Church Membership Covenants – Legal Contracts that are NOT Biblical!

"But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,  or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.  And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.  Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil."

Jesus (Matthew 5:34-37)

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=130398&picture=writing-handWriting Hand

This page is subject to updates as new material (or overlooked old material) becomes available.

Have you Googled Church Covenants or Membership Covenants lately? If so, you know there is a growing list of links emphasizing their importance. During my search of 'church covenant', three high profile churches showed up on page 1. Here are links to their covenants:

Bethlehem Baptist Church Covenant

The Village Church Covenant

Capitol Hill Baptist Church Covenant

As I began researching 'church covenant', I discovered that John Piper gave considerable attention to this topic in early 1993. Check out this link:

Why A Church Covenant?

In the early 1990s Mark Dever began advising a church in the Boston area regarding what he believed characterized a 'healthy church'. Dever came up with his 9 Marks – one of which is church membership. As you can see above, Dever's church – Capitol Hill Baptist Church – has its own church covenant, and this has become the model for churches that embrace the 9Marks.

Here is how Capitol Hill Baptist Church uses its church covenant (see screen shot below).

http://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/about-us/what-we-believe/church-covenant/

How does 9Marks define a 'church covenant'? (see screen shot below)

https://www.9marks.org/article/membership-matters-what-our-church-covenant/

The 9Marks organization then attempts to describe where covenants originate. At least they are honest enough to admit that they DO NOT come from the Bible.

https://www.9marks.org/article/membership-matters-what-our-church-covenant/

We cannot emphasize enough the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who proclaimed in Matthew 5:34-37:

"But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,  or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.  And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.  Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil."

We are grateful that Wade Burleson addressed this matter in a post entitled Five Reasons to Say "No" to a Church Covenant.

Here are five reasons why Wade would never sign a church membership covenant in order to become a member.

(1) A church covenant makes the Holy Spirit irrelevant in my life.

(2) A church covenant replaces my one true Mediator with inferior mediators.

(3) A church covenant makes the institutional church equivalent to the Kingdom of God.

(4) A church covenant by its nature is designed to protect an authoritarian structure.

(5) A church covenant requires something more than a simple "Yes" or "No."

Wade ended his insightful post with this:  "I need no covenant to guarantee that God will finish the work He's begun in me."

In his book Fraudulent Authority, Wade Burleson included a chapter on Church Membership Covenants, which I summarized in the following post:

Church Membership Covenants And God's Word to the Wise


Here are three points that we want to emphasize regarding membership covenants/contracts:

(1) A Membership Covenant (Contract) is a legal document that protects the church.

In her post Membership Covenants Are Primarily Legal Protection for the Church, Dee shared some questions she believes you should consider BEFORE joining a church that requires members to sign a covenant. They are:

  • Do you truly know, and trust, the leadership in the church which you are joining?
  • Do you understand that, due to the open ended nature of the contract, you conceivably could be punished for any perceived sin?
  • Do you know that you are signing away some of your rights in signing this document?
  • Does it bother you that the church had legal advice in developing and presenting the contract and you have not been encouraged to do the same?
  • Do you know that even if the church did not consult an attorney but used a "covenant" from another church, you are still signing a legal and enforceable document?
  • Do you understand that history of the development of these contracts? Does your church leadership?

(2) As long as you are a member of a church, you are under the elders' control

If you have signed a membership covenant, then you have agreed to the terms of this legal agreement/contract. We cannot emphasize strongly enough that the church leaders can discipline you at their discretion. As a church member, you are under their control. Should you ever be subject to church discipline, the pastors/elders will attempt to convince you that you CANNOT resign from the church while being disciplined.

(3) You Can Resign from your church at any time NO MATTER WHAT!

Some pastors/elders claim you cannot resign…

      While under Church Discipline

      Without permission

      Until you find another like-minded church

THIS IS FALSE! In the United States, church membership is strictly voluntary, and no one can stop you from withdrawing your membership at any time under any circumstances.


We have written a number of posts on Church Membership Covenants/Contracts. Here are some of them:

Proof That It's Not a Membership Covenant™ But a Legally Binding Contract

Further Proof You Are Signing a Legal Contract Not a Membership Covenant: Courtesy of The Gospel Coalition

'Church Membership' – Dale Shares His Testimony Regarding Membership in Churches Affiliated With 9Marks

Church Membership Covenants and God's Word to the Wise

Is Mark Dever's View on Church Membership More Painful Than a Root Canal?

9Marks and 'Biblical Church Membership'?

Renewable Church Membership – Good or Bad Idea?

Confusion and Ignorance Over Church Membership?

The Village Church/Matt Chandler The Problem With Membership Contracts

NeoCalvinists in Charge: Are They Creating a Divisive *Us versus Them* Church Culture?

Church Covenants Are Not Between God and You But Between Sinful Church Leaders And You

Membership Covenant Red Flags


Our friend Tim Fall gets it right in his post The Problem with Church Membership Covenants – bad doctrine hurts God's people  (see screen shot below).

https://timfall.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/covenant-with-god-not-church/


Comments

Church Membership Covenants – Legal Contracts that are NOT Biblical! — 256 Comments

  1. Thanks again for work well done. We are blessed. Also, adding Tim Fall’s post is very helpful.

  2. Also, thanks for including Pastor Wade Burleson’s materials. He gets it.

    When things went awry in a local church, my late husband would always say, “Well there are no locks on the doors keeping us in this place. We vote with our feet and move on.”

    So, move on we did, and our children got a relatively panoramic experience of the local church. Good education.

    Your postings now are educating us all about this growing phenomenon with examples, rationale and scripture. God bless you and your noble work, TWW.

    IMHO, as the economy challenges the middle class, and ministries grow bigger with more personnel, larger salaries, and greater amenities (private planes, etc.), there will be increased practice of the church covenant. $$ and cents (not sense).

  3. 3rd. I have also heard church covenants sold as necessary to keep people together on a mission. If we don’t all agree together, then it is allegedly worthless. That’s how it was explained to me. A leadership covenant, that is.

  4. And Jesus required people to sign how many pages to follow Him?

    Correct answer: 0 pages

    Jesus also let people leave whenever they wanted to and for whatever reasons they wanted to.

  5. “We also reaffirm our commitment to the covenant at all members meetings and before taking communion, when we stand as a body and recommit ourselves to it.” (Capitol Hill Baptist Church)

    I find that statement very strange! Envisioning a group of people hunkering around the communion table and reaffirming a written agreement with the church has no Biblical basis whatsoever. Using the communion service to reinforce a membership contract diminishes the significance of that precious sacrament/ordinance. When I take communion, I reaffirm my commitment to Christ! The “it” in my life is Jesus, not a church contract.

    There is only one covenant that a believer needs in his life … the one written in blood by Jesus. Contracts of men pale in comparison. They are designed to control you. Christ has set you free. So, exercise your freedom and do not sign a church membership covenant; if you have already done that and have found the provisions of the agreement restricting your freedom in Christ, put your behind in your past and find another church!

  6. “Covenant” is another word for “contract”. Most church covenants are very one sided documents in that all power or authority is given to church leadership. Keep in mind that in most churches, the appearance of “church” having authority or taking action is operationalized by “leadership” having authority or taking action, and “leadership” is almost always the pastor.

    Never sign one! If you have, send a certified letter return receipt requested to the church saying that as of the date they receive the letter, you are no longer a member of the church, and any attempt to contact you or otherwise involve you in that church, or interfere with you attending another church will result in legal action.

  7. drstevej wrote:

    If this is the case, how are wedding vows different?

    If I understand the angle you are coming from, their is no difference to these pastors and church elders who cook the covenants up. They want the members to forsake all others and obey them, in sickness and in health for as long they all shall live and then some. And, “God hates divorce!”

  8. drstevej wrote:

    If this is the case, how are wedding vows different?

    Very different. I am part of the Church because of faith in what Christ has done. God does not require me to sign a covenant/contract with a local church to confirm what Jesus confirmed with his life, death, and resurrection.

    Signing a marriage certificate has to do with earthly government requirements and protections. As far as I’m concerned, the vow between a man and wife before God is enough, without a license, if couples chooses this. We do not marry a church, and God does not speak of local bodies of believers as being married to one another. It’s believers who are the Church, not the church institution.

  9. @ An Attorney:

    so, if a church leader is challenged about covenants and in response says “it’s not a legal document”, how does one explain that it is, in fact, a legal document?

  10. @ drstevej:

    “If this is the case, how are wedding vows different?”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    do you honestly want to be bound to your church til death us do part?

  11. Well, at least they’ve made clear that these things can only be justified within a doctrinally Baptistic church body. I wonder what Ligon Duncan would say to that.

  12. elastigirl wrote:

    @ An Attorney:

    so, if a church leader is challenged about covenants and in response says “it’s not a legal document”, how does one explain that it is, in fact, a legal document?

    I’ll go back and reread some of the early posts later, but I thought that even if these things were originally drafted with the help of lawyers, what court of law would force something like church membership on anyone? If anything, the few cases I’m aware of seem to have gone the other way, with pastors/elders being warned about their liability if they don’t stop stalking their target. An NDA, libel, slander, etc. is one thing, but no church leader can hold anyone hostage who wants to quit their membership. This ain’t Calvin’s Geneva, thankfully.

    Maybe what such a pastor means is, it’s not a legally enforceable document.

  13. elastigirl wrote:

    @ An Attorney:
    so, if a church leader is challenged about covenants and in response says “it’s not a legal document”, how does one explain that it is, in fact, a legal document?

    If the leader is a neo-Calvinist, my first instinct would be to believe that pastor is lying or just ignorant of what neo-Calvinists teach, because they do teach it’s a legal document to “protect the church”. As many neo-Calvinists flat out lie or manipulate people into signing these documents (or claim that previous membership retroactively makes the covenant applicable), I no longer believe them when they say stuff like that.

    The one article dee posted about TGC’s guidelines is pretty useful: http://thewartburgwatch.com/2015/04/09/further-proof-you-are-signing-a-legal-contract-not-a-membership-covenant-courtesy-of-the-gospel-coalition/

  14. NJ wrote:

    even if these things were originally drafted with the help of lawyers, what court of law would force something like church membership on anyone?

    I don’t think they would, but the neo-Calvinists try real hard to make people believe it’s true and that they should be very afraid to challenge the covenant legally (thereby making the church’s abuse public). It’s a cultic manipulation tactic.

  15. elastigirl wrote:

    do you honestly want to be bound to your church til death us do part?

    @ drstevej:

    Also, in the US a marriage covenant can be broken through the law. Can you imagine being married to an abuser and being told that you couldn’t leave, like Karen Hinkley or Marie Notcheva?

  16. elastigirl wrote:

    so, if a church leader is challenged about covenants and in response says “it’s not a legal document”, how does one explain that it is, in fact, a legal document?

    We have written about that in some of the links. I told one pastor who told me it wasn’t a legal contract that one day he would discover the legalities of it if he suddenly wanted to go after a member.

  17. Ok, a membership contract as a CYA move makes sense. I do wonder though, if there are any stalking/harrassment actions leaders could take that are so bad, a judge could still find them criminally liable. That would be an interesting case to see.

  18. @ ishy:
    Absolutely agree! These leaders are great at intimidation to keep the sheeple (who are for the most part younger than their ‘elders’) in line.

  19. I agree with everything that you all are saying. I have not and would not sign a contract with a church.

    However.

    My denom has lost not just individuals and various churches but something like half a dozen actual dioceses which have left specifically because of one or another ‘liberal’ stance the church has taken on some socio-political issues AND the majority who have left have gone to more conservative anglican denoms which do not tolerate the degree of individual variation of opinion nor the socio-political liberalism of TEC. We are bleeding members, yes, most of whom are conservative and seem to want something which has a tighter rein on issues, one way or the other.

    I conclude, that there are those who want, personally want, more conservative and more authoritative church structures, and this may be a factor in the success of the neo-cals in the church covenant push.

    How one might deal with this issue of what people do or do not want-I have no idea.

  20. okrapod wrote:

    I conclude, that there are those who want, personally want, more conservative and more authoritative church structures, and this may be a factor in the success of the neo-cals in the church covenant push.

    I’m sure that’s true. I think there’s many who just end up in them, though, trusting that churches are generally good places. Or their church was taken over by stealth (as happened with my former church). And I think their focus on contemporary worship has attracted many people away from more traditional churches. One of the first things someone from the neo-Cal church here said to me when I told them where I was going was “But that church has traditional services! You really don’t want to go there, do you?”

    There are people like me who are leaving conservative churches because I’m so tired of being mistreated. I’m also tired of being told who to vote for and what to believe, especially when what to believe has little relation to Scripture or even basic logic. And as the recent #ThingsChristianWomenHear hashtag has proven, there’s a lot of people in that boat. Sadly, I think a good number of people are just leaving churches altogether, both mainline and conservative.

  21. Paul never asked the churches to sign any such documents…nor did Peter. So, no. No membership covenant for me. I’ve noticed that a lot of churches tend to play up the member role (which involves all kinds of special training and documents). I also remember that one time in church, they stood all the new members up at the front with framed certificates. Meanwhile, for those who had not accepted membership yet, the display at the front was like a sort of public shaming. It made those who were hesitant (or more cautious) to join as members incredibly isolated.

  22. ishy wrote:

    And I think their focus on contemporary worship has attracted many people away from more traditional churches.

    I don’t doubt that. In my family, who all are at the same parish, the only thing we all totally agree on among ourselves is the fact that we do really really like the traditional liturgy. So I totally understand how the worship service could be a deciding factor for some people.

    It is not the only issue; we also like it that we don’t have to all agree on everything, but I do understand how for some people that idea of not having to agree could be a deal breaker. The idea that everything is black and white with no middle ground can be very attractive.

