SBC Leadership Wants Designated™ Survivors. Why They Need to Hear From Those Who Don’t Make Them Feel Comfortable.

“This close-up of cosmic clouds and stellar winds features LL Orionis interacting with the Orion Nebula flow. Adrift in Orion’s stellar nursery and still in its formative years, variable star LL Orionis produces a wind more energetic than the wind from our own middle-aged Sun.” NASA

“Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.” Bertrand Russell


What the SBC needs to learn from the Catholic Church abuse scandal.

I grew up on Federal Street in Salem, Massachusetts. My house was down the street from St James Church, a well attended Catholic Church with an associated K-8 parochial school. When I was rather young, Father Joseph Birmingham was transferred into the church from Boston and appeared to love all of the neighborhood kids. Best of all, he would let us race go karts in the huge parking lot when school or church was not in session. The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team would eventually feature Birmingham as the second priest in their groundbreaking expose.This priest, who I really liked as little girl, turned out to be a monster who abused one of my neighborhood friends.

Recently, USA Today published More Americans than ever are leaving the Catholic Church after the sex abuse scandal. Here’s why.

Seven months after a damning grand jury report in Pennsylvania revealed that 1,000 children had been abused at the hands of more than 300 priests, and as state attorneys general across the nation investigate the church, a Gallup poll published in March found that 37% of U.S. Catholics are considering leaving the church because of the sex abuse crisis and the church’s handling of it. That’s up significantly from 2002, when just 22% of Catholics said they were contemplating leaving their religion after The Boston Globe published an explosive series that initially exposed the abuse and subsequent cover-up.

Make sure you see that number. 37% of US catholics are considering leaving due to the sex abuse scandal. There are approximately 70,400,000 Catholics in the US which means that approximately 26 million are considering leaving the church. I know that some of those neighborhood friends left a long time ago.

Christa Brown

Baptist News Global posted a story about Christa Brown. Clergy sex abuse: the damage done when faith is weaponized. Oddly enough, I was present when the following scenario took place. Focus on the final paragraph which  I highlighted.

Get your hand off me!” I wanted to yell. But I didn’t.

More than a month after the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Birmingham, I am still processing something that happened there. After the For Such a Time as This Rally, abuse survivors and advocates gathered at a coffee house to decompress. It was a warm-hearted event, filled with a sense of “beloved community,” and I felt gratitude to everyone who was there. There was even a lovely candle-lighting ceremony honoring me for my years of advocacy work against sexual abuse and cover-ups in the SBC.

Then, as the evening drew to an end, one of the event’s organizers called on a prominent Southern Baptist woman to offer a closing prayer. Suddenly, the woman was standing right over me, and with me still seated, she put her hand firmly on my shoulder and launched into an out-loud prayer for me.

I froze.

“I felt powerless, unsafe, targeted, disconnected and manipulated.”

Ironically, this was a woman who has written extensively about sexual abuse in general and is a survivor herself, though in a different context – i.e., she is not a survivor of sexual abuse by clergy nor a survivor of religious institutional cover-up.

Christa importantly defines how institutional faith can be weaponized.

I think this is something many religious people – even well-intentioned people – just don’t understand. For them, faith can be a powerful resource for healing in all manner of life’s travails, and they can scarcely imagine it otherwise. But for people like me for whom faith was weaponized for sexual assaults and church cover-ups, the rituals and indicia of faith can be a minefield.

This is one reason why many clergy abuse survivors sever all relationships with institutional faith. For the sake of health, sanity and self-preservation, we turn away from the minefield.

Anne Marie Miller: “It will be a cold day in hell before I step foot in a Baptist church.”

Christa pointed out some thoughts from Anne Marie Miller who was abused in the SBC. Her abuser was protected, until recently, by the International Missions Board. Miller makes the point that many leave the church because sex abuse is tied into their faith journey.

Miller’s story Survivor says SBC leaders’ response to abuse revelations little help to victims was covered by Baptist News Global.

SBC President J.D. Greear offered his advice to abuse victims in a blog published Feb. 11.

“When you are ready, involve your current church in your recovery journey,” he counseled in part. “This assumes you are not in the same church where your abuser is in leadership. It is understandable if you do not take this step for a while. Don’t feel rushed.”

Miller said, speaking for herself and others like her, “it is going to be a cold day in hell when I step back into a Baptist church.”

“By keeping that within the church, you are going to miss a majority of the people who have been hurt by the church, because most of us that have been hurt by the church are no longer in the church.”

The SBC and designated™ survivors. These survivors are guaranteed not to make Baptist leadership feel uncomfortable.

I really enjoyed the first season (TV)  of Designated Survivor which was about a low level, unimportant US cabinet member who suddenly became President when those above him in succession were all killed in a catastrophic attack on  the capital building while they were all present.

It is my observation that the SBC/ERLC appears to choose those survivors who are members of acceptable churches and do not have a a history of abuse in one of the SBC churches which would be awkward for the SBC leadership.  How many of these survivors were molested in Baptist churches in which the abusive pastor is still alive.

This is not meant to say these survivors are unimportant or have nothing to add to the conversation. However, there are many victims who have been molested in Baptist churches by Baptist pastors who have either  walked away from the faith or do not attend church due to residual pain and trauma. Where are they?

When I was in business school, we discussed the importance of exit interviews by employees or by those consumers who no longer used the product under discussion. Why did the leave? is there something we can do to win them back? Did we do something that cause irreparable hard to our brand? Does the Baptist leadership ever think about things like this?

Why a survivor of sex abuse in a church setting is different than than those abused in the context of family or kids’ sports, etc.

Let’s take a look at how those who were abused by priests processed the faith in Why is priest sex abuse often unreported?

“I always blamed myself,” Becky Ianni says. “I was taught that he was sent by God so therefore God is punishing me. I must be a bad little girl. There must be something that I’ve done and I carried that through adulthood always thinking that I wasn’t a good person.

…A priest had a unique position in society. They enjoyed an exalted position where they were trusted more than anyone. Catholics were taught if you say anything bad about a priest it’s a sin and God will punish that and so priests were held up on a high platform.”

…The parents, often times, if the kid said something to them, parents would not believe them. Father would never do that. You must have misunderstood or they’d punish them which was even worse and that was common as well. You can’t say that about a priest. It’s a sin. Never say anything bad about a priest. They wouldn’t say anything because they were intimidated. They were afraid. And many kids, younger kids like 8, 9, 10 they were totally confused and stunned by what was happening to them because they knew nothing or very little about sex. They knew that whatever was happening was being done by a priest and so they were totally confused. Is this right? Is this wrong? Priests don’t sin.

Read Jules’ story of abuse as a high school student at the hands of Andy Savage: I Thought He Was Taking Me for Ice Cream: One Woman’s #MeToo Story of Molestation By Her Former Youth Pastor, Andy Savage. This man was her pastor. Then she confided in another pastor on staff. She was told to be quiet and even asked to describe how she contributed to the event.

Clergy who abuse within the context of the church can cause lasting, lifelong damage to how a person processes faith, especially within the context of the local church.  It is my perception that today’s church leaders do not want to hear about those who walk away from the faith. They prefer to hear from all the really nice people who kept their faith in spite of devastating betrayal.

I may be wrong but I think some leaders might think, deep down inside, that those who walk away from the faith were never really Christian in the first place or weren’t really one of the elect.

However, if I’m wrong, then why am I not seeing people who left the church being featured in some of these Christian seminars? Why shouldn’t we hear those stories? Why shouldn’t the leaders who ignored the reports for years be forced to sit and squirm as victims discuss why they cannot go inside a Baptist church door?

How a Twitter exchange clarified the designated™, Baptist approved survivor definition for me.

I am not here to point fingers at the person who said this so I will leave out her name. However, she will be a survivor who will be speaking at the ERLC *Caring Well” conference.

This designated™ survivor said:

She made the point she was abused (not in the church but by a relative) but she never left the church. Perhaps this individual is not adept at communicating on Twitter but it seemed to me that she was somehow  doing this the *right way.*

Interestingly, a church in Texas weighed in and made things worse. I am identifying them since it is an institution as opposed to an individual. This church was telling people that they must do it the *right* way which means that victims must continue to be a member of a church with no exceptions or even a hint of understanding about the trauma of clergy sex abuse.

in the end the church attempted to apologize but couldn’t go away without one more *be an abuse survivor and to it our way.* Sadly, they did not demonstrate an understanding of the point of view which was being discussed.

Jules Woodson replied to the woman on Twitter.


I made a similar comment as well and others chimed in.

In the end, abuse survivors have different stories to tell. This woman who was abused in the context of family will have different issues to work through than those who were abused in the context of church.

Since the SBC has been exposed as having over 300 pastors who have abused over 700 kids, it would seem that they would emphasize what happens when folks are abused within the context of the Baptist faith community. I”m not sure they really want to know what happens to the faith of those abused by pastors. It’s much easier to pretend that if the abused are elect, everything will work out just fine so “Don’t blame us for your wavering faith. You just weren’t chosen. See, we’ve found these marvelous designated survivors who will reassure us that it really has nothing to do with us.”

Why the church can be toxic for survivors.

Until the SBC  is willing to sit through talks by those abused in the SBC, they will never learn how abuse by clergy will lead to those leaving the church. I left the SBC and have no plans to return. I was just collateral damage. I watched a church botch a pedophile situation. I’ve talked to many others who’ve left due to sex abuse. Perhaps the SBC will get a clue from what happened in the Catholic church. They can only change the names of their churches and pretend that they are not Baptist churches for just so long.

Let’s end this on a quote from the Baptist Global Network article by Christa Brown.

When Bible verses, prayer, hymns, faith, God-talk and church rituals are perverted into weapons for sexual assault and then hammered into shields for church cover-ups, they become neurologically networked with trauma, and this renders them polluted and often toxic for the survivors.

This is the truth of the damage done by a faith group that enables abuse and turns a blind eye to clergy-predators in their midst.


Comments

SBC Leadership Wants Designated™ Survivors. Why They Need to Hear From Those Who Don’t Make Them Feel Comfortable. — 257 Comments

  1. The institutions (or those who have a lot of authority in them) should be very afraid. If what they do is not pleasing in the sight of YHWH, the institutions may not survive the consequences.

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  2. Your experience with the SBC over the past year said so much. You and others were in contact for a year with SBC brass, yet they conveniently couldn’t find space inside the meeting space. They had survivors and advocates on the outside while rolling out a carefully curated program designed to indicate they’re doing something. For hirelings and grievous wolves, managing the narrative necessarily leaves inconvenient truths on the outside.

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  3. When the ‘God card’ gets woven into the abuse, it does, indeed, twist things into a very dark place. As Christ Brown is quoted in the article,

    “When Bible verses, prayer, hymns, faith, God-talk and church rituals are perverted into weapons for sexual assault and then hammered into shields for church cover-ups, they become neurologically networked with trauma, and this renders them polluted and often toxic for the survivors.”

    I completely agree. I have been on the receiving end of weaponized prayer and seen it practiced in group settings. It is a form of witchcraft in the original meaning of the term – i.e., attempting to manipulate and/or control the mind or will of another. When this is practiced in a church setting, it is, in snd of itself, abuse. When added to sexual abuse…it really messes up the mind and the ability to connect to the true God. It took me a long time to come to the place where I no longer believed that God is trying to control my mind and will. How on earth are we supposed to trust a God who does that?

    Okay…I’m getting a bit riled, so I’ll stop…

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  4. I am amazed at the courage of the victims of clergy sex abuse. In your voices I see that you are speaking the truth in love not only for the good of other victims but even for the good of your perpetrators. Some day they will have to deal with our heavenly Father and all pretense will be stripped away. Thank you for modeling how to love your enemy.

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  5. Yup! Father Gallagher and Monseignor Scott molested my boy cousins at Holy Trinity and Mary Star of the Sea churches in San Pedro California. This was in the late 1950’s.

    Both priests Are The List put out of creditably reported abusers ,

    Both cousins became addicted to heroin.

    Coincidence??

    I don’t think so…

    Tragic?? Yes definitely

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  6. “leaving the church implies you’re leaving the christian faith and Jesus” — the designated and acceptable survivor
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    i observed this happen on twitter.

    many were alarmed that a person with enough power and influence over others to speak at the upcoming ERLC would make such a statement.

    i’m sure i’m not alone in feeling some outrage that a person with such a public platform would declare that everyone who has chosen not to attend church has rejected Jesus Christ, has lost their faith. is no longer a christian.

    first of all, it’s an outrageously false assumption. let alone outrageously unfair and cruel.

    secondly, the potential for harm is huge.

    imagine the loss of relationship, the rejection, the shunning, the loss of credibility, the destruction of ministries such people have sacrificed for and invested their lives in…

    she has made herself a public figure. she says look at me. listen to me. and people do. she influences them. her statement influenced them to denounce and reject everyone who has opted out of the institution as discredited unbelievers. as faith zeroes. perhaps as dangerous.

    in fact, she demonstrates this rejection.

    she blocked Jules for her tweet.

    she blocked others for asking for clarification.

    the designated “acceptable survivor” made clear who the “unacceptable survivors” are.

    she then claimed was justified in blocking them because they were twisting her words.

    how Jules twisted her words is beyond me.

    when she says look at me! listen to me! and then says something about people that is so untrue, unfair, and potentially harmful, what else are they supposed to say other than “hey! do you actually mean what you said?”

    they twisted nothing. they simply responded to what she wrote on purpose, to what she put out there on purpose for them to read.

    AND THEN…. i went back to twitter today. she feels sorry for herself. oh, how she was attacked. her followers join in against all the mean people, who are carrying out a spiritual attack against her from satan.

    and the final cherry on top is congratulations that she must be doing something very right and important for satan to attack her like this.

    Now, why did she do this? why did she block these people with thoughtful, honest and direct questions and concerns, and justified outrage?

    i imagine it damages her brand and jeopardizes her professional opportunities to be associated with survivors who make SBC leaders look bad.

    much better to put them in jeopardy than herself.

    does she even realize what she did?

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  7. Controllers gotta control. Of course they are going to set up puppets that they can pull the strings on and get the effect they want. They stuck a wet finger up and felt the wind was blowing towards “sexual abuse is bad and the church should care about it” so they decided to add that to their brand. Is it any surprise that they are just as inauthentic about this as they are about everything else?

    Why shouldn’t the leaders who ignored the reports for years be forced to sit and squirm as victims discuss why they cannot go inside a Baptist church door?

