(Update)Providence Presbyterian Church (PCA) Excommunicated a Former Member From the Entire Church of Jesus Christ for *Contumacy*

The Godzilla Galaxy-Hubble

“To put it a little crudely, these days nobody is afraid of excommunication. If they decide they don’t want to be Catholic anymore and want to become Episcopalians or Hindus, they just do it. The churches no longer have the disciplinary powers to keep their followers in check. That means that they have to accept much more feeding up from below than they had to in the past.” –Ninian Smart


Updated: Pastor Vince Wood contacted me. He is a most pleasant man who expressed profound concern for abuse. He said he followed the wording that is part of the church order when he excommunicated Brad from the church of Jesus Christ, etc. I countered that, even if that is the case, he should not have written it. Maybe it is about time that their leaders review faulty wording. He wanted me to be sure I understood that Becki was not excommunicated, just Brad.he also wanted me to be aware that Brad’s apology was *not as presented.*  I said that he should have been glad that Brad decided to leave the church. I reiterated that I was NOT defending Brad’s point of view. I disagree with him on that matter. That was not the point of the post. I was discussing my concern over unnecessary church discipline. To quote Frozen, “Let it go.”


Definitions:

Theonomy: From Theopedia: ” Theonomy is a view of Christian ethics associated with Christian Reconstructionism, most noted for its attempts to show how the ethical standards of the Old Testament are applicable to modern society, including the Standing Laws of the Old Testament, as well as its general ethical principles.: Think Christian Reconstructionism

Contumacy:  From Dictionary.com: stubborn perverseness or rebelliousness; willful and obstinate resistance or disobedience to authority.


This is an important post regarding how poorly church discipline is applied. I rarely have access to so many *certified* letters.

Recently, I said to” Becky Schmehl, “I have something I need to tell you before I post the story of the excommunication of your husband, Brad, from Providence Presbyterian Church. ” She said something along the lines of, “Don’t worry, our pastor told us about your disagreements with Doug Wilson. It’s still OK for you to write our story.” Brad and Becky are now members of a CREC church (Communion of Reformed Churches), a group of churches most commonly associated with Doug Wilson. As readers of this blog know, I am no fan of Doug Wilson.

I am also not a theonomist. I have no problem with people sending kids to public schools. However, I take this view on disagreements within the faith.

In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” Augustine

How Providence Presbyterian Church dealt with an outspoken theonomist who disagrees with public schooling.

I support anyone who has been poorly treated by their church. In this case, that church was Providence Presbyterian Church, a PCA in York, PA. There are many details that are interesting in this story. In this case, the final statement from the church is breath-taking in its scope.

Brad and Becky have been more than honest regarding Brad’s behavior. Brad really, really disagrees with public schooling. The pastor of the PCA church supported public schooling. Brad chose to share his strong beliefs with a number of people within the church. He admits to the fact that he probably miffed some folks. He also spoke out against John MacArthur’s “anti-theonomic* beliefs. Apparently, the church really likes John MacArthur. You can imagine how that worked out.

Here is part of a letter from the pastor of the church to Brad.

You wrote to a member of PPC, “I believe that the conflict of viewpoints within the church regarding public education is an ethical dividing line that separates those who are fully committed to obey God from those who have compromised biblical ethics.” In this you imply that Al, and all members of the session of PPC who do not believe that public education is sinful are not “fully committed to obey God.” In this accusation, you are charging Al, and the elders of PPC who disagree with you of heresy and moral failure. Such an accusation is slanderous.

Such actions are factious and must cease. You are disturbing the peace and purity of this church by promoting a view of Scripture that is not held in the PCA and by condemning those who disagree with you. This must cease immediately.

So as your pastor I invite you to be cautious in your words, brother, to be clear, this email is an act of pastoral discipline (BCO 27-1).(The BCO stands for the Book of Church Order)

…Remember, you can continue to disagree with those who do not hold your theonomic views. The error is in using your views as the standard of orthodoxy in opposition to the PCA and in condemning those who do not agree with you.

This letter was sent by Dr. Vince Wood, the Senior pastor. He would go on to ask that Brad not discuss his views on Facebook or with his Fellowship group since a few church members complained. So pastors now believe that they get to control the Facebooks of members…

Brad apologized.

In bold letters the pastor wrote:

As your pastor, I accept your apology. I am willing to consider the matter done. I would like to help you learn how to maintain your views within the context of the PCA and PPC.

Becky told me the following:

At this point Brad’s apology was accepted, on the condition he did not email members about theonomy or mention PPC in Facebook posts. He did not do either of those things. He continued to post articles from Reform authors and…. On July 25th , 2019.Brad posted this to Facebook and someone from PPC decided to engage him in debate. Brad did not violate his word, this is a public forum and she started the exchange, not Brad.

…(From the church member who asked the question) I apologize Brad I didn’t know you didn’t have any kids. There was no ill intent with my question. I’m going to stop participating in this discussion.

So Brad answered her utilizing an article that he had. The woman asked him a couple of questions and then ended the conversation in what appeared to be in a pleasant manner. She was a member of the church but Brad and Becky do not think she complained about the exchange. Another person saw the exchange and went to the pastor.

The church started an investigation.

Pastor Wood said:

I have noted that your level of posting on Facebook has risen recently. Your posts have been critical of the PCA and public education. The tone of these posts has been condemnatory and combative. Recently when a member of PPC posted a disagreement—partly because your post condemned her husband a retired public school educator—youchose to press your condemnation by attaching another article by Voddie Buchanan.

…To send this to a woman whose husband gave his life work to such work is wrong

Wood continued…

Therefore, I am immediately referring this matter to the session of PPC to investigate your actions. The Session will demand of your “satisfactory explanation “concerning reports affecting your Christian character.”

…I have sought to gently warn you of the error of your ways while protecting your right of private convictions. You have sought to disregard these warnings, viewing them as threats rather than counsel from your pastor. Your disregard for these warnings has allowed you to continue the factious behavior.

The church sought to control Brad’s Facebook conversations which bothers me.

They accuse Brad of deliberately engaging in a conversation on Facebook with the PPC member. This is the member who asked him a question which he answered. This seems to be a game of *gotcha.* It appears the church is saying that Brad can no longer truthfully answer legitimate questions on his own Facebook page. Although I disagree with Brad’s theonomy, I object to this interference by the church. Good night! Brad is not advising a member to do something illegal or immoral. He is simply stating his point of view.

July 25-26, Brad responded to a PPC member (Nancy Reath) who disagreed with another condemnatory post and he attached a Theonomic article to persuade her. The position held by the author is not consistent with the PCA. Brad has once again chosen to “proselytize” a PPC member to his theonomy thereby continuing his divisive practice. I am therefore moving forwardwith the action stated in the “Pastoral Rebuke” and forwarding the case to the Session of PPC to investigate this reportaffecting his Christian character as per BCO 29-1, 31-2.

Brad, it is not too late. Even now I urge you to repent of your divisiveness.

In Jesus, Dr. Vince Wood

Brad and Becky notified the church that they were resigning and seeking another church which is a logical move.

But logic does not apply to churches who get mad when members leave. It would seem to me that the church would be relieved that they were leaving. They got the message. Their beliefs would not be tolerated. Problem solved on both sides, right? Wrong.

Once we realized that we could not grow or thrive within a church that wished to “Control” God’s Word, our speech and our convictions, we told them we wereleaving. They continually said Brad was not under formal church discipline until we said we were leaving.

The church responded by sending a certified letter which Brad and Becky ignored. Becky and I discussed the legalities of certified mail. I explained to them that they should read the letter since they might be responsible for something that is in the letter.

They also found a church that more fit their beliefs and asked to have their membership transferred to the new church.

Guess what happened? That’s right. They were placed under retroactive church discipline.

I am coming to the conclusion that some churches just love to do church discipline, especially when they find out they are losing control of people.

Brad sent out this well thought out response.

He reiterated that he had left the church and told them he would not be attending any meeting. I advise people not to attend any meeting of a church after they have officially left the church. The law clearly states that one can leave a church at ANY time, a fact that controlling churches choose to overlook.


A second certified letter was sent to Brad.

The church sent a second certified letter, basically reiterating what was in the first certified letter. Since Brad didn’t show up at the August meeting, they set up a second meeting for the end of September.

Brad attended the meeting at the request of his new pastor and read a letter of apology.

Becky told me that their new pastor asked Brad to go to one of the meetings and give them an apology for whatever he could apologize for (for being pushy). Because Pastor Gregg is Brad’s pastor, Brad complied and did as Pastor Gregg asked, because he does respect actual church authority.

Here is the apology that Brad read:

I have been asked to provide this session with “satisfactory explanation concerning reports affecting my Christian character”. I am told that the sessionwill address those actions of mine which constitute “factious” behavior. As I do not yet know how the session intends to define “factiousness”, it is my intent to limit my remarks to those aspects of my behavior pertaining to my Christian character for which I am to give account.

I am a man who holds to my convictions with a great deal of intensity. I argue my position passionately at times, and at times I am perceived to be quite pushy. Iam told that I am a person who speaks inadvisedly at times, and that my rhetoric needs to be toned down. I do not deny any of this. I admit that I am a work in progress, with many remaining faults and imperfections, and that I am utterly dependent upon God’s grace and that I require the assistance of my brethren in pointing out changes to my behavior that need to be made.

Some members of Providence who may have have been hurt or offended by the way that I have communicated or by my remarks have received apologies from me. Others, perhaps some on this session, may be awaiting an apology from me.

And so, if I have offended against God’s standards of behavior or speech, and you have been victimized by the way Ihave done so, then please allow me to tender my sincere apologies and ask your forgiveness.

Al and Patricia, It has been brought to my attention that, in my previous interactions with you, I may have failed to show you love and respect in the waythat I addressed your positions on issues where we disagree. If this is the case, then I wish to tender my sincerest apologies, andask your forgiveness. Thanks in advance for your consideration.

Very respectfully,
Brad Schmehl

He then quoted from Doug Wilson’s A Justice Primer. Some session members stated that they were pleased he took the time to read the quoted section. However, apparently Pastor Wood was less than impressed.

Becky described what happened next. This is why I advise people not to attend such meetings. They are a *no win* proposition.

Then the following occurred.

Brad was then sent out of the room for 40 minutes and and called back in, Vince shoved a paper across the table at Brad and want him to answer for all his “sins”. Everything of which he was forgiven, some of them twice now. They began to pepper him with questions and by the advice of Pastor Gregg, he told them he was not going to answer any more questions, his apology was self explanatory. They continued to badger him and he said he was leaving. Brad had a final shot at Vince, Brad pointed at him and said “You lied to Becky, when you told her, in the presents of a witness, that if I decided to leave you would not pursue me. Then he left.

The third certified letter was received.

Another certified letter was received, demanding that Brad attend another meeting. Folks, these types of authoritarians never give up.

Becky said:

 “Now he has two more offenses. He is now accused of trying to divide the session by contacting two of the members. Jon and Jay. Joncontacted Brad, Brad did not contact him. He never spoke to Jay and if he had it was going to be about our friendship (we get that the friendship is over now). He did NOTHINGto divide the session (more lies).”

Here is where the word *contumacy* shows up.


Of course, Brad had done all he could and didn’t show up.

Brad was Indicted in the 4th certified letter.

The letter spelled out everything that proved that Brad was *factious.*  The letter is quite lengthy and I find some problems with the letter. I will post just a few items.

  • There is no acknowledgment of Brad’s apology.
  • They assume that Brad was trying to create a division by contacting his old friend John Burke and Jay Hassinger.

There is no question in my mind that they were going for the jugular and Brad and Becky needed to stay away from them.

Brad received the 5th and 6th certified letters.

The 5th one told Brad to come to a meeting in December 2019, regarding his indictment. He was to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges. Brad didn’t respond which is the advice I would have given him.

Now the 6th letter is more interesting. Remember, they know that Brad and Becky were attending another church but the leaders couldn’t let go. So, they decided to exclude Brad from receiving the sacraments and said they would tell his current church of their decision. Guess they felt they could control other churches as well.

(Update 8/20/20) Their new church, at first, suspended Brad from communion to give the former pastor the benefit of the doubt. However, the former church refused to send over their report as requested by the new church. Their new church, in another denomination (CREC), responded well by restoring him to communion.

In March 2020, we began communicating and I discussed the need for them to reclaim their rights under US law to freely leave their church

I have been writing extensively on this subject. Many churches, especially of the Calvinista variety, appear to think they own the people who join their church. However, just like they have the right to conduct church affairs as they see fit, they cannot violate individual freedoms provided by the law. In other words, the church has the right to discipline an individual who remains a member of the church. They do not have the right to continue to treat an individual as a member who has resigned their membership. Is PPC’s response to this stupidity or the wish to control people? Is it the *admiral in a rowboat* syndrome?

I referred Brad and Becky to a section on my blog that could be of help. They didn’t realize that they might have the law on their side and the church might be violating constitutionally protected rights of their members. Here is the letter that they wrote to the church in March 2020. I also encouraged them to seek legal advice. Providence Presbyterian Church appeared to be running amock. I strongly advised them to seek legal help.

Here is the  *Cease and Desist* letter that they sent.

Providence Presbyterian Church sent a certified letter in June, excommunicating him from the entire church of Jesus Christ!!!

Brad was convicted of the sin of contumacy and excommunicated. In other words, he was a pain in the dupa (pronounced doopa, a Russian word for your backside.)

  • Be warned, that by evidence of your life, you have been removed from the Church of Jesus Christ
  • Your life has not shown evidence of a lively faith.
  • You are excluded from the Sacraments
  • You have manifested no evidence of repentance

Blah, blah, blah…

My response: Which of the two churches gets to decide  Brad’s membership in the Church of Jesus Christ?

Brad had apologized but that wasn’t enough for Dr. Wood and his team. No, they appeared to want something more. Perhaps they want to be in control of the life of their members. For example, the pastor appeared to want to tell Brad what he can and can’t say on Facebook. The pastor assumed motives in his list of *bad things Brad did.*  I have long believed that we can never assume motives unless we have godlike insight. It is quite dangerous when a pastor or church leader believes that he has such insights, especially if said pastor has control issues. It’s amazing to me how churches can come up for stupid reasons for church discipline.

