The Day God Didn’t Kiss Bethlehem Baptist Church. 4 Pastors Have Resigned, Including the Lead Pastor, and There’s Even More

Clouds up close on Jupiter-JPL/NASA

“With my resignation, I… left unfulfilled commitments I made to many comrades in the fight, commitments I hold sacred. My service did not end as I would have wished.” Stanley A. McChrystal


Recently, the members of Bethlehem Baptist Church received the following message. Yes, this is the church founded by John Piper, in which he reigned supreme. During this time, he founded his Desiring God ministry and even started his own boutique seminary, Bethlehem College and Seminary. In 2012, Piper stepped down as a pastor of his church (and make no mistake, this was his church) and claimed he wept for joy at Jason Meyer taking his place in the pulpit. According to the Christian Post, John Piper said in a Tweet

“God came down and kissed Bethlehem tonight,” said Piper in a Twitter post at the time.”Meyer has been approved to take hold of this baton.”

John Piper continued to attend his church. Can you imagine preaching in front of the man himself? More importantly, what if Meyer needed to deal with problems that were left behind?

In fact, this announcement only told part of the story.  Julie Roys found out that the lead pastor was the 4th to resign. Uh oh! This sounds a lot like my former church.

Piper’s successor, Jason Meyer, is the fourth pastor to resign from Bethlehem in the past four months.

The others who have resigned include Bryan Pickering, former pastor for care and counseling; Ming-Jinn Tong, former pastor for neighborhood outreach; and Richie Stark, former director for youth and family discipleship. (According to Pickering, Stark’s resignation was not solely due to issues at the church.)

So what’s going on?

It’s a time to lament.

Dave Zuleger, Pastor for Preaching & Vision, South wrote AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SOUTH CAMPUS:

We will have time to talk more about this together as a blood-bought family. But the point of this letter is not meant to be a start to that conversation or an explanation—but just to state the reality of things and to give you space to lament. I’m convinced that we live in a culture (Christian culture) that is constantly angry and shaking its fists because we’ve lost the place for and the healthy rhythm of grief-filled lament that the world is broken, sinful, and not as it should be. Let’s re-learn to lament together.

It’s painful, confusing, and jarring.

This is another painful and confusing moment for us. It’s confusing and painful corporately because Jason took the mantle from Pastor John Piper and helped lead us to this point of campus-specific preaching. It feels jarring,”

We get it. It’s bad, really bad but why in the world did these men leave? Here is where it gets interesting.

Abusive behavior by some of the elders

Julie Roys’ excellent post, John Piper’s Successor Latest to Resign as Allegations of Abusive Leadership Mount at Bethlehem Baptist, we learn that Bryan Pickering resigned over abusive behavior on the part of the elders.

“At Bethlehem . . . there’s harm being done,” Pickering said. “There’s unethical behavior. There’s domineering. There’s bullying. . . . cultural, damaging behavior that’s being done, and has been done, for a long time.”

In a statement from Pickering that elders read to the congregation last Sunday, Pickering further explained:

“I have seen several congregants (current and former), elders (current and former), and a former administrative assistant profoundly mistreated by elders in various ways. I have also seen leadership act in ways I would describe as domineering. I have also seen patterns of deception among our elders that are deeply concerning. I have tried on several occasions since early 2020 to speak up to others about these patterns of behavior. Increasingly in 2021, especially and intensely since March, I, too, have experienced what I would call bullying behavior. It is now clear to me that it is best for everyone for me to resign.”

Domestic violence and remarriage: Natalie’s story of abuse at the hands of elders at BBC,

John Piper holds the belief that a woman (or man) who is abused by their spouse may seek shelter away from the violence but may not remarry under any circumstances while the abusive spouse is still alive. I am writing this without quoting others because this is something I have written about for years. I wrote the following disturbing story which demonstrates that women who are abused at the hand of their spouses are in trouble at Piper’s church. Natalie’s Story of Abuse at the Hands of Bethlehem Baptist Church’s Pastors, Elders, and Counselors

This is a terrible story of a woman who was abused by her husband and then by the elders at BBC. Piper’s legacy lives on except when it comes to his son whose second marriage he attended and was seen applauding during the service. “Ok for me but not for thee.”

According to Roys’, Kyle Howard told her

Howard said he also had spoken with several people who had been negatively impacted by John Piper’s theology of “marital permanence,” a theology maintaining that divorce is never justified, even in cases of abuse.

Here is an excerpt from Natalie’s Story of Abuse at the Hands of Bethlehem Baptist Church’s Pastors, Elders, and Counselors


Start excerpt from TWW post

At first,  it seemed as if Jason Meyer and other leaders were encouraging her in seeking a divorce from an emotionally abusive husband.

That didn’t last long. The abuse from the church *counselors* began to pick up steam. From one of the *counselors:*

More recently it seems like your main focus is on all of [your husband’s] offenses against you, all of the ways he isn’t trying hard enough, or he should know better,”

“Recently as I’ve read your emails it has seemed like you are resisting any suggestions that you have work to do.”

“No Christian can say that there isn’t change to be done in their lives, even when there has been abuse, it simply isn’t possible.”

…After this I was told to make a list of my expectations of my husband and then do a Bible study of what God says a husband is responsible for—and see if my expectations and God’s expectations lined up. This implied I had unrealistic expectations of my husband.

Natalie disengaged from the *DART* team and proceeded to file for divorce.

I found out from my counselor later that they DID talk to her, and she actually suggested to my husband (whom she was seeing only by my permission) that I might have borderline personality disorder.

