Humiliated Brave Church Board Sued by Assemblies of God For Supporting Pastor David Stocker After Credible Accusations of Serial Clergy Sexual Misconduct

CGCG 396-2, an unusual multi-armed galaxy merger which lies around 520 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Orion. link

TWW believes that any clergy member having sex with a congregant constitutes clergy sexual abuse.

AOG sued Pastor David Stocker and 4 Board members of Brave Church

I was thrilled to see this action by the Assemblies of God denomination. I wonder if this could happen in the SBC? The Christian Post reported Assemblies of God branch sued Pastor accused of having sex with at least 3 congregants

The Peninsular Florida District Council of The Assemblies of God, a branch of the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination, recently sued several Brave Church of Miami board members for allowing their now-former pastor to continue leading even though an investigation found “significant incidents of gross sexual misconduct and immoral actions.”

The lawsuit was filed in late May but was recently made public by The Miami New Times. A settlement was reached earlier this month.

The Miami New Times wrote Lawsuit: Miami Pastor Blew Church Money on Extramarital Dalliance With Congregant UPDATED

According to a 307-page lawsuit filed on May 24 by Peninsular Florida District Council (PenFlorida) — an Assemblies of God umbrella organization that oversees more than 300 churches in Florida and the Virgin Islands, including Brave Church — Stocker violated church bylaws by engaging in sexual relations with at least three congregants and using the church’s credit card to fund at least one of the affairs, then refusing to step down as pastor after PenFlorida investigated and found him guilty of “gross sexual misconduct and immoral actions.”

The lawsuit, filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, names Stocker, Brave Church, and four members of the church’s board of directors, alleging that the board repeatedly ignored PenFlorida’s findings and discouraged congregants from reporting Stocker for fear of ruining his career.

The lawsuit was recently dismissed against the four board members, but the exact terms are unknown. It is unknown if the case is continuing against Stocker.

The pastor and his paramour got drunk and walked onto the court of a Celtic-Heats game.

Please scroll down in the Miami New Times article to see the pics. Great pastor, Brave Church. Board members hid this stuff from the members? He is now divorced from his wife. Smart move on her part.

The suit also alleges that Stocker abused alcohol (behavior the Assemblies of God does not condone) and acted “erratically” on numerous occasions. The complaint includes a statement from a witness who claims to have seen Stocker and a woman get “so drunk” at a Celtics-Heat game in Miami on November 4, 2021, that they walked onto the court. When Miami police officers intervened, the witness claimed, Stocker “got very angry and aggressively screamed at the police.”

Some quotes from the lawsuit

Here is a link to the suit.

The AOG claims Stocker is guilty of gross sexual misconduct.

This is first and foremost an action to protect the integrity, sanctity and morality of the world’s largest Pentecostal denominational fellowship and its parishioners by preventing Defendant David Stocker Jr. from continuing to wrongfully operate in his ministerial capacity at Brave Church following an investigation and finding by PenFlorida that he is guilty of significant incidents of gross sexual misconduct and immoral actions.

The Brave Church Board of Directors covered up his misconduct.

This is also an action for damages for the Brave Church Board of Directors’ breaches of their fiduciary duties to the members of the Brave Church congregation in covering up the misconduct of their pastor, failing to protect the congregation and failing to adhere to the bylaws governing the church, all to the detriment of the parishioners who are Assemblies of God members.

Brave Church must cede the title to the property.

Furthermore, this is an action to require Brave Church to cede all rights and title to its property in Miami’s Westchester neighborhood to Plaintiff as a result of Brave Church’s failure to uphold the statements of faith embodied in PenFlorida’s constitution.

Brave Church cannot quit the AOG.

Finally, this is an action to prevent Defendants from wrongfully disaffiliating from PenFlorida and the General Council of the Assemblies of God without adhering to the required contractual procedures for doing so.

They used church money (yep- the tithes of the hard-working members) to pay for their liaison.

The two traveled to New York City on two occasions, and traveled to California on another occasion, all while continuing to engage in sexual relations. Id. For one of these trips, Woman #1 reported that Stocker purchased her flight with the Church’s money. Id.

Stocker’s wife reported it, and Stocker lied to the AOG about it.