I  have had several discussions with the Schmehls. I am no theonomist but there is no question in my mind that they are Christians and have quite a lively faith. How very strange for the PCA church to say they are no longer members of the Chruch of Jesus Christ but their current CREC church believes that they are. So what happens when two churches of different denominations disagree over the salvation of individuals? Which one does God listen to?

This is just one more example of a church that applied unBiblical church discipline. This time it’s a PCA church. I believe that the session should apologize to the Schmehls for their stupid actions. But, I doubt they will. Controlling people rarely do.

Comments

(Update)Providence Presbyterian Church (PCA) Excommunicated a Former Member From the Entire Church of Jesus Christ for *Contumacy* — 218 Comments

  1. I cannot wrap my mind around this. The reformed church culture is so controlling. You could replace a few words in these letters and it would sound like the Salem Witch Trials. Maybe I’m naive’, but I could not fathom putting myself under the control of a church like this. It’s not biblical. It’s just power-hungry men running amuck. I answer to Jesus Christ and Him alone.

    Pastor Vince Wood should be strung up by his toenails, tarred & feathered. He’s nothing more than a bully in a pulpit.

  2. I’m searching for words to describe my thoughts/feelings after reading this. What a sad display of spiritual abuse, an ungodly use of church power. Excommunication is an archaic practice, an exercise of the Middle Ages, an unloving form of discipline, an awful display of Law not Life. Yep, when I read stuff like this, I want to be more contumacious than I was before!

  3. Ugh.
    This reminds me of my husband’s grandmother’s obituary. The first day it said “_________ went to be with her Lord”. The second day? One of her daughters had that line removed.
    This post makes me sad.
    Jesus is my authority. His law is love. Thank you for posting this Dee. May it help many who get caught up in this deception.

  4. Beware the church that won’t let an attending participant go peacefully on their merry way. WARNING.

    Anyone else remember swimming in a lake as a kid then emerging on the beach only to find leeches sucking your blood, clinging to your ankles? Walk away and the parasites yet have their vampire jaws or vultures’ talons in you, never to let go.

    Looking for a friend …

  5. The formula for peace doesn’t work well if people can’t agree on the boundary between “essential” and “non-essential” teachings.

    Mr S appears to think that theonomy is a necessary consequence of the teachings of Scripture, and an
    “essential” worth contending for. It may be that what was essential for the Session of PPC in this situation was to maintain control over the teaching that was being received by the lay members of the congregation. In conservative Presby churches, “teaching” is the central function of the Elders, so I would imagine that advocacy of unapproved views would have been alarming. Mr S may have been perceived to threaten the supremacy of the formal church teaching office through his communications. A divergent teaching could threaten the good order of a congregation, and that would be alarming to the leaders.

    I sympathize with both sides here in a theoretical sense — they both appear to believe that really important things are at stake. (And I think they’re both wrong about that in this instance, but then both sides would regard me to be a heretic)

    Realistically, if the pastor wanted to shield his congregation from theonomic teachings, he would have had to advise the flock to avoid Mr S’ Facebook posts, a sort of digital shunning without benefit of formal disciplinary process.

    I’ve at times found it advisable, for the sake of not disturbing the theological equilibrium of people who think differently from me, to avoid situations where my views might come into the attention of people who are too fragile to handle them. This eventually leads to relational distance, which can’t be helped.

    It’s definitely better to figure that out early.

  6. Samuel Conner: Mr S may have been perceived to threaten the supremacy of the formal church teaching office through his communications. A divergent teaching could threaten the good order of a congregation, and that would be alarming to the leaders.

    I don’t get the impression that’s what led to the excommunication. I get the impression that him trying to leave was the bigger issue. The elders expected him to not act autonomously. That’s been my experience with New Calvinists, that you are supposed to act more like a robot than a person, particularly if you are a woman. Independent thought is not acceptable, even if you don’t talk about them aloud. But if you do, then you definitely are a threat to them.

    I personally don’t believe churches, or any human on earth, has the ability to excommunicate. I think they usurp God’s authority when they do. I think a lot of New Calvinist leaders want to usurp God’s authority on nearly everything and maybe for that they should be excommunicated. They harm God’s people and they are proud of it.

  7. I think Providence could ask Mr S to not unbalance fellowship groups (guidance), but should have remained completely silent about “facebook”. I think churches – and Christians – should not regard themselves as having any reach in “facebook”. I think that if a “facebook” member misuses the name of his church and / or beliefs in his “facebook” posts it is for other “facebook” members to comment on that as per “facebook” etiquette – and possibly for private individuals to converse (cautiously and proportionately) as private individuals and not in the name of their church.

    Once Mr S had assured the church he was putting his practice with e-mails (to church members) right (guidance), the church should have backed off entirely. I am confused whether the incident under “Brad apologised” is the same as that under “The church started an investigation”, but it appears that in both this case (or cases) and in the case of the other couple the other party contacted him and withdrew peaceably. No church may advise any member not to look at anyone’s “facebook” posts. Generalised moral guidance should refer to principles only. It was Pope Paul VI that started this mania for going onto the media as a substitute for relationships. As for schooling, why not favour a mixture of public and other schooling and leave the matter to parents’ discretion combined with frank advocacy?

    Certainly Providence shouldn’t be nervous about the actual principle of individuals undertaking advocacy, if that’s what Mr S – who doesn’t appear to have been a “megapastor” himself – was trying to do, if occasionally clumsily. The parish one attends is not a proper recruiting ground for one’s views. (I never speak to authority in the name of a religion, only as a citizen.) All of this is BEFORE we get to the totally preposterous “disciplinary” actions. As for sacraments, I abstain but (while saying my moderate piece in appropriate quarters) I have to leave everyone else to their own ideas about those. Mr & Mrs S need to find a church that models real relating. This probably started because they shared Providence’s blurred boundaries as between church and non-church business.

  8. Just a small point- Most scholars don’t believe the quote is Augustine’s! In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity

    Philip Schaff, the distinguished nineteenth-century church historian, calls the saying in our title “the watchword of Christian peacemakers” (History of the Christian Church, vol. 7, p. 650). Often attributed to great theologians such as Augustine, it comes from an otherwise undistinguished German Lutheran theologian of the early seventeenth century, Rupertus Meldenius. The phrase occurs in a tract on Christian unity written (circa 1627) during the Thirty Years War (1618–1648), a bloody time in European history in which religious tensions played a significant role. The saying has found great favor among subsequent writers such as Richard Baxter, and has since been adopted as a motto by the Moravian Church of North America and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Might it serve us well as a motto for every church and for every denomination today?

  9. ishy: I personally don’t believe churches, or any human on earth, has the ability to excommunicate. I think they usurp God’s authority

    Amen!

  10. ishy: I personally don’t believe churches, or any human on earth, has the ability to excommunicate. I think they usurp God’s authority when they do.

    Agreed! Sadly, the authority of Christ is waning in the American church. His influence is becoming less and less. While Jesus still has all authority in Heaven, on earth, and in ‘His’ Church (God gave it to Him), authoritarians have supplanted his rule in much of the organized church in order to control it according to their desires, not God’s will. Thus, mere men have actual authority in many places where ‘they’ decide standards for operation of ‘their’ church and the methods which will be employed to operate it; God has no part in it. Pulpits which do this have to manipulate, intimidate, and dominate followers to keep them in the pew … discipline, shunning, excommunication, etc. are scare tactics to achieve unholy purposes. If/when genuine revival and spiritual awakening once again visit America, the church will be purged of such men … in the meantime, believers need to purge themselves from what these deceivers have built (e.g., Hyper-Calvinism).

  11. Ava Aaronson: Looking for a friend …

    From the words of an old hymn:

    “Jesus knows all about our struggles,
    He will guide till the day is done;
    There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus —
    No, not one! no, not one!”

  12. dee: Join me, one known for contumnaciousness. (Is that a word?)

    It should be!

    You will find “contumacious” in the dictionary: “stubbornly disobedient.” I would say that describes you in a good sort of way, Dee 🙂

  13. The need, the overwhelming, face reddening, blood boiling need, by the church and pastor to get the last word is unbelievable. I read all of that and didn’t see justice, or even control, but EGO…from which the desire to control springs.

    Selfishness. The first sin.

  14. Jackie Newton: I thought that we Baptists were the only nut jobs!

    Oh no! That distinction is shared by a great multitude of American churchgoers in both pulpit and pew! They are not in their right spiritual minds.

  15. Magistos: The need, the overwhelming, face reddening, blood boiling need, by the church and pastor to get the last word is unbelievable.

    “La La La, I can’t hear you!”

  16. dee,

    I agree that allowing the S family to walk away would be the simplest solution. And it’s a shame that didn’t happen long before things got to this point. I’ve come to the view that “kindness” is a lot more important than theological conformity (and I think that both sides in this dispute would disagree with that).

    On the theory that this was about protecting the flock from unapproved teaching, the procedure pursued by the Session might serve to undergird later Session warnings to the flock that the Mr S had violated his membership vows and was out of fellowship with the congregation (and with God, by implication — talk about taking oneself seriously!), and were to be avoided. If you think that really important things are at stake …

    Church discipline is often portrayed by its advocates as being in the true interest of the ones who are under discipline, to restore them to repentance and a right relationship with God. I suspect that it also serves a sort of “sanitary” function in the sense of isolating from the rest of the flock people who are perceived to be a threat to “good order” or “sound teaching”, etc. I think one can see both of these concerns in Paul’s writings (which is not to say that I’m confident Paul would approve of present forms of order or teaching and the measures taken to protect those).

    I can affirm from my own observation that conservative presby church leaders can be really picky and strident about lay advocacy of unapproved views. I also have the impression that theonomy is beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse for many of them.

  17. ANDREW KENNY,

    It dosen’t sound like something from Augustine’s era. I think you’re right. The Church likely was united is his mind, or that of a typical Roman Christian. And for minor disruptions in unity, the Emperor could be petitioned and Counsels called to order. It seems the logical threat to order would be viewed as the Barbaric hordes.

  18. Oops

    We just did an upgrade that surprised me with a note that said “don’t change anything for a bit”. So if you posted a comment in the last hour that’s missing just try again.

  19. In mainline churches, this man’s behavior would not have led to expulsion. My own denomination has a strong principle against asking people to leave.

    Boy oh boy, does this lead to discomfort. Conflict, even. However, good things happen. People are forced to find adult ways of sharing the space and the grace. We are all free to stay or go. Consensus and reconciliation turn out to be harder than imposing a dress code, but I’d rather seek consensus and reconciliation.

    Of course, that’s a problem too. We are too accepting.

  20. Samuel Conner: I’ve come to the view that “kindness” is a lot more important than theological conformity (and I think that both sides in this dispute would disagree with that).

    I’ve come to the same conclusion. Kindness appears to be lacking and I place the blame on the pastor for this. After all, Pastor *Gets His Panties in a Wad* is supposed to be a role model. Isn’t he the one who is supposed to role model maturity? Brad is merely role modeling some of the dudebros who find Calvinism and jump on the bandwagon converting all who will listen.

    In this case, i have spoken with Brad and Becky and am convinced of the sincerity of Brad’s apology. The guy apologized but the pastor wasn’t going to accept it. Dumb and dumber…Pastor Waddy Pants descends into thinking that he is truly capable of declaring Brad excommunicated and no longer a Christian! Good night!

    I place the blame for this nonsense squarely on the shoulders of the 9 Marks boys who have long taught that they hold the key to the kingdom and have the inherent right to declare who is and who isn’t a Christian for all those unfortunate to fall under their *authority.*

  21. Nathan Priddis,

    I always try to link to a source when I use someone else’s words. This is especially tricky with quotes. I do not have the time to research the exact origin Consider this my effort to give someone other than me the credit even if he has been dead for centuries.

  22. Magistos,

    I know some others who agree with you. Ego is involved here. Brad appeared before them to apologize. But that want enough. They had to *do something.* They ended up sounding stupid and mean.

  23. The disciplined persons have recourse in the PCA to appeal this decision to the presbytery and all the way up to the general assembly if they so desire.

  24. Brad was wrong because he was causing division in his church. They should have left much earlier. Churches biblically have a right to discipline. However the church should have dropped it once they left but should tell them not to return.

  25. dee,

    Hello, the phrase first appears in 1617 in an anti-papal tract written by Marco_Antonio_de_Dominis, a Croatian cleric who was declared a heretic by the RCC.
    “Quod si in ipsa radice, hoc est sede, vel potius solio Romani pontificis haec abominationis lues purgaretur et ex communi ecclesiae consilio consensuque auferretur hic metus, depressa scilicet hac petra scandali ac ad normae canonicae iustitiam complanata, haberemus ecclesiae atrium aequabile levigatum ac pulcherrimis sanctuarii gemmis splendidissimum. Omnesque mutuam amplecteremur unitatem in necessariis, in non necessariis libertatem, in omnibus caritatem. Ita sentio, ita opto, ita plane spero, in eo qui est spes nostra et non confundemur. Ita sentio, ita opto, ita plane spero, in eo qui est spes nostrae et non confundemur”.

    Source: Nellen, HJM (1999), “De zinspreuk ‘In necessariis unitas, in non necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas'”, Nederlands archief voor kerkgeschidenis (article), 79 (1): 99–106 (with abstract in English); an article that overturned a century or more of scholarly consensus

    Isn’t Wikipedia great.

  26. I have been a Christian for 35 years. I am more and more understanding Jesus words in Luke 18:8 “When the son of man returns, will he find faith on the earth?”
    Also starting to get the “nones”.

  27. My general critique of using the Old Testament to justify Christian positions is that there is a failure to recognize the first principle of Christ’s sacred mission: “today the law is fulfilled in your hearing.” Or maybe, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

  28. dee,

    Power.
    Power is the scaffold that holds a hierarchy in place.
    Power over another human being as opposed to agency of that other human being.
    The church is not a hierarchy among people. There are responsibilities but never to rule over – Jesus clarified this.

    Beware the leader that clings to you for:
    Power and decimates your agency.
    Money – your livelihood, their grift.
    Sex – and makes you a tool of their vice.