    After all of their hand wringing about why people are leaving the church, you would think they would want to actually find out why from some people who could tell them. Oh yeah, the acceptable answer is because men aren’t leading, isn’t it?

    Sorry if I seem disgusted, I am. These blind guides wouldn’t be able to do the right thing if someone spelled it out and walked them through it step by step.

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  8. Samuel Conner: The institutions (or those who have a lot of authority in them) should be very afraid. If what they do is not pleasing in the sight of YHWH, the institutions may not survive the consequences.

    Do they even believe he sees them and what they do? Do they even trust that if they let go and just do the right thing, all will be well?

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  9. Samuel Conner: The institutions (or those who have a lot of authority in them) should be very afraid. If what they do is not pleasing in the sight of YHWH, the institutions may not survive the consequences.

    In my experience, the men leading these institutions have no concept of anyone else as a living, breathing, God created human. So they only conceive of a God who is all about them just like they are all about themselves. And everyone else exists to give them the power and control they crave, because they feel like they NEED it, so it must be a desire from God.

    They have no fear because they have no connection to anyone.

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  10. “When Bible verses, prayer, hymns, faith, God-talk and church rituals are perverted into weapons for sexual assault and then hammered into shields for church cover-ups, they become neurologically networked with trauma, and this renders them polluted and often toxic for the survivors.”

    Is it possible for this to happen to people who were not sexually assaulted but who were victims of other types of spiritual abuse (e.g., “you must be at church every time the doors open,” “you must share your faith [read: invite people to church] with a certain number of people a day,” “you must have a ‘Quiet Time’ daily,” “you must confess your sins to a particular person.”)

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  11. Once again the SBC leadership is tone deaf. Oh for an actual pastor among them. They understand nothing of soul care. No empathy. No trying to understand the hurt of a victim. Thus confirming that these victims are right to never enter another SBC church.

    Once again, Thanks Dee!

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  12. Tina: Is it possible for this to happen to people who were not sexually assaulted but who were victims of other types of spiritual abuse

    Yes, because I fall into this category. It’s bad enough that sometimes I get anxiety attacks if I go to church, and the only other times in my life I’ve suffered anxiety attacks is when confronted by heights. I never went through church discipline, but I believe the way I was treated at seminary was abusive. I think the things I’ve witnessed firsthand have contributed to this–watching a church takeover happen, watching an institutional takeover happen, watching a seminary takeover happen, watching women being barred from ministry, church leaders making up lies about people to get rid of them, knowing my seminary president supported and hid a unrepentant child molester for years, knowing college and seminary classmates who turned into wolves…. And so on.

    I think the worst thing for me is finding out how hard some of these leaders have worked to make sure they were in charge and put their friends in charge even though they were absolutely horrible people. Christians are taught to do things the “nice” way by these leaders, who themselves will use any means necessary to gain and keep control.

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  13. Tina: Is it possible for this to happen to people who were not sexually assaulted but who were victims of other types of spiritual abuse (e.g., “you must be at church every time the doors open,” “you must share your faith [read: invite people to church] with a certain number of people a day,” “you must have a ‘Quiet Time’ daily,” “you must confess your sins to a particular person.”)

    I would say ‘Yes’. The trauma from non-sexual spiritual abuse can be very great. All abuse is the same at root – a denial of the value of the victim, and a stamping upon their ability to ever trust again.

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  14. JDV:
    Your experience with the SBC over the past year said so much. You and others were in contact for a year with SBC brass, yet they conveniently couldn’t find space inside the meeting space. They had survivors and advocates on the outside while rolling out a carefully curated program designed to indicate they’re doing something. For hirelings and grievous wolves, managing the narrative necessarily leaves inconvenient truths on the outside.

    The SBC leaders are accountable for creating an environment in which sexual abuse could occur and never be addressed. IMO the SBC leaders know this and hope all this will go away.

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  15. elastigirl,

    My interpretation of the “defend the institution at all costs” reflex is that the people who do this believe that it’s necessary in order to accomplish a higher good (that’s a deliberately charitable interpretation; less charitable interpretations are not hard to imagine).

    The higher good, in this case, is “preserving the power of the institution that stewards the means by which people escape the ‘bad news.’ ”

    One has to delegitimize those who leave because the alternative might be catastrophic to the institution (as Dee notes re: RCC).

    “No salvation outside the (institutional) church” is one of the things the Reformers kept as they were attempting to return theology and church institutions to what they thought were more biblical foundations.

    My private response to this is to question whether the prevailing present-day notions of “salvation” and “church” are valid. Maybe we are misunderstanding the ancient documents. Google Andrew Perriman and narrative historical approach theology, for example.

    If it’s true that one “knows by the fruits”, at what point does one conclude that the fruit of the present-day institutions is so bad that one ought to withdraw?

    I agree that it’s very presumptuous to condemn those who have left without understanding what “the church” did to them.

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  16. Samuel Conner: If it’s true that one “knows by the fruits”, at what point does one conclude that the fruit of the present-day institutions is so bad that one ought to withdraw?

    It’s a good question, and a valid one. These aren’t institutions who are really “the church” anymore, they are power brokers and cults.

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  17. elastigirl: she then claimed was justified in blocking them because they were twisting her words.

    I could understand someone hearing that someone left ‘the’ church and thinking that meant they were done with christianity, but if someone has clarified to you that that is not what they meant you should be able to learn and understand. Which this person clearly didn’t.

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  18. Samuel Conner: I agree that it’s very presumptuous to condemn those who have left without understanding what “the church” did to them.

    There are millions of us that have left the SBC. I doubt the SBC leaders or churches even miss us. I am a follower of Jesus and not the CHURCH.

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  19. ishy: And everyone else exists to give them the power and control they crave, because they feel like they NEED it, so it must be a desire from God.

    Oooh. Yes, I’ve seen this.

    I want *this* (whatever *this* is) so clearly that want came from god and I deserve it. Rank entitlement. [This also every dude who says ‘god told me we should get married’ to some girl he thinks is pretty.]

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  20. Lea: I could understand someone hearing that someone left ‘the’ church and thinking that meant they were done with christianity, but if someone has clarified to you that that is not what they meant you should be able to learn and understand. Which this person clearly didn’t.

    If she attends a New Cal church, they don’t see any difference in the two. You attend and “submit” and thus are “Christian”.

    But from what I saw from her on Twitter, she partly just wanted to argue semantics and got mad when people called her on it. I’m pretty sure when she posted she thought she was saying something deep and theological and was expecting everyone to gush all over her at how wise she was. When they didn’t, she got mad and blocked everyone. It’s exactly how many SBC church leaders act when questioned.

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  21. Dee,

    Hi. First of all, I want to praise you for publicizing the topic of sexual abuse of children. The increased attention it has received over the past few years have in part come from the efforts of people like yourself. Second, I went to the Open Discussion page, and it told me to comment in a recent post. 🙂 I am writing a paper for school on errors in digital forensics, and came across the Greg Kelley case, and came across this site, in particular, this page (among others):

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2014/07/25/a-joint-open-letter-to-the-super-hero-victim-of-greg-kelley/

    So in regard to the case, it appears (still have to verify some of these from primary sources), it appears (not all of these relate to *digital* forensics) that the police never investigated the crime scene (the bedroom where the incident took place belonged to another person in the house), never looked at the family computer in the house (which contained images of child pornography), and never looked at Greg’s phone (which showed him in a different location at the time of the incident). Further, Greg’s original attorney had a conflict of interest (she had earlier represented another person living inn the house on an indecent exposure case). Someone else living in that house ultimately went to jail for four years on an unrelated sexual assault on a minor.

    I most definitely feel for the young victim. In addition to what happened to him, it seems extremely unlikely that the person who committed the assault (identified with a high level of certainty now) will ever fact justice for what he did. The victim will also have to live with the fact that his mistake (certainly not intentional) put an innocent man in jail for three years.

    I don’t mean to defend the poor behaivor of some who asserted Greg’s innocence from the beginning, but I do have a couple of questions for you. You (and Amy) stated on that page (as well as others) that you believed that Greg committed the crimes that he was charged with.

    1. Do you still believe that now?

    2. Why have you never done an update to this (extremely unusual) case? Even if you are still 100 percent certain that Greg is guilty, the events that have happened it the past two years certainly merit a follow-up.

    Thank you for allowing my thoughts and any possible replies you might post.

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  22. Samuel Conner: One has to delegitimize those who leave because the alternative might be catastrophic to the institution (as Dee notes re: RCC).

    “No salvation outside the (institutional) church” is one of the things the Reformers kept

    Jenn Greenberg is not Southern Baptist but OPC (a small Fundamentalist Presbyterian group), and thus is beholden to this dogma:

    https://www.opc.org/nh.html?article_id=692

    “we have a strong ecclesiology in the Reformed tradition. Calvin endorsed Cyprian’s statement that there is no salvation outside of the church. The Westminster Confession of Faith warns that outside of the visible church “there is no ordinary possibility of salvation” (25.2).”

    [that’s not to say that some corners of the SBC ‘hold to’ similar ideas]

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  23. elastigirl: “leaving the church implies you’re leaving the christian faith and Jesus”

    The abused and the dones, the deceived and the disillusioned, are leaving the institutional church in many places because their Christian faith calls them to follow Jesus, who left the church before them.

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  24. Jerome,

    Good point. I suspect that the neo-cal insistence that members who re-locate or depart promptly re-affiliate with a like minded congregation is rooted in a similar concept; that one is “outside Christ” (and therefore beyond the purview of “salvation”) if one is “outside the visible Church”. Again, that’s a charitable interpretation and less charitable ones readily come to mind.

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  25. The wounded getting the brush off from those who’ve ascended to the reigious in crowd? Where have we heard that before?

    Oh yeah:

    Luke 10:30-32
    A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side…

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  26. Lea,

    [This also every dude who says ‘god told me we should get married’ to some girl he thinks is pretty.]
    +++++++++++++

    ‘God told me to accept this new higher paying minister job in a much cooler more exciting church that will build my career in the direction of power, wealth, perks, and personal significance. (all things i’m entitled, of course)’

    [sarcasm on] yeah, that sure sounds like a ‘minister of Jesus Christ’. [sarcasm off]

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  27. Jeannette a: Okay…I’m getting a bit riled, so I’ll stop…

    Get riled all you want Jeannette, it riles me too when I think back on my time in fundagelicalism.

    Weaponized Prayer, good descriptor!, I watched this dynamic play out many times during my ‘time in country’.

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  28. Slightly off topic but notable nonetheless:

    Mark Dever just posted on twitter pictures of his latest interns. Looking closely, you can clearly see CJ Mahaney’s book ‘Humility’ in one of the stacks of books in the table. Can it be that despite CJ’s association with Sovereign Grace and the alleged cover up of sexual abuse, this book is still required reading for Dever’s interns?

    https://mobile.twitter.com/markdever/status/1159458394660573189/photo/2

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  29. Muff Potter: Weaponized Prayer, good descriptor!, I watched this dynamic play out many times during my ‘time in country’.

    It’s not just the weaponized prayer (though that’s definitely a big factor), but I sometimes get violently triggered when anyone stands too close me since I was assaulted. I’ve been taking Aikido, which requires a certain amount of contact during practice, and sometimes I can’t even get myself to go because it’s too much.

    Christa’s account spoke to me because sometimes people don’t consider how their invasion of personal space can cause immense anxiety for a victim. And then when they spiritualize it, they gaslight you even more because they feel even more entitled to “fix” you.

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  30. Dave,

    Thank you for alerting me to this development. I will try to do a post in the next week. I looked at a couple of news reports. Also, do you know if Greg ever explained why he was allegedly claiming to be in the military?

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  31. ishy: Christa’s account spoke to me because sometimes people don’t consider how their invasion of personal space can cause immense anxiety for a victim.

    I think it’s really important for people to understand that they need to be sensitive about physical contact with people they don’t know well. That’s why consent is so important! I think sometimes this is just a lack of knowledge, not an intent to harm that could hopefully be fixed with education.

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  32. Thanks so much for posting this. This topic really resonates with me and what my faith has been going through lately. This statement you posted really says the bottom line, “Leaving ‘the church’ and leaving ‘a church’ are two very different things. Leaving ‘the church’ implies you’re leaving the Christian faith and Jesus. Leaving ‘a church’ means you moved or took issue with an individual or congregation and sought different or more Biblical worship.”

    In, I think, the minds of most Christians these two things have become totally confused. They see a particular local church or denomination as “the way to God” and that is just completely confusing. Jesus is the Way to God. There exists no other. Institutions can help people get closer to Jesus, however I believe that for every one that does, nine or probably more others exist that you can attend that will just get severely in the way. This creates a situation where churches either teach explicitly or strongly imply that you cannot have salvation outside their institution or theological construct. This is technically a heresy for only Jesus saves. There is no Jesus + anything required. In these cases the people who buy into this become imprisoned in a system that keeps them from the real Jesus. This is also technically a form of idolatry, as the institution should never replace the real Jesus and the real written Word. Many institutions from the SBC to the RC make an idol out of the theology or interpretation of The Word. This just produces bad fruit which includes the scandals that are highlighted here. All theologies and institutions are badly flawed. Jesus Himself and His Word as it is written is not.

    I have been on a personal journey now away from the traditional, and in my view totally empty, 501c3 forms of local churches. I have seen that the form, which is an old wineskin, does not produce the good fruit that the scriptures plainly state The Church produces. Therefore, it is logical to say that these are not Jesus Church or Body. There are wheat and tares, sheep and goats in every single one so I am not condemning everyone inside. These man-made institutions are not to be held up and placed on a pedestal for they are a total mess. Most are like the naked emperor walking about in his “new clothes” that do not actually cover anything. They have a form of godliness but they lack the actual power to transform the sheep into the image of Christ. The proof is in what they actually produce, not the image they spin, or how much the sheep “love the services.”

    I am not bitter against them. I am just judging them against the actual plain Word of God and find them lacking in power. I do believe that there is a new wineskin coming, a new, non-institutional way that will actually look much more like what the New Testament says church is. I believe it will be so different that most all of the current institutions will trash talk it and condemn the actual work of the Holy Spirit because they believe their ways are holy and righteous. The bottom line is that Jesus Church helps people and actually has real power to transform people and not just make them become a better looking white-washed septic tank. I am awaiting this for I have seen how sparse the number of people who are now waiting for this to be. I have also seen that Jesus Himself will soon start rising over His Church in order to bring correction and order to the horrible lawlessness that I now see going on in our institutions. Jesus Church is real and men and women will leave many different white-washed religious institutions one day to join it. I look forward to that as much as I lament and am pained for the current condition of the filth prevalent in today’s 501c3 religious institutions.