…As it turned out, this counselor was not licensed, nor did she have any education that would qualify her to make a diagnosis. She had never even heard of C-PTSD. I had to send her resources to educate her about complex-post traumatic stress disorder, a very common diagnosis for victims of long term intimate emotional abuse.

She was not *allowed* to leave the prison church but she does anyway.

After a disturbing meeting with some team members who became enraged when she asked to record the meeting (her sister came along as a witness), she resigned from the church

They did not accept my letter of resignation from membership. They explain why in this excerpt from an email Chuck Steddom sent me in October of 2017. TWO YEARS after I had left Bethlehem and removed my membership.

“Although you asked for your membership to be removed, that that is not how membership works. According to our constitution, admission to membership and dismissal from membership must be by congregational approval…. Our hope would be to see you follow a path that honors God while also taking seriously the marital issues that have led to the divorce we understand you’ve been pursuing.”

“Although you asked for your membership to be removed, that that is not how membership works. According to our constitution, admission to membership and dismissal from membership must be by congregational approval…. Our hope would be to see you follow a path that honors God while also taking seriously the marital issues that have led to the divorce we understand you’ve been pursuing.”

There it was. He admitted their constitution trumps everything else. But they took it a step further. I found out later from the elders of the new church I was then attending that the Bethlehem elders had gone to my new church elders to warn them about me and my “unrepentant sin.”

And they shunned her and her children.

Instead of compassion and comfort, I was shunned by my former church friends. One woman who I thought had been a dear friend refused to let her 16 yo old daughter come over to our home to spend time with my 16 yo old daughter. (Is it any wonder the world hates the Church?)

I found out later that my oldest daughter reached out to Jason Meyer during this time, and he told her he couldn’t help. Another daughter told some of the elders at camp that her dad had abused her, and they gathered around her, promising to help her. When camp was over, they never contacted her again.

There is an interesting section in which she describes (via insiders) how her excommunication proceeded at a church meeting.

Their marriage has many issues. But no grounds for divorce.”

“We don’t believe we can grant her request to be removed from membership but we feel we must ex-communicate.”

“Pray that the Lord would persuade Natalie to reconcile and change Natalie’s mind.”

“Natalie accused ____ of being abusive and truly feels she has been abused. But we do not feel she has. So we are asking everyone to pray.”

End excerpt


Kyle Howard and racial unity at BBC: White elders refused to release an 85-page report from the Racial Unity Task Force.

Ministry Watch/Steve Rabey wrote a helpful article: Resignations, Turmoil, Continue at Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist Church. The following is how he summed up the racial turmoil.

In addition, there are signs the mostly white church has had difficulty adjusting to the diverse racial makeup of Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed by police officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020.

Bethlehem’s response to the killing and subsequent protests focused on providing groceries to residents to make up for the absence of grocery stores that either closed or were destroyed.

Ming-Jinn Tong, a neighborhood outreach pastor at Bethlehem’s downtown campus, was leading that effort. He is among the pastors who have since resigned.

In 2019, the church set up a Racial Harmony Task Force and hired an outside expert to explore race issues. An 85-page report was presented to the church’s 40-member elder council but was never shared with church members. Task force members say the church never took any action on the report’s findings, in part because some of the 36 white elders on the council complained it was too “Marxist” and “woke.” Now, some task force members are among those in the exodus from Bethlehem.

I follow Kyle Howard on Twitter and also recommend his website. The following is a series of tweets from Howard on this matter.

Kyle Howard was disturbed that an article was featured at Desiring God the week this conflict became public.

Todd and I were concerned as well.

Todd copied this post from Desiring God to Wayback in case it disappears: Love Your (Imperfect) Pastors by Abigail Dodds seems to be terribly concerned about “pastoral authority.”

When our pastors exercise authority through the teaching of the word, and even when they admonish us, our posture should be one of receptivity followed by careful examination of the word. If, after examination, we think one of our pastors may have mishandled the word in some way, we may need to go to him in love and humbly raise the issue. But if he hasn’t mishandled the word — if he has merely expressed it faithfully, even if imperfectly — we may need to ask God to help us turn off our inner prosecutor and “receive with meekness the implanted word” (James 1:21).

…Suspicion says that our pastors are likely no different than famous pastors who have been caught in scandals. Suspicion says that our pastors are likely just in ministry for themselves — there’s no way they could actually love us. Suspicion turns minor imperfections (which every pastor has!) into evidences of massive moral failure. And worst of all, suspicion leads us to stand in the place of God, exercising unwarranted judgment over those we ought to regard highly in love.

…The solution is threefold: repent, believe, and pray. Repentof sinful attitudes toward your pastors. Believe God’s ways are good, which means pastoral authority, despite what the cultural narratives would have you believe, is for your good.

There are many things in this post with which I agree. However, the timing of this post in the midst of the very serious problems being revealed at BBC seems unwise. In fact, some might think this has purposely dropped to attempt to coerce BBC members to be particularly obedient to pastoral authority in the midst of losing a bunch of pastors, one of whom said:

“At Bethlehem . . . there’s harm being done,” Pickering said. “There’s unethical behavior. There’s domineering. There’s bullying. . . . cultural, damaging behavior that’s being done, and has been done, for a long time.”

And I’m supposed to submit to this nonsense? Pickering was a pastor. Members were supposed to submit to him and now he, along with others, are telling us that maybe we need to rethink our submission. This crowd’s *pastoral authority* has run amock for far too long. Now is the time for members to stop, evaluate, and protect themselves from being subjected long term bullying and other damaging behavior. Good night! Desiring God appears to be rather brain dead.

PS There is far more going on with Piper’s boutique seminary and I plan to deal with it on Friday, Lord willing.


