“Maximum Transparency” I Do Not Think it Means What You Think it Means!

For background on this post please avail yourself of an earlier post titled, “The Chapel is in a Crisis & The Thomas White Connection.”

Pastor Happy Peterson – The Chapel Church, Green Campus. July 11, 2021.

May 22nd, 2021
Dear Chapel Family,

Our Church is in crisis. As a Church, our future will be defined either by obedience to the Lord’s will or against it. We, as a Board, recognize that discerning the Lord’s will in this situation is predicated on our recognition that by our own power we cannot correct this ship.

…Furthermore, its aim [The Constitution Committee] is to ensure maximum transparency, total objectivity, and strict adherence to Biblical principles in reviewing the events that transpired.”

…The Board will present the findings to the entire church body, in the spirit of utmost transparency.

…This Constitution Committee will begin meeting this week to examine the events leading up to and through this past week. Its aim is to ensure maximum transparency,

…In lieu of that, you can count on these updates from The Board as the most up-to-date information possible.

…At this meeting, the Committee selected an independent third-party firm to assist in our fact-finding measures. The Chapel has come to a formal agreement with this organization to enlist their services, and their work of interviewing is scheduled to begin early next week. In an effort to protect the privacy of pastors and other staff members participating in the inquiry, we will not release the name of this firm or any of its employees at this time.

…The Committee remains steadfast in their desire for an expedient and effective process for the church, and it is our goal to keep you informed throughout.

…As you wait on this process, we know it is a difficult season for many in our church. We understand that many might desire more answers, more information, more details. We request your grace and your patience as we walk a careful line between full transparency and the wise restraint necessary to honor the investigative process, and to protect the dignity and privacy of all Chapel staff members, pastors and their families.

…The coming days and weeks will be full of prayer, pondering, and deliberation for both the Committee and our Board of Trustees. For the church, it will likely feel like a time of silence, as we intend to communicate next when the decision-making phase comes to a close and we have more information about next steps to share.

The Board of Trustees
The Chapel

“Transparency” – the Chapel’s Board of Trustees and I obviously have a different conception of what that word means! The Chapel has 3 pastors on administrative leave and has yet to say a word about what the crisis in their group of churches consists of. I can only conclude that whatever the issue is within The Chapel’s leadership, it must be quite grave. It appears that once The Chapel hired The Center Consulting Group they were advised to throw that “maximum transparency” out the window and instead batten down the hatches. Loose lips sink ships! Judging by the Constitution Committee’s communication with the proletariat, The Chapel has steadily backed away from “maximum” transparency to “it will likely feel like a time of silence.” Frankly, none of their communiques contain any news that approaches maximum transparency; their policy is akin to a “need to know” policy, and the membership has been deemed outside of that circle.

Below is the latest exhibit of maximum transparency. It appears membership may be finally informed of what the crisis is and what the Constitution Committee has decided to do in response to it. I have a feeling their final report will not be published in a public forum. I hope I am wrong.

July 10, 2021

Dear Chapel Family,

For the last six weeks, The Center Consulting Group has worked exhaustively on our behalf, conducting interviews and gathering data so as to help us bring truth to light in our present leadership inquiry. The Constitution Committee turned to The Center because of their expertise in fact-finding measures such as these, and the Committee members are pleased with the depth and breadth of The Center’s work.

During the week of July 5, the Committee heard the formal presentation from The Center, bringing the fact-finding phase of our inquiry to a close. This presentation included in-depth findings and a variety of recommendations for the Committee to consider. We now begin the critical work of making wise decisions in light of this information.

The Constitution Committee remains committed to a thorough and expedient process and now anticipates spending the next several weeks in the decision-making phase of the inquiry, with the objective of finalizing The Chapel’s next steps and communicating these to you within 30 days. The coming days and weeks will be full of prayer, pondering, and deliberation for both the Committee and our Board of Trustees. For the church, it will likely feel like a time of silence, as we intend to communicate next when the decision-making phase comes to a close and we have more information about next steps to share.

In the ensuing weeks, will you please join us as we come before the Lord in prayer and fasting as the Spirit leads? Here are specific areas in which your prayer makes a difference, with some passages of Scripture to consider as prompts:

  • Pray that our Committee members and Trustees would be filled with wisdom and courage. Pray that they would seek the Lord and His will (Proverbs 2:1-15, James 3:13-18).
  • Pray for a spirit of unity among our pastors and staff. Pray that they would persevere together in the work of the gospel, in the midst of distraction and uncertainty (John 17:20-23, Ephesians 1:15-23).
  • Pray for peace and attentiveness to the Lord for Pastor Tim, Pastor Jim, and Pastor Mike and their families (Philippians 1:3-11).
  • Pray that all who make up The Chapel will trust and rest in the One who gives wisdom (James 1:2-8, Philippians 2:1-11).Our hope remains, not in men or in outcomes, but in the Lord. Our church belongs to Him, and all these things are in His hand. He is faithful to grant wisdom to those who seek Him and confidently ask Him for it.But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.Proverbs 4:18Sola Gratia, The Chapel

Below is an updated list of The Chapel’s Board of Trustees communications with their members. I simply added the latest update from July 10th to the end of the document.