  23. Thanks for including me in the post, Deebs. The more people are aware of this misuse of covenants, the better. Nice job bringing the information together like this.

  24. ishy wrote:

    There are people like me who are leaving conservative churches because I’m so tired of being mistreated.

    I’m just tired of being called a member while not being treated like a member just because of the plumbing problem.
    Sam wrote:

    Paul never asked the churches to sign any such documents

    If contracts are so important, why didn’t Jesus draw up a contract for the apostles to sign?

  25. Tim wrote:

    Thanks for including me in the post, Deebs. The more people are aware of this misuse of covenants, the better. Nice job bringing the information together like this.

    Bet it’s a lot of time and work for the DEEBS to put all of these new pages together. Thank you, DEEBS.
    It’s nice to have everything organized into catagories.
    It’s also very good to see TWW + a judge (Tim F.) + a Calvinist (Wade B.) + so many commenters together objecting to church “covenants”. Having both Tim Fall’s and Wade Burleson’s objections to church contracts and commentaries listed on the same page carries a lot of weight, I think!

  26. The first time I ever encountered a Baptist church covenant was in the early 70’s. I had been part of another SBC church, transferred to the second one, and a year or so later was handed “our church covenant” to “put in the front of your Bible.” It was pretty general and vague and nothing ever to sign nor was it in our by laws. But it was a pretty good guide of decency, which was good considering some folks getting saved in oil field boom towns (think rig hands) need some guidance. But again, not something to sign or enforce, just a guideline.

    Now I’m in the CotN. We have some things we agree to adhere to if we want formal membership, and I am ok with that. Nothing wrong with saying “this organization has xyz rules and if you choose to belong you agree to abide by them.” Short of serious sin (adultery, battery, murder) I’ve never seen anyone kicked out for rule breaking. And you can serve, teach (within their doctrine), etc without formal membership. Much more loosely held than the Baptists. What counts more is the changed life.

    Seems to work fine, and none of this disciplinary nonsense.

  27. In most U.S. states, a marriage is treated as a special kind of contract. Like all contracts, there are ways to break the contract, and there may be penalties that one party is required to pay to the other. Breaking a contract often results in a suit to enforce the terms of the contract. However, courts are extremely reluctant to say that a church covenant can be enforced on a person who chooses to leave. Churches are treated in law as voluntary associations, and members have a right to be leave, regardless of the covenant. The issue is what the church may do after you leave, which is why the departure letter may be necessary and may provide grounds to sue the church if they disparage a departed member.

  28. Deebs,

    Compiling related posts under a single link was a tremendous idea! I will be sure to refer folks to TWW as certain subjects come up. Great work! Thank you for your efforts to consolidate this material. Your blog has become a favorite hangout for this old guy.

  29. Exegetical question… when Jesus says “let your yes be yes,” is that any less binding before God than a formal covenant?

    To drstevej’s point, if all covenants are unbiblical, are marriage vows an abomination to God, and should a husband and wife just say “yes I’ll love you, heck no I won’t covenant with you”?

  30. An Attorney wrote:

    However, courts are extremely reluctant to say that a church covenant can be enforced on a person who chooses to leave. Churches are treated in law as voluntary associations, and members have a right to be leave, regardless of the covenant. The issue is what the church may do after you leave, which is why the departure letter may be necessary and may provide grounds to sue the church if they disparage a departed member.

    I may be oversimplifying, but I think of things like the Future Farmers of America and their creeds when it comes to churches and church contracts. Churches trying to force people to stay, and harassing people who want to leave is like the FFA saying you can only use FFA approved farm equipment, and if you leave the FFA you can never drive a tractor again.

  31. An Attorney wrote:

    Churches are treated in law as voluntary associations, and members have a right to be leave, regardless of the covenant. The issue is what the church may do after you leave, which is why the departure letter may be necessary and may provide grounds to sue the church if they disparage a departed member.

    Good counsel, Counsel.

    Shunning ex-members is a form of disparagement used by New Calvinists. In a small community, this can be a particular thorn in the flesh to have to carry as “friends” from your old church snub or offend you with their words. You have provided a recourse for folks who are considering leaving such churches, and who expect shunning to occur once they do. A threatened law-suit is a good counter to intimidation imposed upon you by a “church.”

  32. Joe Reed wrote:

    Exegetical question… when Jesus says “let your yes be yes,” is that any less binding before God than a formal covenant?
    To drstevej’s point, if all covenants are unbiblical, are marriage vows an abomination to God, and should a husband and wife just say “yes I’ll love you, heck no I won’t covenant with you”?

    God created marriage, the old covenant (OT), and the new covenant (NT).
    How long have covenants for individual churches existed? Who wrote them?
    Where in the Bilbe does it say to sign on the dotted line, agreeing to the contractual terms of membership to a local church in order to be part of THE Church. What church contracts did the Apostles sign? What contracts did Paul, Timothy, Silas, Philipp, etc insist that the converts sign? Did God insist that Abraham and all of his descendants sign a contract? Before Jesus ascended to Heaven, did He insist that all of his disciples sign a contract? No!
    Do you believe They failed the Church by not doing so? Is God wrong and neglectful while mortal men are righteous and caring?

    My covenant is a covenant of the heart, not of paper and ink, with and established in the New Testament by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — not a singular, individual church, built and controlled by a man or a group of men.

  33. Any church historians out there? It would be interesting to know when/where the first church membership covenant/contract was introduced. Something tells me that it had its roots in 16th century Calvinism … which may be why the New Calvinists are so intent on restoring such agreements to the church, along with the true “gospel” that the rest of us lost … but I’m just speculating. Anyone have any information in this regard?

  34. Joe Reed wrote:

    Exegetical question… when Jesus says “let your yes be yes,” is that any less binding before God than a formal covenant?

    Jesus did not say whether or not it was ‘less binding’, so any thinking about it would be not based on the specific words of Jesus but rather on conclusions based on reasoning. That is fine with me, so here goes. One does note that the covenant in question at the time Jesus said that, and in effect for either some or all of his listeners, would be the covenant which God has with Israel. So to reword you question: Is the admonition by Jesus to swear not at all either by things on the earth or…., is that equally binding as the covenant God made with Israel? I would say that it is less binding by far. I say that at least in part because Jesus did not say he was making a new covenant regarding taking of oaths.

  35. Max wrote:

    Something tells me that it had its roots in 16th century Calvinism …

    Well, Calvin WAS a Lawyer…

  36. @ Joe Reed:

    You did not answer my question from before. You said that you had taken a course in Baptist polity and that you were working from notes and memory (I think) from that course in the list you mentioned previously.

    I asked you what Baptist denomination was it that gave that course? I have been two different kinds of Baptist and have some first hand knowledge of yet one more kind of Baptist denom (for a total of three) and I never heard of such a thing before, so I am wondering who is doing this.

  37. @ Max:

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find a connection with infant baptism – the initiation into “the covenant.”

    In medieval times church and state were by no means separate, hence to be a member of state was to be member of the church, and vice versa, which is why heresy was tantamount to treason, and the church was involved in capital cases, and excommunication was almost a death sentence in and of itself.

    The very idea of church as a “voluntary association” is no doubt rooted in the outworking of the reformation’s recovery of the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.

  38. @ okrapod:

    What question was that? Sorry. I’m from a non-denom background, and currently part of a church in the BGC denomination, home to both John Piper (7-point Calvinist) and Greg Boyd of open theism fame. Millard Erickson and Roger Olson were some of the seminary profs of note

  39. okrapod wrote:

    I asked you what Baptist denomination was it that gave that course? I have been two different kinds of Baptist and have some first hand knowledge of yet one more kind of Baptist denom (for a total of three) and I never heard of such a thing before, so I am wondering who is doing this.

    Maybe you’re confusing me with someone else. I’m not taking any courses on polity. I finished my undergrad 15 years ago now and haven’t taken any courses since then

  40. Joe Reed wrote:

    What question was that?

    It was a question on a prior thread here a day or two ago where you said what I just said that you said, and where I said what I just said that I said.

  41. @ Joe Reed:

    If I am mistaken then I certainly apologize. Somebody mentioned notes from a course in Baptist polity and did not reply.

    I am in the midst of having house repairs done, workmen are here, and I don’t have the time to trace it down right now. But if it was not you, then I do sincerely apologize.

  42. @ okrapod:

    The only college textbook I ever sold was my Baptist History book. My Dad, perhaps the greatest pastor no one has ever heard of, flipped through it for two minutes and said “this is nothing but 650 pages of people fighting with each other.” He was right. So I sold it.

  43. okrapod wrote:

    If I am mistaken then I certainly apologize. Somebody mentioned notes from a course in Baptist polity and did not reply.

    You're thinking about a different person, okra. I can't remember his name, but it wasn't Joe.

  44. Joe Reed wrote:

    Exegetical question… when Jesus says “let your yes be yes,” is that any less binding before God than a formal covenant?

    “33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

    Read in context, Jesus is saying keep your word. Do what is right. Do what you say you’re going to do. Don’t swear oaths. Just be honest and forthcoming.

  45. @ Deb:

    Correct. It used to be the Baptist General Conference. Some of us curmudgeonly types still refuse to call it Converge 🙂

    And no, John Piper is by no means representative of the denomination, and I say that as one who is more sympathetic to his position than the denomination’s position (firing squad, assemble!!).

  46. Nancy2 wrote:

    okrapod wrote:
    If I am mistaken then I certainly apologize. Somebody mentioned notes from a course in Baptist polity and did not reply.
    /
    You Re thinking bout a different person, okra. I can’t remember his name, but it wasn’t Joe.

    I think it was Fred something.

  47. @ Nancy2:

    Yes! Church membership often involves some form of commitment to the other members of the church, and that’s not by any means a neo-Cal distinctive. It’s in most denominations. So my question is, before God, is giving verbal assent to a church’s membership articles really any different than a formal covenant?

    I get the legal stuff, I really do, and I’m at least sympathetic to the majority opinion here. But the idea that “let your yes be yes” somehow gets one off the hook of a deep covenant type commitment to a church might need to be revisited. Jesus was strengthening the “yes” not weakening the concept of covenant.

  48. @ Nancy2:

    Funny – I haven’t heard the name Fred Moritz in a long time. He came to my little Bible college and spoke in chapel a few times.

  49. Joe Reed wrote:

    And no, John Piper is by no means representative of the denomination, and I say that as one who is more sympathetic to his position than the denomination’s position (firing squad, assemble!!).

    Locked and loaded!!! ; ^ )
    Do water balloons count?
    Since I’m female, do I have to hide under the protection of a man, or can I launch the balloons, too?
    Aw, never mind. You’d best just duck. I’ve got pretty good aim. (Deadpan humor and a little sarcasm here!)

  50. Joe Reed wrote:

    So my question is, before God, is giving verbal assent to a church’s membership articles really any different than a formal covenant?

    Sure, but what are you agreeing to? There are a lot of churches that don’t have “membership articles”. I would never agree to any church who had a statement or covenant that you can’t leave by choice and choose where you want to go, and that’s what 9 Marks/neo-Cal churches have.

  51. @ Nancy2:

    Haha!! In your case, perhaps you could go to our bookstore in the lobby and rent a male for such time as you need to do anything meaningful, so he can take credit for it. 🙂

  52. But I also believe that if a church mistreats you or others, they have already broken God’s law as Jesus stated in all the “one another” verses. The covenant no longer has merit, and it was them, not you, that broke it.

  53. @ ishy:
    Same here. If I can’t leave a church because I move to a different place, or because I disagree with the direction the church is taking, or simply because I feel led to go elsewhere, I wouldn’t even consider joining. And I would never, ever sign a 9marxy membership contract.

  54. Joe Reed wrote:

    Haha!! In your case, perhaps you could go to our bookstore in the lobby and rent a male for such time as you need to do anything meaningful, so he can take credit for it.

    Ahhh, but if I rent a man, he will have to submit to meeeeeee!!!

  55. There’s also the issue that many of these covenants are very vague. The one at my old church is maybe four paragraphs, but apparently, they take a very liberal view on how it’s interpreted. It says you have to “respect the elders”, but they mean, “give absolute obedience to the elders.” There is nothing about leaving or joining another church, but I know for a fact they do not allow people to do so because any disagreement with an elder’s order is “not respecting them”.

  56. ishy wrote:

    There’s also the issue that many of these covenants are very vague. The one at my old church is maybe four paragraphs, but apparently, they take a very liberal view on how it’s interpreted. It says you have to “respect the elders”, but they mean, “give absolute obedience to the elders.”

    My Dear Wormwood:
    I refer you to my last epistle regarding semantics, specifically the redefinition of words into their “diabolical meanings”.
    Your Ravenously Affectionate Uncle,
    Screwtape

    There is nothing about leaving or joining another church, but I know for a fact they do not allow people to do so because any disagreement with an elder’s order is “not respecting them”.

    And like gangbangers in the ‘hood, they’ll shoot your ass for “Dissing” them.

  57. Joe Reed wrote:

    , if all covenants are unbiblical, are marriage vows an abomination to God, and should a husband and wife just say “yes I’ll love you, heck no I won’t covenant with you”?

    I don’t find scripture that records marriage between a man and woman as a covenant. In fact, I don’t find a one man/one woman marriage anywhere other than Uriah and Bathsheba. Marriage is normally noted as a man “taking” a woman without mention of a necessary ceremony.

    How or under what circumstances we have arrived at the tradition of reciting vows is a moot point since most are unaware that the vow they are reciting originated (supposedly) from scripture. Of course, should a divorce ever be desired for whatever the reason, one must provide legal proof of a marriage and that’s required by the state.