    Leeches are parasites that suck the blood, life, out of their hosts.

  29. “Excommunicated a Former Member From the Entire Church of Jesus Christ”

    It doesn’t get any uglier than this in church. Isn’t that essentially turning a person over to the Devil?! And who grants these characters the authority to eliminate someone from the entire Body of Christ, rather than only their little old church? Can they blot someone’s name out of the Lamb’s Book of Life? This sorry example of church leadership appears to only be satisfied when the individual is totally annihilated. What love is this?

  30. Ken F (aka Tweed): There is a way he could have left with a standing ovation…

    I doubt that when Providence Presbyterian Church leaders leave for other ministry positions, that church members give them a standing ovation for such scary service while they were there.

  31. Max: I doubt that when Providence Presbyterian Church leaders leave for other ministry positions, that church members give them a standing ovation for such scary service while they were there.

    Not even for “organic moments”?

  32. dee:
    Nathan Priddis,

    I always try to link to a source when I use someone else’s words. This is especially tricky with quotes. I do not have the time to research the exact originConsider this my effort to give someone other than me the credit even if he has been dead for centuries.

    There was a plethora of thoughts I had when I read your post. I am personaly familiar with Reconstructionist idealogy. The families I know, would be unlikely to feel comfortable in an Evangelical Church.

    I’m very curious if you sensed that Brad was well versed on what exactly he believed. Could he articulate his understanding of Reconstructionism, or identify its founder as Rousas Rushdooney? PPC would want to get Brad either silenced or out of the building before he affected attendance or donations. The ideology was wildly succesful, but I don’t think the average pastor would want to be named as influenced by it, even if he was.

  33. I have mixed feelings about this mess.

    When our baptist church kept inviting people to leave, my wife and i joined a little Lutheran Church. They were so Christian and Christlike that we joined. Does this mean that we accepted all lutheran doctrine ? No. But noone at the little church would ever know otherwise. We accepted these people as Chritians and they accepted us also.

    When Mr S had this disagreement that he could not let go or advocate for, then He should have quitely left and his church should have wished him god speed

    I personally would not want Mr S at my church. He apparently does not have the abilty to let go of non essential matters. And his church also went into a childish power play.

    Mr S did nothing to be exed from Christ. He just should have been to to find a church where he felt more confortable.

  34. Jeffrey Allen: Mr S did nothing to be exed from Christ. He just should have been to to find a church where he felt more confortable.

    He is pushy, intense, and passionate by his own description. Folks like that sometimes expect the whole church to share their every viewpoint. He has no children, yet came out aggressively against public education. I’m not sure where his comfortable church might be. And yet, his old church should not have excommunicated him. They should have accepted his gracious apology and let him depart in peace.

  35. To answer the question, yes, I have been convicted of contumacy, by another PCA church, Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. My situation is similar in that it involves spritual abuse for the purpose of surpressing free speech. If anyone is interested, I have a blog, tenthpresbyterianchurch.com, which features body camera evidence that the injunctions against me are slanderous and false.

  36. dee:
    Samuel Conner,

    I cannot understand why the church leaders just didn’t let them go. What was accomplished by all of their punishments?

    To prove their power and authority, which simply proves they don’t understand those concepts or to whom they actually belong.

  37. Jeffrey Allen,

    That is the same thing I was thinking. While I agree with what Dee is saying about the pastor of this church, this could have been avoided.

    I will not go into detail here and now, but I am aware of a few circumstances where elders from a church SHOULD HAVE warned the church that the “offender” was attending and they did not. Obviously this should be done in cases of abuse, which this site chronicles so well, but I think an elder team should have the courage and wisdom to reach out with a heads up to the new church and at times they are just happy that it is not their problem any more. Too many people create chaos at one body and go on their merry way to another church.

    That being said, I know that Dee’s focus on this blog is discipline that is botched or over-reaching, which this appears to have been.

  38. There is a “contumacy” story in the Bible where Jesus healed a blind man and church authorities could not get him to recant his testimony … he stubbornly stuck to the facts, not providing what the church rulers wanted … so the Pharisees excommunicated him and Jesus went looking for him.

  39. George: an elder team should have the courage and wisdom to reach out with a heads up to the new church and at times they are just happy that it is not their problem any more.

    Although I think this Mr S was probably quite unpleasant, he deserves to go forth with a clean slate. He committed no crimes.

    How would you feel if you went to a new church, and the pastors and elders already knew the scuttlebutt about you? Let everyone be an adult. Let them greet one another with charity. Maybe that will bring out the best in all.

  40. George: Too many people create chaos at one body and go on their merry way to another church.

    In SBC ranks, we called them “church hoppers” … some of them were bad-boys who just liked to challenge things and make trouble.

    George: Dee’s focus on this blog is discipline that is botched or over-reaching, which this appears to have been

    Indeed. Even bad-boy church hoppers don’t deserve that sort of treatment.

  41. Samuel Conner: Church discipline is often portrayed by its advocates as being in the true interest of the ones who are under discipline, to restore them to repentance and a right relationship with God.

    I’ve only known personally of two formal church discipline situations, at two separate churches. Both were where one spouse “abandoned” another (one was the wife, the other was the husband). To be honest, I’m not really sure what the whole point was. To show public support for the “abandoned” spouse? To publicly shame the offending spouse into repentance and compliance?

    In the first, the offending spouse left the church and the couple is now divorced. The second is too recent to know how it will resolve (or not).

    This isn’t a rhetorical question. Does church discipline actually have a track record of success in bringing people to “repentance and restoration?”

    I guess I see it making more sense in terms of letting people know that someone is a child molester, for example; more protection of others and less restoration of the offender.

  42. Wild Honey: Does church discipline actually have a track record of success in bringing people to “repentance and restoration?”

    IMO, the unspoken goal is a display of authority to keep the pew walking the straight and narrow and never questioning the pulpit. The spiritual welfare of the individual being disciplined is lost in the bigger corporate objective to keep all the pew-peons in line, lest they too be disciplined, shunned, excommunicated or otherwise tormented.

  43. Contumacy: From Dictionary.com: stubborn perverseness or rebelliousness; willful and obstinate resistance or disobedience to authority.

    Figures they’d use an archaic word from Theological Jargon.

  44. Max: IMO, the unspoken goal is a display of authority to keep the pew walking the straight and narrow and never questioning the pulpit.The spiritual welfare of the individual being disciplined is lost in the bigger corporate objective to keep all the pew-peons in line, lest they too be disciplined, shunned, excommunicated or otherwise tormented.

    Make an Example of one and a thousand will fall into line bleating Praise and Adoration of the regime.

  45. dee:
    Samuel Conner,

    I cannot understand why the church leaders just didn’t let them go. What was accomplished by all of their punishments?

    Display of POWER.
    In the Roman Empire, nothing said POWER like violence towards your Inferiors.
    The Roman symbol of the State — the Fasces (source of the term “Fascism”) was a axe for beheading wrapped in a bundle of wooden rods used for beating. Power was Violence. Power was the Power to Punish.

  46. Max: The average churchgoer becomes so open-minded during “organic moments” that their spiritual brains fall out.

    I always read that as “Orgasmic Moments” and get a laugh out of the hidden truth revealed.

  47. Magistos: The need, the overwhelming, face reddening, blood boiling need, by the church and pastor to get the last word is unbelievable.

    Sounds like what you see on too many Internet trolls, comment thread flamewars, and Twitterstorms.

  48. Max: in the meantime, believers need to purge themselves from what these deceivers have built (e.g., Hyper-Calvinism).

    My writing partner (the burned-out country preacher) described Hyper-Calvinism as “Socratic Atheism”. If God only Wills what God hath been Predestined to Will, God is not God. Predestination – blind inexorable Fate – is the REAL God.
    “Whatever Will Be, Will Be.”

  49. Anna: Pastor Vince Wood should be strung up by his toenails, tarred & feathered. He’s nothing more than a bully in a pulpit.

    Then run him into a BIGGER bully and watch him morph into a whimpering sniveling sidekick. “Fear Breeds Respect” works both ways, and there’s always going to be someone bigger and meaner than you.

  50. Samuel Conner: I can affirm from my own observation that conservative presby church leaders can be really picky and strident about lay advocacy of unapproved views. I also have the impression that theonomy is beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse for many of them.

    Yes, and there is more to this story. The PCA has had a lot of grief due to theonomy, and Reconstructionism/Federal Vision, and Gregg Strawbridge was one of the early proponents of FV theology. He’s not just some random CREC pastor. This particular authoritarian theology caused a number of church splits and a lot of turmoil in the denomination over issues much bigger than public school, so I can understand the angst in the session at PPC when someone is actively pressing those kinds of ideas.

    That said, they should have let him resign, I think, though that may not accord with the PCA BCO. Wisdom loses to a legal and legalistic system if the BCO will not permit people who disagree to resign. The whole process just seems way over the top. There were off-ramps that could have been taken by leadership, it seems to me, but they chose escalation, it appears. Does the process drive everything? It appears so.

    I don’t understand why Mr. S did not just join the Strawbridge church when he realized his strong beliefs were out of sync with the Westminster Standards and/or the teaching of the church session and he could not remain reasonably peaceable about it. Maybe they had strong friendships that they wanted to keep and were deeply concerned about the issues. I can see that happening.

    It escapes me how any instance of the visible, local church has the authority to remove anyone from the Church of Jesus Christ. Or how certain leaders think it has. PPC is making “Keys” Leeman seem judicious since he only claims to have the authority to withhold affirmation of someone’s good standing as a Christian, not their actual status. I don’t know if this is typical of the PCA or if PPC is an outlier. That would be interesting to know.

  51. Given all the time and effort that Providence put into this, one would think the church had better ways to invest its time and money. One can only imagine the positive results that would accrue were the same effort applied to a pledge campaign.

    Meanwhile, it sounds to me like Providence itself has a bad case of contumacy. As in folks there have nothing better to do than hyperventilate about Facebook posts.

    PS Sounds like it might be time for a new protest sign. Something about being the contumacer in chief LOL

  52. Ken F (aka Tweed): TGC and other new-calvinist sites have been putting out a steady stream of articles like this one to scare the pew-peons:
    https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/have-you-been-isolated-from-the-herd/

    The subliminal messages in all this are: “If you are not a New Calvinist, you are not of the elect” … “If you do not obey every jot and tittle of New Calvinist law, you are not a member of the Body of Christ” … “If you are not in total submission to church leaders, agreeing with everything they say and do, your soul is in danger of hellfire” … “If you do not regularly attend our church, bringing your tithes and offerings only to us, you are reprobate” … “If you tune into the Christian blogosphere for information – particularly those nasty watchblogs – you will be turned over to Satan” … etc., etc.

  53. Lowlandseer,
    Excommunicating someone for “contumacy”, these elders may as well have been speaking Latin. Prior to this, I’d only heard of one accusation of contumacy. This was the leaders of the Free Church of Scotland (including Iain D Campbell) accusing dissenting ministers of contumacy. The rebellious ministers eventually formed the Free Church if Scotland, Continuing. It illustrates the ultimate futility of most “church discipline”. Anyone can go to another denomination, or found a new one.

  54. Ken F (aka Tweed):
    TGC and other new-calvinist sites have been putting out a steady stream of articles like this one to scare the pew-peons:
    https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/have-you-been-isolated-from-the-herd/

    This is a confused and confusing post. If social creatures use scent and sound to identify Us verses Them, this post does not identify to me as an Us. Random Thoughts:
    -lion image is not explained. But they do eat sheep.
    -topic is herding, but sheep are called flocks. Wrong farm?
    -sin is lurking out. How does gathering on zoom and in person sermons ward away sin?
    -“We think Christianity is the journey of a lone wolf rather than a herd migration,”.. What? Who?
    -“We need to stick with the pack if we want our faith to survive … those of us who choose not to go to church have not understood this.”
    That’s a Wolf Pact correct? Canis Lupis social order involving pack membership and rejection?

  55. Wild Honey,

    They claim that such punishment will lead the person back to Christ when he/she understands the extent of their condemnation. That used to work in cultures where being a communing member of a church mattered. Today, many people don’t really care what a particular church thinks of them .Also, there i wide spread support for those who leave the church within the general culture. Sometimes I wonder if churches do this to make them feel better and to pretend they actually have power over the individual.

  56. Max,

    There is no other form of excommunication than from the whole church of Christ. The only way you could only excommunicate someone from just your own congregation is if you did not regard your own congregation as part of the whole church of Christ. What you really disagree with is excommunication in any form.

  57. George,

    I have a problem with churches not understanding that people come into the membership with all sorts of idea. In this case, they didn’t agree with Brad. However, Brad apologized for involving the church. The church went after his Facebook which is a problem. he then said he would leave and go to another church. The stupid pastor was incensed he wanted to punish Brad. This is all stupid.

  58. dee: Sometimes I wonder if churches do this to make them feel better and to pretend they actually have power over the individual.

    Dust-mop toy dogs yap-yap-yapping “I’M IN CONTROL! I’M IN CONTROL!”

  59. “Your life has not shown evidence of a lively faith.”

    That’s an extremely far-reaching statement for someone to put in a registered letter about someone else. Not only that, but it’s worthwhile to ponder how treating someone as a pagan or tax collector — commensurate with someone adjudged as not showing evidence of a lively faith — works per Matthew 18 (which is referenced in BCO 27 as it relates to “Proper disciplinary principles”).

    As far as the further efforts, Romans 14:4 also came to mind: “ Who are you, judging another’s servant? To the own master he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to uphold him.”

    Also, 1 Thess. 3:14-15 — “And if anyone does not obey our instruction through the letter, take note of this man, not to mix with him, so that he may be ashamed. And yet do not esteem him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” Does their statement comport with this?

  60. Very angering story. Thanks to what we read on your blog, Dee, about not meeting with the leaders of Calvinist churches when you resign your membership, when we quit our church (because of dogmatic Calvinism), we made sure to tell our elders we would not be meeting with them so they shouldn’t try to set up any meetings with us. Thankfully, they never pursued it and let us go peacefully (probably because most of them were good friends who knew us well and respected our decision even if they disagreed with it and couldn’t understand it). So we were one of the “lucky” ones, I guess.