Stocker’s then wife became suspicious of the affair and conveyed these suspicions to PenFlorida. When PenFlorida confronted Stocker about the affair, he lied and denied it

(Creepy) the pastor then tried to resign his credentials. (Maybe because he was still in good standing?)

During the investigation, Stocker tried to resign his credentials to PenFlorida and the AG but was denied this request because of the ongoing investigation into the allegations.

Ahh, the credentials were removed from Stocker by the AOG, and he can never be an AOG pastor again. They didn’t even bother to investigate the misappropriated church funds because he’s so gone from the AOG.

The charges against David H. Stocker, Jr. are based on the General Council Bylaws, Article X. Discipline, Section 3. Causes of Disciplinary Action, (a) Sexual Misconduct, (1) moral transgression involving sexual misconduct. It is with great sorrow and regret The Peninsular Florida District Presbytery votes for the immediate dismissal of David H. Stocker Jr. as a minister of the Assemblies of God.

  1. Id. The District Presbytery’s vote was made without the necessity of further investigation into claims related to misappropriated church funds, which would have been an additional basis to remove Stocker under PenFlorida’s Bylaws.5

48. According to the PenFlorida Bylaws, “[d]isciplined ministers shall be required to surrender their ministerial credentials and their current fellowship card to the district office.” Ex. G, PenFlorida Bylaws at Art. X, §7(d).

49. Relatedly, one of the requirements for a church’s affiliation with the AG is to have a “pastor who is a credentialed minister in good standing with the General Council and a district council.” Id. at Art. XI, §1(a)(6).

50. In addition, the Bylaws of the General Council of the Assemblies of God provide: “No minister dismissed by the Assemblies of God may be allowed to pastor or have ministry in an Assemblies of God church. Pastors and district officials should maintain an exchange of

51. Thus, without credentials, Stocker is prohibited from continuing his ministerial duties on behalf of Brave Church, let alone any AG affiliated church. Despite this, since receiving notice of his dismissal, he has ignored the rules and regulations he swore to uphold as a faith leader and continues to do so.

We love him so much, and we are leaving the AOG(super creepy.)

We the Board of Directors at Brave Church of Miami, Inc. – a sovereign, autonomous, self-governing, and self-determining fellowship – hereby notify you that we have unanimously decided to terminate Brave Church of Miami, Inc’s affiliation with the Assemblies of God General Council and District Council, effective immediately.

Lots of lawyerly blah, blah, blah why they can’t do this.

Then, the Board claimed to the AOG that Stocker won’t preach anymore, but it looks like they may be fibbing.

on Sunday, May 15, 2022, Stocker announced that he would be taking a temporary sabbatical from Brave Church for “a few weeks” but would return to pick up where he left off heading into the summer. Thus, clearly at no point in time has Stocker been officially terminated as a pastor for Brave Church.

The board apparently told members that Stocker had not lost his credentials.

Instead, Brave Church has not only neglected to inform its members about Stocker’s loss of his credentials and termination from the Assemblies of God but has also actively conveyed to members who have confronted the church upon hearing rumors about Stocker’s indiscretions that what they have heard is not true.

A board member told Woman #1 not to report Stocker’s sexual misconduct.

In fact, even when Woman #1 confided in Taboada, one of the Board members for Brave Church, about Stocker’s sexual misconduct before making the decision to report him to the Assemblies of God, the Board member actively discouraged her from doing so because “that would ruin his whole life – and a church that he is running.”

PenFlorida (AOG) says they own the property if Brave Church disaffiliates.

PenFlorida is seeking both a mandatory permanent and temporary injunction against Brave Church to prevent it from relinquishing any right, title, estate, lien or interest in, to or against the Westchester Property to any other entity or individual.

100. PenFlorida has a clear legal right to have Brave Church adhere to its Bylaws by virtue of its voluntary agreement to enter into a cooperative fellowship with PenFlorida,

The settlement is confidential.

According to the Christian Post:

The attorney said Brave Church and the board members agreed to maintain the church’s affiliation with PenFlorida and the Assemblies of God as a sovereign local assembly.

“Among other settlement terms, the parties also agreed to continue forward in a spirit of Godly cooperation and fellowship. Brave Church maintains all right, title and interest in and to its Westchester real property and PenFlorida dissolved its Lis Pendens on the property,” Ahr continued. “Brave Church and the Board Members are pleased to have this matter resolved and look forward to continuing sharing the word of God with His people in Miami and beyond.”

