The Road to Philippi and a Notable Post at SBC Voices by William Thornton on SBC Issues


The Via Egnatia with the port of Neapolis in the background:

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” JRR Tolkien: Lord of the Rings.


 

The road to Philippi

In the coming weeks, I am going to try to throw in some scenes from my trip to Greece “In the Footsteps of Paul.” This was another inspirational trip as our tour followed the journeys of Paul. We spent just a few hours at each stop, unlike Paul who spent months and years in some locations. Throughout the course of out trip, I felt I was doing a walk through the Bible. We visited Thessalonikki (think Thessalonians) which is the second biggest city in Greece (well, actually Macedonia which is part of Greece.) Athens, also one of our stops, is the largest. We visited Corinth, Philippi, Berea (Veria), Ephesus, Mars Hill in Athens and the Isle of Patmos along with a bunch of other places.

I was surprised by the number of Christian groups from all over the world, who seemed to be stopping at the same places we visited. It’s’ actually quite fascinating to hear priests, pastors and Greek tour guides explaining the sites in every conceivable language. I particularly liked meeting people who considered themselves on a pilgrimage of sorts. All races, countries and ethnicities were present. In some respects, this was the most affirming part of our journey. I had the same reaction when I toured Israel in January. Yes, I know that all languages and people make up the body but it is somehow moving to actually experience it

It is not necessary to take a tour like this to be a deeply committed Christian. However, I’m grateful for the experience. I can now picture these places in my mind a bit more clearly. I guess the thing that impressed me the most is how important these cities were in the days of Paul. Somehow, they seemed bigger to me after I saw them. This area is beautiful. The Aegean Sea is a stunning blue color that is different than the blue of the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean-at least in the coastal areas of the US. The weather is nice and the area produces all kinds of fruits and vegetable as well as an abundance of fish.

The picture at the top of the post was most meaningful to me. In the background, you can see the port at Neapolis. It is thought that Paul landed here to begin his journey to Philippi which was about 10 miles away.

It was the seaport of Philippi, and was the first point in Europe at which Paul and his companions landed; from Troas they had sailed direct to Samothrace, and on the next day reached Neapolis (Acts 16:11). Paul probably passed through the town again on his second visit to Macedonia (Acts 20:1), and he certainly must have embarked there on his last journey from Philippi to Troas, which occupied 5 days (Acts 20:6).

If you look carefully in the middle of the picture you will see a path. If you are present in the area, you can look down on the overgrown path and see some ancient stones that were part of the road system. This path is known as the Via Egnatia.This road was constructed by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. Little did the Romans know that their impressive roads would one day be used to spread the Gospel.

The road was used by the Apostle Paul on his second missionary journey as he traveled from Philippi to Thessalonica (Acts 16-17). It also played a vital role in several key moments in Roman history: the armies of Julius Caesar and Pompey marched along the Via Egnatia during Caesar’s civil war, and during the Liberators’ civil war Mark Antony and Octavian pursued Cassius and Brutus along the Via Egnatia to their fateful meeting at the Battle of Philippi.

There was something about this view that captured my attention. I pictured Paul, slinging his sack over his shoulder. (I wonder if he brought along one of his tents?) and beginning the trek to Philippi. It’s hard to imagine what went through his head. While standing there, I was surrounded by Christians. Yet, he was going to introduce the Gospel for the first time to a culture that was deeply steeped in the Greek and Roman gods.

We packed up the bus and headed to Philippi in a more expeditious manner than Paul. That is a story for another day.

For the rest of the trip, my mind kept returning to this place. Even now, I still get somewhat emotional as I think about Paul on this once busy road, ready to bring this faith to a culture who knew little to nothing about it.


William Thornton of SBC Voices penned a great read:: Not gone unnoticed: The complementarianismness mess, CaringWell/abuse, hanging around past your shelf life…and bacon, brethren.

It is articles like this one, as well as those by Todd Benkert, that continue to give me hope that viewpoints in the SBC are changing. I know one might say “Well, Dee, don’t you think the Caring Well conference showed that?” My answer is, “No.” One thing I learned in my years in the SBC is that Baptist leaders are really good at the showy stuff and not so good at the hard work that’s involved in making sure that changes can be made.  Add to that history, the fact that the leaders for the Caring Wall conference seemingly ignored some victims whose stories are very well known or who have been fighting abuse in the SBC for years. Two examples are Christa Brown and Tiffany Thigpen. It is truly beyond imagining why this happened.

Add to that the reality that the SBC isn’t really a denomination since every church is independent from the Mothership and I worry about just how far changes can be implemented.This point was brought up in the discussion section under the post. The commenter makes a good point about the realities of the situation. That is one reason that I find myself in the Lutheran church which has denominational control.

SBC Voices has been giving voice to those who have been forgotten as well as defining issues that have not been discussed.

It’s when I suspect that the people in the rank and file are paying attention that I develop hope for the long term. I have been so impressed by some of the folks posting at SBC Voices. They are saying things that make me realize that change is happening inside. So, as I get discouraged by the leadership in the SBC and the foot dragging by the EC, I realize that things are changing in the ranks and that is a good sign.