Comments

The Day God Didn’t Kiss Bethlehem Baptist Church. 4 Pastors Have Resigned, Including the Lead Pastor, and There’s Even More — 114 Comments

  1. I really like the astronomical “antidote” photos that sometimes accompany these disheartening stories.

    This one, of turbulence, also seems highly appropriate to the post content.

    Independent elder-led churches, in which there is no possibility of recourse or appeal to higher authority, are IMO risky places in which to place one’s trust.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  2. 3 things stand out in this saga:

    1. “This is a terrible story of a woman who was abused by her husband and then by the elders at BBC. Piper’s legacy lives on except when it comes to his son whose second marriage he attended and was seen applauding during the service. ‘Ok for me but not for thee.’” Evil hypocrisy. Ruining a woman’s/family’s life, but red carpet for one’s own. Who was the priest in the OT who spoiled his abusive sons & ended up dead, falling out of his rocking chair?

    2. The 4 pastors, now resigned, who signed up for this Mob rule team, found out it’s not so fun when the authoritarians turn against you. How special. Excuse me if it feels like they maybe now understand, even just a little, what this is all about.

    3. Kyle James Howard was invited as a consultant & then ignored. Not good. At least @KyleJamesHoward is honest while the church that hired him was just playing games, Dog & Pony Show.

    Finally, it takes a village. Maybe the member$hip should consider what they are $upporting. Unimaginable the level of dysfunction (could also be interpreted as evil) in such institutions.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  3. At this meeting on July 18, did the congregation actually learn anything specific about Pastor Jason’s resignation, or all the other resignations, or were they told that wanting real information about the people they are paying is Satanic?

    Has Pastor Pickering offered any specifics regarding his accusations of “bullying,” “domineering,” etc., or did he just drift away on his severance package?

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  4. From one of their ‘pastors’ in the article:

    “ I’m convinced that we live in a culture (Christian culture) that is constantly angry and shaking its fists because we’ve lost the place for and the healthy rhythm of grief-filled lament that the world is broken, sinful, and not as it should be. Let’s re-learn to lament together.”

    Aren’t you glad that they’re taking this opportunity to teach believers how to properly lament?!? We can’t even do THAT right! What an arrogant declaration of Christian elitism! So, instead of addressing the 800-pound gorilla in the room (as to why all these people are resigning) they instead chide the congregation that they don’t properly know how to “biblically” lament. How outrageously ridiculous!

    What all of this really sounds like are that chickens are coming home to roost, and reaping what you have sown. Payday someday!

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  5. when a ‘church’ decides to take over and become a woman’s ‘moral conscience’, they have intruded on territory that belongs to God alone.

    That kind of pride IS the mother of all sins. For the men of the Church to ignore the worth and dignity of women as persons made in the image of God . . . no wonder these men seem to have deserted Christ and made idols of themselves instead

    that ‘membership’ thing ?
    continuing to harass a woman who left the Church?
    It all sounds like grounds for a legal case against the ‘elders’ who pursued and harassed the person, yes.

    Unspeakable unkindness shown to women. Was Piper a misogynist?
    Is that what he preached?

    Dee, I knew your writing was valuable and I was hooked on this story when I read these words: “We get it. It’s bad, really bad but why in the world did these men leave? Here is where it gets interesting.”

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  6. Root 66,

    Pastor Dave says that he and Pastor Jason are totally best bros, but Pastor Dave has no information on the situation that he is willing to share with the people who pay both himself and Pastor Jason.

    Am I missing something here? Why can’t any of these people tell the congregation what is really going on?

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  7. Truly sad to hear about another church in turmoil and we ought to lament and pray that whatever is ungodly will be dealt with. This obviously is not what Jesus desires for the church “that they will be known for their love for one another” (obviously not an exact quote). The world certainly doesn’t need more turmoil. On another note – it will be interesting to see what happens to the membership of the pastors who have resigned from the church.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  8. Piper is considered as the Father of New Calvinism. Considering the great harm this movement has done to the American church (we talk about it weekly on TWW), does anyone in their right spiritual mind think God ever came down and kissed Piper, ‘his’ church, or the blitz on Christianity that he fathered?!

    Ministries built around a cult of personality seldom survive when the personality leaves. When Piper kissed Bethlehem Baptist goodbye, what was previously viewed as a blessing was revealed to be a curse. Cults always end this way.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  9. I went over to Natalie’s blog and read her story. The way she was treated at BBC was horrendous. It was hard to stomach. It seemed like the people “helping” her were trying to get to some predetermined destination (a restored marriage) that would agree with their theology. So, when Natalie presented a situation which didn’t conform to what they believed to be true about husbands, wives, and divorce, they just tried to shove her into their box without doing much listening or soul-searching themselves. It was like they would do anything to get her into that box, even if it meant snipping off a couple pieces of her body. Reminds me of the story of Procrustes.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  10. Root 66: an arrogant declaration of Christian elitism

    = New Calvinism … they don’t get any more self-confident and self-important than the elite in this bunch!

    There is a haughty spirit at operation in the New Calvinist movement. “Arrogant” is always the first word that pops to mind when characterizing them … “love” never is.

    Fortunately, for the Body of Christ, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18). Otherwise, this movement – with its arrogant band of ministers and ministries – would never end. New Calvinism will eventually fall, because it is written.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  11. Cynthia W.: Pastor Dave says that he and Pastor Jason are totally best bros, but Pastor Dave has no information on the situation that he is willing to share with the people who pay both himself and Pastor Jason.

