Lying is done with words and also with silence. -Adrienne Rich
Paradise Lost, Satan-The Father of Lies
I contend that "slander" is the most misused and overused word in today's churches. Recently, Frank Viola posted an article by John Zens called The Most Ignored Sin here which deals with their perspective on gossip and slander.
Slander and Gossip According to Zens and Viola
I agreed with his definition of gossip
Gossip is second or third hand information that someone dumps on you without your prior consent and without the consent of the person being gossiped about. Gossip can be true, partially true, or completely false. It can be motivated by good intentions, but it’s always negative personal information about another that puts them in a bad light.
But I disagreed with his definition of slander because I believe there is an important element missing in this explanation. Note that he starts off by invoking what he claims the Bible says about slander.
The Bible defines slander as accusatory speech that is injurious to a person’s name and reputation. It’s essentially character assassination . . . the act of smearing someone. Gossip and slander color people’s perceptions of an individual unfairly and unjustly without their knowledge or consent.
What Does the Bible Really Say?
He claims this definition can be found in the Bible, but I had a hard time finding the exact wording that Zens proposes. Here is a word search for slander in the ESV Bible.
From 1 Peter 3:16 we read:
Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
From Psalm 103:9:
They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause
A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
Is Slander Merely Saying Something Negative?
Zens goes on to say something that I believe can be dangerous when applied in today's churches.
One doesn’t have to be operating in malice to be guilty of gossip and slander. Again, the motive is irrelevant. Spreading negative or shameful information about another person is contrary to walking in love. Love “thinks no evil” and “believes the best of others” (1 Cor. 13)
Here are his three points.
- It has nothing to do with malice.
- Motivation is irrelevant.
- Spreading negative information is contrary to walking in love.
An Analysis of the Verses In Regards to Motivation
I believe he is wrong. Let's start with some background information. The Bible verses dealing with slander makes some vital points.
- Slander attacks without cause.
- Slander attacks good behavior and the person's life demonstrates that good behavior.
- It involves dishonesty.
Let's look more closely at James 4:11. From the Berean Christian Bible Study Link
However the word "slander" should be used consistently throughout theses verses, as the same greek word "katalaleo" is used throughout. "Katalaleo" means to traduce – To cause humiliation or disgrace to by making malicious and false statements. This is the sense here. Thus it should be "anyone who slanders his brother slanders the law and judges it." He then transitions from speaking of slandering to speaking on judging based on one's own opinions. These are of course related in that when one sets one's own opinion above God's, such a person ends up misjudging others. Jesus was subjected to such misjudgment in his trial by the Sanhedrin. So what criticisms you make concerning fellow Christians, let them not contain false and malicious statements, but rather even as Jesus said, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil" Jon 18:23
And lest one misinterpret what James says here, Paul explicitly commands, "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you." 1Cor 5:12,13 We are to judge fellow Christians, but not misjudge them.
So, we are allowed to judge fellow Christians but not misjudge them. This contradicts Zen's statement, which I repeat.
One doesn’t have to be operating in malice to be guilty of gossip and slander. Again, the motive is irrelevant. Spreading negative or shameful information about another person is contrary to walking in love.
Truth Versus Lies Is Important
In fact, truth is relevant. Here, Zens overlooks one of the Scriptural names of Satan, which will make all the difference when we look at the word "slander." He merely focuses on the word "accuse" in a pejorative sense. He appears to say that "accuse" always mean "bad". He seems to overlook the fact that it might not be about the accusation but the validity of the accusation.
Satan’s nature is to accuse. He is called the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12). In fact, the word “Satan” means adversary, and the word “devil” literally means “slanderer.”
If one refers to John 8:44 Satan is called "The Father of Lies." The Devil, slanderer, is the Father of Lies. So, lying is part and parcel of slander. Note how frequently the word "lie" is found in this verse.
When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies
It's about lying and the motivation for the lying. This appears to contradict Zen's argument. U.S. law appears to mimic the Bible by defining slander as being a lie link which is linked to a motivation of wishing harm to another individual.
Slander is the oral communication of false statements that are harmful to a person's reputation. If the statements are proven to be true, it is a complete defense to a charge of slander. Oral opinions that don't contain statements of fact don't constitute slander. Slander is an act of communication that causes someone to be shamed, ridiculed, held in contempt, lowered in the estimation of the community, or to lose employment status or earnings or otherwise suffer a damaged reputation. Slander is a subcategory of defamation.
Truth and Motivation Is Important.
It is vital to the discussion to understand that slander is an act of making a false statement in order to damage another's reputation, etc. It is a big fat lie, and the person making it knows it, just as Satan knows it.
Therefore, the expression of a legitimate concern, based on a number of reports, is not slander but a form of Christian love. It is meant to protect the church from serious error; to help those who are being hurt by the church; to prevent harm to others in the church; and to exhort those in leadership to follow the example of Jesus.
How Not to Use the Word "Slander".
Let me show you how NOT to respond to a legitimate concern. A few years back, we had the opportunity to speak with a mega-church pastor in our area. We addressed two points. Both points were based on credible information which we, along with many, many others, believed to be true. In fact, as time has progressed, it has become increasingly apparent that we were on the right path.
1. We knew this pastor was very friendly with leaders in Sovereign Grace Ministries and that he sometimes visited with them. By this time, we were aware of the incredible numbers of serious concerns regarding the handling of child sex abuse, domestic abuse, and bizarre theological applications that were hurting many, many people as documented on the blogs of SGM Survivors and SGM Refuge. Never had we seen so many documented ugly situations anywhere else. We asked this pastor to consider asking his friends at SGM to address these issues. We truly believe that had he done so and had SGM leadership responded, we would not have seen the filing of a class action lawsuit.
2. We knew that this pastor, along with SGM, recommended Gary Ezzo's books. The American Academy of Pediatrics had issued warnings about the advice in Ezzo's book link. We asked him to reconsider his recommendation of this book.
The pastor responded, accusing us of slander and "character assassination".
In fact, we did no such thing. We documented our concerns based on a large number of reports. One of our motives was to make sure pastors do not give bad medical advice to their congregations. After all, they are not trained physicians and have no business blatantly ignoring the advice of experienced professionals without good cause.
We also contend that had he, along with other well-known pastors who are held up as examples within the SGM leadership structure, spoken up earlier, we would not be at this point today. But that would have interfered with all the speaking engagements and conferences and being nice to one another because "being nice" and supporting each other's ministries is what it is all about, isn't it?
It is not slander to express concern about the SGM lawsuit or the number of documents that have been released by Brent Detwiler. It is not slander to ask why Prestonwood Baptist Church did not report John Langworthy to the police. It is not slander to look at the associates involved in a business venture. It is not slander to ask if your pastor is paid by both the church and the conference at which he is speaking.
(As an aside, in fact, we want to commend an author at SBC Voices. In one post here, he revealed his relationship to Cruciform Press and Kevin Meath's former relationship to SGM.)-Updated to more accurately reflect the authorship This is mean to be a compliment for disclosing a business relationship. 3/20/13
Does Slander Really Mean an Inconvenient Truth?
Unfortunately, this accusation of slander is used to squelch very serious concerns within the church. In fact I would contend that, in many situations in which a pastor cries "slander", he is really saying "I don't want to hear that. It means I have to deal with it and I don't want to. It will screw up all sorts of things." Slander, in many instances, is simply an "inconvenient truth".
Matthew 18 + Slander: Applied Erroneously
A series of exchanges between Frank Viola and some of his readers gives us insight into how far some believe we should go to keep things "quiet". It appears that Matthew 18 is in full force, always, with no exceptions when it come to dealing with "inconvenient information".
This advice, if followed, could have serious consequences.
February 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm
“If someone is clearly sinning, they are to be approached in private.” Is this the case with pedophilia? Should we let the churches handle this “privately”?
Frank Viola says:
February 18, 2013 at 8:29 pm
I didn’t write the article, but I think I can give an answer nonetheless. Jesus teaching in Matt. 18 doesn’t prioritize one sin above another or make exceptions. I was once part of a church where a pedophile was discovered to be among us. We went to him in private first. Eventually he was put out of the church, following Matt. 18, because he refused to accept correction. What he was doing was inappropriate, but it hadn’t gotten to the crime stage.
The NT doesn’t make an exception or an excuse for the sin of gossip, as Zens points out. Zens is appealing to the NT. If one doesn’t believe the NT, then that’s another story. The article is written to those who do. btw/ the instruction about the 2 or 3 isn’t that they have to be witnesses to the sin, but they are witnesses to the discipline process and correction. In addition, pedophilia is a crime. So going to the authorities for a crime … like murder, physical abuse, etc. . . . isn’t gossip if it’s happening.
Here are the problems with this response. Viola claims the man was a pedophile. They went to him privately and at some later point, threw him out of the church because he did not "receive correction". Viola said it was "inappropriate" but it did not reach a "crime" stage. So, the man was a pedophile, but his sin was not a crime? And this is still considered "gossip"? It appears that Viola is saying that we must "Matthew 18" the situation before reporting it. The discussion progresses as Viola is pushed on the pedophile issue since his answer is not clear.
February 16, 2013 at 10:51 am
So what would you do if someone tells you they fear a child is being molested and has given their reasons for thinking so but they have no proof? How would you handle that? Would that be considered “gossip”?
Frank Viola says:
February 17, 2013 at 10:47 am
Someone’s “fear” or “suspicion” doesn’t make it so. If there’s a legitimate concern with clear evidence, an investigation should be done. The person should be approached directly. If it’s clear that it’s happening and will continue to happen, the authorities should be contacted for this is a serious crime. Again, just as yourself, how would I want to be treated if it were me being accused. That question answers most of these questions.
Viola's advice here contradicts the advice of many experts. In fact, it mirrors a situation with which I am acquainted. A teen boy reported a sexually charged incident at a church retreat. The church "investigated" it and pronounced the teen "nuts". The pedophile continued to have full access to a group of boys for another year and horribly abused them. He is serving 13 years in jail, thanks to the police who caught him.The Matthew 18 brigade at the church had an epic fail, and there were many who were hurt by their inability to make an adequate assessment.
Frankly, this is why churches get into trouble. He (Viola and pastors) get to determine what constitutes "legitimate evidence.". He gets to do the investigation. He gets to determine if it is "clear" that the abuse is occurring. This is dangerous. I am sure he thinks he is being "biblical", but he is mistaken.
If you believe that sex abuse is occurring, call Child Protective Services immediately. You are immune from any prosecution by reporting a legitimate concern. Many states will allow you to report this anonymously. This is not slander, it is the right thing to do. Let the experts decide what is going on. And, if your church accuses you of slander, get out of there, pronto! That is a dangerous church.
Boz Tchividjian Addresses Matthew 18
Today, Rachel Held Evans featured an interview with Boz Tchividjian link on the use of Matthew 18 in regards to child abuse. We will end on this note. She introduces Boz as follows:
Basyle ‘Boz’ Tchividjian, a founding member and Executive Director ofG.R.A.C.E (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). Born in Vevey, Switzerland, Boz grew up in south Florida, where he served as Assistant State Attorney, Seventh Judicial Circuit (1994-2001). While in that position, he was chief Prosecutor, Sexual Crimes Division, where he gained much experience in cases involving sexual abuse and harassment. In 2003, Boz helped found G.R.A.C.E. to educate and equip the faith community to correctly respond to sexual abuse disclosures, while also providing practical guidance to churches on how to protect children.
She asks him about the use of Matthew 18 in child sex abuse. I heartily recommend that the reader review his entire response. Show this to your pastors or anyone who misuses Matthew 18. Here is an excerpt from their discussion:
The scourge of child sexual abuse is not just a sin violating the 7th Commandment in Exodus 20:14 and Matthew 5:27-30, but it is also a criminal offense in all 50 States. It is not a matter which can be handled quietly between two persons or between two families, as was misguidedly done in Genesis 34 and in many churches today. It is a matter of public alarm, because of its pervasive, extensive, and expansive nature, causing a cascade of misery in countless lives. Additionally, the God-ordained civil authorities in virtually every jurisdiction mandate in some fashion that suspected child abuse be immediately reported to law enforcement.
Thus, any claim that we must follow the Matthew 18 progressive confrontation process before reporting disclosures of child sexual abuse to the civil authorities is simply wrongheaded: God’s minister’s—the civil authorities—must be informed first!
In this, child sexual abuse is like murder. Anyone who would demand that the family of a murder victim must first follow the Matthew 18 process before calling the police could be criminally charged themselves for being an accessory after the fact. What kind of twisted mind would reason that kidnapping or rape ought to be concealed from the civil authorities while a process of church discipline is pursued first?
P.S. Gentlemen, it is not "slander" to admit that C.J. Mahaney has stepped down from SGM — even he admits it…
Lydia's Corner: Judges 2:10-3:31 Luke 22:14-34 Psalm 92:1-93:5 Proverbs 14:1-2
Isn’t one of the major signs of a false prophet is the False Prophet tells the king what he Wants to hear while the True Prophet tells the king what he NEEDS to hear?
The word slander has never impacted me more than this last year, so I found your article very interesting- – – especially in light of the fact that I have a whole blog dedicated to me by my former pastor in which he refers to me as the “slander blogger.” Oy, ain’t life grand?!
Boz Tchividjian’s interview on RHE is excellent. It needs to be spread far and wide. I so appreciate what that man is doing!
It is not slander if it’s true.
The Five Most Revolting Details from the Evidence in the Jack Schaap Case
”’Anyone who would demand that the family of a murder victim must first follow the Matthew 18 process before calling the police could be criminally charged themselves for being an accessory after the fact. What kind of twisted mind would reason that kidnapping or rape ought to be concealed from the civil authorities while a process of church discipline is pursued first?”’
Very good point indeed. It is also state law in certain areas, because people within the church are mandated reporters.
In the Strong’s definitions, at least, of the Greek and Hebrew words for slander, revile, speak against, etc., I’m coming up with the words “calumny” and “traduce” also. From my computer dictionary:
calumny: the making of false and defamatory statements in order to damage someone’s reputation; slander; a false and slanderous statement.
traduce: speak badly of or tell lies about (someone) so as to damage their reputation.
Lying or at least misrepresentation keeps coming up. How would you damage someone’s reputation by telling the whole truth about them? – unless of course the whole truth was actually bad news, in which case see below about the works of darkness, I would think. (Note: “technical” truths aren’t the whole truth, those fall under misrepresentations and/or lying by omission.)
Zens seems to be cutting off viable avenues of doing what we’re told to do in Eph. 5:11.
“One doesn’t have to be operating in malice to be guilty of gossip and slander. Again, the motive is irrelevant. Spreading negative or shameful information about another person is contrary to walking in love. Love ‘thinks no evil’ and ‘believes the best of others’ (1 Cor. 13)”
How do you expose the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11) without damaging someone’s reputation? I’m having trouble even conceiving of this scenario.
I am tired of the word “slander” being flung around by the Calvinistas. I believe that I have made my point. Slander is a lie. It is not a lie to tell people that James MacDona;d lives in a $1.9 million mansion. It is true. If he is comfortable with his choice, he should say so and his followers should stop stomping their feet when we bring it up.@ Hester:
Those details are revolting. @ Anon:
It appears that there is a lack of clarity in the article about how to handle sin and how to handle “possible criminal” actions which, of course, are also sin. Scripture is clear about the purpose of governing authorities.
“1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.