Read the post by Todd Benkert that I wrote just before I left on vacation. Tiffany Thigpen called me to let me know how grateful she was for that post. She said that she felt she had been forgotten and how those of us who have been mentioning her situation have given her so much hope. I let Todd know that she was grateful for his post. Since that time, he has been continuing his support for those who had been forgotten, something that did not happen with Caring Well.

William Thornton continues to surprise me with his insights on some of the matters important to me and the readers at TWW. It is particularly touching to me because I wasn’t so sure how those who write for SBC Voices viewed what I had been saying over the past number  of years.

So, here are some insights in this post: Not gone unnoticed: The complementarianismness mess, CaringWell/abuse, hanging around past your shelf life…and bacon, brethren.

He asks a bold question: “Is the word complementarianism the hill the SBC wants to die on?”

The definitive, succinct, 319 word piece that declared “complementarianism” not to be worth diddly-squat any more. Southern Baptists love adjectives and thus will flood the comp market with them: hard, soft, broad, narrow, traditional, etc

He recognizes that the of us who advocate for abuse victims do not do so to gain financially from our work.

I know I’m making an assumption that he includes me in this group!

I’m satisfied as to the righteous motives of the most visible and active of the loose confederation of victims of abuse, and their advocates, in SBC churches and related institutions.

He recognizes that some are proposing that the SBC provide resources to those who have victimized in SBC church. He even used the word *reparations.* (Please read the entire post.)

Part of the proposal by professors Whitfield and Yarnell is that “the Southern Baptist Convention, through the Executive Committee, should develop a fund to help when the resources of a church are not sufficient or when a church fails to provide reasonable support to a survivor.” This is a serious proposal. I have not seen our current leadership address anything like this

In this point, Thornton is referring to this post in the Biblical Recorder: Addressing abuse in the SBC: A proposal written by Malcolm Yarnell and Keith Whitfield, professors at SEBTS.

For far too long, too many among us have demonstrated negligence when dealing with the horror of abuse. Rather than shaming the little ones whom God calls his own, we must now welcome and encourage these victims, these survivors, to speak. And we must prepare our hearts to listen to every word, to grieve over every wound, and to repent of every wicked deed. If we refuse to follow the way of Christ, we may no longer claim to be the people of Christ.

Recently, Whitfield outlined five systemic factors behind the cultural practices that foster acts of abuse. These systemic factors painfully confirm to our consciences that we have not yet honored “the full dignity of every human being.” Our family of churches must address these factors in part by creating significant mechanisms to help prevent abuse within our churches and denominational entities.

Here is this groundbreaking proposal. Please be sure to read their entire proposal.

Local churches and state conventions should be strongly encouraged, and Southern Baptist entities should be required to have measures in place to cover legal fees and counseling expenses for anyone abused by a leader or a volunteer in their ministry.

In addition to these funds, the Southern Baptist Convention, through the Executive Committee, should develop a fund to help when the resources of a church are not sufficient or when a church fails to provide reasonable support to a survivor.

Finally, Thornton gives his opinion of the John MacArthur dustup which made me smile.

Speaking of shelf life. It’s not good to hang around after your shelf life has obviously ended. Two words here: John MacArthur. Ride your Harley, bro, and enjoy life.

I know that I can speak fro some of the victims by thanking William Thornton for his great post. I have been writing for over 10 years. Two years ago, I would not have predicted this response from rank and file pastors in the SBC. Awesome!


Comments

The Road to Philippi and a Notable Post at SBC Voices by William Thornton on SBC Issues — 85 Comments

  1. Mark Smith comments, “Here is why the SBC fund for abuse victims is a bad idea, unless you want a full-on denomination with ordination and credentialing. If I am on the hook for what the youth pastor did at Nowhere Baptist Church then I want the ability to make sure he is not an uneducated fool … Setting up the fund implies a level of control that we do not have, nor do most of us want to have.”

    This man blithely belongs to a group that includes abuse at Nowhere Baptist, but he doesn’t want liability, because that might lead to better standards for pastors, less nepotism, and an end to abuse?

    Gosh! If paying into a fund can bring all of that about, where should we all send our checks?

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  2. Friend: Mark Smith comments, “Here is why the SBC fund for abuse victims is a bad idea, unless you want a full-on denomination with ordination and credentialing. If I am on the hook for what the youth pastor did at Nowhere Baptist Church then I want the ability to make sure he is not an uneducated fool … Setting up the fund implies a level of control that we do not have, nor do most of us want to have.”

    This man blithely belongs to a group that includes abuse at Nowhere Baptist, but he doesn’t want liability, because that might lead to better standards for pastors, less nepotism, and an end to abuse?

    Gosh! If paying into a fund can bring all of that about, where should we all send our checks?

