer at 01:13. I think much remains to be seen here. With the instant media we now have, it’s really easy to jump the gun on things.

    Think about Harris’ past. He grew up the son of a homeschooling guru. He gained notoriety and his own audience at a very young age, still in his teens. He went into the pastorate without any seminary training. He again (still) was in the limelight in Christian circles. He confessed that he himself had been a victim of sexual abuse. All of that together is enough to lay the groundwork for significant deconstruction – which happens to a lot of people when they hit their 40s.

    Not to say he has no responsibility whatsoever for it, but I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt regarding the handling of the abuse issues. I have a hunch that the pastors at CLC were using Harris as much (or more) as they used anyone else. With his own history as an abuse victim, and his immaturity and lack of training, he simply may have been too overwhelmed and triggered to call out the other pastors. I don’t see him running away to avoid the consequences; I see him running away to try to clear his head and be able to ask questions he was not allowed to ask up to that point in his life. I think that with time, thought, and distance from the Christian starmaker machinery, he will be able to find appropriate words to express remorse for his part in the cover-up. It doesn’t seem like he is at heart the same kind of person as Mahaney et al., which is part of the tragedy of this situation.

    Finally, as to the movie trailer: A little Internet digging reveals that the film company that produced and distributed the documentary may be behind the trailer disappearing. That would be sad, but not surprising. The company is owned by Steve Greisen, husband of Nelly of 2nd Chapter of Acts. With the film and Harris, the subject, having such deep ties to American Evangelical expressions of Christianity, it would be understandable that the film company would want to distance itself from Harris’ rejection of said Christianity at this time.

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  64. As for his Christianity, places like CLC have no idea how wide the stream of Christian thought is. Great saints like Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Macrina would be denounces as heretics in NeoCal churches in 2019. The reason I’m still a Christian is that I discovered that Calvinism isn’t the only way to be a Christian. Hopefully Harris can do something similar. Our forefathers and mothers have given us a great gift if we would only look beyond the narrow slice of the tradition we may have come from.

    Amen, Ricco!

    And when you factor in the Western Fathers, saints, and doctors, the stream is even wider. 😉

    “In Christ there is no East or West,
    In Him no South or North,
    But one great fellowship of love
    Across the whole wide earth.”
    — Traditional African-American Hymn

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  65. Law Prof: But, if we’re going to say there is no relationship between having sex with multiple partners outside of the benefit of marriage and the jaded attitude that often leads to divorce, then we might as well say there’s no relationship between rigid patriarchy and the abuse of women.

    And then there is the situation where a couple are in love and are so sure they are going to be partners for life that they get involved in a physical relationship but for whatever reason, the relationship does end and they move on, vs a person who is promiscuous, moving from one superficial relationship to another. The person who is promiscuous most likely has deeper issues that are driving them and those issues may be what affects their ability to build a stable marriage, as opposed to the fact that they had multiple partners. Would preventing them from being promiscuous before marriage change the outcome?

    I do agree with you that the ideal is to wait for marriage. And, one hopes, that marriage partners will be chosen well so that a marriage can be built that will go the distance. But, kids make mistakes. Having never been married before, they have to make the decision of their life. Some people are just naturally better judges of character than others, which gives them a better chance at success. Purity culture made the whole thing more difficult and prone to failure by removing the learning experience of dating and relating to the opposite sex before making a *very* final decision that one was doomed to live with for life.

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  66. Max,

    “In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end. Thus we dispose of the objection, that if God truly displays his grace, it must endure for ever. There is nothing inconsistent in this with the fact of his enlightening some with a present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent.” (Calvin, Institutes)

    “The judgment, made in Scripture concerning the apostate, as if wholly different from true believers bears upon this subject. ‘They went out from us’, says John, ‘but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us’.(1 John 2:19). As Augustine filly remarks ‘That is not really the body of Christ, which will not be with him forever’(Christian Instruction 3:32). And elsewhere: ‘They were not sons even when they were in profession and name sons.’(Admonition and Grace 9). Thus the apostle distinguishes ‘being in the church’ as to external profession and the ecclesiastical body; and ‘being of the church’ as to internal communion and the mystical body of Christ (which belongs to the elect alone). Now the apostate and antichrists (of whom John speaks) had indeed been among them in the Christian assembly and the visible church of believers by a profession of faith and communion of the sacraments; and had fallen from that communion, not so much by a change of place, as a change of doctrine and affection (as they are said to go out of the world, not who separate themselves from it in body, but in mind and affections). And because a great scandal could have arisen thence (as if the church had begotten such pests or true believers could fail), John meets the case when he adds they were not of the number of true believers, because if they had been of them, they would in like manner have remained constantly with them but this happened in order that it might be manifested that not all who are in the church and who male a profession of faith are truly believers and members of Christ’s body. The apostle could not have said this unless he had supposed it to be certain and indubitable that they, who had once been drawn into the mystical body of Christ and the invisible church, could not fail from it.” (Turretin, Elenctic Theology, 15th Topic, Q16.6).

    The Schoolmen were always a bit wordy but Turretin and the succinct Calvin get it right (as opposed to the “Stinkin’ thinkin’ “ of their opponents.

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  67. Jeannette Altes:…the Greek word in the verse you reference – “porneia” – is generally, especially in the culture Paul was addressing with the Ephesians, about prostitution, especially the Greek and Romans practice of temple prostitution, which often involved the use of young boys. Surely there are more choices than the purity church message and the cultic practice of pedarasty.

    The general consensus among scholars is that the behavior called out in Eph 5:3 is not just temple prostitution, but a wide range of sexual immorality. By Paul’s time, it was used to describe incest, relations with animals, sex outside of marriage and idolatry in general (sexual licentiousness being something of a proxy for idolatry anyway).

    The church at Ephesus would’ve been a strange place indeed for Paul to be making a particular point about temple prostitution, as the church there was not particularly gung ho for it, they rejected the practices of the culture around them, they were sold out to Jesus on that point (if not on all–see Rev. 2). The Corinthians, there you go, that would’ve been more appropriate and a better proof of your point—but that’s not where this word was used in this context. It is of course as common as dirt for a given word to have a very precise meaning and, over time, come to be used to describe a panoply of different things. The English language is rife with examples, as was Koine Greek.

    As for your other point, again, not suggesting purity culture or full blown pederasty as the only two options. I am not binary man. Also not a fan of the purity culture and have never been a fan of Harris. One of the secondary reasons we left the neocal church was because they were all sold out on the purity culture and Josh Harris and CJ and Piper. Just want to get what I believe on the record, assuming anyone cares and for what it’s worth.

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  68. Dan Saunders: Rightly teaching both boys and girls the need for purity and sex only within marriage is biblical. Unfortunately, extremism on BOTH ends of the spectrum take away from biblical principles. I would say definitely not all proponents of purity pursue the things you have indicated. Those that I am acquainted with do not. As someone once said, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Because some have abused biblical principles does not negate the principles themselves.

    I agree with what all you said there.

    And the words and terms “purity,” and “purity culture” are not understood and defined the same way by everybody.

    There may be some very extremist Christians out there saying things like kids should not date or hold hands, and those types of Christians are putting that sort of thing down under the heading of “purity culture,”
    but IMO, the vast majority of mainstream Christians simply mean more reasonable views when they use the term “purity,” such as encouraging abstinence- until- marriage.

    The terms Purity and Purity Culture mean different things to different people, depending on who one is talking to.

    Christians aren’t on the same page with that term any more than the Complementarians can all agree with what Complementarianism is and what it looks like or how it should be defined and practiced.

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  69. Bridget: Thanks for your comments on Josh. I am of the same mindset. In particular, Brent Detwiler disgusts me with regard to his writing about Josh’s salvation.

    I didn’t like Detwiler’s comments or attitudes about Harris at all (I saw them via a tweet or something by Julie Anne)

    I was taken aback at how hateful and critical he was about Harris being in a faith crisis.

    I don’t even think anyone knows for sure exactly what Harris is, what he is thinking – things are rather vague at this point.

    Maybe Harris doesn’t even know for sure what he is himself, except that he’s disenchanted with the particular very conservative brand of Christianity he was fed for years. It’s hard to say at this point.

    But a lot of Christians out there have been very comfortable making all sorts of definite opinions on his beliefs, character, and state of his soul, based off a few somewhat vaguely worded IG posts.

    But that Detwiler guy was plain old nasty about Harris.

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  70. SiteSeer: And then there is the situation where a couple are in love and are so sure they are going to be partners for life that they get involved in a physical relationship but for whatever reason, the relationship does end and they move on, vs a person who is promiscuous, moving from one superficial relationship to another. The person who is promiscuous most likely has deeper issues that are driving them and those issues may be what affects their ability to build a stable marriage, as opposed to the fact that they had multiple partners. Would preventing them from being promiscuous before marriage change the outcome?

    I do agree with you that the ideal is to wait for marriage. And, one hopes, that marriage partners will be chosen well so that a marriage can be built that will go the distance. But, kids make mistakes. Having never been married before, they have to make the decision of their life. Some people are just naturally better judges of character than others, which gives them a better chance at success. Purity culture made the whole thing more difficult and prone to failure by removing the learning experience of dating and relating to the opposite sex before making a *very* final decision that one was doomed to live with for life.

    Agreed on every point. Kids make mistakes. I made mistakes, my wife made mistakes (with me). Our adult children made mistakes.

    I’m not an advocate of purity culture. Hate it. People are not ruined because they give in to youthful passions. God can make people new and forgive and give grace. That’s what’s missing in purity culture and those sick examples you hear of church teachers taking a flower and pulling off a petal for each kiss or bit of physical contact a young woman has and then holding nothing but the stem and saying “This is what you look like after having sex.” Those people are somewhere on the spectrum between ignorant and sadistic.

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  71. Law Prof: I am not binary man. Also not a fan of the purity culture and have never been a fan of Harris. One of the secondary reasons we left the neocal church was because they were all sold out on the purity culture and Josh Harris and CJ and Piper. Just want to get what I believe on the record, assuming anyone cares and for what it’s worth.

    Thank you for your thoughtful responses. I do agree (for the record 😉 ) that a casual approach to intimacy will cause damage, fidelity in marriage is essential, and the bulk of humankind has managed to muck this up royaly.

    I am inclined to think that our points of view are affected by where we are sitting as we view…
    You from a seeming happy long-term marriage; me from a childhood of sexual (and other) abuse and an adulthood of no dating, never marrying, and not expecting to do either.

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  72. Law Prof: Finally, it’s kind of vulgar for you to tell us who wonder what the guy ever really believed, given the group he ran with, that we are basing our opinions on fear and are being simple-minded.

    I address this in the post at my blog, in general terms.

    It is my view, that yes, Eli is correct, that a lot of Christians bash and get hostile towards another Christian who is deconverting (or who may be deconverting) such as (but not limited to) Harris, and that for a lot of them, it is based perhaps in fear.

    I get into that in my blog post about Harris, so I won’t belabor it here.

    I didn’t take Eli’s post the same way.
    I didn’t pick up from Eli that he (or she?) was trying to tell people in the comments here to shut up.

    Seeing as how so many Christians have been acting so poorly on Twitter and in blog comment boxes about Harris, you have other doubters (such as myself) witnessing this poor behavior, and I know I am turned off and repulsed by it.

    In this case, I do think it would probably be better for all the gung-ho Christians who are shouting Bible verses about the un-saved perishing (at Harris) to instead stop yelling at Harris and praying for him.

    Because this isn’t just about Harris.

    You have other folks in the deconstruction process seeing how the online Christian community is treating his state, and it’s pushing us further away, it’s not enticing us to stay or re-consider.

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  73. Daisy: If there’s a God, he hasn’t been meeting my needs.

    I want and need my mother. She was my best friend. She’s dead from cancer. God didn’t heal her….

    It’s just a debate for you. And you’re quite happy with your Christian life…

    I just wouldn’t assume too much, Daisy, about others and be too smug about what goes on in their lives. I struggle every day. And my dad died after a long battle with cancer and rejected my faith even on his deathbed. That was a knife in the gut and it still festers 11 years later.

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  74. elastigirl: it’s easy for me to say, sitting up in bed here leaning against cushy pillow with my coffee —

    It’s funny you said this; that exact thought occurred to me just before I clicked “Post”. “Easy for you to say what Josh should do, when it’s not your life/livelihood on the line.” I freely admit, I can’t GUARANTEE I would actually do it, if I was in his situation. We don’t ever know until we’re there.

    But I was once in leadership at a church plant where a moral failure occurred. And we were faced with that decision: The cost of calling it what it was, publicly, might be the implosion of the church. I had to look across the circle at a brother I loved (not the one who had sinned) and know that he might soon be looking for another pastorate. And HE had to consider what it would mean for his family. And we ALL had to consider the risk of losing a community we held dear. But we did it, because we believed it was the right thing to do.

    So I’ve had at least a glimpse of that scenario. And I want to believe I would have that same integrity if the stakes were even higher. I do say it with some humility, but I think we’re right to say, this is what should be done.

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  75. Eli: Sure, that’s possible. But my point is, only God really knows.

    A lot of real, faith-filled Christians sincerely pray to God and yet wind up doing a lot of damage. Bernard of Clairvaux & the Crusades. Martin Luther & the Jews. Jonathan Edwards & slaves. Today’s evangelical leaders & covering up sexual abuse. Etc. etc.

    Yes, we all have terrible blind spots. Yes, including me.

    I’ve read all of Dee Parsons’ blogposts here for over a year now, and many of the comments. I’m genuinely grateful for her gutsy exposure of victimization in the church as well as all the readers here who have emerged from formerly spiritually toxic environments of one sort or another, whole and healed.

    Yes, I think that Joshua Harris came from a very unhealthy Christian community. Yes, I think speaking out against spiritual toxicity, clergy sexual abuse & coverups, financial corruption, etc. etc. is important. Criticizing Joshua Harris for pushing harmful views, bad theology and covering up child sexual abuse at SGM is perfectly valid.

    However, I believe that Dee Holmes’ perspective, having experienced devastating spiritual damage herself, is also perfectly valid as well.

    I think it’s a good warning to Christians not to put the ultimate stamp of approval on someone else’s soul.

    Nothing to disagree with here. Thanks for a kind and thoughtful response.

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  76. Max: The New Calvinist community, who once adored Harris, have been particularly harsh in this regard.

    Instead of just dropping him like a hot potato, they want to kick the spud down the street for a while.

    It’s as if he let them down by damaging their brand.

    Yep. I also say that same principle applies to Non-Neo-Calvinists – to the regular, average, every day Christians, as well.

    I think when someone leaves the faith (or may leave it), some Christians get fearful or angry about it, because a lot of them want to believe their faith / God / Bible is workable, has all the answers for life for everyone, etc.

    A guy leaving the faith sort of forces Christians out of their happy, content, ‘I’ll live on auto-pilot and just assume my world views are correct’ places,
    and makes them examine, (even if it’s briefly), that maybe the faith does not work, and perhaps it’s not so true after all.

    Maybe the faith does not work as advertised.

    I’ve seen many Christians say, (or I’ve seen this in Christian blogs and books), that if you are, say, a drug addict, for instance, that Jesus will heal you of your addiction.

    If you just trust in Christ (this sort of Christian marketing goes), then presto bingo, you will be granted meaning, purpose, and inner peace and joy at all times, and Jesus will remove your addictions (or whatever your problem is).

    But that is not reality for every one, not even those of us who followed Christ since our childhoods.

    Some Christians like to point to atheism, Hinduism, and whatever other world views and religions, as not providing practical solutions or not offering inner peace.
    They claim belief in Christ will provide all that and so much more.

    They can’t consider that the Christian faith may be amiss, or their life-long understanding and assumptions of it may be wrong…

    So, I think, for some of them, it’s easier, faster, and more comfortable to go on the attack against the guy (such as Harris) who says he may be walking away from the faith.

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  77. Daisy: I don’t recall the Bible anywhere instructing believers to hate, demonize, or hound non-believers, including the non-believer who has walked away.

    (It does talk about separating or correcting the guy who says he’s a believer and who yet is living in on-going, unrepentant sin, but that’s not the same thing.)

    Yes, this, and people seem unable to make the distinction.

    We have had a lot of examples recently of Christian leaders who have turned out to be complete hypocrites, involved in egregious sin in their private lives while playing the part of ‘Great Christian Man of God’ on the stage. The response of the Christian community has largely been- crickets. Let’s look the other way and pretend this never happened. Nothing to see here. Everyone move on. Or, even attacking those who reveal the truth and accusing them of damaging the faith.

    Here we have an example of someone who has hit a crisis and is unsure of what they believe anymore and the Christian world has gone nuts, attacking, accusing, berating, judging, demanding. I agree with you that it has run the gamut from disappointing to horrifying to disgusting.

    I feel like the church has these reactions backwards.

    I have not read everything from Josh Harris, I don’t follow him or anything like that, but I haven’t seen him say anything to the effect of now hating God. He has apologized for his attitude towards women (I wonder how much this is what is upsetting the Christian world) and has said that according to what he has understood Christianity to be, he is no longer a Christian. That could mean a lot of things. According to what I once believed Christianity to be, I would probably no longer be considered a Christian, either. Yet I still believe. I don’t know if he will still find himself a believer as time goes by, I wonder if he even knows at this point. I saw that he quoted Julian of Norwich, who wrote as a believer.

    It takes years to work through all of the issues when you re-examine your faith and your life. You can’t just suddenly come up with a statement that defines who you are and what you believe now, and it’s all re-settled and you live out this new perspective the rest of your life. It is a painful process that takes years. And if you once lived in the world of everything being certain and defined, you are reluctant to step back into that again. I can’t say that I have a clear “statement of faith” for my life at this point. I would be very reluctant to try to come up with one because it is in flux. All I can say for sure is, “God is love.” So many things I once believed have turned out to be wrong. I’m old and wise enough to realize my own definitions mean little, it is a process of discovery, learning who God is and how he operates.

    One of the accusations against Harris is that he is not sincere in re-evaluating his faith; that he is just looking for a way out of responsibility and for a new marketing plan for a new scheme. It may be a little early to make a call like that but time will certainly tell, if so.

    I think marketing is the worst thing to happen to the church. It is, by nature, a hypocrisy of sorts; it’s antithetical to sincerity and reality. It’s interesting to me how many of the big leaders in the “church” are actually marketers.

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  78. Muff Potter: Chapter and verse?
    There’s more than one of us out here who believe no such thing.
    Muff’s one of the few who’ll admit to it and own it

    I don’t care to get drawn in to a back and forth over this,
    but for now,
    I will say that remaining a virgin until marriage (for both men and women) is one of those beliefs/practices that was largely assumed in the culture in which the Bible was written,
    which is likely why one doesn’t see a lot of specific, “Thou shalt not boink prior to marriage” verses explicitly stated to suit your satisfaction.

    I find it hard to believe the reverse (which is what you are inadvertently promoting with your view):

    Which is, that the God of the Bible is peachy keen fine and dandy with no standards at all sexuality,
    everyone just running around sexing it up all over the place,
    with whomever, whenever, whatever,
    and God is just hunky dory with that.

    I don’t believe Jesus of Nazareth was sexually active, as he was not married.
    He was a single (as in unmarried) guy.

    I think the expectation and understanding among the Jews of the OT era (and carried into the NT) is that one was to refrain from having sex prior to marriage.

    It wasn’t something that had to be spelled out in a chapter and verse, because the readers of the day already knew this was the deal.

    And I have to say that being celibate over my life (as I am a single, not married person) has helped in some ways.

    I’ve not had to be concerned with getting pregnant out of wedlock,
    I’ve not had to spend a fortune on birth control
    (barring the time years ago I was on it for awhile to make my period regular),
    I told my fiance up front when I was with him I was waiting until marriage, so I would tolerate zero pressure, guilt trips, or manipulation off him to have sex, etc.

    I’ve had sexually active (prior to marriage) women friends phone me or write me going back to my teen years to tell me they regretted having sex with boyfriends.

    They were hoping the guy they were boinking would propose marriage, etc, but the guys they were with were just using them for sex.

    I’ve avoided a lot of that type of heartbreak and being used by men.

    There are advantages to abstaining.

    But I don’t see the Bible teaching a hedonistic, ‘do whatever you want sexually when you want to, with whomever you want to’ sort of philosophy about sex, either, nor do I see it even implied.

