Anna Keith Exposes Some Disturbing Counseling Practices at The Village Church

https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/earth-enveloped-in-airglowEarth enveloped in an airglow. NASA 

“On October 7, 2018, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) shot this photograph while orbiting at an altitude of more than 250 miles over Australia.

The orange hue enveloping Earth is known as airglow—diffuse bands of light that stretch 50 to 400 miles into our atmosphere. The phenomenon typically occurs when molecules (mostly nitrogen and oxygen) are energized by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight. To release that energy, atoms in the lower atmosphere bump into each other and lose energy in the collision. The result is colorful airglow.”

“One of the things we need to do as adults and part of becoming an adult is accepting the reality of how adulthood feels – and adulthood feels, at times, like there is a hole in our heart- that there’s something missing. To live in this world has an anxiety associated with it, that there’s NO EDEN ELSEWHERE and that’s part of the struggle. We are searching for something that’s totally elusive in this world and impossible to find. We need to learn to sit in this discomfort and bring it into relationship.”  Milan Yerkovich 


(Warning: I’ve been experiencing some glitching on WordPress tonight. It erased my post and I thankfully had another copy. I apologize for any glitches.)

I am always grateful when new blogger hits the ground running. There is far too much material on abusive churches and pastors for just a few folks to cover. When I first started this blog, I wondered if I would find enough to write about. Now, I worry about how to cover all of the stories that need to be told. Today I met with one woman who was featured at TWW and I urged her to consider starting a blog to deal with the issues in her particular church/parachurch group.

Anna’s blog is called No Eden Elsewhere and subtitled Finding joy in world of tribulation.”  Notice the quote at the top of this post. She quotes Yerkovich and then says this about herself.

“Wow! Such powerful words and an amazing perspective!  When I first heard this on Milan’s radio show, New Life Life, I wrote it down as fast as I could! This concept was so profound to me. I believe that what he said is completely true – we will never find that absolute true perfect peace this side of heaven, therefore we must take the pain and anguish of this life and truly deal with it, then ultimately bring it into relationship. Having experienced a great deal of abuse and dysfunction in my life has caused me to advocate for abuse victims, particularly those who have been wounded in the church. I have spent many years learning to overcome a dysfunctional family system through talk therapy & support groups and want to equip others to cultivate the skills to take control of their lives.

Anna gets abuse and is a thoughtful communicator. She has recently written two posts about abuse in The Village Church.

FROM RECOVERY TO ABUSE: PART I

FROM RECOVERY TO ABUSE: PART II

For purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on Part II which I’ll call Allison’s story. Instead of repeating the post, I’m going to pull out some statements that particularly caught my eye. Readers of TWW will recognize some of these *counseling* tactics that can, and often do, lead to abuse. Before I begin, this is for the lawyers. Of course this story is alleged to have happened. But I want to stress that I believe the narrative because I have seen this stuff played out in other churches during my many years of blogging. It’s almost like there is playbook that is passed around the dudebros, especially those in the Reformed Baptist movement of which Matt Chandler is a key player.

The scenario:

The story begins in 2007 as Allison moves to Dallas to live with a friend who recommended The Village Church.  Allison had suffered with bouts of depression and decided to join the Celebrate Recovery group.

Beware when a church begins to deviate from the suggested course material. It’s usually about the pastors and leaders wanting control.

Allison attended the program for about a year. However, things began to change. Participants should always ask why a change in a known program is being made; who were the people who made the change;  what is the training and expertise of those who make the changes; and what is the proof that the changes being suggested are in the best interest of those attending.

It has been my experience that such changes made by churches have to do with the latest *trends* being touted by the dudebros which may have to do more with stressing church discipline and authoritarian control.

in 2009. It was around that time that TVC began to ‘customize’ the Celebrate Recovery program which then just became known as ‘Recovery at The Village.’

Beware when a church wants a person in a recovery program (or even In a small group) to outline their sins, shame and guilt.

The shift in recovery moved towards confession, which included completing an inventory list of GUILT & FEARS, SHAME, SEXUAL HISTORY & ABUSE (as in Christina’s case: From Recovery to Abuse: Part I).

I have written a number of posts about my concerns with the Biblical counseling movement. This post has links to all the posts I have written on the matter. Another Reason to Avoid Biblical Counseling: Confidentiality Is Not Guaranteed When Sin™ Is Involved

In my opinion, this counseling movement believes that many emotional struggles can be tied directly to the sin of the individual. This sin needs to be confessed. What makes matters even worse, the confession of this *sin* can be shared (no guarantee of confidentially when sin™ is involved ) with the church leaders and just about anyone else they wish to involve so that church discipline can be instituted. As you will see, this is precisely what happened here.

Since the earliest days of the shepherding movement, the confession of sin has been used to punish the individual who confesses such sin. It is used as a sledgehammer with little regard for the emotional well being of the individual involved.

As such, I do not recommend confessing any sins or serious emotional struggle in either recovery groups or small group Bible studies without a guarantee that this will not be shared outside of the group. In fact, unless you have known these folks for a very long time, I would not do any major confessions or admit struggles with sin. This can be dangerous. Most small group leaders and most *recovery leaders* are not trained to handle such issues and can cause terrific harm to a vulnerable individual as you will see in this story.

Red flag: You are asked to move in to a home with a family so you can be mentored.

I have a problem with mentoring relationships. Who sets the parameters? How does the one being mentored  even know if the mentor has sufficient training in order to do what is being asked?  How does the church guarantee that they are not putting a vulnerable individual in the hands of incompetent mentors?

Allison was presented with a list of requirements of her stay with this family and was given a car, a laptop and a camera to pursue her photography passion. Sounds good, right? Here is a list of what she was required to do.  Be sure to focus on the last requirement.

  • Go to Village Recovery every week
  • Go to STEPS every Saturday
  • Meet with a private counselor every week (counselor was Summer Vinson Berger, who is now the current ‘Director of Care’ at TVC)
  • Get up early daily to help Leigh with the children (dress them, prepare breakfast, lunches, etc)
  • Run errands as requested
  • Be home for dinner 4-5 nights a week
  • Participate in family outings
  • Track her monthly cycle on the family calendar

Red flag: If something sounds bizarre, it probably is. Also, be careful with the required sexual history stuff. It will mark you forever in these groups.

Always pay attention to your gut. Allison had to track her monthly period on the Family Calendar(!) to prove she was not sexually active or pregnant since she had confessed some previous sexual activity. Besides being incredibly intrusive, it is next to useless to prove anything by this nonsense. Sexual activity can occur without pregnancy and with a regular monthly period and a monthly period can be late or skipped altogether when under stress.

And putting it on the family calendar for all to see? How absolutely weird is that? Something is wrong here.

Red Flag: If you feel uncomfortable with the behavior of someone, act on your gut.

So, it appears that the dad may have been acting somewhat inappropriately towards Allison.

Brett insisted many times on driving her to work in the mornings and picking her up in the afternoons, as a means to spend more one-on-one time with her. He would also occasionally take her out to dinner or for ice cream – without his wife or children present.

Red Flag: Instead of appropriate psychiatric intervention, Allison was told she had a generational demon and because of this demon was placed on church discipline. (I’m not kidding.)

First of all, I don’t buy *generational* demons. Which genius came up with this doctrine? Read The Covering by Hank Hanegraaff In fact, this teaching is so unusual that I think members of the church should ask Matt Chandler to address it. I wonder if Chandler was getting demon trial lessons from Mark Driscoll?

It appears that Allison struggled with cutting and also experienced a manic episode. Normal people would help the person to seek medical intervention. Instead, these folks got all weird on her.

The McLaughlins took her to see (now former) TVC staff member Chris Chavez and a deliverance pastor. They spoke to Alison and explained to her that the demon that was attached to her was generational and the reason it continued to stay attached to her is because she was entertaining it – by self-harming, drinking, thoughts of suicide, etc. They gave her some books to read about deliverance from demon oppression and told her to KEEP TRYING HARDER! (

…According to TVC, Alison’s ‘demon attachment’ was due to a ‘lack of waging war on her sin, failure to walk in repentance & failure to submit to authority in her life’, therefore she was placed under formal church discipline at the recommendation of the TVC pastoral staff, with whom Brett  McLaughlin had close personal relationships with.

The police and forced psychiatric hospital stay.

A church which believes that demons, church discipline and confession of sins will lead to a cure for a psychiatric disorder is a dangerous church. I recommend that everyone look carefully what happened when. group of women decided that they would intervene to supposedly save Allison’s life.

According to Allison, she was not suicidal. This led them to contact  who were told Allison was going to kill herself. These women even told the psychiatric facility that she was going to kill herself. However, Allison was finally brought to some people who actually know how to handle a psychiatric disorder. She was examined, released and given a bill for $800.

Alison is met downstairs in the kitchen by her home group friends. Mary informs Alison that she has two choices – let her and Alison’s home group friends drive her to a mental facility, or they will call the police. Mary tells her that she has already spoken with the police and that they told her if Alison refuses to go with them, to call them back and they would take her forcefully. Alison pleads with them to not make her go, because she can’t afford to miss work or pay for the hospital stay – and she promises to check herself into a facility if she feels suicidal. They all assure her not to worry about the money, that ‘one way or another it will all be taken care of‘.

With no other choice to make, Alison chooses to go with Mary and her home group ‘friends’ (at this point I can’t say they are her friends). On the way to the facility, Alison texts her friend James and tells him what is going on – that she doesn’t know where she is being taken, except that it is to a treatment facility – and that she would reach out to him when she could.

When they arrive at the facility, Mary begins to exclaim loudly, “My friend is going to kill herself!” so that Alison is taken back quickly to be assessed. Again, her home group friends & Mary keep reassuring Alison not to worry about the cost of the hospitalization.

Then they left.

Alison undergoes a psychiatric evaluation and is released. No one from TVC, except for her friend James, bothers to check up on her.

She was told she couldn’t leave the church due to her signed membership covenant and was put on discipline a second time. This is why I tell you to never, ever, ever sign one of these things. You can get out of it at anytime but they don’t tell you that.

When she returned to her home group, she was also told she didn’t look happy and that she shouldn’t return to her home group. How thoughtful of them…

For those of you who want out, here is a recommended course of action. However, if you are really concerned, consult an attorney. They didn’t tell you that you signed a contract with the church.

How to Resign From a Church Whether or Not You Are Under Church Discipline

Thankfully she got out and got medical intervention (Yes, psychiatric training involves getting an MD) and is doing much better.

Sadly, things are not going so well at The Village Church these days. For example, there is the $1 million lawsuit against the church. Until churches like this get sued and called on the carpet for their ridiculous interventions (generational demon, my foot) they will not change.

Matt Chandler and his boys have lurched from controversy to controversy. It is my opinion that it is high time for new and better leadership at all levels.

In the meantime, I’m grateful to Anna for her thoughtful presentation of these two stories of abuse at TVC. I’m so glad to welcome her to the mind boggling world of blogging. Consider putting her blog on your must read list. I have.


Comments

Anna Keith Exposes Some Disturbing Counseling Practices at The Village Church — 338 Comments

  1. This story is so bizarre I struggle to believe such things actually happened. It sounds like the workings of an extremely dangerous cult. Is it possible to make contact, and get an official response? I mean, seriously, compelling people to do things like chart their period, accusing them of having generational demons (whatever the heck that is), forcing them to go to a psychiatric facility? Things like that follow a person around forever. It sounds to me like another lawsuit needs to be pressed. And people need to be warned of what a nut house this place truly is.

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  2. This comment is solely about the generational demon issue. There are plenty of other problems in the rest of the story.

    I’ve heard of the concept of generational demons before … in a fantasy novel that doesn’t even pretend to be reality (or truly Christian, though a couple characters are Christian). I may have also encountered it earlier in other reading not intended to be fictional when attending a church that was semi- a lot of things, including semi-charismatic.

    Looking at a Google search, there are plenty of results. It also doesn’t surprise that the concept exists. Take certain other prior views that at least can be said to have biblical support (spirits associated with nations as in Daniel 10:13, casting out of demons, etc…) and extrapolate a bit, and the concept can make sense in those prior views, even though it seems weird to most people. I might be able to attempt arguments from within those views against it, but it would be less than overwhelmingly convincing to one who holds those views.

    Here’s a sketch of such an attempt. A nation has a real current existence, a multi-generational family does not. We have lineages of ancestry and descent, but they branch and merge with every generation so the concept is without merit because each new married couple is a merger of two prior families, and the bible is quite clear about the two becoming one that is different from the parents. Multi-generational demons would need to be traced down all descendants of a single ancestor, not up all ancestors of a single living individual which is just impossible unless you spend a lot of time on it which none of these people ever do. (I spent two years researching just who all the descendants of one of my 1860 ancestors are, never mind trying to get enough information to have this sort of opinion on any one of them.) In the end it is better to think of guardian angels and personal tempters (a la C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters).

    So in my mind anyone holding to the multi-generational demon theory is self-identifying themself as in the “not thinking clearly” fringe edge of the believers in demons and casting out demons. If you don’t believe in those concepts, then a fringe edge of that concept is going to be even weirder.

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  3. Years ago I met with a church counselor who was more focused on my family demons than the fear I was experiencing over an upcoming, very serious surgery. We were up past midnight praying/confessing all the things my family had supposedly done. I was vulnerable and fearful, and went through with the process. Looking back on it, I realize now that it wasn’t helping the issue and was actually creating more problems than it solved. I am sorry that Allison had to experience what she did.

    Another issue that I see with the VC approach-is why do so many people need to be involved in the counseling of one person? How is there any confidentiality in that? It would terrify me to know that so many people knew so much about me and my problems, real or perceived.

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  4. Sigh.

    1. The tracking of her cycle, especially on a family calendar, is just bizarre…sick, even.

    2. Being required to stay with a family and essentially be their servant is also bizarre. And the father’s interest…creepy. a dangerous position.

    3. The mental health issues are demons bit…in my experience, more common than you might think, though I’ll admit my personal experiences may be a bit skewed.

    I’ve heard it preached the depression is a sin. Lovely to hear from someone diagnosed with major depression. After I left the cult church, I briefly attended a small local gathering. The beginning of the end for me (and sctually them, too) was when he got on a tangent that all mental health issues are demonic (an idea I grew up being taught) and that the way to ‘treat’ it was to ‘pound on it with the Word, like a hammer on stone, until it breaks.’ This caused a near mental meltdown for me, which, had I let it show on the outside, would have probably triggered an attempted exorcism. Whew.

    The result is, now, I am very reluctant to talk to anyone about specifics on the mental stuff I deal with. I don’t trust that it won’t be used against me.

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  5. So many red flags!

    What on earth is The Village Church thinking?

    Forcing adults to live with families?! This is saying to people that being outside of a nuclear family is somehow…wrong?

    Charting her period on the calendar is completely invasive and totally nuts.

    The generational demon thing–I honestly thought Southern Baptists weren’t into that stuff. Has that changed? Seriously, I want to know.

    The way her “friends” took her to the hospital. I have personal experience with this, except that I was actively suicidal and my friend had to tell me bluntly not to underplay it because I had a very bad habit of doing so. (Yes, I’d gotten discharged from the hospital because I told them I wasn’t as sick as I was.) My friend stood over me until I signed myself in, but I *was* sick. The way Allison’s friends treated her is vastly different.

    The whole thing is crazy. If I were giving advice to TVC and Matt Chandler, I’d tell them to get out of the business of telling adults how to live their personal lives and PARTICULARLY to get out of the mental health business. If there is a person in their community who needs help, they should be referred to a physician or a licensed (by the state) psychotherapist for assistance. Church “counseling” will mess up people who are sane and can cause serious problems for the mentally ill.

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  6. This is so perverted invasive and totally creepy.

    Nxivm cult leader Keith Raniere had his followers give him private dirt on themselves as well.

    Matt Chandler and The Village Church has always sounded like a creepy cult. I am very worried about the kids’ whose parents are dumb and perverted enough to take them to this sicko cult.

    Matt Chandler has made it clear he has pedophiles back.

    People who force their kids to be involved with cults are just selfish bad parents.

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  7. oh my goodness….

    spoken as someone who has grown up in christianworld with a lifetime of observations and direct experience, and who still exercises faith in God/Jesus/Holy Spirit my own way:

    CHRISTIANS TAKE THEMSELVES SO GOSH DARN SERIOUSLY.

    it’s just ridiculous.

    all the characters in this story except for Allison demonstrate this perfectly.

    discerning each other’s farts until they get the glamorous interpretation.

    like “thou hath a hijacking generational demon”

    …the remedy for which is of course, “thou shalt track thy period on the calendar overseen by thy male headship covering with a red pen and marking it thusly.”

    pretty sure neither jesus nor mark twain ever said that one.

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  8. TS00: This story is so bizarre I struggle to believe such things actually happened.

    Have you heard of Nxivm? That old ugly creepy cult leader had women so confused they were paying to be his sex slaves. When you read about cults it is hard to believe anyone would be dense enough to go along with such creepy weird stuff.

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  9. Just finished reading both of Anna’s posts.

