NGC 1512 is a barred spiral galaxy approximately 38 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Horologium.
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” ― Plato
A couple of months ago. Todd Wilhelm wrote a post that caused an explosion at Cedarville University. Cedarville University Professor Reportedly Fired From The Village Church For Sexually Abusing a Male Subordinate. This revelation caused a crisis at Cedarville University, calling into question the presidency of Dr. Tom White. Moore was fired (I predict we haven’t heard the last from him.) There were numerous issues raised during this time, including the questionable treatment of women professors and how the university handles sexual abuse and harassment claims by students and employees.
Julie Roys also contributed great posts regarding this situation. Here is one. Pastor Who Oversaw Anthony Moore’s “Restoration” Resigns from Cedarville Church
Miller not only met regularly with Moore for “personal accountability” during Moore’s time at Cedarville, Miller also allowed Moore to preach at his church, and to speak at area youth events.
The situation was so serious that Dr. Danny Akin and Mark Vroegop resigned from the Cedarville Board of Trustees. Todd’s initial story about Moore, White, and Cedarville set off a chain reaction that will continue to dog Cedarville in the years to come. Dr. Akin was complimented by a number of folks on Twitter for his *brave* stand in quitting the Board. Except the really brave stand was the one by Todd Wilhelm who posted the unknown story about Moore’s past and Dr. White’s wish to *restore Moore.* Had Todd not written the story, there would have been no *brave* resignations from the Board. It would be business as usual.
However, as usual, The Gospel Coalition was not pleased by these efforts to expose sin. Once again, they featured an *anti-blogger* post by Caleb Wait: The Church Doesn’t Need Online Watchmen. These guys just don’t quit. I’m beginning to think that writing such a post is part of the admissions requirements for becoming a member of The Gospel Coalition *in good standing.*
Broad brush accusations
These useless posts seem to make an appearance during a time when bloggers are having an effect on major dudebros. However, they play a game called *Why do you think this was about you? How do you know it wasn’t about Pulpit and Pen?” The answer is quite simple. “If it was about Pulpit and Pen, you would have said so.” When I write about a problem, I call it out. So do many of my fellow bloggers. We aren’t afraid to face the blowback and we don’t play games.
Uncomfortable issues for the dudebros.
What’s been going on recently? Let’s see, JD Greear hired *Dr* Bryan Loritts who has a bit of history for apparently covering up for his brother in law’s voyeurism. Then there is the embarrassing issue of *the doctorate.* A number of advocates are questioning this move by JD Greear who appeared to shed a tear during the *Caring Well* conference and then quickly hopped on a new boat, hiring Bryan Loritts as a pastor at The Summit Church.
Then, there was the Darrin Patrick suicide which raised some uncomfortable questions about how fast fallen pastors are being restored.
Add to that the Tom White problem, the newest problem at Bellevue Baptist and Baptist churches which apparently let pedophiles be members in good standing.
Ouch. But, unlike our TGC friend, Caleb, we don’t hint, we name. However, we are not trying very hard to become a member of the tribe. We are individuals who care about those abused in the church.
We are called divisive vigilantes.
According to the dictionary, vigilantes are self-appointed doers of justice. Can you imagine? Yet Micah 6:8 (NIV) says
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Before I started blogging, I watched a church which, in my opinion, mishandle a pedophile situation. Many young teen boys were molested. I believe it could have been prevented. I watched another church mishandle the presence of pedophile. Yet the pastor told me that the guy was no problem according to the parole officer. Except, he wasn’t.
Why was I upset? I believe the churches mishandled the situations and put children at risk. They appeared to be more concerned about protecting the image of their churches than protecting the children. As I started blogging, I became aware of Sovereign Grace Ministries (now known as Sovereign Grace Churches) and CJ Mahaney and the many complaints of the coverup of child sex abuse.
Yet, according to Caleb, I have no right to comment on these situations because they are not proximate to me. I am not supposed to care about those being hurt in other churches? I am not supposed to be outraged at the number of people molested in one church or a pastor who was in prison for molestation who is now preaching again or a pastor who thinks it is downright wonderful to marry off a serial pedophile to a young woman.