  61. I have several observations on this descent into crazy-calvinista land.

    – Who died and made them Messiah (or God the Father [Jn. 10:28-29])?
    – What’s next, shall we start gathering firewood, Pastor Waddypants?
    – I see Jesus shaking his head, and saying, “Excuse me?”
    – While I get not associating with those you feel you can’t be in fellowship with, but the great commission is about preaching the Gospel (not to be confused with The Gospel™) and not deciding who’s in and who’s out, which is God’s purview (2 Timothy 2:19.)

    I also agree that this pandemic has put many who stand in the pulpit (and their overseers) into a frenzy, because the pew sitters are becoming empowered and are leaving the “sanctioned” pasture for other pastures. I wonder if they ask why? Perhaps if they do, they conjure up an answer that in no way puts them in the position of justifying their ecclesiastic positions and processes but rather blames the sheep for getting out of line.

  62. heather: … when we quit our church (because of dogmatic Calvinism) … they never pursued it and let us go peacefully …

    Surprising! Not even a little shunning when you encounter them at Walmart?!

  63. There’s this from the blogspot of PPC Senior Pastor Vince Wood in light of the church’s efforts and words regarding the faith of a member who evidently sought clear disassociation:

    https://vrwood.blogspot.com/2012/11/love-is-patient.html

    “What I do know is that in my heart, I can usually see a higher standard that people can reach. Most of us have a standard that the people around us have not reached. They shouldn’t gossip as much as they do. They should pray or witness or come to Sunday school more. Our list is seemingly endless. Sadly, our lack of love is expressed by criticizing, chastising, and judging them. We then make our sin worse by assuming our criticism, chastisement and judgments are loving. But in reality, they do not look much like Jesus. We see the rare occasion of Matthew 23, when Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and we make that the standard instead of the exception. We jump up to call people broods of vipers because Jesus did—especially while writing in blogs or on facebook.”

    “People are not where we think they should be, but God is sovereign. He is also active in their lives. Jesus knew what His Father was doing in the life of each person. I need to ask God that more often and then look to see where He is leading them. Maybe I need to rebuke less and prayingly wait more. As I read books that disagree with me, (I worded that carefully for emphasis on my own self-focus), I need to see the good in them instead of the few points where they may err. As politicians and other celebrities fail, I need to pray for them, not point the finger. When a person has a different position, I need to hear them out and understand how they came to their position rather than assume they are ignorant or evil. After all, love is patient.”

  64. More excerpts from the blogspot page of PPC Senior Pastor Vince Wood:

    https://vrwood.blogspot.com/2009/08/what-is-christianity.html

    “I am sad that too often relationship with God has been replaced with a reliance on religious rites.”

    https://vrwood.blogspot.com/2009/07/lies.html

    “I really love me. I look in the mirror and see a man that I can trust. He will look out for my well being. He is kind and gentle, sometimes impatient but that isn’t his heart. He really loves people and wants them to know Jesus.”

    “No man can take my choice to live and my choice to love life. I can choose, regardless of the punishment, to enjoy this magnificent life that God has given me. Therefore I will not be afraid. If God is for me, who can be against me?”

    https://vrwood.blogspot.com/2010/08/religion.html

    “The difference between the sheep and the goats seems to be found in the fact that the sheep have joined the secular and the spiritual in a simple life. The goats, still trapped in their ritualism, seek to get the religious elements of life right.”

    https://vrwood.blogspot.com/2011/10/church.html

    “It seems that we have it a little backwards. On the mission field we are trying to make church more like back home. Back home, church is the goal. We cloister ourselves among Christians at our Christian bookstores, coffee shops, and basketball leagues. The longer someone is a Christian, the fewer non-Christians they have as friends. Christian maturity is often viewed by every moment given to some church activity.”

    “What if we reversed it and tried to make our churches here in America more like churches on the mission field. We would see church as a place in which we are refueled to continue the work of reaching the lost. We would be quick to overlook doctrinal differences in favor of treasuring our mutual love for Jesus.”

    https://vrwood.blogspot.com/2015/09/above-reproach.html

    “The hypocrisy that mirrors the Pharisees is what most disqualifies Tchividjian from office.  The hardness of heart required to carry on an affair while teaching and preaching the Word of God is unfathomable.  Surely, he should be given more time to demonstrate a real change before we ask God’s people to trust him again.. “

    https://vrwood.blogspot.com/2016/10/bonhoeffer.html

    “For some reason, MacLeod felt it necessary to disparage Bonhoeffer.  I cannot see the benefit of his efforts.  He may have noted some of the errors of Bonhoeffer, which is good, but why make up something that is easily disproven?  I am disappointed at the lack of scholarship in his article.  I understand that MacLeod does not want people to “blindly” follow Bonhoeffer.  I agree.  I am opposed to “blindly” following anyone, including Calvin.  To reject all of Bonhoeffer is to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.  Bonhoeffer brings a much needed critique to Cheap Grace—a theological ideology that is running rampant today.  His description of a grace that justifies sin and not the sinner is invaluable today.  His honest effort to follow Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount are essential to be heard today when many teachers over-spiritualize Jesus’ words. I think it behooves us to read Bonhoeffer, compare his words with Sacred Writ, discard the errors and follow the truth he espoused and lived.  His determination to oppose oppression.”

    https://vrwood.blogspot.com/2017/06/a-snapshot-of-pca-general-assembly.html

    “This fight revealed two things to me.  First it appears that to too many men, claiming to adhere to a standard means nothing.  It is harder to allow an external standard to guide our actions than to do what I want to do.  I am sad that so many elders in the PCA do not submit themselves to the confession they profess to uphold.  Secondly, the National partnership seems to operate with a hermeneutic that allows them to interpret the confession or the Bible in any way they wish.  They consistently ignored the clear meaning of a passage in favor of a “faux-sophisticated” interpretation that denies the clear meaning of the text.  This reminded me that I want to be honest with my heart and the text.  When I find a passage of Scripture difficult, may I have the courage to change my heart before I seek to interpret away the meaning of the text.”

    https://vrwood.blogspot.com/2018/06/dear-facebook-friends.html

    “Recently a friend on Facebook posted a Bible verse that, in his opinion, offered some wise counsel for a national controversy.  I watched as well-intentioned friends began to counter the point of the verse without ever expressing an appreciation that the particular verse has some wisdom in this particular controversy—let alone that it is the Word of the Living God which we profess to believe is the “only infallible rule of faith and practice.”  Not once did one of these friends express the slightest regard for the Bible verse, which was offered without comment.  The closest I read was to say, “Yeah, but…”  I don’t think, “Yeah, but” is a wise response to the Word of God.  We should say, “Yes, Lord! How does this direct my life in light of the rest of Scripture?””

         “I offer two observations.  First, some people want to dialog through their Facebook post.  Some people simply want to express their thoughts.  We, as the readers of their posts, should respect their desires for their property (ie. Facebook).  Just as we would not post unwanted campaign signs on their lawn, we should be careful before we trespass onto their Facebook page with potentially unwanted opinions.  When we do trespass, we may find out precisely how much our opinion is valued.”

  65. Anna,

    “Pastor Vince Wood should be strung up by his toenails, tarred & feathered.”
    ++++++++++++

    can i arrange the feathers?

    (or maybe that’s for the Schmehls to do)

  66. The “genius” of the reifying nominaliser Aquinas is to kid us that he is not a reifying nominaliser. Real Presence is surely Consubstantiation: Christ does not obliterate other identities like some Teilhardian Jugganauth. Those who don’t discern the Body should refrain from “sacrificing their gift” until they have recognised their brother. A leader who betrays his congregation members has placed himself outside communion. As in Jeremiah’s time when Josiah was triumphally plugging revived sacraments, I sense it is better for consciences that we adopt realism around them including lack of sentimentality. Is calling “communion” an “ordinance” an exaggeration?

    I now see that at several churches I was at, a number of personalities were slyly trying to get us into theonomy & reconstructionism without explaining. This entire society is totally nominalist and reifying especially since the passing of S J Gould. I believe that the literal referent of a text is always distinct from a range of meanings it is intended to carry: Genesis ch. 1 doesn’t describe either creation or evolution, simply the furthest back anyone remembered.

    Mr S’s forming his own nexus of “authority” vis-a-vis Providence church through “facebook”, ardent follower of Paul VI that he is, seems very Hegelian. Other Providence members didn’t see him (any more than themselves) as an individual and saw him as being of their bloc for better or worse. Churches with the opposite “disciplinary” approach are equally ill equipped for real life. Don’t pastors have (patchy) grapevines for kindly tip-offs? Dee in coaching the Schmehls into specifically asserting their objective non-membership is probably the first person to teach them (and Providence) that they are individuals, a more core point than apparent communicancy.

  67. Samuel Conner,

    “I’ve at times found it advisable, for the sake of not disturbing the theological equilibrium of people who think differently from me, to avoid situations where my views might come into the attention of people who are too fragile to handle them. This eventually leads to relational distance, which can’t be helped.

    It’s definitely better to figure that out early.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    it’s much more productive and much more fun.

    i think humans agree on TONS, and disagree only a few things. Why not focus on the former?

    it does mean giving up the exclusive members only clubs, so there is that.

  68. dee,

    “I cannot understand why the church leaders just didn’t let them go. What was accomplished by all of their punishments?”
    +++++++++++

    something resembling The Lord Of The Flies…

  69. Denise,

    “Brad was wrong because he was causing division in his church.”
    ++++++++++

    not wrong as in ‘sinful’, but perhaps wrong as in skipping the forethought step as to the impact which the statement of his point of view would have on others.

    we all make these kinds of errors regularly. we self-correct, make amends and keep going.

    this is all quite the tempest in a teacup.

  70. elastigirl,

    Good analysis…. clearly the church leaders have “power issues”…. this is not like a soldier willing to attack an enemy! Unfortunately, throughout history, religious leaders turn a job of being a “servant/leader” to a authoritarian leader…. how many people throughout history have been martyred for stupid doctrinal issue?

  71. Anna:
    I cannot wrap my mind around this. The reformed church culture is so controlling. You could replace a few words in these letters and it would sound like the Salem Witch Trials. Maybe I’m naive’, but I could not fathom putting myself under the control of a church like this. It’s not biblical. It’s just power-hungry men running amuck. I answer to Jesus Christ and Him alone.

    Pastor Vince Wood should be strung up by his toenails, tarred & feathered. He’s nothing more than a bully in a pulpit.

    Anna.
    Your dismay at the idea of a church declaring a proffessed Christian to be removed from the salvation afforded in the Body of Christ is understandable.
    However, suggestion of harm to an individual is unacceptable. This is in light of both the current militancy of Conservative Evangelicalism, and the dark history of populist violence.

  72. Perhaps it’s time for the Body of Christ to excommunicate New Calvinism.

    Lex: There is no other form of excommunication than from the whole church of Christ.

    “Excommunication is an institutional act of religious censure used to end or at least regulate the communion of a member of a congregation with other members of the religious institution who are in normal communion with each other.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excommunication

    As I understand this archaic practice, excommunication within Catholicism includes exclusion from all Catholic churches, the whole of the Catholic faith. Within Protestantism, it has been used to remove folks from individual churches and/or denominations without implying elimination from the Body of Christ.

  73. dee: Did you see Julie Roys post? Unbelievable!! https://julieroys.com/falwell-bizarre-video-bikini/

    At most Christian institutions, Falwell would be done. However, from Julie’s post, it appears that LU leadership will give him wiggle room to stay:

    “Baggett says she doubts Liberty’s trustees will remove Falwell because he’s made the school profitable and has amassed a $1.6 billion endowment … They (trustees) have a question being posed to them. ‘What good is it to gain the whole world and lose your soul?’” Baggett said. “And I think they’re pretty much going to say, ‘We’re okay with losing our soul.’”

    Whew! That speaks volumes about the Christian Industrial Complex which allows folks like Falwell to lead.

  74. dee,

    Max: Whew! That speaks volumes about the Christian Industrial Complex which allows folks like Falwell to lead.

    Question: How do these kinds of guys get such high positions in this life?
    Answer: Nice guys finish last. You didn’t know that Muff?

  75. Satin: Prior to this, I’d only heard of one accusation of contumacy. This was the leaders of the Free Church of Scotland (including Iain D Campbell) accusing dissenting ministers of contumacy.

    Considering this was Iain Campbell’s “Kirk”, why does that not surprise me?

  76. Geminale: – What’s next, shall we start gathering firewood, Pastor Waddypants?

    DAMP firewood, like was used on Servetus.

  77. Actions of Covenant Presbyterian Church, STL, MO, regarding minor children and intrusion into the marriages of its members
    Content of CPC tweets, Version 4
    Kent Robinson, Ph.D., MBA
    robinsonk4518@yahoo.com
    314-302-5311

    “digging her fingernails into her thighs during sex”
    The purpose of these posts is to prevent another family from being destroyed by the actions of Covenant Presbyterian Church (CPC), STL, MO. Kelly Robinson, Dir. of Children Min. at CPC, Kent (Kelly’s husband), and her manager, Rev. Laughlin, met on March 3, 2018. From his deposition in June 2020, Rev. Laughlin, remembers that meeting as follows:
    Q. Okay, do you recall – – but do you recall having a conversation with Kent where one of the topics was Kelly digging her fingernails into her thighs during sex?
    I believe that was the meeting with the three of us in March in my office of 2018 that phrase—that topic did come up.

    Kent’s recollection of that meeting was an extremely hostile and accusatory exchange between himself and Rev. Laughlin:
    Rev. Laughlin: “Did you know that the last time you had sex with Kelly she dug her fingernails into her thighs because it was painful?”
    Kent: “How would I know that? This is the first time I’ve heard about it.”
    Rev. Laughlin: “Well if that was my wife I would want to know. Didn’t you see the nail marks on her legs?”
    Kent: “How would I see them, it was dark and under the covers.”
    Rev. Laughlin: “Didn’t you see her legs in the morning?”
    Kent: “I go swimming in the morning, and Kelly is often dressed when I get home.”
    Previously in the marriage when sex had been painful, Kelly would ask Kent to stop and he stopped. Kelly left the marital residence three days after the meeting with Rev. Laughlin. Of Kelly’s leaving, Rev. Laughlin stated, “I supported her decision to do it.”