    I have seen people lives changed and it has never happened at a institutional level. It has always been small subgroups of believers within the empty local 501c3 that are looking to be real and deal with the actual issues of sin in their life in a positive way. After being led by The Spirit to a Christian support online group I have seen the life of a pastor’s wife in another country transformed from total chaos and confusion, into someone who is stable, in their right mind and has become an outspoken leader to the Spanish speaking world giving herself to replicating what she received into the lives of others. This is what the real Church looks like. Their was no worship service, no singing, no sermon, no Sunday School, no tithing. Their was just troubled Christians being honest and wanting God to change them into better more Christ-like people. There is going to be a lot more of this coming. And that is good news…

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  33. Jeannette a: It is a form of witchcraft in the original meaning of the term – i.e., attempting to manipulate and/or control the mind or will of another. When this is practiced in a church setting, it is, in snd of itself, abuse. When added to sexual abuse…it really messes up the mind and the ability to connect to the true God. It took me a long time to come to the place where I no longer believed that God is trying to control my mind and will. How on earth are we supposed to trust a God who does that?

    Okay…I’m getting a bit riled, so I’ll stop…

    Please do not stop. Preach it sister! This is so true I have seen the witchcraft myself and it is so horrid. Makes me think of what Jesus said about public prayer. He condemned those who were practicing it. He only said to go into your own private place and do it yourself, just as it should be.

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  34. Samuel Conner: My private response to this is to question whether the prevailing present-day notions of “salvation” and “church” are valid. Maybe we are misunderstanding the ancient documents. Google Andrew Perriman and narrative historical approach theology, for example.

    If it’s true that one “knows by the fruits”, at what point does one conclude that the fruit of the present-day institutions is so bad that one ought to withdraw?

    I agree that it’s very presumptuous to condemn those who have left without understanding what “the church” did to them.

    Amen to that. You are echoing my first post on this page today.

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  35. elastigirl,

    It’s amazing how many times we have seen this behavior, these specific steps from the religious elite. It is a sad commentary on Christianity. She (and others who do this) come across as unstable in regards to what they think of themselves.

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  36. Muff Potter: Weaponized Prayer, good descriptor!, I watched this dynamic play out many times during my ‘time in country’.

    Yeah. I saw it used to stigmatized those who left ‘the church’ u derived guise of praying for their well being.

    But the worst was when I was breaking ties with my mother and she called (I shouldn’t have answered, but was still in process) and asked if she could pray for me (how do you say no?) It is the only time I have ever sat and silently screamed while someone prayed for me….

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  37. ishy: Christa’s account spoke to me because sometimes people don’t consider how their invasion of personal space can cause immense anxiety for a victim. And then when they spiritualize it, they gaslight you even more because they feel even more entitled to “fix” you.

    Yes. This. So much this.

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  38. ishy: It’s bad enough that sometimes I get anxiety attacks if I go to church

    Thank you for broaching this topic. Most of the damage to me happened before age 18, yet I burned out as a church volunteer long after, during a period of stress for our congregation. There is no straight line between cause and effect; Sunday mornings worship just became unbearable. My inner Mary collapsed first, followed by my inner Martha. I kept away on Sundays for the better part of a decade, staying involved at a safe remove.

    I’m relieved to say that I have now been worshiping weekly again for a couple of months, but at evening services. It’s been lovely and welcoming, very beneficial. Still, husband and I watch for anxiety, which has threatened only once, very briefly. We not-so-jokingly call this Post Traumatic Church Disorder.

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  39. elastigirl: AND THEN…. i went back to twitter today. she feels sorry for herself. oh, how she was attacked. her followers join in against all the mean people, who are carrying out a spiritual attack against her from satan.
    and the final cherry on top is congratulations that she must be doing something very right and important for satan to attack her like this.

    Oh wow. I just went back and looked at her Twitter account again too. Too much. Way too much. I don’t know whether it’s purposeful gaslighting or raw ignorance, but there’s so much that’s so wrong-headed and so unhelpful in so many of her comments. And THIS is who the ERLC brings to speak at its conference about “Caring Well”???

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  40. Friend: I’m relieved to say that I have now been worshiping weekly again for a couple of months, but at evening services. It’s been lovely and welcoming, very beneficial. Still, husband and I watch for anxiety, which has threatened only once, very briefly. We not-so-jokingly call this Post Traumatic Church Disorder.

    That’s what I call it, too. Though I think people have posted about that here before.

    I had been attending evening services with a lovely pastor at an Episcopal church, but they stopped for the summer. I still got urges to run away. I will try to go when they start up again. The evening services are definitely less stress than morning ones. I did talk to some of the staff there about what happened to make me so skittish about church, and they’ve been quite considerate about it. And I don’t have any family support, as all of my immediate family has gone agnostic. My family can’t understand why I still even bother with church at all.

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  41. ishy: My family can’t understand why I still even bother with church at all.

    I have asked myself the same question. One thing is for sure: I don’t go because somebody says I have to.

    My faith remains, despite bad experiences in Christian institutions. I belong to a church because the community is precious to me and fairly healthy. I attend services for liturgy, sacraments, traditions, and preaching, and to join the precious community in God’s presence.

    Every bit of that is optional.

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  42. The New Hope Church commented that “in order to be a true Christ follower apart from the local church is foreign to the NT”. There are memes circulating on Facebook that say the same thing… trying to guilt people into church attendance.

    I disagree, especially if by “local church” they mean the western styled stage production that is currently called church.

    Jesus said wherever there are 2 or 3 gathered… he would be there. There are true Christ followers isolated in prisons, there are those who are “shut-in’s”, others have been traumatized by the institutional church of today and choose not to enter the building. Christ has promised to “never leave them nor forsake them”. They can still have plenty of opportunities to practice the “one-another’s” from the NT. In fact, maybe they have more opportunities than those who sit in pews facing one man on the stage.

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  43. “I may be wrong but I think some leaders might think, deep down inside, that those who walk away from the faith were never really Christian in the first place or weren’t really one of the elect.”
    Judging by many SBC people’s remarks to me over many years, I think you’re right about this, Dee. It’s ironic that so many in the faith group essentially blame us for the very harm that was inflicted within the faith group. We’re wounded, bleeding out, and then they blame us for the messy blood — blood which is a normal, common aspect of such wounds. I suppose it makes it mentally easier for them to dismiss our complaints if they can view us as being “never really Christian” — and yet it’s such a falsity. Once upon a time, the nature of my faith was very much in line with theirs, and it was the be-all-end-all of my whole existence. I believe that to be true of most clergy abuse survivors. If our faith had been weaker, it would have made for a less deadly weapon. If our faith had been weaker, we would have been less vulnerable.

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  44. I am so sorry to hear these stories, both the ones Dee writes about and those shared in comments. But I also so appreciate all of your willingness to tell of these just awful and gut-wrenching things you’ve endured. Just speaking personally, it has been eye opening. And convicting. And has changed my perspective on a number of things.

    Thank you.

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  45. Mary27: Christ has promised to “never leave them nor forsake them”.

    Yes. Christ says the above.

    And local churches say this:

    Mary27: “in order to be a true Christ follower apart from the local church is foreign to the NT.

    Some people are lying and I, for one, know he is not lying.

    Churches lie and teach it as doctrine.

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  46. This blog post makes me wonder, how many in the institutionalized church will be surprised when Jesus says to those who could notreturn to the institutionalized church, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master.”

    When I think of Christians who respond to those who are deeply hurting from the effects of sexual and spiritual abuse with mere platitudes and impersonal instructions from the letter of the law, I think of what a friend of mine recently said: “It’s as if the cold logic of their position freezes out their natural humanity.”

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  47. Julie Ann has also pointed out the expense of attending the ERLC conference, at which Jenn Greenfield will speak. Just like Christianity Today’s conference, not only does it have “designated speakers”, but it’s clearly a money-making vehicle more than anything. Apparently their “Ministry Safe approved” messages also include nice payouts.

    https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2019/08/08/why-is-there-an-admission-charge-for-people-who-want-to-attend-erlcs-caring-well-conference

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  48. ishy,

    Today I encountered a secular article on “the importance of exit interviews” for improving enterprise performance.

    The thought occurs that rather than (or at least in addition to) “getting in front of the riot and calling it a parade”, as this conference appears (to my perhaps over-cynical eye) to be, it would be worth significant expenditure of $ and man/womanpower to listening to victims, actually soliciting “exit interviews” with those who have departed SBC congregations because of various forms of abuse.

    It would be a gigantic research project, but would be evidence of genuine concern to understand what is happening in the churches. And what was learned might contribute to formulation of changes that would be good for the churches into the future. As things stand at present, this problem might be regarded to be an existential threat (on par with the trouble that faces the RCC, for example).

    One is tempted to suspect, however, (drawing from the behavior of secular institutions) that the leaders may actually prefer to not know. One of the drawbacks of soliciting exit interviews from abuse survivors is that it might create a “duty to report” which, depending on how widespread the problem is, could have wide-ranging repercussions.

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  49. Regarding leaving the faith vs. staying in the faith but leaving a church (not attending church).

    I wish Christians would show a charitable attitude to either group of people.

    Too often, I’ve seen Christians who are still in the faith treat those with doubts, who are considering leaving, or who have left, like garbage.

    That came out in sharp focus with Joshua Harris this past few weeks.

    Some Christians, especially on Twitter hurled vitriol at him the way you’d think they’d treat someone accused of child molesting, but no, they reserve that sort of hatred or anger at a guy who’s rejecting their faith.

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  50. Samuel Conner: My private response to this is to question whether the prevailing present-day notions of “salvation” and “church” are valid. Maybe we are misunderstanding the ancient documents.

    Excellent thoughts. I concur. It is the fruit of the institutional church, nearly every where I look, that leads me to believe God may be leading his children out of the clutches of a clever deception by their enemy.

    If you feel safe and productive where you are, I’m not here to judge you. If you don’t, I do want to suggest that leaving the church is a legitimate and, oftentimes, life-saving option. God does not reside within the institutions of men, but the temple which is our heart.

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  51. Jerome,

    Yep. Came out of the OPC, and am considered apostate by all – including my spouse – for being Done with church.;( I’m obviously going to hell in a handbasket for walling away, and not joining a church that meets their standards. (There aren’t many!)

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  52. ishy,

    Contrary to my prior thought, I have an intuition that it may be too late for SBC to undertake a “listening tour”. The civil litigators may be preparing their advertisements: “Were you sexually assaulted by an officer of an SBC church after MM/DD/YYYY (the date depending on the jurisdiction and statute of limitations)? You are entitled to justice! Call abc-defg now!”

    And it will IMO be well-deserved.

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  53. ishy: The Houston Chronicle has a new doozy of an article …

    Yep, as I’ve often said on TWW (based on my 70 year tenure in SBC), there was a lot wrong with the denomination long before the New Calvinists started running roughshod over it. It has had a long history elevating the wrong leaders.

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  54. elastigirl: does she even realize what she did?

    Hmm…difficult to say. When you’re still enmeshed in the system – when your sense of safety and security is still given over to the hands of others, those outside that bubble – those who poke sticks at that bubble – are dangerous, scary people. It doesn’t really matter what was done to them. All that matters is protecting your bubble…

    …at least, that’s the dynamic I have observ3d…and sadly, walked while still enmeshed in the cult, myself.

    Everything outside the cult (group, bubble) is a threat to the stability of the cult. Truth is a threat, though you don’t yet recognize the truth from the lie…
    It’s a scary place to live. More and more, you have to avoid outside contact and disengage with any differing opinions, isolating, until your own, personal, in your face moment comes…

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  55. ishy: Julie Ann has also pointed out the expense of attending the ERLC conference, at which Jenn Greenfield will speak. Just like Christianity Today’s conference, not only does it have “designated speakers”, but it’s clearly a money-making vehicle more than anything. Apparently their “Ministry Safe approved” messages also include nice payouts.

    Because it’s at a posh resort that is removed from any ability for notorious picketers like me to get at! (I checked.)

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  56. ishy,

    I hadn’t seen this quote!

    “She says she later received a message from Dorothy Patterson, who told her “you are certainly doing the right thing to move away” and that she should refrain from “casting blame on someone else.”

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  57. Lawyered-up seminary has 101 reasons why it’s not liable:

    http://www.bpnews.net/53416/swbts-denies-liability-in-sex-abuse-lawsuit

    “‘Plaintiffs damages, if any, were proximately caused by unforeseeable, independent intervening, or superseding events beyond the control, and unrelated to the conduct of SWBTS,’ the seminary’s response reads. ‘SWBTS’s actions and omissions, if any, were superseded by such unforeseeable, independent, intervening and superseding events, and as such SWBTS is not liable.’

    “SWBTS lists 26 affirmative defenses to the lawsuit, including that the plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages violates the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as well as sections 3, 9, 13 and 19 of Article 1 of the Texas Constitution. SWBTS also denies numerous allegations of the lawsuit, refuting the plaintiff’s claim that the seminary had a duty to protect Roe and similarly situated students…”

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  58. Lea: “She says she later received a message from Dorothy Patterson, who told her “you are certainly doing the right thing to move away” and that she should refrain from “casting blame on someone else.”

    And that is how you get yourself on a stained glass window.

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  59. Lea: OT but look at this nonsense. Some dude refused to train women and got fired for it and he’s suing for religious accommodation

    There was a somewhat related news story a few years ago – not that religion was involved (or maybe it was?

    I don’t recall), but there was a news story about a woman who was fired by a dentist for being too attractive.

    He was afraid he might have an affair with her, so he fired her.

    Iowa Woman Fired for Being Attractive Looks Back and Moves On
    https://abcnews.go.com/Business/iowa-woman-fired-attractive-back-moves/story?id=19851803

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  60. Lea,

    “…he was ordered to train a new female hire, but believed doing so would have left ‘the appearance of sinful conduct on his part,’ since it required him to spend extended periods of time in isolated places with the woman in his patrol car.”

    So Deputy Torres never arrested women? Did he even feel safe pulling a woman over for speeding? How about applying handcuffs, with all of that suspicious touching.

    More seriously, I would not trust this deputy if I reported a crime such as sexual assault or domestic violence. It’s good that he was dismissed.