Ahr further noted that Stocker is no longer affiliated with Brave Church as they “parted ways on May 27.”

So, where is David Stoker, Jr?

We do not know whether his part of the lawsuit has been dismissed. His Instagram has been locked down. He no longer has credentials from the AOG denomination, so I predict that he will rise from the ashes, find complicit board members elsewhere, and start another church that will be unaffiliated with any denomination.

My thoughts

The Board of Brave Church should be fired.

What kind of creepy board member would tell a woman wanting to report her clergy sex abuse to “protect the pastor?” Members should rise up and do the right thing.

Kudos to Penflorida for suing the church.

Perhaps the women should sue the church due to clergy sex abuse.

Women are not safe in Brave Church.

In fact, even when Woman #1 confided in Taboada, one of the Board members for Brave Church, about Stocker’s sexual misconduct before making the decision to report him to the Assemblies of God, the Board member actively discouraged her from doing so because “that would ruin his whole life – and a church that he is running.”

Consider finding a different church where women are believed and protected if the previous board members aren’t fired.

 


Comments

Humiliated Brave Church Board Sued by Assemblies of God For Supporting Pastor David Stocker After Credible Accusations of Serial Clergy Sexual Misconduct — 63 Comments

  1. “In fact, even when Woman #1 confided in Taboada, one of the Board members for Brave Church, about Stocker’s sexual misconduct before making the decision to report him to the Assemblies of God, the Board member actively discouraged her from doing so because “that would ruin his whole life – and a church that he is running.”

    How many times have we seen here pressure to not report something because of the impact on the church/ministry/outreach construct?

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  2. From the main article up-top
    TWW believes that any clergy member having sex with a congregant constitutes clergy sexual abuse.

    Muff believes that he might open a gospel-centered brothel in Nevada for pastors who have trouble keeping their drawers on in their church environs back home.
    Reasonably priced, totally anonymous, and totally safe.
    Plus, I can make a few bucks.

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  3. JDV: How many times have we seen here pressure to not report something because of the impact on the church/ministry/outreach construct?

    It would seem that honest open reporting regarding a publicly funded public figure, would reap the best outcome for all – in the long run, that is.

    It would also seem that true pastoring would minimally require:

    1. Pastor keeps his fingers out of the church money pot while living within his means;
    2. Pastor keeps his member out of the church honeys while staying faithful to his wife.

    Basic church leadership character qualities, even at a bar set very low. Minimal requirements. More than theology, someone needs to preach and disciple these qualities to preachers, obviously. Set the expectation. Then disengage from the outliers.

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  4. “What kind of creepy board member would tell a woman wanting to report her clergy sex abuse to “protect the pastor?” Members should rise up and do the right thing.”

    I agree with this excerpt from the post.

    For something like this to happen at this very low level of tolerance for unspeakable flaunting of power and control,
    it would take a village to keep it going. The MEMBERS OF THE CONGREGATION cannot ‘look away’ because they may be the last hope for the ‘board’ and the ‘pastor’ to find some way to account before God for the cancer that has happened within the ‘home’ church. At least the A of G organization addressed the mess directly.

    Am wondering about the bizarre ‘board of directors’ behavior, as to whether the pastor had anything ‘on them’ that could have been used to threaten THEM with exposure unless they ‘supported’ him. (supporting an actively, openly, sinning pastor???? … please)

    (is this an example of trumpism affecting them what worships the orange god in the midst of all of his widely publicized fallen immorality?)

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  5. Max:
    … they have been doing church without Him.

    Going back to the comment about those who may discourage revealing the truth because of ruining someone or ruining a church etc., this came to mind:

    Revelation 1:12: “And I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands”

    Revelation 1:19-20 “Therefore write the things that you have seen, and the things that are, and the things that are about to take place after these, the mystery of the seven stars, which you saw on My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

    Revelation 2:1 “To the messenger of the church in Ephesus write: These things says the One holding the seven stars in His right hand, walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.”

    Revelation 2:5 “Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the first works. But if not, I am coming to you, and I will remove your lampstand out of its place, unless you should repent.”