    “I don’t – – I don’t remember”
    Rev. Laughlin had difficulty remembering if he arranged for Kelly to move into the home of a church member. From his deposition:
    Q. When Kelly left Kent she immediately moved into a home owned by your parishioners and I’m wondering if you had any involvement in her having the arrangements made to move into that home.
    It’s possible. I don’t – – I don’t remember.
    In his nonconfidential interview, Ass. Min. Chris Smith stated that CPC did arrange a house for Kelly to move into.

    The CPC Session grants “Biblical grounds” for divorce
    After leaving, Kelly discovered that she would need the Session’s (the twelve Ruling Elders that act as the church board) approval to get a divorce and still keep her job:
    Q. I understand that at some point Kelly went to the Session and requested Biblical grounds to divorce Kent. Would that be correct?
    A. That’s correct.
    Q. And I understand that the grounds – – that it was granted, right?
    A. Yes.
    Q. On what grounds?
    Q. On the grounds of a category that we often refer to as abandonment.
    Were Rev. Laughlin correct, which he is not, (abandonment was not the reason given by the Commission for granting “Biblical grounds”) it would mean the church could facilitate a spouse leaving their marriage and then grant them “Biblical grounds” for a divorce based on abandonment.

    “Yeah, I’m not trying to be evasive.”
    Q. What would have happened if Kelly had not been granted Biblical grounds for a divorce?
    A. I was actually going to have a hard time answering. I was going to ask you to rephrase it.
    Q. Sure. Let me ask you this. If Kelly had not been granted Biblical grounds to get a divorce but she had gone through with it legally, could she have continued to be a member of the church?
    A. Yeah, I’m not trying to be evasive. I would simply say it depends. I can express to you what the Session’s decision about Biblical grounds presents, and it presents the person with our best judgement as to whether or not their divorce has Biblical grounds. They’re free at that point to do what they want with that information.
    Q. So just because you don’t get Biblical grounds for divorce does not automatically ban you from being a member of the church?
    A. I would say if you – – and it’s a case-by-case basis.

    The Session has “the divine right to dispense church discipline”
    Q. I’ll ask Ryan though. I’ll read it again. Is it a correct definition of the Session, that it’s comprised of ruling elders who believe they are predestined under shepherds of Jesus Christ and have been given the divine right to dispense church discipline, is any part of that accurate to describe a Session?
    A. Did you say divine right under-shepherds? I missed that part?
    Q. Who believe they are predestined under shepherds of Jesus Christ who have been given the divine right to dispense church discipline?
    Yeah, I agree with much of that sentence, but some of it is very confusing which would keep me from agreeing 100% with it.

    The CPC Session spoke to Kelly on multiple occasions to grant her “Biblical grounds”
    July 17, 2018, 9:37 pm Kelly: “So drained. Once again – more thankful for our session coming out of a meeting than I was going in.”
    July 25, 2018, 12:29 pm, Kelly: “Session meeting on Tuesday to decide where to go from here – not avoiding the question…just looking forward to having normal friendship interactions that don’t all revolve around me.”
    August 25, 2018, 12:32 pm, Kelly: “Hope your saturdays are going well. I’m channeling my energy from waiting to hear from the session by nesting and encouraging the girls to join me in a way that would put a 2 week overdue pregnant woman to shame.”

    The Commission formed by the CPC Session consisted of Rev. Smith, and Ruling Elders Theo VanderVelde, MD, and Alan Norman, JD. From their report:
    Page 001, “Determination of CPC Commission. On July 31, 2018, the Session of CPC formed a three-person commission comprised of [the three names are redacted] to determine whether Kelly Robinson has biblical grounds to pursue divorce from her husband Kent.”
    “We interviewed each of the following:
    Lianne Johnson (Kelly’s counselor) and Jonathan Hart (Kent’s counselor) 8/2/2018
    Kelly Robinson ([redacted] facilitating): 8/4/2018
    Oldest Robinson, daughter ([redacted] facilitating): 8/4/2018
    Middle Robinson, daughter ([redacted] facilitating): 8/4/2018
    Youngest Robinson, daughter ([redacted] facilitating): 8/4/2018
    Kent Robinson ([redacted] facilitating): 8/14/2018

    HIPAA violation
    It appears the Commission documented a HIPAA violation. Kent did not give his permission for his counselor Jonathan Hart, of PCA-affiliated Avenues Counseling, to speak with the Commission. It is not known if Jonathan Hart told the Commission of an exchange he had with Kent after a counseling session:
    Jonathan: “You need to read Hosea.”
    Kent: “I have read Hosea. What are you trying to tell me?”
    Jonathan: “Read Hosea.”

    Fear of being interrogated by the Commission on August 4th, created anxiety so severe it caused Kelly involuntary shaking.
    Aug 3, 2018, 5:15 pm Kelly to Kimberly McGuire: “You know me well-just took part of a Xanax because I’m shaking”.

    Going before the Commission to be interrogated caused all the Robinson girls enormous anxiety
    Saturday, Aug 3, 2018, 2:35 pm: “On the back burner – trying to help the girls – esp [daughter] who is super anxious about tomorrow. She said she doesn’t want to talk at all and asked if she can have the questions and write the answers. Chris said he would be okay with that.” Chris still verbally interrogated this child.
    In the five months since when Kelly left on March 6, until August 4, 2018, the two oldest girls were hospitalized on five separate occasions for suicidal depression and anxiety. After the interrogation, there were four additional hospitalizations for a total of nine hospitalizations. Prior to Kelly leaving, no child had been hospitalized.

    Dr. VanderVelde knew about the girls’ hospitalizations and extreme anxiety, but that did not stop him from interrogating sick minors. From his nonconfidential interview, page 49:
    “He stated that [Robinson child A] had been in and out of the hospital and they were careful not to question her to make her situation worse (this is not true, she was interrogated). [Robinson child B] was reportedly apprehensive about talking to them and she was worried about someone getting in trouble. He stated that [Robinson child C] tries desperately to stay out of the middle.”

    The girls’ anxiety is derived from Kelly
    September 14, 2018, Kelly to Kimberly: “Their psychiatrist was telling me that I need to lead by example and assert myself. That if I’m anxious the girls take their cues from me. Defeated.”

    Kent was invited to meet with Smith, Norman, and VanderVelde, but not told the purpose of the meeting on August 14 or that there was an ongoing investigation:
    From: Chris Smith 
Sent: Saturday, August 11, 2018 5:08 PM
    Kent,
    I wanted to see if you were available to meet with a group of guys (myself, Alan Norman, & Theo Vander Velde) from the session on Tuesday (8/14). We are all fairly flexible that day. Is there a time you can meet on Tuesday?
    Let me know when you get a chance.
    Thanks,
    Chris

    We told you not to talk to your wife
    During the Commission’s interrogation of Kent, Smith asked, “Isn’t it true that you texted Kelly sweet nothings when you were told not to communication with Kelly by both Lianne and Ryan?” Part of an email sent from Lianne is shown below:
    From: Lianne Johnson 
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2018 8:49 AM
    Cc: Ryan Laughlin 
Subject: Current Status of Things
    “…You have continued to talk to Kelly about more than just logistics…”

    “I don’t want to come without you”
    Smith also asked Kent, “Have you ever persisted in pursuing sex with Kelly when she wasn’t interested?” To which I answered, “Yes” but said nothing more. The full answer to this massive invasion of privacy is that Kelly would come to bed in her bra and panties. About 70-80% of the time when I would try to initiate sex, Kelly would say, “How about if I just take off my bra and snuggle up to your back? When she was reading texts on her phone, or a book on Kindle, I would initiate foreplay that culminated in me performing oral sex on Kelly. Just prior to climax she would say, “Come up here; I don’t want to come without you” and we would have sexual intercourse.

    Session decisions are transmitted via church gossip at CPC
    The CPC Commission was formed on July 31, 2018, but the decision to grant Kelly “Biblical grounds” for a divorce was made on, or before, August 1, and that decision was transmitted via church gossip to a Robinson daughter at a CPC youth meeting as shown by a text from Kimberly McGuire.

    “there’s going to be a divorce but we have to wait for the session to say it’s okay”
    Aug 2, 2018, Kimberly: “So, Noelle (Kimberly’s daughter) just asked a couple of questions…And in conversation indicated that [Robinson daughter] spoke with Shannon Hathaway (Robinson daughter’s high school youth-group leader at CPC) last night (Aug 1) and told her just about everything that Noelle knew and added some details that Noelle didn’t know. I think a summary statement would be something along the lines of “there’s going to be a divorce but we have to wait for the session to say it’s okay.” My words – not verbatim from Noelle or from [Robinson daughter].”

    The Journey Church in St Louis, MO is reportedly providing “Biblical grounds” for spouses seeking a divorce as well.

    Why did Rev. Laughlin suddenly stop calling Kelly?
    In the twelve months prior to March 1, 2018, there were five phone calls between Kelly and Rev. Laughlin for a total of 51 minutes. In the seven months from March 1, 2018 through Oct 3, 2018, there were 50 phone calls for 10.5 hours. Rev. Laughlin initiated 75% of the calls. The minor children were often aware of Rev. Laughlin’s calls, which Kelly would step outside to take. However, these phone calls, which Rev. Laughlin said were for “pastoral counseling,” suddenly stopped after September 2018.
    From Rev. Laughlin’s deposition:
    Q. The frequency of your telephone calls dropped almost 100% after September 2018. What is the reason for that?
    I don’t know that I can answer that question as to why the volume of calls dropped off.

    Investigation of Rev. Laughlin and Kelly’s actions
    On September 11, 2018 there was a hearing by the Missouri Presbytery that investigated Kent’s assertion that 10.5 hours of phone calls between Kelly and Rev. Laughlin, Kelly and Rev. Laughlin talking in the Three Kings parking lot from 10:00 pm until midnight after drinks in 2017, and Kelly, then age 39, discussing engaging in oral sex with her high school boyfriend, Rob, who is now a minister, in preparation for a sermon by Rev. Laughlin, then age 44, on sexual abuse; were inappropriate and violated commonsense guidelines. Sexual abuse was further discussed at the Tuesday morning staff meeting where one of the staffers admitted they were sexually abused as a child.
    No “impropriety in Pastor Laughlin’s relationship”
    The Missouri Presbytery’s findings were recorded in the Sept 15, 2018 Session minutes: “The committee was convinced that there was not any hint of impropriety in Pastor Laughlin’s relationship to all parties in this matter.” Presiding over the investigation was Rev. Hugh Barlett, Sr. Min. of Chesterfield Presbyterian Church, STL, MO.
    However, Rev. Laughlin announced to the church that he had been cleared of the charge of adultery, not impropriety. The Robinson girls were fully aware of the public comments Rev. Laughlin made about their father.

    Heather Laughlin, Rev. Laughlin’s wife, offered advice to Kelly on getting full custody of Kent and Kelly’s daughters.
    Sep 6, 2018 2:56 pm Heather Laughlin: “Just a thought: are the girls at a stable enough place where you could talk about the importance of them staying in school for your credibility as sole custody parent? “i.e.: they need to stay in school so he has less to use against you…”
    Sep 6, 2018 4:29 pm, Kelly: “I hadn’t thought of this but you are 100% correct. We talked about it and I explained that this is not to be a stressor but if they’re on the fence and maybe could go – this needs to help push them to do so.” At that time, under Kelly’s sole custody, the two oldest Robinson girls were attending school roughly half the time.

    Heather stopped texting Kelly a few weeks after the investigation
    The last text that Kelly and Heather exchanged was on October 3, 2018, coincident when Rev. Laughlin’s phone calls to Kelly stopped, a few weeks after Heather learned the extent of the phone calls between her husband and Kelly during the Presbytery investigation that found there “was not any hint of impropriety”.

    CPC excommunicated Kent
    From his deposition, Rev. Laughlin stated that Kent was not excommunicated:
    Q. At some point was Kent excommunicated from the church?
    Kent has not been excommunicated from the church.
    However, a letter sent to Kent on Oct. 26, 2018 from the Session states: “Having failed to appear a second time has now resulted in the Session finding you guilty of contumacy under BCO 32-6 and requires the Session to immediately suspend you from the sacraments (BCO 33-2).”

    “I did not send that. I did not send…”
    From deposition:
    Q. Did you send a letter to Destiny Church advising them that CPC had excommunicated Kent, and I say excommunicated maybe those aren’t the words, but had dispelled him from the church?
    To the best of my memory, I did not send that. I did not send a correspondence to that effect.
    Q. Do you know if anybody sent correspondence to Destiny Church about Kent?
    I don’t know.
    Q. But if they did, it wasn’t you?
    I honestly don’t recall.

    The CPC Session minutes of Oct 23, 2018 show a letter was sent to Destiny and it appears to have been sent by Rev. Laughlin
    The second redaction is exactly the same length as “Kent Robinson” two lines above it
    while still showing the last letter is either an “n” or an “m”. “Ryan Laughlin” and “Kent Robinson”, including the space between their first and last names, are both 13 characters long. No other person on the CPC staff, or Session, has a name that is 13 characters long and ends in an “n” or an “m”.

  78. Satin,

    Hello. I was referencing the origin of the quotation. But good for you to drag the late Mr Campbell into the discussion.
    If you want to discuss this further you can find me on FB under my real name Gavin White. I look forward to hearing from you and anyone else for that matter

  79. Bridget: It appears that individuality is only good when it doesn’t include thinking differently from the the herd of church authority.

    If the herd is heading toward a cliff it makes a lot if sense to break away, or even be excommunicated.

  80. Ken F (aka Tweed): If the herd is heading toward a cliff it makes a lot if sense to break away

    Just in terms of belief, I wonder if Mr. S. and his former congregation are headed for two different cliffs. He has no children, yet became so deeply enmeshed in an argument about public schools that his church foolishly excommunicated him.