    Friend, I spent 44 years of my life in the SBC. I was a pastor for approximately 10 of these years. I watched the FUNDAMENTALIST TAKEOVER the SBC and make major changes in that women are to submit to their husbands, but the biggie occurred in 2000. This was when the SBC changed the Baptist Faith and Message to only only men pastors. However, this change ended up greatly limiting the role of women in the SBC. This effectively meant only men leaders in the SBC. Why would a woman want to tell her story of being abused to an all men panel? I’ve heard forever about the autonomy of the local church in the SBC. Try ordaining a woman as a pastor or calling a woman in the SBC and you will be kicked out.

    I respect William Thornton, but he is a retired SBC Pastor and he can freely write his articles without any fear of consequences as a SBC Pastor. Until the SBC quits talking about these major issues and does something-call me major skeptical.

    Friend, the pastor in the comment you quoted is IMO speaking for the majority of SBC churches.

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  3. ION: Sport

    Something of a surprise in the first semi-final as England beat the All Blacks 19-7, with a superb all-round performance. So, England are the first finalists for next Saturday. Wales play South Africa tomorrow, in an intriguing and, in theory, close match.

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  4. Yes, complementarianism IS “the hill the SBC wants to die on” because it is the theological underpinning that preserves male power and privelege in the pastorate. Sexual abuse issues in SBC churches is the concern that they cannot make go away easily, so “Caring Well” is the PR piece.
    During my 25 years as an SBC pastor I remained shocked at how women were devalued in the church, even the churches I served with women deacons. (I was lucky enough to serve a few theologically moderate churches after the “takeover.”)
    Give women too much attention – even abused women – in the SBC may again fan the flames of the role of women in SBC churches, some who may not accept complementarianism.

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  5. Luckyforward: Yes, complementarianism IS “the hill the SBC wants to die on” because it is the theological underpinning that preserves male power and privelege in the pastorate. Sexual abuse issues in SBC churches is the concern that they cannot make go away easily, so “Caring Well” is the PR piece.
    During my 25 years as an SBC pastor I remained shocked at how women were devalued in the church, even the churches I served with women deacons. (I was lucky enough to serve a few theologically moderate churches after the “takeover.”)
    Give women too much attention – even abused women – in the SBC may again fan the flames of the role of women in SBC churches, some who may not accept complementarianism.

    While I was pastoring one SBC church, a church in our association was disfellowshipped–kicked out-it did not matter that this church had been in the association for decades,because they dared to call a woman Pastor. It is unconscionable the way this associational church and their very young Pastor were treated.

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  6. mot: While I was pastoring one SBC church, a church in our association was disfellowshipped–kicked out-it did not matter that this church had been in the association for decades,because they dared to call a woman Pastor. It is unconscionable the way this associational church and their very young Pastor were treated.

    Yes, a church that I served was threatened with being kicked out of the association when it became known that a young woman was “answering the call to preach.” She was in college and was headed for seminary and was not requesting ordination (at that time.) I was criticized because I did not tell her and the church that there was no way that God could be calling her to pulpit ministry because she was a “woman.” Again, the devaluing of women in the SBC.

    I decided a long time ago that because God did not make me privy to those whom he called – male or female – my role was to help the “called” in any way I could. In no way could I, with good faith and conscience, tell any “woman” that God did not call her because she was a “woman.”

    Again, the bottom line is how the church values women in a world that already devalues women.

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  7. Friend: This man blithely belongs to a group that includes abuse at Nowhere Baptist, but he doesn’t want liability, because that might lead to better standards for pastors, less nepotism, and an end to abuse?

    I mean, all I get from this is that SBC should be ordaining pastors, and licensing and revoking their ability to pastor in the denomination if they want to be one.

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  8. drstevej:
    The Vision Church of Atlanta, Georgia, a progressive congregation, has added a psychic medium who claims to commune with the dead to their staff.

    SMH

    And in doing so, they undoubtedly have done less damage than all the abusive sack of complementarians have done to women and children. What exactly is your point in bringing this up?

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  9. “SBC Voices has been giving voice to those who have been forgotten as well as defining issues that have not been discussed.” (Dee)

    A welcome change after years of not doing that! To date, they have run along a narrow path, with their voices primarily representing Calvinization of the SBC. Some SBC posters and their faithful gang of commenters have been vicious in their response to others (sort of like John MacArthur). I suspect that many Wartburgers know what I am talking about. Yes, coming across as more female-friendly, taking the “beauty of complementarity” off their hill to die on, and standing up for abuse victims are all welcome changes. However, since my own SBC “shelf-life” has expired, I’ll remain cautiously optimistic about SBC Voices’ new agenda.

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  10. William Thornton: The term “reparations” was not my own. I read it in a tweet by Christa Brown. It got my attention.

    Thank you. I’m sorry I wasn’t more clear. I knew that you were saying that you had heard this from another source.

    I was going to write something else yesterday until I read your post so I switched gears. The mere fact that you are discussing this openly is a balm to the weary folks who have been asking for the SBC to act on this. When we did, we were accused of bringing dishonor to the church.

    It was an interesting trip. I’m somewhat of a church history buff and this trip was perfect since it answered some of my questions.

    At Patmos, where John had his Revelation, I had a rather amusing observation which I shall share in another post.

