A TWW Tutorial Analyzing The Village Church Elders Apology to Karen Hinkley and Others

The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings link

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Keys

Words have meanings. One of things we constantly harp on here at TWW is that a word, like *biblical,* is front loaded with presuppositions. So, when a guy like Ken Ham says that 6 Day creationism is biblical, he means that any other point of view is not biblical. Recently, someone told me that her pastor said that that people who divorce their spouses for adultery could not remarry. I asked her where he got that notion. She said "The Word of God, of course!" I asked her why other conservative pastors would disagree with her pastor when they know "the Word of God"  as well. She obviously had not thought that through. She had been trained to accept everything that proceeds from the mouth of her current pastor.

Years ago, my daughter received a warning note which checked off the category "disobedient." When I queried about the incident, I learned that she had been asked by a teacher to help her carry something to another room. She had not finished putting her books away but the teacher needed help right away. The class bell rang. As she ran to to get her books, she was given a pink slip for her disobedience. I spoke with her teacher who said that there wasn't another category that "fit" her infraction so she chose one. Deliberate disobedience is a far cry from a bit of disorganization in order to help another teacher. 

I am not here to judge the motives of Matt Chandler and The Village Church elders. Only God know their hearts in this matter. However,  we can look at their words and try to understand what they mean. I believe that TVC *apologized.* But the question everyone should try to determine is what actions were covered by the apology.

We have done a number of tutorials. One of my favorites was a Tutorial for Naive Christians on Magic-Its Just an Illusion.  Recently, we posted A Tutorial: How to Assess the Membership Contract at Fort Worth’s CityView Church  This is particularly relevant since it is a plant of The Village Church.

We call these preemptive posts. Our goal is to help out people who are trying to decide whether or not to join or to leave a church. I am going to post the apology and number the paragraphs (Thanks for the suggestion Bard Sargent). Before you read my analysis, I want you to look at it and see what you can find. I can assure that my analysis will not be complete and that many of you will find different  and even better items to discuss. 

Here are things to consider

  • What are they apologizing for?
  • To whom are they apologizing?
  • Is this just about Karen Hinkley?
  • What do they say about Karen Hinkley's actions
  • What are they planning to change in the future?
  • What didn't they discuss?

Also, you will be helping the TVC elders to see how their statement is being perceived.


TVC Apology

Covenant Members of The Village Church,

(1) We recently sent you an email regarding Covenant Members Jordan Root and Karen Hinkley that explained a tragic and heartbreaking situation, including a review of how we got to that point and where things currently stood. Since that time, we have soberly and prayerfully reflected on all the details of this situation, along with others in our past. We have also received feedback from people both inside and outside The Village, which has helped us evaluate ourselves.

(2) Sometimes dark and difficult situations cause us to take a magnifying glass and look through the lens to see deeper than we normally can. That has absolutely been the case in this situation, and we wanted to let you know where we are with everything, specifically some areas we are still evaluating and some areas where we have clearly failed and need to repent.

(3) When it comes to protecting children, we believe we have strong procedures in place and feel confident in how we’ve handled allegations and confessions regarding child abuse in any form, specifically in the situation with Jordan Root. In examining ourselves in this area, we have been affirmed in the policies and processes we have in place to protect children. That said, in the weeks ahead, we will do an external audit to confirm we are doing everything possible to protect children and to evaluate how we handle child safety, abusers, abuse victims and other related matters in a biblical and legal manner.

(4) Regarding Covenant Membership, we have not changed our theological or philosophical convictions on our Membership Covenant, member care and church discipline. These are beliefs rooted in Scripture, and we strongly believe they are necessary for our health and faithfulness as a church. However, in looking closely at the way we have handled some situations, we realize that there are clear and specific instances where we have let our membership practices blind us to the person in front of us, in turn leading us to respond in a way that doesn’t reflect our desire to be loving and caring to our members. In these situations, there have been cases where we have clearly not communicated the gentleness, compassion and patience that we are called to as elders of the church.

(5) We are deeply sorry for failing you in this way and are taking steps to follow up with the individuals we believe we have hurt so that we can apologize specifically and directly to them. We are also in the process of creating a new care and church discipline plan and hope to have it approved and in practice very soon. Regardless of all that we’re trying to do to improve in this area, though, the most important point is that we recognize that we must never allow our processes and procedures to take precedence over people, specifically those we are called to love, care, protect and sacrifice for as elders of the church. In everything our actions and tone must reflect the gentleness (Gal. 6:1) and humility (1 Peter 5:1-3) to which Scripture calls us. As James 2:13 says, mercy should triumph over judgment.

(6) In receiving more information and considering the way we’ve ministered to Karen specifically, we believe that we owe her an apology. Specifically, as it pertains to her desire for an annulment, we know that it would have served her better to have a clearer understanding from us as to what we do and do not consider biblical grounds for divorce or what we understand the Scriptures to define as divorce. In hindsight, we wish that we would have provided clarity to Karen in an immediate fashion and are saddened by our unpreparedness.

(7) Though the deep theological convictions that informed our initial response haven’t changed, this is a situation where we unfortunately allowed our practice to unnecessarily lead us rather than us leading our practice with patience, gentleness and compassion. We did not lead Karen and the church to a place conducive to peace, repentance and healing. Please know that we are reaching out to Karen and giving her this apology, and we have also made the decision to move forward in releasing her from membership. We will continue to support her financially through August as we committed, and our hope and prayer for her is that God would guide her to another gospel-believing church, where she can find healing and restoration.

(8) In receiving this email and hearing how we have and are responding to this situation, we understand that you may be wondering why this type of change in heart has happened now. Is it because of the media stories? If so, why have we let these stories make such an impact? The answer is basically what we began this email with: Sometimes it takes a difficult, unique and trying situation to help us realize our mistakes and move us to change. Naturally, these situations also bring more feedback to the table, and we have sought to humbly hear that feedback, be willing to see the log in our own eye and repent where necessary.

(9) Given the nature of the situation with Jordan and Karen, we also want you to be prepared for the potential of many media stories about our church to be published over the next several days. We are aware of this likely outcome and will not address members or former members specifically in any communication since we do not release this information to the public. This weekend, Matt will speak generally about member care and church discipline because the conclusion of our James series is providentially focused on this topic, but he will not speak directly to the situation at hand.

(10) In all of this, we are deeply grieved by the way this situation has brought reproach to the name of Jesus. Our hearts are heavy and broken over the things that have been said about our good and faithful God. We often talk about the “ongoing ethics of confession and repentance,” and as your elders, we know that we are not exempt from these ethics. In every way that we’ve mishandled this situation, along with others in the past, we repent and ask for forgiveness. As a church, we talk regularly about the power of the gospel to forgive all our sins, past, present and future. In this moment, we are clinging to that truth, knowing that we and everyone else involved in this situation desperately need the grace and mercy of Jesus.

– The Village Church Elders

Some thinking music

Dee's thoughts

Remember, I really want to hear from you. Some of you have already made some stellar observations. Please state the paragraph number to help us follow along. 

Paragraph 1

Do they stand by the email that they sent? Would they still have sent it retrospect?
They mention "all the others" in their past. How many were there? How badly were they hurt by the church? Why were there so many others? 
Why did it take them until Karen's situation to hit the fan before they reflected on "all the others?"

Paragraph 2

They claim that "dark and difficult situations" made them think about this apology. What do they mean by dark and difficult? Why did it take this story to spread on the Internet before they addressed it? Was that the dark and difficult situations? 

Paragraph 3

They said they "feel confident in how we’ve handled allegations and confessions regarding child abuse in any form, specifically in the situation with Jordan Root."

Why then does SNAP and other experts who advocate for strict control measures for pedophiles/child sex abuse voyeurs see it differently? Which confession of Jordan's are they satisfied with? He made lots of confessions to Karen over the years. My guess is that he has not yet made a full confession.

Why then do they feel so confidant? If they were to learn that he still hasn't told the full truth, would they lose their confidence? Are they sure that he doesn't have a new computer? Did they tell his home group about his proclivities right when he started attending after his return?

Paragraph 4

I am personally quite grateful that they state that they are standing by their membership covenant because it clearly brings closure to our arguments about the numerous abusive possibilities of such agreements. We are developing a resource page outlining the problems with church discipline and church covenants, particularly their ill-defined crime and punishment guidelines. This situation will stand as our final and closing argument as to why TWW does not recommend signing these things.

If appears they are saying that, as they tried to prevent Karen from leaving their "care," they merely wish that they had been a little nicer.

Once again, they mention *cases.* It sounds like they have a problem in this area. It is worrisome enough for me to advise people to be cautious in attending TVC or other churches in the Acts 29 alliance which follow the guidelines of the flagship.

Paragraph 5

They say that "We are deeply sorry for failing you in this way." They need to be more specific. Do they mean a kinder, gentler atmosphere or something else? They are redoing their care and discipline plan. What do they mean by *care?* Is this a euphemism to point our concerns like the lady who said "Go hush" to her husband? (See stories from TVC at Watchkeep.)

I would highly recommend that current members view the new church plan and consider whether or not they should sign it. You may have an out at this point. Also, see if they spell out whether or not you can leave the church if they retroactively discipline you. This is what they tried with Karen .And don't forget that they can discipline you if they hear you say "Go hush" to your hubby. Are you really prepared for all the sins they could come up with?

Paragraph 6

This paragraph appears to conflate annulment and divorce. Karen did not divorce. She was defrauded and did not have a valid marriage. We are looking forward to reading any references on annulments that they come up with from the Bible. It appears that they are frustrated that they were unprepared to deal with a smart woman who understood the law as it relates to fraud in marriage. Could they be planning to apply stricter new rules on annulments and divorce?

Paragraph 7

For me, this is the most troubling statement in the entire document. "Though the deep theological convictions that informed our initial response haven’t changed." Does this mean that they would have disciplined Karen and continued to believe Jordan Root's "walking in repentance?" However, they would do it the next time with a smile and a cup of tea.

They said "We did not lead Karen and the church to a place conducive to peace, repentance and healing." I guess they still believe that she needs to repent! For what? Not staying married to a child sex abuse voyeur? 

"Please know that we are reaching out to Karen and giving her this apology, and we have also made the decision to move forward in releasing her from membership." Karen left their church in February but they are releasing her now? Let this be a lesson to everyone. It appears that they still believe they are the only ones who can release a person from membership. Remember this when they ask you to sign the new and approved membership contract.

"We will continue to support her financially through August as we committed, and our hope and prayer for her is that God would guide her to another gospel-believing church, where she can find healing and restoration." They should let people know that the church supplied less than 10% of Karen's support. She has all the money she needs so TVC money will go into SIM's general fund.

I do not know what they mean by the word "restoration?" Restored to what? One thing is for sure. Karen will never sign another membership covenant. Well played, TVC.

Paragraph 8

At least they are admitting it. " In receiving this email and hearing how we have and are responding to this situation, we understand that you may be wondering why this type of change in heart has happened now. Is it because of the media stories? If so, why have we let these stories make such an impact?"

Can I tell you why I feel so sad. There are *others* who may have been abused in the same manner but they couldn't rally the troops. Yes, the squeeky wheel with access to the blogs gets the oil.

Let me say this to all of you who hve been hurt by this or other churches. There are a few blogs out here, TWW, Watchkeep, Spiritual Sounding Board and others who would be happy to advocate for you by telling your story. Please contact any of us. We guarantee confidentiality.

Paragraph 9

Matt Chandler will not speak to the specific issue at hand on Sunday. I know this may sound harsh, but I am guessing the lawyers are concerned about liability in this situation. Also, *Pastor* Chandler who vowed that TVC leaders love Karen never once wrote her or called her. That call could have nipped this all in the bud. Is he a "pastor" or a protected talking head? Is there a real pastor in the TVC house?

Paragraph 10 

They said  "Our hearts are heavy and broken over the things that have been said about our good and faithful God." I know this may come as quite a surprise, but most people are more concerned about how TVC leaders, not God, hurt Karen and others. Most Christians know that men are sinful and in need of grace. The question is, "Were they listening to God?

"In every way that we’ve mishandled this situation, along with others in the past, we repent and ask for forgiveness." After reading this entire missive, I think the only things that they are apologizing for is not being nice and not spelling out annulment in the membership covenant.

Predictions

  • TVC will create a more airtight membership contract.
  • They will add a clause for binding arbitration which his enforceable if signed.
  • They will say that divorce/annulment is rarely, if ever, permitted at TVC.
  • They will not define what they will "discipline." This allows them to discipline whatever their pet sin du jour is.
  • There is a high liklihood that Jordan Root will disappoint them. Keep an eye on that guy.

Now, its your turn.

Comments

A TWW Tutorial Analyzing The Village Church Elders Apology to Karen Hinkley and Others — 684 Comments

  1. Really – first? Ok, I’m putting my breakfast poached eggs on, then will do a thorough job reading this.

  2. I have written more about this here, http://christythomas.com/2015/05/29/the-village-church-apology/, but I believe that the only apology they are issuing (Paragraph 6) is that that didn’t tell Karen early enough that they would not approve the ending of the marriage for this infraction. I also believe that under church discipline, Karen would have been found guilty for being unsubmissive to her husband because of the way she kept pushing him for more full disclosure.

  3. I think this statement has been reamed thoroughly by now, so I’ll be succinct. I was of the opinion of Wade Burleson and MPT (at first) until I looked closer. To answer your question on the home page, Dee, what they’re apologizing for is being so darn gentle, compassionate, and patient that they just can’t always completely explain it!

    Would this gospel-believing church that Karen needs to go for restoration believe in Matthew 19:9?

  4. Please amend your title to put quotes around ‘apology’ or insert the word ‘purported’. There is nothing in it that is an apology to Karen.

  5. I think you’ve touched on most of what I wanted to say to this.

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that just about any reasonable system out there that allows for actual love and care for members, as opposed to Love and Care™, is not going to go too far afoul.

    The main issue I have here is this (and for a mega-church like TVC there’s no easy fix, but here it is anyway): As you said, Dee, “Is there a pastor in the house at TVC?”

    Where is the pastor who truly knows the former Root family on a personal, friendly level? How can you truly give advice to someone you don’t really know? Anyone can slap a Bible verse on a problem, but not everyone can truly walk alongside someone going through a difficult time and not only give Biblical advice, but GOOD advice, as a friend and fellow-laborer. They’re too big to know who they’re dealing with. It’s a a logical end of insisting on membership as opposed to actual knowledge and trust of the individuals who sit in your pews. You’re going to guilt and pressure newbies into joining, so you grow exponentially, yet you’re not equipped doctrinally or lovingly to carry out the actual duties of a pastor to so many people.
    The covenant is just a way to let any ol’ man and spiritual boy be an “elder” or pastor, really. You don’t have to actually dive into your congregants and KNOW them. You can address their issues by the good Gospel™ guidelines and apply discipline if they don’t listen. If they have truly realized this, as per #5 (or #6?), then maybe they can have a measure of progress in dealing with folks, almost in spite of their, in my opinion, ridiculous beliefs on authority.

    Those beliefs seem to be the root of the issue to me (pun not intended). Caring for a congregation that large on an intimate, truly loving level is a challenge I don’t believe anyone is up to (except the Holy Spirit), if you’ve tied your hands to the elder/pastor authority wagon. You just can’t.

  6. This apology is mostly about them (the TVC leadership) and are basically assuring “covenant members” that it could’ve been handled better, and in the future they will.

    But from my point of view, they are speaking in generalities and confessing nothing specific other than they owe Karen an apology. But an apology for what?

    For not communicating upfront that she was under church discipline?
    Apologizing for not “pushing her under their care” before this story went viral?

    It strikes me as a very wordy, non-specific type of communication that seems to say a lot, but actually commits to very little.

    Lastly, they assure members that their policies have protected children, but do not offer specifics as to how they have handled Jordan’s confessed molestation as a minor and his online viewing of sex crimes against children. How does an outside audit address this situation?

  7. What’s sad is that this will satisfy many people. If you show them how all they’re apologizing for is their tone of voice, then you’ll be bitter, angry, unforgiving etc., you know the schtick.

  8. I think you forgot: Who is apologizing? The institution generally, and anonymously? Or the various people for their individual statements and actions?

  9. If I may repost a portion of a comment elsewhere:

    Two questions immediately come to mind. One is, What are they repenting from? And the other is, Who is actually repenting?

    Is the institution repenting for the misuse and overreach regarding Karen’s Covenant? Is the institution repenting for blocking Karen from continuing her ministry through SIM? Is anyone in particular taking responsibility for their own actions and statements to Karen?

    I understand that the church has reinstituted funding for Karen’s next missionary mission, but as I understand it, since being defunded — and SIM has been effectively barred by TVC from employing her — Karen has already been forced to move on and plan for other employment in a different field: have they rescinded the ban that they put in place? Have they admitted the extortionary ban? Have they admitted to any lying? Or is the church asking forgiveness for all this in their blanket request for forgiveness?

    Does this end it? Or should specific repentance and requests for forgiveness keep trickling out as their spiritual “outside audit” continues? And will the church ever actually identify what they did that was wrong?

    Releasing Karen from membership is a far cry from saying that they were wrong to place her in disciplinary action retroactively in the first place — it’s NOT even an admission of wrong-doing. Funding the ministry that they forced her to abort is not helpful, unless that money will be funneled into her GoFundMe campaign.

    Did they repent from deliberately impugning Karen’s reputation? Did they even confess it? I’d not forgive them right away for sins that they continue to hide.

    There’s a big difference between admitting you stole a woman’s wallet or reputation, and only admitting that you didn’t return it fast enough once you realized you had it. What are they actually repenting of?.

  10. doubtful wrote:

    It strikes me as a very wordy, non-specific type of communication that seems to say a lot, but actually commits to very little.

    A.K.A., Christianese.

  11. We have also received feedback from people both inside and outside The Village, which has helped us evaluate ourselves.

    You know what irritates me about this line? They rebuked Karen for seeking and acting on advice received outside of TVC but they can receive and act on feedback they receive from elsewhere.

  12. Paragraph 2:

    It is hard to say what the dark and difficult situations line is about. It’s pretty broad and could apply to any aspect of this thing, plus other things besides. But I am not inclined to exclude the internet information as at least part of it, especially given paragraph 10 where they talk about people bad mouthing God because of them. That would certainly apply as a dark and difficult situation.

  13. formerly anonymous wrote:

    We have also received feedback from people both inside and outside The Village, which has helped us evaluate ourselves.

    You know what irritates me about this line? They rebuked Karen for seeking and acting on advice received outside of TVC but they can receive and act on feedback they receive from elsewhere.

    Ha! You and I speak the same language. Good point.

    Again, the basic assumption is that the church leaders know best, we just didn’t quite get it right this time around but we’ll do better next time!

    In #5, the real issue according to them was that their will wasn’t communicated properly and in good time, or this whole mess could have been avoided. We are therefore taking the necessary steps to insure this never happens again And that we look better and kinder in the process. Ie, close the loophole.

    I’ve realized something about myself in the past year or so. I’m an incurable optimist. All I want to do when I see an apology like this is believe the best and want to move on.

    I can’t help but seeing that though I believe they are actually sorry and realized they handled it wrong, they have no room in their theology to make the necessary changes to themselves, the leaders, so this will happen again. It’s systemic. The leaders didn’t fail necessarily, the theological and ecclesiastical system ran up against a perfectly matched opponent and lost. Now they look bad and are, to quote them,”perplexed” that someone wouldn’t want their care.

  14. “we unfortunately allowed our practice to unnecessarily lead us rather than us leading our practice with patience, gentleness and compassion”

    This sounds like a line from The Mystery Men.

    The Sphinx: If you do not lead your practice, your practice will lead you.” Wise!

  15. “Sometimes dark and difficult situations ”

    Translation: Honestly? We have no idea what we’re doing.

  16. Paraghraph 7

    they have said a few times that they have continued to support Karen financially. i would contest that as an outright lie based on their comment here:
    ” *Removal of Financial Support- As a result of Jordan’s termination, SIM has automatically shifted all financial support to Karen. As all supporters originally signed up to support both Jordan & Karen as a couple, each of us will have to decide how to proceed with our giving. The Village Church will make our decision on whether or not to reestablish support pending an ongoing conversation we’re attempting to have with Karen.”

    re-establishing support means they discontinued it

    that quote is from: http://www.scribd.com/doc/266168625/Initial-communications-from-TVC-to-members-about-Jordan-and-Karen-Root

  17. You all are giving this “apology” (I think) far too much credit in trying to analyze every thought and intention — though of course, words DO have meaning.

    Forgive me if you’ve read this elsewhere, but this is a (fictitious) transcript of a pre-sentencing statement:

    I would like to ask for forgiveness for entering the bank without the noblest of intentions. I was not loving and caring and as supportive to the bank tellers as I could have been. I also repent and ask forgiveness from all the people who may have inadvertently been offended by my brandishing a gun. I have determined to undertake special remediation in how to prevent this unfortunate mishap in the future. And I want to apologize specially to the clerk whom I directly threatened; I was unprepared for how to best handle this and accidents did occur. As of today I have returned all the money that I haven’t already spent on other things. And I hope that everyone involved appreciates how hard this has been for me. Thanks, to all of you who were adversely effected by my lack of training, poor handling of the robbery, and my misunderstanding of my obligation to ensure the security of those around me, and to foster a season of trust with the victims of this unfortunate event. And again my apologies and best wishes for all involved. Sincerely, …

  18. One other issue with this apology is this. Now, at least in their minds and in the minds of likeminded public figures, since they apologized, the ball is in her court to forgive them and reconcile. Now if she doesn’t respond, or says it’s not good enough, well now it’s just a case of watchbloggers and victims looking for blood, she can’t forgive, it was never about the truth and justice it was about getting publicity and her own way, etc.

    I think we know the drill.

    From a PR standpoint, that can’t have not crossed their minds.

  19. para 6: Contrary to their apology for lack of clarity, I think they made their opinion on annulment crystal clear to Karen: wanting her to slow down until they caught up, not to separate finances, to think about reconciliation, to walk closely with Jordan over the next while, to take some of the blame. IMO, they were simply unprepared for the idea of a legal annulment, which they’d not considered before.

  20. paragraph #6.

    “In receiving more information and considering the way we’ve ministered to Karen specifically, we believe that we owe her an apology.”

    What “more information” did they receive that caused them to believe that they owe her an apology? How is it that a “plurality of elders” was able to make such a poor decision in the first place? Is it truly a “plurality of elders” or an echo-chamber for a celebrity pastor?

    I make it a personal policy to never respond to an accusation void of specifics or to accept an explanation void of specifics.

  21. this infuriates me. The Village Church did not intend to ***permanently*** remove Jordan from ministry. They intended to remove him ***for a season****

    from steve hardin, the village church
    behalf of steve hardin, the village church
    sent feb 20 2015 5:50 pm
    to karen
    subject important update on jordan root
    A message on Jordan & Karen Root from the Village Church

    Dear Family, Friends, and supporters of Jordan & Karen Root,

    …(Consequences for Sin
    blah blah blah)
    *Removal from Ministry- Both SIM and The Village Church find Jordan disqualified from ministry leadership indefinitely. This includes all formal ministry roles for a season at The Village as well as SIM’s decision to terminate Jordan from employment.

    from steve hardin, the village church
    behalf of steve hardin, the village church
    sent feb 20 2015 5:50 pm
    to karen
    subject important update on jordan root
    A message on Jordan & Karen Root from the Village Church

    Dear Family, Friends, and supporters of Jordan & Karen Root,

    Consequences for Sin
    blah blah blah
    *Removal from Ministry- Both SIM and The Village Church find Jordan disqualified from ministry leadership indefinitely. This includes all formal ministry roles for a season at The Village as well as SIM’s decision to terminate Jordan from employment.

  22. per TVC letter dated march 13,2015 (when they finally disclosed to congregation his actual sin.)

    ‘Jordan returned to Dallas in December’. “his actions were reported to the appropriate legal authorities in early january”.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/265894579/TVC-email-news-about-Jordan-and-Karen-Root

    very slow reporting, and it doesnt say if they actually reported it or if they are saying something about we know karen reported it so we didnt bother, but she did… or we are sure that SIM reported so we didnt bother. i really really think this is going to be a point that they cant escape…not reporting, not disclosing to church members.

  23. GovPappy wrote:

    Again, the basic assumption is that the church leaders know best, we just didn’t quite get it right this time around but we’ll do better next time!

    yes, but trust us to care for you anyway because God wants it that way.

  24. Line 1:
    Covenant Members of The Village Church
    The *apology* is to current members– not Karen or other former members, and not to the reading public.
    The purpose is to prevent excessive loss of fannies in pews, because @pastormark.
    And for this audience and purpose, the *apology* was essential, and may be successful. Time will tell.
    For a similar example, see MacDonald’s *apology* regarding the shunned former elders. Likely nothing has changed, but it was a necessary business decision– or else @pastormark.

  25. doubtful wrote:

    This apology is mostly about them (the TVC leadership) and are basically assuring “covenant members” that it could’ve been handled better, and in the future they will.

    It is a crisis image management apology.

  26. I’m just adding commentary to your already excellent translation:

    para 7: I just love that they “have made the decision to move forward in releasing her from membership”. I mean, skipping the fact that she was already long gone (oops!), is this a multi-week inter-office “thick file” kind of thing? The sheer weight of formalities!

    “Please know that we are reaching out to Karen and giving her this apology…” Did they send out their apology to the church before Karen got it? If so, that’s passive-aggressive. Who counts most? Not you.

  27. “Paragraph 10

    They said “Our hearts are heavy and broken over the things that have been said about our good and faithful God.”

    This is the typical narcissistic deflection. They are implying that those who discuss this in ways they don’t like are insulting God. This one gets so old. They are conflating themselves with God. I have heard this more times than I can count from these guys.

  28. @ Patrice:
    One would hope that they tried to send it to her through her lawyers. If they didn’t then of course this shows it was only for public consumption.

  29. the church says in writing that their intention was for reconcilliation. it was never about karen “going to fast”, it was her wanting out.

    re temporary separation of Karen and Jordan:
    “like any redemptive separation, the hope was that, after an appropriate time of healing and repentance, the married couple would eventually be able to come back together for the sake of pursuing possible reconciliation.”
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/266531116/The-Village-Church-email-on-5-23-15-to-covenant-members-about-Karen-Hinkley-and-Jordan-Root

  30. para 9 “We also want you to be prepared for the potential of many media stories about our church” …but we won’t talk about them in any direct way, neither to explain what helped us change our minds nor those parts that we see as false. That would be gauche and anyway it’s no one’s business but our own. So we’ll speak about it vaguely and we know that’s how God wants it because of the James series we are working through.

  31. GovPappy wrote:

    I can’t help but seeing that though I believe they are actually sorry and realized they handled it wrong, they have no room in their theology to make the necessary changes to themselves, the leaders, so this will happen again. It’s systemic. The leaders didn’t fail necessarily, the theological and ecclesiastical system ran up against a perfectly matched opponent and lost. Now they look bad and are, to quote them,”perplexed” that someone wouldn’t want their care.

    I know! I almost feel sorry for them. Poor darlin’s. They can’t help themselves. Tsk. Tsk. (Shakes head.) Bless their little porcine hearts.

    Because bacon. 🙂

    (Well, if they can have insider language….)

  32. TVC puts in their letter to members that Jordan is restricted from childrens areas but i would love to point out that on a blog i recently read a former member of TVC said they had a gay person that once tried to attend that is refused to even set foot on any grounds of TVC

  33. Stan wrote:

    To answer your question on the home page, Dee, what they’re apologizing for is being so darn gentle, compassionate, and patient that they just can’t always completely explain it!

    That is priceless. Reminds me of John Wayne who said in one of his movies, the only way he could say more is if he said less.

    I found all their dialogue in the documents that way. It was all cheesy emotional drivel you have to parse to find any real substance. It sounded like sgmwikileaks- speak. Which makes sense, those guys were mentored by the CJ Mahaney’s and Pipers.

  34. A few things stand out:

    1. This piece is long. It didn’t need to be. They are using a lot of words. Why?

    2. As I mentioned elsewhere, they speak of Karen’s “repentance” and “restoration” as if either were necessary. This language implies that Karen is continuing in some sort of sin.

    3. They use the words “we” and “our” a lot. Safety in numbers and safety in relative anonymity. Karen and Jordan are called out by name, but not the people who mishandled this situation. I’ll believe in their repentance when I see individual elders and leaders stepping forward and explaining what they did wrong, why they did it, and how they plan to prevent this from happening again. I don’t want to see this in a collective letter, I want to see individuals acknowledging their own failures.

    4. “In receiving more information and considering the way we’ve ministered to Karen specifically, we believe that we owe her an apology.”

    I certainly hope that an apology is forthcoming. However, the following gives me pause:

    “Specifically, as it pertains to her desire for an annulment, we know that it would have served her better to have a clearer understanding from us as to what we do and do not consider biblical grounds for divorce or what we understand the Scriptures to define as divorce. In hindsight, we wish that we would have provided clarity to Karen in an immediate fashion and are saddened by our unpreparedness.”

    Do they think, then, that the only thing they have to “specifically” apologize for is that they didn’t immediately clarify their stand on divorce and what they “understand the Scriptures define as divorce?” Never mind that they hounded, stalked and defamed her.

    Moreover, the writers of this non-apology continue to use the word “divorce” when they know very well that Karen did not obtain one. My suspicion is that they use the phrase “what we understand the Scriptures define as divorce” as a way to weasel out of saying “annulment.” I suspect they are doing this because they really haven’t considered the nature or implications of annulment and don’t want everyone to see that they have eggs on their respective faces. This type of language also allows them to hint at the notion that Karen is a divorced woman, not an unmarried woman who was previously in a fraudulent marriage.

    I also notice that the writers of this letter seem very concerned with media attention and the reputation of both God and Jesus. In the first case, they are correct to be concerned. They’ve behaved badly and now everyone knows it.

    In the second case, while I am not a Christian in the conventional sense of the word, I do feel confident in saying that both God and Jesus are perfectly capable of handling the situation. I can’t help but wonder if this is a way of asking people to shut-up about all this, because, after all, people are saying nasty things about God! Silencing at its most despicable.

    I remain incredibly disturbed by all this. Particularly since I know that there are many people in similar situations who have not received this kind of attention from social media and bloggers. These folks are still suffering. They need help.

  35. GovPappy wrote:

    One other issue with this apology is this. Now, at least in their minds and in the minds of likeminded public figures, since they apologized, the ball is in her court to forgive them and reconcile. Now if she doesn’t respond, or says it’s not good enough, well now it’s just a case of watchbloggers and victims looking for blood, she can’t forgive, it was never about the truth and justice it was about getting publicity and her own way, etc.
    I think we know the drill.
    From a PR standpoint, that can’t have not crossed their minds.

    Oh yes. It crossed mine, for sure.

  36. sam wrote:

    re temporary separation of Karen and Jordan:
    “like any redemptive separation, the hope was that, after an appropriate time of healing and repentance, the married couple would eventually be able to come back together for the sake of pursuing possible reconciliation.”

    I find that reprehensible. They expected her to stay married to him. Do people not see how vile they are? Do they really put marriage before molested children?

  37. Paragraph 8: “Let me say this to all of you who who’ve been hurt by this or other churches. There are a few blogs out here, TWW, Watchkeep, Spiritual Sounding Board and others who would be happy to advocate for you by telling your story. Please contact any of us. We guarantee confidentiality.”
    .
    I’ve been a reader for a while now. I know that the above is true but I am so encouraged to see y’all reminding new readers about this policy during a big story. For most mega churches bad publicity is often one of the only ways victims’ voices can be heard. I urge readers who know about others who have suffered abuse to send this post to them. The day that megas understand that protecting the pastor perpetrator (and Jordan was in a TVC minister role) while oppressing and abusing the victim further, results in more bad consequences than dealing with misconduct and crimes openly, is the day they will finally stop doing this.
    .
    Writing about Karen, TVC, Gateway, Mars Hill etc acts as a general deterrent to ALL other would be petty tyrant pastors with a lack of moral compass. I am so proud of the courage and dedication that these bloggers demonstrate week after week. You are the only thin blue line standing between abusive pastors and their victims. Look at how The Dallas Morning News – one of the top 20 papers in the US – ran and hid from this story like a bunch of little ad revenue hungry cowards. So much for Don’t Mess with Texas. I’ll take one protective mom over that entire so-called news room any day. This story has been so hard for me because I am having to relive my own abuse. But it’s made me even more grateful for these dedicated watchdogs who don’t need to buy their ink by the barrels to make a difference. They just need to genuinely care about righting wrongs. I doff my cap to you all!

  38. para 10 Translation: “We are deeply deeply unhappy that the hoopla has made Jesus look bad. All kinds of things have been said by so many! And yeah, we’ve caused some of it. For the things we did wrong, which we won’t explain except that we haven’t always been kind/patient enough, we are very sorry. At our church, we always talk about how the ‘power of the gospel’ forgives our sins from all time, so we know that we are already forgiven, whether you do it or not. And we cling to the knowledge that we need Jesus, just as you do, so you’d better forgive.”

    It feels like that to me, but I may be too harsh here.

  39. dee wrote:

    Paragraph 7
    “We did not lead Karen and the church to a place conducive to peace, repentance and healing.”

    I’d missed that. They should never put repentance in the same sentence with Karen. This is inflammatory at worst and appallingly sloppy at best.

  40. One more thing:

    “We are also in the process of creating a new care and church discipline plan and hope to have it approved and in practice very soon.”

    Personally, I’d like them to be more transparent about what someone can expect if they wish to divorce or seek an annulment from an abusive/predatory/criminal/younameit spouse. They need to state, for example, that TVC isn’t necessarily going to support the best practice standards of the mental health, legal, or social work professions. They also need to point out that the eldership may provide “care” that may place one or both spouses in danger or at risk of legal/financial/social harm.

    They also need to point out that their policy is to prioritize the marriage over the interests of the spouses themselves. Anyone who seeks “counseling” or “care” through TVC should understand that the leadership has an agenda and that the person seeking counseling/care may well suffer for it.

  41. formerly anonymous wrote:

    We have also received feedback from people both inside and outside The Village, which has helped us evaluate ourselves.

    You know what irritates me about this line? They rebuked Karen for seeking and acting on advice received outside of TVC but they can receive and act on feedback they receive from elsewhere.

    Rank Hath Its Privileges.

  42. Lydia wrote:

    They expected her to stay married to him. Do people not see how vile they are? Do they really put marriage before molested children?

    Remember “Salvation by Marriage Alone” and how the Spiritual always trumps the Physical?

  43. @ Patrice:
    Or they were unprepared for “an uppity ” woman taking things into her own hands with her own choice of Godly counsel. And seeking God’s guidance on her own

  44. . Labor laws. slandering her ability to work, publicly. saying SIM is with them on this. implying she will never work in missions for them again.

    “The elders never rush into any decisions, especially those concerning the end of a marriage, and although this was an extremely difficult situation, our expectation was for Karen to follow the biblical reconciliation process in the Membership Covenant before making a final decision. Before we send out any missionaries, there is a process we walk through to evaluate the missionary and their readiness to go.
    “At this time, we do not feel comfortable sending Karen into missionary work. In addition, her current employer, SIM, has made the same determination. With that said, both The Village and SIM have agreed to support Karen financially through August to allow her time to heal and transition away from misssionary work.
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/266531116/The-Village-Church-email-on-5-23-15-to-covenant-members-about-Karen-Hinkley-and-Jordan-Root

  45. formerly anonymous wrote:

    Paragraph 4:
    We did not realize we needed to nuance Ack Ack!.

    Since 2004, every time I hear the word “nuance”, I think of JF “When I Served in VIETNAAAAM” Kerry.
    Or weasel wording in general.

  46. LT wrote:

    I am so proud of the courage and dedication that these bloggers demonstrate week after week. You are the only thin blue line standing between abusive pastors and their victims. Look at how The Dallas Morning News – one of the top 20 papers in the US – ran and hid from this story like a bunch of little ad revenue hungry cowards.

    And there is a story behind that, too. That is what happens with a mega here locally. It has so many members who are big advertisers, the local paper (online, too) won’t touch them.

  47. Stan wrote:

    To answer your question on the home page, Dee, what they’re apologizing for is being so darn gentle, compassionate, and patient that they just can’t always completely explain it!

    Have any of them starved to death because they couldn’t tear themselves away from Admiring The Man in the Mirror?

    (Or a cartoonist I knew many years ago who doodled a pic of Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler with a thought balloon of “It is difficult being so Good and Just.”)

  48. Check out Mark Driscoll’s well managed non-apology apology here: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/mark-driscoll-posts-open-letter-apology. This was written by Mark DeMoss.