    Pastor Dave must not yet have his exit strategy (or severance package) for BBC, so he’s going to have to tow the party line a little longer and say NOTHING! They all remind of Sgt. Schultz (“I see nothing…NOTHING!”) from “Hogan’s Heroes”. Losing that many pastors and leaders in such a steady stream will hopefully set off the alarms for these folks. But sadly, they keep getting the “nothing to see here” routine from the leaders as they circle the wagons! What a shame.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  12. Max: = New Calvinism … they don’t get any more self-confident and self-important than the elite in this bunch!

    There is a haughty spirit at operation in the New Calvinist movement. “Arrogant” is always the first word that pops to mind when characterizing them … “love” never is.

    What’s really sad to me is that when people there need encouragement, support and compassion, all they get is kicked in the head with a reminder that they’re not ‘doing it right’. Ugh! How about they tell everybody why leaders are leaving like rats on a sinking ship? That might be helpful. Sheesh!

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  13. Bridget: Did these men all resign their membership in the church with approval of the congregation as was demanded of Natalie?!?

    Don Jones,
    Very good question. I can’t recall cases when any pastor (who left without permission because he was constantly angry and shaking his fists because he lost the place for and the healthy rhythm of grief-filled lament) was brought up before the sheeple for an excommunication vote.
    I can’t even recall what happened to pastor’s kid Abraham when he lost his faith the second time. When he was young, we cared for his soul enough to excommunicate him, prompting him to be restored to membership a few years later. Don’t we care enough for him now? Oh my— it’s so confusing…………

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  14. Max: self-confident and self-important than the elite in this bunch!

    Run up against this bunch, and if you’re like Jesus, you’ll end up hanging from a cross, dead.

    Beyond being the once-for-all sacrificial Lamb, Jesus exposed the deadly religious elite.

    Deception in the church is a powerful tool. Expose it & violence follows. Which is why victim/survivor witnesses tread carefully in their testimony of truth. No picnic.

    The pastors who left mention bullying. Where were they when women were bullied in this so-called “church”*?

    *God is not a bully; neither are God’s people. Bullies, of the religious leader type, crucified Jesus, our Lord. They’re on the opposing team and work for the other guy. Piperettes may have some soul-searching to do.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  15. Bridget:
    Did these men all resign their membership in the church with approval of the congregation as was demanded of Natalie?!? I seriously doubt it!!

    This is a huge practical and theological inconsistency within this movement. What applies to members does not often apply to pastors or elders.

    But I think their obsession with authority has very little to do with theology in the first place…

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  16. I was hoping, Dee, that you would cover this. Has someone already commented on this: “John Piper holds the belief that a woman (or man) who is abused by their spouse may seek shelter away from the violence but may not remarry under any circumstances while the abusive spouse is still alive.” I thought there was a video out there where Piper is participating in an installation service for divorced son Barnabas as he comes on to assist Ray Ortlund at his megachurch in Nashville. Has this already been covered by some of you. My ex-husband (fundamentalist preacher who beat me) was a follower of Piper. He divorced me after I escaped with our son and refused to divorced him. His lawyer tried to bribe me into divorcing him because in ex’s mind that was not as sinful as him divorcing me. I didn’t take the bait. So he remarried as soon as the divorce was final. Such beliefs are for everyone else—-never for the preacher himself OR the preacher’s son Barnabas.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  17. ishy: This is a huge practical and theological inconsistency within this movement. What applies to members does not often apply to pastors or elders.

    Oh yeah, no practicing what they preach when the tables are turned. Shunning and excommunication are reserved only for the pew, never the pulpit. The anointed ones are far above any rebuke and correction, you know.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  18. Ruth Tucker,

    Deal-breaker for a woman.
    Overlookable for a son.

    The Tell.
    What lies beneath. (Love of self? Only?)
    Love one another as yourself? Not at all.
    Love God, love neighbors? No.

    John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.”

    “all people will know” signifies a public image. Love does, as Bob Goff says.

    This is basic. Puts into question, on thin ice, all else: preaching, writing, orgs, followers. It’s a deal-breaker for, well, salvation & Eternity, no matter how Calvinism, JohnEdwardism, GospelCoalitionism, bestsellers, CT, $$$, interviews, followers, networks, Evangelicalism, are in the mix.

    Basically, what it looks like, is this guy cultivated a bro-hood of male superiority for a bunch of rubes that fell for his nonsense. When some bros figured out it doesn’t feel good when other superiority-drugged male bullies turned on them, they jumped the dynasty’s ship.

    Prolly all worked when the #1 guru was in place. All bowed/deferred to him. When the King left the dynasty, the promoted underling princes turned on each other. Shakespeare’s “King Lear”. Kurosawa’s “Ran” (chaos in Japanese).

    Contrast, Jesus’ disciples worked together after He left (one exception commit suicide). Jesus’ disciples still do, work together. In love, not in dynastic superiority or hierarchies with different sets of rules.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  19. “The Bethlehem elders know that the news of Pastor Jason Meyer’s resignation prompts many questions and feelings. Join us for an evening of prayer, worship, and coming together to hear more about Pastor Jason’s resignation.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    an evening of prayer, worship, and coming together….

    why in the world prayer and worship???

    i can think of a few reasons:

    -habit and nothing more meaningful than that

    -pixie dust to magically sanctify what should be an objective business meeting

    -to take up as much of the meeting time as possible so that little is left for having to deal with threatening subject matter and having to answer people’s questions

    -to smooth down people’s thoughts and feelings to pacify them, so as to hopefully avoid direct and confrontational questions
    .
    .
    so, aside from the absence of even one original thought, it’s to manipulate people in the name of God.

    (well, that’s just evangelicalism right there.)

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  20. elastigirl: “The Bethlehem elders know that the news of Pastor Jason Meyer’s resignation prompts many questions and feelings. Join us for an evening of prayer, worship, and coming together to hear more about Pastor Jason’s resignation.”