We can become obsessed by outrage at things happening far beyond our proximate community.
The so-called *vigilantes* are far more Biblical than those in Caleb’s tribe who were fanboys of CJ Mahaney, Doug Wilson, and Mark Driscoll. These dudebros were printing their essays at TGC, inviting them to conferences along with justifying their actions. Good grief. Joe Carter, major TGC dudebro, accused me of libel when I wrote about the victims of SGM. Yet, he has never apologized for his lack of judgment in the matter of CJ Mahaney.
I have bad news for Caleb. You guys were not minding the gates and lots of creeps got inside your churches. Then you spent much time trying to come up with reasons why you supported men like CJ Mahaney. His good buddy, Tim Challies, said it would be poor time management for him to be concerned. So I find it amusing that he would quote Tim Challies who hid behind his computer during that time.
We don’t abide by their coveted church polity.
These ecclesial vigilantes ignore church polity and try to take matters into their own hands
Let me get this straight. if I see churches mishandling sex abuse, I need to step back and let *church polity* take over. Well, I’ve got news for you. In many cases, church polity is used as an excuse to overlook abuse. Take a look at the Karen Hinckley situation at The Village Church. They said she was the one walking in sin for wanting to get her marriage annulled from her child porn husband who was walking in repentance. They tried to *push her under them* (their controlling church polity) and planned to discipline her and wrote all of this in al letter to 6,000 church members.
Caleb, are you seriously trying to tell us that Chandler would have backed off if the bloggers hadn’t written about their dad blasted church covenant and church polity? By the way, we posted all of those sweet emails and texts from the pastors. It totally freaked out Matt Chandler. Nope, church polity can be unjust and I don’t believe that God wants me to ignore what is true and just for some church polity written by weak and sinful men who look for excuses to abuse their church members.
People sometimes believe that bloggers are more authoritative than pastors! He demands authority. Sometimes people follow those who command authority by their words and actions.
Sometimes these online watchmen gain followings, and other Christians begin to see their voices as more authoritative than their own pastors.
What if the *vigilantes* are more biblical than the pastors? What if they are following Scripture as they support the victims and point fingers at abusive churches? Aren’t we to look to Scripture for answers? Look at the people with whom Jesus spent His time. So many of them were abused by the church. Jesus said so in Matthew 23.
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
Does Caleb think that bloggers are unable to speak authoritatively on the subject of abuse? That pastors, backed up by church polity, do it so much better? He should go look at the faces here and rethink his paradigm.
Just in case Caleb might think that I don’t believe my pastors are authoritative, he needs to read what the Washington Post said about my view of my pastors.
“God had given me a wonderful, unexpected gift,” she wrote on the Wartburg Watch. Her family had finally “found a church that we love and pastors who we can respect and trust.”
What should worry Caleb more is when bloggers are actually more authoritative than some pastors. For example, John Piper thinks that women shouldn’t be muscular. That baloney is not found in Scripture and Piper is dead wrong (and a bit creepy but read it for yourself.)
It is my opinion that TGC spends a fair amount of time promoting the high position of pastors. So much so that I am beginning to see some effects of this out here in the post-evangelical wilderness One Calvinista wannabe started his sermon in his new church by saying something along the lines of “You are the church members. I am not. I’m in a different position than you are.” I started giggling and received some stares by those around me. Yep. He was born to preach and lead you. You were born to listen and not question.
Years ago, I wrote a post about my daughter who was a firefighter for a few years. It deals with the difference between commanding authority and demanding authority.
Last week I watched my daughter walk fearlessly through a burning building with flames shooting out the windows. She is about to graduate from fire academy, and within a week she will be riding fire trucks, rescuing people trapped in crushed cars, putting out fires, and performing CPR. This mother’s heart fears for her safety; yet, it swells with pride at the thought of her willingness to put her life in harm’s way to save the lives of others.