  58. Victorious wrote:

    I don’t find scripture that records marriage between a man and woman as a covenant. In fact, I don’t find a one man/one woman marriage anywhere other than Uriah and Bathsheba. Marriage is normally noted as a man “taking” a woman without mention of a necessary ceremony.

    In most marriages mentioned in the Bible, the women had no choice as to whom they married.

  59. Joe Reed wrote:

    Exegetical question… when Jesus says “let your yes be yes,” is that any less binding before God than a formal covenant?

    Well, in my particular case, I fulfilled my yes, but the elders did not fulfill their yes. So, what good was that covenant? I was the one who got excommunicated, keyed out, disfellowshipped. They broke the covenant.

    How does that work, Joe? The power resides solely with one party, and that is the problem. You will reply that they will give an account. And so they will. We are holding them to account now. And that is exactly what Paul’s example was in the NT.

  60. Victorious wrote:

    I don’t find scripture that records marriage between a man and woman as a covenant. In fact, I don’t find a one man/one woman marriage anywhere other than Uriah and Bathsheba. Marriage is normally noted as a man “taking” a woman without mention of a necessary ceremony.

    I don’t believe men can make covenants because they really can’t keep them. I think covenants are actually something only reserved for God. Just because people call something a “covenant” in English doesn’t mean that’s actually what it is in God’s eyes. Even most marriage vows are much more absolute than any person could possibly accomplish. I mean, really, has anyone ever done “to love and to cherish” at every moment of every day? I doubt it.

  61. Nancy2 wrote:

    Ahhh, but if I rent a man, he will have to submit to meeeeeee!!!

    We have a fine selection of very short men who are trained to yell “submit woman!” every hour on the hour. Our selection of the type you’re looking for is held in the back room because we consider them defective and we don’t know what to do with them.

  62. Joe Reed wrote:

    We have a fine selection of very short men who are trained to yell “submit woman!” every hour on the hour. Our selection of the type you’re looking for is held in the back room because we consider them defective and we don’t know what to do with them.

    I like a challenge. I doubt if reining in one of those short men would be anywhere near as hard as breaking a stud pony to ride.

    Fred Moritz, DMin from Bob Jones U …… that splains a lot!

  63. Nancy2 wrote:

    I like a challenge. I doubt if reining in one of those short men would be anywhere near as hard as breaking a stud pony to ride.

    Truth!

    I say this as someone who holds to traditional gender roles, the guys who scream loudest for the women to pipe down are typically a far cry from being real men. Screaming men give me the heebie jeebies anyway.

  64. Joe Reed wrote:

    I say this as someone who holds to traditional gender roles

    Before you use the word ‘traditional’ in sequence with gender roles, you may want to take another look at actual ‘tradition’, not just what Piper et al want to call tradition.

    Piper et al made that stuff up. I was born in 1934-Piper’s rules were not in place until fairly recently; nobody taught them to me, and the women of my generation did not live by any such nonsense. My mother was born in 1909 and she never lived by any such rules nor did her cohorts. Her mother was alive during the Victorian era, and her life did not remotely resemble Piper’s fantasies, and my other grandmother who was 12 when Mr. Lincoln was assassinated, and she remembered it, was nothing like Piper describes.

    Piper wants some fantasy which did not exist. As we say in the south, ‘well, poor man, bless his heart’. Men have the option to relate to real women, or not, but nobody has the right to false advertising; when Piper describes his manufactured intellectual property as ‘tradition’ it is false advertising for his cobbled up ideas.

  65. @ okrapod:

    I said I more closely aligned with Piper than my denomination with fear and trepidation that everything I said henceforth would be taken as though I were a Piper disciple, because that isn’t true.

    So when I say “traditional” I mean in accordance with my conservative Baptist upbringing, which was not driven by the CBMW, since it didn’t exist. Neither was it driven by the feminist movement of the ’60’s and ’70’s.

    Besides all that, I have no desire to jump into a discussion on that will change no ones mind and end badly. I’m secure enough to poke fun at myself and the caricature (and those who hold the caricature) of my tradition, which is what I’ve been doing.

  66. okrapod wrote:

    and my other grandmother who was 12 when Mr. Lincoln was assassinated

    Wow I would have loved to have talked to her!!

  67. @ Joe Reed:

    Had you said something like ‘my conservative Baptist background’ I would never have said a word. Because there is such an actual thing as your conservative Baptist background and you certainly have the right to reference it.

    But when people like Piper allege that they are talking about how things used to be, when all the time I and mine are ‘those who used to be’ and he misrepresents as he is misrepresenting me and mine and the world we came from-that is what I take personally.

    I have no quarrel with you. You don’t seem to be misrepresenting anything.

  68. @ Max:
    Thank you Max. I wish we had done this sooner. It has been eyeopening for me and I have been writing these posts.

  69. Sam wrote:

    I also remember that one time in church, they stood all the new members up at the front with framed certificates.

    Yep- it is kind of like a lawyer entering into evidence a contract during a lawsuit.

  70. Joe Reed wrote:

    jump into a discussion on that will change no ones mind and end badly. I’m secure enough to poke fun at myself and the caricature (and those who hold the caricature) of my tradition, which is what I’ve been doing.

    You do seem to have a good sense of humor, and humility.

  71. Joe Reed wrote:

    if all covenants are unbiblical,

    Are they unbiblical in regards to membership or are they extra biblical? If they are extra biblical, they may be unnecessary. Except-they are necessary so that churches do not get sued when they act like jerks to members and harass them to death.

    When I got married, there was no discussion of our marriage being a covenant. Yes, it was in a Christian church. This covenant thing is relatively new within the YRR groups.

    Now, did it make a difference? I am still married after decades. We raised three children to adulthood and all are Christians. In that moment my yes was yes as was my husband’s.

    God also gave us outs in marriage: desertion, adultery, abuse. So, I wonder if we should call it a contract with codicils?

    I am wondering why you are fighting so hard for this covenant membership thing since it is not in the Bible. I am quite dedicated when I join a church. I always have been. I only signed a covenant once in a church. It made no difference in my actions or attitudes to the church. I think the reason for them is clear. They are legal protection for the church.

  72. Nancy2 wrote:

    Danvers Statement, 1989; “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood”, 1991.

    It is right pathetic when people lose their ‘manhood’ but one does wonder how they can recover it if they forgot where they put it.

  73. Joe Reed wrote:

    I say that as one who is more sympathetic to his position

    Which position? He has many ranging from no women police officers to why tornadoes touch down in certain areas.

  74. Joe Reed wrote:

    is giving verbal assent to a church’s membership articles really any different than a formal covenant?

    Yes. It is a legal document. Also, most verbal assents do not involve agreeing to be disciplined for whatever the "thing" is at the moment.

  75. dee wrote:

    Which position? He has many ranging from no women police officers to why tornadoes touch down in certain areas.

    Piper’s latest “ask pastor John” is about male headship. In his response, he states that Complementarianism is an integral part of salvation. It was on Patheos Evangelical. I’ll find the link again.

  76. dee wrote:

    Divorce Minister wrote:

    keep people together on a mission.

    Which is even more baloney. If people agree with the mission, they will stay to course.

    Agreed. The pastor was saying this to explain why he was excluding me from leadership in light of my refusal to sign a document stating I would give his church 10% of our income.

  77. Nancy2 wrote:

    He’s out there, saying that Christians will be martyrs for Complementarianism in the tribulation.

    There is just something terribly terribly wrong here. Apparently he can’t even see what is going on right now with persecution of Christians if he thinks that persecution comes with a pop quiz on lifestyle issues. When people’s ideas, however closely held, distance them from observable reality then perhaps the word ‘eccentric’ is too mild and something more alarming would be a more appropriate word.

    Does he not have family or friends who can intervene for this man? Is it even remotely possible that mature and stable people are taking this sort of talk seriously?

  78. Dee, you stole my thunder. My husband and I will celebrate 32 yrs of marriage next week. Like you, we were also married in a christian church. Assembly of God to be exact. Both our children are outstanding adults and are Christians. I think I started hearing the word covenant mentioned in marriage ceremonies probably around the year 2000 or so. Maybe earlier. I have never thought of our marriage as a covenant. I just always thought that was what God has with man and that he called the new testament the new covenant. I would like someone who knows the original language of the word covenant in the Bible to look it up and explain it to us. I think this would change things for a lot of churches. They just use the current buzz word that other churches are using without even looking up how it was used in the Bible.

  79. Harley wrote:

    Dee, you stole my thunder. My husband and I will celebrate 32 yrs of marriage next week. Like you, we were also married in a christian church. Assembly of God to be exact. Both our children are outstanding adults and are Christians. I think I started hearing the word covenant mentioned in marriage ceremonies probably around the year 2000 or so.

    Good. I thought I was correct that this all started around the same time as membership contracts, complementarianism, the early stage of Calvinstahood etc.

  80. Nancy2 wrote:

    Piper’s latest “ask pastor John” is about male headship. In his response, he states that Complementarianism is an integral part of salvation. It was on Patheos Evangelical. I’ll find the link again.

    That is very, very important if he implied that. I think I will have to do a page on the weird complementarian movement. I he said that, I will use it to head up that page. It is just like Ken Ham who ties YEC to atonement.

  81. @ dee:
    This is part of Piper’s response:
    “This complementarian role of man and woman in marriage is deep, historical, biblical, beautiful, satisfying, and in harmony with our true nature. Therefore, it will not go away. It is too profound, too integral with both nature and grace, both creation and salvation. That’s reason number one that it won’t fade away.”

  82. @ dee:
    I saw the article on Patheos. I just checked – it’s also on Piper’s Desiring God. Just type male headship in the search box.

  83. dee wrote:

    When I got married, there was no discussion of our marriage being a covenant.

    Marriage is actually intriguing to me. God hates fornication, that’s clear. But what, if anything, is the magic “switch” that makes two people go from unmarried to married in God’s eyes, and therefore their “sporting” (to use an old KJV term) isn’t unholy anymore? I contend it’s the “I do,” which is formal and witnessed, hence at least covenantal if not formally a covenant.

  84. Nancy2 wrote:

    @ dee:
    This is part of Piper’s response:
    “This complementarian role of man and woman in marriage is deep, historical, biblical, beautiful, satisfying, and in harmony with our true nature. Therefore, it will not go away. It is too profound, too integral with both nature and grace, both creation and salvation. That’s reason number one that it won’t fade away.”

    We were discussing this on another thread, too, weren’t we?

    Piper was also telling us how God would respond if such and such happened . . . because he’s God’s bff. 😉

  85. @ Joe Reed:

    dee wrote:

    He has many ranging from no women police officers to why tornadoes touch down in certain areas.

    I’m good with the lightning striking the ELCA steeple position, not as good with the lady cop position, though I know unsaved cops who hold something akin to Piper’s position for completely non-theological reasons.

    Tornados – I’m torn between the position that God sends them wherever he wants like he told Job he does with lightning and the position that he doesn’t want them ever to exist or only in unpopulated areas but is so committed to the free will of mavericky weather fronts (to get your favorite Sproul reference in here too!) he won’t stop them no matter how many peoples exercise of free will to live another day is violated.

    By “closer to Piper than my denomination,” I mean he’s more theologically conservative than Converge, as am I.

  86. dee wrote:

    I am wondering why you are fighting so hard for this covenant membership thing since it is not in the Bible.

    You hate seeing churches use covenant membership as a club to unjustly beat people into submission, yes? As do I. And I think we both think any church who hides behind legalese in order to abuse people and get away with it is abominable.

    Maybe I could say it this way: what’s the baby, and what’s the bathwater? Throw away covenants, and Jesus says our yes is to be yes, hence our word is binding. Certainly formal commitments or covenants aren’t new since the year 2,000. Call marriage a covenant or not, it’s a formal commitment to another person, and so is church membership.

    Here’s my point: shouldn’t we be careful about throwing out the baby of church membership with the dirty bathwater of abused covenants? Just because adultery exists, should be throw out marriage?

    I think labeling the problem “covenants” is problematic, because covenants exist in other places too, and should we pitch them all because some are abused?

  87. This is probably not strictly on-topic, but The New City Catechism has been getting quite a bit of air time on The Gospel Coalition over the last few weeks. All the usual suspects are endorsing it.

  88. Joe Reed wrote:

    Here’s my point: shouldn’t we be careful about throwing out the baby of church membership with the dirty bathwater of abused covenants?

    Nonsense.

    Church covenants are simply a tool used by authoritarian leaders.

    Non-authoritarians have always been able to get along without church covenants.

  89. Deb wrote:

    not particularly ‘new’

    What seems to be new is the publication by Crossway. The version available publicly has a 2017 copyright and this appears to be the first printing (printed in China).

  90. Joe Reed wrote:

    Here’s my point: shouldn’t we be careful about throwing out the baby of church membership with the dirty bathwater of abused covenants?

    I’m not dissing church membership. When my husband and I joined our Southern Baptist church, we just waked the aisle and expressed our desire to transfer our membership. No church covenant to sign… That’s how it’s been done in traditional Southern Baptist churches for a long time.

  91. okrapod wrote:

    Does he not have family or friends who can intervene for this man? Is it even remotely possible that mature and stable people are taking this sort of talk seriously?

    Remember the Dynamics of CELEBRITY.

    NOBODY tells a CELEBRITY anything other than what the CELEBRITY wants to hear.

    Otherwise, “YOU’RE FIRED!” on the spot to the flattering agreement of all the Grima Wormtongues in the entourage.

  92. Deb wrote:

    When my husband and I joined our Southern Baptist church, we just waked the aisle and expressed our desire to transfer our membership. No church covenant to sign… That’s how it’s been done in traditional Southern Baptist churches for a long time.

    But that was BC (Before Calvin).

  93. dee wrote:

    Joe Reed wrote:
    I say that as one who is more sympathetic to his position
    Which position? He has many ranging from no women police officers to why tornadoes touch down in certain areas.