    One dude in the NT got chewed out by Paul for doing his own mother- in- law, or some such.

    So there are some expectations going on there.

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  79. Law Prof: Kids make mistakes. I made mistakes, my wife made mistakes (with me). Our adult children made mistakes.

    Problem is, most churches don’t teach forgiveness of sexual mistakes. They just offer “clear teaching.” The cup of spit message is more the norm than the exception.

    Our youth ministers preached very specifically to crowds of young kids. “Boys, if you so much as touch a girl’s breast, you better be prepared to marry her.” “When I get out of seminary class every afternoon, I go looking for my wife, and the sex is great.”

    These sermons tore down the very boundaries they were supposed to reinforce. Any form of premarital sex, INCLUDING THOUGHTS, was unforgivable. There was far, far more judgment of girls than boys.

    They spent all this demented energy preaching against sex, sex, sex. Preaching against demons, cults, and the abomination of desecration were topics too, but far less emphasized. They barely mentioned other risks to youngsters, presumably because they were not Biblical:

    -Alcohol
    -Drugs
    -Mental illness
    -Abuse
    -Neglect
    -Lying
    -Stealing
    -Cheating
    -Suicide
    -Assault
    -Hate
    -Bullying

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  80. Daisy: I didn’t like Detwiler’s comments or attitudes about Harris at all (I saw them via a tweet or something by Julie Anne)
    I was taken aback at how hateful and critical he was about Harris being in a faith crisis.

    This is not a reply to Mr Detweiler’s comments, as I haven’t read them. Rather, it is a comment on the state of the salvation of a person in a faith crisis.

    To wit: I don’t think you can tell without looking at what comes after the “faith crisis”. Many heroes of the biblescribshers had crises of faith.

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  81. Law Prof,

    I take it that Dee is just communicating that for the purposes of her blog Re: Harris she’s more concerned about abuse victims as opposed to spiritual matters, like is Harris really still a Christian or not.
    That’s how I took her post, anyhow.

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  82. SiteSeer: I feel the same way. Whatever you think about Josh Harris, this has been a devastating reveal of how relationships work in Christianity. In a way, I’m actually grateful for it because now there’s no illusions about what lies behind the happy church smiles. It’s best to know the reality of things.

    Yep, that a million times. I totally agree.

    I know Dee’s priority here is about the SGM abuse situation,
    but I’m mostly looking at other aspects of this Harris bruhaha, at how it’s playing out on Christian Twitter / Christian blogs, and it’s not been very pretty.

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  83. Nick Bulbeck,

    Nor, BTW, was it a comment on Mr Harris’ salvation; I don’t know anything about that. In fact, I’ve no idea what “salvation” means, though there’s no shortage of people ready to answer that on a small Post-It note. I use it here as a shorthand for “your stance towards, and ongoing experience of, God”. Or words to that effect.

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  84. Iowa Steve: The “No true Scotsman fallacy”

    Yes, that, and variations of it keep popping up on Christian Twitter about Harris (or about folks like Harris).

    If Harris is thinking about leaving the faith (or has done so), he must not have been a “real” Christian to start with.

    That one comes up a lot, and it drives me bonkers.

    Maybe I’m wrong about this, but doesn’t the NT say somewhere that yes, it’s totally possible for a person to be a “real” Christian but to later in life, for whatever the reason, to leave the faith??

    Sorry I don’t remember the exact BCV on that.

    I think Jesus alluded to it, did he not, when he talked about seeds falling on good soil, on rocks, or among weeds, and one or more of those seed examples he gave represented a “true” believe, not a “false” convert.

    But anyway, I wish, I so wish all the still-happy-to- be- a- Christian folks out there would give some of these cliches a rest, about how,
    ‘So- and- so must not have been really saved in the first place, a truly saved guy would never leave the faith!’

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  85. Law Prof: So, has it really come to this? I cannot propose even a possibility that someone raised in Harris’s environment did not experience a true representation of Jesus? Really? In a culture which has become known for tyrannical control, repeated lies, twisting of the Bible, child sex abuse and the cover ups thereof?

    I already addressed this above, but putting that aside…

    Forget how Harris was raised, look at the push back the man has been getting from Christians online, some of whom may have met him, some no.

    I’ve seen more condemnation of the man than support from a lot of Christians (on Twitter and some forums/blogs), and all just because the guy may be changing his views about God and Christianity.

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  86. SiteSeer: It has happened to me. The old trope that there was an answer but it was just ‘no’ kind of makes it impossible to assess, doesn’t it?
    The bottom line is that things happen to people.

    We can explain it as a yes or no answer to prayer, we come up with all sorts of creative “reasons” why God brought devastation instead of blessing, but when you zoom out from your situation, you realize nothing different is happening to praying Christians than is happening to everyone else.

    I completely agree.

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  87. Jeannette Altes: There is a very wide spectrum between the purity culture in church and the ‘anything goes’ casual hook-ups you suggest.

    Indeed. Some people have sex outside of marriage but within committed relationships. Some people still take it very seriously. Some people take it more seriously than married people, honestly. I’ve seen both. I think I’m with Muff on this one although I dont get into it much. There is definitely more room for differing opinions here than is often acknowledged.

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  88. Friend,

    “Our youth ministers preached very specifically to crowds of young kids…”
    +++++++++++++++++

    i think i feel sick.

    the last thing my husband and i have wanted is for our kids to be afraid of sex, to feel shameful about it, to have any kind of paranoia about it. it’s as natural as sneezing. of course, with greater consequences. one can have respect for it without being afraid of it. one can decide on boundaries without it being a charged issue.

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  89. Law Prof,

    I don’t think Lea would disagree with all the point you made in your post taking them each separately and at face value,
    her position seemed to be saying that reasons for why people divorce can be more complicated or numerous than you were suggesting re: pre-marital sex only.

    There have been studies about this. Here’s one or two:

    (Of course, some of these studies are sometimes backed by excessively pro-marriage conservative groups, so you may have to take some of their reports with a grain of salt):

    Why virgins may have happier marriages
    By Christian Gollayan October 23, 2018
    https://nypost.com/2018/10/23/why-virgins-may-have-happier-marriages/

    This is from Huff Post:

    New Study Claims People Who’ve Had More Sexual Partners Report Unhappier Marriages
    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/more-sexual-partners-unhappy-marriage_n_5698440

    You can also google for this headline, and several sites will turn up:
    “CDC Study Says Teen Virgins Are Healthier”
    -(based on a 2016 study)

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  90. Law Prof: I just wouldn’t assume too much, Daisy, about others and be too smug about what goes on in their lives. I struggle every day. And my dad died after a long battle with cancer and rejected my faith even on his deathbed. That was a knife in the gut and it still festers 11 years later

    I was not being smug. You were.

    I don’t like someone brushing off the un-met needs of my life (God dropping the ball) as a case of, “Well, I don’t always get what I want either!”

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  91. I’m going to assume that Josh didn’t want his marriage to end in divorce or his faith to end in apostasy, but I’m also going to assume he did want the announcement of both to get him some likes on Instagram.

    Mod: Please pick a name. You have also posted as Rupert Whitebear. Pick one and stick with it. GBTC

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  92. LAWPROF: Neither of us have statistics for that, and what statistics we would have, assuming they exist, would be dependent upon the accuracy and truthfulness of those claiming they got a divorce for a certain reason.
    I have 100% seen statistics for divorce rates and reasons and am basing my comments on them, but if you want to dismiss them all as ‘lies’ go off i guess. I can’t make you believe them.

    I will continue to accept data over theory until I have a good reason not to, though. I think Christians should stop pretending like all divorces are unreasonable.

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  93. SiteSeer: It takes years to work through all of the issues when you re-examine your faith and your life. You can’t just suddenly come up with a statement that defines who you are and what you believe now, and it’s all re-settled and you live out this new perspective the rest of your life.

    It is a painful process that takes years. And if you once lived in the world of everything being certain and defined, you are reluctant to step back into that again.

    I can’t say that I have a clear “statement of faith” for my life at this point. I would be very reluctant to try to come up with one because it is in flux.

    All I can say for sure is, “God is love.” So many things I once believed have turned out to be wrong. I’m old and wise enough to realize my own definitions mean little, it is a process of discovery, learning who God is and how he operates.

    I agreed with your whole post, but especially that part of it.
    I discussed some very similar things to it in my blog post about Harris.

    Stepping away from one’s faith is a painful, drawn out process. It can take years.

    I’ve seen some Christians hostile towards Harris assume questioning one’s faith is a simple and quick ordeal. The amount of ignorance or denial about what folks like Harris go through in this area is astonishing.

    I wonder. Should Harris decide to remain a Christian, but leave the -was he a Calvinist? – conservative fold,
    To become an uber liberal, woman-preacher affirming Christian, or, if he became a moderate to conservative Arminian,
    Would that go over well with the branch of Calvinist, conservative Christians who are now lashing out against him?

    I mean, would they rather have him become a Liberal Christian, or become a Christ-rejecting Agnostic?

    If we’re being real, I bet the hyper conservatives would rather see Harris become a Christ rejecting Atheist/Agnostic than turn into a Progressive Christian.

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  94. Lea:
    LAWPROF: Neither of us have statistics for that, and what statistics we would have, assuming they exist, would be dependent upon the accuracy and truthfulness of those claiming they got a divorce for a certain reason.
    I have 100% seen statistics for divorce rates and reasons and am basing my comments on them, but if you want to dismiss them all as ‘lies’ go off i guess. I can’t make you believe them.

    I will continue to accept data over theory until I have a good reason not to, though. I think Christians should stop pretending like all divorces are unreasonable.

    When did I say that all divorces are unreasonable? That’s a straw man. I didn’t say that and don’t think it. Jesus didn’t say that either, by the way.

    Second, I already addressed the point of divorce statistics, which as I said I have personal experience with the veracity (or want thereof) of. It is a garbage in/garbage out situation. You have not presented your data either, only claimed to have it. In any event, I’m not claiming all divorces are the result of people having a casual attitude towards sex and commitment, but certainly you have to admit some of them are a result of that, and that is all I’m saying.

    You seem unwarranted in your anger, I am not trying to poke a sharp stick at you, and I am not every wrong-headed Christian you imagine is on the other side of arguments from you. Don’t straw man me, we can’t have a conversation if you do.

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  95. Daisy: But a lot of Christians out there have been very comfortable making all sorts of definite opinions on his beliefs, character, and state of his soul, based off a few somewhat vaguely worded IG posts.

    You know, I no longer care one bit about what Josh Harris believes except in how it affects others. And belief that affects others needs positive action.

    Harris enforced an abusive church culture that also protected abusers. Some of the
    stuff he taught publicly has hurt many people, though he has recanted and walked back some of that. But as dee said, his recent deconstruction posts kinda refer to everything except CLC’s abusive church culture, their protection of child abusers, and their refusal to take responsibility for those things.

    He needs to deal with hurt inside his family, and though his wife hasn’t said much, I’m sure it’s there. She also may be dealing with her own church and family culture deconstruction. But Harris has personally hurt people I know by things he did and allowed to go on as a pastor. There are a lot of victims who were molested inside his church.

    The public is so focused on Harris’ beliefs and his book that nobody is talking about the abuses within CLC that he himself enforced.

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  96. Daisy: I was not being smug. You were.

    I don’t like someone brushing off the un-met needs of my life (God dropping the ball) as a case of, “Well, I don’t always get what I want either!”

    Daisy, you were trying to fit me into some kind of paradigm as if I was one of those comfortable, smug Christians, well-satisfied with my faith. Or were those comments directed at others? As it was a response to my post, I assume it was directed to me. Was I wrong? If so, sorry, but surely you can understand my confusion on the point.

    I too have experienced great pain with the loss of a parent in spite of years of desperate prayers, as I related. I also told you it’s still a festering wound 11 years later. That means nothing? If you want to casually brush that aside while demanding that all others respond to your pain or anger at God in the “appropriate manner” that you alone define, then I have to wonder where your empathy is.

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  97. Daisy:
    Maybe I’m wrong about this, but doesn’t the NT say somewhere that yes, it’s totally possible for a person to be a “real” Christian but to later in life, for whatever the reason, to leave the faith??

    The New Cals don’t believe that’s possible, and neither do traditional Baptists, and that makes up a large percentage of evangelicals who probably think they need to say something about that.

    There are Christians who believe that, but they probably aren’t the ones all mad about it on Twitter.

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  98. Daisy:
    Law Prof,

    I take it that Dee is just communicating that for the purposes of her blog Re: Harris she’s more concerned about abuse victims as opposed to spiritual matters, like is Harris really still a Christian or not.
    That’s how I took her post, anyhow.

    And that would be fair on her part and you’re more likely than not correct. She doesn’t impress me over all these years as an unfair or unreasonable person.

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  99. Law Prof: Daisy, you were trying to fit me into some kind of paradigm as if I was one of those comfortable, smug Christians, well-satisfied with my faith. Or were those comments directed at others?

    I have to say, you sounded pretty smug to me, too. As do a lot of Christians who say things like “Just because it’s not what you wanted….”

    Are you going to say stuff like that to kids who’ve been abused their whole lives, who live in poverty, and can’t get a good education? People struggling from severe depression or illness? Whether Christians are honest about it or not, evil can be very real in the lives of people, and sometimes people have very little “good” in their lives. And that’s a theological problem to them that receives a platitude instead of compassion.

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  100. Carl Truman:

    https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2019/07/kissing-christianity-goodbye

    “[Joshua Harris] was exploited by those who saw in him a marketing opportunity and consequently gave him far too much exposure and responsibility far too soon…I wonder if any of the leading YRR lights have spent a moment reflecting about whether they and the culture they created bear any responsibility for this mess. Or is Harris’s apostasy merely another of those Satanic attacks that confirm that they are on the right track and must press on?”

    “YRR was so successful…But the movement’s leadership was often arrogant. In public, critics were derided and then ignored; in private, they were vilified and bullied. An extensive informal network of individuals, institutions, and organizations who wanted a slice of the YRR action was happy to oblige the padrini by keeping critics on the margins. And one by one big leaders fell from favor: Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald, Tullian Tchividjian, C. J. Mahaney, now Josh Harris. On Friday the news broke that The Village Church, home of YRR megastar Matt Chandler, is being sued over alleged mishandling of sexual abuse.”

    “at no point has there been any apparent heart-searching, among those left in the movement, as to whether such falls indicate a problem in the very culture of the YRR”

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  101. “You seem unwarranted in your anger, I am not trying to poke a sharp stick at you, and I am not every wrong-headed Christian you imagine is on the other side of arguments from you. ”

    Funny, you seem judgy and condescending today. I am not ‘angry’ (and I would personally rethink using that towards every woman who disagrees with you on a point), I simply DISAGREE. Why is this complicated?

    You blew off stats by telling me I haven’t seen them. Or are lies if they exist. I mean…I don’t have time to look them all up, google is free but what would be the point if you consider them lies?

    I have a friend basically dying today so I’m stepping away from this nonsense for a while. Sigh.

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  102. Law Prof: I too have experienced great pain with the loss of a parent in spite of years of desperate prayers, as I related. I also told you it’s still a festering wound 11 years later.

    You’re a married guy?

    So you were able to lean on a spouse during your time of grief and/or siblings and aunties?

    Did you have money so you could pay to see a therapist to help you deal with the loss?

    I had zero of that. I had to get through it alone.

    The Christians I tried approaching for emotional support either used their answering machines to weed out my calls and ignore me, the ones who would communicate with me, some shamed me, some lectured me, and some criticized me.

    So I ended up dealing with that all alone. I did not feel “the presence of God,” either.

    But you seem to be one of those Christians I was speaking of in general terms, who is happy with his faith, yes.

    You don’t see loss and lack of God meeting you in that loss as a “valid” or “good enough” reason to walk away from the faith. As in, “But my parent died, and I still believe in God too” sort of thing.

    Which is fine for you, if you’re happy with the faith..

    But the faith did squat didely to help me with issues in my life, ranging from (but not limited to), having clinical depression, to having anxiety, to my mother dropping dead, to no emotional support after said mother died, to on-going issues with anxiety, and a billion other things.

    So, I’ve stopped expecting God, if there is a God, to help me. I don’t pray so much any more, because nothing ever comes of the prayers.

    I’ve had to learn to live life without the old stand-bys and the usuals I had when I was a practicing Christian – no prayer, no Bible reading for me.

    I’ve had to learn to get through things alone and on my own strength.

    I really don’t care to pursue this with you further, but you will probably reply to this post.

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  103. Law Prof: f you want to casually brush that aside while demanding that all others respond to your pain or anger at God in the “appropriate manner” that you alone define, then I have to wonder where your empathy is.

    And that part of your post was just disgusting. It’s turning things around on me. You are projecting.

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  104. Headless Unicorn Guy: Now that things are hitting the fan, I would expect a one-eighty flip to get as far away from his previous culture as possible. Such wild swings are common when spiritual abuse cases boil over; in a best-case scenario (like Eagle & me), the swings back-and-forth should damp out over the next few years, eventually stabilizing somewhere in the middle.In a worst-case, he transfers a Fundamentalist personality to the other extreme polarity and gets stuck there.

    Exactly, HUG! I had those same thoughts.

    I don’t think it’s at all fair to assume that Josh “never really knew Jesus to begin with” — the line now being peddled by Justin Peters and Michael Farris, among others. That’s just their lame attempt to square the Calvinist Circle. “Well, we believe in Once Saved, Always Saved and ‘perseverance of the saints,’ and Josh didn’t persevere; therefore, he can’t have been *really, truly* saved in the first place.” Right…how convenient!

    A close friend of mine was deeply damaged by her time in a cult-like, parachurch, ecumenical-yet-predominantly-Catholic charismatic “covenant community,” which was allied with the Sword of the Spirit Movement (which in turn was heavily involved in the “Shepherding and Discipling” movement). This was an insanely toxic, controlling, craycray environment. She ended up losing her faith.

    Well, I knew her very, very well during our college years, and I can attest with every fiber of my being: Back then, she *definitely* knew Jesus. Knew Him. Loved Him. Lived for Him. Had an intimate personal relationship with Him. No question. We roomed together and traveled through Europe together. She knew Jesus, trust me.

    So, what happened? Years of heavy exposure to a toxic, controlling, soul-destroying cult, that’s what.

    My goddaughter was heavily involved in a similar community (Alleluia in Augusta, Georgia). She was deeply damaged, too, but managed to retain her faith, by the Grace of God. But it wasn’t easy by any means.

    Toxic high-control groups can really, really do a number on one’s head. One ends up with a form of PTSD. No one can understand it who hasn’t gone through it.

    My friend who lost her faith passed away last year after a short, intense battle with an aggressive cancer. Her closest relatives were at her bedside praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

    Months later, after I learned of her passing (which came as a total shock), I arranged for Mass to be offered for her at our parish church. I didn’t specify a date; just asked that it be some Sunday in the future.

    Well, the Mass for my friend ended up being offered on Divine Mercy Sunday. Didn’t realize this until I was at Mass that day and heard the deacon say her name. I still get chills when I think of this. I don’t believe in coincidences. (Sorry for all the Catholic Inside Baseball WRT Divine Mercy This-‘n-That…HUG knows what I’m referring to. So does Google. ;))

    Anyway…Jesus understands. He knows what faith-destroying effects a horrible “Christian” experience can have on someone. And, as He told Saint Faustina, the Apostle of Divine Mercy: “The final hour abounds in mercy.”

    All of which is to say…I am feeling led to pray for Josh and Shannon. Our Lord certainly isn’t finished with them yet!

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  105. ishy: I have to say, you sounded pretty smug to me, too. As do a lot of Christians who say things like “Just because it’s not what you wanted….”

    Are you going to say stuff like that to kids who’ve been abused their whole lives, who live in poverty, and can’t get a good education? People struggling from severe depression or illness? Whether Christians are honest about it or not, evil can be very real in the lives of people, and sometimes people have very little “good” in their lives. And that’s a theological problem to them that receives a platitude instead of compassion.