    Maybe Heaven is eternal because that’s how long it will take the contumacious on both sides to arrive at an agreement. Or is it the contumelious? Hmm, that’s another argument. 😉

  81. dee,

    Believable.

    “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” -Maya Angelou – on both accounts, regarding the LU situation & the ProvPresby situation.

    The LU deal with their Dear Leader has been going on for at least 4 years now. 2016 was when his network, antics, payoffs, partners, photos, crassness, waste of resources, endorsements, party boy lifestyle, disrespect of women, authoritarianism for others while doing whatever himself, quid pro quo, hiring of cover-up/clean-up lawyers, narcissism, misogyny, elitism, etc., first went national, well beyond the LU world.

    Apparently LU students (who now testify regarding the longstanding tradition of the riding-on-horseback-sans-shirt photos for chapel), have known a lot for a long time. Nothing new. However, what were the students supposed to do with this? Not faulting them. A little out of their range of experience, one guesses. Enter the campus & sign on to keep the little secrets & lies & indiscretions on campus. Inner circle of “trust”.

    The forked tongue of an institution’s talk & walk. Billboard vs. real life.

  82. Ava Aaronson: Apparently LU students (who now testify regarding the longstanding tradition of the riding-on-horseback-sans-shirt photos for chapel),

    On a little steppe pony like Tsar Putin?

  83. Kent Robinson: The purpose of these posts is to prevent another family from being destroyed by the actions of Covenant Presbyterian Church (CPC), STL, MO.

    Kent, you have written something very concerning. I understand your thoroughness, but am having trouble grasping such a huge comment. Will you please consider giving us a summary of your story? Or, if there’s a blog or Twitter feed, perhaps post a link? I’m sure others here would like to understand as well.

  84. Max,

    Well, unfortunately, we aren’t in contact with the church members anymore, even those who were good friends. It’s just too awkward now, as much for us as for them. But they are friendly if we run into each other, and our kids still see each other sometimes. We have no ill feelings towards them, or them towards us. They are good people. And it was hard for us all. We just wish it didn’t have to be this way.

    It may make a difference that the pastor had only been there six years before we left, but we were there about 20 years. We weren’t a Calvinist church before him, but he has been slowly entrenching his theology in the church. And I think we got out kinda “early”.

  85. heather: We weren’t a Calvinist church before him, but he has been slowly entrenching his theology in the church.

    A very familiar story, particularly in the Southern Baptist Convention, as a wave of YRR seminary graduates enter SBC pulpits by stealth and deception regarding their exact theological leaning. Indoctrination to reformed theology can be subtle, often by introducing church members to books written by New Calvinist icons (e.g., John Piper). The modus operandi of New Calvinists is not the stuff that genuine Christianity is made of … these “pastors” will be judged for bringing their aberrant faith into churches across America.

    I wish you and your family the best in the Christian journey ahead “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13).

  86. heather,

    You get the TWW award for perpiscaciousness. The goal is to get out before all the bells and whistles get implemented like church discpline get implemented. We got out of one church like that. It used to be an intellectually vibarnt place but then the 5+ Calvinist moved in and literally almost cried the weekend that Piper annopunced his retirement. he wanted to have a meeting with us which caused us to move up our leavetaking. We sent him a note and said bye, bye.

  87. Max,

    What is it called when a Calvinist Dear Leader commandeers his church but in his own immediate family, anything goes? Piper comes to mind but there are surely other examples.

  88. dee: I cannot understand why the church leaders just didn’t let them go. What was accomplished by all of their punishments?

    Good question. The only thing I can think of is that they scrupulously fulfilled the letter of church law. And that doesn’t really answer anything, because so what does it matter that they did? We’re right back to your question. Seems to me that his apology should have been the turning point in this drama, and they should have released him to go in peace. I think that this is another case of over-interpretation which, curiously, always goes in the direction of more authority for those in power, and we get a Law from the text where there is none.

  89. Max: “Baggett says she doubts Liberty’s trustees will remove Falwell because he’s made the school profitable and has amassed a $1.6 billion endowment …

    I don’t suppose Jr. would consider making shamed pastor history and resigning to pursue a quiet and private life, knowing that he had made LU profitable and had amassed the huge endowment? That would be such a refreshing example of humility and would spare the Trustees the embarrassment which is inevitable.

  90. Gram3: That would be such a refreshing example of humility

    You can’t fake humility … it’s sort of like crying without tears. I expect Jr. will make an unrepentant comeback by end of year at LU to a standing ovation. He will promise to be a better person, not do weird things on yachts, give up his black drink, forsake his potty-mouth, and not hang out with young ladies at the beach and gym.

  91. Ava Aaronson: What is it called when a Calvinist Dear Leader commandeers his church but in his own immediate family, anything goes?

    Just as any other religious circles, it’s called “hypocrisy.” The American church (in both pulpit and pew) is full of such folks, pretending to be what they are not, having moral standards and beliefs to which their own behavior does not conform.

  92. JDV,
    Awesome comment. Thank you for the work you put into it. I’m glad that Pastor Wood, whko has not returned my phone call, looks into a mirror and sees soemone he can trust. I thought he was a Calvinist. He should be quite wary of trusting the man in the mirror.

  93. dee: We sent him a note and said bye, bye.

    There needs to be a bye-bye outbreak in New Calvinism! These authoritarians need to see a mass exit of behinds and elbows going out the door, with “Bye-Bye” on the back of their t-shirts.

  94. Ava Aaronson: What is it called when a Calvinist Dear Leader commandeers his church but in his own immediate family, anything goes?

    Rank Hath Its Privileges.
    Especially when it comes to God’s Special Pets.

  95. dee,

    Dee said that I “get the TWW award for perpiscaciousness.” Well, thank you, Dee. I had to look up the word first though, to see what award I got. 😉

    Glad you got out of yours too. But it’s sad that you had to. I think is was key for me that instead of writing off the tiny “red flags” or letting them slide, I starting writing them down and researching the Bible for myself. And I began to see that the version he was preaching didn’t match the clear, plain Bible text, especially when read in context. It actually was a tiny scoffing sound he made way early on – when he commented that “there are some people who believe in free-will” (scoff, snicker) – that made me go, “Something’s not right, here.” And I had my antenna up ever since. Also, other huge red flags for me were the manipulative comments he made that most people probably didn’t even notice (I am a licensed counselor, so that’s probably why I did notice it). He would say things like “We Americans have trouble with submitting to authority, with the idea of God’s sovereignty, but people in other countries have no trouble with submitting to it. It’s just us Americans, because we like our freedom too much.” And “Humble children have no trouble accepting the idea of predestination; it’s just us independent, self-sufficient adults who do. And the Bible tells us to be humble like children.” When someone has to use tactics like that to manipulate you and shame you into accepting what they are saying, you need to listen closely and examine it well to see what they’re trying to force on you.

    (I actually wrote about some of the things he’s said in a post: https://anticalvinistrant.blogspot.com/2020/07/we-left-our-church-because-of-calvinism.html. In case anyone else might find it helpful.)

    And Max said Calvinism is big in the SBC. Sadly, it’s getting very big in the Evangelical Free Churches, too, which is what we left. (I just met another woman who left her EFCA church too, for the same reason.)

    Thank you, Dee, for the work you’ve done exposing this, and for helping people know how to get out of those Calvinist churches. It’s sad you have to provide this information in the first place, but I’m glad you do.

  96. heather: Calvinism is big in the SBC. Sadly, it’s getting very big in the Evangelical Free Churches, too, which is what we left

    Yes, the New Calvinists have targeted EFree churches and even Assembly of God churches (one of the last bastions of “whosoever will may come”). The new reformation is reaching pandemic proportions within the American church.

  97. Max,

    That’s why it’s so critical to be a Berean nowadays. Sadly, we have decided to stay away from churches for now. We watch good, biblically-sound sermons at home with our kids on Sundays. Of course, everyone’s been home at some point because of the lockdowns, but we’ve been doing this May 2019. And I love it. And I have needed this time for my heart and soul to heal from the Calvinist lies and, especially, from the lack of any kind of “God loves you” sermons.

    In Calvinist churches, there is almost no emphasis on God’s love for you or on Him wanting a relationship with you, because they don’t know who’s elect in the audience and who’s not (and they can’t tell non-elect people God loves them) and because they are all about God’s sovereignty and about Him caring only about His glory and about loving/worshipping Himself above all. Humans are mere afterthoughts to Calvi-god. Just tools to get more glory for himself. It’s sad.

    All of my ex-pastor’s sermons were lofty, theological sermons (usually quoting Calvinist theologians more than the Bible). But the Gospel is supposed to be simple, about God’s love for us and how He so desired to have us in heaven with Him that He sent Jesus to die for us, so that we could live, if we will accept His gift of salvation. The true Gospel shows how great God’s love and grace really is, how He has opened the door of salvation up to all of us because of His sacrificial death on the cross for us. But Calvinism’s false gospel minimizes Jesus’ sacrifice, closes the door of salvation to most people, and shrinks God’s love and grace, claiming that he only gives it to a few people.

    I’d rather stay home and watch sermons alone than sit in a Calvinist church soaking up that hopeless garbage. (Sorry to dump this all on you. I get worked up when I talk about it because it’s so heartbreaking and it’s so sad that it’s taking over churches everywhere.)

  98. heather: “Something’s not right, here.”

    You were writing down the red flags, and looking them up in the Bible. Wow, would that every church-goer do this, so we can know when there is no “there” there.

    A similar story is linked below, about another institution, when a student realized it was all a joke, but taking her money, which is not a joke. The church deal, fake church that is, is even more tragic. A fake church steals our heart, our hope, our high calling to serve our Lord. Evil.

    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/trump-university-student-152203250.html

    Here at TWW we at least have the opportunity to share our fake church diversions, as we journey to truth. Thanks for sharing.

  99. heather: That’s why it’s so critical to be a Berean nowadays

    Agreed! Think about it, the Berean Christians searched the Word every day to see if what Paul was saying was true! Paul!!

    IMHO, the average churchgoer is so lazy with their faith that it’s easier to have someone else tell you what the Scriptures say than dig it out yourself … thus, they are easy targets for aberrant theology like New Calvinism!

  100. heather: All of my ex-pastor’s sermons were lofty, theological sermons (usually quoting Calvinist theologians more than the Bible).

    When the New Calvinist movement began to sweep across my area, with SBC-YRR church plants plant popping up everywhere, I listened to sermon podcasts of the young whippersnappers. I had a 4-column checklist labeled God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, and New Calvinist Icon. The Calvinist God received a lot of marks, Jesus only a few, the Holy Spirit was seldom mentioned, New Calvinist Icons (Piper, etc.) received more checks than Jesus!

  101. heather: there is almost no emphasis on God’s love for you or on Him wanting a relationship with you

    Love is not the first word that comes to mind in describing New Calvinist ministers … arrogance is.

  102. heather: I get worked up when I talk about it because it’s so heartbreaking and it’s so sad that it’s taking over churches everywhere.

    New Calvinists leaders will answer to God for leading a generation of young pastors astray. There is no doubt that they have a passion for what they believe, but it is a misplaced passion.

  103. Max: the average churchgoer is so lazy with their faith that it’s easier to have someone else tell you what the Scriptures say than dig it out yourself

    Maybe.
    Or, maybe they are just trying to survive from day-to-day in the work-a-day world with all of its challenges.
    However, in our family, we do practice the habit of daily devotions directly from the Bible itself. Bible and prayer, individually. Covers a lot of ground. Lays a foundation for spotting red flags. Never did connect with the 5 points.

  104. I think part of why Calvinism sneaks in is because we Christians tend to be a trusting group of people, especially when a preacher says they are “just preaching right from the Bible” (a favorite line of my Calvi-pastor). And they know a lot of Bible verses and Greek and talk with confidence, etc. And so we trust them. We have no reason to think we shouldn’t trust them. And that’s partly why it sneaks in. There’s enough truth in there that we don’t realize we need to doubt it, not unless someone points it out.

    And I think a lot of Calvinist pastors know not to use the term “Calvinist” or “Calvinism.”
    (In fact, they are taught not to use it by the Big Name Calvinist Theologians, with the excuse that it could cause confusion and upset people.) And so the people can’t research the pastor’s theology for themselves because they don’t even know it has a name. It takes a long time to notice something is off and then a long time to find out what it is and then a long time to compare it to the Bible to find out the truth.

    And like Ava said above, we’re just trying to get by each day. And we trust that a pastor wouldn’t get the very basics of the Christian faith so wrong. And so it’s a slow slide into Calvinism, as we excuse this little red flag, then that little red flag, etc. It’s so slow (and Calvinists are so skillful) that we don’t even notice that the church is being poisoned.

    But I agree with Max that the Calvinist leaders will have a heavy price to pay in the end, for leading all these trusting people away from the truth. Not too unlike the religious elite and the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.

  105. heather: I think part of why Calvinism sneaks in is because we Christians tend to be a trusting group of people, especially when a preacher says they are “just preaching right from the Bible” (a favorite line of my Calvi-pastor). And they know a lot of Bible verses and Greek and talk with confidence, etc. And so we trust them. We have no reason to think we shouldn’t trust them. And that’s partly why it sneaks in. There’s enough truth in there that we don’t realize we need to doubt it, not unless someone points it out.

    True!
    We go to church on our day of rest. With a family, it’s challenging just to get there!

  106. Ava Aaronson: in our family, we do practice the habit of daily devotions directly from the Bible itself. Bible and prayer, individually. Covers a lot of ground. Lays a foundation for spotting red flags. Never did connect with the 5 points.

    That’s because 5-point theology is a big red flag for folks who read the whole of Scripture and pray daily. You are leading your family well, Ava.

  107. heather: It’s so slow (and Calvinists are so skillful) that we don’t even notice that the church is being poisoned.

    Subtle indoctrination is the modus operandi of New Calvinism … a frog in the kettle method. Their objective is to restore the “gospel” that the rest of the church has lost, feeling they have come into the world for such a time as this. Which of course is another gospel that is not the Gospel at all.

  108. Max,

    My husband’s favorite habit after church: call his Messianic Rabbi friend regarding something that morning and ask, “Where is that in the Bible?”