7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”
It appears to me that a person who has reason to suspect child abuse of any kind should contact the governing authorities. The authorities are more competent and trained to investigate these delicate situations. Child abuse cases can be totally botched and confused if untrained people try to investigate.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
In my former church, the was a culture of ‘walking in love.’ Any criticism (unless it came from the pastor in the pulpit) was a violation of your love walk. Sigh….
I’m also having trouble conceiving of a situation like the one Viola mentioned above, in which a pedophile is engaging in “inappropriate” but not “criminal” actions with children. I thought all sexual contact with children was illegal? Oh, my bad. He’s only flirting with the children…
Also, at first it sounds good that they excommunicated him – until you realize that this means a pedophile (presumably unconvicted and thus not on the registry) is out and about in the community and the church has decided not to tell anyone because it might “damage his reputation.” Talk about a recipe for disaster.
“I was once part of a church where a pedophile was discovered to be among us. We went to him in private first. Eventually he was put out of the church, following Matt. 18, because he refused to accept correction. What he was doing was inappropriate, but it hadn’t gotten to the crime stage.” Viola
This statement doesn’t give clear details. It’s possible that the church found a convicted pedaphile in their midst, who didn’t disclose such, they went to him to find out and let him know what he needed to do to worship among them, and he didn’t comply so they removed him from their fellowship. Up to this point, they may have acted appropriately. However, if the “convicted pedaphile” wasn’t supposed to be near children, he may have violated his parole and they should have also reported him to authorities and not just sent him on his way.
If this was a man who confessed that he had thoughts and desires for children, but had never been convicted, this is a different situation that may have been handled correctly. It’s possible that it was a different scenario than either of these. It’s hard to know if the handling of this situation was correct without more information.
We were typing at the same time . . .
You said, “(As an aside, in fact, we want to commend SBC Voices. In one post here, they revealed their relationship to Cruciform Press and Kevin Meath’s former relationship to SGM.)”
I hope the other facts you present in your article are more accurate than this. First of all, SBC Voices does not have a relationship with Cruciform Press or Kevin Meath. SBC Voices is a collaborative blog which represents the wide range of Southern Baptist views.
One of our contributors, Mike Leake, whose name is clearly on the article you referenced, is publishing a book with Cruciform.
I am the editor of SBC Voices and manage its content. Mike Leake is one of our best writers and I am sure will have a successful career as an author. He has strong convictions which he articulates well in an irenic spirit.
But he, and he alone has a relationship with Cruciform and the editing team there. I had never even heard of them until Mike told me about their work.
I’m not sure what you were trying to say with the blurb about SBC Voices, but your facts were inaccurate.
I totally agree with the slander issue. Being truthful about a public figure, even if the information is ugly, is not slander.
The one thing that Zens and Viola seem to be missing is that some of these leaders are “untouchables.” Multiple people have gone to them in private, multiple times. But these organizations are set up in such a way that the offensive leaders can not, or will not, be put out. (To me, this disqualifies the entire organization as a church.) I don’t want to say that Viola and Zens are not aware of what is going on with some of these leaders, but . . . it appears so. On the other hand, they could be aware but think it is not their business. Or they could be aware, think it is wrong, but are not willing to address the issues. I don’t pretend to know their thoughts.
So, are these guys saying that they would rather have their children exposed to pedophiles than listen to a testimony that might turn out to be just ‘gossip?’
If my parents had thought the way Viola does about slander/gossip and pedaphilia/Matthew18, I would be pretty worried, but then again, who even knows what may already have happened since secrecy seems to be a virtue over protection of children.
Everybody! Don’t just read the top-five. Read the whole sentencing memorandum from the US Attorney! It’s classic! It should be a textbook required for study by all seminaries and pastor-training academies! SCHAAP’s *love letters* dripping with meaningless god-words just to reel the victim in. The victim’s own statements. No gossip. No slander. Just facts. The parents, who had supported FBC Hammond for over 30 years, now saying they’re “banned” and their daughter really and truly being slandered by numerous fine FBC souls standing by their *pastor* to this day!
@ Dave A A:
“If this was a man who confessed that he had thoughts and desires for children, but had never been convicted, this is a different situation that may have been handled correctly. It’s possible that it was a different scenario than either of these. It’s hard to know if the handling of this situation was correct without more information.”
True. But the fact that Viola mentioned he was unrepentant and that it got to the level of excommunication doesn’t bode well.
“Someone’s “fear” or “suspicion” doesn’t make it so. If there’s a legitimate concern with clear evidence, an investigation should be done. The person should be approached directly. If it’s clear that it’s happening and will continue to happen, the authorities should be contacted for this is a serious crime. Again, just as yourself, how would I want to be treated if it were me being accused. That question answers most of these questions. ” – Frank Viola
I just finished serving as a juror on a case charging 1. sexual conduct with a minor, 2. Public indecency and 3. Child molestation. All I can say is that I hope Frank never has to explain his opinion to a prosecuting attorney. No one in a courtroom is going to be impressed with Frank.
Exactly what sort of evidence would Viola accept? That is part of the problem with pedophilia. People do not understand it.
I am very disappointed in both Viola and Zens. They are both the paragons of the anti institutional church movement. they should get it that this stuff is often swept under the rug to protect an institution reputation.
And the fact that Viola said this is shows his ignorance:
“If there’s a legitimate concern with clear evidence, an investigation should be done. The person should be approached directly. If it’s clear that it’s happening and will continue to happen, the authorities should be contacted for this is a serious crime.”
What constitutes legitmate and who gets to decide if they are not professionals? Ok, and if it happend and CONTINUES to happen, the authorities should be contacted?
So, once is ok?
Viola blew it. Most reports of pedophila SOUND like gossip to the ignorant. Peds are clever. Kids are never really sure what happened. Like the little boy who happened to tell his brother about the man in the church restroom who “helped him with his zipper”. He was not sure. If he had not told his 11 year old brother, his parents would never have known. When the man was confronted, he immediately left the church. It was reported.
“I was once part of a church where a pedophile was discovered to be among us. We went to him in private first. Eventually he was put out of the church, following Matt. 18, because he refused to accept correction. What he was doing was inappropriate, but it hadn’t gotten to the crime stage.” Viola
He is not qualified to make that determination. How does he know there were not tons of victims before then and then more after he left? Pedophiles love guys like Viola because they have many victims before they are caught or reported. They just move to another church.
One of the things that REALLY bothered me about that article and the comment thread is that Viola did not even hesitate to come right back with his self conferreed “expertise” in the matter. Done deal. He did not even admit he could be wrong or might not know enough or what constituted evidence. He did not say, make the call and let the pros handle it. Nope. He is the expert in this. How is that different than SGM who said they would handle it? who is Viola to make that determination if the authorities should be called or not?
He is off my list now. This really bothered me. Somebody has to err on the side of children. There are just too many instances of molestation going on in Christendom. Pedophiles/molesters LOVE Christians.
When will people in the Christian subculture get the fact that they ARE NOT trained professional investigators!!!
Confronting a suspected pedaphile can be dangerous….not just for you, but for any current victims. Grrrr!!!!!!
Well, at least now I understand why he doesn’t have a problem with the prosperity gospel…
Maybe he’s envisioning a “Herbert the Pervert” type scenario. Otherwise, I’m stumped too.
I work for a school district. Despite the fact that I am not directly involved with students (I work in IT), it is still considered my responsibility to report instances of bullying and possible abuse. I am not a direct reporter, I am to report to an administrator, school psychologist, guidance counselor, or certified teacher.
My understanding is that church pastoral staff are also under the “must report” laws. Why would any pastor not report?
My church had an incident of sexual abuse. Despite the fact that the perp was the son of an elder, the incident was reported to the police, the son arrested, and the matter taken care of in a matter of days. There was some local publicity that lasted a week or so. The problem was dealt with in a legal manner with little consequence for the church. In other words, the church didn’t get dragged through the mud.
Why can’t these guys see that the longer they drag out the process, the worse the publicity gets?
I’ve noticed that in the same way, a lot of Christian churches would rather a woman stay in an abusive marriage than divorce the abuser, because to them, murder isn’t quite as bad as divorce.
Then there’s an old joke about Baptists not liking to discuss sexual topics because it might lead to dancing.
There’s a lot of weird prioritization or how sins are ranked in seriousness going on among conservative Christians.
Currently it seems the individual is dispensable, but anything that may cause a black eye on a church’s (the group’s) reputation is considered of utmost importance.
Jesus said the Good Shepherd would go after the one lost sheep, not sit around protecting his reputation among the 99 and the other shepherds.
@ Dave A A:
After reading the five point bullet list and having seen his “polish the sword” video a few weeks ago, I don’t know if I can read more detailed stuff without throwing up.
Great interview with Boz T of GRACE.
This is the part that resonated with me:
I often tell people that the GRACE team spends a large part of our lives swimming in Christian cesspools that are created when the Christian community sacrifices individual souls for institutional protection and reputation. This is a dark underbelly that the Church would rather ignore because acknowledging it would require being confronted with its own dark and destructive sins. It’s much easier and much more glamorous for the Church to invest time and energy into building programs, evangelism techniques, and theological debates. All the while these cesspools are filling with precious human souls who are drowning because they’ve lost hope—lost hope in life, lost hope in the Church, and lost hope in God. They have lost all hope because the professing Christian community has either abused them or responded with nothing but silence to their cries for help.
Great letter, Eagle.
Off Topic: Stop Baptist Predators [Christa Brown] > Boots, biscuits and the Prestonwood scandal
If the above does not work, then try this:
Excellent blog post.
I hadn't heard before this explanttion but is a good way to put this. Call something "slander" when it really is an inconvenient truth.
When the documents that Brent Detwiler put together that someone posted online came out, SGM Leadership's reaction was to call them "slander" as in Brent "slandered" C.J Mahaney etc. SGM Leadership never pointed out anything that was false in the documents but still felt the term "slander" was what they could be called.
Brent's documents and what they exposed were really just an "inconvenient truth" to SGM Leadership. Use of that term and the typical fear of someone supposedly being a slanderer was a sly trick to try and deflect this "inconvenient truth."
Fortunately it didn't work with a lot of people. My thought is that one reason why so much of the sin and hypocrisy could go on for so long in SGM without being exposed was due to the group's definition of "slander" and "gossip." It allowed leadership to do questionable actions with little fear of exposure of this sin.
If people were in the knew then IMO the sin and hypocrisy would have been exposed much earlier. Again excellent post.
Doesn’t Zens and Viola’s definition of slander lead us to some pretty logical extremes?
If I overheard my friend Bob saying that he wanted to shoot my friend Frank, then I heard that Frank had been invited over to Bob’s house by himself, it would technically be “slander” (according to their definition) if I told Frank that Bob might be trying to kill him. My wish to protect Frank would not cut it in their book.
I know this is kind of an extreme example, but…technically it fits the definition they have laid out. But let’s look at some less extreme examples of times when I’ve broken their “no slander” rule. I’ve had to speak to someone about the fact that her boyfriend was showing signs of being an abuser. I’ve had to warn a friend’s parents that he might be hurting himself. As a teen, I had to alert adults that a friend of mine was making risky sexual choices. Should I have kept all these things quiet? Should I have confronted the abusing boyfriend (who had a foot and a half on me and was very strong) first, or tried to counsel my friend out of hurting himself without alerting his family, or confronted my risk-taking friend who I already knew wouldn’t listen to me?
If motivations are NEVER sufficient to cover slander, and the only way to avoid slander is to have hard evidence AND go to the person in private first…doesn’t that rule out some very important preventative steps that all of us have to take every once in awhile, for a variety of reasons? From that, we can deduce that their definition may need tweaking. I would say that truly pure motivation and strong suspicion are almost always (maybe always always!) justification for warning the proper people.
And for goodness sakes, the SGM debacle is about COVERING UP ALLEGED ONGOING ABUSE. Isn’t it really important for the church as a whole to show that we don’t stand for that in our midst?
Pastors are not equipped to investigate and evaluate possible cases of pedophilia and sexual abuse, or rape for that matter. Child sexual abuse is a very specialized investigation that even few police or DAs are competent to carry out. It requires special training, particularly getting an admissible interview with the victim that does not plant ideas in the process and result in the loss of the interview as evidence. A pastor receiving any indication of a possible instance must, must, must immediately report it to the appropriate agency and let them take it from there. Most states now have networks of trained interviewers and trained investigators for sexual abuse cases. Do not intervene and do not question a child — REPORT.
Notice something interesting about that list? It mentions “attendance” for numbers. Not members. They count their highest attending weekend and report that. Probably Easter last year.
Heck most “members” don’t attend and most attenders don’t join. It is a circus.
Eagle, You know what is funny about reading that list? I see a couple of guys who were at other mega’s on the same list years ago, forced out by the top leadership, who now have their own mega.
I used to live in Houston, and I know where Woodlands is. I could’ve gone to several of the churches on that list (but did not). I almost went to the Osteen church to see what it was like.
Ooh, Eddie Long’s church is on the list. He allegedly had inappropriate contact with minors.
Steve Munsey’s church is on the list. I just read something about him and his wife, something about them allegedly bilking their church out of money, or some kind of dishonesty going on.
I never trusted him anyway. He’s always on TBN, coming across like a snake-oil salesman, trying to convince 80 year old granny ladies to mail TBN their grocery money.
Robert Morris’ church is on the list. He has a show on some Christian networks.
I’ve read former members say his church does not help the “little guy,” even if you’ve tithed to them for years, if you go to them in a time of financial need, they will refuse to aid you.
Creflo Dollar is on the list. He got into a skirmish with police when his daughter called to say he was physically abusing her, that was in the news.
John Hagee is on the list. He who insults overweight ladies, usually (though not always) attributes clinical depression to being a character flaw, and who uses, was it $15 million, to build an animatronic Noah’s Ark exhibit at his church.
Perry Noble of New Spring is on there. I’ve read really bad stuff about him and his church, like this.
I sometimes wonder if there are any trustworthy pastors and churches left at all. Most seem to be mired in sexism, domestic abuse, greed, child abuse, or plain old insensitivity towards members.
Only same-sex contact because that’s Homosexual?
According to Christian Monist, at his childhood church in the Godly Golden Age of The Fifties (my highlighting):
Father Guido Sarducci will hear your confession. Chances are, all you’ll have to do is say a couple of Our Fathers & a couple of Hail Marys and everything will be cool.
sad observer wrote:
Your examples bring a lot of moral clarity to this issue. What so many want to do is take a single Bible verse out of context and apply it to all situations in life. How has that worked out for them? Don’t answer that…
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
Thank you for mentioning that. I like the 1950s, the clothing, music, and so on, and for years I was very much a social conservative (and in some ways kind of still am), but present day conservative Christian idolizing of pre-1960s America (the 1950s seem very popular with some Christian groups) really bothers me.
Conservative Christians are not willing to adjust to things as they are now and keep dreaming about how things were. As a result, some of us who don’t fit the 1950s ideal of married with two kids, are very much excluded. And the 1950s were not ideal, as you pointed out.
Though after having read more of The Christian Monist’s page, I can’t agree that we are living in a golden age of Christianity, prosperity, rainbows, kittens, and peace and things are going to get rosier.
I’m not exactly a doom’s day type, but, I can’t share his view that things are getting better.
His blog is an interesting read, though.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you *FALSELY*, for my sake. -Matt 5:11
There is a very important word in this verse…
Nice letter Eagle.