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  61. ishy: The Houston Chronicle has a new doozy of an article:

    You ain’t just a whistlin’ Dixie that’s a doozy!

    I hope to God that Roe’s suit brings the gavel down hard and heavy on that old Philistine (Patterson) as a precedent, and as a warning to others of his ilk:

    Your days of ignoring the bounds of human decency and getting away with it are over.

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  62. Pullet and Hen squawking after another seminary removes portraits of PP & DP:

    https://pulpitandpen.org/2019/08/07/sebts-removes-portraits-from-patterson-hall/

    “The legacy of Paige Patterson, a Southern Baptist leader instrumental in the 1980s ‘conservative resurgence,’ is being attacked at one of the seminaries he used to preside over…portraits painted by Daniel Greene, one of Paige, and one of his wife Dorothy…have been replaced with maps [of the building’s floor plans]”

    “in May of 2018…the Washington Post ran a hit-piece alleging that Patterson had mishandled a rape case…Patterson denied the allegations…If the once respected legacy of Paige Patterson can be tarnished so quickly and thoroughly, Christians may indeed be heading for an age without heroes.”

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  63. mot: There are millions of us that have left the SBC. I doubt the SBC leaders or churches even miss us. I am a follower of Jesus and not the CHURCH.

    Too true Mot, only Jesus in the way, the truth and the life. And he said, “Come follow me,” and not “go sit in a pew.” The book of Hebrews talks about meeting together but I’m sure the writer never imagined a “sanctioned church building” with a seminary ordained leader.

    The New Hope tweet: “The idea of being a true Christ follower apart form the local church is foreign in the new testament. It’s impossible to follow the one another commands apart from the church.”

    So I’m curious. Exactly what “new hope” are these people offering anyone? Sounds like institutional protectionism to me. With a heavy dose of insulated worldview thrown in.

    How could they possibly imagine what life was like in New Testament times when they can’t even imagine what it’s like for people today? Such as those who have lived under persecution where they kill you for following Jesus. A Syrian brother recently described a situation where three family members in the same home in a northern Syrian town secretly believed in Jesus separately and were terrified to tell one another. They were overjoyed when the truth finally came out. I will never believe those people weren’t really following Jesus just because they kept their faith secret and “didn’t meet under the sanctioned authority of a pastor”. Bah.

    Secret believers in North Korea have never even SEEN a church building, let alone had opportunity to talk about Jesus with other Christians. They are executed when they’re caught. They persist in following Jesus. Are they not real followers?

    What silliness and limited vision some people have. As if the God of the universe is confined to someone’s “local church” building.

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  64. Twitter – New Hope Community Church…Dr. Kelly Carr, Pastor

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/kellycarr1

    Kelly Carr
    Owner, Higher Purpose Ministries
    Assimilation Training which Cindy and I lead helps pastors and churches to understand and implement a followup process that welcomes and keeps people….includes…scripts, and more.

    Assimilation? Scripts?

    Has been on SBC Committee of Committees:

    http://www.bpnews.net/30460

    “ARIZONA — Kelly Carr”

    Oh look, two 9Marksists were too:
    “DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — Greg Gilbert, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.; Deepak Reju, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.”

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  65. So many people suffer religious trauma – if you’ve ever read any of the Exvangelical world’s testimonies,or even just ongoing comments about moving on you’ll see people who are deeply deeply damaged, with ongoing symptoms of PTSD & cPTSD form all manner of things. I myself definitely show signs of trauma from my attempts to deal with Calvinism – although most people around me weren’t hardcore Calvinists, they really had no reason for stopping short of that, & so I internalised the realities of what that would mean. I never could find a ‘stopping point’ in doctrine that made it mentally manageable…& in many ways it has ruined so many years of life & faith.
    I’m limping along now, well outside of those circles, trying to recover a sense of Christ as someone worth trusting, & someone who loves me enough not to play games with me. But I still overreact to everything, & can end up obsessing over detail very easily… I still live with a constant sense of 2 things – that I may be getting everything wrong all the time, no matter how hard I try, & that it may have been better for me (spiritually) to dump everything Christian about 25 years ago & marry the non-Christian guy I turned down, & come back for a second try much older, without all the baggage. Sigh.

    But back to the actual topic here – people need to stop telling abuse survivors what to do, how to react, how to grieve, how to forgive. Just leave them alone in that sense, provide resources for healing, love without conditions, no expectations of them spiritually.

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  66. Darlene:
    This blog post makes me wonder, how many in the institutionalized church will be surprised when Jesus says to those who could notreturn to the institutionalized church,“Well done, good and faithful servant.Enter into the joy of your master.”

    When I think of Christians who respond to those who are deeply hurting from the effects of sexual and spiritual abuse with mere platitudes and impersonal instructions from the letter of the law, I think of what a friend of mine recently said: “It’s as if the cold logic of their position freezes out their natural humanity.”

    IMHO, no one in the USA should hold their breath waiting to hear well done thy good and faithful servent
    Most all modern day Christians serve the Lord out of convenience

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  67. Beakerj: But back to the actual topic here – people need to stop telling abuse survivors what to do, how to react, how to grieve, how to forgive. Just leave them alone in that sense, provide resources for healing, love without conditions, no expectations of them spiritually.

    Outstanding advice!!

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  68. Beakerj,

    Thank you for your comment. I’m concerned that leaders give mouth service to caring well for victims so long as the victims act nicely, smile and talk about their church attendance (preferably in one of those approved™ churches.) I don’t think any of them want to sit there and hear a victim who cries about being molested in one of their approved™ churches and subsequently has PTSD and cannot enter a church at this point in their journey. Those are not the correct type of victims.

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  69. Benn: IMHO, no one in the USA should hold their breath waiting to hear well done thy good and faithful servent
    Most all modern day Christians serve the Lord out of convenience

    That seems a bit harsh, doesn’t it?

    Let’s say there’s a not-so-devout Christian who works as a chemotherapy nurse. That is one stressful job, requiring great scientific knowledge and an ability to spot signs of anaphylactic shock during treatment. The nurses have an idea which patients will live and which will die, which are responding well to treatment and which are getting worse. They also go around offering crackers and juice, tending to stressed-out family members, preventing infection, cleaning up biohazard and medication spills, and so on.

    Personally, I hope that chemo nurse gets into heaven, even if he/she missed church the last 15 years and wondered where God was when certain patients died. If I’m allowed to doubt and question, so is a person who gives a lifetime to that service.

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  70. Nick Bulbeck,

    I agree with you. If the job requirements are described prior to employment then there is no excuse. After employment, if the job requirements change so that the person no longer feels comfortable in their role, efforts should be made to accommodate them elsewhere.

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  71. dee: Patterson, he still thinks he’s the man

    Last thing I heard about Paige Patterson was that he was scheduled to teach a course on moral ethics at Southern Evangelical Seminary (true story!). At that point, I put him in my rearview mirror.

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  72. Tangentially related to the OP:

    this was in my news feed today:

    https://aeon.co/essays/you-have-more-in-common-with-a-psychopath-than-you-realise?utm_source=pocket-newtab

    The most interesting part of this article (for me, anyway) was a section on how most people involuntarily experience distress when they are aware of another’s suffering. My self-observation has been that my impulses to help others tends to look to me like an effort to reduce my own distress experienced in contemplation of others’ distress — a kind of selfish motivation, but with a beneficial practical outcome.

    But the really interesting possibility is that it may be possible to assess the degree to which people both:

    a) experience internal distress when confronted with others’ suffering

    and

    b) tend to either
    i) avoid sufferers or
    ii) move toward them in kindness

    as a way of dealing with their own internal distress.

    If reliable assessment tools for these could be developed (and perhaps they already have been), it would provide a way of screening out people who should not be in “service to fellow humans” types of vocations. People who are not distressed by others’ suffering are much more likely to inflict suffering of various kinds for perceived personal gain.

    I imagine that such tools will be fiercely resisted by the “doctrine is all that matters” crowd, but the realities of the financial cost of employing abusers in responsible positions will eventually force the adoption of “best practices” in hiring paid ministry servants and appointing lay volunteers.

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  73. Jerome: “‘Plaintiffs damages, if any, were proximately caused by unforeseeable, independent intervening, or superseding events beyond the control, and unrelated to the conduct of SWBTS,’ the seminary’s response reads.

    Wow. Also “refuting the plaintiff’s claim that the seminary had a duty to protect Roe”…they say from the risk of ‘dating violence’ rather than, oh, the risk of SEMINARY EMPLOYEES WITH KEYS TO STUDENT APARTMENTS. Like, let’s see if that flies.

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  74. Max: Last thing I heard about Paige Patterson was that he was scheduled to teach a course on moral ethics at Southern Evangelical Seminary (true story!).At that point, I put him in my rearview mirror.

    Patterson was one of the two main architects of the FUNDAMENTALIST TAKEOVER OF THE SBC. I am sadly confident none of the SBC leadership will dare say anything negative about Patterson. Patterson had enough years leading the SBC that his supporters are sadly baked in. They will never believe he did anything wrong.

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  75. Samuel Corner:
    I suspect that both PP and “Doe” would score low on assessments of “experiences internal distress in contemplation of others’ suffering.”

    That did sound like a very interesting study and I am particularly interested in the movetowards/moveaway dichotomy.

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  76. “Scripts?? Are they talking about canned greetings, etc. ?”

    Sure sounds like it.
    He tweeted a photo of a training manual he’s assembled:

    https://twitter.com/KellyCarrTX/status/918154904845410304

    https://www.higherpurposeministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Higher-Purpose-Ministries.pdf

    Higher Purpose Ministries
    Dr. Kelly Carr

    “What We Do…
    Strategic Church Growth Consulting, Revivals (Catalyst Crusades), Greeting and Assimilation Training, Bible Conferences on Revelation, Daniel, Christology, Apologetics, and more”

    “As a Pastor he led his church to triple in attendance and quadruple in annual giving. As a church planter he led his church to more than double in attendance.”

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  77. Lea: I am particularly interested in the movetowards/moveaway dichotomy.

    Yes, that’s fascinating.

    In Jesus we see someone who always moved “toward” sufferers.

    Us ordinary mortals tend, I suspect, to be situational in the decision whether to “avoid” a sufferer or “move toward him/her in kindness.” For me, it’s often a question of whether I can meaningfully make a difference in the situation that confronts me.

    I think that the crucial issue in terms of assessing potential ministry hires is whether the person experiences distress when he/she knows of another’s distress, and whether that response is transient or more long-lasting. Apparently, even abusers experience involuntary transient empathy, but they are able to switch off that experience and then do to the other whatever serves their perceived self-interest.

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  78. mot: Patterson was one of the two main architects of the FUNDAMENTALIST TAKEOVER OF THE SBC

    But even he didn’t realize that the Conservative Resurgence was really a Calvinist Resurgence! Mohler had him fooled! (another CR architect was Judge Paul Pressler – he turned out to be morally off as well)

    Yep, the old SBC wasn’t a whole lot better than the new one as I think about it; SBC leaders have always been agenda-driven. I was only able to survive 70 years in it because I found a few genuine pastors of faithful congregations to be affiliated with.

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  79. Samuel Conner: If reliable assessment tools for these could be developed (and perhaps they already have been), it would provide a way of screening out people who should not be in “service to fellow humans” types of vocations. People who are not distressed by others’ suffering are much more likely to inflict suffering of various kinds for perceived personal gain.

    The first such christian ministry assessment service could call itself … “Safe Ministers”

    Given that we don’t follow Paul’s “best practices” commands to “ordain” only people of proven character, and that we tend to hastily “ordain” the young, such services arguably are necessary as a fall-back safety measure.

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  80. mot: Patterson had enough years leading the SBC that his supporters are sadly baked in. They will never believe he did anything wrong.

    Patterson supporters are primarily Baby Boomers … they won’t be around much longer to defend the old bad-boys … the new bad-boys are in charge now (Mohler and his band of young reformers).

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  81. Jerome: “Scripts?? Are they talking about canned greetings, etc. ?”

    Scripts for various scenarios are fairly common in customer service (someone calls “hello this is x how can i help you”). It’s basically a canned response. Works well for some things to maintain consistency but I’d have to see how it’s used here.

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  82. Daisy: Religious Trauma Syndrome and the (Negative) Effects of Religion on Mental Health
    https://missdaisyflower.wordpress.com/2018/07/14/%E2%80%A2-religious-trauma-syndrome-and-the-negative-effects-of-religion-on-mental-health/

    “… millions of people around the world suffer from a condition called Religious Trauma Syndrome …”

    RTS … Religious Trauma Syndrome … an ailment we will hear much more about in the days ahead. Next in line for RTS are a great multitude of New Calvinists who will wake up one day to realize they have been deceived, who will leave the movement in disillusionment and despair.

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  83. Jerome: “in May of 2018…the Washington Post ran a hit-piece alleging that Patterson had mishandled a rape case…Patterson denied the allegations…If the once respected legacy of Paige Patterson can be tarnished so quickly and thoroughly, Christians may indeed be heading for an age without heroes.”

    Well, there’s always Mohler and Mahaney for the ixtian tribe he speaks of?

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  84. Muff Potter: Well, there’s always Mohler and Mahaney for the ixtian tribe he speaks of?

    Pulpit and Pen definitely does not regard Mohler to be a heroic contender for faith, and (former) AM proteges such as CJM would probably suffer from association, if not for their own deeds.

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  85. Jerome: Lawyered-up seminary has 101 reasons why it’s not liable:

    White-washed septic tanks just got to act like snakes. May the seminary soon go bankrupt, we do not need pastors trained by a place that acts like the Devil while loudly and obnoxiously proclaiming Jesus Christ:

    “SWBTS, represented by the law firm of Macdonald Devin P.C., is asking the court to dismiss the suit and to levy against the plaintiff court costs and any further relief the court might deem just and proper.” They want her to literally pay for ruining their false reputation. I have seen the part of hell reserved for men like this. At least justice will finally be dealt out, although not likely on this planet…

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  86. Headless Unicorn Guy: Pulpit and Pen probably don’t regard ANYBODY outside Pulpit and Pen “to be a heroic contender for faith”.

    Interestingly, though, IIRC a recent post referred to Dee and Deb as “delightful ladies”. That’s high praise from a complementarian, who perhaps cannot self-consistently regard females to “contend for faith.”

    OTOH, perhaps is simply a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Or maybe it was snark.

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  87. Fisher: I will never believe those people weren’t really following Jesus just because they kept their faith secret and “didn’t meet under the sanctioned authority of a pastor”. Bah.

