EChurch@Wartburg – 5.26.13

Welcome to a Gathering of EChurch@Wartburg

Grave of Theodore Roosevelt Jr. - Gravestone at Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial Grave of Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
Gravestone at Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial (Taken by Deb)

Here Is Our Order of Worship

If you are new to EChurch, please click on this link for an explanation​

Emmaus Road Prayer
by Rev. Frank Schaefer Link

Meet us, Lord, on the road to Emmaus,
Guide us on the path toward our destination,
and renew our strength as we continue to walk
and commune with you.
Open our eyes, so we see the signs of your presence around us;
Open our hearts, so we may receive your peace and love;
and empower us to pass on to others
the grace you have shared with us so freely.

A Prayer by John Wesley link
O LORD God Almighty,
Father of angels and men,
We praise and bless your
holy name for all your goodness
and loving kindness to humanity.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and for your unceasing generosity to us
throughout our lives;
But above all, we bless you for your great love
in the redemption of the world
by our Lord Jesus Christ.
We bless you for bringing us safe
to the beginning of a new day.
Grant that this day we fall into no sin,
Neither run into any kind of danger.
Keep us, we pray,
from all things hurtful to body or soul,
and grant us your pardon and peace,
So that, being cleansed from all our sins,
We might serve you
with quiet hearts and minds,
and continue in the same until our life's end,
through Jesus Christ,
our Savior and Redeemer.

Scripture Reading:  Hebrews 12:26-27 (NASB Bible Gateway)

And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

John Wesley link

O God, seeing as there is in Christ Jesus
an infinite fullness
of all that we can want or desire,
May we all receive from him,
grace upon grace;
grace to pardon our sins,
and subdue our iniquities;
to justify our persons
and to sanctify our souls;
and to complete that holy change,
that renewal of our hearts,
Which will enable us to be transformed
into the blessed image
in which you created us.
O make us all acceptable to be partakers
of the inheritance of your saints in light.


Benediction of John Wesley link

Now, to God the Father, who first loved us, and made us accepted in the Beloved;
to God the Son, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood;
to God the Holy Ghost, who sheddeth the love of God abroad in our hearts, be all love and all glory in time and to all eternity.


EChurch@Wartburg – 5.26.13 — 140 Comments

  1. All but the first song in this EChurch post were inspired by Emmanuel Enid. I was blessed to hear them sing them last Sunday. 🙂

  2. Ach, Wade, that was lovely!

    Now we are free to love, a much deeper heaven/earth quake than that old law ever was. By its nature, love has higher standards than those minimal standards established to show us our sin.

    We can parse law to produce obedience, but when we parse love, we stretch beyond obedience to respect, protection, and encouragement of living others/selves, out of a desire to return (“back to the future”) to the people/place that God intended when we were first created.

    I fondly retain covenantal theology from my Reformed tradition. And emerging from it, that the Kingdom is here/now. Whoop

  3. The lesson of SGM debacle and all that surrounds it:

    Devotion to the law produces death. It impels an ever-intensifying navel-gazing escaped only by those who think they are “above it”, who “govern” it.

    The lives of those who earnestly parse the law, as well as those who assume they are governors of that parsing, become entwined with horrifying failure. Law’s only intention was to show us our death, and it does so, again and again.

    “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

    “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

    “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.”

  4. Wade, wonderful sermon…as usual! 🙂

    A few points if I may…

    ** Thank you for encouraging us to think rather than always expecting others to think for us.

    ** Thank you for not discounting the importance of prophecy in the Bible. I’ve “heard” that @1/3 of the Bible is prophetic in nature. And that there are near 300 prophecies about the coming of Jesus, so it is a worthy study imo.

    ** Since you have so clearly distinguised between the OT and the NT, would you consider the practice of baptism (purification ceremonial cleansing) of the OT still a mandate in the NT?

    ** I loved your explanation of Matt. 24, but reading thru the chapter, it still seems impossible to deny the things Jesus mentioned as future since He speaks of the “coming of the Son of Man” (v. 37) which had already happened.

    I especially appreciated your explanation of “heaven & earth” expression.

    Thanks to you, Deb, and Dee for hosting the EChurch! Deb, the hymns are beautiful!

  5. This was a very encouraging message for me. I often tend to be too hard on myself, as friends also tell me. A daily striving for me to remember to put my faith in Jesus and do my best to know His New Covenant blessings are not based on performance or obedience. Another point that “stuck out” was that The New Covenant is written on our hearts. Very comforting to my soul today.

  6. Victorious,

    Everything mentioned in Matthew 24 is future – but future to whom? It was prophetic when Jesus spoke the words and it was fulfilled precisely as Jesus said. I have no problem with those who see a dual fulfillment (meaning there is something going to happen in relations to OUR future that has NOT YET happened), but my point is the PRIMARY emphasis of Matthew 24 is the coming of God in judgment on Israel and the destruction of the Temple and the Old Covenant. The practical implications of this message are beautifully articulated by Patrice in her comment. Thank you, Victorious, for your always thoughtful and thought-provoking questions. You are one of the ones I think of regularly when I recognize those who are watching via the Internet.

  7. Tammy C.

    Thanks for your comment. I think you may find next week’s message “Therefore, since we have been given an unshakable kingdom…” maybe even more encouraging. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  8. Great sermon Wade. Question – since I don’t know Greek or Hebrew, how do I know what you or any preacher is teaching is the truth? I have to rely on you to instruct me. You make more sense than previous preachers I’ve listened to. My gut usually tells me when something dose not sound right and so far your explanation makes sense. But then again, my gut could just be my sinful nature popping up (as my Fundy pastor would tell me, haha)

  9. Pastor Burleson,
    Good stuff all round’. I especially liked your take on the Olivet Discourse. It stands in sharp contrast to what the prophecy pimps and snake oil salesmen on Christian TV have peddled for well over 30 yrs. now.

  10. Scooter’s Mom,

    In my opinion, it is unnecessary to know Greek or Hebrew. The Bible reads well enough in modern English translations like the NASB so that even a junior high student can understand it. The problem is people don’t read the Bible (in their language) and let the Bible interpret the Bible. We have a tendency to let others do our interpreting for us. Every now and then I will use a little Greek or Hebrew, but the languages are like underwear – great for support, but one shouldn’t let it show. Hope my answer helps! I really appreciate your watching and your comments.

  11. Muff Potter,

    My take on the Olivet Discourse has been around for 20 centuries. 🙂 It’s the modern dispensationalist that has twisted the text to make it say something it doesn’t! Thanks for your comment!

  12. Mr Burleson, i wanted to ask you this question on your blog, but I’m new to blogs and couldn’t figure out how. I hope it is okay. I do not mean any disrespect to Dee or Deb by asking here. It is obvious they think highly of you and I certainly don’t want to offend them. Especially since this is their blog and you are their guest speaker. I copied and pasted the following from your blog post about Jason Collins:
    I know some of you are saying, “Wait a minute! How can you compare the sexual orientations of a homosexual or an adulterer with those of a genital exposer or a child predator! The first two involve consenting adults! The latter two involve crimes perpetrated against the non-consenting or children!” I respond: Do you not know history? The Roman emperors during the Roman Empire declared sex between men and young boys both legal and beneficial. The Greeks considered men exposing themselves to women a sign of masculinity and patriarchal power. Just because sex with children goes against your sense of morality or exposing yourself to non-consenting women goes against your sense of morality, it doesn’t mean that it goes against everyone else’s sense of morality. Cultures change. As my friend John Blanchard says, “The new morality is actually old immorality.”
    I was attracted to TWW cause it stands with the victims, yet in my life I had to bring an abuser to justice. I loved him through it, still love him, but I stand with the victims. Their comfort and safety was my first priority. Am I to understand that:
    1. Child predators are in your church, but announced wherever they go?
    2. Pedophilia , and those who “expose” themselves” have a sexual orientation of sorts. I thought the DSM would consider it a disorder, not an orientation.
    3. Sex with a child? What child can consent?
    4. Greek culture? What about the dancing boys of Afghanistan? Or the girls in India sold every day? It’s ok because it’s cultural?
    As a Christian, I really do want to extend grace to those hurting. Like you I believe that Christ came to save sinners, but i honestly don’t know if some sin(ners) should feast at the same table.(not saying they are denied salvation or communion, but maybe in a more private setting?) I’m not sure if the victims should have to see their perpetrator every Sunday and Wednesday. Or if they leave and go to another church should they be escorted and, if so, does being near children trigger their sin? How do we protect the victims? The victims who feel raped not only physically, but spiritually. Victims who are often the ones forced out of the church while the abusers remain.
    I’m sincerely looking for answers. I look forward to your reply.