    Ecclesiastes says that “For everything there is a season, A time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest … etc.”

    In the case of BBC, it’s time to “hear more about Pastor Jason’s resignation”! Prayer and worship are important, but the “season” right now is to tell the good folks at BBC what the heck is going on … so they can determine “if” they want to pray and worship at BBC any longer.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  21. Ava Aaronson: When the King left the dynasty, the promoted underling princes turned on each other. Shakespeare’s “King Lear”. Kurosawa’s “Ran” (chaos in Japanese).

    And the situation in Hell in the Spiritual Horror Role-playing Game Rapture: The Second Coming (original QMG first edition or D20 second edition, take your pick). When Satan leaves Hell to incarnate as The Antichrist, every demon prince in Hell goes at each others’ throats over the vacant Horned Throne.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  22. Max: Ministries built around a cult of personality seldom survive when the personality leaves.

    Cults of Personality seldom survive their founder/leader.

    Few Joseph Smiths are followed by a Brigham Young who can turn a Personality Cult-centered group into a self-sustaining religious system.

    And sometimes this is deliberate – remember Jonestown, The Solar Temple, and Heaven’s Gate?

    And sometimes the deliberate attempt doesn’t take – like that political/personality cult led by that Austrian guy with the funny little mustache. Near The End in the Bunker, he tried to order all Germany to die with him.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  23. “Dave Zuleger, Pastor for Preaching & Vision, South wrote AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SOUTH CAMPUS:

    “We will have time to talk more about this together as a blood-bought family.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    why oh why use such over-the-top language??
    .
    .
    well, i know why.

    “family” means you can’t leave.

    “blood-bought” means if you even think about leaving it will be an outrageous affront to God the father and Jesus his son…. in fact, you can already sense phantom earthquake tremors and a menacing darkening sky of cosmic wrath it’s such a terrifying prospect.

    (like the sky in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope”)
    .
    .
    Dave Zuleger, you’re such a manipulator, whether you realize it or not. how pathetic if you’ve been taught this is simply normal.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  24. elastigirl: why oh why use such over-the-top language??

    Crazy talk.
    Violent language.
    Histrionics.
    Kind of follows the Old Man, right up to the end with his god “kissing” their church. Ugh. Weird. Didn’t he say something strange about football on stage & all the other “normal” but sycophant guys up there did the eyeroll?

    histrionics: exaggerated dramatic behavior designed to attract attention
    Yes. Good for novel-writing, bad for theology.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  25. I wonder if the 4 resigning pastors are going to run to the church David Platt is busy destroying?

    Or are they going to join Ray Ortlund, Sam Alberry, and Russell Moore at Immanuel Church, a kind of Presbyterian becoming Anglican Church in Nashville a/k/a The Island of Misfit Toys.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  26. elastigirl: why in the world prayer and worship???

    Writing as a semi-sane person… If they set it up as a plain old meeting, people might treat it as a town hall and ask confrontational questions. That might produce revealing information, but it also might spin out of control.

    Really, they should not need a whole worship service. I would think that an opening prayer would settle any jitters and take the edge off.

    Caveat: I can’t think like these mighty men, and they probably designed the event to reduce congregational input and make this not feel like a bad thing happened.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  27. Ava Aaronson,

    “Anyone else confuse the Orts? See links for connections, distinctions.
    You’re welcome.”

    Ava, I’m really old and demented, but I don’t get your comment, implying I’ve confused the Orts. Ray was a colleague of mine years ago when I taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and below he is on twitter welcoming Barnabas. I don’t personally know the other Ort. Are you confused?

    Ray Ortlund on Twitter: “Still savoring Sunday’s service when …https://twitter.com › rayortlund › status
    Still savoring Sunday’s service when Immanuel Nashville ordained Barnabas Piper to the gospel ministry. It satisfies deeply to build into the future that will long

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  28. Ruth Tucker,

    OT: Found your websites via the link with your name here. Also watched your vlog on youtube: “Slut-shamed at 57 by Cal U in Grand Rapids, MI: Christ’s agents of renewal in the world”, (their tagline). What a lovely story of bravery, truth to power. Thx for sharing. Commenting here as it appears you don’t do twitter, and we don’t do FB. We both do TWW, however. God bless.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  29. Friend: they probably designed the event to reduce congregational input and make this not feel like a bad thing happened

    Exactly. “Family meetings” are not typical in New Calvinist churches. There are no sharing times where folks can just talk it out … it’s all dictatorial management of pulpit over pew … there is no participatory involvement in matters like this … no Q&A unless it can be a carefully controlled dialogue. But since church leaders do all the talking in such churches, they need to start talking! Good Lord, stop stringing church members along! Who did what needs to be put on the table now.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  30. Ruth Tucker,

    Actually, the mix-up is mine … both of these Orts show up from time to time, (Ortlund and Ortberg) and it is I who has been confused.

    I looked them up and noted they are two separate influencers, both with many followers. Wondered if anyone else had also confused them so I shared the links. Lots to follow & figure out on SM, nowadays.

    Love your work. Thx so much for sharing. I’m a fan. Watched your video on your new book. Quite a story. Book club possibilities. Will recommend to friends & family.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  31. ishy: to do with theology

    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2013/08/is-god-different-than-we-are-the-ontological-controversy/

    The ones with the microphones, what they’ve got is called Superbeing. (It spilled over from just communion hosts and now nobody will admit where and when it is and isn’t.)

    Melanchthon preached against this. As I see it it leads to fundamentalism, hegemonism and antihumanism.