    “The one having an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Cf. Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22).

    Aren’t those involved called to hear, be attentive, seek, ask, knock on the matter of institutional integrity? Yet where is the priority in many of the churches, institutions, etc. of not having the lampstand removed by Christ, even at a conceptual “we ought to pay attention to this“ level? This seems particularly relevant concerning those that otherwise may have hyper-focused on (or even proof-texted) all sorts of things as far as how the winsomely-sheared sheep should act — while possibly not focusing too much on how those running things should act, especially how they are to be treated when transgressions are involved.

    Tying this in with Acts 20:28-32:
    “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has set you overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with the own blood. I know that after my departure, grievous wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock, and out from your own selves, men will rise up, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them. Therefore stay awake, remembering that three years night and day I never ceased admonishing each one with tears.
    “And now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, being able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all those having been sanctified.”

    Where are such priorities as far as the “marks“ of a healthy church, let alone watching out for hirelings and grievous wolves etc.? Where is the evident priority of finding out whether those who had a “moral failing“ might be of the company of hirelings and grievous wolves versus taking their word that they just need a “season“ until they can get back to full money-making potential – – that is, dedicated, humble service?

    For those entrusted with leadership, where are the priorities of preserving the lampstand and protecting the flock versus potential priorities and focus on covering for the one(s) in leadership who committed the transgression(s) and / or for the public rep of the institution? Should there be cautions about those might be personal friends with the transgressor(s) — who may have generally seemed to be all right guys or even to have done much good? Where are the references and cautions in the “marks” and the articles and the books to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 for baseline qualifications and disqualifications for service, let alone restoring remuneration (that is often considerable and self-designed by leadership”) and “double honor“?

    Where are the acres of copy and books on those subjects in the NeoCal realms, in modern seminaries, in TGC / T4G settings, in other denominations etc. covered here, and so forth, especially when one church or institution after another experiences one crisis after another involving those regarded and designated as “overseers“ and “shepherds“ — often only leaking out after it reaches a prairie fire level? Could it be that comparative silence on all or much of that might speak to their existing and persistent priorities? Should that be added to the list of things to check as far as those looking to be involved with or partner with a church / institution / outreach construct, etc.?

    Is an environment that evidently encourages the sheep to be winsomely sheared, speak positively or not at all — yet give to the construct generously, often to an amount they assign— something to be checked and warned about as well? Given the aforementioned verses, could such caution be “biblical“, especially when looking at the connections, partnerships, and namechecks of those in church leadership?

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  6. JDV,

    This. The entire comment.

    This is the sermon, the teaching, the eChurch, the homily, the seminary presentation, et al, that we look for/pay for in “churches”, books, conferences, and coming from seminaries, but IT IS NEVER THERE – this addresses exactly what is happening in churches and what the Bible has to say about it. Where this is unsaid, the wheels have left the Temple as in Ezekiel.

    Thank you. God bless.

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  7. A sad commentary about the condition of the American church is that you can find churches like this just about every American community … with pastors who aren’t pastors and elders who aren’t elders. And why do people attend? There is a strange dynamic playing out across evangelicalism … folks desire bad-boy pastors who don’t live any differently than they do … who don’t preach or model holiness … it makes them feel better about themselves.

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  8. Max:
    A sad commentary about the condition of the American church is that you can find churches like this just about every American community … with pastors who aren’t pastors and elders who aren’t elders.And why do people attend?There is a strange dynamic playing out across evangelicalism … folks desire bad-boy pastors who don’t live any differently than they do … who don’t preach or model holiness … it makes them feel better about themselves.

    Ezekiel 33:30-33

    “As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain.

    “Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. And when this comes to pass—surely it will come—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

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  9. “I wonder if this could happen in the SBC?”

    I don’t see how it could. Didn’t the AoG essentially sue BC for breach of contract? BC didn’t live up to its end of the deal re following code of conduct, having a credentialed pastor, or following the correct procedures for disaffiliation. As far as I know SBC membership isn’t that contractually specific, and I don’t think the SBC credentials pastors either. Their whole deal is that member churches are autonomous, right? So even now that it seems at least some within the SBC are trying to change direction on sex abuse, the organization probably doesn’t have legal standing to bring a suit like this. Ofc not being an attorney or having any specific knowledge of how denominations work, I could be way off.