  13. Lisa,

    Thank you for your questions. I will try to answer them succinctly.

    (1). Child predators are in your church, but announced wherever they go?

    Answer: No. Child predators are registered, their photograph passed around to all staff and volunteer workers, are announced each and every time they set foot on campus and must be escorted by an adult at all times. They are not forbidden from attending, but they are at all times known as to their presence and are barred from any access to children for life.

    (2). Pedophilia , and those who “expose” themselves” have a sexual orientation of sorts. I thought the DSM would consider it a disorder, not an orientation?

    Answer: The point of my post is pedophilia and exposure are a both sins and crimes today. DSM may call it a disorder today, not an orientation – but the standard on whether something is a sin is the Word of God, not the whims of man.

    (3). Sex with a child? What child can consent?

    Answer: Sex outside of marriage is sin against God. Sex with a child is a sin against God AND a crime (today). Adult sex with male children in Roman times was not a crime, and it was a common and acceptable activity. You seem to be missing the point of my post. Homosexuality used to be a crime, but culture has changed. When you allow culture to determine what is “normal” without the plumb-line or standard of Scripture, you are a ship without a rudder. Just because same sex activity is now considered “normal” doesn’t mean its not a sin against God, regardless of whether or not culture considers it a crime.

    (4). Greek culture? What about the dancing boys of Afghanistan? Or the girls in India sold every day? It’s ok because it’s cultural?

    I’m not sure you read my post as carefully as you might think you did. The precise point of my post is that sex with children, male sex with males, female sex with females, all sex outside of the context of marriage is always sin (and wrong), REGARDLESS of what culture says.

    I appreciate your concern for victims. That is precisely my concern as well. It is not easy to minister to victims and seek to redeem perpetrators while at the same time protecting the congregation from the deceit of habitual perpetrators. But protect we must. The church that protects the victims and any potential victims from future harm, while simultaneously holding accountable the perpetrators, and working hard to minister to both is a church that deserves your support.

  14. Wade, why not call “sex with children” what it is: rape? The distinction must be made. “Sex with children” implies consent, and can be very offensive to victims.

  15. Oasis,

    Sex with a child is a crime against humanity and humanity’s God. I vote we call it by the word that accurately portrays the evil nature of it, and if rape is that word, by all means it should be used. From a historical perspective, adult male sex with male boy children has not always been considered a crime against humanity and humanity’s God. The point of the post which Lisa quotes is that sexual immorality should never be sugarcoated or called normal – the very thing you are advocating. I say Amen.

  16. @ Wade Burleson:
    “If”? You seem a little unsure. “Sex with a child” is the very definition of child rape. The evil nature of child rape does not escape God, no matter how many cultures throughout history fail to see it as such. Thanks for replying.

  17. Oasis,

    “The evil nature of child rape does not escape God, no matter how many cultures throughout history fail to see it as such.”

    Amen. Amen and amen.

    Now a question for you. Could you affirm …

    “The evil nature of any sex outside of a marriage between a man and a woman does not escape God, no matter how many cultures throughout history fail to see it as such.”

    Blessings, and thanks for the comment.

  18. Wade, that’s what I’ve always believed, that sex was created for a man and a woman, as a part of marriage itself, and intended for marriage only. It’s beyond me why anyone would want to share such a personal experience with anyone she or he is not married to in the first place. This is not to say that I believe all sexual sins are the same in God’s eyes; consensual unmarried sex should not be compared with the horror of child rape.

  19. Oasis,

    We are saying the same thing. We both want pedophiles held accountable and jailed. We both consider the plumb-line of what is right or wrong to be God’s Word – and we do not consider all sexual sins similar, for some sins are more violent, more evil, more damaging than others, but nevertheless, all sexual immorality is sin in God’s eyes, regardless of what culture or political correctness says. Redemption is the only hope for us all, for we are all sexual sinners. It is part of fallen human experience.

    Thanks for your comments.

  20. @ Oasis:
    You hit the nail on its head! That, too, left me in such shock and i was utterly unable to process the entire post. I still can’t, but I was chalking it up to the fact that I’ve had six years of a stressful business situation and it has left me impaired as far as my critical thinking ability. Like you, I have a hard time thinking that sexual crimes against children can be lumped in with consensual sins between adults. I mentioned this on TWW post regarding T4G and Argo’s reply to me was very helpful. By the way, I am coming from a PCA background where I first saw how grace can be misused. Grace covers everything, etc…I dont want a bunch of hateful comments, so let me say I believe grace does, indeed, cover everything. But, as I tell my children, He gave us the law as well and don’t abuse either. Don’t wallow in grace to the point if self pity and don’t suffocate under the burden of the law.
    Anyway, I appreciate your boldness in your comments. With my impaired brain function these days I am fearful of taking things out of context in the chance I have misunderstood something. So, anyway, know that your input is very helpful to me.

  21. Wade Burleson wrote:

    Redemption is the only hope for us all, for we are all sexual sinners.

    I don’t get this. How can you say someone who has stayed celebate until marriage is a sexual sinner?

  22. Anon 1,

    Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    This is what I mean when I say “Redemption is the only hope for us all, for we are all sexual sinners. It is part of fallen human experience.”

  23. “and we do not consider all sexual sins similar, for some sins are more violent, more evil, more damaging than others, but nevertheless, all sexual immorality is sin in God’s eyes, regardless of what culture or political correctness says”

    ACtually there were different punishments for different sorts of sexual sin in the OT which tends to denote that it was not seen “equally” sinful in God’s eyes.

    Check Leviticus 20

  24. Wade Burleson wrote:

    Anon 1,

    Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    This is what I mean when I say “Redemption is the only hope for us all, for we are all sexual sinners. It is part of fallen human experience.”

    I think that is splitting hairs. That is suggesting everyone has looked at someone else with “lust” in their heart. I can say, Wade is handsome and not have lust in my heart. It is a fact.:o)

    Perhaps your definition of total depravity is what is at issue here. Not everyone is a sexual sinner by dent of the fall. There are some asexual people in world who have absolutely no interest. Rare, yes but they exist. They have other sin, for sure. As we are all born into corrupted bodies into a corrupted world.

  25. Anon 1,


    I am not as interested in people proving they are without sin as I am explaining to sinners how they can experience the free, full and unconditional love of God through faith in Christ.

  26. Wade Burleson wrote:

    Anon 1,


    I am not as interested in people proving they are without sin as I am explaining to sinners how they can experience the free, full and unconditional love of God through faith in Christ.

    I understand as I am interested in people being convicted of the actual sins they commit. No one is without “sin”, it is just that I do not think scripture makes the case for total depravity/inability as taught in the Reformed movement and that is where I think our real difference in how we view these things, lies.

    No problem. I read Hebrews totally differently and probably should have stayed out of the thread. Peace!

  27. Anon 1,

    Did you even listen to the message? It had nothing to do with questions being asked me in this thread. I believe every question is important and seek to answer what people ask, but your last comment — “I do not think scripture makes the case for total depravity/inability as taught in the Reformed movement and that is where I think our real difference in how we view these things, lies. No problem. I read Hebrews totally differently and probably should have stayed out of the thread” — makes me think you did not even listen to the message.

    I truly don’t mind answering questions about the message, but when it seems to me questions start being asked that have nothing to do with the message, and then it seems that false assumptions are being made about what has been taught, then I would tend to agree with you that it is probably better to stay out of the thread.

  28. By the way, Anon, it was Lisa, not you, that moved the dialogue away from the message — a message about prophecy, not sexual sins. Maybe in the future we should stick with dialogue about the message in the comment section.

  29. @ Lisa:

    Wow! Amazed but so glad I could help! 😀

    I try and try but find it impossible to be silent at times (regardless of how high my anxiety skyrockets or how much it might embarrass me afterward). Inside I am just a hurt and angry little girl begging for myself and other victims/survivors to be heard, crying for someone to listen and care, screaming for anyone to see and understand… And considering that one of the people who abused me lives less than a mile away from my house and some people are still keeping his secret and expecting me to do the same…Oasis is a ticking time bomb.

    Yeah, grace covers everything. But- ah, nevermind, not gonna go there. 😀

    Argo’s replies on that thread were helpful to me, too! I hope to God that you will begin to trust your own perceptions again and that you are able to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit through the fog…but I doubt your brain is as impaired as it seems!

  30. Wade, You are right, I was responding to your response to Lisa’s questions. Sorry about that, I can see how that would be confusing. And yes, I did listen to the message.