    Don’t forget “The sight of a Muscular Woman begets Unnatural Arousal in a Man”…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=457N1m4oUZw

  94. Deb wrote:

    Here is another promotion of it back in 2012.

    This new one seems to be just the children’s version. It is very dumbed down and very Calvinistic.

  95. Joe Reed wrote:

    I say this as someone who holds to traditional gender roles, the guys who scream loudest for the women to pipe down are typically a far cry from being real men. Screaming men give me the heebie jeebies anyway.

    I figure it’s because “these guys” have to scream and beat women down because they don’t dare raise hand against another man under pain of getting folded up and stuffed in a dumpster. And some of these PCCP Real Men are smaller and skinnier than most women as well — it wouldn’t be just other men who could fold them up into the dumpster.

    There may also be the “Trailer Trash Ku Kluxer” factor; nobody is as invested in making sure those on the bottom STAY on the bottom as those who are second from the bottom. And when everything is Power Struggle, there’s never an equal, only a Top and a Bottom.

    And as for “screaming men”…

    “And stop screaming. Nobody likes a religion with people screaming.”
    — Internet Monk

  96. Gram3 wrote:

    How does that work, Joe? The power resides solely with one party, and that is the problem. You will reply that they will give an account. And so they will. We are holding them to account now. And that is exactly what Paul’s example was in the NT.

    “They will give an account” combined with “In the Sweet By and By” is no account at all.

    Remember Judaism’s emphasis on the here-and-now Real World instead of some Spiritual limbo. Putting it off into “Pie in the Sky when you Die” just makes “giving account” UNREAL — may as well not exist. Just a gesture of utter impotence.

  97. Joe Reed wrote:

    You hate seeing churches use covenant membership as a club to unjustly beat people into submission…

    One thing I really hate is unbiblical stuff being used to divide Christian from Christian. As Deb (correctly) pointed out, church covenants are not mentioned in the Bible. Nowhere. Therefore under no circumstances should they be used to distinguish between anyone within the Body of Christ. And yet, if you produce a covenant and tell people this is necessary for membership status, you are doing precisely that. Or are you suggesting that a church have a covenant for membership and do precisely nothing with it? Give everyone all the rights of membership without signing the covenant and becoming a member? If so, then I’d suggest your covenant is a paper dragon and a waste of time. If not and you require membership for someone to teach Sunday School or vote, then again, there you are, creating first and second class members of the Body of Christ based on a criterion that is utterly without Biblical basis.

    Surely you don’t mean to support such a reprehensible position.

    Joe Reed wrote:

    Certainly formal commitments or covenants aren’t new since the year 2,000.

    Means absolutely nothing; having a tough time seeing how the argument that something has been done for 20 centuries has any bearing on what is or is not biblical or what should be normative within the Body of Christ. If that argument from what has been done by tradition holds up, then public executions aren’t new since the year 2,000, so can one make that argument for them?

    Joe Reed wrote:

    Here’s my point: shouldn’t we be careful about throwing out the baby of church membership with the dirty bathwater of abused covenants?

    If an extrabiblical requirement is used to distinguish between members of the Body of Christ and create a two-tiered hierarchy, how is that any different from what the Pharisees did? It would seem to me that requiring a church covenant fits the very definition of bathwater.

    Joe Reed wrote:

    I think labeling the problem “covenants” is problematic, because covenants exist in other places too…

    This is the weakest argument you’ve used and it’s one unfortunately used by a lot of leaders who really should know better but probably don’t care. All sorts of things exist in other places, and by “other places” I can only assume you mean the world. Surely you don’t want to go there. As if that should be our model for anything? We are called to be different from the world; if we are filled with the Holy Spirit and all priests, if our membership is in the one true Universal Church, and that is the only one that lasts for an eternity, if anyone is trying to call you to swear an oath to their temporal system, their 501(c)(3) corporation, which is fallible and at one point will almost certainly pressure you to do something other than the Lord wants (people, being as they are, imperfect), then at some point you must choose between one covenant and the other. There is a very good reason why Jesus told us to swear an oath to no one and nothing.

    Joe Reed wrote:

    Throw away covenants, and Jesus says our yes is to be yes, hence our word is binding.

    If this is the case, if our word is truly to be binding, our “yes to be yes and no to be no”, then WHY IN THE WORLD DO WE NEED AN EXTRA WRITTEN COVENANT?

    Or did Jesus not really mean what He said?

  98. Deb wrote:

    Here are pricey ‘used’ copies available on Amazon – published three years ago.

    Anyone willing to pay that price deserves what they get.

  99. @ Deb:
    Wow! I should go back to a huge church garage sale I was at this morning and see if they have that one. It looked like some young Calvinist saw the light and unloaded all his books. Several titles there by Piper, Keller, Mohler and other New Calvinist who’s who. But the real gem was Calvin’s seminal work “Institutes of the Christian Religion” … there it was, I even touched it! For only a $1.00. You know a young reformer is done with that bunch when they unload the “Institutes”! Perhaps he’s been reading TWW.

  100. @ Deb:
    I’ll go back in the morning with my camera to see if those books are still there. It was such a blessing to see them sitting in boxes on the floor and imagining that some YRR had been set free!

  101. Joe Reed wrote:

    I know unsaved cops who hold something akin to Piper’s position for completely non-theological reasons.

    By far the minority. Women are perfectly capable of fulfilling the duties of law enforcement.

    Joe Reed wrote:

    he won’t stop them no matter how many peoples exercise of free will to live another day is violated.

    Could you explain this again. I had a hard time understanding what you meant.

    Joe Reed wrote:

    I mean he’s more theologically conservative than Converge, as am I.

    In what way? Do you mean that women shouldn’t be muscular or they should endure abuse for a night are theologically conservative opinions? What, precisely isa theologically conservative opinion and how is that different from a theologically far right opinion?

  102. Joe Reed wrote:

    Just because adultery exists, should be throw out marriage?

    Marriage is considered something people should do in the Bible. There is no formal requirement for joining a church spelled out in the Bible.

    Joe Reed wrote:

    I think labeling the problem “covenants” is problematic, because covenants exist in other places too, and should we pitch them all because some are abused?

    There is no covenant of church membership defined in the Bible. Also, since covenants do not define, a priori, how church discipline will be administered, and for what, why would I subject myself to such a document? Would you go to a country which can punish you but will not tel you for what and how? Of course you wouldn’t. But you are asking me to do exactly that.

    Pastors and church leaders are just as sinful as the average church attendee like me. Why should I trust them to handle church discipline appropriately without defining what the boundaries are? Where there are no boundaries, sin has a higher probability of creeping out. Karen Hinkley and Todd Wilhelm are great examples of why the system does NOT work .

    UCC Dubai's pastor is a BFF of Mark Dever and trained under him, and Matt Chandler is one of the leaders in the movement. If they didn’t get it, and they abused people on top of it, why should I trust others to get it right, without careful elucidation of sins and punishment presented to me a priori?

    Oh yeah, they won’t do it because it limits their flexibility to fly off the handle like Matt Chandler.

  103. @ Deb:
    In my church, I attended a new members class and then had to agree that the church was Biblical and that I follow Jesus Christ. No membership covenant.

  104. Max wrote:

    but the real gem was Calvin’s seminal work “Institutes of the Christian Religion” … there it was, I even touched it! For only a $1.00. You know a young reformer is done with that bunch when they unload the “Institutes”!

    I would love to see a picture of that. Even more, I would love to know the story behind it. They probably disciplined him for not telling his wife to stop exercising and getting muscular.

  105. dee wrote:

    Could you explain this again. I had a hard time understanding what you meant.

    It was a tongue-in-cheek reference to a great power (in this case a tornado) paying no heed to the free will of tornado victims who don’t will to be victims. Clumsy I know.

    dee wrote:

    In what way? Do you mean that women shouldn’t be muscular or they should endure abuse for a night are theologically conservative opinions?

    Scrawny women are by definition extremely theologically conservative! Weirdly, Calvin affirmed as much in the version of the Institutes that was translated by Owen Strachan.

    dee wrote:

    Women are perfectly capable of fulfilling the duties of law enforcement.

    Some are. Not all.
    Some men are. Not all.

  106. dee wrote:

    It is the new “thing.”

    One of the recent articles I read said the reformers created catechisms and the RCC responded by creating their own. Who knew?

  107. Joe Reed wrote:

    Scrawny women are by definition extremely theologically conservative!

    I’m also going to predict that someone writes an article soon on “9 reasons Barbie is a neo-Calvinist” based on her skinny arms and legs, then another questioning her Christianity for not letting Ken drive the Corvette.

  108. dee wrote:

    I would love to know the story behind it.

    I checked the books for an owner’s name – nothing in any of them. I thought it might be someone in the community that I knew. We have two New Calvinist churches here and a Baptist college from which they draw new members. I guess the origin of those books at the garage sale will have to remain a mystery. I’ll snap a pic of the books tomorrow if they are still there.

  109. Max wrote:

    dee wrote:
    I would love to know the story behind it.
    I checked the books for an owner’s name – nothing in any of them. I thought it might be someone in the community that I knew. We have two New Calvinist churches here and a Baptist college from which they draw new members. I guess the origin of those books at the garage sale will have to remain a mystery. I’ll snap a pic of the books tomorrow if they are still there.

    In my state (California) the men return from John MacArthur’s The Shepherd’s Conference with bags of free books, which they then keep, give to others, or sell.

  110. Max wrote:

    “We also reaffirm our commitment to the covenant at all members meetings and before taking communion, when we stand as a body and recommit ourselves to it.” (Capitol Hill Baptist Church)

    I find that statement very strange! Envisioning a group of people hunkering around the communion table… Using the communion service to reinforce a membership contract diminishes the significance of that precious sacrament/ordinance. When I take communion, I reaffirm my commitment to Christ! The “it” in my life is Jesus, not a church contract.

    This.

  111. Nancy2 wrote:

    Do water balloons count?

    Back in high school, me and my buddies walked into a medical supply store. The clerk was dressed as a nurse, with one of the old school white hats. We rather nervously asked for ten feet of 0 gauge surgical tubing. She replied, “you boys are making one of those water balloon launchers, aren’t you?” Our record was 80 yards. 😉

  112. Max wrote:

    I find that statement very strange! Envisioning a group of people hunkering around the communion table and reaffirming a written agreement with the church has no Biblical basis whatsoever. Using the communion service to reinforce a membership contract diminishes the significance of that precious sacrament/ordinance. When I take communion, I reaffirm my commitment to Christ! The “it” in my life is Jesus, not a church contract.

    Most Neo-Calvinist leaders teach election is based on their church membership in an authoritarian-style church. Then Jesus' atonement makes those elections possible. This is why they say complementarianism is essential to the gospel because complementarianism is a primary way to manage an authoritarian church. Leaders command the men, and the men command the women and children. They say that ESS theology grants them this authority to be in the place of God on Earth commanding everyone. You affirm your "commitment" to the church, you are saying you are eligible to be elected.

    It has a sort of logic; you just really have to argue a lot of extra-biblical stuff to get to it. It's also exactly how most cults argue they should have control over the lives of their followers.

  113. Joe Reed wrote:

    Here’s my point: shouldn’t we be careful about throwing out the baby of church membership with the dirty bathwater of abused covenants? Just because adultery exists, should be throw out marriage?

    So, joining a church is the equivalent of getting married. …… John Piper style, maybe? If you join a church and learn afterward that it is abusive, so you have to endure the abuse “for a season”? …….. Bruce Ware style, maybe? If your church abuses you, it’s because you are not submissive enough?

    What happens when your church decides it is more important than your spouse and children ……. when sacrificial giving trumps paying the bills and feeding your family …….. when attending group meetings is more important than keeping your job?
    What if that “baby” in the bathwater is nothing more than a pile of BS with a pretty bow on top?

    For the non-churched, is joining a golf club the equivalent of getting married?

  114. Nancy2 wrote:

    Just because adultery exists, should be throw out marriage?

    Oh, a couple more things ……. If you decide to leave one church and go to another, is that equal to no-fault divorce, followed by marrying someone else? If you visit another church, is that equal to committing adultery? Polygamy?

  115. dee wrote:

    @ Joe Reed:
    So, you contend that deciding who should or should not be law officers is one of the hallmarks of theological conservatism?

    Seriously? No, that’s one of the hallmarks of a police academy.

  116. Nancy2 wrote:

    Joe Reed wrote:

    So, joining a church is the equivalent of getting married. ……

    What if that “baby” in the bathwater is nothing more than a pile of BS with a pretty bow on top?

    I never said they were equivalent. I was saying there is a place for real, meaningful, even formally affirmed commitment to another person (marriage) or church (membership).

    The baby is church membership, the bathwater is membership abused. The Deebs believe in church membership, as do I. I’m just questioning if the root problem is the covenant or something else.

    The case could be made that the term “covenant” is a shibboleth of sorts, because of its usage primarily in certain ways membership is applied, which is a fair case to make.

  117. Joe Reed wrote:

    I never said they were equivalent. I was saying there is a place for real, meaningful, even formally affirmed commitment to another person (marriage) or church (membership).

    What happens when you find out the person you married has been hiding things from you from day 1, and that person has ulterior motives and a hidden agenda?
    What happens when you join a church, and you find out the church has been hiding things from you from day 1, and that the church leaders have ulterior motives and a hidden agenda?

  118. dee wrote:

    @ Joe Reed:
    So, you contend that deciding who should or should not be law officers is one of the hallmarks of theological conservatism?

    Maybe this will help. I believe male pastors is consistent with conservative theology.