As I stood next to her captain, I felt a profound sense of respect as I looked at his blackened face and uniform. I know I would quickly follow any order he would give me. Why? Because I know that his life is dedicated to saving the lives of others and that he has my best interest at heart.
At that moment I realized a stark contrast. There are individuals in our lives (like this fire captain) who COMMAND authority, while there are others who, unfortunately, must DEMAND authority. I have been in churches where pastors pound the pulpit, insisting that worshippers look intently at them and listen carefully to what they are saying. I have heard these preachers stridently claim to have “authority” over their church members. One pastor even informed a friend that he (the pastor) was like a “parent” while my friend was like his “child.” There are growing reports of pastors declaring absolute authority over their congregations, disbanding deacon boards, and disciplining church members who dare to question their actions. Note: such pastors must TELL us they are in charge because, for some reason, we don’t seem to recognize their authority as described in the Scriptures. Are we just rebellious children? Are we not following Scripture? Or is the issue far deeper?
When Bill Clinton was serving as President, Mother Teresa visited the United States and was asked to address a joint session of Congress. This diminutive, wrinkled lady spoke of her work amongst the desperately poor. Then she addressed the sacredness of life and the evils of abortion. Members of Congress spontaneously rose to their feet to give her a standing ovation, and President and Mrs. Clinton, supporters of Roe v Wade, were forced to follow suit. Why? Although Bill Clinton was the President of the United States, Mother Teresa had lived her life in service to the destitute.
Mother Teresa had no money, no fancy houses, and no admiring congregation. She had only one change of clothes. When people wanted to meet her, they would have to travel to the poorest sections of the world where they would find her comforting the abject poor. And they came-presidents, princesses, rock stars and the rich and famous. Sure, some of them used her for their own ego but they still had to go there and be confronted with her life.
She never once had to pound a lectern and insist that people listen to her. They hung onto her every word, mesmerized. She never had to inform others that she was in charge; yet, the most influential leaders in the world begged for an audience with her. Sometimes they got it, sometimes they didn’t. People just naturally followed her. They recognized this tiny woman had no ulterior motive. She was called to love and serve.
Then, there is an Almighty God. The immortal took on our mortality. The Creator walked among His creation. And His creation flocked to hear Him speak. Materially, He lived a simple life. He didn’t have a huge church building with a fancy sound system. His followers were not part of an established power structure – they were just non-influential townspeople and fishermen and societal rejects. Yet, crowds surrounded Him wherever He went.
In spite of His apparent lack of social position, those in power feared Him. The religious leaders realized that Jesus easily usurped their authority, and it frustrated them to no end. He didn’t do things the way they had always been done. He even called some of them “snakes” and rebuked them for burdening His people with unnecessary rules. He scorned them for lording their power over those whom they were called to serve; however, even those who despised Jesus were drawn to Him. They just had to see this carpenter who came from the wrong side of the tracks and who was magnetically attracting the masses.
As Jesus Christ died on the cross, He did not demand that others look at Him. He did not lecture spectators about His authority… this Man, King of the Universe. He even spoke kindly to a thief on an adjacent cross. Yet generations follow Him. Why? Because Jesus had no ulterior motive. He did not seek power and wealth. He simply and beautifully loved His people and gave His life for them.
…So, if you are in a church with leaders who insist you follow them, you can be certain they are not in the center of God’s will. The appropriate response would be to leave! If you are in church with leaders who are distant, demanding, and arrogant, please don’t tolerate such ungodly behavior. Leave! Find a pastor who draws you by his sacrificial service to his flock. Find a pastor who would rush into a burning building to save your life. Find a pastor who knows the names of the non-influential members of his church. Such godly pastors are out there because I have known some of these great men of God.
This post is dedicated to my firefighting daughter. She demonstrates the love of Christ every time she puts her life at risk. And she can be sure that if she told me to jump, I would say, “How high?”
Bloggers bear false witness
Those who spend their days building a personal brand on the sins above forfeit the privilege of speaking credibly into others’ lives.