  31. @ Wade Burleson:
    Mr. Burleson, I am so sorry. You are right. I should have stuck to the message. I feared I was in the wrong with my first post and should have listened to my intuition. Like I said, I did try to post at your blog. It kept asking me for a URL. I don’t even know what a URL is. Last night I found your email address and emailed you, but not knowing if it would ever reach you when I saw you on TWW I decided to ask here. It was inappropriate and I’m sorry I have caused you to spend part of this day answering and defending yourself.
    I do appreciate your reply and, though I am still having difficulty working through it all and am still somewhat confused, I wish, in no way, to engage in a laborious back and forth and do not wish that upon you either, yet it is what you have been dragged into. Please accept my sincere apologies.
    I am weary of Calvinism, Arminianism, Quiverful, YEC, etc. I think I’ll retreat back into my cave and just read my Bible, pray to my Lord, and obey the spirit of the Word as best I can.

  32. Lisa,

    Again, no problem! I am delighted to help clarify in any way I can. I have not received your email as of yet (unless it is in a spam filter). I appreciate your spirit of humility.

    I have one favor to ask.

    Please do not retreat into any cave. Stay involved. Ask questions. Disagree. Post your feelings. Stand your ground. Be strong.

    If God’s people all thought the same, believed the same, and acted the same we would be a boring edition of the Stepford Wives.

    Even if a lengthy discussion (and/or disagreement) takes place over an issue that has nothing to do with the message, it’s better that it happen than you retreat to any cave. 🙂

    I mean it.

  33. @ Oasis:
    I’m so sorry to hear your abuser lives so close. I know how that feels. Mine lived in my house. And an “exposer” at my church lived two miles away. My brother’s abuser was not only the youth pastor, but lived next door! And, yes, everyone kept the secrets. I know your pain and will pray for you.
    As far as grace…all I can do is shake my head. It seems the perps are shown my grace than the victims. I do think churches and Christians misuse grace and that is why it is so important for the police to be called. Pastors and church staff are not qualified to deal with pedophiles, serial adulterers, narcissists, or pathological liars and while I’m at it neither are they qualified to deal with addiction, depression, or bi polar disorders. I can appreciate that pastors want to help, but unless one has studied these disorders in an educational and medical setting they can easily be deceived, thereby, impairing everyone’s healing, health, and safety. Most of the time those suffering with personality, sexual, or addiction disorders also have a problem with lying. These disorders are like onions with many layers to peel back. My husband is a physician and sees it all the time.
    Oasis, I’m sorry you were hurt and that you still hurt. I’m so, so sorry that a part of your life was taken from you and that no one has stood with you or fight for you. I am sorry that there are people in your life keeping secrets and expecting you to do the same. I love you from afar and promise that I will be praying daily for you. May God bless you and keep you!

  34. @ Lisa:

    In your house, what a nightmare. I can somewhat relate. And until very recently my sister’s abusive sociopath husband was living here with us – it was like being held hostage. I really feel for you. I hope your life is now much more peaceful and that you are living in as much freedom as possible.

    You are so incredibly sweet. 🙂 I am sorry you were hurt, too…and I’ll be praying for you right back. Not keeping anyone’s secrets anymore, that’s for sure!

  35. @ Oasis:
    Oh my goodness! A sociopath. How horrible. I will most certainly pray for your sister as well.
    The Lord is the great physician and His healing has made it possible for me to have a peace that truly surpasses all human understanding. Of course, it helps that I moved far away from my family and abuser and only visit rarely! Lol.

  36. With all due respect to Wade, what he is saying is that God is no respecter of persons when it comes to sexual deviants. There is no difference to God between a grown single man and grown single woman consenting to sex outside of marriage and a man raping a child. Both are equal sins to God, who does not equivocate on sin of any kind,really. And this is the root of his doctrinal problems, in my opinion. It is functionally moral relativism.

    The fact that Wade labels sex with a child as a “crime against humanity” is a difficult idea to square with the reformed idea that God alone is responsible for any “good” we do which He will accept; otherwise known as Total Depravity. It isn’t rational to declare that there can be a “crime” against that which is perpetually deserving of divine punishment as a root function of its existence.

    It is commendable that Wade believes that those guilty of violating civil law should be held accountable, but it is not particularly consistent with his theology. The problem with neo-reformed theology is precisely what Wade admits above: to God, ALL sin is the same sin, since the root of the human condition is depravity and wickedness. A victim of a crime is never in a moral position to judge or condemn his or her abuser because, again, to God, there is no functional difference between the depravity of both people. The ONLY option a victim has is to extend forgiveness, not because they understand that love is the most important commandment, but because they must acknowledge that their own pain and suffering is just as much proof of the fallen human condition as the abusive behavior of the perpetrator.

    See, when the human being becomes tangential to the holistic evil which categorically defines them, there can be no rational distinction between good and evil in a human’s life. Calvinism is evil precisely because it makes morality relative. ALL of man’s existential context is EVIL; thus, there can be no “right” or “wrong” in our lives as far as God is concerned. And this is why no victim can ever expect to see true justice done in a reformed church. They need to recognize that evil is REAL, and that evil is the willful actions of the ABUSER, which is proven by the wicked outcome of UNJUST pain and suffering on the part of the abused. The abused has an audience with God; and they have every right in the world to demand justice upon the perpetrator, to declare his deeds objectively evil, and to avoid him forever. But you won’t get that at Wade’s church I suspect because it is not his doctrine. If you are “bitter” because your abuser is admitted into the church where you go and is given equal deference by the doctrine the preach (that we are all just the same little sinners before God) then I submit that there will never be the kind of vigilance which needs to be maintained when in the company of rank abusers. The doctrine doesn’t even allow us to declare people actually psychologically abnormal. For what is abnormal? Why, it is merely “sin”. And we all have that.

    This goes back to my original response on the other thread in which I declare that what Wade meant to say is that it really does not matter what a person does or does not do in God’s sovereign and determined “plan”; for good and evil for the totally depraved are relative only, and so there can be no real condemnation or judgement for any “sin”. For sin is merely THE synonym for being human. And it is, of course, hypocritical (in Calvin’s theology) for one person to judge the person-hood of another person.

    This is why this theology must lack empathy by definition. It is utterly hostile to humanity.

  37. @ Anon 1:

    You were commenting on a discussion that was already taking place on this thread. I’m not sure there is anything you need to a

  38. @ Anon 1:

    You were commenting on a discussion that was already taking place on this thread. I’m not sure there is anything you need to apologize for. You joined an active discussion on a public blog, not a private one. Wade can choose to ignore you if he wants; but you shouldn’t be chastised for adding a comment regarding a subject “in play”.

  39. Argo,

    You are not representing what I am saying accurately at all. I believe both this world and in hell, the judgment is WORSE for the child abuser. For this reason, God does not treat all sins the same. How He metes out different punishment in hell is something I can’t answer, but the fact Jesus said, “The day of judgment will be more tolerable for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah than the people of Tyre and Sidon” indicates that judgment from God is measured in degrees. I have always believed this, so I would appreciate an acknowledgment that you have misunderstood and/or unintentionally misrepresented by beliefs. I know it is not intentional and is most likely due to my poor abilities of communication.

    What I am saying is something that some dare not admit in our politically correct culture. The unrepentant homosexual and the unrepentant adulterer will join the child abuser in hell. How a just God metes out punishment that is different and suitable to the severity of the sin is something I cannot answer.

    A sin committed against an unwilling person (i.e. rape, child abuse, etc…) is far worse than a sin committed against a consensual person (i.e. homosexuality, adultery). My point is both are sins. One worse than another, but both are sins. Yes?

    Thanks for your comment.

  40. @ Lisa:

    Thank you, and I’m so very happy for you! I have always said that “running away” from certain problems gets a bad rap. Moving away from particular people or situations is sometimes the best option, or the only healthy one.

    @ Argo:

    Appreciate your comment, especially what you said about evil.

    If you ask me, the dark deterministic god who on some level designs/plans/wills every detail of child rape and every other form of abuse has no place on a survivor blog. The irony kills me. (Tacking on a “Oh, but God loves you!” at the end of such a miserable teaching rings hollow!) Neither does the insinuation (“if” above) that children can sometimes consent to sex, meaning that child rape is not always child rape. Once that insinuation is made, where is the line drawn? This can be very confusing for someone who was a victim of such a crime and needs never to be given a reason to doubt that he or she is 100% innocent in his/her own victimization…no matter what.

    I think it’s time for me to step away from this blog for a while. Love you all. 🙂

  41. @ Wade Burleson:

    I will concede that you truly believe what you say you believe. To deny that would be presumptuous, and wrong, and so I do not want to “put words in your mouth”.