    First thought – tracking a monthly cycle is also a way to roughly determine when a woman is fertile or not. Wonder if that ever crossed Mr Inappropriate’s mind.

    Second thought – I witnessed a loved one have a days-long psychotic episode, once. Demon possession was the furthest thing from my mind. (They received professional medical treatment and are in a much better place, now.) That this is what Allison was told is infuriating. The church has a rich history of misdiagnosis of demon possession. Case in point, the Salem witch trials.

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  10. First off, I’ve been lurking on this blog and reading all the comments here for the past several months as I’ve been in a time of intense questioning about real faith and what it looks like compared with what I was raised in (which unfortunately was definitely not healthy). It’s been super helpful and I’m glad it’s here, and I’m happy to see another blogger coming along to let people know about these abusive church environments.

    I’ve read all the links in this post and what I see is just horrifying. I’ve kept up with the sex abuse saga that has now become a lawsuit, and the woman who wanted to get away from her pedophile husband who was put under church discipline, but it’s still somehow surprising the level of control The Village Church was exerting over these people. And the part where everyone seems to always be blamed for their own abuse is sickening to me, it’s something I’ve experienced myself and it made me stick around in some horrible situations for a long time because I thought if I could just get my “sin” under control, or be better somehow, people would stop treating me badly. We all know for a fact that we aren’t perfect, and when you’re hurting, that idea that your imperfections or slip ups are the reason for anything bad that ever comes your way (whether or not these bad things are related to anything you’ve ever done at all) is very powerful. The “counseling” we read about here isn’t freeing you from any “bondage” like these sorts of church leaders try to claim, it is meant to keep you in your shame so people can get whatever they want from you. I’m convinced it’s a tactic straight from Satan’s playbook and it’s just horrid that churches claiming to belong to Christ’s body are doing this. I often wonder if the people involved in collecting these confessions and administering “discipline” actually realize exactly what they’re doing, or if they genuinely believe this is how Christ would have them help people?

    Also, that whole thing where Mars Hill tried to summon generational demons to talk to them is just waaaay too weird. I don’t know how I’d never heard of that until today.

    (I just realized how many quotation marks I’ve used, but it helps to keep the Christianese definitions of these words separate from the real ones)

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  11. Wild Honey:
    First thought – tracking a monthly cycle is also a way to roughly determine when a woman is fertile or not. Wonder if that ever crossed Mr Inappropriate’s mind.

    Sorry, I just can’t wrap my mind around this one. In such a conservative church, with such a focus on keeping one’s self away from sin and not causing another to stumble*, WHO ON EARTH thought it was a good idea for a man to know the monthly cycle of a woman with whom he was living to whom he was not married? And to see it every single time he looked at the family calendar?

    (*Not saying I agree with this attitude, just that if you follow that line of thinking, this situation is clearly designed to fail.)

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  12. “Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life”

    Allison. Sorry to hear of your trouble. Glad your doing well.

    -Compile any expenses, lost wages and allow for the waste of your time. Your time is valuable. Keep it reasonable, but remember to include interest.
    -Send a bill.
    -Terms 30 days. Do not go shorter.
    -It’s nonnegotiable.
    -Remind VC of that go-to text, Matthew 18. To be precise, your bill represents the first sentence of verse 17, and you are 30 days away from telling it to the giving units.

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  13. When I read things like this – ‘generational demons’ – I realise that people will believe any old bobbins if it’s presented in the right way. I feel like parts of the church are so bizarrely hungry for weird, flashy, dramatic stuff they’ll grab on to anything.

    Allison was truly mistreated by these people, & the ‘track her period on the family calendar’ is making me nauseous…what possible decent explanation can there be for that? Anyone? Did the wife have to do the same? Any older female children? Yuck yuck yuck.

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  14. This sounds like typical “Christian counseling”. While at Parkside (Alistair Begg), my wife was told there’s no such thing as mental health, but rather that all issues are faith issues (a lack thereof). As such, her depression went ignored for years, while she literally laid in bed all day, curtains closed, and suffering. At Grace Church, in Bath, Ohio, we found that Celebrate Recovery groups were really just confession and shame groups, that “leaders” were inexperienced bullies who were recruited and bullied into accepting their positions by the two senior leaders. I went through this and adamantly declined accepting the role. One of the senior leaders pressured me into visiting his house for a “mentoring session” when I was new to the group. I felt like I needed the group, and I was still conditioned from Parkside not to resist authority, so I went. At his house we went to his basement office, where he lectured me for two hours about how much radical faith it would take for me to go through the CR program. Then he began to shift to how that radical faith would be needed for me to lead in the group, as well. He then brought in a second man, a street preacher from Akron who had “recovered” from a life of homelessness, drugs, and violence and was now ministering to the down and out of Akron. They wanted me to join him, preaching in the streets. They made it am ultimatum: either I really had faith and I would go with him, or I was insincere and probably faking. I kept declining, and after another 45 minutes of going back and forth, I was free to go.

    Why didn’t I ever just get up and leave before that? I was too conditioned to accept spiritual abuse. The same kinds of things would happen at Parkside for years prior. Bully/shame/ostracize. At the CR group at Grace I saw the same “abused loyalty” to the two bully leaders as I saw at Parkside (and now CCC), that is: the followers could often see that the leaders are bullies and acting in unbiblical ways, but they justify it as “haha, that’s just him being him”.

    (we went there for CR since Parkside refused to start any kind of recovery ministry but only directed interested people to their “Biblical Counseling” group, led by Jonathan Holmes, CCEF)

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  15. First, I an horrified at what Allison suffered. Appalling (alleged) behavior on the part of so-called Christian people.

    Second, about demons. I’ve worked in Asia for nearly 30 years with people who regularly worship idols and make offerings to spirits (of trees, land, deceased ancestors). I’ve seen people possessed and seen entire extended families set free from oppression.

    So a few things about that. In every case, deliverance from demons did not involve “trying harder” on the part of the possessed. Don’t these people read their Bibles?

    Matthew 17- Jesus told his disciples they couldn’t cast out a certain demon because THEY didn’t have enough faith. Mark 9:29 tells the same story with Jesus saying, “this kind only comes out through prayer (or fasting and prayer).” Not prayer/fasting/faith on the part of the possessed person but on the part of the disciples doing the deliverance. A point those at TVC apparently missed.

    Next, if you are demon possessed you know it. The a man among the tombs (Mark 5) knew he had a demon and told Jesus his name was, “Legion for we are many.” People who came to Jesus for deliverance knew they had demons. A friend of mine in Florida saw multiple demons walking around in her home- they left when she asked Jesus to be her Lord and savior and when other believers prayed with her immediately afterward to cast the demons out of the house. Done. And that’s what I’ve seen overseas- demons leave in Jesus name. They don’t hang around until we “try harder”. What a bunch of rot.

    I heard nothing in Allison’s story to suggest demons, just depression. Which is something a whole lot of people in this broken world suffer from- and nothing to be ashamed of. I’m with Dee- church counseling programs with their lack of accountability and wrongly placed emphasis on “personal sin” are bad news.

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  16. Clevin: Why didn’t I ever just get up and leave before that? I was too conditioned to accept spiritual abuse.

    Same reason I did not walk out on a church service years ago in South Carolina where a well known preacher stood at the pulpit and called a certain Democratic presidential candidate a snake. I sat quietly because I had been conditioned to “be polite.”

    But no longer. I rarely go to traditional Sunday services with “pews and preaching” anyway. But I’ve determined that should I ever find myself in such a setting again and should a preacher be slandering others in the name of religion- either political candidates or women via “the beauty of complementarianism”- I am going to get up and walk out. NO MORE. Life is too short to tolerate abuse.

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  17. Also see an uncanny resemblance between Allison’s story (police, forcing her to the hospital) and something which happened to me. I live overseas most of the time but when I was in the US recently a good friend was struggling with drug addiction and severe depression. I don’t know much about the US medical system so I phoned a mutual friend of ours and asked for advice how to proceed.

    “Call the police and have him committed against his will,” came the reply. When I balked he replied, “Well then take him to the psych ward yourself and force him to sign in. I’ll help you out.” Since he was not offering to meet me there I understood he was offering some level of financial help.

    But my addicted friend didn’t have medical insurance and a trip to the psych ward costs thousands of dollars. So instead I found a safe place for him to stay and searched for a medical doctor who would see him without insurance coverage. The good doctor we found works outside the system because he’s tired of health care schemes and just wants to treat patients. The doctor prescribed appropriate legal medication for my friend who has continued to see that doctor during the recovery process.

    Later when I asked our mutual friend for some financial help for the doctor’s bills the answer came back, “I never said I’d give any money!” Looking back I guess he hadn’t. Just like the people in Allison’s life didn’t actually promise anything either. In both cases they implied their help and gave the impression they would “be there” but it was just talk. I struggle to understand how someone who calls themselves a committed Christian can glibly call the police and advocate a hospital stay with no thought to the long term consequence in another person’s life.

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  18. Fisher,

    It’s this type of Christianity which left me disillusioned time and time again! Fix urself !! don’t make me too uncomfortable!! . “Ur problems r ultimately urs to figure out and don’t u know ur sin has gotten u into this position so just submit and obey. Read this scripture practice the disciplines and ur life will improve! “The subtle but so dangerous inplications of the prosperity gospel. The lengths ignorant man goes to to explain emotional health issues as depression! Trauma specialists get this! Abuse wreaks havoc and can explain so many harmful emotional responses. Not wrapped up in “sinful behavior” ! This story continues to make me weep! How I have as well allowed harm to infiltrate our home and my soul because I trusted Christians to help walk out trauma and abuse. Terms I can only now identify. Almost 50 getting clarity and answers has strengthened me more than any other believer has! It’s knowledge and awareness that helps put blame where it lies. Handing over ur power to another does damage and retraimatizes! Alison I hope these responses can encourage u to heal and remove shame and guilt that’s not urs to carry! The degree of control and abuse or power and authority has me fundamentally pissed off!

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  19. Back in the ’80s when I was a student at the Biola U school of mission, there was a class in the Talbot Seminary curriculum called “Spiritual Warfare” taught by Neil Anderson. One of the principal texts in this class was “War on the Saints” by Jessie Penn-Lewis.

    I didn’t have a term for it at the time; the book was a form of gaslighting. It taught that it was not possible to distinguish between your own thoughts and thoughts that evil spirits might be inserting into your consciousness. It seems to me that worrying about this all the time could lead one into mental illness.

    Telling someone “you have a demon and it’s your fault” is a IMO pyschological abuse and a pretext for controlling the person. I strongly suspect that in most cases, what the person has is not an alien spirit influence, but a bad pastor.

    It’s instructive to look at the NT precedents for the idea that demons can oppress people. IIRC, one never sees the sufferer being blamed for the condition; those who make the diagnosis simply solve it by casting the spirit out.

    If these people really were authorized successors of the apostles, they would simply “pray to the Father in Jesus’ name” and cast out the evil influence. But they can’t. Why listen to them at all?

    Which is easier to say?

    “You have an evil spirit!”

    or

    “Evil spirit, depart from this child of God!”?

    But that you may know that the ministry team of The Village Church has authority on earth …”

    But they don’t have authority on earth.

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  20. The problem too often with “Biblical” counselors is that they don’t know their Bible very well. Without a correct understanding of the Word of God, they act on their own authority which is an illegitimate jurisdiction over the spiritual lives of others. In the absence of the authority of Christ in a church, man sets up systems to control others through manipulation, intimidation, and domination. Cults of personality (e.g. TVC) are homes for such aberrations of faith.

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  21. Fisher: demons leave in Jesus name. They don’t hang around until we “try harder”. What a bunch of rot.

    I heard nothing in Allison’s story to suggest demons, just depression.

    What a wonderful insight. I suspect folks on TWW have a range of ideas about what demons are, but you have spoken to the issue underneath these ideas. Jesus did not address every problem by casting out demons. He comforted and healed those who were suffering.

    Many things have power over us only if we give them that power: food sacrificed to idols, circumcision, demons, to give three New Testament examples. Every hour I spend contemplating demons is an hour I do not spend loving God or just going about my business. Whom am I worshiping in that hour?

    People with depression deserve access to helpful resources: physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, loving relatives and friends, trustworthy prayer groups, yoga classes, nature… All of these things can assist with healing.

    These hyper-controlling churches should stop practicing medicine without a license.

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  22. Thechurchlady,

    Amen. My wife was molested as a child and had Christian parents who swept it under the rug. Fast forward 30 years and our marriage was unraveling as she collapsed emotionally, with no idea what was going wrong inside. I had no idea about the abuse, and when it finally came out in our counseling sessions, she insisted everything was fine, because she’d been conditioned to say so… And try to feel so. Our counselor said this was a likely factor in her BPD behaviors, but since she didn’t want to confront the trauma, there was like we could do. My wife’s friends and church counselors reinforced the idea that it was all a faith/sin problem, so she struggled to “try harder”. Our marriage eventually collapsed at the hands of “Christian counsel”.

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  23. Samuel Conner: Telling someone “you have a demon and it’s your fault” is a IMO pyschological abuse and a pretext for controlling the person.

    Funny, that’s exactly what CCC was teaching a few weeks ago:
    https://hudson.ccchapel.com/series/dirty-dozen/2019/06/09/the-demon-possessed-man/

    The man with the demons obviously had them because he had continually given himself over to sin. Conveniently, this message was delivered by the pastor in charge of “family and care”, whose wife is a counselor.

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  24. Friend: These hyper-controlling churches should stop practicing medicine without a license.

    Exactly. To my knowledge, most nouthetic counselors are not formally trained in counseling and are not licensed therapists. At best, they might be “certified” by a group like the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors by taking a few training courses at events or online … but should not be called counselors in the true sense of the word.

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  25. Clevin: The man with the demons obviously had them because he had continually given himself over to sin. Conveniently, this message was delivered by the pastor in charge of “family and care”, whose wife is a counselor.

    “Funny”, isn’t it, how at a remove of 2000 years someone can confidently deduce the personal history of character in a written narrative?

    But they couldn’t see what was going on with Tom Randall in front of their eyes?

    Maybe the leaders are the ones with spirits that are evil.

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  26. I completely agree with Dee… go on your gut…. there are so many “things” that are not “right”…. another old adage that comes to mind… “ where there is smoke there is fire”…..
    TWW has been reporting on many instances of “smoke” coming from TVC….. there must one heck of a fire burning there…

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  27. Dee,

    From the OP: “In my opinion, this counselling movement believes that many emotional struggles can be tied directly to the sin of the individual. This sin needs to be confessed. What makes matters even worse, the confession of this *sin* can be shared (no guarantee of confidentially when sin™ is involved ) with the church leaders and just about anyone else they wish to involve so that church discipline can be instituted.”

    The evidence that I have seen for this is mostly anecdotal, but you are spot on.

    Sin in our lives needs to be dealt with, but we have a mediator for that. Far too often people who need professional counselling are directed toward this type of “confessional” counselling.

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  28. Samuel Conner,

    This was back when Neal Anderson and his “counseling” approach (heavy on generational demons) was coming into its own as well. Both “teachers” had recognition from conservative evangelical teachers instead of the lunatic fringe (think being slain in the Spirit and anointed prayer cloths), and their teaching caught on in all kinds of places. Some of it is downright bizaare, IMHO.

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  29. This story is bananas and anybody that asked me to track my periods on a family calendar of a family I’m not even in would get a resounding NO. What on earth???

    If a church tells you you ‘can’t leave’ spit in their eye. They’re not prison.

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  30. Linn: Another issue that I see with the VC approach-is why do so many people need to be involved in the counseling of one person? How is there any confidentiality in that?

    Group therapy can really work well in a lot of situations, many patients love it. I think it just depends on what we are talking about? Of course, all of my experience is with groups in a licensed therapy situation. I think maybe it’s the community, similar to AA? (of course, even AA only uses first names, right?)

    I absolutely agree with you I wouldn’t want to go confessing every deep dark sin or terrible thing that had happened in a group setting! And I’m leery of things like this being linked to the church you actually attend, rather than a neutral ground with people from all over.

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  31. Samuel Conner: I didn’t have a term for it at the time; the book was a form of gaslighting. It taught that it was not possible to distinguish between your own thoughts and thoughts that evil spirits might be inserting into your consciousness. It seems to me that worrying about this all the time could lead one into mental illness.

    Remember all those Puritan journals, page after page after page of navel-gazing sin-sniffing?

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  32. Jeannette: 2. Being required to stay with a family and essentially be their servant is also bizarre.

    Yes! What even is this? It’s just so incredibly bizarre to me. I suppose this would happen more to someone who was financially vulnerable and maybe thought they were getting a cheap living situation? But that’s what roommates are for. Sheesh!

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  33. Linn,

    Observing that school from a distance over decades, it has seemed to me that it tended to add classes or even programs that aligned with things that were currently trendy. Perhaps the embrace of NA was an early example of what seems to have become a “faddish” character of the evangelical church (in US, at least).

    Trying to recall carefully, I think that “War on the Saints” may have been the only text in that class. There was also a syllabus that was basically an outline of the book with blanks for the students to fill in.