    But-if the SBC had the standing to sue churches for covering up abuse all along, and past leaders still sat on their hands pretending there was nothing they could do, well (even more) shame on them.

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  10. Max: There is a strange dynamic playing out across evangelicalism … folks desire bad-boy pastors who don’t live any differently than they do … who don’t preach or model holiness … it makes them feel better about themselves.

    Actually there’s another dynamic also playing out. Bad Boy Pastors are walking Pornography for the Pious. All the JUICY stuff the pew-warmers fantasize about doing but don’t dare do themselves. Like JUICY Spectacular Testimonies.

    Like a closet pedo-pastor who doesn’t dare Do the Deed himself “counseling” a Court Favorite Pedo (in JUICY detail). Must stay Respectable, you know.

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  11. linda: What is with the weird names for AoG churches? Brave, Courageous, Endurance, etc are big around the south.

    Delusions of Grandeur.

    Like how in D&D a Trid player who’s a wimpy wet noodle ALWAYS plays a 30th-level Tough Guy dripping with magic items who’s Bigger Stronger and More Powerful than any other character. And runs it as a Murder Hobo of Murder Hoboes.

    “Do you think he’s compensating for something?”
    Shrek, when Shrek & Donkey first behold Lord Farquar’s HUGE brutalist phallic castle

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  12. christiane: it would take a village to keep it going. The MEMBERS OF THE CONGREGATION cannot ‘look away’ because they may be the last hope for the ‘board’ and the ‘pastor’ to find some way to account before God for the cancer that has happened within the ‘home’ church.

    “The Babylon Project was the last best hope for peace. It failed.”
    Babylon-5, Season 3 Intro

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  13. And another thing … cute church names are driving me crazy! Brave Church, Journey Church, Celebration Church, Hillsong, Willow Creek, Mars Hill, etc. etc. are just some mentioned on TWW. First Church, Second Church seem to have fallen by the wayside. And then of course, No Church is gaining in popularity for a lot of believers who are getting sick and tired of the religious mess America is in.

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  14. Max: First Church, Second Church seem to have fallen by the wayside.

    Interesting you should mention that. Numbering churches was a form of bragging back in the day, I think. I know a town that has a Ninth Church, but the other eight are long gone.

    I fully agree with you about the “cool” church names, though.

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  15. Headless Unicorn Guy: Like a closet pedo-pastor who doesn’t dare Do the Deed himself “counseling” a Court Favorite Pedo (in JUICY detail). Must stay Respectable, you know.

    Headless, your comment also translates into the political realm when you consider how MANY ‘good Christian people’ support individuals to power whose ‘examples’ of immorality are almost iconic. ‘Course these good Christians make reference to their new idol(s) as biblical types of perverted souls that ‘God used for good’.

    But I have wondered if these good Christian people realized the DAMAGE done to their own ‘witness’ to Christ in their utter support for corrupted ‘dictator’ types who demand ‘loyalty’ to themselves alone at the price of conscience???

    King Cyrus? I’m sorry, I’m not getting it. Boy, am I not getting it.

    Headless, you write thought-provoking comments. Good work! Much needed.

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  16. christiane: King Cyrus …

    … released the Jews from Babylonian captivity and allowed them to return to Jerusalem, but I don’t recall any of them voting for him as King.

    Many American politicians turned out to be scoundrels … several are still holding office and several more will be elected this Fall. 70% of Americans identify as Christian … but identifying a political candidate that has no shame in his/her background is becoming increasingly difficult … a sad testimony on who we have become as a people. Who are good Christian folks going to vote for?! Do we ignore the name and vote for the platform?

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  17. Max: Who are good Christian folks going to vote for?! Do we ignore the name and vote for the platform?

    I’m for folks voting their consciences.

    Most American people highly value our democracy, as our votes (individual voices) have been dearly paid-for by the blood of our soldiers in battle, and our freedom to speak our choice is seen as ‘sacred’ because of their sacrifice on the battlefield.