    Otherwise, I am forced to stand by the ideas I expressed in my posts. My concern is that, though you certainly believe what you believe, the doctrine you espouse is inconsistent with that. In short, I do not think you have thought through the doctrine completely to its “logical” conclusion. Total inability to please God, or Total Depravity (same thing; there is no logical difference) is an ABSOLUTE construct. There can be no degrees of an absolute, by definition. If man is totally unable and totally depraved, then the end of man is his depravity. Not only is no sin according to this doctrine “worse than another”, but EVERYTHING man does must be considered evil; for there can be no GOOD in absolute depravity. So when you declare equivocations of sin, according to your doctrine (that I read on your church’s site) you are not being consistent. There is no way a victim of abuse can be declared less of a sinner than the abuser if both are ABSOLUTELY unable to please God. Again, it is the reliance on the absolute-ness of the invective “TOTAL” that destroys the concept of morality and makes man’s existence the root of ALL that is evil. If you want to declare degrees of sin, then you must jettison the idea that man is totally unable to please God, and yes this must include the unsaved. The end of man MUST be GOOD, and I mean GOOD as a function of being OF GOD (Created by Him); and in conjunction with man’s creation must be his morally “neutral” innate ability to WILL; that is, to do and choose whatever he chooses and does, and this must be wholly apart from God. It is this root ability and root morality of “good as a function of being of God” that makes man both able to please God and to displease God; to reject Him and to accept Him. Man himself is not the standard of evil; so he cannot then be TOTALLY unable or TOTALLY depraved. Man’s depravity then is only a function of his ability to ACT on his own behalf. Which, again, means he is not totally unable. On the contrary, he is justly rewarded or condemned by God because he is totally ABLE, and chooses to do or not do.

    And no, I do not concede that homosexuality is a sin, necessarily, nor do I concede that sex of two consenting adults who are not married is sin. In this I could be wrong, but as of yet I would have no way of knowing how these activities are sin apart from my own (and your own) subjective assumptions concerning morality based on what is ultimately a subjective choice to believe in the bible. “Sin” must be rational, as well as biblical, in my view in order for it to be used in a way that is not a club to compel subjective versions of morality. It cannot be a function purely of “the bible says so, so its sin”. There must be an observable and measurable violation of another human being’s property, mind, and/or body. This MAY be the case with homosexuality or consenting adult sex, but I do not believe that it is necessarily so.

  42. Wade,
    Again, I want to be clear. I apologize if I misrepresented what you believe. Again, it would be presumptuous to tell you what you think, and I did not mean to do that.

  43. If my husband had an affair with another adult, I would be deeply hurt, as I believe he would be if I had one. That just happens to line up with what the Bible says about defrauding, regardless of the translation or paraphrase of OT or NT. I believe practicing homosexuals are hurting someone, if only themselves and their partner/s, as the human body is either male or female, and to the cellular level. A trained pathologist can recognize a female tooth cell, brain cell, red blood cell, etc.(all) vs. a male’s. Scientifically, I believe there must be a good reason for that. I think people can be abused and confused, to the emotional, mental and spiritual levels. I see the person, not the lifestyle, and believe that any human being is capable of anything, good or bad, false or true. I also believe that “God made man good, but he has devised many inventions”, is a trustworthy statement, again, from the Bible. I appreciate your honesty, and agree with much of what you said in the recent post. I also agree with what Wade said about degrees of sin and the outcome of certain sins which are not repented of. That doesn’t make me narrow minded, intolerant or guilty of a hate crime, imo, at least. It simply means that I do believe the Bible has been translated into every language so far, enough to convey to all humanity, the absolute truths which God wants to make known, in order for us to be able to choose Him, life or death, freedom or slavery, gain or loss.

  44. @ Wade Burleson:
    Mr. Burleson, when you suggested that perhaps I had not read your post on Jason Collins as well or as carefully as I thought I had, I thought you might be right. So, I read it over and over again. Maybe Argo read it and found it as confusing as I did, thereby prompting his remarks. You suggested it was “your poor communication”. I think it may be. I have not read any of the other posts at your blog so maybe it was just this one on JC that was unclear. You have clarified many things for me and through your comments i sense you have a kind soul and I believe you have the best of intentions. In your defense, the JC post was written on YOUR blog which is not geared toward survivors or victims. I brought it here and i worry that maybe I have caused pain to others by doing so. In that post, you use the words “understand, accept, respect” frequently. Maybe those words are triggers for some people who hv been abused. I know that I was certainly struck by their use. My abuser said I was commanded to respect him because he was my father. The only time I ever “sassed” him was in my reply, “you have done nothing worthy of respect”. Years later and many miles away from him, on Father’s Day the pastor of the church I was attending asked people to stand up and testify as to what their fathers had taught them. I cried from 1:00 til about 9 that day. My father had not taught me anything worth knowing. Then it came to me, my father taught me that God loves sinners. Yes,I agree with you, God loves my father in spite of his crimes against me. I accept my father for who and what he is. I don’t understand him, nor do I respect him.
    Mr. Burleson, what some of us have gone through….”writing” around us may be akin to walking in a field of landmines. Lol. We are sensitive, damaged, fragile, held together loosely. It is not your fault that we are so and it is not your fault if we read your columns through a glass darkly.
    I’m no theologian, but I identify with Argo in that I left the “total depravity of man” camp a good while ago. It is clear that Argo is brilliant and a brilliant writer. I thank you both for taking the time to comment and answer my questions.

  45. Oasis wrote:

    If you ask me, the dark deterministic god who on some level designs/plans/wills every detail of child rape and every other form of abuse has no place on a survivor blog.

    I think there is a lot of confusion with it, too. Because one cannot say with certainty God is a good God if God is controlling every molecule. There are fancy explanations for it but they ring hollow when you put this belief into practical application.

    It boils down to be the “sucks to be you Gospel” unless you are a pervert. You were a victim, according to them God WAS in control and foreordained it when you were a victim and willingly chose not to protect you but the same God might have elected the molester who He KNEW would molest a children and elect them for salvation before Adam sinned. And then to make it worse, we are to have “grace” for the molester who “repents” (how would we know?) and the victim looks mean if they don’t agree to hang with the molester and show “grace”. So victim becomes the sinner and the molester is promoted as the repentent Christian.

    And how does this play out? Victims are reminded they are sinners, too.

    This doctrine is moral chaos. Lots of hoops to jump through to make it work in application.

  46. Pingback: My Response to Wade Burleson Concerning Total Inability/Depravity and the Idea of Degrees of Sin, With a Focus on Sexual Deviancy | unreformingtheology

  47. Anon 1 wrote:

    Oasis wrote:
    Because one cannot say with certainty God is a good God if God is controlling every molecule.

    Anon 1,

    Exactly right. This is why neo-reformed theology is at its root morally relativistic. If God is “sovereign” in the way they teach it, there can be no such thing as good or evil in actuality. God is absolute; what He does, He does. You cannot define it as “good” or “evil” in any rational sense. And behind this is the idea of divine redundancy, which is actually blasphemous. This idea of “God controls all” means that Creation is merely an extension of God. There is NO metaphysical difference between God and what He “created”.

    This no not taught in scripture; not even in the “infallible” scripture.

  48. @ Argo:
    Argo, is there a book you can recommend on the opposite of Calvinist theology? I grew up Baptist (once saved, always saved), then went PCA and ultra reformed. I think my background lent itself to look for rigid structures to control the chaos that had always been in my life. Abuse, unloving family, financial insecurity, spiritual insecurity ( in that I could not depend on God to be good because, though He WAS the author of all that is good, He was also sovereign and willed that bad, very bad, things happened). My bookshelves are cluttered with A.W.Pink, Sproul, etc…Fortunately, I moved to another town without a PCA church and my eyes began to slowly open to the holes in the doctrine. After years of “Arminianism is evil”, I’d really like to explore a different avenue. My first inclination is to retreat into a cave, but I have four children and know I must help them find the way as well.

  49. @ Lisa:

    That’s a great question. My ideas are my own responses to reading the same stuff you have on your bookshelf. LOL I was a Calvinist for 15 years. So I’m just…er, deconstructing what I was taught. The neo-cal doctrine is it’s worst enemy. Gaping holes in metaphysics and ethics which reveal themselves when you think about them long enough.

    I don’t really know anything about Arminianism, even though I’m regularly being accused of being one. I mean, I have a general idea, but I haven’t read a book on it.

    Anyone else recommend a source for Lisa?

    You might try reading what you have, but this time with a critical eye. Ask questions of what you read; write them down and then try to answer them with a mind toward a rational, not “paradoxical” or proof-texted, approach.

    Be dubious. Assume that the abuse in neo Cal churches and your own confusion/anguish is directly tied to their assumptions. Then walk it back to the doctrine.

    In short, don’t accept. Never concede their premises if they cannot rationally explain them. Think! What is wrong with this picture? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom. He will.