    I would put money on Mark DeMoss having written the above “apology’. Note the weasel words especially when it comes to only vaguely acknowledging any misconduct while standing firm on present doctrine but going out of their way to say how deeply and profoundly they care about the victim/s (in conflict with years/months of actions to the contrary). Notice also the highly non-specific “plans” for improvement. Of course we want to improve and we are already reviewing policies blah blah but nothing specific. All TVC is missing is a fictitious adrenal gland condition or stoning of their children incident to work up the sympathy. I can see DeMoss with his crew at a conference table just spewing their flowery speech and laughing it up and making certain gestures that mock the lack of sincerity going into their latest masterpiece. If TWW accepted advertising the DeMoss Group could be their largest client.

  49. PGRH 4 i guess

    sam wrote:

    the church says in writing that their intention was for reconcilliation. it was never about karen “going to fast”, it was her wanting out.

    re temporary separation of Karen and Jordan:
    “like any redemptive separation, the hope was that, after an appropriate time of healing and repentance, the married couple would eventually be able to come back together for the sake of pursuing possible reconciliation.”

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/266990688/Covenant-Members-of-the-Village-Church

    from the 5/28/15 non apology

    “Specifically, as it pertains to her desire for an annulment, we know that it would have served her better to have a clearer understanding from us as to what we do and do not consider biblical grounds for divorce or what we understand the Scriptures to define as divorce. In hindsight, we wish that we would have provided clarity to Karen in an immediate fashion and are saddened by our unpreparedness.
    Though the deep theological convictions that informed our initial response haven’t changed, this is a situation…”
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/266990688/Covenant-Members-of-the-Village-Church

    soooo now that they cleared that up (not) is it just me or does everyone take this to mean that if you are married to a guy that admits to viewing child porn for 10 years (to his pastor, his wife, and to SIM) and only confesses cause he got caught that that is not grounds for divorce?????

  50. WillysJeepMan wrote:

    What “more information” did they receive that caused them to believe that they owe her an apology? How is it that a “plurality of elders” was able to make such a poor decision in the first place? Is it truly a “plurality of elders” or an echo-chamber for a celebrity pastor?

    It’s a Dallas Mega.
    GCB Country.
    What do you think?

  51. they keep saying how they agree to support Karen financially until august and that makes me think they are under contract until august and they have to or they will be open to even more legal liability in this matter. Can you imagine what would have happened to Microsoft, or Burger King, or any other corporation in AMERICA if they had done this stuff?

  52. This angers me so much, I’m clenching my teeth just typing about it:

    (10) “In all of this, we are deeply grieved by the way this situation has brought reproach to THE NAME OF JESUS. Our hearts are heavy and broken over the things that have been said about OUR GOOD AND FAITHFUL GOD.” (emphasis mine). How DARE they say that the rebuke to them directly has anything to do with Jesus??? It is THEY who failed, not Jesus. How dare they conflate themselves with Him? The same with their use of “God” when it is only they who were criticized. They are NOT God, they do not act for Him, they have nothing more to do with Him than does any other believer. What they do wrong, THEY do wrong, and no one mistakes their actions for those of God. No, gentlemen (and I use the term sarcastically), it is you, and you alone, who are so set up in your own conceit, who received well-deserved rebuke and criticism for putting your own egos ahead of the health and safety of children and Karen.

    They are certainly not the only church leaders who attempt to punish and/or silence victims, or to hide abusers, in an effort to make the leadership look so holy, nor are they the first to learn that that plan ALWAYS fails and shows just how awful they really are. Why do such people never learn from everyone else’s mistakes? I really don’t understand that.

    (I am unfamiliar with the workings of such a church, but I can imagine the “discipline.” Karen would be confronted with a panel of men who would relentlessly tell her she’s wrong, wrong, wrong, and must do as they say before she’s considered to be in repentence. If she grovels long enough, they may let her back into good standing. To those familiar with such a process, how far off am I?)

  53. where is Jordan today? just curious, maybe he is babysitting for the Chandlers

    “To my knowledge, Jordan was picked up from the airport by Richard Brindley and a deacon at the Dallas Campus upon his arrival. He stayed at Richard Brindley’s home for a few days before moving into the home of Randall Reed, a member of The Village Church who Jordan had no prior relationship with. This is the same Randall Reed who provided Jordan with legal counsel and representation in the annulment case free of charge, despite the fact that he does not typically practice family law. Richard Brindley gave Jordan the use of one of his vehicles from the time Jordan returned to the U.S. until shortly after The Village Church was tipped off about the possible story in The Dallas Morning News. The Village Church as an organization paid for at least six of Jordan’s counseling sessions.”
    http://watchkeep.blogspot.com/2015/05/karen-hinkleys-response-to-village.html

    Matt, show your public support of Jordans true repentance, have him babysit your kids!

  54. Please forgive the double post, but it suddenly occurs to me, in re-reading the apology, that maybe they really don’t understand what they’re doing wrong. Maybe they are so truly convinced that it’s all about them and their authority that it never occurs to them to re-think it, to see how that mindset causes these messes for them in the first place (I say “messes” because of their apology to Karen and others). Maybe they’re not avoiding the point as much as honestly failing to see it.

    I’m trying to be fair, but I confess that all of their comments about “caring” for Karen or “walking with her” or “counseling her” sound so stalker-like, invasive, and downright creepy, that I shudder when reading them. I’m trying to be fair, but it really does sound like they insist on forcing themselves into private lives under any and all circumstances. I hope I’m mis-reading it, but I can’t stop the creepy feeling when reading it.

  55. If I may quote the beginning of an article b y Roger Kimball, I think it addresses a lot of the angst I and probably many others feel over this TVC mess, and the leaders’ disingenuous attempts to mitigate it:

    “The Rotation Method” is one of the most amusing sections of Kierkegaard’s early classic Either/Or. The second most famous melancholy Dane has some good advice for dealing with irritating absurdity: cultivate arbitrariness when confronted with flagrant examples of it.

    There is someone whose conversation you find insufferable. Circumstances often throw you together. What to do? Kierkegaard’s narrator has some useful advice:

    I discovered that he perspired copiously when talking. I saw the pearls of sweat gather on his brow, unite to form a stream, glide down his nose, and hang at the extreme point of his nose in a drop-shaped body.

    Presto! What had been unbearably tiresome was suddenly transformed into an entertainment. Now, instead of avoiding that bore, you seek him and egg him on, waiting with breath bated for the drop-shaped pendant to form.

  56. just a reminder:

    Rain or shine, this Sunday, May 31st at 11:00 am, fellow SNAP Leader, Amy Smith, and I will be standing out in front of The Village Church Dallas Northway Campus (at the corner of Walnut Hill and Hedgeway) at 3877 Walnut Hill Lane, Dallas, TX 75229 to warn the congregation that there is a pedophile in their midst who is being “cared for” and protected by the TVC. They need to know that their kids are not safe to be anywhere near this charismatic but perverted criminal. His conduct poses a serious risk to children. They also need to be aware that there is a good possibility that there already are local victims of Jordan Root who need tending.

    Will you join us in solidarity to help protect kids in our own backyard? If there are local victims, they will know that they are not alone. It will take about 30 minutes of your time and you can remain anonymous. This event is intended to be informational and not confrontational. We would be most grateful for your participation.

    Reply to me ASAP if you will be there and I’ll be sure to have some extra signs or handouts for you.

    Thank you,
    Lisa Kendzior
    SNAP DFW
    817-773-5907

    Barbara Dorris
    http://www.snapnetwork.org/
    SNAP · PO Box 6416, Chicago, IL 60680-6416, United States

  57. @ Yasmin:
    They certainly are not addressing the primary problem: the church hierarchy, along with it’s consequent Covenant, is completely unscriptural. As with my parody of the bank robber who apologizes for various aspects of his robbery without ever apologizing for, or recognizing the illegality of, his robbery, these men completely miss, avoid, or skirt that fundamental error. It doesn’t matter how many are genuinely deceived and how many are merely predatory.

    What really bothers me the most about TVC is that they are now instituting a new bureaucracy to deal with the failure of the old bureaucracy, which missed the fact that it is the existence of these faceless codified check-box bureaucracies that caused the problem in the first place.

  58. i just want to say this again

    “for the sake of another spin TVC is using about how they arent authoritative or patriarchal~ UNSPIN:
    During this meeting there were some extremely troubling things said by both Richard and Matt. I was told that as Jordan’s wife, I would have a unique role in walking alongside him during this time. At one point, Matt Younger told me that 100 out of 100 times a couple is sitting on his couch, and one of them says “this is all his fault” and the other agrees, there is much more to the story. This stung, as it seemed that Matt was suggesting that I was partly responsible for Jordan’s fraud and perversion. I acknowledged to Matt that I knew I was not without sin in my marriage, but that I would not take responsibility for our return home and separation as it was caused by Jordan’s pedophilia and use of child pornography.” Kaern Root

  59. Paragraph 6
    In hindsight, we wish that we would have provided clarity to Karen in an immediate fashion and are saddened by our unpreparedness.

    Unpacking this sentence stirs some emotion. “saddened by our unpreparedness” Who talks like that? Unprepared, how, to better control people?

    My major issue with this formulation is they believe the failure is communications and they didn’t say it right. How about shut up and listen. One of the main differences between leadership and servantship is the ability to listen. This does not mean nodding your head and mouthing platitudes “we care”, it means respecting the other person as an equal and considering whether you should be the one changing.

    Near as I can tell they did speak clearly, both in words and deeds, and from the top it is about submit, obey, and discipline. Maybe good weekly advice for pastors is to talk only at the podium and listen the other 167 hours.

  60. Most of the guys i work with in a homeless outreach here are convicted sex offenders. i am getting maybe tired, but i was thinking a great idea would be to tell them they will be joyfully received at the local Acts 29 church here and they just have to tell pastor that yes, i am repentant. If any of them have ex wives then the pastor can go find those sinful women and make sure they reconcile their marriages and get right with God

  61. Flicker wrote:

    There’s a big difference between admitting you stole a woman’s wallet or reputation, and only admitting that you didn’t return it fast enough once you realized you had it. What are they actually repenting of?.

    absolutely! i love this comment!

  62. I’m not sure if it fits here, I just recalled Jon Adams quote on ideology: “a systematic way of going wrong with confidence”. After hearing from some of the TVC defenders it appears this 200 year old observation is true of theology also.

  63. Tim wrote:

    We’re sorry we didn’t tell her more clearly why we expected her to do what we say.

    that’s exactly how it reads to me

  64. WillysJeepMan wrote:

    How is it that a “plurality of elders” was able to make such a poor decision in the first place? Is it truly a “plurality of elders” or an echo-chamber for a celebrity pastor?

    I’m not in the room with them but likely it is the latter. I’d very surprised if they were nominated for age, wisdom, and independent thinking.

  65. @ Flicker:
    typo, it’s John Adams, not Jon, second US president, the whole quote is
    “an organized collection of seductive hopes and wishes ,a systematic way of going wrong with confidence.”

  66. formerly anonymous wrote:

    “We have also received feedback from people both inside and outside The Village, which has helped us evaluate ourselves.”
    ———–
    You know what irritates me about this line? They rebuked Karen for seeking and acting on advice received outside of TVC but they can receive and act on feedback they receive from elsewhere.

    Good catch.
    They have one standard for themselves, another for Karen.

  67. Karen: Our daughter is one of the sex abuse survivors from the SGM lawsuit. We are and will continue to pray for you. We are proud of you for taking a stand for the truth and protection of little kids. Please feel our love and encouragement through internet, if we could reach through and give you a big hug, we would! By following God and making the extremely difficult choices that you have had to make during this last year, you are being used by God to raise awareness and hopefully bring real change within the Christian church globally in how ministries handle sex abuse. Thank you for being willing to do that for the sake of children, even in the midst of all you are personally enduring.

  68. To Karen:

    Having read many missionary biographies over the last 40 years, it always struck me that they, as a subset of Christians, for the most part, were hard-working, serious, unselfish, and certainly not prone to seek the limelight. The events of the past few months, particularly the last few weeks, must have been so invasive and horrifying to you, not to mention gut-wrenchingly painful.

    None of us can begin to imagine not only the private sorrow that you’ve endured but the gross indignity of having your name splashed about by people who think they know you, and know what is best for you…..well, I can’t even find words.

    I hope and pray that you have all the support and love that you need from those whom you choose to seek it from. May our God surround you with those who will treat you with kindness, respect, encouragement, and understanding to afford you the healing you so richly deserve.

    From Amy Carmichael (missionary to India):

    “We say, then, to anyone who is under trial, give Him time to steep the soul in His eternal truth. Go into the open air, look up into the depths of the sky, or out upon the wideness of the sea, or on the strength of the hills that is His also; or, if bound in the body, go forth in the spirit; spirit is not bound. Give Him time and, as surely as dawn follows night, there will break upon the heart a sense of certainty that cannot be shaken. “

  69. What bothers me most is the lack of Jordan in this doc. They believe that what they’re doing about him is just right, no mention needed. Yet, the center of this whole issue, the actual reason it happened, is that Jordon got off watching children being trashed, while married AND a missionary. But they disappeared it as if it never happened.

    I find that unforgivable. One can be an authoritarian, legalistic, overly business-minded and still have the courage to look clearly at the fundamental issue here. That’s what makes me feel disgust for them.

  70. formerly anonymous wrote:

    We have also received feedback from people both inside and outside The Village, which has helped us evaluate ourselves.

    You know what irritates me about this line? They rebuked Karen for seeking and acting on advice received outside of TVC but they can receive and act on feedback they receive from elsewhere.

    Seriously great point !

  71. In Alabama, there have been several recent cases of female school teachers arrested for having sex with male students. Wonder how TVC would counsel their husbands? Bet there’s a double standard if the wife admitted to fantasizing about a particular student…but I could be wrong. It is hoped that these scenarios will be among those considered while shaping new policies. Cause if it’s happening with alarming frequency here, then you know it has to be happening in Texas.

  72. sam wrote:

    At one point, Matt Younger told me that 100 out of 100 times a couple is sitting on his couch, and one of them says “this is all his fault” and the other agrees, there is much more to the story.

    I am familiar with this one. I known several women of abusive husbands whose pastor said something like this to them when they got the courage to speak about it.

    This is the sin leveling problem. She has to take responsibility for her husbands behavior in some respect. EVen though these pastors teach comp doctrine as in the husband is her “spiritual head”. It boggles my mind how contradictory they are and don’t see it.

  73. Lydia wrote:

    I find that reprehensible. They expected her to stay married to him. Do people not see how vile they are? Do they really put marriage before molested children?

    Not to belabor it but yep, a lot of Christians have made marriage into an idol.

    Also, they expect people to live by standards (eg., staying married to a pedophile) that you know they themselves would not be willing to live under, nor would they expect any child of theirs to abide by that, either. These standards only apply to other people.

    Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (Luke 11:46)

  74. Patrice wrote:

    I’m just adding commentary to your already excellent translation:
    para 7: I just love that they “have made the decision to move forward in releasing her from membership”. I mean, skipping the fact that she was already long gone (oops!), is this a multi-week inter-office “thick file” kind of thing? The sheer weight of formalities!
    “Please know that we are reaching out to Karen and giving her this apology…” Did they send out their apology to the church before Karen got it? If so, that’s passive-aggressive. Who counts most? Not you.

    I asked this of Dee on the previous thread. She responded that as of 10:00 pm last night Karen had heard nothing from TVC/Chandler in way of an apology. This article was all for media and soothing the troops consumptiom.

  75. @ sam:

    They seem to be disingenuous about the support. What I understood is SIM is supporting her until August and TVC was only 10%, which she declined.

    Remember, she wanted to tell the truth about their return to TVC supporters of that ministry and TVC said no.

  76. Bridget wrote:

    I asked this of Dee on the previous thread. She responded that as of 10:00 pm last night Karen had heard nothing from TVC/Chandler in way of an apology. This article was all for media and soothing the troops consumptiom.

    I didn’t see that, thanks.

    All I have are vulgar words for these misogynistic sly nasty creepoids. That’s it, as far as I am concerned. No more grace for them, not from me.

    Ugh!

  77. The De-weaslification of TVC’s Apology:

    This is not intended as parody, but rather a rewrite to say what TVC should have said. Words omitted and new language added in CAPS.

    (1) We recently sent you an email regarding Covenant Members Jordan Root and Karen Hinkley that explained a tragic and heartbreaking situation THAT WE CAUSED, AND WHAT WE DID. Since that time, WE WONDERED WHAT AND WHERE WE WENT WRONG, THOUGH OTHER PEOPLE COULD SEE IT.
    (2) WE HAD NO IDEA. WE JUST DON’T SEE IT. we have clearly failed and need to repent.
    (3) When it comes to protecting children, we ARE NOW KEEPING Jordan Root AWAY FROM THEM. WE affirmed IN THE WAY WE protect children. That said, in the weeks ahead, we ASK OTHERS TO HELP US UNDERSTAND HOW TO PROTECT CHILDREN in a biblical and legal manner.
    (4) Regarding Covenant Membership, we have not changed our theological or philosophical convictions on our Membership Covenant, member care and church discipline. WE BELIEVE THAT WE ARE ACTING ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE. However, in looking closely IN FOLLOWING OUR DOCTRINAL LEGALISM EXEMPLIFIED BY OUR MEMBER COVENANT WE WERE NOT loving and caring; WE HAVE NOT BEEN GENTLE COMPASSIONATE OR PATIENT.
    (5) KAREN, We are deeply sorry WE FAILED you AND hurt YOU AND apologize specifically and directly to YOU. We also plan and hope to IMPROVE THE WAY WE DO THINGS, ESPECIALLY REAGRDING DISCIPLINE GUIDLENES. WE DO NOT REGARD THIS AS IMPORTANT, though, we NOW recognize that we must love, care, protect and sacrifice for the church. In everything our actions and tone must HAS NOT REFLECTED gentleness and humility. WE HAVE SHOWN JUDGMENT WITHOUT MERCY.
    (6) AS OUTRAGE HAS MADE UNAVOIDABLY CLEAR REGARDING Karen specifically, we owe her an apology. KAREN, WE APOLOGIZE TO YOU NOW, AND IF THERE IS ANYTHING WE CAN DO TO MAKE THINGS RIGHT, WE WILL DO IT TEN TIMES OVER. WE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT an annulment WAS, WE THOUGHT IT WAS THE SAME as divorce. we wish that we HAD AN IDEA ABOUT IT VIZ. KAREN, BUT SADLY, WE DIDN’T.
    (7) WE STILL BELIEVE WE WERE RIGHT. WE JUST LACKED ANY patience, gentleness and compassion. AND WE CAUSED Karen TO LOSE PEACE, and DENIED the church repentance and healing. THOUGH WE BELIEVE KAREN HAS STILL NOT REPENTED. WE APOLOGIZE to Karen AND RELASE her from membership IN CASE THERE’S ANY DOUBT THAT SHE HAD THE RIGHT TO RESIGN. We WOULD continue to support her financially through August EXCEPT THAT WE ALREADY MADE HER QUIT SIM. WE HOPE AND PRAY THAT KAREN FINDS ANOTHER church, JUST LIKE US.

    This is where the apology actually ended.

  78. Having many grandchildren In their teens and 20’s, I was encouraged to read the Hunger Games books. Really good books by the way. I think that Karen is “the Mockinjay” of the anti spiritual abuse movement. You go Karen. I applaud your courage

  79. Sad stuff. I’ve got no personal stake in this but tvc apologizes, feels blessed that God has now shown them a better way: they’re humbled by the experience, lauded for their honesty, some how they’ll reevaluate and more or less be a kinder, more gentle church. I would gather there were real tears shed in thanks for all that God has done for tvc. Karen Root was God’s instrument in delivering this message to us and for that we are thankful. Now, Karen, you are released from tvc. Ms. Root will probably be picking up the pieces of her life for years, tvc will be hailed as the humble heroes. That kinda sucks.

  80. 1) We have received feedback from our membership secretary and our church treasurer which, after prayerful consideration, leads us to see that we have failed to communicate how we are loving our Covenant members and serving them well over the past few months. We have also sought the counsel of many men who agree with us and from whom we have learned much, and they have assured us that we need to make a course correction because they are receiving similar feedback from their membership secretaries and treasurers. We want to assure you that we have listened and have received their counsel humbly and we are pressing into their counsel and adjusting some of our communications so that you do not misunderstand our love and care for you in the future.

  81. (2) Sometimes dark and difficult situations caused by people who are not leaning into Jesus in turn forces us to take a magnifying glass and look through the lens. We have looked at the tiny flaws that the magnifying glass has revealed upon closer examination. As a further precaution, we have looked outside The Village and sought the professional counsel of Dr. Fundystan to probe even deeper than we normally can, and we will communicate his findings to you as soon as we receive them. It is absolutely the case that these examinations have been painful but necessary in these difficult situations caused by those people who refuse to lean into Jesus and trust him. We want you to know that we are still evaluating these very tiny things which are very difficult to see in this dark place in which we have been put by those people. We have clearly failed to keep the poison of those people from spreading to you, and we repent for our failure to do that. We tried very hard to prevent that, but we failed and are in deep need of the grace of the Gospel to wash over us during this dark season.

  82. We believe we have done everything humanly possible to prevent harm from coming to your children. However, there are dark places on the internet where doubt is sown in your hearts about our love and care for your children. We have the strongest possible procedures in place, but our friends are helpfully going to review our strong procedures. We will of course communicate their report which will show beyond doubt that we have served you well. As you know, allegations are easily made by people who do not understand our approach to protecting children, specifically how we’ve handled confessions regarding child abuse in any form, specifically in the situation with Jordan Root. We have phrased that as gently and as passively as we possibly can, and we trust that you hear our hearts in this. In examining ourselves in this area which has just recently come to our attention, we have been affirmed by people who have previously affirmed our leadership in the policies and processes we have in place to protect children. That said, because no church is perfect, we will covenant with our insurers to secure an external audit by people we trust, and you can be assured that the audit will confirm we are doing everything possible to protect children. It will be our joy to show that how we handle child safety, abusers, abuse victims and other related matters is totally Biblical and legal, despite the suspicion that has been cast upon our church family by people who are not leaning into Jesus.

  83. 4) Regarding Covenant Membership, we have not changed our theological or philosophical convictions on our Membership Covenant, member care and church discipline, despite the efforts of those people in the dark places of the internet. These Biblical beliefs are rooted in our interpretation of Scripture, and we strongly believe we must certainly be correct, and therefore they are necessary for our health and faithfulness as a church. However, because no church is perfect and no leader is perfect, in looking closely at the way we have handled a very, very few sensitive and difficult situations, we realize that there are clear and specific instances where we have let our membership practices which are totally Biblical and rooted firmly in the bedrock of Scripture, blind us to the fragile and wounded person in front of us who is carrying a great weight of baggage. Not realizing the weight of the baggage, we were led to respond in a way that doesn’t appear to reflect the heart that we have to love and care for our members as lovingly and caringly as we can. In these situations, admit our sin of not effectively communicating the gentleness, compassion and patience that we are called to as elders of the church, though we have run to Jesus so many times when we have been misunderstood. We confess that we continue to fail you in this, and we earnestly seek your forgiveness for our clumsy communications.

  84. It seems to me TVC personnel are a lot like Jordan Root. They make some sort of show of repentance after they’ve been outed.

  85. Gram3 wrote:

    1) We have received feedback from our membership secretary and our church treasurer which, after prayerful consideration, leads us to see that we have failed to communicate how we are loving our Covenant members and serving them well over the past few months. We have also sought the counsel of many men who agree with us and from whom we have learned much, and they have assured us that we need to make a course correction because they are receiving similar feedback from their membership secretaries and treasurers. We want to assure you that we have listened and have received their counsel humbly and we are pressing into their counsel and adjusting some of our communications so that you do not misunderstand our love and care for you in the future.

    that was sooo funny that i tweeted it one line at a time, i am almost fall on the floor laughing

  86. shadow wrote:

    Karen Root was God’s instrument in delivering this message to us and for that we are thankful.

    It is Karen Hinkley

  87. Shannon H. wrote:

    It seems to me TVC personnel are a lot like Jordan Root. They make some sort of show of repentance after they’ve been outed.

    Perfect comment. Exactly. Two peas in a perverted pod

  88. 5) Brothers and sisters, we are deeply sorry for failing you in this way and are taking steps to follow up with the wounded and sensitive individuals who have, out of their deep pain, misunderstood our love and care for them. We are earnestly pursuing them so that we can love on them and seek their forgiveness for not accounting for their woundedness and pain and for not being sensitive in our communications with them. As a demonstration of our contrition, we are also in the process of creating a new and more loving and caring love and church discipline plan, and it will be our joy to begin implementing that ASAP whenever we see that someone is in need of our love and care. Regardless of all that we’re pressing into these glitches in our member love plan, and we are trusting Jesus to improve in this area, though, the most important point is that we have very recently, in the past two days or so, begun to recognize that we must never allow our processes and procedures to be perceived as taking precedence over our covenant family, specifically those we are called to love, care, protect and sacrifice for as elders of the church. In everything our actions and your actions and tone must reflect the gentleness (Gal. 6:1) and humility (1 Peter 5:1-3) to which Scripture calls us. As James 2:13 says, mercy should triumph over judgment except when the elders, your loving servant leaders determine otherwise in consultation with ourselves.

  89. Paragraph 4

    Does this paragraph remind anyone of the “apology” that Bob Jones University issued for its counseling practices? In essence they also said they still believed in their “biblical” counseling . . . they just wished they would have been nicer about communicating the terrible theology that they were giving people. I would have felt better about this apology from TVC if they had admitted some bad aspects of their church covenant. Now, as Dee pointed out, they will likely just hunker down and make the covenant terms even worse, just as BJU has implemented procedures to use their “biblical” counseling without getting into trouble. The root problem has not been addressed.

  90. Because of the authoritarian controlling environment that is evidenced by the public shaming and mistreatment of Karen Hinkly I fear that there are molestation victims at TVC that are afraid to speak out. If not molested from Jordan Root then from other child predators that exist in this church which has a policy of not informing members of serious criminal actions of some of its members. that is why it is important to bring the proceedures TVC took into the light in the Karen Hinkley incident. I would like to ask that if any TVC church members attended either this Feb 11th home group or the meeting at the cafeteria that was held to discuss Karen Root would speak up (even if privately) to the people that run this blog or any other blog you see as safe and confidential. i think this blog has their phone numbers and emails at the top.

    February 11:
    “Karen was told that she couldn’t come to her long time home group to say good-bye. Instead, Pastor Brindley attended the group and talked to them for a long time.From that point on, Karen did not hear from many of her former friends and supporters.”

    March 11: Pastor Steve Hardin called a church meeting to answer questions about Karen Root.

    Pastor Steve Hardin sends a note to members of TVC and Karen’s supporters that he would hold a meeting on March 14 in the church cafeteria to address concerns. This is 2 weeks after Karen told them to stop harassing her.

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2015/05/26/part-2-the-village-church-doesnt-discipline-the-internet-child-sex-abuser-but-disciplines-his-wife/

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/265897815/TVC-announcement-for-an-open-church-member-meeting-to-discuss-Karen-Root

  91. 6) In humbly receiving new an unanticipated information which we had no way of knowing, and in running to Jesus to help us consider the way we’ve communicated our love and care to Karen specifically, we believe that we owe her an apology for our failures. Specifically, as it pertains to the matter of her desire to be released via a civil annulment from her marriage covenant and vows, we now realize after much prayerful consultation with our membership secretary and church treasurer and Google analytics that it would have served her better for her to have come to us before she contemplated entering into a covenant marriage and prior to signing her membership covenant to seek our understanding of the obligations which we anticipated the possibility of every holding her to.

    We are so sorry that we failed to lead her to trust the men whom God has appointed to shepherd her soul through the many difficult trials and dark places of life. We are sadly aware that there are people who have compromised Biblical truth and who are lax about vows and who have invented novel and supposedly biblical grounds for divorce or so-called annulment. We shall remain faithful and not compromise, and you can trust us. We are deeply grieved that we did not communicate our particular and serious understanding of what we understand our interpretation of the definition of divorce according to our interpretation of our definition of the Bible which must be right because God has appointed us as shepherds over his flock which he has so graciously privileged us to lead with love and gentleness.

    God hates divorce, as the Bible plainly says. And if God hates divorce, then we may be certain that he hates annulment even more because it totally eradicates a marriage and what God has joined together let no man separate, even the magistrates who have been placed in authority over us for our benefit and to whom he instructs us to submit, with the sole exception being the elders, both campus and central. As the ones who must give an account for your souls, we are burdened with coming up with a definition for divorce, and we confess that we did not complete our divorce section of the membership covenant before these tragic and sad and completely unforseeable circumstances overtook us totally by surprise. We are humbled by that realization and realize that we must press into Jesus with even greater effort.

    In hindsight which is the only possible way to have seen this coming, we wish that we would have provided the clarity of the above paragraph to Karen before she signed her membership covenant and made her solemn marriage vows before God. We are saddened by our failure to immediately clarify to Karen upon her notice to us of Jordan’s struggles that our deliberations over what divorce means in the context of the membership covenant which she had previously signed and which gave us carte blanche ex post interpretive authority, was not yet complete.

    This is a burden which we will carry, and we beg your forgiveness and gently remind you that God will protect you from our actions if you only trust in us. We pray that this brings clarity to these issues which we failed to make clear previously. Please keep in your heart and mind that it is your privilege to consider this an amendment to your previously-signed covenant, and bring your elders joy by joyfully submitting to our humble servant leadership in this matter, without grumbling, complaining or commenting on blogs.

  92. Comments like this one made by Laura S. on watchkeep blog today are why Karen is a hero, and TVC a zero.

    Karen,
    I want to personally thank you so very much for your bravery and your refusal to be silent in order for children to be protected. In the timeline that you provided, I was able to calculate that my own son participated in one of the organizations where Jordan worked many years ago. Two days ago, I sent an email to this organization, asking for details of Jordan’s capacity at the time of his employment with them. I have not yet received a response but will press further if I do not hear from them soon.

    I bluntly asked my now 16-year-old son if he has ever been a victim of abuse by anyone, and he stated that he has never been violated. I pray to our Holy God that this is true. My hope is that all the organizations involved can proactively reach out to other parents like myself, so that the parents can have these crucial conversations with their kids.

    Again, Karen, I give you my heartfelt thanks for shining the light of truth. God bless you exceedingly, abundantly above all you ask or think.

  93. I hereby nominate Gram3 for a Nobel Prize in Literature. I think the category is…FICTION!

  94. The beginning of paragraph 4 is all I need to read. Despite all of the issues caused by the covenant and TVC’s attempt to enforce it at all costs, it is still “theologically sound” in their eyes. They’re keeping their covenant and authoritarian structure firmly in place, and the only changes will be to add specifics so that they can plug up the “annulment” loophole that was exposed by Karen. Oh yeah, and enforce it using slightly nicer language.

    This is damage control that would make Mark Driscoll and CJ Mahaney proud. Way to go, Matt.

  95. Maybe it’s just me, but I wish they had signed names to the letter rather than just “TVC Elders.” I kind of get it as they want to appear as a united front and be all official, but on a personal level it seems, well, impersonal. Who exactly is “apologizing?”

  96. Paragraph 6: “…brought reproach to the name of Jesus.”

    Has it? I haven’t seen a single person say, “The Village Church is abusive, therefore Jesus of Nazareth must not be a nice guy either.” It seems to me that this has only brought reproach to the names of The Village Church, Matt Chandler, Jordan Root, and Acts 29. And apparently they’ve forgotten that there’s any distinction between them and Jesus.

  97. Kathryn Keller wrote:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I wish they had signed names to the letter rather than just “TVC Elders.” I kind of get it as they want to appear as a united front and be all official, but on a personal level it seems, well, impersonal. Who exactly is “apologizing?”

    Matt Chandler has a term for people that don’t sign their names: Narcisstic Zeros.

  98. I set aside other writing projects I had planned for today and basically spent the entire day (May 29th) immersed in material about The Village Church and their conflicts with Karen Hinkley. I focused on primary sources found in the evidence documents posted at Amy Smith’s Watch Keep site on May 20 and May 27.

    I am highly aware that those two posts cannot give the entire picture, but they do present 19 documents totaling 37 pages of information, plus 5 text messages. That is a substantial amount of detail to consider. And I went through them all in one day because I find that process lends itself to noticing certain kinds of big picture issues and patterns of behavior.

    So, here are a few initial observations, reflections, and opinions from my word-for-word reading of these materials, for your consideration.

    As far as I could find, no staff or elders from The Village Church (TVC) ever referred outright to the membership covenant as a legal contract. However, the language used surrounding it seems to enforce the idea that it carries the responsibility of a binding legal contract that requires signers to live up to it, to obey those in authority, and to submit their personal decisions to these overseers upon demand – or else suffer the consequences of church discipline.

    I could be wrong about this assumption, but – assuming the corporation board, elders, and staff of TVC do see their membership covenant as having the weight of a binding/legal agreement – then, logically, that seems to me to imply they also willingly take on some degree of legal responsibility for all people and actions under their presumed “legal authority.” If so, I wonder: Are they really as protected organizationally and legally as they may think? What if their communications to and about Ms. Hinkley did exceed legal bounds, and therefore constituted harassment and/or defamation in the eyes of the law (though apparently not their theology)? What if their “intentional pastoral care plan” for Mr. Root proves to involve insufficient expertise on the part of counselors and ministers for addressing the serious issues involved – and who bears legal responsibility if there is moral failure and children are harmed as a result?

    It turned out that the TVC Membership Covenant did not address annulment. First, it struck me that systems based in compliance can never create a comprehensive document that covers every specific situation, as happened here. That is a basic flaw that shows up in legalistic systems, the counterpart being that spelling out everything keeps people immature; that is the function of Law as a pedagogue. Even if leaders prove themselves transparent and trustworthy, that does not change the facts that we were designed to grow up in Christ and that legalism automatically blocks maturity.

    Second, if I understand correctly some of the legal implications about annulment versus divorce, the reconciliation approach promoted by TVC elders and staff could actually have resulted in future unintended consequences adversely affecting child safety issues. How? Apparently, a reconciled Mrs. Root or a divorced Ms. Hinkley would have to adhere to spousal confidentiality about her ex-husband. Wouldn’t it be ironic (and inexcusable) if the TVC elders’ attempts to exercise oversight slowly and perfectly in the situation of one woman could ultimately lead to failures in protection that traumatized many?

    In my opinion, this covenant system at The Village Church shows crass legalism. That bottom line problem will remain if they do not get rid of their contractual form of membership covenant AND the underlying flawed thinking that supports their overlording system of legalese.

    But, if there is a substantial change in both perspective and practices on leadership and membership, then that could prove the best apology and apologetic for TVC. However, I’m unsure how much hope to hold forth, as it appears from the TVC elders’ 2-page “apology” to Ms. Hinkley that they still hold fast to doctrines which lead to bondage and show contempt every disciple’s personal responsibility before God for his/her own actions.

    And I suspect that, until there is a deep dismantling of the underlying doctrines of authoritarian leadership, one of the things the elders, staff, and non-profit board least want will continue – scrutiny of and media stories about The Village Church – because Christian leaders were meant to teach, role-model, and persuade people of the truth, not control the people of God to elicit behavioral conformity to extra-biblical covenants.

  99. Paragraph 10
    “Our hearts are heavy and broken over the things that have been said about our good and faithful God.”
    No, very few people said anything about God, most people realize God isn’t the problem. But they’ve had plenty to say about Christians, TVC, and the church in general. I wonder if their hearts are heavy and broken about that?

  100. (7) The deep theological and clearly Biblical convictions that shaped and informed our initial response which we hastened to make available to you within a few months of our initial notice from Karen and which some people in dark place on the internet have misinterpreted because they hate Christ’s bride, have not changed. We are pressing into the truth that God never changes, and we are to be like God, so we implore you to hear our hearts that we desire to be constant through this dark season so that our light may be seasoned with salt to soothe the wounds of the hurting people whom God has so graciously placed among us and which we are privileged to love and serve humbly.