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  11. drstevej:
    The Vision Church of Atlanta, Georgia, a progressive congregation, has added a psychic medium who claims to commune with the dead to their staff.SMH

    Seriously? Now this would make an interesting post. I know there are all kinds of beliefs within that movement. It allows for all sorts of stuff. I feel better in a church which has a well defined belief system so I know what I’m getting.

    I’m most grateful for the churches who pretend not to be Baptist but are who then post links to 9 Marks and Acts 29 and even recommend books by CJ Mahaney. Surprised? I’m grateful because these are the red flags waving wchih would lead me I=not to step foot in that church.

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  12. Max: However, since my own SBC “shelf-life” has expired, I’ll remain cautiously optimistic about SBC Voices’ new agenda.

    I do not trust them. It may not be the same now, but for years this site was referred to as Pravda.

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  13. mot,

    Here is what I predict. In some SBC church which has closed ties to the local association, a pastor/church will call a woman into that office. The local group will not act due to long standing ties. Then, I will grab a bag of popcorn and watch as SBC Central figures out a way to boot the offending congregation. When this happens, there will be an uproar that will keep TWW awash in posts for months.

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  14. drstevej: If it abused you, I apologize.

    It didn’t ‘abuse me’ that’s a weird thing to say. It rather seemed both pointed at ‘moderates’ perhaps to discredit them, and irrelevant, but sneakily not irrelevant. Perhaps you would say it was none of these things.

    Irrelevant comments like this always stand out to me.

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  15. Lea,

    I am grateful when people bring news of happenings in the church today. I found it most interesting. I have asked people to do just what Steve did. There are no sacred cows here.

    Now, as for progressives, I am aware of a situation in my state in which a well known progressive church did not handle an accusation of abuse appropriately. Let’s go further, did you know there has been a huge dustup in the atheist community in which a number of women have alleged sexual abuse on the part of well known leaders.

    Then there was the infamous Tony Jones/spiritual wife incident which I wrote about on this blog. I even helped raise money for his actual wife’s fight against him getting full custody of the kids.

    Progressives, atheists, Christians, Hasidic Jews, Amish, and even Buddhists have mishandled abuse. Nope-abuse in everywhere.

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  16. As you can see at the top of the home page, the blog format is going to change shortly. Once that happens, I plan to create some sort of page for people to point out interesting news as well as allowing open discussion on a number of topics.

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  17. dee:
    Lea,
    Steve has been on the blog for quite awhile. In this instance, I would cut him a break.

    I was unaware that I was treating him harshly by asking a question. I also thought it was weird that he jumped to something about my feeling it was abused.

    But ok.

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  18. Lea,

    I know that. People often leave me links to posts that they think I might find interesting. I did find this one interesting and just tweeted it ou. Besides abuse, TWW also follows trends in the greater church community. I have followed the New Calvinist (calvinists) movement, the issues surrounding creationism, new church bodies being formed, etc.

    When a blog post about abuse gets hijacked and totally goes off the rails, I ask people to get back to the post, especially when feelings get hot.

    Frankly, I don’t know where I would be without readers sending me links through the comment section. Steve has sent me some links as have most of the people who’ve been reading this blog for awhile.

    Even the beginning of this post had nothing to do with abuse but I thought folks might find it interesting.

    I had a chance to read about the medium/pastor and I suspect that there is monetary motive involved and I’m going to try to learn more about this. I write a lot about money and the pulpit as well. It appears that progressives might be no different than celebrity evangelical leaders which it comes to $$$$.

    So, again I did not mind Steve’s comment. I do not think he was trying to condemn all progressives. he has spoken out against some abusive stuff in the evangelical circles. It’s all good.

    I think we’ve beaten this subject to death.

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  19. drstevej: The Vision Church of Atlanta, Georgia, a progressive congregation, has added a psychic medium who claims to commune with the dead to their staff.

    “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live…”
    — Exodus 22:18 —

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  20. drstevej:
    The Vision Church of Atlanta, Georgia, a progressive congregation, has added a psychic medium who claims to commune with the dead to their staff.

    SMH

    And this means?
    (Other than The Satanic Panic…)

    I live in the current Weird Religion Capital of the country; there’s always been “First Church of Ouija Board” fads popping up since the Fox Sisters from the Weird Religion Capital of their day.

    And really, is a “psychic medium who claims to channel the dead” all that different from Tatted Todd channeling his Pet Angel Emma? Or a Charismatic claiming some Vision from God every few minutes? (Or my church’s version, the Flaked-out Marian Visionary…)

    Christians flake out.
    Churches are groups of Christians who can all flake out in the same direction like some spiritual Brownian Motion. There is a lot of just plain WEIRDNESS out there.

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  21. Luckyforward: Yes, complementarianism IS “the hill the SBC wants to die on” because it is the theological underpinning that preserves male power and privelege in the pastorate.

    And Holy Testosterone.
    Don’t forget their Holy Testosterone.