    Pain happens to all of us. My wife, mom and sister was sexually abused as children, my wife’s closest friend was sexually abused by a step dad and stabbed in the face by her mom (still has the scar). They have all responded to this abuse in different ways. Three of four follow Jesus. My sister died rejecting Him. I danced between the raindrops there, never faced that sort of abuse, but like all people, I’ve struggled, had periods of doubt and desperation—namely when dad died bitterly rejecting Jesus to the end, when the family and I went through the abuse of three cultic churches in which leaders did their best to slander us and destroy our reputations. There was also an extended period of bullying I dealt with as a kid that still sets me off in rages at church abuse. So it’s not like we don’t all have sorrow and agony. Life’s tough, as was said above by someone else.

    I hate pat answers and Christianese that doesn’t match up with the Bible (e.g., Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes), which talks a great deal about desperation and anger and abuse and people questioning God for all of the above.

    But there’s one thing I don’t think is fair. If someone looks at abuse and something awful that happened and tells someone agonizing over it “Jesus loves you in spite of all, He hates the abuse also, please don’t chuck him out with the garbage”, down will come a chorus of anger from people telling you that you’re not empathetic, that you don’t get it, that you’re smug and self satisfied in your so-called faith, that if you’d been through what I’ve been through, you’d reject Jesus and the whole claptrap too.” That’s not fair, and it doesn’t match the reality of my wife, who dealt with her share of abuse, or her best friend, who dealt with an attempted murder by her own mom—and both love Jesus.

    Sometimes seems that the only acceptable response is “I totally get it why you hate God, under the circumstances because some person hurt you or a family member died, you have every right to hate God.” If you don’t say that, some people tell you “Why you’re just driving me farther away from God!” I personally think that’s bullying.

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  106. Daisy: And that part of your post was just disgusting. It’s turning things around on me. You are projecting.

    You know what, Daisy? You’re not the only one with a loss to deal with and I think your behavior right now is unconscionable and I don’t care what anyone has to say about it. It’s bullying to tell people that if they don’t respond in precisely the way you want that they’re driving you farther from God. That’s wrong. I didn’t make up the death of my father, I go through pain also, we share the loss of a parent to cancer in spite of prayers in common. I’m just flat out telling you that your’s is not the only possible response.

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  107. Jerome,

    Jerome, that excerpt from Trueman is very perceptive and incisive!

    Yep. The responses I’ve read — from Justin Peters and Michael Farris — have been simply disgusting.

    No self-examination whatsoever. None. Unbelievable.

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  108. Lea:
    (and I would personally rethink using that towards every woman who disagrees with you on a point)

    That’s a terrible game to play. This has zero to do with your gender. That’s just wrong for you to imply.

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  109. Friend: Our youth ministers preached very specifically to crowds of young kids.

    And that’s another problem which should be the subject of a blog piece someday. The Bible talks about mature older saints teaching/mentoring young believers … it doesn’t say anything about the young, immature, and inexperienced preaching to anybody! The American church desperately needs to reevaluate its youth ministry model and stop turning flesh babies loose on other flesh babies.

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  110. Daisy: If Harris is thinking about leaving the faith (or has done so), he must not have been a “real” Christian to start with.

    That one comes up a lot, and it drives me bonkers.

    You and I both, Daisy!

    I think it’s the only way they can square what happened with their Calvinist belief in OSAS.

    They don’t get that it’s impossibly tautological!

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  111. Either I’m going crazy or things are getting ugly here or both. Maybe both. I have never had anyone play the gender card on me in all these years. Never seen anything like this in nearly a decade on this forum. Upsetting. Strange. Don’t know what to say. But if I’ve gone off the rails and am the crazy one, I probably wouldn’t know it. No clue anymore. But I’m out, folks. Honestly do wish everyone well. That’s not just a Christianese platitude in this case, far as I know—but then again, what do I know anymore?

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  112. Law Prof:
    Either I’m going crazy or things are getting ugly here or both.Maybe both. I have never had anyone play the gender card on me in all these years.Never seen anything like this in nearly a decade on this forum.Upsetting.Strange.Don’t know what to say.But if I’ve gone off the rails and am the crazy one, I probably wouldn’t know it.No clue anymore.But I’m out, folks.Honestly do wish everyone well.That’s not just a Christianese platitude in this case, far as I know—but then again, what do I know anymore?

    I’ve been watching this unfold, and it is indeed somewhat weird, especially for this forum. Some real passive-agressive stuff going on. Actually, plain old aggressive, mostly. Almost willful misunderstanding and assuming the worst of one’s interlocutor. People seeming to want to be offended, and not taking a response at face value, but reading further offense in it and escalating.

    I think Lea has the right idea at this point – walk away from it and move on. But yes, it is rather strange…

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  113. Whew, the blogosphere chatter on Harris is becoming too scathing for even this old warrior! Most of you know that I’m not a fan of the YRR movement and its host of New Calvinist darlings. We continue to see them fall; I “prophesied” they would years ago, citing too much arrogance in their exhalation which would eventually cause their bubble to explode. But, when one of them does slip from the grace they talk so much about, I don’t believe in rubbing it in their face until they are annihilated.

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  114. I will be honest. In hindsight, I gave him way too much benefit of doubt.

    I was happy when he denounced his own book. The courtship model was BS. He was misguided, but I thought he would turn around to see the truth. Maybe he can be of use to God is some other way in the future.

    There was sexual abuse in SGM. But with Mahaney at the helm, ok maybe he got no choice/didn’t know any better. We know how strong the “elders” and “leaders” are in convenient churches.

    So I had “faith” that Harris, an ex-Calvinist leader, can turn around and preach about the evil of Calvinism, and all its abuses that went on. This would make a great testimony.

    But then I heard about his separation from his wife and I face-palm myself. Why did I ever have any faith in someone being able to do God’s work, when they start off so broken and then followed other misguided Calvinist leaders.

    And his flat out rejection of God and embrace of homosexuality is the icing on the cake.

    The saddest part? I bet if we talk to Calvinists about this, they would still defend the courtship model and their other legalistic teachings. What didn’t work for Harris, the author, might still work for other Christians because it is “biblical”.

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  115. Friend: They spent all this demented energy preaching against sex, sex, sex. Preaching against demons, cults, and the abomination of desecration were topics too, but far less emphasized. They barely mentioned other risks to youngsters, presumably because they were not Biblical

    This is called “obsessing on Pelvic Issues”, and it’s a common form of OCD in this territory.

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  116. Jerome,
    Here’s some more from that First Things editorial, about New Megachurch Calvinism in general:

    Early in the movement’s history, I spoke with a couple of the leaders. One told me that his organization was “God’s means of doing something great in this day and age.” As delusional as such a claim obviously was, it did seem to reflect the general ethos at the time. Another told me that I needed to understand that the movement was “leveraging celebrity culture to do something for the gospel.” Boromir tried to do something similar with the ring of power, as I recall.

    Many evangelical Christian organizations and movements have a similar kind of messianic self-consciousness. And it eventually leads to great evil. As soon as you identify God’s purposes with those of yourself or your organization, ordinary Christian principles—honesty, decency, etc.—quickly disappear. A few years ago, a minor evangelical arriviste was caught in serious sin. His employer’s announcement of this might be summarized as follows: “When we are doing so well for the Kingdom of God, we can expect the Devil to attack our best men.” Maybe. But the logic was that of every tinhorn cult leader: The evidence that we are corrupt, or employ seriously corrupt people, is really just evidence of how important to God’s Kingdom we are. How convenient. It is the Christian equivalent of Wall Street’s “too big to fail” ethic.

    How may of the traits FT went over have we seen in the various churches and pastors this blog and others have placed under scrutiny?

    Though I’d day these pretty much generic for all True Believer Mass Movements; religious, political or social; from the ones that get in the news and history books to those with “ten guys in socks chanting in somebody’s living room”.

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  117. SiteSeer: I think marketing is the worst thing to happen to the church. It is, by nature, a hypocrisy of sorts; it’s antithetical to sincerity and reality. It’s interesting to me how many of the big leaders in the “church” are actually marketers.

    AKA The Gospel According to Dan Draper…

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  118. Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    Calvinists believe in Perseverance of the Saints, which is something different than OSAS.

    “Perspiration of the Saints” as it’s called, is where God keeps you saved, but only if you persevere and don’t sin too much or too severely.

    OSAS is where you are saved by God no matter how you fail.

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  119. Law Prof: But there’s one thing I don’t think is fair. If someone looks at abuse and something awful that happened and tells someone agonizing over it “Jesus loves you in spite of all, He hates the abuse also, please don’t chuck him out with the garbage”, down will come a chorus of anger from people telling you that you’re not empathetic, that you don’t get it, that you’re smug and self satisfied in your so-called faith, that if you’d been through what I’ve been through, you’d reject Jesus and the whole claptrap too.” That’s not fair, and it doesn’t match the reality of my wife, who dealt with her share of abuse, or her best friend, who dealt with an attempted murder by her own mom—and both love Jesus.

    Thank you for the clarity of this and sharing your experiences. It helps.

    I have kind of been on both sides of this statement. When I was questioning my faith, statements made to me like the one you quote above seemed trite and plastic and made me want to yell, “really?!” That doesn’t mean the person who said it was being trite or fake – some maybe were, some weren’t. But in the midst of the confusion and anger and pain, it all seemed the same.

    On the other hand, now, believing in Jesus as I do. I so want to say, “Jesus really does love you!” But because of my own experience, I hold my tongue and just try to listen, mostly….unless a sore spot gets pushed….then I might rant a little… 😉

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  120. ishy: It always comes back to power, money, and controlling others. It’s never really about religion or faith or what’s “biblical”.

    Well, there’s no doubt about it – as the facts continue to show – there has been a lot of power, money and control flowing through YRR/New Calvinist ranks. The movement’s elite have benefited greatly. Under the guise of restoring the “gospel” to the church, they have personally prospered while their followers become more disillusioned by the day.

    Is it “Biblical”? … yep … “If this teaching or movement is merely human it will collapse of its own accord” (Acts 5:38)

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  121. I read his pamphlet, I think that’s what you would call it, “Books That Changed My Mind”. I thought it was interesting, humble, and enjoyable. And it definitely continued to affirm traditional Christian ideas about sexuality. But if his original repudiations of IKDG were a 90, the latest is the complete 180.

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  122. Max:
    Whew, the blogosphere chatter on Harris is becoming too scathing for even this old warrior!Most of you know that I’m not a fan of the YRR movement and its host of New Calvinist darlings.We continue to see them fall; I “prophesied” they would years ago, citing too much arrogance in their exhalation which would eventually cause their bubble to explode.But, when one of them does slip from the grace they talk so much about, I don’t believe in rubbing it in their face until they are annihilated.

    Feeling about the same, Max. Along the way, it seems to be of less significance that JH himself is a sexual abuse survivor, and has obviously been struggling with his own issues of faith, ministry, etc., for the past few years. Add to that the personal trauma when a couple divorces, esp. with kids in the mix–and I don’t feel inclined to judge or criticize him, as much as hope and pray that he and his family experience the grace we all desperately need.

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  123. roebuck: I’ve been watching this unfold, and it is indeed somewhat weird, especially for this forum. Some real passive-agressive stuff going on. Actually, plain old aggressive, mostly. Almost willful misunderstanding and assuming the worst of one’s interlocutor. People seeming to want to be offended, and not taking a response at face value, but reading further offense in it and escalating.

    I think Lea has the right idea at this point – walk away from it and move on. But yes, it is rather strange…

    I just want to say that nothing I’ve said to HUG was meant in response to Daisy’s or Law Prof’s posts. I was agreeing with HUG — and with Daisy re one point — not taking sides on a very delicate dispute that I hope will be resolved amicably. I love both Daisy and Law Prof. I think y’all are basically on the same side!

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  124. Jerome: Carl Truman:

    https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2019/07/kissing-christianity-goodbye

    Excellent article, well worth the read. I love how he summed up:

    “As a player, Harris might be qualified to do the evangelical church one last favor: He can expose the behind-the-scenes shenanigans—the money made by at least some of the leading lights, and the power wielded by an unaccountable few—of Big Evangelicalism. That would seem a more important contribution than emotive talk of personal journeys, gobbledygook about repentance detached from any notion of God, and the continuation of life as performance art. “

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  125. Law Prof:
    Either I’m going crazy or things are getting ugly here or both.Maybe both. I have never had anyone play the gender card on me in all these years.Never seen anything like this in nearly a decade on this forum.Upsetting.Strange.Don’t know what to say.But if I’ve gone off the rails and am the crazy one, I probably wouldn’t know it.No clue anymore.But I’m out, folks.Honestly do wish everyone well.That’s not just a Christianese platitude in this case, far as I know—but then again, what do I know anymore?

    I appreciate your posts about what you and yours have walked. It does give needed perspective. I agree things got a little ugly. I apologize for my contribution to that. For what it’s worth, I took our back and forth as discussion, not anger. I don’t always communicate that so well in text comments.

    As to the other debate that was going on, it did seem as though it escalated quickly talking past each other.

    For what it is worth to you, I don’t think you’re any crazier than the rest of us. And I do enjoy reading your comments. I often learn a thing or two.

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  126. Law Prof: Either I’m going crazy or things are getting ugly here or both. Maybe both. I have never had anyone play the gender card on me in all these years. Never seen anything like this in nearly a decade on this forum. Upsetting. Strange. Don’t know what to say. But if I’ve gone off the rails and am the crazy one, I probably wouldn’t know it. No clue anymore. But I’m out, folks. Honestly do wish everyone well. That’s not just a Christianese platitude in this case, far as I know—but then again, what do I know anymore?

    I think in the course of discussions, sometimes things like this come up where people hit on some of each other’s painful points and aren’t really hearing each other. It’s all part of the colorful tapestry of our existence, as Bertie Wooster would say. I hope there’s really no hard feelings on either side. I really appreciate hearing everyone’s perspective, there’s always something I gain from each one.

    Josh Harris has definitely brought a lot of disagreement out among Christians, hasn’t he? Strong feelings on both sides and connecting to lots of other churchy issues.

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  127. Daisy: I didn’t like Detwiler’s comments or attitudes about Harris at all (I saw them via a tweet or something by Julie Anne)

    *snip*

    But that Detwiler guy was plain old nasty about Harris.

    I completely lost my cool with Brent on Facebook over that remark. I let him have it, he proceeded to hammer me over the head and I told him bluntly that I’d rather go to hell than worship his god. I absolutely meant what I said. It was reading Brent’s statements about Harris that caused me to remember being 19 and suicidal because I couldn’t live up to what I was told were God’s high expectations. Thanks ever so much, Brent, I could have gone the rest of my life not remembering that period in August-October 1979, but I did, thanks to you.

    And now, I’ll be honest, I’m angry about this. None of us know where Harris is mentally. For all we know, he could be enormously crushed by the fact that so many of his former friends have pushed him into the Christian airlock and set it to vent. But it’s not just Harris. It’s all over Christianity. Whenever a person steps outside the bounds of the defined “orthodoxy” of the group, they get various reactions. Maybe a call to step back within the lines. Or maybe worse. But what the people warning of hellfire fail to realize or understand is that not everyone can just handle being beat upon without having a mental crisis. I know exactly how that feels.

    And at this point in my life, not only am I not going to put up with that nonsense, but I will tell people flatly that if their god can only get people to be part of his group through the threats of eternal damnation and/or hellfire, well, then I’d rather not. In fact, if you have to use threats of eternal punishment to coerce people to some sort of “faith” in Jesus, then you’re doing it wrong, IMHO.

    Yeah, Brent stepped on my last nerve.

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  128. Law Prof: Sometimes seems that the only acceptable response is “I totally get it why you hate God, under the circumstances because some person hurt you or a family member died, you have every right to hate God.” If you don’t say that, some people tell you “Why you’re just driving me farther away from God!” I personally think that’s bullying.

    We all suffer pain and loss in this world, no one gets through without it. Some have it a lot worse than others and peoples’ temperaments can make dealing with loss easier or more difficult. And you can’t really compare losses. One person may have lost the only friend they have in the world whereas another had a strong circle of friends to support them after their loss.

    I think you hit on something important, though. When someone has gone through the one loss that is beyond their power to deal with, when their heart is hanging in ragged tatters and their hope is crushed, there isn’t anything you can say that is going to help. That’s not your fault and it’s not their fault. It’s just that there aren’t any words for a time like that. It’s a time when being there without words is the thing of value. Not many Christians are comfortable with that, they want to speak some words, fix you, and then move on with their busy lives. Sometimes the only words that comfort are ‘I’m so sorry’ and ‘I’m here for you, you’re not alone.’

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  129. CLC (Covenant Life Church) was the flagship of a heavily documented abusive religious cult (PDI/SGM) that strapped on some form of Calvinism to apparently legitimize their history of abuse of authority and accountability. At the thirty year mark, people were so ill in their souls that many Washington D.C. local area pastors could not help these families when they awoke to the damage they had experienced and sought outside assistance.

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  130. CHIPS: And his flat out rejection of God and embrace of homosexuality is the icing on the cake.

    I wouldn’t say that Harris has flat out rejected God.

    I would also note that there are a lot of people who call themselves Christians, much more devout than I ever will be, who see LGBTQ people as human beings just like you and I.

    I will finish up by saying that Jesus didn’t tell his followers to treat apostates -or- LGBTQ people or those on the outs with Evangelicalism as if they were prostitutes, publicans or other sinners. If memory serves, I believe Jesus scandalized his local religious authorities by eating with these notorious types! Maybe all of us (me included) need to be willing to accept people we don’t particularly like. I will be the absolute first to admit that I would have a tough time sitting down to dinner with someone like Tom Ascol, for example. Or Josh Harris, for that matter.

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  131. Law Prof: People cannot recreate the intimacy of the First Century church by setting up a church plant or building a megachurch and drawing together a scattered group of people from various states and sterile suburban communities and then just creating that closeness and intimacy with once-a-week small groups closely tended by lieutenants of the leadership team

    I reading elsewhere I came across the passage from Nassim Taleb
    Nassim Taleb
    “we are made to follow leaders who can gather people together because the advantages of being in groups trump the disadvantages of being alone. It has been more profitable for us to bind together in the wrong direction than to be alone in the right one. Those who have followed the assertive idiot rather than the introspective wise person have passed us some of their genes. This is apparent from a social pathology: psychopaths rally followers.”

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  132. SiteSeer:
    You seem to have a very strong impression and your judgment is usually spot on, Dee. I don’t know the man or what is motivating him. I’m sure you know him better than I do, which is zero. But I have seen the viscious things people are posting about him, it’s enough to make anyone considering becoming a Christian to run the opposite way. My instinct is to speak but with patience & kindness until I see how things will progress, but then I have no history or familiarity with him whatsoever.

    I would guess that just being mentored by CJ Mahaney would be enough to convince a person that the faith is bunk. I have no way of knowing what he may have seen and heard in the circles he traveled. After reading the accounts of life with Bill Hybels I can only imagine what life was like in SGM behind the scenes. I’m thinking any kind of confession would necessarily bring in others, meaning legal repercussions. Makes me wonder if he has had legal advice on that.

    So far he has been the only leader I’ve ever seen change direction or apologize at all, in any way, for anything. I am hoping with time he expands this confession to everything it should be, and also that he stays out of professional religion.

    Siteseer, you have made some very insightful comments. I believe there are many layers to this situation – a myriad of reasons that lead Joshua Harris to abandon the Christian faith. I, too, I have observed the viciousness of Christians toward this man. Christians seem to have a knack for killing their wounded. The anger I have seen projected at this man *from people that don’t know him* seems unwarranted.

    No doubt as time goes on more will be revealed. That’s usually how the story goes with people who have been christian celebrities, so to speak. As for me I wish him well. It seems that as of now he’s not trying to make Bank on religion like Tullian T. Has. That’s a good thing. But I do hope for the sake of his own conscience and peace, and for the sake of those victims of abuse in his former Christian community, that he chooses to become forthright and take responsibility for his wrongdoing in this matter.

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  133. SiteSeer: Carl Truman:

    https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2019/07/kissing-christianity-goodbye

    Excellent article, well worth the read.

    IMO, Carl Trueman speaks accurately about systemic problems within the YRR/New Calvinist movement and its cult of personality. Driscoll, Mahaney, MacDonald, Tchividjian, Harris … these were kingpins of the new reformation who were rose to the top of the pyramid because they had a touch of charisma, a gift of gab, and a gimmick. More will fall in the days ahead, it is written.