    Male police officers is consistent with those who began by making a case for conservative theology and found that their efforts made a name for themselves, so they kept writing in order to keep their fame, even when they ran out of decent material, and they wandered into the realm of the weird in an attempt to stay “relevant” and keep their fame.

    In other words, if you grind an axe long enough at some point it ceases to be an axe, and you’re just grinding a chunk of iron because you ran out of axe. That’s what I think happened to some of the more notorious complementarians. If they’d just made their case and shut up, they’d have avoided becoming so weird. But they’d have lost their fame too. They must think it’s better to be weird and famous I guess.

    And yes, “weird” is probably a very charitable term because it doesn’t account for the damage some have caused.

  119. Max wrote:

    Using the communion service to reinforce a membership contract diminishes the significance of that precious sacrament/ordinance. When I take communion, I reaffirm my commitment to Christ! The “it” in my life is Jesus, not a church contract.
    There is only one covenant that a believer needs in his life … the one written in blood by Jesus. Contracts of men pale in comparison. They are designed to control you. Christ has set you free.

    Absolutely right, Max.

    You can make the argument that these church contracts and the notion of using communion to strengthen commitment to one borders on idolatry and blasphemy. In essence, they make their organization of greater importance that Jesus, their organization comes between the believer and Jesus. At the risk of setting up a strawman, if they’d say “But we’re emphasizing the importance of the Body of Christ through affirming our commitment to the church covenant” I’d say the Body of Christ is all believers everywhere, and that is nonsense, they’re only affirming their commitment to their particular organization.

  120. Nancy2 wrote:

    Nancy2 wrote:
    If you decide to leave one church and go to another, is that equal to no-fault divorce, followed by marrying someone else? If you visit another church, is that equal to committing adultery? Polygamy?

    Of course, as you’d surely agree, it’s none of the above. By definition you cannot leave the Church; if you are a part of the Body of Christ you are the Church. Whether you continue to meet together with other parts of that Body is a matter of obedience to the Lord, but the Church is the Church, it is all believers, and the only manner in which one can commit the equivalent of adultery is not by choosing to visit or meet with a different group of believers, it would be by rejecting Jesus.

  121. okrapod wrote:

    @ ishy:
    So what is new?
    The details. Only the details.

    I think it’s as old as humans, but people are still dumb enough to fall for it. I guess one thing that is really new is their top-down takeover approach. It’s been done in the form of governments, but I don’t think we’ve ever in history put so much emphasis on charity institutions, especially to run religious organization. I honestly think their emphasis on covenants is kinda stupid and just makes them look worse to followers, and that people would still probably follow them without forcing them into contracts, but I dunno, maybe there’s more of a plan there yet to come.

    The other thing that is new is how they use social media to indoctrinate their minions. I’m not an end times fanatic, but one thing in Revelation that always stuck out to me was the spot where the two witnesses are killed while watched all over the world. Only now with television and social media is that possible.

  122. Joe Reed wrote:

    The case could be made that the term “covenant” is a shibboleth of sorts, because of its usage primarily in certain ways membership is applied, which is a fair case to make.

    What everyone is saying, though, is that you cannot make this case biblically. It’s nowhere in Scripture. You keep saying the same thing over and over without actually giving any sort of reasoning for it.

  123. Law Prof wrote:

    Of course, as you’d surely agree, it’s none of the above. By definition you cannot leave the Church; if you are a part of the Body of Christ you are the Church. Whether you continue to meet together with other parts of that Body is a matter of obedience to the Lord, but the Church is the Church, it is all believers, and the only manner in which one can commit the equivalent of adultery is not by choosing to visit or meet with a different group of believers, it would be by rejecting Jesus.

    I definitely agree! Soandso Baptist on Suchandsuch Street and members of that church are not THE CHURCH. Is is simply a place where a group of members of THE CHURCH choose to gather. Being a card carrying member of a physical church building at a specific address means very little to me.
    Missionaries and relief workers pay no mind to who’s a member of what church to witness and aid people in need. Kentucky Changers do work for needy people on houses that are in a state of disrepair. They work as a united people ……. assignments are random, and not meted out according to who belongs to which church. They share the work load, the food, the tools, the stories, the prayers. They are one.
    I have worked in VBS in a neighboring church because they were short handed and a friend asked if I would. I never thought twice about it, and neither did they …… because we are one.

  124. ishy wrote:

    What everyone is saying, though, is that you cannot make this case biblically. It’s nowhere in Scripture. You keep saying the same thing over and over without actually giving any sort of reasoning for it.

    As Christians, are we one Church? Or, are we divided into smaller churches by man-written, man-ordered contractual agreements? Did Jesus say, go with therefore teaching all nations and creating signed, contractual agreements for each convert?
    And what of our young people? Where do those church “covenants” put minors who are not legally old enough to sign on the dotted line?

  125. @ Nancy2:

    That’s a great question. Theology typically distinguishes between “local church” and “universal church.” It’s how we understand things in the Bible like “tell it to the church” in one sense and “the church is the bride” in another. Both seem rather well supported in the Bible.

    Local church is the gathering of professing Christians in one place. Some are real some aren’t. Their membership is determined by the local church’s process for membership. Universal church is the collection of all true Christians in all the ages, whose exact membership is known only to God Himself.

  126. @ Joe Reed:
    “And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.”

    No local church, no membership classes, no sign-on-the-dotted-line church contract/covenant ……. yet, the eunuch was no less a child of God.

  127. @ Joe Reed:
    I believe there are certain, limited things that should be dealt with inside the bounds of a local church. Two examples off the top of my head: continuing in adultery and continually disrupting church services

  128. @ Nancy2:
    Sorry, I accidentally hit the wrong button. Adultery – if a person does not repent/apologize and change their behavior, I do believe the local church has the authority to discipline the member. And by discipline, I mean council if and only if that member is receptive to counciling (no bullying, no harassing), removing from teaching position, etc. If the behavior continues, I believe the local church has the authority to remove that person from membership.

    If a crime has been committed (pedophilia, abuse, etc) that should not be handled ‘in house’. The local church should turn the matter over to local, secular authorities. A church will not hesitate to go to secular authorities when people are stealing money from their coffers. Yet, so many will cover for abusers in their midst.

    I believe the authority of a local church is very limited. I do not believe disagreeing with local church doctrine, interpretation of scripture, or certain things the church promotes is a discipline issue (Todd Wilhelm, for example)……. Neither is choosing to go to another church, for whatever reason.

    How much authority should be literally signed over to local church leadership? Do pastors and elders have a God-ordained monarchy over the local church members? I say none. We no longer need priests as a go-between.

  129. Nancy2 wrote:

    Tim wrote: “a judge (Tim F.)”

    Tjanks for your kind words, Nancy. Just to clarify: my post was write solely from a doctrinal standpoint and should no be taken as any sort of legal analysis regarding church covenants.

  130. Nancy2 wrote:

    As Christians, are we one Church? Or, are we divided into smaller churches by man-written, man-ordered contractual agreements? Did Jesus say, go with therefore teaching all nations and creating signed, contractual agreements for each convert?
    And what of our young people? Where do those church “covenants” put minors who are not legally old enough to sign on the dotted line?

    When I joined my church, there were vows, but my part of the vow was basically that I’d support the church with my prayers and service “until God calls me elsewhere”. All I had to say was “yes”. But part of the vow was that where I go from there was between me and God.

    Signing a covenant usurps God’s authority. I don’t think it’s much different from the neo-Calvinist belief that in the Trinity relationship, men represent God. Really, they are usurping God’s authority. God is the authority over believers, not the church, not pastors, and not men.

  131. Tim wrote:

    Just to clarify: my post was write solely from a doctrinal standpoint and should no be taken as any sort of legal analysis regarding church covenants.

    I understand.
    I just think it says a lot to have very qualified people from different positions/situations agreeing on the subject.

  132. ishy wrote:

    Signing a covenant usurps God’s authority. I don’t think it’s much different from the neo-Calvinist belief that in the Trinity relationship, men represent God. Really, they are usurping God’s authority. God is the authority over believers, not the church, not pastors, and not men.

    This! Yes, you said it better than I ever could.

  133. Joe Reed wrote:

    So when I say “traditional” I mean in accordance with my conservative Baptist upbringing, which was not by the CBMW, since it didn’t exist. Neither was it driven by the feminist movement of the ’60’s and ’70’s.

    Gender Hierarchy was *never* part of “traditional” conservative Baptist thought until CBMW put it there. This is something I do know more than a little about. Complementary, yes. Hierarchy, no, no, NO. ESS heresy? That poor pastor would have been run out of a traditional business meeting fleeing for his life. From women. Now this new breed of heretics are supported by well-meaning folks like you who think they are upholding God’s good and beautiful design. In the words of Newhart, Stop It.

    I am still a conservative Baptist even though I refuse to bow the knee to Piper who has now openly admitted that he is defending a *culture* of Complementarity. Think about that for a minute, Joe. I believe the Bible. I am more conservative than you are because I believe in a consistent hermeneutic which will destroy the ad hoc dogma of “complementarianism.” Research the history. You will not change anyone’s mind here, but you might change your own mind. That’s what happened to me.

  134. ishy wrote:

    Joe Reed wrote:
    The case could be made that the term “covenant” is a shibboleth of sorts, because of its usage primarily in certain ways membership is applied, which is a fair case to make.
    What everyone is saying, though, is that you cannot make this case biblically. It’s nowhere in Scripture. You keep saying the same thing over and over without actually giving any sort of reasoning for it.

    You’re right, of course, but if all you have is a bare assertion, you just run that argument into the ground. At least Joe has some integrity, seems like a well-enough meaning fellow, he hasn’t resorted to a mix of ad hominem, invective and moving the goalposts. In my opinion not the best arguments to support this particular point of his, but shows signs of integrity and decency, even Christianity.

  135. Law Prof wrote:

    ishy wrote:
    Joe Reed wrote:
    The case could be made that the term “covenant” is a shibboleth of sorts, because of its usage primarily in certain ways membership is applied, which is a fair case to make.
    What everyone is saying, though, is that you cannot make this case biblically. It’s nowhere in Scripture. You keep saying the same thing over and over without actually giving any sort of reasoning for it.
    You’re right, of course, but if all you have is a bare assertion, you just run that argument into the ground. At least Joe has some integrity, seems like a well-enough meaning fellow, he hasn’t resorted to a mix of ad hominem, invective and moving the goalposts. In my opinion not the best arguments to support this particular point of his, but shows signs of integrity and decency, even Christianity.

    By “you”, I meant you in the non-particular you, I meant Joe or people in general who make biblical arguments unsupported by the Bible, not you, ishy.

  136. Gram3 wrote:

    This is something I do know more than a little about. Complementary, yes. Hierarchy, no, no, NO.

    So let me ask you something because you were around a bit before me and can shed some light for me. Do you think one reason there wasn’t significant emphasis placed on defining gender relationships in the church back in the day, as they say, is because up until WWII and gals going into the workforce in a new way there was sort of a widespread cultural agreement that guys did one thing and gals did another? You know, Mrs. Cleaver and Aunt Bee and Donna Reed sort of stuff. I’m not saying that was the golden era by any means, I’m just wondering why it’s such a big deal in the church now but didn’t seem to be then.

  137. Gram3 wrote:

    You will not change anyone’s mind here

    I actually agree with you. I do want to understand the arguments well, and I’d rather hash through some of the underlying thought processes and challenge my own thinking along the way.

    And ishy, I’m not trying to make the argument that membership covenants are biblical, because that’s a huge field no one would want to defend. I’m arguing that covenant between two parties is biblically valid. It’s a much smaller piece of ground I’m going after. It

  138. Joe Reed wrote:

    And ishy, I’m not trying to make the argument that membership covenants are biblical, because that’s a huge field no one would want to defend. I’m arguing that covenant between two parties is biblically valid. It’s a much smaller piece of ground I’m going after. It

    I don’t think there’s any evidence that men can make covenants. If you define a covenant as an unbreakable contract with God, men can not ever fulfill one. BTW, in the New Testament, the word for covenant such as in Hebrews 8:6 can only be translated as one-sided (διαθήκη), which is not how we currently define the word contract. There is not one place in Scripture where a covenant was initiated by a human other than Jesus or kept by one. They are promises belonging only to God. Not even marriage is called a covenant in the Bible. The church started using that word for marriage much, much later.

    The impact of διαθήκη is that Jesus is the only human covenant fulfiller. Using the word covenant any other way than an absolutely fulfilled promise of God vastly diminishes it’s meaning.

  139. ishy wrote:

    The impact of διαθήκη is that Jesus is the only human covenant fulfiller. Using the word covenant any other way than an absolutely fulfilled promise of God vastly diminishes it’s meaning.

    First of all, hooray for bringing in the Greek font. I love Greek, it was my minor in undergrad. Wish I knew it better and hadn’t forgotten so much of it.

    So what do you make of this sort of thing:

    “And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.”
    ‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭18:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    Might there be more than one type of covenant?

  140. ishy wrote:

    If you define a covenant as an unbreakable contract with God, men can not ever fulfill one

    Totally agree.

  141. This is interesting too. Paul maybe didn’t get the “let your yes be yes” memo.

    “Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchreae because of a vow he had taken.”
    ‭‭Acts‬ ‭18:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

  142. Joe Reed wrote:

    I’m arguing that covenant between two parties is biblically valid.

    I would argue that it’s not valid. The authoritarians — Mark Dever/Capitol Hill Baptist/9 Marks, Acts 29, Matt Chandler (Texas pastor), and scores of other authoritarians can’t legislate what only the Holy Spirit can do. Additionally, these men are all lacking in love and common decency, explaining why they are so enthusiastic about rules, rules, and more rules — and being the enforcers over other people.