The Chapel – 9 Membership … by Todd Wilhelm


Comments

“Maximum Transparency” I Do Not Think it Means What You Think it Means! — 113 Comments

  1. “utmost transparency” … “keep you informed throughout”

    The Chapel’s Board of Trustees must think that the “Dear Chapel Family” is blind and deaf. They’ve been neither transparent nor informative while their “church is in crisis.” I suspect only the stubborn and curious remain at this point, as well as those who have invested in The Chapel heavily with their tithes and offerings. You just shouldn’t take the Body of Christ on such a long weary ride like this. Just tell them what’s going on, for God’s sake!

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  2. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: What they wanted to write was “pray, pay and obey.” /sarcasm

    Muslin / Dee, no sarcasm needed, that’s exactly what the trustees wrote in the opening paragraph: “As a Church, our future will be defined either by obedience to the Lord’s will or against it.” Then they talked about “unity” and “maximum transparency” while describing the need to withhold information. In other words, “You’re either with us or against us, so pray, pay and obey.” Good call on your part.

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  3. (a)”In an effort to protect the privacy of pastors and other staff members participating in the inquiry,

    (b) we will not release the name of this firm or any of its employees at this time.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    it wouldn’t be the first time i’m missing something plain…. but truly wondering how (b) relates to (a).

    i mean, it’s plain that (b) will protect the privacy of the firm and its employees.

    but how will (b) protect the privacy of ‘pastors and other staff members participating in the inquiry’.
    .
    .
    .
    the Board seems litigious-paranoid, biblical-paranoid, PR-paranoid, losing-tithe-$-paranoid…

    sort of saying all the right things but then negating them all.

    my word, such panic. i’m sure they have too much to lose.

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  4. elastigirl: my word, such panic

    To me, it seems obvious that the process lasting many weeks, with all these reports of “Something’s happening, and we won’t tell you anything,” would result in the congregation’s imagining ever-more-drastic disasters. Originally, one could easily have thought, “Personal spat among immature guys with big egos,” but now?

    Major financial shenanigans, the whole place is bankrupt?
    Pansexual love-octagon?
    Dismembered bodies in the freezer?

    Don’t the leaders read any news or novels or watch TV or anything? How could they not understand the outcomes they are generating?

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  5. As someone who spent many years in Corporate America, I must say…that all sounds so corporate. I mean, really, really corporate. It almost gave me flashbacks.

    They tacked some spiritual stuff on at the end, but the rest of it sounded as if it came straight from the C Suite.

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  6. Catholic Gate-Crasher: As someone who spent many years in Corporate America, I must say…that all sounds so corporate. I mean, really, really corporate. It almost gave me flashbacks.

    They tacked some spiritual stuff on at the end, but the rest of it sounded as if it came straight from the C Suite.

    As someone who works at one of the biggest corporations in America, it sounded even more smarmy than the stuff that emanates from NYC. Maybe it’s just the slathering-on of insincere Bible quoting that gives it that extra special gross feeling.

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  7. Catholic Gate-Crasher,
    Muff Potter,
    elastigirl,
    Thank you all for your kind words. I felt like I needed to take a break from commenting for a while (and I still might need that break). But when I saw this topic I not could resist adding a comment. Every time I hear someone say some kind of change will be transparent (e.g., “The software upgrade will be transparent to the user.”), I cannot not think about how the windshield is transparent to the bug just before the splat. I guess I’ve seen too many splats by now. Not that anything like that would ever happen in a church or ministry…

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  8. Cynthia W.: To me, it seems obvious that the process lasting many weeks, with all these reports of “Something’s happening, and we won’t tell you anything,” would result in the congregation’s imagining ever-more-drastic disasters.

    Exactly! They will imagine, think, discuss, talk, etc. Then, bam! They will be accused of gossip, not having faith, etc. etc. The place will come unraveled. The leaders will blame the congregation for gossiping and unfaithfulness . . . and the leaders do nothing wrong. I’ve seen it often.

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  9. Muff Potter: The CIC (christian industrial complex) is designed to do the same as any other corporation. Make money.

    “Kyle J. Howard @KyleJamesHoward Jun 2
    1. Aight yo. I am constantly asked why I left the SBC, people assume it was about race. It wasn’t. I began being invited to backdoor meetings & as someone who came from gang culture; I saw behind the veil, many SBC leaders move like the Mob. Before the Lord, I’m not exaggerating.”

    And then there’s another church of late where 4 pastors have recently resigned & others have departed. Like this post, nothing explained by the leadership that remains, so far. Kyle James Howard has been commenting on Twitter about this one, too.

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  10. “their policy is akin to a “need to know” policy, and the membership has been deemed outside of that circle” (Dee)

    Well, I’ll tell you what the good folks in the pews at The Chapel (and elsewhere in the Christian Industrial Complex) “need to know.” Paul challenged the church “we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you” (1 Thessalonians 5:12). Folks, you need to KNOW who your leaders really are in both the pulpit and on elder boards. Not everyone that is “over you” is carrying a mantle of leadership placed there by the Lord. Some of these folks are rascals who operate with an illegitimate authority! Don’t submit yourselves to their rule until you truly know them.