    (Did I just write that? This all reminds me of something I read in Catholic history, about some pre-Vatican II cardinal who was so obsessed with relics that he was sponsoring searches for “The Sacred Prepuce” (Jesus’s foreskin from his bris), “The only part of Our Lord’s Body which remained on earth after His Ascension”. Looking back after 20 years, I wonder if he found it, What Did He Plan To Do With It? Glass Reliquary? Processionals? Adorations? Special Feast Day eight days after Christmas? There are some relics better left unfound… Some things better left unthought… I’d better stop; this is getting TOO Weird even for me.)

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  22. Lea: What exactly is your point in bringing this up?

    New Age “WITCHCRAFT!!!!!!!!!!!!”?

    Before HOMOSEXUALS(TM), WITCHCRAFT(TM) was THE Word of Power that would disconnect all neurons about the Christianese brainstem and wave the Bright Red Murder Flag in front of what was left.

    I was involved in D&D just as The Satanic Panic of the Eighties blew up.
    Driving a rift of distrust between Christians and Gamers that persists to this day.
    (Thank you Mike Warnke. You Total FRAUD.)

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  23. “Speaking of shelf life. It’s not good to hang around after your shelf life has obviously ended. Two words here: John MacArthur. Ride your Harley, bro, and enjoy life.” (William Thornton)

    Get your motor runnin’ … Head out on the highway … Born to be Wild.

    In the meanwhile … Welcome Home, Beth Moore.

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  24. dee: Let’s go further, did you know there has been a huge dustup in the atheist community in which a number of women have alleged sexual abuse on the part of well known leaders.

    Also in SF litfandom, with Asimov’s reputation as a dirty old man groping women in con hotel elevators and the child sexual-abuse scandal over MZB and her pedo husband. All hushed up (at least for a time) because these were Big Names.

    And Golden Age SF being such a boy’s club that several woman authors used masculine pseudonyms to get published. The dominant editor of Golden Age SF (Campbell of Astounding/Analog, roughly 1940-1970) promoting Eugenics and Dianetics (I remember his editorials from the vintage Analogs I had in the Seventies).

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  25. drstevej:
    A sorcerer on a church staff is spiritually abusive.

    Definition of Sorcery by Merriam-Webster
    https://www.merriam-webster.com › 1 : the use of power gained from the assistance or control of evil spirits especially for divining : necromancy.

    With exceptions for Imprecatory Prayer to bring down death, destruction, and ruin on Pastor’s enemies real or imagined? Word/Faith Visionaries claiming Signs and Wonders and Visions left and right? Spiritual Warfare types who can see DEMONS under every bed, in every closet, in your eyes, and that sweater from Goodwill? Pastors who preach that God will curse you if you don’t Tithe enough? That commenter on IMonk(?) years ago who claimed a “Gift of Discernment” that God showed him whether anyone who died was Saved or not? Tatted Todd of Lakeland and his pet angel Emma?

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  26. In straight out bad news, Andy Savage is starting a new church. Because, guys like him always do. Waited a whole seven months after his resignation to jump back in. And further proof that he’s not sorry or repentant at all.

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  27. dee,

    There does indeed seem to be a link between Dr Lakara Foster and the Vision Church in Atlanta. I found her Facebook page. However, I can’t find a functioning website for the church, or a staff listing. There’s an unofficial Facebook page for the church. The reporting about this seems to come from a single source, the Rolling Out story. It would be interesting to hear the church’s side of this.

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  28. Headless Unicorn Guy: Wonders and Visions

    Not to mention Spiritualism in the US in the 19th century, considered a Christian movement at the time because it “proved” life after death.

    The elements are still there. So many Christians say that someone who died is a spirit or an angel. Just last week I got an invitation to a candlelight vigil that said, “We want to make sure he hears us clearly.”

    Several big traditions believe in the Communion of Saints, and folks don’t always have a full understanding of the belief.

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  29. mot,

    I’ve been thinking about your comment all day. A devastating summary.

    (My community has two thriving SBC churches. Both have pastors with advanced degrees from rigorous institutions. Both are well intertwined with their neighborhoods, sharing their space with support groups, scout troops, etc.)

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  30. ION: Sport

    As everyone associated with Rugby expected, it was a tight game between Wales and South Africa. The Springboks emerged winners by 19-16. So, it’s England and South Africa who will compete for the Webb Ellis trophy next weekend.

    The sides have faced each other in the final before, in Paris in 2007 when South Africa won 15-6. England will be aiming to join Australia and South Africa as two-time winners; the Springboks, to join New Zealand as three-time winners.

    Wales will certainly regard this as a missed opportunity; not just because the match itself was so close (decided by a single penalty 4 minutes from time) but because they will have fancied themselves against England in the final. If England win, they will have done so by beating all three of the big southern-hemisphere sides in the process, which would be a rare treble in itself.

    IHTIH

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  31. Muff Potter: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live…” — Exodus 22:18 —

    Flashback to jr. high and a scary old church lady chewing me out when she saw the fantasy novel I was reading. (A novel which happened to be written by a Christian, but that’s besides the point.)

    Flashback to high school and my BFF asking if I thought Harry Potter was evil when she found out I was allowed to read the books.