On another issue – is this the same Frank Viola of Minnesota Twins fame? The man with the great circle change-up? His advice on how to handle pedophiles in a church appears to be a hanging curveball.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” – Isaiah 5:20
With their false accusations of gossip and slander against those who are exposing the darkness in the church, church leaders are calling good evil. They and others are also calling evil good by keeping silent and protecting the “good” reputations of bad leaders.
Having an undeserved “good” reputation just means that others have believed a lie.
No, TW. Same name, different person.
Just an FYI: The entire text of Sovereign Grace Ministries’s Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit against it (Case-No-369721-V) is on Scribd.com :
Anon 1, you wrote:
In a more recent comment, Viola has described that incident in more detail. I wasn’t impressed. I just wrote the following comment a little farther down, and it’s in moderation. We’ll see if it sticks.
Sorry to tell you this, but your judgement here is entirely wrong. This is not a matter of my opinion as a Christian, but a matter of law. Neither you nor I have any capacity or training to determine whether anyone is sexually abusing children — only highly trained experts in law enforcement can do that. NO ONE else has any business even trying. The mothers you mentioned above shouldn’t have gone to you, but straight to the police, with their concerns. When you heard about it, your only job in that case was to call the authorities, and let them do their God-appointed work.
You may ask whether I would enjoy facing such an investigation, based on suspicion or malicious accusation. The answer: Of course I wouldn’t. That doesn’t matter. The law is the law, and there are very good reasons for this one. The protection of children must come before my (or anyone else’s) comfort or convenience. The best I could do in such a situation would be to trust that the authorities know their jobs, that they would discern the truth, and that I would be vindicated eventually. Complaining that “I don’t like it” would do me no good at all.
You seem to think that there are no exceptions to Matthew 18. You’re wrong. The truth is, Matthew 18 offers us no exemption from the laws of the land. Please keep this in mind if you’re serious about guarding children under your care, brother.”
He suggests talking to the accused? Striking up a conversation and chatting about alleged paedophilia? WHAT? No no no no no no no no no no NO! You NEVER approach the accused about the allegations, nor their wife/husband, their kids, their parents, their best friend’s neighbour’s dog, NOBODY. The action you take after any sort of allegation is made is to report it to the relevant authorities.
@ Serving in Japan:
Your post is there and responded to. Not sure that mine will stay, though, I was considerably more blunt. In responding to that same comment I wrote:
This advice is, quite frankly, evil. Waiting until there’s ‘evidence’ is waiting too long. If there’s suspicion it should IMMEDIATELY be reported to the relevant authorities, and the accused should NEVER be approached. Do you really think you’re just going to strike up a conversation with someone and ask them if they’ve sexually abused any kids lately? Really? Because that’s what your advice is suggesting. It’s terrible advice. And, in some jurisdictions and for people who are mandatory reporters, borderline illegal.
As for if it was me accused? Well, if the correct process is followed – i.e. if someone’s made an allegation to the child protection agency – they’ll investigate and will find no evidence and likely nobody will be any the wiser that the investigation and allegation even happened. A better question to ask (i.e. one that isn’t silencing of victims and protecting of abusers) is ‘how would I want my child to be treated if it was them allegedly abused?’ And I sure as hell would want people trained in dealing with sexual abuse cases to be presiding over the investigation, not someone with a clerical collar but no experience or training in criminology or counselling.
So really, please rethink this advice. Rethink this discussion. And learn what the law is around investigation and reporting of abuse.
I used to read Viola’s and Zen’s blogs regularly. I stopped reading Viola’s blogs because he kept removing my posts when I disagreed with him. He seemed to become more and more arrogant over time. Zen doesn’t post that often and I have been busy reading other blogs so I hadn’t checked on him in a while. I had thought the Zen was usually right on and agreed with what he said. I am very disappointed in the direction this post went. That Viola reposted and agreed with it doesn’t really surprise me.
Serving in Japan, Excellent comment over there. Then Viola fails again in his answer to Glen who speaks of the shepherding movement in his neck of the woods and how everything was considered gossip and slander. Viola sticks to his guns that Matt 18 is a cure all for every situation.
I get so frustrated with the cult of Matt 18 for everything. For crying out loud, can we get some context, please!
In Viola’s mention of a false accusation, nothing shuts down a person who would do this faster than calling the authorities. And he could use a good talk with Boz T if his concern are false accusations. He needs to get a reality check at how rare they are. Boz outlines why that is in that link to the RHE interview.
“He seemed to become more and more arrogant over time”
I saw that, too. Success in the “organic church” ministry? Becoming a bit of a minor celeb does it every time!
If he is deleting comments that simply disagree with him, everything he has written about organic church is moot.
Nice job, Serving, he not only allowed your excellent comment to stay, but he replied and referred to your comment in two other comments, implying your insight was more prudent than his.
@ Serving in Japan:
” I stopped reading Viola’s blogs because he kept removing my posts when I disagreed with him. He seemed to become more and more arrogant over time.”
That’s sad because some of the things I’ve read by Viola were good. (The above-referenced post, of course, not being one of those things.) : (
The related topics of “gossip” and “slander” are of some interest to me since I have personally been on the receiving end of both, in a specific and rather unsavoury episode earlier this year. I don’t want this post to be overlong (I’ve touched on it before in a comment a few weeks ago), so I’ll post a separate comment later today as I think it’s relevant to the discussion. But I have a couple of general observations.
Consider first the cliched accusation-masquerading-as-a-question: So, you disagree with what Arnold Famous-Pastor wrote in his latest bestselling book. Have you taken up your issues with him personally?” This question is, of course, specious. The questioner knows perfectly well that you haven’t, nor could you have done since Arnold Famous-Pastor won’t answer emails from the likes of you. In other words, it’s a veiled accusation that you haven’t Followed Matthew 18™, therefore you should shut up and go away. But since Arnold Famous-Pastor didn’t write his book in private, but in public, and disseminated it to the widest possible audience when he published it, Matthew 18 is irrelevant. No witnesses are needed to establish what a person’s publicly declared theology contains.
Secondly, depending on what church background you have and what country you live in, what you regard as a sin, the state may not regard as a crime, and vice versa. But where the two coincide, if a crime is serious enough to expel someone from the church, it’s difficult to see how it would not warrant alerting the police. Incidentally, paedophiles and wife-beaters are not the only sinners that target naive christian communities. A congregation I know nearby was targeted by a married couple who established themselves as respectable members, then systematically defrauded numerous other members of thousands of pounds (using fictitious business ventures). When confronted, they simply left the church and found another one – sadly, the pastor of “their new church” refused to believe that such charming people could be capable of such nasty things and they were free to rob more people.
Thirdly, we may not be “trained investigators” but we still have to exercise some responsibility, as both believers and citizens, on what is “reasonable evidence” that a crime has been committed. So, if I see an adult church member accompanying older children into toilet cubicles against the childrens’ express wishes, then – and call me a witch-hunter if you like – I’m going to stick my neck out and say this is reasonable evidence of criminal behaviour. But suppose Anne comes to me and says she reckons Bert has been “behaving inappropriately” to young Charlie. What does she mean? Showing insufficient distaste when changing young Charlie’s nappy (if Charlie is 1) or accompanying Charlie go to the toilet as described above (if Charlie is 10)? Is she telling the truth? Have I known Anne to spread false gossip before, and if so, how does it affect how I treat this story? Importantly, assuming young Charlie is old enough, what does he have to say about it? Can we safely raise the subject with him/her (“Charlie” could be Charles or Charlotte… I chose the name deliberately!)? If Anne honestly fears Bert is a pervert and a danger to children, has she told the police? If not, why not, and why has she come to me? In this case, I’m not going to run straight to the police. Viola’s blog post itself contains a reference to an accusation that was malicious and, ultimately, proven false. Significantly, it didn’t come from the child, but surfaced as hard-to-trace rumours.
In my experience this is correct. A member of my family was falsely accused of abuse (physical, not sexual), but the investigation found zero evidence and the accuser had an obvious motive of revenge, so the charge was dismissed. Am I naive enough to believe that justice is always served in this way? No. But neither am I naive enough to believe that you can sit down with a possible child predator, have a nice chat and clear the air. Child predators LIE. And, sadly, many church authorities are easily fooled because they have reputations to protect, which makes them lose sight of their primary responsibility.
How come this part of Matthew 18 is never quoted by these guys?:
“If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
Because then he knows you’re on to him and will start covering his tracks, calling in favors with groomed and cultivated allies, and generally defend himself/destroy you. If he can’t groom you into becoming his ally, he will play the Falsely Accused Innocent Martyr and It’s All Your Fault.
Daisy, I am just old enough to remember the Fifties (especially its tail end, the First 1960s) and I am an Aficionado of the Nifty Fifties.
That said, the Christianese Nifty Fifties is NOT the real 1950s. It is a MYTHICAL Godly Golden Age, filtered through Ozzie, Harriet, and Donna Reed, which bears little or no resemblance to the actual time.
Anecdote: My writing partner once showed me a brochure from some Christian School, whose cover pic was allegedly taken in the 21st Century. Apple-cheeked white children, all the little boys in crewcuts, white shirts, black neckties, and short pants; all the little girls in pigtails and long skirts. Allegedly taken in the 21st Century, but looked like Sixties Mad Magazine cartoons of the 1950s.
My comment was “If they’re living back in the Fifties, where are the cocktails and cigarettes?” Because the REAL 1950s were the all-time peak of alcohol and tobacco use in the US.
Muff Potter wrote:
That’s still more penance than SGM gives to active pedophiles.
“A Silenced and Compliant Faux Nefarious Neo-Calvinist Religious System, In The Making?”
“Zens seems to be cutting off viable avenues of doing what we’re told to do in Eph. 5:11.” – Hester
“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even ‘expose them’; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.” Ephesians 5:11-12; NASB.
Are we talking about 21 century religious enslavement?
Creating church sycophants, controlled by a “few good calvinesta men” ?
Where the Calvinesta pastor’s bible has a ‘Silencer’?
Anti- independent thinking.
Anti- followers of Jesus Christ?
We will, We will, Slience You!
We will, We will, Slience You!
We will, We will, Slience You!
March, March, March…
Q: Are these ‘religious’ men f-o-o-l-i-n-g Christ, and following some other?
Many will come and say: “I represent Jesus Christ, follow me” ?!?
Accept “No” imitations, nock-offs, faux frilly flippy thingys…
Jesus: All those who come in my name and represent me not are both thieves and robbers.
Listen to them not.
(unless of course you wanna b in a spiritual ditch too!)
Jesus said: I. am. the. door. !
—-> Read. Your. Bible?
You just might ‘hear’ da rest of the story…
(faith comes by hearing the word of God)
calvinesta ‘gag order’, my foot…
Give me religious liberty, not religious bondage, and ‘spirit’ death!
Whom the Lord ‘sets free’, …are free indeed!
Count me in!
Last local Brony meet I was at some guy grilled up a big batch of his custom “Tequila Burgers”. Near as I could tell from watching him do it, it was done by kneading (1) fresh-squeezed limes, (2) small bottle Worcestershire Sauce, and (3) small bottle Tequila into bulk ground beef. I do not know the actual recipe proportions, but it was good.
That’s because murder isn’t SEXUAL(TM).
I agree with your view of Jon Zens. I have listened to his interviews on thatmom and I am sure he commented on Wade’s blog. I appreciate what he says about women and the church. I realized I was encountering cognitive dissonance (http://undermuchgrace.blogspot.com/2009/03/understanding-cognitive-dissonance-part_565.html) when I read his article on slander weeks ago. I couldn’t reconcile what I was reading with what I thought I knew of Zens. I still feel like there must be something I am missing, or that Zens could make his point clearer.
Does he really think that a person saying, truthfully, “That pastor did and said this” is slandering that pastor? Is it then slander for that pastor to then say he was slandered? Lol. What a warped world.
In 1 Timothy 4 Paul says: The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
Is he slandering these people? What if Timothy knows who Paul is talking about?
Then he says: If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.
Paul, I wonder what you would think if you could see how the the church does things now? Pointing out these things, the hypocritical liars and the abusers of children and the cover-uppers of sin in the church, makes us slanderers. In some eyes.
Both this subject and the other TWW post about the rules of blogging make me wonder how Jesus and Paul would have fared in todays evangelical climate. Only say nice things. “You brood of vipers!”
Heather, Paul Libeled Hy and Al in 1st Tim 1, According to the new standards. Did Paul practice Matthew 18? He does not say.
Same new standard formeans gossip means that John gossiped and libeled Diotrophes. John was not there he took other people’s word for it.
I wrote this post primarily to deal with the view of slander that is currently being promoted throughout the evangelcial church. I was surprised to read a comment on a TGC blog in which a man, answering another person’s query about slander, denied that slander had anything to do with lying. He claimed that it merely mean a bad report and it is a terrible sin. That was my final straw. I realized that it was time to look into this.
I have been wanting to write this post for awhile. My future goal is to disagree with anyone who pulls out the “slander” word to mean an awkward truth. I will refer specifically to Scripture. It has to do with delibaretly lying about a good person and I shall stand firm on this. Zens and Viola were merely a means to illunstarte what I believe is a widepread misunderstanding of this word throughout evangelicalism. I could have picked any number of people over at TGC and other blogs to illustrate this point.
I found it fascinating when I reveiwed Scripture and consistently saw words that meant that slander involved dishonesty, lying, etc. It also said that said lies affect a “good” person. So, if I say that the there are terrible reports of serious matters coming out about SGM, I am not slandering them. I am merely stating the obvious. But, it really screws up the speaking circuit, doesn’t it?
It is widespread misunderstanding throughout all sectors of the faith. They just happened to write about it more recently. I needed something to springboard on.
When you really think for a minute, none of this pedophile stuff or pedophile coverup stuff should shock us.
God gave us the law. He gave it to us to reveal to us what is sin.
Sin is not determined by our individual conscience, by a group vote, or decreed by pastors. It is laid out, and that pretty clearly, in God’s Word.
BUT–even in the church we have twisted that. We make statements about how times have changed, how the Bible says A but really means B, how everything is up to interpretation. We excuse some pretty hard hearted and gross sin because we don’t want to offend the sinner.
Can we really be so shocked then, when the same excuses and sin coverups happen with a sin we don’t happen to like?
@ dee: I'm glad you are clarifying this issue, Dee.
Unfortunately, it seems that most people view the reports coming out of SGM as slander because they believe the current lawsuit is the "starting" point and needs to be resolved before judgement. Most people are not willing to listen to the many who for years have followed Matt. 18 with SGM leaders but were abandoned. These people had no recourse when after trying to interact with pastors at SGM they themselves often ended up being slandered and shunned.
It seems the comments section in the article by Zens has brought to light the thinking and actions of Viola in regards to a second issue – pedophilia. I have come to the conclusion that many people in the Church simply do not understand the issues surrounding this crime. Most people are far too busy and often don't give any of it much thought. There is so much ignorance and lack of education regarding all aspects of abuse, most of all pedophilia. I am thankful that you are bringing this to the forefront and hope and pray that men and women of the Church will become educated in this area. It doesn't need to rest in the shoulders of leaders only. Members should ask, learn, and push for changes where necessary.
Wow, @ Pam, that was BOTH barrels. And I thought my comment was hard-hitting. 😉
Good for you.
Well, whaddaya know?
Thanks Julie Anne. That’s good to hear. Just goes to show we can make some difference.