    Much of the class was simply NA telling stories of his encounters with what he described as demonic powers inhabiting his counselees. It was pretty alarming and the fact that the professor was right there reporting his eye-witness testimony was intimidating.

    I don’t know what to make of these stories, but I suspect that most of them were simply instances of dissociative phenomena. And NA’s approach to counseling people exhibiting these phenomena might have actually made the symptoms worse.

    The fad did eventually pass, as far as I can tell, but it left its marks on the churches.

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  34. Mega Moose: Also, that whole thing where Mars Hill tried to summon generational demons to talk to them is just waaaay too weird. I don’t know how I’d never heard of that until today.

    Did they use a proper Summoning Circle (with or without pentacle) and the Proper Sorcerous Incantations given by a summoned angel to John Dee and Edward Kelley?

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  35. WILDHONEY: First thought – tracking a monthly cycle is also a way to roughly determine when a woman is fertile or not. Wonder if that ever crossed Mr Inappropriate’s mind.

    That is such a disturbing thought! Ugh.

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  36. Samuel Conner: “Funny”, isn’t it, how at a remove of 2000 years someone can confidently deduce the personal history of character in a written narrative?

    Exactly. I taught Sunday school for several years and like to think I am pretty familiar with the Bible, but the whole sermon I kept thinking, “where is he getting this stuff??”

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  37. I have been a participant, volunteer, and observer in support programs for 25 years. They have addressed various hardships in peer-based, professional, religious, and secular settings. Every group has been confidential and optional. A hurting person grows strong among trustworthy people who let him/her decide what to say and when.

    Forcing people to disclose their “sins,” and coercing them to accept “help,” makes everything worse.

    If you want to protect someone, you don’t march them down Main Street and strip them naked.

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  38. First of all, I don’t buy *generational* demons. Which genius came up with this doctrine?

    A live role-playing gamer who wanted to be a High-level DEMON Hunter IRL, of course.

    “DEMONS! DEMONS! DEMONS! SHEEKA-BOOM-BAH! BAM!”

    Also, be careful with the required sexual history stuff. It will mark you forever in these groups.

    But then how can the Elders and others in your small-group get their fix of all the JUICY details?

    Pornography for the Pious, and YOU get to be the Porn Star. JUICY! JUICY! JUICY!

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  39. I’ve heard this axiom for years, and I now I know it’s really the truth: “The church is the only army that shoots its wounded.”

    What a terribly sad and painful experience for this woman. My prayer is that she gets the real help and treatment she needs. Mental illness is a disease; no different than cancer or diabetes. Would TVC suggest a person should stop their chemo and ‘chart their cycle’ so that they could rid themselves of their “cancer demon”? Or that by ‘trying harder’ they could exorcise that “diabetes demon” so that they would no longer need insulin? It’s all such utter nonsense. Depression can be successfully treated, but not by being under 24-hour surveillance by your church! THAT’s just creepy!

    Demons do exist, but they don’t lurk behind every bush. This ‘generational demon’ concept seems totally foreign to scripture to me. The Bible makes it fairly clear that we are responsible for our own sins, NOT our ancestors’ sins. When it all boils down–it’s really about controlling people and making them feel that they are inadequate in need of ‘shepherding’. However, our adequacy and sufficiency is found in the One who loves us and gave Himself for us–not some church counseling group!

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  40. Fisher: “Call the police and have him committed against his will,” came the reply. When I balked he replied, “Well then take him to the psych ward yourself and force him to sign in. I’ll help you out.”

    Someone being suicidal is about the only way you can get them in on a hold, maybe that’s what this is about (and then usually 72 hours max).

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  41. The generational demon thing is so strange for a New Calvinist church. I wonder if the counselor was in agreement with New Calvinist theology, or if they were just saying this stuff on their own. Usually, they are all about “it’s ALL YOUR fault”.

    Unless… I wonder if “generational demon” is their way of saying “inherited because you are a woman”, thinking all women must be influenced by demons. I’ve definitely heard a lot of “women are always deceived” from the New Cals, but never heard much explanation attached from that except their mistranslation of Genesis 3:16.

    Them changing the Celebrate Recovery curriculum doesn’t surprise me at all.

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  42. ishy: The generational demon thing is so strange for a New Calvinist church.

    I’ve heard this from Begg’s church as well as Watermark, in Dallas, both of which I would consider neo-cal. They have both said it in the context of blaming someone for their sons, “you have this generational demon because you’re so bad”… which seems like a square circle, to me. I think it’s really just a way to heap double shame on someone, “you are bad and you come from bad.” Shame, then, grooms the victim to see the shamer as savior, “I’m so bad, and yet you want to help me!” The manipulation is very effective.

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  43. Max: Without a correct understanding of the Word of God, they act on their own authority which is an illegitimate jurisdiction over the spiritual lives of others.

    Regarding all of the talk about demons, lets quote an actual text from the Bible: Acts 19:11 “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.” – So not knowing what you are doing or having an actual real relationship with Jesus Christ does not help anyone including those who think they are doing exorcism.

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  44. Root 66: Would TVC suggest a person should stop their chemo and ‘chart their cycle’ so that they could rid themselves of their “cancer demon”?

    Plenty of churches and “good Christians” encourage people to pray instead of seeking medical treatment (it’s worldly, toxic, a government plot, etc.). Some Christians believe that illness is a sign of sin, and that True Christians never get sick. If you do get sick, it proves you’re not a True Christian.

    This morally bankrupt thinking is a huge betrayal of any churchgoer with any condition from sniffles to a stage 4 malignancy.

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  45. Clevin: I’ve heard this from Begg’s church as well as Watermark…
    Shame, then, grooms the victim to see the shamer as savior, “I’m so bad, and yet you want to help me!”

    Huh, interesting. I agree that it probably is effective in shaming someone and reframing the shamer into a savior. Most New Cals I know avoid the topic of demons like the plague, almost as much as they avoid talking about Jesus.

    I still wonder if it was also used simply because Anna was female. I’ve heard some pretty extreme reasoning from New Cals about why women are not fully human like men, and so it wouldn’t be unexpected if they added more theology to that since ESS failed.

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  46. ishy: The generational demon thing is so strange for a New Calvinist church.

    I wonder …

    It looks to me like among the things that distinguish many “new cal” churches (from the more ancient and conventional expressions of Reformed conviction), two of the more consequential features are their independence (and hence no recourse to supra-congregational appeal) and the control that is vested in the senior minister (and hence not even recourse to appeal within the congregation).

    (both of these features are more characteristic of IFB than of traditional reformational churches.)

    A common thread in these two features is the power that it gives to the senior leader.

    IIRC, Mark Driscoll claimed the ability to discern spiritual realities. I think I recall reading that “teaching on the subject of demons” was part of the instructional agenda at MHC.

    Perhaps one should not be surprised by what look like doctrinal discrepancies, particularly if these serve to enhance the power of the leadership. The ability to declare “you have a demon and it’s your fault” gives additional power to beat people down. From the perspective of a controlling leader, what’s not to like?

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  47. Friend: Plenty of churches and “good Christians” encourage people to pray instead of seeking medical treatment (it’s worldly, toxic, a government plot, etc.). Some Christians believe that illness is a sign of sin, and that True Christians never get sick. If you do get sick, it proves you’re not a True Christian.

    This morally bankrupt thinking is a huge betrayal of any churchgoer with any condition from sniffles to a stage 4 malignancy.

    It’s all a very despicable logic that only serves to kick a man when he’s down and piles onto him the insurmountable burden that if he had had enough faith, he would’ve been healed. It is a theology straight from the Pit, and totally sick and twisted!

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  48. ishy: I still wonder if it was also used simply because Anna was female. I’ve heard some pretty extreme reasoning from New Cals about why women are not fully human like men

    I am about this close to going on a rant about the divine feminine honestly, which is to say I agree with you.

    I can roll with the idea of some sort of generational curse, which is really more like unresolved trauma manifesting itself out multiple generations…but thats not a ‘demon’.

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  49. Headless Unicorn Guy: Did they use a proper Summoning Circle (with or without pentacle) and the Proper Sorcerous Incantations given by a summoned angel to John Dee and Edward Kelley?

    Ha! Not even. They just threatened the demon with a “hedge” of thorns. We all know how intimidating a hedge is. 😛

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  50. Off topic but of great interest to the overall TWW mission (my apologies if this has been previously noted):

    https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2019/08/08/child-victims-act-thousands-ny-sex-abuse-victims-seeking-justice/1943641001/

    New York has waived statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, but would-be plaintiffs must file actions within one year, after which the prior statute of limitations will go back into effect.

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  51. The amount of time and energy these churches expend in an effort to control people boggles the mind. What a ridiculous waste of resources. They seem to be terrified of people making their own decisions and taking responsibility for themselves.

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  52. GC: They seem to be terrified of people making their own decisions and taking responsibility for themselves.

    They are terrified that church members will read the Word themselves, allow the Holy Spirit to teach them, and discover the aberrations of New Calvinist belief and practice. It must be a tiring task to always be looking for some new way to control the sheep to keep them in the pen.

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  53. Headless Unicorn Guy: Puritan journals

    I recall that colonial authorities in Massachusetts disapproved of younger single adults living alone. They were thought to be in moral peril and to lead others astray by giving people a place to drink and let their hair down. One unmarried man was tried repeatedly for having parties, and a judge finally ordered him to move in with a family.

    Any church that makes single people move in with families has extremely dark motives. They are stigmatizing unmarried folks and stealing their autonomy.

    Although I have been happily married for a long time, I really did treasure my single years. How happy and contented I was to have a cheap little apartment all to myself. Bliss.

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  54. Clevin: Why didn’t I ever just get up and leave before that? I was too conditioned to accept spiritual abuse

    My whole family left our church back in March. I am wrestling with the same question. Looking back, it was trusting the leaders’ words about the senior pastor. In the last couple of year, things come to light that the whole church culture is build around the senior pastor’s personality, value and perspective but equate them to God’s perspective and value. We were condition to reverend senior pastor’s “wisdom” as God’s. Care and openness is directed upline towards leaders and not a two way street as sheep’s under One shepherd. There were “load languages” to condition one to apply the no-thought “perspectives” and “values”. For example, “people do what makes sense to them” is used often to justify that the problem is with the other person. When good people left the church, you will hear senior pastor preaches that “some people get off the bus” to minimize the event. These “load phrases” sound reasonable but the effect is nobody thinks and ask hard questions anymore. The church becomes a personal cult, worshiping the senior pastor and his “wisdom”.

    It was a “grooming” process. There were red flags but under “trust me” and “loyalty”, I did not see them or brushed them off. My wife has her own story that mimic the re-education of woman in the movie “Stepford Wife” that I did not know about her side of things after we left the church.

    The whole church meniliu is of assimilation to the collective created by the senior pastor. I felt sick to my stomach just typing this out. My family has been with this church for the past ten plus years. My wife and I served whole heartly all those years and ended up building not God’s kingdom but the senior pastor’s kindgom. In sept this year, there will be a new institute with his name on it that was in the plan for a while but NEVER inform the congregation.

    To blog moderator – I have to change my screen name because I do not want to be identitfy with the information I shared. I will stick to this new screen name.

    Thanks. After reading this I was going to let it through without your note at the end. GBTC

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  55. Friend: I recall that colonial authorities in Massachusetts disapproved of younger single adults living alone.

    Well, and Lord Mohler has declared singles over the age of 25 “living in sin” for “intentionally delaying marriage”. Especially can’t have an “uncovered” single woman living alone making life decisions for herself.

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  56. From the No Eden Elsewhere blog

    Exhibit A. Part II of “From Recovery to Abuse:”

    A couple of phrases that Alison told me that were said in the recovery groups stood out to me:
    “WE CHOOSE TO LOVE YOU INSTEAD OF MAKING YOU FEEL LOVED.”
    “WE’VE ALL BEEN ABUSED AND WE ARE ALL ABUSERS.”

    The above could be the most Orwellian Christianese language I have heard.

    Exhibit B. June 17 post, quoting Matt Chandler’s sermon about a member who ended his own life:

    “Mo had all the weapons available to you, to me and to anyone else to combat the lies of the enemy in that moment. In a weak moment, he did not pick up those weapons, he believed in the lie and he took his own life.”

    The “weapons” were apparently a couple of Bible verses and maybe a phone number. What utterly backward and cruel thinking.

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  57. Samuel Conner: IIRC, Mark Driscoll claimed the ability to discern spiritual realities.

    Oy. Driscoll….

    You need to see the talk he gave his staff on spiritual warfare… In it he even talks about intentionally running his car over a pedestrian he believed to be a demon. He says he ran the car at the “demon”, and when he looked back, the “demon” had disappeared.

    REALLY.

    Pt.1 https://youtu.be/LUePEmUA6uE

    Pt.2 https://youtu.be/JH65XFaW6ao

    Pt.3 https://youtu.be/dVGfBvC6-zU

    Pt.4 https://youtu.be/yXf2VXhqHJo

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  58. Anna Keith’s posts have been great and I could spend the rest of my workday opining on the insanity of it all, including a crude remark about what the male ministers are doing with those sexual history spreadsheet tabs.

    The Village Church glamorizes the idea of your “authentic community” fixing severe mental health issues. This is how the brokenness stuff works in actuality – only some people have to be broken and struggling. The rest are the elite Christians eager to add saving these people to their resume. How eager? See Alison’s story.

    I think you see this in Anna Keith other’s post about The Village, where Matt Chandler addressed a young man on non-ministry staff who committed suicide:

    http://noedenelsewhere.com/staff-member-at-the-village-church-committed-suicide-matt-chandler-shamed-him-from-the-pulpit/

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  59. Root 66: Would TVC suggest a person should stop their chemo and ‘chart their cycle’ so that they could rid themselves of their “cancer demon”?

    My writing partner (the burned-out preacher) has told me of encountering some who WERE That Far Gone.
    But they seem to be very rare.

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  60. Friend: Some Christians believe that illness is a sign of sin, and that True Christians never get sick. If you do get sick, it proves you’re not a True Christian.

    Yeah – I grew up with the concept that if your prayer wasn’t answered, it’s because you either gad ‘secret’ sin or your faith was too weak. Either way, your fault. The cult church it’s was often also taught the lack of healing was a ‘faith failure’ and Christians should not be sick. Their church slogan was “Living above the storm.”

    Imagine what this teaching did (secret sin, especially) to a child being molested. I still struggle with the concept that the problem is me…

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  61. Wild Honey: WHO ON EARTH thought it was a good idea for a man to know the monthly cycle of a woman with whom he was living to whom he was not married? And to see it every single time he looked at the family calendar?

    A man who “gets off” on that sort of thing?

    “She’s… Ovulating…”
    South Park

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  62. ishy,

    We have taught our offspring that enjoying one’s own company is a crucial ability, and living alone is a life skill—as is maintaining a happy marriage.

    Is there any evidence that calling single people sinners is an effective way to promote marriage?

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  63. Stan: Matt Chandler addressed a young man on non-ministry staff who committed suicide:

    http://noedenelsewhere.com/staff-member-at-the-village-church-committed-suicide-matt-chandler-shamed-him-from-the-pulpit/

    “How can a man of God stand in front of thousands of people and shame a man who isn’t (and can not) even be there to defend himself? What’s worse is Chandler talks about how rough it had been for HIM and HIS STAFF all week – well hey, what about Mo’s family and friends MATT? How do you think they felt when you got up there and talked about how sinful and selfish Mo Murray was, just a week after he took his own life? What kind of crass and heartless individual does this?” (Anna Keith)
    Through this sad event, Matt Chandler has proven (1) he is not a man of God; he is a preacher-boy … there’s a big difference, (2) he is the one who is sinful and selfish, (3) crass and heartless are not fruit of the spirit.

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  64. Friend:
    ishy,
    We have taught our offspring that enjoying one’s own company is a crucial ability, and living alone is a life skill—as is maintaining a happy marriage.

    Is there any evidence that calling single people sinners is an effective way to promote marriage?

    I doubt it. But my friends in New Calvinist churches say they have a much higher ratio of single men to single women, which is pretty much opposite every other church I’ve been to. And New Calvinist churches mostly depend on baiting men with holding positions in hierarchy, so men not having wives mean they don’t have power over someone and might leave.

    Most of the single New Calvinist men I have known were both extremely arrogant and at the same time act like toddlers who can’t care for themselves at all. Some had mothers who still did everything for them. New Calvinism appealed to them because they didn’t want to be adults and were promised servant wives who were required to do anything they demanded.

    I imagine Mohler wanted to keep his YRR happy and content through implied slave class ownership, not unlike the purpose for which the SBC was founded. I am just not sure Mohler knows much about the ratios of actual churches being in a seminary with mostly men.

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  65. ishy,
    An interesting addendum to that, a friend of mine has been following an atheist movement to marry homeschooled women who weren’t allowed to go to college, because they surmise they would be docile servants.

    I read some of their propaganda and it was nuts. But it was obvious to me that they totally didn’t understand Christian fundamentalist culture at all, because they seemed to think those women would be making decisions for themselves outside of their families. They didn’t mention the women’s fathers at all, and that’s something a fundamentalist Christian would never forget.