    Flashback to dating my husband, a seminary grad looking for a pastorate. I somewhat defiantly told him I liked fantasy novels and wasn’t going to give them up just to be some pastor’s wife. He gave me a confused look of “what’s the big deal.” They now occupy a place of pride, front and center in our bookshelf.

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  32. Friend: Not to mention Spiritualism in the US in the 19th century, considered a Christian movement at the time because it “proved” life after death.

    I don’t know if copies are available in 2019 (mine is an old VHS tape), but try to scare up a video of PBS’s Telegrams from the Dead.

    This was a PBS American Expereince documentary (with re-enactment segments) about the start and rise of Spiritualism in 19th Century America. Very interesting, with a lot of parallels to offbeat religious movements and “proof of life after death” books of today.

    Personal anecdotes:

    1) Interesting how “metrosexual” androgyny and Vegetarianism were part of 19th Century Spiritualism; plus how the Spirits were co-opted to advance political movements of the time such as Abolition and Women’s Rights.

    2) When I first saw it on PBS, the next thing I watched was an episode of Unsolved Mysteries on cable (NOT PBS). Imagine after finishing Telegrams from the Dead, you flip channels and the first thing you hear is Robert Stack’s voice intoning “We have PRoof pf Life after Death!” I had to check to be sure I wasn’t repeating Telegrams from the Dead.

    3) The title is also reminiscent of Phone Calls from the Dead, a piece of late fringe literature I heard about on a late-night talk show (Art Bell?) while driving home at 2 Ayem once back in the Seventies. Telegrams, Phone Calls, what’s the diff?

    4) For Spiritualism on the other side of the Atlantic, I refer to Arthur Conan Doyle’s novella “The Land of Mist”, a 30,000-word puff piece “Witnessing” for Spiritualism. Last of his “Professor Challenger” series that started with “The Lost World”. (Professor Challenger — from Lost Worlds to shill for Spiritualism.) The story DOES give a snapshot of Post-WW1 British Spiritualism (WW1 hit Britain with mass death like the Civil War did the US), and even makes a mention of Jehovah’s Witnesses under their older name “Russelites”.

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  33. ishy: In straight out bad news, Andy Savage is starting a new church.

    JUST LIKE JIMMY SWAGGART, TED HAGGARD, AND DEEP THROAT DRISCOLL!
    (And don’t forget James MacDonald and his Visionary encounter at that gas station!)

    Hit the comeback trail, Plant your New One True Church, and start skimming those Tithes!

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  34. Brian:
    Friend,

    Wasn’t part of the attraction of the spiritualism movement the wanting to connect with loved ones who died in the U.S. Civil War?

    And another upswing after World War One. (As mentioned above, check Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Land of Mist” for a snapshot of British spiritualism of that period.)

    Doyle became a tragic figure in his later life. After losing a son in the Great War, he became more of a True Believer in Spiritualism. If a medium came up to him claiming to have channeled a message from his dead son, he’d believe everything they said. Had a lot of arguments with his friend Harry Houdini over that.

    Rudyard Kipling also lost his only son in The Great War — after pulling strings to get him accepted into the Army.

    “If any question why we died,
    Tell them, because our fathers lied.”
    — Rudyard Kipling, “Epitaphs of the War”, 1919

    Though not exactly orthodox Church of England, Kipling’s reaction when it came to Spiritualism was the opposite of Doyle’s:

    “Oh the road to En-dor is the oldest road
    And the craziest road of all!
    Straight it runs to the Witch’s abode,
    As it did in the days of Saul,
    And nothing has changed of the sorrow in store
    For such as go down on the road to En-dor”

    http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_endor.htm

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  35. Brian: The SBC, did it ever have female pastors? Or were most of the women that preached looked upon as evangelist?

    Was having female deacons a regular occurrence within the SBC?

    Former SBC churches with women pastors today are associated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship or the Alliance of Baptists. Female deacons were not a regular occurence within the SBO but there were churches with women deacons. What was not a regular occurence in SBC life (until the “takeover”) were “elders.”

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  36. Luckyforward: Former SBC churches with women pastors today are associated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship or the Alliance of Baptists. Female deacons were not a regular occurence within the SBO but there were churches with women deacons. What was not a regular occurence in SBC life (until the “takeover”) were “elders.”

    Sadly, I have learned that many CBF churches talk about allowing women pastors but when they are in need of a pastor will not even consider calling her or even consider a woman candidate. This happened at a recent church I was attending. I am not attending any more.

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  37. Brian: Wasn’t part of the attraction of the spiritualism movement the wanting to connect with loved ones who died in the U.S. Civil War?

    I’ve read that. Yesterday I found an article that suggests something different (https://gettysburgcompiler.org/2015/08/14/antebellum-spiritualism-and-the-civil-war/):

    “The War caused the movement to cease many of its activities, reducing its public presence and awareness as the war raged on. When the war ended, people sought comfort in national pride, spiritual unity, and organized religion. Spiritualism was far too unorganized (as the founders wanted) to attract people after being out of the public spotlight for so long. Thus began the recantation movement that damaged Spiritualism’s strength and nearly disbanded the movement altogether.”