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  134. Jeffrey Chalmers:
    And least we forget, Joshua Harris’s book, just like SGM, Calvary Chapel, 9 Marks, neo Cals, Founder’s, etc, etc all claim at their peak of fame that they have the “True Way”, or they have captured “the original church”, orso e other catch phrase…
    This is the problem with living to long, you live through several “flashes in pan”…

    AND the pattern has been that the flashes in the pan have increased exponentially within Evangelicalism in the last 40 years.

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  135. Darlene: AND the pattern has been that the flashes in the pan have increased exponentially within Evangelicalism in the last 40 years.

    Flashes in the pan thrive best where shallow faith resides. Actors would have no stage if they didn’t have an audience applauding them. It’s a symbiotic relationship between pulpit and pew called Christianity Lite.

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  136. Does anyone else feel like all the articles and comment threads about Harris is exactly what he wanted and we’ve all just fallen into his little trap? It seems like Harris’ posts were more about getting attention than about a personal and thoughtful response to the crises in his life. I feel like I’ve been conned into giving him a couple of hours of my life just reading articles about him…and posting to this blog. To be clear, I’m not evaluating or condemning anyone else’s use of their time, just my own. Bye, Harris…go swim that lake and climb that mountain, I’m getting back to my life.

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  137. Jeannette Altes: I appreciate your posts about what you and yours have walked. It does give needed perspective. I agree things got a little ugly. I apologize for my contribution to that. For what it’s worth, I took our back and forth as discussion, not anger. I don’t always communicate that so well in text comments.

    Jeannette, you have absolutely nothing to apologize for.
    In this case, I’m the turd in the swimming pool (so to speak).

    Your comments are always well reasoned, irenic, and they lend themselves well to actual dialogue. Not everybody can do that.

    Some folks will always get bent out of shape when a cherished belief or system of belief is challenged.

    I stand on my original comment that there is no universal prohibition in Scripture regarding sexual congress outside the bounds of marriage.

    What we have is a derived form, from the NT, based on pagan temples, prostitution, and livestock sacrificed to pagan gods (you captured it well upthread), made to apply across the board with no exceptions.

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  138. Max: The really hardcore among them are probably thinking he experienced Calvin’s “evanescent grace”, a temporary fake grace given by God to the reprobate to make them think and act as if they were saved, only to later damn them for their deceptive behavior.That stinkin’ thinkin’ is, of course, not from God … such folks are in a great spiritual dilemma themselves.I wonder what Calvin thinks about “evanescent grace” now?

    Ah… there’s that evanescent grace again! And this brings me to something I saw in a Calvinist Facebook group today. Someone made a post asking:

    “How do I know that I’m not the next Josh Harris?
    #rethinkingcalvinism”

    Speaking of elephants in the room, no one mentioned evanescent grace in that discussion. And I wanted to so badly, but I had already pointed out the ramifications of believing in such a deplorable teaching on another post. That got me muted by the administrator for several days with a sharp rebuke for mocking Calvinism. I don’t think they actually think through the meaning of evanescent grace. If they did, it would shatter all their illusions about assurance, something Calvinists insist the elect actually possess. But if it is true that there is no difference from the grace that both reprobates and the elect experience, according to Calvin, then how can they be so sure they are saved? God could withdraw that grace from them, making their damnation all the more certain. The Calvinist god in this scenario is very much like a cunning magician, isn’t he?

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  139. Well, my post responding to Max about evanescent grace got held up in customs. But speaking of elephants in the room, that is exactly what evanescence grace is in Calvinist communities. Because if they actually thought of the ramifications of this teaching, it would completely dispel any notions of assurance that they claimed the elect possess. How can they have assurance when both the elect and the reprobate have the same experience of grace? How do they know if God mught actually be fooling them, and that one day he will withdrawal that grace from them, proving they were never really saved in the first place. In this scenario, Calvinism turns God into a rather cunning magician, wouldn’t you say?

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  140. Paul,

    It’s often hard to deduce motives from a thin slice of observed behavior, but I’ve been wondering “why so public?”, which I think is the same question you are asking.

    Again, it’s impossible to know, but if I were in his shoes, (from the little of his story that has been told), I might be a bit upset with the people whose expectations pushed me into the path that led to the present. That would include his father and especially CJ (for whom perhaps he felt pressured to cover?).

    A big public “in your eye” kind of statement might be a repudiation of the people as much as it is a repudiation of doctrines.

    But it’s impossible to know from the outside, and might even be deeply mysterious from the “inside.”

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  141. Law Prof,

    I have come increasingly to suspect that many lifelong ‘christians’ have never had an intimate relationship with God. I do not say that to be judgmental, nor would I dare to make such an assertion about any particular individual. But I cannot help but sadly suspect that it might be true of many. Many know so much about God, so much about doctrine, so much about rules . . . and so little about the gracious, patient, gentle love of God toward his weak, floundering children.

    I have come to question or throw out so much of what I once held to be important and unquestionable. But I can never forget the God who has walked along side me for almost sixty years, holding me up when I could not stand, comforting me when life seemed to hard to face and giving me the strength to take one more step until I found myself in a better place. There are simply no doctrines or systems that can replace who God truly is.

    One of my dear friend’s sons, and childhood friend of my own kids, has gone through a long journey seeking the real God. It has taken him to and through experiences that are disturbing and even life-threatening. My message to him is always, ‘Reject any religion or individual you find false, but don’t make the mistake of equating them with God’. I would say the same to Josh Harris: ‘Forget about everything you have ever been taught, seek God earnestly, and you will not be disappointed’.

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  142. Samuel Conner

    You might be right. If you are, and Harris is looking to publicly rebuke his father and Mahaney, what a sad situation! From what I know about narcissistic personality disorder, and IF Mahaney has this disorder, Mahaney’s spent less time thinking about Harris in the last 7 years than I have in the past 2 days and certainly won’t care about Harris’ posts except to see them as a small victory over one who abandoned him.
    Those posts tell me Harris wanted attention, from whom and why may be impossible to say, but he certainly got what he wanted in a general way.
    Even as I post this I feel as if he’s sucked me back in…

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  143. SiteSeer,

    “Josh Harris has definitely brought a lot of disagreement out among Christians, hasn’t he? Strong feelings on both sides and connecting to lots of other churchy issues.”
    ++++++++++++++

    yes — everything about this situation is causing the unique pain experienced by so many people to awaken & hum. people with history in christian church culture.

    the issue is one group of humans empowered to control other groups of humans in the name of God.

    it’s like a planet. the gravity of this planet is a source of tremendous pain for everyone orbiting it, if not unfortunate enough to still be walking on it. the planet is having tremors, and the pain is awakening in everyone, from excruciating to aching to unsettling.

    it’s a chaotic and crazy feeling at the moment.

    it shows me the enormity of destruction which christians are capable of in this sanitized so-called ‘modern age’, because of the propensity christian have to control with creating rules, rules, and more rules. it’s the default reflex. it’s just not the done thing to fight or guard against it.

    crimany, it needs to be the done thing.

    (i’m having too much trouble concentrating to go back and proof read… i hope this came out well)

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  144. Daisy: If you just trust in Christ (this sort of Christian marketing goes), then presto bingo, you will be granted meaning, purpose, and inner peace and joy at all times, and Jesus will remove your addictions (or whatever your problem is).

    I suspect that it is this ‘Magic Genie’ christianity that has left so many disappointed and feeling as if God failed them. I don’t know. Right now, life sorta sucks, and I don’t see it getting much better anytime soon. Yet, even when it gets so bad I just don’t want to go on, I can never totally give up hope. I truly believe there is a God, that he is good, and that the mess we are in right now is the result of sin and its destructive impact on all who are on this earth. Some of my messes are my own fault, and some are not.

    I think christianity has been selling the Magic Genie God for some time. Many of us have discovered that we can rub that God bottle till our hands are raw and no Genie ever comes to grant our wishes. Maybe we need to deconvert from christianity and its Magic Genie, and discover who God really is. It’s a long process, and I often find myself echoing David’s woeful psalms. Sometimes I can only say, ‘I feel like giving up, yet will I trust in Thee’. I’m sorry if that doesn’t help; just trying to share what I have experienced.

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  145. SiteSeer: It takes years to work through all of the issues when you re-examine your faith and your life. You can’t just suddenly come up with a statement that defines who you are and what you believe now, and it’s all re-settled and you live out this new perspective the rest of your life. It is a painful process that takes years. And if you once lived in the world of everything being certain and defined, you are reluctant to step back into that again. I can’t say that I have a clear “statement of faith” for my life at this point. I would be very reluctant to try to come up with one because it is in flux. All I can say for sure is, “God is love.” So many things I once believed have turned out to be wrong. I’m old and wise enough to realize my own definitions mean little, it is a process of discovery, learning who God is and how he operates.

    Amen, couldn’t agree more.

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  146. Thersites,

    “…It has been more profitable for us to bind together in the wrong direction than to be alone in the right one…”
    +++++++++++++

    interesting quote. in what sense has it been profitable? i’m wondering what his thoughts, or anyone’s thoughts, would be.

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  147. TS00,

    “I think christianity has been selling the Magic Genie God for some time. Many of us have discovered that we can rub that God bottle till our hands are raw and no Genie ever comes to grant our wishes. Maybe we need to deconvert from christianity and its Magic Genie, and discover who God really is.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    well, how else is an organization going to get people to come, thereby getting their donations?

    how else is an organization going to get people to come, period?

    there has to be some kind of hope.

    similar to getting up and out of bed in the morning — can’t do even that without hope.

    hope in what, though?

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  148. Law Prof,

    I think what started your argument that went ballistic is the basic atheistic argument that “because God allowed something very emotionally painful to happen to me, therefore God does not exist and people who claim that He does and talk about him positively in any way piss me off and it is all their fault!” This is a very common argument and no surprise that on a blog that criticizes “Christian” leaders for their blatant lying and hypocrisy that you find some people who do not call themselves Christians here and end up arguing some form of this kind of thing.

    This is not a logical argument, but an emotional one. My boss can do things to me very unpleasant but that does not prove that she does not exist. In fact the anger that is expressed in these cases does not make logical sense. How can you be angry at something that does not exist? I am not here to argue with someone using these arguments. They are actually very angry at what they call a non-existent God. It is not our fault that bad things happened, for we had no part in causing those things in the first place. And you are right that many people have experienced these things and their responses are all over the board. I too have been through hell and back and my faith has never been stronger.
    And I agree that there is a certain smugness that gets expressed when a person blames their anger on you or me when we had nothing to do with it in the first place.

    If someone acts enraged by a God that does not exist because this non-existent God did not stop some tragedy from happening to them I cannot help them. They are stuck inside there own contradiction of things they say that they believe.

    For Christians we have the book of Job, which is one of my favorites, which deals exactly with this very issue in the character of Job. I admire Job for refusing to “curse God and die” as it was suggested to him. His friends who God declared dead wrong were suggesting a host of ideas like the one I brought up. Everyone gets angry at God on occasion, I know I have. I have chosen not to stay there. Others choose the opposite. Their real problem is with God, from my perspective. The problem is pride when the clay wants to judge its maker.

    The reality is that this life is extremely temporal, I would call it a temporal anomaly. Nothing that happens here needs to be permanent. We believe that all the tears will be wiped away and all sorrow and pain will one day cease. According to the Scriptures, everything we have experience will one day soon be permanently forgotten and I would prefer to believe in that hope then to stay enraged at a God I tell others does not exist.

    This brings up my last point and that I have found in my exchanges on these watchblogs that most of the comments are of rather low quality because people just express their personal opinions AT each other while referencing nothing of a higher and more noble source. This is because, I guess, people either don’t esteem the Bible as any kind of higher reference or are very ignorant of what it actually says. I am glad that you referenced it when someone said something that is actually trash. This will not change the conversation with those here who do not believe in the God of the Bible, but it would sure greatly improve the comments of those here who claim that they do believe in this God. I see a lot of pride, honestly, expressed by “Christians” who claim that their own personal opinion is The Truth. My opinion is sure not The Truth, but I do recognize the authority of the scriptures and my need to bend my thinking to conform to it instead of trying to bend it to conform to my preferred way of thinking. If our highest source of reference is ourselves, as Christians, then we are truly the biggest fools on this planet…

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  149. elastigirl,

    I’ve never considered myself naive, but I think the Magic Genie theology suckered me in. I kinda secretly believed that I would be ‘safe’. My marriage wouldn’t fail. My kids wouldn’t reject the faith, or become alcoholics or sexually confused. And who knows what else – all subconsciously, mind you.

    Now, I’m just trying to live more honestly. To say, ‘Life sucks’, when it does. To admit that I am discouraged, afraid or very sad, and no amount of reciting bible verses seems to help. Today was such a beautiful day; I was walking, and the setting sun was so lovely, and I just found myself feeling so sad.

    Maybe I’m an idiot, a coward or a fool – or all three. But I’m just tired of day after day of thinking about people being abused, knowing that many are suffering hunger and oppression, of watching the fatcats grow fatter while people pass me by driving cars that are not even safe to drive.

    I just wished that I could simply enjoy a lovely day, smile at the moms pushing their babies and not have to go back to worrying about my daughter making a tragic marriage mistake or how guys like Epstein can get away with monstrous things for decades. I’m so tired of weeping like Jeremiah, and feeling scorned by the ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ christians in my life.

    There simply isn’t a Genie in my bottle anymore, and I’m concerned for those who will someday realize theirs is empty too.

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  150. elastigirl:
    Thersites,

    “…It has been more profitable for us to bind together in the wrong direction than to be alone in the right one…”
    +++++++++++++

    interesting quote.in what sense has it been profitable?i’m wondering what his thoughts, or anyone’s thoughts, would be.

    Hmm….my thoughts based on my own experiences is that many (most? all?) are looking for a feeling of security – safety. And those things are perceived to be founds in numbers. Conform to the group, gain protection from the group.

    From Tolkein’s ranger, Strider, to the hermit in the cave, from Elijah hiding in a cave to John the Baptist living in the desert; the group, whether religious or social, have always distrusted those outside the group. But sometimes, Truth can only be found in the desert places.

    It takes valuing truth over perceived security to break away from the group. I know people who are still involved in the cult I left who acknowledge that the place, the leaders, are wrong…but they are afraid to leave because they are afraid they won’t be safe, protected, covered.

    My thoughts, anyway…

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  151. Jeannette Altes: It takes valuing truth over perceived security to break away from the group. I know people who are still involved in the cult I left who acknowledge that the place, the leaders, are wrong…but they are afraid to leave because they are afraid they won’t be safe, protected, covered.

    And what if they are right? I mean, their sense of security is false, but is it better than feeling terribly alone? Sometimes I wonder . . .

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  152. TS00: And what if they are right? I mean, their sense of security is false, but is it better than feeling terribly alone? Sometimes I wonder . . .

    I can only speak for myself. For me, I would rather be alone and shunned and have truth than to embrace deception. That doesn’t mean I don’t have days or weeks (or even months) of wrestling with doubt and sadness, fighting depression. Maybe because I grew up in a family dynamic that was full of deception and false fronts, I now value truth above false security. Everyone’s mileage will surely vary… 😉

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  153. Daisy,

    Thanks for the link, Daisy. So, now I have read Mr Detwiler’s comments, and I’m with Julie Anne et al. Unless Brent knows something specific that I don’t – and that’s possible if he knows Joshua Harris personally – then his statements are not a good reason for Harris to come back in repentance.

    I haven’t read much of Brent’s stuff either, but from what little I know, these comments seem a bit out of character. Without wishing to derail the topic, do you (or emdy else here) agree?

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  154. TS00: I’ve never considered myself naive, but I think the Magic Genie theology suckered me in. I kinda secretly believed that I would be ‘safe’. My marriage wouldn’t fail. My kids wouldn’t reject the faith, or become alcoholics or sexually confused. And who knows what else – all subconsciously, mind you.

    Now we’re talking. Early in my foray into evangelical Christian Bible studies, the teacher — referring to James and the “count it all joy” approach to various trials — said something that stuck with me: if someone told you that becoming a Christian was going to be easy and make dealing with every problem easy, they lied to you. From there, other reality checks within Scripture and avoidance of proof texting proved helpful on the matter.

    In the case of Harris, from what people have shared, it appears that SGM teaching as well as his evidently lucrative formulas encapsulated in book form might not have been spot on in major ways, from doctrine to practice. The same could be said for the the Pharisees and Sadduccees (blind leading blind, their teachings making converts worse).

    My focus remains accountability, which is still relevant regardless of current faith profession. You can’t get paid big money for years as a professed Christian leader and teacher/mass marketer of Christian truth and doctrine and then define the terms of the “grace” you would cede to yourself by mumbling some words of regret and asking for and/or demanding tender mercies.

    All of this focus on the propriety of discussing “was he/wasn’t he” has taken the matter far afield from what is a baseline matter, which is accountability and a focus on those affected financially and spiritually as a result of the failings of a purported Christian leader/teachings who went huge on the $$$ and the “listen to me” side. The last part is key, as we need to be done with the massive error with massive financial reward and sway on people’s lives that can be skated by with an oopsie ‘cuz grace and personal reflection/crisis of the oopsier.

    No matter the spiritual state of Harris, he took a position of authority and was apparently well-compensated in doing so. Did a word come up from him connected with regret about the financial aspect of his long-term endeavors, or about restoring any of those in the form of a victim fund or just straight back to the congregation who supported his ministry (sic)? I must have missed that. Even in his deconstructed state, actual repentance/restoration/reconciliation of the type to which he alluded — even if on a personal ‘do the right thing’ level — should not be separated from that.

    If you want to talk about abuse, think of how many people who gave and gave in one form or another carry that subsidy of Harris and Harris Inc. as a burden, and think how much healing could happen if actions met words. Or, people can let him set terms as he sees fit, let himself get cast as the victim — which has permeated each thread on him to a growing and alarming degree — and expect the same pattern to emerge as part of the toolbox of the authoritarians when crisis time comes. As has been mentioned, first things need to remain first things, and holding to account those perpetrating error and abuses (spiritual, physical, financial, authoritarian, and otherwise) qualifies.

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  155. TS00: I think christianity has been selling the Magic Genie God for some time. Many of us have discovered that we can rub that God bottle till our hands are raw and no Genie ever comes to grant our wishes. Maybe we need to deconvert from christianity and its Magic Genie, and discover who God really is. It’s a long process, and I often find myself echoing David’s woeful psalms. Sometimes I can only say, ‘I feel like giving up, yet will I trust in Thee’. I’m sorry if that doesn’t help; just trying to share what I have experienced.

    Well put.

    There are Gethsemane-like experiences for which there are no words of comfort.

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  156. Andrew: didn’t Carl run deep in those circles?

    Carl Trueman, Kevin DeYoung, & Ray Ortlund were brought in to evaluate Mahaney’s fitness for leadership in 2011 based on whatever sins he had confessed to at the time. (Their evaluation was prominently posted at the SGM website for years afterward as further evidence against Mahaney mounted)

    https://web.archive.org/web/20160728102104/https://www.sovereigngrace.com/sovereign-grace-blog/post/findings-from-our-preliminary-panel

    “We do not believe C.J. Mahaney’s confessed sins have disqualified him from Christian ministry. Or to put it positively, from all that we have seen, heard, and read, we believe C.J. Mahaney is, at this moment in time and based on those sins which he has acknowledged, still fit to be a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ and a pastor to others.” — Kevin DeYoung, Ray Ortlund, Carl Trueman

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  157. roebuck,

    I think an honest reflection back to someone who feels themselves misinterpreted is a useful thing. Law Prof meant well – he always does – but didn’t come across well here imo. What he later went on to tell us about life was much more helpful, imo, & gave a different impression of his earlier words.

    I too have had times when I feel that God has not met either my wants, nor my needs, in a huge glaring way, also around the death of my Mother from cancer. My comment was not meant to stir things up, but to cause reflection. Normally I think truly hurting people feel a bit more heard here, than Daisy did in this case,& I would have, had this been a reply to me. Imo.

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  158. Jerome: “We do not believe C.J. Mahaney’s confessed sins have disqualified him from Christian ministry. Or to put it positively, from all that we have seen, heard, and read, we believe C.J. Mahaney is, at this moment in time and based on those sins which he has acknowledged, still fit to be a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ and a pastor to others.” — Kevin DeYoung, Ray Ortlund, Carl Trueman

    I was surprised at the mildness of Trueman’s description of the downfall of some of the YRR celebrities

    https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2019/07/kissing-christianity-goodbye

    his “fallen from favor” is understated and anodyne; “disgraced” is closer to the reality, IMO.