    I have been hit with this b.s. twice in recent weeks. Once by a former roommate who has turned into an angry old man after a bad marriage and once by my own brother. This idea of sanctioned authority comes from Bill Gothard and what an extraordinary white-washed septic tank that guy is with his sexual grooming of underaged girls. Whenever I hear this kind of crap, where you supposedly cannot be a healthy Christian without submitting to some institutional power structure, it just gets me going too much. If applied to Jesus’ disciples, then they were all evil and doing the wrong thing for not submitting to their religious leaders of the Pharisees and Sadducees. This is such illogical crap! Really?

    We are all called to follow The Teacher: Jesus and The Helper: The Holy Spirit. Most of the institutions are corrupt and I have not been able to find any that actually produce what the New Testament says The Church is supposed to look like. Submitting yourself to that which is obviously corrupt, or disobedient, or just plain inept will just put you in the place of being the blind following a blind while they pull you into the ditch. We have to have our own personal relationship with Jesus, for we must “know Him” in order to enter paradise. This is Jesus own words. The rest of this is just religious garbage with candy coating on it.

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  88. Matthew 6:

    5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    How do these words of the Christ show us that you can only be a Christian if you’re paying someone who sets up a cult to tell you what to believe? I suspect the Calvinists of all stripes, and Southern Baptists, and Fundegelicals, are all control freaks, many of whom will eventually use that control for their own physical pleasure.

    I also notice in a comment above:

    “Mark Dever just posted on twitter pictures of his latest interns. Looking closely, you can clearly see CJ Mahaney’s book ‘Humility’ in one of the stacks of books in the table. Can it be that despite CJ’s association with Sovereign Grace and the alleged cover up of sexual abuse, this book is still required reading for Dever’s interns?”

    There are no women in the photos of Dever’s interns. None. So women are, to Dever, unfit for service in the church it seems. Odd as the most Godly person I am currently acquainted with is about to become an Episcopal bishop. The only more Christian person I know died some time back in his 90s. He too was a bishop, and a labor organizer.

    I have come to believe that the vast majority of organized churches today are monetary schemes wherein people become wealthy without breaking a sweat, except perhaps in a summertime tent revival. Also cults for power and profit. I guess this makes me a cynic, and I’m good with that.

    What a shame most of these conservative churches don’t actually ask their “flock” of monetary benefactors to read the actual Bible! They get told what it says by the guy they pay well to tell them what to believe. Not what Jesus taught, what Jim Bob teaches.

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  89. J R in WV: I have come to believe that the vast majority of organized churches today are monetary schemes wherein people become wealthy without breaking a sweat, except perhaps in a summertime tent revival. Also cults for power and profit. I guess this makes me a cynic, and I’m good with that.

    How much money that is given by the pastor and church members in these churches ever gets outside the church doors?

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  90. mot: How much money that is given by the pastor and church members in these churches ever gets outside the church doors?
    Just go to a church that has a published budget, and look at the figures. Don’t belong to a church that hides the numbers or spends everything in house. Plenty of churches do have extensive outreach programs, including the sharing of their buildings and land with the community.

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  91. J R in WV,

    ‘There are no women in the photos of Dever’s interns. None. So women are, to Dever, unfit for service in the church it seems. Odd as the most Godly person I am currently acquainted with is about to become an Episcopal bishop.’

    Yes, the male-centric nature of Dever’s ‘ministry’ is both odd and unhealthy. He seems to love to be surrounded by young male interns. These interns are being taught by example that ‘leaders’ are male only, that church ‘leadership’ is a gentleman’s club, that women’s gifts (and most especially gifts of leadership or teaching) are to be ignored and sidelined in the church.

    At the same time, by continuing to promote CJ Mahaney and his books, Dever is teaching these impressionable young interns that it is ok to ignore
    the cover up of sexual abuse in the church. These interns may well go on to follow the example of their mentor: treating genuine stories of sexual abuse as mere conspiracy theories, ignoring the cries of the abused and thus dangerously enabling continued abuse.

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  92. As one blogger has described how the PDI/SGM culture historically proceeded in what can be considered severe manipulation of their members:

    (A approximate synopsis of what the (PDI/SGM) leaders were saying to their abused members) :

    “We’re all sinners. Yes, he (i.e. your church abuser) might have hurt you, but think of how you have sinned. You have no right to complain.” … “He said he was sorry. You need to meet with him face to face so he can apologize.” … “You must not gossip or slander him by telling anyone else about it. If you tarnish his reputation, he’ll never be able to get on with his life, keep a job, continue his ministry, and provide for his wife and children.” … “Counseling? Sure, come right into my office. Oh, you mean from professional counselors? Don’t bother. They’ll only give you ungodly psychobabble and lead you astray.” … “Call the police? No way! Are you crazy? We don’t need to bring another believer before the law. This is something the church should handle, not the worldly and godless secular government system. He just needs to see the light and repent. Jesus is enough.”

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  93. Friend: Don’t belong to a church that hides the numbers or spends everything in house. Plenty of churches do have extensive outreach programs, including the sharing of their buildings and land with the community.

    Thanks Friend. I know *exactly* the budget for outreach at my church, and all figures are available for review if requested. It’s very important.

    And I like that you mentioned opening the buildings for the community in some ways because that is something that we do quite consciously.

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  94. dee: I’m concerned that leaders give mouth service to caring well for victims so long as the victims act nicely, smile and talk about their church attendance (preferably in one of those approved™ churches.) I don’t think any of them want to sit there and hear a victim who cries about being molested in one of their approved™ churches and subsequently has PTSD and cannot enter a church at this point in their journey. Those are not the correct type of victims.

    I agree with this assessment as the norm. There are exceptions, but it is too easy to just brush this stuff off and blame the victim for their own emotional wounding. I would say that healing is possible, for I overcame great difficulties myself, but it requires connecting the victims with the very real love of God. There has to be a personal connection. Institutions have no power to heal anyone. If you are lucky, you might find someone inside one who helps direct in the right direction.

    The real Jesus did come here to heal up the broken-hearted and He ministered to the poor who were frequently as abused by the religious elite in His day as our own. What victims need is faith enough to reach out to this Jesus and courage to face what they need to do for recovery. One of the things that angers me the most about the people you post on (the perps) is that they shut the Kingdom of Heaven off in peoples faces. I know Jesus heals personally. It is so sad to see what happens too often, just as posted so many times here.

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  95. Daisy:
    This addresses some of the topics in the OP:
    Religious Trauma Syndrome and the (Negative) Effects of Religion on Mental Health
    https://missdaisyflower.wordpress.com/2018/07/14/%E2%80%A2-religious-trauma-syndrome-and-the-negative-effects-of-religion-on-mental-health/

    And now I have a Name for what I’ve been going through since the 1970s.

    Is there any data on whether Aspergers (or the Autism spectrum in general) makes someone more vulnerable to RTS or makes RTS worse?

    Though I’ve never been formally diagnosed, I’ve long suspected I’m on the bottom end of the spectrum; I DO have some traits/symptoms associated with low-end Aspergers (though in adulthood I outgrew the Hyperfocus trait, which would actually come in handy these days).

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  96. Headless Unicorn Guy,
    P.S. From Daisy’s link:

    1) Authoritarianism,creates a rigid power hierarchy and demands unquestioning obedience.
    Check. “Koinonia House Christian Fellowship”, 1974-76, and to a lesser extent “Studies in the Word of God”, Cal Poly Pomona, 1976-78.
    2) Fear of sin, hell, a looming “end-times” apocalypse, or amoral heathens…
    2A) Check, which led straight into the others.
    2B) CHECK. Koinonia House plus Jack Chick.
    2C) CHECK. This was during the mid-to-late Cold War AKA Age of Hal Lindsay.
    2D) Mixed. What started pulling me out of Koinonia House was I acquired friends in the SF Litfandom and D&D communities, so I had a life outside of the cult. THIS IS IMPORTANT.
    3) Bible Belief Creates an Authoritarian, Isolative, Threat-based Model of Reality.
    CHECK.
    4) Delayed Development and Life Skills.
    Check. I had that coming in, emotional isolation because of my high IQ, pressure to perfection as a result, and emotional abuse from my younger brother. Plus the above-mentioned low-end Aspie traits. Result: Pre-disposed like being pre-groomed by a predator.
    5) On top of shattered assumptions comes the loss of family and friends.
    Mitigated because I had a life outside of Koinonia House. I had a family (even though it wasn’t ideal), and when I activated in the Litfan community and discovered D&D in Spetember 1975, I made friends. Friends like me, whose brains worked as fast as my own. That provided an anchor to pull me out of Koinonia House and back into reality (such as it was).

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  97. Sjon: Yes, the male-centric nature of Dever’s ‘ministry’ is both odd and unhealthy. He seems to love to be surrounded by young male interns.

    Male bonding dynamic, but that has an addiitonal vibe of “Bros, NOT Hos”.
    Or ancient Greece, where the relationship between Mentor and Young Male Interns was supposed to Get Same-Sex Physical.

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  98. Jerome [quoting some odd folk]: “If the once respected legacy of [some laddie whose legacy was a window depicting himself] can be tarnished so quickly and thoroughly, Christians may indeed be heading for an age without heroes.”

    Followers of Jesus should, perhaps, content themselves with one Hero. As for “Christians”… who knows?

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  99. ishy: Yes, because I fall into this category.

    Ishy, I completely understand, because I fall into the same category as a victim of spiritual abuse. The effects of this kind of abuse can last for decades. Oftentimes, out of the blue there would be an attack, my body would freeze and I would want to get up and run out of the church building.

    About seven years ago I was with some friends, all of whom had once been members of my former Christian cult. We were at McDonald’s and one of the fellas decided to open his Bible and teach from it. He began by saying, “Let’s do a nuggie. Nuggie was lingo that we used in the cult. He then went on to teach, almost in the exact same language and mannerisms, as we were taught in the cult. I began shaking, and all of a sudden felt like I was going to vomit. I had to get up and leave immediately. It had been approximately 30 years since I had left my former Christian cult, and yet I was deeply affected, I daresay repulsed, by that experience.

    Watching that fella teach and speak just the way we did in the cult, caused me to realize how some people carry the baggage from controlling religious environments for a lifetime.

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  100. Friend: mot: How much money that is given by the pastor and church members in these churches ever gets outside the church doors?
    Just go to a church that has a published budget, and look at the figures. Don’t belong to a church that hides the numbers or spends everything in house. Plenty of churches do have extensive outreach programs, including the sharing of their buildings and land with the community.

    I am glad you attend a church like yours.

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  101. Darlene: I completely understand, because I fall into the same category as a victim of spiritual abuse. The effects of this kind of abuse can last for decades. Oftentimes, out of the blue there would be an attack, my body would freeze and I would want to get up and run out of the church building.

    i understand this even though mine was a different kind of spiritual abuse, much less than what you survived. In the Dilbert cartoons there is a character named Phil, who is the Prince of Insufficent Light. He carries a large spoon and darns people to Heck. The spiritual abuse I went through is something like that. It was not egregious enough for me to say it was true abuse, but enough that I find myself completely shutting down when exposed to certain “worship” styles. I left an SBC church a little more than a year ago – I physically cannot go back there even though I did not suffer from the type of blatant abuse you went through. I’m not sure what to do with that.

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  102. Mr. Jesperson: There are exceptions, but it is too easy to just brush this stuff off and blame the victim for their own emotional wounding.

    This is a sort of poem I wrote not long after I got out of the cult church I was in. Initially, it was a dialogue with my mother, but it also applies to dialogues with the institution…

    I’m damaged.
    No you’re not.

    Yes, I’m damaged. It hurts.
    Well, it’s your own fault.

    What?
    It’s your own fault. You damaged yourself.

    I damaged myself?
    Yes.

    How…?
    By thinking about it and dwelling on it.

    Um, no… that’s not what damaged me….
    Yes, it is.

    No. Someone else damaged me. I am not the one who put their your-know-what where it didn’t belong.
    Well (frowning)…. but continuing to dwell on that is what damaged you.

    No!
    Well, fine. But now it’s time to stop.

    Stop what?
    Being damaged.

    Stop being damaged?
    Yes. Fine, you were damaged. Now, stop.

    Stop? How do I stop?
    You just heal, then you stop being damaged.

    Just heal? How do I heal?
    By not thinking about it.

    Not thinking about it?
    Yes. Stop thinking about it. Then you will heal and quit being damaged.

    I can’t stop thinking about it.
    You don’t want to stop thinking about it.

    Umm…?
    If you wanted to, you would just stop thinking about it. Then you would quit damaging yourself.

    Okay, but….
    Now….

    Um…I will quit thinking about it…
    Yes…

    I will quit being damaged…
    Good…

    I will quit being damaged….
    About time, too.

    I will quit being…
    That’s enough. Leave it alone, now.

    It still hurts.
    Well…. you just aren’t trying hard enough.

    How….?
    You don’t really want it.

    But…
    You don’t care how you make others feel.

    I’m sorry.
    You make your own problems.

    I’m sorry.
    Don’t expect others to help you fix your own stupid stuff.

    No, I’m sorry.
    Good…

    I’m so sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…

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  103. mot: How much money that is given by the pastor and church members in these churches ever gets outside the church doors?

    I dare say in the average American church that most of the tithes and offerings are directed at paying staff and maintaining church buildings … and of course, buying plenty of whitewash for the sepulchres.

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  104. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    “I physically cannot go back there even though I did not suffer from the type of blatant abuse you went through. I’m not sure what to do with that.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    celebrate by going on a bike ride/hike/skate/walk with an outrageous breakfast destination on Sunday mornings?

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  105. mot: How much money that is given by the pastor and church members in these churches ever gets outside the church doors?

    This is something that bothers me immensely about many churches, especially the largest ones. Pastors making 200k+ salaries. Hiring a new pastor or worship leader whenever there’s extra money. Spending tons of money on attracting new members, but giving very little care or interest to current members.

    Spending almost nothing on helping their local community or anyone outside their doors…

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  106. Max,

    I won’t attend the mega church wannabe where my 26 year old granddaughter is the music minister. She is paid $100,000. I want my tithe money to go to something meaningful and God pleasing. This has caused some tension in our family. I am proud of my granddaughter, , I just wish she could use her voice to glorify God and not rake in big bucks for it. In the meantime we have found a really small church where people lovingly serve as their ministry. No professional music minister or choir, but love, joy and enthusiasm.

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  107. mot: I am glad you attend a church like yours.