    Chances are, you already have most of the answers you need. You know what’s wrong, and that’s half the work. Finding the root ideas/doctrines which produce the effects is the other half.

    Start with Calvin’s TULIP. All the points are false. With a critical eye and a bible, it’s not hard to explain why.

    Rock on.

  50. Argo, 


    During your fifteen year exposure to Calvinism that you speak of, how much of it was limited to Sovergn Grace Ministries?



  51. Lisa, One reason I suggest folks start with reading the Gospels only for years and years and years is because I believe the incarnate Jesus Christ represents what God is really like. He was God in the Flesh.

  52. Argo,

    Hey, Was your experience with Sovereign Grace Ministries by chance localized to Fairfax?


    Sopy —

  53. RB’s statement about sexuality on a cellular level totally ignores what we know about human genetics, specifically on the subject of intersex. These are human beings who may be born with ambiguous physical sexual characteristics or whose physical characteristics do not match up with their genetic makeup. In short, it’s not just strictly male and female, it’s more than that.

    There’s more I could say here but I wanted to point out that cellular nature is a red herring.

  54. Argo,

    In all fairness to Pastor Burleson, I do not think equivocation was his intent. Simply because one gravitates toward, or identifies with a particular theology, does not mean that said resonance must have 100% lockstep affinity.

    My own belief system is modeled in large part after Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason. Does this mean that I agree with everything Paine wrote? No it does not. I keep my own counsel on what I’ll sign onto or not sign onto.

  55. Anon 1 wrote:

    Lisa, One reason I suggest folks start with reading the Gospels only for years and years and years is because I believe the incarnate Jesus Christ represents what God is really like. He was God in the Flesh.

    After finishing the last chapter of Hebrews, I plan on teaching through the Gospel of Luke.

    I estimate it will take three years.

  56. Southwestern Discomfort, that’s about 1 per million, so very rare. In utero, embryos start out female, then become male or remain female during development, depending on their DNA at the time of conception. The mutation resulting in ambiguity, is up to that person, imo. But to say that the cellular data is a red herring, is well, a red herring, imo.

  57. @ Muff Potter:


    Oh…I agree. I do not think he intended to do anything other than express what he truly believes. As I wrote above and on my blog, I think Wade has benevolent intentions and truly empathizes with his congregants, victims of spiritual tyranny, and people in general. His being so committed to this blog is proof of that. My point was that this ability to empathize and care, while commendable, is not consistent with neo-reformed/neo-calvinist ideology.

    The fact is that THAT peculiar theology makes the root cause of all that is evil the human being him/herself…that is, their very existence is their problem; is why God perpetually hates them, and why the logical conclusion of reformed theology is to remove humanity from itself. The whole idea is to remove YOU from your life, so that what they call God, but is really the “local church” (shades of collectivism/Marxism), can do an end run around yourSELF and commandeer your body, mind, and property it in favor of the “greater TRUTH”, which of course is whatever the “pastor in the stead” says it is, because he alone has the divine gift of “perception” from God. And this can only inevitably lead to exploitation and abuse of human beings.

    And while I understand your Thomas Paine analogy, the point I’m trying to make is that it is impossible to take or leave certain parts of what are absolute theoretical constructs. By definition, ideas like “total”, “inability”, “unconditional”, “infallible”, “irresistible” do not lend themselves to a buffet-style dinner, so to speak. They are infinite absolutes; and so to declare that one “tends” to gravitate towards, or to hold to “certain attributes”, or accept that there are greater or lesser “degrees” of such absolutes is a contradiction in terms.

    The point is, you cannot gravitate towards; you cannot qualify your stance on reformation theology and its component doctrines. It is not designed that way…on PURPOSE. Calvin and Luther did not want or intend to leave any room for argument. And they suffered very few deniers. You crossed Calvin at the risk of a grotesque, tortuous death…there was only one TRUTH, and it was absolute. Detractors were summarily, er…dismissed precisely because they could never have ANY effective or just or logical disagreement with his infinite, absolute constructs. And I submit that this is precisely the kind of polity that the leaders of the neo-Calvinist movement crave.

    In my opinion, there are only two absolute TRUTHS: actual God and physical Creation (humanity being the most relevant; for all of Creation is FOR man). But Creation is the more important absolute, not God, because we are in a position to receive…God is the omnipotent giver, and so in order for Him to effectively give, the He is obliged to understand the contextual capacity of the finite recipient to apprehend and comprehend the gift. ALL proceeding theological ideas must START there. There an be no such thing as theoretical absolutes in our understanding of ourselves and God. All TRUTH then must be contextual to physical reality, which IS man. If it is not consistent with man’s physical existential reality, then it cannot be truth. For truth by definition cannot lay beyond what actually EXISTS to MAN.

    Any other approach will result in tyranny.

  58. Argo,


    During your fifteen year stay at various SGM churches including Fairfax, we’re you encouraged to read Calvin’s Institutes , his Comentaries?, or his letters?

    Was Calvin’s works read or discussed in the care groups you encountered there?



  59. @ RB:
    It’s not one in one million. Depending on who your authority is and how widely you cast the net, it could be as low as .01 to .02 percent, which is one in 10,000 to one 5,000 or as high as 1.9 percent, which is about one in 52. The lower number is several orders of magnitude more than your casual one in a million. And even if it it were merely in the neighborhood of 310 people in the US (which is much smaller by two orders of magnitude than the 31,000 that even the lowest number substantiated predicts), the fact is that there are 310 people in the US who don’t match your sexual and genetic expectations. So, to make you happy, they’re supposed to follow your beliefs rather than what they know to be true in their lives because of your genetic/gender essentialism?

  60. @ Sopwith:

    Of course, to the first question.

    No to the second, regarding caregroups. We discussed sermons, read Piper, Gruden, Bridges, a load of Mahaney (emphasis on load), Peacekeepers-Ken Sande stuff.

    What are you getting at?

  61. Southwestern Discomfort, read my post again. You put words in my mouth. I said, if someone is born that way, they should decide, imo. We all make our choices, you have chosen to degrade me. Besides that, that post had no reference to religion. I wasn’t degrading you for your beliefs, but then, you’re the tolerant one, right? And if those numbers are closer to the current rate, it still doesn’t change my statement. Bully.

  62. Argo,


    Thanks for your kind responses. Have you determine there was a difference between what you were reading in the ICR, or Calvin’s Commentaries, for example,  and what was presented to you at the SGM churches you attended? Second, does your experience(s) with this group of churches date prior to 1990?



  63. Sopy,

    SGM is pure Calvinism in my opinion. That’s all I have to say about that.

    As for the other, I do not wish to discuss specifics as I said. Thanks.

  64. RB wrote:

    The mutation resulting in ambiguity, is up to that person, imo

    I know a family who had a child born with ambiguous characteristics. They are Christians and sought counsel from a number of doctors. The husband, himself, is a doctor. They did their best and decided on a gender and began the arduous task of going in that direction with the help of geneticists, doctors, psychiatrists and pastoral counselors. As this child entered middle school, the now “he” became depressed and claimed “he” felt “she.”

    Once again, the round of world class physicians and counselors ensued. They made a decision, I do not know what it was and they moved away from everyone who knew them. I feel for them in this situation.

  65. @ Argo: I have heard very differently with private conversations that I have received from some well placed individuals in the Reformed community (not to be confused with the NeoCalvinists, YRR, etc.) They have categorically stated that their community should not be confused with this Neo-nonsense. They reject the theology of Mahaney and many of those associated with him, including his personal apologists.

    I am inclined to believe them. Therefore, I do not believe that SGM is pure Calvinist but a warped derivation of it. I would like the conversation to differentiate some decent people out there who do not drink from the same well as the YRR crowd.

  66. Dee, yes, I think it puts a great deal on the table for individuals and their families to deal with, and that Christians need to let God be God and remain open minded and supportive in the situation. This is another reason, that although I believe sexuality is a wonderful gift, the intimacy and joy we can experience with God goes far beyond it. I think of Daniel, one of the OT people I respect the most, and he was probably castrated as a youth. Our culture places too much importance on sex and sexuality, imo. I think as long as a life is lived according to God’s statements regarding sex, their choice should be respected.

    Have read an article in the last few years in one of the medical or scientific journals (wish I could remember which) that quite a few top scientists now believe the earth has been undergoing decay, from the core, out, for thousands of years, I think remembering reading. They cited the slow demise of species, plant and animal, aside from the issue of pollution and other human factors, that mutations are occurring across the globe, in effect since before the Industrial Revolution. They were theorizing that the increased incidence of various cancers and communicable diseases may be linked to it.

  67. @ dee:


    That is not correct, in my view. SGM is not a deviation from it, it is it in its truest forms. It is more likely that the “others” you refer to are the deviations.

    Nevertheless, it is much easier to blame people than to parse doctrine. I get that; but I am well past that. I will no longer comment here on the matter. You have a direction that is not doctrinally specific. I admire you for what you do here, but I do not believe real lasting change can be achieved apart from challenging ALL Calvinists on their contradictory assumptions.

    You can laud “good Calvinists” all you want, but you will never truly be able to reconcile their doctrine. And neither can they. And they know it.

  68. @ dee:
    dee wrote:

    @ I would like the conversation to differentiate some decent people out there who do not drink from the same well as the YRR crowd.

    I cannot and will not do this. I refuse. I will never concede any good can be found in Calvinism, despite the decent people who may hold to it. If they are decent, it is only in spite of their doctrine.

  69. Mentioning Daniel, in my mind, he was truly a manly man. On another note, years ago, we had a pound kitty we had rescued and had spayed when she was 4 months old. Our neighbors had a male cat which had been neutered when he was the same age. The two were friends, and took their friendship to the next level, if you will. We thought it was really sweet, and they never growled at each other the way cats typically do during “that event”.

  70. Argo wrote:

    @ dee:
    That is not correct, in my view. SGM is not a deviation from it, it is it in its truest forms. It is more likely that the “others” you refer to are the deviations.

    Simple question you likely answered somewhere before. A large heap of evil done in SGM happened before they turned Calvinist. As far as I can remember, none of the original Shepherding movement guys were Calvinist. Other, non-Calvinist movements have the same Authoritarianism. Are you saying, C logically ought to always result in A, tough various non-C’s may also result in A?

  71. Argo

    I have some wonderful friends that are Calvinists. I spoke with three today. They are loving, kind and would give you the shirt off their backs. The would say that their love springs from their faith in a sovereign and loving God. Who am I to refute them? They are the best judges of their own motivation. 

    As you know, I am not Calvinist. I am still not sure what I am but I know wonderful people on all sides to this argument. Please be careful in how you speak your disagreement. You disagree with Calvinism. That is fine, many do. But do not say that good cannot be found there. God is found wherever those are who faithfully seek Him. I may not be convinced of some of the solas but I do know many faithful Christians who can be found in that camp. 

  72.     Argo,



    Did you experience PDi/SGM prior to 1990? Or is your experience PDi/SGM post 1990? Did you attend services at a PDI/SGM church prior to C.J. Mahaney assuming the presidency of PDI in 1990? Prior to C.J. Mahaney leading his church organization into Reformed Theology/Calvinism some time after 1990? It would be most helpful to understand your experience seeing you had no experience(s) with Calvin’s writings prior to your fifteen year experience with that family of churches.



  73. @ dee: I would like the conversation to differentiate some decent people out there who do not drink from the same well as the YRR crowd.
    Argo: I cannot and will not do this. I refuse. I will never concede any good can be found in Calvinism, despite the decent people who may hold to it. If they are decent, it is only in spite of their doctrine.
    I’ll do this, In a way. I think Calvinism is bad, in several ways. As I was pondering decency in spite of doctrine, 3 YO grandson said, out of the blue, “Chomper’s Daddy is NICE. (Shakes head with quizzical look) I don’t know WHY he’s nice…” (Chomper’s Daddy is a T-Rex)
    Out of the mouths of babes…

    I was pondering

  74. @ Argo:

    I think it is wise to separate the people from their doctrines. I claim no specific religious doctrine myself. Most people do claim some form of doctrine to explain their beliefs. BUT it is possible that there are people who are Reformed, yet love God and others, more than their vein of doctrine, or every jot and tittle of their preferred doctrine. Afterall, you can find people in every denomination and tradition of Christian religion that places their doctrines above loving people. The Calvinista’s are loud and obnoxious and asserting their “rightness of doctrines” above all else. This is their downfall, much like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.

  75. I know some great people who are Calvinists who are right now questioning what they believe because of what they are seeing in the YRR movement. Some are starting to see some contradictions. They are rethinking their belief in total depravity to be specific (and if that falls according to the definition, most of them fall). And one of them is a minister.

    This doctrine has not really been debated by the peasants before on such a grand scale. And that is a good thing for everyone. We should always be questioning, sharpening iron, etc. ONe of the biggest problems for the YRR is they do not allow it.

  76. @ Sopwith:

    Have you considered that one of the problems PDI had was too much freedom with the even the idea of a prophecy mic, holy Spirit giftings, etc. Way too much power for the pew sitter to continue on?

  77. I don’t want to fall into the pit of making blanket statements and assumptions about people’s hearts, and I apologize, because I think I’ve gone there on this and other sites in the past. While I think it’s right to be angry over sin (evil intent/hurt against God, self or others, imo), only God sees the whole picture and the heart. I am called to love my fellow human beings, to show mercy, to pray for them. I’ve believed a lot of what I now consider spiritual junk in 40 years of personal faith, and I’m sure I have a long, long way to go. Where doctrinal differences come into play with that, the old quote about grace in non essentials while remaining adamant regarding essentials, is a good rule of thumb. And looking at fruit can tell a lot about belief, but not everything, because we’re always dealing with individuals. Thank God for grace and mercy, and for the present tense, so we can have hope!

  78. @ Sopwith:

    I don’t share your view of the magnitude of the relevancy of my time in SGM. My understanding of Calvinism is not limited to SGM.

    I can read and I have a public library card and an Internet connection. I could develop a workable knowledge of Calvinism even if SGM was Utinitarian Gay Anarchist.

  79. @ Bridget:
    Agreed. My whole point is that we MUST separate doctrine from people BECAUSE the doctrine hates human beings; it is hostile to humanity at its root.

    You can be reformed and be a good person, it then follows. But it does not follow that you are a good person BECAUSE you are reformed. Reformation theology, specifically Calvinism, destroys morality. There can be no good person according to the doctrine. YOU are depraved. YOU can neither resist His grace nor resist your damnation. There is NO human agency capable of being good.

    To say Calvinism makes good people is a lie. To say people can be good in spite of being Calvinist is a truth. However, I submit a Calvinist’s ability to empathize will likely be checked before it can be fully realized because the doctrine does not allow for the full acceptance of humanity as GOOD at its root. It believes humans are EVIL at their root. And you cannot fully love what God commands you to hate. You cannot fully love what can only be loved in SPITE of itself.

  80.     Anon 1,

    Thank you for your efforts here at TWW.


    Did you experience what you speak of, i.e. the prophecy mic, and  the holy Spirit giftings at the PDI/SGM family of churches? What importance do these thing you mention hold for you? When you refer to too much freedom concerning PDI prior to 1997, what do you mean? After that time period, the things you speak of (above) moved into obscurity. Are you implying that there was less freedom after 1997 when C.J. Mahaney lead his family of churches in the direction of reformed theology/Calvinism?



  81.     Argo,



    Did you possibly develop (as you say) “a workable knowledge of Calvinism” prior to 1997?



  82. @ Sopwith:

    That question is irrelevant. You do not grasp my primary disagreement with reformed theology, in particular, Calvinism. If you did, you would not ask me that kind of question. There is no more reason for me to respond to you, as you have missed my points entirely.

  83. @ Argo: I do believe (personally) that you are confusing Luther with Calvin, and also that you are taking an aberrant school of “Calvinism” practiced by a cult and equating all Reformed churches and doctrine with what SGM and some other people/places (Piper, Driscoll et. al.) are doing.

    This is – as far as I can tell – historically questionable. While I *do* appreciate where you’re coming from (having had to try and make sense out of my own decades in abusive churches), I am not sure that declaring war on all Reformed theology and Reformed church members is a wise thing.

  84. @ numo: Tag on my last post: I know that many calvinstas (and regular Calvinists) claim Luther as one of their own, but he was not – not only that, Lutheran theologies (there are varieties, as in Anglicanism) are definitely NOT the same thing as Calvinism.

    Fact: you won’t find many people in Lutheran churches who sympathize with Calvin AT ALL. The whole notion of “limited atonement” is pretty much anathema to Lutherans, Anglicans, Roman Catholics and the Orthodox. It just does not compute – neither (imo) do the other classic “five points.” (Not that those can be traced directly back to Calvin – they came later – but even so…)

  85. @ RB: RB, no offense, but there are *lots* of intersex people – and many different biological conditions that are considered “intersex” by the medical establishment.

    Intersex isn’t a sexual orientation; it’s a biological reality (literally).

  86. @ Argo:
    @ Sopwith:

    My response to you was harsh; please forgive me. I should not have responded that way. You are free to ask questions. I just may not have a relevant answer, in which case I’ll just say yes or no.

    Last question: answer is no.

  87. Argo,



    Could you possibly explain or point me to your primary disagreement with reformed theology, as I may not have seen it. Also, did you experience the changes within the family of churches that in 1997 were renamed Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM)? 



  88. @ numo:

    I pointed out to Argo a while back the amount of abuse in anti-Calvinist churches such as the IFB, Calvary Chapel, many SBC churches, some Anabaptist churches, and the Roman Catholic Church. Argo responded by saying that all of those groups are “Reformed.” That, to me, speaks volumes.

  89. @ RB: I do hope you will take some time to do a bit of reading on the physiological conditions that are kind of lumped together as “intersex.”

    I have absolutely no doubt that there have been interesex people for a LONG time, probably since the earliest days of human existence on this planet.

    You might also want to do a search on the name “John Money” – and be prepared for some difficult reading (in his “treatment” of intersex kids) once you do get some articles pulled up.

  90. @ numo:

    With great respect for you,

    I have read the catechisms and the confessions. From Luther to Edwards to Calvin to Augustine. They are all children of the same idea: man is not man, man is is the dead-eyed battle ground where the gnostic forces of the divine and material wage their unholy war at man’s expense. All reformed theology is based on the singular idea that man does not own himself or his life; man does not truly exist, but is the functional extension of some greater irresistible force. Thus, by extension, all reformed theology lacks any kind of true love, because man can neither love nor be loved because man is not really himself.

  91. @ Nicholas: hey – Argo and I have had this go-round before. 🙂

    I *can* understand how someone who was in SGM post-1990 would have difficulty separating the aberrant pseudo-Calvinism of SGM from classic Reformed doctrine and beliefs.

  92. @ Nicholas:
    That is not what I said. I said they all are rooted in Augustinian Gnosticism. Which they are. And as such, they are all rooted in the same fundamental interpretations of the material verses the divine.

    Apparently, you need to add more volumes.

  93. @ Argo: I do not wish to argue with you.

    fwiw, I am Lutheran (ELCA synod) and was raised with the catechisms; after my conversion I spent a lot of time reading some of the foundational documents.

    I am not a big fan of Augustine, and really – the most important “doctrinal statements” in Lutheran belief(s) are the Apostles and Nicene Creeds (also the Athanasian Creed and similar, but they are not as key). there is nothing about “original sin” in these creeds, and there is not really *anything* like as big an emphasis on original sin in Lutheran churches as you might suspect.

    Just because the various churches called “Lutheran” take their name from Luther does not mean that there’s some doctrinal template that everyone has to fit. The reality is very diverse.

    Check it out!

  94. @ numo:

    Read the article Nicholas posted! There are no actual differences! The differences are purely semantics; hyper euphamism. All reformed theology holds to the same essential five points, except that “proper” Calvinism mixes in the church collective, which is pure Marxism. “Church isn’t voluntary” in true Reformed theology, the article states. Then what the heck is it?! It is compelled by FORCE; whether ideological, emotional or physical. You don’t get a say in your membership. All SGM does is actually IMPLEMENT the “proper” doctrine to the fullest extent it can. They are the purest of true Calvinists.

    I am not the one confused.

  95. @ Argo: Look, I can’t keep going over this when I know – as do you – that we have been asked to please tone down the slams on the entire Reformed tradition.

    Dee and Deb still have that request at the top of the page.

    I do feel frustrated re. attempting to point out things that might add a bit more nuance to this, though.

    But I think it’s best for me to let it drop. Besides, a fair few people who are from Reformed churches – who are absolutely appalled at the whole SGM thing – have posted comments here in the past week or so. We need to pull together, I believe.

  96. @ numo:
    It isn’t a matter if facts. It’s a matter of rational consistency. You cannot reconcile reformation theology with the idea that YOU actually get a say over your life. Or that you even have a life in the true sense of the word. That is why you must first concede that truth is ultimately beyond the reach of the human mind before you can ever have “sound doctrine”. I refuse to concede that, and I am hated for that. Because if they don’t get to define the terms of “truth” as being beyond ME (and YOU) then they cannot defend their views.

  97. @ Argo:



    Sure. I understand. I sure do.

    I am very concerned you are possibly still hurting from the your experience you speak of –fifteen year with Sovereign Grace Ministries. 

    You & your family have my prayers,



  98. @ Argo:

    Yes, you did say “Reformed” at the time. And now you are charging Christianity itself with “Gnosticism”.

    This comment you made about how you “love Pelagius” puts this conversation in better perspective:

    Pelagius taught that we do not inherit any sinful nature from Adam, that Grace is not necessary for salvation, and that Christ did not actually atone for our sins at the cross because no such atonement was necessary. Pelagius was condemned as a heretic by the entire united Church because what he taught went against what Christians had always believed. Augustine was simply a proponent of orthodox Christianity.

    It also makes sense that you cannot accept or tolerate the doctrine of Biblical Infallibility. I think you are aware that the Bible does not teach what you teach.

    I will also warn you that you have violated the Eight Commandment multiple times in your comments at this blog, against Christians both living and dead.

  99. @ numo:
    I love all people. That is the sole reason I bother with any of this. The. Sole. Reason. I would love to just agree that there are bigger fish to fry. But you must understand that abuse is always derivative of assumptions.

    I have children. They are girls. And I will not agree to make the issue something that I know isn’t the real issue.

    I owe Dee and Deb a mountain of gratitude for allowing me this forum. They are true saints. If they boot me, they do. But my motives are the same as theirs. Driven by an insatiable desire to see human beings made free indeed.

  100. numo wrote:

    @ Janey: Good try, Janey! 🙂

    I had to give it a shot. I love you guy, but you’ve been arguing all day, and there’s so much good we could be doing. A lot of bloggers out there need some encouragement and others need to get a little clarification!

  101. @ Argo: Hey, I can appreciate where you’re coming from – especially since I’m a survivor of not one but several abusive churches.

    I know about trying to make sense of it all, but the thing is – people who go through very similar experiences might have different conclusions. I have found relief and solace – and actual grace and love, both spoken about and demonstrated – in my time as a “revert” to the Lutheran church.

    Way more than I ever saw during my time in the charismatic/evangelical world.

    one of the reasons for that – in many of the oldest denoms – is that there’s an understanding of the fact that people are going to mess up (sometimes very badly, sometimes not) and that the church is there for the wounded people of this world (all of us), not as a means of forcing behavior or a behavioral/theological code on members.

    it’s really not about trying to get people to be letter-perfect in behavior or doctrine. It’s much more about the love of Christ, in his becoming incarnate in order to free us once and for all. And it is about his resurrection and the hope that we have in him.

    The historic church traditions are not exactly in lockstep (the opposite,r eally) on many, many important issues.

    Please check the Apostles and Nicene creeds. I think you’ll agree with everything in them – and they’re short and to the point.

  102. @ Nicholas:

    In the sense that the are all predicated on Augustinian ideas, they are reformed. Reformed, and reformed again.

    You accuse me of breaking the eighth commandment and do it yourself? You subterfuge this entire discussion with a reference to a tongue in cheek comment on Pelagius? Hypocrite.

  103. @ Janey: I’m on the evening “argument” shift this time, but hey – point very much taken!

    I’m spinning my wheels (and Argo’s, and others’) by continuing to argue back and forth. that just won’t get the car unstuck, no matter how much we believe it will.

    all the very best,

  104. @ Argo: Argo,bro – please chill.

    You and Nicholas are down to name-calling; that gets us all nowhere pretty fast.

  105. @ Argo: You know those verses in Isaiah about the “peaceable kingdom”?

    That’d be cool, here and now – and I’m including myself in that hope/admonition.

  106. numo wrote:

    @ Argo: Look, I can’t keep going over this when I know – as do you – that we have been asked to please tone down the slams on the entire Reformed tradition.

    Dee and Deb still have that request at the top of the page.

    I do feel frustrated re. attempting to point out things that might add a bit more nuance to this, though.

    But I think it’s best for me to let it drop. Besides, a fair few people who are from Reformed churches – who are absolutely appalled at the whole SGM thing – have posted comments here in the past week or so. We need to pull together, I believe.

  107. numo,
    You are like a Jedi, and you keep the peace well! Isn’t it ironic though how the creeds of the early fathers allow for such a wide latitude of human freedom? Even though they were midwifed in the days when there was no such thing as The Rights of Man, they are remarkably free of authoritarian dogma.

    I too long for kingdom of conscience for all.

  108. @ Muff Potter: Aw shucks, Muff! Thanks. Is it wrong to confess that I’ve secretly wanted to be one of King Arthur’s knights *and* a Jedi? (Though I’d rather not have physically violent battles.)