    So, I believe these kinds of things are a product of patriarchal culture of all stripes and can happen in any religion or type of faith.

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  66. In 1 Timothy 4:1 Paul warns believers not to get involved in “doctrines of demons”. Satan certainly wants to draw our attention away from Jesus and onto himself. I believe that the casting out of demons by Jesus and his disciples was to prove that Jesus was the Messiah and that he had all authority over Satan and his demons. There are no instructions in the epistles, directed at the church, to get involved in the casting out of demons. Our only instructions are to resist Satan and his lies, and to stand firm in our faith.

    The work of Jesus on the cross takes care of all our sin problem… there is nothing we can add to that with “deliverances” or self-effort. Satan was conquered at the cross and we can live in complete FREEDOM from his power. “Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world”. (1 John 4:4)

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  67. Dee “First of all, I don’t buy *generational* demons. Which genius came up with this doctrine? Read The Covering by Hank Hanegraaff In fact, this teaching is so unusual that I think members of the church should ask Matt Chandler to address it.”

    I wish I did not have to address this here, but this is so blunt and it is by the moderator and main writer of the blog, so what else can I do? First of all Hank Hanegraff is the kind of Christian celebrity that I would not promote, but rather warn against as much as the others. This guy is not humble, and also very devoted to his own fame and celebrity status. Knowledge puffs up and anyone claiming to be THE Bible Answer Man as in the whole thing, is the opposite of the humble leaders that we really need. I would recommend not buying his junk, nor would I recommend anyone listen to him. Do your own study if you can, for that is what the Bereans were praised for. Speaking of that, here is my own study:

    This second issue, brought up so loudly and then echoed in this echo chamber by many others is where does the term “generational demon” come from and can it be found in the scriptures? Forget for the moment who is using it. They also use many legitimate biblical terms, but that does not mean that they understand them, have any wisdom about them nor actually practice what God intended. Their use of certain terms does not automatically mean that these terms are false.

    So, I did a search on “familiar spirit” in a KJV search engine and came up with 466 hits. Many were false hits but there are a lot of scriptures that use the term. All of them I could find were in the Old Testament. These include Leviticus 19:31, 20:27, Duet 18:11, 1 Sam. 28:3, 7-9, 1 Chron. 10:13, 2 Kings 21:6, 23:24, Isa 8:19, 29:4, this list may not be complete but the term is used. In these contexts it is being used to describe spiritists and fortune tellers who were forbidden to be sought and whom God ordered to be put to death. So, according to God, these spirits do exist and people involved in witchcraft willingly and eagerly interact with them.

    Do evil spirits exist? The Bible says that God sent an evil spirit to torment King Saul. (1 Sam. 16:23) It also states that God sent a Lying Spirit to go speak through the false prophets. (1 Kings 22:19-23) Also, Jesus’ ministry was going about and healing the sick and casting out demons. So if you believe in Jesus and the Bible then you are stuck believing that they are real. In this vein, then demon possession must be a real thing or else the whole story about the man with a legion of them and the pigs that committed suicide is just a fairy tale.

    So where does the term generational demon come from? It appears to be by taking what is called the generational curse from Num. 14:18 and Exodus 34:7 which, if you believe the Bible, is a real thing and adding to it the idea that demons whom regularly hang out with a family become part of that curse. CS Lewis in his famous “Screwtape Letters” spoke about demons looking at people “as their food.” If you believe that then a sin, like anger and rage, gets passed down from father, to son, to grandson, and even to the great-grandson. A demon associated with rage then would look to the whole family line as a continuing food source. He moves between different family members whom have rage issues and tempts them just as the Devil tempted Jesus. The idea that demons do tempt us is very biblical. This spirit becomes familiar with the triggers of all of the family members. When the father dies, he continues with as many family members as one spirit, whom is not omni-present, can handle. I do not know how many that is, but they can bring in others. To me this idea is not outrageous, but looks very practical. In my case there has been mental illness passed down from generation to generation within my family and there does appear to be certain spirits in common that ride along with this for food.

    I do believe, not in the extreme position of there is demon possession, and then there is nothing and nothing in between. But rather in the teachings concerning demonization which came to me from John Wimber. So there is a scale of influence that they have on people’s life, where possession is only the extreme on the scale. The amount of power or influence they have over anyone is proportional to how much we listen, as oppose to choose to ignore, their suggestions and temptations. Their power over us grows or lessens upon how much attention we give to their evil suggestions.

    My own point of view is strongly influenced by a very real personal experience with exorcism I had many decades ago. I would describe it as voices in my head that I sometimes heard that were suddenly gone. The change was quite noticeable for me. They did not possess me, but they did have influence and made my life worse.

    In closing I will say that, coming from a Charismatic and Pentecostal background, I have heard many different things taught about generational curses and demons. They range from being very sound to being very out-there. I have noticed this about every theological topic under the Son. I am concerned that in this echo chamber that too many times that blanket judgments are thrown out and things get condemned due to the worst extremes and abusive environments that misuse certain legitimate things. The misuse of anything which includes exorcism, counseling based on the Bible or actually trying to help someone who has real problems does not negate the legitimate use of these things. And thank God for that otherwise we would all be a whole lot worse off than we really are. Again, the most extreme elements and uses do not mean that everything related to the label is evil.

    I do not believe that demons cause any form of mental illness, instead they feed on what is already there and they suggest things into the minds of those with disorders that would only make things worse. After all they are liars, thieves and murderers we are told in the Bible. Casting them out can remove torment. Because Jesus said that he will send tormentors to those whom refuse to forgive their brothers and sisters, this is one way to interpret that scripture, that just as Saul got a demon sent by God, that can also happen to others. Exorcism could happen then simply by forgiving others and asking God to remove the tormentors from your life. I hope I have answered this question. What you want to believe about all this is holey up to you.

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  68. Mary27,

    Thank you so much for posting this! 1 Tim. 4:1-5 paints a perfect picture of what is wrong in high-demand churches, as well as what can be right:

    Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron. They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer.

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  69. Friend: “WE’VE ALL BEEN ABUSED AND WE ARE ALL ABUSERS.”

    This is SO telling.

    I know when I first saw lists of ‘abusive’ behavior I did not fully understand and thought where does this turn from having a bad/meanish day to abuse. The answers are out there and clear, however, this ‘we are all abusers’ thing makes it really easy to dismiss other people’s pain. How terrible a thing to teach. I have had a rude or insensitive day, or moment, here and there, but I am NOT an abuser. Most people aren’t.

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  70. Max: What’s worse is Chandler talks about how rough it had been for HIM and HIS STAFF all week

    I got a series of (belated) apologies the other day and my friend mentioned that they were all about how much everything bad this person did affected *him*. Same deal here. Hello Narcissism.

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  71. “I had one singular Unhappiness, which befel mee, in this Journey. I had largely written three Discourses, which I designed both to preach at Salem, and hereafter to print. These Notes were before the Sabbath stolen from mee, with such Circumstances, that I am somewhat satisfied, The Spectres, or Agents in the invisible World, were the Robbers. This Diaster had like to have disturbed my Designs for the Sabbath; but God helped mee to remember a great part of what I had written, and to deliver also many other Things, which else I had not now made use of. So that the Divel gott nothing!”

    (Cotton Mather, Diaries, October 1693)

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  72. Lea: The answers are out there and clear, however, this ‘we are all abusers’ thing makes it really easy to dismiss other people’s pain.

    Not just dismissing it, but actively abusing is basically okay, because “we can’t help it”. It goes back to their “end justifies the means” theology. But it has no place in their arguments about hierarchy being necessary, so I think it’s all just excuses to do what they want while claiming they have God’s approval to tell everyone else what to do.

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  73. ishy: it’s all just excuses to do what they want

    I definately think this every time I hear men describe how ‘all men’ want to do XYZ, XYZ being controlling and abusing and sexualizing women and young girls, constantly.

    No, babe, that’s not everyone. that’s you.

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  74. Mr. Jesperson,

    I don’t think you have given me the benefit of the doubt in your comment. I recommended HH’s books because it is one of the best short reads out there on the subject of demon possession which, in short summation, is ‘Don’t make too much of it.” I don’t care if you don’t like HH. I learned a bunch from him in the past. And, in case you think I’m a fan girl, years ago I wrote a post speaking about some of his issues. Of course there was the book Counterfeit Revival which documented excesses in some of these circles which might be a uncomfortable for some.

    Then you go off on giving us John Wimber who is known for his dabbling in the weird. I know you are charismatic and Pentecostal.I remember when you went off on me because I didn’t like Chris Conlee getting prophesies from 4 year old kids at IHOP. I am also not a huge fan of IHOP but you’ll have to live with that.

    Here’s the deal. I am not Pentecostal and I am not a fan of Wimber. You are welcome to your beliefs. But, do me a favor. You comments can be very long. If you want people to read it them, make them a bit shorter.

    Also, if you are charismatic and Pentecostal, you should consider starting your own blog. There is definitely room for it.

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  75. Sowre-sweet Dayes,

    Your experience is astoundingly similar to my own. We’ve been out for 3 years, but still sorting out all of the damages. Marriage may not recover and we all have scars.

    We too saw the red flags, but never realized how many there were until after we left. But we were loyal, forgiving and willing to overlook evil. Until the body count grew too large, and I began to fear for the safety of my family as well as my own soul.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. The entire setup of the institutional church lends itself to mindless trust and submission, as well as the overlooking of misdeeds. One of the reasons many of us comment here is to use our hard won lessons to warn others to be more wary.

    I pray for healing and peace for you and your family.

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  76. Generational demons? Oh yes, that was taught by Bill Gothard in the Basic Life Principles seminars in the late 80s as the reason you didn’t want to adopt kids – they’d bring “generational demons” into your home. That was before adoption became a “good Christian thing” to do – they just quit teaching that when the politics changed I guess. Since I started going to those seminars when I was a good little 13 year old, it freaked me out about adopting and I, sadly, never did manage to kick the scare.

    Boy, some parts of Christian teaching have been REALLY screwed up – but you don’t even know it until you’re out and looking back and going . . whoa, seriously, *I* believed that?!

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  77. Hi, Mr. Jesperson!

    Hank Hanegraaf has converted to Eastern Orthodoxy, which puts a pretty huge emphasis on humility. And no, not the kind of “worm-theology” humility CJ Mahaney favors. Rather, Orthodoxy grounds its theology of humility in the Scriptures; in the Church Fathers; and in the age-old writings of saints, ascetics, and mystics. This theology has a venerable pedigree, IOW.

    All of this is to say that I think Hank has probably moved beyond the know-it-all arrogance you rightly object to. He is also very ill (cancer, I believe). I would suggest cutting him a lot of slack these days. 😀

    Like you, I am definitely NOT a cessationist. I believe in deliverance ministry, exorcism, etc. etc. To tell the truth, I even incline toward the idea that there are “generational demons.”

    But we have to be very, very careful with this stuff. That’s why my Church requires exorcists to be properly trained (with special training in psychology) and to be under the authority of the local bishop. There’s too much potential for people to go off half-cocked — playing with fire (so to speak), getting out of their depth, misidentifying neurochemical problems as “possession,” and so forth…not to mention seeing demons behind every door and under every bed.

    There is *huge* potential for abuse, in other words.

    The scenario described in the OP has “abuse” written all over it IMHO. It struck me as extremely disturbing. Creepy, even.

    It also struck me as oddly familiar. It reminds me of the ecumenical (60% Catholic/40% Protestant) “charismatic covenant community” my goddaughter belonged to for 23 years. That community routinely used what I’ve come to call “weaponized deliverance ministry” to force questioning and recalcitrant members back into line.

    If someone questioned the self-appointed-for-life “heads” and “elders,” he or she was subjected to “deliverance sessions” to drive out the spirit(s) of rebellion, divisiveness, or whatever. Untrained “deliverance ministers” — who did not have Clue One — would claim to be able to identify the specific evil spirits oppressing the questioning member. More often than not, the “spirits” these ministers “identified” conveniently matched up with “traits and behaviors the Self-Appointed Demigod Elders would like to suppress.”

    It was a recipe for extreme spiritual abuse, and it left broken lives in its wake.

    One need not be a strict cessationist to be wary of this stuff. It’s very, very dangerous, in a whole host of ways.

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  78. About having the lady track her period on the family calendar – yes, it’s tasteless and weird.

    However, in addition to that, it’s ineffective.

    Not all women get a regular period, so you cannot use that to gauge whether or not a woman is sexually active or not.

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  79. ishy: I am just not sure Mohler knows much about the ratios of actual churches being in a seminary with mostly men.

    Last I heard, Mohler was blaming single women for being single.

    He thinks all of us single women deliberately avoided marriage because we’re obsessed with climbing a career ladder.

    I don’t know if he still does it or not, but a few years ago, Mohler was publishing (with much glee) studies to his blog that claim that single people lead miserable, lonely lives and will die much sooner than married people.

    I am like, dude, if you’re trying to promote marriage, I guess that is OK, but don’t do so at the EXPENSE of single adults, you dolt.

    (And, btw, those “married people live happier and longer” studies have been debunked by Bella DePaulo. You can find her articles at Psychology Today’s ‘Living Single’)

    Is Singleness a Sin? by Camerin Courtney
    -(A Response to Al Mohler’s Anti-Singles Bashing)
    August 11, 2004
    http://www.unmarriedamerica.org/solo-essays/singleness-sin.htm

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  80. Mr. Jesperson: First of all Hank Hanegraff is the kind of Christian celebrity that I would not promote, but rather warn against as much as the others. This guy is not humble, and also very devoted to his own fame and celebrity status. Knowledge puffs up and anyone claiming to be THE Bible Answer Man as in the whole thing, is the opposite of the humble leaders that we really need.

    Hank H was chrismated into the Eastern Orthodox church a couple of years ago, leaving behind evangelicalism & its view of the scriptures, & hopefully its arrogance. He’s also been suffering from lymphoma for a couple of years now, so I think you’ll find he is walking a very different path now.

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  81. dee: … on the subject of demon possession which, in short summation, is ‘Don’t make too much of it.” …

    Someone once said that heresy is an overemphasis of a long-neglected truth. Chandler and his generational demon teaching is making too much of the demonic. Scripture says that which comes against the church and individual believers falls in three categories: the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world and the flesh are doing such a great job getting us off course in the American church that the devil seldom gets involved. We will know it when he does.

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  82. Beakerj,

    Thank you, Beaker. Do you know how many evangelicals three him under the bus for his conversion?

    When I went through my crisis of faith many years ago, I used to listen to his shows that dealt with questions and answers regarding the Bible. His knowledge allowed him to answer question rather quickly. I decided that I wanted to be able to have such an understanding of Scripture so I could do the same thing.

    That forced me to study and challenge myself.I wanted to be able to fully understand how we got our canon and why I could have confidence in the Bible as we see it today. I wanted to be able to have reasonable answers to some very difficult questions. I will always be grateful to his show for helping me during a rough patch in my belief.

    I think that Mr. J. is more upset with HH’s view on the extremes in the Charismatic Movement since he tips in that direction. HH was also helpful to me in that regard. I needed to be schooled in some of those excesses and HH would play recordings of those folks to prove his point.

    In the end, HH helped me in growing in my understanding of my faith.

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  83. GreekEpigraph: Generational demons? Oh yes, that was taught by Bill Gothard in the Basic Life Principles seminars in the late 80s as the reason you didn’t want to adopt kids – they’d bring “generational demons” into your home. That was before adoption became a “good Christian thing” to do

    Several years ago, Christian host Pat Robertson made some really insensitive comments about adopted children. He was telling his Christian audience to avoid adopting, because adopted kids are messed up or something.

    Been awhile since I’ve seen that, I can’t remember the details, let me see if I can find that on You Tube.

    Outrageous: Pat Robertson Adoption Comments
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKiYEXmdR0U

    There’s also another video on You Tube with this heading:

    “Pat Robertson: Don’t Adopt Sexually Molested Children, Could Grow Up “Weird””

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  84. GreekEpigraph: Generational demons? Oh yes, that was taught by Bill Gothard in the Basic Life Principles seminars in the late 80s as the reason you didn’t want to adopt kids – they’d bring “generational demons” into your hom

    No wonder people get confused. There was another guy who used to teach that you shouldn’t buy antiques for the same reason. I can’t remember his name.

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  85. TS00,

    There must be a playbook out there, this sounds like the same exact track our former church is on, too, right down to the institute with the senior pastor’s name on it and the training of the Stepford-wives-wannabes. And I say this as a stay-at-home mom who loves her “job,” but just because it works for you and your family doesn’t mean that God decree-eth it for all the rest of the world.