    It used to be the norm. The church I attended as a teen hosted a basketball league in the gym. Our leaders viewed this as a benefit to the community, and also said it was our duty in exchange for tax-exempt status.

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  108. Leslie: I won’t attend the mega church wannabe where my 26 year old granddaughter is the music minister. She is paid $100,000.

    Leslie, I have spent most of my life in rural America, where most church congregations are less than 200 folks. A “mega” church here would be 201 members 🙂

    A lot of churches in my area have bi-vocational pastors because they can’t afford a full-time salaried minister. These pastors work long weeks at secular jobs and then serve the church faithfully to lead, preach and teach. All other staff positions for the most part, including song leaders (aka music ministers), are volunteers.

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  109. Benn: IMHO, no one in the USA should hold their breath waiting to hear well done thy good and faithful servent
    Most all modern day Christians serve the Lord out of convenience

    No one in the entire USA? I’m certainly glad you aren’t the judge of humanity.

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  110. Jerome:

    Higher Purpose Ministries
    Dr. Kelly Carr

    “What We Do…
    Strategic Church Growth Consulting, Revivals (Catalyst Crusades), Greeting and Assimilation Training,

    Oh no, the Borg have arrived!

    “We are Borg. You will be assimilated.”

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  111. I too suffer from church spiritual abuse syndrome, or whatever you want to call it. The stories I could tell, some of you would understand. A lot of it was by my own family members. Now that as an older adult, I just don’t understand how these things were done in the name of Christ and the church. To tell me that I’m not a christian would be the ultimate insult. God is so real in my life. But I do not go to church. I haven’t for several years now. Memories have come back to me of earlier times of spiritual church abuse. It was at every church I attended growing up and as an adult. I guess I was gullible at times. But I’m not anymore. The churches want you to be very involved in them, and I’m physically disabled. Sometimes, my disease is an unseen disease, sometimes not. I don’t like sharing with people my health problems. God sees thru all of the things I went thru and understands. I am who I am in Christ. That’s enough for me.

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  112. Headless Unicorn Guy: Pulpit and Pen probably don’t regard ANYBODY outside Pulpit and Pen “to be a heroic contender for faith”.

    HUG: Yep, Pulpit and Pen are among the faithful FEW sounding the alarm against the myriads of heretics. It’s a lonely job being at the stack of the heap proclaiming TRUTH. But who else will answer the calling? There are so few willing to be warriors for the cause like JD Hall and associates.

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  113. Samuel Conner: Interestingly, though, IIRC a recent post referred to Dee and Deb as “delightful ladies”. That’s high praise from a complementarian, who perhaps cannot self-consistently regard females to “contend for faith”

    That was not JD Hall that posted here at TWW. It was a fake account. Nick Bulbeck was the first to catch on.

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  114. Friend,

    Thank you. Talking about it is one level of healing…being heard is a deeper level. I am much more mentally/emotionally healthy now than I’ve ever been and expect the gain more as I continue to work on it. Mostly, this has been a safe place to share and discuss and I am grateful to Dee and all the Wartburgers who have made it so. 🙂

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  115. Harley,

    You’re in good company here. Although I have – cautiously, tentatively – started kind of going to a local church, I am still very cautious, will not ‘formally’ join (they have no covenants, just formal membership if you want to participate in the business meetings/voting).

    The only reason I’m giving it a try is because I had become friends with several people that go and we met at houses for dinner and discussion and as I got to know them, and trust them, I decided to check their church out. But being all in like I was before?
    Probsbly not going to happen.

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  116. elastigirl:
    Ken F (aka Tweed),

    “I physically cannot go back there even though I did not suffer from the type of blatant abuse you went through. I’m not sure what to do with that.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    celebrate by going on a bike ride/hike/skate/walk with an outrageous breakfast destination on Sunday mornings?

    Elastigirl: Your advise to Ken F makes a lot of sense. When people who left my former cult went to a reputable counselor they were told to just do enjoyable human things like going for a walk in the park, watching a movie, eating out at a nice restaurant, etc. We had been bombarded with so much BIBLE, BIBLE, BIBLE, speaking the TRUTH, TRUTH, TRUTH, that we had virtually forgotten about our humanity.

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  117. Headless Unicorn Guy: Is there any data on whether Aspergers (or the Autism spectrum in general) makes someone more vulnerable to RTS or makes RTS worse?

    I’d be interested in knowing this, too. I’m like you, in the “never formally diagnosed but…” camp. This is totally anecdotal evidence, but my husband and I just came out of two mildly abusive situations. The first, he recognized sooner. The second, I connected the dots a lot faster. I think, now that I knew what to look for, I recognized unhealthy patterns that were also present in the old church.

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  118. Darlene: Strategic Church Growth Consulting, Revivals (Catalyst Crusades), Greeting and Assimilation Training,
    Oh no, the Borg have arrived!
    “We are Borg. You will be assimilated.”

    A Harvest Bible chapel in my hometown actually has a pastor whose title is “pastor of assimilation.” I’m not making this up. When a friend in that congregation told me with a completely straight face that they had just filled this position I nearly choked on my coffee. How could anyone think that’s ok???

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  119. Friend: mot: How much money that is given by the pastor and church members in these churches ever gets outside the church doors?

    If we take the average giving of churches in America- across the spectrum of denominations mind you- about 5% of all those budgets added up go to “outreach” which includes local soup kitchens, homeless shelters. 1% goes to “somewhere overseas” but usually ends up supporting existing churches in places in Haiti or central America. Less than .01% of US Christian budgets go to support work among unreached people groups- as defined by a place where the Christian population of that group is less than 1%.

    Where your money is, there your heart will be also. Leaders will have much to answer for when it comes to what they did with all the wealth given to them to steward.

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  120. Fisher: “pastor of assimilation.” … How could anyone think that’s ok???

    This reminds me of the proliferation of administrative posts at universities in recent decades. One needs titles for them all.

    I imagine that the function this title is assigned to is something on the order of “visitor outreach/followup coordination”. “Visitor followup coordinator” sounds like a job that could be assigned to a volunteer or a team of volunteers. The title might need to be jazzed-up for the sake of the self-respect of the employee. Having more “pastors” on staff might also be useful from the perspective of appeals for increased giving.

    I’m not offended by the title (though it does stimulate giggles), but given that this is HBC, one wonders what else may lurk behind the scenes.

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  121. Darlene,

    “When people who left my former cult went to a reputable counselor they were told to just do enjoyable human things like going for a walk in the park, watching a movie, eating out at a nice restaurant, etc. We had been bombarded with so much BIBLE, BIBLE, BIBLE, speaking the TRUTH, TRUTH, TRUTH, that we had virtually forgotten about our humanity.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    happiness and pleasure are enormously underrated by christian culture, to the point that they are undesirable & frowned upon as ugly, self-centered & anti-Jesus. (unless you’re experiencing them in church, of course)

    all the more reason to embrace them!! 🙂

    i think happy feelings, laughter, involuntary smiles are very healthy things.

    i consider every moment of happiness to be a power vitamin. I welcome them as deeply as i can. they build me up inside. making me stronger with joie de vivre, so i can get up each morning with vitalized hope.

    the last thing anyone needs is to spiritualize happiness. (which means to spiritualize it away into something guilt-ridden & goblin-like).

    leave happiness alone. let it be.

    life is hard enough. happiness and pleasure bring comfort to get through it.

    just as butterflies and singing birds darting around can brighten any day up (i believe they are gifts from God in that way), so are moments of happiness and pleasure (also gifts from God, to be appreciated and enjoyed).

    i could go on… (i’ll stop)

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  122. How man here have experienced God’s peace, the new wine only Jesus Christ can bring, an inner transformation of character, a faith that justifies, and a God who’s Holy Spirit leads into to all truth?

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  123. Guest:
    How man here have experienced God’s peace, the new wine only Jesus Christ can bring, an inner transformation of character, a faith that justifies, and a God who’s Holy Spirit leads into to all truth?

    I think a better question is, how many here can see right through your question?

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  124. Guest:
    How man here have experienced God’s peace, the new wine only Jesus Christ can bring, an inner transformation of character, a faith that justifies, and a God who’s Holy Spirit leads into to all truth?

    Dear Guest,I am one of those”true survivors” and in my case I almost died at the hands of my attacker. So I believe it qualifies me to reply to your question. My husband is the one who usually posts but I lurk and he always asks my opinion on these matters because I -unfortunately- have an “insider’s view” on those matters and he wants to make sure that his posts bring hope to those who are walking with the Holy Spirit as they listen to Him and trust Him to help them renew their minds and keep their eyes fixed on Jesus, in spite of the horrific emotional and often physical devastation they (we) have had to suffer at the hands of those who chose to perpetrate such repulsive and devious sexual assaults. The long term consequences are carved into our bodies and encoded in our DNA (check the science on that one), but our God is an all powerful God, who does not break a bent reed, who stops in the middle of a crowd to look for the one anonymous woman who had enough faith to make her way to him and touch the fringe of his Talith/prayer shawl, KNOWING BY FAITH that He would heal her. And HE DID!. So….. to answer your question, if you decided to keep on connecting to the folks who post here, you will find that there are many survivors who each have wonderful testimonies of Divine intervention which has allowed them not to die from the consequences of the horrific crimes inflicted upon them. I am sure that you can relate to the process that the Lord uses to transform our character, build our faith and lead us into truth. By the way, it is not OUR faith that justifies us. It is the faith of Christ and HE ALONE who justified us by dying for us and now being our advocate as he is seated at the right hand of God the Father. “Do not participate in the evil deeds of darkness, but rather expose them because everything exposed to the light becomes light”. That verse encapsulates exactly what you are trying to tell us. Some of us were (quite against our will, might I add) “participated upon” by evil deeds of darkness. The goal was to kill us, disable us, mar us, keep us from trusting God, make us believe lies about ourselves (for example : “SEE!? Not even GOD can tolerate you now!!!”) The plot is demonic and the goal is to destroy the Body of Christ by any and all means possible. God is not a rapist, but his essence is love, so He “binds up the brokenhearted”, makes “the crooked things straight” and “pathways where there are none” as we find the courage to look at what “really happened to us” and pray “Lord, what do YOU want me to know about this?” And so we walk ever more into deeper layers of healing in our soul. Let me encourage you to start asking the Holy Spirit what HE wants you to know about my post. May the peace of God guard your heart and mind from any lies the enemy may use to try to oppress, blind or deceive you.
    Your sister in Christ

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  125. Fisher: about 5% of all those budgets added up go to “outreach” which includes local soup kitchens, homeless shelters.

    That looks like a low number, and many churches do little for anyone from outside. However, building use by outside groups (Head Start, scouts, 12-step) costs money, and many groups pay little or nothing. My local SBC church hosts one group after another in the evenings, using lights, HVAC, restrooms, janitor, etc. Someone from the church keeps track of that full schedule.

    Moreover, on this thread we have discussed the value of volunteers. They often pay for groceries, prepare shelter meals in the church kitchen, and serve the meals at the shelter. A local youth group does a community service project every month, such as collecting donated school supplies for children in need.

    Many churches do not charge for funerals. The family decides what donation to offer. Some families have a tenuous connection to the church. This is merciful.

    Little or none of the above shows up in a published budget. On paper, that youth group looks like a club.

    So I’m adding to my list of things to look for in a church: read the announcements, and ask detailed questions about volunteer activities.

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  126. See right through to sincerity? Jesus is still reaching out for the lost, discouraged, injured, hopeless, and spiritually impoverished. His hand is outstretched, reach out today. He can help if you let him. Reach out to him today.

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  127. Friend,

    Dear Guest, I replied directly to your admonition about the peace of God, but because I don’t usually post, my comment went into moderation. Please look for it and you will, I hope, be greatly encouraged.

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  128. Guest:
    See right through to sincerity? Jesus is still reaching out for the lost, discouraged, injured, hopeless, and spiritually impoverished. His hand is outstretched, reach out today. He can help if you let him. Reach out to him today.

    I don’t know what you meant to communicate in these two comments, but it sounds like you are assuming that anyone who is struggling in any way with their faith has no relationship with Jesus and that reaching out to him will be an instant cure-all that will remove all anxiety, tension, doubt, and any other real emotion that doesn’t fit a Christian mold. Is that what you intended to communicate?

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  129. Guest:
    How man here have experienced God’s peace, the new wine only Jesus Christ can bring, an inner transformation of character, a faith that justifies, and a God who’s Holy Spirit leads into to all truth?

    HOUSE !!!

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  130. Guest:
    See right through to sincerity? Jesus is still reaching out for the lost, discouraged, injured, hopeless, and spiritually impoverished. His hand is outstretched, reach out today. He can help if you let him. Reach out to him today.

    HOUSE !!!

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  131. Guest,

    “How man here have experienced God’s peace, the new wine only Jesus Christ can bring, an inner transformation of character, a faith that justifies, and a God who’s Holy Spirit leads into to all truth?”
    ++++++++++++++++

    that’s a tall order (and pretty abstract).

    like, has anyone ever said “Ahhhhh, i’m experiencing a faith that justifies!”

    or, “So THIS is what all truth feels like, which the God whose Holy Spirit is leading me into! Remarkable!”

    i’m being sarcastic, and i apologize if it’s off-putting — that’s not my intent, but rather to point to how christian culture takes mysterious, mystical, unpredictable realities and turns them into Cup o’ Noodles.

    Just peel off the lid, add hot water, stir, PRESTO inner peace!

    Or this one… See the orange and green bits in it? that’s all truth! yeah, just stir it up and taste it!

    Here, this one has bigger chunks in it. Yep, just like the others, you peel, pour, stir, and if you eat this every day in seven days you’ll start to feel inner transformation of character!

    Here’s a book and dvd that talks all about it, just $29.95. yeah, i know, peel/pour/& stir are 3 simple steps and somehow they managed to write 300 pages on it, but there’s a lot of buzz about this book and everyone’s buying it. so it has to be of God.

    i’m sure i need to apologize again.

    To answer your question, yes, i’ve experienced times of supernatural peace as a result of spiritual pursuit.