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  38. Headless Unicorn Guy: a medium came up to him claiming to have channeled a message

    And the messages are always so cryptic and seemingly petty. Sometime I heard a skeptic say, “If Grandma really was talking from the great beyond, I think she’d say something more significant than ‘You moved my picture’.”

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  39. drstevej: A sorcerer on a church staff is spiritually abusive.

    I would actually be more worried about her using the imprimatur of the church to take advantage of grieving people, and/or defraud them financially. I think that is more likely than her achieving anything supernatural. This woman claims to have a “gift,” but I am not convinced that she is a sorcerer. She could be deluded or an old-fashioned huckster.

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  40. mot: Sadly, I have learned that many CBF churches talk about allowing women pastors but when they are in need of a pastor will not even consider calling her or even consider a woman candidate. This happened at a recent church I was attending. I am not attending any more.

    mot
    :
    You are correct. CBF has ended up being an “odd lot.” The most open CBF churches are those that fully broke with the SBC. The majority of CBF churches are “dually aligned” and give money to both CBF and the SBC. CBF has not lived up to its promise as being a welcoming place for women pastors or pastors/pastoral staff who have been divorced.

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  41. Wild Honey: Flashback to dating my husband, a seminary grad looking for a pastorate. I somewhat defiantly told him I liked fantasy novels and wasn’t going to give them up just to be some pastor’s wife. He gave me a confused look of “what’s the big deal.” They now occupy a place of pride, front and center in our bookshelf.

    Good for you Wild Honey!
    Good for you!

    I remember some years back I heard a newly minted Calvary Chapel pastor rail against the works of Stephen King, and how after he got ‘saved’, he burned all his copies.

    When I commented that the burning of people (premortem in medieval times or postmortem during the holocaust) usually follows the burning of books, it went over about as well as a fart in a NASA spacesuit.

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  42. Luckyforward: You are correct. CBF has ended up being an “odd lot.” The most open CBF churches are those that fully broke with the SBC. The majority of CBF churches are “dually aligned” and give money to both CBF and the SBC. CBF has not lived up to its promise as being a welcoming place for women pastors or pastors/pastoral staff who have been divorced.

    I read somewhere that out of approximately 2000 CBF churches they have a total of 100 women as Senior Pastors–5%. This is after 25 years of having seminaries available to prepare women for the ministry in the CBF and elsewhere. The leaders of the CBF have lied to these women that if they prepared to be a minister there would be a place for them in the CBF. The CBF may try to claim their position on Women Pastors is different than the hard line held by the CBF but in practice there is very little difference. My heart goes out to these disappointed women!

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  43. dee: I had a chance to read about the medium/pastor and I suspect that there is monetary motive involved and I’m going to try to learn more about this. I write a lot about money and the pulpit as well. It appears that progressives might be no different than celebrity evangelical leaders which it comes to $$$$.

    I’m convinced that there ain’t a dime’s worth of difference in the ‘progressive’ machine when it comes to down those Benjamins baby (as HUG would say).

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  44. mot: I read somewhere that out of approximately 2000 CBF churches they have a total of 100 women as Senior Pastors–5%. This is after 25 years of having seminaries available to prepare women for the ministry in the CBF and elsewhere. The leaders of the CBF have lied to these women that if they prepared to be a minister there would be a place for them in the CBF. The CBF may try to claim their position on Women Pastors is different than the hard line held by the CBF but in practice there is very little difference. My heart goes out to these disappointed women!

    I completely agree, mot. It saddened me to view the double-standard: many CBF churches would encourage their young women when they felt called to ministry, and many would ordain them to ministry, but only a minute number would call a woman. I knew a wonderful young woman whose church supported her through seminary and ordained her, but would not accept her resume when her own church wanted to call a children’s minister . . .

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  45. Luckyforward: I completely agree, mot. It saddened me to view the double-standard: many CBF churches would encourage their young women when they felt called to ministry, and many would ordain them to ministry, but only a minute number would call a woman. I knew a wonderful young woman whose church supported her through seminary and ordained her, but would not accept her resume when her own church wanted to call a children’s minister . . .

    A CBF church that I was attending after leaving the SBC had for years openly supported Women in the Ministry-this church had women deacons, had ordained women as ministers, etc. But when their male Senior Pastor left the church did a survey for the Search Committee and one thing the church members demanded was that a woman not even be considered for Pastor. Let’s say this made me more than a little angry. The Search Committee shared the candidate the church was voting on and how the search committee had followed the churches wishes. I spoke to one of the men on this Search committee privately after church ended that day. In as nice a way as I could I shared with him my disappointment in the church and its members. I have not and will never go back to this church.

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  46. Muff Potter,

    Another one is when they preach about not being a Lone Ranger Christian.

    Responding with the Lone Ranger wasn’t alone. He had his horse Silver (Which rescued a crying baby in the middle of a gunfight, in the first Lone Ranger movie in the 1950’s). He also had Tonto and his horse (The horse being sent to alert Tonto, who was in town spying, in the second 1950’s movie). The response gets you the nasty face look.