    They craft and curate the plasticated “melodramas”. They choreograph the “lamenting” by nobodies about nothing. Switch without bait.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  32. Pastor John: I can’t even recall what happened to pastor’s kid Abraham when he lost his faith the second time. When he was young, we cared for his soul enough to excommunicate him, prompting him to be restored to membership a few years later. Don’t we care enough for him now? Oh my— it’s so confusing…………

    Abraham Piper is on TikTok. He put up a video a few days ago talking about how bad he was at paying tithing. Then he said he was glad he was bad at tithing, and spent his money on food, rent, games, formula and diapers. Because, he says, “for all the horrible ideas and practices I used to be a part of in Evangelical Christianity, I didn’t personally fund almost any of it. And I’m pretty ####### happy about that.”

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  33. Max,

    “…a pine cone on a plate here”

    “Is that anything like deep-fried chicken gizzards?”
    ++++++++++++++

    if deep-fried chicken gizzards are plain-spoken, forthright, unceremonious (and all the other synonyms for ‘blunt’ i just read), then, yes.
    .
    .
    deep fried chicken gizzards…. are they good?

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  34. Samuel Conner,

    “I really like the astronomical “antidote” photos that sometimes accompany these disheartening stories.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    me, too.

    totally serious question:

    i’ve just recently learned Jupiter is made of gas (i’m late to the astronomy party).

    if i hypothetically put on superman’s supersuit (instead of my usual elastigirl supersuit), could i fly right through the middle and come out the other side?

    i have to know.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  35. elastigirl: totally serious question:

    i’ve just recently learned Jupiter is made of gas (i’m late to the astronomy party).

    if i hypothetically put on superman’s supersuit (instead of my usual elastigirl supersuit), could i fly right through the middle and come out the other side?

    i have to know.

    Probably not. It’s not just (mostly) hydrogen gas, but a LOT of gas, that due to gravity, is being crushed. The highest levels are gaseous, but the further down you go, the denser and hotter it becomes. At some point it is speculated that the hydrogen becomes liquid (and hot) and then becomes something exotic, specifically metallic hydrogen. Scientists *may* have created metallic hydrogen in the lab in 2019, it’s still not clear. By the time you get to the core (which may actually be “rocky”, but again, not clear) it’s around 35,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

    So, the short answer to your question is no, not unless Superman’s suit can protect you from the estimated 4,500 gigapascals of pressure at the center, along with the 35,500F degrees, and, oh let’s not forget, the insane radioactive belts circling the planet.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  36. Max: “Family meetings” are not typical in New Calvinist churches. There are no sharing times where folks can just talk it out … it’s all dictatorial management of pulpit over pew … there is no participatory involvement in matters like this … no Q&A unless it can be a carefully controlled dialogue.

    Seems very top down. And when the top is silent, well, nothing-burger. Nothing happened, apparently. The top moves on. The down follows, on cue. No questions asked. What’s a question, anyway.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  37. Ava Aaronson:
    Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Is this like Game of Thrones? Haven’t seen nor read it. Curious. Could be a church-based series/saga. Many “seasons”, (pastor-friendly word). Lots of opportunities. Lots of thrones.

    Have you watched the show Greenleaf (Netflix, I think)? Follows a ministry family through different “seasons” in their church. The most admirable character is a pastor who isn’t sure she believes in God. It’s interesting. I was never quite sure who I should be rooting for.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  38. Ava Aaronson: Who joins the movement?

    The movement: Neo-Cals, authoritarians, dominionism-ists, complementarians …

    I kind of wish I had less experience with that side, but I watched decent, compassionate people completely turn into different people after being introduced to that movement.

    I read the article, and while pithy, I didn’t think it worked for everyone I knew that jumped on the train. Some of my good friends were “Kind, good, happy, gentlemanly, secure people” and they jumped on wholeheartedly. Some of them were not, and they jumped on, too.

    I will say that it was more often the second group that went into leadership. I suspect that is because once you get to leadership in that movement, you know that it’s not about theology. The ones who want it to be all about God don’t become leaders, though some of them become yes-men. The leadership is vibrantly corrupt and most of the people running the show know it. The whole movement is about corrupt leaders controlling others. They are playing God with the lives of others.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  39. Ken F (aka Tweed): This is interesting – David Platt appears to be getting pushback:
    https://www.termsofservice.social/p/pastors-what-happened-to-david-platt

    This is interesting.

    Aside from the David Platt angle… I wish someone would address the topic of misinformation from the standpoint of a congregant. What’s a lay-member to do when it’s the PASTOR succumbing to the “evils” of social media?

    [The viewpoint in this article is not helping the relationship between pastor and congregation. It’s setting the pastor up as the fount-of-all-wisdom and the congregation as the easily-swayed-sheeple.]

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  40. christiane: elastigirl: deep fried chicken gizzards…. are they good?

    To keep the blog on topic, there’s nothing more distasteful than deep fried chicken gizzards than New Calvinism. To borrow the NeoCal expository method of taking text out of context “Jesus said ‘I am about to spit you out of my mouth’.” (applies both to chicken gizzards and New Calvinism)

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  41. ishy: The ones who want it to be all about God don’t become leaders, though some of them become yes-men. The leadership is vibrantly corrupt and most of the people running the show know it. The whole movement is about corrupt leaders controlling others. They are playing God with the lives of others.

    The article is from 1941; even now we don’t have it figured out, how fascism or tyrannies in a free society, like even in a Christian church of all places, evolve. “Stand fast therefore in your liberty, wherefore Christ has set us free” is from 2K+ yrs ago but we need to remind ourselves today.

    IMHO, there’s a lot of Bait-and-switching. Just like in dating a great partner, then a monster emerges after “I do”. In the church, little godmen claim they speak for God.