I’ve got news for Caleb. There is this thing called the *law* and I am not allowed to knowingly tell a lie in order to cause malicious harm to another. If I did, I could get sued. There are a number of stories that I haven’t told because I couldn’t say that I felt they were true. They may well have been true but I couldn’t get there. I know a number of other bloggers. I can well assure you that the ones whom I respect go out of their way to be truthful.
Look at how many links you see in this post. I put them there to show why I believe what I say is true.
And since Caleb won’t name anyone, I would say he is smearing (bearing false witness) the entire advocate community. He didn’t prove one of his points. My guess he’s afraid to do so.
Bryan Loritts goes after bloggers.
Just in case you don’t think these dudebros are talking about bloggers like me, maybe this might help. Loritts wrote a screed about bloggers back in May. Now, Loritts has a bone to pick since his past has been raised when JD Greear made him a pastor at The Summit. Well, that move by Greear went over like a lead balloon. I wrote a post about Loritts and Fellowship Memphis in 2016.
It should not have come as a surprise to Greear and BFFs that this was going to be a problem. Loritts was now being scrutinized. Julie Roys wrote Bryan Loritts Blames Bloggers for Darrin Patrick’s Death but Has Vested Interest in Keeping Them Quiet.
Loritts said. “Like, there’s a whole industry out there—blogging, Christian media—that that exists and thrives off of fallen leaders. . . . When I heard that my friend died, my immediate thought was, ‘Evangelicals were an accomplice to his death.’”
However, Bryan Loritts, son of nationally recognized pastor, Crawford Loritts, has a vested interest in keeping bloggers and Christian media silent.
Four years ago, Loritts was accused of covering up sex crimes committed by his brother-in-law while both men were employed by a church in Memphis. And though Loritts has left that church, and tried to put the allegations behind him, major questions remain. And blogs like the Wartburg Watch, Watchkeep, and Wondering Eagle have continued to report on the issue, much to Loritts’s chagrin.
…He complained about a blogger—possibly Wartburg Watch—who had written about Darrin Patrick’s death and had linked to an article questioning whether leaders are getting restored too quickly.
I confess. It was me and I discussed it here. I stand by my comments on the matter. I have been calling attention to the problems of the quick restoration of fallen pastors for many years. No big surprise here. It appears that Loritts believes in restoration for fallen pastors and doesn’t like bloggers who disagree.
Shortly after James MacDonald sued me, two bloggers, and their wives, Loritts came to MacDonald’s defense. Ironically, in a blog, Loritts pleaded for mercy for MacDonald, despite MacDonald’s egregious sins, the many he victimized, and MacDonald’s complete absence of repentance or apology. Loritts also claimed that the white church’s failure to forgive its fallen pastors is a “malady.”
There is one thing that Loritts didn’t know when he decided that we bloggers are to blame for Patrick’s suicide. A number of months, prior to his death, I was shocked to see an email from Darrin Patrick addressed to me. I can well assure you that Patrick did not blame anyone for the problems that he had in his life. He was struggling to make sense of what had happened in him. He was quite kind to me and said he supported my blogging about abuse. I thanked him and wished him well as he processed things. I was deeply saddened, but not surprised, by his suicide. He had so much unresolved pain.
Bryan Loritts should be ashamed of himself for attempting to blame anyone for this tragic suicide. I think this poorly thought out rant had its roots in the fact that bloggers have been following his situation since 2016. D
The review on Twitter of Wait’s article was not good. But, I’m sure Wait got the pat on the back and is now officially *in the club.* I would suggest that they rethink this *blame the blogger* paradigm and focus on fighting abuse in their congregations. There’s way too much out there. I keep hoping it will die down but it doesn’t. They’ve got a lot of time right now since conferences have been eliminated for the time being. I am so grateful that I have found a church with great pastors whose church polity focuses a whole bunch on being kind and encouraging.
