People Are Being Retroactively Disciplined In 9 Marks Churches Due to Egotistical, Authority Driven Pastors

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“In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.” Galileo Galilei

The Andy Savage saga continues. It is not going well for the golden boy. More on Friday.


Recently, I had the privilege of helping 2 people *get out* of their 9 Marks churches after their churches went after them, claiming that they were now *under discipline.* These folks have no connection with one another and, in fact, live thousands of miles away from each other. Both churches are in the US. One person found me by looking up the term *retroactive church discipline.”  As he said to me “I had no idea that this was a thing until it happened to me.*

Both of these individuals are long time, deeply committed Christians and both are educated and well read. One of them is a highly respected professional. Both of them were deeply upset, stunned, by the reaction of the pastor of these churches.

What is retroactive church discipline? This is discipline that is applied after the person has left the church. In both cases, the church leadership was notified that these folks  had decides to move on. I cannot give the names of these folks or the names of their churches at this time but I think we will be posting on these incidents in the future.

TWW gets about 4-5 requests a month, asking for help to get out of their churches. These churches tend to be Reformed Southern Baptist and PCA churches, although I have also dealt with these incidents in nondenominational churches as well as EFCA churches. In ALL instances, these churches have adopted 9 Marks materials which can be found on the churches websites under the resource sections or even quoted in the *what we believe* headers. Clues can also be found in membership covenants

Take home point:  Always check a church website before attending the first time and certainly check it before signing on the dotted *membership* line.

Why retroactive church discipline?

The membership contract (it is a legal contract even if they claim it’s a covenant) is the key. In both cases the individuals had signed their church membership contracts. In both instances, the contracts state various mandates.

  • One could not leave the church until receiving the blessings (permission) of the church leadership
  • The were required to immediately join another approved church (as in these dudebros will tell you which are approved.)
  • Both made the mistake of saying that they no longer agreed with the way their churches were being run, for various reasons, and wanted to seek another church.
  • Both attempted to explain their reasons for leaving. Those reasons were deemed “not acceptable” by the current leaders.
  • Both were informed that the disciplinary process would begin after they had resigned from the church,
  • Both explained that they had already resigned from the church, in writing. They were not under discipline at the time of their resignation.
  • In one instance the bylaws of the church said the *covenant needed to be updated on a regular basis.” It didn’t matter that it had not been updated.The leaders did not need to abide by the covenant, only the leaving member.

Take home point: Churches attempt to discipline if they determine the reason for leaving is not acceptable, even if the acceptability of an action has not been codified. 

In both instances, this appeared to be about ego of the dudebro leader and he gets to discipline based on whatever he wants, oncoming his hurt feelings.

In both instances, there was no spelled out reason for the impending retroactive church discipline. However, it appeared the church leaders were attempting to control both people who had decided to move along. They viewed this as a rejection of their obviously superior, God given authority. I know their reasons and they seem normal and acceptable.

(Which raises the question: Do some churches get penalized by a sponsoring organization if numerical growth is expected? Anyone got an idea?)

In both cases, I advised them to understand that the law was on their side. One can dissolve  a relationship with voluntary organizations at any time so long as no criminal activity has occurred. Then, the police need to be informed. That was not the case here.

In both cases, after following my advice, both were able to successfully extricate themselves from their former churches. I have some advice on how to proceed in such a scenario. I also have some interesting actions that I recommend that I don’t talk about on this blog. I don’t want these groups to discover my advice.

However, I am willing to speak about some clever ideas in a one on one conversation. Actually, I learned a couple of these ideas from some innovative people who wanted to get out of their 9 Marks church (One even had an awesome leave-taking from CHBC-the mothership. I only wish I could share it because you would all laugh but my lips are sealed unless I’m helping someone to get out of these silly churches.)

In speaking with a representative of 9 Marks, I was told that this sort of discipline is not supposed to happen. However, as I tried to explain what had happened, I was shut down with “How do I know you have the full story so I won’t answer you.” They don’t want to admit that there is a problem.

Please refer to this permanent post at TWW: How to Resign From a Church Whether or Not You Are Under Church Discipline

Please let me know if I can directly help you. I have some clever exit strategies which I will share only on a one on one basis. I really enjoy helping out in the sort of situation. If it works, you have to send me a Christmas card each year!!!

Take home point: You have a right to leave any church at any time, not matter what it says in the *covenant.*

Did you know that 9 Marks churches give you a name tag which says you are a Christian or say you are not a Christian? I believe this is the crux of the matter. They are in charge!

Please refer to the post by Jonathan *Keys* Leeman: Does Church Membership Matter? Before I begin this section, I want to tell you a true story. I contacted a well known personality in the 9 Marks firmament. Here is the question that I asked to which I did not receive  a straight answer.

My good friend Todd Wilhelm, was added to the member care list at UCCD (John Folmar’s church in Dubai. Folmar and Dever are tighter than a corset.) So, I queried, during that looooong time when he was on the member care list which is a euphemism for church discipline, would he have his name tag *Christian* removed?

My point is this. This church discipline nonsense is usually applied for things like *divisiveness,* a term which should be translated to mean that the church doesn’t really like hearing what said person has to say, Given all the stuff I’ve read by 9 Marks, I believe that they would say that said person’s Christian commitment is suspect and they would therefore withdraw his name tag which says *Christian.*

However, in Todd’s situation, they would be dangerously in error. Todd confronted the church which was selling and pushing CJ Mahaney books. This was before Al Mohler finally threw him under the bus. In fact, Todd was a prophet in UCCD and they had the unmitigated gall to put him in time out retroactively when he walked out of the church.

Let’s read Leeman’s own words. As always, I would ask that you read his entire post. The first is a screenshot because it shows the title of the section. As a Lutheran, I have a real problem with his interpretation of communion. Communion is a sacrament which is given to each believer. Leeman does not believe that one should bring communion to a person in a nursing home because he believes that this can only be done in community. That belief horrifies me and I confirmed that this is NOT a belief in my denomination,.

Leeman claims that the local church gets to say who the Christians are on the planet. Except, almost every church I know, including 9 Marks, gets it wrong now and again. There is only One who truly knows the heart of each person and that is the Author of the Book of Life. He doesn’t need 9 Marks be his ghost writer.

What is the authority of the local church? It’s the authority to say who the Christians on planet earth are, which we do through baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Baptism is the front door. The Lord’s Supper is the family dinner table. Both of these are the signs of church membership. More than that, they’re how a church corporately affirms someone’s profession of faith. They’re how a church on earth goes public.

Having just spent time following in the footsteps of Paul, I had to laugh at this next statement. It appears one cannot be a Christian without being a member of the local church. Except…when Paul started evangelizing Greece, there were no local churches. Those took time to coalesce. There were also Christians who were truly alone in their culture.

What is the authority of the local church? It’s the authority to say who the Christians on planet earth are, which we do through baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Baptism is the front door. The Lord’s Supper is the family dinner table. Both of these are the signs of church membership. More than that, they’re how a church corporately affirms someone’s profession of faith. They’re how a church on earth goes public.

And Leeman looooooves the key to the Kingdom analogy. In the following example, he says that these were given to the apostles. However, in his other writings, Leeman clearly expressed that each local church’s leadership holds those keys as well.

What is the authority of the local church? It’s the authority to say who the Christians on planet earth are, which we do through baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Baptism is the front door. The Lord’s Supper is the family dinner table. Both of these are the signs of church membership. More than that, they’re how a church corporately affirms someone’s profession of faith. They’re how a church on earth goes public.

In other words, he sounds almost Catholic in his theology. It appears he is saying that today’s church leaders get those keys as part of a long line of apostolic leaders.

I believe that this is the core of the problem with 9 Marks. They truly believe they get to judge the actions of those who are leaving. Since leaders are the ones “holding those dadblasted keys” they can mistake their ego for leadership judgement. (What do you mean you are leaving without my permission? You are now going to be disciplined.)

I suspect that Leeman would disagree with my analysis. However, I believe that 9 Marks has never seriously looked at the long standing problems with their interpretation of their authority and how that is applied by the egotistical men there churches seem to attract. They steadfastlyrefuse to carefully assess their problems. They spout Scripture and stick their heads in the sand when they are confronted about their problems by those of us who hear about them when broken people in pain land on our doorsteps.

I will continue to say the following until I see a change:

  • Do not sign a membership covenant. It is a legal contract.
  • If you have signed one, you have the right to revoke it by sending a letter to the church.
  • You can leave your church at any time-no matter what they say in their contract.
  • Find a church which will bring communion to those members in nursing homes. That means they will go out of their way for you. One Lutheran pastor told me today that bringing communion to a member in the nursing home is like bringing the church body to them
  • ‘Call me if I can help you with *Dee’s clever ways to get out of a church” if they won’t take no for an answer.,
  • 9 Marks is infected with a love of authority and it is spreading amongst controlling men like a wildfire. This will come back to bite them in the nose.
  • They hold leaders in high regard and they cannot see the value of those who can clearly see their blind spots.  Only leaders who hold keys can see that. 9 Marks leaders need to be willing to deal clearly with the increasingly recognizable issues.
  • Stop with the excuses like “I don’t know the whole story so I won’t get involved.” No one ever truly knows the *whole story.*

I believe that 9 Marks is well aware of increasing reports of authority driven, abusive behavior in some of their member churches. I bet they might deny that they have any responsibility for such actions. I say that they do. They need to write some nice 9 Marks books on how not to be a 9 Marks bully.


Comments

People Are Being Retroactively Disciplined In 9 Marks Churches Due to Egotistical, Authority Driven Pastors — 199 Comments

  1. BS will any person on this earth get to judge my eternal salvation and my walk with God; there are a few people I may respect and listen to their opinion of such matter, but my relationship is absolutely between me and God alone.
    But then I tend to be an independent cuss, anyway (just ask my husband).