    The OT is full of false prophets and wicked kings. Mainly men, BTW, with a bad queen, only one so everybody knows her name. Not so with the men … too many of them. Sorry, guys. I like men but there were a lot of bad guys. Maybe it’s just even more heroic when a good guy shows up & does the right thing ‘cuz odds are against it.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  42. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Note also the last line of Platt’s article:

    “And be ready for someone to organize a church takeover campaign through a Facebook Group. Because it happens.”

    Which is one of the reasons why I would never consider joining a non-liturgical ‘independent’ church that is ‘pastor-centric’. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there are no problems with Lutheranism, Catholicism, or even Eastern Orthodox, they have their own share of problems to be sure, but they do not succumb to the whims of dictatorial strong-men bent on a ‘take-over’.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  43. Max: “Family meetings” are not typical in New Calvinist churches. There are no sharing times where folks can just talk it out … it’s all dictatorial management of pulpit over pew … there is no participatory involvement in matters like this … no Q&A unless it can be a carefully controlled dialogue. But since church leaders do all the talking in such churches, they need to start talking! Good Lord, stop stringing church members along! Who did what needs to be put on the table now.

    I think the members who are coming to the meetings are being told a little more, but I think it’s unlikely that the elders will publish anything for the general public. This week’s north campus update has this: “For those able to make it to one or both of the Family Meetings (North on Saturday, All-Church on Sunday), hopefully you have more clarity regarding the recent resignations. I am well aware of various blogs or articles that are attempting to frame them differently with hearsay or from the jaundiced perspective of a few. I would encourage you to reach out to any of the North elders if you have questions.” Translation: We’re going to keep this in-house.

    Given that Jason Meyer co-chaired the Racial Harmony Task Force, and then the elders have now sat on the resulting report for over a year… I can’t imagine that didn’t play a significant part in Jason’s resignation (and probably Ming-Jinn Tong’s). But it’s all speculation without public transparency.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  44. bendeni: We’re going to keep this in-house … without public transparency

    The larger Body of Christ needs to know what took place at BBC, lest their ex-church leaders start looking for new churches to pastor. As has been reported numerous times on TWW, it is not beyond a New Calvinist to deceive pastor search committees … stealth and deception are their modus operandi.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  45. bendeni,

    “…Family Meetings….hopefully you have more clarity regarding the recent resignations. I am well aware of various blogs or articles that are attempting to frame them differently with hearsay or from the jaundiced perspective of a few. I would encourage you to reach out to any of the North elders if you have questions.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    said someone in leadership from North Campus, Bethlehem Baptist Church.

    Bryan Pickering: ““At Bethlehem . . . there’s harm being done…There’s unethical behavior. There’s domineering. There’s bullying. . . . cultural, damaging behavior that’s being done, and has been done, for a long time.”

    he further warned, “You’re all in trouble because elders can’t hold each other accountable.”
    .
    .
    if the other resignees share the same sense of concern for the wellbeing of those still there (and it’s hard to imagine they don’t), to me it seems quite necessary that they speak for themselves and set the record straight.

    i mean, at the moment Bethlehem Baptist community only has 2 options: the elders (who don’t ring the untrustworthy bell) and the hearsay/jaundiced other (said a leader with presumably much to lose).

    sort of intolerable.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  46. christiane: “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
    (Anne Lamott)

    These six things the Lord hates;
    Indeed, seven are repulsive to Him:
    A proud look [the attitude that makes one overestimate oneself and discount others], a lying tongue,
    And hands that shed innocent blood,
    A heart that creates wicked plans,
    Feet that run swiftly to evil,
    A false witness who breathes out lies [even half-truths],
    And one who spreads discord (rumors) among brothers.
    (Proverbs 6:16-19 AMP)

    Appears to me that there has been some of that going on at BBC. God hates it and so do I.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  47. Ava Aaronson: IMHO, there’s a lot of Bait-and-switching. Just like in dating a great partner, then a monster emerges after “I do”. In the church, little godmen claim they speak for God.

    I definitely think that’s true in churches where New Calvinism has taken over. I saw friends and future pastors become acquainted with New Calvinism and be indoctrinated in seminary. The movement was just taking off then and many of my male friends suddenly became enamored with the movement (and usually a particular leader). Bullies weren’t so much different from before, but now they had a way to rule over others and feel approved.

    But ordinary kind people I had known for years suddenly became Piper-quoting robots who told all their family and friends to join up or go to hell. You couldn’t hold normal conversations with them anymore, because they didn’t know how to answer in their own words. Mentioning the weather earned a quote about predestination. They could not think for themselves anymore.

    My female friends that were married to these men were often not as on board, but their marriages suddenly became very contentious and they were desperate to stay married. I remember one of my friends telling me that her family would disown her if she got divorced, but she was terrified of her husband and the personality change he had undergone. I have other friends I no longer speak to because their churches do not allow them to have friends outside the church. And friends who finally did divorce, but were shunned by the church, their families, and even some of their children.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  48. ishy,

    Too many parallels to Scientology.
    One man rule.
    Shunning.
    Separation of family members.
    Personality changes.
    Not speaking with their own words.
    Quoting the godman guru.
    Signs of a cult?

