“What seem our worst prayers may really be, in God's eyes, our best. Those, I mean, which are least supported by devotional feeling. For these may come from a deeper level than feeling. God sometimes seems to speak to us most intimately when he catches us, as it were, off our guard.” CS Lewis
Recently, TWW received the following email from a reader. It has been changed to hide any identifying features.
"Thank you so much for the article on Idiot Sheep. I cried as I read it because that is exactly how I was reared in the church. I think maybe God was trying to tell me something thru your article because for a second I actually felt his love. It is so hard for me to get the strict, punishing God out of my head & heart. I pray to God and struggle with this and assurance of salvation. Was I repentive enough, did I really mean it, if not did I really want to repent, etc. I am tired, worn-out. Your web site gives me hope and helps me to see I am not alone. "
It is for hurting people like this that this website exists. Why did we post this note? To toot our own horn? No, it is an introduction to this post. We do not like it when churches and church leaders abuse decent people who are trying to follow God. Some of today’s pastors seem to do an awful lot of denigrating the sheep while subtly patting themselves on the back. They appear to have little concern about the spirit of the people and are far too concerned about their own carefully crafted image and their "perfect" theology.
Sovereign timing and total depravity
I am sometimes amazed when I realize that God has placed me in circumstances that eventually result in a blog post. Today is no exception. I want to make one thing perfectly clear to the Calvinistas who will read this post with gritted teeth. If you claim to believe in a sovereign God, then you will need to ask why I, who write a blog, was given this unique perspective by those who were one the "receiving end" of Davis' judgements. Also, since some of you subscribe to the total depravity of man, you will need to deal with the fact that even a much-admired pastor can be capable of misrepresenting a situation.
Several years ago, my husband and I made the acquaintance of a delightful couple. They are deeply committed Christians, involved in multiple ministries, both within the church and through para-church organizations. I have been privileged to hear one of them teach from the Bible on numerous occasions and contend that both are conservative Biblical expositors. Little did I know, until recently, their involvement in a major brouhaha at a local church.
Andy Davis', FBC-Durham, inexplicable and ill-advised decision to resurrect old wounds
Approximately a decade ago, a huge conflict occurred at First Baptist Church, Durham. The pastor, Andy Davis, a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, had been the head pastor for three years. Although there was unresolved pain, the passage of time had allowed most parties to move on.
Unfortunately, Andy Davis decided to resurrect old wounds by writing a self-congratulatory article titled “The Reform of First Baptist Church of Durham” for the 9 Marks (Mark Dever) blog here. A shortened version was subsequently published on JD Greear’s blog. We have reason to believe that this article will continue to be reprinted far and wide within certain Calvinsta circles. Davis, of course, was “the Reformer.”
Why TWW decided to respond:
We believe Davis’ treatise appears to be shameless self-promotion, while, at the same time, demonstrating a profound insensitivity to the lingering pain of the parties involved. Frankly, we believe this missive was unnecessary and borders on being, in our perception, downright mean. Because we know some of the parties involved in this incident, we have decided to add some information to the discussion.
We believe that Davis’ recounting of the actions and responses of some of the people may have been inadequate and even misrepresentative of their true feelings and motivations. Although we have some insider information, we developed most of our thoughts based on Davis’ article alone.
Davis’ call for the church to repent:
About three years after his arrival, during a church service, Davis took the unusual step of telling the people in the church that they must repent. He claims that he included himself in the process but, as you will see, later on, he really doesn’t count himself amongst the guilty because he was following the Bible and the rest of these poor schlocks were not.
Here is what he says:
“So I began worship by calling on all the people of FBC to repent—including myself. In the spirit of Daniel 9, I felt that all of us must take responsibility for violating God’s clear guidance.”
Now, what pray tell, is found in Daniel 9? Here are some selected verses from the NIV:
- “We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws.”(5)
- “We have not listened to your servants the prophets.”(6)
- “We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, LORD, because we have sinned against you.”(8)
- “Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you.”(11)
- “Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth.” (13)
There are many more verses but they carry on in the same vein.