    Maybe even quasi-“inside” critics of the YRR are worried to protect the brand?

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  159. JDV,

    Well said.
    One of the underlying themes that seems to come out after exposing and standing up for the abused, is the lack of real accountability of the leaders and true restitution … I do understand how these “ leaders” live with themselves…. preaching such “extreme positions”, and then not living it themselves…

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  160. Samuel Conner: I’ve been wondering “why so public?”

    The public part began with an announcement of separation. Maybe they no longer wanted to live under the same roof, and could not do that without significant attention.

    I’m not sure even Joshua Harris anticipated this much public fascination. People are taking his story as an opportunity to tell their own. Folks have moved quickly to catharsis.

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  161. Darlene: … evanescent grace … How do they know if God might actually be fooling them, and that one day he will withdrawal that grace from them, proving they were never really saved in the first place …

    It is the unspoken 6th point of Calvinism … it is the “S” in TULIPS … “Surprise!”

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  162. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: And at this point in my life, not only am I not going to put up with that nonsense, but I will tell people flatly that if their god can only get people to be part of his group through the threats of eternal damnation and/or hellfire, well, then I’d rather not. In fact, if you have to use threats of eternal punishment to coerce people to some sort of “faith” in Jesus, then you’re doing it wrong, IMHO.

    Yeah, Brent stepped on my last nerve.

    I am very serious about what I am about to say. If their god is the God-I want no part and will assume I am not one of the elect and therefore I will go to Hell. The God I believe in is a God love and I take John 3:16 as it says-Whosoever without any conditions.

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  163. Jerome: Carl Trueman, Kevin DeYoung, & Ray Ortlund were brought in to evaluate Mahaney’s fitness for leadership …

    Not exactly an unbiased jury. Of course, all they had to work on was Mahaney’s “confessed” sins. Perhaps Trueman’s piece on Harris is a chance to redeem himself a bit from the SGM mess. I found his assessment to be on target regarding the YRR/New Calvinist culture which produces stars whose flickers are soon extinguished.

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  164. Paul: Those posts tell me Harris wanted attention, from whom and why may be impossible to say, but he certainly got what he wanted in a general way.

    Some people live their lives as the persona on the stage.

    Maybe he’s setting up to be an Instagram “influencer” (gag)

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  165. Nick Bulbeck: I have read Mr Detwiler’s comments

    Detwiler writes that Joshua Harris “has decided to renounce Jesus Christ as the only Savior of the world and he plans to propagate his unbelief and false doctrine at large which amounts to an attack on biblical Christianity. Joshua has become a Judas. He has betrayed the One who loved him and gave up his life for him.”

    So much here. This little statement condemns all non-Christians, including Jews, and most lifelong believers as well. I could not pass this litmus test, given that Christianity has to be “biblical,” and that is bound to be a narrow definition. The guilt trip about the Crucifixion is a nice touch, given Jesus’ great fondness for Thomas who doubted.

    A person cannot say my marriage and faith have broken down, and I’m sorry I was wrong about so many things. Certain Christians have to hear that as ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK.

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  166. Jeannette Altes: I can only speak for myself. For me, I would rather be alone and shunned and have truth than to embrace deception. That doesn’t mean I don’t have days or weeks (or even months) of wrestling with doubt and sadness, fighting depression. Maybe because I grew up in a family dynamic that was full of deception and false fronts, I now value truth above false security.

    I feel the same way. My dad was a compulsive liar and gaslighter. It was crippling to grow up with and I want no more of it in my life. It gets lonely but I just can’t play the game to fit in. I saw an interesting cartoon – https://static.boredpanda.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/comics-candy-hearts-tommy-siegel-coverimage2.jpg

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  167. SiteSeer: Maybe he’s setting up to be an Instagram “influencer” (gag)

    I saw a photo of an influencer wearing a leather fanny pack off the shoulder, like a sash/holster combo, to his own wedding. He sells fanny packs, although I’m sure that is coincidental.

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  168. SiteSeer:
    Maybe he’s setting up to be an Instagram “influencer” (gag)

    I don’t follow him on instagram but man, everybody has an instagram so it doesn’t seem odd to me.

    BTW, thank you so much for your expression of sympathy last night. I appreciate it.

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  169. Friend: Detwiler writes that Joshua Harris “has decided to renounce Jesus Christ as the only Savior of the world and he plans to propagate his unbelief and false doctrine at large which amounts to an attack on biblical Christianity. Joshua has become a Judas. He has betrayed the One who loved him and gave up his life for him.”

    I didn’t know about Detwiler’s comments until it was posted here, but in this he sounds just like what he condemns in CLC.

    I admire that he has stood up to the abuse at CLC, but these are the exact kinds of things church abusers say.

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  170. Nick Bulbeck: I haven’t read much of Brent’s stuff either, but from what little I know, these comments seem a bit out of character. Without wishing to derail the topic, do you (or emdy else here) agree?

    I’ve only read some of his articles about SGM, which seemed like a lot of factual details he had kept track of, so I don’t know if it’s out of character or not but it sure seems extreme. Unless he knows more about Josh’s plans than Josh has made public at this stage?

    But I still think it is unwarranted. Just because someone no longer sees the tradition he embraces as “the” one true way Christianity has to be done, does not automatically mean they are now an enemy of God and are trampling him under foot.

    I seem to remember that even among the SGM survivors, some of the people were still pretty legalistic, though, if I’m remembering right. (It’s been awhile, I might be getting them mixed up with another survivor’s group.)

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  171. Friend: A person cannot say my marriage and faith have broken down, and I’m sorry I was wrong about so many things. Certain Christians have to hear that as ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK.

    Because they are letting the cat out of the bag: christianity does not insulate anyone from trials, questions or failure. When this reality sinks in the individual is left with the choice of living in denial or becoming an apostate.

    Not sure about his public airing. I don’t follow the celebrities, so I didn’t even know he was a pastor of a Mega Church until he no longer was. I had not heard of most of the Big Dogs until learning about them from this blog. I had always assumed Harris slunk into the obscurity he deserved after his big flame with IKDG, but I suppose he has ‘fans’ to whom he feels some sense of responsibility?

    Detwiler is tough to figure out. He’s big against Mahaney, yet has never, to my understanding, owned up to his own role in the abusive culture of SGM. I have never read of him denouncing the abusive authoritarianism which he practiced for years alongside Mahaney.

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  172. TS00,

    Seems like as these guys flame out they still try to pretend it’s simply another guy’s bad, rather than institutional failure. They will never admit that their theology and authoritarianism is the root of the problem.

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  173. ishy: Detwiler’s comments

    Unresolved SGM/Mahaney stress mostly likely. I have a touch of that myself with a local church and their leadership. The hair on the back of my neck and my blood pressure go up when I think about them.

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  174. Samuel Conner,

    “I was surprised at the mildness of Trueman’s description of the downfall of some of the YRR celebrities”
    +++++++++++++

    i haven’t read his article yet. but perhaps it’s tempered by past experience with what i interpret as threats from influential others. The following is from an article he wrote few years ago, when ESS proponents were ‘fighting dirty’ for their golden calf:

    http://www.alliancenet.org/mos/postcards-from-palookaville/in-the-end-it-all-comes-down-to-this#.XUGn3ehKhPZ

    “The Big Eva world is indeed run as the personal fiefdom of a few, even if many of those decent people involved on the various mastheads are unaware of this. But cross those few, or touch their dogmatic golden calves, and you can expect the fight back to be dirty, relentless, increasingly dangerous, and by and large hidden from the watching world – the world, that is, that funds evangelicalism on the assumption that hard-earned donations go to spreading the gospel, not building personal platforms and nixing the dissidents…

    …When Todd told me of the vicious attacks he was receiving yesterday, I was shocked to know the name of the person involved. But then again I was not shocked at all — such vile attacks are part of the culture…”

    http://www.alliancenet.org/mos/postcards-from-palookaville/in-the-end-it-all-comes-down-to-this#.XUGn3ehKhPZ

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  175. TS00,

    One gets the sense from Detwiler’s writings that the problems of SGM were related to bad personnel, not a fundamentally flawed ministry culture (a culture created by bad personnel, to be sure).

    If I were a prominent figure, I’m sure he’d attack me too, as my present views on the meaning of the NT do not come up to his standards of orthodoxy.

    So many enemies.

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  176. Samuel Conner: One gets the sense from Detwiler’s writings that the problems of SGM were related to bad personnel, not a fundamentally flawed ministry culture

    Well, if that’s the case, he should be seriously evaluating that position … considering all the darlings from that culture who have fallen: Driscoll, Mahaney, MacDonald, Harris, etc. There are some serious systemic issues within New Calvinism (and related side-chutes) which produce questionable leadership. We shouldn’t all stand with our mouths open in amazement when they slip and fall.

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  177. Harris’ statement ends with an intentional and longer statement to the LGBTQ community. I find it a little interesting given his prior mention of LGBTQ in a list of people hurt or offended. I am wondering if something LGBTQ has hit close to home.

    As for his involvement in a cover up, I think adults should be held responsible to do the legal and moral thing. But I think that one’s view of the right thing to do can be clouded if you grew up in an extremely controlled, cult-like environment, no matter your age. If it’s all you’ve known, it doesn’t matter if you are 15 or 45.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do think there was a kind of “protect the tribe at all costs” type of thinking that is sickening. But when one views the Group’s teaching as God’s message, then protecting the Group becomes more important to anything else. When people are brain washed and not allowed to think for themselves it creates an inability to use sound judgment and do the right thing. Not trying to excuse his actions or lack of actions, but when you grow up in a bunch of craycray nonsense, you don’t see what everyone else sees and your view and right and wrong can be really off.

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  178. JDV: If you want to talk about abuse, think of how many people who gave and gave in one form or another carry that subsidy of Harris and Harris Inc. as a burden, and think how much healing could happen if actions met words. Or, people can let him set terms as he sees fit, let himself get cast as the victim — which has permeated each thread on him to a growing and alarming degree — and expect the same pattern to emerge as part of the toolbox of the authoritarians when crisis time comes. As has been mentioned, first things need to remain first things, and holding to account those perpetrating error and abuses (spiritual, physical, financial, authoritarian, and otherwise) qualifies.

    Amen to all that. Actual repentance from greed and abusing sheep, including the cover-ups this post is about is the bottom line. Not how many likes he can get on a social media site.

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  179. SiteSeer: Jerome, Has Carl Trueman spoken about that or offered any apology himself since more truth about Mahaney has come out?

    His friend Todd Pruitt responded on TWW circa 2016 after they’d made some criticisms without naming names on their Mortification of Spin podcast, that was interpreted as being directed at Mahaney, who was making his triumphant return to T4G that year:

    A commenter had asked:

    “So I’m assuming, here, that Carl Trueman is taking back his previous support of CJ being cleared and fit for a return to ministry?”

    Todd Pruitt posted: http://thewartburgwatch.com/2016/04/20/mortification-of-spin-hosts-discuss-abusive-pulpits-on-bully-pulpit-broadcast/#comment-248956

    “I am going to speak up for my friend Carl because he will not do it.”

    “please stop repeating the lie that somehow Carl Trueman found CJ Mahaney, SGM, and CLC shining exmaples [sic] of personal and institutional health”

    “You must remember the limited scope of Carl’s work with SGM. He was asked to, along with several others to review the hundreds of pages of documents that had been dumped into the public record. Please remember that this was BEFORE any of us knew about allegations of covering up child sexual abuse. The finding of that committee is that those documents did not reveal anything that was necessarily disqualifying for ministry.”
    _____
    Despite pleas, that was about as much as we got despite some back and forth with Todd continuing in the comments.

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  180. You missed this from Carl Trueman’s post mentioned multiple times in the thread here: “On Friday the news broke that The Village Church, home of YRR megastar Matt Chandler, is being sued over alleged mishandling of sexual abuse.” That is news that is very relevant to this blog, I would think.

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  181. Max: There are some serious systemic issues within New Calvinism (and related side-chutes) which produce questionable leadership.

    re: “produce”

    also: “encourage”, “facilitate”, “elevate”, “promote.”

    I think that would-be “lord it over the flock” leaders are numerous; there are more of them in the general population than there are flocks to lord over. Roughly 4% of the population has sociopathic traits, according to the psychologists (this number is asserted in Martha Stout’s “The Sociopath Next Door”, a worthwhile read). It has been suggested that “church officer” has become a preferred vocation would-be predators. It surely is a preferred vocation for narcissists. The ministry culture both attracts and encourages people with personality traits that IMO ought to be considered disqualifying for ministry. That is surely a bad thing.

    I interpret it to be an instance of the Romans 1 “under the sun” wrath of God. That does sometimes come against His own people. I think it’s happening in our day.

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  182. Max: It is the unspoken 6th point of Calvinism … it is the “S” in TULIPS … “Surprise!”

    That is a great addition to the acronym. I had been calling it the silent point because Calvinists don’t talk about it. But “surprise” is much better. To explain deconversions like the one discussed in this post, I would think that Calvinists wouls want to be less silent on this point. The answer has been there for them all along.

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  183. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Just as there’s no way of knowing that a life-long unbeliever on his death-bed will not, in God’s mercy, come to a never-visibly-articulated but genuinely saving faith in his last moments, there’s no way of knowing that, in God’s reprobative wrath, a self-conceived and visibly seemingly life-long persevering believer will not lose faith in his last earthly moments, so that lifelong perseverance is not a guarantee of regenerate status. Try as one may, one cannot with certainty make one’s calling and election sure with the kind of confidence that people want.

    I really don’t think they can deploy this interpretation of apostasy; it’s too destabilizing for the rest of the flock.

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  184. Samuel Conner: Just as there’s no way of knowing that a life-long unbeliever on his death-bed will not, in God’s mercy, come to a never-visibly-articulated but genuinely saving faith in his last moments, there’s no way of knowing that, in God’s reprobative wrath, a self-conceived and visibly seemingly life-long persevering believer will not lose faith in his last earthly moments, so that lifelong perseverance is not a guarantee of regenerate status.

    I really don’t think it’s about theology anyway. They want to gatekeep who gets into heaven themselves. They use their theology when it fits, but pretend the uncomfortable parts don’t exist because they don’t really believe most of it anyway.

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  185. Oops, nouthetic ‘counseling’ bigwig Heath Lambert realizes his book ‘Finally Free: Fighting for Purity’ has Joshua Harris’s name on its cover:

    https://baptistnews.com/article/southern-baptist-author-removes-foreword-by-joshua-harris-from-his-book/#.XUHKKPJKjbM

    “[Lambert has] asked Zondervan to remove the foreword from future publications of the book…’Of course, there is nothing that can be done about copies that have already been published’…he said.”

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  186. Lea:

    The trailer was interesting. Josh really does look like a baby to me in it! Highlights how very young he was.

    Dee: ““We just didn’t have the training.”
    If Josh was a kid in high school, Id give him a break. However, he was in his 30s (b.1974) when this stuff was happening. ”

    True, and I see that as a different issue than the IKDG stuff. However what WAS Josh’s education at that point beyond what his parents taught him and what CJ taught him.

    I think there’s a good case for saying Josh Harris suffers from stunted growth. He was protected in the Christian Fundamentalist bubble for approximately 40 years. Imagine what that can do to a person’s thinking processes.

    Having once been a member of a insular, rigid Christian cult, I have first-hand experience the kind of brainwashing that is involved. And I was only in that group for 6 years. But it took at least two decades to shed the cult baggage. Now, think about what it must be like to be in such a rigid, mind-controlling community for 40 years. Josh Harris has a lot toxic thinking to shed.

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  187. Jerome:
    Oops, nouthetic ‘counseling’ bigwig Heath Lambert realizes his book ‘Finally Free: Fighting for Purity’ has Joshua Harris’s name on its cover:

    https://baptistnews.com/article/southern-baptist-author-removes-foreword-by-joshua-harris-from-his-book/#.XUHKKPJKjbM

    “[Lambert has] asked Zondervan to remove the foreword from future publications of the book…’Of course, there is nothing that can be done about copies that have already been published’…he said.”

    Josh Harris is being Erased.
    As of now, Josh Harris Never Existed.
    doubleplusunperson.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_of_images_in_the_Soviet_Union#/media/File:Lenin's_speech.jpg

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  188. ishy: I really don’t think it’s about theology anyway. They want to gatekeep who gets into heaven themselves.

    What would God ever do without REVEREND Grima Wormtongue at His right hand on J-Day, whispering in His ear who is REALLY Saved and who is not?

    “ME SHEEP! HIM GOAT! HIM GOAT! HIM GOAT! HIM GOAT! HIM GOAT! HIM GOAT! HIM GOAT! …”

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  189. Jerome:
    Oops, nouthetic ‘counseling’ bigwig Heath Lambert realizes his book ‘Finally Free: Fighting for Purity’ has Joshua Harris’s name on its cover:

    https://baptistnews.com/article/southern-baptist-author-removes-foreword-by-joshua-harris-from-his-book/#.XUHKKPJKjbM

    “[Lambert has] asked Zondervan to remove the foreword from future publications of the book…’Of course, there is nothing that can be done about copies that have already been published’…he said.”

    Jerome:
    Oops, nouthetic ‘counseling’ bigwig Heath Lambert realizes his book ‘Finally Free: Fighting for Purity’ has Joshua Harris’s name on its cover:

    https://baptistnews.com/article/southern-baptist-author-removes-foreword-by-joshua-harris-from-his-book/#.XUHKKPJKjbM

    “[Lambert has] asked Zondervan to remove the foreword from future publications of the book…’Of course, there is nothing that can be done about copies that have already been published’…he said.”

    Jerome:
    Oops, nouthetic ‘counseling’ bigwig Heath Lambert realizes his book ‘Finally Free: Fighting for Purity’ has Joshua Harris’s name on its cover:

    https://baptistnews.com/article/southern-baptist-author-removes-foreword-by-joshua-harris-from-his-book/#.XUHKKPJKjbM

    “[Lambert has] asked Zondervan to remove the foreword from future publications of the book…’Of course, there is nothing that can be done about copies that have already been published’…he said.”

    Should not be, but I am always amazed by blogs that do not allow comments like Lambert’s.

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  190. Jerome:
    Oops, nouthetic ‘counseling’ bigwig Heath Lambert realizes his book ‘Finally Free: Fighting for Purity’ has Joshua Harris’s name on its cover:

    https://baptistnews.com/article/southern-baptist-author-removes-foreword-by-joshua-harris-from-his-book/#.XUHKKPJKjbM

    “[Lambert has] asked Zondervan to remove the foreword from future publications of the book…’Of course, there is nothing that can be done about copies that have already been published’…he said.”

    Should not be, but I am always amazed by Blogs that do not allow a comment like-Lambert’s.

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  191. Jerome:
    Oops, nouthetic ‘counseling’ bigwig Heath Lambert realizes his book ‘Finally Free: Fighting for Purity’ has Joshua Harris’s name on its cover:

    https://baptistnews.com/article/southern-baptist-author-removes-foreword-by-joshua-harris-from-his-book/#.XUHKKPJKjbM

    “[Lambert has] asked Zondervan to remove the foreword from future publications of the book…’Of course, there is nothing that can be done about copies that have already been published’…he said.”

    Pay no attention true that Josh Ha…, I mean man behind the curtain. I have no idea who he is but he isn’t connected to mybook!

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  192. Ken F (aka Tweed): That is a great addition to the acronym. I had been calling it the silent point because Calvinists don’t talk about it. But “surprise” is much better. To explain deconversions like the one discussed in this post, I would think that Calvinists wouls want to be less silent on this point. The answer has been there for them all along.

    Yes, the answer has been there for them all along. But for some it is to horrific to accept. So cognitive dissonance sets in. When one has bought into a certain religious system that has these kind of implications, it takes a lot of struggling and clogging of the ears and eyes to maintain it.

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  193. Darlene: I think there’s a good case for saying Josh Harris suffers from stunted growth. He was protected in the Christian Fundamentalist bubble for approximately 40 years. Imagine what that can do to a person’s thinking processes.

    Arrested Development. Very plausible. I’ve been there myself.