Anon 1 wrote:
In fact, a case could be made that Paul did NOT practice it in I Cor 5, where he ordered the immoral man cast out based upon something he’d heard. Likewise in II Cor 2 where he ordered the restoration of (likely) the same man– and never talked to the guy personally. I think these 2 chapters address “CHURCH discipline” (though the phrase is unbiblical) and restoration while Matt 18 focuses on PERSONAL forgiveness and restoration.
My personal take on the Matt 18 steps, and I’d think there must be some scholars who would say this better, is that those steps are directed to individual disciples, not to corporate church leaders. They’re not “discipline” rules which must be followed by corporate shunning. Jesus uses “thee”– second person SINGULAR to address the person taking the steps. The church only comes in as extra support in seeking repentance, just like the couple of individuals previously. But it’s the sinned-against party, not the church, who takes the step of letting him be unto “thee” (singular) as a tax-collector or gentile. Peter seems to take it just this way when, after the keys section, he asks, not about his apostolic authority or unlocking the pearly gates, but “How often shall MY brother sin against ME, and I forgive him?”
Dee, the silencing tool leaders use is to falsely call all things negative “Gossip & Slander.” Pardon the long post, but this is a key controlling tool in Calvary Chapel’s world-wide.
“Never Gossip” from Calvary Chapel’s primer for Assisting Pastors
Found here: http://c317808.r8.cf1.rackcdn.com/TheMinistryOfAssistingPastor.pdf
Excerpt from “The Ministry of an Assisting Pastor” by Larry Taylor
(Note: Larry Taylor has since repented of the this book and it’s contents and left CC)
7. Never Gossip
Gossip is a sin that most of us feel we are not guilty of, and which most of us are very guilty of. Gossip may be defined as saying anything negative, whether true or not, to anyone about the pastor or about the ministry. If there are things wrong, take it to the Lord in prayer. Tell absolutely no one, including your spouse. Do not repeat anything that would cast aspersion on the ministry in any way. Doing so dishonors Christ and His cause.
But, you say, what do you do if there are real problems? Pray about them and forget them. If that doesn’t work, take your concerns directly and only to the pastor himself, and share with him honestly. If that doesn’t work, resign, and move on. Under no circumstances should you ever say anything negative about the pastor or the ministry to anyone, even after you’ve quit.
In a situation where something in the church is so completely wrong that the sheep in the body are in spiritual danger, then say nothing to anybody, resign, and move on. If the church is a Calvary Chapel affiliate, then take your concerns and share them privately with Pastor Chuck or with Oden Fong, then drop it; leave it alone. Let them handle it. Trust God. He’ll correct the situation. But do not gossip. It is a terrible sin before God.
8. Defend the Pastor and the Ministry from All Negative Talk, Gossip, Slander, and Anything that would Undermine God’s Work
Anything that would hinder or cast aspersion on the ministry will adversely affect the work of the Holy Spirit in your town. Therefore, defend the ministry. When you hear anything even slightly negative about the pastor or about the ministry, intervene, correct it, and stop it. Gossip and slander can destroy a great work of God, and can ruin the reputation of godly people. Listening to it condones it. Step into the conversation and boldly rebuke the gossip, replacing it with that which is lovely, positive, and of good report.
Every church has its critics and its people who think they have a better way of doing things. We can be open to ideas and to constructive criticism, we do not have all the answers. But when the constructive criticism becomes destructive complaining, put an end to it.
As an assisting pastor, you must be the eyes and ears of the ministry. Know what the people are saying, and steer them in a godly direction.
The admonition to never “gossip” or “slander” doesn’t stop the leadership from partaking in it wholeheartedly in Calvary Chapels:
“Be a Narc for Jesus,” Excerpt from Calvary Chapel’s primer for Assisting Pastors
Found here: http://c317808.r8.cf1.rackcdn.com/TheMinistryOfAssistingPastor.pdf
20. Keep the Pastor Informed About Absolutely Everything—Be His Eyes and Ears, Be a Narc for Jesus
The Pastor needs to be told everything. He cannot oversee the ministry without data. Senior pastors hate surprises in their ministries. Tell the pastor all about the people in the congregation. Tell him what’s happening at meetings he doesn’t attend. Tell him how the Sunday School is going, what the youth group is doing, and the latest missionary efforts. Leave no stone unturned. Tell him everything.
Some ministries are so big that the Assisting Pastor doesn’t see or talk to the Pastor regularly. If that’s your case, write him letters. Pastor Chuck has far too much to do to talk to me every day on the phone or have me planted in his office when I should be out serving the people. So, I regularly write him a long letter, in which I tell him everything about the areas of ministry that I’m assisting him with. He needs input and data to make his decisions and oversee the ministry, so I give him as much input as I can. I inform him of everything. If something goes wrong, I want him to hear from me first. I want him to have all information in case he needs to make decisions about the ministry. I don’t expect an answer to the letters—it is just input from me to him.
Be the eyes and ears of the ministry. Listen to what people are saying. Pick up on the attitudes of the staff and leadership. Watch people to see who serves diligently and who goofs off. Be a narc for Jesus. Squeal on people. Narc on the guy who litters the parking lot. Tell the pastor everything. Absolutely everything.
* * *
“I was surprised to read a comment on a TGC blog in which a man, answering another person’s query about slander, denied that slander had anything to do with lying. He claimed that it merely mean a bad report and it is a terrible sin. That was my final straw. I realized that it was time to look into this. ”
Dee, Redefining is going on in all sectors of Christendom. You are right, they ARE claiming it refers to “bad reports”. The problem is that if I tell you what a pastor did to me, that is a first person account. You can choose not to believe it or you can go ask the pastor his side (if you can a hold of him) and go from there. But my telling you my first person experience is NOT slander. And we have John writing in a letter for all to see giving a bad report on Diotrephes. He was not there. He believed someone elses account but yet felt the need to warn others.
I am so glad you wrote this. People must become educated because their pastors sure aren’t.
I agree with you, Bridget. That was my first thought when I read Frank Viola’s comment. I thought, “He has no clue.” Just like the pastors at my former church seemed to have no idea. To be honest, Neither did I until recently. I think as we continue to put this information out there, more and more people will start to understand and take appropriate action. Thank God for the Internet and for ministries like G.R.A.C.E..
My point is that the way Chuck Smith taught his servants to act, as well as the franchise owners of his brand, has heavily influenced all of Evangelicalism. It’s not that this couldn’t be found before, but Chuck found a way to emphasize this in the context of his removing all accountability for the senior pastor, thereby making it even more heinous.
I know this subject is important to you. Thanx.
The SGM lawsuit is happening in part IMHO because there was this ‘silencing action’ going on for years, utilizing the tools you describe. Acts 29 has been documented as doing quite the same. Using various tools to ‘silence’ and ‘conform’ people. Falsely accusing people of ‘gossip’, and ‘slander’ are just two of the tools in their nefarious arsenal to shut kind folk up. They have been quite effective. Ask their many victims.
I remember reading about the AoR testimonies, how AoR really did not care, yet was quick to note the ‘hostility’ of the many witnesses. If that isn’t shut the ___ up, I don’t know what is.
And thus Calvary Chapel started the modern cult of Pastor as Dictator.
Anon 1 wrote:
Didn’t Screwtape write about redefining words into “their diabolical meanings”?
“Nya Ha Ha, My Dear Wormwood…”
Be a Good Little German; inform on all Enemies of the Fuehrer and Reich.
I have no words to express my disgust of the quotes and the havoc that such teaching causes. Leaders (can no longer call them pastors) who write such things are wicked.
All the talk about slander and gossip confuses the point of when to speak up. Slander is about lying, gossip has to do being entertained by rumors and other people’s business (idle chatter). But if you sense that something is WRONG, you need to speak up!
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
HUG, I need to reread that. It has been a while.
Just to be clear … all the teaching in the Assistant Pastor primer comes from CHUCK SMITH. This was (maybe still is,) mandatory reading for any guy stepping into ministry. The indoctrination Is thorough, if you ask me.
@ sad observer:
Nice applications to real life situations. I keep imagining what I would say to the people at my former church about child sex abuse. I just found out this weekend that prior to our joining that church, there was a church split over an abuse case. Apparently the perpetrator went to the new church, and the pastor planted a new church in Missouri. I asked if there were procedures in place or if the incident was reported to the police. The answer was no to both questions.
Thanks. I’ll add on then “anyone in ministry who perpetuates such teaching.” 🙂
I’m thinking that any who express concern over this teaching probably don’t make it far in this particular groug though. It is a way to weed out the “thinking” people who might cause problems for them. If Chuck no longer believes his own teaching then . . .
Regardless of the defintions, in my last face-to-face encounter with a SGM leader (read “apostle”), he brought 5 or 6 assertions against me, from the local church leadership, that were completely false. I countered every accusation with the truth which left said SGM leader with his face red, voice high pitched, and backed into a corner. So he did what any “gospel” centered leader would do – he promptly attacked my family!
A year or two later one of the locals contacted me. This was about the time of the AoR reconciliation farce. The local confessed, without coercion on my part, that he had gossiped and probably defamed me to the upper echelons of the SGM hierachy. I gave him the task of making this right.
Haven’t heard from him/them,
Former SG Pastor
I looked at the source document and it reads like a parody. If I were trying to write an Orwellian satire on abusive counterfeit church, this would be it (and courtesy here dictates that I note the author’s subsequent repentance and retraction of the document; after all, I drank similar-flavoured Kook Aid myself once).
Chapter 7 in particular is (and I use the phrase with the greatest conceivable irony) a manifesto for paedophile heaven.
Our old Calvinista church spiritually and emotionally abused my wife: she wanted a women’s Bible study, they accused her of rebelling against the male elders and tried to bully her into submission. (I’ve mentioned this in previous comments).
I and a few other guys from my small group stepped in to defend my wife, and when we started poking and prodding to figure out what the heck was going on amongst the elders, we were accused of “being critical” and “speaking negatively about leadership.”
My wife and I, and a few other couples, got out of there as fast as we could. Thank goodness it was not a drawn-out process! However, a few friends who had stayed kept us informed about developments, and forwarded us a manifesto that the elders produced and gave to the entire congregation shortly after we left. Among the many “gems” (that are both hilarious and disturbing in their ludicrousness) in this manifesto was an extreme insistence that NO ONE is allowed to say ANYTHING NEGATIVE about anyone else unless that person is present.
My wife and I found this hilarious, mainly due to the fact that the elders (by their own admission!) had been discussing my wife’s possible sins (rebelling against male authority?) in private amongst themselves, without her present.
In my own view, a leader who is paranoid about people speaking badly about him/her has some deeper issues that need to be addressed. At minimum, they are insecure and defensive, which are never good qualities in a leader. In the case of our former church, it is clear in retrospect that the elders were insecure and defensive for good reason! None of them were trained or equipped to be doing pastoral ministry in the first place.
I don’t understand this! I am sitting here openmouthed. Katie, the excerpts you posted are insane. Saying one negative word about the pastor, in private, even to your SPOUSE, and even if true, is gossip and a “horrible sin” but informing the pastor of all the supposedly “bad” things anyone else does is mandatory? Suddenly it’s not gossip but a sacred duty?
Who is this confused about the differences between Stalin and Jesus? I can’t wrap my head around this.
Exactly. Our old church was a Mars Hill-affiliated church. The lead pastor was a young guy who clearly idolized Mark Driscoll.
I love how this assumes that God’s Work and the pastor’s work are one and the same, and to protect the pastor is to protect God’s Work. I suppose this means that the pastor is infallible and without sin? What if the pastor makes a mistake, or willfully pursues a strategy/action that is contrary to God’s will?
This little gem sticks in my mind:
“In a situation where something in the church is so completely wrong that the sheep in the body are in spiritual danger, then say nothing to anybody, resign, and move on. If the church is a Calvary Chapel affiliate, then take your concerns and share them privately with Pastor Chuck or with Oden Fong, then drop it; leave it alone. Let them handle it. Trust God. He’ll correct the situation. But do not gossip. It is a terrible sin before God.”
When Alex Grenier told Chuck Smith of the abuse he and his brothers received at the hands of their father/step-father/Calvary Chapel Pastor Bob Grenier, as well as the many documented spiritual abuses and financial improprieties, it fell on deaf ears. Though Chuck said he believed Alex and the mounds of signed testimony from many witnesses were in Chuck’s hands, Chuck did NOTHING. He continues to do NOTHING while Bad boy Bob Grenier sues his own son to intimidate him into silence saying Alex is slandering him.
So even if the people in the church are in danger, one is not supposed to tell anyone other than the pastor. This is so bad that it reveals the incredible blindness and evil that has infiltrated (or more likely always been there) in the leadership of the 4th largest, arguably the most influential, non-denominational denomination in the United States.
I have no doubt that SGM’ers, Driscollites, Acts29ers, and the like have all taken copious notes on how Chuck Smith pulled this off and implement these practices with their own style.
My goodness. I just looked over the table of contents of the document that Katie posted. It reads like a creepy manifesto of a brainwashed, lovestruck cult follower. I’m not denying that Chuck is responsible for much of this, but it also seems like Larry Taylor has some personal issues himself.
I keep thinking of Renfield in Stoker’s Dracula.
Mr. H., Calvary Chapel pastors have a “Moses Model” church government structure whereby the Pastor is “Moses” and he is accountable to NO ONE except God. The assumption is that a pastor does not need accountability, but if he does sin a big one, then no one is to do anything unless Chuck Smith decides to arbitrarily step in (which is usually if a church goes Calvinist, but rarely if there is moral failure,) or the law removes the pastor in sin.
Both the Financial Board and the Elder Board are subject to the Pastor and have no rule over the pastor. If they disagree with the Pastor, the Pastor can fire them. There are a few rare exceptions to this, but don’t be fooled by some who try to say that many CC pastors have come to their senses. They always (from what I understand) keep a measure of the Moses Model power and trump card to keep control, but you have to read the by-laws to see exactly what is going on … though they often won’t let you.
I’m just learning about SGMers. But so far, each time I look at a group that appears to have elders with some power and some accountability for the pastor, I find that the way they stack the deck makes them essentially like Calvary Chapels ceding the power to one or a few, and creative ways to give the impression that there is accountability, when in fact there is not.
In other words, Calvary Chapel gives a more straight forward look at such corruption and can help people identify it in other orgs by paying attention to the real power structure and not just the forms that are in place to confuse you.
@ Nick Bulbeck:
Were you saying in your comment that this document was retracted? (I’m hopeful it was!) If so, where can I find that retraction? The sad thing is that it can take a long time to unteach false beliefs that have infiltrated churches.
This is what Chuck Smith taught Larry. Larry states that upfront in the book and Chuck signed off on it. Larry was a minion who was not allowed personal thoughts that were not approved by Chuck, especially when it came to training the newbies. The fact that Larry woke up out of his stupor, left Calvary Chapel, publicly repented, went to seminary to unlearn the indoctrination says volumes to me. Yes, he was guilty of writing Chuck’s teachings and living them, but I still put the responsibility squarely on Chuck.
Welcome to the club, Lilyrosemary! 😉
You have been an inspiration to me. I so appreciate the strong stand you took against SGM. I expressed my concerns about Mahaney on numerous occasions to a former pastor (SBC), and he sent me an e-mail saying that many leaders he knows and respects (MacArthur, Piper, Mohler, Dever, Duncan, and the list went on and on) don't have a problem with C.J. He not so subtly implied that I was the one who had a problem. Let's see… that was about a month before we started blogging, and it was our final communication.
I suspect that you all (Former SGMers) have been told to be loyal to your pastor?