    My own story of being excommunicated and shunned…and “disciplined” for a whopping 8 1/2 years of meetings: http://thewartburgwatch.com/permpage-church-discipline-and-abuse/#comment-320691

  143. Joe Reed wrote:

    So what do you make of this sort of thing:
    “And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.”
    ‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭18:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬
    Might there be more than one type of covenant?

    I think the Israelites did try to make covenants. I just don’t think they succeeded in keeping them, which is why the word morphed in the New Testament to a one-sided agreement.

    David did not perfectly keep his covenant with Jonathan–being king separated him from Jonathan because Jonathan was Saul’s son and his family fled when David became king. In the story of Mephibosheth, he didn’t even know Mephibosheth existed as part of Jonathan’s family. David made restitution in the end, but he did not keep the covenant.

  144. @ ishy:

    Social media is really making the evangelical church culture more and more Orwellian-like. I know it’s common to use Orwellian as a phrase, and even throw the term gaslighting around…but it’s really true and it is exactly what’s happening in so many ways. It’s happening in general society of course, but I experience it and see it as almost worse in church and ministry culture.

    So much thought reform and tone policing and setting things and systems and potential helpful dialogue that could otherwise take place up to fail. Creating problems and projecting things on to people not in power and then disciplining things and problems that they created to exist in the first place, or stuff no one is even doing or isn’t actually sin. The vague language, redefining terms, spinning conversations, misappropriating terms and theological concepts. Assuming things that aren’t there, and then acting like they are there, and no one can figure out what is going on. Lying, controlling and forming false narratives, cover ups for friends and elite but discipline for the “sheep”. Pre-emptively sabotaging things and people then providing the only means and solution to “clean it all up”. Silencing and marginalizing people who speak into issues and then 20 years later when they decide it’s time to deal with it they start politically waving it’s banner with no compassion or regard for the people they stepped on and silenced. They co-opt off of other people’s labor, pain and work and pretend they just discovered it.

    Monetizing (publishing, resources galore) what has always been free in the kingdom of God and obtainable for anyone and with people already next to you (day to day life wisdom, fruits of the Spirit). Self-proclaimed and system selected gurus who are selling and writing what is already freely available and accessible to all. When the simple and ways of the Spirit are always free to those who seek and want them, against such things there is no law. The Spirit becomes the spirit of industry and warehouse and is marketed and said to only be available and inside these few people we select. Authority/responsibility in actual expertise, thus not something automatically known and studied by everyone (languages, academic realms of study in theology) are not as easily distinguishable or properly shared because evangelical cultures version of expert is expert over self-promoting one’s self on things people already know and can figure out on their own within a falsely oriented system.

    And a lot of the gaslighting and everything else is not even in the manipulative tactics and deflective way things are presented, but are embedded in some of the theology and ecclesiology itself.

    It is especially crazy making when some theology we are seeing actually *is* self-contradictory in its essence, and cyclical mind games on its own. Then you add normal gaslighting and thought reform tactics on top of theology and ecclesiology that is already doing that…and you have to work and identify both and then identify how they conflate and play off each other. Which way is up, down? Wait, what’s going on here? It’s such a psychological and emotional and spiritual conundrum. It’s exhausting.

    I think church contracts are essentially a paper version and representation of spiritual and social gaslighting in a group.

  145. @ ishy:

    Fascinating. I’ve never heard the interpretation that David failed in that covenant. I would disagree with your understanding, but I certainly commend your consistency.

  146. @ Velour:

    Your story and those like it are the reasons I wouldn’t want to shoulder the burden of defending any and all versions of membership covenants. Obviously some are just a cudgel in the hands of wicked men.

    So you’d say marriage is not to be understood as a covenant between two people and God, yes?

  147. emily honey wrote:

    It is especially crazy making when some theology we are seeing actually *is* self-contradictory in its essence, and cyclical mind games on its own. Then you add normal gaslighting and thought reform tactics on top of theology and ecclesiology that is already doing that…and you have to work and identify both and then identify how they conflate and play off each other. Which way is up, down? Wait, what’s going on here? It’s such a psychological and emotional and spiritual conundrum. It’s exhausting.
    I think church contracts are essentially a paper version and representation of spiritual and social gaslighting in a group.

    I don’t think all go that far. I went to a church that had a membership agreement, and not one thing on the agreement had to do with what members did for the church, it was all what the church would do for members. I don’t remember signing anything there; it was by verbal agreement in the service. However, that church failed me pretty badly on several of those points, such as always having a place in “Christian education” for me. They were big on demanding that single people work in the nursery instead of having a life group. I don’t think it was much after I joined that they dropped that agreement and you just filled out an information card to join.

    My point with covenants is that if you fail one tiny bit, even in a single thought, you still fail. As humans who are not Jesus, there is no way we can keep a covenant in deed, word, and spirit at every moment. Only God can do that. With a contract, you are only bound to the words actually in the contract, and it is broken if one party breaks it.

  148. Law Prof wrote:

    At the risk of setting up a strawman, if they’d say “But we’re emphasizing the importance of the Body of Christ through affirming our commitment to the church covenant” I’d say the Body of Christ is all believers everywhere, and that is nonsense, they’re only affirming their commitment to their particular organization.

    And, in particular, affirming their commitment to adhere to whatever the church leaders require of them, to never question what they say or do.

    As believers, we are part of a greater Body of Christ than the church we join ourselves to. The most blessed Christians are those who see no boundaries, who are free to join others in worship and service. My wife and I often visit other churches to hear a certain speaker or attend an event, even those outside our denominational affiliation. In the Kingdom of God, there are no religious structures, no church contracts, no jots and tittles to follow … only Jesus and a host of followers who worship Him.

  149. ishy wrote:

    You affirm your “commitment” to the church, you are saying you are eligible to be elected. It has a sort of logic; you just really have to argue a lot of extra-biblical stuff to get to it. It’s also exactly how most cults argue they should have control over the lives of their followers.

    So, if you choose not to sign the contract, you are obviously not one of the elect. I would say at this point, a strong case can be made that certain corners of New Calvinism are approaching cult status.

  150. Deb wrote:

    Next time take a picture

    Went back to the church garage sale this morning, but returned home without a pic. Someone had rifled through the boxes containing the collection of New Calvinist books and made off with them. I wasn’t surprised – it was a treasure trove of popular titles by popular authors in the reformed movement. As I noted earlier, I live in a community that has a Baptist college and three New Calvinist churches; YRRs are swarming like bees here. Someone was able to pick up a library of reformed books for $20 or so, rather than spend a few hundred dollars for the same books new. I left the sale with mixed feeling … glad that someone had unloaded that collection, perhaps having seen the light … but sad that another would now be indoctrinated.

  151. Max wrote:

    So, if you choose not to sign the contract, you are obviously not one of the elect. I would say at this point, a strong case can be made that certain corners of New Calvinism are approaching cult status.

    Max, I saw your comment on …… SBCToday? ……. Mr. 33 yo pastor Chad getting really snotty. If there’s a load of Chads coming out of the seminaries and spreading their snottiness, I’m a done.

  152. Nancy2 wrote:

    Max, I saw your comment on …… SBCToday? ……. Mr. 33 yo pastor Chad getting really snotty. If there’s a load of Chads coming out of the seminaries and spreading their snottiness, I’m a done.

    Yes, that was me. I found the multi-part articles on NAMB by Dr. McRaney interesting and offered a couple of comments. Yes, the young Calvinist pastor “Chad” was condescending and disrespectful to his elders … but I’m used to that from these upstarts. Sadly, his behavior is not atypical … there’s a bunch more like him in SBC pulpits now. I fear that SBC seminaries, like Southern, have created an atmosphere which encourages a rebellious reformer’s attitude and new graduates take it with them as they hit the street looking for a church. Done? I suppose I’m done, but not quit yet.

  153. ishy,

    Yea, I agree. To clarify, I mean more so in the type of controlling documents talked about here. Enjoyed reading people’s back and forth on covenants and so on.

    ******

    My personal reasoning with these documents, and repeating and agreeing with a lot that has been well said already, is that God has already provided the contract and covenant provisions and sustainment for his church and people in Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Scripture, the ordinances or sacraments (particularly Baptism, Lord’s Supper or Eucharist) and so on. Baptism, no matter or depending on your view, for example, can act as the public signature into the church of sorts. Other examples abound, that God has already provided to do what these new documents/contracts/covenants are trying to do.

    Essentially, we already have all we need in Christ and through what God has already provided for our communities, so no need for these new documents. The sudden need and creation of these type of documents betrays that men are misunderstanding, denying, or trying to replace or recreate the church wheel. Or redefine in some way God’s and people’s relationship to the church, God, self, and each other at some level. So the documents themselves are a symptom that there is something fundamentally amiss in the community that leads them to this place.

    I think if you see one of these documents, you can automatically know there is a flawed understanding of relationship/s somewhere, whether with God (theology, doctrines), self or others (practical theology, ethics, anthropology, etc.) So these documents don’t just neutrally and suddenly exist in church in a vaccuum, there is a breakdown of belief and understanding of relationship somewhere that leads to their existence. Again, they are trying to replace or redefine what God has already provided.

    Whatever the underlying cause and causes are, the undiagnosed root problem/s eventually leads the community to devolve into a utilitarian way of functioning in relationships with God, self, and others. And why relationships in these places are or end up becoming controlling, utilitarian, cold, mechanical like in function. The documents themselves are utilitiarian even though they use transcendent moral and virtue language, and biblical terms. The narrative behind it is off-centered and confused, compartmentalized, and serving some other great good that is man-centered even if using God and God language. Which is what makes it so hard and confusing and bait and switch to implement and interpret consistently because it’s taken and written outside the context of God’s already sufficient provisions and narrative.

    Though abuse, mistreatmeant, or confusion in groups happens with or without these documents. I think their presence is a guarantee that something is probably wrong or will likely go wrong soon in the community, and gaslighting and spiritual confusion is already happening or just around the corner for someone or a group of people (or maybe everyone at some point depending on how toxic the environment is).

    I think there are always issues with misunderstanding and misappropriation of authority and control, however, no matter the church environment. That’s always at play in the DNA, I think.

  154. okrapod wrote:

    Apparently he can’t even see what is going on right now with persecution of Christians if he thinks that persecution comes with a pop quiz on lifestyle issues.

    It has not dawned on Pastor John that Christians are being martyred in cultures where men are definitely in authority over women. Those cultures do not question authority and hierarchy. They like being martyrs for those beliefs. Those beliefs are not Christian beliefs, however.

    Pastor John is deeply confused about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and a great many other things, and he has led many other people into his confusion with his persuasive words which sound wise but which are foolish once you translate them into plain English.

  155. Law Prof wrote:

    One thing I really hate is unbiblical stuff being used to divide Christian from Christian. As Deb (correctly) pointed out, church covenants are not mentioned in the Bible. Nowhere.

    Violation of the Regulative Principle right there. What are these Unbiblical and unregular people thinking? And they recite these Irregular Covenants during Communion!!!

  156. *I should clarify control and false views of authority seemingly always exists in churches that have these church contracts and covenants. That could read/communicate I think every church has this problem.

  157. Joe Reed wrote:

    Maybe this will help. I believe male pastors is consistent with conservative theology.

    Male police officers is consistent with those who began by making a case for conservative theology and found that their efforts made a name for themselves, so they kept writing in order to keep their fame, even when they ran out of decent material, and they wandered into the realm of the weird in an attempt to stay “relevant” and keep their fame.

    I think you are on the right track, but missing some parts of the story. Male pastors is consistent with traditional/conservative theology. In protestantism, that began to change for various reasons, not all of which were “liberal” though some were. This feral form of Complementarianism/Female Subordinationism is *not* a conservative doctrine at all. It is an innovation that was contrived in the 1970’s to preserve male-only clergy in the PCA.

    Look up George Knight III’s paper in the PCA archive and also online. He invented ESS because the exegetical foundation for male-only clergy was unraveling and the scholars knew it. They needed something more, and he gave it to them. ESS is fabricated and CBMW is erected on ESS. And that is why Owen BHLH has been reassigned and Denny Burk has been furiously trying to reposition CBMW.

    I’m saying this because I am a real conservative who wants to study to find out what the text actually says with rigorous study instead of taking talking points from the Usual Suspects. You are very flippant about Covenants and abuse and hierarchy of one half of humanity over the other half. Starting with where that hierarchy actually exists in the text. You see, that was one of the problems I created with my elders. They could not show me that hierarchy. But they basically just told me it was there and I was just too rebellious to see it. So, Joe, maybe you can see why I don’t find your jokes very amusing on the topics of covenants and abuse and Complementarianism.

  158. Joe Reed wrote:

    why it’s such a big deal in the church now but didn’t seem to be then.

    Economics. It’s my thing along with propaganda and marketing. The household is the basic economic unit. The work of that economy is divided as efficiently as possible, and that varies according to circumstances. The Cleavers were not my personal experience nor any of the people I knew personally. Mostly people just did what needed to be done.

    “Complementarianism” is a reaction to “feminism” which is the catchall category for all that is wrong with our culture. IMO it is a version of “the woman thou gavest me” excuse. I do not consider myself a feminist. I consider myself a mutualist who desires to treat others with kindness and respect.

    I believe that Complementarianism was developed as a personal life project for Wayne Grudem and John Piper, and I also have a private opinion regarding particulars about that which I do not wish to share because I cannot prove that opinion. There are some Comps that are well-meaning, and there are some who are along for the ride on the gravy train. Danvers is a logic train-wreck. It is a propaganda and a proof-text manual. See for yourself if any of the proffered proof-texts actually prove what they say they prove.

  159. Gram3 wrote:

    “Complementarianism” is a reaction to “feminism” which is the catchall category for all that is wrong with our culture.

    Some even say that (*the sin of*) feminism is the root cause of (*the sin of*). homosexuality. Unbelievable!
    Did homosexuals not exist before women had the right to vote and own property?