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  11. Should a church submit to transparent leaders for a season? Oh My! (Chuckles) I suppose that depends upon what you mean by transparent: https://julieroys.com/john-pipers-successor-resigns-amid-allegations-of-abusive-leadership-at-bethlehem-baptist/
    “The Roys Report reached out to Bethlehem Baptist Church and to Kurt Elting-Ballard, chairman of Bethlehem’s Council of Elders, for comment but no one responded.”
    Personally, as pastor Emeritus and College/Seminary Chancellor, I’m just tweeting about Bible verses as usual.
    How transparent can you get?
    Now that my successor has resigned I might need to unretire.
    Meanwhile, the Doug-Wilson-disciple whose hiring as College/Seminary President has upset some folks, has tweeted “Lay aside impossible expectations, turn off the inner prosecutor, forsake suspicious judgment, and love your imperfect pastors.”
    Like Doug, he gets the gospel right!!!

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  12. You keep saying that word, “transparency.” Are you sure about that?

    My Dear Wormwood,

    I refer you to my previous epistle on Semantics, specifically the redefinition of The Enemy’s words into our “diablolical meanings”.

    Your Ravenously Affectionate Uncle,
    Screwtape

    P.S. Nowhere do we corrupt so effectively as at the very foot of The Enemy’s altar!

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  13. Max: I suspect only the stubborn and curious remain at this point, as well as those who have invested in The Chapel heavily with their tithes and offerings.

    Don’t forget emotional/spiritual investment as well as financial.

    Sunk Cost Fallacy – the Con Man’s Greatest Friend!

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  14. Pastor John: just tweeting about Bible verses, as usual

    Back in the day, there was also just “tweeting” about Bible verses as usual: Luke 4:1–13 and Matthew 4:1–11, a dialogue of two, quoting Scriptures to each other.

    Genesis 3 has another conversation, with two quoting what God said, “just [talking or] tweeting about Bible verses, as usual”

    Obviously, just quoting the Bible or “what God said” doesn’t cut it.

    Since Jesus anoints each believer with His Holy Spirit indwelling, we all, on level ground at the foot of the Cross, have the opportunity/responsibility to test Bible-quoting in this context.

    Moreover, “pastor” is one of 18 God-given gifts (Rom 12, 1 Cor 12, Eph 4), which again are all equally of value in the church – and every Christian is anointed with at least one gift. Discernment, for example, is useful in noting where there’s snake oil in “just tweeting Bible verses, as usual”.

    Fortunately, in the US, each local church is voluntary both ways. Participate, or not.

    Furthermore, with freedom of speech, as much as pastors can preach, parishioners can share about their experiences – giving their Christian testimony of what happens in “church”.

    Finally, listener/participant, be aware, beware. Critical thinking is God-given, as the Bereans recognized in the Early Church.

    What an amazing God we have, in giving us:
    -the Bible AND
    -the indwelt Holy Spirt in each believer, granting wisdom as requested
    -each believer anointed with at least 1 of 18 spiritual gifts to the church at large
    -18 total gifts among the followers of Jesus, indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit, given FREE by God to the church at large via individual believers with NO collections or donations needed, these are GIFTS given by GOD to us, all of us
    -freedom of religion
    -freedom of speech
    -our critical thinking for responsible decision-making as we have been created by our Creator God

    Ever grateful to our most amazing God: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit.

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  15. Ava Aaronson: Seeking God and fellowship with God’s people, while attending church, only to sit and listen to words that are meaningless. Or, even worse, a cover-up. Absurd.

    Words that are meaningless?

    “I should think myself in the way of my duty to raise the affections of my hearers as high as I possibly can, provided that they are affected with nothing but the truth…….Our people don’t so much need to have their heads stored, as to have their hearts touched” (Jonathan Edwards, Some thoughts Concerning the Revival), quoted by Sinclair B Ferguson in his Foreword to Reformed Preaching by Joel R Beeke. He goes on to say “This is the chief characteristic of Reformed experiential preaching. One of its inevitable fruits is that it is so all-demanding on our whole being that those who engage in it themselves grow by it – and those they serve sense that they too are being nourished as well as instructed.”

    Preaching is not “meaningless words” it is a Divine Commission, practiced faithfully by the apostles and those who followed after them.

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  16. Lowlandseer: Preaching is not “meaningless words” it is a Divine Commission, practiced faithfully by the apostles and those who followed after them.

    Truly. Sometimes. Discerning listeners figure this out, obviously, hopefully before the clergyman ends up in Rob Downen’s database at the “Houston Chronicle” with a mugshot, the “Abuse of Faith” series. Or, before a victim survivor witness shares their story here at TWW and we all empathize and apologize for their experience at “church”.

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  17. Ava Aaronson: Discerning listeners figure this out, obviously, hopefully before the clergyman ends up in Rob Downen’s database at the “Houston Chronicle” with a mugshot, the “Abuse of Faith” series.

    And how many of their followers said “I can’t believe it!! Man, he could sure preach!” Pulpit deceivers can get by undetected for years if they have a touch of charisma and a gift of gab.