Here’s how the CC’s put it:
6. Be Unconditionally Loyal
If you can’t be loyal to people like your pastor and your wife, you can’t be loyal to God. … Be loyal no matter what is happening. Stand by the man God has raised up to be the pastor.
I haven’t personally seen the retraction, but Katie mentioned it in her first post on the subject.
OK, I am American and will freely admit to having that bias. The U.S. government was founded on the principle that NO ONE is so good or so pure or so divinely appointed that they are accountable to no one but God. And, by gum, I believe that. Thank God I never believed in the idea that when I reconverted I needed to rid my mind of everything I ever learned from life experience or books other than the Bible. Because I think “the Moses model” reeks of the pit of hell and any church that asked me to pretend it smelled like roses would earn my undying suspicion.
Thanks for writing about this, Katie. It has been … educational!
I read this about an hour ago and I am still trying to pick my jaw up off the floor.
It’s just … astounding in its freakishness.
@ Nick Bulbeck:
Thanks, Nick. I missed it.
Lily, I’ve lived and worked for years in countries with authoritarian, totalitarian governments and post-conflict countries with transitional military governments who aren’t exactly poster children for human rights.
These are places where you will suffer and likely be killed if you “slander” or “gossip” about the government but even these monstrous regimes wouldn’t write something like those Calvary Chapel “guidelines.”
They at least have the sense to gussy up their authoritarianism with a faux legal veneer and hastily thrown-together constitutions that are a joke.
The only reason I bring this up is because I utterly fail to see how any sentient person could read that CC document and stay in that system. It’s the most pathetic thing I’ve ever read.
Do you know if Chuck Smith and others are still using this book and/or promoting these teachings in their training? I realize that damage was already done and that the teaching was assimilated. I’m sure the mindset can still be found in churches.
The “attenders” usually don’t know. Showing this to someone would preempt one’s departure for being a “trouble-maker.”
When someone does find out they are either too “simple” to grasp the meaning, or they just lower their eyes and put their fingers in their ears, because they don’t want their personal peace disturbed.
Bridget, I don’t know for sure if the book is still in use, officially. I know of one CC, personally, that was still using it 3 years ago. The principles are reinforced through many avenues like the yearly pastors conference and the two weeks every year that a CC pastor has to spend with another mentor CC pastor. But truthfully, the indoctrination occurs before they get a title. The men striving for positions must prove themselves by living out these principles to be worthy of being chosen to serve the pastor.
I’ve heard some CC pastors try to distance themselves from the book when confronted with it, so it may no longer be something that is mandatory reading in that form, especially since the author repented of it publicly. But the evidence of the principles being lived out currently is abundant.
Did he preach in the Driscolljugend uniform (kewpie-doll fauxhawk and Mickey Mouse T-shirt)? Threaten to punch anyone who disagreed with him in the nose? Even have “I SEE THINGS…” Pornovisions?
I love how section 50, “Stay close to Jesus” is the very shortest section of all! 🙂
I was appointed Associate Pastor (should have been *assisting*, I now see) right about the time this was written. Not at a CC, but with the same Moses model. The senior pastor asked no one else about my appointment. He handled all the church funds personally. This didn’t cause tooooooo very much trouble, since he was honest, managed money “well” and took no salary. But all benevolence had to go through him. So if I or anyone else saw needs where the church could help, the recipients had to qualify in his eyes. This was a means of control. When the church dissolved, we had thousands in the bank, which Pastor donated to the charity of his choice.
Later we were in ANOTHER church with a mini-Moses. He wasn’t quite so honest. After we left, we heard that his mother-in-law had been bought a house with church funds….
Dave A A wrote:
You point out something very significant, Unicorn. The Assistant Pastors are not assisting in the pastoring of the people, serving them; instead, the Assistant Pastors are assisting/SERVING the pastor. That shift is a huge change from what I read of the job descriptions of the elders of the NT.
The Apostle Paul told the Ephesians to appoint elders to “protect the sheep,” and simultaneously warned of wolves that would come in from the outside as well as rise up FROM WITHIN to destroy the sheep.
How is it in the SGM? Has this shift taken place?
Sorry, Dave AA, I called you Unicorn.
I truly don’t get it either. Perhaps saying it’s all “for Jesus” is their version of gussying it up to make it palatable? Also, one of the things that gives me pause is that these instructions were for assistant pastors. Does that mean that their livelihood was at stake? Because I’ve experienced firsthand the confusion and inner turmoil that can occur in a toxic workplace, where you are torn between trying to be a good employee and, well, a good person. Even in that case, however, I would expect anyone with a moral compass to eventually sort things out. We have probably all been sucked into ill-advised belief structures at times, but what concerns me are when so many in positions of responsibility are loath to question the motives of their superiors. It’s how abuse of power happens.
Because they are not God’s Chosen, the One True Church with Eternal Hell as their enforcer. There is no salvation outside Calvary Chapel.
Yet if you bring this (or any suspicion of CC) up to a Calvary Chapelite (i.e. one of the SAVED), the wall in the mind slams down after which there is only the full-auto barrage of Bible Bullets.
I can be Head Unicorn. Or head aPostle. My old church actually had an older man or two who could have been elders– instead they got a Pastor’s assistant!
Really horrible advice from Viola here.
Another thing – his definition of gossip isn’t even correct. Gossip isn’t “always negative personal information about another that puts them in a bad light.”
In fact, gossip can be wonderful positive information that isn’t public and just isn’t your business to share without permission. An example I commonly use is if your friend tells you she’s 8 weeks pregnant. She’s happy but she’s not showing yet. If you go tell a mutual friend, that’s gossip. Your intentions may be great. The news is great. But it’s her news to share, not yours!
Now once the news is public, it’s not gossip anymore if you share it, even if you tell someone who didn’t know before.
Slander is different because the motive is malicious AND the information is at least partly inaccurate / false. It isn’t just information that is negative. An example I use is if I tell you that Newt Gingerich has been twice divorced and is now on his third marriage, the information is true and public, so it’s not slander even though it is negative.
On the other hand, if I say that so-and-so is a thief when they have not been either (a)convicted in a court of law of the crime, or (b) admitted to it, or (c) it otherwise have been proven about them, I am committing slander and could even be sued for my accusation.
Also their version of giving it Cosmic-level Justification.
Got it in one. Assistant pastors serve at the pleasure of the Chief Pastor/God’s Anointed. Remember the Mars Hill purges?
Or (as Albert Speer put it) “arrange their mind” to see only Righteousness and Godliness and Gospelliness. The wall in the mind slams down and the thoughtstoppers replacing the moral compass begin looping (“IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE!”)
And according to the judge in the Calvary Chapel Visalia SLAPP-suit, because of his position Pastor Bob is a public figure. Just like Newt Gingrich.
It was called Divine Right of Kings, and was a Christianization of “The King is a GOD”.
These guys have their panties in a wad. If you want to hear some serious gossip and/or slander, have lunch at a restaurant near Prestonwood on a weekday. I actually blushed at what I was hearing at the tables nearby.
It seems like Viola and Zen are taking 10,000 words to repeat the adage “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything”. What a waste of time and energy. If they want to encourage their readers to be kind, then say so. But they also need to understand that there is a time and a place for negative reports and criticism. Nobody has the right to compromise the safety of others. Prestonwood and SGM have followed Viola and Zen’s advice a little too well and so many innocent children have been harmed as a result.
Thank you for the laugh.
“If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything”.
Eagle, That is how narcissist think. Say it is so and it is so. (Nevermind all that other stuff. You are bitter and unforgiving for even thinking about it…cos you know I say I am the biggest sinner I know)
You ever wonder why CJ said just about nothing in the SGM wikileaks docs but vague platitudes that communicate nothing? Cos he cannot acknowledge anything and keep his stories straight for 30 years. The guy is repugnant.
Mandy, I cannot stand the fake niceness they demand. I would prefer truth even if it is uncomfortable. Too much of evangelical Christianity is a pretend fake nice that everything is so wonderful all the time. That is why they can call any negative truth, slander.
I’m so glad you brought this topic up here. I have a personal experience with these “definitions.” Once upon a time my family started going to a new church. The elders wondered why we left our previous one, so they asked. We were hesitant to give our story because of many problems that were never resolved at our previous church, but they wanted to know anyway. So we told them why we left. Some months later in a meeting they called with us, they told us that we had gossipped about and slandered our former church! Truly amazing. We simply answered the question they wanted to know, and were accused of sin months later!
Serving in Japan wrote:
My post didn’t get out of moderation, but I did get an email pointing to your comment and Frank’s response to it. I wrote back that I was glad for Frank’s response but I think it still needs to be stronger, and recommended he read both about the legal requirement for reporting abuse allegations/suspicions, and see what processes different churches/dioceses have for these sorts of concerns. I recommended the approach down here in the Sydney Anglican diocese, which is a very thorough system. We require anybody who does any ministry involving children to do working with children training, plus refresher courses every few years. If you’re leading a ministry you’re a mandatory reporter, we get long lists of possible signs of different forms of abuse (sexual, physical, neglect, emotional). There are clear processes in place. I really think the processes here should be adopted everywhere.
Anon 1 wrote:
i.e. The literal meaning of “Abracadabra”…
“Only when you are completely broken to the System will you be allowed to advance within the System.” — comment on the ending of the 1984 movie adaptation of 1984
Okay, off topic here but I’m trying to remember something that came up a few days back and who said it. Somebody on here said either that they had helped, or their friend had helped, young women escape from Scott Brown’s church and that none of them had ever been to the OBGYN, etc. Who said this? I ask because this week’s Big Box lecture is by Scott Brown and more info is good info.
I don’t agree. If you witnessed somebody commit theft and say so, it is not slander. It is truth. The thief may sue you, but it is still truth.
I’d like to know this one too.
The way a narcissist’s mind works will produce that reaction every time.
The narcissist in my life called (when I was still talking to her) to rant about how ‘her doctor had fired her.’ She explained that she had been in to see him to have a dressing changed and the nurse was ‘incompetent’ (she’d only been doing this for 20 years with no complaint). She said that she had been telling this nurse what she was doing wrong and the nurse began crying. Nowing how the N tells people their ‘problems,’ I’m not surprised.
The next day, the N gets a call from the doc telling her she will have to find another GP. The N is indignant and says the nurse was just too sensitive….I grew up seeing the way this N treats people in a ‘service’ capacity to her… O.o
The N then paused and asked me, “Am I really that difficult?” I’m sure that was a word the doc used – it is the word her family uses and has used her whole life to describe her. “I took a deep breath and said, “Actually, you can be difficult.” Dead silence for about 3 seconds, then on with the conversation as if I had not said a word. Narcissists do not hear anything they do not want/expect to hear. They will glibly put words of praise in your mouth and possibly even believe their own fantasies….
Mahaney is a sick man living in a fantasy world that is crumbling. Narcissists are at their most dangerous when their carefully constructed world begins to crumble. They must preserve the fantasy – in their own minds, if no where else – at all costs….
Okay….I justleft a comment on Viola’s post – it is in moderation. We’ll see if he has the guts to post it….
“Frank, I have to speak up on this. This post has caused me to lose respect for you.
After reading this post, I have spent the afternoon alternately angry and in tears.
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who grew up in church, the attitude is dangerous. If any of the people that I have recently discovered suspected abuse had actually done something, it might have been stopped. Do you understand the lifetime damage this does to the child? Do you understand that pedophiles are expert liars and manipulaters that present as good, upstanding people – they have to to get away with it? Do you understand that they target churches because of these kinds of attitudes that make it easy to get away with it? Do you understand that the average pedophile will molest approximatley 145 children before they are caught? Would you be willing to look into the eyes of a child who was molested and explain to them that the man who molested them was free to do so because you didn’t have proof of the allegations and didn’t want to ‘slande’ him by telling the authorities?”
Got it! It was Anon 1 on the Tim Challies thread:
“Years ago, I had a correspondance with a woman and her husband who came out of Scott Browns FIC movement. They were helping young woman escape. These were young women who were homeschooled and had to stay home and “serve” their fathers until someone their father approved of would marry them. Some were in early 20′s and had never had a gyn exam! One was found to have a large tumor that had to be removed upon her first exam! ONe of them could not even drive. They had never worked outside the home and were basically socially ignorant. No skills at all to navigate the basics in the world.”
I would LOVE to hear more from this couple.
Yes. Perfectly! 😀
“Acts 29 has been documented as using various tools to ‘silence’ and ‘conform’ people. Falsely accusing people of ‘gossip’, and ‘slander’ are just two of the tools in their nefarious arsenal to shut kind folk up. They have been quite effective. Ask their many victims?” -Sopy
“Exactly. Our old church was a Mars Hill-affiliated church. The lead pastor was a young guy who clearly idolized Mark Driscoll.” – Mr. H
Once upon a midnight query, I got a chance to observed Acts29 local leadership under the dictatorial control of Mark Driscoll, the Reformed Church’s proverbial christian “sex pastor”; wow what an eye opener. The pastor of the local Acts29 chapter, kept spouting of about how wonderful MarkeyD, and this Acts29 church multiplication prowess, Ahem! process was, that each new church was born a spiritual Acts29 prego, ready ta give ‘birth’ to yet another chapter of MarkyD’s mirky churn gone viral. It certainly was not about sharing what Jesus did or making Jesus disciples, for sure. It was all about proverbial Acts29 growth and expansion with sycophant slave labor, with a few ‘good’ trained men at the helm. A great commission hijack, if I ever saw one. The gospel according Mark Driscoll?
…yet another Neo-Calvinist community take-over? With a chapter on every corner?
This was not about the community.
This was not about the people of those communities.
This had become a lust for something other than –go into all the world and make Jesus disciples, –of going into all the world and telling kind folks about what The Son of God had done for their eternal souls.
No. No. baby, This,”. m m. ‘ was a proverbial 21 century ‘religious’ pied piper nefarious system stealing our children, and enslaving them within a faux Christian religious system not unlike Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) churches.
As Eagle would say:
wiskey, tango, foxtrot…
@ Sovereign Grace Docs:
I didn’t realize sexual abuse or endangerment of a minor had a time-barr (or whatever they keep referring to)! Aren’t pedophile crimes immune from time lapses, as victims need to be emotionally capable of testifying, something they may not be able to do for years. Weird that this could all get tossed out due to time lapses. Would a civil suit against a murderer also be time-barred? Seriously?
I’m not sure what the laws in Maryland or Virginia are, but here in Colorado, there is a 10 – 20 year statute of limitations. But the clock on that doesn’t start ticking until the victim reaches a point where they are able to remeber/tell someone.
*typo – “remember/tell”
@ Jeannette Altes:
I really hope the judge doesn’t except this latest dismissal request by the Mahaney machine. Can the judge allow a trial at their discretion even if the time bar has been exceeded?
The statute of limitations applies to criminal charges. I don’t think it would apply to this civil suit.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
I missed this earlier. You are right, Nick. It really does read like a parody. What’s really funny/sad/interesting/sick … is reading the CC pastors defend this on blogs. It makes them look utterly foolish because this is indefensible. Just makes me speechless.
Anyone see John Piper’s Facebook status today? https://www.facebook.com/JohnPiper/posts/288138631316231
It’s ‘You shall not spread a false report (Exodus 23:1)
No context given. SGM has been mentioned in the comments.
A friend of mine posted a link to it.