  160. Joe Reed wrote:

    So you’d say marriage is not to be understood as a covenant between two people and God, yes?

    ???

    Jesus is the new Covenant, NOT marriage. Jesus permitted divorce. Jesus said that there would be no marriage in heaven.

    Thank goodness Jesus didn’t make an idol out of marriage like so many people do. What happens to the people with horrible marriages? Or the never married? Or the widowed?
    Are they overlooked by God because of their marital status?

  161. All,

    Does anyone know the history and the players behind in evangelical Christianity who developed the whole marriage-as-a-covenant (that Joe is referring to)? I think it’s fairly recent.

    Christiane how about your traditions in the Catholic Church and views of marriage.
    Darlene: What are the Eastern Orthodox church’s views of marriage?
    Lutherans: How about your denomination’s views of marriage?

    What about when people are married by the government…then what?

  162. Velour wrote:

    All,
    Does anyone know the history and the players behind in evangelical Christianity who developed the whole marriage-as-a-covenant (that Joe is referring to)? I think it’s fairly recent.
    Christiane how about your traditions in the Catholic Church and views of marriage.
    Darlene: What are the Eastern Orthodox church’s views of marriage?
    Lutherans: How about your denomination’s views of marriage?
    What about when people are married by the government…then what?

    An interesting article by Kristen Rosser on the topic of marriage:
    https://rachelheldevans.com/blog/kristen-rosser-marriage-christ-church

  163. Velour wrote:

    All,
    Does anyone know the history and the players behind in evangelical Christianity who developed the whole marriage-as-a-covenant (that Joe is referring to)? I think it’s fairly recent.
    Christiane how about your traditions in the Catholic Church and views of marriage.
    Darlene: What are the Eastern Orthodox church’s views of marriage?
    Lutherans: How about your denomination’s views of marriage?
    What about when people are married by the government…then what?

    Also what about those polygamous marriages in the Bible (and around the world)?
    Sanctioned by God?

  164. Velour wrote:

    Also what about those polygamous marriages in the Bible (and around the world)?
    Sanctioned by God?

    The marriages of David mentioned most prominently in the Bible are his marriages to Abigail and Bathsheba. David already had several wives before he married those women. ……… And what a hero he was for rescuing Abigail and adding her to his collection!

  165. When a marriage was arranged between the bride’s father and her suitor, the suitor paid a bride price, and the bride had no control and no choice ………. was that marriage a covenant? If so, between whom: the bride and the groom, or the father of the bride and the groom?

  166. Joe Reed wrote:

    This is interesting too. Paul maybe didn’t get the “let your yes be yes” memo.
    “Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchreae because of a vow he had taken.”
    ‭‭Acts‬ ‭18:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    The Bible doesn’t say Paul was correct.

    Just as the Bible doesn’t say that the argument that split up Paul and Barnabas was God’s will; just as it doesn’t say Paul ignoring warnings of the Holy Spirit at Tyre not to go on to to Jerusalem was God’s will.

    It is dangerous to make or support theology through descriptive passages in the Bible. The Bible contains descriptions all kinds of things the followers of the Lord did without commentary as to the rightness or wrongness of them–you can’t make that all into theology.

    Also, to whom did Paul make this vow that compelled him to shave his head? It was probably made directly to the Lord, not a matter of him sealing an earthly contract.

  167. emily honey wrote:

    Though abuse, mistreatmeant, or confusion in groups happens with or without these documents. I think their presence is a guarantee that something is probably wrong or will likely go wrong soon in the community, and gaslighting and spiritual confusion is already happening or just around the corner for someone or a group of people (or maybe everyone at some point depending on how toxic the environment is).
    I think there are always issues with misunderstanding and misappropriation of authority and control, however, no matter the church environment. That’s always at play in the DNA, I think.

    True. We know these groups aren’t really about God, but themselves. Even their theology is designed to make that point. So it’s no surprise they try to set it up to go their way spiritually, emotionally, and legally.

    I still think it’s a really dumb way to go about it, though. It’s like shouting you don’t like your members. I think that although they seem to have a very careful strategy, they are really starting to realize by all their desperate articles that their end is coming soon. I mean, the article yesterday about “broken wolves”. Lame.

  168. ishy wrote:

    . I mean, the article yesterday about “broken wolves”. Lame.

    I read it, too. It’s only a feeble, stupid attempt to justify legalism, false authority, and control over each and every church member.

  169. Nancy2 wrote:

    I read it, too. It’s only a feeble, stupid attempt to justify legalism, false authority, and control over each and every church member.

    The comments section is interesting – people called him out for being so vague, but he dug in all the more. To me the article read like justification for slamming people who re-evaluate their theology based on real-life experiences. Huge red flag.

    Here’s the link for those with a morbid curiosity: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/beware-of-broken-wolves

  170. Gram3 wrote:

    Danvers is a logic train-wreck. It is a propaganda and a proof-text manual.

    Don’t read this on a full stomach – it’s Burke’s vision for the future of CBMW: https://cbmw.org/?p=11054&preview=true
    “The Danvers Statement must define the mission and vision of CBMW. Danvers is our true north.”
    “CBMW will not be backing away from or revising Danvers.”

    This is probably good news. The more they dig in the deeper they will find themselves in the hole. And greater exposure can be a good thing because sunlight acts as a disinfectant.

  171. Ken F wrote:

    Don’t read this on a full stomach – it’s Burke’s vision for the future of CBMW: https://cbmw.org/?p=11054&preview=true

    Translation: If we don’t subjuate women, we are not a Godly man. It is our duty to make sure that women know that God doesn’t want them to get too close to Him. Men must stand between women and God as Christ’s earthly representative. Our salvation is at stake!!!!

  172. Ken F wrote:

    Don’t read this on a full stomach – it’s Burke’s vision for the future of CBMW: https://cbmw.org/?p=11054&preview=true

    Translation: If we don’t subjuate women, we are not Godly men. It is our duty to make sure that women know that God doesn’t want them to get too close to Him. Men must stand between women and God as Christ’s earthly representative. Men are made in the image of God, women are merely derivatives. Our salvation is at stake!!!!

  173. “men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.” – Acts 20:30

    The final analysis is if what people preach and teach and blog about compels people to follow them and their systems or whether it makes the teacher and system fade away into insignificance so that the listener is compelled to follow Jesus and Him alone.

    Church contacts and covenants do not pass this test. Therefore I believe they are all of the devil.

    Most of the teachings of celebrity Christians seem to me to be primarily about the authority of them, the celebrity. Therefore, I believe they are also of the devil.

    If you find yourself compelled to say “I love my pastor!”, you’re probably following someone who is confused or simply of the devil. The paradigm is so wrong, it’s straight from hell.

    The right attitude was expressed by John the Baptist: “He must become greater, I must become less.”

    That right attitude is not expressed by those who make you sign a covenant swearing allegiance to their system, it is not expressed by those who enjoy and accept your accolades, by those who take the front row seats at the T4G conferences, by those who accept the fat honoraria for speaking at the mega churches, it was definitely not present in any way in John Piper when I saw him speak multiple times in person in the 1990s. It was not present in Mark Driscoll when he allegedly said “I am the brand”. Those are words and attitudes expressed by those, imo, who neither know Jesus nor love Him.

    If your fellowship compels you to talk about how you love pastor, you are almost certainly not in a fellowship of the Lord, you are in a fellowship such as Paul described when he spoke of men drawing disciples after them (presumably to become sons of hell).

  174. Although not % full proof A cease and Desist letter adds protection. Before I found thewartburg and new about church covenants I sent an email stating the perpetrator and his family can have the church and that we would worship elsewhere. I stated specifically do not Persue me for which pastor ken in an email said that the church would Persue us whether we wanted them to or not!
    A friend who is a writer/editor and has worked hands on with human trafficking victims and juvenile perpetrators said I should do a cease and desist letter. Those letters were drawn up with her assistance and without realizing it provided me and billy with protection from the elders/ leadership at LBC. Those letters are posted on TWW I believe and are a great reference. I’m so grateful to the deebs for creating this blog because another member from LBC read about Karen Hinkly and the village church. She said ” I think you need to contact these women and read Karen’s story”. I did exactly that and soon after I was in contact with Dee. I would have never heard of this place had it not been for another member at LBC, she no longer attends but it’s funny how God moves people.
    I’m so grateful to karen for being willing to share her story. She is the reason why me and billy found Dee and Deb along with the readers here.

  175. ishy wrote:

    I found it hysterically funny that he thinks the Danvers statement is a historical church document.

    They don’t have long memories, so for them it is pretty ancient. It’s more like a cult document. Maybe there is a reason it has not gotten the traction they all hoped it would get by now.

  176. @ Max:

    “Yes, the young Calvinist pastor “Chad” was condescending and disrespectful to his elders … …Sadly, his behavior is not atypical … there’s a bunch more like him in SBC pulpits now. I fear that SBC seminaries, like Southern, have created an atmosphere which encourages a rebellious reformer’s attitude”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    good grief this sounds like teen age girls.

    my daughter, my friend’s daughter, their friends…. they all have adopted this shameless, abrasive, snot-filled, sarcastic, ridiculing way of talking back to their moms — i’m sure to each other and their peers as well.

    they are good human beings — but when you’re around this way of relating and communicating 7 hours a day, 5 days a week at school, it would be unusual for one not to adopt it (subconsciously or on purpose).

    and for this same thing to be happening with men in religious higher education?? how stupid, and how incredibly impressionable they must be.

    i’m very disgusted, embarrassed, & ashamed of this silly religion of mine.

    actually, it was never my religion.

  177. Tonight I looked at the website for the last church I attended and see they now have a Church Membership Covenant which includes the words, “will seek to follow those who have the spiritual rule over us”. I googled “spiritual rule over us” and see some other churches have the same Covenant. I wonder where this originated. One is also never supposed to be angry.

  178. Shannon H. wrote:

    Tonight I looked at the website for the last church I attended and see they now have a Church Membership Covenant which includes the words, “will seek to follow those who have the spiritual rule over us”. I googled “spiritual rule over us” and see some other churches have the same Covenant. I wonder where this originated. One is also never supposed to be angry.

    The Gospel Coalition and 9 Marks have a lot of resources to this end, and I suspect Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary have classes in it. It’s definitely getting indoctrinated in a number of ways.

  179. elastigirl wrote:

    when you’re around this way of relating and communicating 7 hours a day, 5 days a week at school, it would be unusual for one not to adopt it (subconsciously or on purpose)

    I have heard that the peer pressure is intense at certain SBC seminaries for new students to convert to reformed theology … a sort of Freshman “orientation” that occurs in the dorms and wherever the new reformers gather. This movement is insidious. Thus, it should not be surprising that young pastors are taking a rebellious know-it-all attitude into SBC churches.

  180. Here is the example of the Saddleback Church covenant.

    http://bit.ly/2pU0kFz

    Found on Pastors.com, from an article by Rick Warren on how to have more committed members.

    http://bit.ly/2oiwhaE

    Maybe the key is in, however, how this practice plays out – like part of the covenant is a commitment to giving, and they quote the verses about 10%. However, how and when is this enforced?

    Earlier, the covenant addresses following the leaders of the church – however, what does that mean?

  181. I love the idea that a person’s informed conscience is the final authority in the matter of ‘choice’ as it places the person together with God in the ‘sanctuary’ that is the person’s conscience.

    I would DENY that any ‘church’ or ‘contract’ or ‘covenant’ that would deprive a human person of their right to exercise their own conscience in matters of morals and religion is valid. When we stand before God, we cannot come before Him claiming to be justified by some ‘contract’ with some people at a ‘church’, no. We will be judged on how we lived according to our own consciences, where we meet with God within its privacy. No outside ‘forces’ can be blamed for our choices, and no outside supports can be claimed as ‘reasons’ justifying what our consciences told us could never be excused. It will be us and the Good Lord.

    I think all the head-ship bullying done ‘in the Name of Christ’ is a huge sin against God, as well as a sin against any of the innocent abused, yes. All the ‘contracts’ and ‘verses’ used to defend evil will not stand in the way of God’s justice for the victims.

  182. Ken F wrote:

    “The Danvers Statement must define the mission and vision of CBMW. Danvers is our true north.”
    “CBMW will not be backing away from or revising Danvers.”

    I’m not surprised because that’s what Denny said when Owen BHLH was disappeared so that ESS could be back-burnered. It was all a PR stunt beginning with Mohler’s statement that Danvers did not depend upon ESS. But, of course, it does if you follow the logic which curiously none of these “scholars” seem to be able or willing to do. Female Subordination does depend upon the Eternal Subordination of the Son because that is the only way that 1 Corinthians 11 works for them. And they know it. And that is the only way they can make any kind of cotton candy crochet connection between 1 Corinthians 11, 1 Timothy 2, and Genesis 1-2 to come up with a hierarchy of male over female. How many times have I thrown out that challenge to Complementarians here to show me the magical hierarchy verses? Not one of them has ever produced them because they are not in the text!

    Denny is going to ride this plane right down into the ground and he is going to take a lot of people with him. Sadly, he is well-educated and knows better.

  183. Gram3 wrote:

    Denny is going to ride this plane right down into the ground and he is going to take a lot of people with him. Sadly, he is well-educated and knows better.

    Denny has a conscience. I hope he listens to it and it helps him to do what is right. I never saw him as a bad person, but he is in with a group that is taking him down, I’m afraid. I pray his conscience moves him in the right direction because so far, all the ‘importance’ and ‘attention’ may sadly have gone to his head.

  184. Gram3 wrote:

    How many times have I thrown out that challenge to Complementarians here to show me the magical hierarchy verses? Not one of them has ever produced them because they are not in the text!