Let me end this post with a statement that is based on Scripture found in Matthew.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
You, churches, are a light on this hill whether you want to be or not. Being a light means that you do not get to tell people what they see. They see what is illuminated by the light. Think of blogging that way. We bloggers are telling you what we see. If we are wrong, show us. Stop telling us to shut up. We won’t. We care too much for those let down by the church. Maybe you could join us instead of fighting us.
These guys remind me of the Pharisees swallowing a camel while trying to strain out a gnat. They natter all the time about minor points of doctrine, but totally ignore or downplay those who prey on the flock sexually. If it weren’t for the brave bloggers, the average person in the pew might never know.
“Being a light means that you do not get to tell people what they see. They see what is illuminated by the light. Think of blogging that way. We bloggers are telling you what we see.”
Not only that, but these watchblogs give the opportunity for those who sit in the pews, (putting their hard-earned $$$ into the plate to entrust it to “leaders” to do the right thing) to describe what they see. Tell what they see, instead of be forced into silence.
The previous post this week had a video of a church’s leadership telling their donors (who pay the leaders’ pay checks) to be SILENT about what they see. WRONG. The two in the video may have titles, but they are NOT LEADERS. They do not lead the flock, they gag or muzzle them.
I believe that most of the folks named in this article are self-proclaimed Calvinists.
Shouldn’t they be celebrating what these “watch bloggers” do since it has been ordained by God since before time began that the bloggers do this work?
What kind of faux Calvinists are these folks anyway?
They seem to only believe in God’s soverienty when it benefits them. There’s all sorts of holes in their theology that they ignore or say that we just “can’t understand” because clearly we are not Elect and therefore evil.
Most of them are also self-appointed pastors. Some of them self-appointed themselves pastors over churches before that church even knew who they were, then lied about who they were and what their aim was to become absolute authorities over those churches. I’ve seen this with my own eyes, but there’s plenty of other stories about that on TWW.
TGC does plenty of “watchblogging”, but they think the difference is that they are God’s specially chosen people and others who disagree with them are not.
I refer everyone back to the signs of a cult:
This guy (TGC’s Caleb Wait) last year trying to use the Fifth Commandment (“Honour thy father…”) against those on social media critiquing “their superiors” in the church:
It’s “not only natural parents, but all superiors in age/gifts; & especially…by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family [or] church.”
The “Westminster Larger Catechism” says so.
He admonishes to “walk in step with the WLC & embody the reasons annexed in the 5th comm. in our use of SM.”
and warns: “We will be judged for every careless word we type on this medium (Matt. 12:36-37).”
“ Loritts said. “Like, there’s a whole industry out there—blogging, Christian media—that that exists and thrives off of fallen leaders.”
The use of “industry“ is quite ironic as the Summit Church sought $2M-$5M, with a healthy portion of that figuring to go towards covering paid personnel:
Meanwhile, you’ll have to remind us of the industry payout on which thriving is occurring here. Is it the TWW merchandise that’s the main thriver? What about the speaking engagements and book and study sales?
Surely it’s the monetized website model that’s the main thriver, with Mr. Wilhelm hired on in a marketing coup to drive up views and corresponding $$$$. Maybe Deb can weigh in from her island retreat to which she retired from the profits of the thrivings.
If not, it’s worthwhile to ask which enterprise looks more like an industry.
I laugh (or snort) every time I read or hear a statement like this.
These “leaders” aren’t falling —- they’re jumping….. deliberately and headfirst! I have no sympathy for them when they don’t land in a big pile of “gospel” infused feathers.
So, ah, nearly all of us are older than him? I doubt he wants to listen to his own advice…
That could be interpreted in more than one way…
Remember the good old days when TGC and so many other authority-demanding bloggers accepted comments? Challies, 9 Marx, Pyromaniacs, Jared C Wilson, Doug Wilson etc.etc. Some entertaining discussions ensued. Pretty soon they were all busy deleting faster than Jehoiakim with a penknife. And one by one they gave up and shut down the comments. I think the last straw for TGC was Joe Carter and his “Beware Of Broken Wolves”…..