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  86. Here’s a thought about TVC and their “disturbing counseling practices.” New Calvinism is starting to run out of steam for folks like Chandler. He has always been on the extreme side of the new reformation which came from hanging out with Driscoll and Acts 29 (he is now President of Acts 29). Their macho-man approach to ministry and gospel-centered coffee just doesn’t appear to be appealing to the young, restless and reformed as it once did. They are getting restless for more, so some of their leaders are dabbling in the charismatic and other gimmicks to keep the masses in their pews. Counseling your generational demons, ranting about a staff member who committed suicide as “sinful and selfish”, chastisement from the pulpit about reading watchblogs, etc. will sure get the pew’s attention. Is the demonic at work there? Sure sounds like it … or perhaps it’s just flailing attempts in the flesh to keep TVC from unraveling.

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  87. Lengthy quotes coming up.

    “The “Third Wave” is a term coined by former Fuller Theological Seminary professor C. Peter Wagner in several articles and books he wrote in the 1980s. These writings grew out of a course he taught with John Wimber, “Signs, Wonders, and Church Growth.” The name described what he and some of his colleagues viewed as a new evangelical movement of the Holy Spirit—the latest in an historical succession with two previous “waves,” the birth of Pentecostalism at the turn of the twentieth century and the charismatic movement of the 1960s and early 1970s. Though this self-described Third Wave of American evangelicalism has received only minor attention from reli- gious studies scholars, its influence can be seen in as variant examples as the New Apostolic Reformation’s 2011 prayer conference featuring former Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry; televangelist Pat Robertson’s 2010 comment that the Haitian earthquake was caused by a pact the country’s founders made with Satan; former Alaskan gover- nor Sarah Palin’s videotaped deliverance prayer by an African exorcist; and evangelical missionary strategies in Asia, the Caribbean, Africa, and Latin America.”

    “Demons play the crucial role in the Third Wave imaginary. Third Wave practitioners’ interests in demons are, to quote the historian Walter Stephens’ description of medieval European demonologists’ concerns, “inseparable from their theological concerns, not an eccen- tric sideline.”31 As spiritual beings who regularly take on a physical presence in the material world, demons do several kinds of work in the Third Wave imaginary. First, they provide a very material and spa- tially located form of theodicy, explaining why certain places, objects, and people have been—and continue to be—witness to tragedy and sin. Events and phenomena as variant as plane disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle, the 2010 Haitian Earthquake, haunted houses,generational alcoholism in families, and national financial crises are all explained via some combination of human sins and demonic activities. Second, demons are the focal point of attention and attack in spiritual warfare. Because Satan and his evil spirits stand between the individual and her salvation through Jesus Christ, expelling demons from people, objects, and places is the goal of spiritual warfare prac- tices. Third, and most broadly, in asserting the reality and even phys- ical presence of demons, one simultaneously asserts the reality of the entire Third Wave theology of God, Satan, and the spiritual world. To put it simply, without the demonic there would be no Third Wave spiritual warfare”
    (Sean McLeod, ‘American Possessions: Fighting Demons in the Contemporary United States’, Oxford University Press, 2015).

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  88. Mega Moose:
    I often wonder if the people involved in collecting these confessions and administering “discipline” actually realize exactly what they’re doing, or if they genuinely believe this is how Christ would have them help people?

    I know a couple of people semi-personally who were in the process of going into biblical counseling. For them, it did seem motivated from a genuine desire to help people. But hearing so many stories coming out on the other end, I have to wonder where along the road it crosses from genuinely helping people to manipulating and controlling them into doing what you think will help (whether or not it actually turns out to be helpful). And isn’t this a balance/fine line we have to navigate in so many other contexts, too? Parenting, politics, even the debate over the role of free will and sovereignty of God in an individual’s salvation.

    The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but that doesn’t change the destination.

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  89. Beakerj:
    When I read things like this – ‘generational demons’ – I realise that people will believe any old bobbins if it’s presented in the right way. I feel like parts of the church are so bizarrely hungry for weird, flashy, dramatic stuff they’ll grab on to anything.

    Allison was truly mistreated by these people, & the ‘track her period on the family calendar’ is making me nauseous…what possible decent explanation can there be for that? Anyone? Did the wife have to do the same? Any older female children? Yuck yuck yuck.

    .

    Exactly my thoughts.

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  90. ishy:I’ve heard some pretty extreme reasoning from New Cals about why women are not fully human like men, and so it wouldn’t be unexpected if they added more theology to that since ESS failed.

    If only they knew that the source of this is a pagan theology! I wish I could cite a source, but I distinctly remember learning in a Greek class that the ancient Greeks thought that women were simply incomplete men, with one of the evidences being that women tend to have a lower body temperature than men. Thus, they weren’t “baked” as long in the womb, and came out inferior. Stands in sharp contrast to “in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them,” no?

    Again, read your history, people.

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  91. dee: No wonder people get confused. There was another guy who used to teach that you shouldn’t buy antiques for the same reason. I can’t remember his name.

    Part One.
    That may be Perry Stone you are thinking of.

    Perry Stone | Purging your House 1
    (there is also a part 2)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCubNhPZFEc

    I think I remember Stone saying on one show years ago – over ten years, maybe – that demons can attach themselves to vases or something, so he advised watchers of his show not to buy trinkets (like vases) when they go on trips to foreign countries.

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  92. Friend,

    My lifelong singleness that I resigned myself to at 40 and now cherish, has allowed me the privileges of 15 years missionary service, ten years of raising my sister’s kids when she had lifestyle challenges (it could have been foster care), helping with the founding of a Spanish church plant..,now I cherish my networks, friendships, and, most of all, the God who gave it all to me. I think Mohler and his ilk need a refresher on 1 Cor 7 and the life of Paul.

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  93. Linn: I think Mohler and his ilk need a refresher on 1 Cor 7 and the life of Paul.

    I suspect that they don’t need refreshers; they know the text as well as, or better than, we do.

    The age of apostles has passed; today is the Age of Institutions. Getting everyone paired up early and busy with the concerns of life, and then fully or more than fully occupied with serving the interests of the institutions, might be a way of limiting the number of people who have time to think.

    Having “the mind of Christ” is potentially disruptive; best to simply be likeminded with whoever is in charge of the institution you are affiliated with.

    This sounds really cynical, and I suppose that it is. But it seems very odd to be vocal about how sinful singleness is but so quiet about the abuse of minors.

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  94. ishy: I’ve heard some pretty extreme reasoning from New Cals about why women are not fully human like men

    Yeah, like women are mere “derivatives” of God’s image.

    “It may be best to understand the original creation of male and female as one in which the male was made in the image of God in a direct, unmediated and unilateral fashion, while the female was made image of God through the man and hence in a indirect, mediated and derivative fashion.” – Bruce Ware

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  95. Daisy,

    And people wonder why Christianity is losing it’s “influence” on our culture? (P.S…. I am not one to believe that America was ever a true “Christian” nation )
    On a different note, driving home listening to NPR, they had a story on why conspiracy theories are so popular…. they had a number of talking heads ( I guess talking mouths on radio?), and one of them was “the head of SBC seminary, Al Mohler”….. i just about had a heart attack!

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  96. Samuel Conner,

    Just for the record, I’m not a feminist in any sense of the word, and the church that I belong to is complementarian in practice, but that’s not the gospel they preach, either. However, singles are valued and busy in a number of ministries that probably wouldn’t exist if we weren’t so available, and we are told that our contributions are important. The Neo-Cals seem to over-blow certain doctrines of Scripture so they can control people, and that is not good.

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  97. Daisy: …really insensitive comments about adopted children. He was telling his Christian audience to avoid adopting, because adopted kids are messed up or something.

    The first known adoption in my family happened in the early 1860s. Half of my generation, and half of the next generation down, are adopted under many different circumstances. The struggles of some adoptees are also found in biological families. The superstition that adopted children carry demons is completely evil, based on xenophobia, ignorance about child development, and a ridiculously overstated value of the marriage bed. Still, it’s probably better that Christians with such crude ideas refrain from adopting.

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  98. Mr. Jesperson: “familiar spirit”

    Thank you for introducing this term. Please forgive me for a reply that is not about demons but about folk beliefs.

    Today, American Christians often view anything supernatural from any other religion or culture as Evil and Of Satan. It has not always been this way. Gods, familiars, and household spirits have often been local, and have been believed to hold varying amounts of power. My dear Christian grandmother believed there were poltergeists in her house. She was not afraid of them. Once in awhile they would do some minor bit of mischief, such as knocking down a picture. Russians have a household spirit called a domovoy. There’s even an old English practice of concealing shoes inside walls to protect a house.

    None of this has power unless we allow it to frighten us. These ideas have coexisted with Christianity for two thousand years. They are about as threatening as a Christmas tree, which also has folk origins.

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  99. Clevin,
    Contact Requested!!!

    There is a TWW reader who would like to contact you to ask a question about one of your comments which has direct application to a situation she is involved with. I sent you an email using your TWW log in email but many people don’t leave real ones. If you could tell me how to contact you, I will send you her message and see if you wish to speak with her.

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  100. Clevin: Oy. Driscoll….

    You need to see the talk he gave his staff on spiritual warfare… In it he even talks about intentionally running his car over a pedestrian he believed to be a demon. He says he ran the car at the “demon”, and when he looked back, the “demon” had disappeared.

    REALLY.

    Pt.1 https://youtu.be/LUePEmUA6uE

    Pt.2 https://youtu.be/JH65XFaW6ao

    Pt.3 https://youtu.be/dVGfBvC6-zU

    Pt.4 https://youtu.be/yXf2VXhqHJo

    Wait..wait. wait.
    Uhmmm.

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  101. LInn: What was he smoking?

    Some sort of wacky theology, I suppose.

    He also said:

    “Man is the image of God directly, woman is the image of God only through the man… Because man was created by God in His image first, man alone was created in a direct and unmediated fashion as the image of God, manifesting then the glory of God in man, that is male man… If male headship is rooted in the image of God itself, then it isn’t just a functional distinction of how we work out. It really does mean we are made in a different way.” (Bruce Ware, Theology Professor, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

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  102. ishy: Most of the single New Calvinist men I have known were both extremely arrogant and at the same time act like toddlers who can’t care for themselves at all. Some had mothers who still did everything for them. New Calvinism appealed to them because they didn’t want to be adults and were promised servant wives who were required to do anything they demanded.

    This is straight out of South Park
    They’re Cartmans who want to marry a new Cartman’s Mom!

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  103. Daisy: Oh. blushing. When I see “IHOP,” I think of International House of Pancakes.

    From 1978 to 1982, I worked at their Corporate HQ in North Hollywood.
    Their management was just as screwed up as that of the Christianese IHOP – Dilbert without the laughs.
    Most of my department all found other jobs and walked out at the same time. Me included.

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  104. Max: wacky theology

    And let’s give a shout-out to good ol’ Robert Morris, who told members of Gateway that they had to tithe, or demons would go inside them through little doors.

    The tithe as a protection racket.

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  105. Daisy: I think I remember Stone saying on one show years ago – over ten years, maybe – that demons can attach themselves to vases or something, so he advised watchers of his show not to buy trinkets (like vases) when they go on trips to foreign countries.

    I had something similar happen to me in 2010; I acquired a fantasy print (a pinup cobra lady) at FurCon 2010 and had a bout of depression shortly afterwards. My SIL was under the spell of a Spiritual Warfare type and KNEW there a Demon had piggybacked on the picture.

    I know what caused the depression, and there was nothing supernatural about it. The circumstances where I acquired the pic paralleled those of when I broke up with my only girlfriend closely enough to trigger a flashback at full emotional intensity.

    And I didn’t need an exorcist; I wrote out the depression into a 10,000-word Magic Realist fantasy novella. I also changed my will and estate planning to specify where my Intellectual Property went to (my writing partner); Fandom has a lot of horror stories about Intellectual Property (such as writing and art) going to family heirs who burned it all as “Say-Tann-Ic”.

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  106. Friend: And let’s give a shout-out to good ol’ Robert Morris, who told members of Gateway that they had to tithe, or demons would go inside them through little doors.

    The tithe as a protection racket.

    Both PA Dutch and Appalachian lore are full of Witch-Men and Conjure-Men who use their Powers as a Protection Racket, putting Hexes and siccing Familiar Spirits on any and all who don’t give them what they want.

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  107. Max:
    I used to get aggravated at folks who said there were demons behind every bush … until I started reflecting on my 70 years as a Southern Baptist … yep, there are demons behind every SBC bush.

    I though “discernment” originally meant seeing the reality beneath the appearance, not seeing demons under every bed.

    But like Screwtape redefining the Enemy’s words into their “diabolical meanings”, such a redefinition is very convenient for abusers in the pulpit wearing Angel of Light masks.

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  108. Friend: let’s give a shout-out to good ol’ Robert Morris, who told members of Gateway that they had to tithe, or demons would go inside them through little doors

    Oh yeah … Mr. Morris, who called blogs like this one “Satan’s Hit List” … Whew, what a crew we have in American pulpits!

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  109. Lowlandseer: Third, and most broadly, in asserting the reality and even phys- ical presence of demons, one simultaneously asserts the reality of the entire Third Wave theology of God, Satan, and the spiritual world. To put it simply, without the demonic there would be no Third Wave spiritual warfare

    Reminds me of when Fr Von Spee blew the whistle on Witch Hunts in a Europe wrecked by the Thirty Years War. He described their rationale for smelling out and burning witches as “If No Witches, then No Devil. If No Devil, then No God.”

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  110. Lea,

    Love it! (the song, that is). Lea, I’m reflective, too, since I’m getting close to retirement age. My health is fairly good, and since I won’t be able to afford that yearly cruise, I will be bouncing around church and community as long as I can. One of my grandmothers spent the last 15 years of her life staring at the TV, complaining about how bored she was. The other was still playing a mean game of Scrabble at 95. I’d like to be more like the second, if God permits (by the way, grandma number one may have been depressed-it was before doctors worried about stuff like that). I do attend more funerals now than weddings, which also makes me more reflective.

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  111. Ken F (aka Tweed): By Joseph? Certainly not by Mary.

    He is listed as a son of Joseph, therefore my assertion of adoption. He was recognized by his community as not of Joseph’s line.

    He inherents the Throne of David from Joseph. But also the curse, preventng him from sitting down on the throne.

    Mary could also bring a claim as well, because female decendents could claim property if no male heir could.

    There are two sons of David contributing to his genealogy. And, ironically considering Robertson’s anti-adoption statements, the line of Solomon was cursed.

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  112. Mr. Jesperson: demon possession must be a real thing or else the whole story about the man with a legion of them and the pigs that committed suicide is just a fairy tale.

    I don’t know how to take literally the story of the Gadarene swine: I’m still left wondering what it means. This does not tear a hole in my faith. The Bible is about ancient places and societies, and some of it is just really strange.

    In a sermon a few weeks ago, the preacher said the story shows the weakness of demons rather than the strength we so fear. Perhaps tricked by Jesus or surprised by panic-stricken hogs, the demons drown.

    More important, the man was healed.

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  113. Nathan Priddis: He inherents the Throne of David from Joseph. But also the curse, preventng him from sitting down on the throne.

    For a long time, I have thought that Jesus’ unmarried and childless state helped Christianity avoid battles about hereditary succession. What causes you to use the word “curse”? And if I’m understanding you, Joseph was a carpenter, not a king, so I don’t grasp the reference to a throne.

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  114. Nathan Priddis,

    This line of theology also misses that Christians are adopted (see Rom. 8:13-17, John 1:12, Gal 3:26-29; Gal 3:4-7, and Eph 1:4-5. They are denying one of the fundamental doctrines of the faith, that God in His mercy adopted us as His children when we believed in His Son. We don’t get to address God as Father because we deserve it, but because of His mercy revealed to us. Human adoption is one of the greatest testimonies of God’s love to us, especially when it is done by Christians. My church has two missionary families who work in Africa. One has three adopted African children, the other has a sibling set of three. They are happy, well-adapted children who love their parents, and are a testimony to the love of God for the fatherless (parentless).

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  115. Bridget: I think they need to sit down and shut up! That’s how tired I am of hearing what they have to say.

    No kidding, huh? They are the worst kind of self-appointed ‘menagawd’, who seem to believe they are owed some sort of deference, indeed, reverence. They think their words are important and somehow godly.They have nothing but my disgust.

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  116. Guest:
    The Bible is replete with a plethora of stories of spirits, both angelic, and demonic. Should we disregard the implications?

    Are the implications that angels and demons are real? What do we do with that knowledge?

    On the topic of the unknown, I’m not sure if you are a new or returning Guest.

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  117. Friend: In a sermon a few weeks ago, the preacher said the story shows the weakness of demons rather than the strength we so fear. Perhaps tricked by Jesus or surprised by panic-stricken hogs, the demons drown.

    This story has also always left me wondering. Surely the demons, being spirits, did not drown. Yet why would they ask to be sent into the pigs, only to drive them to their destruction? Or perhaps that is the pinnacle of glory for demons – driving a being to destruction?

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  118. Max: Whew! After reading above comments about the multitude of pulpit wackos out there, I think I need a nouthetic counselor! Nah, I’ll just go pray after while.

    I’m with ya – this thread is alarming. I honestly would have never believe there was so much wackiness within Christianity, even with all of my concerns.

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  119. TS00: Surely the demons, being spirits, did not drown.