    And his upbringing (inside the Christianese Bubble from birth plus Famous Father Syndrome) would amplify it. A lot of Christian Leaders(TM) are that way already, and with them as role models and examples…

    Given it’s been encouraged for 40 years, Josh might never fully recover. I only had to grow up from emotional age 6 to 20 overnight; how much more catching up would he have to do? His marriage is already a casualty; how much more damage (to himself and others) will there be in the process?

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  194. So many rich nuggets here…it’s hard to absorb them all. Thanks, Max, Darlene, Samuel Conner, KenF, et al. I agree with so much that you’re saying!

    Yes, indeed, only Jesus knows the human heart. I believe with all my heart that He relentlessly pursues every single human being up to the very nanosecond of death. I believe there are a lot of deathbed conversions that *no one* knows anything about except Jesus. I believe — and this is based on actual evidence — that He “speaks” to dying, comatose patients, when it seems they are beyond any sort of comprehension or communication…but *He* can get through to them. I believe there will be a lot of surprises in Heaven!

    And I think Brent Detwiler needs to stop making assumptions about other people’s souls. Good grief!

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  195. Stan: And it definitely continued to affirm traditional Christian ideas about sexuality.

    The more I age, the more I realise that God IS traditional Christian ideas about sexuality. God is utterly, absolutely, eternally consumed with sex. Nothing, but nothing, but NOTHING else matters to Him. Nothing. God will sacrifice everything and anything in his infinite burning passion to glorify the hatred of incorrect sex.

    “Heaven”, as it is commonly known, will be a perfect celebration of nothing but sex between a man and a woman who are married to each other. Who knows? but God may arrange for every kind of injustice to be celebrated too – trillions of children may be abused, trillions of humans may be eternally starving, trillions of impoverished beings may be oppressed, but the Elect will glorify God anyway because these trivial things will merely be a demonstration of how God treasures traditional Christian sexuality.

    I suppose it’s possible that someone could fail the Ultimate Test if they embrace something that, if taken out of context, could be made to resemble Justification By Works. But as long as they then affirm that it is only through The Doctrines Of Grace that they affirm traditional Christian sexuality, they will be Saved.

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  196. Headless Unicorn Guy:

    Now that things are hitting the fan, I would expect a one-eighty flip to get as far away from his previous culture as possible. Such wild swings are common when spiritual abuse cases boil over; in a best-case scenario (like Eagle & me), the swings back-and-forth should damp out over the next few years, eventually stabilizing somewhere in the middle.In a worst-case, he transfers a Fundamentalist personality to the other extreme polarity and gets stuck there.

    A large swath of people who left my former Christian cult threw off all restraint and went wild. Eventually, when they worked through all of their frustration and anger they became more stable.

    When one has lived in a controlled environment where everything you do and say is judged by one’s peers, AND the strict standards are such that they set one up for failure, at some point you are going to snap. These kind of fundamentalist communities are akin to living in a pressure cooker. There comes a point when the only way to gain one’s sanity is to escape.

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  197. Darlene: A large swath of people who left my former Christian cult threw off all restraint and went wild.

    The kids in high school who’s parents were overly strict were always the ones who went wild, imo.

    I personally always wished I’d gone a little *more* wild but it doesn’t seem to be in my personality alas. Even when I take risks, I overthink them first lol.

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  198. SiteSeer:

    The bottom line is that things happen to people. We can explain it as a yes or no answer to prayer, we come up with all sorts of creative “reasons” why God brought devastation instead of blessing, but when you zoom out from your situation, you realize nothing different is happening to praying Christians than is happening to everyone else.

    I don’t think the issue is so much what happens to Christians. As you have noted, Christians experience the same problems as non-Christians. Rather, I think it is how we respond to those things that happen to us that are of greater importance. Even so, the journey toward emotional, mental, psychological, and spiritual well-being is a lifelong process.

    My $0.02 for what it’s worth. 🙂

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  199. Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    Greetings! Blessings in Christ. I don’t think I understand you here. You seem to be advocating for a broad inclusive Christianity. Do I understand you correctly? If so how are you going to reconcile that with Catholic doctrine, that you must be a Catholic to be saved? I am just misunderstanding what you have said here?

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  200. Nick Bulbeck,

    This. Is. Spot. On.

    John MacArthur has to be one of the most ugly conservative pastors toward the LGBTQ community, telling parents to completely reject their adult children who are gay. Telling them to “turn them over to the devil” (yes, he really said this). He sincerely believes this is fighting for what God holds dear, and against perversion.

    Meanwhile, his son in law gets paid on average 700K a year for editing his sermons. This has gone on almost a decade and involves millions of dollars. No explanation has been offered. And it doesn’t matter how many employees worked on the editing in the son in law’s company because there’s a finite number of hours this should take. It doesn’t add up, not even close. If it’s all innocent, no one is explaining, which starts to speak for itself.

    If this is what it looks like, it is deceit in the name of Christ and a form of theft. I guess MacArthur feels he’s all good because he upheld the right kind of sex and embraced a traditional family.

    Let’s obsess over what those heathens do, even though two guys being married isn’t abusive. It is apparently okay to make your family well off on the backs of others who gave in trust. And then there’s all the sex abuse Christians cover up …but, hey, we’re all good because we oppose gay marriage.

    I’m really not trying to stir things up among people on this forum who have likely different views on gay marriage. What I find offensive is hypocrisy and the difference making. We are all sinners, but not all of us are abusers and I wish more Christians could see this.

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  201. Samuel Conner: The ministry culture both attracts and encourages people with personality traits that IMO ought to be considered disqualifying for ministry. That is surely a bad thing.

    Yes, the trusting atmosphere of a church is an easy place for powermongers and perverts to take up residence.

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  202. Daisy: I agreed with the whole of your post but just wanted to reference those parts of it.

    I wrote my own views and concerns about how the Christian community has been reacting to Josh Harris’ deconversion (or whatever it is) on my own blog
    (and I don’t totally agree with Dee’s approach, which I discuss on my blog here):

    Deconstruction, Deconversion, Joshua Harris, and the Awful Christian Reaction
    https://missdaisyflower.wordpress.com/2019/07/29/deconstruction-deconversion-joshua-harris-and-the-awful-christian-reaction/

    The overall Christian response to Harris has, for me (from what I’ve seen on blogs and on Twitter), run the gamut from disappointing to horrifying to disgusting (depending on who we’re talking about, and the specifics).

    Many Christians are really uncomfortable and even hostile towards someone who steps away from the faith.

    Many Christians seem to dislike an Ex-Christian more than they do the pagan guy or atheist who’s never been converted in the first place, and I find that so bizarre and sad.

    I think the cruel and caustic remarks from Christians against Josh Harris stems from them thinking it is bad p.r. for their particular brand, in this case Calvinism. I also believe they are worried that others in the same camp might begin to question their religious beliefs. In fact, I have observed this reaction within the Calvinist Facebook group where I am a member. One person actually started a post asking: How do I know I won’t become like Josh Harris? #rethinkingcalvinism

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  203. Darlene: I think the cruel and caustic remarks from Christians against Josh Harris stems from them thinking it is bad p.r. for their particular brand, in this case Calvinism.

    Exactly. When a prominent New Calvinist leader falls (Driscoll, Mahaney, MacDonald, Harris, etc.), the whole brand comes under more scrutiny. If the new reformers want to avoid this, they need to be more careful about who they elevate to star status.

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  204. How utterly sad this post has made me. Joshua seems to be one of the casualties of the SGM and the Neo-cal leaders embracing of C.J. Mahaney and his hoodwinking. The crisis of faith doesn’t end with Joshua. Instead of condemning C.J. Mahaney when they knew there were many, many problems in what he taught and his views on himself being an “Apostle” they overlooked it all and embraced and defended C.J. Mahaney. Why? We are only left to speculate. But the fact that there was a large amount of money to be made was more than likely a factor. I grieve for Joshua and many, many others who find themselves questioning their Christianity. The whole tale of SGM and C.J. Mahaney is tragic. Heartbreaking to the extreme. I am thankful for those whe stood up and pointed out the problems and would not back down like Dee and Deb. You were very courageous. Thank you!

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  205. Jeannette Altes: I know people who are still involved in the cult I left who acknowledge that the place, the leaders, are wrong…but they are afraid to leave because they are afraid they won’t be safe, protected, covered.

    My thoughts, anyway…

    But where does God ever say this to anyone? He never says to trust in the group over Him. Never.

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  206. Darlene: I think the cruel and caustic remarks from Christians against Josh Harris stems from them thinking it is bad p.r. for their particular brand, in this case Calvinism.

    The traditional Baptists and fundamentalists loved IKDG. They made me read it 3 times at Liberty. But they all have legalism in common.

    Some of the New Cals I’ve seen commenting on it don’t realize IKDG was written before PDI’s conversion to “Sovereign Grace” and New Calvinism, though. They were still fairly charismatic prosperity gospelish then.

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  207. Nick Bulbeck: I haven’t read much of Brent’s stuff either, but from what little I know, these comments seem a bit out of character. Without wishing to derail the topic, do you (or emdy else here) agree?

    No, his comments are not out of character. Brent had been part of the wacky leaders at SGM since early on. There were many people that had problems with Brent’s dealing with underlings. Many people were hurt by him. After CJ was out, mainly because of Brent’s exposure, Brent switched his writings to the child abuse issues in SGM. Many people give Brent a pass on his involvement with the leadership problems at SGM, but he is as much to blame for the abusive structure at SGM as anyone. He is a very black/white person in his thinking. Reading his writings on CJ and SGM reveals this quite well.

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  208. Ken A:
    Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    Greetings! Blessings in Christ. I don’t think I understand you here. You seem to be advocating for a broad inclusive Christianity. Do I understand you correctly? If so how are you going to reconcile that with Catholic doctrine, that you must be a Catholic to be saved? I am just misunderstanding what you have said here?

    Ken A, I’m not sure what particular comment you are responding to that Catholic Gatecrasher made. However, this much I can say having read and commented on this blog for many years now, the majority of folks here don’t take kindly to patronising Catholics with the insinuation that Catholics are not *saved*. Not 100% sure that is where you’re coming from, but I guess you could say I’m heading it off at the pass.

    People of all stripes and various religious and philosophical beliefs are welcome to comment here. Of course with the exception that anyone would support and promote abuse of any kind. And this is what I like about TWW, the endeavor to treat everyone respectfully and with dignity even>/i> when we disagree. Treating our neighbor as we would want to be treated.

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  209. ishy: The traditional Baptists and fundamentalists loved IKDG. They made me read it 3 times at Liberty. But they all have legalism in common.

    Oh yes, I agree with you. Strict fundamentalism exists across the spectrum.

    I specifically commented about the Calvinist brand, because so far, from what I have observed and read, it seems to be the Calvinists that are most oytspoken against Josh Harris.

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  210. Connect the Dots,

    Read the top of my post. The victims of Harris, Mahaney and gang are my number one concern. If you read this blog, I always stress that so it is hardly *click baity.* It is what I do, day in and day out.

    Connect the Dots: Are you angling for an interview with him?

    You really don’t understand what I do. I rarely interview anyone except for victims of abuse.Frankly, they are more important to me since, unlike Harris, their voices are never heard.

    You also show no concern for the victims from his ministry which speaks volumes to me about your perspective.

    Stick to one name in the comment section, BTW. It is interesting for me to go back and see the trajectories of comments from an individual. I bet that’s why you pst under different names.

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  211. Darlene,

    Hi Darlene, I thought he was saying the opposite, that Catholics think they are the only ones saved? Which is probably equally problematic, but I will never confess to be an expert on Catholicism having only been to mass twice ever.

    Ishy/Darlene, I always focusing on calvinism is misguided when dealing with things like purity culture and patriarchy, which are more on the ‘conservative christian/fundamentalist’ ends of the spectrum and do not line up in any specific way with reformed doctrine broadly.

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  212. I have never heard any detailed account of the Mahaney/Frisbee link. The only mention I know of was Frisbee’s biography. He was not a detail person, so I found his telling to be vague.

    My question centers of any passing of the spirit of Lonnie Frisbee, to Mahaney. Frisbee mentions a spiritual event, but leaves out dates and details.

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  213. Connect the Dots: Mod [responding to “Connect the Dots]: Please pick a name and stick with it. You have also commented as A season of seasons, See baby not bathwater, Brent, and Brent Thompson. GBTC

    Maybe all those names are The Dots.

    I’m clutching at straws here, obviously.

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  214. Lea: Ishy/Darlene, I always focusing on calvinism is misguided when dealing with things like purity culture and patriarchy, which are more on the ‘conservative christian/fundamentalist’ ends of the spectrum and do not line up in any specific way with reformed doctrine broadly.

    Well, I saw Darlene’s point, because the New Cals are freaking out on social media. But it may just be because they are all social media obsessed (but according to John Piper, only the evil people are always on social media, so…).

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  215. “The Discernment Of The Elect…”

    hmmm…

    “1And Josh went out, and departed from the SGC temple.
    2All these things were just the beginning of sorrows.
    3Then shall they deliver him up to be afflicted,
    4and shall attack him in social media
    5and he shall be hated in all 501c3 churches for retaliation sake.
    6And then shall many be offended, and shall remove their endorsements, and his endorsements, and his books from their bookstore shelves.
    7 then there shall be much hatred, and bashing in Instagrams, Tweets, YouTube, and Facebook pages, and the disposal of his books,
    8Then the end in Christian social media for him shall come.

    – –

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  216. Ken A: Instead of condemning C.J. Mahaney when they knew there were many, many problems in what he taught and his views on himself being an “Apostle” they overlooked it all and embraced and defended C.J. Mahaney. Why?

    Because it was decreed in eternity past for god’s glory?

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  217. dee: Stick to one name in the comment section, BTW. It is interesting for me to go back and see the trajectories of comments from an individual. I bet that’s why you pst under different names.

    Does this mean that Becky Thatcher and Injun Joe Shouldn’t comment here anymore?

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  218. Bridget: But where does God ever say this to anyone? He never says to trust in the group over Him. Never.

    He absolutely doesn’t. The oposite, in fact. But when you have been under the teaching that brainwashes you in fear, it is not easy to mentally disentangle. I was there for 7 years and it took 3 years for me to even begin to not be afraid of ‘falling away.’ They’ve been there over 20 years, now….the fear runs deep against all logic.

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  219. dainca:

    Think about Harris’ past.He grew up the son of a homeschooling guru.He gained notoriety and his own audience at a very young age, still in his teens.He went into the pastorate without any seminary training.He again (still) was in the limelight in Christian circles.He confessed that he himself had been a victim of sexual abuse.All of that together is enough to lay the groundwork for significant deconstruction – which happens to a lot of people when they hit their 40s.

    Not to say he has no responsibility whatsoever for it, but I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt regarding the handling of the abuse issues.I have a hunch that the pastors at CLC were using Harris as much (or more) as they used anyone else. With his own history as an abuse victim, and his immaturity and lack of training, he simply may have been too overwhelmed and triggered to call out the other pastors.I don’t see him running away to avoid the consequences; I see him running away to try to clear his head and be able to ask questions he was not allowed to ask up to that point in his life.I think that with time, thought, and distance from the Christian starmaker machinery, he will be able to find appropriate words to express remorse for his part in the cover-up.It doesn’t seem like he is at heart the same kind of person as Mahaney et al. which is part of the tragedy of this situation.

    All the above is very much how I feel about Josh Harris. He was used by the kingpins in that echo chamber of an environment. More than likely, as what happens with a lot of people who begin to see glimmers of the toxicity while they are still within those communities, Harris probably *felt* a whole lot more than he could express.

    This is exactly how many people escaped my former Christian cult, where, sad to say, much abuse was going on both with the adults (spiritual, psychological, mental and emotional) with the added dimension of harsh discipline toward the children. It was to the point where no one had any thoughts of their own. Absolutely everything was judged and critiqued through the teachings of the leader/pastor. There comes a point where the person inside of you is screaming to get out.

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  220. ishy: They use their theology when it fits, but pretend the uncomfortable parts don’t exist because they don’t really believe most of it anyway.

    Never heard a more succinct description of the inconsistency of most Calvinists. I don’t blame the pew, as they hsve been kept in the dark, but I haven’t much sympathy for the teachers, who know better.

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  221. Samuel Conner: Try as one may, one cannot with certainty make one’s calling and election sure with the kind of confidence that people want.

    I suppose the real question is whether or not death gets the final say. Will people get to the other side of death and hear God say, “sorry, now that you are dead there is nothing I can do for you.” There is a verse in Romans 8 that says not even death can separate us from God’s love.

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  222. Lea:
    Darlene,

    Hi Darlene, I thought he was saying the opposite, that Catholics think they are the only ones saved? Which is probably equally problematic, but I will never confess to be an expert on Catholicism having only been to mass twice ever.

    Ishy/Darlene, I always focusing on calvinism is misguided when dealing with things like purity culture and patriarchy, which are more on the ‘conservative christian/fundamentalist’ ends of the spectrum and do not line up in any specific way with reformed doctrine broadly.

    With all due respect…there is this thing called Google. If Ken A or anyone else *sincerely* wants to know what Catholics *actually* believe about salvation of non-Catholics…Google it, dang it. With a focus on *Catholic* sources, please, not Dave Hunt or Lorraine Boettner. 😉 We Catholics know what we believe. Anti-Catholics don’t. Trust me.

    Start with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And the Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism.

    This is nothing new. I’ll gladly provide historical context later.

    In the meantime, please don’t assume. Google exists for a reason!

    Thank you!

    And special thanks to Darlene.

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  223. ishy: The traditional Baptists and fundamentalists loved IKDG. They made me read it 3 times at Liberty. But they all have legalism in common.

    Legalism and authoritarianism are the key, I think. They come in different flavors but they all work the same basic way,

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  224. Connect the Dots,

    “You need something more than “Josh Harris was an SGM leader, and so now that he is making headlines about leaving Christianity and divorcing his wife, he should say a whole bunch of things about the sex abuse scandal.””
    ++++++++++++++++

    How about, “Josh was an SGM leader and he is at least 10 years late & counting in repenting with restitution for his part in the sexual abuse coverup.”

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  225. Darlene: Ken A, I’m not sure what particular comment you are responding to that Catholic Gatecrasher made.

    I think he was just trying to clarify an unexpected comment. Nothing wrong with that if one is looking to better understand, as long as it doesn’t lead to an off-topic debate or proselytizing on either side.

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  226. Jerome: Oops, nouthetic ‘counseling’ bigwig Heath Lambert realizes his book ‘Finally Free: Fighting for Purity’ has Joshua Harris’s name on its cover:

    Search on “forward by Joshua Harris” and you will find even more books forwarded by him, including one written by Elizabeth Elliot and another written by CJ Mahaney.

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  227. SiteSeer: I think he was just trying to clarify an unexpected comment. Nothing wrong with that if one is looking to better understand, as long as it doesn’t lead to an off-topic debate or proselytizing on either side.

    That’s all fine, as long as unwarranted assumptions are not being made. 😉

    There are a *lot* of misconceptions out there. These misconceptions were understandable back in the day. But in the Age of Google… not so much. IYKWIM.

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  228. elastigirl: “…It has been more profitable for us to bind together in the wrong direction than to be alone in the right one…”
    +++++++++++++

    interesting quote. in what sense has it been profitable? i’m wondering what his thoughts, or anyone’s thoughts, would be.

    I found much truth in his statement. Even in my small local world, in a church governing council and several non profit boards, a charismatic personality captured the leadership position and then led badly. Eventually everything went sour, but not right away.

    About three quarters of people sensed no problems and seemed content. Of the remaining one in four, their choices are all bad. Those that chose to leave unfortunately cut ties with friends and associates still in the organization. Those who chose to stay and fight the battle still lost friends and acquaintances with little or no positive change in return. Either path is painful and the alternative, to stay and keep your head down is unpalatable to that 25% minority that detects a big problem.

    Of that one in four minority who think for themselves, at best another minority, only one in five or six, will speak up. Likely the old testament prophets came from this small sector of the population. Unlike the prophets of old, this small minority can be wrong as well as right. The only near guarantee you have from them is they will offer an independent assessment, but because they can be wrong and are typically the only source of disagreement, they get labeled and dismissed.