    I’ve had one or two radical transformations that were truly like night-to-day.

    all of it experientially stunning, but none of it constant nor the answer to everything. i had to learn how to navigate the change in me and its limitations. perhaps like becoming a US citizen — a change of big consequence, but now how to navigate all the rights and privileges and limitations of this new country.

    it’s been remarkable. none of it is what christian sermons, books, and stock answers from well-meaning christian individuals promised.

    as i see it, the sermons, books, and stock answers were based on faith in ‘things’ that the textbook called the bible ‘promises’.

    faith in the textbook called the bible. as if it is a math book of calculations where “you” and “your life” are variables and just punch them in and it will always compute correctly and predictably!

    i’m thoroughly disillusioned. helped along by “The Body of Christ” destroying parts of my life so that can’t sit in one of its congregations without hyperventilating and feeling panic rise up.

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  132. elastigirl: i’m sure i need to apologize again.

    You might have offended the pasty white jesus with long flowing brownish-blond hair, soft blue eyes, smooth silky skin, thin quivering lips, and a detached gaze into the distance. But I suspect the real Jesus is on your side…

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  133. elastigirl: celebrate by going on a bike ride/hike/skate/walk with an outrageous breakfast destination on Sunday mornings?

    I am trying to do more of this now. I have an incredibly awesome Catahoula that takes me on long walks – it’s very helpful.

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  134. Friend: An awful lot of us have reached out to Jesus, only to discover that His earthly handlers were groping us and stealing our money in His name.

    HA!

    Great rejoinder Friend!

    Which is why I pay little to almost no attention to his handlers.

    I’d rather eat charcoal-grilled tilapia with Jesus of Nazareth in person than listen to one of his handlers prattle on about Jesus.

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  135. Guest:
    How man here have experienced God’s peace, the new wine only Jesus Christ can bring, an inner transformation of character, a faith that justifies, and a God who’s Holy Spirit leads into to all truth?

    Guest:
    See right through to sincerity? Jesus is still reaching out for the lost, discouraged, injured, hopeless, and spiritually impoverished. His hand is outstretched, reach out today. He can help if you let him. Reach out to him today.

    For better or worse, I will add my two cents (or tuppence for those over the pond)….and I hope you’re still reading…

    For those who have suffered abuse within a church – those who have had the words in the bible twisted into controlling weapons, the simple good news turned into a litmus test for behavior control – for those people, who are represented by many of the commenters here, for those of whom I am one…

    I cannot speak to your intent. I don’t know your intent. But the words and phrases you chose to use sound very much like the way those who used and abused us talked. They sound very Christianese, which to the ear of the a used, sounds, at best, insincere. Not so say you are in sincere – I don’t know if you are or not. But the filter of spiritual/religious abuse makes it sounds so.

    I know for me, when statements like these were used, they were a litmus test: Give the right answer and get approval for now. Give the wrong answer and get disciplined or shunned.

    None of all that had anything to do with whether we actually know/are known by Jesus. Honestly, my relationship with Him survived, in spite of the churches I’ve been in.

    So, hopefully, that will explain to you the reaction your comments received…

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  136. Ken F’s Wife,

    Thank you for those beautiful words. THis has been one of those weeks, when shadows come back to haunt, when the enemy tells you You are never going to overcome this, no one cares about your struggles, and the best thing you could do is relieve the world of your unfortunate presence’.

    But God.

    I don’t have the church and the family and the support network I once found so comforting, but I have God, who never has and never will harm, abuse or abandon me. I don’t put much faith in th institutional church, or even so-called ‘christianity anymore, but even at the bottom of my lowest pit, I can affirm with confidence, ‘But God!’ He alone will never leave or forsake us.

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  137. In the past, we have had a “Guest” on this blog who came out of a SEVERE abuse situation both Spiritual and Sexual. One of the WORST abuse stories I have ever heard on the Net, with all the abuse (including pedo-rape) justified with “God Hath Said”.

    I’m pretty sure this “Guest” is NOT the same one.

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  138. Jeannette Altes: They sound very Christianese, which to the ear of the a used, sounds, at best, insincere.

    I am always suspicious of people who come in and throw things like this at us, without even attempting to join in the actual discussion at hand. I think that’s why it all sounds insincere, because it’s just words not a conversation and that stands out.

    And yes, condescending as well because it assumes we don’t know all this stuff that they could say already. Most of us have extensive church backgrounds, whether or not we are still attending. You can’t just toss out a bible verse or an empty comment and expect anybody to take you seriously.

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  139. Thank you to all who had kind words. I always try to “have the law of kindness” on my lips as that Bible verse says, but every time I jump in and comment it does something to me and messes with me…. Which is probably why I comment so rarely…. These topics are just simply too painful for me to delve in routinely….

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  140. Samuel Conner: I think your reply has benefited everyone who did see it. Thank you for speaking up.

    She is definitely a keeper. I think it’s common among abuse victims to feel marred and/or unloveable. But she is my treasure and joy. Without her I would not be able to comprehend what it means for Eve to be Adam’s life-saving ally (ezer kenegedo).

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  141. Lea: I am always suspicious of people who come in and throw things like this at us, without even attempting to join in the actual discussion at hand. I think that’s why it all sounds insincere, because it’s just words not a conversation and that stands out.

    In my experience, the people that spout Christianese like that are the ones who are most avoiding the giant problems in their lives. And often those problems are of their own making.

    Kinda hard to believe someone who doesn’t even bother to engage in discussion with actual victims about how people claiming to be Christians have done evil to them. Kinda sounds like the platitudes the SBC is handing out, but of course, it’s not their fault even if they did know about it all along.

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  142. Jeannette Altes,

    I’m inclined to agree. Its comments are all tangential, all formulaic and all largely meaningless. In other words, it’s produced by a very similar underlying logic to that which fuels a lot of fundagelical tract-based communication.

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  143. Friend: That seems a bit harsh, doesn’t it?

    Let’s say there’s a not-so-devout Christian who works as a chemotherapy nurse. That is one stressful job, requiring great scientific knowledge and an ability to spot signs of anaphylactic shock during treatment. The nurses have an idea which patients will live and which will die, which are responding well to treatment and which are getting worse. They also go around offering crackers and juice, tending to stressed-out family members, preventing infection, cleaning up biohazard and medication spills, and so on.

    Personally, I hope that chemo nurse gets into heaven, even if he/she missed church the last 15 years and wondered where God was when certain patients died. If I’m allowed to doubt and question, so is a person who gives a lifetime to that service.

    I agree, it is harsh, but sadly I think it is unfortunately accurate. Most Christians in the U.S. think Christ died so we could have a world class retirement.

    The verse well done thy good and faithful servant is in Mathew 25:21-23
    Key word is servant, but it is translated better -slave, doulos in the Greek .
    I personally probably spend 10x more time reading and posting just on blogs than I do serving, helping.
    Most people think that if we just contemplate society’s problems and commiserate with people in need we have fulfilled our duty. Jesus said we can’t serve two masters, hence the term doulos =slave
    If we Turn the White hot spot light on ourselves and take inventory, I think we would be very disappointed,
    Looking at our check book, and reviewing where we allocated our time each week, just a personal reflection

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  144. Jeannette Altes:
    I’m beginning to suspect this alternate ‘Guest’ may be a chatbot….
    *smh*

    I was thinking the same. With the possible exception of Guest’s first reply, Guest is not passing the Turing test. This does not guarantee that Guest is not a human. But when dealing with a type of Christianity that grooms people to fail the Turing test, I suppose this should not be a surprise.

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  145. Benn: Most Christians in the U.S. think Christ died so we could have a world class retirement.

    The verse well done thy good and faithful servant is in Mathew 25:21-23
    Key word is servant, but it is translated better -slave, doulos in the Greek .
    I personally probably spend 10x more time reading and posting just on blogs than I do serving, helping.
    Most people think that if we just contemplate society’s problems and commiserate with people in need we have fulfilled our duty.

    You are underestimating the number of poor Christians in America and ignoring all who give selflessly, live frugally, and reject the prosperity gospel. The reference to slavery adds nothing; about 40 percent of Americans do not have access to $400 to cover an emergency.

    Your implication that people waste time posting comments online is shockingly callous, on a blog where people share stories of grave abuse.

    I would agree that you are not being helpful. Please give some more thought to what you have written, and where.

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  146. Benn: Most Christians in the U.S. think Christ died so we could have a world class retirement.

    Do you have any reference material for this or did you just make it up? I don’t personally know any Christians who appear to think like this.

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  147. Lea: …what on earth is the point of programming a bot to say this nonsense on comment sections? Specifically this one?

    Supposedly there is a cheap thrill in tricking people into responding and making themselves look silly. We’ve had a few of these recently. Some have distracted us from the topic. One has impersonated a real person, drawing us into criticizing him. One seemed to be linked to a pastor at a specific church plant related to Capitol Hill Baptist. I’ve been drawn in.

    These provocations do often lead us to a deeper discussion, though. So maybe they are worth it here on TWW, where we don’t do a lot of cheap tit-for-tat stuff (or threaten antagonists, if someone is seriously trying to discredit).

    Maybe we should probe more cautiously when new names show up with provocative comments. Ask a polite question, see if a context-specific reply comes back. Thoughts?

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  148. Nick Bulbeck: I’m inclined to agree. Its comments are all tangential, all formulaic and all largely meaningless. In other words, it’s produced by a very similar underlying logic to that which fuels a lot of fundagelical tract-based communication.

    What weirds me out is that I know so many people who think and talk just like this. There is no genuine love and compassion, no desire to know or understand the person to whom they are speaking; rather, they are like a walking, talking spiritual tract, reciting the formulaic promises, commands and questions in hope of inspiring the desired response. Makes me think of an old guy who used to come up and confront us when we were young and went around singing for local churches. He would walk up to you and demand ‘Have you been washed in the blood?’ or some other christian cliche. We were not sure how to respond, and had a hard time not laughing out loud.

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  149. Lea: I could see that but…what on earth is the point of programming a bot to say this nonsense on comment sections? Specifically this one? Like. Why?

    Just means we’ve got a Live Troll, Defender of The Faith sub-type, who fails the Turing Test.

    Seriously, how pathetic do you have to be TO FAIL A TURING TEST?

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  150. Guest:
    How man here have experienced God’s peace, the new wine only Jesus Christ can bring, an inner transformation of character, a faith that justifies, and a God who’s Holy Spirit leads into to all truth?

    Guest:
    See right through to sincerity? Jesus is still reaching out for the lost, discouraged, injured, hopeless, and spiritually impoverished. His hand is outstretched, reach out today. He can help if you let him. Reach out to him today.

    Add both the above together for the Altar Call.
    i.e. the Standard Christianese ending.

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  151. Ken F (aka Tweed): I was thinking the same. With the possible exception of Guest’s first reply, Guest is not passing the Turing test. This does not guarantee that Guest is not a human. But when dealing with a type of Christianity that grooms people to fail the Turing test, I suppose this should not be a surprise.

    Again, HOW PATHETIC – OR “OVER-SAVED” – DO YOU HAVE TO BE TO FAIL A TURING TEST?

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  152. Benn: The verse well done thy good and faithful servant is in Mathew 25:21-23
    Key word is servant, but it is translated better -slave, doulos in the Greek .

    I remember a long Gospel Tract (possibly Roy Hession’s The Calvary Road) that used that verse to preach that “WE ARE ALL WORTHLESS SLAVES! GOD HATH SAID! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE!”

    Three guesses how that comes across to someone who grew up on the bottom of the heap (and constantly reminded of that fact). God just Joins in on The Beatdown.

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  153. Lea: I could see that but…what on earth is the point of programming a bot to say this nonsense on comment sections? Specifically this one? Like. Why?

    Another alternative is this is pure satire.

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  154. Muff Potter: I’d rather eat charcoal-grilled tilapia with Jesus of Nazareth in person than listen to one of his handlers prattle on about Jesus.

    Have you checked out the online clip-art strip Coffee With Jesus? I recently acquired both trade-paperback collections and they have much the same effect.

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  155. Ken F (aka Tweed): Lea: I could see that but…what on earth is the point of programming a bot to say this nonsense on comment sections? Specifically this one? Like. Why?

    Another alternative is this is pure satire.

    Which has its own problem, the Poe Effect.

    In an age of extremes like today, as stupid and crazy and over-the-top you can go doing satire, there will be True Believers out there twice as stupid, twice as crazy, twice as over-the-top, and Dead Serious.

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  156. Headless Unicorn Guy: Again, HOW PATHETIC – OR “OVER-SAVED” – DO YOU HAVE TO BE TO FAIL A TURING TEST?

    As you have observed from time to time: “Feature, not Bug.” Training people to fail a Turing test makes it easier to get them to sign ministry covenants and open up their checkbooks.

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  157. Friend: Personally, I hope that chemo nurse gets into heaven, even if he/she missed church the last 15 years and wondered where God was when certain patients died. If I’m allowed to doubt and question, so is a person who gives a lifetime to that service.

    Ever noticed that in much of Christianity, ‘heaven’ is almost always someplace ‘other’, someplace you ‘wanna get to’ with little or no connection to this world?

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  158. Muff Potter: Ever noticed that in much of Christianity, ‘heaven’ is almost always someplace ‘other’, someplace you ‘wanna get to’ with little or no connection to this world?

    Sadly, most believers never fully understand that the Kingdom of God can be experienced in the here and now, Heaven on Earth.

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  159. Magistos:
    Muff Potter,

    Won’t they be surprised at the New Earth, then?

    Many years ago, when I was plugged into a couple decent Christian SF writer’s groups, one of the others uploaded a link to a story he couldn’t sell to save his life. Here’s a synopsis:

    The Rapture goes down, with all the Real True Uber-Christians rising to Heaven singing Hymns as Christ descends from the clouds. Except He passes them and keeps descending until his feet touch the damaged Earth. (What gives?)

    Christ then goes among those Left Behind and renews them and the Cosmos in the ultimate Tikkun Olam. WITHOUT interference from the Raptured Uber-Christians.

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  160. TS00: There is no genuine love and compassion, no desire to know or understand the person to whom they are speaking; rather, they are like a walking, talking spiritual tract, reciting the formulaic promises, commands and questions…

    Like Christ himself when he comes onstage in Left Behind: Volumes 12 & 13.

    Apparently Jerry “Buck” Jenkins (the guy who actually wrote Volumes 1-16) was so afraid of “putting words in God’s mouth” that the majority of Christ’s dialog is reciting chapter-and-verses, either word-for-word or low-end paraphrase rephrasing. I know God is pretty much an impossible character to write (with that Omnisience and Omnipotence), but turning Christ Himself into not just a walking, talking spiritual tract but an MP3 playback?

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  161. Muff Potter: Ever noticed that in much of Christianity, ‘heaven’ is almost always someplace ‘other’, someplace you ‘wanna get to’ with little or no connection to this world?