So, it sounds like the church is guilty of a most horrendous sin. So, what is that sin?
The church membership disobeyed Davis and elected a woman deacon!
They not only elected a woman but they did so over Davis’ vehement objections. Here is what Davis says.
“I began corporate worship at First Baptist Church (FBC) Durham by calling on the members of the church to repent. The church had just elected a woman deacon for the first time in its history, and deacons in our church’s polity were treated as spiritual leaders with shepherding responsibility for the flock. I had been teaching the congregation that Scripture reserves spiritual leadership to men, and I had made private efforts to forestall this result. Still, the church voted in a woman as an authoritative spiritual leader.”
Make sure you get Davis’ point. The people disobeyed him even though he believed that had been teaching them from the Bible.
Davis says the people were angry at him because they did not believe in repentance after conversion!
“My call was an object of horror to many of the members of the church. They were outraged. In their minds, repentance was something you do at the beginning of the Christian life and then never need to do again. For them, it was as if I were saying, “Because you voted for a woman as a deacon, you are not Christians.”
I believe that Davis demonstrates that he does not have the gift of a prophetic mind reader. I can attest to the fact that the two people I know, who were deeply involved in this incident, understand that regular repentance is a part of the Christian life. This is insulting to them, and most likely many others in this church who both understand and follow that concept.
As for the horror during the service part, I can safely say that, had I been a part of that church service in which I was being told, via Daniel 9, that I was wicked, rebellious, and guilty of turning from God’s commandments because I voted for a woman deacon, I would have caused quite a scene. Davis would have seen outrage that wasn’t only in my mind!
How Davis could take a secondary issue, a woman deacon, and turn it into a sinful, wicked rebellion against God, is beyond me. It is pronouncements, such as this, that cause people to run from God. Remember the person I quoted at the beginning of this post? She said, “It is so hard for me to get the strict, punishing God out of my head & heart. I pray to God and struggle with this and assurance of salvation. Was I repentive enough, did I really mean it, if not did I really want to repent, etc. I am tired, worn-out.” Could Davis have produced our next email by his actions?
There is something even more concerning about such an action. This is a secondary issue and yet the people were called to repent for voting on their belief that a woman can be a deacon. Just imagine all the other secondary issues out there like Young Earth creationism. Davis' good friend, Al Mohler, says this is the issue he is going to push this year. Could that mean more calls to repentance? Will your glam blog queen now be listed as one of the "wicked" in need of "repentance?" Will you?
There is far more to this story. Davis has some pretty negative things to say about some of the people who called him to FBC Durham and that does not speak well for him. He discusses his attempts to change bylaws, etc, all the while proclaiming himself as a truly Biblical leader. We will take this up tomorrow.
TWW would like to request some research help from our readers. We believe that a female leader, associated with SGM( we know it sounds like an oxymoron), made a comment, within the last 3 years, in which she said something to the effect that women can not judge the leadership of any men because women are not Biblically allowed to do so. If you can help us find this statement, we would be much obliged. We will send a small gift to the first person who finds this. We know it exists.
2 Different Twitters to serve our readers
The first is a news service.
We are getting a good response for “wartwatch” which watches current religious news items of general interest. We send this once a day, Monday-Friday.
The second twitter is a prayer and encouragement service.
It is called “bidgod” which is a Bible verse or Christian quote, accompanied by our promise to simultaneously pray for those who follow us. We call it a God invasion into your busy day. We send these, once a day, Monday through Friday as well.
Please consult the Twitter link under “The Basics” on our home page or use this link. You do not need a Twitter account to follow us and it is easy to sign up. We have a step by step guide to do so. If we can do it, so can you!! Dee set it up without the help of our "guy behind the curtain" so it is really simple!
Lydia’s Corner: Esther 8:1-10:3 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13 Psalm 37:1-11 Proverbs 21:23-24