    You’re so right about the breadth of thought in the early centuries of the church – it’s not that there weren’t disagreements (there were, and sometimes they got violent), but it seems as if the early centuries were pretty cosmopolitan – people from all over the Roman Empire were involved, and the population was so diverse. I’d like to be able to drop in (invisibly) on some early discussions and times of worship. (So long as I have some kind of Star Trek-ish universal translator with me, that is.) Would be verrrry interesting, I’m thinking.

  109.  Bearing Bad Fruit: ‘Unhealthy Church Cultures’ Usafe At Any Distance?

    Q: Is Sovereign Grace Ministries Demonstrating An Unhealthy Church Culture Damaging To More Than Just Pedophile Victims?


    “Church Cultures That Crush The Weak….”

    May 27, 2013

    by Sharon Hodde Miller, originally from North Carolina. (  Note: Just so you know….Sharon is a regular contributing author to Christianity Today’s blog for women– Her.meneutics, and her writing has also been featured at Relevant,, Gifted for Leadership,  Cultivate Her, Ungrind, and Faith Village.

         “In the last several months, Sovereign Grace Ministries, a network of Reformed churches, has been in the news as the result of a sexual abuse scandal and allegations of a cover up. 

        Although there is much we don’t know for sure, some of the adults accused of abusing children at two different SGM churches are now serving time in prison.

        What makes the crimes especially disturbing is that pastors allegedly required the victims to meet with their abusers and forgive them, rather than report the crime to the police. 

        The victims also allege that their abuse was part of a large, church-wide cover up to protect church leaders and the SGM institution.

        This past week, a class action lawsuit against SGM was dismissed by a judge due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. 

        It remains to be seen whether the victims will file criminal charges against church leaders.

        The SGM legal battle is still unfolding, which makes it difficult to state much with certainty. 

        Even so, it recalls similar cases of serial abuse–such as the Catholic Church and Penn State abuse scandals–and presses us to ask what we can learn from them. 

    Q: How do we prevent this from happening in our own churches?

        Now, the sad reality is that churches (and any institution on earth) can only do so much to prevent abuse. 

        Churches can put into place every rule imaginable, but predators will still find a way to abuse children. It is a tragic fact of sin. The only thing churches can do is to minimize the opportunities for abusers to prey on victims, and usually they are able to.

         However those protections sometimes fail and abuse does occur.  In those situations, what speaks to the integrity of the church is not always the abuse itself (though it can certainly be a sign of a larger community dysfunction), but how the church responds to the abuse. 

    Q: Do the leaders call the police? 

    Q: Do they ensure the vulnerable are safe? 

    Q: Do they prevent the accused from accessing more victims? 

    Q: Do they stamp out it immediately?

    ( If the answer is no, then there is more going on than the acts of abuse themselves. )

    [There is also a cultural sickness in the church or institution.]

        This is what we have seen in the Catholic Church, with the Penn State scandals, and in the lesser publicized Independent Fundamental Baptist tradition. 

        In each case, the abuse was not random or isolated, but facilitated by a cultural dysfunction, and when the problem is cultural the repentance must be cultural too.

        I will not speculate about what SGM did right or wrong because I am in no place to do so. I have no idea which claims are true, or who might have been complicit in any wrongdoing, and I would never be so reckless as to guess. Instead, I will simply offer two lessons that we all can learn from cases of serial abuse:

    1. ‘Unhealthy Church Cultures’ are the fertile soil out of which serial abuse can spring: We can all agree that abuse is evil and condemn it in the strongest terms. But such statements ring hollow in the abstract; they must be accompanied by ownership. Put another way: just because you are not abusing someone does not mean you are contributing to an environment that is safe for the vulnerable.

    Q: How can you contribute to a culture that is safe? 

         First, be sure that your church has stiff regulations for child-adult interactions, and abide by them. If your church does not have these, it is a MAJOR red flag!

         Also, church communities are ripe for abuse when the members engage in a hero-worship of their pastor, the pastor has king-like power, or the community is committed to protecting the church’s reputation at all costs. 

    (These cultural  characteristics may seem relatively harmless, but when mixed with abuse they can produce sinister results.)

    2. Accountability is complicated by relationships: The SGM scandal hits close to home, so it has reminded me of the complicating factor of friendship. Though we look upon the Catholic Church and Penn State scandals and wonder from afar, “How on earth could people allow this to continue?” I suspect there was more to the story than blind allegiance to an institution. Institutions are also composed of relationships–even friendships–which complicate our reactions all the more.

         As Christians we believe in redemption. We hope that abusers can be healed and restored, and we pray for that. So when an abuser (or one connected to an abuse) is a friend or a revered leader, I suspect there is a desire to respond with grace. 

         Or at the very least, to wait. You want to have all the facts, or give them a chance to change. Maybe it’s not what it seems, you hope.

    But this inclination toward grace is misguided in its timing. It delays justice and subjects the victims to more abuse. 

    [So as important as it is to find out the truth, we must–MUST– make sure the victims are safe, and that the accused is in no position to abuse others.]

    According to Scripture, sin has a corporate component to it. In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul rebukes the entire church on account of one man’s sexual sin. Rather than single out the offender, Paul states that the entire church is complicit in the man’s sin. 

         Likewise, any time that abuse occurs in our ranks we must humbly search ourselves and examine our communities for corruption. 

    Q: How did we fail the victims? 

    Q: How did we contribute to a culture in which leaders became too powerful, too invincible, or the church’s reputation became too important? 

    Q: And how can we, as a community, support the victims of this evil? 

    Q: How can we ensure that the weakest and most vulnerable among us are never marginalized?

         When serial abuse occurs within an institution, it implicates more than the abuser. Sometimes, we can participate in a culture that enables abuses to continue. 

    [The combination of bad theology with the most basic sin of idolatry can produce communities that crush and marginalize the weak. ]

         So I urge you, brothers and sisters, to do more than condemn the abuse that is “out there,” belonging to somebody else. Instead, examine your hearts and examine your church community for “any offensive way” in you (Psalm 139:24). In this simple act before the Lord, there is so much at stake. ”  -Sharon


    Thought the above article worth a read here at TWW….

    I am the vine, and you are the branches,  those of you who abide in Me, and I in them , they bare much fruit, for apart from Me , you can do nothing….     -Jesus



  110. @ Sopwith: Good one. I have had friends at CLC and FX (from the early 80s on) and am absolutely convinced that the church culture was authoritarian and cult-like from the year dot.

    as far as I know, my friends are still in those churches, which concerns me deeply… but you know the drill, per being on the inside and then waking up. There’s not much I can do for them at this point, other than to pray. Am not sure my words would have any impact at this point, though I don’t know for certain.

  111. @ Sopwith: True story: one of my friends encouraged me to visit a FX home group in the mid-80s.

    The Stepford Wife atmosphere scared me silly; if I could have gotten up and left before the thing broke up, believe me, I’d have done so! It scared me silly.

    I also got a creepy, cult-like vibe at the handful of services I attended with friends. (Back in the 80s.)

    The irony is that I ended up being part of similar churches – they just weren’t as extreme as PDI/SGM, though by the time I got booted from the last one, the heat was being turned up.

    (I no longer live in the area.)

  112. @ numo:


    Blessed are the peacemakers, huh? (Your a gem, Numo!)


    Your comment leads to the naging question:  “Why are so many very intelligent people drawn to such toxic authoritarian  Ekklesia?”

    Worse yet: “Why do they stay?


    Sorry you got burned.

    bummer, huh?

    footprints in da sand? I am grateful that Jesus carries us when we can’t find our way, or His, for that matter…. (Sadface)



  113. @ Sopwith: Thanks so much, Sopy!

    another irony: being kicked out – which was extremely painful (understatement of the year!) ultimately led to my being able to experience a great deal of freedom and a real and abiding sense that God loves me. (Something I’d NEVER been able to accept and believe during my decades in the bad churches, since they said “love” but it meant little-nothing compared to the endless hamster wheel of perfectionism and “you have to be ‘better’ for God.”)

    I’d never have chosen to go through all of that, but the air out here is good!

  114. numo,
    You might enjoy googling up Schmuley Boteach’s essay on The Tyranny of Perfection. ===> (smiley face goes here)

  115.      Numo, 


    …and they believed God, and it was accounted unto them righteousness; His precious Son bares in his body, the marks of the transaction, the perl of great price, that was buried in the ground, Jesus sold all he had and purchasd it. Will he not now give you all things? He is good for it! He has loved you as himself.  Belive it! Enjoy it!


    Don’t get no bedder….

    Hum, hum, “I’ve seen fire, I’ve seen rain, I’ve seen cloudy days when I could not find a friend….”

    But Jesus, I always know you’ll be there….