    And someplace you want to put off getting to as long as possible.

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  162. Friend: Supposedly there is a cheap thrill in tricking people into responding and making themselves look silly.

    My personal opinion is that *we* aren’t the ones who look ‘silly’ treating people as if they are attempting to have a real conversation until proven otherwise.

    But then, I also think people who trust others, who occasionally believe a believable lie, are not the ones who look bad.

    As for its being satire, it’s rather boring for that so who knows. trolling and all it’s varieties is not my bag.

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  163. Headless Unicorn Guy: That provided an anchor to pull me out of Koinonia House and back into reality

    Koinonia House- that sounds familiar. I think I might have had some acquaintances who were members. Was it southern California? Were they arranging marriages between members? Very charismatic?

    Congratulations on getting the heck out of there, HUG.

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  164. Lea: I am always suspicious of people who come in and throw things like this at us, without even attempting to join in the actual discussion at hand. I think that’s why it all sounds insincere, because it’s just words not a conversation and that stands out.

    And yes, condescending as well because it assumes we don’t know all this stuff that they could say already. Most of us have extensive church backgrounds, whether or not we are still attending. You can’t just toss out a bible verse or an empty comment and expect anybody to take you seriously.

    Oh, you mean you haven’t been waiting your entire life just to hear Guest’s magical, anointed words and then suddenly the light turned on and the heavenly music started playing and you were filled with understanding and your whole life transformed?

    Yeah, me neither.

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  165. TS00: He would walk up to you and demand ‘Have you been washed in the blood?’ or some other christian cliche. We were not sure how to respond, and had a hard time not laughing out loud.

    I have met this guy many times, too!

    I guess a person with no ability to actually connect and no interpersonal skills can just learn a few phrases and they’re good to go.

    But, seriously, how many people are commenting here under the name of “Guest”? Seems like I’ve seen at least 3 (including the bot).

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  166. SiteSeer: I guess a person with no ability to actually connect and no interpersonal skills can just learn a few phrases and they’re good to go.

    I suspect that many attempts to apply Jesus’ promises to the apostles to present circumstances are mistaken, and can lead to this sort of embarrassment. For example, Jesus’ counsel to “not worry about what you will say; the Holy Spirit will give you what to say” has, in my experience, been used as part of present-day teaching about personal evangelism. That sort of unpreparedness could oblige one to “fall-back” on “tried-and-true” sound-bites.

    The question of what parts of the text should be regarded to be “timeless warnings or promises” and what parts “for that time” is above my pay grade (but it’s hard to not have any opinions at all; for example, I think that the “gehenna” sayings are directed to Israel in its specific historical situation)’ nevertheless it’s not hard to notice instances when it looks like a mistake has been made.

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  167. SiteSeer: But, seriously, how many people are commenting here under the name of “Guest”? Seems like I’ve seen at least 3 (including the bot).

    That’s why I went with my current handle.
    Originally I used my real first name, but around 10 years ago there were “at least 3” other commenters at IMonk with the same name.

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  168. SiteSeer: Koinonia House- that sounds familiar.

    K-House was founded by Chuck Missler (he’s passed on).

    They were into heavy-duty-dispy-prophecy.

    Back in the day, Missler and Papa Chuck (Calvary Chapel) were close buds until Missler started to go way out into la-la-land with everything from Nephilim aliens, to Bible codes which only the ‘spiritually adept’ can fathom.

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  169. SiteSeer: Oh, you mean you haven’t been waiting your entire life just to hear Guest’s magical, anointed words and then suddenly the light turned on and the heavenly music started playing and you were filled with understanding and your whole life transformed?

    Only in Gospel Tracts, Sermon Illustrations, Campus Crusade Witnessing Practice (using shills), and Christian Fiction(TM).

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  170. SiteSeer: Koinonia House- that sounds familiar. I think I might have had some acquaintances who were members. Was it southern California? Were they arranging marriages between members? Very charismatic?

    Yes, Southern California. Whittier, to be specific, circa 1973-76. They had two large Craftsman-style houses in the older part of town, and had excavated the crawl space of at least one into a full-height dirt basement to put in “barracks” of wooden bunks stacked like “racks” on a Navy ship. They also had a fourplex apartment building where they’d knocked doorways in the party walls between units.

    Do not know one way or another about any “arranging marriages between members”. Do know that all hands were required to Witness in groups along Whittier Blvd every week on Cruise Night.

    Charismatic? Sort of, but what I remember the most of it was End Times Prophecy Fulfillments, AKA The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay. Any Minute Now — DON’T BE LEFT BEHIND! And that everything except SCRIPTURE and Witnessing (Work For The Night Is Coming!) was Forbidden and what was not Forbidden was Compulsory.

    No single “cult leader” (unless you want to count Hal Lindsay in absentia), but a group (Politboro?) of Twentysomething “Elders” running everything. Like YRRs except Rapture Ready instead of Reformed.

    I was under peer pressure from them to flee my Heathen family and move into one of the basement bunks in their compound. Pressure to reduce my life to nothing but SCRIPTURE and Witnessing and Waiting for The Rapture. Like Heaven’s Gate, they had given up on the world around them and were looking up for a spacelift out.

    Some minor peculiarities:
    * They apparently ran a cleaning/maid service for income; only heard of this once, but suspect ALL their members had to work for it.
    * Spoke heavy Christianese, including almost always using the term “The LORD” to refer to God and/or Christ. This was fairly widespread in Christianese at the time; though often pronouncing it all-caps, they did not add extra “O”s.
    * Their favorite Bible was the Dake’s Annotated version. I don’t know how many actually read the King Jimmy text in the center two columns or just went with Dake’s psychotically-dense notes/rants in the outer two.
    * Did NOT like Catholics or any mainstream church for that matter, but Catholics were especially False, Apostate, and Satanic.

    Congratulations on getting the heck out of there, HUG.

    Around 10 years later, their name came up in conversation (either at a wedding reception or infant baptism reception). I was told that several of the ex-members had to be abducted and forcibly deprogrammed.

    Note that they were NOT a CULT CULT CULT. At the time, Christianese Cult-Watch groups defined “CULT” only in terms of aberrant THEOLOGY and DOCTRINE, Not Repeat Not in mind-control-freakery towards their members. And since they had the exact same Theology and Doctrine (Rapture Ready Bible-Alone Fundagelical) as the Christianese Cult-Watchers…

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  171. Muff Potter: K-House was founded by Chuck Missler (he’s passed on).

    Name sounds vaguely familiar, but nothing definite, just “a Ripple in the Force”.
    Any details about the guy online?

    They were into heavy-duty-dispy-prophecy.

    DEFINITELY.
    As I said at length above, that seemed to be their main doctrine to the point of OCD.
    Remember, this WAS during the Dispenstation of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay.

    Back in the day, Missler and Papa Chuck (Calvary Chapel) were close buds until Missler started to go way out into la-la-land with everything from Nephilim aliens, to Bible codes which only the ‘spiritually adept’ can fathom.

    I am NOT Surprised.
    * Papa Chuck and Calvary Chapel were the 800-pound/400-kilo Gorilla in the Christian scene back in that time and place. “Nondenominational Christian” came to mean “Calvary Chapel Clone”. To the point there could be NO Salvation outside of Calvary Chapel (or its clones).
    * As for Nephilim aliens, Sekret Speshul Bible Codes, and other “Just like Pop Paranormal Weird Skubalon, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”, take a look at a Dake’s Annotated Bible sometime. In retrospect, Dake’s commentary reconciling EVERYTHING in the Bible into One True Dogma reads like a psychotically-dense Kook Rant.

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  172. Checked Wikipedia for “Chuck Missler” and the dates don’t seem to check out. No info on the early 1970s (when I was in-country) except an association with Papa Chuck Smith and CC, no dates given (except pre-1992 when he moved his Ministry to Idaho). At the time, Missler was apparently a bigwig in the Big Business scene (FoMoCo and Western Digital). What would he be doing as Secret Master of not-a-cults out here?

    DOES mention he was associated with Hal Lindsay (as well as Chuck Smith) and got in trouble for plagiarism on one of his End Time Prophecy books. (So What Else is New?)

    For what its worth, when I was getting my head shrunk in circa 1987-90, my shrink mentioned that she’d run across Hal Lindsay in San Pedro and as far as she could tell “He wrote those books for the money.” To which my reply was “Great. He’s laughing all the way to the bank while I’m having flashbacks like a ‘Nam Vet.”

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  173. Just a note regarding the overuse of the word ‘brothers’ to the exclusion of women entirely…reading an article on how the ESV has translated everything neutral into masculine and this reminded me of these guys usage:

    “Here are just three examples of masculine nouns in gender-inclusive verses:

    That is why [Jesus] is not ashamed to call them brothers . . . Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God . . . Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession”

    Interesting how the patriarchal outlook so affects language to the exclusion of everyone not male.

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  174. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Hmm….don’t know whether Chuck Missler founded Koinonia, but he did write/edit their newsletter. My mom was big on Hal Linsay in the 70s & 80s and she received the Koinonia House newsletter into the 2000s. I grew up with Late, Great Planet Earth, et al., Chick Tracks, Koinonia House…she was big into all kinds of conspray theories – was a big fan of Immanuel Velikovsy, Charles Fort, etc.

    I think it’s par for the course for narcissists whose chosen ‘area of expertise’ is intelligence / religious (as opposed to business or sexual prowess, etc.), to be into conspiracies. And true to that narcissists trait, she combined the spiritual and secular conspiracies in ways ‘no one else saw’ and looked down her nose at anyone who didn’t ‘see it’ when she explained it.

    It was easier to just go along and agree. But even all these years later, I find it still colors my thinking some. Sigh.

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  175. Jeannette Altes: Headless Unicorn Guy,
    Hmm….don’t know whether Chuck Missler founded Koinonia, but he did write/edit their newsletter.

    I’m not even sure these two Koinonias are the same. Like “Maranatha”, it could have been a popular name for My One True Church groups. The Koinonia House I experienced seemed to be an isolated group without visible ties to any other, but then any connections and similarities could have been explained as the work of The Holy Spirit.

    The connection with Hal Lindsay and Calvary Chapel implies there was at least some influence. “Late Great Planet Earth et al and Chick Tracts” (your description) was Definitely there. But that was part of the surrounding environment at the time.

    I wonder if a lot of similar groups were popping up (or splitting off) as the Jesus People Movement’s life cycle entered its dotage and decline? Most such “successor groups” would have similarities.

    And true to that narcissists trait, she combined the spiritual and secular conspiracies in ways ‘no one else saw’ and looked down her nose at anyone who didn’t ‘see it’ when she explained it.

    The Ultimate Inner Ring of Illuminati, where there is Only One Illuminatus Who KNOWS What’s REALLY Going On.
    Related to The One True Church of One.

    A High and Lonely Destiny, Digory:
    “THE DWARFS ARE FOR THE DWARFS! WE WON’T BE TAKEN IN!”

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  176. SiteSeer: But, seriously, how many people are commenting here under the name of “Guest”? Seems like I’ve seen at least 3 (including the bot).

    I think it’s Julie Ann who has a warning to not use “Guest” or “Anonymous”. Seems like a good idea.

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  177. Headless Unicorn Guy: The Ultimate Inner Ring of Illuminati, where there is Only One Illuminatus Who KNOWS What’s REALLY Going On.
    Related to The One True Church of One.

    A High and Lonely Destiny, Digory:
    “THE DWARFS ARE FOR THE DWARFS! WE WON’T BE TAKEN IN!”

    Yes. Oh…and add Ignatius Donnelly to that mix….

    And I like the two Narnia references – from the start and the end…
    Hmm….just a random thought: Digory’s uncle and Jadis represent two very different manifestations of narcissism.

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  178. Headless Unicorn Guy: Note that they were NOT a CULT CULT CULT. At the time, Christianese Cult-Watch groups defined “CULT” only in terms of aberrant THEOLOGY and DOCTRINE, Not Repeat Not in mind-control-freakery towards their members.

    Our youth pastors did a series of teachings about how to avoid getting duped by a cult. The two they named were the Children of God Movement and the Unification Church. But there were supposedly cults everywhere, so we had to beware beware beware.

    So the ministers started writing a list of things to look for. The more they wrote, the more the list looked like our youth group.

    And they sensed the problem, I believe, because they basically ended up telling us to stick with familiar name brands—churches.

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  179. Friend,

    “So the ministers started writing a list of things to look for. The more they wrote, the more the list looked like our youth group.

    And they sensed the problem”
    +++++++++++++

    ha! that should be scene in a movie. a comedy about christianity. (and by all means NOT a christian movie). it would write itself.

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  180. Muff Potter: Bible codes which only the ‘spiritually adept’ can fathom.

    Speshul Sekrit KNOWLEDGE (“Occult Gnosis”) understood by only a Speshul Inner Ring of “Spiritually Adept” ILLUMINATI.

    Doesn’t “Gnostic” mean “He Who KNOWS Things (and You Don’t!)”

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  181. Darlene:
    Headless Unicorn Guy,

    HUG, that Christian cult that influenced you sounds very much like my former Christian cult.So glad we both escaped those places.One can actually lose their mind if they stay long enough.

    Like the Truly Reformed scrutinized on this blog, they DO tend to follow the same pattern, don’t they?

    P.S. I don’t think I need to worry about your last point. I lost my mind LONG ago.

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  182. Headless Unicorn Guy: Like the Truly Reformed scrutinized on this blog, they DO tend to follow the same pattern, don’t they?

    P.S. I don’t think I need to worry about your last point. I lost my mind LONG ago.

    HUG, I don’t see you as someone who has lost their mind. I do hope you are speaking tongue and cheek.

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  183. elastigirl: ha! that should be scene in a movie. a comedy about christianity. (and by all means NOT a christian movie). it would write itself.

    I’m thinking: “All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public ‘ealth, WHAT ‘AVE THE ROMANS EVER DONE FOR US?”
    “… brought peace?”
    “Oh, PEACE??? Shuddup!!!”

    Only in reverse.

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  184. SiteSeer,

    “That would be great! I think the time is right for a movie like this!”
    +++++++++++++++

    if only Christopher Guest & friends would do one of his mockumentaries…. truly, it would write itself.

    they tackled rock bands, dog shows, folk music, hollywood…

    Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Eugene Levy, Catherine Ohara, Bob Balaban, john michael hitchens, jane lynch, jennifer coolidge, Don Lake, Deborah Theaker, parker posey…

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