Question: Isn't saying CJ Mahaney is awesome church leader spreading a false report?@ Pam:
The litigant attorney, Susan Burke, is a sharp woman. I bet she knowns exactly what is allowed. Requests for dismissals always occur. The lawyers fling stuff at the wall and sees what sticks. My prediction: she will allow the dismissal of a minor charge and let the rest stand to show she is unbiased. People really do not like child sex abuse and I doubt that she will allow it to go unexplored.@ Val:
Keep us posted.
I believe that many of these leaders are naive when it comes to child sex abuse. One man recently came on this site and called it “touching.” I told him that such a word is downplaying what has happened to the children. That is why I tend to use the word “rape” to describe what is going on. It is more “in your face” and tends to rattle people. @ Jeannette Altes:
You make a great point here. Just because someone is not convicted in a court does not mean that they are innocent of the crime. It simply means that there was not enough evidence to convict them.
Case in point. Drew Peterson, the Illinois policeman, has finally been convicted of the death of one of his wives. They finally had the forensic capability to determine that his wife was murdered and did not simply drown.
Vice versa: Just because someone is convicted does not mean they are guilty. The ability to test DNA evidence has freed some people from jail. We have the right to look at the evidence and say we believe someone is guilty and disagree with the jury.
That is the case for many people regarding OJ Simpson (who did get a civil judgment) and Casey Anthony.@ Steve Scott:
Yep, there’s no escaping the SGM debacle, even on John Piper’s Twitter account. Here are some of those comments under that Bible verse Piper quoted:
I wonder whether some of these individuals will be BANNED from his Twitter account…
Exactly! Which is why I use the terms “child molester” and “sexual predator” rather than “pedophile” – they more clearly speak to the horror of the acts and don’t make it sound so clinical.
Well, they did not publish my comment. No surprise. I did get an email chastising me for not reading the comment thread where I would have seen that Frank changed his mind and now agrees with me. And the email wasn’t even from Frank. It was from someone named Brian.
About what I expected. His comment to Serving In Japan does not, IMO, show that he agrees with what I asked and the email from Brian does not answer my questions.
I stumbled across a blog post this morning by a “reformed” guy who appears to be just becoming aware of the SGM debacle and is understandably perplexed. He first heard about it from Tim Challies Feb. 28th post “Thinking Biblically about CJ Mahaney & SGM”.
He concludes with this:
Anyway, I thought maybe some of us might like to pay him a visit and affirm his observations. Here’s the link: http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress/2013/03/20/gods-people-and-battling-injustice/
@ Jeannette Altes:
There are statutes of limitation for civil cases, as well as “statutes of repose” which bar suits related to a product some number of years after its original sale.
“You shall not spread a false report.” (Exodus 23:1)
The scriptural interpretation in John Piper’s pulpit apparently becomes:
“You shall not spread a report.” (Exodus 23:1, modified of corse)
Wartburg takes the ‘scriptures’ (correctly) ta mean:
“You shall report ‘false’ [stuff]
Is John Piper mis-representing the truth of Sovereign Grace Ministries?
…think someone is referring to the ongoing lawsuit over sexual abuse there @ SGM?
There is aparrently ‘always” a godly reason for a Neo-Calvinist to mis-represent the truth?
Watch for it.
P.S. Remember, these individuals will ‘steal’ your faith, with twisted scriptures…If U let them.
—-> see if you can catch the subtle errors here:
Just another crazy example clearly demonstrating –You will need to think for yourself! And Read.The. Scriptures. –remember also, something worth having, is worth working for. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Accept no other substitute! It is your ‘soul’ remember? You Matter. 🙂
Indefensible indeed. If I had to pick out one part of it as a warning, it would be the chapter on what to do when The Pastor is away. (Again, by way of acknowledging the author’s retraction of it, I think it’s fair to say that what follows in the document simply reflects the broader clergy/laity divide that still afflicts the professing church today.) That is, the people are only sheep, and they’re already frightened without their Pastor who is not a sheep but a shepherd, and does not share their human weaknesses. Pastor and people are two different species, with the latter having no relationship with God. This is a complete denial of everything Jesus has done; an utterly counterfeit, anti-Christian religion that seems to want to ape Scientology and/or Mormonism but, for some reason, wants to trade under the Christian brand.
Sadly, I saw shades of the same thing yesterday in a blog on organic / housey-type churches where a visitor to one such was impressed with how biblicaly literate the members were and concluded that they must’ve listened to a lot of good, solid, wholesome evangelical sermons. This person, likewise, seems to have no understanding of the fact that one can become biblically literate by actually reading the Bible.
thenewmystics.com is their blog ? ? ? ?
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
Exactly! The “Us vs. Them” mentality reigns. People strive to get into the inner circle of the ministry so they, too, can get a pass on the connotations of being a dumb sheep that needs to be told what to do and kept out of the loop of information. Meanwhile the leaders see themselves as “above the law,” or above the status of a “regular sinner.” Somehow they now have special status privileges that give them license to do things like gossip, slander, CYA, not have to be held accountable, Mt. 18 doesn’t apply to them, and much more.
I agree that the Evangelical culture often churns out people addicted to sermons in place of reading their Bibles, themselves. I found studying, asking questions and theological education were discouraged in CC. I asked a question about a passage the pastor had given me as his proof text that my illness must be a result of my being in sin. He said the passage was telling me to repent and take communion in order to be healed. I studied this thoroughly, considering the implications and knowing that I’ve never heard anyone interpret the passage that way.
Respectfully, I asked him to explain how he arrived at his conclusion from the passage? He could not answer, so I mentioned I’d studied it and thought the passage was saying something different (all the reputable references I could find agreed with me;) to which he responded, “I don’t care if you read this 50 times, you read it wrong!” End of discussion.
Responses like this discourage real Bible study and honest questions. It also reveals how insecure a leader becomes when they do not allow healthy push-back that would otherwise naturally occur in life. The more they isolate and control the conversation with the “lowly sheep” of lesser status, the more fragile they become.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
Isn’t this a known HERESY called CLERICALISM?
Jeannette Altes wrote:
We talking the Fuehrer in the Fuehrerbunker, issuing orders to German army units that no longer existed or never did exist?
I agree, but I wouldn’t that this happening is a purposeful divide between shepherds and sheep.
There is a lot of pressure for pastors to be “relevant” in 30 min on Sundays which has led to the application based sermon. Since most application sermons are a real stretch to what the scripture is actually saying the average person looks at scripture, doesn’t see those same applications, and concludes the Bible is closed to them to understand and they need pastor to “open” the Bible to them. Nowadays a lot of folks don’t understand the joy in reading the scriptures if there is no personal, tweetable application derived from it at face value. I find this all very sad. I enjoy leading small bible studies where we learn how to read scripture and helping people find joy in reading the Bible for themselves.
This was what I was doing when another CC leader felt threatened. The people in my group liked it, but the leader (who was high on zeal, but low on qualifications and training,) declared the people don’t want to be taught like that. I was removed and the 12 in my group left with their families for other churches as a result. They called me to ask if I’d lead a community Bible study. The Assistant Pastor said I was not allowed to lead any studies without the permission of the church.
Out of a couple dozen leaders, I was the only one with a theology degree, the only one who could explain hermeneutics, and the only one with formal Bible teaching experience … but I was singled out and removed. (There were no personality issues, no style issues, no content issues, no one complaining, etc…) Meanwhile, more than half the other teachers quit mid-stream because they had no idea how to teach.
Can someone tell me where common sense went? The more I read about SGM, Driscollites, Acts29, and more … the more I wonder how we got here?
This stuff is becoming more common. I am so sorry that it happened to you.
That is one of the most frightening documents on ministerial roles I have ever read. Botton line – the Gospel, the Bible, the teachings of Jesus are all subordinate to the senior pastor. Associate pastor=lackey. Chuck Smith uber alles.
I’ve been reading here for a while, yet never commented before. I appreciate the work that is done by the authors to protect and defend victims. Although a long-time follower of Christ, I’d been out of the American Evangelical loop for some time and had never heard of many of the “leaders” and issues (SGM, Mark Driscoll, etc.)until reading here, and I have to admit, it’s been quite a shock. I found you by initially researching patriarchy and Vision Forum, and was sad to find that it is not just the fringe movements that have gone terribly off course, but the mainstream as well.
Anyway, I felt compelled to comment on this post concerning Zens and Viola. I’ve never interacted personally with either one, but I have read their work extensively (articles, books and blog posts). Both have been outspoken (and soundly criticized for it)about the current state of the institutional church- mainly it’s American form of authoritarian leadership and inhibiting the congregation from fully functioning. As has been noted in many comments elsewhere on this blog, removing a “bad” leader from a church (ie.Mahaney from SGM)is not enough. The culture and whole structure of the church must change if it is to be healthy. Viola and Zens have much wisdom on that cultural/structural change that would ultimately inhibit such gross abuse of authority that we are now seeing.
I point that out to say that, when you know more about someone’s work and philosophies, you can more accurately understand where they are coming from and what they mean to convey. I read this post on Viola’s blog when it came out, and I never would have taken it to be addressing criminal behavior, suspecting such behavior, or anything that would be putting vulnerable people at risk of any harm. However, coming from another perspective: such as one who isn’t familiar with who the authors are, who has been accused of slandering (such as was done in that ridiculous, passive-aggressive article by “Fabs”, who was most definitely addressing this blog’s authors), or who has been a victim of abuse and tried asking for help or who is desperately trying to protect innocents; I can see how another meaning could be construed.
I guess what I want to convey is that the spirit of what Jesus said in the famous (or now maybe “infamous”) Matthew 18 is to protect and build up the body of Christ. Clearly, ignoring or shielding child molesters does not protect or build up the church. However, the many misuses of the teaching (let me count the ways!), does not negate the truthfulness of it when applied appropriately. I understand the need to call out erroneous teaching that contributes to the culture of “non-questioning” that is so prevalent. I also understand the need to ask someone if you properly understood their meaning before publicly criticizing it, or drawing conclusions about who they are. This does not apply to child abusers and criminals. I think it does apply to authors of blog posts.
I know many (most?)of the the big name Christian bloggers would never respond to such a request, in a comment or email. The oft overlooked part of the Matthew 18 passage is “tell it to the church” (not “to the elders” as many would like to posit). When a harmful teaching is being espoused (such as what many felt was happening with the Viola/Zens post), and an attempt has been made for further explanation or defense that has neither been acknowledged or is unsatisfactory to dispell concern, then a public refutation of such teaching is in order, in my opinion. (Interestingly, even in the secular world, the author being critiqued is given a chance for a refutaion or clarification before a critique is published.)
In my opinion, when many, many, many witnesses speak out about what someone believes, teaches, or has done (and their own writings may bear witness against them in regards to beliefs and teachings) and many others have attempted to correct such teachings or actions, then I don’t necessarily feel obligated to also contact them and ask for clarification. For example, if I were to write a refute to Vision Forum’s Pillars of Patriarchy (or whatever they call their doctrine), I’d hardly feel the need to try and contact Doug Phillips for his defense. Waste. Of. Time. There is a harmful, anti-scriptural teaching that has been harming people, the author has been refuted numerous times by other believers and the false teaching needs to be spoken against. It seems appropriate for public, mass communicated teachings to be also refuted publicly for the good of the church.
Conversely, when an author has a history of publicly defending women and children (see Jon Zens books and articles on the “restrictive” scriptures about women, That Mom’s podcast series on patriarchy, and his sermon series at Wade Burleson’s church), and of speaking out against authoritarian leadership (see both author’s writings and Viola’s podcasts on this topic), I feel like they deserve at least a chance to clarify or respond before conclusions are drawn or criticism made public. I know I would like the same kindness and love extended to me.
For what it’s worth, Jon Zens actually has his (day and evening) phone number published on his blog, for anyone who has questions, along with the an email address. And Viola has responded on his blog to the post in question, with a new comment this morning regarding the pedophile incident to which he referred. It is worth noting that, in retrospect, he did not defend the actions taken by the church, but rather agreed that he stood corrected about what should have happened. He has also indicated that he will give the issue further examination. So both men seem open to thoughtful discourse (which seems to be a rarity).
So my main point (Finally! I know!), lets not allow the misuse of Matthew 18 to rob us of what the Lord’s intent for it was. Let us be “wise as serpents, and innocent as doves”, protecting our children and community from those who would do harm, and not rushing to judge others without due diligence. Let us continue to be Bereans, who take the time to search out the truth and then proclaim it unashamedly.
If anyone here actually made it through this whole essay, er, comment, I appreciate your patience. I apologize for it’s length, and I hope that it properly conveys the spirit of love and edification in which it is meant.
Btw, Zens posted an article on his blog this morning http://www.searchingtogether.org/blog/ that addresses Piper’s “Christianity is masculine” nonsense. He apparently isn’t against speaking out about untruths being taught in the church or calling the teachers out by name. It’s worth a read.
@ Jeannette Altes:
Correction: it was Jared Patel who emailed concerning my comment.
If you all haven’t watched the videos of Sam Vaknin on narcissism, they’re worth it.
Here’s a 6-min “The Narcissist and his Relationship with God”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xpreyXw1-E&list=PL25076B089230EAB3&index=9
Here’s his playlist. Very helpful!
@ Dave Miller:
We get too many commentso on this blog. I missed this one. If I go out for a few hours, I come back and can barely keep up with what has transpired.Thankfully, GBTC called my attention to this. I will also email it to you so that you are sure to see what I meant.
What I was saying was a compliment. I am sorry that I represented the entire blog at SBC Voices with the compliment but I hope that everyone who writes for SBC Voices would be so forthright. So, kudos to Mike Leake and apologies for me saying that others would do such a thing. 🙂
We have been hoping that those who endorse books, etc, would reveal their relationship, if any, with the reviews that they do. On other blogs that have nothing to do with SBC Voices, we have found that folks give positive reviews to books and then link to the books via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. In so doing, if they have signed up for an affiliate type program, they receive money for books sold through that link. We merely want people to alert their readers of such a relationship.
Thank you for your kind correction.
“I am sorry that I represented the entire blog at SBC Vices with the compliment”
I think you meant SBC Voices… ; )
It is a good series, though you should consider that Sam considers himself to be a malignant narcissist. At least he’s redeemed himself somewhat by warning us all about other narcissists.
Hi Leah, Great comment and I am so glad you took the time to write it here. I read Zen’ piece on gossip at his blog when it first posted there and was disappointed. When I saw it on Viola at Patheos, I was even more disappointed. Reason? I have read most of their stuff, listened to them for a long time and followed their blogs. They are very well aware of the problems in the institutional church and the authoritarian paradigm that is not biblical. I was suprised they did not include those caveats in the article on gossip. I was surprised it was not defined better due to their vast knowledge about the problems in the institutions. Viola is internet savvy and uses it quite a bit to market himself and his books. It is not like he is isolated from this use of “gossip” card to shut folks down.
Then when Viola was questioned about it on the blog, he first responded that an accusation of child molestation would have to be “credible”. Well, who decides that? He does not tell us. He did not respond with, “call the authorities” and that concerned me.
That is all he said at first until others chimed in for more clarification. When others commented, he relented somewhat but seemed agitated that this was even being brought up.
Since both are well aware of the problems in the institution and authoritarianism, I was a bit shocked that neither one mentioned pastors using the “gossip” card for negative truths they wanted to hide from other members.
In fact, I started to wonder if there was some “gossip” situation that prompted the article, the repeat and its myopic focus.
I really thought they, of all people, should have known better. And it was just more proof we should listen to Christ more than men.
He knows his subject well, yup.
But also quite useful on abusive relationships and how to get out of them, who are attracted to these personalities, and why.