    His Rabbi friend, who worships on Saturday mornings, often answers, “Not there.”

    Response: “Oh well, then, not important, so why bother? Moving on.”

    Examples:
    4th of July Flag Day ceremony
    The Advent Wreath
    Honoring Veterans from the pulpit
    “The Shack” novel
    Bill Hybels’ World Summit zoomed into the sanctuary/worship
    Etc.

    None of these are inherently wrong, but just not in the Bible.
    My husband’s idea is we have enough going on from the Bible to deal with and Sunday is set aside to seek God, if possible (various work schedules).

    I don’t know what the Rabbi says about the 5 points.

  109. heather: we Christians tend to be a trusting group of people, especially when a preacher says they are “just preaching right from the Bible” (a favorite line of my Calvi-pastor)

    These are days to dig your own spiritual well.

  110. Max: Christians can learn a lot from Messianic Jews.

    For awhile we belonged to a church led by two Jewish converts to Christianity. Their perspective greatly enriched our understanding.

    Unfortunately, though, the term “messianic Jew” gets used imprecisely, and there are a couple of End Times fanatics in the bunch. Also, some Messianic Jews aggressively proselytize followers of Judaism.

  111. Samuel Conner:
    “I sympathize with both sides here in a theoretical sense — they both appear to believe that really important things are at stake. (And I think they’re both wrong about that in this instance, but then both sides would regard me to be a heretic)”

    I wouldn’t use the word “sympathize” myself, but I certainly understand the mindset of these faith communities. I would regard leaving the one church for the other as jumping from the frying pan into the fire or vice versa. CREC is no answer to the problem since they love to harp on and use the threat of church discipline just as zealously, only over different issues. And they all claim to be Presby’s – the irony of it all!

    I would be considered an apostate and idol worshipper by both of these churches.

  112. Friend: Just in terms of belief, I wonder if Mr. S. and his former congregation are headed for two different cliffs.

    Very possible. I am running away from both, but I could also be headed for a different cliff.

  113. Ava Aaronson: “The Shack” novel

    I generally agree. However, the theology in that novel (once one gets past the purposefully shocking imagery) is actually quite old and orthodox, and helped me to recover from New-Calvinism. But I also understand that that kind of story telling is not for everyone.

  114. This reminds me of a recent reading on a message board.

    The subject was whether the Word commanded marriage, and if married, that children were required of pretty much anyone capable of doing so.

    A pastor who obviously believes this true was addressing another poster and was trying to tell him he was in rebellion because he was not “submitting” to “authority.”

    Now, I’d like to ask: if a pastor clearly adds to scripture, something clearly forbidden in the Word in several places, am I or anyone else required to listen to another word he says?

    If a pastor told me he believed everyone or most everyone should be married with kids and presented it as his opinion, I could at least respect that as long as he didn’t get overly pushy about it. But if he said the Lord required such of anyone capable, I’d think it’s a whole new ballgame.

    It seems to me the latter example is driven more by a desire for conformity and control than anything else.

  115. Magistos:
    “The need, the overwhelming, face reddening, blood boiling need, by the church and pastor to get the last word is unbelievable. I read all of that and didn’t see justice, or even control, but EGO…from which the desire to control springs.”

    Just imagine if this incident had occurred in a different century. Mr S would have been locked in stocks in the public square. If that wouldn’t have succeeded in extracting a confession, they would have tied him to a rack and sufficiently tortured him until he begged for mercy and repented, or until the breath left his body and his heart stopped beating.

  116. Friend: Unfortunately, though, the term “messianic Jew” gets used imprecisely, and there are a couple of End Times fanatics in the bunch. Also, some Messianic Jews aggressively proselytize followers of Judaism.

    Inmy experience in the Eighties, self-described “Messianic Jews” would often come across as Calvary Chapel types with a LOT of Hebrew Buzzwords (and kosher).
    “HAVE YOU ACCEPTED YESHUA HA-MOSHIYAH AS YOUR PERSONAL ADONAI AND SAVIOR?????”

  117. Darlene: Just imagine if this incident had occurred in a different century. Mr S would have been locked in stocks in the public square.If that wouldn’t have succeeded inextracting a confession, they would have tied him to a rack and sufficiently tortured him until he begged for mercy and repented, or until the breath left his body and his heart stopped beating.

    And if he survived and confessed (proof of guilt), he would have been “relaxed to secular authorities” and burned at the stake. (With damp wood as per Servetus?)

  118. Max: Their objective is to restore the “gospel” that the rest of the church has lost, feeling they have come into the world for such a time as this.

    Like Joseph Smith & Brigham Young.
    Like Charles Taze Russel.
    Like Sun Myung Moon.
    Like Mo David.
    Like David Koresh.
    Like so many Reverend Apostle Joe Soaps and their Restored New Testament Churches.

  119. Jeffrey Allen:

    “When Mr S had this disagreement that he could not let go or advocate for, then He should have quitely left and his church should have wished him god speed

    I personally would not want Mr S at my church. He apparently does not have the abilty to let go of non essential matters. And his church also went into a childish power play.

    Mr S did nothing to be exed from Christ. He just should have been to to find a church where he felt more confortable.”

    The problem within so many sectors of evangelicalism is that when one considers themselves to be called to speak the truth – as if they are some prophet of sorts – they will often make themselves odious to their hearers in the name of doing God’s will. I consider this to be akin to a Luther complex – deeming themselves some sort of mouthpiece of righteousness claiming “Here I stand. I can do no othet”. There are lots of mini-popes running around. There’s one in a church near you!

  120. Phoenix: If a pastor told me he believed everyone or most everyone should be married with kids and presented it as his opinion, I could at least respect that as long as he didn’t get overly pushy about it. But if he said the Lord required such of anyone capable, I’d think it’s a whole new ballgame.

    That’s a view pushed by Al Mohler, so it’s likely that pastor is a fanboy. But they have to ignore Paul’s ode to singleness to make that argument work, so it makes me not really believe they are “only about the Bible”.

    The reasoning behind it isn’t very biblical either–it’s to better keep control of the church. If men are kept happy by “slave” wives and keep their wives and children “in line”, then it’s easier to just control the men. TGC used to write a lot about it and I think realized it was getting them in more trouble than they wanted, so they’ve backed off. That was also when they talked about ESS.

  121. Darlene: That’s Presbyterians for you!

    Ha, #notallpresbyterians. Seriously. They run the gamut, and there’s a gulf of difference between, say, PCA, PCUSA, and the Church of Scotland. 🙂

  122. Darlene: The problem within so many sectors of evangelicalism is that when one considers themselves to be called to speak the truth – as if they are some prophet of sorts – they will often make themselves odious to their hearers in the name of doing God’s will.

    Thought about this today. Scenario: stuff goes on with the pulpit leadership and a lay church member – someone else. The “rest of us” look on, thinking, “This doesn’t look right, how the leadership is treating that parishioner. God is love. Sometimes tough love, sometimes mercy, but this doesn’t seem right.”

    Question: When is it time to take a hike? What are the deal breakers? When is it that we as fellow tithing church members are accessories/enablers to [evil] or improprieties in our local fellowship?

    – when the leaders don’t advocate for CSA witnesses (“victims” or “survivors”)?
    – when the leader purchases a private plane with tithes?
    – when the leader seems to use discipline to bully?
    – when covenants are introduced?

    We may not be targeted, but are we complicit? What’s a deal-breaker, even though we are in no way “involved” but just minding our own business?

  123. Ava Aaronson: We may not be targeted, but are we complicit? What’s a deal-breaker, even though we are in no way “involved” but just minding our own business?

    That’s the crucial question, as people do just go along with things, and the end up shunning or hounding people, or covering up crimes.

    I would not belong to any church that has a membership covenant, tithing requirement, dress code, forced attendance, double standards, disciplining of members, belief that “we alone” have the Truth, practices that would never fly in a secular organization, gender complementarity, a boundless teaching that wives and children are under the authority of husbands, or an insistence that corporal punishment is required by the Bible.

    Sermons about demons and witchcraft are also no-go for me. People have different views of these things, but the teaching is always meant to frighten people. Topical sermons about the Latest Shocking Garment or Thing On A Smart Phone—alarmist tripe.

    Opposition to clinical medicine, psychotherapy, and psychiatry are bad signs. I’d avoid anyplace that seeks to marry off youngsters or limit their education.

    Be aware of building layout and restrictions. Parents should be able to leave the service to check on their children in the nursery or Sunday school. Classrooms and offices should have windows in the doors. There should always be staff or volunteers nearby when private counseling is going on.

    No to nepotism. No to doctorates from diploma mills.

    I could go on, but these are among my biggest concerns.

  124. Friend: I could go on, but these are among my biggest concerns.

    Here’s one of mine:
    Rigorous and thorough vetting procedures before ‘volunteers’ can get anywhere near kids and teens.

  125. Max: The Calvinist God received a lot of marks, Jesus only a few, the Holy Spirit was seldom mentioned, New Calvinist Icons (Piper, etc.) received more checks than Jesus!

    Mostly the same here, except the icons weren’t quoted as much. Definitely nothing of the Holy Spirit and not much of Jesus. A lot about Gospel this and Gospel that as an abstract principle that acts upon someone apart from a person. Very odd and cold. It’s a rational system and very impersonal but appeals to a lot of young, educated people who were turned off by their parents’ shallow church, or so they say. Their kids will look for something else, I’m sure. Church in a consumer culture.

  126. Muff Potter: Here’s one of mine:
    Rigorous and thorough vetting procedures before ‘volunteers’ can get anywhere near kids and teens.
    Along with a comprehensive child protection plan with written and posted policies and procedures designed to ensure the safety of the children to the extent reasonably possible. And some well-trained staff to walk around a lot and keep an eye on things.

  127. Gram3: Along with a comprehensive child protection plan with written and posted policies and procedures designed to ensure the safety of the children to the extent reasonably possible. And some well-trained staff to walk around a lot and keep an eye on things.

    Wow, scare the predators, do away with the Hunting Ground, and make church a safe place, even for children. Awesome.

  128. i Groups that get “animated” by outsiders or by insider-insiders from a long way off, including those where they cherry pick a local person for us to “elect” in charge

    ii Groups that get told they mustn’t meet, operate or function from June to October inclusive no matter the availablity of hosts to simply host and participants to simply participate

    iii manic behaviours from anyone in charge

  129. – anywhere they don’t promote a lot of simple supplicating and interceding by everybody

    – anywhere they claim to influence the world and the churches

    – name dropping i of household names in church / state / etc, ii of senior or upcoming members within the movement (to emotionally bond us)

    – anywhere the elders hog and ration the fivefold

  130. Ava Aaronson,

    Lots of churches have had protocols in place for decades to safeguard children and adults. DECADES. Psych evals for people before and during seminary. Background checks, renewed regularly. Mandatory training for paid staff and volunteers. Freedom for children to stay in church during services or to attend Sunday school. Windows in doors. Security cameras. Rules about accompanying small children to the restroom. My church has all of these and much more.

    Although there are no perfect safety guarantees, there is NO excuse for churches to lack extensive safeguards. It’s mainly the authoritarian churches that say all is well.

    Churches that silence adults and children are the main hunting grounds.

  131. Gram3: A lot about Gospel this and Gospel that as an abstract principle

    Good Lord, it’s been ad nauseam! At the beginning of the New Calvinist movement, their lingo was Gospel-centered everything … Gospel-centered hair, Gospel-centered coffee, etc. But they don’t preach ‘the’ Gospel!! One of the young reformers at an SBC church plant in my area says “I am the Gospel” … give me a break! It’s as if they know they have to toss in words every now and then like “Gospel”, “Jesus”, “Salvation” to come across as a legit Christian movement … which of course, they aren’t.

  132. Gram3: appeals to a lot of young, educated people who were turned off by their parents’ shallow church

    Oh yeah! Piper et al. are very deep. Deeply in trouble with God Almighty!

    The problem with being young and educated is that sooner or later you become old and stupid in the eyes of the next generation which will pursue their own form of religious expression. The American church needs to desperately return to the old paths (humility, prayer, repentance, seek God’s face), not try to lay a new route which detours around all those things. I was young and now am old and have come full-circle … just me and Jesus at this point, where my journey began.

  133. Max pointed out that Calvinists use the word “Gospel” all the time, to sound legit. So true! Also, if people pay attention, they will hear the word “biblical” a lot, such as “the biblical doctrine of election … biblical ‘truth’ of predestination … I am just teaching biblical ‘truths,’ right from Scripture…”. It’s almost like the more unbiblical the teaching is, the more they have to use the word “biblical”.

  134. Ava Aaronson: The church deal, fake church that is, is even more tragic. A fake church steals our heart, our hope, our high calling to serve our Lord. Evil.

    Your comment hit me powerfully. Jesus himself said, “…if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drown in the depths of the sea.” THAT is the Lord Jesus I know and love. Not some Gospelly-Calvi-Invention.

  135. Nathan Priddis: Anna.
    Your dismay at the idea of a church declaring a proffessed Christian to be removed from the salvation afforded in the Body of Christ is understandable.
    However, suggestion of harm to an individual is unacceptable.

    Nathan, why do you believe you get to judge what is “acceptable” or not regarding another? Anna’s dismay is understandable, her suggestion is not. Why not simply say, I agree with one and disagree with the other. You know, like one would address a respected peer. Do you enjoy being the judge?

  136. heather: if people pay attention

    The greatest need in the American church today is discernment. New Calvinism is not the only aberration of faith flowing through the ranks. “If people pay attention” they are going to have to examine the genuine very carefully through personal prayer and Bible study. Once you see the genuine, the counterfeit is apparent. Once you see Truth, you can’t unsee it … you know it because it’s in your knower.

  137. heather: they will hear the word “biblical” a lot, such as “the biblical doctrine of election … biblical ‘truth’ of predestination … I am just teaching biblical ‘truths,’ right from Scripture…

    Big or small, lies are lies … even if they are framed as “Biblical.” The only way for a church member to discern a pulpit lie is to know the Truth themselves. We just need to be more … well … Biblical!