    How do we know that? I assumed that for a long time, but now I wonder why we are so ready to say demons have eternal life, or even an ability to go from place to place.

    God has infinitely more power than any spirit or person.

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  120. Yes, I have heard of the generational demon idea before. It was one of the crazy ideas the pastor of a previous church began to espouse when he became unhinged. There were demons for everything. Those of us who thought they were nuts supposedly had “The Jezebel Spirit.” Incidentally, confession of sins was a big part, as well. Reasonable, mature believers began to disappear from the congregation and the most unbalanced persons in the church were elevated. Another church in our city was really big on all the demonism stuff. They held weekly exorcisms that people I knew went to. Just bizarre stuff; the Toronto Blessing, “prophecies,” and so on. People who had no idea what they were doing were playing games with other peoples’ lives and emotions.

    It was after this that I decided the time had come to step back from the church world. After some time off I tried a few other churches but once your eyes are open, the red flags are so clear and I was finished dealing with them.

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  121. Friend: For a long time, I have thought that Jesus’ unmarried and childless state helped Christianity avoid battles about hereditary succession. What causes you to use the word “curse”? And if I’m understanding you, Joseph was a carpenter, not a king, so I don’t grasp the reference to a throne.

    -Joseph’s occupation was irrelevant.
    -Joseph was the hereditary heir of David. He held title to the Kingdom of Israel. He was also a place holder, but during his lifetime, his generation was to see the arrival of the Messiah. Son of David is a title.
    -There was a continuous line between Joseph and Solomon.
    -One heir was taken as hostage to Babylon by Nebuchadnazzer, and imprisoned as a child. He was released before becoming to elderly to father a child, but was prophesied as being cursed. He was still heir, but no son of his could sit on the throne.
    -The House of David was forgotten until the Magi showed up and asked about the location of The King of the Jews.

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  122. Jeannette Altes: The result is, now, I am very reluctant to talk to anyone about specifics on the mental stuff I deal with. I don’t trust that it won’t be used against me.

    Which is actually normal and healthy, in my opinion. The idea that people should just start revealing their inner selves willy nilly just because someone says it’s the thing to do is fraught with extreme risk of harm.

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  123. Fisher: So a few things about that. In every case, deliverance from demons did not involve “trying harder” on the part of the possessed. Don’t these people read their Bibles?

    This is a way to keep people trapped in a struggle against *nothing* which they can never win, which keeps them distracted, confused, shame-filled and dependent.

    “Trying harder” is not what the Bible teaches. “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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  124. Samuel Conner: Much of the class was simply NA telling stories of his encounters with what he described as demonic powers inhabiting his counselees. It was pretty alarming and the fact that the professor was right there reporting his eye-witness testimony was intimidating.

    I don’t know what to make of these stories, but I suspect that most of them were simply instances of dissociative phenomena. And NA’s approach to counseling people exhibiting these phenomena might have actually made the symptoms worse.

    The fad did eventually pass, as far as I can tell, but it left its marks on the churches.

    Neil Anderson’s books were big in the church I spoke of earlier, too. How many books did he write? And they were all a rehash of the same few things. You are charitable; I’m more inclined to believe he fabricated his stories. It did leave a mark. It took peoples’ eyes off of Jesus, the Author and Perfector of Faith, and put them on vain imaginings that led them in circles.

    Another thing was “territorial demons” that supposedly were in charge of geographical areas. The church was forming groups to go to “strategic locations” to pray and cast them out, and then supposedly it was going to free whole cities to become Christian.

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  125. SiteSeer: This is a way to keep people trapped in a struggle against *nothing* which they can never win, which keeps them distracted, confused, shame-filled and dependent.

    “Trying harder” is not what the Bible teaches. “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    Yes. This. Loudly.

    It also causes them to doubt there on minds and ability to trust their own senses…creates an atmosphere of fear that breeds dependence on the one who can see….
    Reminds me of Bob Larson who was big in the demon deliverance thing in the 90s and early 00s. Watched a few times on TBN and it messed with me…

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  126. TS00: This story is so bizarre I struggle to believe such things actually happened. It sounds like the workings of an extremely dangerous cult.

    If even half of the things told about this poor woman’s experience with TVC – and we have no reason not to believe her -, Matt Chandler’s TVC needs a redefinition of the abbreviation: That Vile Cult.

    It’s definitely not zhe first zime this “church” and its CEO have been in the public eye, and mostly not in a good way.

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  127. Mr. Jesperson,

    You seem to have taken some examples of scriptures and said “if this is so” “then this must be so” but I don’t come to the same conclusions with the same text.

    Are there any examples in the new testament of believers in Christ who are troubled by demons?

    Did any of the apostles teach us to spend time thinking about or dealing with demons?

    Has anyone done research to compare translations with original text on the subject of demons?

    I personally believe that the answer is not to engage in “warfare” with supposed demons, which we cannot perceive or even know if they are present or exist, but to simply rest in Jesus Christ, to whom we belong.

    Even if we look to the subject of “warfare” as it is alluded to in the epistles, what are the “weapons”? Faith, truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, knowledge, understanding… all things based in knowing and following Christ.

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  128. Friend: How do we know that? I assumed that for a long time, but now I wonder why we are so ready to say demons have eternal life, or even an ability to go from place to place.

    Or anything else, for that matter. There is so little said or explained about them yet some people have developed elaborate theologies all about them. I always picture when people are performing an exorcism or praying against and casting out demons, what if your spiritual eyes could be opened and you saw… that there were none there, after all. It just seems silly to be expending energy on something you don’t even have any way of knowing is involved. But that’s just me.

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  129. Samuel Conner:
    [paraphrasing what TVC ought to be able to say:]

    Which is easier to say?
    “You have an evil spirit!”
    or
    “Evil spirit, depart from this child of God!”?
    But that you may know that the ministry team of The Village Church has authority on earth …”

    But they don’t have authority on earth.

    Absolutely true. Indeed (since echo-chambers have been referenced up-thread!) your comment deserves to be echoed loudly.

    In a sense, of course, they DO have “authority” – they authority they are able to persuade people to give them. The CEO of the cult Lesley and I were part of years ago was like that. He claimed to be an apostle on the grounds that “the signs of an apostle” (as cited by Paul) were authority, and he had authority. When I eventually realised he had no power over me that was given from above – only what I gave him by positioning myself below – I walked away. Longish story; that’s for another comment, though!

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  130. Reminder that prior to putting out the ESV, Crossway’s claim to fame (and indeed what put it in a financial position to undertake its own Bible translation) was as publisher of topselling ‘spiritual warfare’ fantasies penned by Frank Peretti. ‘This Present Darkness’, ‘Piercing the Darkness’, etc. were once Crossway’s bread and butter!

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  131. Wild Honey,

    Aristotle is frequently misquoted. In Book 1, section 20 of his “On the Generation of Animals” while discussing the mechanics of reproduction, he wrote “Now a boy is like a woman in form, and the woman is as it were an impotent male, for it is through a certain incapacity that the female is female, being incapable of concocting the nutriment in its last stage into semen (and this is either blood or that which is analogous to it in animals which are bloodless owing to the coldness of their nature)”.

    Similarly, Empedocles is misquoted in his discussion on embryology. He says “the differentiation into the two sexes is described in terms of potential: the warmth of the womb determines whether the embryo will be male or female, cf. fr B 65: ‘They were poured in pure places; some met with cold and became women’, fr. B 67: ‘For the male was warmer . . . this is the reason why men are dark, more powerfully built, and hairier’.

    Aquinas quotes Aristotle in his Summa and says (again regarding reproduction) “1: As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence; such as that of a south wind, which is moist, as the Philosopher observes (De Gener. Animal. iv, 2). On the other hand, as regards human nature in general, woman is not misbegotten, but is included in nature’s intention as directed to the work of generation. Now the general intention of nature depends on God, Who is the universal Author of nature. Therefore, in producing nature, God formed not only the male but also the female.”

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  132. Nathan Priddis: But also the curse, preventng him from sitting down on the throne.

    Getting very tangential to the OP, but I want to interact with this.

    Had Jesus “ascended the throne” in Jerusalem, He very likely would have (unwillingly) presided over an earlier version of the war that started 36 years later and that led to the destruction of the Temple and the deaths of large numbers of people. This is pretty plainly the concern of Jesus’ adversaries in Jerusalem (Jn 11:48-50) and John comments that they were right, that Jesus died for the sake of the nation and also for the diaspora (Jn 11:51-52; it may be relevant that large numbers of diaspora Jews took part in, and died in, the AD132-5 Bar Kochba rebellion, but did not in the AD66-73 war).

    I think this helps to understand why Jesus seems to have regarded it as necessary that He die at Jerusalem, at Passover (many pilgrims would be present to observe) and at the hands of the Romans by means of the method the Romans used to make public examples of notorious criminals, but only after being acclaimed king. There were many opportunities to be killed prior to that last Passover, but Jesus always eluded capture until “the right moment”. He really seems to have been trying to accomplish something specific.

    It also helps to understand Pilate’s insistence on the notice that designated Jesus “King of the Jews” — a warning to Israel that Rome would not tolerate an autonomous Judean kingdom. Israel seems to have “gotten the message”, though the next generation would forget (as happened so many times during the period of the Judges).

    It looks to me like Jesus voluntarily surrendered to arrest, trial and execution in order to maintain the peace (the death of Israel’s King aborts the rebellion that many were waiting for [cf Lk 24:21]) and so save many from violent death. And this was successful, for a generation.

    Obviously, the New Testament writers also see larger implications, beyond Israel, of Jesus’ sacrifice (for example I Jn 2:2). But I think it’s helpful to notice the historical particularities of what Jesus seems to have regarded Himself to be doing.

    I don’t see Jesus “not taking the throne” as the outworking of an ancient curse on an ancestor so much as a manifestation, as Paul says in Romans 5:6-8, of God’s love for His people.

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  133. SiteSeer: Another thing was “territorial demons” that supposedly were in charge of geographical areas. The church was forming groups to go to “strategic locations” to pray and cast them out, and then supposedly it was going to free whole cities to become Christian.

    An odd thing about this “territorial demons” business (that IIRC is very thinly sourced in just a couple of texts in the OT prophets, is that this many have been part of the Hebrew world-view as evidenced in earlier parts of the OT.

    I am dependent on Michael Heiser’s analysis for this. He doesn’t strike me as a crank. The thumbnail sketch (following Heiser) is that

    i) the ancient Hebrews saw three episodes in the decline of humanity (unlike us moderns, who attribute all of the problems to one episode — the Gen 3 “Fall”). These 3 were a) the “Fall” itself, b) angelic intrusion (Gen 6), c) the Babel incident and its aftermath (Gen 10-11).

    ii) after (or perhaps before) the nations were separated, YHWH assigned the governance of them to subordinate spiritual powers, the “sons of God”. Heiser thinks this is what Dt 32:8 is about, that God delegated governance of most of humanity (the Gentiles) to subordinate powers, but that He kept Israel for His own direct rule — His “portion”.

    iii) But the “powers”/”sons of God” did not govern the Gentiles well. Heiser thinks this is what Psalm 82 is about. At the end, the psalmist envisions a future in which God will rule over all the earth (his “portion”/”inheritance” will include the Gentiles.

    Heiser also thinks that Paul’s missionary journeys are a reclamation for YHWH of the nations listed in the Genesis 10 “Table of Nations”, a reclamation envisioned in Ps 82.

    —-

    back to the present, does this reading support “warfare prayer” against “territorial spirits”. I have no idea, but I’ll note the following:

    * Paul seems to reckon that Jesus defeated/disarmed “the powers”.

    * If it is valid to identify “the powers” with the gods of the ancient pagan “pantheon”, these were greatly weakened by the collapse of paganism within the territories of the old Roman Empire, that became European Christendom. The situation Paul speaks of in Eph 6 is not identical to ours, which is more a situation of widespread secularism rather than widespread polytheism.

    * polytheism is still prevalent in some parts of the world — Paul might reckon “the powers” to still hold some sway there.

    I strongly suspect that the powers that oppose righteousness in our day, at least in the parts of the world that have a christian past, are mostly human authorities who are serving selfish agendas.

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  134. SiteSeer: The idea that people should just start revealing their inner selves willy nilly just because someone says it’s the thing to do is fraught with extreme risk of harm.

    Maybe, but it can be helpful to open up to your friends about this stuff. I know I was glad a friend told me she had a suicide attempt and I’ve had others mention depression. It’s good that I can know to provide support. And I think there is a benefit to admitting that these kind of struggles are *normal* and reducing the stigma of discussing mental health in general. (The show crazy ex girlfriend had a great ‘anti depressants are so not a big deal’ song that pops into my head sometimes 🙂

    I’m all about Brene Brown’s embracing vulnerability, but one thing specifically mentioned is you have to decide who to be vulnerable to. Some people aren’t safe. I think that’s more what this about, who is safe.

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  135. SiteSeer: I always picture when people are performing an exorcism or praying against and casting out demons, what if your spiritual eyes could be opened and you saw… that there were none there, after all.

    That would make a good novel!

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  136. The “Guest” bot is back.

    It would be fun, if possible, to redirect these to a subthread and have a conversation between “Guest” and the “ergofabulous.org” ‘Luther insult engine’. I visited that yesterday and learned that it is presumptuous of me to not take up the occupation of a herdsman.

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  137. Catholic Gate-Crasher: Well, experienced exorcists could provide you with some pretty convincing (and chilling) evidence. But who needs that silly evidence stuff anyway?

    I respect the Catholic approach to exorcism, which seems to be very cautious, and done as a last resort. But isn’t it also highly confidential? I haven’t seen a lot of published accounts provided by exorcists. Do you know of any “silly evidence” that could improve our understanding?

    The issue with the wider church is that nobody even bothers to read the Cliff Notes of Exorcism for Dummies. One time I told church buddies that our toddler had the sniffles. “I’m tired of us being under Satanic attack!” my friend cried out. “Satan only does this to us because we are so faithful!”

    As a member of a college fellowship, I sat outside a room where a Baptist 18-year-old “cast demons” out of a Presbyterian 20-year-old. The Baptist guy lamented that he had a “gift” of discerning demons, and pointed out the kids in my dorm who were possessed. He once accused me of witchcraft. Everyone in the Christian fellowship believed this terrifying young man, who was normally a pleasant soul.

    When the proudly uneducated leaders of the local mega talk about demons, it’s in the name of controlling, shaming, and extracting money (Robert Morris at Gateway). They never pick on powerful or cooperative folks.

    All of this is very 1692, and not of the Holy Spirit.

    (I posted my anecdotes awhile back, but they seem relevant to this thread.)

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  138. Nick Bulbeck,

    Absolutely! I have been thinking the same — that Jesus’ challenge to his adversaries about John’s baptism, “from men” or “from God”, is so relevant to our day. The authority of (I suspect) the great majority of these groups is “from men”, not “from God.”

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  139. Samuel Conner,

    I’ve just started a full-stack Javascript course. The first wee module involves making a random quote generator; this will be simple enough, but I should in due course be able to write one that will send post requests. I’d do them under my own name, obviously (or maybe as Mr Dummarse, who is a known alias and who shares my avatar fotie). But it might provide modest entertainment for Wartburgers for whom the hours weigh heavily.

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  140. Guest,

    Moderator – sorry to invoke your authority, but we might be having two parties post as “Guest” on this thread, including one possible bot. At your convenience, will you please take a peek? Thank you for all your work for TWW.

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  141. Friend,
    I tend to believe that spirits are eternal, unless and until there is a final, supernatural destruction of them. It is our flesh that is mortal, but our spirits do not perish. This leads me to believe the same is true of all spirits, but I could be wrong. It is also the only reasonable possible explanation for a hell or some sort of eternal punishment, which, btw, I am not sure I believe in as defined by christian orthodoxy. I’ve now attempted to explain more than I know. 😉

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  142. Nick Bulbeck: When I eventually realised he had no power over me that was given from above – only what I gave him by positioning myself below – I walked away.

    Same here. I am stunned to remember how I once feared being accused of subverting my ‘God-given’ authorities. Then I realized these authorities were not ‘God-given’ but man-made, and their power over me vanished.

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  143. Jerome,

    Ah, what I missed by despising ‘christian’ fantasy, or christian books period. Not much of a fan of fiction period, but if I do read it, it has to be good. Nothing Crossway has produced would qualify. I’m not sure I realized how much these books, and now podcasts shape people’s minds. Brainwashing, anyone?

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  144. Dee, as part of the ministry of reconciliation, Jesus taught his servants to share with others, connect people to God, and minister to those who are in need. As part of the ministry of reconciliation Jesus also gave his servants the task of casting out of demons when appropriate. This valuable scriptural ministry still exists today.

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  145. TS00,

    “Surely the demons, being spirits, did not drown. Yet why would they ask to be sent into the pigs, only to drive them to their destruction? Or perhaps that is the pinnacle of glory for demons – driving a being to destruction?”
    ++++++++++++++++

    i’ve pondered that, as well. perhaps they need a physical host for ‘energy’, in the way living beings needs food, water, and sleep.

    since pigs aren’t capable of organizing their thoughts like humans, perhaps the presence of demons somehow ‘inside them’ was overwhelming.

    just wonderings, here.

    i myself think it’s sensible to have a matter-of-fact perspective on spiritual entities. i ignore it all. except for a few occasions where something had to be done — and you bring out the big gun of Jesus’ authority in addressing ‘them’. it/they stopped within seconds.