I respect him for taking what must be a constantly difficult path.
Dave Miller wrote:
You said, “(As an aside, in fact, we want to commend SBC Voices. In one post here, they revealed their relationship to Cruciform Press and Kevin Meath’s former relationship to SGM.)”
I hope the other facts you present in your article are more accurate than this. First of all, SBC Voices does not have a relationship with Cruciform Press or Kevin Meath. SBC Voices is a collaborative blog which represents the wide range of Southern Baptist views. ”
I really do not understand his comment. One of the SBCV contributors has a relationship with Cruciform press and promoted his book in an article on SBCVoices. You simply commended them for being open about that. So why does Dave Miller think that is inaccurate?
I disagree that SBCV allows a wide range of views. Miller has deleted many over the years. Especially if they disagreed with any YRR leaders. There was a time he would delete for disagreeing about Mark Driscoll. And now over there, you hear NOTHING about Mahaney on that blog but lots of promotion of Reformed conferences, leaders, etc. It is as if the Mahaney debacle is not happening in their wing of the SBC. Or perhaps it is a sin to mention the public lawsuit? Miller was also elected 2nd VP at the last convention.
Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment.I love both Zens and Viola and have read extensively on both. In fact, we have positively reviewed Pagan Christianity on this blog.
First, without divulging something that must remain anonymous for personal reasons, an attempt was made to clarify the situation. The response brought further confusion.
When something is written in a public forum, one has to stand behind ones words. TWW gets critiqued all the time for the things that we say. We have no expectation that someone is going to call us first. If we post something that is wrong or stupid, we expect to get called on it and then we respond when we are called on it. We are big girls and can take it.
We do not take these comments personally and, sometimes, we have a really good laugh about how we have been perceived. We then go out of our way to make a correction.
That said, pedophilia is currently, in my opinion, the most damaging issue within the post evangelical crowd. I have been shocked at pastors, even some that i deeply respect, who have screwed up in this area. All of us must be very, very careful on how we speak about this issue. Far too many children have been traumatized for life by pedophilia.
I think he thought we were being snarky. We were not. I was pleased to see an application of ethical disclosure. However, I have emailed him and updated the blog. I certainly wouldn’t want him to be concerned that I was complimenting all of them so now my compliment is limited to only the person who wrote the post!
Thanks, Dee! I was confused at the time, but I’ve learned so much from that experience. It was such an eye-opener for a plethora of other issues. I’m thankful for that push out the door.
Every time I hear someone acknowledge this I feel more sane. Thanks, JeffT!
PS We also have a phone number so please feel free to call.
Katie, your academic qualifications exceed those of CJ Mahaney, did you know that?
Thanks for your kind response.
I’m confronted with the fact that, in my attempt to point out the needed courtesy of confirming someone’s thoughts before making a judgement, I failed myself to do the same with you. I assumed you hadn’t made any attempt at clarification because it was not noted that you had, but I made no attempt to clarify that assumption. I apologize for my unintended hypocrisy!
Yes, I agree about words written in a public forum, and I’m sure Zens and Viola are big enough to handle their own criticism as well. They certainly don’t need me to defend them, especially when I don’t know their personal thoughts or intentions of the article.
I understand the unique situation the internet provides for this type of public discourse and I’m sure you don’t expect to be called before someone critiques you. However, that’s not to say that maybe they still shouldn’t make an attempt to know your true intentions. Just because it’s not done, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be. “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18
It is easy to get worked up and not take the time or care to proceed without fault.(Admittedly, pot calling kettle black here.)
I agree with your opinion on pedophilia. It is prevalent enough and so devastating that it can no longer be ignored. The church must have an opinion on it and must take a stance rather than pretend it’s not there.
My previous comment was motivated by a hope that all of the writings and work of Zens and Viola wouldn’t be discounted, only because I see the benefits of it in helping the church become what it is called to be, and I know that our human nature often makes us guilty of writing people off instead of clarifying misunderstandings.
Again, thank you for your heart for protecting the little ones.
Lunatic Fringe: “Da Mystics are coming?”
Bridget: Lunatic fringe huh? Someone posted that YouTube link on John Piper’s Twitter account. I thought it interesting. Ha! ha! Go figure? I thought it a comic travesty of a directional disaster. (that these bright boyz would take even your very ‘faith’ away, and attribute it to ‘some mystic Jesus’, that somehow believes in you. Quack, Quack!) Just goes to show you that the Wartburg hasn’t even scratched the surface of the pervasive cesspool that western Christianity has fallen into. It would seem Wartburg will never be without work. High ho!
da calvinestas endorsing and build their widdle — 21st century style (fame). Tower of Babel, are they now?
‘Together.to.trash.the. Gospel’ ? (T4-G)
they will forever be?
(how do you answer dat?)
It all sounds pristine until you get a whiff of what their gospel produces?
They will be known by their fruit?
(Oh! that is simply so old fashion?!? -snark- )
They must all be wearing “sovereignly” gas masks for protection?
…keeping out a ‘certain stink’,
whatz dat smell?
Are they affixiating the rest of us with the gas of their supreme doctrine?
hmmm… could b.
Like the most dangerous of religious gases, it is lethal and odorless?
Oh! Ize hope notz…
Thank God fo Kind Folks like Wartburg, that are rescuing da victims with da fresh air, huh?
Whistle while you work…hum, hum, hum, hum-hum-hum-hum!
R we runn’in low on 402 spiritual ‘surgical suture silk’…ta patch um?
I’m ‘calling out’ for pizza! Ahem! more…402
Anon 1 wrote:
Yes, whenever we start to give any man or woman the place of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we greatly err. Sometimes we need to see others weaknesses to be reminded of that fact.
The beauty of the community of the church is that we sharpen each other while admonishing, exhorting and building one another up in love. Although those processes, that should be rooted in relationship, have often been twisted and malformed. I guess my hope in posting was to remind us that there is still that better way.
Thanks for your comment!
Please don’t misunderstand. i was having a bit of fun with you. We truly do not expect to be called.In
We believe that it is fully our responsibility to make our intent clear with each post. Then, in the course of comments, we see how things are being perceived.
I look at this as a kind of conversation-a dialogue in which we all grow in understanding. That is why i dislike supposed blogs which do not allow comments. There is no opportunity for growth on either side.
I am most comfortable in this medium. Writing causes me to think through what I want to say which is sometimes quite hard in a verbal conversation. I perceive the post as merely the kick off to the conversation. I am changed from reading the comments.
I have noticed that Viola has responded on his blog and I will make sure we do a post on that. It is rare for anyone to admit to changing their thinking. I admire him for doing so.
“From Religious Soup Ta Nutz: Doin’ Da JackBootz Shuffle” ?
“Turning A Blind Eye, And A Closed Lip For Jesus?’
“Gossip may be defined as saying anything negative, whether ‘true’ or ‘not’, to anyone about the pastor or about ‘the ministry’. ” -Larry Taylor, Calvary Chapel Bible College . (1)
(1) Larry Taylor, The Ministry of An Assisting Pastor, (Or, More Things I Learned From My Pastor [Chuck Smith] ; Calvary Chapel Bible College 1994.; section 7.
Guess @ Calvary, dem pastors leave it up to themselves to have a general accountability?
Is dat wise?
Isn’t that what got SGM and Acts 29, in da proverbial religious primordial duck soup?
—-> No check, no balances, make da wheels on da proverbial church bus ta go whump, whump, whump?
Dem ‘religious’ banana wackies, got spotz?
…perhaps even a ‘free pass’?
get’in old, huh?
Dee, no worries! I detected the humour intended. I actually didn’t see your other comment (about the phone number) until after I posted. But now that I know that’s an option….jk.
I was really referring to how I could have at least asked in a comment if you’d clarified before telling you you should have clarified. Clear as mud, right?
Yes blogs with closed comments are annoying. Its asking someone to listen to you without being willing to listen to them.
Thanks for conversing 🙂
Spot on, Sopy. 🙂
“I guess my hope in posting was to remind us that there is still that better way.”
I read your comments twice and am not sure what you mean by a better way? Could you be more specific?
A Faux Christian Church Laying ‘Ceege’ To Silence Detractors With ‘The Gossip Charge Bomb’?
8. “Defend the Pastor and the Ministry from All Negative Talk, Gossip, Slander, and Anything that would Undermine God’s Work
Anything that would hinder or cast aspersion on the ministry will adversely affect the work of the Holy Spirit in your town.”
“Therefore, defend the ministry.”
Quick, circle da proverbial wagons?
“When you hear anything even slightly negative about the pastor or about the ministry, intervene, correct it, and stop it. ”
“Gossip and slander can destroy a great work of God, and can ruin the reputation of godly people.”
“Listening to it condones it.”
“Step into the conversation and ‘boldly rebuke the gossip’
(Rememba, “Gossip may be defined as saying anything negative, whether ‘true’ or ‘not’, to anyone about the pastor or about ‘the ministry’. ” -Larry Taylor, Calvary Chapel Bible College.
, replacing it with that which is lovely, positive, and of good report.”
“Every church has its critics and its people who think they have a better way of doing things.”
“We can be open to ideas and to constructive criticism, we do not have all the answers.”
“But when the constructive criticism becomes destructive complaining, put an end to it.”
“As an assisting pastor, you must be the eyes and ears of the ministry.”
“Know what the people are saying, and steer them in a ‘godly’ direction.” (1)
(1) Larry Taylor, The Ministry of An Assisting Pastor, (Or, More Things I Learned From My Pastor [Chuck Smith] ; Calvary Chapel Bible College 1994.; section 8.
…mind numbing silence, perhaps? Is dat da goal of deze proverbial jackbootz pastors?
—-> Sovereign Grace Ministries silenced it’s ‘detractors’ n’ ‘opposition’ (spelled V-i-c-t-i-m-s) for almost twenty some years, utilizing these tactics…
Thank God! for da blogs!
His (God’s) ‘truth’ keeps marching on?
Have y’all heard the story about Jack Schaap (former pastor of First Baptist Hammond) getting convicted? Here’s the local Chicago ABC story:
Shucks, Deb (re your comment to me at 240 yesterday), if I was Still SG Pastor instead of Former SG Pastor, I’d probably scratch my bald head, squint my eyes and tell.you.that.it.was.a.JOY.to.serve.you. With each period in the preceding I would karate chop the air as I spoke the words to nonverbally emphasize my speech. Then I would laugh inappropriately.
But I am Former SG Pastor and thankful for that!
So I’ll just say thanks for all you and Dee have done, do, and (I am sure) will do in the future. Happy 4th!
Former SG Pastor
PS – any royalties coming in on the usage of “Chuck Jo”?
Rafiki, Youze can thankz Bridget fo dat one…
Sopwith and Rafiki:
I think a lot of this stuff, religious people gently nudging people to accept certain ideas and then using those ideas against them, is more like hydrogen sulfide. It is dangerous because it numbs your sense of smell so that you can no longer smell it. As long as you can tell it is there and know what it is you are safe. But when you can no longer smell it, it may well be lethal or not there at all, and the human nose cannot tell the difference. Many will assume it has gone away, and, if it has not, will die. BTW, it is often a component of sewer gas and the gas found in and around unrefined petroleum tankage.
@ Anon 1:
Sorry I wasn’t clear- I’ve been multi-tasking too much today. I think I was just referring to the intent of my original post being about handling possible misunderstandings in a way that builds up the body rather than tearing it down – which I think is the spirit of the Matthew 18 admonition.
This was in reference to giving Zens and Viola a chance before coming to conclusions. I appreciate the graciousness of Dee’s response to my concern.
Leah, I know I have a totally different way of looking at than you do. I do not think Matt 18 fits here at all. That is about a “personal offense” between brothers/sisters who know one another personally. A personal offense. What Viola wrote was not a personal offense against TWW bloggers.
Matt 18 is not about public writings that one puts out there as a mass communicator and someone else who publicly communicate their analysis of said writing. All that is fair game.
I do get very worried with all the misapplication of Matt 18 in so many inappropriate ways. What if they still disagree? Do they meet with witnesses? Why should they since it is public disagreement? And which church would they take it to? Franks? See the problem with trying to apply Matt 18 in these situations?
Another way we can build up the body is to take child molestation very seriously as it is becoming epidemic in our churches. We should not claim we can investigate ourselves or decide if an accusation is credible or not. We need to call the civil authorities. I was sad that Frank did not know that right away and thought it was gossip to mention one is concerned for a child. I think he gets it now. Most child molesters have between 40-100 victims before they are ever caught. So a “credible” accusation can be tricky if we are not trained in such things. We must remember these are little children we are talking about. Their lives will never be the same. That is building up the body when we go out of our way to protect them first.
Re Prestonwood and Graham on “slander”:
Apparently thinks asking a civil question about a past failure is slander.
Pam – I hope that, if you are ever spuriously reported to child protection authorities, this is exactly what happens; they somehow manage to interview everyone who might possibly be connected, without any of them ever saying anything to anybody else, and no-one outside the case ever being aware that it happened. The reality, however, would almost certainly be very different. As a precaution, for instance, to protect children, they would almost certainly have to act immediately to prevent your being alone with children – possibly including the children in your immediate family. In the UK, you would immediately be placed on at least one and perhaps several “danger lists” (they have more formal titles but that’s what they basically are) kept by the police and other agencies. Rumours would probably spread very quickly, and if the matter were sub judice, there would be little you could do to counter them without being charged with contempt of court. And subsequently, even if the matter went to a full, open, public investigation of all available evidence and you were completely (but not privately) exonerated, it can be almost impossible to have your name removed from these lists. In certain circumstances, you become virtually unemployable as a result.
Lilyrosemary – similarly, I am glad that your relative was properly exonerated. But the process might not have been as simple if the alleged assault had been sexual. Emotions might have run even higher, and rumours even faster. I am also curious about the “obvious” motive for revenge. Obvious to whom? Did you mean to use the word “obvious”, or did you mean that the trained investigators were readily able to establish a revenge motive beyond reasonable doubt? I say this because there have been several comments on this thread to the effect that we are not competent to establish what accusations are or are not credible. Are we still competent to establish what revenge motives are or are not obvious?
I happen to think we can, and must, exercise some responsible judgement as to whether we have been presented with evidence. In the UK, and presumably elsewhere as well, all organisations (including but not limited to churches) that work with children or vulnerable adults are required to have child protection policies in place. These are aimed primarily the prevention of abuse, but they must also include clear processes to be followed in the event of any accusation arising, which in turn include guidance on when and when not to bring in external agencies.
Sorry to talk so much – one more post before I have to go out. I read the article you linked to, Arce, and – perhaps like you – I am confused about one thing. When Jack Graham says that we should keep silent when we are falsely accused or slandered (which, incidentally, would certainly be an answer against those accusing him) was he referring to:
a) What he, Graham, intends to do regarding Chris Tynes’ accusations (if indeed they are such) against him, or
b) What he is counselling Tynes to do with the church’s allegations against him that he is a “suspicious person, possibly violent”?
Just tweeted it. Thanks.
@ Nick Bulbeck:
Neil, The irony is that the Reformed pastor/leader response to Mahaney covering over for pedophiles is exactly the sort of thing that will lead to this sort of government intrusion. They don’t connect dots. They are their own worst enemy simply because they want to protect their conference buddies/icons instead of doing the right thing.
And keep in mind, Americans see all these tax benefits of being a church including no labor laws,no reporting of budgets etc, and then they protect pedophiles calling it grace?