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  2. When power laden churches and ministers “feed” on parishioners who are struggling with their own issues who choose to give their power away to their “church”, this is the result.
    How sad . . .
    It is so regretful that the need for power has overcome the requirements of grace.

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  3. White-washed septic tanks just got to lord their supposed authority over people while they disobey the real Jesus until they become sons of the Devil. Jesus forbids lording authority over others in His Church. The people who do this are not in His Church but their own wicked copy of it. These will be thrown into the fire and burned when the wheat is separated from the tares.

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  4. Dee, you helped a woman attending our church exit her former 9Marks church. They fought it, but finally ceased harassing her after using your procedure. You should also know that she is now the moderator of our American Baptist church board!

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  5. There seems to be some kind of “pope spirit” that has taken over church leaders in these conservative churches. They are all beginning to see themselves as little popes over their kingdoms. In reality, they are nothing but a pack of playing cards. Narcissists and egotists who imagine they stand in the place of God. Deceived and deceiving.

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  6. Ummm, Oh yea, the thief on the cross was baptized and partook of communion before Christ said we would join Christ in Paradise… I guess the 9 Marks people do have it correct..

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  7. Attendance at The Church of the Living God is voluntary. No God-appointed authority can require you to join or dissolve your relationship. No membership contracts are required in the Body of Christ – you come by faith and you stay by faith. Shunning and excommunication are archaic practices used by little men to manipulate, intimidate, and dominate you. They are doing church without God. If you are in such a church, leave … and don’t sweat it if they retroactively discipline you … it has nothing to do with the real Church. Being shunned when you encounter church leaders/members at WalMart may hurt, but recognize it as a display of aberrant faith not an exercise of Truth.

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  8. Loren Haas:
    Dee, you helped a woman attending our church exit her former 9Marks church. They fought it, but finally ceased harassing her after using your procedure. You should also know that she is now the moderator of our American Baptist church board!

    How awesome is that! Is she recuperating from her ordeal?

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  9. Jeffrey Chalmers,

    They bear the responsibility for what they would claim is the misapplication of their church rules. They could write a manual titles *Don’t Do This.”

    However, this is an organization which looooove CJ Mahaney. They even lapped up his nonsense. Mahaney called Dever “O Captain, my captain.* Stroke the ego, spout Calvin once and awhile and you are in.

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  10. Max: Attendance at The Church of the Living God is voluntary

    The authority driven boys actually put into their covenants/contracts that one cannot leave the church while under *discipline.* Given what I know about their *discipline*, no wonder they have to pull the wool over unsuspecting members. I wonder if more would run if they Jan ew they could.

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  11. Excellent post as always.

    Regarding the “Take home point: Always check a church website before attending the first time and certainly check it before signing on the dotted *membership* line.”

    Alternatively, join a church that does not make you sign anything.

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  12. What is retroactive church discipline? This is discipline that is applied after the person has left the church.

    Continually baffled that people attempt to do this and think they can actually do anything by it. The only thing that would bug me are these big gossip meetings some of these churches have about people who have left.

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  13. Mr. Jesperson: Jesus forbids lording authority over others in His Church.

    Controlling God’s people as an “overlord” was part of the practice of the Nicolaitans who entered the first century church by deception. Jesus told the churches in Revelation that he hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans … He still does.

    It’s increasingly clear that the authority of Christ is waning in the American church. He has almost no authority among certain groups called by His Name. Jesus alone is supposed to have absolute Lordship over His Church, which is His Body. “All authority in heaven and ON EARTH has been given to Me.” Beware of the teachings and traditions of men which supplant His authority (e.g., 9Marks).

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  14. dee: The authority driven boys actually put into their covenants/contracts that one cannot leave the church while under *discipline.*

    “prison”: an institution for the confinement of persons who have been remanded (held) in custody by a judicial authority or who have been deprived of their liberty

    Believers, Christ set you free … don’t surrender to a yoke of bondage again! (otherwise known as a church covenant/contract)

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  15. 9 Marks Pastor/Superapostles are becoming more and more like their God.
    Sniffing for sin, eager to PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH!, retroactive unto Eternity.

    “He must increase while I must decrease.”

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  16. Max: Mr. Jesperson: Jesus forbids lording authority over others in His Church.

    Controlling God’s people as an “overlord” was part of the practice of the Nicolaitans who entered the first century church by deception. Jesus told the churches in Revelation that he hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans … He still does.

    You do realize, Max, that nobody who has not studied the Book of Revelation has even heard the word “Nicolaitan”, let alone knows what it means.

    And I’m not sure a lot of Christians do, either:

    During my time in-country, I got dragged to some small church late at night where they had a “Guest Teacher” talking. The guy was preaching on Revelation (natch), and claimed the Nicoliatans were REALLY The Catholics, Satan’s False Church. He then started with the two Koine Greek words for “priest” used in the NT (“presbyteros” and “ekklesiastica”) and after a long intricate chain of fridge logic (which I can’t remember after 40 years) PROVED from SCRIPTURE that Catholics Worship Satan.

    (Fridge Logic is a term describing something that makes a lot of sense while you’re hearing it, but after a few minutes away from it you realize it made no sense whatsoever.)

    The real kicker was he was a ringer in appearance and delivery for a gamer I knew at the time who used every weaponized debating trick he learned at UC Berkeley. Same beard, similar voice, same in-your-face delivery; only difference was he used a Bible for PROOF instead of said gamer’s high-end pocket calculator.

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  17. dee: The authority driven boys actually put into their covenants/contracts that one cannot leave the church while under *discipline.*

    “Death Will Not Release You.”
    — tag line I remember from LASFS (though there it was said as a joke)

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  18. dee: However, this is an organization which looooove CJ Mahaney. They even lapped up his nonsense. Mahaney called Dever “O Captain, my captain.*

    i.e. “Dever Is LOORD. I have Taken His Mark — Have YOU???”

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  19. SiteSeer: There seems to be some kind of “pope spirit” that has taken over church leaders in these conservative churches. They are all beginning to see themselves as little popes over their kingdoms.

    Claiming Infallibility Ex Cathedra far beyond that of any real Pope.

    “NO POPERY!” = “Now I Get to be Pope! BURN, HERETICS! BURN!”

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  20. It’s almost as if these churches are all led by immature carnal men who cannot distinguish between God’s will and their own.

    Seriously, it amazes me that these people who would not accept the standard Catholic interpretation of the “Keys to the Kingdom” verses in Matthew are now applying that same interpretation to themselves. At least the Catholic church has the concept of apostolic succession. The leaders in these other churches don’t have any kind of authority except that given to them by their followers. Getting people to follow you gives you the authority to determine who’s a Christian? I don’t think so!

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  21. “Did you know that 9 Marks churches give you a name tag which says you are a Christian or say you are not a Christian?”

    According to the underlying belief and practice of 9Marks churches (New Calvinism), how would they know who was elected before the foundation of the earth and who was not? This thing gets stranger by the day.

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  22. The poor, broken souls that get dumped alongside the road because of these pastors’ ‘authority’ are piling higher and higher every day. No wonder people are ‘nones and dones’! I wouldn’t want anything to do with a god like that, either! I wish they could see the carnage they leave in their wake.
    Jesus warned us well of these guys in Matthew 23: “You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”
    These pastors that sit at Dever’s feet truly are TWICE as much the children of hell as he is, I guarantee it. We had one of his proselytes as a ‘pastor’ at our church! Good riddance!

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  23. Great Article, Dee, and I look forward to more on the Savage saga.

    Random thoughts:

    The state of the American church is truly depressing. I know that only God knows the state of every person’s heart, but I really feel like I can get an idea when I view these people. Then I remember that pride is the first sin, leading to all others. It’s what tripped up Lucifer.

    I do wonder if this is what it was like in Europe as it was rapidly returning to non-Christian roots, and I really see it as the fault of the horrifically unworthy people who have infiltrated the church!

    As someone who is an orthodox Anglican, I boggle and am horrified at the idea of not taking Communion to those unable to attend, for what ever the reason.

    Now I have to go read up on the Nicolaitans. Thanks, Max!

    I still remember being “interviewed” by an associate pastor after joining a church, and feeling vaguely like I failed a test. Looking back, he was trying to build a base, because he asked questions about my beliefs, my past, etc., and really didn’t engage beyond listening and appearing to judge, and in the left me with a couple of 9Marks books! He struck me as very cold, and not very ministering. He wasn’t with the church a year later. That particular church is, currently, much too big, strong, and powerfully led to fall to that group, though I can guarantee that the New Calvinists have it in their crosshairs. I’m glad I failed that test!

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  24. Max,

    As Dee says above, this 9 Marks stuff, in practice, is VERY similar, or “rhymes” with the reformation….
    the quote of Martin Luther ( Romans 1:17) comes to mind : “The just shall live by faith”
    Funny, I do not see that the just (or righteous) need to have a 9 Marks preacher baptize me and give me communion, or give me a “Christian nametag” or give me permission to leave the 9 Marks “church” .

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  25. Root 66: The poor, broken souls that get dumped alongside the road because of these pastors’ ‘authority’ are piling higher and higher every day. No wonder people are ‘nones and dones’!

    If not “done” to the point of Anti-Theism (Fundamentalist Atheism).

    You get burned enough, you’ll go fangs-out rabid against what burned you and anything/anyone connected with it.

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  26. Magistos: Then I remember that pride is the first sin, leading to all others. It’s what tripped up Lucifer.

    Though “Pride” in this context is better described as “Egomania/Egomaniac”.

    As Mercedes lackey described the Big Bad of one of her fantasy novels, “His Universe has only room for Himself”.

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  27. Max: According to the underlying belief and practice of 9Marks churches (New Calvinism), how would they know who was elected before the foundation of the earth and who was not?