    So much for sola scriptura. One would think that if the Danvers Statement was rock-solid truth it would have been codified in a church council many centuries ago.

  185. Aspiring 9Marksist church bosses told to ignore their congregations’ existing documents:

    https://www.9marks.org/answer/how-should-you-deal-bad-statement-faith-church-covenant-or-church-constitution-you-inherit-n/

    “How should you deal with a bad statement of faith, church covenant, or church constitution that you inherit in a new pastorate?
    It depends on your circumstances. But here are four different tactics that you might find helpful.
    1. Ignore it…”

  186. Shannon H. wrote:

    I googled “spiritual rule over us” and see some other churches have the same Covenant. I wonder where this originated. One is also never supposed to be angry.

    Be angry, just don’t sin. In this case “sin” would be to submit quietly to such abuse.

  187. Nancy2 wrote:

    Max wrote:
    So, if you choose not to sign the contract, you are obviously not one of the elect. I would say at this point, a strong case can be made that certain corners of New Calvinism are approaching cult status.
    Max, I saw your comment on …… SBCToday? ……. Mr. 33 yo pastor Chad getting really snotty. If there’s a load of Chads coming out of the seminaries and spreading their snottiness, I’m a done.

    There’s just no real reason for a 33 year old to be a leader in a church. They’re typically not broken, not wise, not capable of having the perspective that comes with trying and failing, of thinking you’re “all that” and having it blow up in your face, they’re just not there yet and won’t be there for some time. There’s a reason why the Bible tells young men to submit to older men–it’s because young men act like a horse’s you-know-what. This is exacerbated among the YRR movement, where I believe an enormously high percentage of adherents are not Christians in any sense, just lovers of highly-placed men (and haters of everyone else)and memorizers of doctrine.

    That’s been my experience, and I’ve lived long enough to be an elder in such a church, to see it completely dissolved through arrogance and abuse, and to witness the fallout over the years as young, energetic on-fire-for-Jesus men turned to atheism or agnosticism or mind-numbed cultism in the aftermath. Very few of the YRRs, six years hence, are functioning well or serving the Lord meaningfully. I think it’s possibly because many of them weren’t His in the first place, they were just big talkers and downright abusers..

  188. Shannon H. wrote:

    Tonight I looked at the website for the last church I attended and see they now have a Church Membership Covenant which includes the words, “will seek to follow those who have the spiritual rule over us”.

    That’s not a meaningfully Christian place if that’s where they’re at, if that’s what they’re promoting, it’s a cult of abuse.

  189. Now that my antenna is up I see these membership contracts pop up in other places such as small groups and non-profit boards. The lingo varies, one is “affirmation tool”.

  190. Law Prof wrote:

    Very few of the YRRs, six years hence, are functioning well or serving the Lord meaningfully. I think it’s possibly because many of them weren’t His in the first place, they were just big talkers and downright abusers..

    I also refer to many of the Young Restless & Reformed as “franchisee” operators.
    They are usually hustlers who are in it for the $$$ and power.

  191. Jerome wrote:

    Aspiring 9Marksist church bosses told to ignore their congregations’ existing documents:
    https://www.9marks.org/answer/how-should-you-deal-bad-statement-faith-church-covenant-or-church-constitution-you-inherit-n/

    “How should you deal with a bad statement of faith, church covenant, or church constitution that you inherit in a new pastorate?
    It depends on your circumstances. But here are four different tactics that you might find helpful.
    1. Ignore it…”

    I hadn’t seen this before. 🙁

  192. Christiane wrote:

    Denny has a conscience. I hope he listens to it and it helps him to do what is right. I never saw him as a bad person, but he is in with a group that is taking him down, I’m afraid. I pray his conscience moves him in the right direction because so far, all the ‘importance’ and ‘attention’ may sadly have gone to his head.

    He has chosen to be with the group he is with and chosen to believe what he believes. He has also chosen to lead CBMW and promote it as essential to the Gospel. Importance and attention going to his head is no excuse, no excuse whatsoever for what he is doing to women and men in God’s kingdom. I’m praying the Holy Spirit touches his conscience as well. Meanwhile, he is not an innocent.

  193. Bridget wrote:

    He has also chosen to lead CBMW and promote it as essential to the Gospel. I

    Exactly. He has chosen (compatibilistically, of course) to preach another gospel which is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    He knows logic. He knows the languages. He knows all that he needs to know

  194. @ Gram3:

    I think he and many of his co-horts are so deeply invested in complementarianism / CBMW that their careers and income are dependent on it now. In his own words, CBMW “will not be backing away from or revising Danvers”. For Denny to do otherwise would mean losing his career.

    I don’t know which is the more operative word, sad or ridiculous.

    but this is old news.

  195. Law Prof wrote:

    There’s just no real reason for a 33 year old to be a leader in a church.

    Maybe if they have a Christ Complex…
    (As in looking in the Mirror and seeing Christ…)

  196. Ken F wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:
    How many times have I thrown out that challenge to Complementarians here to show me the magical hierarchy verses? Not one of them has ever produced them because they are not in the text!

    So much for sola scriptura. One would think that if the Danvers Statement was rock-solid truth it would have been codified in a church council many centuries ago.

    But Male Supremacy IS the New Sola SCRIPTURE!

  197. Christiane wrote:

    Denny has a conscience. I hope he listens to it and it helps him to do what is right

    But it gets in the way of Party Line Correct Doctrine, so it has to go.
    Now where’s that white-hot iron?

  198. Max wrote:

    I have heard that the peer pressure is intense at certain SBC seminaries for new students to convert to reformed theology … a sort of Freshman “orientation” that occurs in the dorms and wherever the new reformers gather.

    “Resistance is Futile! Prepare to be Assimilated!”

  199. Ken F wrote:

    The comments section is interesting – people called him out for being so vague, but he dug in all the more. To me the article read like justification for slamming people who re-evaluate their theology based on real-life experiences. Huge red flag.

    Like the USSR just before their collapse:
    “Double Down AND SCREAM LOUDER!”

  200. Max wrote:

    ishy wrote:
    You affirm your “commitment” to the church, you are saying you are eligible to be elected. It has a sort of logic; you just really have to argue a lot of extra-biblical stuff to get to it. It’s also exactly how most cults argue they should have control over the lives of their followers.

    So, if you choose not to sign the contract, you are obviously not one of the elect. I would say at this point, a strong case can be made that certain corners of New Calvinism are approaching cult status.

    “You obviously do not have a Rational Mind. If you had a Rational Mind, you would Agree Completely With Me.”
    — attr to Ayn Rand, cult leader

  201. Law Prof wrote:

    There’s just no real reason for a 33 year old to be a leader in a church. They’re typically not broken, not wise, not capable of having the perspective that comes with trying and failing, of thinking you’re “all that” and having it blow up in your face, they’re just not there yet and won’t be there for some time.

    I agree for the most part. But, I will say that there are a few, rare exceptions. 10 years ago, we had a 36 yo pastor. He was raised in a rough environment …. his father abandoned the family when he was very young ….. he lost his older brother in an accident. This young pastor was a wonderful, caring, truly committed man. In difficult situations, he sought council from church members, both male and female. His door was always open. He and his wife are both wise beyond their years. They brought change/outreach programs into the church that had and, still has, positive influence on the entire community.

  202. Bridget wrote:

    Importance and attention going to his head is no excuse, no excuse whatsoever for what he is doing to women and men in God’s kingdom.

    not an ‘excuse’, no

    but it is a ‘reason’

    I don’t think the Good Lord is finished with Denny yet ….. I think he may find his way still, but it will not be easy for him, no

    Innocence or Guilt? I’m not judging. But I do think he has been used and has not fully realized it. No excuses. No. He is deep into something that is not healthy. But still, there is something in his nature that gives me hope for him.

  203. Nancy2 wrote:

    10 years ago, we had a 36 yo pastor. He was raised in a rough environment …. his father abandoned the family when he was very young ….. he lost his older brother in an accident. This young pastor was a wonderful, caring, truly committed man. In difficult situations, he sought council from church members, both male and female. His door was always open. He and his wife are both wise beyond their years. They brought change/outreach programs into the church that had and, still has, positive influence on the entire community.

    That was a 30-something church leader who had more than his years of life experience.

    Life experience other than Seminary and scoring 100% in Correct Doctrine/Ideological Purity.

  204. Law Prof wrote:

    There’s just no real reason for a 33 year old to be a leader in a church. They’re typically not broken, not wise, not capable of having the perspective that comes with trying and failing, of thinking you’re “all that” and having it blow up in your face, they’re just not there yet and won’t be there for some time.

    Amen! When you team a pastor in his 20s-30s with “elders” in their 20s-30s, you have a recipe for disaster. Few young men have the spiritual wisdom to be leading the Body of Christ and certainly not in YRR ranks! If the new reformers don’t have enough personal discernment to avoid reformed theology altogether, they don’t need to be entrusted with the spiritual life of others.

  205. @ Max:
    why don’t these young men right out of seminary first serve in churches as deacons and ‘learn the ropes on the job’? It seems a better way to help them to gain maturity initially, under the guidance of a pastor over a period of time

  206. Christiane wrote:

    why don’t these young men right out of seminary first serve in churches as deacons and ‘learn the ropes on the job’? It seems a better way to help them to gain maturity initially, under the guidance of a pastor over a period of time

    You are referring to the old model used in SBC churches, where a fresh seminary graduate served in an associate role to a seasoned senior pastor for a few years before they were called to their first pastorate. The new model (under New Calvinism) is for these young folks to become “lead” pastor at a church plant right out of seminary or takeover a traditional church through stealth and deception. Which model sounds better to you?

  207. Max wrote:

    Which model sounds better to you?

    the reasonable one, where a young man has the privilege of observing and working with an experienced pastor

    what is the THINKING in the neo-Cal way ???? I think it can create terrible problems for the young person and consequently for the Church …. the neo-Cal teachings are one thing, but pitchforking a young seminary grad directly into a ‘lead pastor’ position seems unrealistic from all view points

  208. Christiane wrote:

    pitchforking a young seminary grad directly into a ‘lead pastor’ position seems unrealistic from all view points

    Within SBC life, New Calvinist leaders have determined that using a young army of seminary graduates is the quickest path to reforming the denomination. They planted nearly 1,000 new churches last year and are on a path to plant that many this year. In my area, they are all staffed with young reformers. And of course, there are numerous stories of takeover of traditional churches through stealth and deception; the new reformers lie about their theological leaning in order to get control of pulpits. They justify such behavior for the good of the movement.

  209. Max wrote:

    They justify such behavior for the good of the movement.

    surely they know better than this

    if they do this thinking it is for the ‘good’ of their movement, then it will not be the last time they lie to people, no

    may God protect the people in their path

  210. Christiane wrote:

    surely they know better than this

    “Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” (1 Timothy 4:2)

  211. Max wrote:

    New Calvinist leaders have determined that using a young army of seminary graduates is the quickest path to reforming the denomination.

    And of course, there are numerous stories of takeover of traditional churches through stealth and deception; the new reformers lie about their theological leaning in order to get control of pulpits. They justify such behavior for the good of the movement.

    Just like the Communists of the last century.

  212. Max wrote:

    And, in particular, affirming their commitment to adhere to whatever the church leaders require of them, to never question what they say or do.

    Because that is how you rise to the rank of Commander of Holy Gilead.
    Kiss Up, Kick Down.

  213. Christiane wrote:

    @ Max:
    why don’t these young men right out of seminary first serve in churches as deacons and ‘learn the ropes on the job’?

    Beneath their Dignity.

  214. emily honey wrote:

    @ ishy:
    Social media is really making the evangelical church culture more and more Orwellian-like. I know it’s common to use Orwellian as a phrase, and even throw the term gaslighting around…but it’s really true and it is exactly what’s happening in so many ways.

    The main thrust of Orwell’s writing is actually the use and manipulation of language for propaganda and pre-emptive thought reform. Including what Screwtape Letters called “redefinition of words into their diabolical meanings”.

    Here’s a TED Talk video on the subject:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oe64p-QzhNE

    Orwell himself worked in the BBC during World War 2, when it was mostly engaged in wartime propaganda. 1984 is as much a Dilbert-esque dig on his pointy-haired bosses at the Beeb (who used the same tricks to abuse their workers) as it is a political cartoon of Stalin’s Russia.

  215. ishy wrote:

    The other thing that is new is how they use social media to indoctrinate their minions.

    Just like ISIS recruiters.

  216. Joe Reed wrote:

    And yes, “weird” is probably a very charitable term because it doesn’t account for the damage some have caused.

    In this, they are like L Ron Hubbard and his successors.

    If Scientology hadn’t caused so much damage to so many, it’d be something out of Saturday Night Live with the absurdist flavor of Andy Kaufman.

  217. Nancy2 wrote:

    What happens when you find out the person you married has been hiding things from you from day 1, and that person has ulterior motives and a hidden agenda?

    I think that’s grounds for Annulment in all 50 states; some time ago, TWW covered a case of exactly that.

  218. Nancy2 wrote:

    What if that “baby” in the bathwater is nothing more than a pile of BS with a pretty bow on top?

    “I ate it. That wasn’t a baby, that was a piece of cheese.”
    I Love Lucy, when Lucy tries to smuggle a large cheese through Customs

  219. Nancy2 wrote:

    Translation: If we don’t subjuate women, we are not a Godly man. It is our duty to make sure that women know that God doesn’t want them to get too close to Him. Men must stand between women and God as Christ’s earthly representative. Our salvation is at stake!!!!

    Translation of Translation: If we don’t do it to them, God’s gonna do it to us!

    “If I don’t take yours, the Germans are going to have mine.”
    — Leon Uris, QB VII, concentration camp Doktor doing mass castrations

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