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  146. Gus,

    I do believe it is thought of as a cult by some on the outside. My “mentor” while I attended the STEPS program had someone tell her that they thought she was in a cult. So yes, outsiders do see it for what it is, at least, the ones paying attention.
    A side note about the STEPS program it’s not just for those who are struggling or trying to heal from various wounds. It is a requirement for anyone who wants to move up in a leadership type roll. I was attending so I could become “qualified” to lead a STEPS group. I wanted to help the hurting. What I saw there was appalling!!! You absolutely can believe the accounts from Anna’s posts.
    The curriculum is itself an abusive tool. That program keeps people from the healing they so desperately need.
    The fact that they make anyone interested in trying to truly integrate into TVC go through the STEPS program should give anyone pause about what they are up to. They have an “inventory” on record for everyone that they can then hold over their heads if the occasion arises. Is it any wonder that things are covered up from the top down?
    As I had said before on a different post. I personally witnessed them lying to a room full of group leaders so why would we expect them to tell the truth on anything. They have a pattern of covering up, controlling a narrative, and lying.
    TVC needs to crumble.

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  147. Samuel Conner,

    In certain contexts, ‘bots’ are disagreeable parasites.

    And … a Luther insult:

    “You are desperate, thorough arch-rascals, murderers, traitors, liars, the very scum of all the most evil people on earth. You are full of all the worst devils in hell – full, full, and so full that you can do nothing but vomit, throw, and blow out devils!”

    From Against the Roman Papacy, an Institution of the Devil, pg. 277 of Luther’s Works, Vol. 41

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  148. Shadowfax: A side note about the STEPS program it’s not just for those who are struggling or trying to heal from various wounds. It is a requirement for anyone who wants to move up in a leadership type roll.

    Only when you are utterly broken to The System will you be permitted to advance within The System.

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  149. Friend: As a member of a college fellowship, I sat outside a room where a Baptist 18-year-old “cast demons” out of a Presbyterian 20-year-old. The Baptist guy lamented that he had a “gift” of discerning demons, and pointed out the kids in my dorm who were possessed. He once accused me of witchcraft.

    Just like Zulu Isangomas in a Smelling-Out of Witches, walking through the multitude marking Witches (for immediate impalement) with a flick of their fly-whisks.

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  150. Shadowfax,

    How is what they are doing even considered legal? Because they are an alleged ‘church’? Any outfit can call itself a ‘church’, and any sociopathic jerk can call himself a ‘pastor’. The abuse, the ruined lives, and the general scam nature is so transparent that I wonder why there isn’t a huge societal backlash.

    Non-religious people already have a rather negative attitude towards Christianity, if they even bother to think about it at all. TVC and those like it simply give them reason.

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  151. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Indeed. Also interesting to note that part of the membership paperwork you fill out asks what your favorite authors are. Who has helped you on you spiritual journey. They are looking to see who is in lock step with them from the onset. They know what their “approved” reading list is.

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  152. Friend: And if I’m understanding you, Joseph was a carpenter, not a king, so I don’t grasp the reference to a throne.

    That’s because you’re probably not one of the ‘spiritually adept’ who can fathom its subtle nuance.

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  153. SiteSeer: It was one of the crazy ideas the pastor of a previous church began to espouse when he became unhinged. There were demons for everything.

    Including the DEMON of burned-out lightbulbs?
    (My writing partner told me of encounters with one Mighty Spiritual Warrior(TM) who actually WAS that far gone.)

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  154. If we look to the subject of “warfare” as it is alluded to in the epistles, what are the “weapons”?

    The Ephesian’s Six Armor:

    “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints….” -Apostle Paul

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  155. Samuel Conner:
    The “Guest” bot is back.

    It would be fun, if possible, to redirect these to a subthread and have a conversation between “Guest” and the “ergofabulous.org” ‘Luther insult engine’. I visited that yesterday and learned that it is presumptuous of me to not take up the occupation of a herdsman.

    Lol!! Must try this.

    Lutheran humor rocks.

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  156. Friend: I respect the Catholic approach to exorcism, which seems to be very cautious, and done as a last resort. But isn’t it also highly confidential? I haven’t seen a lot of published accounts provided by exorcists. Do you know of any “silly evidence” that could improve our understanding?

    The issue with the wider church is that nobody even bothers to read the Cliff Notes of Exorcism for Dummies. One time I told church buddies that our toddler had the sniffles. “I’m tired of us being under Satanic attack!” my friend cried out. “Satan only does this to us because we are so faithful!”

    As a member of a college fellowship, I sat outside a room where a Baptist 18-year-old “cast demons” out of a Presbyterian 20-year-old. The Baptist guy lamented that he had a “gift” of discerning demons, and pointed out the kids in my dorm who were possessed. He once accused me of witchcraft. Everyone in the Christian fellowship believed this terrifying young man, who was normally a pleasant soul.

    When the proudly uneducated leaders of the local mega talk about demons, it’s in the name of controlling, shaming, and extracting money (Robert Morris at Gateway). They never pick on powerful or cooperative folks.

    All of this is very 1692, and not of the Holy Spirit.

    (I posted my anecdotes awhile back, but they seem relevant to this thread.)

    Yes, I agree with everything you have said. Trained exorcists must proceed with extreme caution. Most cases turn out to be psychological, not spiritual. Actual possession is rare. And yes, confidentiality must be maintained. Several cases have become famous — including the one that inspired the movie *The Exorcist* — but even famous cases usually do not reveal real names.

    I agree with everything else you say, too. I have a Word of Faith neighbor who once nonchalantly told me that I “have a demon.” She said this as matter-of-factly as if she’d been telling me that I had a smudge on my nose. This is the same neighbor who claims Jesus speaks to her and tells her which wallpaper border to buy. She’s into Health and Wealth, Toronto Blessing, demons under every bed, and the whole nine yards. Oy, don’t get me started, LOL.

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  157. Headless Unicorn Guy: Only when you are utterly broken to The System will you be permitted to advance within The System.

    It sounds like the “Struggle Sessions” going on at many a university campus these days. Another example of the world infiltrating the Church or just something in the water these days?

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  158. Shadowfax: They have an “inventory” on record for everyone that they can then hold over their heads if the occasion arises. Is it any wonder that things are covered up from the top down?

    This is not the first time I suspected there is an Epstein-like blackmail system at work within some of these so-called churches. Or maybe they are not so-called. Maybe control and power is what the church is all about, and I just need to be glad I escaped.

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  159. Samuel Conner,

    I think it’s relatively simple to create a bot that just spams a blog with random comments; one step more sophisticated is to spam a particular page and then “scrape” that page for references to itself and reply to those comments. More sophisticated still is a bot that will parse those comments for keywords or phrases and attempt to weave them into its own reply such that it appears to be in a conversation. At that point, we’re attempting the Turing Test.

    This one is probably set up around WordPress.

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  160. Headless Unicorn Guy: Including the DEMON of burned-out lightbulbs?
    (My writing partner told me of encounters with one Mighty Spiritual Warrior(TM) who actually WAS that far gone.)

    It really was a “thing” at the time. At a Campus Crusade for Christ large gathering event that I attended in the ’80s, Josh McDowell recounted a tale of a campus speaking event. During his presentation, one of the fluorescent ceiling lights was intermittently failing, which was annoying and distracting. JM said that he growled at the lighting fixture “Aww, Come on!” (or something like that; memory is dim) as a way of “rebuking the spirit”, and the light stopped flickering.

    Don’t know what to make of stories like this. Maybe I am credulous; it never occurred to me that Anderson may have been making it up.

    I’m not as credulous as I used to be; my present default is much closer to cynicism and suspicion. It’s not a happy thought that this posture seems to be warranted. It’s shame that people who reputedly have this kind of authority don’t spend more time in hospital wards.

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  161. TS00: And if he does flat bicycle tires, that would be awesome.

    After a very inconvenient flat far from home without a repair kit, I (me of little faith) resorted to the unspiritual armor of kevlar reinforced tires and extra thick inner tubes. Haven’t had a flat from a road hazard since, though one of the tubes failed at the stem; probably a manufacturing defect.

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  162. I’m familiar with the generational demon theory, Bill Gothard was teaching this back in the 70s and 80s, he argued that because of the inability to track them on adopted children, families should not adopt.

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  163. Samuel conner: “one of the fluorescent ceiling lights was intermittently failing”

    We always say it’s a ghost in my office!

    And Nick, you absolutely should have wine with your fish. I always drink what I like and not what goes, because life is too short to drink bad wine.

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  164. dee,

    I am what I am, and God has not called me as of yet to start a blog, at least not one that would be read. I write at length because I think things through very thoroughly. I do not agree with everything you write, and your essays are even longer than my comments and I think there are things out of order everywhere in the body of Christ that can be made better. You appear to enjoy the attention of getting hundreds of comments on your blog posts. I am just expressing myself, just as Law Professor does. I think very much like he does, except I try to be a little less abrasive with my wording. I noticed that here he got falsely accused of being a sexist, and then I have not seen him back commenting. You did not say anything about that.

    Pride always comes before a fall. I appreciate what you do and care enough that when I think something is going too far I call it out. My conscience tells me to do so and so I follow that. I think you need to come up with a better response to people you disagree with than “go start your own blog.” It comes across as you asking people to leave. If everyone took you up on your offer, where would all of the comments go? Your blog would look as dead as most of the others. This blog has become another echo chamber on the Internet. It is common on all of these for the insiders to tell the outsider to leave, you are not welcome! I think you are doing the same thing and it is not consistent with good Christian practice which requires all of us to humble ourselves and admit that we can be wrong at times. And I have been brave enough to comment in the public with my real name and stand up to a billionaire con-man, or have you forgotten that? You never did publish the article I wrote on it at your request…

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  165. Samuel Conner,

    Here is the actual wording. I discribed him as a child, but was confusing his age with his grandfather’s age of eight upon ascention.

    He would largely spend his life in confinement. Later he was released after the death of Nebuchadnezzar, by Evil-Maridoc, and given favor.

    He does produce offspring. Notice the curse reads he is to be reconded childless, not actually childless. But, The House of David has a problem going forward.

    Jerimiah 22:24-onward
    …As I live, saith the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence; And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans. And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die. But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return.

    Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not?

    29O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD.

    Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.

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  166. Nathan Priddis,

    Oops.
    Forgot to restate this is Joseph’s lineage. Mary is decended from Bathsheba’s younger son Nathan.

    This curse is directly connected to lines of the Preist that attempted, and temporally succeeded in siezing the throne. (Sons of Maccabee) Also, why Jerusalem was upset when the Magi arrived out of nowhere asking to see he who was born King of the Jews.

    The House of David was supposed to have been extinct.

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  167. ishy: I would like to see a bot here that only quotes verses that New Calvinists ignore…

    1 Chronicles 26:18
    At the Parbar on the west there were four at the highway and two at the Parbar.

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  168. Catholic Gate-Crasher: There’s too much potential for people to go off half-cocked — playing with fire (so to speak), getting out of their depth, misidentifying neurochemical problems as “possession,” and so forth…not to mention seeing demons behind every door and under every bed.

    There is *huge* potential for abuse, in other words.

    You do not have to tell me about this stuff. I am the biggest critic of neo-pentecostal and neo-charismatic stuff as 90-99% of the “supernatural stuff” is fake and has been since almost the beginning. What is left is real and it has been powerful in my life. So skepticism is good, but a lot of the criticism on this blog goes beyond that and appears to throw out everything in a way that is practically Cessastionist. That I would not agree with because if you take that and apply it to the Bible, you end up with Thomas Jefferson cutting parts out that he did not like. Jesus was no Cessastionist nor were his Apostles. Like it or not, some supernatural things are real. My Christian walk started with them so they are natural to me. To others it is very hard to pull your head out of Modernist Philosophy which poo-poos everything that is not simply natural. The Baptists came out of this era and so there is a mixing of the scripture with Modern philosophy in their theology and that is not good.

    And I well know that exorcism is not something to be done lightly, ever. This is because what Jesus says in Luke 11:25, “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.” I have seen this happen up close and in person. A close friend of mine was prayed over by me and my pastor. He was warned by both of us multiple times that his evil companions would try to come back. He said pray for he was ready. He wasn’t. For about two weeks the man was so severely changed for the better that my jaw dropped. Then, because he was unwilling to do certain things he let them back. He is now far worse than when I knew him before this. He had managed to stay out of mental hospitals for many years, but now he has been back at least twice that I know of. He is now divorced and has more mental illnesses than before. Most people focused on deliverance ministry that I have seen are just so shallowly focused and appear to care less about the long-term state of those they pray for, than feeling powerful, just as the disciples did when they proclaimed that “even the demons obey us!” The worst motive in doing this is wanting to feel powerful or look spiritually powerful to other men. This is the primary reason, I think, that there is so much fake stuff going on. It is a lust for spiritual power and to have people look at you and say, “you are just so gifted!”

    Concerning Hank, I have been around this planet for years and developed my opinion a long time ago based on what he chose to call himself and his ego, public image. Since then I have come to see the whole idolatry of Christian celebrities as something that is evil. God hates it and almost all of the books, mostly not written by the celebrities, but by ghost writers, are lies sold for mammon and contain mostly worthless garbage. There are exceptions but this is the norm. If old age health problems are creating a new found humility for Hank, that humility would be good for him. Humility is good for all of us and I have seen God use old age to help people who were proud in their youth. It still does not change the fact that each of us needs to know Jesus personally by His own words. I would rather see people doing that than even reading some of the few good books I have found. There is no substitute for personal interaction with Jesus and His Holy Spirit.

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  169. dee: I think that Mr. J. is more upset with HH’s view on the extremes in the Charismatic Movement since he tips in that direction. HH was also helpful to me in that regard.

    Nope, false accusation here. And a rather quick hypocritical judgment to be fair. You hate it when people do that to you, so why are you doing it to me? Are you listening? A man who claims to have all of the answers is not humble. That has been and will always be my point.

    I see that God used the man in your life. I acknowledge that. God has used men who were troubled in my own life for good. This is because of the power of God, not the greatness of these men. One of the greatest influences on me for good was a man who eventually became entangled with an affair he started, in his own home fellowship group, with the wife of an ex-roommate and co-worker before they were officially divorced. It was pure hell and worthy of any soap opera script ever written for tv. The short of it is that God uses messed up people like you, me, Hank and Jon. If either of the two of us eventually become celebrities selling a lot of books, then we have become a bigger part of the problem than the answer…

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  170. Ken F (aka Tweed): 1 Chronicles 26:18
    At the Parbar on the west there were four at the highway and two at the Parbar.

    A bot that produces quotes from Bill Gothard…who takes up liquor in late life..finds he REALLY DOES have the gift of tongues…after binge watching Kenneth Copeland videos…while accidently becoming trapped in an Ark Encounter mini- dino cage after closing time…and..suddenly changes his prefference of “soft curls” due to Janna Duggar stedfast singleness dispite all his wisdom talks about the need for marriage…and calls for all good women to get a tattoo.

    That would be a bot I would love to talk with.

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  171. TS00,

    I too am glad that our family has escaped. It is indeed beyond sad to see what the so called church is. I have spent years now soul searching and through the questioning of the so called “faith” I was taught have been able to rebuild on the proper foundation and that would be Jesus not power.

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  172. Lowlandseer: the New Apostolic Reformation’s 2011 prayer conference

    The NAR is just a term that Wagner coined. There has never been any formal organization, nor is there anyone who uses this term to self-describe who they are now that Wagner is dead. Their was no NAR 2011 Prayer meeting. The term has become a pejorative that critics use to beat certain people with so no wonder that no one actually uses this term to self-identify with today.

    People writing about it like it was a real thing do not care about what is actually true or not, so I would not give any credence to those who do write about it. Some of it comes from guys like John MacArthur with his own issues and other comes from liberal pundits who do not like the Christian right’s political views. So if you are going to criticize something at least criticize something that actually exists and not something that does not. All else is just a strawman fallacy and I do not think that Christians in good conscience should be using fallacies.

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  173. roebuck,

    They take advantage of one the most fundamental ingredients to healthy relationships, honesty. They exploit that to gain control of people’s minds. It so destructive and evil it should be illegal, but it’s not. Holding them accountable for their misconduct and deceit is the best way to try to end these abuses perpetrated against the ignorant. Here’s hoping the current law suite will be the turning of the tide.

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  174. Mr. Jesperson: your essays are even longer than my comments a

    I have to tell you that your comment made me giggle. So, because i write a long post, you are contending that you should be able to write almost post length comments?

    Go to some other blogs and see if you read the comments that are shorter or those who are longer.

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  175. Shadowfax: The fact that they make anyone interested in trying to truly integrate into TVC go through the STEPS program should give anyone pause about what they are up to. They have an “inventory” on record for everyone that they can then hold over their heads if the occasion arises.