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  18. Lowlandseer: Jonathan Edwards, Some thoughts Concerning the Revival), quoted by Sinclair B Ferguson

    Sorry, but quoting Jonathan Edwards has the effect on me of undermining an otherwise good argument. He had some great things to say, but also some of the worst I have heard. Here is an example from one of his teachings where he explains how much the saved will rejoice over the eternal conscious torment of the unsaved, even their own unsaved children, parents, siblings, and friends:
    “When they shall see how miserable others of their fellowcreatures are, who were naturally in the same circumstances with themselves; when they shall see the smoke of their torment, and the raging of the flames of their burning, and hear their dolorous shrieks and cries, and consider that they in the mean time are in the most blissful state, and shall surely be in it to all eternity ; how will they rejoice!

    The saints in glory will know, concerning the damned in hell, that God never loved them, but that he hates them, and will be forever hated of God.

    Therefore, when God has thus declared his hatred of the damned, and the saints see it, it will be no way becoming in the saints to love them, nor to mourn over them.”

    Preaching like this is worse than meaningless. But on the bright side, he was indeed transparent about what he believed. So he had that going for him.

    (If his point was to warn others, it is an empty warning in light of his teachings on election, where the damned cannot choose otherwise.)

    https://www.biblebb.com/files/edwards/contemplated.htm

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  19. Jacob: That quote sums up to me what I think is the central idea of Reformed theology.

    IOW, schadenfreude.

    Sadism gives pleasure through the infliction of pain, whereas schadenfreude is pleasure on observing misfortune and in particular, the fact that the other somehow deserved the misfortune. – wikipedia

    “Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles: Lest the LORD see it, and it displeases Him, and He turns away His wrath from him.” Proverbs 24:17–18

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  20. Catholic Gate-Crasher: weasel words

    -weasel words
    -empty words
    -fightin’ words
    -the last word
    -give my word
    -man of his word
    -God’s word
    -spread the word
    -word for word
    -My word!
    -famous last words
    -In the beginning was the Word

    In any case, with regard to humans, actions speak louder than words. Regarding any person who claims to speak for God Himself, that began in the Garden of Eden. So we test the spirit of the word spoken.

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  21. Bridget: So much of it really is though. Reading the scriptures is so much simpler and true. No interpretation from a sinful pastor needed.

    Gentle pushback from here. I’m not willing to give up on preaching just because there’s bad preaching in churches I don’t attend. There’s bad poetry too, bad novels, bad picture books, bad art, bad cooking, bad language, bad clothing, bad logic. Do I stop eating because Subway tuna sandwiches might not contain any tuna? Nope. I will have some really good pancakes, probably made by a sinner like me. 🙂

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  22. Max: how many … said “I can’t believe it!

    That happened here. Served on a board with a gentleman who staged the suicide of his [inconvenient as it turns out] wife. Numb for a week after the FBI arrested him, following a long detailed truth uncovering investigation. Seemingly impossible to fathom that this amazing “Christian leader” was a … murderer. Nothing prepared us.

    What God alone knows.

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  23. Friend,

    That’s fine for you, not for me. Glad you’re happy with the preachers you know.

    Preachers/elders are given to much power and leeway for me. The sermon is too often used to manipulate naive and not so naive people. I’m not spending any more of my life looking for church or sermons. Forty years was enough. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have my attention, not preachers.

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  24. Bridget: So much of it really is though.

    Very true.

    The exceptions are even memorable, because they stand out:

    A sermon on “Love one another” so I said “Yes, God, but just one, we are overwhelmed right now,” and I invited an immigrant family (from the church corner where they had an interpreter) home to dinner. Life-changing for both families.

    Another sermon years ago, “Reach out & share the Gospel as God leads you,” so I shared with a woman who became a Christian and two months later she unexpectedly died, followed with a Christian funeral and more sharing the Good News.

    Finally, many years ago, there was a night with an elderly prayer lady from my church who argued, using Scripture, the fact that women can preach & teach, too. Not spoken to me from a pulpit, but very transformational.

    Sermons come in various shapes and sizes. Not one size fits all. However, no weasel words. God does not waste our time. The blather is not from God. Humans blither blather ad nauseum.

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  25. Bridget: Preachers/elders are given to much power and leeway for me. The sermon is too often used to manipulate naive and not so naive people. I’m not spending any more of my life looking for church or sermons. Forty years was enough. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have my attention, not preachers.

    Understood, and thank you for a gracious reply. You have clearly made the right decision. Church is not required, even though some churches would have us believe we all need to belong and participate.

    (I left for five years but went back, cautiously, to a congregation that does not try to overpower members. Still, even a kind-hearted church is not mandatory.)

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  26. Friend: Church is not required, even though some churches would have us believe we all need to belong and participate.

    And that they (or even just he – a pastor) have/has all the answers. They (he) do/does not.

    Major issue in church participation, IMHO, is when participants drop the ball in terms of their own Bible study, prayer, listening to the Holy Spirit directly, interacting with Christians outside of church. Best to keep one’s own counsel.

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  27. Ava Aaronson: Finally, many years ago, there was a night with an elderly prayer lady from my church who argued, using Scripture, the fact that women can preach & teach, too. Not spoken to me from a pulpit, but very transformational.

    Wikipedia has a very long page called “Ordination of Women in Protestant Denominations.” I don’t know if you’ve ever gone to a service where a woman preached or officiated, but it’s not that different.