If pastors cannot be trusted to do the right thing, then who can we trust? That is usually how it ends up. When the laws become that intrusive they only have themselves to blame but they won’t, of course.
He also thinks refusing to answer questions about child molesters is being like Jesus.
The things these guys teach is pastoral malpractice. People really do have to check their brains at the door to believe this stuff?
Really? Silence as a response to questions about child molesters is being a like Jesus? I am embarassed for him.
@ Anon 1:
Firstly, I’ll forgive you for getting my name wrong! 🙂 (You’re not the first person to call me Neil, oddly enough.)
Despite my own misgivings about “big government” as it’s become known over here, I can’t say I blame Them for legislating thus. It came on the back of a succession of high-profile and very tragic cases of deaths through abuse or neglect, and a broader background of abuse surfacing from many different settings and organisations, both large/public and small/private. Moreover, successive governments have quietly recognised that a false allegation (whether malicious or honestly over-zealous) can destroy lives – including those of children – just as abuse can. Thus, a good child protection policy actually protects everyone. (There are bad policies, and complications abound – e.g. whether a teacher is allowed to put a plaster on a child’s cut knee, for instance, because that would inevitably involve touching the child’s knee, etc etc. But let’s keep this post brief…!)
If indeed the professional clergy of America cannot be collectively trusted to look after children, then perhaps state intervention would be no bad thing. Perhaps the First Amendment itself now needs amending, in recognition that times have moved on from when it was necessarily introduced; that it has now become too convenient a haven for the power-hungry and abusive who wish to operate outside the law.
@ Anon 1:
I feel like I’ve not quite communicated myself well. I am not actually trying to make Matthew 18 fit here as in it being an obligation to follow this prescribed procedure for this particular instance. What I was getting at was what I was referring to as the “spirit” behind it. That would be the same spirit behind the command to “love others as yourself”, the whole 1 Cor 13 passage and all the other “one anothering” verses: to build up the church, edify and exhort the church and bring unity. In hindsight, I would probably refrain from even mentioning Matthew 18, but just stick to the other references, since it is such a loaded, triggering phrase due do its abundant misuse. The reason I used it was because it was in the body of the post about slander and gossip, and I wanted to point out that there is indeed a purpose behind it, a goal in sight, mainly, peaceful, safe, loving community. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35.
We all, even “leaders”, are far from having all the answers and still need to be exhorted and grow. I can’t say I’m particularly disappointed in Viola that he didn’t know the best way to handle the child abuse issue. I don’t expect any human to have all the perfect answers, and doing so is what leads to cultures like that found in SGM. I would, however, be disappointed if he implied that he did, in fact, know all the answers and had no intention of giving it further thought. As Dee pointed out in an earlier comment to me, many pastors (who have put themselves in positions of responsibility for children), do not know the right way to handle this. I encourage everyone to keep teaching this and not let it fall on the back burner.
I agree with you about both the misuse of Matthew 18 as well as the difficulty in knowing how to apply it regarding public statements,internet articles, unreachable celebrity figures, etc. Or, as you pointed out, even knowing if it is applicable. That is why I fall back on, “What is the purpose behind this command? What is trying to be maintained here?” And then I move onto, “What should my actions be, in my current situation, to fulfill that purpose?” The conclusion may be, “I need to refute this dangerous teaching publicly, to maintain the health of the body.” (As Zens did in his article yesterday on the silencing of women.) Or my conclusion may be, “From what I know of this person, they seem to be an honorable brother in Christ, as well as approachable. I’m going to give them the benefit of having the chance to further explain themselves before I publicly speak out.” (As Dee seemed to have done per her first comment to me.)
This is all rooted in relationship (like your point about Matthew 18 being about a personal offense) and that obviously gets difficult in a world with technology that enables me to have a lengthy conversation with someone whose name or face I don’t even know. Nevertheless, that perplexity will not free my conscience from treating you like I would if I were going to see you face to face tomorrow.
Because as humans, we’re not always so good at relationships, i think we often resort to making things into formulas (like the Matt 18 process) and then trying to ram every scenario into said formula. I think the misuse of Matt 18 is somewhat tied to this fallacy, and in the end we end up allowing children to be abused which is obviously counter to building up the body (as you pointed out). (Fwiw, in regards to your question about whose church would you take a disagreement with a blog author to: a teaching espoused to the world wide church is refuted to the world wide church, in my opinion.)
So the concise summary of what I was originally trying to say: “Hey these guys have a pretty good track record so far. Maybe they’re not saying what you think they’re saying. Maybe they are willing to rethink what they are saying in light of further counsel. Have we given them that chance yet? Let’s not slam the gavel down until we have. In our attempt to protect the vulnerable parts of the body, let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot; it might actually hinder us in our main objective.”
I should have just said that. I appreciate the grace with which my concerns were received and responded to.
Leah, The more you explain, the more concerned I become. I expect those who make their living communicating the things of Christ to the public to realize they can have their words analyzed publicly. I am not sure why that is considered unloving. I hear that a lot. And it is usually from folks who like that particular celebrity and are uncomfortable with any conflict they deem as “unloving”.
Building up the body also means there must understanding and we are allowed to disagree.
If I take your words as the process for building up the body then John was in sin for writing what he did about Diotrephes which was a public rebuke! Same for Paul when he wrote about publically rebuking Peter for all to see for 2000 years.
See, your explanations using certain proof texts just don’t hold water in practice.
There was nothing unloving in the comments that asked him to clarify. He was asked publicly to clarify. Not sure why you cannot see that?
The “spirit” of Matt 18 starts in Matt 18:1…. in context. And I am not sure why you describe “love” as contacting Viola in private about his very public words unless it is to protect him from any public analysis? I kind of figured that his propelling himself into the public light gave him a much thicker skin than that especially considering he markets himself as being against authortarianism. We are all equals in Christ.
His first reaction to lmalone was concerning. Others asked him to clarify further. He said he changed his mind. Fine. That is good. Now perhaps when they write articles about gossip they will have a larger view of how such blanket teaching concerning gossip keeps child predators happy and will take such things into consideration. Remember, SGM taught that speaking of your molestation by another member was gossip. Many are now teaching various forms of this in other situations to hide evil. We are not enablers to evil deeds.
I am very sorry if you think that is unloving. I hear such thinking a lot in certain circles and find it perplexing as if Christians have to have this underground communication for very public words. Frankly, I am much more concerned about children than of Viola’s public words being analyzed. I think he might even agree. At least I hope so.
@ Anon 1:
Let me just try to answer your concerns clearly, as you stated them, since I haven’t seemed to do that yet.
I do think there is an appropriate, and often very necessary, time to publicly analyze a teaching that has been made public. I have referred to that in several comments. I am not saying that is unloving.
I agree that building up the body means we can disagree. It would be unhealthy if we all had the same opinions about everything.
My words for the process of building up the body, are to think first of the main objective (edification of all) and move on from there with actions that support that. John and Paul did that with Diotrophes and Peter, applying this to their particular situation.
I’m not really sure what proof texts I used. I only quoted John 13:35 and I don’t really see how that doesn’t hold water in practice? The whole of chapter 13 is Jesus washing his disciples feet and then giving them parting words before his arrest which include: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another.” (v 34) Maybe the word proof texting doesn’t mean what I think it means?
I didn’t imply that there was anything unloving in asking him to clarify. In fact, my whole point was, “Maybe he needs a chance to clarify.” I don’t have a problem with him being asked to clarify publicly, either. I felt like he deserved the chance to clarify before the post was written, just like a reporter would get a comment from both sides of a story. However, in the end, that is the blog authors choice, and apparently it was what was done.
Yes, the spirit of Matthew 18 begins in verse 1. All scripture should be applied in context. Not really sure what I took out of context or where I disqualified the first part of the chapter from applying? I have no desire to protect Viola from public analysis and I’m sure he does have much thicker skin than that. As far as I know, he hasn’t made any public outcry about being analyzed, so I wouldn’t judge him for my choice to comment on it.
Yes, he did seem to change his mind, and I also hope that he will have some deeper understanding of the issue of gossip as it relates to abuse.
I don’t think any of what you said was unloving. I’ve looked back over the post and comments to see if I can specifically point out what prompted my concern. I don’t see anything in what was written in the body of the post that bothered me. It appropriately analyzed a viewpoint in a critique essay form. The author stuck to the content of the viewpoint and did not attack the opposing author personally. That was all fine. My concern with the post was that maybe there was clarification needed and I felt the Zens and Viola, since they seemed approachable, deserved the chance to clarify before publication. Dee graciously responded to my concern. She made some good points. I’m satisfied. I’ve moved on.
In reading the comments, I was able to zone in on what really compelled me to write, and I see that it was mostly your comments (if you’re the same Anon 1?) About Viola, you wrote, “He’s off my list now.” To be honest, that really seemed like jumping the gun without even giving him a chance to respond. The only reason I even felt strongly enough about it to comment is because I really believe that the culture that has allowed people be to be abused in the church and the abuse to be covered up stems from our ideas about authority and leadership. We can get rid of the bad leaders (which does need to happen), but the culture is still there and others will rise up to fill their place and the sheep will continue to let themselves be abused because they don’t know a better way. I think Viola and Zens both have done excellent work in showing that we’ve got our ideas about spiritual authority pretty mixed up. I think their work is necessary in helping to build healthy church communities where people are safe. I would hate to see them so readily marked off someone’s list without even a day to respond to criticism. I thought Bridget’s comments at the beginning, pointing out that more clarity was needed before making a judgement, showed the graciousness and wisdom that was needed.
I’ll make one last attempt at a practical application that I hope holds water.
I should not have assumed that Dee had not tried to clarify the author’s position. I should have asked first, in a comment, before telling her she should have done it. It would have been more loving to give the benefit of the doubt (since I’ve seen no history to indicate otherwise), and sought to know her position, before I passed judgement.
Also, I’m somewhat familiar with Wade Burleson’s writings and sermons. If I read a blog post somewhere else, critiquing his position on something that I feel strongly about, I’m not going to automatically write him off my list. I’ve heard enough truth from him, and feel like I’ve seen enough of a true spirit of Christ in him, to think that maybe there is more to this than I know yet. I’m going to give him the chance to clarify or change position first. I think he deserves that and I won’t apologize for it. I also don’t see how you can find that concerning.
I see that your concern is first and foremost for protecting children from abuse. I commend you for that. I have 4 children of my own, and I wish that all adults in our society would value their safety just as much as you and many others here are doing. We may have to agree to disagree on some points, but I value your contribution to a safe and healthy environment for our children.
One of the things I am concerned about in a lot of Christendom is how we define what is loving or not loving. We seem to reserve special love for public Christians. I see this often. I long for a real special love and compassion for victims of child molesters who are in our midsts!
I differ with Dee and that is ok. I thought his response was confusing and snarky. He basically said if we do not agree with his definition of gossip we do not believe the NT. I think he dug the hole deeper. Then he seemed to contradict himself in saying they asked a pedophile to leave the church (no mention of calling authorities) but later says we should call the authorities…all in the same comment. So, color me confused still. I think public communicators, those who make their living by the written word, should be clear on such an important topic that right now is ravaging the church.
I might not “write” him off completely but I think he blew it with most of his responses, espcially his first response to lmalone. That one blew me away.
Perhaps I have seen too much of this when a minor Christian celeb is questioned about their writing/sermon, etc. I have watched Viola’s trajectory, read many of his books, etc and see more and more what I have seen with others who start becoming a bit famous. Being a minor celeb can be agitating as being questioned/analyzed/disagreed with increases with every book/sermon, etc. It comes with the territory and the royalties.
But it seems many of their followers want more love for them than they do of those questioning and in this case, those they are questioning FOR. The victims who cannot be discussed because it MIGHT be gossip if you do not have clear evidence of molestation. (most molesters have 50-100 victims before they are caught)
So, Those who question or don’t question in the way people like are unloving. That is also a typical response.
I think his straight talk to pastors is one of the best resources out there teaching on the Body of Christ structure/authoritarianism, etc. I still share it with people.
I think we have beat this one to death! We can agree to disagree but when one is indirectly challenged on being “unloving” to a minor celebrity, I felt the need to defend those who have been violated and the molester is thrilled that pastors would call such a concern, gossip.
@ Anon 1:
Yes I think we have soundly beat this one death!
Thanks for conversing 🙂
I hope this is not off topic but I can’t stand how anyone who criticizes something they see that they feel is wrong in the church is automatically a trouble maker or not a true Christian etc. I think you deciding to become a pastor or put into some leadership role automatically will put you under watch by all. It comes with the job. Everything critical is automatically considered slander which it is not! I think we have a moral obligation to be a watchman. Recently at a local church I attended a pastor read a letter someone wrote him anonymously to the congregation and said that they were a coward and stabbing him in the back and not giving him a way to defend himself or reply so was his excuse when he read this letter infront of his congregation. I immediately felt sorry for this person and was angered by the pastor. I have attended church most of my life and I know why this person sent a letter anonymously. We in the church are expected to come, pay our tithe, particpate when necessary and otherwise shut up and go home afterwards. There is not comment box or questionaire on our opinion or how we feel and asking of the congregation’s input But our moneys are used for their purposes. I do believe most church’s don’t consult God and the congration has no valued input on anything. There is a staff for that and they are usually paid handsomely along with the pastor. Now this same local church is starting to want to pattern themselves off of a big local mega-church maybe some are familiar with called “NEWSPRING” and all I hear of late is about building bigger buildings but yet the church is silent about these hard economic times and what’s going on in present day world affairs and how it affects us as Christians and I wonder are these the same ones that are 501c3 (with their mouths and hands tied). Why would I even want to tithe to these types of churches which fund nice lifestyls for pastors while their members are struggling to make it…do they really care? We fund their lifestyles and they don’t even care about our input and when we say somthing that “disrupts” them they want to call it slander and gossip. I am sick of it all and one day they will stand before God and have to answer for all of this
Welcome to TWW. What a great comment. In fact, the idea of a comment box is most interesting. I think churches should do something like that. I will write a post about this soon and be sure to give you credit. Best idea of the weekend!
My husband told me about a year ago that he did a study on the Torah and that he always understood that to bear false witness was to not lie. He said that the study went much deeper in that it actually meant to give a false testimony about someone else.
I remember another twist on the definition of gossip from times past. Often, when “gossip” is a subject of discussion, somebody will ask for a good definition of gossip. Many times I’ve heard the “teacher/leader” reply with saying that people who ask for a definition of gossip really don’t want a definition as much as they want to know how far they can push their chatting about others without crossing over a line. The reply imputes motives to the one asking the question.
Yet another way to keep people hushed up.
Loved that comment about gossip. It is funny. Church leaders have been fighting this supposed gossip stuff for centuries. Martin Luther could have been declared a gossip about those indulgences-couldn’t he?
Anonymousjoe, I am surprised he read the actual letter. In my mega church day, the pastor would ALWAYS mention the anonymous letters and say he refused to read them because they were anonymous and if people would sign them, he would read them. Of course, those of us around the throne room, knew that they were indeed read. Usually by someone on staff who handled correspondance. Not only were they read but combed through for clues on things that should be handled before they became too embarassing. Many times the anonymous letters were an important heads up for the staff.
the anger comes from not knowing who wrote them so they could be marginalized for daring to point out things they should not even know about! They want the name so they can deal with them.
If folks only new how it really worked they would not only be surprised but would hopefully stop giving these guys money.
Anon 1 wrote:
Were they also combed through for clues to the sender’s identity for purposes of reprisals?