    We are a herd species and there are numerous examples of safety and comfort in the herd, even when it is badly led. The problem in the Church may be an under appreciation of the body of Christ. When faced with a part of the body that differs or disagrees, the reaction of the “leadership” is to cast out those body members or gladly having them leave. The majority, having relegated their thinking to the “leadership”, do not value or recognize the importance of those who are gone. (1 Cor – And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”)

    My guess is anyone who has separated from the herd will never feel real great about it and mourn the inability to be part of the group.

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  229. ishy: The traditional Baptists and fundamentalists loved IKDG. They made me read it 3 times at Liberty. But they all have legalism in common.

    Unreal! What that was doing anywhere near a college curriculum is remarkable, let alone being featured three separate times.

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  230. Thersites: My guess is anyone who has separated from the herd will never feel real great about it and mourn the inability to be part of the group.

    This was (is still) true for me. The shunning that followed my exit hurt- as it was meant to. We all have a need for a safe place to call home – to belong to a family. Unfortunately, with both my familial and church experiences being what they have been, I struggle, still, believing that a group can be trusted, which interferes with becoming part of a group again. Honestly, it kind of sucks, sometimes.

    But…I continue the work of finding balance. I am both hopeful and wary with the church I am going to…

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  231. Catholic Gate-Crasher, this proverbial “Nightmare On Muncaster Mill Road” ™ began billing as an devoted Roman Catholic Renewal home bible study, where a self-confessed illiterate drop-out drug addict was given a bible and a charismatic platform. The rest, as they say, is history.

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  232. Thersites,

    “When faced with a part of the body that differs or disagrees, the reaction of the “leadership” is to cast out those body members or gladly having them leave.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    maybe smaller groups are better.

    in my prayer group, we’re all over the map theologically, socially, politically, methodologically. we just tend to stick to what we agree on – very basic things, occasionally expressing things that not all agree with. but i think everyone figures, “so what”. we enjoy each other’s company and being spiritually productive together, too much to make an issue of such things.

    but maybe our time together is in short enough snatches with limited focus that we are never faced with things that are riskier for tearing us apart.

    like, we don’t have to balance a budget of any kind.

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  233. Thersites: My guess is anyone who has separated from the herd will never feel real great about it and mourn the inability to be part of the group.

    Joshua Harris revealed some time back that he is a survivor of sexual abuse. That must have made him feel separate from the herd long ago.

    Now he has left, and opened up about a few things.

    He does need to talk about the sexual abuse at Sovereign Grace. The angry reactions from others in his former herd could make it harder for him to say more.

    Some of his new critics have painted his apology to LGBTQ people as embracing the LGBTQ agenda… freighted language. Distorting and discrediting might keep him quiet, but in my view, the best way forward is to find the courage to tell all. He is showing so much optimism that it is hard to perceive internal struggle. His upbeat words have caused some people to welcome him to freedom, while causing others to feel left out or behind.

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  234. elastigirl: so, the profit simply togetherness for its own sake?

    No, rarely is anything ever “simply”. I believe Taleb’s was mostly talking about financial institutions so in that vein: should I have been smart enough to see the housing bubble I would have sold out of the market, but the problem existed long before it went bust. Had I jumped out when it was prudent to do so, it would have been ten years before the bubble burst. So the “profit” in going with the group was riding the market up until it went bust. There are many more examples that can be rendered.

    I am a believer of creation through evolution and that our genetics are a result of who survived and it was not the loners. I was recently intrigued by the story of researchers who found that when marking a few zebras with paint balls on their posteriors for tracking purposes they inadvertently marked them for destruction. Their predators then were able to single them out and run them down, the marked Zebra could no longer mix back into the herd to rest and escape. My point is that we also have predators within our species and by speaking up in opposition you put a big paint blotch on your back side.

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  235. Daisy: I find it hard to believe the reverse (which is what you are inadvertently promoting with your view):
    Which is, that the God of the Bible is peachy keen fine and dandy with no standards at all sexuality,
    everyone just running around sexing it up all over the place,
    with whomever, whenever, whatever,
    and God is just hunky dory with that.

    Daisy, may I ask: Why are you assuming that this Muff is advocating this kind of lifestyle? Law Prof seemed to make that assumption as well, and I don’t quite understand why. Obviously, not everyone who has sex before marriage is eager to have it with all the people he (or she) can find. Perhaps some are, certainly but not all.

    I’m sure Muff can answer this for himself, but could it be he’s wondering whether sex between loving and conscientious couples is permitted, even outside of marriage?

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  236. Lea: I have a friend basically dying today…

    I was sad to read that. I’m going through something vaguely similar: someone close to me is likely dying. Not necessarily right away, but short of a miracle, there’s no much anyone can do to change it. Ironically enough, reading and commenting is kind of a distraction for me.

    Please take care, and do what you have to for yourself.

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  237. Commenting with the intent of trying to build empathy for the “deconstructed”/“deconstructing”/“deconverted.”

    Mr. Jesperson:
    And I agree that there is a certain smugness that gets expressed when a person blames their anger on you or me when we had nothing to do with it in the first place. […] Their real problem is with God, from my perspective.

    You’re in the conversation, yes? You expressed a belief they found offensive, yes? They don’t think your god exists, yes?

    Can you then see how—from their perspective—their issue is with you? Can you consider that perhaps, from their perspective, “my faith-based claims are true so you shouldn’t be upset with me” perfectly fits the definition of smug?

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  238. Darlene: However, this much I can say having read and commented on this blog for many years now, the majority of folks here don’t take kindly to patronising Catholics with the insinuation that Catholics are not *saved*. Not 100% sure that is where you’re coming from, but I guess you could say I’m heading it off at the pass.

    Wow! Just Wow! How you got that what I said to Catholic Gatecrasher is beyond me. That is not what I said and not what I believe in any way shape or form. I don’t know any denomination that would say Catholics can’t be saved. And I would take exception to anyone saying that. Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone. So it wouldn’t matter what denomination one was from. I feel like you said something really, really unfair here.

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  239. I don’t need google. There is the Baltimore Cathecism. I have read it. Have you?
    http://www.baltimore-catechism.com/lesson11.htm
    Q. 509. Are all bound to belong to the Church?

    A. All are bound to belong to the Church, and he who knows the Church to be the true Church and remains out of it cannot be saved.

    While I like you and hope the best for you, I am going to have to go with the official Chrurch teaching on this. Sorry. It is right there in black and white.

    Catholic Gate-Crasher: With all due respect…there is this thing called Google. If Ken A or anyone else *sincerely* wants to know what Catholics *actually* believe about salvation of non-Catholics…Google it, dang it. With a focus on *Catholic* sources, please, not Dave Hunt or Lorraine Boettner. We Catholics know what we believe. Anti-Catholics don’t. Trust me.

    Start with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And the Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism.

    This is nothing new. I’ll gladly provide historical context later.

    In the meantime, please don’t assume. Google exists for a reason!

    Thank you!

    And special thanks to Darlene.

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  240. Serving Kids in Japan: I’m going through something vaguely similar: someone close to me is likely dying.

    I”m so sorry! I wish you all the support. I agree commenting can be a good distraction from all sorts of things.

    And thank you for your sympathy. She has passed on, so we will be doing the funeral whenever arrangements can be made. They were just waiting to distribute organs 🙁 She is younger than I am and it’s just been a shock.

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  241. KJ: Can you consider that perhaps, from their perspective, “my faith-based claims are true so you shouldn’t be upset with me” perfectly fits the definition of smug?

    I don’t think it’s even that, it’s more a matter of timing. If someone tells you they are hurting, they need comfort. If they are hungry, they need food. If they are dying, perhaps they need medicine. When you give cold theology and empty platitudes instead of what somebody needs it will not be well received.

    I don’t understand why people have a problem when someone is mad at god. I think God can handle anger, sadness, grief.

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  242. I hope Catholic Gate Crashers comment was not directed at me, but since I was quoted..I was merely attempting to decipher KenA’s point as I thought Darlene had it flipped. I certainly never *agreed* with him, I had no particular time or interest in digging up doctrine so I hope you were directing that request for ‘google’ to Ken A.

    Thanks.

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  243. JDV: Unreal! What that was doing anywhere near a college curriculum is remarkable, let alone being featured three separate times.

    Wasn’t all curriculum, because Liberty had extra “spiritual” requirements at the time, so one of those times was an extra thing, but it also had just come out and was “the thing” at the time. And as a Religion major it was somewhat related, I guess. Though I hated it so much that I wrote an editorial in the school newspaper against fear-based faith.

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  244. ishy: … was “the thing” at the time …

    And so is New Calvinism … look what’s happening within their ranks! Prominent leaders are falling one after another, leaving their followers confused and disillusioned. I’m growing weary with new things; the ancient stuff wasn’t all that bad.

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  245. Thersites,

    “So the “profit” in going with the group was riding the market up until it went bust. There are many more examples that can be rendered.”
    ++++++++++++++

    (i have a lot of have-to’s amongst my to-do’s this week — i’m both inventing a wheel and doing tedious maintenance on very old wheels. all in all, it’s tiring. so what better to do than procrastinate and explore a totally unconnected topic! hence….)

    so, “profit” (in the point he’s making) is perceived (or, misperceived) profit?

    “They’re not selling so i’m not selling and look how all our values are going up!”

    or, is “profit” is more calculated than that?

    “They’re not selling so i’m not selling and look how all our values are going up,
    but i’m looking further down the road than my companions perhaps are and am prepared to jump ship in the nick of time!”
    ———-

    “I am a believer of creation through evolution and that our genetics are a result of who survived and it was not the loners.

    …Zebras….paintballs….

    Their predators then were able to single them out and run them down, the marked Zebra could no longer mix back into the herd to rest and escape. My point is that we also have predators within our species and by speaking up in opposition you put a big paint blotch on your back side.”
    ++++++++++++

    and yet there is profit and progress in challenging the status quo by introducing something different. it has to be different enough to get everyone’s attention.

    –like “new and improved!”, pixie pants to bell-bottom pants, short ties to long ties. (profit for manufacturers)

    –and Martin Luther King (progress in civil rights for all)

    so, what makes a different look or method ‘take’ and become a trend?

    what makes a technology improvement ‘take’ and become the standard?

    what makes a courageous act of conscience ‘take’ and become a movement?

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  246. Thersites,

    I have been thoroughly enjoying your comments. And you are spot on about the dynamics of groups- a subject I studied and experienced in my profession of several decades. Most people never look at the group’s dynamic because they are involved with the group content and rightly so. But the dynamics actually give them better information about the actual content that brought the group together in the first place. I call that “questioning the content assumptions” made by the leaders/influencers of the group. That’s where trouble starts. Lol.

    On a related note to the herd/tribal mentality, I have been astonished to read some neuroscientists, mostly atheists, promoting the concept that we lack free will. Their “research findings” are making their way into several discussions. Quillette ran a few articles but there are quite a few podcasts, too. The latest was promoting compatiblism as a way to define our free will! Definitely a Calvinist term. I don’t know what to make of this except perhaps there is a new generation of deterministic philosopher kings from the world of science? I think there is a world of difference between what we do based on personal safety (herd mentality) vs. what we are capable of doing.

    To be on topic, I will add that Josh Harris was raised and groomed to make a living off religion. It would not surprise me to find him seeking to do the same with his new beliefs.

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  247. Serving Kids in Japan: I’m sure Muff can answer this for himself, but could it be he’s wondering whether sex between loving and conscientious couples is permitted, even outside of marriage?

    Serving Kids, thank you!

    I have NEVER advocated a sexual libertine free for all on this blog or any other for that matter.

    What I do advocate is a nuanced and responsible pragmatism with regard to human sexuality as opposed to an across the board universal prohibition based on various NT verses and their cultural contexts.

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  248. Lydia: Josh Harris was raised and groomed to make a living off religion

    Hi Lydia.

    About the time I was considering giving Joshua Harris the benefit of the doubt, I see his “mood” picture on Instagram … the one with him staring at a lake and contemplating his post-Christian destiny. He’s marketing his new chapter already.

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  249. Max: He’s marketing his new chapter already.

    He is suggesting a newfound peace, which does attract empathy from some people: How good that you are free! Others, though, are wondering, What am I, chopped liver?

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  250. Muff Potter: What I do advocate is a nuanced and responsible pragmatism with regard to human sexuality as opposed to an across the board universal prohibition based on various NT verses and their cultural contexts.

    I’m grateful that folks are somewhat more accepting these days. Many years ago a close relative of mine was widowed young. Widows used to be treated quite poorly. Married women thought they were out to steal husbands. Single men saw them as used merchandise. A widow lost more than a husband and the family livelihood. Even those Bible verses about helping widows supported the idea that they were unfortunates, in an alien category.

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  251. Lea:
    I hope Catholic Gate Crashers comment was not directed at me, but since I was quoted..I was merely attempting to decipher KenA’s point as I thought Darlene had it flipped. I certainly never *agreed* with him, I had no particular time or interest in digging up doctrine so I hope you were directing that request for ‘google’ to Ken A.

    Thanks.

    Yes, Lea, sorry! Not directed at you! Not at all!!

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  252. Friend: He is suggesting a newfound peace

    Suggested to me that he is self-centered. The mood shot was a little over the top to paint the peace picture, but I guess folks fall for that. He learned a lot of how-tos in celebrity Christian culture … he’ll do alright.

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  253. Thanks, CatholicGC! I just didn’t want people to think I was on the same page with that other dude.

    Max: Suggested to me that he is self-centered.

    I think you’re making way too much of this. I have pictures of myself on my personal instagram page! So does everyone else. It’s not that deep.

    Of all the things to criticize this seems unnecessary.

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  254. Lydia: To be on topic, I will add that Josh Harris was raised and groomed to make a living off religion. It would not surprise me to find him seeking to do the same with his new beliefs.

    At best, it’s all he knows. If he slips up, it’ll be in that direction.

    I still think the best analogy for JH is a Child Star CELEBRITY whose life started to fragment in adulthood. The rules of CELEBRITY have been in effect most of his life, and they’ll take some time to ease their grip.

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  255. JDV: ishy: The traditional Baptists and fundamentalists loved IKDG. They made me read it 3 times at Liberty. But they all have legalism in common.

    Unreal! What that was doing anywhere near a college curriculum is remarkable, let alone being featured three separate times.

    Not that remarkable; IKDJ was SCRIPTURE(TM).
    (Just like Late Great Planet Earth and Prayer of Jabez were in their heydays.)

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  256. Lea: I have pictures of myself on my personal instagram page! So does everyone else. It’s not that deep.

    If people don’t do Instagram, it can look show-offy and self-absorbed. Yesterday I saw a kid post photos of her lunch and her new sneakers. She was sharing her day with friends. I’m like who CAAAAAAAARES?!

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  257. Friend: Yesterday I saw a kid post photos of her lunch and her new sneakers. She was sharing her day with friends. I’m like who CAAAAAAAARES?!

    EXACTLY! I mean, I have mine private now, but when it was public I would post recipes and tag them with the recipe page. It’s fun!

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  258. Muff Potter:
    Lydia,

    Heyyyyy Lyds!
    Good seeing you again!

    Now, that Lydia has showed up, it sure would be nice to read comments from Gram3, Ocrapod, and Nancy2. I was away from TWW for several months, distracted by the True Crime community. Then I had to take a bit of a break from that. Very depressing.

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  259. Lea:

    I think you’re making way too much of this. I have pictures of myself on my personal instagram page! So does everyone else. It’s not that deep.

    Of all the things to criticize this seems unnecessary.

    Yep, I agree. Instagram seems to be the place for people to display artistic expression. So it isn’t only Josh Harris doing this.

    I would say we need to wait and see how things pan out when it comes to Josh Harris. As it is, I think the Christian community is being way too critical of the man.

    Again, at the risk of being redundant, I can say without a doubt that there are far worse Christian leaders, or perhaps I should call them cult leaders. For example, the cult I once belonged to had meetings several nights a week from 8 p.m. till 2 or 3 a.m., and sometimes all night until the wee hours of the morning. And during that time individual members would be publicly excoriated. Then we would get a lecture about how unfaithful we were. As if that wasn’t enough, each member would be publicly judged into a category. if I told you the names of those categories you would think I was crazy for not getting out of that place immediately. Since we lived communally, we never had homes that we could go to to get away from it all. It was a 24/7 nightmare of a bubble. On top of it every one handed in their paychecks and got a measly $10 weekly allowance. When people left oh, it was usually with a few meager belongings, the clothes on their back and their last paycheck which they refused to hand in.

    Okay, now feel free to say:

    Cry Me a River!!!

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  260. Friend: If people don’t do Instagram …

    I’m an old guy. I don’t do Instagram or selfies on smartphones. I’m so old, I still carry a flip phone (true story). I don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account. I don’t even know how to post my mug shot in the square by my name on this blog (but I wouldn’t anyway). Heck, I reluctantly participate in the blogosphere (some of you wish I wouldn’t) … I keep trying to quit but my fans won’t let me go (whoops, perhaps I am vain afterall).

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  261. Max: Three of the old faithful I’ve missed, too.Okrapod passed away … I hope Gram3 and Nancy2 are still out there.

    Oh my, I didn’t know that. How long ago? She really added some good insight to our discussions. A very wise woman she was!

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  262. Ken A:
    I don’t need google. There is the Baltimore Cathecism. I have read it. Have you?
    http://www.baltimore-catechism.com/lesson11.htm
    Q. 509. Are all bound to belong to the Church?

    A. All are bound to belong to the Church, and he who knows the Church to be the true Church and remains out of it cannot be saved.

    While I like you and hope the best for you, I am going to have to go with the official Chrurch teaching on this. Sorry. It is right there in black and white.

    Oy, Ken A. I don’t know what to say. You seem determined to reignite the Thirty Years’ War. 😀 (Talk about derailing the thread, my friend. 😉 )

    I can’t believe you disavow the use of Google. But oh well. I will gladly do the research for you.

    This is also in black and white:

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19641121_unitatis-redintegratio_en.html

    Here is the money quote:

    The children who are born into these [Protestant] Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. The differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the Catholic Church – whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church – do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion. The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. But even in spite of them it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ’s body,(21) and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.(22)

    Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ.

    Now, I think I can anticipate what you’re going to say next: “Hey, youse guys *changed* your teaching at Vatican II!”

    Please allow me to head this objection off at the pass, if I may. No, we have NOT changed our teaching. In fact, Vatican II was essentially a pastoral council, not a dogmatic one. It did not change dogma.

    Long before Vatican II, Thomas Aquinas taught that non-Catholic Christians may bear no culpability for refusing to become Catholic if they are “invincibly ignorant.” (Yes, I know, that phrase sounds offensive. I’m just reporting, not endorsing. 🙂 ) IIRC Aquinas was not the first to use this argument; it goes back to the Early Church Fathers. But he clarified it in his usual precise way.

    He meant essentially the same thing that the VCII “Decree on Ecumenism” stated in the excerpt I cited above: If you grow up as a faithful Baptist or Methodist or Lutheran or Anglican — with no real opportunity to engage actual Catholic claims (as opposed to anti-Catholic mythology) — then, from the Catholic POV, you are a Christian on the path to salvation.

    Of course, Aquinas wrote in the 13th century, when there were no Baptists or Methodists or Lutherans or Anglicans, but his point was viewed as applicable throughout subsequent centuries. I remember being taught about “invincible ignorance” by the nuns back in the day. *And* about “baptism by blood” and “baptism of desire,” two ecumenical doctrines explicitly taught in the very earliest centuries of the Church.

    I can’t remember whether the Baltimore Catechism mentions these things — it’s a children’s catechism, so it may not go into all the permutations and iterations — but I can assure you that the Church has *always* recognized baptism by blood and by desire, as well as the mitigating effects of “invincible ignorance.” (Which is why quoting a few lines from a single proof-text can be kind of misleading IYKWIM. Which is, again, why Google is so valuable. 😉 )

    BTW, have you ever heard of Father Leonard Feeney? Father Feeney claimed that “Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus” means there’s absolutely NO salvation for any non-Catholic, regardless of circumstances. Cardinal Cushing, then cardinal-archbishop of Boston, countered that the Church has NEVER taught this. He sent Father Feeney a Vatican statement clarifying actual Church teaching, which Feeney refused to sign.

    Bottom line: Father Feeney wouldn’t budge. So, in 1949, Cardinal Cushing suspended his priestly faculties, and then, in 1953, the Holy See excommunicated him.