    If a group like the SBC even admits that women are routinely ordained in quite a few denominations, they would have folks believe that women pastors are up in the pulpit burning bras and yelling Marxist slogans. That’s nonsense. Likewise, shrill claims about women’s ordination being a “rebellion against God” are just rhetoric.

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  28. Ava Aaronson: Major issue in church participation, IMHO, is when participants drop the ball in terms of their own Bible study, prayer, listening to the Holy Spirit directly, interacting with Christians outside of church.

    Exactly. Without those essentials being practiced by Christians, the American church has been reduced to puppets in the pew controlled by puppeteers in the pulpit in many places.

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  29. Ava Aaronson,

    Sweeping generalisations and flowery language imho. (The man in the pulpit is bad, the poor congregation are innocent).
    There seems to be a complete lack of preparation, anticipation, participation and reverence in many who attend church over there although it is a growing problem here too.
    I highly recommend James Durham’s exposition of the Ten Commandments to anyone who is seeking to worship God more deeply and intimately in the church.

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  30. Ken F (aka Tweed): Sorry, but quoting Jonathan Edwards has the effect on me of undermining an otherwise good argument. He had some great things to say, but also some of the worst I have heard. Here is an example from one of his teachings where he explains how much the saved will rejoice over the eternal conscious torment of the unsaved, even their own unsaved children, parents, siblings, and friends:
    “When they shall see how miserable others of their fellowcreatures are, who were naturally in the same circumstances with themselves; when they shall see the smoke of their torment, and the raging of the flames of their burning, and hear their dolorous shrieks and cries, and consider that they in the mean time are in the most blissful state, and shall surely be in it to all eternity ; how will they rejoice!

    The saints in glory will know, concerning the damned in hell, that God never loved them, but that he hates them, and will be forever hated of God.

    Therefore, when God has thus declared his hatred of the damned, and the saints see it, it will be no way becoming in the saints to love them, nor to mourn over them.”

    Preaching like this is worse than meaningless. But on the bright side, he was indeed transparent about what he believed. So he had that going for him.

    (If his point was to warn others, it is an empty warning in light of his teachings on election, where the damned cannot choose otherwise.)

    https://www.biblebb.com/files/edwards/contemplated.htm

    Lord have mercy. I am gobsmacked.

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  31. Ava Aaronson: the worst is when as you leave, you realize the preacher had a self-serving agenda, and it was pure manipulation

    “Do not make mismatched alliances with them, inconsistent with your faith” (2 Corinthians 6:14-17 AMP)

    “It is better to stay at home and read God’s Word, than fellowship with that which His Word condemns” (A.W. Pink, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNz8msxFE7o)

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  32. Wild Honey: May I ask, how you knew you were ready to go back?

    Happy to explain. First, we didn’t leave because of abuse at that church. A crisis in our congregation (not abuse) led to months of grief and confusion. This awakened my much earlier experiences of abuse in the family, youth group, and college fellowship. I was vulnerable because volunteering at our church exposed me to the grief and confusion. I burned out. We did not plan to leave; I was just sobbing in bed all day after church, and this scared the children. Staying would have been counterproductive.

    Over time, my husband and I talked about going back. Very slowly my fears ebbed, and one day I wanted to go. We sat near the back just in case. Worship has benefited me, but I have conditions. I’m up in the pastors’ grills with questions about making sure everyone is heard. I limit volunteering, but did complete some solo efforts. I don’t look for best friends there; distance protects me. It’s working, although the pandemic led to a long long closure.

    Going back showed me that the congregation had recovered. This helped me recover too.

    It almost goes without saying that the children are not interested in church. They do pray, as do I.

    Nobody has to do any of this. It’s only my experience.

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  33. Bridget: Preachers/elders are given to much power and leeway for me. The sermon is too often used to manipulate naive and not so naive people. I’m not spending any more of my life looking for church or sermons. Forty years was enough. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have my attention, not preachers.

    The crux (pun intended) of the matter is what role corporate worship has, had and should have in Christian life.

    Some people are “grounded” enough that they have moved beyond church either through experience or education.

    But over time, how do the various Christianities intend to implement the great commission?

    People don’t magically become Christian. Otherwise (as I’ve stated before) Indonesia would not be majority Muslim.

    In the literal sense, God doesn’t speak to people. If you’ve had that experience, good but then God’s intervention is arbitrary & pretty much useless.

    If the events in the Bible occurred, then that time of human/divine interaction has passed. Outside the now defunct “Weekly World News”, miracle healings, flying people and talking animals have not been reported.

    So I think that corporate worship is really the best option to reach people.

    Christians – whatever stream you’re part of- need to shed the culture of compliance and reclaim their faith.

    I used to think theology a waste of time, but that’s how you let people know what you’re about.

    The answer to a robust christianity is reclamation from the grass roots.

    Otherwise these closed communities will die. Might take a couple of generations (the Roman Catholic Church has tons of cash and assets to burn through) but it will happen.

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  34. Jack: If the events in the Bible occurred, then that time of human/divine interaction has passed.

    Having served as missionaries in some highly remote areas (yes, that still exists and, no, we didn’t run into Anthony Bourdain), we have seen God’s direct intervention. I encourage the seeking of God as like in Bible days.

    Yes, evangelism or reaching out or sharing our story (minus Western Evangelicalism which is power, vice, $$$ centric) is still going on and essential to our walk with God. We are His ambassadors.