    JUST LIKE SCIENTOLOGY!

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  176. ishy: That needs to be a Twitter account…

    Wait!?!
    Soft Curls!!!! That could be it. It could change history, by changing public opinions. Sorta like, America for Christ, and Christ for America. Only less so, and more like, curly softness.

    Does that make sense? It does to me!

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  177. Mr. Jesperson,

    No idea, I was just letting you know that you were having a rant about something in his spiritual life that was history.I wonder what he might think about your spiritual history, although generally speaking the EO are very non-judgmental of others’ walks with God, preferring to let God deal with their faults. I’m a little thrown by your attitude to him & his very serious illness, do you not consider him a brother? Given your lengthy lesson on humility & Christian behaviour & how thoughtful you are it doesn’t seem all that loving, given that love is the entire point of the entire thing.

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  178. Mr. Jesperson,

    I wasn’t criticising, I was informing. Be that as it may, you wrongly assert that “it” doesn’t exist and is therefore a “straw man”. Just because it’s not a formal organisation, doesn’t mean there is no such entity, as the author goes on to explain in the following quote
    “There are undoubtedly several reasons for the paucity of schol- arly attention to the Third Wave and spiritual warfare, including the social distance between most academics and those who participate
    6
    introduction
    in Third Wave activities (making them nearly invisible to some) and the discomfort the movement causes for various evangelical scholars, who view them as the unrefined cousins they pretend they’re not re- lated to (some wish they were more invisible). But another reason is that the movement is diffuse and loose, made up of groups and indi- viduals connected primarily by practices and theologies of spiritual warfare. Leaders in the movement generally avoid the “Third Wave” moniker, preferring to reference specific movements (such as the New Apostolic Reformation) or practices (such as strategic-level spiritual warfare) that fall under the Third Wave umbrella. Some practitioners know little of the Third Wave’s history and figures, but are still influ- enced by its idioms.21 But don’t be mistaken, the Third Wave consists of multiple institutional structures that are well funded and expansive in their geographical, cultural, and political reach. These include (or have included) the U.S. Strategic Prayer Network, the Sentinel Group, the New Apostolic Reformation, Spiritual Warfare Network, Justice at the Gate, Christian Harvest International, the U.S. Prayer Center, Glory of Zion International Ministries, Generals International, Global Harvest Ministries, and the Wagner Leadership Institute. Prominent members have served on boards of organizations such as the char- ismatic group Women’s Aglow, and well-known figures have staked their claim as fellow travelers. The evangelical pollster George Barna, for example, appeared in promotional films for the Sentinel Group’s “Transformations” series, and the scandal-plagued pastor Ted Haggard, former head of the largest evangelical umbrella organiza- tion in the United States, provided a blurb for a Third Wave author’s book.22 This is no small and uninfluential group.”

    So I would have had grounds for criticism had I chosen to do so, but, as I say, I was simply supplying information, as is my wont.
    Regards 😉

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  179. Nathan Priddis: Wait!?!
    Soft Curls!!!! That could be it. It could change history, by changing public opinions. Sorta like, America for Christ, and Christ for America. Only less so, and more like, curly softness.

    Does that make sense? It does to me!

    How about “Make Jesus Famous Again!”

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  180. Mr. Jesperson,

    Umm…wow. NAR didn’t really exist? Yes, it did – still does, though it’s influence has greatly waned. Yes, C Peter Wagner ‘coined’ the term, more like, came up with the name. It was not a pajorative term. It was the name of a movement. When their aberrant theology and authoritarian abuses came to light, like Neo-Calvinism, it became stigmatized. This assertion that it didn’t really exist does a huge disservice to the many people who were left damaged in its wake. And for the record, I am pentacostal in flavor – born and raised back several generations. And I was peripherally involved with the movement, sadly, and it is/was very real.

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  181. Nathan Priddis: Soft Curls!!!! That could be it. It could change history, by changing public opinions. Sorta like, America for Christ, and Christ for America. Only less so, and more like, curly softness.
    Does that make sense? It does to me!

    Quit channeling John Piper.

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  182. Brian: The IFB church I attended a few years ago, the pastor said the people that claim to have the gift of healing, why don’t they go down to their local hospital and start using their gifts.

    Since the country is already teeming with amateur exorcists and counselors, why not amateur cardiologists and surgeons? They could just show up at church members’ homes and make diagnoses.

    Churches could have two payment plans: use tithes to pay for treatment, or to avoid the diagnosis (sort of like the Robert Morris demon prevention program).

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  183. Nathan Priddis,

    “Soft Curls!!!! That could be it. It could change history, by changing public opinions. Sorta like, America for Christ, and Christ for America. Only less so, and more like, curly softness.

    Does that make sense? It does to me!”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    in a different frame of mind, it probably would. and i wish i was there now, cuz it sounds like fun.

    you’re just going to have to spell it out. how will ‘soft curls’ change history by changing public opinion? changing it from what to what? and is it curls, curlz, or kurlz? i’m kind of partial to curlz.

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  184. Shadowfax,

    “I personally witnessed them lying to a room full of group leaders so why would we expect them to tell the truth on anything.”
    ++++++++++++++

    when someone lies, can you ever truly trust them again? (a rhetorical question)

    lying is a huge deal.

    (deal-breaker, that is.)

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  185. Anna,

    Thank you for all the work you are doing. Agreed. Their environment breeds fear and uncertainty which then seems to give rise to competing for approval and leadership rolls. Which then gives a sense of faux security and by that point they “own” you. Very sick and twisted.

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  186. dee: I remember when you went off on me

    Ofda, kinda going off on Jesperson. I’ve been away for a while and just dropping back in so don’t know the history but I can’t see what line was crossed to elicit the response.

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  187. Lea: I’m all about Brene Brown’s embracing vulnerability, but one thing specifically mentioned is you have to decide who to be vulnerable to. Some people aren’t safe. I think that’s more what this about, who is safe.

    Oh, I agree with you, but trustworthy friends that you choose to be vulnerable with and a church group that you are instructed to bear all to are two very different things.

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  188. Shadowfax,

    “They have an “inventory” on record for everyone that they can then hold over their heads if the occasion arises.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    sort of like when Steve Hardin (then campus pastor of The Village Church Dallas-Northway) sent a text to his pastor colleagues “have we tried to help push her under our care?”?

    she had the audacity to participate in her own life. she made her own life decisions, instead of letting Steve Hardin and his fellow TVC pastors control her by making her life decisions for her.

    the membership covenant agreement she signed with The Village Church gave them all the permission and entitlement they needed to control her.

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2015/05/26/part-2-the-village-church-doesnt-discipline-the-internet-child-sex-abuser-but-disciplines-his-wife/

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  189. Samuel Conner: I’m not as credulous as I used to be; my present default is much closer to cynicism and suspicion. It’s not a happy thought that this posture seems to be warranted. It’s shame that people who reputedly have this kind of authority don’t spend more time in hospital wards.

    They certainly don’t. And hospital wards are always full and always full of the worst kind of heartbreak.

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  190. SiteSeer: I expect the next step will be to impersonate commenters and sow confusion.

    The bot needs to go.

    I believe the first two comments labeled “Guest” are from a person, and the comments after that are from a bot.

    And this is not the first time that has happened.

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  191. The bot needs to go?

    Dee Parsons, when you can’t share the gospel here, the comment section of The Wartburg Watch is abscessed, and in need of a change. Visitors have discovered that your comment section no longer representing Christ. Good luck with that.

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  192. Shadowfax: They have an “inventory” on record for everyone that they can then hold over their heads if the occasion arises. Is it any wonder that things are covered up from the top down?

    Confession is supposed to be followed by absolution. The newfangled practice of confessing to church officials is meant to be more sincere than ancient forms. But no church official can reliably gauge a person’s repentance. Moreover, the official hearing the confession is intruding far more between the penitent and God, both by sizing the person up and by keeping a record instead of wiping the slate clean.

    Corporate confession lets each person in the congregation seek God’s forgiveness without speaking the sins. Roman Catholic confession has the seal and (the appearance of) anonymity. Both forms have been accused of letting people off the hook too easily, and the seal can be used to hide crimes. However, at least they do not yield a trove of blackmail material.

    What do these churches with peer-based confession teach about its purpose? Do they even pretend God has a role?

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  193. Guest:
    The bot needs to go?

    Dee Parsons, when you can’t share the gospel here, the comment section of The Wartburg Watch is abscessed, and in need of a change. Visitors have discovered that your comment section no longer representing Christ. Good luck with that.

    From my reading of the narrative parts of the New Testament, “Gospel proclamation” was generally accompanied by pretty specific calls to “repentance”. This really is pretty consistent — one sees it in the ministry of John, then of Jesus, then of Peter and the other apostles, and finally in the ministry of Paul.

    I doubt that any of these would recognize the kind of statements that “Guest” has been posting as “gospel proclamation”. They are more along the lines of comforting atmospheric theological thoughts, suitable for use in contemporary worship choruses.

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  194. Friend: I believe the first two comments labeled “Guest” are from a person, and the comments after that are from a bot.

    The “person” is most likely a TVC member and/or one of the Acts 29 faithful, whose initial comments and following bots are intended to distract TWW commenters from the blog topic and his idol Matt Chandler. He’s becoming a Captain Obvious with his exhortations.

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  195. Max,

    Good “catch”; my prior sense that “Guest”‘s contributions could have been lifted from worship choruses is similar.

    Guest: Visitors have discovered that your comment section no longer representing Christ.

    One wonders to what extent Jesus is pleased with TVC’s claim to represent Him.

    It’s perilous to bring the name of YHWH into disrepute; David’s experience suggests that the trouble that follows from this may continue to the end of one’s days.

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  196. Max: The “person” is most likely a TVC member and/or one of the Acts 29 faithful, whose initial comments and following bots are intended to distract TWW commenters from the blog topic and his idol Matt Chandler. He’s becoming a Captain Obvious with his exhortations.

    i.e. a Bot who happens to be made of Meat instead of ones and zeros.

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  197. Guest:
    The bot needs to go?

    Dee Parsons, when you can’t share the gospel here, the comment section of The Wartburg Watch is abscessed, and in need of a change. Visitors have discovered that your comment section no longer representing Christ. Good luck with that.

    How PIOUS…

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  198. HUG: “i.e. a Bot who happens to be made of Meat instead of ones and zeros.”

    I’m skeptical of this tendency to call everyone a ‘bot’. It’s fairly easy for me to believe there is an actual person just spitting nonsense into the world for their own reasons. Happens all the time.

    Even if they are a ‘bot’, they have been programmed and directed by a person. So same dif.

    This one is very dull. He’s not ‘spreading the gospel’ in any way. He’s just spouting christianese gibberish that is unrelated to the topic, and then complaining that people think he’s silly.

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  199. Lea,

    For me, “Guest”‘s contributions seem to be vague anodyne high-level summaries. Perhaps they are intended to have a soothing, sedative, soporific, or even anesthetic effect. Sort like “turning one’s eyes on Jesus” so that the things of TVC will grow “strangely dim”.

    I would like to think that fixing one’s gaze on the Author and Perfecter of faith who, among other things, was zealous against the injustices perpetrated by the religious leaders of His day, would inspire similar zeal in our time.

    In that sense, it might be that “Guest”‘s contributions are actually at odds with God’s purposes.

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  200. Still satisfied that “Guest” is a bot. Its last output follows the usual format for generic spam.

    Although I take Lea’s point that it could just be a person outputing drivel for a larf, we actually call very few comments out as having come from bots. Just as not everyone who posts dissenting comments (even abusive ones) is called a troll.

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  201. Lea: WineBot to all my wonderful TWW commenters:

    Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.

    “A feast is made for laughter, wine makes life merry, and money is the answer for everything.” – Eccl 10:19

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  202. Samuel Conner: Sort like “turning one’s eyes on Jesus” so that the things of TVC will grow “strangely dim”.

    This has been an outstanding discussion. If anything, the visit of a trollbot helps us to hone the points we were already making. We don’t usually get derailed and cranky.

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  203. Anonymous/Guest

    You appear to be unbalanced. No one here is threatening you with harm.This blog is not your personal soapbox. If you want to share the *gospel* in your own unique way, have at it…on your own blog.

    You are temporarily banned from posting.

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  204. Nick Bulbeck: Still satisfied that “Guest” is a bot.

    … or robotic in nature. He appears to be a Matt Chandler fan; thus, a New Calvinist. The New Calvinist tribe tend to be robotic, moving and behaving in harmony with their leaders, more mechanical than spiritual.

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  205. OK folks.

    It seems that “Guest” is a real person. Not a Bot. But why didn’t someone send a note to ME about it. Posting more comments over and over just keeps it going.

    GBTC

    PS: I’m on the page in the menus at the top of each page shown as “Contacting US”.

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  206. On the plus side, I on-sighted a 6b and a 6b+ at the climbing wall tonight. This isn’t exactly stellar in the wider scheme of things, but for an ageing bumbly who’s not long back from a finger injury it was quite chuffing.

    I don’t know what “bumbly” means in Americaland, but I promise you it isn’t rude in the UK.

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  207. GuyBehindtheCurtain: But why didn’t someone send a note to ME about it.

    I don’t think the timing was right until now. It was very interesting to observe how Guest continued to regurgitate platitudes out of context and expected everyone to get the point. This is how I was trained, starting in college with The Navigators, so the non-dialogue with Guest helped me to process all that. The fact that a real person could be so easily confused with a bot exposes where this type of evangelicalism ends up. And it shows me from what I was eventually rescued.

    To sum it up, it is good that you are now intervening, but it was not at all bad that you did not intervene sooner.

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  208. Friend: What do these churches with peer-based confession teach about its purpose? Do they even pretend God has a role?

    It’s how manly men bond with each other- You join one of these Biblical Manhood groups and it’s part of the program. You find yourself in a room full of other men most of whom are strangers, and you are supposed to bare your deepest struggles because, it’s part of the program and that’s what the leaders say to do. Accountability and all that.

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  209. GuyBehindtheCurtain: OK folks.

    It seems that “Guest” is a real person. Not a Bot. But why didn’t someone send a note to ME about it. Posting more comments over and over just keeps it going.

    GBTC

    PS: I’m on the page in the menus at the top of each page shown as “Contacting US”.

    Oops, sorry. In retrospect, that would have been a good idea.

    It was strange because their statements were not tied in with the discussion in any way so I could not understand what point they were trying to make.

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  210. SiteSeer: what point they were trying to make.

    I suspect that the point was along the lines of “we have the gospel and the gospel is the solution and there’s nothing wrong with TVC that won’t be fixed when Jesus returns, so what’s the big deal? You people are unspiritual — be more heavenly-minded”

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  211. John A,

    Your assigned “mentor” most assuredly had access. The whole point of meeting with them is to go through the “inventory” list in the curriculum. I put the word in quotes for a reason. The TVC environment grooms people to have no personal boundaries so they think nothing of sharing deeply personal things to strangers (the small groups for STEPS are strangers) then they get assigned a mentor(ones that tow the party line) to oversee a vulnerable person. They say things are confidential but I saw this violated during my time going through the program. You can’t force trust it is earned. They certainly had my membership paperwork on file so any questions asked on that they absolutely still have. As for the STEPs all they need do is ask a mentor to get all info they need of the small group leaders which is what happened with our group. The PEOPLE are the record- They keep “record” of people through many means. How is it they know who the powerful and influential are, I wonder?

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  212. Guest: when you can’t share the gospel here, the comment section of The Wartburg Watch is abscessed,

    Pardon me if I do not find self-righteous one-liners tossed out with no attempt at context or rapport either helpful or uplifting. I do value the real people in my life who speak words of truth and encouragement with knowledge and discernment as to when and how to speak them.

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  213. Friend: Roman Catholic confession has the seal and (the appearance of) anonymity.

    Muff: Bless me Father for I have sinned…

    Father Doyle the Jesuit: How long since your last confession my son?…

    Again, if I were faced with a theoretical choice between just two, say the above, and one of the elders at say North Point Evangelical Free Church, would I trust the latter?

    Hell no.

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  214. Muff Potter,

    Here’s a corporate prayer of confession, if people are interested. It can be prayed deeply or simply mouthed; that is between me and my God, eh? This one is PCUSA:

    Gracious God, our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgment. Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and grant us grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image, through Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Amen.

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  215. Nick Bulbeck: “I’m off to get a bottle of wine.” – Nick

    Flashback to some classic Dr Demento:

    “It’s the blimp!
    It’s the blimp, Frank!
    It’s the blimp!
    When I see you floatin’ down the gutter
    I’ll give you a bottle o’ wine…”
    — Captain Beefheart, “The Blimp”

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  216. “The loss of faith’s context resulted in the loss of faith itself for many. Many here on this blog and in local churches rightly point out that political structures—in and out of the church—are faulty, time-limited, and entirely separate from Christ himself, who remains for us steadfast and unchanging. But it is easy to see Jesus as abstract and remote when our day-to-day experience of him has been so mediated by the church and its leaders.” -Ian MacAgy

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