    This is a complex and unusual situation for a church and her elders to face, and we admit that we have been perplexed by many things. In our perplexity about this unfortunate situation which has occurred, we unfortunately allowed our zeal for our precious and deep doctrines of grace to lead us unnecessarily rather than us leading our practice of love which we desire to lavish upon our members with patience toward those who resist our love and care, gentleness toward those who require our gentle guidance and compassion for those who are weak. We are grieved that we failed to lead Karen well and to serve her well. We failed to lead Karen to a place conducive to peace within faithfulness to her covenant vows. We failed to lead Karen to repentance from her sin. We failed to lead Karen to press into our love and care to find healing in our gentle and compassionate care and love. Also the church. Hebrews tells you to have confidence and trust that your leaders are reaching out to Karen, even when she retreats from us in her pain, and we are giving her this apology for our many failures to communicate our hearts to her. We have taken the counsel of many who have helped us to see the small things we had overlooked more clearly, specifically the omissions which we could not have foreseen the need to specify in the membership covenant under approximately section 10. The exact section may vary from time to time as unforeseeable circumstances arise, but we will be diligent to communicate any changes we make at any time to the membership covenant that you have signed at our earliest convenience. In consideration of our many failings in specifying the particular grounds and circumstances which might possibly make a divorce or what we at any time define as divorce justifiable, we have graciously and humbly run to Jesus with our dilemma, and he has released us to move forward toward making a decision about whether it is wise and good in our eyes to move forward and press toward the goal of releasing Karen from the covenant vows she solemnly made in a prior version of our membership covenant. In keeping with our Trinitarian theology of marriage, we shall issue the release in triplicate which shall say, “We release you. We release you. We release you.” Whereupon she shall be released and free to join a covenant community from the list of gospel-centered churches who agree with us. We confess that there has been a delay in processing the required Trinitarian release, but that is due to our inability to find the carbon paper necessary to prepare the form in the proper triplicate. We do not have the authority to deviate from the clear Trinitarian release formula, but you may trust your leaders who love you to strive toward that goal. We will continue to support her financially at our customary 10% through August as we committed, because we are committed to our commitments which we vowed to do. We know that our covenant members will joyfully partner with us as Karen transitions from our care into the love of another gospel-centered church from our vetted list. Our hope and prayer is that Karen will graciously walk through this season with her covenant family while we process the paperwork and guide her to her new covenant community. We have listened to the feedback and have become very recently convicted that Karen can best find healing and restoration in another church because we have failed to communicate our love to her due to her deep pain from sad and tragic events which have occurred in her life.

  101. Flicker wrote:

    I think you forgot: Who is apologizing? The institution generally, and anonymously? Or the various people for their individual statements and actions?

    Anonymously of course…they are anonymous zeros!

    I’m sorry…I had to… 😉

  102. @ AnnieOly:

    Nothing new about atheist persecution spin. Driscoll was pretty good at it.

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    And as they gaze, they ask how God ever did it without them.

    @ Former Fundy:

    Yes. They sound like the people who say communism would work if we got the right people do it tried hard enough. Wasn’t the original objective of church discipline to impress by truly living up to Jesus’s word? No Christians having salacious affairs or divorcing because one of them gets too fat? Trying to force marriage to an outed pedophile is proof of how far off the rails sinful humans without reproach can take the idea.

    While I’m piling on here, I noticed this post on TVC’s Facebook page just now:

    http://www.thevillagechurch.net/resources/stories/detail/lauren-frock/

    What’s wrong with that picture of the bookcase?

  103. For some readers that are in authoritarian relationships trying to discuss this with their spouse can bring on unexpected dangerous reactions and so i would like to post this link to the national domestic violence web site
    http://www.ncadv.org/ and their phone number National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).

    Also for some who have suffered abuse in the past the things discussed here in the last few days may be triggering depression and i would like to post National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number 1-800-273-8255 and web site http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

    also many of the other bloggers that post here on the Deebs blog have support pages and i encourage readers to check them out for info on what to do if you are having flashbacks or memories that get too much to handle. Please read safely and take good care of yourselves because you are worth it, every one of you!

    Thanks for letting me post this Deebs

  104. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    I could be wrong about this assumption, but – assuming the corporation board, elders, and staff of TVC do see their membership covenant as having the weight of a binding/legal agreement – then, logically, that seems to me to imply they also willingly take on some degree of legal responsibility for all people and actions under their presumed “legal authority.” If so, I wonder: Are they really as protected organizationally and legally as they may think? What if their communications to and about Ms. Hinkley did exceed legal bounds, and therefore constituted harassment and/or defamation in the eyes of the law (though apparently not their theology)? What if their “intentional pastoral care plan” for Mr. Root proves to involve insufficient expertise on the part of counselors and ministers for addressing the serious issues involved – and who bears legal responsibility if there is moral failure and children are harmed as a result?

    This is an excellent point. Is the membership contract one way or not?

  105. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    Even if leaders prove themselves transparent and trustworthy, that does not change the facts that we were designed to grow up in Christ and that legalism automatically blocks maturity.

    So true.

  106. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    I set aside other writing projects I had planned for today and basically spent the entire day (May 29th) immersed in material about The Village Church and their conflicts with Karen Hinkley. I focused on primary sources found in the evidence documents posted at Amy Smith’s Watch Keep site on May 20 and May 27.
    I am highly aware that those two posts cannot give the entire picture, but they do present 19 documents totaling 37 pages of information, plus 5 text messages. That is a substantial amount of detail to consider. And I went through them all in one day because I find that process lends itself to noticing certain kinds of big picture issues and patterns of behavior.
    So, here are a few initial observations, reflections, and opinions from my word-for-word reading of these materials, for your consideration.
    As far as I could find, no staff or elders from The Village Church (TVC) ever referred outright to the membership covenant as a legal contract. However, the language used surrounding it seems to enforce the idea that it carries the responsibility of a binding legal contract that requires signers to live up to it, to obey those in authority, and to submit their personal decisions to these overseers upon demand – or else suffer the consequences of church discipline.
    I could be wrong about this assumption, but – assuming the corporation board, elders, and staff of TVC do see their membership covenant as having the weight of a binding/legal agreement – then, logically, that seems to me to imply they also willingly take on some degree of legal responsibility for all people and actions under their presumed “legal authority.” If so, I wonder: Are they really as protected organizationally and legally as they may think? What if their communications to and about Ms. Hinkley did exceed legal bounds, and therefore constituted harassment and/or defamation in the eyes of the law (though apparently not their theology)? What if their “intentional pastoral care plan” for Mr. Root proves to involve insufficient expertise on the part of counselors and ministers for addressing the serious issues involved – and who bears legal responsibility if there is moral failure and children are harmed as a result?
    It turned out that the TVC Membership Covenant did not address annulment. First, it struck me that systems based in compliance can never create a comprehensive document that covers every specific situation, as happened here. That is a basic flaw that shows up in legalistic systems, the counterpart being that spelling out everything keeps people immature; that is the function of Law as a pedagogue. Even if leaders prove themselves transparent and trustworthy, that does not change the facts that we were designed to grow up in Christ and that legalism automatically blocks maturity.
    Second, if I understand correctly some of the legal implications about annulment versus divorce, the reconciliation approach promoted by TVC elders and staff could actually have resulted in future unintended consequences adversely affecting child safety issues. How? Apparently, a reconciled Mrs. Root or a divorced Ms. Hinkley would have to adhere to spousal confidentiality about her ex-husband. Wouldn’t it be ironic (and inexcusable) if the TVC elders’ attempts to exercise oversight slowly and perfectly in the situation of one woman could ultimately lead to failures in protection that traumatized many?
    In my opinion, this covenant system at The Village Church shows crass legalism. That bottom line problem will remain if they do not get rid of their contractual form of membership covenant AND the underlying flawed thinking that supports their overlording system of legalese.
    But, if there is a substantial change in both perspective and practices on leadership and membership, then that could prove the best apology and apologetic for TVC. However, I’m unsure how much hope to hold forth, as it appears from the TVC elders’ 2-page “apology” to Ms. Hinkley that they still hold fast to doctrines which lead to bondage and show contempt every disciple’s personal responsibility before God for his/her own actions.
    And I suspect that, until there is a deep dismantling of the underlying doctrines of authoritarian leadership, one of the things the elders, staff, and non-profit board least want will continue – scrutiny of and media stories about The Village Church – because Christian leaders were meant to teach, role-model, and persuade people of the truth, not control the people of God to elicit behavioral conformity to extra-biblical covenants.

    ^^^^^^^ I hope everyone (including you, Matt Chandler) reads the above. It is the fruit of more time and experience in these matters than most of us have, put together.

    The pure gold observation:

    “In my opinion, this covenant system at The Village Church shows crass legalism. That bottom line problem will remain if they do not get rid of their contractual form of membership covenant AND the underlying flawed thinking that supports their overlording system of legalese.”

    Ding ding ding ding.

    ANY church that requires a “membership covenant” is legalistic. Period.

    “But we are gospel-centered!” No, no you are not. You are legalistic.

    “But we preach justification by faith alone.” Those are just words. You are requiring a membership covenant while preaching justification by faith alone? You are legalistic.

    “But we are all about grace!” Really, you are not at all about grace. You are legalistic.

    “But we smoke cigars and go to pubs and wear our shirts untucked when we preach watch!” Good for you. You are still legalistic, because you are REQUIRING A MEMBERSHIP CONTRACT.

    Honestly, if I EVER hear of a PCA church requiring a “membership covenant” (which may be happening for all I know, as I know a lot of folks — including our denominational magazine — who are enamored by the “9Marks” nonsense) I would do all I can to see that changed, or have them brought up on charges for violating Chapter 20 of our Confession of Faith (“Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience”).

  107. 8) We confess formatting errors above and ask your forgiveness and forbearance in our failing. In receiving this email and hearing how we have and are responding to this situation which is composed of events out of our control which have tragically occurred, we understand that you may be sinfully doubting your shepherds whom God has graciously provided to care for you and to guide yo through these kinds of dark and confusing places. Beware of divisive people who comment idly on blogs and slander Christ’s bride! In your lack of trust in us, your servant leaders, you may be wondering why this type of change in heart has happened now, which is confusing because we failed to communicate a few days ago what we are finally communicating today. We beg your forgiveness for that.

    You may be questioning whether we are capitulating to cultural pressure and the stories you may have seen in those dark places on the internet. You may be assured that is not why we have slightly adjusted our communication. You may question us why we have allowed those false and speculative stories on the blogs be so impactful during this brief but difficult season. God tells you that you can rest in the wisdom of your elders, and the reason for our communications tweaking is really quite simple and straightforward. The answer to your perplexed and troubled hearts due to not trusting in your leaders is basically what we began this email communication to all our covenant members with:

    Sometimes it takes a difficult, unique and trying situation to help us to really focus on small issues that we may have and help us consider moving toward some course correction, though we will stay steady toward the goal. Remember, God never changes, and we must be vigilant not to yield to cultural pressure or to the cries of wounded and damaged people who don’t understand our love and care best practices. We cannot be moved and will not be shaken by the voices of wounded victims who refuse to press into God’s healing grace but who have become profession zeroes. In the dark places of the internet blogs, there are people who want to destroy Jesus’ church, but we are holding tightly to the wheel and keeping the keys safe.

    Naturally, these difficult and tragic and totally unforeseeable situations which have occurred have also brought more feedback to the table in the past two or three days. We, your servant leaders whom God has graciously called out and appointed to shepherd you through terrible times that the Holy Spirit cannot handle, have sought to humbly hear that feedback from sources who agree with us. Those offering counsel to us have suggested that we be willing to see the log in our own eye and repent where necessary. We have carefully examined our eyes, and we have agreed among ourselves that it is right and good to repent of the small mistakes that were made in communicating our eagerness to pursue peace and healing and to love Karen well in her pain, though she has recoiled from our tender ministry to her due to her very understandable baggage. For that and for all our sins, we are truly sorry. We are thankful that we have a covenant membership who is a joy to their elders and not a burden.

  108. i like your observations, thanks for posting them. One that bothers me most is this one:
    brad/futuristguy wrote:

    Apparently, a reconciled Mrs. Root or a divorced Ms. Hinkley would have to adhere to spousal confidentiality about her ex-husband. Wouldn’t it be ironic (and inexcusable) if the TVC elders’ attempts to exercise oversight slowly and perfectly in the situation of one woman could ultimately lead to failures in protection that traumatized many?

    I have met way too many women and children that have already suffered this consequence. Probably the reason i have been so vehement in this particular injustice directed toward Karen Hinkley is that this has been going on for decades and i had hoped that this sort of ‘church’ system was on the decline but instead it is growing. Women and children that have been abused for years under this sort of system are taught repeatedly that if they talk or seek help they will be sinning against Jesus Himself. When a mysoginyst in the world treats his wife and child like this they often leave eventually because they come to realize from others that it is just abuse. When this happens to women in the church they are weighing if they will lose their souls if they leave. That to me is what makes it much much more damnable to teach these things. Jesus is not a mysoginyst and i pray that churches will stop saying He is.

  109. sam wrote:

    For some readers that are in authoritarian relationships trying to discuss this with their spouse can bring on unexpected dangerous reactions and so i would like to post this link to the national domestic violence web site
    http://www.ncadv.org/ and their phone number National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).

    Also for some who have suffered abuse in the past the things discussed here in the last few days may be triggering depression and i would like to post National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number 1-800-273-8255 and web site http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

    also many of the other bloggers that post here on the Deebs blog have support pages and i encourage readers to check them out for info on what to do if you are having flashbacks or memories that get too much to handle. Please read safely and take good care of yourselves because you are worth it, every one of you!

    Thanks for letting me post this Deebs

    Thanks Sam for sharing those important resources. Here are a few more, but these deal with spiritual abuse at churches.

    Dr. Ronald Enroth who wrote these well-known books has made them available for FREE:

    1. Churches That Abuse
    http://www.ccel.us/churches.toc.html

    2. Recovering From Churches That Abuse
    http://www.ccel.us/churchesrec.toc.html

  110. 9) Given the nature of the sad and tragic situation which has occurred between Jordan and Karen, we, as your elders and the ones whom God has appointed to shepherd you and make your calling and elections sure, also want you to be prepared for the potential of many misleading media stories and blogs about our church to be published over the next several days. Be assured that your elders have consulted with our insurers, and they have consulted with their reinsurers, and all is well. We, as your wise leaders, are aware of this likely outcome because we have seen how bloggers and shady media have lashed out in their outrage of the day, totally without warrant, so many times before. As a result of our deep care and concern for our covenant members’ privacy, except in church discipline cases where we need to keep our members apprised as soon as the sad and tragic and totally unforeseeable situation has occurred which warrants their attention, we will not address members or former members specifically in any communication since we do not release this information to the public. Some will try to plant seeds of doubt about your leadership and imply that we are not motivated by our love for you and for Jesus. We know that our covenant members, who have covenanted not to be a burden to their elders but a joy, will not participate in social media in inappropriate ways that violate the membership covenant or the next release(s) of the membership covenant when they become available. This weekend, Matt will speak generally about member care and church discipline. The only reason Matt will be speaking about these topics is because the conclusion of our James series is providentially focused on this topic. But it is not on topic for Matt to speak to the sad and tragic and unforeseeable situation which as occurred, so, as much as he would like to speak with you as a covenant family about your sinful doubts about the wisdom of your leadership whom God has appointed over you, he will not speak directly to the sad and tragic situation at hand which has occurred.

  111. i am thinking that the new revised membership covenant, will have a liability clause that members have to sign, holding the church not liable for anything that might occur that is harmful. wondering if there is already something like that in their current contract, i mean covenant.

  112. Gram3 wrote:

    We are thankful that we have a covenant membership who is a joy to their elders and not a burden.

    Not so much a joy right now. Power trips must provide a lot of positive feedback to overcome all the grief it brings.

  113. 10) In all of this, we are deeply grieved by the way this situation has brought reproach to the name of elders of The Village and Acts29 and to the doctrinal system which we hold so dear and which is what the Bible plainly says. Our hearts are heavy and broken over the things that have been said about the elders and The Village and Acts29 and our doctrinal system which we hold so dear and which is what the Bible plainly says. We often talk to our beloved covenant members about the “ongoing ethics of confession and repentance,” and as your elders, we know that we are not exempt from these ethics should such a highly unlikely event occur such as the recent sad and tragic situation which as occurred. In every way that we’ve mishandled this unforeseeable situation which has unexpectedly occurred to us, along with others in the past which our doctrinal system led us to handle the way we handled them, if we have offended anyone, we repent and ask for forgiveness. As a church, we talk regularly about the power of the gospel to forgive all our sins, past, present and future. In this moment, we are clinging to that truth, knowing that we and everyone else involved in this situation desperately need the grace and mercy of Jesus.

  114. Gram3,

    You are a prize (as Gramps3 already knows)!

    If I only had icecream in the freezer, I would toast your writing with another one of your inventions: a Sacred Cow Sundae.

  115. sam wrote:

    she could be lawyer!

    If this latest outpouring from gram is lawyerly then how come I can read it?

  116. @ Bill M:
    It’s a passive way of telling the pewpeons to fall in line and not be a pain. But, yeah, I’m sure they are hearing lots of feedback that is not pleasant to hear. Much better to have addressed the real issues when Mars Hill imploded, but they chose to ignore or excuse it.

  117. Bill M wrote:

    sam wrote:

    she could be lawyer!

    If this latest outpouring from gram is lawyerly then how come I can read it?

    Here’s a bill for $5,000 for Gram3’s services. I have enclosed a pre-stamped envelope so that you can send your check to our offices as soon as possible.

  118. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    It turned out that the TVC Membership Covenant did not address annulment. First, it struck me that systems based in compliance can never create a comprehensive document that covers every specific situation, as happened here. That is a basic flaw that shows up in legalistic systems, the counterpart being that spelling out everything keeps people immature; that is the function of Law as a pedagogue. Even if leaders prove themselves transparent and trustworthy, that does not change the facts that we were designed to grow up in Christ and that legalism automatically blocks maturity.

    Thank you, Brad. This is a key problem in their approach.

  119. Bill M wrote:

    If this latest outpouring from gram is lawyerly then how come I can read it?

    Not lawyerly at all. PR Christianese legalism.

  120. @ Gram3:
    Thanks. All of you who liked it. I thought it was a hoot, too. On a slightly more serious note, perhaps someone who knows grammar better than I recall it from fifty years ago can help me with this thought.

    I think I now know what bothers me so much about this “apology”. It’s that every fault or person that they failed isn’t the object of any of the sentences. It appears the actual objects of what the VC elders thought, felt and did, were not people to whom they were ostensibly apologizing or actions that they did, but vague concepts and how they felt about them. Their faults and the victims are peripheral. Instead of saying “We hurt you”, they say “We are sorry…” (that we hurt you). Instead of saying “We failed you,” they say “We are sorry…” (that we failed you). And so they fill the text of the apology. In other words, it’s primarily about them, and how they acted and felt, rather than primarily about what they did, thereby deemphasizing the pain and failures that they are confessing and apologizing for. I cannot believe that this is accidental.

    All the actual objects in their sentences are vague and not the proper objects of a frank confession. And some objects are completely missing. I’ve tried to isolate all the direct object nouns and they look to be these(correct me where I’m wrong): e-mail, situation, details, with others, feedback, lens, the case, where, areas, areas where, failed (no object), strong procedures, confident, allegations and confessions, ourselves, we (passive voice), external audit, everything possible, our theological or philosophical convictions, beliefs, some situations, membership practices, there have been (passive voice) cases, sorry, individuals (we believe we have hurt), etc. (for the first four paragraphs or so.)

  121. Christy Thomas wrote:

    I believe that the only apology they are issuing (Paragraph 6) is that that didn’t tell Karen early enough that they would not approve the ending of the marriage for this infraction. I also believe that under church discipline, Karen would have been found guilty for being unsubmissive to her husband because of the way she kept pushing him for more full disclosure.

    Christy, I think you may be spot on there. But TVC leaders would never admit to it, as that would make it obvious they were not nice.

  122. Lainie Petersen wrote:

    [TVC said] “Specifically, as it pertains to her desire for an annulment, we know that it would have served her better to have a clearer understanding from us as to what we do and do not consider biblical grounds for divorce or what we understand the Scriptures to define as divorce. In hindsight, we wish that we would have provided clarity to Karen in an immediate fashion and are saddened by our unpreparedness.”
    Do they think, then, that the only thing they have to “specifically” apologize for is that they didn’t immediately clarify their stand on divorce and what they “understand the Scriptures define as divorce?” Never mind that they hounded, stalked and defamed her.
    Moreover, the writers of this non-apology continue to use the word “divorce” when they know very well that Karen did not obtain one. My suspicion is that they use the phrase “what we understand the Scriptures define as divorce” as a way to weasel out of saying “annulment.” I suspect they are doing this because they really haven’t considered the nature or implications of annulment and don’t want everyone to see that they have eggs on their respective faces. This type of language also allows them to hint at the notion that Karen is a divorced woman, not an unmarried woman who was previously in a fraudulent marriage.

    BINGO. Well said!

    They were caught on the hop by Karen’s annulment. They’d never thought about how to handle such a situation before. And I believe they want to slap the D label on her — **Divorced Woman* — because they know it stigmatizes. And they can’t bear her having shown them they were dead wrong to even baulk for a second at the idea of getting that sham of a marriage annuled.

    This is what happens when you’ve made an idol out of marriage.

    And their statement gives zero indication they have an idolatrous view of marriage. While they are blind to that, they will not change their doctrine of divorce. All they’ll probably be doing, in this new “Care and Discipine Policy” is vaguely specifying what they think are the ground of divorce (leaving plenty of wriggle room for them, so they can stigmatize victims of domestic abuse who might dare to get divorce even though ‘there was no physical violence’. And they’ll probalby be tacking on a footnote about annulment.

    How caring of them. NOT!

    I continue to call for the leaders at TVC to thoroughly review their doctrine of divorce, and to openly state that church leaders have no right to coerce or dictate their views on divorce to anyone.

  123. Michaela wrote:

    Kathryn Keller wrote:
    Maybe it’s just me, but I wish they had signed names to the letter rather than just “TVC Elders.” I kind of get it as they want to appear as a united front and be all official, but on a personal level it seems, well, impersonal. Who exactly is “apologizing?”
    Matt Chandler has a term for people that don’t sign their names: Narcisstic Zeros.

    Good catch!

  124. Yasmin wrote:

    Please forgive the double post, but it suddenly occurs to me, in re-reading the apology, that maybe they really don’t understand what they’re doing wrong. Maybe they are so truly convinced that it’s all about them and their authority that it never occurs to them to re-think it, to see how that mindset causes these messes for them in the first place (I say “messes” because of their apology to Karen and others). Maybe they’re not avoiding the point as much as honestly failing to see it

    I agree with this, based on my own personal experience. I was raised in an authoritarian religious church/home (I am out now). So my apologies usually went like this, “Oh, I didn’t mean it THAT way. You must have misunderstood me.” It took years for me to eventually learn that my “good” intentions bear much less importance than how my words are perceived. Nowadays, I am trying to say, “I am so sorry I hurt you. Please forgive me.” It actually shows deference to the offended party rather than my always perfect (sarcasm) intentions.

  125. One of the things that bothers me about this whole thing, & whole area as covered by TWW: what if all these churches that have paedophiles in them, under these kinds of circumstances, are genuinely only interested that their protection policies fit what they think is Biblical, not whether or not they actually protect children? This is what is coming over so clearly from situations like this, & similarly with Karen’s annulment, as long as the response fits their idea of Biblical fidelity there is no human cost they consider too high. Terrifying.

  126. Flicker wrote:

    . It appears the actual objects of what the VC elders thought, felt and did, were not people to whom they were ostensibly apologizing or actions that they did, but vague concepts and how they felt about them. Their faults and the victims are peripheral.

    There has to be a name for this.

  127. This has to be the core problem with these guys. They put themselves and their system in the place of God. They seem to be saying ‘I will be like the Most High’ in that I will be to you (pew person, and especially female per person) as if I were the Most High himself. They presume to interpret what God really meant to say in case He got it a little confused, or perhaps was just a poor communicator. ‘Did God really say?…’ But wait and let me explain what he really meant—Ding. Ding. Ding. Have we not seen this before? Is this not a path which leads in the wrong direction?

  128. Lydia wrote:

    sam wrote:

    re temporary separation of Karen and Jordan:
    “like any redemptive separation, the hope was that, after an appropriate time of healing and repentance, the married couple would eventually be able to come back together for the sake of pursuing possible reconciliation.”

    I find that reprehensible. They expected her to stay married to him. Do people not see how vile they are? Do they really put marriage before molested children?

    I think they must be seriously brainwashed to even say that.

  129. Patrice wrote:

    para 6: Contrary to their apology for lack of clarity, I think they made their opinion on annulment crystal clear to Karen: wanting her to slow down until they caught up, not to separate finances, to think about reconciliation, to walk closely with Jordan over the next while, to take some of the blame. IMO, they were simply unprepared for the idea of a legal annulment, which they’d not considered before.

    That’s exactly right. They have already hinted at how they view annulment, in all those ways, and one more: On p. 6 of the letter/Q&A sent to the 6,000 members, they say:

    (We see an annulment as a subcategory of what scripture defines as a divorce in Mark 10:9–it ends a marriage.)

    As you say, the only issue is that it caught them by surprise, because they hadn’t thought through annulment before, and the membership covenant’s language doesn’t address it. I’m completely certain they will be updating the covenant to account for this… they’ll want to have their ducks in a row if this ever comes up again.

    The interesting wrinkle is that “slowing down and waiting for reconciliation” is incompatible with seeking an annulment, as Karen pointed out. So how will they word their changes? In that same spot on p. 6 they say:

    To be clear, there may be times when there are biblical grounds for divorce (Matt. 5:31-32; 1 Cor. 7:15), and members can be given the support to pursue that path after attempting the steps of marriage reconciliation according to our Membership Covenant.

    …but annulment isn’t an option if you wait for reconciliation. So will they say there are no biblical grounds for annulment, or will they forbid it in the covenant as incompatible with reconciliation? We’ll see.

    Regardless: Karen did exactly the right thing, and I hope one thing that can emerge from this awful situation is that her brave example will show others in this situation what they should do.

  130. @ pcapastor:

    I know of a PCA church that is listed on the 9Marks directory. They print off the five membership vows and add a signature blank to it.

  131. sam wrote:

    the church says in writing that their intention was for reconcilliation. it was never about karen “going to fast”, it was her wanting out.
    re temporary separation of Karen and Jordan:
    “like any redemptive separation, the hope was that, after an appropriate time of healing and repentance, the married couple would eventually be able to come back together for the sake of pursuing possible reconciliation.”
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/266531116/The-Village-Church-email-on-5-23-15-to-covenant-members-about-Karen-Hinkley-and-Jordan-Root

    …and this too. They’ve made pretty clear what they wanted Karen to do.

  132. Beakerj wrote:

    One of the things that bothers me about this whole thing, & whole area as covered by TWW: what if all these churches that have paedophiles in them, under these kinds of circumstances, are genuinely only interested that their protection policies fit what they think is Biblical, not whether or not they actually protect children? This is what is coming over so clearly from situations like this, & similarly with Karen’s annulment, as long as the response fits their idea of Biblical fidelity there is no human cost they consider too high. Terrifying.

    Your analysis is correct…. I am in my mid fifties, a University Engineering Professor, at a secular University, grew up in a fundamentalist church/high school, and was involved in para church group in college. A parable of Christ’s the leaving the 99 to go after the 1 lost, was so what puzzling to me…. But as I have lived live, I am seeing more significance to it ( which is one of the points of parables… They are little bombs, planted to go off later, and designed to make you think/struggle)
    I believe this parable states G$d care about the littlest one as much as the whole (or large group). So much of organized Christianity, and my Academic world, is focused on outward numbers, outward conformity to specific “rules” , and authority structure (Alpha wolf is the “boss”, “leader” , etc). In all of the variou attempts of the various flavor of Christianity to be holly, and not worldly, the similarity between my experiences in ALL organized Christainity and the inter workings of Academia are striking… And, depending on how you define “worldly” I see almost NO difference….
    Clearly, the children abused by the pedophile in this current story ( either on the videos, or his actual abusing) is the lost sheep in this story, and TVC has not even mentioned them?? This makes me want to through up… If the pedophile is really repentant, he would be helping the FBI track down the evil people making the videos…. That would be true repentance… And looking for the lost sheep!! Not a$$ covering that TVC is doing!!
    The second lost sheep is Karen.
    The third lost sheep are any other “covenant members” of the past that have run over by the street paver that these “covenant agreements” are. Forget that humans are complex, with complex situations…. We all need to fit within the neat little packages that the ” anointed” come up with…. And do not forget, they are more spiritual than us peons, and questioning them is equal to being rebellious to G$d!

  133. “Dark and difficult” melodrama to make their decisions sound so intricate when they are not. The “released” her–typical of churches that are into uber control. You never leave them; they release you. Control right to the end. This justifies their actions and their overall way of working with people. Never join a church that “releases” people who have already left. Of course, past unjust actions of churches are not publicized by them, so how would you know. That’s why if a church asks members to vow “submission to elders and discipline” there needs to be a list of possible actions that one could be asked to submit to the elders (where you go to college, who you marry, attending other churches midweek, tithing?) Who could ever have imagined that this case would issue in the discipline of the wronged party?

  134. So, according to TVC, “What we have here is a failure in communication”, that’s all.

    No, what we have here is an organization that has usurped God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and put themselves in their place. The worst of the Medievil popes had nothing on these guys as far as being drunk with power.

  135. Jeff Chalmers wrote:

    A parable of Christ’s the leaving the 99 to go after the 1 lost, was so what puzzling to me….

    Love your understanding and application of this parable. Thanks for sharing it!

  136. Beakerj wrote:

    what if all these churches that have paedophiles in them, under these kinds of circumstances, are genuinely only interested that their protection policies fit what they think is Biblical, not whether or not they actually protect children?

    I don’t see how someone who is interested in what the Bible says could possibly be against protecting children. That is pretty much a good indication that things have gone way away from the Bible if they kids are not the first consideration in a case like this.

  137. @ lydia:
    I use deflection in a broad sense to divert attention from the topic that is the real issue at hand. ISTM this apology is mostly some kind of deflection from the really glaring SNAFU nature of their System that causes the same kinds of problem. However, it’s hard to rip the heart of stone out of their System and put a heart of flesh in with pious words alone. What struck me at Mars Hill was the fact that Driscoll was always name-dropping Jesus to get people to go along with him, but the big picture and the individual incidents had nothing to do with Jesus at all. It was all human.

  138. This is not an apology to Karen. It is an apology in the sense of “defense” of their actions. Please, let there be 10,000 members who resign TVC this week. Keep those control freak elders busy!

  139. Ben Denison wrote:

    …but annulment isn’t an option if you wait for reconciliation. So will they say there are no biblical grounds for annulment, or will they forbid it in the covenant as incompatible with reconciliation? We’ll see.

    I think it is quite possible that they actually do consider annulment as effectively the same as a divorce. Somehow, I doubt that they will change their view because their view is that there is no such thing as a therapeutic divorce/annulment. Their view is that continuing a marriage is the very first priority and ending that marriage is an absolutely last resort after all other options have been tried. Oddly this does not actually honor marriage but makes into bondage. I think that flows from their basic legalistic rather than Gospel framework.

  140. Gram3 wrote:

    Ben Denison wrote:
    …but annulment isn’t an option if you wait for reconciliation. So will they say there are no biblical grounds for annulment, or will they forbid it in the covenant as incompatible with reconciliation? We’ll see.
    I think it is quite possible that they actually do consider annulment as effectively the same as a divorce. Somehow, I doubt that they will change their view because their view is that there is no such thing as a therapeutic divorce/annulment. Their view is that continuing a marriage is the very first priority and ending that marriage is an absolutely last resort after all other options have been tried. Oddly this does not actually honor marriage but makes into bondage. I think that flows from their basic legalistic rather than Gospel framework.

    This idea that their system is legalistic is becoming more and more evident. The long, detailed, drawn out covenant membership documents are evidence of this. They make the individual rely on the elders for any serious decision, and thus keep the individual immature. It shows that they do not trust people who have the Holy Spirit to make wise decisions.

  141. Do they stand by their original email to the members and would they send it again?

    Well, I think that they actually do stand by the email defaming Karen that they distributed. They haven’t retracted it in whole, and they haven’t changed really what it said. So, I think it stands. That is a really stupid strategy, but I really don’t see another option as long as they stick with their basic power paradigm. They may fiddle at the margins, but I’m sure they will never consider that their model may not reflect Biblical or Christlike reality.

  142. Gram3 wrote:

    ISTM this apology is mostly some kind of deflection from the really glaring SNAFU nature of their System that causes the same kinds of problem.

    TVC’s ongoing propaganda initiative is reminiscent of what Nixon’s H.R. Haldeman so famously termed a modified limited hangout, a limited hangout being defined as the strategy of mixing partial admissions with misinformation and resistance to further investigation. The purpose is to get the public focused on anything and everything other than the truly relevant, and damning, facts of the matters at issue. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limited_hangout

  143. 1) What didn’t they discuss?

    Everything that they should have discussed. They talked around every single important issue by re-framing it or re-characterizing it. A real failure analysis with the purpose of avoiding future failures would be ruthlessly objective an honest about why there is wreckage everywhere. It would name names and examine the documents and interview witnesses. It would examine the events and persons leading up the the failure. That isn’t what this is, so I conclude that they are not very interested either in what happened, why it happened, and how to prevent it from happening again. “Trust us and move on people. Jesus has thing for us to do, and we can’t wallow in our dark and difficult season.”

  144. Gary W wrote:

    TVC’s ongoing propaganda initiative is reminiscent of what Nixon’s H.R. Haldeman so famously termed a modified limited hangout, a limited hangout being defined as the strategy of mixing partial admissions with misinformation and resistance to further investigation. The purpose is to get the public focused on anything and everything other than the truly relevant, and damning, facts of the matters at issue. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limited_hangout

    Yes, I think we discussed that on another thread. Thank you for the link to that because a lot of people were not around then and they don’t know that the strategy that we see everywhere has a name. And is intentionally not honest. In contrast to that is the New Coke and Tylenol response. That’s because they had very smart and savvy people who knew what a total disaster looks like and how to recover from it.

  145. Oops! The term “modified limited hang out” is attributable to John Ehrlichman rather than to Haldeman. Still, whoever is entitled to credit for the term, and whether TVC is engaged in something more akin to a modified limited hang out or merely a limited hangout, the whole process is steeped in subterfuge. It is a hiding of the truth and is a species of darkness.

  146. Eric wrote:

    Paragraph 10: “…brought reproach to the name of Jesus.”
    Has it? I haven’t seen a single person say, “The Village Church is abusive, therefore Jesus of Nazareth must not be a nice guy either.” It seems to me that this has only brought reproach to the names of The Village Church, Matt Chandler, Jordan Root, and Acts 29. And apparently they’ve forgotten that there’s any distinction between them and Jesus.

    Typical codespeak. It is common for megachurch celebrity pastors to conflate their role as pastor with Jesus Himself. Disagree with them, then you are disagreeing with Jesus. Disobey their commands, you are disobedient to Jesus.

    Replace “Jesus” and “God” with “TVC” and “Matt Chandler” and you unlock the code.

  147. Gram3 wrote:

    I think it is quite possible that they actually do consider annulment as effectively the same as a divorce. Somehow, I doubt that they will change their view because their view is that there is no such thing as a therapeutic divorce/annulment. Their view is that continuing a marriage is the very first priority and ending that marriage is an absolutely last resort after all other options have been tried.

    It is a tight frightened mind that believes there is only one way to resolve any given problem, and that no matter what happens, the same way must be followed to the end.

  148. @ Beakerj:
    @ Jeff Chalmers:

    I came across a really good quote a while back that I’d’ve been really chuffed about if I’d thought of it myself. I paraphrase slightly, but the substance of it goes thus:

    Where law dominates, rules matter more than people; and Christians will hurt people in order to uphold the rules. Where love dominates, people matter more than rules; and Christians will break the rules in order to protect people.

    More could be said, but I have a large pile of shrub clippings to fit into the back of the car and take down the cowp while Lesley’s away getting plants.

  149. WillysJeepMan wrote:

    It is common for megachurch celebrity pastors to conflate their role as pastor with Jesus Himself.

    “For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.” (Matthew 24:5 ESV)

  150. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Where law dominates, rules matter more than people;

    With a tip of the hat to brad/futuristguy, this is Lifton’s concept of Doctrine Over Person, meaning require people to conform to our perfect system of truth so that individuality is eradicated and sublime conformity is the sacred norm. https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/the-hunger-games-trilogy-5a/

    Really, the argument could be made that everyone of Dr. Lifton’s 8 criteria for identifying a cult applies to what we are seeing in and from TVC.

  151. Gary W wrote:

    With a tip of the hat to brad/futuristguy, this is Lifton’s concept of Doctrine Over Person, meaning require people to conform to our perfect system of truth so that individuality is eradicated and sublime conformity is the sacred norm.