    An acquaintance’s son is one of those all-nighter gamer types on weekends. He saved a girl’s life, in another country, when he perceived signs of suicide while gaming in the global community. Love one another, even while gaming. He arranged for a welfare check in her locale. It was spot on. Love. Empathy. In action.

    However, prolly not very Calvinistic or Reformed, if I understand it correctly, however.

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  35. Catholic Gate-Crasher: I am gobsmacked.

    Yep, astonishment is the usual response by believers when confronted with “God hates the damned. He never loved them.” That sort of preaching/teaching is why most Wartburgers are not too fond of hyper-Calvinism. Most Calvinists are decent enough people if you can get past their view of God’s plan of salvation, authoritarian control of the pew, distinct separation of clergy and laity, and subordination of female believers.

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  36. Max: not too fond of hyper-Calvinism. Most Calvinists are decent enough people if you can get past their view of God’s plan of salvation, authoritarian control of the pew, distinct separation of clergy and laity, and subordination of female believers.

    -their view of God’s plan of salvation [select few?]
    -authoritarian control of the pew
    -distinct separation of clergy and laity
    -subordination of female believers

    Male leadership circle-the-wagons stance? Interesting gig if you can get it. Anointed. Touch not. Pay up. Shut up. Follow. Obey. Don’t think. Don’t ask. Don’t tell. Pay up even more. Because, “God”, “Bible verses”, “tradition”, “theology”.

    At some point, in our time, I believe, a corner was turned, a threshold crossed:

    -don’t report criminal activity to LE.
    -don’t respect science.

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  37. Jack: The crux (pun intended) of the matter is what role corporate worship has, had and should have in Christian life.

    You seem to place alot of stock in corporate worship. I don’t. God can work through that venue, but He can as easily meet individuals one on one.

    I did not come to know God through corporate worship, but from individuals interacting with me.

    Jack: But over time, how do the various Christianities intend to implement the great commission?

    God gave the great commission to individuals who are part of His Church.
    It’s individuals who open their hearts, lives, and mouths to share with others. It is not only by preaching in a church as many would have us believe.

    Jack: In the literal sense, God doesn’t speak to people. If you’ve had that experience, good but then God’s intervention is arbitrary & pretty much useless.

    I have had this experience. I agree that everyone doesn’t, but none of it means that God’s intervention is arbitrary and useless. Maybe you could explain how you come to this conclusion. I see it as God working in many ways to share His love for the world.

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  38. Bridget: You seem to place alot of stock in corporate worship. I don’t. God can work through that venue, but He can as easily meet individuals one on one.

    I did not come to know God through corporate worship, but from individuals interacting with me.

    Actually, I don’t. At least not in its current form. I stopped going to church years ago and absence hasn’t made the heart grow fonder.

    I think most people get exposure to christianity through either a church setting or parachurch organization. A good chunk of us in North America are raised in it as the dominant culture.

    Bridget: God gave the great commission to individuals who are part of His Church.
    It’s individuals who open their hearts, lives, and mouths to share with others. It is not only by preaching in a church as many would have us believe.

    Ok but that doesn’t seem to be working. I don’t see any people sharing much on the religious front. More people are leaving faith behind. I know this because I’m one of them.

    Bridget: I have had this experience. I agree that everyone doesn’t, but none of it means that God’s intervention is arbitrary and useless. Maybe you could explain how you come to this conclusion. I see it as God working in many ways to share His love for the world.

    Ok, that’s great, for you.
    How did I come to this conclusion? Combination personal experience & observation of the human condition. When problems are solved, I see people doing the heavy lifting (not just Christians). If justice is served, it’s us. Not seeing the hand of God in much at all.

    And believe me, I’ve looked and tried and failed to find. I didn’t just knock I banged. No answers.

    The best argument for any sort of divine intervention in our current reality is people. Perhaps God now only works through the hands of others.

    Sorry, Gang, I try not to be blunt on this forum, but Bridget did ask.

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  39. Ava Aaronson: Having served as missionaries in some highly remote areas (yes, that still exists and, no, we didn’t run into Anthony Bourdain), we have seen God’s direct intervention. I encourage the seeking of God as like in Bible days.

    Yes, evangelism or reaching out or sharing our story (minus Western Evangelicalism which is power, vice, $$$ centric) is still going on and essential to our walk with God. We are His ambassadors.

    An acquaintance’s son is one of those all-nighter gamer types on weekends. He saved a girl’s life, in another country, when he perceived signs of suicide while gaming in the global community. Love one another, even while gaming. He arranged for a welfare check in her locale. It was spot on. Love. Empathy. In action.

    I’m the first to admit, I don’t have all the answers but it seems that if we do see the hand of God at, it’s attached to a very human arm, as your story demonstrated.

    I have never witnessed a miracle. No magical healings, no ‘still voices’.
    I have seen people at their best and worst and I think, if there is a God then that divine connection is within the person themselves.

    But many people are still doing good things but not as Christians.

    So how does the wider christianity engage people? What would ignite or reignite faith? And where would & what form of church would be part of it?

    Church (most of it) seems to be failing to keep people Christian or bring new ones into the flock.