    [reverb] SPECIAL REVELATION! [end reverb]

    Speshul Sekrit Knowledge (Occult Gnosis) known only to God’s Elite Inner Ring (Illuminati).

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  28. Friend:
    Excellent post as always.

    Regarding the “Take home point: Always check a church website before attending the first time and certainly check it before signing on the dotted *membership* line.”

    Alternatively, join a church that does not make you sign anything.

    Or.. don’t formally join at all. That way if things go wrong, you can leave with no problems.

    Also if a church requires you to be a “member in good standing” of its congregation or one of “like faith and practice” that’s a red flag.

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  29. Max,

    I’ve read Mr Leeman’s book and I was struck by the similarities between his opening assertions and the early chapters of James Bannerman’s two volume work “The Church of Christ”. Of course, the latter is Presbyterian but Bannerman makes the point that
    “the principles of the Independents in regard to Church membership seem to transfer the responsibility of the admission or non-admission of parties to the Christian Church, from a ground on which it may be competent to exercise it, to a ground on which it is not competent to exercise it.
    So long as the terms of Church membership are acknowledged to be a visible religious profession, and a corresponding character and conduct to accredit it, there can, with ordinary intelligence and singleness of desire for the purity of the house of God, be no great difficulty in deciding upon such kind of evidence. Thus far, and up to this point, there is a definite rule to walk by, and a competent knowledge to enable the office-bearers of the Christian society to judge in the matter. They have power to judge of the outward profession and outward conduct of the candidate for Church membership; and having the power, they are responsible for the right exercise of it. But when the judgment is transferred from the external profession and character to the inward conviction and experience of the candidate,—when, instead of being called upon to determine the credibility of what is seen and may be known in the outward man, the office-bearers of the Church are charged to decide upon the reality of what is unseen and cannot be certainly known in the inner man,—it is plain that there is a task committed to them which they are utterly incompetent and unqualified to discharge. They can be no witness to the secret work of God done on the soul of a brother; they can have no knowledge of the reality of that mysterious transaction by which to himself, but not to other men, it may be made manifest that he has passed from darkness to light; they can have no evidence sufficient to guide them in seriously pronouncing a judgment on the state of grace, or the opposite, of a candidate for Church membership.” (Vol.1, p78)
    Further, where Leeman contrasts the church with the state, he seems to overlook the powers devolved to the respective agencies. Bannerman again makes a good point when he says “The power which Christ has vested in His Church is one that does not imply the exercise of force, but is concerned only with the understandings and convictions of men. To the Church Christ has given the power of the Spirit, the force of truth, the might of saving grace, the influence of spiritual authority; and in the administration of that power, through means of the ministry of the Word and the dispensation of ordinances, the Christian society claims no right over the persons and properties, but only appeals to the hearts and consciences of men.“(Vol.1, p99)
    Leeman also asserts that their right to exercise authority comes from God- and that is ultimately true – but the context on earth is that “the power of authority and action belonging to the Church is derived from the consent and permission of its members; for it is by their own voluntary act and choice that they become and continue members of the Church, and so place themselves under the administration of that power. In this respect, and it is an important one, Church power exists by the permission or consent of the members; and the Church has all the rights and standing of a merely private and voluntary association.” (Bannerman, Vol.1, p191).

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  30. Lowlandseer,

    Last quote from Bannerman
    “Their office is wholly ministerial; their authority is wholly derived and subordinate. They are not “lords over God’s heritage,” licensed to act according to their discretion or caprice, and independently of any authority but their own. They are not free to administer word, or ordinance, or authority, as from themselves, and independently of the Head that is over them. In all their duties and functions they act only for Christ, and therefore must keep within the strict limits of His commission. The rights and privileges of Christ’s Church are protected from the caprice and arbitrary encroachment of the office-bearers, by the restraint of Christ’s express authority over them; and underneath His crown, and sheltered by it, is found the liberty wherewith Christ has made His people free. The functions of the office-bearers of the Church are ministerial, not lordly.” (Vol.1, p220).

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  31. MarkR: Or.. don’t formally join at all. That way if things go wrong, you can leave with no problems.

    That is already true of most normal churches (you can leave with no problems). So there is no reason *not* to join, if you want too.

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  32. Ironically, 9Marks also insists that churches should “clean up their membership rolls” by dismissing those who no longer attend, whether by death, moving away, or falling away. Do a search on “9Marks membership rolls” if you’re interested. They will also say that “any professing Christian who quits going to church is living in habitual, unrepentant sin” and, like an athlete not showing up for games, “the team has to take back his jersey.” But 9Marks wants to do it on their terms.

    If someone wants to resign more formally, that’s another matter. Do a search for “Pastors, don’t let your people resign into thin air” and you’ll get a couple of articles, the first by Bobby Jamieson, the second by Jonathan Leeman, in which he discusses the “keys.”

    Again, 9Marks wants to get rid of you on their terms, not yours. They will have bible verses to back themselves up. And they will not be bashful about calling it excommunication. This is from the Jamieson article, but Leeman also discusses excommunication:

    Consider the Charleston Association’s A Summary of Church Discipline (1774): after criticizing someone who wants to leave an acceptable church for one he likes better further away, the association affirms that, “To dismiss a member to the world at large, would yet be more preposterous, and ought never to be done in any other way than by excommunication” (Mark Dever, ed., Polity, 124). And Samuel Jones, in his 1805 Treatise of Church Discipline, says simply, “It is certain there can be no dismission to the world” (Polity, 153).

    A quick way to get a handle on this is to consider church discipline. If someone tries to resign mid-process in order to “escape discipline,” should the church just let them go? Of course not. That would defeat the whole point of church discipline. Instead, the church must retain the right to refuse someone’s resignation and send them out another way—through excommunication.

    Note the term: “the whole point of church discipline.” Like that’s the gospel? That’s another gospel, which according to Galatians is no gospel at all.

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  33. Lea: Continually baffled that people attempt to do this and think they can actually do anything by it. The only thing that would bug me are these big gossip meetings some of these churches have about people who have left.

    The only way it would make any sense is if a person left the congregation and then something came to light later. In that case, they could require the person to come before the elders/pastor before being readmitted. And if really serious, maybe even permanently ban the person from readmittance.

    It would have to be something real serious, like adultery, embezzlement, etc.

    But I wouldn’t trust a 9Marks church to do that right either.

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  34. Lea: That is already true of most normal churches (you can leave with no problems). So there is no reason *not* to join, if you want too.

    The problem is some churches are making it retroactive (you initially joined simply by walking up front, but later they added requirements and never told anyone). Plus in some cases you may be pressured not to leave (in other cases they can’t get rid of you fast enough).

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  35. Ted: They will also say that “any professing Christian who quits going to church is living in habitual, unrepentant sin” and, like an athlete not showing up for games, “the team has to take back his jersey.”

    Personally, I hope to live long enough to see these church leaders retire their own jerseys. IMO, for a believer to continue to go to such a church is to live in sin. Heaven shouts “Come out from her My People and be not a partaker of her sins.”

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  36. Re-baptism isn’t uncommon.

    Now growing up Southern Baptist we did not consider infant baptism to be valid (remember we dunk, not pour or sprinkle), and if a person came to Christ after baptism we would require a re-baptism then. But if someone came out of another Baptist branch or a charismatic church we would consider their baptism as valid if subsequent to salvation.

    But some churches don’t accept it as valid unless in their church. Churches of Christ do this as well as some hardcore Independent Baptists. I believe 9Marks churches may lean that way as well.

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  37. Lowlandseer,

    “Now God knows who the elect are. I don’t. Someone came to Spurgeon one time and said, “Mr Spurgeon, if I believed as you do, I would not preach like you do. You say you believe that there are the elect, and yet you preach as if everybody can be saved.” Spurgeon’s answer was, “They can all be saved. If God had put a yellow streak up and down the backs of the elect, I’d go up and down the streets lifting up shirt tails to find out who had the yellow streak up and down his back. Then I’d give that person the gospel. But God didn’t do that. He told me to preach the gospel to every creature and that whosoever will may come.” That is our marching order, and as far as I am concerned, until God gives me the roll call of the elect, I am going to preach the “whosoever will” gospel. That is the gospel we are to preach today.” (Thru The Bible, J. Vernon McGee)

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  38. Mark R,

    We have a large “Grace Brethren Church” in our city. We went to it when we moved to town 30+ years ago and considered joining. But, they required you to be Baptized “their way”: three times FORWRD. My independent fundamentalist Baptist dunking wad not “good enough” for them…. obviously, did not join….

    We should lock the 9 Marks crowd and Grace Brethern crowd in a room and ket them battle it out! I might even provide the popcorn!

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  39. MarkR: The problem is some churches are making it retroactive (you initially joined simply by walking up front, but later they added requirements and never told anyone).

    I mean…churches are voluntary? You can literally just walk out the door. Their may be social pressures, and that’s certainly something to criticize, but they can’t make you stay. They can’t make you be a member. Eh.

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  40. JeffreyChalmers: But, they required you to be Baptized “their way”: three times FORWRD.

    So weird. It also makes baptism kind of less…special? If you’re just doing it to check a box by your new church, when you already did it for real (whatever you consider to be for real!).

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  41. Mark R: Or.. don’t formally join at all. That way if things go wrong, you can leave with no problems.

    Thanks for mentioning this strategy too. Gosh, though, I wouldn’t want to attend a church if I felt like I needed a defensive strategy. I wonder if Ndamukong Suh would accept money to walk people to the Communion rail… but he tends to be busy on Sundays. 😉

    Some churches (RCC, WELS, etc.) do require membership for Communion. In my own congregation, “all of God’s people” are invited to the table every single time. A very few volunteer roles are restricted to members only.

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  42. I think there’s a lot of well-meaning, thoughtful pastors that were given the 9Marks teaching along with the cadre of other reformed baptist teachings in the “Young, Restless, and Reformed” movement. Now that they’re in the movement, which is not especially evangelistic, they would take a marketing hit by rejecting some of these teachings and not having their church listed on the 9Marks website, Master’s website, etc…

    It’s a tough situation. Pastors get into the teaching and form their churches around it and before long it’s hard to extricate themselves from it even if they wanted to.

    So, what do you WWers think of this? I’m in a church with a membership covenant, which I signed, but I was also informed that many of the long-time members didn’t sign it and were just grandfathered in as members after the covenant was introduced. That’s kind of weird right? On one hand they promote the idea of membership covenants and on the other you can still be a member if you don’t sign it.

    I think some of these reformed baptist churches can be a little isolated too – they may think they’re hearing all these great ideas from 9Marks, but I’m not sure if the pastors have friendships with people outside the reformed baptist tribe who can help evaluate the ideas.

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  43. Friend: Some churches (RCC, WELS, etc.) do require membership for Communion. In my own congregation, “all of God’s people” are invited to the table every single time.

    Mine too. I highly prefer open communion. Anything else seems unnecessarily exclusionary.

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  44. PaulK: I signed, but I was also informed that many of the long-time members didn’t sign it and were just grandfathered in as members after the covenant was introduced. That’s kind of weird right?

    They didn’t want to run off a whole bunch of older members who were suspicious and uninterested in this new ‘covenant’ and probably heavy tithers. That’s my guess.

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  45. So… 9 Marxists believe that current-day church leaders inherit the Apostles’ authority to say who is and is not … forgiven.

    That would be credible if they could provide persuasive evidence that they also inherit other promises to the Apostles, such as Jesus’ promise that the Father would grant their requests made “in Jesus’ name,” whatever those requests might be.

    These men are not the successors of the Apostles in the latter sense, and I doubt very much that they are in the former sense either.

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  46. SiteSeer:
    There seems to be some kind of “pope spirit” that has taken over church leaders in these conservative churches. They are all beginning to see themselves as little popes over their kingdoms. In reality, they are nothing but a pack of playing cards. Narcissists and egotists who imagine they stand in the place of God. Deceived and deceiving.

    As I have long maintained, they are more like “super-popes.” The actual pope doesn’t hand out “Christian” name tags, rarely excommunicates, and never follows up by stalking and harassing someone who leaves the Fold. People leave the Catholic Church all the time, and no one gives them relentless grief about it…least of all the pope.

    The Great Papal Bogeyman is much less ferocious than commonly assumed.

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  47. Lea:
    I dont get the name tag thing. Are they speaking metaphorically?

    (We have nametags for members but that’s mostly social I think. I wear mine when I usher).

    We plan to have name tags for an upcoming event, just so parishioners can get to know each other. Our little mission parish has grown so much over the years that it’s not as close-knit as it once was. But yeah, as you say, this is purely social.

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  48. Headless Unicorn Guy: Claiming Infallibility Ex Cathedra far beyond that of any real Pope.


    “NO POPERY!” = “Now I Get to be Pope! BURN, HERETICS! BURN!”

    Exactly! As usual, HUG, you say it so much better than I could.

    These guys think they’re infallible every time they sneeze, burp, or say “boo.”

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  49. Paul K: I’m in a church with a membership covenant, which I signed, but I was also informed that many of the long-time members didn’t sign it and were just grandfathered in as members after the covenant was introduced. That’s kind of weird right? On one hand they promote the idea of membership covenants and on the other you can still be a member if you don’t sign it.

    That’s what happened in my old church. They didn’t even make current members sign it, just announced it was applied retroactively to all members.

    Goes along with the contradictions in their theology about election and them being able to say whether people are Christians or not. So I don’t think many things are really about God or “proper” theology as they like to insist, but their sinful desire to usurp God’s authority over others.

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  50. Lea,

    There are so many reasons one can speculate ( or be officially told) on why a church would make someone get re baptized….. but, to be honest, I have not really heard a reason that seems reasonable with respect to what is best for the individual….

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  51. I audited a four day course on Baptist Polity taught by Jonathan Leeman back in August. I have empathy for him, as I think he has been very much led astray by his mentor, Mark Dever.

    There are two misinterpreted passages that are the bedrock of 9marks. First is Hebrews 13:17. The Greek term “peithesthe” in this verse does not mean “obey” your overlord/pastor. It means “be convinced,” based on a leader’s character and teaching.

    Second is a conflating of two verses in Matthew concerning “keys” and “binding and loosing.” The keys to the kingdom relate to the gospel by which we enter the kingdom. These keys are totally unrelated to church discipline.

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  52. Brian:
    Acts 29 and Marks 9 churches, do either of these associations have a fund for church planting, member churches paying into it?

    You are so opening up a heated discussion there. 🙂

    They have a church planting fund…it’s called take over existing churches.

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  53. Ted: Again, 9Marks wants to get rid of you on their terms, not yours. They will have bible verses to back themselves up. And they will not be bashful about calling it excommunication.

    *rolls eyes* This is asking for a lawsuit, if they will only let people leave via excommunication. Back in the 1980s, a guy named Norman Hancock wanted to leave the Mormon church, but he couldn’t because the only way to leave was to be excommunicated. He lived in a Mormon community and getting exed was the social kiss of death. So he sued. The Mormon church settled with him and set up a resignation policy.

    However, in the last year, things have gotten a bit dicey. While a person can submit their own resignation letter, the Mormon church had this bad habit of sitting on the letters. Several years ago, a lawyer started forwarding resignations over in his name so the resignations would go through. Then the church insisted on photo IDs, and now it’s up to requiring a notary if submitted through the lawyer. The reason for this is not clear, but since the lawyer was keeping track of numbers, it’s probably an attempt not to give a good idea of who is actually resigning. Ironically, an eight year old child can be baptized in the Mormon church without an ID or a signed, notarized statement, but to go through a lawyer for a resignation requires this as of right now. Stay Tuned.

    I would just remind people that Paul didn’t have people sign covenants.

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  54. Magistos,

    The reason I asked was here in Colorado there is a preponderance of both 9 Marks and Acts 29 churches. In my local area there is no dual membership in both associations. One was a church plant from another Acts 29 church in Colorado.

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  55. Ted: “To dismiss a member to the world at large, would yet be more preposterous, and ought never to be done in any other way than by excommunication” (Mark Dever, ed., Polity, 124). And Samuel Jones, in his 1805 Treatise of Church Discipline, says simply, “It is certain there can be no dismission to the world” (Polity, 153)

    Says them. Where do they get the gall.

    I have a verse for them, Romans 12:3 “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought”

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  56. On a related note, there is so much wrong with this recent 9Marks article that it’s hard to know where to start https://www.9marks.org/article/better-members-meetings/

    This one is good from the first point: “Instead, call them “members’” meetings, or “family” meetings, or something else that suggests that we come serving Christ’s agenda, and not our own.

    Suggests?!? Maybe I am too critical, but this sounds like they put more emphasis on appearance than reality.

    The fact that prayer comes as the fourth point, just after purging membership roles, is also revealing…

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  57. Jeffrey Chalmers: But, they required you to be Baptized “their way”: three times FORWRD. My independent fundamentalist Baptist dunking wad not “good enough” for them…. obviously, did not join….

    When I try to picture the God who created and upholds all the universe, I find it impossible to imagine him nit-picking over a detail like this. Only human beings would do this.

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  58. Max: And everybody shouted AMEN! (or should have)

    But they didn’t. After I pegged my argument to Galatians in a letter to Pastor and deacons, the Pastor used the same text in a sermon two weeks later, to the contrary of my points.

    As for everybody shouting amen one way or the other, nope, most of them weren’t paying attention anyway. In one of the (poorly attended) informational meetings I suggested that, whichever way we vote, most people will only want to know if we’ll still start at 10am Sunday and finish around noon. At least I got agreement on that point.

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  59. SiteSeer,

    This specific church says dunking three times forward; Father, Son, and Holly Spirit. While I can respect they like to do it that way, require people that join to do it again, their way??

    We should check what 9 Marks require….

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  60. Sorry if this has already been answered somewhere, but why would I care if a church I no longer attend and respect has my name on a list of disciplined members? Legal contract or not, what difference does it make?

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  61. SiteSeer: Narcissists and egotists who imagine they stand in the place of God. Deceived and deceiving.

    This, and so many of the comments by others who have learned this the hard way move me almost to tears. A few short years ago I walked away from a church I had served in faithfully for over a decade, with that exact feeling. I thought I was the only one, and that there was something wrong with me. I do not rejoice in the suffering of others, but am relieved to know that it was not all in my head, as some continue to tell me.

    There is something truly, truly wrong in so many conservative, authoritarian, complementarian (and most often Calvinist) churches in America. Like Calvin, many of these pastors have been persuaded that they are building the kingdom of God on earth and that they are the only ones who understand ‘the truth’. The glorious end for which they are striving justifies any and all means.

    This creates narcissistic, controlling and abusive pastors, who genuinely believe that anyone who dissents from their kingdom-building plans is a reprobate worthy of punishment. This is the sort of craziness that once led to so-called religious leaders torturing and murdering innocent men, women and children. (And no, it was not just Catholics.)

    Sometimes I imagine my former pastor actually having power in a new theocracy, and what he would do to me and the many others who spurned him (most eventually wake up to something being off), if he had the power.

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  62. I’m unable to develop the full thought. The 9 Marks pastors, elders, and deacons get krinon (gr), judging and diakrinon (gr), and discernment mixed up. End of thought.

    Being October 31, is any of your local radio stations playing the original “War of the Worlds”?

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  63. Ken P.: The Christian Index and SBC Voices are reporting that Al Mohler will be nominated for SBC President in 2020.

    Yes, with Calvinization of the denomination now in sight, it’s time for the King to sit on the throne over his Kingdom. With SBC seminaries, mission agencies, publishing house, church planting program, and hundreds of non-Calvinist churches bowing to the new reformation, Dr. Mohler has largely accomplished his mission. He was a brilliant general, deserving of the SBC presidency.

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  64. Jeffrey Chalmers: This specific church says dunking three times forward; Father, Son, and Holly Spirit. While I can respect they like to do it that way, require people that join to do it again, their way??

    Exactly, as if, if you don’t do it “right” then God won’t accept you. Or maybe it’s that, you won’t really be ‘one of us’? I don’t know, but like I say, I just can’t picture God nit-picking when someone stands before him, “now, what *kind* of method were you baptised?” It’s just absurd.

    And, btw, when I said “only human beings would do this” I meant nit-pick over it, not to baptise in that way. I didn’t word that very well and just realized I might have been misunderstood.

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  65. SiteSeer: When I try to picture the God who created and upholds all the universe, I find it impossible to imagine him nit-picking over a detail like this. Only human beings would do this.

    Oh but dear SiteSeer, they can assure you and prove to you by Scripture alone that their way is the one and theeeee only true way.

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  66. Question: the Christians that sign these contracts, are the “baby” Christians, new to the faith? Or are they a mix of “baby” and “mature” Christians, those that have matured, grown in the faith?

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  67. Dale: “binding and loosing.”

    This is a passage that I have had to deal with many times do to confusing translations of the original text. I learned from a Jewish rabbi that the Pharisees believed that they possessed the authority on earth to forbid or permit things on earth and they would automatically be forbidden or permitted in heaven. Jesus turned their common phrase on its head as the text is properly translated in the Amplified Bible as the original text uses a tense we do not have in English and thus is the confusion:

    Matt. 16:”19 I will give you the keys (authority) of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth [a]will have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth [b]will have [already] been loosed in heaven.”

    Footnotes:
    Matthew 16:19 Gr estai dedemenon, future perfect passive referring to a state of having already been bound.
    Matthew 16:19 Gr estai lelumenon, future perfect passive.

    Jesus took a common phrase the Pharisees used and turned it on its head by changing the tense. Jesus was plainly stating that they should only be teaching that what God binds and permits on earth first must be what the religious authorities teach. God does this, not men. Men who think they can do that are very arrogant and trying to be like Satan who wanted to have all of God’s power. He does not nor does any of us.

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  68. SiteSeer,

    They are actually misapplying it. Church discipline, by Paul’s example should be used in only extreme case, with the goal to restore them at a later date. As far as people walking away from a physical place to congregate, I found anything in scripture yet to cover this.

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  69. Brian,

    Correction, “have not found anything…”

    Actually an additional thought. If 9 Marks sees themselves as “the faith”, then shouldn’t they be looking at those wanting to attend another church as leaving the faith?

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  70. dee,

    Yes! She shows up every Sunday with her grandbaby, while her daughter works. She is a lovely and strong person who sets a great example for others. We have a lot of strong women in our church.

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  71. Jeffrey Chalmers,

    Over here at one time Baptists did not recognise the validity of infant baptism and insisted on re-baptism. That is where their original name Anabaptist came from – baptising again. On the other side the Church of Scotland would excommunicate members who had undergone a second baptism. There was an infamous case in the 1970s where an elder was hauled before the General Assembly and essentially humiliated before being shown the door. All he wanted to do was to declare his faith and he felt this was the Scriptural way to do it. It was at this point that my parents left the CofS and joined the local Baptist church in a show of support for their friend.

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  72. Brian: As far as people walking away from a physical place to congregate, I found anything in scripture yet to cover this.

    That’s because a physical place has little to do with true worship. “… Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship … Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father … an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers’ …” (John 4)

    We confuse the physical with the spiritual in our attempts to do church. Believers are the temple of the Holy Spirit – it goes with you as you move around on planet earth. The institution we call “church” is OK if it is reaching lost folks for Christ, equipping them in the Word, and mobilizing them with their unique spiritual giftings to fulfill the Great Commission together. Anything less than that is doing church without God, and the place they gather is just a point on the map not the Church.

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  73. Lowlandseer:
    Jeffrey Chalmers,

    Over here at one time Baptists did not recognise the validity of infant baptism and insisted on re-baptism. That is where their original name Anabaptist came from – baptising again. On the other side the Church of Scotland would excommunicate members who had undergone a second baptism. There was an infamous case in the 1970s where an elder was hauled before the General Assembly and essentially humiliated before being shown the door. All he wanted to do was to declare his faith and he felt this was the Scriptural way to do it. It was at this point that my parents left the CofS and joined the local Baptist church in a show of support for their friend.

    The traditional rule within Baptist churches in general (not just SBC) is that a person had to be re-baptized only if 1) the person was originally baptized by other than immersion (e.g. sprinkled as an infant) or 2) the person was baptized by immersion at one point but didn’t actually convert until some later time (e.g. the kid got baptized in order to take Communion because he saw everyone else doing it). Otherwise it wasn’t required.

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  74. I tried to comment yesterday on church discipline but I kept having technical issues.

    It is my view that if you are a registered church member, a church should have the right to remove you if you are not actively supporting the congregation. Exceptions would be 1) away at college, 2) serving in the armed forces, 3) on an extended job away from the area (not a relocation) or 4) unable to attend due to illness, injury, or being an invalid.

    Thom Rainer mentions a story of why having “deadwood” on the rolls isn’t a good idea. He tells of a dying congregation which started growing again due to new families who wanted a contemporary service. The congregation agreed and started an early service for them. Eventually the contemporary service grew larger than the traditional one, so it was planned for the groups to switch meeting times, but the older members didn’t like the idea and insisted that a church vote was required. At the meeting, many inactive members suddenly appeared out of nowhere and (not surprisingly) voted against the switch, whereupon they never came back after that. Of course, the new families got the message and all left, and the church went back to its dying self.

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  75. Brian:
    Question: the Christians that sign these contracts, are the “baby” Christians, new to the faith? Or are they a mix of “baby” and “mature” Christians, those that have matured, grown in the faith?

    They are both, in my experience.

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  76. Paul K:
    So, what do you WWers think of this?I’m in a church with a membership covenant, which I signed, but I was also informed that many of the long-time members didn’t sign it and were just grandfathered in as members after the covenant was introduced. That’s kind of weird right?On one hand they promote the idea of membership covenants and on the other you can still be a member if you don’t sign it.

    Just start asking diplomatic questions, and see where it takes you. Maybe leadership wanted to save themselves and the “old-timers” the hassle of tracking everyone down to sign. Maybe they didn’t want the hassle of trying to answer questions from the “old-timers” about why the changes. Maybe they were trying to pull a fast one.

    We had something similar happen in a previous church. Turned out the pastor had “reinvented” the membership document something like 3 times in the last 8 years. And it also turned out there were numerous double-standards in the church. Hopefully your questions will lead to more positive answers than ours did.

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  77. WildHoney: Just start asking diplomatic questions, and see where it takes you.

    Seeing how people handle push back, questions and even an occasional ‘no’ is a good way of seeing what kind of people they actually are, imo. Not just in church.

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  78. MarkR: Of course, the new families got the message and all left, and the church went back to its dying self.

    The new families didn’t get what they wanted (for an entire service to change the time they attend!) so they all left, and the older congregation is the bad guy here? Not wild about this story.

    I think most of the ‘reasons’ presented to knock people off the books who actually wanted to be there are thin. If Bob is an Easter/Sunday christian but considers your church his home, what is the problem here? Have you helped Bob by making it clear that he is not welcome? I dont think so.

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  79. Paul K
    : So, what do you WWers think of this? I’m in a church with a membership covenant, which I signed, but I was also informed that many of the long-time members didn’t sign it and were just grandfathered in as members after the covenant was introduced. That’s kind of weird right? On one hand they promote the idea of membership covenants and on the other you can still be a member if you don’t sign it.

    It’s called MONEY. Older members are grandfathered because if you push them to sign the covenant and they refuse, they will most probably leave the church . . . and take their tithes with them.

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  80. Mark R,

    Ah, Thom Rainer, the man who saw the bookstores shut down on his watch and who offers advice to “failing” churches for a fee! In both cases, Mr Rainer walked away with the cash and then set himself up (again) as a church consultant. I wonder how much money he made from the 700,000 copies of his book ‘I Am A Church Member’. He never did grasp the point that pastors are supposed to care for their flock rather than see them as cash cows. (Pardon the farmyard pun). 🙂

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  81. Lea: The new families didn’t get what they wanted (for an entire service to change the time they attend!) so they all left, and the older congregation is the bad guy here? Not wild about this story.

    I think most of the ‘reasons’ presented to knock people off the books who actually wanted to be there are thin. If Bob is an Easter/Sunday christian but considers your church his home, what is the problem here? Have you helped Bob by making it clear that he is not welcome? I dont think so.

    What happened was that the younger crowd was the majority of the active membership. The older crowd didn’t want to change, so they recruited all the inactive members to show up solely to vote against the change, then go back to being inactive.

    What it essentially did was kill any chance of the church surviving. The younger crowd realized that they weren’t really welcome unless they did things the older crowd’s way, so they moved on.

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  82. Lowlandseer: Thom Rainer, the man who saw the bookstores shut down on his watch

    Rainer also let an SBC gem get away on his watch. He sold the Glorietta Conference Center in New Mexico for $1.00 because he didn’t have the skill set to manage it to be profitable. This was a 2400 acre camp/conference retreat used by Southern Baptists since 1952. And this man is now a leadership consultant?! Whew!

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  83. Paul K,

    “That’s kind of weird right? On one hand they promote the idea of membership covenants and on the other you can still be a member if you don’t sign it.”
    +++++++++++++++

    i’m thinking they’re desperate for members, for viability.

    a ‘size does matter’ kind of thing, for the sake of one’s pride, but also for $. i’m guessing these longtime members are perhaps later on in years, which sometimes means financial assets accumulated over time.

    you mention that if leaders of churches (this one?) reject some of the tenets they originally signed up for they will ‘take a marketing hit’. this tells me they are willing to silence their conscience for the sake of what benefits their career, what fosters money, power, peer standing.

    (church so often resembles junior high, i just….)

    i’m guessing that should grandfathered-in members choose to defy the contract they chose not to sign (and thus were not required to sign so they wouldn’t leave), the leaders will still try to enforce it and dole out consequences.

    …that is until ‘members’ and/or their friends/family find their voice with all assertiveness and say,

    “since when did pastor mean powermonger??”

    and proceed to contact the local newspaper with the story on how local tax dollars at the local church-without-a-conscience are being used to mistreat people with cruelty.

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  84. Brian: Question: the Christians that sign these contracts, are the “baby” Christians, new to the faith? Or are they a mix of “baby” and “mature” Christians, those that have matured, grown in the faith?

    So what is a ‘baby’ Christian and what is a ‘mature’ Christian?
    Do the terms imply a kind of quasi-hierarchy?
    And who decides the directional vectors betwixt the two?
    I think your question engenders more questions than it does answers.

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  85. Mark R,

    This topic of baptism is another interesting one for WW. My independent baptist church was admit about baptism after conversion, and almost militant against infant baptism. I remember two reason…. 1. It was BIBLical ( out come the verses!), and infant baptism is really just a manifestation of the doctrine of predestination/Calvinism. Mind you, this was BEFORE the NeoCal take over of SBC.
    So, what does 9 Marks say, and good old Al Mohler?

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  86. MuffPotter: So what is a ‘baby’ Christian and what is a ‘mature’ Christian?
    Do the terms imply a kind of quasi-hierarchy?

    Yeah…i’m kind of skeeved by this distinction. I think the idea is ‘new’ christians, who are still learning, but that’s not really how i’m seeing it used? IDK, i’m in the bible belt, so just about everybody was born and raised christian and I dont see any difference in background as to who attends the megas, or the contemp services, or the traditionals/mainlines. eh.

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  87. Mark R,

    I wish I could buy this story. The church imploded over which time the two groups should meet? Was this about music as well? Could you please explain this further? Did the *younger* crowd offer to compromise? Were the sermons different for each group? If so, why?

    As for those on the roles who are inactive…what was the reason for this? Did the church leaders, including the *young* people reach out to them to understand why they weren’t coming? I know one person who hadn’t been in church for a year due to s debilitating illness and not one person called to see how she was doing.

    The same old story seems to be playing out. The old people are mean. The young people are really cool. Something is wrong in a church that allows these categories to exist.

    In my church, the young people mix very well with the older folks. The pastors do a good job of incorporating a blend of music into the service. However, unlike the super cool mega churches, each service involved liturgy, Bible readings, confession, prayers for the church, and a short sermon.

    Maybe its time to figure out why the groups are not communicating well. My guess is the leadership of the church is failing in building community. And if they are ignoring the *inactive* people on their roles, then maybe they got what. they deserved when the *inactives* showed up to make a point.

    Nah….this just ain’t about the worship times. It goes much, much deeper.

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  88. MarkR: What happened was that the younger crowd was the majority of the active membership.

    So…majority rules and they were justified in trying to make all the older members, who probably built the church, change their service time????

    I read your story, and it sounds like the younger members were being accommodated with this ‘contemporary’ service and then still weren’t happy. It sounds like they were the ones who didn’t value the long time members of the church. I see this differently.

    I go to a service with majority older members. It’s lovely and I appreciate it.

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  89. Lea,

    “born and raised Christian”

    No one at physical birth is a Christian. That’s how Muslim’s from the Middle East look at who is Christian and who is Muslim.

    Reference John 3:1-8, especially verses 6 and 7. To be a Christian, you must be born again.

    🙂

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  90. dee:
    Lowlandseer,

    I was told that Rainer was being paid close to a $1,000,000 annually as head of LifeWay. I’m trying to get someone to go on record to confirm this.

    Dee, don’t hold your breath, southern baptist have been trying to push through policies at our convention to force them to disclose entity head pay/benefits for years, they ( powers that be) will not do it

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  91. Brian: “born and raised Christian”

    No one at physical birth is a Christian.

    I have too much to do, but 1. some people believe that sometimes you are raised in the faith and don’t need a road to damascus conversion and 2. don’t be pedantic, because I think you know what I mean.

    We are talking about ‘baby’ christians. Are you new to the faith? Have they been *taught*. If you were raised in the faith, you were. Application is another matter.

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  92. Max,

    Did another denomination purchase it, like the Catholic church purchased the Crystal Cathedral?

    Or was it purchased for a dollar by outside business interest? If so, was there a backroom deal to do this?

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  93. Mark R: It is my view that if you are a registered church member, a church should have the right to remove you if you are not actively supporting the congregation. Exceptions would be 1) away at college, 2) serving in the armed forces, 3) on an extended job away from the area (not a relocation) or 4) unable to attend due to illness, injury, or being an invalid.

    I’m not sure a church actually has that right, which it would have to grant unto itself. I’m even less sure that it is a good idea to devise a list of acceptable reasons not to be booted from membership.

    Personally, I stayed away from weekend services at my church for nine (9) years, because Sunday church became toxic to me as I processed earlier trauma. If they had deemed me “deadwood” (to use your term), it is highly unlikely that I would ever have returned to worship with that congregation or any other. Over those years, our family did contribute financially, and I dabbled around the edges while trying to avoid a breakdown. But if active support means showing up on Sundays, I was AWOL for almost a decade.

    It can be compassionate to keep people on the rolls. Removing them as a disciplinary action is going to backfire, in my opinion. You might save on postage, while worsening the reputation of Christianity.

    Churches should always extend a hand of welcome.

    Church is voluntary.

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  94. Mark R: The traditional rule within Baptist churches in general (not just SBC) is that a person had to be re-baptized only if 1) the person was originally baptized by other than immersion (e.g. sprinkled as an infant) or 2) the person was baptized by immersion at one point but didn’t actually convert until some later time (e.g. the kid got baptized in order to take Communion because he saw everyone else doing it). Otherwise it wasn’t required.

    I don’t know how you feel about these criteria and won’t presume. But I view them as pettifoggery and mind reading. I was “sprinkled” as an infant, and have lived my entire life as a Christian. Over the centuries, churches have developed a wonderful variety of rituals for the sacraments. We should enjoy the beauty instead of condemning and redoing and deeming people insincere.

    Our debating energy would be better directed toward discussion of the infield fly rule.

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  95. dee: In my church, the young people mix very well with the older folks. The pastors do a good job of incorporating a blend of music into the service.

    That’s because your church has mature Christian leadership … unlike the SBC church plants and traditional church takeovers by New Calvinist young whippersnappers.

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  96. dee: I was told that Rainer was being paid close to a $1,000,000 annually as head of LifeWay.

    At the same time, David Platt recalled 1,000 foreign mission workers because of a funding shortage. What should Southern Baptist priorities have been?

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  97. Lea,

    Being raised in it doesn’t mean you’re a Christian. My own experience, attended a Disciples of Christ during the time of my abuse shortly after my 14th birthday till age 17. Because of my abuse I blocked out the good with the bad. I have a Bible given to me at age 9 1/2, when I was baptized in the DoC church. Water baptism is a required part of salvation in this denomination. I remember nothing of the baptism. And the other couple of years I was in PTSD mode. I was angry and dodging triggers.Since I attended church every Sunday and water baptized at 9 1/2, was I saved, able to apply what I learned? Nope. I didn’t remember anything to apply. And some of my fruits were really not acceptable.

    When I truly accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, at age 47, then I could consider myself a “baby” Christian.

    My experience with the faith in this manner isn’t an exception.

    Even though you and I don’t see eye to eye on some things, I do appreciate your responses.

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  98. Max,

    From reading the links, my take on it is that the SBC at the national level doesn’t want to deal with environmental cost associated with the land.

    Why the couple built a house on leased land, my guess is that there wasn’t a lot of available land in that area to build a home, government entities and Indian tribal governments having ownership of large tracts of land.

    I lived in Farmington, New Mexico during the late 1990’s. Some of the greatest examples of God’s creation out there.

    It makes you wonder if they did any real research before selling the land.

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  99. Muff Potter,

    Honest question, what are the queries raised? I like in the discussions here on TWW when commenters reference their responses with the Scriptures or other texts. It allows (generic) you understand the foundation of the comment. I appreciate your responses too.

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  100. Johnny Firestone:
    Sorry if this has already been answered somewhere, but why would I care if a church I no longer attend and respect has my name on a list of disciplined members? Legal contract or not, what difference does it make?

    They’ve been known to not just put you on a list, but stall you through the internet and current members, and then call churches you are attending to tell them you are under church discipline. And they like to refuse to say why.

    Decent churches will call you and you can tell them it’s simply because it’s a cult and you left (as trying to keep you from leaving is the #1 sign off a cult). But there’s been stories of a few people on here whose new churches weren’t so nice about it. Particularly other SBC churches…

    If you are going to get out, then get away from the SBC and New Calvinism.

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  101. Max: But, be sure to take your nametag off first … or you will be a marked man!

    PS – If you are feeling even more adventurous and happen to be married, go ahead and ask the questions, then ask your wife to ask them later of the same people. My husband was shocked (honestly, so was I) by the response when the two of us did this at a former church.

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  102. Brian: I remember listening to “Grace to You” with John Mc Arthur. He talked about calling other churches in his area about a transgender person who left his church.

    What is your understanding of this? Was he justifying the oppression of every departing member on grounds that other churches might need to be warned about an occasional trans person? (Since tone is hard to convey on line, please know I’m asking a serious question.)

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  103. Friend: I don’t know how you feel about these criteria and won’t presume. But I view them as pettifoggery and mind reading.

    I view them as Tribal Identity Markers.
    Baptists have to be credo-baptized by Immersion.
    SDAs have to Keep the Sabbath (NOT Sunday).

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  104. Brian: Being raised in it doesn’t mean you’re a Christian.

    No. But sometimes yes.

    I think we’re talking at cross purposes anyways, because i don’t love the term baby christian to began with and this kind of gets to what people really mean when they use it?

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  105. Brian–many of us here were in San Juan County in the 90’s–small world.

    Re Glorieta. My understanding (was a NM SBC for a loonnnggg time) was that retiring missionaries and pastors could put a home on the land, not owning the land, to drastically cut their housing costs. A sort of subsidized housing for them. Long term lease, but new buyers wanted out of the lease so the SBC pulled the rug out from under them. NM SBC politics is very dirty business, with some in leadership I simply do…not…trust. Others are really good people. Cozying up with the national leadership was rampant when we lived there, usually at least appearing to have quite a bit of “climbing the ladder” hopes at least partially in play. NM SBC used to be very dedicated soul winning giving folks. Today if I moved back to that state I would not consider an SBC church AT ALL. Really caveat emptor now.

    The good thing about all that for us personally is when we walked away from shenanigans we found a liturgical denomination that for us hit all the theological “musts” much better and we are happy as can be. We made a major geographical move at the same time and since there were no SBC around, and we were disgusted with the SBC, we were open to considering other options. Found a liturgical free grace church and loved it. Moved where there was not one, did the Wesleyan thing a while (to our benefit) but now are back in our beloved liturgical faith family after another move and cannot ever imagine leaving it.

    Roasting some chilis on the grill for supper right now. That part of San Juan County will always be a good memory.

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  106. Ishy: Decent churches will call you and you can tell them it’s simply because it’s a cult and you left (as trying to keep you from leaving is the #1 sign off a cult).

    Yeah, honestly I feel the same as JohnnyFirestone in that there is nothing stopping you from leaving and i can’t see really caring once I’ve gone.

    However, if your church is really a basically operating as a cult (and this is very cultish behavior) they can go hardcore against you, like how scientology has basically separated nicole kidman from her first kids and that’s a lot. And if your new church listens to someone else (old cultish church) instead of you on this maybe they don’t know you very well, but it’s still a red flag for that church as well.

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  107. Wild Honey: PS – If you are feeling even more adventurous and happen to be married, go ahead and ask the questions, then ask your wife to ask them later of the same people. My husband was shocked (honestly, so was I) by the response when the two of us did this at a former church.

    This is a neat way to see who is sexist huh? I would find this experiment fascinating.

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  108. Friend,

    He had a congregate, a biological male, identifing as female who wanted to get baptized. He said he wouldn’t unless the transgender person would identify with her biological sex. She left, and he contacted some other churches in the area about the person.

    Now, understanding how the NeoCal machine works, he had no right to do what he did.

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  109. SBC churches are famous for their grossly inflated membership numbers. I belonged to one church in Los Angeles that had 2000 members but only 50 “fifty” in attendence. I feel church membership should have some relation to actually be involved in the church whether attendance or giving or prayer. Most of the “members” were people who moved away years ago and never transferred their membership. Cleaning up the church rolls does not have to imply that people are not Christian. It just means they are not involved with that particular church anymore. I live in Colorado. I imagine that I am still on the rolls of my church in Los Angeles.

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  110. linda: My understanding (was a NM SBC for a loonnnggg time) was that retiring missionaries and pastors could put a home on the land, not owning the land, to drastically cut their housing costs … SBC pulled the rug out from under them.

    As I recall, a lot of folks had already built homes there under a lease arrangement for the land … they owned their homes, but not the land … and when SBC lost the land, they were in limbo … not a very Christian thing for LifeWay (Rainer) to do. I’m not sure how all that worked out for those poor folks.

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  111. Jeff: Cleaning up the church rolls does not have to imply that people are not Christian.

    Agreed!

    A long time ago I served on a church committee that addressed this. They might have liked to inflate membership numbers. Contrarily they might have disliked mailing costs. At the heart of the decisions was this:

    We have no way of knowing what we mean to people. That monthly newsletter might mean a lot to someone who can’t get here anymore.

    That church erred on the side of generosity and welcome, thinking about the young adult home for Christmas who glances at his dad’s mail; or the great-grandmother who remembers singing in the choir and organizing her daughter’s wedding.

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  112. Friend: They might have liked to inflate membership numbers.

    The SBC is infamous for this. For years, they have stated membership numbers around 16 million. As a 70+ year Southern Baptist (I’m Done now), it was my observation that half the members on church rolls were dead, dropped out, moved, or otherwise unaccounted for. Thus, real SBC membership is probably around 8 million, but only half would be considered “active” with 4 million or so showing up on any given Sunday. There are 47,000 SBC churches – most have less than 200 members.

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  113. dee,

    “I was told that Rainer was being paid close to a $1,000,000 annually as head of LifeWay.”
    +++++++++++

    good grief… he seems like the posterboy for “I am male, therefore i was born a capable leader and everyone needs to hear whatever it is i feel like saying. my salary is simply the fair wage for who i am.”

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  114. Wild Honey,

    “If you are feeling even more adventurous and happen to be married, go ahead and ask the questions, then ask your wife to ask them later of the same people. My husband was shocked (honestly, so was I) by the response when the two of us did this at a former church.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    is this what you described recently (on another blog post)?

    can you describe the differences in responses in more detail?

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  115. Brian:
    Wild Honey,

    Even though a person may be a mature growing Christian, they too can get drawn in by the charismatic but shallow preaching and the rock band?

    Yes, and just because you picked up on it at one church doesn’t make you immune from it at another. I’m just speaking anecdotally, btw.

    Although, I hesitate to call the preaching necessarily “shallow,” at least in my experience. Charismatic, yes. I found it intellectually appealing and it often made me think. But it also tended toward the black-and-white in ways that I thought made it more legalistic than not.

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  116. Max,

    there’s more info here. although i found it hard to read (the way it was written).

    or perhaps this is old news. (spoken as a far outsider)

    good grief — i sure wish Frontline would take on the SBC. what a rancid ball of corruption-tax-exemption-self-enrichment-moronic-stupidity-zero-accountability-power-madness…

    i’m sure there are many who would talk in anonymity, their images were obscured.

    https://reformationcharlotte.org/2019/02/04/southern-baptist-cooperative-program-pays-lawyers-to-hide-leadership-misrepresentations/

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  117. Wild Honey: PS – If you are feeling even more adventurous and happen to be married, go ahead and ask the questions, then ask your wife to ask them later of the same people. My husband was shocked (honestly, so was I) by the response when the two of us did this at a former church.

    A small group of friends from the men’s Bible study did this at a previous church. Every one got a completely different answer. That was eye opening.

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  118. elastigirl:

    “If you are feeling even more adventurous and happen to be married, go ahead and ask the questions, then ask your wife to ask them later of the same people. My husband was shocked (honestly, so was I) by the response when the two of us did this at a former church.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    is this what you described recently (on another blog post)?

    can you describe the differences in responses in more detail?

    Probably 🙂

    I asked my husband’s input for this, too.

    My husband says he also tends to ask questions more indirectly, while I tend to be more direct [a fair assessment], but also feels that gender was a part of it.

    I had asked a question regarding a factual error the senior pastor made in a sermon. The elder (who was also our small group leader) brushed off the question and bigger concern [accountability] behind it. My husband says, “It’s like he didn’t even think about your question.” The elder and I went back and forth a bit via text and email and I continued to feel brushed off.

    A few months later, the church announced they buying a property which was 7 miles away from the current location. The original search radius was 3 miles. My husband and I both thought this would be a good move for the church, BUT were concerned by leadership’s handling of valid questions regarding why the distance. For example, people who didn’t want to make the move were characterized as “unwilling” to drive instead of “unable.”

    My husband had earlier commented to the elder (when a different but also distant location was being considered) that people would leave because of the distance, but that people would also leave regardless whenever the church moved. The elder took it in stride.

    Leadership sent out a feedback form. I responded. I acknowledged things I thought they were doing well but also pointed out they could be treating people with concerns about the distance in a more gracious and understanding manner.

    Under the guise of talking to us about leading a small group, the elder literally turned around in his chair and asked me directly if I was able “to submit to leadership and training.” It was described that there were “yellow flags” of “communications” indicating a “pattern.” Two of the three “yellow flags” were my question regarding the pastor’s sermon and my response to the feedback form, which was described as “possibly aggressive.” At the meeting, the elder misrepresented statements I’d made in my texts/emails to him and declined my offer to pull up the emails to clarify conversation.

    My husband adds that he had also asked much more pointed questions previously about their associations with Harvest Bible Chapel and Master’s Seminary and said that the church’s leadership was in danger of becoming like MacDonald. And his thoughts were received positively and his submission was never questioned.

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  119. Wild Honey,

    If I ever attend church again, I will never darken the doorway twice of any that demand my ‘submission’ to leadership. You want to claim to be a Christlike leader? F
    ine, lay down your life for me. Any other ‘authority’ is absolutely illegitimate.

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  120. elastigirl: https://reformationcharlotte.org/2019/02/04/southern-baptist-cooperative-program-pays-lawyers-to-hide-leadership-misrepresentations/

    Thanks for the link, elastigirl. From the article:

    “… the politics of the SBC … jockeying for position, continual self-promotion, backroom deals followed by spin in the front room, strategizing like brothers are your enemy, feeling like others see you as their enemy … getting to the point where you wonder if you can trust anyone …”

    It’s increasingly clear that Southern Baptists can no longer accept the following response from their leaders: “Trust me.”

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  121. TS00: If I ever attend church again, I will never darken the doorway twice of any that demand my ‘submission’ to leadership.

    True Christian leaders know that believers are to submit themselves one to another. Beware of a church leader who refuses to listen to you, who demands his way or the highway. There is no love in such an arrangement between pulpit and pew … without love, it is not really a Church of the Living God. (“Love” is not one of the marks of a healthy church cited by 9 Marks, but should be the first one on the list … 9 Marks is just a clanging cymbal)

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  122. TS00,

    Yes. And one of the saddest things is, I don’t think he has any sense of self awareness that it is his own actions driving people away. That doesn’t bode well for him in the long run, not to mention all of the people who place themselves under his authority.

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  123. Max,

    This is an interesting string of posts…. As I understand the term “ Christian” , it is suppose to mean Christ “like” or “Christ follower”….. Further, tradition holds that many of the original “Apostles” were martyred….
    So, if T500 has a point…. if someone really plays the authoritarian leadership card, especially those that try to claim an “apostolic” authority should really demonstrate “Christlike” behavior… including willingness to die for “the least of us”….. given many of the “leaders” discussed on TWW will not defend kids getting abused…… I think the next thought is obvious..

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  124. Wild Honey: Yes. And one of the saddest things is, I don’t think he has any sense of self awareness that it is his own actions driving people away.

    When You Can Do No Wrong (and the man in the mirror agrees 110%)…

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  125. SiteSeer: A small group of friends from the men’s Bible study did this at a previous church. Every one got a completely different answer. That was eye opening.

    When somebody tells three different people FOUR or more Completely Different stories of the same thing, something is seriously wrong. (Had a guy pull that on me and some others around 15 years ago; when we all finally sat down and compared notes, not only did he tell a different story to each of us, half the stories flat-out contradicted the other half.)

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  126. Jeffrey Chalmers: including willingness to die for “the least of us”….. given many of the “leaders” discussed on TWW will not defend kids getting abused…… I think the next thought is obvious..

    Willing to die… Willing to self-support and take as little from the church as possible… Willing to send letters (books) to congregations for free…

    Today’s celebrity pastors don’t seem to have much in common at all with the apostles!

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  127. ishy: Willing to send letters (books) to congregations for free…

    That’s an interesting point. Funny how these celebrity pastors make the big bucks selling their ‘wisdom’, when the apostles freely spilled their guts – not to mention their blood.

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  128. elastigirl: good grief — i sure wish Frontline would take on the SBC. what a rancid ball of corruption-tax-exemption-self-enrichment-moronic-stupidity-zero-accountability-power-madness

    And not just the SBC.
    I wish they (Frontline) would expose the mega-church grifters too.
    Expose them for what they are.

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  129. Wild Honey,

    me, too. (but that’s all i’ll really say) i wonder if we’re close.

    these ridiculous churches you describe…. are the in the ‘new world’ of the west? i had hoped for better things in the land of the free spirits.

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  130. Headless Unicorn Guy: When somebody tells three different people FOUR or more Completely Different stories of the same thing, something is seriously wrong. (Had a guy pull that on me and some others around 15 years ago; when we all finally sat down and compared notes, not only did he tell a different story to each of us, half the stories flat-out contradicted the other half.)

    Yes, they were outright lies in this case because they couldn’t all be true. Good thing they didn’t let all the rules about “not gossiping” keep them from comparing notes.

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  131. Wild Honey: Under the guise of talking to us about leading a small group, the elder literally turned around in his chair and asked me directly if I was able “to submit to leadership and training.” It was described that there were “yellow flags” of “communications” indicating a “pattern.” Two of the three “yellow flags” were my question regarding the pastor’s sermon and my response to the feedback form, which was described as “possibly aggressive.” At the meeting, the elder misrepresented statements I’d made in my texts/emails to him and declined my offer to pull up the emails to clarify conversation.

    Ugh, that is so disgusting.

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  132. elastigirl:
    Wild Honey,

    me, too.(but that’s all i’ll really say)i wonder if we’re close.

    these ridiculous churches you describe….are the in the ‘new world’ of the west?i had hoped for better things in the land of the free spirits.

    Not to be a wet blanket, but MacArthur is based in southern California, so… Free spirits are still free to follow bad advice, I guess.

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  133. Calvinists are into the idiot theological doctrinal notion of their form of sovereign grace. i.e. unless their god chooses you, you are toast. Literally. They say they get this from their bibles. Essentially anyone who does not believe this is really in their terms considered a non believer. They have been pushing this Augustinean Gnostic lie for five hundred plus years. This masked lie is called by many names, reformed theology, the doctrines of grace, tulip, and sovereign grace. Those who attempt to leave their established churches without permission are considered deserters, and are often pursued with various forms of disciplinary action. Consider observing their cult like behavior with caution and avoid at all cost. Look and examine closely before you buy into any 501c3 church today. The life you save may be your own. Remember these Calvinists are deceived. Don’t let them deceive You.

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  134. We were recently crossing West Virginia and listening to a southern gospel station. It was Sunday so there was a church service being aired. That Missionary Baptist preacher offered quite a bit of stuff he would send if you called, wrote, emailed, or texted. But he was adamant that the receiver SEND NO MONEY.

    DH opined that sounded like a church locals should consider for that reason alone:)

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  135. Sòpwith: Calvinists are into the idiot theological doctrinal notion of their form of sovereign grace. i.e. unless their god chooses you, you are toast. Literally. They say they get this from their bibles.

    Scripture speaks much about the sovereignty of God. Scripture speaks much about the free will of man. Salvation comes together in a way that is beyond human comprehension. To attempt to put the mind of God into a neat theological box, is to stand in arrogance before the Creator.

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  136. Sòpwith: Consider observing their cult like behavior with caution and avoid at all cost.

    New Calvinism has all the earmarks of a cult … elitist, authoritarian, only they have “truth”, unwavering loyalty to leaders, oppose critical thinking, isolate members, penalize those who leave, separation from the rest of the church. Scary stuff.

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  137. Max: Scripture speaks much about the sovereignty of God. Scripture speaks much about the free will of man.

    I am in the middle of “Against Heresies” by Irenaeus (I know, I should get a life and quit being a geek). Among many very interesting things he wrote in that book, he very clearly supported free will with respect to salvation. In fact, it looks like all the early church fathers believed in free will with the exception of Augustine.

    I recently read an article by a New-Calvinist who tried to prove that the early church fathers believed in Calvinistic election rather than free will. He did this by twisting their writings out of context. Very dishonest. It reminded me of a book I read by a Muslim called “Jesus: Prophet of Islam.” He took a bunch of quotes by early church fathers out of context to prove that Jesus was purely humaand not divine. When I read the quotes in context, they were arguing against those who proposed that Jesus was purely divine and not human at all. I can thank that author for introducing me to the early church fathers. The New-Calvinists likewise need direct exposure to the early church fathers.

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  138. Ken F (aka Tweed): I recently read an article by a New-Calvinist who tried to prove that the early church fathers believed in Calvinistic election rather than free will. He did this by twisting their writings out of context.

    Not surprising. The tenets of New Calvinism depend on twisted Scripture. Taking the text out of context is modus operandi.

    Ken F (aka Tweed): The New-Calvinists likewise need direct exposure to the early church fathers.

    What they need is direct exposure to Jesus! They have done a fine job twisting Paul’s epistles, with little regard to the Gospels. By reading Paul first, they missed Jesus … by reading Jesus first, the writings of Paul come into perspective.

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  139. Ken F (aka Tweed): I recently read an article by a New-Calvinist who tried to prove that the early church fathers believed in Calvinistic election rather than free will.

    90+% of Christendom have rejected the tenets of reformed theology for the last 500 years. Trying to drag the early church fathers into this is a bad idea.

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  140. Max: Trying to drag the early church fathers into this is a bad idea.

    By now, I think they have dumbed down their followers so much that none of them will make an attempt to check it out for themselves. They will wait for an article on what to think about the church fathers.

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  141. Max: To attempt to put the mind of God into a neat theological box, is to stand in arrogance before the Creator.

    And to demand that all others bow to your opinion is the height of arrogance, tyranny and oppression.

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  142. Max,

    For years I heard of the people leaving my former Calvnist church (some were elders or deacons) declaring that it was a cult. Of course I thought they were crazy. Only to one day find myself among them . . .

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  143. Ken F (aka Tweed): By now, I think they have dumbed down their followers so much that none of them will make an attempt to check it out for themselves. They will wait for an article on what to think about the church fathers.

    This might come across as a snarky jab, but it is a very sad reality. This sort of brainwashing has been going on since the beginning of the institutional church, beating people into submission unto their ‘God-given authorities’. By very means of having a man stand before people, week after week, telling them what scripture means and who God is, people are trained to never think for themselves, to not study and research ancient manuscripts and academic treatises.

    I know most will not find such studies as fascinating as I do, but one cannot but benefit from going beyond what the latest celebrity author teaches and grappling with the written word seriously. But, as one friend told me not too many months ago, ‘that’s what we pay the pastor for; I have a full time job, you know.’. Point proven?

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  144. TS00,

    Don’t forget that these “leaders” like to “cast their vision” and, as Mark Driscoll said, “ You either get on the bus, or get run over by the bus”….. yep, I read passage like that in gospels all the time, JC really threaten his followers that way!

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  145. TS00: For years I heard of the people leaving my former Calvinist church (some were elders or deacons) declaring that it was a cult. Of course I thought they were crazy. Only to one day find myself among them . . .

    When you attend such churches, you have to lose your mind to find it. That’s a short journey for some folks; it takes longer for others to come to their spiritual senses.

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