    Feeney was *excommunicated* for insisting that there’s absolutely no salvation outside visible membership in the Catholic Church. And this happened *before* Vatican II. Please let that sink in for a moment. Thank you! (See, Google really is your friend!)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Feeney

    So, if a rigid, absolutist view of salvation outside the Catholic Church really *was* official Church Teaching before Vatican II, then all I can say is that neither Cardinal Cushing nor Pope Pius XII apparently got the memo!

    One more thing. Are you familiar with the rebaptism controversy in the Early Church (3rd century)? The rigorists — including St Cyprian of Carthage — insisted that non-Catholic baptisms were not valid, even if they used proper form (the Trinitarian formula) and matter (water). Pope St. Stephen insisted that such baptisms were valid…so when heretics joined the Catholic Church, they did not have to be re-baptized, as long as their previous baptisms had been “in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

    Pope Stephen’s view ultimately prevailed, and it has perdured to this day. (That’s why my friend who recently converted from Methodism did not need to be re-baptized: Her Methodist baptism was valid.)

    Well, the late Father Stanley Jaki, a noted Renaissance Man — physicist, theologian, historian, polyglot — once pointed out that Pope Saint Stephen’s teaching on the validity of heretical baptisms paved the way for the Vatican II “Decree on Ecumenism.” This totally makes sense to me. If Trinitarian baptisms are valid — even when they are administered outside the visible bounds of the Catholic Church — then it logically follows that the people who receive such baptisms are authentically Christian. D’uh!

    So, you see, this is a very ancient teaching.

    Vatican II was held in the early 1960s, more than four centuries after the Protestant Reformation. The Council Fathers were dealing with reality: generations of believing Christians who had grown up in faithful Christian families and milieus, with little or no opportunity to learn What Catholics Actually Believe. Quite often, these Christians had been seriously misinformed about Catholic beliefs and even brainwashed with anti-Catholic propaganda. They could not be held responsible for this. It wasn’t their fault. Therefore, it is wrong to say that they are not Christians or that they are “graceless” or that they cannot be saved. Au contraire…to the extent that they share our faith in Jesus, our belief in the Trinity, etc., they are in partial or “imperfect” communion with us. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is the Catholic POV. And, as Pope Saint Stephen’s and Thomas Aquinas’s teachings– and the excommunication of Father Sweeney — clearly show, it predates Vatican II.

    Sorry for this longwinded screed. Bottom line: Sometimes it’s better NOT to tell Catholics what Catholics believe. Sometimes it’s better to let Catholics speak for themselves. Know what I mean? 😉

    And now I will get off my soapbox re this. Let’s return to our originally scheduled program — the Joshua Harris Show. 😀

    Your sister in Christ,

    CGC

    P.S. The relationship between Catholicism and Orthodoxy is a whole separate issue, as we regard the Orthodox as very close to us indeed. (They do not always return the courtesy. ;)) We also recognize the validity of Orthodox Orders and Sacraments — not just baptism but also Chrismation, Eucharist, Confession, etc.

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  263. Oops, KenA, I said I was done, but I forgot one thing. Your citation from the Baltimore Catechism states:

    he who knows the Church to be the true Church and remains out of it cannot be saved

    Um, that’s the key. “He who *knows* the Church to be the true Church” — you have to *know* this. If you don’t know this, then you are not culpable. Hence you can be saved. That’s the point. In the proverbial nutshell.

    I wish I had noticed that phrase before. I could have saved myself (and everyone else) a lot of windy words, LOL!

    Now I really am done. Sorry for taking the bait and derailing the thread. Love yas!

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  264. Catholic Gate-Crasher: With all due respect…there is this thing called Google. If Ken A or anyone else *sincerely* wants to know what Catholics *actually* believe about salvation of non-Catholics…Google it, dang it. With a focus on *Catholic* sources, please, not Dave Hunt or Lorraine Boettner. We Catholics know what we believe. Anti-Catholics don’t. Trust me.

    That’s not been my experience.

    You can quote Catholic A at Catholic B, and B will say A doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    I’ve had the same experience talking to Calvinists about Calvinism.
    Even if you quote a Calvinist to the other Calvinist, the Calvinist will still say the Cal you are quoting is incorrect, and will say you “don’t understand Calvinism” – even when you’re quoting from Calvinist sources.
    Had the same thing with Catholics I used to debate years and years ago.

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  265. Serving Kids in Japan: I’m sure Muff can answer this for himself, but could it be he’s wondering whether sex between loving and conscientious couples is permitted, even outside of marriage?

    Guys like Muff want a BCV (book / chapter/ verse) where God explicitly lays out that pre-marital nooky is a no-no.
    (I think that concept is assumed through both the Old and New Testaments.)

    I’m simply pointing out there is no reverse in the Bible, that I can recall:

    There is no BCB saying,
    ‘The Lord God says ‘I am fine and dandy with pre-marital nooky.”

    There are actually more prohibitions against sexual activity and describing what God does not like about certain sexual acts, then there is anything in there with a nonchalant, do anything you want, view towards it.

    Perhaps the most sex-affirming book in the Bible is The Song of Songs, but I don’t recall even that saying there are no sexual standards.

    But please, correct me if I am wrong:

    Is there a Bible verse that plainly says,
    “God is fine with extra-marital sex,”

    And/or is there a verse which reads something like,
    “God is OK with extra-marital sex, so long as two or more people engaging in it love one another and its consensual”

    Because if you’re saying there are no anti-pre-marital nooky verses, if your only criteria is love and consent,
    you’re sort of yes, arguing, the opposite must be fine with God.
    …Lots of sex all over the place (so long as it’s loving and consensual)

    There was an article about Married Swinging Christian couples, who think it’s OK and biblical for married Christian couples to “swap” partners. They are all consensual about it, too.

    So, is it OK and moral and biblical for married couples to swap partners, to have sex with another person’s spouse?

    I don’t remember the Bible specifically saying it’s wrong or immoral for people to swap partners – is it adultery if they all agree to it, and it’s consensual?

    “Swinging towards God! Body-building Christian couple spread the word about religion via their WIFE-SWAPPING network”
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2769240/Body-building-Christian-couple-spread-word-religion-WIFE-SWAPPING-network.html

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  266. Serving Kids in Japan,

    And P.S.
    If consent and love are your only, or main, criteria on if or when sex is ethical, wise, and etc.,…

    I read some articles a few years ago about the Animal Love freaks, who claim they LOVE their animals romantically.

    These ‘Zoophiles’ (as they are known, if I recall correctly), think it should be legal and socially accepted for them to have sex with their pet dogs (or with other types of animals).

    They even have arguments against, “but it’s not consensual.”

    (They argue there is consent, and it’s not animal abuse, because they sincerely care about their pet horses / dogs, etc, and they don’t beat the animal, they only perform sex acts with it – which they consider “loving”)

    And no, I am not making this stuff up.
    It’s out there, you can go google for studies and interviews with these people.

    They say and argue the sex with their dog is loving and consensual, so how dare me, or you, or anyone, argue against it or say God is not fine with it.

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  267. Daisy, Song of solomon is about an unmarried couple 😉 I don’t think ‘never have sex’ is the same thing as ‘don’t have standards’.

    You can choose not to have sex, others choose differently. I think it’s valid to point out that a lot of people portray these things as EXTREMES and they just aren’t. Most people aren’t wife swapping, if have sex before they get married, most of those are probably with long term partners, many of them the person they ultimately marry. People marry more than once. We make way too big a deal of this when we could focus on things that are actually harmful instead. As long as you’re not hurting anyone or cheating, i’m good. Life is short.

    (BTW, consent is REALLY important and we are, by default talking about people: animals can’t consent).

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  268. Max: About the time I was considering giving Joshua Harris the benefit of the doubt, I see his “mood” picture on Instagram … the one with him staring at a lake and contemplating his post-Christian destiny. He’s marketing his new chapter already. You may turn out to be right about Harris – or not.

    But I think that’s reading an awful lot into a single IG post/photo or two.

    I thought we weren’t supposed to question motives on this site?

    But it looks to me as though various people (not just Max specifically) are ascribing a lot of motives to Harris.

    A guy like Harris probably will stick to some form of selling Christianity, not because he’s a money grubbing sleaze monkey like a Mark Driscoll, but because it’s all he knows.

    Unless he goes back to college to get a degree in another area and change careers entirely.

    I don’t think anyone has enough information about Harris and his marriage and everything else about this situation to know for sure what’s going on and why.

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  269. Daisy: If consent and love are your only, or main, criteria on if or when sex is ethical, wise, and etc.,…

    I read some articles a few years ago about the Animal Love freaks, who claim they LOVE their animals romantically.

    Are you equating one night of sex between an engaged couple with bestiality?

    I can reassure you that broader acceptance of sex out of wedlock has not caused all of society to lust after their pets.

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  270. Daisy: “Swinging towards God! Body-building Christian couple spread the word about religion via their WIFE-SWAPPING network”

    Oooooo-Kayyyyy…?

    I would like to know just how Witnessing and Wife-Swapping (i.e. Seventies-style Swinging) go together.
    * Swinging as a Witnessing tool?
    * “Just like Wife-swapping, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)”?
    * When they pass the bowl around at the start of the night, is there a Gospel tract attached to each house key?

    “I thought I had a most morbid imagination… but it appears I have not.”
    — Aliester Crowley, regarding similar antics by Jack Parsons & Elron Hubbard

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  271. Darlene: the cult I once belonged to had meetings several nights a week from 8 p.m. till 2 or 3 a.m., and sometimes all night until the wee hours of the morning. And during that time individual members would be publicly excoriated.

    I’m truly relieved you got away.

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  272. KJ: Actually, she’s been quite busy, but no one has been paying attention:

    https://instagram.com/shannon.bonne

    KJ,
    I just wanted to say thank you for sharing Shannon’s media. I’ve spent the last couple of days reading and rereading her poetry, thoughts, and listening to her music and looking at her art of herself in front of the camera. At first, my cynical side did not want to give in and I came up with all kinds of scenarios about how her and Josh could just be planning a whole way of using all this to a limelight advantage. But Shannon did mention how she has always loved the stage. I have a daughter that naturally always loved the stage too. It’s part of their giftings. And the more I paid attention to the heart behind her art in the media you linked to, I am undone in a crybaby mess of tears. Why? Because I completely understand the incredible heartbreak that happens when you realize how many years you spent having “been had.” Now I know that may seem like a vulgar term to those who think of “been had” in the sexual urban dictionary definition. But it fits for Shannon as well. Because that is exactly what it feels like to the soul when you find out how much you were manipulated, brainwashed, and used, and then the overwhelming realization that you went along with all of it.

    https://instagram.com/bonneidentity

    https://shannonbonne.bandcamp.com/

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  273. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    And now for something completely different. Bishop Gavin Ashenden, last seen on TWW after claiming that there is no such thing as spiritual abuse, has come out against mini golf.

    Rochester Cathedral in England installed a mini golf course inside the nave as a charming summer activity. The course features little bridges, and it invites people to think about various kinds of bridges in their lives.

    But Gavin Ashenden is having none of it. Says the Right Rev Gav: “I’m afraid I think it’s a really serious mistake, perhaps born of desperation. The idea that people are so trivial that they can be almost tricked into a search for God by entertaining them with a golf course is a serious-category error.”

    Link to photos of mini links: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-kent-49162116

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  274. Daisy,

    Daisy – you may not be aware that the Daily Fail is considered a pathetic rag here in the UK. It is not even considered truthful/reliable enough to be a source for Wikipedia. It is simultaneously pearl clutching & pathetically lascivious. It is owned by tax exiles who rail against immigrants & is the source of so much horrific stereotyping & scapegoating.

    In short, you may not want to link to it in future.

    I also think there’s not sign whatsoever that Muff’s opinions on sex are extreme at all, outside of marriage does not mean ‘anything goes’, & may include a commitment that we’d call a common-law marriage.

    I do however, share some of your concerns re Joshua Harris. I absolutely think he should speak out about the covering up of sexual abuse, but as of yet, I think people should have some patience with him regarding his own faith journey. That can spin people out good & proper, & bring down their whole lives…their marriages for example.

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  275. elastigirl: you don’t rely on a rotary dial phone?

    No, but I still have one in the garage with my collection of other old things. At last count, I have 64 fishing rods/reels (some vintage) and about 175 old fishing lures. I was thinking about getting a smartphone, but my flip phone keeps perking along fine. And, I wouldn’t need a smartphone’s computer capability since I have one on my desk; nor, would I need the camera on the phone – I have one of those, too. I tried taking a selfie with my old camera the other day just to see what it would feel like … I wasn’t impressed.

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  276. Daisy: But I think that’s reading an awful lot into a single IG post/photo or two.

    I thought we weren’t supposed to question motives on this site?

    You might need to go back and read all the assumptions you’ve made about Muff, and guys like him (whatever that means). You’ve made some huge leaps about sexual habits and what people “might” do. Having premarital sex or sex with a committed partner out of wedlock does not turn a person into sexual deviant.

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  277. Daisy: Is there a Bible verse that plainly says,
    “God is fine with extra-marital sex,”

    And/or is there a verse which reads something like,
    “God is OK with extra-marital sex, so long as two or more people engaging in it love one another and its consensual”

    I guess that Romans 13:10 covers it, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Deciding how love expresses itself in a given circumstance may differ from one person to another. The older you get, the more you realize things aren’t always cut and dried.

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  278. Darlene: Again, at the risk of being redundant, I can say without a doubt that there are far worse Christian leaders, or perhaps I should call them cult leaders. For example, the cult I once belonged to had meetings several nights a week from 8 p.m. till 2 or 3 a.m., and sometimes all night until the wee hours of the morning. And during that time individual members would be publicly excoriated. Then we would get a lecture about how unfaithful we were. As if that wasn’t enough, each member would be publicly judged into a category. if I told you the names of those categories you would think I was crazy for not getting out of that place immediately. Since we lived communally, we never had homes that we could go to to get away from it all. It was a 24/7 nightmare of a bubble. On top of it every one handed in their paychecks and got a measly $10 weekly allowance. When people left oh, it was usually with a few meager belongings, the clothes on their back and their last paycheck which they refused to hand in.

    That’s horrifying, I’m so sorry! So glad you were ale to escape!

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  279. Daisy: That’s not been my experience.

    You can quote Catholic A at Catholic B, and B will say A doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    I’ve had the same experience talking to Calvinists about Calvinism.
    Even if you quote a Calvinist to the other Calvinist, the Calvinist will still say the Cal you are quoting is incorrect, and will say you “don’t understand Calvinism” – even when you’re quoting from Calvinist sources.
    Had the same thing with Catholics I used to debate years and years ago.

    Sigh.

    That’s why we have a Catechism.

    First published in 1992.

    Please Google it.

    It’s authoratative.

    What your pals say isn’t.

    Why is this so hard to understand?

    We have a Magisterium. Calvinism doesn’t. Apples and oranges.

    I give up.

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  280. BTW…why do people keep telling me Googling is irrelevant **while completely refusing to actually DO it**??

    I guess anecdotal evidence trumps official written authoritative evidence. Or something.

    Pardon me while I beat my head against the nearest wall.

    OK, Daisy and Ken A, you win. I, as a reasonably well informed and educated Catholic, have NO earthly clue what Catholics actually believe. You two, who have presumably never *been* Catholic, know so much more than I do about *my own freaking beliefs.*

    I would *never* presume to tell you what you believe. But hey, y’all are the undisputed experts on what *I* and my coreligionists believe. Because Assumptions.

    Must be nice to be so All-Knowing.

    I’ll retire to Bedlam.

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  281. ishy,

    Not sure if you saw this, the Washington Post did a recent article called, “Inside Liberty University’s culture of fear;” a big part of the story was the way the campus newspaper was controlled.

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  282. Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    Catholic Gate Crasher, you expressed a view that is at odds with Catholic doctrine, someone asked you about it, and here we go with a bunch of drama. Nobody wants to Google it or pull out the old catechism, or talk about it, either, most likely. My husband’s extended family were devout Catholics and I studied for it and the question was a natural one. But, if you don’t feel comfortable explaining what you believe, why come here and bring it up?

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  283. SiteSeer:
    Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    Catholic Gate Crasher, you expressed a view that is at odds with Catholic doctrine, someone asked you about it, and here we go with a bunch of drama. Nobody wants to Google it or pull out the old catechism, or talk about it, either, most likely. My husband’s extended family were devout Catholics and I studied for it and the question was a natural one. But, if you don’t feel comfortable explaining what you believe, why come here and bring it up?

    I what????

    I did no such thing.

    My “view” *is* Catholic doctrine. As I decisively showed with my verbatim excerpts from the VCII Decree on Ecumenism. That is an ***official*** source, not an anecdotal one. If you have issues with that, it is your problem, not mine

    What on earth is going on here?

    Do you really, honestly think you know more about Catholic Teaching than Catholics do?

    As for the drama charge: Enough with the gaslighting.

    This. Is. Becoming. Surreal.

    I was just minding my own business…expressing empathy for Joshua and Shannon…and now I am being subjected to a freaking inquisition.

    It’s insane. Enough. Basta!

    If you really believe ecumenism is not part of Catholic Teaching, then may I respectfully suggest you have not been paying attention? Mama mia.

    I feel as if I’ve wandered into an alternate universe.

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  284. Lydia: On a related note to the herd/tribal mentality

    Thanks for the encouragement and great to hear from you here, years ago I always found your insights on this blog worthy of consideration. Funny I had been on hiatus for some time, only recently returned and that I would be greeted by someone also long missed is exceptional. There is both a Lydia and a Lydia2 commenting over a Quillette and I suspected one or both were familiar, it was definitive when one of them mentioned “totalitarian niceness”, bingo.

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  285. Max,

    “a rotary dial phone?

    No, but I still have one in the garage with my collection of other old things.”
    +++++++++++++++

    i just want to dial it…. for old time’s sake…. how your force it as far as it will go clockwise, then it dials back, then you attack the next number,..and the whirring sounds… — so familiar.

    i want to try dialing my grandparents’ phone number again (no need for phone to be connected, they’re in heaven anyway — just for the sensation of it). I still know it from some decades ago (I’d call them whenever i was home sick from school — it was my big news).

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  286. Friend,

    I dont think my reply quite worked as I intended. I’ve messed up a reply twice lately. Sorry, my senility is creeping up on me.

    Seriously, I loved the recently TWW posted video of the Right Reverend, and colleagues. I would have gone farther in life, if only I had a Brit accent.

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  287. SiteSeer:
    ishy,
    Not sure if you saw this, the Washington Post did a recent article called, “Inside Liberty University’s culture of fear;” a big part of the story was the way the campus newspaper was controlled.

    Yes, I read that. It’s always been controlled to some extent, but the shift in control now is because I don’t believe Falwell Jr cares one bit about faith or the conservative values of liberty he proclaims to believe in. I didn’t like him when I was a student and he was just Sr.’s son who came to speak once in awhile. He’s pompous and only cares about money and reputation. I was avidly against him taking over at LU.

    Many people didn’t like Falwell Sr, and he did have some strong evangelical tunnel vision, but the difference was that Falwell Sr honestly cared about people, even people that hated him. He met me once and never forgot my name. He always stopped to talk to me on campus, and remembered what major I was and what I wanted to do. He even offered to write me a recommendation. He invited people to speak at LU who didn’t agree with him. He let students run the paper. As far as I can tell, Jr only does things he think will advance himself.

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  288. Quartet of TGC bureaucrats (Kevin DeYoung, Greg Gilbert, Collin Hansen, Justin Taylor) puzzle over:

    “why a number of young men who were at one time closely associated with The Gospel Coalition have been forced to leave the ministry.”

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/reflections-josh-harris-deconversion/

    “Our primary takeaway is that in years past our tribe was too quick to elevate gifted men who may not have had enough time to prove themselves faithful for the long haul.”

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  289. Catholic Gate-Crasher:
    Oops, KenA, I said I was done, but I forgot one thing. Your citation from the Baltimore Catechism states:B

    he who knows the Church to be the true Church and remains out of it cannot be saved

    Um, that’s the key. “He who *knows* the Church to be the true Church” — you have to *know* this. If you don’t know this, then you are not culpable. Hence you can be saved. That’s the point. In the proverbial nutshell.

    I wi