    Unfortunately depopulation is the latest Christian trend.

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  40. Catholic Gate-Crasher: I am gobsmacked.

    How much of the text in that link did you read? The entire text is full of the same kind of comments as the ones I quoted. In fact, it is so full of them it’s difficult to know which ones to select. Here is one from section IV where he tells the damned how their saved parents will react:
    “When they shall see you turned away and beginning to enter into the great furnace, and shall see how you shrink at it, and hear how you shriek and cry out; yet they will not be at all grieved for you, but at the same time you will hear from them renewed praises and hallelujahs for the true and righteous judgments of God, in so dealing with you.”

    Those who praise Edwards or wear “Jonathan Edwards is my homeboy” t-shirts are embracing these teachings, whether they know it or not.

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  41. Jack: What would ignite or reignite faith?

    “IF my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from ‘their’ wicked ways, THEN I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

    Jack: And where would & what form of church would be part of it?

    Revival and spiritual awakening would occur in the Body of Christ, which may or may not be in “church” at that time.

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  42. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    “If you should for ever be cast off by God, it would be agreeable to your treatment of Jesus Christ. It would have been just with God if he had cast you off for ever, without ever making you the offer of a Saviour. But God hath not done that; he has provided a Saviour for sinners, and offered him to you, even his own Son Jesus Christ, who is the only Saviour of men. All that are not forever cast off are saved by him. God offers men salvation through him, and has promised us, that if we come to him, we shall not be cast off.”
    Jonathan Edwards,”The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners”

    What Edwards preaches is rooted in Scripture. Not liking what he says doesn’t make it untrue and if you really don’t like him, don’t read him. After all he has been dead for a very long time.

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  43. Max: IF my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from ‘their’ wicked ways, THEN I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

    There’s a few interpretations for this.
    1 God just sent me a message through Max
    2 However Max chose that passage (hand picked or inspired), I interpret this as word from God.
    3 this message is really for an early bronze age Semitic culture that is no longer with us.
    The message really comes from within.
    Ultimately I dismissed the gathering of people called “church” as irrelevant but the recent closing of an established Anglican Church near me and reading an article that there may not be an Anglican Church in Canada by 2040 has got me thinking – what would a post church christianity look like?
    It’s something that’s not going to happen soon but the numbers that I’ve read are that people are leaving not only church but religion as well.

    Max: Revival and spiritual awakening would occur in the Body of Christ, which may or may not be in “church” at that time.

    How would this happen? Is this a spontaneous type of event? If people are disengaged then that’s a big ask.

    Max: “Done” is the perhaps the fastest growing Christian segment in America … done with institutional church, but not done with Jesus

    Maybe. But I’m understanding it as more of a personal spirituality than specifically Jesus. Jesus is silent to most of us so I see a lot of “making it up as we go along”

    The dominant culture is still majority Christian but I still think faith is leaking badly.

    This is leading to more authoritarian church structures – even among the mainline churches. Double down on control to keep those who are left in.

    It’s not sustainable.

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  44. Lowlandseer: What Edwards preaches is rooted in Scripture. Not liking what he says doesn’t make it untrue and if you really don’t like him, don’t read him.

    Psalm 137:8 says, “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.”

    We have choices. We can think that verse is a command (current literalists and inerrantist thinking). We can study context (Babylon, merely a verse from a Psalm, etc.). We can write it off as the Old Testament God. We can omit it from the readings, or at least from lyrics sung by children’s choirs.

    Whatever we do, it remains a violent and vengeful bit of language.

    I choose to focus on the Sermon of the Mount. Go ahead, call me a cafeteria Christian or not a Christian at all… but I’m not going to endorse or follow an angry, vengeful religion that revels in anyone’s suffering.

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  45. Jack: The best argument for any sort of divine intervention in our current reality is people. Perhaps God now only works through the hands of others.

    I fully respect your (lack of) beliefs, and I’m also tired of evangelical and fundamentalist Christian reliance on inexplicable miracles that never seem to happen in a verifiable way. Teresa of Avila wrote something closer to your take:

    “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

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  46. Bridget,

    How do you understand this in context?

    I deliberately cherry-picked a shocking verse, but the context does glamorize, or justify, or explain the mass murder of children. If I understand it, the verse is not even recounting an event, such as a battle.

    The best I can do is to call the image problematic, and point out that it’s a heinous crime in civilized societies. Maybe it’s saying “that’s what Babylonians deserve,” but the children are not the captors or enslavers.

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  47. Muff Potter,

    Do you not think it’s directed at Babylon? …which gets defined in several ways. (Obligatory note that Bob Marley used only the first few verses of the Psalm.) Here’s the ending:

    Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites
    the day of Jerusalem’s fall,
    how they said, ‘Tear it down! Tear it down!
    Down to its foundations!’
    O daughter Babylon, you devastator!
    Happy shall they be who pay you back
    what you have done to us!
    Happy shall they be who take your little ones
    and dash them against the rock!

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  48. Lowlandseer: What Edwards preaches is rooted in Scripture. Not liking what he says doesn’t make it untrue and if you really don’t like him, don’t read him. After all he has been dead for a very long time.