    Back in the day, I studied at L’Abri, Switzerland just before Francis & Edith Schaeffer left (not worked, I studied – there’s a difference). Schaeffer openly denounced what he called “parroting” – quoting him instead of honest discourse. The idea of L’Abri was discourse about faith. (Later, the Schaeffers hooked-up with the Righteous-Radical-Right & son Frank now fills in the details of that whole deal.) Schaeffer had explicit distaste for guru-ism.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  49. ishy: ordinary kind people I had known for years suddenly became Piper-quoting robots … couldn’t hold normal conversations with them anymore .. could not think for themselves anymore

    This was my experience as well at the beginning of the New Calvinist movement. The Pied Piper cast a spell over so many young potential church leaders in my area, drawing them into a snare they are still in. The “Passion Conferences” served as a stage for New Calvinism to draw in thousands seeking something different from the faith of their fathers. Some of the young folks I know turned out to be “pastors” in the movement pursuing their new-found faith with a passion, but a misplaced passion of aberrant belief and practice. So sad to see that happen with their lives. Some have already crashed and burned. What a waste. New Calvinism has left so many folks reeling in confusion and disillusionment with church, in both pulpit and pew.

    “If this teaching or movement is merely human it will collapse of its own accord” (Acts 5:38)

    BBC is but one example of the collapse of a human movement, based on human teaching that has perhaps run its course. When these things happen, I always grieve for those caught unaware in the pew.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  50. Wild Honey: What’s a lay-member to do when it’s the PASTOR succumbing to the “evils” of social media?

    The pewpeons need not concern themselves with this. They need to humbly submit to their pastors and elders, with full knowledge that they have nothing to fear because their pastors are completely trustworthy and above reproach.

    (We need a sarcasm font.)

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  51. ishy: I definitely think that’s true in churches where New Calvinism has taken over. I saw friends and future pastors become acquainted with New Calvinism and be indoctrinated in seminary. The movement was just taking off then and many of my male friends suddenly became enamored with the movement (and usually a particular leader).

    My husband graduated from TEDS before he and I met. There were a handful of topics (complementarianism, the Billy Graham rule, John Piper, among others) that he would wax eloquent about, and I flat-out told him I thought they were weird and/or wrong. For some reason, he had the sense to marry me, anyway.

    There are a handful of times over the years where he’s reacted strongly to something, and I’ve mildly wondered if he was brainwashed, because it is not something that fits with the general pattern of the rest of his character.

    All I can say is that, ten years into marriage, one of us is changing their mind about complementarianism, the Billy Graham rule, and the like.

    And it’s not me.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  52. Wild Honey: There are a handful of times over the years where he’s reacted strongly to something, and I’ve mildly wondered if he was brainwashed, because it is not something that fits with the general pattern of the rest of his character.

    All I can say is that, ten years into marriage, one of us is changing their mind about complementarianism, the Billy Graham rule, and the like.

    The pattern is really weird and out of character. It’s doesn’t just affect very ambitious people. But I’m glad he’s starting to change his mind. I wonder about former good friends who fell in with one of those churches and just banished everyone else from their lives.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  53. ishy: A lot of cults have those similarities. Before the 2003 SBC convention, there was an all-seminary class on identifying cults.

    During my time in-country in the late Seventies, Christian Cult-Watch groups (which really boomed after Jonestown) ALL defined “Cult” in terms of Theology and Doctrine. While they were parsing theology under an electron microsocpe and pronouncing “CULT! CULT! CULT!”, abusive groups with Correct Theology but Cult behavior not only passed right under their radar, but used their Clean Bill of Not-a-CULT as an additional weapon against their people.

    Didn’t hurt that the Christianese Cult-Sniffers had the exact same Theology (Six-day YEC, Rapture Ready Eschatology, Altar Call/Sinner’s Prayer Salvation, and SCRIPTURE SCRIPTURE SCRIPTURE) as the Not-a-Cults.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  54. ishy: You couldn’t hold normal conversations with them anymore, because they didn’t know how to answer in their own words. Mentioning the weather earned a quote about predestination. They could not think for themselves anymore.

    They could only duckspeak the Party Line. Over and Over and Over.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  55. Max: IMO, not enough has been said about the role the Passion Conferences and The Leadership Network have played in launching the New Calvinist movement on the American church.

    Being from Atlanta, we were kinda at the epicenter of it. We went to Northpoint’s 7:22 every week, where Giglio spoke. I didn’t realize at the time how pervasive it was. Or that a lot of Piper’s rubbish was just a cover for authoritarianism and misogyny. Because he definitely thought men should be gloriously desiring and enjoying God and life while women were slaves to the whims of men.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  56. Headless Unicorn Guy: You are making references I don’t understand.
    Can you give a quick summary of the connection?

    Max might be able to better expand on TLC, but I can tell you a lot about Passion Conferences. Early in the New Calvinist movement, Louie Giglio was the singles pastor at Northpoint. He started Passion Conferences. Originally, the purpose was to reach college students. But more and more of the speakers were New Calvinist (which is fairly far from Northpoint’s beliefs). Piper was often the central speaker. Lots of worship times, followed by big speakers. Matt Chandler was also a regular speaker. Ravi Zacharias was a featured speaker at two of the conferences I went to, but he was a sideliner to Piper.

    Eventually, Giglio left Northpoint to start Passion Church in Atlanta. Of course, it was in one of the most affluent areas of Atlanta (Buckhead). It has a reputation of having a New Calvinist flavor, but I think is similar in practice to the Summit where they keep it mostly under wraps until you start pursuing leadership.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  57. Headless Unicorn Guy: You are making references I don’t understand.
    Can you give a quick summary of the connection?

    Ishy provided a good response on how the Passion Conferences helped launch the New Calvinist movement … they also put Piper on the map.

    In regard to the role of The Leadership Network’s influence on various church movements (seeker-friendly church – think Hybels & Warren; emergent church – think Rob Bell; and resurgent church – think Driscoll) … the following article provides a good overview of TLN’s involvement: https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/april/catalyst-that-fostered-movement.html

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

Leave a comment - Click here for our commenting rules

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *