“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.”― C.S. Lewis
Breaking News: This statement was just released from the Office of the President at Cedarville University along with a video.
Here is a link to the video.
Prior to the Moore story breaking in the news the past week, this document was compiled by the Justice Collective over the course of the last year. This document was drawn up initially to file as a complaint with the Higher Learning Commission against Cedarville University. Because the Justice Collective is composed of present CU employees in addition to alumni and former employees, they decided not to file it because the HLC doesn’t accept anonymous complaints–and offers no whistle-blower protection for any present employee (a major weakness of the HLC complaint system). Present employees cannot risk exposure, for fear of reprisal. This information was corroborated with multiple sources and includes the disturbing context in which Dr. Melissa Faulkner’s heart-breaking story falls (featured on this blog on Friday). To understand this document, one must understand the “Biblically Consistent Curriculum” policy put in place in 2017 at CU over strong faculty objections; thus, it is also presented here. (This document is posted at the end of the Cedarville University’s Violations of Higher Learning Commission Mandates
Cedarville University’s Violation of Higher Learning Commission Mandates
A culture at Cedarville University (CU) has developed over the last several years that greatly restricts academic freedom, thereby violating Higher Learning Commission (HLC) mandates.
In particular, in the spring of 2017—the same year CU hired sexual assailant Anthony Moore—the CU administration implemented a policy they now call “The Biblically Consistent Curriculum Policy” (BCC), over strong faculty objections (see BCC document). In fact, there was, and is, no “shared governance” regarding the implementation or enforcement of this policy. Several long-time faculty leaders warned against it when the Vice President of Academics at the time (Loren Reno) asked them about it, but the administration continued the process anyway.
VPA Reno then held faculty forums about the policy (forums that gave the appearance of listening to faculty input but really were just a ruse). Many faculty opposed the policy because it suggested the administration did not trust faculty to design their own curricula and administer appropriate assignments. (And indeed, to this day, faculty do not feel as though the administration trusts them; in turn, they do not trust the administration.) Many faculty likewise opposed the policy because they knew it would restrict their academic freedom. Some faculty even quoted John Milton’s treatise against censorship, Areopagitica, in the forums. Others argued the policy really wasn’t biblical at all. In particular, two long-time, tenured Bible professors, hired under Dr. Paul Dixon, condemned the policy for taking Philippians 4:8 out of context and misapplying it. In short, faculty across campus—in professional programs, the sciences, and the liberal arts—voiced opposition to the policy. That opposition was ignored.
Some other faculty either skipped the forums or stayed silent during them for fear of reprisal. Leading up to this policy, the new administration had already forced many Bible professors out of the Bible department because they deemed them “not conservative enough” to teach at Cedarville any more. (The “conservative resurgence” wing of the Southern Baptist Convention, made in the image of Paige Patterson, had gained control of the university and was enacting its infamous “purges” in that department. See more information here: fiatlux125.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/whats-happened-at-cedarville-villefeedbackforum/). Faculty feared then and fear now that if they question the administration, they will lose their jobs or be demoted.
Administration did not allow faculty to vote on whether to adopt the policy—no vote was taken. The last forum was held on a Thursday; the next day, a Friday, the policy was put immediately into place and enforced retroactively, to boot. Thus, in the end the administration implemented the policy, in its original form, though they changed the title of it from “The Philippians 4:8 Policy” to the BCC.
The entire situation was so controversial, it garnered media coverage, such as this article in Christianity Today: https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/april/cedarville-university-apply-philippians-4-8-curriculum.html (One note about this article, however: The part that quotes Bible professor Dan DeWitt as saying his department had no problem with the policy is completely erroneous. As mentioned above, two veteran Bible professors objected strongly to the policy in the public forums.)
After the article appeared, faculty and staff were chastised for airing the situation in the press and told that they should never do such a thing. They were likewise told never to do that again in the future, that all discussions of controversies should be kept “in the family.” Veiled threats in meetings are common. Behind closed doors, threats are far more direct: Talk and you’ll be fired.
The following disturbing situations also transpired around that policy:
- First, CU’s administration waited to put this policy in place until after the HLC granted CU its accreditation renewal in the fall of 2016. CU’s President Thomas White wrote this blog entitled, “Biblical Wisdom and Intentionality for all 1,000 Days,” in the fall of 2016, serving as a precursor to the policy:
It is clear the administration wanted to move in this direction but waited until after the 10-year accreditation was renewed in December. As a side note, too: Faculty did not participate in the HLC visit that fall if they didn’t have to. Everyone suffering under the administration was afraid to speak out against it, and many who worked on accreditation did so under duress. Again, the HLC provides no whistle-blower protections. Yet, obviously, it was to everyone’s benefit if the university regained its accreditation, too, so they were caught in a Catch-22 situation.
After the CT article ran, Pres. White wrote another blog in August of 2017, in which he defended the policy and responded to the CT article (White has demonstrated a pattern of self-defense via his blog articles):
This is all notable only because the timing of the whole process seems suspicious, as though the CU administration knew they might have problems with the accreditation process if they put the policy in place right before, or at the same time as, the HLC visit in the fall of 2016.
- Since the policy was passed, the administration has censored faculty curricula and student writing. For instance, some majors in the liberal arts have faced censorship for papers using various literary theories the administration objects to. Likewise, then VPA Reno censored student writing in The Cedarville Review, the student-run literary journal, pulling pieces, including writing and art, from publication because he didn’t like a philosophy behind a drawing, a curse word or two (hell), and the way a character, a grandmother, behaved in a story (all non-sexual and thus, non-BCC regulated). The present VPA, Thomas Mach, still has the authority to censor the journal at will (as well as the student newspaper, Cedars, which has had a long history of censorship).
- Quite a few liberal-arts faculty have been called into the VPA’s office, or worse, Pres. White’s office, and condemned for teaching certain readings and curricula.
- To date, books and stories have been banned, some of which don’t even fall under the BCC policy. Some things are banned for political reasons. For instance, all of Christian author Shane Claiborne’s books have been banned because they contain political viewpoints the administration deems unbiblical (i.e., non-Republican). Claiborne’s books are in no way “pornographic,” “erotic,” “obscene,” or “graphic,” the four characteristics the policy forbids in materials. Likewise, other readings have been banned, including Native American “trickster” myths, various graphic novels (such as Persepolis), the memoir of the Latina writer (see Melissa’s post on Friday here), etc.
- What’s worse is that during the fall semester of faculty/staff sessions in August of 2017, the President defended the policy by publicly shaming the English department in particular. He pulled out of context certain passages of some of literature that he has since banned, including the memoir by the Latina author, put quotations on PowerPoint slides, and explained that the policy exists to eliminate such “dirty” literature from the classroom. (Again, see Melissa’s story corroborating this.) He never explained the professors’ perspectives or pedagogical reasons for teaching the readings. Faculty and staff across campus were shocked. To this day, many faculty view that behavior not only as a public shaming but also as a violation of the community covenant all CU employees are required to sign (i.e., the President himself violated the covenant).
- Most faculty and staff felt threatened that day, believing if they, too, “crossed over the line,” they may face similar public humiliation. That’s the whole point of a public shaming, after all: Control.
- Equally important, Pres. White publically shamed the Latina author herself, a victim of sexual abuse, thereby sending the message to all members of the faculty and staff that if they, too, are victims of such abuse (and some are), they can never discuss it in detail in their own stories. The CU President and the VPA now have a regular modus operandi they follow: When a student or parent complains about something being taught in a class, whether online or on campus, they take a look at it. If they find it objectionable, the faculty member is brought in and condemned. Since high schoolers take dual enrollment classes at CU, it’s not uncommon for this scenario to transpire with such students who are simply too unprepared or immature for college-level materials (likewise with sheltered, infantilized freshmen). This policy, therefore, has invited a culture in which parents and students are welcome to complain about faculty. Thus, professors never know who in their classes will complain, and so, they teach under constant fear and anxiety since the administration often undermines them.
- VPA Thomas Mach claims he uses the policy to defend faculty to parents who call to complain. But one must ask: Why does a VPA need to rationalize his support of his own faculty with such a policy in the first place? Shouldn’t an HLC-accredited institution have administrations who are already adept at communicating the significance of academic freedom as well as the rationale behind a university education? His defense is a ruse. For the most part, he uses the policy as a hammer.
- What’s worse, since the VPA has put all pre-existing (and already CRLA-certified) writing center tutors through a re-application process that included questions testing their allegiance to CU. To make clear: He forced veteran student tutors, who’d already gained CRLA (College Reading and Learning Association) certification, to re-apply for jobs in the Writing Center in order to meet with his approval. In short, the administration is now censoring and seeking to control the views of the student tutors in the CU Writing Center, too.
- Likewise, the administration has now mandated that all faculty seeking tenure write their faith-learning integration papers (required for review) in such a way that they completely refute their various disciplines’ theories that the administration doesn’t approve of. Faculty are not allowed to hold nuanced positions, even if they’ve already published scholarly articles on these positions. Instead, they are mandated to reject such theories wholesale, despite even the tenure review committee’s objections. This, too, greatly restricts academic freedom and a faculty member’s freedom of expression in ways that simply defy logic–and the whole point of integration in the first place. CU doesn’t integrate; it indoctrinates. And if offers and education that reinforces the false dilemma in every subject.
- Other public shaming happens often in chapel services, too; this past year, Pres. White publically chastised students in chapel for seeking counseling in the counseling center, admonishing them to “get in” their Bibles. Although Pres. White says otherwise, he holds the psychology profession and certain professors in thay department under suspicion and undermines them however he can. In fact, as soon as he arrived at CU, he appointed the same person to serve as both Dean of Students and the Director of Counseling, causing a serious conflict of interest, as CU is quick to expel students who don’t abide by the rules, despite mental health illnesses and needs.
- Furthermore, Pres. White appointed a new chair for the social work department who is attempting to develop his own accreditation organization (for fundamentalists) so as to leave the one that has accredited CU’s social work program for years. His work has shocked professionals in the field at national conferences, including many Christian scholars, and raised serious questions about way the program at CU is now being run.
- This kind of reasoning led Pres. White to withdraw CU from the Conference on Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) in 2016, telling faculty the CCCU just isn’t conservative enough on the issue of (what else?) homosexuality and his goal is to form his own such organization for fundamentalist schools like the one he’s turned CU back into. He made this decision (and this statement) even though the official stance of the CCCU still views heterosexual monogamy as the biblical model. Yet, within the year, as you have established, White hired a professor guilty of same-sex sexual assault, Anthony Moore.
- Public chastisement also hurts staff and faculty, many of whom are presently working with therapists as they endure workplace abuse and some of whom have even suffered serious physical illnesses as a result of the hostility and unbearable stress. Such faculty can be found in departments such as social work, psychology, pharmacy, communications, theatre, art, graphic design, English, and foreign languages. If the HLC could see how many faculty have left in the last 8 years from those departments, that would be proof enough of the ongoing hostility. In short, those faculty and staff who want to leave and can get out, do. Human Resources has plenty of documentation on this trend from their exit interviews with such faculty, but nothing changes.
Although as a private, religious institution CU has great freedom to enact policies that public schools could never enact, and it has the religious freedom to require agreement to its community life standards, it now has violated HLC accreditation mandates in many ways. These violations are completely unethical; they have likewise proved to be emotionally and verbally abusive towards faculty. In short, these violations are as unprofessional as they are unChristian.
The academic freedom statement formulated by the American Association of University Professors and the Association of American Colleges clearly states the following:
College or university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As persons of learning and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and institution by their utterances. Hence, they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are notinstitutional spokespersons.
Moreover, the HLC clearly states all HLC institutions should be “committed to freedom of expression and the pursuit of truth in teaching and learning.”
This document, therefore, should be understood not as an attack on Christian higher education, for that has every right to exist and should continue to exist. It is an expression arguing that the “special obligations” the AAUC and AAC have stipulated are vital to higher education. Therefore, this complaint should be viewed for what it is: a desperate plea for help from faculty who are not “free from institutional censorship or discipline.” CU does not fulfill the HLC mandate either with its present curriculum policy, which does constitute censorship. Professors across the board—in social work and psychology, communications and theatre, art and literature, education and sociology—are all required to teach only the literature, media, art, drama, pedagogies, theories, etc. that aren’t offensive to the administration’s political views (it’s the Republican viewpoint or bust) or their reductionist moral views (i.e., they reduce art and literature to evaluating them based upon curse words, sex scenes, etc).
Furthermore, CU’s administration does not demonstrate “that the exercise of intellectual inquiry and the acquisition, application, and integration of broad learning and skills are integral to its education programs.” And it has now regularly censored professors’ attempts to have students master “modes of inquiry or creative work.” It can’t be emphasized enough that even students’ writing has been censored. Thus, even in this way, CU does not allow academic freedom. In short, it does not recognize the “human and cultural diversity of the world in which students live and work,” especially when the vast majority of censored writings focus on authors who are people of color.
Faculty have tried to reason with this administration on many occasions, to no avail. There is no real shared governance surrounding the policy, which is regularly used to threaten and condemn faculty. In short, their pedagogy and theory are held hostage by this policy, for they are not only restricted in what they can teach and assign but also restricted by their own legitimate fears of reprisal.
All in all, this policy has created one of the most disturbing climates in higher education in this country, and the CU administration must be held accountable for both the hostile culture they’ve created and the emotional abuse they have heaped upon the faculty who faithfully serve Christ there.
Biblically Consistent Curriculum Policy
Cedarville University’s doctrinal statement affirms, “we believe that every believer should walk by the Spirit and engage in practices that stimulate spiritual maturity.” To that end, “Christians are…to flee evil influences and practices, which hinder a Spirit-filled life.” The Community Covenant provides a framework within which spiritual maturity can be pursued by employees and encouraged in our students: “we covenant together to be people of integrity and self-control, truthful in our speech, honest in our conduct, and morally pure in both thought and action.” Further, the Cedarville General Workplace Standards establishes specific principles within which employees should operate, “As a community of born-again believers, we believe that pleasing and glorifying God in all that we do and say is an expression of our gratitude to God’s grace and love in our lives.” As such, all that we do should be designed to bring Him glory as demonstrated in “our commitment to moral purity in thought and action.” These guidelines for work and life are institutional standards based on the belief that Scripture is the foundation upon which we can pursue righteous living.(II Timothy 3:16-17) Scripture is replete with guidelines for Christian living, because God knew how susceptible humans are to temptation. It reminds the Christian “to keep oneself unstained from the world.”(James 1:27) “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.”(Psalm 119:9) “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.”(Psalm 101:3) Finally, Phil. 4:8 provides a rubric for evaluating what is appropriate in the Christian life:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worth of praise, think about these things.(ESV)
The above guidelines not only apply to the individual lives of faculty employed by the university, but also to what is examined and taught in the classroom or through co-curricular activities. The application of these principles to courses or events on campus is not always easy. Students will often be exposed to assumptions, philosophies, and ideologies within various fields that run counter to the truth of God’s Word. To operate effectively within the field in which these students intend to work, they must both know these unbiblical systems and ideas as well as be able to critique them. In some cases, the very study of a particular field involves the examination of images or writing that is conducive to temptation. Cedarville does its students no favors by insulating them from everything that is false, pagan, or immodest in this world. Nonetheless, Cedarville’s faculty must evaluate these demands based upon the standards of Scripture. Paul, in Romans 12:2, exhorts followers of Christ to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” The Philippians 4:8 passage articulates the imperative for Cedarville to be distinctive in the education it provides. What is acceptable in most classrooms may not be at Cedarville. The lines of propriety must be drawn with an eye toward what is pure, not simply what is just.
This policy is not designed to restrict the free discussion of ideologies, philosophies, or schools of thought that may or may not run counter to biblical truth. Rather, this policy is focused on images, movies, songs, plays, or writing that may be considered “adult” in nature, that represent immorality, or that may be a stumbling block to students. While it is true that Cedarville cannot prepare its students for cultural engagement without exposing them to aspects of the culture that are depraved, it is also true that every institution must draw lines that it will not transgress. Cedarville chooses to draw its lines in a fashion that best comports with the clear teaching of Scripture and, where it must err, err on the side of preventing the placement of temptation or unwholesome material in front of students. In cases where Scripture is not clear, Cedarville University has established institutional preferences. While these guidelines do not pretend to be equivalent to Scripture, they are not intended to be legalistic either. Freedom only exists within boundaries. This policy provides clear boundaries for employees as well as context for students and their parents regarding the type of community they are entering when they enroll at Cedarville.
In general, faculty will avoid material that is pornographic (“prurient, twisted, addictive, evil, and exploitive use of nudity to titillate or tempt”) or erotic (“overt sexual connotation”). “Artistic bareness” may be appropriate in courses studying art, for example, as such images are designed to convey “ideal proportion, human philosophy and religious beliefs, and human emotion and vulnerability.” The use of such images should be handled judiciously, recognizing that each person faces different struggles when it comes to the ability to view them without stumbling. The decision should not be based on what some can tolerate or on the world’s standard of what is acceptable, but on what some cannot or should not tolerate. It should be based on the standards of Scripture as outlined in this policy, and each faculty member should be able to articulate how the use of such material is in line with passages like Philippians 4:8. In all cases, faculty should make loving accommodation for those students who do not wish to view the images in such a fashion that allows for the objectives of the course to be met.
Faculty must also be cognizant of what reading and writing assignments they require of students. Passages that are clearly pornographic, erotic, obscene, or graphic must be avoided. While it may be important to expose students to various genres of writing, examples need to be selected to avoid inappropriate material. Sometimes the genre is not as important as the theme or content in determining assignments. In those circumstances, faculty should consider what topics are appropriate for students to engage directly and what topics should be discussed without exposure due to their graphic or erotic nature. Faculty are responsible for what they assign to their students in the same way that they are responsible for what they say to their students.(James 3:1)
Movies need to be carefully selected in curricular and co-curricular settings. Movies shown for a class should be prescreened by faculty for objectionable material. Excerpts can be used that do not include inappropriate material. Required assignments involving movies or movie segments should be made recognizing that students have varying levels of conviction about material and varying struggles with regard to temptation. Faculty should provide accommodations to those students who do not wish to view the material because they deem it objectionable. As a general rule, “R” rated movies will not be shown. PG-13, PG, and unrated movies should be evaluated based on language, sexual content, graphic violence, and nudity. Faculty should consider how the movie selected measures up to the standards of Philippians 4:8. Excerpts could be shown that do not include the objectionable material. Movies that are shown as part of campus events that could include individuals from the public should be reviewed by the Vice Presidents of Academics. The standard for events involving the public may be higher because the movie, in this case, will be a reflection of the standards of the institution.
Similar guidelines apply to plays and productions produced by the institution on campus. Since these productions are closely associated with the university in the minds of public attendees, it is very important that the scripts chosen not leave attenders confused as to the standards of the institution. Scripts with swearing must be avoided or modified. Plays with morals or teachings that run counter to the Scriptural standard should be evaluated for what value they bring to the campus. Given the broader audience and consistent with current practice, all play scripts selected should be approved by the VPA.
In all cases where material is potentially objectionable or problematic, faculty should model biblical critique for their students. Questions such as the following are helpful in working through the value of these materials with students:
- What is valuable in this image, movie, song, play, or writing?
- What is an appropriate biblical critique of the objectionable material?
- What worldview is expressed and how does it compare with a biblical worldview?
- What are the gray areas that Scripture does not speak to directly and how should Christians analyze them?
- How should we be sensitive to that brother or sister who may struggle with this material?
Faculty should take into account that standards for required material may be higher than for optional events. Students who have a conviction about certain material or are struggling with a particular temptation can easily opt out of optional events. Such students are put in a predicament by required assignments that involve problematic material. Faculty should provide and make students aware of accommodations when material involved is potentially problematic. In all cases, faculty are wise to run material and media by their dean or chair prior to presenting it to students if it approaches the category of “unacceptable.” Before God and the administration, faculty are accountable for their choices, and deans and chairs for their oversight of this material.
 Doctrinal Statement, Cedarville University, Section 8, https://www.cedarville.edu/About/Doctrinal-Statement.aspx.
 Faculty and Staff Community Covenant, Cedarville University, https://www.cedarville.edu/Job-Openings/Faculty-Staff-Community-Covenant.aspx.
 General Workplace Standards, Cedarville University, https://www.cedarville.edu/Job-Openings/Workplace-Standards.aspx.
 Quotes taken from “The Teaching of Art and Literature at Cedarville University” and “Statement on Nudity in the Arts and Our Classroom Policy,” Course Documents for Introduction to Humanities, Cedarville University.
The video … a trumpet with an uncertain sound.
No that is a great comment!
Outside independent investigation report to go right back to the board of trustees. interpretation: no one outside of the board will ever get to read the report in full and as written.
And five year restoration plans for everyone.
How about rendering unto Caesar and letting thisenthat do not wield the sword in vain have another crack at it, especially since it’s already in the system?
It’s hard to believe that a 21st century university (religious or non) could be as totalitarian as described above.
I don’t think that even North Korea has much on them.
Cedarville senior here. If you are a faculty member currently and a part of the Justice Collective, quit hiding behind a mask and show who you are. You do not have to work for CU. You claim to be a Christian and are a coward. You claim to be a Christian and tear down the Body of Christ, foregoing internal growth or separation and instead air your dirty laundry to the world. Whether we agree on what is going on or not is irrelevant; unmask yourself and leave if you think CU is rotten. Let Cedarville lie in its own grave while you get out alive. Save yourself.
Not so totalitarian. Why is it that frequently these control-freak institutions are the ones that end up harboring predators?
From the BCC: “While these guidelines do not pretend to be equivalent to Scripture, they are not intended to be legalistic either.”
The current climate has showcased the difference between guidelines, mandates, and orders. By stating that the “guidelines” are to be “legalistic”, it is implied that guidelines are just that and not dictates.
If it’s accurate that the abuse retelling in a section of a memoir was highlighted as an example of something adult in nature, repping immorality or a potential stumbling block to students, that’s quite something. This is a college and not a preschool, correct? The “Biblically” part refers to a collection of writings that references subjects that would fall into what is often categorized as adult, correct?
It’s one thing to have guidelines about curriculum focus, including mandatory subjects and assignments. It seems to be another for a memoir with a retelling of an abuse story to be cast as pornography and / or profanity. The thing is that the book probably would be best presented with a warning about the abuse section — in order to forewarn those with strong feelings and experiences associated with it. That would actually be in line with helping students with stumbling blocks,
Wow. The irony of it all — the same folks screamed about freedom of speech in the U.S.S.R. but think it is fine to subject teachers and students to a regime Beria would recognize.
Wow. Based on the BCC policy, parts of the Bible would be censored due to sexual, graphic, or violent content. The hypocrisy in the Dr. White administration runs deep: And if they don’t think this policy is legalistic, then I’m not sure what is. But I do know this: legalism has not and will never produce a genuine heart of faith.
I think that whistleblower protection is something the state or federal government supplies and the HLC is not a government entity. If it sees a pattern of retaliation at most it can put an institution on probation or remove accreditation; it is not able to directly protect students, faculty, or staff for whistleblowing.
That is a common trick authoritarians use which is change the language, call them guidelines and not rules. Bill Gothard used to call them “principles” but in both cases they are rules. Then the rules have enough ambiguity in them so the authoritarian leader gets to decide how and when to apply the guidelines, principles or rules. It is all about control.
The JusticeCollective has a petition demanding that Mr. Thomas White be removed from office (fired). They are close to reaching their goal of a thousand signatures.
As I read through the BCC, it reminds me of the documents from my fundamentalist 7-12 grades school, 45 plus years ago. While they always start off sounding Very “high minded”,
“we believe that every believer should walk by the Spirit and engage in practices that stimulate spiritual maturity”
They always seem to degenerate it a list of things that “pious Christians” do NOT do, as opposed to what “pious Christians” should do, such as exhibiting the “fruits of the spirit”…. This leads to authoritarian individuals running around enforcing the “do not do list”, as opposed to leaders encouraging righteous behavior….. I use righteous behavior as defined in true OT Hebrew.
I don’t condone authoritarian tactics, but isn’t it also true that academic freedom can become an idol itself?
The word now on secular campuses is “hurtful”. Many are trying to use “hurtful” as a way to limit free speech. And of course, the definition of “hurtful” is in the eyes of the person being “hurt”…. very Orwellian
Some comments on the misleading phraseology used by Thomas White in his official statement:
‘I did not have full information’
You (Thomas White) had enough information to know with absolute certainty that a very serious sexual offence had been committed by Anthony Moore on multiple occasions. That information should have been sufficient to amply demonstrate that he could never be a safe candidate for a position on a University campus, still less a position involving close contact with students. The information you had was also amply sufficient to show any right thinking university president that further due diligence of a kind so thorough as to leave no stone unturned was necessary, including speaking directly to the victim (who you say you knew). For reasons known only to yourself you chose to ignore the red flags and to avoid further due diligence. Instead you deliberately took a course of action (to employ Anthony Moore) which created obvious risk to the welfare of students and staff at CU.
‘Even through no incidents were reported by students’
You (Thomas White) ought to be well aware that even if no incidents were reported (if we may trust your word on that) that does not necessarily mean that no incidents took place. The culture that you have created at Cedarville is such that students (or indeed staff – and notably you don’t say here that staff have reported no incidents) may fear coming forward to report. Indeed it is always difficult for victims to come forward, even in a more supportive environment. Your approach here is inappropriate – rather than implying that nothing inappropriate has happened (thus defending yourself) you should at this point be encouraging students and staff to come forward with anything inappropriate that might not previously have been reported.
‘…to confirm that nothing inappropriate happened on campus’
That is an odd choice of words. You (Thomas White) cannot yet be certain that nothing inappropriate happened on campus. An outside agency should be employed to thoroughly investigate whether anything inappropriate happened on campus. Someone stating that he is a CU student has in fact commented on another blog that Anthony Moore had unsupervised access to the locker room to the extent that he saw that student naked. That alone would seem to be highly inappropriate.
‘…report to go directly to the trustees’
If you (Thomas White) are truly concerned to about safety and transparency, you will ensure that staff, students, parents and the wider public have full access to the unabridged report.
‘…continue to be a safe place for our students and future students’
You (Thomas White) are being deliberately disingenuous here. Since you employed a known sexual offender (Anthony Moore) on campus you cannot accurately claim that for the duration of his employment the university has been a safe place for your students (or indeed staff). It has been unsafe and on past record is likely to remain unsafe while you remain in office as president.
I do not think Dr. White helped himself with this video.
Justicecollective or anyone else who knows, would you be able to provide me with the date of the chapel message in which Dr. White discourages students from seeking counseling at the counseling center?
Thanks for your brave, brave comment, “Storm”. Should I take it that’s your real name?
Yeah, just like those horrible Catholic people who spoke anonymously to the Boston Globe about being molested by priests. How dare they “air their dirty laundry to the world” and “tear down” the Catholic Church? Such cowards.
(Note to silly people: the above is sarcasm)
A narcissist trying to appear humble … it just doesn’t sell.
Storm, recent CU grad here. There may be many reasons why these faculty won’t “unmask.” I have a few faculty in mind who I suspect are in the justicecollective– and their presence at Cedarville has been incredibly encouraging to me and other students. They are the professors who have made the most impact on me. Just the sheer fact that these faculty members have stayed at Cedarville as long as they have was a huge gift to a student like myself. They gave me and others like me courage that not all Christians looked or believed exactly like the administration. There is an argument for these faculty remaining where they are, “masked” for now, for the students’ sake.
Bad-boys earn short restoration periods (Driscoll, MacDonald, etc.) … I guess CU figured bad-bad-boys would require 5-years. How long a time-out do you figure Dr. White will get? (CU’s Board of Trustees will have to do ‘something’ more than a letter and a video to appease university donors)
Speaking out for truth and right treatment of others is hardly tearing down the Body of Christ.
As has been pointed out above, is “Storm Veilleux” your real name? If not, why not use your real name?
Fundamentalist are willing to “call out” other “compromised Christians”, which one could characterize “ tearing down the body of Christ”. In fact, President White has pulled Cedarville U out of an Association of Christian Colleges because “ it was not fundamental enough”? I guess that is not “tearing down the body of Christ”?
It would seem to me a publicly exposed preacher that commits felony crimes due do his “same sex” attraction being placed in a position in which he has contact with a mens basketball team has the potential to do more “damage to the body of Christ” than being associated with other Christian Colleges….
But of course, to fundamentalist, ideology is more important than whether individuals get abused
Absolutely! Speaking out is essential in order to protect the Body of Christ from those (such as Thomas White) who masquerade as Christian leaders with showy piety and yet do not actually care for those whom they have a duty to protect.
The very fact that we “waist our time” on this blog is that we CARE about abused people, ESPECIALLY people abused by people that call themselves “Christians”. I want to believe that there are many people at Cedarville U that have genuine faith…..
I was indoctrinated by fundamentalist thinking, and was “groomed” by a teacher that was fired, and went on later to molest a number of boys and was convicted, and spent years in prison ( i have the court documents). I have spent a lifetime working through the negative aspect of fundamentalist thinking/ideology/theology and I really care about young people subjected to that “stuff”…
You are entering a world which you are ill prepared to face. Sadly, you believe that telling the truth is *airing dirty laundry.* You are leaving college and still don’t understand what you don’t know. Jesus said that he is the truth You claim that the truth is just *dirty laundry.* You are just what a bunch of churches want as a member. Someone to sit there and pretend all as well.
Remember this comment when you are out in the real world. I suspect that within 2 decades you will regret what you have said.
Yep and the President is acting like a preschool teacher.
Did you tweet the following on April 16?
“Best part of a Reformed girl are her TULIPs.”
If not, somebody is impersonating you online and badly misrepresenting the values of a young Christian man.
The Title IX coordinator will help you unmask the culprit, I’m sure.
My grandparents escaped the old Soviet Union when the Communists took over. My grandmother said she thought that the tsars were terrible until she met the Bolsheviks. Their names on the wall at Ellis Island. She believed in freedom to speak and would have been so upset to see this happening to professors.
My Dear Wormwood,
I refer you to my previous epistle on Semantics, specifically the redefinition of the Enemy’s words into their “diabolical meanings”.
Your Ravenously Affectionate Uncle,
P.S. Nowhere do we corrupt so effectively as at the very foot of the Enemy’s altar!
Oh no, we can’t have learned professors developing ideas and spreading them among the young, now, can we? Why, if that happened, we might end up with well-written books, and cures for cancer!
This is actually an important concept. In addition to all the other “issues”, fundamentalist tend to be “afraid” of outside ideas, and work hard to “ protect” their “less mature” breathern from evil/compromising ideas. I learned this first hand… my 7-12 education was lacking in allot of, “generally accepted western civilization literature” ….. heaven forbid I should learn Greek thinking, some of which is part of the background of American government/constitution….
Instead, fundy like to wrap themselves in the American flag, and pretend that our founding fathers were also biblical fundamentalist, and ignore the clearly “un/non-Christain thinking of our founding fathers..
Not one bit. He seems a authoritarian, possibly a narcissistic one, to me.
I understand what you are saying about helping the students. However, it seems to me that the students should not be at this institution and this college should not exist. It seems to be doing more harm than good at this point.
Well said, Dee. Telling the truth is an essential trait of those who follow the one who called himself ‘The way’ and ‘The truth’ and ‘The life’. Self-sacrificial love for one another (whether fellow Christians or simply fellow human beings) should also mark out real followers of Jesus.
Christians throughout the ages have been those who have stood up, spoken up and taken action against injustice, for the downtrodden, the vulnerable, the disempowered, for victims, against those who are misusing their power.
Silence does not protect the vulnerable. Silence does not protect or purify the church or any Christian institution. The silence of Matt Chandler, Paige Patterson, Mark Dever (all of whom mentors of Anthony Moore) when since 2017 they knew that Moore had committed serious sexual offences leading to his dismissal from the Village Church is both inexcusable and unholy.
By remaining silent, despite knowing about the employment of a sexual offender by a friend of theirs, Thomas White at Cedarville University, these men deliberately put the students and staff of the university at risk. By remaining silent, these men who claim to be pastors/leaders/elders have failed in their first duty of care: to protect the flock. By remaining silent, these men continue to demonstrate that they fail to attain to the biblical standard required of elders: to be above reproach.
Dever tweets his thankfulness for Chandler (December 2017):
That’s the pot calling the kettle black…..unless of course your real name is Storm Veilleaux.
Paige Patterson spoke at 9 Marks ‘First 5 Years’ (as did Thomas White and Anthony Moore):
Please. No one is advocating that. But Academic Freedom is not an unqualified good. The people who developed scientific theories to bolster institutional racism in the 18th and 19th and even 20th centuries had academic freedom.
It would be impossible to count the number of colleges and universities that were started by Christians and to provide a Christian education that are now not Christian at all. Academic freedom doesn’t always lead to good things. Professors and scientists are unbiased researchers.
Aren’t unbiased researchers.
White was a protege of Patterson at SWBTS. White’s protection of Anthony Moore is reminiscent of Patterson’s cover-up of Darrell Gilyard.
Yes, connections all round between White, Moore, Patterson, Dever. Moore was Dever’s intern so highly unlikely that Dever is much whiter than White in all this, so to speak…
Those are the real heroes of faith at CU … not the administration. I suspect it has been hell in the hallway for those folks, but there is light at the end of the tunnel … CU donors will demand that the Trustees do the right thing in this situation.
Student, be encouraged. There is life after CU! May you find more Christlike leaders in your journey ahead and better experiences in the Body of Christ.
And of course Chandler is connected too…
I would think that the professors should be mature enough to tell the difference between their own or student’s work that is sensationally evil and/or meant to tempt from the work that is informative and meant to encourage activism against abuse which would be a lovely and virtuous thing. Isn’t that what they are there for? To help people think through the blurred lines? Whether someone gets certain feelings from the content does not mean that they are sinning. For a light example, when a friend of mine described how she used to eat herself to sleep, sometimes with a half gallon carton of ice cream left to finish melting all over herself, I was appalled that as she poured her heart out to me I couldn’t get the taste of ice cream out of my imagination. My point is that it is natural empathy to “feel” what another has experienced and recognizing that needs to be part of the discussion rather than ignoring the details of abuse altogether. I would never have understood the depths of my friend’s pain and shame with her eating disorder before she told me about the ice cream. And there is no substitute for being exposed to seeing something in pictures that actually happened to people when the whole point of college, especially for medical, psychological, and social programs is to prepare people to make society a better place. We can’t fix what we don’t know is broken.
New Calvinist leaders stick together to the bitter end. Someday, Dever may be saying “Chandler who?” … as they did with Driscoll, Mahaney, MacDonald, etc., etc. New Calvinism has sure had its share of problem children, an island of misfit toys.
This isn’t unique to “New Calvinism.” It is human nature. Abuse is covered up and failures to protect victims or prevent abuse are overlooked in non-Calvinist Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hollywood, corporate boardrooms. There is always a drive to protect the organization and to look the other way regarding friends.
That’s why all groups need to have policies in place regarding such things that are followed and those who fail to follow them should receive severe consequences. The problem is that even with such things in place, if you are talented enough, you can always find a new audience. The problem in religious circles won’t effectively go away until the ordinary people stop allowing these people to be rehabilitated back into ministry.
People also get into the mindset that church or organization x is too big to fail. We’d probably have a lot less cover up if people would get out of that mindset.
I became a Christian in high school, and ended up in a fundy church for about three years because that’s where all my Christian friends attended. They were very nice people, but I was also on a humanities track in high (Great Books, AP European history, stuff like that), and I was quite well read in all of the wrong things. From their point of view it had a good side as I absorbed Francis Schaeffer, CS Lewis, and Bunyan, but then someone would notice the other books in my backpack. So, I led a double-life until I got to college and attended a church that was conservative theologically, but also understood academic life on a secular campus. Instead of a bunch of dos and don’ts they gave me skills that helped me understand what to keep and what I might know about, but might not want to embrace. Fear just begets more fear and ends up with dictatorships. If I had ever entered a fundy school, I most probably would have been dismissed for the vast amounts of reading I did in all the ‘wrong” sources.
Ah yes, the “fleshpots of Egypt” argument, the good old days when Harvard was a Christian institution. And behold! Former Harvard students served as judges in the Salem witch trials of 1692:
Five of the nine had attended Harvard, though only William Stoughton, Samuel Sewall and Nathaniel Saltonstall had graduated. At the time, Harvard existed primarily to train Puritan ministers…
I’d rather stake the world’s future on academic freedom than on Christian colleges where they ban books.
There is in fact a student named Storm Veilleux (note spelling) at this college:
The name is searchable on Google, and I asked here if the Twitter account in that name is his. So far no reply, but he might be busy chatting up “Reformed girls.”
Note that Linn “had to live a double life” while she was at that church.
With her it was a Humanities track & Great Books.
With me it was F&SF and Dungeons & Dragons.
“Swear allegiance to the flag,
Whatever flag they offer;
NEVER LET ON WHAT YOU REALLY FEEL…”
— Mike and the Mechanics, “Silent Running”, 1986
How do you do that?
“WOMAN! GOD HATH PREDESTINED YOU TO SUBMIT!”
The best line I heard in college: “Did you ever think about the guy who invented the butter pat? He must be a millionaire by now.”
No YOU will regret what you have done with your time on earth.
Yes, Christians sin sometimes. What is your point?
Unfettered academic freedom isn’t an unqualified good. Unfettered academic freedom can produce things such as eugenics.
Headless Unicorn Guy,
I’m just not sure talking about Cedarville’s misdeeds with respect to academic freedom is helpful. If one wants to be critical about irreflective censorship, that’s one thing. But no Christian school is going to practice academic freedom as it is understood in a secular setting.
Banned books soon become burned books.
The burning of people usually follows when religious zealots get their way.
Yes, you can expect that in the counterfeit church but not the genuine Church. Life is different in the Kingdom of God, where God-called leaders rebuke and correct friends in the ministry who go astray, rather than protecting them. Real-deal Christianity is serious stuff where holiness and purity are demanded among its leaders. Unfortunately, finding it these days is like looking for a rare and endangered species. The reason you don’t hear much exhortation to holiness from American pulpits, is that the pulpit itself isn’t holy as it ought to be. Oh, you can find a church – even several of them – in every community, but finding ‘the’ Church without spot or wrinkle is difficult. Religious kingdoms of men – the majority of the church we see – behave with less integrity before God … TWW documents their misbehaving daily. But I agree with you, New Calvinism is but just one religious system with leaders who are off-track before God.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave.
This reflects my own life story. I graduated CU and became a firefighter/paramedic. Imagine the real-world education that provided! I was disenfranchised with organized religion for quite some time but not disconnected from God. It was a very awkward place to be and it took awhile to “find” myself and redefine my faith.
This pattern of disenfranchisement and reawakening happened all over again when I discovered my husband’s compulsive sexual behavior, abuse, and the church’s negative response (one of our pastors is a professor in CU’s Bible department).
So, yes, there plenty of students who will walk a difficult path due to being “ill-prepared.” I grieve for them.
Well let the kids at CU who are immersed in aspects of Calvinism get their hands on a copy of What Love Is This by Dave Hunt. Let them read about the 58 death sentences imposed by John Calvin! Let them realize that great theologians can be cruel masters in real life….not at ALL living a life of love like the Savior they claim to follow! Full disclosure!
I highly recommend this book. It’s a scholarly work by Dave Hunt on “Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God” (the book’s subtitle).
I am sorry for all you endured. Good for you, for figuring it out. I hope that CU students have a small questioning voice inside that will help them adjust to adult life. What a transition for them.
did i just hear a duck fart?
Can you elaborate?
Or are you just a hit and run artist?
January 23, 2020: https://www.cedarville.edu/Chapel/Watch/Bring-the-Book–Neh-8112/lvkPJelx_UiJOlujdRbQMQ
Robert, I am wondering what your experience might be concerning Christian universities? I have friends who are faculty at three different universities- two of which are Wesleyan colleges. I also taught at two different liberal arts Christian universities before I moved overseas to serve cross culturally. In my experience staff at Christian colleges naturally express a worldview revolving around Jesus. But that does not equate with high control, micromanaging oversight of what a professor teaches, and fear of speaking up – all of which we read is allegedly taking place at CU under the “leadership” of Mr White. Let’s not confuse “Christian” with bullying, favortism or keeping people silent through shame or fear.
Yes, and some doctors used to espouse eugenics, so I assume you never go to the doctor.
Certain practices of eugenics used to be legal, so I assume you disobey the law.
You have already told us that you’re a church discipline fanboi. You believe people are required to join a church for life, or they will not be allowed into heaven. You think that’s in the Nicene Creed. You don’t trust adults to run their own lives without church supervision. You think it’s easy to find a decent church. Now you think academic freedom is a form of idolatry. Everything you write gives power to church authorities, and undermines the agency, experience, and expertise of everyone else.
You show every sign of lacking empathy.
Very well written and thought out.
I used to work at a secular college, and graduated from two others. Even there, it was realized that conscientious academic freedom has limits. I think you are using an extreme, unrealistically “free” version of academic freedom that doesn’t exist in reality to describe what many people would label as simply “censorship” or promotion of “groupthink.” I’m open to being proved wrong, however. Is there a contemporary institution of higher learning whose academic freedom guidelines you can provide that shows zero restrictions?
Because then he gets to Hold the Whip.
“PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH!”
FEATURE, NOT BUG.
Has anybody actually done a study on whether certain kinds of churches tend to either attract or create sociopaths and control freaks? After all, being one of God’s Chosen Anointed can be a real ego-boo.
Great White Throne/Eternal Hell Card is now in play.
Off the bottom of the deck, as usual.
Dr. White – is that you?
Seen the video, heard Thomas White’s statement. Completely creeped out by Thomas White. He’s become even creepier than in the old photograph published by Julie Roys.
HUG compared that photograph to a slimy used car salesman from central casting.
Now, if he were in the film business, he could fill any of a list of roles that I am not going to enumerate here – I’ll leave them to your imagination.
Maybe we could start a game here – roles for which TW would be good casting …
Exposing inconsistency in leadership, especially with respect to ignoring potential of a documented, sex offender (that committed the act as a PASTOR), to abuse Cedarville U. students, I, for one, have nothing to regret!
Given over 45 years ago, I was being “groomed” , by a later convicted, and incarcerated pedo, at a fundamentalist Christian school, I am VERY concerned that these “acts” are not repeated. It is very clear that without whistle blowers, this person at Cedarville U would have continued in his role with the potential to further abuse students.
How can we regret protecting students???
TGC posted this recent article by John Piper:
Even though the article asks about sins (plural), Piper only addresses adultry. Not one word in the article about abuse or any other sin. Perhaps they don’t see abuse as disqualifying.
Unfettered “academic freedom” has never existed… there is always limits, just like the US Supreme Court has placed limits on free speech. Further, academic freedom itself tends to “correct” itself over time. Eugenics is a great example discussed above…. it was “the rage” among many “educated” people in the late 1800’s early 20th century, but it was also refuted later in “academic circles”.
The same can be said for the shift from classical physics to “ modern” ( quantum mechanics) physics….
You don’t know me from Adam, so please refrain from the ad hominem attacks. When you can demonstrate that the framers of the Nicene Creed had a category for Christians who are able but unwilling to join a church, then you can lob your argument and accusations.
I never said that I don’t trust people to run their own lives. My point is only that if you are going to claim to be a Christian, you need to act like one. And there is no category in the NT for a Christian who is able but unwilling to join a church. Don’t accuse me of lacking empathy merely because I’m pushing back some on the narrative never before believed in church history that just me and Jesus under a tree by ourselves is hunky dory.
That’s a fair point. That’s why I think couching the criticism under “micromanaging” might be more helpful than criticizing it under “lack of academic freedom.”
Some of the issues with academic freedom that I am aware of more personally are things like Peter Enns at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia who “discovered” that the Old Testament has errors and that there was no literal Adam and then was fired. People supporting him were complaining about lack of academic freedom. But he signed a contract that bound him not to teach such things.
“If it’s not requiring her to sin, but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church.” (John Piper)
Framing “only adultery” as a disqualifying sin opens the door for bad-boys of a different flavor to get back in the ministry … potty-mouth Driscoll, bully MacDonald, etc. Sounds like TGC, by publishing Piper’s article, is trying to pave the way for some of the failed New Calvinist darlings to regain their voice in the new reformation.
Thanks. You are right, though I’m less sanguine about the ability of academic freedom to correct things over time. In some cases, yes. In other cases, no.
That being said, then it seems to me from Dee’s article that the real problem at CU isn’t a lack of academic freedom but a lack of a clear definition of what is expected of professors at CU and a lack of an ability to distinguish between what is pornographic and what is not, what is artistic expression and what is officially conveying the view of the university, etc.
Perhaps it’s William Wallace II.
Given the hyper fixation of Evangelicals, Fundamentalist, and the YRR’s on homosexuality, I find it especially strange that they can “restore” preacher boys that have homosexual tendencies, and get really worked up about adultery?
I don’t know of any university that promotes completely unfettered academic freedom officially, but I also know that universities today profess academic freedom officially but are bastions of groupthink 90% of the time, especially in the liberal arts departments. With few exceptions, university professors are overwhelmingly leftist politically, and there’s been many high profile cases of students and faculty getting conservatives off campus.
Like I said above to some others, I don’t think bringing academic freedom into the discussion to criticize CU, which appears to deserve it, is very helpful. As a Christian school, it has the right and responsibility to censor some things. The problem here seems to be more 1) There is no clarity on what CU is going to deem acceptable and what it isn’t. 2) The people making the decisions with respect to this aren’t very wise.
It’s not that confusing, I think, in the abstract. Actual adultery breaks a marriage covenant. Mere temptation to engage in homosexual behavior that isn’t engaged in doesn’t break a marriage covenant.
The problem in Moore’s case isn’t that he might experience same sex attraction. The problem is that he then used it to abuse and manipulate his friend and possibly others. It’s the abuse that is disqualifying, not the mere presence of sinful attraction.
Sadly, White, Chandler, et al, did not get this. I don’t think it’s purposefully malicious. It’s more naive. These people have an impulse to show mercy to sinners. What they lack is an understanding of abuse dynamics and an understanding of how deep seated paraphilias such as voyeurism (Moore) are. They also have a low view of sin and repentance that just says to victims “forgive and move on” and shows little empathy for them.
Of course, at some point people need to get over being naive. Chandler, for instance, has shown such poor judgment with this and with the Hinkley situation and Acts 29 that somebody should really tell him that, at minimum, he needs to leave the ministry for a year and get some actual training on how to deal with stuff properly. But no one is going to force him to do that.
The only way this stuff stops is for people to stop showing up whenever these guys move on and start something new.
Just like the definition of “free speech” is really in the hands of the US Supreme Court! One could argue that if SCOTUS went “to far”, the people could pass a Constitutional Amendment, but we know how hard that is….
With respect to Cedarville, I much prefer “principles” that ask guide toward material and behavior that builds people up, helps them be more Christ like…
Having attended a school that had “rules” just as restrictive as Cedarville ( one could argue even more restrictive), it all become a “game”…. how close can you get, without breaking the rules….
Alternatively, asking does this xxx help you become a better follower of Christ can completely change the discussion…
I wouldn’t compare classical physics to eugenics. Classical physics is still taught and used because it works well enough except at the extremes (e.g., very fast or very small). Unless by “classical” you meant the physics of Aristotle and Ptolemy.
As you pointed out, academic freedom is necessary to allow the challenging of old ideas and the proposing and testing of new.
Do you reckon all CU administration and faculty follow the rules themselves … or are the restrictions designed only for students to control them by manipulation, intimidation and domination? Only the Holy Spirit can control the flesh, not rules and regulations … the emphasis in this regard at CU and other Christian universities is focused on the wrong power.
Todd, in case you didn’t notice other comments on the thread, Cedarville does have a student named Storm Veilleux. It would be quite intriguing if Dr. White impersonated him.
Talk about knowing someone from Adam and ad hominem attacks.
Take your own advice maybe?
Yup… I agree… book of Romans discusses the limits of “Laws”….. it took me many years to be “away” from legalist “religious rules/laws” to see how destructive they are. I have seen discussed on TWW how, for example, 9 Marks approach is going right back to OT system.
Storm’s account is still active, although he has not seen fit to reply to us under that name since his initial drive-by. This morning Storm retweeted a pastor named Josh Buice, who quoted the following:
Conscience which should have been the sinner’s curb here on earth becomes the sinner’s whip that will lash his soul in hell. That which was the seat and center of all guilt now becomes the seat and center of all torment. —John Flavel
You are correct in the analogy breaks down ( between Eugenics and quantum mechanics) once the old way of “thinking” changed…. however, leading up the “change”, classical mechanics was supreme, and there was a great deal of opposition to quantum mechanics…..
And, the fact that the Supreme Court of US supported Eugenics shows how “accepted” it became….. one could also argue that strains of Eugenics still are present…. but, this discussion could quickly degenerate into politics, and violate the Prime directive!!
No doubt about it. The New Calvinists talk a lot about grace-this and grace-that, but their religious system boils out to a bunch of jots and tittles of law. Their version of “grace” is not Grace at all. In their pursuit of law, they miss life.
Did you ever read about the desert fathers? What was their church?
Allow me to quote one of your previous comments, under the 23 April TWW post:
“Do your pastors allow impenitent adulterers to take the sacrament? Do they let child abusers work with children? If not, then they are engaging in discipline.”
Here you show faith in mind reading, for how else could anyone determine impenitence? And, by the way, denying someone Communion is a form of public shaming.
Here you equate adultery with child abuse.
Here you confuse the prevention of child abuse with church discipline. No. It’s proper screening and hiring, vigilance, mandatory reporting of crime, accountability to families, and skilled care for survivors. You are foolish if you think that churchy amateurs can discipline child abusers into behaving correctly.
You never, ever seem to take on board that this is a blog about abuse, and that many of us have been abused in the church—financially, emotionally, spiritually, sexually. Name a form of abuse, and it has happened in church to someone who posts here.
If you want to show that you have empathy, start by noting where you are.
As HUG would say, the most egregious ‘sins’ in fundagelicalism are pelvic issues and their derivatives.
And it’s not just the neo-calvinist camp, the same holds true in say, the Calvary Chapel cult and its clones.
The eugenics movement was embraced by many Christians, although many found it repulsive. “Christianity and Eugenics: The Place of Religion in the British Eugenics Education Society and the American Eugenics Society, c.1907–1940,” by Graham J. Baker, contains this:
“Henry Fairfield Osborn, who had secured the American Museum of Natural History as the venue of the 1921 Congress [of the Eugenics Education Society], wrote to Leonard Darwin of the EES less than three months after the Congress to state:
“I have the best possible news for you, namely, the hearty endorsement of the Eugenics Congress by the leading Roman Catholic prelate in America, Archbishop Hayes of the Diocese of New York. … On every side there is evidence that the eugenics propaganda has taken a firm root in this country. For the first time people understand what we are driving at and sympathize with the movement. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4001825/
Combining thots from several recent posts here and elsewhere.
This event shows why the debate on the meaning of the gospel is so important. Unable to appreciate and embrace the full scope and resources of the gospel story from creation to new creation, one is reduced to a “gospel of sin management” as originally tagged by Dallas Willard.
The BCC quoted above is classic sin management. Sin management requires a sin manager, which seems to be the dominant role Dr. White has assumed for himself, instead of leading the university forward as president under the power and freedom of the Spirit of Grace.
The sin manager has many responsibilities. The manager must first define the sin, then construct the boundaries. The manager is self compelled to “shepherd” his or her flock – that is, manage their sin – in order to reflect God’s glory. Eventually this all leads to authoritarianism.
The problem of course is the authoritarian sin manager is also infected with Sin. And while the sin manager is working so hard to manage everyone’s sin, his or her own infection of Sin slowly overtakes and sickens the sin manager. The fall can be hard.
The sadness here is we strive so hard to avoid displeasing God, when all the time that through Christ God is already at peace with us. He bids us come and be healed, and take on His easy yoke. A rich understanding of the gospel leads us to turn our backs on the power of Sin to face Jesus for healing and the offer of virtue, fruit, and gifts of the Spirit. A rich understanding of the gospel lets us know there are other wise people filled and guided by the Spirit to help us. There is strength that way, and we can live forward in peace, abundant life, and sometimes even joy. We learn and experience that God really does love us.
I say this as a recovering failed sin manager dragging nearly seven decades of baggage. Thank God for His mercy and grace.
Well, the Nicene Creed itself says nothing about joining a church. It does not appear to be a central theme to the framers of the creed.
I do see the thinking about lack of reading ability and lack of books, and the need to be exposed to scripture by those who could read scripture in past ages. However, we do not live in those times. We all have access to scripture by book or audio, and fellowship with believers is not a difficult thing in this age. The need for large groups with authorities to keep them in line can be quite overrated.
This ten times.
Piper seems to lean towards these ‘sins’ above all others. It makes me wonder why it is so.
“Currently, there’s a petition with more than 1,000 signatures, calling on Cedarville to fire White.”
Looks like the predator was still preying (and NOT following his ‘restoration’ plan)…
Wow, what a surprise! (sarc)
I didn’t originate the term “Pelvic Issues”.
I picked it up from a comment on one of these blogs.
But it’s such a good term.
The ManaGAWD’s own Pelvic Issues breaking the surface.
Like Deep Throat Driscoll and both ends of the alimentary canal.
Dee already had to shut down one thread this week because its DNA had been taken over by the ROBERT-20 virus…
“With few exceptions, university professors are overwhelmingly leftist politically”
i think the median point of centrism been moved to the right.
“Muff Potter: As HUG would say, the most egregious ‘sins’ in fundagelicalism are pelvic issues and their derivatives.”
“Piper seems to lean towards these ‘sins’ above all others. It makes me wonder why it is so.”
i think one can get horny over a preoccupation on sexual rules. and being the rules guru gives the person mental sexual prowess.
(after all, sexuality is many times more mental than it is physical. it’s mundane as a sneeze without imagination)
The Cedarville I knew, loved, graduated from, and supported financially is gone. It has been taken over by strangers. Strangers even to our beloved Bible…
with their false interpretations of God’s Word.
Amen. You have hit the nail on the head!
I watched Thomas White’s chapel sermon linked earlier in this thread and was slightly at a loss as to how to categorise his approach beyond sensing that there was a lot of himself in the dynamic of the sermon – he came across as self-deferential, pompous, proud, controlling. Now I see clearly that he was preaching sin management, which is not the gospel at all – in fact it is an anti-gospel.
Thanks. I had not noticed that.
Well, you can measure penitence by the fact that an adulterer stops committing adultery.
And I’m not equating abuse and adultery. I’m pointing out that you are railing against church discipline. But if you are going to do that, you simply can’t whine about churches that allow adulterers, child abusers, spiritual abusers in the pulpit. Church discipline is one of the necessary means of dealing with it.
Yes, I recognize what this blog is. But some of you commenters are never going to be agents of positive change by sitting around and whining about stuff and saying that Jesus gives a pass to forever stay away from church simply because you’ve been hurt by the church. I would think that you would want to try and convince people in 9Marks circles that maybe they’re being too legalistic. That ain’t gonna happen if you reject church discipline. I’d love to be able to recommend to people in my circles that they visit this blog. I can’t if all the commenters are going on and on and on about the mean old Calvinists and their church discipline.
And I’ll note that Dee has said she is in favor of church discipline rightly and fairly administered to both pastor and congregants for significant offenses.
Ken F (aka Tweed),
The desert fathers didn’t write the creed, though Athanasius was rather enamored of Anthony. I wouldn’t look to them as models myself, but even so, I think my point still stands. The desert fathers are something extraordinary, and the framers of the creed didn’t expect most people to go out in the desert. It was a spiritual ideal.
When the people commenting that membership in the church is not ordinarily expected/required go out in the desert themselves, live in caves and on pillars, then we can talk.
Agreed. I think the problem at CU (one among many problems) is that the principles just aren’t clearly communicated and haphazardly enforced.
Looks like we are headed for a re-run…
Ken F (aka Tweed),
Nope. I’ll say nothing more about discipline after this. But you asked about the desert fathers. And since you are rather enamored of the EO, why don’t you ask them how possible it is to be saved if you stay out of church and away from the sacraments?
If you want a book that both very good and graphic may I recommend “The book of Genesis” illustrated by R. Crumb.
Sad to hear, jojo. That has happened a lot at Christian universities in America. Another gospel which is not the Gospel at all has taken root in many of them. New Calvinism now rules the roost at SBC-affiliated colleges and seminaries. For 150 years, “whosoever-will-may-come” was the prevailing message of Southern Baptists; that emphasis has diminished as belief and practice trends toward this new strain of Calvinism.
There’s been an outbreak of that in New Calvinist ranks! That behavior comes a LOT on TWW. The first word that comes to mind in describing these characters is “arrogant”, not “Christlike.”
Which new Calvinist denies “whosoever-will-may-come”?
Why do you suppose they headed to the desert?
Cedarville President Thomas White wrote the book (literally) on 9Marksist church discipline!
Dever & Leeman selected White to write the chapter on it in their book on church government.
“Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman have edited a new ecclesiology volume…Thomas White’s chapter is on ‘The Why, How and When of Church Discipline’…He explains the goal of church discipline (restoration)…and also explains how the process is slightly different with disciplining church leaders.”
The Gospel Coalition review:
“such a timely and helpful volume…#1 Book of the Year Award”
Since these folks don’t know how to love as they ought, they beat folks into submission. Their heavy-handed leadership of people is obvious on the countenance of their followers … particularly female believers; you can cut the oppression with a knife when you visit their churches. This will eventually be the Achilles’ heel of the New Calvinist movement. I have never heard anyone refer to the new reformers as a loving bunch … have you?
The problemn is not the old Calvinists. It is the New-Calvinists.
and just last year the fifth ‘9Marks at Cedarville’ conference had as its topic…Church Discipline!
Garrett Kell, former intern of Mark Dever
Brian Davis, former intern of Mark Dever
Greg Gilbert, former intern of Mark Dever
John Henderson, nouthetic counselor
Mark Vroegop, Cedarville trustee & TGC council member
Jeremy Kimble, Cedarville associate professor
To get to the other side?
Is it possible that Dever and Leeman selected Thomas White to write the chapter on church discipline (and restoration) in recognition of his practical experience and deemed ‘success’ in the ‘discipline’ and (more importantly to them) restoration of their friend and former 9 Mark intern Anthony Moore?
Good Lord! If these folks were as passionate about taking the precious name of Jesus to lost sheep as they were about disciplining their caged sheep, the Church of the Living God would be advancing not retreating! The New Calvinists are obsessed with meting out the law to the elect, rather than delivering a message of life for ALL people.
The new reformers earn brownie points with their idols when they practice what the big boys preach. They do what they feel is necessary to gain access to the inner circle … but, when they arrive, they discover Ichabod written over the door.
Agreed. During my 70+ years as a Southern Baptist (I’m “done” now), I worshiped alongside several classical (“old”) Calvinists. I found them to be civil in their discourse and respectful of other expressions of faith. These “New” Calvinists are of a totally different spirit (and it ain’t Holy).
Ken F (aka Tweed),
As I remember from multiple church history classes, it was to fight the devil.
As one who is also “done” with attending a single local congregation, in other words, “a church”, as opposed to “the church” which is the body of Jesus Christ, I am particular sensitive to how often commenters on TWW conflate the two.
As I say to any who ask: I may be done with going to a local church on Sundays and all it’s man-made programmes, but as one who has put my faith in Jesus Christ, continues to follow him, and is living in the ongoing dynamic of God’s love, it is impossible for me to have left the church, as it is Christ who is building his church and who has placed me in it.
My understanding in that the Nicene Creed specifically expresses belief in this one, united, universal church, and not the requirement to regularly attend a local congregation.
No. It was primarily because they could not find a decent local church. More so after Christianity became legal and had too cozy a relationship with the state. If your answer is correct, can you explain why they thought they were not able to fight the devil in their local church? Should they have been disciplined for leaving their local churches?
Ken F (aka Tweed),
I think it’s a both/and. This article notes that Anthony went out, in part, to fight the devil.
As far as whether they should have been disciplined, it depends on why they left. If it was because the clergy was thoroughly corrupt and there were no other options, then no. If it’s because they thought God demands strict asceticism and they were upset that the church wasn’t practicing it, then yes.
I’m not saying that there is never a reason to leave a church or that everyone who leaves a church should be disciplined. If you come to disagree with a church’s doctrine and want to leave, then do so peaceably. The leaders have no authority or reason to put you under discipline. They might say they disagree with you, but they don’t have a right to demand you go to another 9Marks church or something like that.
Dr. White defends his “restoration plan” of Anthony Moore on a misinterpretation of James 5:19-20, IMO.
“My brothers, if any of you should wander away from the truth and another should turn him back on to the right path, then the latter may be sure that in turning a man back from his wandering course he has rescued a soul from death, and his loving action will “cover a multitude of sins”.”
Rescuing a soul from death does not imply (and should not mean, IMO) a restoration to ministry. But, as we’ve learned, New Calvinists are always misinterpreting Scripture … indeed, their belief and practice depend on twisting a verse here and there. Likewise, covering up sin is not the same as “cover a multitude of sins.”
There are no examples in the New Testament of a pastor who failed morally being restored to ministry. Forgive him if he repents? Certainly! Restore him to pulpit ministry or leadership at a Christian institution? NO! There are other places in the Body of Christ for him to serve … he disqualified himself from the sacred office of pastor and instruction of young believers.
Especially when they have contact, in this case, with “young men”, and there is now accusation that he wanted to take one of these “young men” on a hunting trip, which is in direct violation of the his “pubically disclosed” “restoration plan”!
Critics of us bloggers say, “why are you dragging this out in the open etc”. I say, because it is disgusting that, “under the use of James 5:19-20 at least one “young man” was placed in a position where Dr. Moore was allowed to ask him to go with him on a “private trip”??? How clueless is this President, Dr. White??? Why was not Dr. Moore immediately removed when the father of this “young man” called Dr. White????
Indeed, the “church” is not always the “Church.” While you can usually find the Church within the church in most places, this is not always the case. Being a church member does not necessarily mean you are a member of the Body of Christ. Going to a church building does not necessarily mean you are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Most churchgoers don’t understand the difference, IMO.
Beautifully put, thanks.
… and he was Assistant Coach of the men’s basketball team! What the heck kind of restoration plan was that?!!
Agreed, except for the rather blanket statement: “New Calvinists are always misinterpreting Scripture”
The problem is severalfold:
1. Too many leaders have a very poor understanding of abuse dynamics and the fact that sexual predators/abusers typically aren’t “curable” entirely of their proclivities on this side of glory.
2. Standards are not evenly applied. Often they are harsher on laypeople than on leaders.
3. Because of a lack of understanding abuse dynamics, too many people cannot understand that there are innocent victims in cases of sexually predatory behavior.
4. There is no ecclesiological solution in independent churches. This is a weakness of Baptist polity. Compare the Tullian situation. He was defrocked and will never be able to minister in the PCA again. I’m not saying the PCA did everything right or does everything right. They screw up too. But they have a means that can be used even if not always used. So do Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, etc.
5. Ordinary Christians are well-meaning people who are too naive and love a good redemption story. We should all love a good redemption story. But restoring fallen leaders who committed significant sins isn’t a good redemption story.
But remember, we are suppose to follow the 9Marks advise for discipling members! This would be comical if VERY serious abuse was not involved… or maybe, when 9Marks “leaders” are involved it is not serious abuse??
I am genuinely interested in your answer to this question. I’d thought to ask it in another post but didn’t, but feel it is appropriate here.
How much effort do you feel a person must go through before they are “excused” (for lack of a better word) from the requirement of institutional church membership?
Just so you have context, I am not a Calvinist, but do lean towards some of their theologies. My husband IS a Calvinist, and we both respect the positions we hold while giving grace toward our differences of opinion. So, I am not Calvinist bashing.
Also, it is not as simple as you paint the picture. We have had two bad experiences at church. One was, I think, simply unhealthy but not crossing the line into abuse. The second was, I think, spiritually abusive. It WAS a 9Marks-style church and we DID try to convince them they were being too legalistic, in what we felt were diplomatic and appropriate ways. (They asked people to submit a feedback form. I responded to their request for feedback with some positives and some negatives.) Instead, church discipline was practiced AGAINST US. So we shook the dust off of our feet, metaphorically speaking.
So, back to my original question. How much effort must one go into before they can be “excused” from an institutional church? Keeping in mind that there are often multiple people in a family who are affected by the decision. We have, for example, a child who is very slow to warm up and has separation anxiety. Going to a different church every few weeks to try it out is extremely difficult for her, which makes it difficult for the rest of us. We have to weigh the cost of her emotional trauma every time we decide whether to spend time looking for a new church.
PS – We’ve returned to a former church that we’d left, in part, because they weren’t Calvinist. After the above experiences, we returned because we knew and trusted senior leadership. However, current leadership has started preaching about “covenant” membership, quoting Dever, and blurring the lines between the gospel (as preached to the thief in the cross and the Ethiopian eunuch, neither of whom we are told attended church) and membership in an institutional church.
Not trying to elicit pity, but simply trying to provide illumination. I am normally a phlegmatic person, but during these sermons my heart starts pounding, and once I had to step out so I could break down in tears in a more private location. And this is after only a MILD brush with spiritual abuse. Can you perhaps understand why the much more horrific experiences that are not uncommon on TWW would make it that much harder for others?
2017 email to trustees, other evidence contradict Cedarville president Thomas White’s whitewash:
Ken F (aka Tweed),
Robert: When you can demonstrate that the framers of the Nicene Creed had a category for Christians who are able but unwilling to join a church, then you can lob your argument and accusations.
Well, the Nicene Creed itself says nothing about joining a church. It does not appear to be a central theme to the framers of the creed.
I do see the thinking about lack of reading ability and lack of books, and the need to be exposed to scripture by those who could read scripture in past ages. However, we do not live in those times. We all have access to scripture by book or audio, and fellowship with believers is not a difficult thing in this age. The need for large groups with authorities to keep them in line can be quite overrated.
I hate to break it to you, but you don’t go to a Christian University. Sure, you study the bible, so I guess you can call it a bible college. But the driving force is far-right, conservative propaganda.
As is noted almost daily on TWW, stealth and deception are modus operandi of New Calvinists. If a YRR church planter will lie their way past a search committee to gain the pulpit in a non-Calvinist church, should we be surprised that a New Calvinist university president would withhold critical information from trustees to benefit the employment of a friend … a friend who “acted in perversion technologically with another person.”? (that’s just a fancy attempt to diminish paraphilia).
Lie to pastor search committees? Withhold information from those you are responsible to? Do New Calvinists justify such behavior for the good of their movement, for protection of key players within their tribe? The heart of the problem with folks who act deceptively is their heart.
It just doesn’t end…. I guess being fully Truthful is not required from our leaders that are all to willing to apply “spiritual discipline” to pew peons……
Oh, good Lord … here you go again … the old Calvinist argument … depends on who “whosoever” is.
Robert, are you Dr. White … trying to distract Wartburgers from the topic at hand?
Even though you criticize others for using ad hominem you seem to use it pretty freely.
I am sure you are aware that the desert fathers were many centuries before the RC-EO schism.
The issue at hand is not survival without sacraments. It is the validity of leaving a local church.
Yes, but even more broad than either/or. There were a lot of reasons, with differing pressures over different times and locations. But the common theme was some kind of dissatisfaction with circumstances in the local church. Why do you suppose these people felt a need to leave their local churches? Why could their local churches not meet their spiritual needs?
It’s only the ones who believe in total depravity.
It is, of course, only the elect, after they have been regenerated.
“Ken F (aka Tweed): Why do you suppose they headed to the desert?
“To get to the other side?”
to hide in a strawberry patch!
If it is the quickest way to get there, would it be a strawberry shortcut?
“It all depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”
— William J Clinton
(Note that this makes perfect sense to a lawyer like Calvin or Clinton – and to nobody else.)
Whenever some crooked ManaGAWD comes under scrutiny on this blog, suddenly all these Defenders of the Faith come out of the woodwork to fanatically defend their REAL god by any means necessary. Like they’ve Taken the Mark in a bad End Times novel.
Rank Hath is Privileges.
Especially when bestowed by Divine Right.
Isn’t stealth and deception also characteristic of a certain ex-Archangel?
(Max, can you provide a reference?)
“But some of you commenters are never going to be agents of positive change by sitting around and whining about stuff and saying that Jesus gives a pass to forever stay away from church simply because you’ve been hurt by the church.”
you have no idea how insulting you have just been.
my productivity went up exponentially when i opted out of the institution. what had been busywork to feed the machine of church became going straight to the need on my own initiative.
you’ve come to have a conversation. we are responding. you ask questions and say things, expecting a response. we do.
and now you turn it against us.
(and you have no idea how polite i have just been)
“I would think that you would want to try and convince people in 9Marks circles that maybe they’re being too legalistic. That ain’t gonna happen if you reject church discipline. I’d love to be able to recommend to people in my circles that they visit this blog. I can’t if all the commenters are going on and on and on about the mean old Calvinists and their church discipline.”
hmmm…. we can’t argue against church discipline unless we ’embrace’ church discipline? not seeing the logic.
church discipline has destroyed lives. truly, i can’t think of a better way to get through to a doctrinehead than to explain to them the consequences of the doctrine they wield in their hands as it hits people.
after all, the one holding the weapon doesn’t know what it feels like. or perhaps they simply don’t care. Principle over people! airtight doctrine, no matter the collateral damage.
well, the collateral damage is speaking. if it even matters at all.
Ken F (aka Tweed),
“If it is the quickest way to get there, would it be a strawberry shortcut?”
well, first i need to know whether it’s with cool-whip, or home-made whipped cream beat stiff with a little sugar and vanilla.
If it’s any comfort, I’m sure people doubted that Rabbi from Nazareth, not to mention certain gentlemen by the names of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, etc., would ever be “agents of positive change.”
Congratulations, you just passed the Wayne Grudem test!
Thank you, Max. Your words are comforting to me.
“He is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44)
“Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14)
*tartly* The framers of the Nicene Creed didn’t have the idea of “church” that you have in your head. They would likely be mystified and/or horrified by the authoritarianism of Calvinism. And if they had thought your version of “church” was so righteous, they would have mentioned it in the Nicene Creed.
For the record: I respect the Nicene Creed as a historical document, but I’m iffy on it as a statement of faith, because it concentrates only on trying to define who God is so as to try and solve a theological argument, and doesn’t spend any time on Jesus and his teachings. But that is Just My Personal Opinion, and I do not believe it affects my assessment of Robert’s thoughts on “church.”
Hmmmm… I’m not sure how I feel about that…
From the article:
I am frankly SICK of the word “winsome.” I read that and I know I am about to be snowed.
Ha, you should have seen what I deleted before posting the supposed ad hominem. 😉
You have mistaken the agony in our hearts about the condition of the church as whining. It’s the burden of the Lord, Robert … He has entrusted us with it.
Muslin, fka Dee Holmes,
The framers of the Nicene Creed had a far more hierarchical understanding of the church than I do. They were all bishops and held to mono-episcopacy. The closest modern church to them in its ecclesiology is the EO.
Ken F (aka Tweed),
Total Depravity does not deny that everyone who is willing may come. Name me a Calvinist who believes that Jesus will refuse anyone who is willing to come.
“Ephraim has joined himself to his idols, so leave him alone.” (Hosea 4:17)
Don’t forget “charismatic personality” … New Calvinism is littered with leaders who have a touch of charisma, a gift of gab, and a gimmick … they are masters at snowing folks … a winsome bunch indeed!
Let me guess…
The only lodging they could find was a single bed, and the “young man”s PJ bottoms and/or equivalent underwear was nowhere to be found when it was time for bed?
(This was the M.O. of a notorious sexual predator in Furry Fandom; sharing a room is a common enough practicw at conventions as to not arouse suspicion.)
Good one! XD
I’ll try to make this short because I’m really not trying to talk about this issue on this thread.
My answer is that there is no one size fits all answer to your question. The circumstances why someone has left a church vary. The number of good churches in close proximity to a person vary (though in most places in America there is a wide selection). I’m using good church to mean the leadership is reasonable and the teaching is basically orthodox. Quality of music, number of programs, etc. are irrelevant to determining if a church is biblical or not. The specific family circumstances vary. And on and on.
I keep using the word “ordinarily” to try and demonstrate that what I am saying is nuanced.
In your situation, it sounds perfectly justifiable to me why you left. Seems to me what you are saying is that “it’s hard for us to find a church right now but we know we need to find one and are doing the best we can.” That’s far different than, “The church hurt me, therefore, Jesus gives me a pass for the rest of my life on finding a church.” Based on the limited information given, if I were in your shoes, I’d probably have my wife attend somewhere by herself for a while and I stay home with the child/children and then switch off. Only after both of us had attended a church for some time and felt like it might be a good fit would I then bring the child into the mix.
I don’t endorse the 9Marks model. I think congregational ecclesiology in general is bad, but a true congregational model is better than one in which the congregation can’t fire the elders.
Maybe I’m just trying (perhaps poorly) to suggest that we not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Maybe I’m really not a mean, unempathetic person after all. 🙂
Probably not, since I think Dr. White should resign. I also think that Chandler, in light of his bungling of three significant cases of sexual abuse involving children and adults, probably has disqualified himself from public ministry permanently.
Ken F (aka Tweed),
Reasons varied. But given the strict asceticism they practiced, one common thread is that they shared a warped understanding of the Christian life that said asceticism is the path to true holiness. The fact that they thought their church wasn’t meeting their spiritual needs doesn’t necessarily mean that it wasn’t. Give me a specific example.
Headless Unicorn Guy,
All Calvinism is attempting to do is explain why some people are willing to come and some aren’t. Whosoever will come is welcome. Jesus won’t turn them away. But why do two children grow up in the same healthy family, attend the same great church, hear the same gospel, and get all the same benefits and then one does not come to Jesus but the other does? Calvinism might have the wrong answer, but that’s the kind of question it is trying to answer.
I don’t see how that’s possible. I checked the book on Amazon — it was published in 2015, well before Moore was even fired from TVC. Haven’t read the chapter that White wrote, but with all the accolades he got from his “gospel buddies”, I’m sure he was convinced that he had discipline and restoration all figured out, and that he’d have no trouble “restoring” Moore.
To me, that verse also has a more generic application:
How successful Sociopaths are masters of camouflage and misdirection.
Good night! I’m tweeting this immediately.
Good assessment. I was told today by a former professor that Dr While is not liked by most of the professors.
Look, Robert, 9 Marx and most churches seem to really screw up church discipline. It is my opinion that it should be rare and only in significant circumstances. But it is rarely, if ever, applied to pastors and elders-just to the pews.
Do I have to do this again? The moment you start *disciplining* a TWW commenter, is the moment when I say this is getting out of hand again. You are now being put into slow moderation.
Also, to say that two children raised in the same house *exactly the same way* and one become a Christian while another does not is silly Every child is born with a personality, a way to view the world, etc. To say they were both in the same house so they should both respond in the same ways. You are incapable of treating your children exactly the same way unless you don’t treat your children as individuals. I had one child who was tough to discipline. I had another who would tear up if I frowned.
I think it must be hard for Calvinists to accept the fact that God may not have chosen any of their children. However, I know Calvinists who believe that their kids will be chosen!
OK-time to stop.
Folks, Robert may not be able to respond to you since I am slowing him down.
Thank you, I appreciate your response. I appreciate you saying that there is no one-size answer to my question, because that is how your responses are coming across, with words such as “whining about stuff and saying that Jesus gives a pass to forever stay away from church simply because you’ve been hurt by the church.” This honestly doesn’t seem very nuanced.
I am not talking about preferences of music style or number of programs, either.. I am, like you, talking about orthodox theology and “reasonable” leadership. As a side note, these two do not always go hand-in-hand, as I’m sure you’re aware from your comment regarding Matt Chandler.
How far is too far to commute weekly (or more often, given that so many churches emphasize small groups)? 40 minutes? An hour? More? What if you don’t have a car and are relying on public transportation?
How many churches must one try and for what period of time before throwing in the towel? 10 churches? 20? 100? Keeping in mind that this is already excluding the ones that become obvious no-goes after viewing their website and perhaps listening to a few sermons.
What if there is reasonable leadership and orthodox theology, but you or a member of your family have a disability that the church cannot accommodate? How much longer must you keep searching for one that does? How important is it that all members of the family be accommodated?
How many weeks/months/years must be spent searching, trying, and finding lacking, before you realize that this whole process is not drawing you into closer relationship with Jesus? How much time must be spent seeking to check off the “church membership” checkbox before you realize your time is better spent in the Word, in study of Christian theologians, in serving at any number of local non-profits, in building relationships with your neighbors/coworkers/family, in more informal gatherings of believers?
I am typing this with a smile. While I appreciate your stamp of approval on my family’s decision to leave our previous church, respectfully, we don’t need it. God has already made perfectly clear, through the medium of leadership’s response to our leaving, that we made the right decision.
I am coming to realize, largely by doing more listening/reading and less talking/typing, that church hurt is rarely “simple.”
How many times must one be hurt by a church before throwing in the towel? Does the magnitude of the individual hurts matter (are some weighted more than others)? How many churches must one be hurt by before throwing in the towel on institutional church in general and leaning instead on Jesus and perhaps more informal gatherings of believers? I mentioned two in my response to you. What if there were more? Would that matter?
I feel another smile coming on. I was not referring to governance style; our previous church was elder-led. It is, however, a member of 9Marks. Actually, both our previous churches are, both the spiritually abusive one and the simply unhealthy one. Elder-led and members of 9Marks, that is. And it turned out that neither had checks and balances in place for leadership, either.
I am glad to hear that you’re not really mean and unempathetic. Perhaps a more careful consideration of word choice would help make this more clear on a more regular basis. It is easy to offend someone you disagree with; my toddler can do that. (No offense 🙂 ) The real challenge is disagreeing with someone and retaining their respect afterwards.
Do you mot understand what every Reformed confession teaches? They all say no one is willing to come until they are regenerated by the Holy Spirit. And all who are regenerated will certainly come. The word game you are playing is with the word “willing.” A Calvinist can rightly say everyone who is willing may come because in their view only the elect will ever become willing, and then only after their wills are changed by the Holy Spirit. Those who have not been chosen will never be willing. This is a word game to get out of the fact that they believe salvation is only ever given to the elect, and the elect were chosen by divine decree in eternity past. Those not chosen have no hope, ever, because there is no way to change the eternal decree.
IMO, that’s part of the problem right there. I do not expect to get “answers” in this lifetime to all the questions we have (and maybe never, but I figure in Heaven those questions likely won’t matter any more).
That is painting with an overly broad brush and it dismisses the complexities of Christian living during those years. If they were that warped they would not have been so incredibly influential in both eastern and western Christianity. I personally believe that many people today who are done with Church but not done with Jesus are following a similar path. You might disagree with the approach, but it is not without historical precedent.
Serving Kids In Japan,
You are quite right. Given the date published (which I should have checked) it’s not possible. Thanks for flagging.
Robert knows exactly what he is doing with word games … he offers the same old stale arguments to defend hyper-Calvinism. It’s a mumbo-jumbo of juggled words, where total depravity really means total inability … no free will to accept Christ is possible in the world of the elect. It’s a strange system of tenets which do not stack up against the whole of Scripture (unless you twist it to fit).
Ken F (aka Tweed),
There is no word game being played. You are correct that Calvinism teaches that no one is willing apart from the grace of God. The simple use of the word “will” in the Bible says nothing about who is willing. It’s simply putting a condition: If you are willing, you may come. the Bible says in many other places that no one is willing apart from grace. In fact, it’s such a pervasive teaching that all orthodox Christian traditions teach that grace must precede one’s choice. Thus you have prevenient grace in non-Calvinist systems. They affirm that no one is willing apart from grace, they just say that God gives enough grace to restore some kind of moral freedom, but not enough to guarantee that one will believe. Calvinism is saying that God’s love is more powerful than an individual’s hatred of or indifference toward God. God gets everyone He wants to save. None of his children are lost.
I’ll also add that the divine decree is unchangeable in every system except Open Theism and process theology. So if God knows who will believe ahead of time through simple foreknowledge, the person who hears the gospel whom God knows won’t believe has no better chance of becoming willing than in the Calvinist system.
The free will you want you do not have as long as God is omniscient.
Ken F (aka Tweed),
It’s a broad brush to be seen, but one can be influential and be warped. Origen was incredibly influential, and he thought the way to holiness was to castrate himself. I’m not casting off the desert fathers as non-Christian, but they aren’t models of piety. Living alone in a cave and starving yourself or climbing on top of a pillar is dramatic, but it’s not the kind of holiness God demands: righteousness, joy, peace in the Holy Ghost.
If we had scores of people going off into the wilderness and starving themselves in order to fight the devil, the fact that people are staying at home today might have a parallel with then. But that’s not what is happening.
Of course you don’t need my permission. I’m just a guy commenting on a blog. 🙂 I was just offering my opinion in hopes of showing that I’m really not cruel. That I really do understand.
Here’s the thing: I have been in the church all my life. I left the church I grew up in because of a narcissist pastor. I have been in leadership and seen other leaders engage in behavior that many would consider abusive emotionally. I have seen leaders and friends fall and leave the ministry over serious sin. I knew Tullian T. personally. We weren’t close friends, but I knew him well enough and was not surprised that he blew up Coral Ridge. I was surprised about all the sexual sin, but I was not surprised that he turned out to be a full-blown narcissist.
I’ve also seen laypeople claim hurt over insignificant things like the choice of music style. I’ve seen laypeople threaten to withhold support because the leadership wasn’t jumping through every single hoop they wanted. I’ve known pastors who were falsely accused of adultery by certifiably crazy parishioners.
The degree to which one is hurt should always be taken into account. If you’ve been hurt by the church, does Jesus understand? Of course he does! No one has been hurt more by the church than He has been. The church killed him, for goodness sake. Does someone who has been hurt by the church deserve our compassion and understanding. Of course they do!
But being hurt doesn’t give anyone a license to disobey the Word of God or to encourage others to do the same. Let’s use an example: Say my wife were to betray me and we then get divorced. Would I then have an excuse to believe that every woman is out to get me? Would I have license to be a misogynist? Would I have license to believe that I should shun the company of all women for the rest of my life? Would I have license to believe that you are evil simply because my wife sinned against me? I hope you would say, “Of course not.” You might understand why I feel that way, but at some point you can’t accept it any longer.
In the past I’ve had some discussions about the Billy Graham rule on this blog. People have, rightly I think, criticized people who employ such a rule too strictly because it means assuming that all women are evil and out to seduce the male in question. I’m saying that people who say, “The church might hurt me again, so Jesus gives me a pass” are effectively employing the Billy Graham rule with respect to the institutional church.
Hanging out with Christian friends is a good thing, but it’s not a substitute for the institutional church and formal, corporate worship. Studying theology on your own is good, but its not a substitute. The NT gives us lots of duties that simply can’t be fulfilled apart from the institutional church. Submitting to one another. Obeying your leaders in the Lord, etc. The text about not forsaking the assembly of the brothers in Hebrews 10. It’s talking about formal gathering. Are there extraordinary circumstances in which someone might not be in a church. Sure. Are there extraordinary circumstances in which someone might need to stay away from the institutional church for a time. Sure.
Dee is being very gracious. I don’t want to talk much more about this. But you asked and Dee approved the comments. I’ll do one more brief response to try and answer some of your other questions.
I agree that church hurt is rarely simple. I’m not proposing a one-size-fits-all solution.
As far as your other questions: magnitude of hurt (some things are more damaging than others), number of churches one is hurt by, etc. all have to be taken into account. All things being equal, the person hurt by 5 churches gets more grace than the person hurt by only one. The woman who was sexually abused by her pastor gets more grace than others.
If you live in Podunk Montana, where the only 3 churches are all led by narcissists, then you get a pass to say, “You know, Jesus really wants me to be in a formal church. But there are no good options at all here. So right now, I just can’t be. I want to be and hope for the day when a new church opens or the leadership changes, but right now I just can’t be.” That’s one thing. But notice that said person isn’t saying, “Jesus is fine if I never darken the door of a church again even if there’s a change here locally.”
I suggest that most Americans, and probably (note the word “probably”) most of the commenters here are not in that situation. If, as Dee does, you live near Raleigh NC, you get a pass by Jesus if things have been just awful and you need to take some time to find a good church or some time for counseling and healing. You don’t get a pass to say “Jesus is fine with me claiming to be a Christian never becoming a part of a formal church again.” Dee said it took her 5 years to find a good church. Fine. It might take a while. There’s just no one-size-fits all answer. But Dee was also visiting churches. If Dee were to tell me that in Raleigh, where there have to be at least a hundred churches in the greater metro area (including Wake Forest), that there are no good churches with reasonably orthodox teaching and reasonably sane leaders, then I would have to start thinking that something is wrong with Dee more than with the churches. The numbers simply don’t add up. But of course, Dee found a church in the end.
I’m a Calvinist and believe the right teaching and application of Calvinist doctrine makes for the healthiest churches. But there are cases where the only good or the best option is a Wesleyan or traditional Arminian church. Are you ready for it—I’d tell you to go there over the Calvinist church run by insane, legalistic, controlling men.
The idea that you can ordinarily lean on Jesus apart from the formal church is not biblical. This isn’t a Calvinist thing. This is something Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheranism, Calvinism, the Baptists, Wesleyans, orthodox Pentecostals all teach. It’s a Christian teaching. I’m not saying anything different than what the greatest theologians in church history have taught. All of those people might be wrong, but I think people are finding my views troubling more because of our current historical context where 21st century individualistic Westerners don’t trust any institutions than because my views are non-biblical.
Disabilities, etc. all have to be taken into account. I’m hard pressed to think of a disability that could not be at all accommodated. But if so, one has to adapt to the situation as best one can on both sides. It may be that the disabled person and/or caregiver can be in formal worship only rarely or not at all. If a church is not willing to make reasonable adaptations to the disabled person, then it’s not a healthy church and you should run away. I’ve been in churches where we’ve accommodated people with Tourette’s syndrome. In fact, the pastor from the pulpit told the congregation that if they ever complained about the presence of the person with the syndrome and his occasional outbursts, then the complainer was sinning.
Transportation issues might put one in a place where it’s hard to attend. But 9 times out of 10, you’re going to call the church and they’ll find a way to get you there. If it’s a church of say 50 or more and they can’t give you a ride or something, then the church isn’t thinking hard enough. Or the members are just lazy and don’t care about you, in which case it’s not a good church.
As far as church involvement, the church has no right to tell you that you are sinning if you aren’t in a small group, or if you aren’t involved in every program. Really the only thing regarding participation is that ordinarily a Christian should be in corporate worship once a week. A church that demands more than that upon pain of discipline is sinning. Leave that church.
And only join a church where the leaders are accountable to someone besides themselves.
Ken F (aka Tweed),
you said the magic word! YES, YES it ’tis my grrrandfather’s private library, and it tis a strawberry shortcut!!
and with home-made whipped cream beat stiff with vanilla and sugar the desert fathers could have teleported there.
The thief on the cross died soon after coming to faith, so that’s extraordinary. Tradition says the Ethiopian Eunuch planted the church in Ethiopia.
But… sounds like you need to leave that church. Or, if it’s possible and the leaders are still reasonable, raise your concerns and ask what is going to be done to prevent abuse. If it’s an elder led church and the elders aren’t accountable to anyone else besides themselves or can’t be fired by the congregation, get out of there as fast as you can.
Where have I defended hyper Calvinism? The Westminster Confession of Faith isn’t hyper-Calvinism. That’s the creed I confess. Hyper Calvinism says such nonsense as if you are elect, you don’t have to believe. It says that because of election, no one needs to preach the gospel. It says that you have to figure out who is elect before you share the gospel. I deny all of that.
Everyone read this
Comments are meant to be a means of discussion. Not a platform for the Harvard Debate Club. Or to contain essays multiple screens long.
They to be used by people to make their point and move on.
This is not happening just now.
Anyone wanting to write essays in their comments here and/or endlessly say the same thing over and over with minor changes, well, we can point you to where you can set up your own blog.
Send us an email via the contacts page and we’ll point you to an option or two.
I don’t believe this is an either/or situation any more than light being either a particle or a wave. Until the reformation, free will was the model in the church with the only notable exception being Augustine. And both RC and EO claim the reformers overstated Augustine’s apparent rejection of it. If we find seemingly unexplainable mysteries with things like quantum theory, it should not surprise us to find at least a few unexplainable things about God and his ways. I think this is especially true of the free will debate.
There was much more community in the desert than you portray. Here ia a good and short example of why people went to tbe desert:
The reasons for many going into the desert are very close to the reasons many today depart modern forms of church.
I have no sweet tooth. But if I have to eat sweets I want them real. Butter, not margarine. Lard, not shortening. Real cream, not whipped and flavored plastic.
Ken F (aka Tweed),
This is simply not true. Thomas Aquinas taught unconditional election.
But in any case, if God knew we would be having this discussion today, it is impossible that we not have it today. The kind of free will you want, you do not have if you believe in divine omniscience.
Ken F (aka Tweed),
Sure there was community in some places. But there was an awful lot of strict asceticism, vows of poverty, etc. That’s not what is happening today on any large scale. Monasteries in this country are closing. I don’t know for sure, but I’d be willing to wager that the people commenting here aren’t engaged in any kind of strict asceticism or who have renounced their right to worldly goods. Maybe one or two of them. These communities also formalized themselves into churches for the participants in question.
Ken F (aka Tweed),
I don’t deny free will. I deny libertarian free will. That’s the kind of free will you want. It’s the kind of free will that even God doesn’t have, and God is the freest being of all.
Ken F (aka Tweed),
and i presume real maple syrup. half-&-half in your coffee. cane sugar in your tea. …not die-cut cheese squares wrapped in plastic…
It would be yes except that I put nothing in my coffee or tea. Certainly not the powdered or liquefied plastics that seem popular.
I do my coffee plain fresh ground and black, no cream, no sugar.
Along with it, I like French Baguette, no butter, no jam, no nothin’.
No brie?!? What is the world coming to? (although my wife points out that brie for breakfast is not normal)
Ken F (aka Tweed),
Seriously though, I get off on just the bread.
It makes me think of the Hamotzi (Jewish blessing of bread on Shabbat):
“Blessed are you, Lord our God, ruler of the universe who brings forth bread from the earth.”
Today he published an article on 9Marks about how hard this virus is on pastors:
it appears the root of our disagreement is you believe it is a binary either/or issue while I do not.
The young reformers are not burning out – they are freaking out because the coffee shops are closed.
Do you have a good example of a text where he denies human free will in salvation. I have not studied Aquinas.
Can anyone answer some questions for me?
I shared Justice Collective’s post with a commenter on a different site. He said the following about the Higher Learning Commission:
Does anyone know what that’s about?
Also, he said that the HLC “doesn’t issue mandates”, pointing to the following link as proof. It’s true enough that this page doesn’t seem to mention the word “mandate”, but I’m sure the commission has criteria for accreditation. I suspect he’s just playing word games, but does anyone think he has a valid point here?
Serving Kids in Japan,
It has to do with whether HLC was too loose in accrediting some for-profit schools. There is some info on the wikipedia page on the HLC with links to some sources. This doesn’t seem directly relevant to the issue at hand since Cleveland isn’t a for-profit school.
As for mandates, I certainly found mention of HLC issuing mandates when I searched their website and certainly items that were equivalent in nature. You can see the list of schools on probation at https://www.hlcommission.org/Student-Resources/public-disclosure-notices.html
Maybe the reason you have difficutlty with dialogue here is you assume more than what people are writing. In this case I never stated what kind of free will I want. Rather, I expressed my doubts about Calvinistic limits on it, I noted the insistence on free will in early Christianity, and I suggested that it is not a binary either/or issue. I never mentioned libertarian free will. What did I write that led you to conclude I did?