  138. another no-no from me:

    Anywhere they imply God thinks you are too morally stupid to have a better mental (intellectual as well as emotional) quality of life

    This one takes a lifetime to spot though

  139. heather: It’s almost like the more unbiblical the teaching is, the more they have to use the word “biblical”

    The mission of today’s Berean Christians is to search the Scriptures daily to see if what Piper is saying is true.

  140. Max: The mission of today’s Berean Christians is to search the Scriptures daily to see if what Piper is saying is true.

    I have never done this. 😉

  141. Ava Aaronson: Friend: Churches that silence adults and children are the main hunting grounds.

    Good point. And, apparently, the predators are well aware, and scope these out.

    Where there is lots of Easy Prey, the Predators will Swarm in a Feeding Frenzy.

  142. Max: The greatest need in the American church today is discernment.

    And “Discernment” does NOT mean seeing DEMONS in every closet and under every bed.

    Convenient how it has been redefined to mean only sensing DEMONS and smelling out WITCHES, Eh, My Dear Wormwood?

  143. Max: The problem with being young and educated is that sooner or later you become old and stupid in the eyes of the next generation which will pursue their own form of religious expression.

    In the words of the prophet Robert Zimmerman:
    “Oh, I was so much older then,
    I’m younger than that now.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1G9TJk853ps

  144. Max: Gram3: A lot about Gospel this and Gospel that as an abstract principle

    Good Lord, it’s been ad nauseam! At the beginning of the New Calvinist movement, their lingo was Gospel-centered everything … Gospel-centered hair, Gospel-centered coffee, etc.

    “Gospel” has become the new “Smurf” or “Marclar”.

  145. Ava Aaronson: We may not be targeted, but are we complicit?

    Something from Manly Wade Wellman pulp fiction (fantasy/horror/occult detective genres):

    If you attend a black magickal working (even a disguised one) and make no objection (even privately to yourself), you have agreed to participate in the working and given the magick (and the Forces behind it) power over you. You are now theirs.

  146. Darlene: Headless Unicorn Guy: “Figures they’d use an archaic word from Theological Jargon.”

    That’s Presbyterians for you!

    Just another, more archaic and technical, form of Christianese.

  147. Headless Unicorn Guy: You are now theirs.

    That’s the concern. Exactly.

    In a different situation where there were predators, witnesses (“victims” or “survivors”) and the rest of us “Good Folks”:

    Good Folks claim, “But I never touched a minor.”

    The powerful passed around girls like popcorn while everyone else in the theatre sat silently looking at the movie on the screen. Silently in the same theatre screening room. Popcorn consumption going on. “It wasn’t me,” they say.
    ————-

    Therefore, I wonder about “us” when we see stuff with a pastor and another parishioner. Are we empathetic? Do we look away? What are we to do?

    It seems that is how Dee started TWW, she didn’t look away even though she was not involved.

    … when to look away, when to do something.

  148. Ava Aaronson: Therefore, I wonder about “us” when we see stuff with a pastor and another parishioner. Are we empathetic? Do we look away? What are we to do?

    What have you seen, Ava? Are you struggling to understand and decide whether to speak up, or perhaps just to leave quietly?

    One thing you might try is asking questions about other issues. If you’re somehow not entitled to an answer, that’s a huge red flag.

  149. Believer: Nathan, why do you believe you get to judge what is “acceptable” or not regarding another? Anna’s dismay is understandable, her suggestion is not. Why not simply say, I agree with one and disagree with the other. You know, like one would address a respected peer. Do you enjoy being the judge?

    First. Not the Judge.
    Second. Some random thoughts given without explanation:
    -Plausible deniability
    -Consistent condition
    -Cross examination
    -Law of unintended consequences
    -Entanglement

  150. Dr. Wood and the elders at PPC wasted too much time and energy 1on a trivial matter. Since Brad and Becky have left, minister to the existing flock that God has entrusted you with. Church progressing to be cultist in polity. Jamestown before has become Vinceville.

  151. Friend: What have you seen, Ava?

    What’s in the news.

    For example, regarding Epstein, the contractors who saw/knew & did nothing. They now have regrets.

    Even Emma Thompson regarding Weinstein said she saw things and protected herself but didn’t say anything, which she now regrets.

    The stuff we see and $upport in churches, with church leaders … ? Do we protect ourselves and stay silent, $upporting?

  152. Friend: Are you struggling to understand and decide whether to speak up, or perhaps just to leave quietly?

    https://wildmustangmall.com/how-i-write

    “Novelists use stories for social discourse and change. Dickens shed light on debtors’ prisons & children. Anna Sewell inspired kindness for man & beast. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery transformed adoption from servitude to loving a child.”

  153. Ava Aaronson: The stuff we see and $upport in churches, with church leaders … ? Do we protect ourselves and stay silent, $upporting?

    Yes, we should protect ourselves, but no, we should not stay silent or support abusers.

  154. Ava Aaronson: Greater understanding of what we are dealing with.

    Until I started cruising the watchblogs, I thought I was just a church curmudgeon not wanting to merge into the bold new world. I’m an old guy and not very cyber savvy, but I discovered common concerns about New Calvinism coming from Christian folks across the country. TWW has helped confirm what I’ve been hearing and seeing about the aberrations of this movement. I pray for a “greater understanding of what we are dealing with” across the American church … before it’s too late.

  155. Max: TWW has helped confirm what I’ve been hearing and seeing about the aberrations of this movement. I pray for a “greater understanding of what we are dealing with” across the American church … before it’s too late.

    Yes! We found each other. Thx, Dee and the HS.

  156. Friend: Ava Aaronson: Therefore, I wonder about “us” when we see stuff with a pastor and another parishioner. Are we empathetic? Do we look away? What are we to do?

    One thing you might try is asking questions about other issues. If you’re somehow not entitled to an answer, that’s a huge red flag.

    Friend & Ava, we were being groomed as a group. Those onlookers who didn’t look away raised an almighty stink. A geographically distant entity took the individual pastor off our hands, but left the accompanying meddlers in place to continue molesting our consciences with their bad teachings, with the connivance of elements (with household names) whose job it wasn’t. A farcical version of safeguarding gets outsourced and doesn’t protect even regional leaders from disreputable approaches (nor trainee clergy from accusation BY predators). That was one badly organised denomination.

  157. Even the good folks that tried to stand up for us (who were portrayed as merely a faction) were motivated by mystique of mysterious mysticism, so remained unaware that their intention wasn’t genuinely respected.

  158. Dee, have you seen this? Jerry Falwell Jr now says that his problems were caused by a blackmailer who had an affair with his wife, and he’s “relieved” to get this out in the open:

    Exclusive: Falwell says ‘Fatal Attraction’ threat led to depression

    … “It was like living on a roller coaster,” he said in the statement. “While completely dedicating ourselves to Liberty, we were also suffering in silence during our personal time together, while simultaneously trying to manage and deal with this increasingly threatening behavior, which only worsened over time. We were doing our best to respectfully unravel this ‘fatal attraction’ type situation to protect our family and the university.” …

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/washington-secrets/exclusive-falwell-says-fatal-attraction-threat-led-to-depression?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=im&utm_tracker=1736720×84899

  159. Michael in UK: we were being groomed as a group.

    … Even the good folks that tried to stand up for us (who were portrayed as merely a faction) were motivated by mystique of mysterious mysticism, so remained unaware that their intention wasn’t genuinely respected.

    I am sorry for all that you endured, and relieved that you found your way out.

    Victims often don’t see what is being done to them. In my case, it took years for me to understand what had happened. I was a kid, with a kid’s perceptions. However, I trust my grasp of the facts.

    My comments on this thread are about people who see something fishy, or who fully know that something bad has happened. The duty of such people is to speak up and take action while attempting to safeguard themselves.

    There are known ways to reduce the possibility of abuse. There are known ways to combat it as well.

    Yet too many do nothing. They ignore the warning flags and the exit signs.

  160. Friend: Dee, have you seen this? Jerry Falwell Jr now says that his problems were caused by a blackmailer who had an affair with his wife, and he’s “relieved” to get this out in the open:

    Should have known this would be his wife’s “fault”…

  161. Friend: Dee, have you seen this? Jerry Falwell Jr now says that his problems were caused by a blackmailer who had an affair with his wife, and he’s “relieved” to get this out in the open:

    Question is, is this legit (as well as Juicy) or another “NOT MY FAULT! NOT MY FAULT! NOT MY FAULT!” setting up for the Return in Triumph?

  162. Friend: Jerry Falwell Jr now says that his problems were caused by a blackmailer who had an affair with his wife

    Good Lord! This whole thing gets more bizarre by the day! LU needs to distance themselves from the highschooler-who-never-grew-up … the Falwell era is over.

  163. Headless Unicorn Guy: another “NOT MY FAULT! NOT MY FAULT! NOT MY FAULT!” setting up for the Return in Triumph?

    To a standing ovation in the LU Chapel, I’m sure. The Lord must be sick of such games.

  164. Headless Unicorn Guy: Question is, is this legit (as well as Juicy) or another “NOT MY FAULT! NOT MY FAULT! NOT MY FAULT!” setting up for the Return in Triumph?

    The pool boy has issued a stout denial. The article hints around that Falwell Jr been maligned for his views and faith. The statement includes a comment about him “suffering in silence,” which is somewhat at odds with every single thing I have ever seen of the man:

    “While completely dedicating ourselves to Liberty, we were also suffering in silence during our personal time together, while simultaneously trying to manage and deal with this increasingly threatening behavior, which only worsened over time. We were doing our best to respectfully unravel this ‘fatal attraction’ type situation to protect our family and the University.”

  165. Max: … while also running around with his pants unzipped.

    …on a yacht owned by the NASCAR outfit that Liberty sponsors, leading to serious questions about what Liberty does with tax-exempt donations…

  166. Friend,
    OK, let me see if I have this straight:

    “suffering in silence” … while also running around with his pants unzipped … on a yacht owned by the NASCAR outfit that Liberty sponsors …

    … surrounded by scantily-clad chicks … drinking “black water” … while making payments to a blackmailer who had an affair with his wife … etc.

    This is the President of a Christian university?!!

  167. Max: This is the President of a Christian university?!!

    All Genuflect before his Holiness on pain of Eternal Hell.

  168. Friend: …on a yacht owned by the NASCAR outfit that Liberty sponsors, leading to serious questions about what Liberty does with tax-exempt donations…

    “TOUCH NOT MINE ANOINTED! HE HAS ONLY $400 MILLION TO GO BEFORE HE TOPS KEN COPELAND!”

  169. Max: To a standing ovation in the LU Chapel, I’m sure.

    “AVE, CAESAR! IO TRIOMPHE! IO TRIOMPHE! IO TRIOMPHE!”

  170. Hooboy. The pool boy has spoken, and he says some really shocking things. I won’t excerpt the lurid parts. The Examiner piece (mentioned earlier in the thread) might have been an attempt to preempt this Reuters piece:

    … On Sunday night, however, as Reuters was preparing to publish this article, Jerry Falwell issued a statement to the Washington Examiner in which he said that his wife had had an affair with Granda and that Granda had been trying to extort money from the couple over the matter. Granda denies any such intent, saying he was seeking to negotiate a buyout from a business arrangement he says he had with the couple. …

    https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-falwell-relationship/

  171. Friend: https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-falwell-relationship/

    Here’s one of “the more lurid parts” that caught my eye:

    Granda showed Reuters emails, text messages and other evidence that he says demonstrate the sexual nature of his relationship with the couple, who have been married since 1987. “Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda said in an interview.

    Do you remember Real Manly Men denouncing the rest of us males as Beta “Cucks”? Well, in the highlighted section “Jerry” IS the original definition of the word.
    Once more, too much of a peek into a ManaGAWD’s kinks.

  172. OK, now that Jerry Jr. has resigned, his yes-men on the LU Board of Trustees need to do some soul-searching and follow suit … they knew about his misbehavings for years!

  173. I realise the salacious is going to take center place, because as Christians we have a sex obsession. We struggle as a sub-culture to follow complex storylines, or legal contructs.

    However, the important questions will center on the potential for this story to develope criminal, and even treasonous aspects. This is very much a breaking story and hard to predict were it goes next.

  174. Just posted about falwell’s resignation. I was just finishing the post when it happened so it’s hot off the press.

  175. Max:
    OK, now that Jerry Jr. has resigned, his yes-men on the LU Board of Trustees need to do some soul-searching and follow suit … they knew about his misbehavings for years!

    Max, it’s way past soul searching. If no criminal complaint has been drawn by now, then somebody has reason to not want one drawn.

  176. Max: … surrounded by scantily-clad chicks … drinking “black water” … while making payments to a blackmailer who had an affair with his wife … etc.

    Once more I would like to point out that “black water” also means sewage that’s not just dirty, but contaminated with human waste.

  177. Ava Aaronson: The powerful passed around girls like popcorn while everyone else in the theatre sat silently looking at the movie on the screen. Silently in the same theatre screening room. Popcorn consumption going on. “It wasn’t me,” they say.

    Seventy years ago, they would have been called “Good Germans”.

  178. Friend,

    Grasp of facts: some then fashionable sexual talk with some “careless” endangerment (but worse has come to light in locations that were boasted of in our hearing). A big bunch of young people walked out (of both the group and our denomination), but didn’t talk about why. Everyone gets bamboozled in a different way hence no-one can pool any objectivity.

    In reframing our already grasped facts we threaten entire denominations (with ingrained bad organisational boundaries) in the eyes of our wouldbe defenders (let alone semi-compromised major elders), and then the goons move in again to “make us feel better”, to smiles all round.

    In a different church I got told “the nasty people have left” when they hadn’t. Lack of proportionate disciplinary procedure, and sentimentality over “communion”, are not the opposite of this at Providence, but have the same effect, on a larger scale. And beware multiple affiliations! Becoming agnostic is safer, no matter that no-one in our locality appreciates the example.

  179. Friend,
    Are you aware that his comments were posted on facebook, not via a bullhorn in the church lobby? What he said was perfectly acceptable, and his venue was also.

  180. dee,

    It keeps everyone else from speaking up from fear of being declared an unbeliever. That’s it. Just keeping tithing for the next 40 years, and be happy, shut up!
    dee,

    dee,