    Like the Khmer Rouge and Taliban.

    Or, on a lighter note:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioDuLqK_LuY
    (Context: My Little Pony, Season 5 Episode 1. The main heroines have travelled to a town in the boondocks, not knowing what to expect. They find (and get love-bombed by) a CULT “where individuality is eradicated and sublime conformity is the sacred norm” a la Harrison Bergeron. (Then they make contact with dissidents who want out and the situation escalates to as close to Jonestown as you’re gonna get on a kid’s show.) The above clip is a musical love-bombing by the cult leader and her minions.)

  152. WillysJeepMan wrote:

    Typical codespeak. It is common for megachurch celebrity pastors to conflate their role as pastor with Jesus Himself. Disagree with them, then you are disagreeing with Jesus. Disobey their commands, you are disobedient to Jesus.

    “If you question what I say to you
    YOU REBEL AGAINST THE FATHER TOO!”
    — Steve Taylor, “I Manipulate”

  153. Gary W wrote:

    TVC’s ongoing propaganda initiative is reminiscent of what Nixon’s H.R. Haldeman so famously termed a modified limited hangout, a limited hangout being defined as the strategy of mixing partial admissions with misinformation and resistance to further investigation.

    Like Elevation Church (Superapostle Furtick and Chunks Corbett) releasing detailed annual statements on how many breath mints they used but not a peep about where all those Tithe million$ went?

  154. Beakerj wrote:

    One of the things that bothers me about this whole thing, & whole area as covered by TWW: what if all these churches that have paedophiles in them, under these kinds of circumstances, are genuinely only interested that their protection policies fit what they think is Biblical, not whether or not they actually protect children? This is what is coming over so clearly from situations like this, & similarly with Karen’s annulment, as long as the response fits their idea of Biblical fidelity there is no human cost they consider too high. Terrifying.

    That’s pretty much it. Suffering for righteousness and all that.

    It doesn’t seem to occur to them that protecting the vulnerable is Biblical, and according to Christ, more important than their draconian applications of the Law. “Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”

  155. Patrice wrote:

    It is a tight frightened mind that believes there is only one way to resolve any given problem, and that no matter what happens, the same way must be followed to the end.

    That is the danger of a procedural mindset rather than a goal mindset or a big-picture mindset. The System is tightly integrated like a Jenga tower, and I think there is a lot of fear, as you said, that removing one thing or acknowledging the basic flaw in the system would be the end of everything. And that is very sad because Jesus is not bound by a system.

  156. Bob M wrote:

    They make the individual rely on the elders for any serious decision, and thus keep the individual immature. It shows that they do not trust people who have the Holy Spirit to make wise decisions.

    This is what I’m hopping about!!!

    Well, that and…everything else. >:(

  157. True reprentance by Mr Root would involve hus working with the authorites (not church, but law enforcement) to di sll ge can to put a stop to the ultimate evil of this type of child abuse… It is called Resitution .. And demonstrstres true repentance… The fact that TVC hid fron the membership thus evil practicing perdon from their membership until this went public, and that there us no mention of resitution along with the reoentance shows me the shalloness of the “membership covenant”

  158. Gram3 wrote:

    Do they stand by their original email to the members and would they send it again?
    Well, I think that they actually do stand by the email defaming Karen that they distributed. They haven’t retracted it in whole, and they haven’t changed really what it said. So, I think it stands. That is a really stupid strategy, but I really don’t see another option as long as they stick with their basic power paradigm. They may fiddle at the margins, but I’m sure they will never consider that their model may not reflect Biblical or Christlike reality.

    They would change it to nuance it. Same rotten meat but they would adjust the seasoning.

  159. Bob M wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:
    Ben Denison wrote:
    …but annulment isn’t an option if you wait for reconciliation. So will they say there are no biblical grounds for annulment, or will they forbid it in the covenant as incompatible with reconciliation? We’ll see.
    I think it is quite possible that they actually do consider annulment as effectively the same as a divorce. Somehow, I doubt that they will change their view because their view is that there is no such thing as a therapeutic divorce/annulment. Their view is that continuing a marriage is the very first priority and ending that marriage is an absolutely last resort after all other options have been tried. Oddly this does not actually honor marriage but makes into bondage. I think that flows from their basic legalistic rather than Gospel framework.
    This idea that their system is legalistic is becoming more and more evident. The long, detailed, drawn out covenant membership documents are evidence of this. They make the individual rely on the elders for any serious decision, and thus keep the individual immature. It shows that they do not trust people who have the Holy Spirit to make wise decisions.

    It’s unfortunately happening with greater frequency. More and more churches are developing comprehensive covenant membership documents. The most obvious reason is to control members (lording their authority over them) rather than to shepherd.

    But a not so obvious reason is to filter out those with discernment. Mature and/or discerning believers would not submit themselves to unbiblical leadership. They get weeded out from the get-go. Those who apply and are accepted as members have demonstrated a lack of maturity and/or discernment that leadership desires.

    These leaders are shaping the flock that they want (rather than to care for those that the Lord brings). These evanjellyfish (not my term, I read it elsewhere) will blindly do what leadership says. Want to expand their campus? Send out an “info pack”, give a “sermon” on the subject and watch the money roll in.

    They see their roles as serving their pastors (rather than the other way around). Sad and sick.

  160. formerly anonymous wrote:

    It doesn’t seem to occur to them that protecting the vulnerable is Biblical, and according to Christ, more important than their draconian applications of the Law. “Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”

    Thank you for saying that. I keep asking myself, “Can I imagine Jesus doing what these men are doing in his name and supposedly by his authority?” I cannot. Not in any way. Another thing that may be in play is that they do not believe that Jordan can receive ministry unless he attends the larger meetings of the church. That, IMO, reflects an almost sacramental view of the worship service, and that is certainly not a Baptist idea. I don’t even think it is a Roman Catholic idea since the priests I know of still visit when people are unable to attend Mass.

  161. In making the case that we are not to pity the wicked [pedophiles, surely?], Jeff Crippen presents Scripture from which he contends: “Most local churches stand under divine indictment today. They pity the wicked man, and they harden themselves against the righteous who are oppressed by the wicked. This means necessarily that most churches do not have the Lord’s blessing upon them.” http://cryingoutforjustice.com/

  162. Gary W wrote:

    Nick Bulbeck wrote:
    Where law dominates, rules matter more than people;
    With a tip of the hat to brad/futuristguy, this is Lifton’s concept of Doctrine Over Person, meaning require people to conform to our perfect system of truth so that individuality is eradicated and sublime conformity is the sacred norm.
    Really, the argument could be made that everyone of Dr. Lifton’s 8 criteria for identifying a cult applies to what we are seeing in and from TVC.

    MOD: STOP TALKING ABOUT MODERATION! GBTC

    From Brad’s article:

    Dystopias deal with classic questions of good, evil, and redemption, but they focus on the social aspects of these issues rather than on individual salvation.

    There is an article by Jordan Chamblee at The American Family Association where he says:

    “We have to remember something that the cross of Christ accomplished: He abolished the individual.” (emphasis mine)

    http://www.afa.net/the-stand/church/lone-wolf-christianity/

    I find that very disturbing.

  163. In fitba’ news, Caley Thistle have just (30 seconds ago) won the Scottish Cup. Thistle have only been in existence for 20 years – after I’d moved to Scotland, in fact – and I’ve always had a soft spot for them TBH.

  164. WillysJeepMan wrote:

    But a not so obvious reason is to filter out those with discernment. Mature and/or discerning believers would not submit themselves to unbiblical leadership. They get weeded out from the get-go. Those who apply and are accepted as members have demonstrated a lack of maturity and/or discernment that leadership desires.

    Yes, that is an important part of it, in my personal experience. Questioning things, in private(!) with elders got me keyed out. They cannot abide having anyone who might cause others to be Bereans as well.

  165. @ Gram3:

    There are so many threads and comments I cannot keep up. But someone posted a link about a church that deals with sexual predators by having some sort of male only group. I tried to find it last night because I want to read it.

    This is the answer. I am noticing on some pastor blogs that the theme is that we cannot keep ” sinners” out of church. That is not grace. If you read them, you see they blanket use the word sinner.

    I used to think all of this was just ignorance on the part of pastors who have no real training in sexual predators of children. But I am starting to think there is some willful ignorance going on. They talk only about safeguards in church (but those are insurance requirements, too) when a “former” predator comes and think that protects them. ONe asked me how they can protect children and I said they can’t. That is the problem if they understand grooming.

    Now, if they tell everyone at church about the predator they know what will happen and they start in on giving the predator another chance and showing grace, etc.

    This is not like other crimes. This is preying on the most vulnerable and innocent of our society. This is also a crime, that like it or not, will follow a person all their lives. It obviously requires a long con and lifestyle of total deception. That does not seem fair to many pastors. But really, who wants to err on the side of lacking grace for children?

    Child sees Mr Bob (predator who did time or whatever) at church for months on end and Mr Bob is really nice. Everyone else is nice to Mr. Bob and treats him well. Mom and dad are nice to Mr. Bob. Child sees Mr Bob walking in the park. See the problem? Where do we err if we have to err in this scenerio?

    These pastors also blow off child porn and really do not think through what it must entail to even get to the point it can be viewed on the internet. For them, It is only about the person getting caught and repenting.

    I am really starting to see it as willful ignorance. And the reason is because they keep telling the rest of us we lack grace for the sinner.

  166. @ Gary W:

    Thanks for the link. Crippen has done yeoman’s work on this subject. The only thing I can figure is going on out there is that too many churches these days don’t really understand Jesus at all. He has become a cheap grace get out of jail card for many.

  167. WillysJeepMan wrote:

    But a not so obvious reason is to filter out those with discernment. Mature and/or discerning believers would not submit themselves to unbiblical leadership. They get weeded out from the get-go. Those who apply and are accepted as members have demonstrated a lack of maturity and/or discernment that leadership desires.
    These leaders are shaping the flock that they want (rather than to care for those that the Lord brings). These evanjellyfish (not my term, I read it elsewhere) will blindly do what leadership says. Want to expand their campus? Send out an “info pack”, give a “sermon” on the subject and watch the money roll in.
    They see their roles as serving their pastors (rather than the other way around). Sad and sick.

    Well, this is embarrassing. I have to admit I have never thought of this. 🙁 And I have to admit I don’t think I ever would have thought of this. 🙁

    I guess my career as an evil overlord isn’t going to work out after all. I just don’t have the mind for it. 🙁

    Curses. Foiled again. 🙁

  168. Gram3 wrote:

    Another thing that may be in play is that they do not believe that Jordan can receive ministry unless he attends the larger meetings of the church. That, IMO, reflects an almost sacramental view of the worship service, and that is certainly not a Baptist idea. I don’t even think it is a Roman Catholic idea since the priests I know of still visit when people are unable to attend Mass.

    I think you are on to something here, Gram3. It reminds me of that recent trial in the OPC where a man was tried because of failure to bring his chronically ill wife to church often enough so she could receive the means of grace (I assume they meant communion and the sermon). I believe they found him guilty and it caused some uproar. As far as I can tell the idea of them going to her never seemed to enter the picture. I don’t know why not.

  169. WillysJeepMan wrote:

    But a not so obvious reason is to filter out those with discernment. Mature and/or discerning believers would not submit themselves to unbiblical leadership.

    That would be most of my parents generation who would not have put up with any of this. I cannot fathom it. They seemed to have a better sense about tyranny and personal responsibility.

    What happens now to those who are more mature is they are totally isolated in most Christian circles. If not for blogs they would find very little comraderie in what is going on. They are the “dones” with church but who love Jesus Christ too much too attend these authoritarian businesses called church.

    But most involved in them seem to be totally oblivious to it unless they are targeted and start to do some homework.

    When the Driscoll fandom was really in its glory his followers adored his in your face brashness and vulgarity. It was really cool to them. A commenter last night said he liked Chandler’s narcissistic zero comments in a sermon about an anonymous letter writer. I have seen the same sentiment about so many of the gurus. This is not the Jesus of justice, mercy, compassion and doing right by others.

    People actually LIKE this authoritarian stuff. They see no problems with it in light of how Jesus is revealed in the Gospels. That boggles my mind. What does that tell us about the state of Christendom in evangelicalism? Has it just become cult of personality?

  170. Here’s my take on the big-picture meta-meaning for you, the elders of The Village Church, regarding your so-called apology.

    You, the elders of The Village Church, still believe your underlying theology is sound re: covenant membership, and taking “confession” and “repentance” at face value. There is no repentance at all in direction here, not really. No, you don’t have metanoeō/μετανοέω.

    You, the elders of The Village Church, feel bad about how things turned out, for your “tone,” for what was missing in your leadership behaviors, for the sad consequences and their impact you brought upon your congregation. There is much remorse. Yes, you have metamellomai/μεταμέλλομαι.

    The problem is, what you elders yourselves list that you feel so badly about – your lack of gentleness, compassion, patience, humility, mercy – are all indicators of character issues, fruit of the Spirit issues, issues about qualification qualities that the pastoral epistles delineate as *required* of those who would serve as elders/overseers. If you are so much into doing things right, for the right reasons, what does your public failure in demonstrating these indicators dictate that you should do?

    Hopefully you elders of The Village Church feel some significant discomfort over your own failures to model godly oversight, and that your own μεταμέλλομαι leads to μετανοέω.

  171. Beakerj wrote:

    what if all these churches that have paedophiles in them, under these kinds of circumstances, are genuinely only interested that their protection policies fit what they think is Biblical, not whether or not they actually protect children?

    This was something someone else and myself were discussing on the last thread.

    I am sure that there must be some pedophiles out there observing this TVC case, or ones similar to it, and all the pedophiles can see are churches who are too lax about protecting children.

    The churches are more concerned about punishing wives, or with church politics and rules about marriage, than they are in keeping a known pedophile away from children at the church.

    This may embolden some pedophiles to seek out churches even more so, to obtain more victims.

  172. @ Yasmin:

    Yasmin, I believe you and several others in this comment stream have nailed the real issue. Because of the “authoritarian structure” of most instituional churches, leaders are absolutely unable to see the real problem. In Karen’s situation, they KNOW they screwed up, but the still remain mystified as to why they did. Answer: They have a system that doesn’t empower individuals to walk in the power and freedom of the Holy Spirit, subsituting this biblical system of church leadership which is based on giftings, not gender; service, not titles, love, not power for an authoritarian, man-made system of leadership that emphasises control and maintaining the structure and positions of power the system creates.

    The difficulty for us “the little people,” at least in my mind, is that we must be willing to show some ability to forgive – even when the apology is wordy and weak and the statement of repentance is not the best – because if we really want to influence change in the systemic fault line of insititutional Christianity – the fault line of unbiblical authoritarianism – then we who have been victimized, abused, and discarded must recognize that power HAS shifted, and those who win the day are the ones who live by principle, surrounded by love. Or, as is said of Jesus, being a person full of grace and truth. Of course, that’s not easy to practice in the middle of hurt caused by institutional Christianity. However, one of the reasons leaders listen is because those with power are able to show love. Believe it or not, the power i’m talking about are those who write like we (Dee, Deb, Amy, Wade, etc…) write, are able to pinpoint a problem, display grace to the problem maker, and actually solve problems.

    I have read through every single comment in this stream and is making some outstanding points. What would be wonderful – in my opinion – is for the leaders of TVC to call Karen and request that she, Dee and Amy fly to Dallas (at TVC expense) and allow those three incredible ladies an open forum for the three of them to teach the men leading TVC how they can change their approach to ministry to their members. If those men will listen, what happened to Karen Hinkley will never happen again to a member of TVC. But what happened to Karen was NOT because something was out of kilter with Karen, or Karen was “in sin,” or Karen wouldn’t “listen.” What happened to Karen happened because TVC has a system of authority and control that must be dismantled if the church will be ever to minister effectively to the weak and hurting in their congregation.

    Will this meeting ever happen?

    Who knows. It could. I can guarantee you this – if it does happen, TVC will be better in the future because they will be attempting to solve a systemic problem that revolves around their approach to ministry based on authoritarianism and control rather than giftedness, service, love and trust.

  173. Gram3 wrote:

    That, IMO, reflects an almost sacramental view of the worship service…

    I’d put it differently: there’s a sacramental view of the pulpit, and the preacher’s activity therein. Within biblianistic circles, the sermon is at least what the host is in the Roman church.

    Obviously, “biblianism” isn’t actually a word, but it should be. It refers to the belief that the Bible is Emmanuel, that is, God’s primary significant manifest presence among us. I consider it at least on a par to the many-headed heresy of gnosticism that the early apostles fought against.

    I think you’re right in the case where the “church” is simply a motivational speaking business. The Sunday service is of primary importance, perhaps not as a sacrament per se, but as the main product of the business. Driskle could only claim that he himself was the brand at Mars Hill because the Sunday Service product had been so successfully marketed and was attended by such a large number of “giving units” (this is literally what the Mars Hill management called them). The Sunday Service is the main shop-window of the business, and the brand value of the “church” cannot exceed the conspicuous success it can demonstrate through the population of its main auditorium.

  174. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Obviously, “biblianism” isn’t actually a word, but it should be. It refers to the belief that the Bible is Emmanuel, that is, God’s primary significant manifest presence among us.

    The word is “Bibliolatry”, i.e. The Bible IS God.

  175. Daisy wrote:

    I am sure that there must be some pedophiles out there observing this TVC case, or ones similar to it, and all the pedophiles can see are churches who are too lax about protecting children.

    The churches are more concerned about punishing wives, or with church politics and rules about marriage, than they are in keeping a known pedophile away from children at the church.

    This may embolden some pedophiles to seek out churches even more so, to obtain more victims.

    Where there is Easy Prey, the Predators will swarm.

  176. Throughout all these church debacles, there is something that I have not seen brought up. The church is often telling people ‘don’t follow the world/crowd, don’t do something because everyone else does it, don’t cave to a liberal agenda, fight against gov’t intrusion, blah blah blah’. Do these pastors and elders at churches who hold the same ideas as TVC or Mars Hill realize they want their followers to do just that? To blindly follow their doctrines, membership covenants, rules etc? Talk about hypocrisy.

  177. @ Lydia:
    Twenty years ago my husband was asked to resign from the elder board because his major concern was the people and not being in authority. He was also called the conscience of the elder board. He ended up resigning because our ministry of working with parents of troubled youth was more important to him than church politics. Neither of us ever regretted that decision.

  178. Lydia wrote:

    I used to think all of this was just ignorance on the part of pastors who have no real training in sexual predators of children. But I am starting to think there is some willful ignorance going on. They talk only about safeguards in church (but those are insurance requirements, too) when a “former” predator comes and think that protects them. ONe asked me how they can protect children and I said they can’t. That is the problem if they understand grooming.

    Don’t forget Pastor (and similar authority figures) are also being groomed by the Predator — as Supporters and Allies.

  179. @ Gracie:

    So true, Gracie. Don’t listen to anything secular, but do what we tell you without questioning. Either way people are being asked not to think.

  180. Gary W wrote:

    Oops again. In my previous comment the complete link is http://cryingoutforjustice.com/2015/05/29/do-not-pity-the-wicked-abusers-use-pity-as-a-snare/

    It might have been here that I heard a comment about a study that the most common characteristic of a Sociopath is the ability to Induce Pity, to make everyone feel So So Sorry for the Poor Poor Sociopath. And So So Guilty about themselves.

    In local fandom, this is called “The Mutant Superpower of ‘Induce Guilt’.”
    Or “Shining the Stupid Ray on people.”

  181. Bridget wrote:

    @ Gracie:
    So true, Gracie. Don’t listen to anything secular, but do what we tell you without questioning. Either way people are being asked not to think.

    The Party Can Do No Wrong.
    Two Plus Two Equals Five — Ees Party Line, Comrades!

  182. Lydia wrote:

    But someone posted a link about a church that deals with sexual predators by having some sort of male only group

    I’m not necessarily saying that is a bad idea or bad solution, but, it feeds into some of the issues I have with churches and evangelical Christianity, in that rather than teaching men to practice self control, churches teach men to never, ever to associate with, or form deep friendships (or even casual ones!), with unmarried women.

    We single ladies are depicted by evangelicals and Baptists as sexual minxes who will try to snare a man into the sack if given the opportunity.

    Single women are thus regularly deprived of fellowship, because the married ladies view us with suspicion (they assume we want to have affairs with their spouse), and the married and single men are told by preachers and Christian literature that unmarried women are trouble (possible causes of affairs).

    Maybe it is a good idea and prudent to keep male pedos with male-only groups, but I do get a little concerned that this idea of separation- to- prevent- sexual- sin bolsters the common evangelical mindset that unmarried, non-pedo women cannot be trusted around anyone, so men cannot and should not associate with them.

  183. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    I’d put it differently: there’s a sacramental view of the pulpit, and the preacher’s activity therein.

    I agree, and in the churches I’ve been in, the sermon is the focus of the service. And maybe that’s a reaction against sacraments being the focus elsewhere. Regardless, the Holy Spirit is not confined to spaces and times and events.

    In certain situations, products are sacraments. Just try ordering a Pepsi in Atlanta or a Coke in Dallas. You will self-identify as a heretic.

  184. Wade Burleson wrote:

    The difficulty for us “the little people,” at least in my mind, is that we must be willing to show some ability to forgive – even when the apology is wordy and weak and the statement of repentance is not the best – because if we really want to influence change in the systemic fault line of insititutional Christianity – the fault line of unbiblical authoritarianism – then we who have been victimized, abused, and discarded must recognize that power HAS shifted, and those who win the day are the ones who live by principle, surrounded by love

    What exactly do you mean by “forgive”? What does that look like to you? We don’t discuss the system? Or their words/teaching/behavior?

    The “forgive” dichotomy in these situations is very confusing and usually not applicable. Did Jesus forgive the Pharisees if they did not actually produce metanoia? Often forgivness in these situations is simply moving on –away from the toxicity– and not seeking any redress. Most often it is a fools errand to think it means fellowship or reconcilliation. How can you reconcile with snakes in the grass who protect pedophiles and call someone like Karen the real sinner?

    I am having a hard time undestanding what most of us can forgive them for. They have done nothing to me personally, for example. I am interacting about their public doctrine and public. Can I forgive them for what they have done to others? Is forgiveness supposed to make me think they are ok?

    I also think that puts a lot of pressure on Karen who sounds like she just wants to move on. Unless she has changed her mind.

    Some of us have been around long enough to know that things like this can also be used as PR stunts by the other side which only serves to give cover for future abuse so then we become complicit in that, too. Why would anyone want to be seen as putting their stamp of approval on a forgivness process that might be used to abuse others in the future?

    This is who these guys are and what they are. Authoritarianism is their definition of Christianity. They are not going to stop being authoritarian because they had a sit down with these women. They would not know how to stop. They will only figure out how to do it better and more covertly. If they had any pangs of the Holy Spirit convicting them, the “apology” would look much different…less of them and more of the victims for starters.

    This tactic has not worked with Patterson, JD Hall, etc. IMO, there is a time to simply walk away from toxicity and warn others. Shake the dust off the feet, so to speak and stop pretending it is just another form of Christianity gone wrong.

  185. “Paragraph 10
    “Our hearts are heavy and broken over the things that have been said about our good and faithful God.”

    If their God is their “local church”, their system, their authority, then this makes perfect sense.

  186. Lydia wrote:

    That is not grace. If you read them, you see they blanket use the word sinner.

    Yes, this a million times over. I’m seeing it a lot on social media.

    A lot of guys (the most vocal and obnoxious I’ve seen so far), mostly Reformed in theology, equate all sin.

    They think that you’re – you, whose most serious sin in life maybe was flipping the middle finger in traffic last week at some jerk who cut you off – are just as dangerous as a guy who molests children.

    If I asked you, if you were stuck on a dessert island for the next 20 years, and had one choice of companionship, and I gave you the choices of

    1. a pedophile
    2. Susie the average home-maker
    3. Joe the serial killer

    -who would you feel safest around? Who would you prefer having to spend the next 20 years with?

    The guys I’ve seen on blogs and social media saying “we’re all sinners!” (defending pedos such as Duggar or Root) would say you should feel fine with any and all three persons on that list.

    I doubt they themselves would want to stay on an island with options 1 or 3, though, but they expect YOU to. And if you balk at it, well, you must not believe in the Gospel, or that Jesus can cure serial killing, etc etc.

  187. @ lydia:
    I don’t know the grammatical construction, but I think it’s called glossing over the hard parts, and basically changing the subject. The opposite of this is call frankness.

    “I’m so, so sorry for the sadness I feel over the inconvenience and emotional consequences you feel concerning the unfortunate fact that I may have inadvertently run over your dog.”

  188. sam wrote:

    very slow reporting, and it doesnt say if they actually reported it or if they are saying something about we know karen reported it so we didnt bother, but she did… or we are sure that SIM reported so we didnt bother. i really really think this is going to be a point that they cant escape…not reporting, not disclosing to church members.

    As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I read all 37 pages of source materials posted on Watch Keep posts of May 20 and May 27.

    In the May 27 post — Karen Hinkley’s response to The Village Church 5/23/15 email sent to 6000 “covenant members” about her and Jordan Root — it is stated that:

    SIM notified the FBI shortly after Jordan’s confession (which was December 16, 2014).

    Karen returned to Dallas on January 13, 2015.

    Karen had conversations with an FBI agent starting January 17, 2015.

  189. Flicker wrote:

    I don’t know the grammatical construction, but I think it’s called glossing over the hard parts, and basically changing the subject. The opposite of this is call frankness.

    Nancy mentioned the Orwell books and that is a good place to start for this sort of thing. Thought Reform. That is what that sort of verbage is all about. People don’t recognize what is actually happening when the syrupy words that really say nothing are being said. Because it looks and sounds so sincere. They are not blasting anyone with frankness which looks mean. They are drilling a black hole of Christian PR legalese. The documents from TVC are so telling. It was the same with the SGM wikileaks docs. Try talking to them one on one sometime in an irenic manner and asking yes or no questions. They cannot be frank/direct because they are trained in this cheesy verbose speak. It is who they are.

    I mean, even if you wanted to try reconcilation how would you know when you have come to agreement with this sort of communication speak. For another thing, their definitions of the same words are different. “Care” to them means “control”. You would have to agree on a dictionary of usage first.

  190. The “apology” of TVC is a typical abuser apology. No admission of fault, minimization, deflection, and blameshifting. Really, an apology is pretty simple, even young kids can learn to do it properly. But IME in churches, the men folk (in charge types) have a difficult time forming a proper apology. For those who think they are gods, admitting fault would be heresy.

    The idea of church covenants has been around at least since the Reformation in the Anabaptist streams. Shunning/church discipline are the “normal” ways that these groups exert control over their members.

  191. Bob M wrote:

    It shows that they do not trust people who have the Holy Spirit to make wise decisions.

    I’m repeatedly taken aback by how this church (and other authoritarian churches) are treating adults as though the adults are children who need parental supervision.

    Even if someone is a Non-Christian who doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, and even if they are prone to making stupid decisions, they are entitled to do so. It’s their life.

    I’m really appalled that these churches think it’s their call to tell a grown adult if it’s okay for that person to do something in their life, like end a marriage or not.

  192. alethia wrote:

    The idea of church covenants has been around at least since the Reformation in the Anabaptist streams

    Written and signed covenants? People did not read and write at that time.

  193. Lydia wrote:

    People actually LIKE this authoritarian stuff. They see no problems with it in light of how Jesus is revealed in the Gospels. That boggles my mind. What does that tell us about the state of Christendom in evangelicalism? Has it just become cult of personality?

    Were I to make the obvious historical comparison, I would subject myself to the possibility of being indicted for banality. For having fulfilled Godwin’s Law, of course. Still, I can’t help asking. Does anybody know if the stages at these Village Churches happen to bear any resemblance to the speaker’s platform at Nuremberg?

  194. @ Bridget:

    This is a misnomer that is making the rounds in certain circles on the internet when covenants are mentioned. I have no idea its provenance but it is not something that has come up in my Ana Baptist/Reformation study and research.

    AnaBaptists were not monolithic but there were some consistent themes. Many AnaBaptist groups would not swear an oath to anything. Most were totally devoted to “let your yes be yes” type of thinking because of the state church requirements they were fleeing from in the first place. They were, for the most part, even against creeds.

  195. Bridget wrote:

    Written and signed covenants? People did not read and write at that time.

    A certain very obnoxious blogger was arguing that church covenants are really very okay, one reason being, because they are not new, they have been used by churches in centuries past.

    I guess that makes selling indulgences okay, or burning people at the stake over disagreeing about theology okay, since it was done by churches in centuries past. People in the past were always correct, they never made mistakes.

  196. @ Gary W:

    I see similarities in thinking. For example the membership covenant is really about pledging allegiance to the leaders. I know it is not presented that way and many would argue I am wrong but who interprets scripture for the signers? Who would arbitrate the meaning of the word “care” for the signers? The leaders. The leaders. The leaders.

    The membership covenant is ulitmately the same thing as pledging/signing a contract to obey the leaders— who just so happen interpret scripture for you and have authority over the definitions.

  197. Lainie Petersen wrote:

    3. They use the words “we” and “our” a lot. Safety in numbers and safety in relative anonymity. Karen and Jordan are called out by name, but not the people who mishandled this situation. I’ll believe in their repentance when I see individual elders and leaders stepping forward and explaining what they did wrong, why they did it, and how they plan to prevent this from happening again. I don’t want to see this in a collective letter, I want to see individuals acknowledging their own failures.

    Many of the 19 documents sourced at the two Watch Keep posts (May 20 and May 27) are emails. The four elders/staff/Covenant Members most frequently recipients of these emails are:

    * Richard Brindley

    * Matt Chandler

    * Steve Hardin (who also sent Karen Hinkley 4 text messages total on April 11, 14, and 27)

    * Matt Younger

    I found it particularly intriguing to observe the interchanges related to Karen Hinkley’s “Withdrawal of Membership” email of February 11, 2015, and responses that day and the next.

    Her initial email of February 11 was addressed to Richard Brindley and Matt Younger, with CC to Steve Hardin and Matt Chandler.

    A response email was sent 55 minutes later by Matt Younger, addressed to Karen Root, with CC to Richard Brindley and Pastor-Steve Hardin. (Note that Matt Chandler was not CC’ed.)

    Karen Hinkley’s reply email on February 12 was addressed to Matt Younger, with CC to Richard Brindley, Pastor-Steve Hardin, and Matt Chandler.

    Also mentioned several times in the source materials was Karen Hinkley’s concern about “Randall Reed who provided Jordan with legal counsel and representation in the annulment case free of charge, despite the fact that he does not typically practice family law.”

    So, those are some of the specific leaders pertinent to this situation of the TVC elders’ self-acknowledged “failures” and subsequent need to apologize to Karen Hinkley

  198. Gram3 wrote:

    the sermon is the focus of the service. And maybe that’s a reaction against sacraments being the focus elsewhere.

    I don’t think that is it so much, because evangelicals do practice in some form things that sacramental churches do. They baptize. They partake of the bread and wine. They practice rededication of one’s life (which can look a lot like confirmation). They pray for the sick, with or without the oil. There is an increased emphasis on personal acknowledgement of and confession of ever present sin (just not to a priest) and what is church discipline if it is not first cousin to penance. They have certainly made a sacrament of marriage but just don’t call it that. And if anybody believed in the sacrament of holy orders it is the called and chosen and elected/selected and ordained among the evangelical clergy.

    No, what I think that what they disagree with regarding the RCC is more about politics and economy and current social issues and such and…and…and…how can they (said called, chose, elected, selected and ordained) corner a piece of the religious market for themselves. They seem to have hills to die on at least partly because there is gold in them thar hills.

  199. Part of MPT’s response to the “apology”:

    “Rather than apologizing for spiritually and emotionally harassing her for the last 5 months, they apologized for not “leading her toward repentance”! What the hell? I mean, seriously friends, what on earth does Karen have to apologize about? For not wanting to be married to a man who is sexually attracted to 4-year-old girls? For not falling in line and following their advice?

    DING. DING. DING.

    That’s why TVC believes she should repent. Because she didn’t follow protocol. Because she dared to challenge TVC’s male-led religious establishment. Because she was strong. Because she stood her ground. Because she didn’t submit.

    And they blame themselves for all of that, because they didn’t “lead her” correctly.

    What?

    That’s not why you should be sorry, TVC. Karen didn’t need you to apologize for any of those things.”

    http://matthewpaulturner.com/2015/05/29/so-can-we-discuss-that-apology-from-the-village-church-because-it-really-missed-the-point/

  200. @ Lydia:
    Even after explaining what it meant, I once got a patriarchist to concede that they thought the führerprinzip, leader principle, was legitimate and good. I confess, though, that I did not identify the best known practitioner of the concept.

  201. sam wrote:

    Labor laws. slandering her ability to work, publicly. saying SIM is with them on this. implying she will never work in missions for them again.

    February 12, 2015 — 1-page email from Karen Root to Matt Younger, with CC to Richard Brindley, Pastor-Steve Hardin, and Matt Chandler. Subject: RE: Withdrawal of Membership.

    “I am fully within my rights to withdraw my membership from The Village Church, which I did yesterday, February 11th, 2015. … While the church has the right to initiate and carry out church discipline of its members, the church does not have the right to do so of non-members. I am no longer a member of The Village Church, and while I recognize the right of the leadership of the church to make decisions internally, formal church discipline of me as a non-member would be defamatory.”

  202. Lydia wrote:

    What exactly do you mean by “forgive”? What does that look like to you? We don’t discuss the system? Or their words/teaching/behavior?

    I have great respect for Burleson but I’m having the same problem. There is no one size fits all to this. How do you deal with leaders who should be servants? Are they of good will but misguided or are they of the type that are bent on control for controls sake. In this present case it appears to be the latter as Chandler didn’t inherit this oppressive system, he put it in place and his justification some years ago was submit, obey, and discipline.

    So how do you deal with a church leader, who is not a servant, and who you believe is incapable of change unless they are removed. In my case I removed myself from an authoritarian church and am willing to tell anyone else who asks they should do the same. It took a bunch of plagues to get pharaoh to come around, I imagine it will take something similar for many of these leaders.

    I haven’t received a direct command from God to confront one of these pharaohs and tell him “Let my people go, so that they may worship me”.

  203. Lydia wrote:

    WillysJeepMan wrote:
    But a not so obvious reason is to filter out those with discernment. Mature and/or discerning believers would not submit themselves to unbiblical leadership.
    That would be most of my parents generation who would not have put up with any of this. I cannot fathom it. They seemed to have a better sense about tyranny and personal responsibility.

    This is the logical aftermath of the “Seeker Friendly”/”Church Growth” movement. A generation (or more) of believers have been trained that church is to “entertain the goats” rather than to “equip the saints”. That meant less theology and more self-improvement accomplished by less personal growth, and more corporate compliance.

    What happens now to those who are more mature is they are totally isolated in most Christian circles. If not for blogs they would find very little comraderie in what is going on. They are the “dones” with church but who love Jesus Christ too much too attend these authoritarian businesses called church.

    True. However some of us are not alone in calling out where the “Christian Culture” differs from Biblical truth. There are small fellowships of believers who desire to be disciples. It’s an uphill battle because even the more mature believers gravitate toward the comfort of the familiar.

    With so much cynicism in the air, it takes time for these fellowships to prove that they are “walking the walk”. There’s no shortcut to a track record. So we faithfully press on.

    But most involved in them seem to be totally oblivious to it unless they are targeted and start to do some homework.
    When the Driscoll fandom was really in its glory his followers adored his in your face brashness and vulgarity. It was really cool to them. A commenter last night said he liked Chandler’s narcissistic zero comments in a sermon about an anonymous letter writer. I have seen the same sentiment about so many of the gurus. This is not the Jesus of justice, mercy, compassion and doing right by others.
    People actually LIKE this authoritarian stuff. They see no problems with it in light of how Jesus is revealed in the Gospels. That boggles my mind. What does that tell us about the state of Christendom in evangelicalism? Has it just become cult of personality?

    Sadly, yes it has. The “Evangelical Industrial Complex” is alive and well. The same familiar names, speaking at the same conferences, endorsing one another’s books, watching one another’s backs…supporting and defending “their own” who comes under scrutiny. They’re attempting to establish a Romanism within Evangelicalism where the “clergy” has a separate set of rules that apply to themselves with an authority over the “laity” of the average congregant.

  204. Tim wrote:

    The more I read from TVC the more it keeps sounding like, “But she signed a covenant!”

    Well, that’s pretty much all they have. And even then, they need the covenant to say things that it never said. And all that only matters if the idea of a church covenant is even valid. So, the who argument is a bit weak.