    I was not the one who introduced Jonathan Edwards into this discussion. He is like poison ivy to me in the sense that it causes a very bad reaction that does not go away quickly. There is no way to avoid it where I live – it grows everywhere. Looking away while walkng in woods here is the best way to come in contact with it. And it does no good for someone to tell me it’s safe because it’s rooted in healthy soil. In fact, it’s likely that the healthy soil make it more dangerous.

    On a related note, I got some very bad burns on my arm last year from fig tree sap. The sap does not cause a problem until it is exposed to light. I still have scars from it.

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  49. Friend: Do you not think it’s directed at Babylon? …which gets defined in several ways. (Obligatory note that Bob Marley used only the first few verses of the Psalm.) Here’s the ending:

    Yes, it is directed at Babylon, but it should be remembered that God in no way shape or form condoned such a thing. I think it’s a what goes around comes around kind of thing, exiled Jews telling their captors to not be surprised when what you did to us, happens to you.

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  50. Ken F (aka Tweed): And it does no good for someone to tell me it’s safe because it’s rooted in healthy soil. In fact, it’s likely that the healthy soil make it more dangerous.

    Well put Ken.
    I get very tired of God being portrayed (and not just by Edwards) as a cruel and petulant tyrant who’s more in love with himself and his own power than he is with anything else.

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  51. Muff Potter: I think it’s a what goes around comes around kind of thing, exiled Jews telling their captors to not be surprised when what you did to us, happens to you.

    Thanks. (I promise I didn’t set out to start an involved discussion.) I still dislike the verse, because it is in some kind of worship song, eh? A charitable interpretation might be solace: “If God let this happen to us, surely he will allow the same to happen to our oppressors.”

    Even in that case, I wish the image were not of the oppressors’ children. To me it’s a threat reminiscent of gangster talk: “Nice little family you got there. It would be a shame if anything happened to it.”

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  52. Muff Potter: I get very tired of God being portrayed (and not just by Edwards) as a cruel and petulant tyrant who’s more in love with himself and his own power than he is with anything else.

    I am surprised by how popular Edwards is among some Christians. I don’t understand how that is possible in light of what he actually taught. Perhaps they don’t do much fact checking. Edwards does a pretty impressive job of portraying his god as a sociopathic egomaniac. I cut some pieces out of this quote because it is pretty long:

    It is a proper and excellent thing for infinite glory to shine forth; and for the same reason, it is proper that the shining forth of God’s glory should be complete; that is, that all parts of his glory should shine forth, that every beauty should be proportionably effulgent, that the beholder may have a proper notion of God. It is not proper that one glory should be exceedingly manifested, and another not at all; for then the effulgence would not answer the reality. For the same reason it is not proper that one should be manifested exceedingly, and another but very little.

    But this could not be, unless sin and punishment had been decreed;

    And as it is necessary that there should be evil, because the display of the glory of God could not but be imperfect and incomplete without it, so evil is necessary, in order to the highest happiness of the creature, and the completeness of that communication of God, for which he made the world;

    for, as we have said, the sense of good is comparatively dull and flat, without the knowledge of evil.

    In other words, God’s glory requires the existence of evil for all eternity because his goodness is not good enough on its own. And he needs the eternal punishment of people who committed finite offenses in order for him to look good.

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  53. May I go back to the OP? I’ve attended The Chapel, even worked for them. (Since then, my eyes have been opened thru this blog.) I expect the findings will include a manipulative and toxic work environment spearheaded by the senior pastor. I don’t know if those findings will ever be “transparently” disclosed to church members. I cannot imagine the trustees giving the senior pastor the boot. Maybe they will surprise me.

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  54. Jack: Sorry, Gang, I try not to be blunt on this forum, but Bridget did ask.

    I did ask, because I did want to know 🙂 I have no problem with blunt. I’m that way myself.

    I do believe God works through people as much as any other way. I believe he works through believers and non believers alike . . . He has done so throughout history. 😉

    We seem to both be influenced by our own experiences and what we see around us.

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  55. Bridget:
    Friend,

    Well, Muff has answered this query quite to my satisfaction. I’ll just add that it’s a bloody lament about what one culture might return to another at a time of village eat village in history. I don’t view it as a command of God in any way.

    Thank you.

    A few Quiverfull and other way-out writers construe every verse of the Bible as a command from God. If slavery is described, then God at least endorses it, and maybe considers it part of an ideal society. Literalists and inerrantists tend to distort Scripture by assigning equal weight to its full content, even though the canon did not exist until centuries after the last book was written. The writer of this Psalm might not have imagined that it would last a couple of thousand years, and end up with so much weight attached to it.

    I appreciate your graciousness.

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  56. Bridget: In case anyone is interested. This is a response to Kevin DeYoungs review of a book….Be warned, it’s long but worth it.

    https://thefrontporch.org/2021/07/sanctifying-the-status-quo-a-response-to-reverend-kevin-deyoung/

    Thank you, Bridget, for the link to the excellent (and I agree, well-worth-the-read) article. And near the beginning of the linked article is a reference to Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter From a Birmingham Jail which I Googled, found in PDF form, and read before continuing to read the linked article. Letter From a Birmingham Jail was also well worth the read.

    (Oops, I just failed to be “properly submissive” to some male in “authority”….I did all that reading and research without asking permission of “the head of the church and / or home”….)

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