Probably the best comment of this thread.
But that would make it THEIR Own Fault!
NOT Bloggers, Disloyal Tithing Units, Jezebels, or SATAN!
Gotta keep up with the Furticks.
“The Spice Must Flow.”
— Frank Herbert, Dune
And even Ayn Rand took advantage of Medicare and Social Security when she turned 65.
Giving a Totally Utterly Objectivist rationale for doing so.
i.e. The SILENCING Scripture(TM).
Always quoted to Silence undesirables, with God as Personal Enforcer.
Yep, sure could. Head first; brain last; morals absentia!
I guess that would be kinda……. anti-Calvinist, wouldn’t it???
TGC (the gospel coalition) is scared-you-know-whatless.
The same way The Roman Church was scared-you-know-whatless of Gutenberg’s movable type printing press.
THIS IS NOT in any way shape or form a dig at Roman Catholicism.
Quite the contrary, The Roman Catholic Church in modern times has a far better record of human rights affirmation and the promotion of human flourishing than does American Evangelicalism.
It’s called “citizen journalism” and we need more of it, not less. The for-profit journalism corporations are not doing a great job and the churches have no interest in shining light on their own problems.
Dee, this is one of your best blogs ever. Passionate and well reasoned and bowing to no false gods or arguments. The mind boggles at the arrogance of leaders attacking those defenders of the vulnerable who are stepping into the appalling breach over so many inexcusable years. And regarding that awful accusation about bloggers and Darrin Patrick, the founding pastor of Seacoast where Patrick was serving said plainly in Seacoast’s memorial weekend sermon that he told Patrick he saw that restoration process as seriously flawed and asked him to consider changes.
May the Lord have mercy on all those seeking to faithfully advance the kingdom of mercy and justice.
I am curious how Lorritts has treated members of his church in discipline and restoration processes? Are they treated the same way he expects pastors to be restored, particularly for much less egregious situations?
I’m guessing not.
Someone once said that when the question is asked:
“What would Jesus do?”
Well, violently flipping tables over is an option!
You’re not proximate, not ordained, and you don’t have the right chromosomal configuration. Being just, merciful, righteous, and compassionate doesn’t matter in their system, as they have demonstrated over and over again. It’s about the system and upholding it because the system is what holds them up. For all their talk about protecting and serving women and children, these leaders certainly do a poor job when the crisis comes. Was the last guy the incorrigible Doug Wilson? The misogynistic, Federal Visionist? The founder of the Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches, now re-branded as something more politically correct and acceptable to the younger, cooler dudes.
However, note that proximity is no bar to them when it comes to knowing what *everyone* else should do. Joe Carter and Tim Challies practically invented the “what you need to know and how you need to think about it” genre for conservative Christians in the blogosphere. With no feedback allowed that might pop their bubble or perhaps allow for growth. Credit to Dee for allowing discussion here from varied viewpoints where TGC has rigid Groupthink Only. It’s not healthy inside that Bubble.
Forgot to close the italic tag. Also forgot my little recommendation for TGC boys. Joe Rogan has an interview with Jocko Willink, a former Navy Seal, which the lads might find profitable on the topic of leadership. Might stiffen their spines a tad. Language alert.
Red Flag. Consumers & joiners & donors beware. And yes, thank God for Dee, and now Todd, for discussion and transparency, which are clearly lacking in some of these religious or pseudo-religious bubbles.
Sometimes I wonder if one of the things God could be doing right now IS using the coronavirus to sort of throw the moneychangers out. When people cannot attend, when the money stops flowing, will the hirelings leave?
When people are not exposed to manipulation whether it be smells and bells or laser lights and smoke machines, will they hear the still small voice?
That’s one way of looking at it, and yet another way is that it’s (covid-19) just a roll of the dice or roulette wheel:
“Time and chance happeneth to them all…” (Ecclesiastes).
I think one of the reasons these guys get their undies in a bunch is because its a WOMAN bringing up the issues…..