  205. @ Gary W:

    Gee Gary, I had to look that up:

    The Führerprinzip, German for “leader principle”, prescribed the fundamental basis of political authority in the governmental structures of the Third Reich. This principle can be most succinctly understood to mean that “the Führer ‘​s word is above all written law” and that governmental policies, decisions, and offices ought to work toward the realization of this end.

    That is what I think groups like TVC/9 Marks do with scripture. Their interpretation is the last word above all other interpretations. They codify this position in the memebership covenant. There is no understanding or affirmation of soul liberty of freedom of conscience with these groups. They believe that God appointed them to be in charge of the other adults. This means people stay on their brand of baby formula instead of maturing to meat.

    It is like selling your soul to the “leader principle”.

  206. Godith wrote:

    That’s why if a church asks members to vow “submission to elders and discipline” there needs to be a list of possible actions that one could be asked to submit to the elders (where you go to college, who you marry, attending other churches midweek, tithing?) Who could ever have imagined that this case would issue in the discipline of the wronged party?

    There’s only one healthy response to this situation: Run! Do NOT ever join a church that requires you to sign a Membership Covenant and to submit to the elders, to be disciplined by them.

    Here is Pastor Wade Burleson’s article on the topic of why people should say “no”.
    http://www.wadeburleson.org/2015/05/five-reasons-to-say-no-to-church.html

  207. @ Tim:

    I don’t grasp this thinking at all. I too keep seeing TVC and their fans saying, “but she signed an agreement!”

    Some of them will agree that no, they wouldn’t want to stay married to a pedophile either, “but she signed an agreement!!!”

    And so? Who cares?

    I also don’t see a need for a person to send in a formal letter saying they quit the church, or whether they are classified as a member or non-member:

    A church thinking they can dictate to you when or if you leave a marriage to a pedophile is in the wrong. I don’t care about any stinking signed membership agreements or covenants, not in something like this.

  208. Bill M wrote:

    In my case I removed myself from an authoritarian church and am willing to tell anyone else who asks they should do the same. It took a bunch of plagues to get pharaoh to come around, I imagine it will take something similar for many of these leaders.

    I agree, and that’s why I’m so determined to try to help other people think through this and escape from it. The ones who benefit from the system will never change the system until it declines or totally collapses. The few voices of conscience from among those who benefit are vilified and run off. There is no mechanism for correction because the operating assumption is that they have everything about God and life nailed down tight. Any change is necessarily degradation. They have no need for Bereans who, from their perspective, merely cause divisive questioning among the pewpeons.

  209. Gary W wrote:

    Really, the argument could be made that everyone of Dr. Lifton’s 8 criteria for identifying a cult applies to what we are seeing in and from TVC.

    That particular criterion by Dr. Robert Jay Lifton on “the psychology of totalism” seems very relevant to this situation. Three other criteria that seem to me very telling. Here are his terms and my summaries of those criteria, plus the one you mentioned on “Doctrine Over Person.”

    3. The Demand for Purity. The demand here is not so much about moral purity, but about purity in thinking. The cult wants to reduce and restrict what people think to only and always what paradigm planks the cult teaches. The cult’s ideology is black and white, and absolutely right. This means that the leader-party-organization serves as the sole arbiter of absolute good and absolute evil. Also, all that is pure is found only inside the boundaries of the group. All that is impure is always found outside the group. Therefore, we must purge the group of any impurities – thoughts, feelings, actions, opinions, people, vocations, etc.

    5. The “Sacred Science.” Leaders and followers in a cult organization present its ideology as the ultimate moral vision – as if theirs is the only right and righteous Way of life. They act as if it has an airtight logic and unassailable methodology for achieving that vision. So, since their system of precepts and practices is absolutely perfect, that elevates it to the status of dogma – “orthodox faith.” It constitutes “sacred science.” Because the entire system is sacred and transcends “normal” and “worldly” wisdom, it is right for guiding every aspect of life. Adherence to it is a moral responsibility. Protecting it is a moral obligation – even if it means taking actions others do not understand, or may even find “immoral.” But protecting the organization, its leaders, and its ideology may require it.

    6. Loading the Language. By “loading the language,” Dr. Lifton means creating code words and insider jargon that reduces complex problems to simplistic solutions, and condenses categories into judgmental labels. By using language that is more loaded, authoritarian leaders create dependence (the leaders know what these terms mean; I don’t have to) and limit thought (the truth is encoded in a limited number of terms that tell what is good-pure-right and what is evil-impure-wrong; those are the only categories that matter). Granted, every social group uses “insider language” to some degree. It helps us identify others as “one of us” and can give a common vocabulary for conversing about issues of interest. Over time, though, such group language should grow and change. However, totalistic organizations take labeling to the extreme, giving their code words the status of sacred and therefore being perfect and unchangeable. That is part of how they manipulate language usage to serve their purposes.

    7. Doctrine Over Person. But what happens when people don’t align with the authority of the group’s sacred word or its leaders? You modify people to fit the system, not the system to fit being human. So, when it comes right down to it, People AREN’T more important than things (i.e., the ideology). There is no room for challenge, growth, or variety. The system is perfectly absolute and absolutely perfect: “We have the truth, they don’t. They need to change.” (Therefore, it is not a huge leap forward to consider that those who continue to reject The Truth and resist thought reform do not qualify as human – which is the essence of criterion #8.)

  210. WillysJeepMan wrote:

    This is the logical aftermath of the “Seeker Friendly”/”Church Growth” movement. A generation (or more) of believers have been trained that church is to “entertain the goats” rather than to “equip the saints”. That meant less theology and more self-improvement accomplished by less personal growth, and more corporate compliance.

    Sheesh! I resemble that remark! :o) You sure hit the nail on the head.

    But thanks to my late mother it did not stick. I had a good foundation as I did not grow UP in the seeker movement. I knew something was wrong and missing for a long time before I faced it.

    But many grew up in the seeker world as little kids in the 80’s.and they were looking for something more authentic and real as they got older. Emergent was the thing for a while but the systematized approach of the YRR was a huge draw for many of them. And many of them found it in college, believe it or not.

  211. WillysJeepMan wrote:

    This is the logical aftermath of the “Seeker Friendly”/”Church Growth” movement. A generation (or more) of believers have been trained that church is to “entertain the goats” rather than to “equip the saints”.

    My mother had poor boundaries, probably due to a combination of growing up as a kid in an abusive, alcoholic family and being raised to believe by her Christian mother and church in gender complementarianism.

    That may be why some Christian women fall for this authoritarian church stuff.

    If you are codependent, you are going to be a doormat more often than not, you are going to repress the truth and be naive or make naive choices.

    If you’re codependent and believe it’s wrong for women to be in leadership roles, to always defer to men, you are conditioned to be a victim, to do whatever male-led churches tell you to do and not think for yourself.

  212. @ Beakerj:

    “One of the things that bothers me about this whole thing, & whole area as covered by TWW: what if all these churches that have paedophiles in them, under these kinds of circumstances, are genuinely only interested that their protection policies fit what they think is Biblical, not whether or not they actually protect children?
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    steve hardin, matt younger, Richard brindley, matt chandler….

    good grief, men, you’re like non-thinking automatons which can only calculate information according to how it has been programmed. push your button and out comes the boilerplate.

    do you have any life left in you? any flicker of original thought & empathy that you haven’t sold to your institution?

  213. oops-a-doodle. messed up the italics code on #7. Changing it here to caps.

    7. Doctrine Over Person. But what happens when people DON’T align with the authority of the group’s sacred word or its leaders? You modify people to fit the system, not the system to fit being human. So, when it comes right down to it, People AREN’T more important than things (i.e., the ideology). There is no room for challenge, growth, or variety. The system is perfectly absolute and absolutely perfect: “We have the truth, they don’t. They need to change.” (Therefore, it is not a huge leap forward to consider that those who continue to reject The Truth and resist thought reform do not qualify as human – which is the essence of criterion #8.)

  214. Gram3 wrote:

    The ones who benefit from the system will never change the system until it declines or totally collapses.

    Bingo.

  215. @ Wade Burleson:
    Wade,

    I agree with most of what you wrote here. I would quibble with one thing. I particularly hate lying, equivocation and obfuscation, because they tend to lead immediately to greater abuses, for which the lies are a cover. And the effects of this is far worse when you say that you are right, and know how to do everything, and other people not only should take your direction but MUST take your direction.

    I don’t think Jesus ever used the word “blind” for physical blindness. But He did say: If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remains. The elders at TVC say they see. And this so-called apology is a cover for their actions, and not for their way of thinking. In a sense – in a sense I believe not intended by the elders – this apology is really a – a shudder to use this euphemism – a cry for help. Look at he way they say things, and what the words really mean (my comments in caps):

    We have also received feedback from people both inside and outside The Village, which has helped us evaluate ourselves. OTHERS, EVEN OUTSIDERS, HAD TO TELL US.

    Sometimes dark and difficult situations – WE CAN’T SEE IN THE DARK – cause us to take a magnifying glass and look through the lens to see deeper than we normally can – WE SCRUTINIZE THINGS! BUT WE JUST DON’T SEE IT. That has absolutely been the case in this situation, and we wanted to let you know where we are with everything, specifically some areas we are still evaluating and some areas AND WE STILL DON’T SEE.

    That said, in the weeks ahead, we will do an external audit to confirm BECAUSE WE OURSELVES STILL DON’T SEE IT we are doing everything possible to protect children and to evaluate how we handle child safety, abusers, abuse victims and other related matters WE ASK OTHERS TO HELP US UNDERSTAND HOW TO PROTECT CHILDREN in a biblical and legal manner BECAUSE WE DON’T SEE WHAT WE DID THAT WAS ACTUALLY WRONG.

    … our membership practices blind us to the person in front of us,… WE ARE BLINDED
    In receiving more information and considering the way we’ve ministered… to AND WE STILL DON’T REALLY SEE IT

    (But the last three paragraphs are about how they are SEEN.)

    If this letter isn’t necessarily a confession of any sinfulness, it certainly is a confession of their incapacity to see and lead.

    They do deserve prayer, certainly, and guidance. But they all should step down if this is their defense regarding Karen. Otherwise as Jesus said of the Pharisees: Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

  216. Flicker wrote:

    They do deserve prayer, certainly, and guidance. But they all should step down if this is their defense regarding Karen.

    Agreed. I don’t see an alternative. Any solution that keeps them in place won’t work. If your problem is abusing power, you shouldn’t have it.

  217. “…formal church discipline of me as a non-member would be defamatory.”

    So they were warned. Legally this church is on some very thin ice indeed.

    Speaking of legalities, apparently they still believe that annulment is a subset of divorce. That’s not going to help anyone when secular law states otherwise. They can go one of two directions with this. Either revisit their teachings on divorce and annulment with guidelines on how and when members may in good conscience act in accordance with state law, or else drop the hammer and proclaim modern annulment unbiblical, and something no Christian can pursue without being in grave sin. Anything else would be inconsistent.

  218. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    There is no room for challenge, growth, or variety. The system is perfectly absolute and absolutely perfect: “We have the truth, they don’t. They need to change.” (Therefore, it is not a huge leap forward to consider that those who continue to reject The Truth and resist thought reform do not qualify as human – which is the essence of criterion #8.)

    Thank you for posting the cult criteria. This is why I refer to the System that must be followed. The content of the ideology of the Systems may vary, but the behaviors of people in the System and the outcomes from the System are sadly predictable.

  219. Bill M wrote:

    If your problem is abusing power, you shouldn’t have it.

    And may I propose a corollary: If you think the solution is the application of more power, you should resign.

  220. Lydia and Flicker,

    Because of my utmost respect for the two of you – and learning much from what you both write (Flicker, your analysis of the apology to a bank robber apologizing was pure genius), I want to devote a blog post to what you have asked. Thanks for your love for Christ and for truth.

  221. Lydia wrote:

    People actually LIKE this authoritarian stuff.

    You bring up a good point, Lydia.

    What if, just for example, Chandler came out and said, “As of today, we are no longer going to preach or counsel, or design programs to serve you. You will all vote for your elders based on how you perceive their spiritual maturity in Christ. And from now on there will be no discrete sermons except by specific request, and the agreement of the whole congregation. Everyone is free to speak, as long as we don’t all speak at the same time, and free to ask questions, and the elders will offer their comments at the end. If you want a particular program to continue, or to start a new one, speak out and those who want to organize and conduct it are free to do so. Anyone with spiritual concerns or who need any kind of help will be able to address these in our weekly meetings, and if you want privacy, you will directed to others in the congregation who have come through similar experiences to what you are going through for their advice, encouragement, and prayer as well. Now, what hymn do you want to hear?”

    I’m not saying this is the best way of doing things, but if all the individual authority stuff were removed, how many people would like this environment, and how many would be left after the first few months.

    Would Matt Chandler be happier and more content to sit amongst the congregation and take part? Or would he wither in unhappiness? I would like to think he would be happy to be out from under all the pressure that “pastoring” involves.

    But I’m sure there would be many who would leave looking for entertainment and leadership elsewhere.

  222. @ WillysJeepMan:

    “…some of us are not alone in calling out where the “Christian Culture” differs from Biblical truth. There are small fellowships of believers who desire to be disciples. It’s an uphill battle because even the more mature believers gravitate toward the comfort of the familiar.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    biblical truth… which is what? are you’s at long last the ones who have finally arrived at biblical truth?

    WillysJeepMan, i’m enjoying your comments, but even you have to admit that there is a lot of variety on what ‘biblical truth’ means, and the fact that you infer that you’ve got it only means you’re starting yet another denomination because all the others are wrong. yet another variation on a set of rules.

    My journey extra-institution has brought me into highly productive spiritual activities with other Christians of very different backgrounds. Very little of ‘how I think things should be’ remains. We find our common ground and go from
    there. And that common ground is essentially treating people the way we would want to be treated, with an emphasis on generosity, kindness, fairness.

    My convictions are quickly boiling down to the refrain “Jesus, reduce me to love”. But yet even that does little to unmuddy the waters, thanks to stupid religion which redefines the word ‘love’ to be compatible with destroying people. So, this last paragraph here starts a whole ‘nuther topic.

  223. Article XIII of TVC’s bylaws deals with discipline. Within this Article XIII there is a link to “the Church’s discipline guidelines,” which is said to be a fuller explanation of the discipline process. However, as of now the link only returns TVC’s homepage. Same thing for the link returned by the Yahoo! search engine. Using the search box on the TVC homepage returns the message, “Sorry, no results for “discipline guidelines” could be found”, although three instances are returned wherein documents refer to these discipline guidelines.

    My suspicion? The discipline guidelines have been scrubbed because they are somehow incriminating. My working assumption is that the discipline guidelines make it clear that the formal disciplinary process, which supposedly would have prevented Karen’s resignation of membership, had not been initiated.

    Further, the bylaws in and of themselves make it clear that formal discipline is initiated by “confronting” the alleged sinner in an initial one-on-one meeting, From all that I have read, this never happened prior to Karen’s resignation.

    It seems to be just one prolonged saga of rules for thee but not for me.

  224. Flicker wrote:

    I’m not saying this is the best way of doing things, but if all the individual authority stuff were removed, how many people would like this environment, and how many would be left after the first few months.

    I think most would leave. During the years of church growth/seeker mega one thing I saw happen across the board is that more and more churches were adding staff to handle things that would have typically been handled by the average member. It reached epic proportions in many city type larger churches who had the capacity.

    Staff were running the church in every area. Members were “volunteers”. The divide of staff-clergy/laity became a chasm. (there is no clergy/laity distinction in the NT at all. We are all priests)

    So I think this idea has become somewhat ingrained. Pewsitters are spectators not participants in any real way much any more except in very small churches that no other options. I grew up totally different. Even in a church with maybe 800 people ( a mega back then) there would be a pastor, music director and church secretary. Maybe a partime paid organist/pianist and youth pastor.

    The last mega I was involved with had between 500-600 paid employees and 150 part time employees. Of the full time employees over 50 were staff “pastors” of this or that. They ran the church. They managed volunteers. There is usually an elder board that operates as a board of directors. This is a business model and even smaller churches have adopted it to some degree.

    So people who attend these churches are basically consumers of something. Belonging? Seeking community?

    But they are not educated consumers who understand they have choices. They are there to consume something they have not thought out.

    I think the bigger problem is this is the new normal. There are not many of us left who remember when the people ran the church by corporate decision making and voting. The pastor and other staff had one vote just like everyone else. The pastor never ran the meetings, either.

  225. Gram3 wrote:

    Thank you for posting the cult criteria. This is why I refer to the System that must be followed. The content of the ideology of the Systems may vary, but the behaviors of people in the System and the outcomes from the System are sadly predictable.

    A comment I posted on another TWW article the other day picks up on a relevant thought for the system under scrutiny here: “In essence, these contractual membership covenants have created a legalized form of the Shepherding Movement.”

    Why that’s potentially important comes from an observation I’ve mentioned other times, that the three most frequent heresies I’ve found mentioned in Christian books on spiritual abuse and “cults” are:

    1. Word of Faith.

    2. Prosperity Gospel.

    3. Authoritarianism / Shepherding Movement.

    I believe the time will come when leaders in authoritarian ministry systems will be challenged to demonstrate that they are NOT sociological cults that take total control over their members — even if their doctrine appears as orthodox as the day is long.

    A legalistic system of compliance to perfectionism (even if it looks like “grace”) keeps disciples in a perpetual state of spiritual immaturity, because the overseers do all the discerning and deciding for everyone. But Hebrews 5:14 tells us that “solid food is for the mature who, by reason of practice, have trained themselves to discern between good and evil” (paraphrase).

    So, you want to remain a spiritual baby? Turn your responsibility for discerning and deciding over to the authorities. Trust them to do it right, and you’ll be righteous. Or will you?

    But, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 3:1, NIV). Authoritarian leaders are the equivalent of pedagogues and the Law.

    (P.S. From my studies on the subject, a system can be a sociological cult without being a theological/religious cult, HOWEVER a theological/religious cult is almost always a sociological cult of control and compliance.)

  226. @ Lydia:
    Do you think what I described was an inherently bad system? No authority except for the non-binding deference given to the elders? I’m serious. I’ve seen it both ways, and I very much prefer the church I described. But maybe that’s just me. I don’t know.

  227. @ brad/futuristguy:
    The link still works. Not sure if I was using the same link but within Article XIII, regarding Church Discipline, reference is made to what is described as a fuller explanation of discipline at http://www.thevillagechurch.net/sermon/church-discipline-guidelines/?utm_source=Church%20Bylaws%20PDF&utm_medium=Church%20Bylaws%20PDF&utm_campaign=Church%20Discipline%20Guidelines

    It is this more detailed description of the disciplinary process that seems to have been scrubbed.

  228. Gram3 wrote:

    And may I propose a corollary: If you think the solution is the application of more power, you should resign.

    That is insightful, it can be used as a corrective before things go bad, it betrays the mindset.

  229. Wade Burleson wrote:

    What happened to Karen happened because TVC has a system of authority and control that must be dismantled if the church will be ever to minister effectively to the weak and hurting in their congregation.

    In my experience there are people, both men and women, who want an authoritarian and controlling type of church structure. They need and desire that type of structure to feel secure. The structure may need a little adjustment here and there, but basically it’s good and it meets their needs. The 6,000 covenant members, if they remain members, validate the current structure.

  230. @ Flicker:
    That’s a very good and insightful question in this context. I think there are people who would love a small group. But there is a very large segment of people, maybe even the vast majority, who want to show up and have minimal responsibility task-wise or spiritually in the church.

    The question about what Chandler would be happy doing is another interesting one for Chandler and his elders to consider.

  231. There has been much well deserved commentary on the dangers of church covenants. However, it would be dangerous to assume that churches with innocuous covenants, or even without covenants, are safe. For example, the TVC rule prohibiting resignation of membership isn’t found in their *relatively* innocuous covenant. For a complete understanding of what you might be getting into, you have to look at the TVC bylaws. You also have to ask for a copy of a document that no longer appears to exist on the Internet.

    I spent some time attending a church with no covenant. However, their bylaws said you couldn’t resign while under church discipline. Needless to say, I didn’t join.

  232. I was looking up the phrase “sloppy agape” that I used from a post on another thread and found this site.

    It may come in handy for Ellie (of “Translations by Ellie” site), or for any translations of The Village Church communiques:

    Christianese Dictionary
    http://www.dictionaryofchristianese.com/

  233. elastigirl wrote:

    biblical truth… which is what? are you’s at long last the ones who have finally arrived at biblical truth?

    That would be very unwise, IMO. If there is truth in the Bible, then the Holy Spirit will bring that out within the body of Christ. That will probably look very different in various groups who assemble together, but maybe that is the point that we have lost. Maybe our group, whatever it is within orthodxy, is not the totality but rather an important part of the whole. But within our group we lose that perspective.

  234. Joe2 wrote:

    The 6,000 covenant members, if they remain members, validate the current structure.

    Yes, along with ratifying the actions and attitudes of their elders.

  235. Bridget wrote:

    Written and signed covenants? People did not read and write at that time.

    They may not have been written/signed ones, but there were rules that the community of believers were to live by. There were significant consequences to disobeying the rules as well. There is a variety of practices within the anabaptist streams of Christianity, but the idea of obeying rules is consistent within them. I have actually studied and read some of the primary source materials from the Reformation period.

    In the Catholic stream, monastic orders have specific rules of life that are based on the Rule of St. Benedict. So, the concept of rules of life is not a new concept originating in the 20th century; it dates back to at least the 7th century A.D. Granted, in the Catholic tradition, it only applied to professed religious, but it is not something new that just came on the scene. Personally, I think it would be a good thing if those who were planning to implement a church covenant would study Benedict’s life and the reasons that he was almost killed by his first community. At least, Benedict was humble enough to gain wisdom from his mistakes.

    @ Daisy:
    @ Lydia:

  236. @ pcapastor:

    pcapastor, you inspired this pcamember to dig out my Westminster Confession and look for myself. Let me share some of what I found:

    Chapter 20, Section 2:

    God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in any thing, contrary to His Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship.[11] So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.

    Chapter 22, Section 6:

    It is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone: and that it may be accepted, it is to be made voluntarily, out of faith, and conscience of duty, in way of thankfulness for mercy received, or for the obtaining of what we want, whereby we more strictly bind ourselves to necessary duties: or, to other things, so far and so long as they may fitly conduce thereunto.

    Chapter 22, Section 7:

    No man may vow to do any thing forbidden in the Word of God, or what would hinder any duty therein commanded, or which is not in his own power, and for the performance whereof he has no promise of ability from God.

    Chapter 25 on the catholic/universal church is also a good lesson.

  237. Apropos of this Apology and the comments about it. I am reminded of a beautiful, graceful, articulate, kindly woman that I knew that told me once, “You know, you can say anything, if you say it right.” She though for a long moment and added, “You really can. You say ANYTHING if you say it right.” And in this context I’m applying her words to any kind of reproach against perceived sinful behavior that is said with ‘love”.

    The problem was that she said the most abominable, slanderous lies about other people. The problem wasn’t the way she said it, with humility and grace, and clarity. It was the content. The content was evil though it was phrased in the kindliest of ways. I think this distinction applies to apologies as well.

  238. @ Gary W:

    Of course as a lawyer you were probably drawn to reading bylaws. :o) most folk don’t bother. There was a case here when the current NAMB President’s church where he was pastor wanted to take over a smaller church as they were expanding with more campuses around town. The cheapest route is to take over a debt free older church where the older population is dwindling.

    When their pastor left the seminary sent one of Mohler’s many assistants to pastor it. After a while the idea of Highview taking it over was floated. The idea was about 50/50 split with one problem. Many opposed were older (and understood SBC politics better as they lived through the CR) and either shut ins, in a nursing home or whatever. But they were the financial backbone and had only recently paid off a new gym. The bylaws stated something like 51% of the vote “present”. They would not accept proxy votes or ballots from long time members still giving money. There was no provision in the bylaws. So Highview won a free church by only a few votes. They downlink their Orwellian sermons from the main campus. Many left and went to a tiny church down the road that was on it’s last dying leg and revived it.

    It is good to demand the bylaws, too, before you join. You never know what rabbits they can pull out of them.

  239. @ Gram3:
    I’m not even sure it has to be a small group. The impression I get is that the entire Christian population of a town worshipped together, probably not in pews, but on the floor, or at tables, and in chairs, however they congregated in those days. I doubt there was a single sermon by a single dedicated speaker, though I expect they all sat up to hear Paul, or the other Apostles.

  240. Flicker wrote:

    The content was evil though it was phrased in the kindliest of ways. I think this distinction applies to apologies as well.

    If conveyed winsomely with flowery words, the content or message is more palatable and acceptable even though it’s evil and/or erroneous.

  241. Flicker wrote:

    The problem was that she said the most abominable, slanderous lies about other people. The problem wasn’t the way she said it, with humility and grace, and clarity. It was the content. The content was evil though it was phrased in the kindliest of ways. I think this distinction applies to apologies as well.

    This is my experience in the seeker world, too. They have it down pat. See, they demand only positive so people find ways to say things they want to say with a totalitarian niceness twist.

    It is deceptive. It literally teaches people to be deceptive instead of direct and honest taking whatever comes their way over it. And people learn to think that anything direct is “mean”. This has wrecked havoc on communication in more than just the church. It is a big part of our culture and political correctness.

  242. On a lighter note: #1 grandchild just washed down some lady’s golden retriever at the fund raiser car wash the youth group just did. I never thought of that as how to get the dog washed, but it is a good idea.

  243. @ Wade Burleson:
    Thanks, Wade,

    I had been wanting you to write about the nature of forgiveness and its relation to repentance, but I know you’ve got a lot of things to do. I do want to ask, in the case of the robber, should he get off with time served?

    Does it matter if he didn’t ever understand that it was the bank robbery itself that was wrong? If he knew it was wrong, should his smoke-screen of an apology in which he minimized his offense be given any consideration?

  244. @ Lydia:
    This didn’t take place in church, either. It was on the job. And by the way, she was the supervisor there.

  245. Nancy wrote:

    This has to be the core problem with these guys. They put themselves and their system in the place of God. They seem to be saying ‘I will be like the Most High’ in that I will be to you (pew person, and especially female per person) as if I were the Most High himself. They presume to interpret what God really meant to say in case He got it a little confused, or perhaps was just a poor communicator. ‘Did God really say?…’ But wait and let me explain what he really meant—Ding. Ding. Ding. Have we not seen this before? Is this not a path which leads in the wrong direction?

    wow, you’re right, and also i agree with TVC about spiritual warfare in this case, but its what spirit is running TVC doctrine? i looked up the scripture part you referenced. its about wanting to be God instead of wanting to serve God, its about wanting to run the congregation, its about not letting prisoners go.

    12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
    13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
    14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
    15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
    16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
    17 That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
    18 All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.
    19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.
    20 Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned. Isaiah 14:12-20

  246. Lydia wrote:

    The cheapest route is to take over a debt free older church where the older population is dwindling.

    Absolutely the best way to colonize an existing church. This is what I mean when I talk about being a parasitic movement. They don’t build churches. They take them over covertly, or use the assets (buildings, institutions) that other people paid for without contribution to them, or use the cashflows generated by other people to plant, like the Acts29 NAMB “partnership.” They do not build from the ground up, and they certainly don’t target underserved areas.

  247. Flicker wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    I’m not even sure it has to be a small group. The impression I get is that the entire Christian population of a town worshipped together, probably not in pews, but on the floor, or at tables, and in chairs, however they congregated in those days. I doubt there was a single sermon by a single dedicated speaker, though I expect they all sat up to hear Paul, or the other Apostles.

    That’s how I read Acts and the epistles.

  248. Victorious wrote:

    If conveyed winsomely with flowery words, the content or message is more palatable and acceptable even though it’s evil and/or erroneous.

    Or with a manipulative use of words and ideas which are already acceptable. This must be camouflaged, sometimes behind a wall of words that are confusing, as in my rendition of what the raw “apology” might have looked like before the pros polished it. You can’t say outright what you mean and have the people accept it.

  249. Lydia wrote:

    This is my experience in the seeker world, too. They have it down pat. See, they demand only positive so people find ways to say things they want to say with a totalitarian niceness twist.
    It is deceptive. It literally teaches people to be deceptive instead of direct and honest taking whatever comes their way over it. And people learn to think that anything direct is “mean”. This has wrecked havoc on communication in more than just the church. It is a big part of our culture and political correctness.

    Here is one example of that.

    Back in the day when young daughter and I were going to RCIA she and her husband were attending a baptist church that had gone seeker after they got there, as good a way as any to say it. Anyhow the inner circle at the church were oblivious of everything except their circles of whatever they called it as to who was how engrossed in the process, and they apparently decided this on how well people could sling the lingo. Well, young daughter is a past master of talking at length while saying nothing, most of the nothing being pure b s. She doesn’t even have to work at it. So here she was going to mass on Sunday before seeker church and going to RCIA on Monday nights, no conflict there, and the church people were oblivious of all this. Nobody lied about anything, just no conversation about beliefs ever came up. It was all just superficial silliness apparently. So they asked her to take some position or job or something at the church and she told them no and why no, and all they could say was that they were dumfounded because they had thought she was totally ‘plugged in.’ All this not based on any understanding of what she might believe or not, just wow could she talk the talk and sling the slang. Vocabulary. And paragraphs. Nothing more. What a mess.

    Needless to say, they moved on.

  250. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    And The Village Church is Baptist/SBC, isn’t it?

    I think it is important to point out that The Village version of Baptist comes from the English Particular Baptists with some cross-pollination from Congregationalism. It comes from what we used to call the uptight Reformed Baptists. Of course there were also the uptight Independent Baptists, but they came from a different source.

    Prior to the time when the SBC was resurged upon, as Nancy artfully puts it, there was much more freedom of thought within the churches. Sometimes that was messy, but at least there was freedom!

    Anyway, this latest bunch reminds me more of the Primitive Baptists. But with better branding.

  251. Wade Burleson wrote:

    What happened to Karen happened because TVC has a system of authority and control that must be dismantled if the church will be ever to minister effectively to the weak and hurting in their congregation.
    Will this meeting ever happen?
    Who knows. It could. I can guarantee you this – if it does happen, TVC will be better in the future because they will be attempting to solve a systemic problem that revolves around their approach to ministry based on authoritarianism and control rather than giftedness, service, love and trust.

    With God all things are possible, and one never knows until they try, but the systems are based upon fear (of losing control) and lust (for unrestrained power). The men who are drawn to such systems are, in my anecdotal experience, profoundly wounded individuals, some of them flat-out malignant narcissists and sadists, who need this power and control to ease their personal pain a bit. Many of them simply do not care about anyone but themselves and aside from the very finger of God touching them and performing a miracle, they simply do not have the capacity to care.

    Thus, unless there is healing of a deeper sort, that goes well beyond the recognition of systemic disfunction, I see no hope for bona fide change. That sort of deep healing can occur–it happened in Paul of Tarsus and happened to one in my close acquaintance, so I know it can happen, but the bigger the institution and the more moving parts made up of male leaders who are broken and hateful boys inside, the less likely one can stop the momentum of such a system. A Mars Hill resolution is more likely.

  252. Gram3 wrote:

    What struck me at Mars Hill was the fact that Driscoll was always name-dropping Jesus to get people to go along with him, but the big picture and the individual incidents had nothing to do with Jesus at all. It was all human.

    exactly, and people think they know Him personally but often they just use His name.
    @Jeff chalmers good analogy!

  253. @ brad/futuristguy:

    The Village is in the SBC, but they probably get to do their own thing:

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2014/10/08/why-the-identity-crisis-at-some-southern-baptist-churches/

    http://www.thevillagechurch.net/sermon/what-is-our-denominational-affiliation/

    The Westminster Confession is from 1646 and you can see the Reformation influences (good and bad). They knew what happens when church authorities create their own commandments and sins. Those who don’t learn from the past…

  254. Wade,

    In a general sense, I never really know the depths and — if you all will excuse the word — the depravity, and the ripple effects of my sins. And when I ask God to forgive me, I do three things. I try to be exact and accurate, if even for my own good, as to what I am confessing. I try to be sincere in what I am saying and asking. And I rely on God to be faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I can only confess; I can’t make it right.

    That said, in my practical personal experience, I “forgive” in a variety of ways.

    If the person has stopped or changed, I just go on, and basically “forgive” it all, without confrontation, even if there is lasting damage.

    If the person is sincere in my consideration, I will forgive, but the vexation doesn’t go away, and I am either guarded when around him, or I try to change his behavior, or I avoid him. In this sense, I suppose that (if it is even possible) I both forgive, and yet I keep an account of wrongs suffered. And honestly, if it’s bad enough, I try to avoid him.

    But if the person’s request for forgiveness is gob-smacking “I don’t remember that, but if you say so, please forgive me,” or “I didn’t do it, but if you think I did I’m terribly sorry for that,” or an angry “So okay! Forgive me!!” FUNCTIONALLY I don’t think I can forgive. Maybe I can, and maybe I can’t. I pray for them as “enemies”, so to speak, someone whom I can’t come to peace with, but — like me — someone who would ask for any helpful prayer he can get, especially if he is wrong.

    I’ve heard it said by Christian teachers two different and conflicting things about forgiveness. One is that forgiveness requires a condition of remorse, repentance, desire to make it right, the desire never to do it again, and a request for forgiveness.

    The other is that Jesus called for forgiveness to his crucifiers regardless of their having already repented, and some but not all ultimately received forgiveness; and if you require repentance in order to forgive, then you can’t forgive the dead who wronged you and who are now unable to make it right, and repent and ask for forgiveness, and so we limit God.

    But forgiveness though universally offered, is not universally granted: some people will go to hell. Right? And if forgiving the dead is for his benefit then how is it effectual? His life has already been lived, and he made his choices, and now his personal judgment. And if it’s for your own benefit, how is it gracious to him? How is it more than a mere salve on your own wound, veiled as a good thought on behalf of someone else?

    Personally, I prefer to live and let live, and to forgive everybody. But forgiveness? That is difficult.

  255. Nancy wrote:

    #1 grandchild just washed down some lady’s golden retriever at the fund raiser car wash

    Wah, that’s so sweet (the Turtle wax car shampoo bottle will have to feature a grinning Golden Retriever photo also).

  256. Gram3 wrote:

    And that is very sad because Jesus is not bound by a system.

    Yeah, isn’t it! Also because God is sooo huge and obviously loves variety, as we can see in all that He has made. So many paths, so little time…like that.

    Poverty-stricken hearts/minds must make God much more sad than we are. He made them all so beautifully. 🙁

  257. Gram3 wrote:

    Prior to the time when the SBC was resurged upon, as Nancy artfully puts it, there was much more freedom of thought within the churches. Sometimes that was messy, but at least there was freedom!

    Which brings up part of why I believe there is increased scrutiny over this particular situation, and that relates to the links among The Village Church and Acts29 and Resurgence (Mark Driscoll) and the changes in the SBC over the past 3 decades or so.

    And I wouldn’t be surprised to see continued attention to the details of these interconnections and how they impact the Church.

  258. Gary W wrote:

    Article XIII of TVC’s bylaws deals with discipline. Within this Article XIII there is a link to “the Church’s discipline guidelines,” which is said to be a fuller explanation of the discipline process. However, as of now the link only returns TVC’s homepage. Same thing for the link returned by the Yahoo! search engine. Using the search box on the TVC homepage returns the message, “Sorry, no results for “discipline guidelines” could be found”, although three instances are returned wherein documents refer to these discipline guidelines.

    My suspicion? The discipline guidelines have been scrubbed because they are somehow incriminating. My working assumption is that the discipline guidelines make it clear that the formal disciplinary process, which supposedly would have prevented Karen’s resignation of membership, had not been initiated.

    Further, the bylaws in and of themselves make it clear that formal discipline is initiated by “confronting” the alleged sinner in an initial one-on-one meeting, From all that I have read, this never happened prior to Karen’s resignation.

    It seems to be just one prolonged saga of rules for thee but not for me.

    Conveniently not available web page.

  259. Gram3 wrote:

    I think it is important to point out that The Village version of Baptist comes from the English Particular Baptists with some cross-pollination from Congregationalism. It comes from what we used to call the uptight Reformed Baptists. Of course there were also the uptight Independent Baptists, but they came from a different source.

    Prior to the time when the SBC was resurged upon, as Nancy artfully puts it, there was much more freedom of thought within the churches. Sometimes that was messy, but at least there was freedom!

    Anyway, this latest bunch reminds me more of the Primitive Baptists. But with better branding.