    🙂

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  47. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    “There is a lot of just plain WEIRDNESS out there.”
    ++++++++++++

    …but at the same time, there is a lot of mystery, too.

    to the purely unindoctrinated, a day in church with communion, antiphonal readings, and hands outstretched prayers would be various parts weird-nazi-germany-north-korea-sorcery.

    we’re just use to it. feels normal. it’s the amount of mystery we’ve let in through the credential of bona fide tradition.

    yet there remains lots of mystery which our traditions’ conclusions, all neat-&-tidy and wrapped-up-in-a-bow, don’t know what to do with.

    (if conclusions could talk… i’m sure i made some grammar goofs there)

    ….just thinking out loud, here.

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  48. mot,

    “I spoke to one of the men on this Search committee privately after church ended that day. In as nice a way as I could I shared with him my disappointment in the church and its members.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    you’re a champ.

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  49. For all the issues that the charismatics have, not only do they believe in women pastors/preachers, they actually will bring one on staff. (Or at least have the pastor’s wife called co-pastor)

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  50. ishy:
    In straight out bad news, Andy Savage is starting a new church. Because, guys like him always do. Waited a whole seven months after his resignation to jump back in. And further proof that he’s not sorry or repentant at all.

    I don’t anticipate too many studies on 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 regarding pastors needing to be above reproach, but perhaps plenty on submission to authorities/”local church” and on select OT offerings conflated to modern giving imperatives, with Andy in charge of the “storehouse”.

    And of course, there may be plenty of seminars and media appearances to sell books, with the one on relationships that got shelved further premepted perhaps with a tome on personal stumbling/restoration ‘cuz gracemercy and learning experience to help others (perhaps not direct victims, but hey). We might be reminded that he was pronounced ‘worthy’ from a church stage even as reports were trickling out, which may be tied in to casting as be anointed so no one can talk about it any more than he will allow in seminars and book tours.

    Or maybe not. We’ll see.

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  51. Mark R,

    Calling the wife of a pastor a co-pastor bugs me just a bit. It’s nothing scripturally. Unless a church ditches the pastor position, operating the church as deacon operated, each deacon using his or her gifts, there is only one pastor. Additional pastors are associate pastors.

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  52. Brian: Calling the wife of a pastor a co-pastor bugs me just a bit. It’s nothing scripturally. Unless a church ditches the pastor position, operating the church as deacon operated, each deacon using his or her gifts, there is only one pastor. Additional pastors are associate pastors.

    Is it really any different from men like who just declare themselves a pastor and start a church? There’s even guys like CJ Mahaney who don’t have anything more than a high school education.

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  53. ishy,

    I had four years of Masters level training (Dallas Seminary) which was as academically challenging as my 4 year degree from Ga Tech. Later I did a PhD (Westminster). My wife was not a co-pastor. She was a Nurse Practitioner and had a ministry (unpaid) of encouragement.

    There are many solid churches around. They are usually ignored by the press and like it that way.

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  54. drstevej: I had four years of Masters level training (Dallas Seminary) which was as academically challenging as my 4 year degree from Ga Tech. Later I did a PhD (Westminster). My wife was not a co-pastor. She was a Nurse Practitioner and had a ministry (unpaid) of encouragement.

    I went to seminary. I am not debating the necessity of seminary in my question, but the pastoral selection process.

    There’s a church in town that has a pastor and “co-pastor”. Except she went to seminary and he didn’t. He is “lead” pastor simply because he’s male, not because he’s the most qualified. And as the conversation went above, even churches that say women should be pastors won’t even consider having one.

    There are a lot of male pastors where nobody would ask if they are qualified, sadly, even by the selection committee (if there even is one). There are a lot of very young men brought on pastoral staffs simply because they are related to someone already on staff.

    It doesn’t even occur to people to question whether a man is truly qualified. But I bet that woman in town gets questions about whether she should be on staff.

    It’s a double standard.

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  55. Lea,

    Church is voluntary for women who live in a free country. it’s not as if church is a government mandate and one can be fined or jailed for not complying. I am still trying to wrap my head around women in the SBC begging pastors to give them “agency” as they did at their first protest. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? What they give they can take away.

    And from my perspective “church” as we know it, is always going to attract cons, abusers, etc, because it is a place where most people, especially with titles, are automatically trusted and respected by most.

    I also don’t buy into the idea that denominational control will change anything. Who’s to say those in control, with a tighter structure to hide things, will always be honest? Did we learn nothing from the tight control denominationally the RCC had on their problems for decades?

    and I also suspect that the big change at SBCvoices comes from the fact that the SBC is bleeding members despite what they claim. Calvinism stopped being a recruitment tool. Now they are in image rehab.

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  56. Lydia: Calvinism stopped being a recruitment tool. Now they are in image rehab.

    The New Calvinists are finding out the hard way that “the beauty of complementarity” ain’t so pretty! The womenfolk are onto their schemes, and the menfolk who have some spiritual sense know that the new reformers have a weak Biblical defense for subordinating and oppressing female believers. If the church won’t set them free, Christ will and they are moving on.

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