    It you ever write the definite & elegantly elaborate Gram3 history of the modern Christian church please let me know. I think you could collaborate with numo and include the Rushdoony, seeker-friendly stuff. I could then keep as a reference guide and happily retire from TWW (just kidding).

  260. Law Prof wrote:

    With God all things are possible, and one never knows until they try, but the systems are based upon fear (of losing control) and lust (for unrestrained power). The men who are drawn to such systems are, in my anecdotal experience, profoundly wounded individuals, some of them flat-out malignant narcissists and sadists, who need this power and control to ease their personal pain a bit. Many of them simply do not care about anyone but themselves and aside from the very finger of God touching them and performing a miracle, they simply do not have the capacity to care.

    I view such a meeting as walking into a room of wolves dressed in sheeps clothing who will have their Christianese at the ready and it will all be billed as sunshine and flowers. Perhaps it is because I have been there, done that and it only made it worse in the long run as nothing really changed except they just got better at the deception. Perhaps because I have seen it over and over and used against future victims: You should forgive like they did.

  261. Nancy wrote:

    Nobody lied about anything, just no conversation about beliefs ever came up. It was all just superficial silliness apparently.

    Oh boy does that sound familiar. A thirsty person can dehydrate in those places real fast. 30 minutes of fellowship in an Adult Bible study class of 200 people, 15 min of 1 Corin 7 and then 15 min of praises for prayer.

  262. mirele wrote:

    And the story has hit Raw Story.

    http://www.rawstory.com/2015/05/dallas-megachurch-put-woman-under-discipline-for-wanting-to-leave-her-pdophile-husband/

    I think there must be a journalistic award for the most amount of Christianese in one story. One commenter said:
    “There sure seems to be a strange lot of Christian leaders being printed these days. So many have missed the message of their messiah entirely in their zeal”.

    I just visualised an Acts29 3-D printer churning out pastors.

  263. Flicker wrote:

    and if they remain they ratify.

    I’m not sure of the polity at TVC, but most of these churches are elder led and ruled. The people usually have only one option – like it or leave it. So your scenario would not work 🙁

  264. Gary W wrote:

    TVC’s ongoing propaganda initiative is reminiscent of what Nixon’s H.R. Haldeman so famously termed a modified limited hangout, a limited hangout being defined as the strategy of mixing partial admissions with misinformation and resistance to further investigation. The purpose is to get the public focused on anything and everything other than the truly relevant, and damning, facts of the matters at issue. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limited_hangout

    true catch Gary. i think just like churches often give cheap grace to non-repentant pedos and male abusers, that people in christiandom are giving TVC a pass. I see more calculated professionalism in everything they have done, press releases that are for legal reasons and just like the pedo, in case we get caught. People forget that mega churches have mega p.r. people and mega lawyers.they name drop Jesus enough that people will say, oh the poor misguided guys are just trying to follow Jesus but we are all human so we forgive them. just like abusers its how it stays under wraps and the abuse continues. Maybe they are christans, christians can fall into sin, but what is done about it to help them? no more church enabeling, if you love your pastor and church then call them on their sin. if you keep covering for them they will just stay in their sin and get sicker and sicker, Love says repent, and i will help you and receive you graciously. it doesnt say: here have more money to aid your addiction to the drug called power.

  265. This is all so depressing. I have to go back and remember my favorite verses. Including:

    Don’t store up your treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt and where thieves break in and steal, but store up your treasures in Heaven; for where you treasure is, there will your heart be also.

    And, Whom I love, I chastise and rebuke; be zealous therefore and repent.

    And, If you confess your sins, God is faithful and just to forgive you your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.

    And, Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

  266. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    why I believe there is increased scrutiny over this particular situation, and that relates to the links among The Village Church and Acts29 and Resurgence (Mark Driscoll) and the changes in the SBC over the past 3 decades or so.

    Oh, yes. There are very strong interconnections, and I’m quite sure that there are many who would really like all this attention to go away yesterday. They may be working to squelch the story.

  267. Lydia wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    The really big historical question they debate is who gets to claim Roger Williams! Ha!

    Wait, wasn’t he a singer or something? 🙂

  268. Flicker wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    They should all forgive, and if they forgive then remain, and if they remain they ratify.

    I may be missing something, but I would say that it is possible to both forgive and also to decide to leave for a number of possible reasons. I do think that if they stay, they are at least implicitly ratifying what has happened. Unless they are the ones who stay to fight from the inside, but those are very, very rare in my experience.

  269. Bridget wrote:

    elder led and ruled

    In most of the smaller churches I’ve known, the elders acted only rubber stamps for the pastor. And unwitting shields, as well.

  270. Bridget wrote:

    Flicker wrote:
    and if they remain they ratify.

    I’m not sure of the polity at TVC, but most of these churches are elder led and ruled. The people usually have only one option – like it or leave it. So your scenario would not work

    I had in mind ratify in the moral sense of agreeing in their consciences. I doubt if they get to vote except with their feet and wallets.

  271. @ Gram3:
    It was just an off the cuff remark. And there are a lot of valid reasons to leave one congregation and go to another. But if the congregation “forgives”, then they can’t hold it against the leadership, right? That would be “unforgiveness” in the popular understanding. So you can’t forgive and then leave for the behaviors that you’ve already forgiven. And so you ratify the system, and wait for the next offense, and then forgive, and then wait…

  272. @ Gram3:

    Wait… Primitive Baptists didn’t allow musical instruments.

    @ Stan:When people chuck most of history, they set themselves up to revisit most of it. At least Calvin studied the past.

  273. I grew up in denominational churches. How can these guys say they are not a denomination if they follow all the same rules.

  274. OT but I just read that the Duggar parents are going to be on Faux news on wednesday. I hope someone has more intestinal fortitude than I do and can watch it and report.

  275. Flicker wrote:

    But if the congregation “forgives”, then they can’t hold it against the leadership, right? That would be “unforgiveness” in the popular understanding. So you can’t forgive and then leave for the behaviors that you’ve already forgiven.

    I don’t agree with this. In same cases we forgive, but if the other party does not change, in line with true repentance, then we do leave. We can not put members in a catch 22. Then we would also have to say that Karen should not leave her husband if she forgave him.

  276. Flicker wrote:

    But if the congregation “forgives”, then they can’t hold it against the leadership, right? That would be “unforgiveness” in the popular understanding. So you can’t forgive and then leave for the behaviors that you’ve already forgiven.

    I don’t agree with this. In same cases we forgive, but if the other party does not change, in line with true repentance, then we do leave. We can not put members in a catch 22. Then we would also have to say that Karen should not leave her husband if she forgave him. alethia wrote:

    When people chuck most of history, they set themselves up to revisit most of it. At least Calvin studied the past.

    You can also know religiois history pretty darn well AND DISAGREE with a lot of it. In the end, Calvin’s system and actions were not that different from Catholicism. We can see the hierarchial systems throughout religious history. Calvin was no exception even though some people find comfort in his system today, as they do Catholicism.

  277. @ Flicker:

    I am not sure about elders, though. I tend to view their function differently from scripture and the cultural context than most people do these days. I think people would naturally gravitate to the spiritually mature in the right environment. They would be “living” it out. I honestly see their function in the NT with relatively young churches in a pagan/Judaism society and even then we hear nothing of them in Corinthian church (and others) which had been around a while. Unless Chloe was a sort of elder. :o)

    But I am tracking with you. This is one reason why you see some dones are leaving church but attending SS. They found that environment there…more free wheeling discussion and study. More connection of personal help and relationship outside the building and so forth. Many of them operate as a small ekklesia. I see many older people at my former church opting for SS over church service. And I am hearing it from other quarters as well.

  278. Law Prof wrote:

    A Mars Hill resolution is more likely.

    I am in agreement with your sentiments but would quibble with this last line, is the beast really dead or does it continue it’s existence in a different form?

  279. Flicker wrote:

    This is all so depressing. I have to go back and remember my favorite verses. Including:

    You know, it is not depressing to me at all, I admit. Back in early 2000 NO ONE was talking about any of this stuffon the internet except Ingrid Schlueter and the late Ken Silva of Apprising ministries.

    Now look at all the wonderful people seeking justice and truth!

  280. @ Bridget:
    I really wasn’t saying that we should even forgive all sin, but that that is what many advocate. I think that in many churches the expectation is that if you forgive someone, you must no longer hold it against them. If you don’t hold it against them, then it shouldn’t be a consideration in the future. I don’t really believe this, but this is what by and large I see being advocated. And I think it perpetuates bad behavior in church leadership.

  281. Gram3 wrote:

    Oh, yes. There are very strong interconnections, and I’m quite sure that there are many who would really like all this attention to go away yesterday. They may be working to squelch the story.

    Exactly. Expect to see a bunch of pastor blog posts about dealing correctly with repentent predators in your church. They will back up TVC’s handling of Jordon without ever mentioning the church or the situatsion with Karen. You might see some posts on annulment a bit later after the fury has died down.

  282. @ Lydia:
    Yes, I see your up-side. But I just think about all those people who haven’t got a clue what’s going on. The insult they will take. The hurt or perhaps anger they’ll feel at the arguments we’ve all pretty much been making here, and then that all things will likely go on as they have. I don’t remember exactly, but isn’t Mark Driscoll buying another church or something?

  283. Thanks for the conversation, all. But I’ve got to go. I’m actually going to church today. Can you believe it? It’s walking distance from my house, and I have ear plugs for the sound system.

  284. Victorious wrote:

    Flicker wrote:
    The content was evil though it was phrased in the kindliest of ways.
    ——-
    If conveyed winsomely with flowery words, the content or message is more palatable and acceptable even though it’s evil and/or

    ++++++++++++++++++

    Regarding conveyance of content, this one will get you a raised eyebrow glare from me: “I’m just sayin'”

    Somehow quite intelligent people feel that qualifier gives them license to say all kinds of insulting things.

  285. @ Flicker:
    I’m not Lydia, but SS is short for Waffen SS, with the SS standing for Schutzstaffel, or protective squadron. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waffen-SS. In modern church parlance, SS would be the sycophants surrounding the celeb pastor, coming to their every defense, trolling opposing blogs, writing PR pieces for release to media outlets and so on.

    Just kidding. I take it that SS refers to Sunday school. I am amongst those who attended Sunday school as an alternative to the traditional service. The pastors seem to have been rather nervous about this, and it’s a bit of a story. The short of it is that I am now one who occupies the done category of none.

  286. @ Bridget:
    Snark? I didn’t mean it that way. I was just writing down: 2 plus 2 equals zero, huh? I don’t think it was even sarcasm, so much as perhaps cynicism.

  287. Flicker wrote:

    But I just think about all those people who haven’t got a clue what’s going on. The insult they will take. The hurt or perhaps anger they’ll feel at the arguments we’ve all pretty much been making here, and then that all things will likely go on as they have. I don’t remember exactly, but isn’t Mark Driscoll buying another church or something?

    a lot of people simply don’t care one way or the other. And I think this is another big problem. They don’t come to church to really learn or have true Christian community because that is too hard. That requires a lot of us. When I was a kid and saw my family members prepping to teach SS or whatever, they spent HOURS on it each week. They would have resources laying about everywhere. Lexicons, and you name it. NOw all that stuff is prepackaged for you and a robot could teach it.

    I think what is happening is that people who truly want more of what you and I are discussing simply need to find each other. I have a couple of folks like that and we meet a few times a month. One of them is a Charsimatic Calvinistic Baptist. She is a hoot. Her great grandaddy used to smuggle bibles into China when it was really closed.

    I guess what I am saying is that I am not opposed to the insitutional church but I am not attracted to it in the same way anymore, either. That has been a long process cos I grew up in church. my mom always had a key. We were there all the time.

    What I am seeing is that people who want a church community but cannot stand church anymore for all sorts of reasons such as authoritarianism, shallowness, lemmings in the pews, etc are finding it hard to know what to do with themselves…especially their kids.

  288. Flicker wrote:

    SO SS doesn’t stand for Surrounding Sycophants? Darn.

    Oh, I don’t know. In a world where dark ministers assign arbitrary meanings to fine sounding words, I don’t see why we can’t have a little fun assigning whatever meaning we find convenient, or amusing, to the acronym of the moment.

  289. @ Flicker:
    No, I see lots of possibilities. First, I don’t know what it means for a congregation to forgive. Individuals forgive. In this instance, the people offering forgiveness would be Karen WRT Jordan and the ELDERS, and the congregation WRT the ELDERS for what they have done or not done. I think it is perfectly possible to say, “I forgive the ELDERS for being immature and ideological and misogynist” and then deciding that it is better for me and others for me to go elsewhere. I suspect there will be many in this group, and they are the ones that The Village is most concerned about because this will likely be a slow attrition rather than a quick exodus by people who are just disgusted by the whole thing and want to get out of there. I also suspect that the loyalists who stay while approving will condemn the ones who left. There may be some of that the other way, too. This is a bad situation all the way around. A SNAFU that has become too familiar.

  290. Bill M wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    A Mars Hill resolution is more likely.
    I am in agreement with your sentiments but would quibble with this last line, is the beast really dead or does it continue it’s existence in a different form?

    I agree with you, the beast continues in different form. The beast isn’t Mars Hill or TVC, A29, SGM, the modern and ugly incarnation of the SBC, or neocalvinism generally, it’s not petty insecure tyrants in leadership or mind-numbed, benighted followers. It’s a problem that runs deeper than any polity, errant denomination or heresy, those are merely the symptoms of the deeper problem.

  291. @ Lydia:
    I think it may be even worse. We will see posts and sermons saying how wonderful it is that men in the Compementarian care for and protect the women from the AwfulThingsOutThere. I say that because I just about gagged in a church listening to a sermon about how Comps do not tolerate abuse because they are called to protect women. You will be shocked, shocked to learn that it was when the Piper “allow yourself to be smacked around once and take abuse for a season” smirky video came out. I rolled my eyes so far I found my contacts in my ears.

  292. “I ask that The Village Church refrain from any future communication on my behalf to my friends, family, and supporters,” she wrote them in her February 11 resignation letter.

    Church leaders had refused to comply with that request for weeks and were proceeding with church discipline.

    They reversed course on Thursday.

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/may-web-only/matt-chandler-apologizes-for-village-churchs-decision-to-di.html

    of course they stopped doing that…when their lawyers pointed out it was illegal. kinda like Jordan repentanted when caught and with no other course but jail, he played the repentance card.

  293. Flicker wrote:

    Oh! SO SS doesn’t stand for Surrounding Sycophants? Darn.

    It’s a contextual thing. At Gospel Glitterati conferences and meetings, it *is* Surrounding Sycophants. On Sunday mornings it is Sunday School. Which can also have Surrounding Sycophants who monitor what the people say.

  294. Law Prof wrote:
    It’s a problem that runs deeper than any polity, errant denomination or heresy, those are merely the symptoms of the deeper problem.

    How would you summarize the problem? Fear? Or the prophetic “lovers of themselves”? A combination of both? Some other finer point?

  295. Lydia wrote:

    What I am seeing is that people who want a church community but cannot stand church anymore for all sorts of reasons such as authoritarianism, shallowness, lemmings in the pews, etc are finding it hard to know what to do with themselves…especially their kids.

    Well, since JD Hall says that we are all sexual deviants, for heaven’s sake keep your kids far away from church!

    http://janetmefferd.com/2015/05/predators-dangerous-deviants-j-d-hall/

  296. Stan wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    And it’s all disguised as an emergent church. The deception begins as soon as you lay eyes on the place.

    Well, this will surprise everyone, but I have an opinion/hypothesis that Chandler made the Driscoll move from Emergent to full YRR. Brad probably has a chart of the rise and fall of Emergent and one for the YRR. It would be interesting to overlay these.

    This is my preferred explanation for the otherwise unexplainable partnership between Mahaney and Dever where ISTM that each decided to ignore some things for the synergy of the partnership. Like peanut butter and chocolate. Not the same things at all but they certainly marry well.

  297. Law Prof wrote:

    s a problem that runs deeper than any polity, errant denomination or heresy, those are merely the symptoms of the deeper problem.

    Yes it is, and the sooner we see that, the sooner people can make some decisions about what to do about it.

  298. IMO, there is some overlap between this below (which is more about Duggars) and supporters of TVC:

    Predators, Dangerous Deviants & J.D. Hall by Janet Mefferd
    http://janetmefferd.com/2015/05/predators-dangerous-deviants-j-d-hall/

    J D Hall equates #1. very serious sexual assaults (crimes) with #2a. lust-filled thoughts of and between adults / #2b consensual sexual acts between adults and claims that all of us are guilty of #1.

    A quote from the page:

    But what this latest episode shows is that Pastor Hall has not learned his lesson at all. He isn’t self-controlled, he hasn’t stopped his bullying ways, and he has espoused a view of human nature that can’t be defended with Scripture, causing many to raise serious questions about the state of his own mind.

    …And it must be clearly stated that not only does Pastor Hall need to get off the Internet, but for the sake of Christ’s church at large, there must be no place for Pastor Hall to advance in the ranks of our well-regarded Christian leaders. I don’t care how “good” his doctrine may be in other areas.

    A lot of the positions Hall has taken in regards to Duggar is very similar to things I’m seeing from TVC members who are defending TVC.

  299. Salloum said he did not know if Hinkley could work with SIM again if she found another church which would support her. (SIM vice president)
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/may-web-only/matt-chandler-apologizes-for-village-churchs-decision-to-di.html?start=4

    if i lived there, i would be out picketing SIM also. and i think that their portrayal that she wouldnt be able to be a missionary is definately a law suit item. If a for profit corporation made a statement like this it would be in serious legal trouble. blowback that damages her chances of unemployment with other “mission sending corporations”. churches and christian non profits always are above the law in ways that just show why the law was nessecary to be made in the first place. if you doubt this, just for a minute put ‘walmart’ or ‘costco’ in place of the village church and SIMS and run the whole sordid scenario through your mind with that in mind. ‘costco fires woman for refusing to stay in her marriage to pedo husband and work on the marriage.’ ‘walmart is asked if they would rehire woman whose sending company fired her for not staying married to pedo husband, if she worked under a different sending company, answer: “we doubt we would”

  300. @ Daisy:
    The last time I felt this disgusted was when I foolishly googled about Domestic Discipline. I can’t believe people even think like this. I guess all TVC members should show up to church tomorrow wearing buttons that say, “I Am Jordan Root.”

  301. Gram3 wrote:

    say that because I just about gagged in a church listening to a sermon about how Comps do not tolerate abuse because they are called to protect women.

    About a month ago, CBMW’s Owen Strachan did a few tweets about how the church / complementarians don’t tolerate domestic abuse. Julie Anne did a post about it at SSB blog.

    I think this was about the time some guy (football player or boxer?) was in the news for having abused his wife.

    I’m sorry, but it’s so laughable when gender complementarians claim to be protective of women because they do things like almost always force women into staying in abusive marriages.

  302. @ BeenThereDoneThat:

    I didn’t know you already posted the link when I posted it a moment ago. Sorry.

    I think Hall has a screw loose.

    He’s also back to his bullying behavior, something I thought he had said he had given up. It’s fine to disagree with people online, but he’s too harsh about it and unrelenting.

  303. @ Gram3:

    I would love to see that chart. I can remember reading about Driscoll as the cussing pastor in Donald Miller’s Book, Blue Like Jazz. Miller put him on the map because every student in youth group was asking, Who is he!?!

    The internet made these guys and it will be their achilles heel. They were not mature enough to handle the power and money. They never got the chance to mature in the trenches of real life.

    Chandler seemed to come out of no where but he was positioned more as the non Driscoll which I think was a mistake. When he took over Acts 29, I kept asking…how come he was on the board so long and had no problem with Driscoll then?

  304. All I know is that when your behavior is marked by heartlessness and cruelty you are not Christian in any sense of the word.

  305. Lydia wrote:

    I thought he repented and was staying off social media.

    He is a nasty piece of work, and he’s not the only one who shares this “we are all sexual deviants” belief. Seems Mrs. Mefferd encountered quite a few of them on Twitter. I cannot believe that so many (supposedly Christian) men would admit to thinking that way. Maybe that’s why Chandler et al. have more sympathy for Jordan than for Karen?

  306. And there shone a bright light from Heaven:

    WillysJeepMan wrote:

    It’s unfortunately happening with greater frequency. More and more churches are developing comprehensive covenant membership documents. The most obvious reason is to control members (lording their authority over them) rather than to shepherd.
    But a not so obvious reason is to filter out those with discernment. Mature and/or discerning believers would not submit themselves to unbiblical leadership. They get weeded out from the get-go. Those who apply and are accepted as members have demonstrated a lack of maturity and/or discernment that leadership desires.
    These leaders are shaping the flock that they want (rather than to care for those that the Lord brings). These evanjellyfish (not my term, I read it elsewhere) will blindly do what leadership says. Want to expand their campus? Send out an “info pack”, give a “sermon” on the subject and watch the money roll in.
    They see their roles as serving their pastors (rather than the other way around). Sad and sick.

  307. @ BeenThereDoneThat:

    And there is another side to this, too, when it comes to pastors. Check out this thread:

    http://sbcvoices.com/recidivism/

    They do not get it and children would not be safe in their churches because they also buy into the repentant child predator meme ignoring the long con of deception they have lived. The repentant child predator receives more grace than children. They cannot connect the dots. Note how they want so badly to lump all sexual sin together. I think that is a theme we are going to see a lot of. It is almost as if they equate adult sexual sin with child predator CRIME.

    My head just spins. This is the SBC!

  308. That is scarysam wrote:

    And there shone a bright light from Heaven:
    WillysJeepMan wrote:
    It’s unfortunately happening with greater frequency. More and more churches are developing comprehensive covenant membership documents. The most obvious reason is to control members (lording their authority over them) rather than to shepherd.
    But a not so obvious reason is to filter out those with discernment. Mature and/or discerning believers would not submit themselves to unbiblical leadership. They get weeded out from the get-go. Those who apply and are accepted as members have demonstrated a lack of maturity and/or discernment that leadership desires.
    These leaders are shaping the flock that they want (rather than to care for those that the Lord brings). These evanjellyfish (not my term, I read it elsewhere) will blindly do what leadership says. Want to expand their campus? Send out an “info pack”, give a “sermon” on the subject and watch the money roll in.
    They see their roles as serving their pastors (rather than the other way around). Sad and sick.

  309. @ JeffT:

    I agree. But note what THEY do. They would agree but with the definition that going against them is heartless and publicly calling them out is cruel. They simply hijack the concepts and turn them around. Chaos. Good is evil and evil is good. They simply redefine sin.

    We are seeing the corrupt priests (religious leaders) of the OT all over again.

  310. Elastigirl wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    It’s a problem that runs deeper than any polity, errant denomination or heresy, those are merely the symptoms of the deeper problem.
    How would you summarize the problem? Fear? Or the prophetic “lovers of themselves”? A combination of both? Some other finer point?

    II Timothy 3:1-9

  311. Lydia wrote:

    Chandler seemed to come out of no where but he was positioned more as the non Driscoll which I think was a mistake. When he took over Acts 29, I kept asking…how come he was on the board so long and had no problem with Driscoll then?

    Before the Mars Hill implosion, Acts29 could have it both ways. If somebody liked “cool” or “edgy” then they could point to Driscoll. If people were concerned about Driscoll, Acts29 could point to Chandler as the clean-cut suburban guy. Chandler has re-branded as well to move toward the executive type that works for North Dallas.

    So, I think it was an intentional things. I just don’t think they thought Driscoll would flame out, though to me it was just a matter of time. Chandler ignored Driscoll up until the moment when he couldn’t. It was not a principled action or he would have fired Driscoll way before he did.

  312. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    I cannot believe that so many (supposedly Christian) men would admit to thinking that way. Maybe that’s why Chandler et al. have more sympathy for Jordan than for Karen?

    I think that it is natural to identify with people more like you. I heard more than one person say that what happened to Mahaney could happen to them, so they wanted to be cautious. It takes some effort to think as objectively as possible, and too many are lazy.

  313. @ Lydia:
    Uuuh. Actually, it wasn’t a joke. When the pastor and assist and pastor came around when I came in, they said they hadn’t seen me in while. And I had my earplugs clamped to me neck and I explained that I couldn’t handle the volume, and they both each said, “Oh! Well, I’m actually just about deaf!” So I guess they didn’t mind.

    The fact is that I have either lamented or asked pastors about why people travel 45 minutes past a hundred churches to attend one and none of the others, and I have never gotten an answer that satisfied me. So, I’m just going to attend this church, I guess. They are my neighbors, after all. If society ever collapses, and cars don’t work, and radios and the internet are down forever (as with an EMP, for example) I will still, be able to minster to and be ministered by my home congregation without having to bicycle twenty miles.

    And then the reading was 1 Cor 1, and the pastor emphasized that there were divisions among the Corinthians, and that this was never supposed to be, and I just took this as a sign. (Yes, I do believe in signs and miracles from God.)

    It was good.

  314. @ Lydia:

    There are several different sources, including Calvin’s Institutes and Hooker’s Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. For the Anabaptists, excerpts can be found in Janz’s Reformation Reader. There are now some documents online as well. I’ve also looked at some of the early seeds of the core ideas. I found it a fascinating period of church history, even looking at the Catholic response to all this (they doubled down and made things explicit that were not previously).

    My concern about Calvinism is that at it’s core, there is the idea that people are wicked and corrupt without any chance of healing.

  315. Paragraph by paragraph”

    1. Translation: We have been getting a lot of heat about the way we have messed up the situation involving Karen, from both inside and outside the church, and we are afraid that it may affect membership and giving, so we are apologizing.

    2. People do make mistakes. We may have made a mistake so we are doing some navel gazing to see how we can reinterpret this situation.

    3. We have already done a great deal to protect children but we are reevaluating to see if we need to do more, now that we have an admitted pedophile in the membership in good standing.

    4. We place such high value on our controlling of members practices and philosophy (which we say is Scripture based, but cite no scripture to support it), that we forget to be kind to people and we have bullied them. But we were right in our judgment that Karen was sinning by not taking our advice, we just didn’t communicate it with compassion.

    5. We apologize to the church membership that we have failed the members of the church by being hyper-focused on church discipline and control, and have bullied people. The Bible actually says we are do to it a different way, but we lost sight of that in our zeal to do church discipline.

    6. We owe Karen an apology. We are sorry that we were not effective in communicating to her in no uncertain terms that she was not to get an annulment from her former pedophile husband who masturbated to the pictures of little children being sexually abused. His behavior was not as bad as her refusing our directives. We were not prepared to clamp down hard enough and fast enough on Karen while smiling and providing comfort to her in her situation.

    7. We are apologizing to Karen because we were not effective (see 6 above) in making clear to her in no uncertain terms that her failure to kowtow to our every request and suggestion. As a result, we did not act fast enough to keep her from withdrawing her membership, and now we must release her and provide some funding for her so maybe she would sue us for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    8. Why are we doing this. Not for any of the obvious reasons, but we want to have this in place before the proverbial human excrement hits the fan in the media or the courts.

    9. Pastor will speak on discipline but not about any specific case, because we don’t do that, except in email blasts to everyone on our membership list.

    10. We are asking the church to forgive us and we apologize to the church for screwing up (by not getting to Karen early enough and firmly enough to keep her under our control). We will do better next time! And we know we are forgiven for out mistakes (even if Karen isn’t because she would not be submissive).

  316. Gram3 wrote:

    then deciding that it is better for me and others for me to go elsewhere

    Yes, that’s it. The church leadership would argue, counsel and preach that this would be unforgiveness and brow-beat the congregation into staying or leaving “against authority”. And THEN not releasing them from the Covenant and church membership because they would have retroactively put them under discipline.

  317. Lydia wrote:

    @ BeenThereDoneThat:

    And there is another side to this, too, when it comes to pastors. Check out this thread:

    http://sbcvoices.com/recidivism/

    They do not get it and children would not be safe in their churches because they also buy into the repentant child predator meme ignoring the long con of deception they have lived. The repentant child predator receives more grace than children. They cannot connect the dots. Note how they want so badly to lump all sexual sin together. I think that is a theme we are going to see a lot of. It is almost as if they equate adult sexual sin with child predator CRIME.

    My head just spins. This is the SBC!

    Well considering that the SBC has one of the highest rates of child sexual abuse in their churches, I am not the least bit surprised. They have no centralized way of protecting children.

  318. @ Daisy:
    Wow, that is such an excellent article about our favorite PodPerson. Really, the wheels are coming off out in the mountain west. My favorite part of her response to his accusation that all people are deviants at heart was her observation that perhaps such a bizarre notion originates in projection. That seems plausible to me, or at least as plausible as any to explain our favorite PodPerson’s delusional interaction.

  319. Lydia wrote:

    The internet made these guys and it will be their achilles heel.

    Yes, I think that is right. It may be something like an economic bubble. Or a boil on the posterior.

  320. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Maybe that’s why Chandler et al. have more sympathy for Jordan than for Karen?

    I read your comment earlier and did not want to go there. Then I read Mrs. Mefferd’s article, and I think she may be on to something. How else to explain it?

  321. @ Gram3:
    I’m having a really hard time with this kind of thinking. I just can’t wrap my head around it. I know we all sin and we all make mistakes, but . . . no. Just no.

  322. Lydia wrote:

    They do not get it and children would not be safe in their churches because they also buy into the repentant child predator meme ignoring the long con of deception they have lived.

    It is my understanding that some child molesters were themselves molested as children. If that is so, then for every offender, there are most likely multiple victims. If the offender is hiding in plain sight in a church, then can we not expect to have many more victims in the church and so on until someone says enough? Won’t this tsk tsking produce a harvest of future victims in churches for which these young pastors are responsible? I think that parents in the church are flattered when someone pays attention to their kids. Maybe that is not such a great thing.

  323. RE: TVC apology
    headline should read:
    #MattChandler admits no fruit of Spirit, only fruit of the flesh @villagechurchtx

  324. Michaela wrote:

    They have no centralized way of protecting children.

    I don’t see centralization as the answer. Just higher layers of protection for longer periods of time, in my view. The Catholics had centralization and just moved the priests around.

    What the church needs are Christian pastors that think outside the box and informed members. Not perfumed princes worried about image and numbers thinking that the insurance guidelines are real protection.

  325. Flicker wrote:

    And I had my earplugs clamped to me neck and I explained that I couldn’t handle the volume, and they both each said, “Oh! Well, I’m actually just about deaf!” So I guess they didn’t mind.

    There is the somewhat ironic fact that as hearing declines in some people, their brains amp up the volume centrally to compensate. So a lot of older people cannot stand loud sounds. But regardless of that, I don’t understand how it is loving people to subject them to sound levels which are harmful to them. Maybe you could try that approach. Does Jesus need for people to lose their hearing in order to praise him? I don’t think so. That was Ba’al who needed to have his prophets scream.

  326. Gram3 wrote:

    It is my understanding that some child molesters were themselves molested as children. If that is so, then for every offender, there are most likely multiple victims. If the offender is hiding in plain sight in a church, then can we not expect to have many more victims in the church and so on until someone says enough? Won’t this tsk tsking produce a harvest of future victims in churches for which these young pastors are responsible? I think that parents in the church are flattered when someone pays attention to their kids. Maybe that is not such a great thing.

    The research does indicate that some child sex offenders were sexually abused as children but that others were not. And the vast majority of child sex crimes victims never harm anyone.

  327. Flicker wrote:

    Yes, that’s it. The church leadership would argue, counsel and preach that this would be unforgiveness and brow-beat the congregation into staying or leaving “against authority”. And THEN not releasing them from the Covenant and church membership because they would have retroactively put them under discipline.

    While re-defining forgiveness, of course, to put the people in a double-bind.

  328. Lydia wrote:

    Michaela wrote:
    They have no centralized way of protecting children.

    I don’t see centralization as the answer. Just higher layers of protection for longer periods of time, in my view. The Catholics had centralization and just moved the priests around.

    What the church needs are Christian pastors that think outside the box and informed members. Not perfumed princes worried about image and numbers thinking that the insurance guidelines are real protection.

    The Catholic Church played a shell gave with child sexual predators. I don’t consider that to be a *centralized* safety plan for children. But there is much that can be done in the way of training, safety protocols, and making sure that everybody is informed.

    Church Mutual, the largest insurer of churches, has a great deal of information about how churches should protect children. So does attorney Richard Hammar over at Church Law & Tax.

  329. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    I’m having a really hard time with this kind of thinking. I just can’t wrap my head around it. I know we all sin and we all make mistakes, but . . . no. Just no.

    Let’s think about this for a moment. What if someone has experienced deviant desire but has not necessarily acted on that. The person feels worthless and ashamed. ISTM that one way to relieve some of that shame and worthlessness would be to preach that *everyone* is worthless and shameful and deviant. Not saying that is what is necessarily happening, but that was some strange stuff from the chief CasterOfPods. Which will no doubt sprout into more PodPeople who think the CasterOfPod sounds sane.

  330. Lydia wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    That makes total sense. There had to be another angle. He seems to be a great loyalist to the movement.

    Here’s another aspect of this. When Driscoll melted down, the Gospel Glitterati and their fanboys/fangirls assured us that Acts29 is led by Matt Chandler, and he isn’t like Driscoll, so no worries. He’s not a misogynist or narcissistic. Well, I guess we know a little more about that now, and things look not quite as optimistic for the YRR brand.

  331. Michaela wrote:

    And the vast majority of child sex crimes victims never harm anyone.

    Don’t want to stigmatize victims as if it is inevitable that they will offend. Just that some future offenders may be created due to failure to protect kids from known offenders. The churches I’ve been in have had very strict policies, and I am thankful for that!

  332. @ WillysJeepMan:

    Really enjoying your analysis. Some of what you are saying is spot on. I’ve been busy writing away at my own blog that I haven’t jumped in as much.

    You touched on something that I wrote about. In Mark Dever protecting CJ Mahaney what Dever showed is that there is a new caste system in place. Members and people who attend these kinds of churches are the new Dalits. Folks like Chandler, Dever, Piper are above the system and the rules don’t apply. I got into this in the following post.

    https://wonderingeagle.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/9-marks-what-is-it-how-mark-dever-undermined-it-and-made-it-worthless/

  333. Gram3 wrote:

    I don’t understand how it is loving people to subject them to sound levels which are harmful to them.

    And I don’t understand why people subject themselves to such nonsense. I hate loud noise, myself, and would never go to some church that felt they needed to have a rock band, or whatever. You know, you have choice…

  334. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I read all 37 pages of source materials posted on Watch Keep posts of May 20 and May 27.
    In the May 27 post — Karen Hinkley’s response to The Village Church 5/23/15 email sent to 6000 “covenant members” about her and Jordan Root — it is stated that:
    SIM notified the FBI shortly after Jordan’s confession (which was December 16, 2014).
    Karen returned to Dallas on January 13, 2015.
    Karen had conversations with an FBI agent starting January 17, 2015.

    thanks, i saw that too, but the comment was referring to if the Village Church ever reported, which i still dont think they did. they only say publicly that i have seen, made ourselves available to investigation, cooperated with LE, etc

  335. Eagle wrote:

    @ Lydia:

    Speaking of cult of personality..

    https://wonderingeagle.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/the-little-red-book-of-john-piper/

    That was good stuff. I did a paper in college on Chinese political movements from 1949 to 1976. That was back in the day when research was really research. Two things stuck out for me. Mao created much good will during the civil war when his forces would stop and help the peasants harvest crops and such and the peasants would then fight for him. Chiang’s forces simply ravaged the land.

    Mao took that goodwill of the vast peasantry and over time wiped out millions. They were sly. They would encourage people to come forward and admit their imperialism for re-education but they mostly killed them after or would send the intellectuals they did not kill to dig ditches. See the parallels? Let us “love” and “care” for you by oppressing you. The other parallel is despising mature. Bereans in their midst. That, they cannot put up with if the wise Berean becomes too disagreeing.

    And yes, Piper’s little red book was a smash hit. Just about everyone I knew had it. However, I think flying to Geneva with crew to film an expensive retirement video is “wasting your life”, too, along with DG donor money.

  336. Gram3 wrote:

    Here’s another aspect of this. When Driscoll melted down, the Gospel Glitterati and their fanboys/fangirls assured us that Acts29 is led by Matt Chandler, and he isn’t like Driscoll, so no worries. He’s not a misogynist or narcissistic. Well, I guess we know a little more about that now, and things look not quite as optimistic for the YRR brand

    I remember that.

  337. Michaela wrote:

    Well considering that the SBC has one of the highest rates of child sexual abuse in their churches, I am not the least bit surprised. They have no centralized way of protecting children

    Well, churches should have a standard child protection policy as part of their liability insurance policy. The problem with the SBC is that the organization is voluntary. There are several good sources of information and policies to protect children.

  338. @ Flicker:

    People like the authoritarianism because its easy to follow. All you do is submit, don’t ask questions and do as your told. Its also lazy because many people do not want to think for themselves. Its hard to think for oneself.

  339. @ Gram3:

    I have a teen vocalist at my house who would rather sing Italian art songs and listen to Julie Andrews than anything else. She HATES the loud praise songs and bands at many churches. She made a bigger issue of having to put up with it than 90 year old grandpa ever did. :o)

    We simply don’t put up with it anymore.

  340. @ roebuck:
    The part that gets me is that I KNOW these levels are at least 120, and children are present, even if I can’t prove it. But I can also guess the arguments I’d get about moving in the spirit and wanting the neighborhood to hear the praise.

  341. @ Eagle:
    I think the people really do want their pastor to do all the spiritual heavy lifting and live out all the righteousness that is the people’s responsibility. It’s like living on fast food without having to ever cook.

  342. @ Lydia:
    Italian art songs? What’s an Italian art song? (I like Volare.) I’ve always wanted to find a concertina and learn to play French ballads, and find a good chanteuse. (You just can’t get good chanteuses these days.)

  343. Eagle wrote:

    People like the authoritarianism because its easy to follow. All you do is submit, don’t ask questions and do as your told. Its also lazy because many people do not want to think for themselves. Its hard to think for oneself.

    For authoritarian systems to work (at least in the “free world”), there have to be consumers for what the leaders/dictators produce. So, except for the elite who are at the top of the pyramid of control, everyone has greater or lesser degrees of passivity. Some followers do so because it’s easy and they’re lazy. But what I find exceptionally sad is how those in control co-opt the sincerity of many at the bottom of the pyramid who just want to please the Lord and this kind of self-negating, discernment-dampening, freedom-extinguishing submission is what they’ve been trained as how to do so.

  344. sam wrote:

    thanks, i saw that too, but the comment was referring to if the Village Church ever reported, which i still dont think they did. they only say publicly that i have seen, made ourselves available to investigation, cooperated with LE, etc

    I stated there what I did know, about what SIM did and what Karen Hinkley did, re: notifying/working with civil authorities. I thought I’d seen something about what The Village Church said they’d done, so I waited to say something on that til I could check.

    Below is what TVC elders stated on that subject. This quote comes from the 8-page letter that you’ll find on the May 27 blog post on Watch Keep

    Notification to Authorities of Sin and Struggles – Local police were notified about Jordan’s actions soon after we became aware and the local police later transferred the case to the FBI. The FBI has recently concluded their investigation, including a forensic analysis of Jordan’s laptop computer and mobile phone. The investigation resulted in no charges being filed against Jordan. Appropriate staff and security at The Village were also made aware of all necessary information in this situation at its onset. While SIM and The Village Church are unaware of any children ever being harmed by Jordan, precautions were still taken in order to maintain the safety of all who attend our campuses (see below). :

  345. Link for that quote below … and here is Karen Hinkley’s commentary on their statement:

    SIM notified the FBI of Jordan’s actions shortly after his confession, and I had several conversations with an agent myself beginning January 17th. I learned that they cannot file charges based on admission of use; they must obtain concrete evidence of possession. I completed an intake with the Dallas PD child exploitation unit on March 30th regarding the possibility that Jordan may have abused children in Dallas. They are unable to file charges without a victim who is willing to testify.

    The Village Church makes it sound as though they reported Jordan’s actions to law enforcement early in the game. To my knowledge, this is not the case. I know that Jordan’s laptop was in his possession for at least several weeks after his return. I also know that his smartphone was in his possession for several days, at which point he gave it to Richard Brindley. I would be interested to see evidence as to when The Village Church actually reported to law enforcement.

    In the years prior to our marriage, Jordan owned two laptops. He used the Linux OS on one of them, and he admitted on December 16th that this was the laptop that he used to access child pornography during those years. That laptop disappeared from the scene during our engagement. He told me back then that he had given it to a friend to hold on to for him, and he never spoke of it again. During our time overseas, Jordan admitted to using a VPN to access nude images of children on both his laptop and his smartphone. It does not surprise me that the FBI was unable to find the concrete evidence of possession that they need to be able to file charges.

    http://watchkeep.blogspot.com/2015/05/karen-hinkleys-response-to-village.html

  346. alethia wrote:

    @ Lydia:

    There are several different sources, including Calvin’s Institutes and Hooker’s Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. For the Anabaptists, excerpts can be found in Janz’s Reformation Reader. There are now some documents online as well. I’ve also looked at some of the early seeds of the core ideas. I found it a fascinating period of church history, even looking at the Catholic response to all this (they doubled down and made things explicit that were not previously).

    My concern about Calvinism is that at it’s core, there is the idea that people are wicked and corrupt without any chance of healing.

    I almost missed your comment. Thanks for sharing some of your resources. This is one of the most fascinating times in history to me. I disagree with Janz’ foundational assumption that the Reformation was mostly theological. IMO, It would never have succeeded if it were not political. A simplistic view of mine is that theology was the rally cry to keep money from going to Rome.

    A very interesting factoid I ran across is that much of the insider history and documents were owned by the state churches all over Europe and only select scholars had access until after WW2 when it really opened up. As you know, the victors always write the official history so we often have to read around a subject to get a wholistic view.

    And I totally agree with you about Calvin’s core of people being corrupt and I would say “unable” to change. He even says in the Institutes that a person can look and behave as a great Christian and even believe they are saved yet be reprobate and not know it. Chilling.

  347. Gram3 wrote:

    Michaela wrote:

    And the vast majority of child sex crimes victims never harm anyone.

    Don’t want to stigmatize victims as if it is inevitable that they will offend. Just that some future offenders may be created due to failure to protect kids from known offenders. The churches I’ve been in have had very strict policies, and I am thankful for that!

    Agreed about the creation of future offenders. I am glad that the churches you have been in take child safety seriously. The one that I was “keyed out” of as you would say (excommunicated/shunned) was over the issue of the pastors/elders
    giving their friend a Megan’s List sex offender carte blanche to the church, a position of leadership and trust, didn’t tell parents and members, and even invited him to volunteer at the children’s summer sports camp hosted by our church (believers and unbelievers entrust their children to us for 1-week).

    When the pastors/elders met with me and screamed at me they even asked me if I had *prayed* for the sex offender? What does that have to do with having a child safety policy and kicking it into gear and taking it seriously?

    That church was also into that patriarchy nonsense. A Megan’s List sex offender was put in charge of a whole team, but a godly Christian woman with a Ph.D. from a Ivy League school wasn’t *good enough* to serve in the eyes of the pastors/elders.

  348. alethia wrote:

    Michaela wrote:
    Well considering that the SBC has one of the highest rates of child sexual abuse in their churches, I am not the least bit surprised. They have no centralized way of protecting children
    Well, churches should have a standard child protection policy as part of their liability insurance policy. The problem with the SBC is that the organization is voluntary. There are several good sources of information and policies to protect children.

    The SBC is voluntary, so it’s no problem for the SBC if a church harbors child molesters, but if an SBC church hires a woman minister, that’s different, the SBC will kick them out faster than you can say “mysoginist”

  349. @ Wade Burleson:
    i understand what you wrote re forgiving leadership per apology. having read the apology which doesnt actually admit wrongdoing except vague ‘mis shepherding’ it sounds too much like exactly what i have been protesting, a child predator plays repent card when caught without actually admitting specifics about crime, so he can stay in business in church. the same applies to leadership actually bring forth fruit for repentance instead of bringing forth flowery confusing gospel speak which was probably written by p.r. for damage control.
    again:true repentance=do all to stop evil of this type of child abuse. confess victims names 2 cops #villagechurch
    tvc true repentance= admit actual sin using your actual names, make actual changes, follow Jesus instead of legalism, oh, and maybe pursue changing policy of hushing people up about predators, which actually =harboring

  350. JeffT wrote:

    The SBC is voluntary, so it’s no problem for the SBC if a church harbors child molesters, but if an SBC church hires a woman minister, that’s different, the SBC will kick them out faster than you can say “mysoginist”

    Spot on, JeffT! Last year I was “keyed out” (Gram3’s saying) of my church of 8+ years. (It was one of those authoritarian 9Marks/John MacArthur churches so it was a blessing in disguise.) I wouldn’t get ‘on board’ with the pastors/elders putting their friend a convicted Megan’s List sex offender in positions of leadership and trust. Godly women were NOT permitted to serve in those positions, including women with graduate degrees from Ivy League schools.
    The pastors/elders wouldn’t tell all members/parents about the sex offender,
    said he was “harmless” and “coming off Megan’s List” (his supervising law enforcement agency called that “all lies”). The senior pastor even invited the sex offender to volunteer at our church’s week-long summer sports camp, where believers and unbelievers entrust their children to us.

  351. @ Lydia:
    I don’t buy Janz’ argument either; there were several issues that converged at the time – philosophy, politics, theology, education, techology, etc.

  352. JeffT wrote:

    The SBC is voluntary, so it’s no problem for the SBC if a church harbors child molesters, but if an SBC church hires a woman minister, that’s different, the SBC will kick them out faster than you can say “mysoginist”

    Great point. I’ve never wanted to be a pastor/teacher, but I mentioned to someone whom I can’t remember that our church would sooner put Nate Morales behind the pulpit than me, a woman. Yeah, that is how deep the ideology goes.

  353. @ Gram3:

    If I’m not mistaken, I think he’s already written a rebuttal to her page.

    Which sort of makes me wonder if he’s an attention seeker, using Mefferd’s celebrity to bring more people to his blog.

    Like, he will say anything no matter how rude and awful and start fights with others on social media to get more publicity for himself. Whatever the reason, he has problems. I don’t think he’s qualified to be a preacher and shouldn’t be on social media.

  354. Flicker wrote:

    I’m not saying this is the best way of doing things, but if all the individual authority stuff were removed, how many people would like this environment, and how many would be left after the first few months.
    Would Matt Chandler be happier and more content to sit amongst the congregation and take part? Or would he wither in unhappiness? I would like to think he would be happy to be out from under all the pressure that “pastoring” involves.
    But I’m sure there would be many who would leave looking for entertainment and leadership elsewhere

    actually what you wrote is very similar to the guidlines that paul wrote in corinthians, all prophesying all having a tongue or a song, done decently, in order, taking turns! it doesnt work in huge churches so why not get away from huge churches!! instead, people go to church and listen to one charismatic guy tell them what Jesus wants them to know. kinda like when the children of Israel said ‘give us a king like other nations!’ The Lords reply to samuel: they havent rejected you samuel, they have rejected Me, that i should not be Lord over them. How many followers would leave because of lack of entertainment and screaming pastors? Jesus said there be few that enter in to the kingdom of heaven, so instead of how many followers would leave, i think we are left with how many followers will stay.

  355. Flicker wrote:

    Burritos En Fuego.

    I get the distinct impression that the pleasure of a meal there would stay with you. Personally, the best fast-food concept is donuts on one side, ice cream on the other. We must keep things in balance. It wouldn’t even need to be particularly fast.

  356. Flicker wrote:

    @ roebuck:
    The part that gets me is that I KNOW these levels are at least 120, and children are present, even if I can’t prove it. But I can also guess the arguments I’d get about moving in the spirit and wanting the neighborhood to hear the praise.

    @ Flicker

    Music played at 120 decibels can be expected to cause hearing damage in 7.5 minutes with one exposure. I have watched the young daughter of a mega rock star enjoying the music backstage with proper hearing protection. The child was having a great time and dancing.

    Undiagnosed hearing impairments are a serious problem for children during their education. Many child with such hearing impairments are treat as if they are bad, lazy, or stupid. It is common for children to internalize these stigmatizing messages.

    I’m sorry, but I believe you have a moral responsibility to the children at that church to report suspected child abuse. Depending on what state you live in and what your job is, you may also have a legal responsibility to make a report. Anonymity is usually safeguarded for suspected abuse reporters. You may refuse to provide your name when reporting. I don’t think the report would ever be traced to you and a report may limit the hearing damage to these children.

    Dianna Smoot, Director of Community Education at the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, wrote “How to Respond to Suspected Child Abuse” to explain how to recognize and report possible child abuse (http://www.campussafetymagazine.com/article/how_to_respond_to_suspected_child_abuse). Ms. Smoot can be contacted at dsmoot@dcac.org or you can visit http://www.trainingcenter.net for more information. The article includes reporting phone numbers for each state.

    The article defines Physical Abuse as “Physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child or genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent/guardian that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm. Physical abuse includes failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent an action by another person that results in substantial harm to the child.

    The Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center website explains, “Every adult in the state of Texas is required to make a report when child abuse is suspected. You do not have to investigate or be certain that abuse has occurred – you only have to suspect. Call 911 if you believe a child is in immediate danger, or if you do not get an appropriate response to other requests. Contact Child Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400 to speak to a statewide intake coordinator and express your concerns. You may also make a report online at http://www.txabusehotline.org. Children in abusive situations cannot speak on their own behalf; you must act for them if you think abuse is occurring.”

    Skilled investigators handle suspected child sexual abuse cases. The Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center (http://www.dcac.org/) investigates suspected child abuse in Dallas, Texas by asking non-leading questions.

    It is important to speak up for children who may be being abused, albeit unintentionally, because children cannot speak up for themselves.

  357. Flicker wrote:

    The problem was that she said the most abominable, slanderous lies about other people. The problem wasn’t the way she said it, with humility and grace, and clarity. It was the content. The content was evil though it was phrased in the kindliest of ways. I think this distinction applies to apologies as well.

    i am ashamed to admit that once in my drinking days long ago, i tried a similar experiment while talking to my dog. i used a whole bunch of profanity to call him lots of vile things, with a smile on my face and a lovely sing-song voice. he was licking my face saying, ohhhh, i love you too! has church become a place where we want to listen to sing song voices that speak things we dont even listen to or check to see if they are biblical?

  358. Gram3 wrote:

    Flicker wrote:
    Burritos En Fuego.

    I get the distinct impression that the pleasure of a meal there would stay with you. Personally, the best fast-food concept is donuts on one side, ice cream on the other. We must keep things in balance. It wouldn’t even need to be particularly fast.

    I don’t care about the fast or the slow food part. Who does the dishes? That’s my ONLY real concern! (LOL.)

  359. sam wrote:

    i am ashamed to admit that once in my drinking days long ago, i tried a similar experiment while talking to my dog. i used a whole bunch of profanity to call him lots of vile things, with a smile on my face and a lovely sing-song voice. he was licking my face saying, ohhhh, i love you too! has church become a place where we want to listen to sing song voices that speak things we dont even listen to or check to see if they are biblical?

    Laughed out loud at that. It is too funny and also too true. I would love to have someone like you as my pastor!

  360. Lydia wrote:

    I have a teen vocalist at my house who would rather sing Italian art songs and listen to Julie Andrews than anything else. She HATES the loud praise songs and bands at many churches. She made a bigger issue of having to put up with it than 90 year old grandpa ever did.

    My heart leaped at this Lydia. Divergent kids like this need to be cultivated like the finest seed stock. They are humanity’s best hope for a better tomorrow*.

    * that is of course if Messiah doesn’t return any time soon.

  361. @ alethia:

    True. The printing press. Basically had similar influence with distribution of information the internet is having now.

  362. @ Muff Potter:
    Ah, thanks Muff. She is very different and not really accepted by her typical peers (even in youth group) except she knows some teens from city choir with similar vocal interests and they practice these songs together on skype! It is funny because they are counter cultural, if you get my drift.

  363. @ Gram3:
    Someone once taught me to dip my Kentucky Fried Chicken in the cake icing. It’s really quite good.

    As for dishes, I do. Until the day I get tired of it and then one evening I find the dishes done, and I say Thank, you, Baby!

  364. @ sam:I laughed at it, too, out loud (LOL). But I really think you hit the nail on the head. As well as the Israelis wanting a king other than God. I think that’s why we have the president we have today, too.

  365. @ Lydia:
    I bellowed in laughter at that visual. I’m still laughing and I don’t know why. And I’mstill laughing. Can’t tyope. Must stop,

  366. Flicker wrote:

    part of the problem i think we are facing is that churches or people are confusing (or manipulating) people who speak out against injustice in the church by saying ‘you have to forgive them’ which actually seems to mean dont ever talk about anything they are doing wrong or any wrong they have done in the past, they are ‘brothers’ then they spin into ‘are you saying they arent saved!?’ thus our forgiving is not about our forgiving anymore, but about not speaking about anything others dont want to hear. it matters if what they are demanding, i mean asking, is going to put us or others in danger.
    Paul wrote about not being in subjection to people who tried to turn the believers liberty into bondage.
    Jesus loved everyone but when people tried to throw stones at Him, He didnt let them. When they tried to throw Him off a cliff, He didnt let them do that either. The bible says once that He hid Himself also. If by forgiving this church they are actually saying i should never talk bad about them and become a member and bring my kids, and stay silent if others are in danger of a child predator, that is not ‘forgiving’ anything.
    Jesus said Father forgive them when He was on the cross and they hadnt repented yet, as you pointed out. When Jesus was raised from the dead and walked on the earth for 40 days, He had a bbq with Peter, He talked to the women, He appeared to lots of disciples, but it doesnt say He went to town and had lunch with the Pharisees who crucified Him or that He went back to teaching in the temple. He apeared to many of the pharisees later when they repented, i am sure, as is evidenced in the conversion in the first part of Acts, where Peter still held them to the condemnation of their sins “whom YE crucified” (caps mine) which led some to true sincere repentance and some to the desire to kill Peter.
    I forgive the sins people sin against me, that doesnt always mean i keep fellowshiping with them. it doesnt mean i wont still bring up unrepentant sin if i feel led to.

  367. alethia wrote:

    @ JeffT:

    So true. We can’t exactly repent from being a woman…

    But the Comp boys would at least want us to try…

  368. Karl wrote:

    @ An Attorney:

    Yeah, I think you pretty much have it there.

    (also an attorney)

    Yes, kudos to An Attorney.

  369. @Flicker wrote:

    I hope you will at least anonymously report suspected child abuse in reference to the church exposing children to music that you know to be 120 decibels or louder. Hearing damage is a foreseeable result of exposure to sounds that loud.

  370. @ To the Dogs:
    Let me tell you my thinking on that — or at least what was my thinking at the time. I don’t have a meter. I know that we could not speak to one another even with shouting when the music was playing. I know that I personally was jumping with certain popping consonants during the pastor’s sermons. It’s a small out-door church and the chairs are very close. I never timed the actual length of the songs or the loud part of the songs. And the speaking was up and down, up and down. I can’t document anything. But I will go to the pastor and tell him exactly what I think is happening.

    And I guess I’ll tell this pastor at this new church, too. At one church I went to, the volume was good and they provided wireless earphones to the hard of hearing. That could be done, too.

  371. Ellie wrote:

    What TVC should have said if they really wanted to apologize:
    http://translationsbyellie.com/index.php/2015/05/30/what-the-village-church-apology-should-have-said/

    brad/futuristguy wrote:

    The problem is, what you elders yourselves list that you feel so badly about – your lack of gentleness, compassion, patience, humility, mercy – are all indicators of character issues, fruit of the Spirit issues, issues about qualification qualities that the pastoral epistles delineate as *required* of those who would serve as elders/overseers. If you are so much into doing things right, for the right reasons, what does your public failure in demonstrating these indicators dictate that you should do?

    Love what you expressed.
    TVC Elders showed a lack of character and a lack of the fruits of the spirit.
    For those so concerned about being “biblical” there is a big gap in what they hold themselves too vs what they hold others too.

  372. @ Flicker wrote:

    @ To the Dogs:
    Let me tell you my thinking on that — or at least what was my thinking at the time. I don’t have a meter. I know that we could not speak to one another even with shouting when the music was playing. I know that I personally was jumping with certain popping consonants during the pastor’s sermons. It’s a small out-door church and the chairs are very close. I never timed the actual length of the songs or the loud part of the songs. And the speaking was up and down, up and down. I can’t document anything. But I will go to the pastor and tell him exactly what I think is happening.
    And I guess I’ll tell this pastor at this new church, too. At one church I went to, the volume was good and they provided wireless earphones to the hard of hearing. That could be done, too.

    I’ve watched the young daughter of a mega rock star backstage with her hearing protection on. She was dancing with abandon and having a great time.

    Trained, compassionate people investigate suspected child abuse, even when the abuse is unintentional. These investigators have the ability to document any possible situations that may physically harm children. If you think the music was 120 decibels or higher, then there is cause to suspect children may have been be physically harmed. A mere 7.5 minutes of music or speech at that volume can result in hearing damage.

    Depending on the state you are in and what job or volunteer position(s) you may hold, you may be a mandatory reporter for suspected child abuse.

    While a pastor might want to safeguard children’s hearing, a pastor might also prioritize “moving in the spirit and wanting the neighborhood to hear the praise.” A child abuse investigator is trained to deal with delicate situations to support all involved in creating the best outcome while always ensuring children are protected.

    Undiagnosed hearing impairments interfere with children’s educational progress. These children are often labelled lazy, crazy, or stupid. Sadly, they often internalize these messages. Proper diagnosis of a hearing impairment can change a child’s life.

    We have to speak up for the children because they cannot speak for themselves.

  373. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    @ Daisy:
    The last time I felt this disgusted was when I foolishly googled about Domestic Discipline. I can’t believe people even think like this. I guess all TVC members should show up to church tomorrow wearing buttons that say, “I Am Jordan Root.”

    epic post!

  374. @ Flicker

    I may be able to provide some helpful information here tomorrow.

    Reporting anonymously can feel safe while still alerting people able to address the problem. There are resources that list state reporting phone numbers for each state.

  375. To the Dogs wrote:

    I’ve watched the young daughter of a mega rock star backstage with her hearing protection on. She was dancing with abandon and having a great time.

    Then why have they not given ear protection to everyone in the room? What is the point of the music being that loud if they are harming everyone’s hearing? Does God need loud music for the Holy Spirit to be present or for people to worship?

  376. @ To the Dogs:
    Yes, I’ll consider it. But you have to understand that I’d rather handle it myself because I live now in a community in which there is no anonymity. Believe me. There is NONE. What I do will not be anonymous. I certainly will talk to them privately first, and take it from there.

  377. Bridget wrote:

    To the Dogs wrote:
    I’ve watched the young daughter of a mega rock star backstage with her hearing protection on. She was dancing with abandon and having a great time.
    Then why have they not given ear protection to everyone in the room? What is the point of the music being that loud if they are harming everyone’s hearing? Does God need loud music for the Holy Spirit to be present or for people to worship?

    It was a rock concert. I was an adult who brought my own hearing protection. I noticed the backstage staff also used hearing protection.

    The rock star’s daughter was the only child I saw at the concert. Doubtless there were many children in the audience, but I couldn’t see the audience well. Back then I had not been trained as a mandatory reporter, so I didn’t report my suspicion that children’s hearing may have been damaged at that rock concert.

    Parents who bring children to rock concerts without proper ear protection are risking substantial physical harm to their children’s hearing. Physical abuse includes failing to take reasonable steps to prevent someone else’s actions causing substantial harm to a child. In my opinion, anyone who witnesses such acts has a moral obligation to report suspected abuse to the designated state agency, or county agency in some states. Mandatory reporters are required to report if they suspect such a thing has occurred.

  378. An Attorney wrote:

    Paragraph by paragraph”
    1. Translation: We have been getting a lot of heat about the way we have messed up the situation involving Karen, from both inside and outside the church, and we are afraid that it may affect membership and giving, so we are apologizing.
    2. People do make mistakes. We may have made a mistake so we are doing some navel gazing to see how we can reinterpret this situation.
    3. We have already done a great deal to protect children but we are reevaluating to see if we need to do more, now that we have an admitted pedophile in the membership in good standing.
    4. We place such high value on our controlling of members practices and philosophy (which we say is Scripture based, but cite no scripture to support it), that we forget to be kind to people and we have bullied them. But we were right in our judgment that Karen was sinning by not taking our advice, we just didn’t communicate it with compassion.
    5. We apologize to the church membership that we have failed the members of the church by being hyper-focused on church discipline and control, and have bullied people. The Bible actually says we are do to it a different way, but we lost sight of that in our zeal to do church discipline.
    6. We owe Karen an apology. We are sorry that we were not effective in communicating to her in no uncertain terms that she was not to get an annulment from her former pedophile husband who masturbated to the pictures of little children being sexually abused. His behavior was not as bad as her refusing our directives. We were not prepared to clamp down hard enough and fast enough on Karen while smiling and providing comfort to her in her situation.
    7. We are apologizing to Karen because we were not effective (see 6 above) in making clear to her in no uncertain terms that her failure to kowtow to our every request and suggestion. As a result, we did not act fast enough to keep her from withdrawing her membership, and now we must release her and provide some funding for her so maybe she would sue us for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
    8. Why are we doing this. Not for any of the obvious reasons, but we want to have this in place before the proverbial human excrement hits the fan in the media or the courts.
    9. Pastor will speak on discipline but not about any specific case, because we don’t do that, except in email blasts to everyone on our membership list.
    10. We are asking the church to forgive us and we apologize to the church for screwing up (by not getting to Karen early enough and firmly enough to keep her under our control). We will do better next time! And we know we are forgiven for out mistakes (even if Karen isn’t because she would not be submissive).

    How did I miss this?! Hysterical and so accurate. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’ll go with 6. Now how to stop laughing so I can go to sleep…

  379. Thanks brad, i would love to see a report from police of when or if TVC ever actually notified.
    also this to me is ewwwwww if Jordan was being truthful, Jordan has a friend that helps him store his computer with child porn on it. wonder if they have seen each other since? wonder if the friend is a member in good standing at TVC also

    brad/futuristguy wrote:

    That laptop disappeared from the scene during our engagement. He told me back then that he had given it to a friend to hold on to for him, and he never spoke of it again.

  380. wow, sorry you went through all that. regarding this:

    Michaela wrote:

    When the pastors/elders met with me and screamed at me they even asked me if I had *prayed* for the sex offender? What does that have to do with having a child safety policy and kicking it into gear and taking it seriously?

    i will be expecting that to be the next ploy TVC uses online. i will use your ‘what does that have to do with…’ response when they do. thanks for posting

  381. To the Dogs wrote:

    If you think the music was 120 decibels or higher

    Let me put it this way. I do not know the criteria upon which such sound assessments are made. I can tell you this. Many times the music was so continuously loud I could not be understood while shouting into my wife’s ear, and vise versa. This was a sustained volume. At times during the sermon, I, who have very good hearing, and can — according to the testing booth — hear 0.0 decibels (??That’s of course, impossible, but that’s what the computer testing showed), was jumping often throughout the sermon. I KNOW that the volume VERY often bursted to exceed 120, and was sustained — according to my unprofessional understanding of “sustained” — at greater than 112. If you know that 7.5 minutes at 120 is injurious, yes, please report the facts here. I will take it with me when talk to the pastors.

    And thanks for the information, advice, and encouragement. I appreciate it.

  382. thanks! i am disqualified from the male dominated american ministry system because i was born intersex, (dont tell anyone lol) you should definately be teaching in a church somewhere though…titus 2:3

    Gram3 wrote:

    Laughed out loud at that. It is too funny and also too true. I would love to have someone like you as my pastor!

  383. @ Flicker

    Flicker wrote:

    @ To the Dogs:
    Yes, I’ll consider it. But you have to understand that I’d rather handle it myself because I live now in a community in which there is no anonymity. Believe me. There is NONE. What I do will not be anonymous. I certainly will talk to them privately first, and take it from there.

    I live in a rural area and understand lack of anonymity. What our state agency explains to anonymous reporters is that if you know something, doubtless other people are also aware of the same situation. If you live in the U.S. it is very unlikely a state agency would be able to determine your identity.

    Where I live police carry decibel meters and can issue a noise citation. They also accept anonymous reports here.

    People can make reports to the police, hotlines, or state/county child protection agencies. The recommendation is to not tell anyone who may have harmed a child prior to making a report. Tipping off people who may have caused physical harm to a child could result in hiding evidence. The police and trained state or county investigators know how to protect children.

    I have hesitated to make a report myself on multiple occasions. I do regret times I didn’t report, but I have no regrets over reports I made.

    I understand there are many serious reasons people don’t want to report suspected child abuse, including worrying that the organization or person reported will learn who made the report. Still, not reporting can lead to children being further harmed. Children need us to put their safety first.

  384. sam wrote:

    wow, sorry you went through all that. regarding this:

    Michaela wrote:

    When the pastors/elders met with me and screamed at me they even asked me if I had *prayed* for the sex offender? What does that have to do with having a child safety policy and kicking it into gear and taking it seriously?

    i will be expecting that to be the next ploy TVC uses online. i will use your ‘what does that have to do with…’ response when they do. thanks for posting

    Hey sam,

    Thanks for the nice post. Yes, it was quite a skirmish at my former church. And I lost all of my friends, people I had poured my life into for years and been so close to and their children when the pastors/elders excommunicated/shunned me for dissenting.

    But I gained a lot too:
    *freedom
    *happiness
    *joy
    *peace
    *openness
    *acceptance of so many people in life
    *greater live
    *kindness without the restrictions of that church
    *dumped legalism
    *got my schedule back (instead of copious amounts of time being invested in the church)
    *got my money (I don’t mind giving to the church or different kinds of charities, but I would rather give to a neighbor in need, I don’t care if they don’t go to my church)
    *sleep in on Sundays
    *waffle breakfasts (instead of rushing off to church)
    *not having to dress up on Sundays (I like dressing up, but I would have to plan everything out several days in advance)
    *my conscience…oh yes. Not being told to shut it off because the pastors/elders said so
    *tracked down former members who were excommunicated/shunned or harmed by the pastors/elders and congregation and apologized to them (what had been done to them always bothered me and I always knew it was wrong)

  385. @Deebs et all

    i have a post in moderation dated Sam said Sun May 31, 2015 at 12:07 AM
    that should have been @Flicker in response to the post on forgiveness but instead (since i often get stuck in the quote box) says flicker wrote, can you correct it for me please?

  386. Pingback: The De-weaslification of TVC’s Apology - Translations by Ellie

  387. Flicker wrote:

    To the Dogs wrote:
    If you think the music was 120 decibels or higher
    Let me put it this way. I do not know the criteria upon which such sound assessments are made. I can tell you this. Many times the music was so continuously loud I could not be understood while shouting into my wife’s ear, and vise versa. This was a sustained volume. At times during the sermon, I, who have very good hearing, and can — according to the testing booth — hear 0.0 decibels (??That’s of course, impossible, but that’s what the computer testing showed), was jumping often throughout the sermon. I KNOW that the volume VERY often bursted to exceed 120, and was sustained — according to my unprofessional understanding of “sustained” — at greater than 112. If you know that 7.5 minutes at 120 is injurious, yes, please report the facts here. I will take it with me when talk to the pastors.
    And thanks for the information, advice, and encouragement. I appreciate it.

    To the Dogs wrote:

    @ Flicker
    I may be able to provide some helpful information here tomorrow.
    Reporting anonymously can feel safe while still alerting people able to address the problem. There are resources that list state reporting phone numbers for each state.

    Due to circumstances beyond my control, until tomorrow I can only suggest you use a search engine to look up “120 decibels hearing damage.” Depending on your search engine you may find websites like “Dangerous Decibels” and a “Hearing Damage Sound Chart.”

    As I wrote earlier, I expect to be able to provide helpful information here tomorrow.

  388. To the Dogs wrote:

    Back then I had not been trained as a mandatory reporter

    Mandatory government reporting? Good. Gotcha. Thanks for the warning. I’ll do that.

  389. wondering if a conversation like this has already occured many times at TVC

    ‘mom and dad, i heard about that jordan guy over there…’
    ‘shhh, dont talk bad about him, he is repentant and we must only love him’

    and then the child (alone) runs into jordan or another ‘jordan’ that attends TVC and has no idea that they should not go somewhere alone with him or give him their facebook i.d., they just know they are supposed to love him and never say anything bad about him. And if something bad does happen, they must never say anything bad about him.
    But that Karen, they are free to say she is in sin all the day long.

  390. sam wrote:

    Salloum said he did not know if Hinkley could work with SIM again if she found another church which would support her. (SIM vice president)
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/may-web-only/matt-chandler-apologizes-for-village-churchs-decision-to-di.html?start=4
    if i lived there, i would be out picketing SIM also. and i think that their portrayal that she wouldnt be able to be a missionary is definately a law suit item. If a for profit corporation made a statement like this it would be in serious legal trouble. blowback that damages her chances of unemployment with other “mission sending corporations”. churches and christian non profits always are above the law in ways that just show why the law was nessecary to be made in the first place. if you doubt this, just for a minute put ‘walmart’ or ‘costco’ in place of the village church and SIMS and run the whole sordid scenario through your mind with that in mind. ‘costco fires woman for refusing to stay in her marriage to pedo husband and work on the marriage.’ ‘walmart is asked if they would rehire woman whose sending company fired her for not staying married to pedo husband, if she worked under a different sending company, answer: “we doubt we would”

    The religious exemptions laws can be so aggravating! I posted a
    link on the TWW to a New York Times series about it. It’s about 10 years old. Great deal of damage to people of all faiths in the article: cancer, ill-health, age, etc and everybody kicked to the curb.

  391. I meet as often as possible with sex offenders for prayer and bible study and fellowship at a homeless outreach that is adults only. Most of the sex offenders that I have worked with and known, especially the ones that appear truly repentant, avoid attending church, even though they long for christian fellowship.
    Churches like The Village Church love to tell everyone they love sinners. If these type churches really loved repentant sex offenders they wouldn’t encourage everyone attending the church services to reach out and ‘love on them’ they would never set them up in a home fellowship that had children. And not just to keep them from being in temptation.
    Here’s why:
    The guys I work with are usually registered as offenders, many are on probation. Here is how they explain it – ‘me, Joe sex offender, is coming out of the restroom down the hall, no one else is around, and here comes little billy to get a drink at the water fountain. little billy says hi and tries to strike up a conversation, because the church knows my past and has told everyone to be nice to me. Sue secretary comes out of the ladies room and goes to the pastor or her gossip friends and says she saw me attempt to lure little billy, and I am sent back to prison.’
    If that were to happen in a home setting there is almost a %100 percent chance of conviction, even if the offender was truly repentant, walking with Jesus and had done nothing wrong.
    If Joe offender was an adult sex offender the same thing could happen if your wife stopped to chat with him in a hall by the bathroom or anywhere that was not full of people.
    Too often churches use repentant sinners for church glory and say they love them but usually in fact know nothing about them and don’t care to.
    My guys don’t go to church barbeques at the park, public parks are forbiden for most registered sex offenders. And they certainly don’t go have some beers at a bar with charismatic church leaders. Alot of felons can have their probation revoked for going to bars, even non sex offense felons. Most men I have met in AA don’t go to Acts29 churches for alcohol reasons also, but not because they are anti-alcohol, they dont care if you drink. Macho Men in bars drinking is a whole lot different than being in a home where Jesus drank wine but you didn’t feel that you had to to fit in. Most of my guys would love to go to church events that were for adults in places they could also go.
    Churches that ‘love’ repentant sex offenders have child safety proceedures in place for both children and the offenders. Thanks for letting me tell their side also.

  392. one more thing that bugs me about this whole TVC thing. On their online defense of the church, (attempting to avoid the child predator concerns), members have been saying things like: dont you think he repented? arent you a sinner too? dont you think Jesus can forgive them? dont you think everyone is an equal sinner,etc.
    So this morning i had a conversation with a couple of heroin dealers that are freshly in recovery, one of em was maybe not quite in total recovery, not sure. The conversation they were having was about a time that they and a bunch of their fellow businessmen had met at a persons apartment. the person with the apartment had children but the kids were not at home. The guys i was talking with, were talking about how one person in that group had gone into the kids room to get something like a pillow and how respectable dealers never ever go in kids’ rooms, and how back in the day if you did something like that or if ya beat or abused women you could expect a severe beating yourself. They stopped doing business with the fellow and ran him out of town.
    Now tell me J.D. Hall, how is that heroin dealers seem to have more moral charactor than you and your friends?

  393. Lydia wrote:

    @ BeenThereDoneThat:

    And there is another side to this, too, when it comes to pastors. Check out this thread:

    http://sbcvoices.com/recidivism/

    They do not get it and children would not be safe in their churches because they also buy into the repentant child predator meme ignoring the long con of deception they have lived. The repentant child predator receives more grace than children. They cannot connect the dots. Note how they want so badly to lump all sexual sin together. I think that is a theme we are going to see a lot of. It is almost as if they equate adult sexual sin with child predator CRIME.

    My head just spins. This is the SBC!

    Yes, I see these statistics quoted everywhere. They are extrapolated to mean that pedophile child molesters have a lesser chance of recidivism that other offenders. Uh no, that is not what they mean. The category of sex offender is overly broad, capturing everyone from the immature nineteen year old man with the fifteen year old girlfriend to the homeless man charged with indecent exposure for urinating in the alley to the violent stranger rapist to the rapist who spikes his dates’ drinks, each with varying rates of recidivism.

    We do not see large recidivism studies of offenders whose preference is for prepubescent children. And if we did, could we trust them? Large recidivism studies are based on new arrests or convictions and sex offenses are significantly unreported. Victims are afraid they won’t be believed, children are afraid to tell their parents. When pedophiles are arrested, it is often discovered that they have had many victims over the years. They know how to maximize their chances of getting away with it and they do for years. Most recidivism studies don’t follow offenders for more than three years; some are just for one.

    But all that aside, let’s say that the aggregate statistic of 43 percent recidivism for sex offenders that the SBC cites actually does apply to pedophile molesters and rapists. Does that reassure you when one is out of prison and in your church? Is that recidivism rate acceptable just because it is lower than the rate for burglars?

  394. Flickr@ Flicker:
    You have made some awesome comments on this thread – you are helping me learn, thank you so much.
    sam wrote:

    thanks! i am disqualified from the male dominated american ministry system because i was born intersex,

    Sam,also amazing to have you here. It is so good to hear of the work you are doing with sex offenders, more power to you. As far as your being born intersex, is this something you would ever consider discussing here? There have been some recent posts on gender issues the comments on which have shown that some parts of the church are horrifically uneducated/stupid about gender issues, their effect on actual people & how they are/should be handled ‘biblically’. Feel free to say no though, you are under no compunction to bare your soul for my learning.

  395. Thinking more about the fact that many churches such as TVC show clearly they are more concerned with ‘being biblical’ than human welfare it just reminds me that this is calvinism all over. God can do whatever he likes, even if that’s to create a mass of people for destruction to show his power and ‘justice’, never offering them the chance to escape,and he is good for doing it. If that’s what they think the bible says then they’ll go with it. These leaders are just like that. If they thought burning at the stake & cutting off hands was biblical then they’d do that. They seem to have lost all ability to genuinely consider human welfare.
    In this instance they just wanted Karen to be their poster girl for ‘endurance’ in a marriage to a deviant predator, so they could chalk up hopefully countless spiritual ‘victories’ as she tries to force herself into the deepest forms of emotional/physical intimacy with someone who also lied to her from the very beginning. I’m sure they’d love them to have children & then those kids can also be tiny posters for how it all can change & be so lovely, nevermind they’re in danger…It makes my head spin. I absolutely bet you that TVC would have supported such a thing.

  396. @ An Attorney:

    An Attorney — thanks for posting that “paragraph by paragraph translation.”

    Brilliantly clear.

    I was originally going to say that it would make the perfect template for other legal-contract membership covenant churches in issuing “apologies” that are combo external damage control plus internal crowd control.

    But then I thought, control + template = contemptlate, and thought that was a more appropriate one-word description.

    And then I remembered I had written an article on “Mark Driscoll’s Culture of Contempt” for my extended case study on the Mars Hill meltdown of 2014. So I went to see what I’d written and found this part worth quoting:

    This particular article focuses in on what I have distilled from considering some of Mark Driscoll’s toxic behavior patterns and the underlying characteristics that disqualify him from positions where he is given authority over people and/or is commended as being a public role model. … I have not seen evidence of repentance necessary to even consider suggesting he should be restored to leadership. Rather, there is a continuing evidence stream of his contempt.

    Contempt involves an arrogant attitude of superiority about one’s self, beliefs, abilities, opinions, etc. This in turn leads to bullying actions like scornful comments and sarcasm, reviling and mocking, minimizing and invalidating, and other forms of put-downs and control. You may be able to hide contempt for a while behind a veil of “charisma” or “edginess” or “relevance.” But sooner or later, the core of contempt will ooze out of the depths of darkness in such ways that can no longer be disguised. A pattern this deep is not accidental or inadvertent. It is practiced and intentional. Care to claim that it’s Christlike – even if there are likewise instances of appropriate attitudes and ministry?

  397. In cricketing news:

    In reply to New Zealand’s score of 350 all out, England were bowled out this morning for… 350.

    This is only the eighth time in Test history that both sides finished level after the first innings. It’s a shame this series is only two matches long, as it continues to produce some enthralling days of cricket!

  398. @ Flicker:

    I would never, ever attend a church with that level of sound. I would have walked out and never gone back. We have choice!

  399. An Attorney wrote:

    8. Why are we doing this. Not for any of the obvious reasons, but we want to have this in place before the proverbial human excrement hits the fan in the media or the courts.

    Your list is fantastic! As to the above, there is always the “non apology” that is billed an “apology” when media stories are written. That is what it looks like. And that is what happened in some cases. “Church that Disciplined Wife Apologizes”.

    There. Done. See how simple?

  400. sam wrote:

    part of the problem i think we are facing is that churches or people are confusing (or manipulating) people who speak out against injustice in the church by saying ‘you have to forgive them’ which actually seems to mean dont ever talk about anything they are doing wrong or any wrong they have done in the past, they are ‘brothers’ then they spin into ‘are you saying they arent saved!?’ thus our forgiving is not about our forgiving anymore, but about not speaking about anything others dont want to hear. it matters if what they are demanding, i mean asking, is going to put us or others in danger.

    I have come to see this as the “get out of jail card cos you claim to be a Christian” or the “no consequences pass cos you are a Christian”

    Is this really the message we want to send people about who we are? Christians can get by with treating people horrible cos they said sorry. So there must be a public display of forgiveness because we all know that abusive and authoritrain pastors are going to stop.

    I say we save a lot of innocents from harm and warn folks they are toxic.

  401. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    Howzat!!
    In ultramarathon news, today is the first time in over 20 years that the winners of the men’s and women’s races at the Comrades Marathon were both South Africans. Today’s men’s winner is the brother of the 2001 winner, the first time two brothers have won. Comrades is run between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg, a distance of about 90km.

  402. @ Bob M:

    Great Article. If only MPT had done a similar indepth type article about Tony Jones’ treatement of his ex. But I doubt Daily Beast would have run it but at least MPT could have put it on his own blog.

  403. Gary W wrote:

    @ brad/futuristguy:
    The link still works. Not sure if I was using the same link but within Article XIII, regarding Church Discipline, reference is made to what is described as a fuller explanation of discipline at http://www.thevillagechurch.net/sermon/church-discipline-guidelines/?utm_source=Church%20Bylaws%20PDF&utm_medium=Church%20Bylaws%20PDF&utm_campaign=Church%20Discipline%20Guidelines
    It is this more detailed description of the disciplinary process that seems to have been scrubbed.

    They broke the link, but the guidelines are still on their website. Here’s a link: http://www.thevillagechurch.net/mediafiles/uploaded/c/0e1140189_1403203970_church-discipline-guidelines.pdf

  404. Lydia wrote:

    And I totally agree with you about Calvin’s core of people being corrupt and I would say “unable” to change. He even says in the Institutes that a person can look and behave as a great Christian and even believe they are saved yet be reprobate and not know it. Chilling.

    Which leads to “But How Do You REALLY KNOW You’re REALLY SAVED?????” on steroids. A lot of Calvinist Can-You-Top-This shticks, from Protestant Work Ethic to Prosperity Gospel to Perfectly-Parsed Theology, come across to me as increasingly desperate attempts to Prove To Myself That I Am One of The Elect.

  405. Flicker wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    Is this beyond the pale? Sorry. I did love a place called Burritos En Fuego. But that was a long time ago.

    Remember this: They burn just as much coming out as going in.

  406. Muff Potter wrote:

    @ Muff Potter:
    These kinds of kids invariably dance to a different drummer and are not like the lemmings around them.

    And end up being PUNISHED for it.

    Something I learned growing up: Any nail that sticks up gets hammered down. HARD.

  407. Gram3 wrote:

    Great point. I’ve never wanted to be a pastor/teacher, but I mentioned to someone whom I can’t remember that our church would sooner put Nate Morales behind the pulpit than me, a woman. Yeah, that is how deep the ideology goes.

    Because of what Nate (and Jordan) has between his legs that YOU DON’T.

    Purity of Ideology, Comrade.
    Purity of Ideology.

  408. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Which leads to “But How Do You REALLY KNOW You’re REALLY SAVED?????” on steroids.

    This is the theme of so much of the Puritan writings. I think many would have just done themselves in if not for believing that is a sin. :o)

  409. Gram3 wrote:

    If people were concerned about Driscoll, Acts29 could point to Chandler as the clean-cut suburban guy.

    Good Cop/Bad Cop.

    Chandler has re-branded as well to move toward the executive type that works for North Dallas.

    He’s rebranded to go where the REAL Money is.

  410. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    And end up being PUNISHED for it.

    I keep one eye peeled for that. She was a kid who loved church until Youth Group. Church Youth Group is often a variation of Lord of the Flies with Ralph as the Youth Pastor.

  411. Lydia wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    Which leads to “But How Do You REALLY KNOW You’re REALLY SAVED?????” on steroids.

    This is the theme of so much of the Puritan writings. I think many would have just done themselves in if not for believing that is a sin. :o)

    Some did. Jonathan Edwards had a few sermon-triggered suicides in his congregation.

    “Are you SURE you’re SAVED? Are you CERTAIN you’re SURE? Are you SURE you’re CERTAIN you’re SURE? Are you CERTAIN you’re SURE you’re CERTAIN you’re SURE? Are you SURE you’re CERTAIN you’re SURE you’re CERTAIN you’re SURE? Are you CERTAIN you’re SURE you’re CERTAIN you’re SURE you’re CERTAIN you’re SURE? Are you SURE you’re CERTAIN you’re SURE you’re CERTAIN you’re SURE you’re CERTAIN you’re SURE…”

    In my college days, THAT was a known witnessing tactic called The Ressegue Regression. I became a notch on half a dozen Bibles that way. And I can attest that That Way Lies Madness.

  412. What do we do when churches side with evil and protect child abusers?

    What do we do when parents of child sexual abuse victims are not given information to begin to help protect and get healing for their child?

    What do we do when Elders do not stand up for a female missionarymarried to fraud of a man that secretly used child abuse pornography but, instead the Elders persecute the honest and brave female missionary for standing up for good and the protection of children and using safe boundaries and godly counsel to get a legal annulment for fraud from the State of Texas?

    What do we do with authoritative church leaders who manipulate information to keep things in their movement status quo at the cost of safety for children?

    Oh woe to us!

  413. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    I want to say something else to you. She is not a genius like you but your comments here over the years are part of why I started to view certain things differently and keep an eye out for some of the things you have discussed about your childhood. They caused me to communicate better with a kid who is so obviously different than her peers.

    Often we are not told how we might impacted others in a positive way. So, I am telling you that many of your comments resonated with me and helped me to do some preemptive damage control.

  414. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Some did. Jonathan Edwards had a few sermon-triggered suicides in his congregation.

    And some were so heinous it was hard to read about them. So convinced of your wickedness from your Edwards “dicipling” that when you go to shave one morning you take that straight edge and just slash your throat.

    The irony is that Edwards great great great granddaughter is a Presbyterian minister. I bet he is turning over in his grave.

  415. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Muff Potter wrote:
    @ Muff Potter:
    These kinds of kids invariably dance to a different drummer and are not like the lemmings around them.
    And end up being PUNISHED for it.
    Something I learned growing up: Any nail that sticks up gets hammered down. HARD.

    WOW, did I not learn that one as well. I used to get in big trouble for disrupting the class, now they pay me for it.

  416. Any word on Matt Chandlers teaching this morning at TVC ?

    TVC doesn’t have a live feed from what I could find on their websites.

    Would have been interested in watching online.

  417. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    They broke the link, but the guidelines are still on their website. Here’s a link: http://www.thevillagechurch.net/mediafiles/uploaded/c/0e1140189_1403203970_church-discipline-guidelines.pdf

    This is great, excellent sleuthing! No wonder they are trying to hide their written procedures detailing how discipline should proceed.

    There are 4 steps. Step 1 is basically a 1 on 1 conversation for identifying concerns. Maybe it happened if the so called elders had gotten wind of Karen’s intent to pursue annulment. Probably it didn’t happen unless an exchange of opinions on merely contemplated actions counts.

    Step 2 involves the parties agreeing on one or 2 disinterested mediators. Didn’t happen. Was no attempt on TVC’s part to make it happen. Steps 1 and 2 are consider4ed informal discipline and do not, therefore, constitute grounds for resisting resignation of membership.

    Formal discipline only begins with step 3, which involves some things that did not happen before Karen resigned. The one procedure that was even arguably followed is found in the statement that “everyone involved needs to be kept updated so that sin can be exposed.” Actually, they went way beyond this step. They sent an email to some 6000 “covenant members,” the great majority of whom almost certainly had no involvement in the matter whatsoever.

    Actually, it is only in the 4th and final step that we are informed that “The offender’s community must be informed of the general nature of the offense and ways they can minister to those directly involved.” Well, TVC informed the church community alright. It’s just that, again, they took this shaming and blaming step without following any of the preceding steps, and they did it after Karen had already resigned–a step she had every right to take, according to the bylaws, since there absolutely were no formal disciplinary proceedings in place at the time.

  418. Gary W wrote:

    Actually, they went way beyond this step. They sent an email to some 6000 “covenant members,” the great majority of whom almost certainly had no involvement in the matter whatsoever

    But note, they did NOT tell the 6000 covenant members Jordon was a pedophile. That came later when Karen went public. They attempted to protect Jordon (which turned out to be 3 months) but throw Karen down the “bad sinner” hole.

    This is “church discipline” in their world.

  419. Oh, and here are some, but not all, of the consequences Karen was facing in the event the TVC “elders” had imposed the ultimate consequences they appear to have been threatening:

    “The offender can no longer be affirmed as a believer in Christ.” (Say what? They reserve to themselves the power of damnation?)

    “Excluded from communion.” (No biggie, being Baptist they likely think it’s only an ordinance anyway.)

    “Expelled from membership.” (Keep in mind that SB churches tend to equate church membership with membership in the very Body of Christ.)

    “Excluded from groups such as homegroup, Bible studies and recovery.” (Exile. Hadn’t Karen already been directed to participate in homegroup functions or some such?)

    “Members are informed of offense and asked to not associate with the person as if nothing is wrong but to call the unrepentant person to faith and repentance in the gospel.” (Shaming and shunning–note that TVC jumped immediately to the shaming step.)

  420. To the Dogs wrote:

    If you think the music was 120 decibels or higher, then there is cause to suspect children may have been be physically harmed.

    I have a decibel meter app on my phone. I often check levels when I think something is too loud, and I’ve been known to leave events where I think my hearing is being damaged.

  421. Gary W wrote:

    “The offender can no longer be affirmed as a believer in Christ.” (Say what? They reserve to themselves the power of damnation?)

    They really say this!!! Wow, they define who is saved???

  422. Gary W wrote:

    “Hadn’t Karen already been directed NOT to participate in homegroup functions…”

    IIRC Karen was going to go to home group, but found out that Jordan was instructed and encouraged to go to their former group. She was not going to go to the same group, obviously (to every one but TVC elders). It appears that she had to find a new one or not go. Left out in the cold if you ask me. Makes me wonder if the TVC elders were hoping to get them in the same group.

  423. @ Flicker

    To the Dogs wrote:
    Back then I had not been trained as a mandatory reporter….

    Flicker wrote:

    Mandatory government reporting? Good. Gotcha. Thanks for the warning. I’ll do that.

    Quick reference guide (links discussed below):

    Page 1 of “How to Respond to Suspected Child Abuse:” http://www.campussafetymagazine.com/article/how_to_respond_to_suspected_child_abuse

    Page 2 of “How to Respond to Suspected Child Abuse:” http://www.campussafetymagazine.com/article/how_to_respond_to_suspected_child_abuse/P2

    One-page article “How to Make a Report of Suspected Child Abuse:” http://www.campussafetymagazine.com/article/how_to_make_a_report_of_suspected_child_abuse

    Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center: http://www.dcac.org/ and http://www.trainingcenter.net

    Texas online abuse and neglect reporting website: http://www.txabusehotline.org

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Undiagnosed hearing impairments interfere with children’s educational progress. These children are often labeled lazy, crazy, or stupid. Sadly, they often internalize these messages. Proper diagnosis of a hearing impairment can change a child’s life.

    I’m glad you decided to report to designated agencies that you are concerned noise levels might damage children’s hearing at your church. Let me be clear: I was not trying to warn anyone about anything, but I would like to let you and others know things you might find helpful.

    For example, your church pastor is unlikely to be able to provide free hearing tests to children who attend the church. Child protection agencies can do that. It is usually impossible to connect a hearing impairment to a specific incident of loud noise. In a situation like the one you described the goal is not finding someone to punish. Instead, the focus is finding any child with a hearing impairment and providing medical help.

    Child protection agencies and the police want to work with churches, families, and community members to help children. They want people to trust them and tell them about concerns. The goal is always informing people about child safety, providing resources, and working together to meet children’s needs voluntarily. For this reason police and child protection officers won’t be barging into a church worship service with cameras, tape measures, and decibel meters. If they take any action, it is likely to be discretely calling someone in authority at the church to discuss how noise levels can damage children’s hearing and what can voluntarily be done about it.

    Telling highly-trained professionals about concerns regarding children’s welfare allows the police or child protection investigators to assess children’s safety and determine whether an investigation is warranted.

    Mandatory reporting laws exist in every U.S. state, territory, and the District of Columbia. If I understand correctly, the UK is now considering creating mandatory reporting laws. These laws exist to protect children because children suffer further harm because many people decide not to report suspected child abuse. Rather than a government intrusion into the private affairs of citizens, these laws seek to protect vulnerable members of our society who cannot protect themselves.

    In her article, “How to Respond to Suspected Child Abuse,” (see link below) Dianna Smoot, Director of Community Education at the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, defines physical abuse as: “Physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child or genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent/guardian that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm. Physical abuse includes failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent an action by another person that results in substantial harm to the child.” (bolding is mine)

    Suspecting that child, elder, or dependent adult abuse or neglect occurred brings a moral obligation, sometimes a legal obligation, to report. You do not need to be sure a child has been abused or neglected, prior to reporting. In fact, child protection agencies ask people to not hesitate before reporting. Hesitating could allow a child to be further harmed.

    What you do and don’t do affects the possible outcome of child protection investigations. This is why child protection agencies ask that you do some things and refrain from doing others. First, make the report and allow the designated agency to investigate or to determine an investigation is not warranted. Do not tell anyone who may have access to the child or the possible child abuser that you are going to make a report. Do not interview or interrogate the child.

    If a child might be harmed within the next 24 hours, call the police. Otherwise, if you suspect possible child abuse, call the nationwide Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD or the designated state agency. County agencies exist in lieu of statewide hotlines in only eight specific states. Some states provide online reporting websites.

    Reports of child abuse or neglect are confidential. You can block your outgoing phone number from showing up on caller ID. It is extremely unlikely that a national or statewide hotline could figure out who made an anonymous report. Hotline workers are not trying to track down people who suspect child abuse, they are thinking about how to keep children safe. I understand there are many serious reasons people don’t want to report suspected child abuse, including worrying that the person or organization reported will learn who made the report. My state agency explains to anonymous reporters that if you know something, doubtless other people are also aware of the same situation. Not reporting can lead to children being further harmed. Children need us to put their safety first.

    I have hesitated to make a report myself on multiple occasions. I do regret times I didn’t report, but I have no regrets over reports I made.

    Bearing in mind the dos and don’ts recommended by child protection officers, I expect many adults at your church may have hearing impairments that create relationship difficulties and interfere with enjoying life. Some adults, like you and your pastors, might want to have free hearing tests to care for the temple of your own bodies. Perhaps your church could arrange for people to do this during a church function. Some hearing screening tests may be available 24 hours a day by phone. Setting a good example in such a way would non-intrusively encourage parents to have their children’s hearing tested for free.

    To explain how to recognize and report possible child abuse Dianna Smoot, Director of Community Education at the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, wrote a two-page article “How to Respond to Suspected Child Abuse” which includes reporting phone numbers for each state. Ms. Smoot also wrote a one-page article “How to Make a Report of Suspected Child Abuse.” (page 1: http://www.campussafetymagazine.com/article/how_to_respond_to_suspected_child_abuse and page 2: http://www.campussafetymagazine.com/article/how_to_respond_to_suspected_child_abuse/P2 and one-page article: http://www.campussafetymagazine.com/article/how_to_make_a_report_of_suspected_child_abuse).

    Ms. Smoot can be contacted at dsmoot@dcac.org or you can visit http://www.trainingcenter.net for more information.

    Skilled investigators handle suspected child, elder, and dependent adult abuse and neglect cases. The Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center (http://www.dcac.org/) investigates suspected child abuse in Dallas, Texas by asking non-leading questions.

    The Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center website explains, “Every adult in the state of Texas is required to make a report when child abuse is suspected. You do not have to investigate or be certain that abuse has occurred – you only have to suspect. Call 911 if you believe a child is in immediate danger, or if you do not get an appropriate response to other requests. Contact Child Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400 to speak to a statewide intake coordinator and express your concerns. You may also make a report online at http://www.txabusehotline.org. Children in abusive situations cannot speak on their own behalf; you must act for them if you think abuse is occurring.”

  424. Gary W wrote:

    “The offender can no longer be affirmed as a believer in Christ.” (Say what? They reserve to themselves the power of damnation?)

    Yep, Karen is not saved. Jordan is ok, though. {sarcasm}

  425. @ Bridget:

    PS – The “presupposition” when a person comes for marital counseling seems to be reconciliation(.) This presupposition taints everything the counselor says and does. IF the presupposition was to listen to the person and be concerned for their physical, emotional, and spiritual welfare there would be a far different outcome.

    But in these groups where marriage = gospel = God’s glory. The presupposition IS that every marriage needs to be saved. So you have marriage as the focus instead of the person and the facts that the person presents in counseling.

    This is not how Jesus operated (granted Jesus operated at a different level than man). This is not how good secular therapists operate. This is not how anyone should proceed when. Counseling marria

  426. @ Bridget:

    Sorry, posted to soon.

    “This is not how anyone should proceed when addressing marriage issues.” There should be no presupposition that the marriage should be saved.

  427. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    To the Dogs wrote:
    If you think the music was 120 decibels or higher, then there is cause to suspect children may have been be physically harmed.
    I have a decibel meter app on my phone. I often check levels when I think something is too loud, and I’ve been known to leave events where I think my hearing is being damaged.

    Great to know there’s a smartphone app for that. 🙂

    Anytime you suspect child abuse, make a report. Damaging children’s hearing, albeit unintentionally, by failing to protect their hearing is child abuse or neglect.

    I’d call your friendly local audiologist to ask what they recommend for the next time you see children without hearing protection at such events. No doubt audiologists and children’s audiologists have thought of helpful responses.

  428. Jeffrey Chalmers wrote:

    Gary W wrote:

    “The offender can no longer be affirmed as a believer in Christ.” (Say what? They reserve to themselves the power of damnation?)

    They really say this!!! Wow, they define who is saved???

    Yes, bizarrely, they do. This is all of that 9Marks, Neo Calvinism, nonsense.
    At my former church the senior pastors/elders ordered that a godly doctor (happily married to his wife for 40+ years) be excommunicated/shunned. His “crime”? He disagreed, in private, with how the pastors/elders were leading the church and discussed the Scriptures with them. They told the entire church he wasn’t *saved*, how *long* and how *hard* they had *worked* with him. (They even told us to *pray* for his wife. She told me after I left that she’d always hated that church, rarely wanted to go, and had warned her husband about them!)

    *I was “keyed out” (Gram3’s saying) of the church after 8-years. My ‘crime’? I wasn’t ‘on board’ with the pastors/elders giving their friend a Megan’s List sex offender church membership, putting him in to positions of leadership and trust, not telling all members and parents, and inviting him to volunteer at our church’s week-long sports camp for children (where believers and unbelievers entrust their children to us). According to the pastors/elders, this makes me an unbeliever.

    *I watched several other close calls of people who dissented.
    *A couple (husband is an executive and the son of a pastor, godly) who disagreed with the teachings of one of the pastors/elders in adult Sunday School and were nearly excommunicated for it.
    *A wife who refused to go to the church any more with her husband and chose to go to a different church. The senior pastor and elders accused her of not *submitting* and the s.p. paid a visit to her home and she said screamed at her.
    She moved out of the family home over the issue. The senior pastor called the church to *pursue* her to *repent* (harass her, etc.) She disconnected her cell phone and her email.

    As someone else has previously posted here in the past several months, that all of these churches have become mini Catholic Churches with their own popes at every church who can *key* a member out of the church.

    Even conservative Christians I know in Europe who are long-time elders at their churches have said that this is never done in their churches there and they have no idea what has happened to American Christianity. One man said that the American Christian church has more in common now with radical Islam.

  429. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Gary W wrote:

    “The offender can no longer be affirmed as a believer in Christ.” (Say what? They reserve to themselves the power of damnation?)

    Yep, Karen is not saved. Jordan is ok, though. {sarcasm}

    He said the magic words.

  430. @ Jeff S:

    Thanks Jeff. You are one of the few people to bring up the obvious questions:

    “If you are one of those who does think it is loving to demand reconciliation for a woman in Karen’s position, I will make one appeal for you to re-think this. You are talking about forcing a woman into an intimate relationship with a man who is sexually stimulated by the molestation of Children. Could YOU share your bed with such a person? Would she be expected to sleep with him and create children he would have legal access to their entire lives? How the resulting relationship fit a reasonable definition of what a marriage should be? No intimacy, trust, vulnerability, respect, or even friendship. Do you expect Karen to actually build a life with the man, or do expect her to just suffer in silence and stop pestering others with her pain?”

    http://lovewithoutfear.net/2015/05/31/making-the-gospel-look-scandalous/

  431. Is this true of other Acts 29 churches? If so, this needs to exposed publicly. This is one of the ultimate messed up doctrines… A couple of elders, empowered by a ” membership covenant” can determine who is going to heaven!! Really?

    @ Michaela:

  432. Thanks Lydia.

    I am really saddened by this situation. I’m not shocked, and I’m glad something has brought this to light, but this morning as I was sitting in worship, it all seemed so . . . small compared to the suffering that churches like TVC are inflicting on people.

    I’m confident my own church would do better, but I still feel like my pastor should speak out. I know what he’d say- he would say he doesn’t follow Acts 29 or Chandler and really doesn’t know anything about the situation. And I won’t disagree -that’s valid. I’m glad our pastors aren’t up to date on all the “hip” goings on in the Christians world. But I still want someone to speak. I want to talk about this more than just on blogs on the internet.

    Excused my rambling, I’m just trying to make sense of a bunch of emotions right now. That blog was something I needed to write just so I could get my own feelings down. What makes me more sick than TVC’s behavior is that fact that so many self-identifying Christians can’t immediately detect how ugly it is.

  433. Jeff S wrote:

    I am really saddened by this situation. I’m not shocked, and I’m glad something has brought this to light, but this morning as I was sitting in worship, it all seemed so . . . small compared to the suffering that churches like TVC are inflicting on people.

    The thing it makes me wonder is how many other “situations” have happened there due to the Covenant that are not public? This one is public because of one very brave woman. Most are not that brave.

    My former pastor who left for a small town church was very concerned about what was going on at SBTS and in greater evangelicalism but he never said a word publicly. That bothered me about him. But I knew why. He was a Hebrew Scholar and wanted to teach after he retired. What people might not realize is that speaking up about your peers whether they agree or not is a red flag to many places that you are a potential troublemaker.

    There is a lot of sacrifice that comes from speaking up. It works better if you have nothing to lose.

  434. To the Dogs wrote:

    Undiagnosed hearing impairments interfere with children’s educational progress. These children are often labeled lazy, crazy, or stupid. Sadly, they often internalize these messages. Proper diagnosis of a hearing impairment can change a child’s life.

    I’m going to put a comment on the ODP concerning noise and how this harms people. It is OT for this thread, but it is important and another example of the attractive way that things are sold versus the ugly reality when it is implemented. Patriarchy is sold as protecting women and children, but we have seen that is a lie. So I’ll give an example on the ODP that demonstrates how very bad things are sold as being exactly the opposite of what they actually are. You may not be affected by this yet, but it is coming at you, and you will not be able to leave the building or the abusive church.

  435. Jeff Chalmers wrote:

    Is this true of other Acts 29 churches? If so, this needs to exposed publicly. This is one of the ultimate messed up doctrines… A couple of elders, empowered by a ” membership covenant” can determine who is going to heaven!! Really?

    @ Michaela:

    Yes, Jeff, according to them it’s true. Ditto Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C. and his 9Marks of an [Un]Healthy Church.

    Pastor Wade Burleson in Enid, OK (who is the pastor on The Wartburg Watch’s E-Church) has written some good articles on his blog about the dangers of membership covenants, The Village Church and what they did to Karen.

  436. Jeff Chalmers wrote:

    A couple of elders, empowered by a ” membership covenant” can determine who is going to heaven!! Really?

    This is standard 9Marks Keys of the Kingdom teaching. You can read all of Jonathan Leeman’s articles at 9Marks or search TWW. Acts29 gets their ecclesiology largely from 9Marks, so I thing that The Village is not an outlier.

  437. @ Ali:
    Ali UNITED STATES on Sun May 31, 2015 at 11:39 AM said:
    Any word on Matt Chandlers teaching this morning at TVC ?
    TVC doesn’t have a live feed from what I could find on their websites.
    Would have been interested in watching online.

    Chandler did an excellent job only 110% of the mistakes that they have made in the situation and others. The elders of the church sought forgiveness in Chandler did an excellent job only 110% of the mistakes that they have made in the situation and others. The elders of the church saw 5 specific areas. I couldn’t have asked for a better response from them. You need to watch it for yourself when it becomes available online.

  438. @ Elizabeth Lee:

    I’m just skimming that over. It’s about 8 or 9 pages long.

    If these people are sola scriptura, do they really need to draft an 8/9 page list-o-rules?

    I just find it funny that people who abide by “we believe in the Bible alone” find it necessary to make up such a long list, with some rules being extra-biblical.

  439. Well, from reading the constant comments on A Cry For Justice, it happens all the time. The thing is, people going through it are generally too she’ll shocked and isolated to know what to do about it, or even that it’s not an isolated incident. I surely thought my divorce situation was an isolated thing, and it wasn’t near as bad as what Karen has gone through, until I read ACFJ.

    Karen is remarkably strong, and I’m thankful for her and whatever supportive network surrounds her that has helped her on this journey.

  440. Jeff S wrote:

    The thing is, people going through it are generally too she’ll shocked and isolated to know what to do about it, or even that it’s not an isolated incident.

    That is right. Which is why discussing this stuff in depth on the internet is so darned important.

  441. Lydia wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    And end up being PUNISHED for it.
    I keep one eye peeled for that. She was a kid who loved church until Youth Group. Church Youth Group is often a variation of Lord of the Flies with Ralph as the Youth Pastor.

    Unless your kids are at Gateway. Then I assure you the Youth Pastors there are the “Jacks” (the leader of the mercenary, amoral, heartless savages). The few kids with strong Christian backgrounds are the “Ralphs” (the civilized, sensible leader who is trying to do the right thing). A few of the leaders have previously tried to be a “Ralph” or a “Piggy” (good, reasonable person but not a true leader) but they are beat down quickly and have their glasses stolen for laughs.

    I kid you not, Gateway junior and senior high school Youth Group (called GW Students) have TRIBES (called Tribes) designed to increase tribalistic feral behavior (like preteens and teens need such encouragement). They wear war paint and pose with weapons, not bibles, in tithe funded promotional videos. Of course, it is a perfect metaphor for Gateway Church as a whole. The problem is “Jack”, the criminal/executive pastor is fully in charge preaching about throat punching and bashing heads in (not a Lord of the Flies reference but from an actual GW youth sermon) and most importantly – the Royal Marines are not on their way. No one is coming to save these kids.

    And we wonder why the nones and dones are growing.

  442. Jack wrote:

    should have read, owning 110% of the mistakes

    What mistakes? Having such a covenant? Does this mean they will get out of the covenant business of obeying the leaders?

  443. @ LT:

    seriously? This is unbelievable! And so sad for the youth.

    Sounds like Mark Driscoll will fit right in to that movement.

  444. Daisy wrote:

    I’m just skimming that over. It’s about 8 or 9 pages long.

    If these people are sola scriptura, do they really need to draft an 8/9 page list-o-rules?

    I just find it funny that people who abide by “we believe in the Bible alone” find it necessary to make up such a long list, with some rules being extra-biblical.

    Sounds like a Christian version of the Mishnah — instead of expounding and explaining the Mosaic Law for hundreds of pages, it’s detailing everything that everyday disciples are apparently not studious or wise enough to figure out on their own and therefore must be taught.

    I’m thankful that I was fortunate in my early years of discipleship, being taught how to think critically with the Scriptures using my own discernment and decision-making and come to my own conclusions — not merely having someone else’s conclusions from their thinking transferred into my brain like some standardized spiritualized checklist.

  445. @ Jeff S:

    And they are likely to use your shell shocked situation against you:\

    Quote from Karen: He [Younger, a TVC elder] also went on to tell me that I could not trust myself to think clearly during a situation like this and that my job was to “let the church hold my hand and tell me what to do.”

    If only we could encourage others to shut down all communication with these leaders and run until they can find some wise counsel.

  446. Lydia wrote:

    @ Jeff S:

    And they are likely to use your shell shocked situation against you:\

    Quote from Karen: He [Younger, a TVC elder] also went on to tell me that I could not trust myself to think clearly during a situation like this and that my job was to “let the church hold my hand and tell me what to do.”

    If only we could encourage others to shut down all communication with these leaders and run until they can find some wise counsel.

    It’s troubling that The Village Church pastors/elders, and others who think like them, believe that the Holy Spirit is incapable of guiding Christians in their choices.

  447. I read through TVC’s membership covenant, there is a lot of detail. My reaction is picking out certain bible verses and attempting to adhere to them is just another form of legalism.

    In the “I covenant” part I chuckled at the “to submit” heading where they included 1st Peter5:5 as a proof text. “Likewise, you who are younger, submit to your elders” This would be used to tell someone like me, in my 60s, to submit to the 30 something pastor.

    They actually do have a section “The elders covenant” but it is used a justification for rule, contains the usual “exercise loving discipline” thrown in. I would never sign one of these covenants regardless of how it is written but the “The elders covenant” is missing:

    1 elders will not lord it over others as even the heathen “don’t” do
    2 elders will serve with humility
    3 elders will not be contentious or quarrelsome
    4 elders will not be a novice (young) lest they be puffed up with pride
    5 elders will not consider themselves better than others
    6 elders will not try to run your personal life
    7 elders will serve others

    Also such elder duties should be at the top of the list and not the bottom.

    Correction, put this at the top of the list and then dump the bottom of the list.

  448. Lydia wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    And end up being PUNISHED for it.
    I keep one eye peeled for that. She was a kid who loved church until Youth Group.

    Church Youth Group is often a variation of Lord of the Flies with Ralph as the Youth Pastor.

    Until you learn what I learned without a church youth group in sight (just high school):

    If you NEVER attempt anything, you can’t get Punished for it.

    I am now almost 60 years old, and still struggle with un-learning it.

  449. Lydia wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    Some did. Jonathan Edwards had a few sermon-triggered suicides in his congregation.

    And some were so heinous it was hard to read about them. So convinced of your wickedness from your Edwards “discipling” that when you go to shave one morning you take that straight edge and just slash your throat.

    The irony is that Edwards great great great granddaughter is a Presbyterian minister. I bet he is turning over in his grave.

    I figure Edwards was manic-depressive with some pretty strong depressive phases, and a lot of his sermons were written on the down cycle.

    Thing is, the guy was also a major mover and shaker in the colonial Naturalist/Scientific community, established and sponsored a University startup, and wrote on New World flora and fauna (with emphasis on insects & spiders). Yet all he’s known for today are his Hellfire-and-Damnation sermons, which (as I suspect above) were written when he was in the grip of depression.

  450. Jeffrey Chalmers wrote:

    Gary W wrote: “The offender can no longer be affirmed as a believer in Christ.” (Say what? They reserve to themselves the power of damnation?) They really say this!!! Wow, they define who is saved???

    How else would God be able to tell sheep from goat without the TVC elders there to tell Him which is which?

    WHAT WOULD GOD EVER DO WITHOUT THEM?