    But these days, ‘democracy’ is on the chopping-block. There is much talk of ‘taking over the voting process and dismissing it in order to install one’s ‘fake electors’ to keep a president in power who had lost the popular AND the electoral votes. . .

    and there was a ‘speech’ and an ‘insurrection’ attempt to keep the loser in power

    so we are a ‘divided’ nation now

    but we so-called Christian people are reputed to have ‘CONSCIENCES’ that we can rely on to help us go forward in a good direction and avoid evil;
    OR,
    in the case of many, many ‘good Christian people’, we can show LOYALTY to an individual and diss ‘democracy’ in favor of an authoritarian government led by a wannabe dictator who DEMANDS LOYALTY (or else)

    that is how I break it down – but I don’t want to ‘choose’ for others, and because of mis-information, I’m not really sure people have the facts yet that they need in order to choose wisely

    in the end, I don’t see us going down to a fascist boneyard as a nation – our WWII
    forebears HATED dictators and would not have been caught dead parading around with swastika armbands, no . . . nor would our forebears have voted for someone who said the Nazi types belongs also to ‘good people’ – our American DNA is more free than that IF we know to remember ‘who we are’ as a nation of immigrants and people who came here to GET AWAY FROM dictators and religious oppression.

    ?

    is it ‘que sera, sera’?

    will we have a season of facism that wipes out democracy and removes us from NATO?

    will we host in our capital city the very dictators a former president fawned on ???

    questions, yes – I’m for a free voting democracy, if we can still believe in it.
    If we can’t, and we ‘forget’ the sacrifices of our soldiers, do we deserve freedom????

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  18. JDV: Revelation 2:5 “Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the first works. But if not, I am coming to you, and I will remove your lampstand out of its place, unless you should repent.”

    Something that I find that I must point out whenever I see these verses referred to is simple history, history that you can find on the Web easily. God made this same warning to 5 of 7 churches. Look up these cities now and you will find that none of the cities, not just the churches but the whole city, exist anymore. All 5 lay in ruin and so none of them must of repented. A history lesson. I wonder how many of todays churches will still exist in a few decades. The AoG church I once went to sure does not as it shut down a few years ago.

    “The one having an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

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  19. Ava Aaronson,

    Hello AVA,
    for me, it has become harder to ‘separate’ the political from the religious scenes, and there is a long history of reasons,
    but lately, Christian ‘dominionism’ seems to be a new route that some ‘christian people’ want to travel to get to power in our country . . .

    AVA, do you not think that today our nation has moved closer to becoming a misogynistic entity patterned after the mythical Gilead of ‘The Handmaid’ series?
    There are physicians in some of the red states who are AFRAID to abort toxic fetuses when the mothers’ lives are at risk . . . the doctors are afraid of going to prison; so the women suffer from the toxic poisons. I can’t imagine this happening now, as we are a civilized nation with excellent medical facilities.

    I see the ‘using’ working both ways: corrupt Church leaders trying to use the political scene to gain power; and corrupt politicians relying on their ‘christian’ supporters for votes. . . . so corruption comes to us ‘carrying a cross and wrapped in the flag of our nation’ intertwined. . . .

    in principle, I agree with you;
    the ‘culture wars’ are being acted out within our own religious entities but now, we really need to protect women and children from abuse at all costs, using the law and the courts also, insofar as we still can

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  20. Ava Aaronson: The so-called culture war for Christians is within our own institutions.

    I’m so old that I remember when the Church of the Living God was counter-culture to the world … now it is a sub-culture of the world. I’m not talking about being so spiritually-minded that we are of no earthly use, but I do believe that Christians are still being called to be ‘in’ the world but not ‘of’ the world. Being Ambassadors for Christ in the darkness around us must be real to us or we just need to chuck it all. Some say that Max is just an old fogey … that the church in the 21st century needs to be culturally-relevant. I simply respond that I’m not against form as long as there is some substance to it … after all Jesus is the eternal contemporary … but much of what is preached from American pulpits and lived out by church folks across the land has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God on earth in the here and now. We have become culturally-relevant but not Kingdom-relevant … so the beat goes on.

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  21. linda:
    What is with the weird names for AoG churches?Brave, Courageous, Endurance, etc are big around the south.

    I always picture a big bunch of scared witless hiding behind the name, pretending to be persecuted if someone holds a different opinion on anything from them.

    Brave, Courageous, and Bold? (I’m dating myself. :D)

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  22. Betty: I have been in a Bible Study with my church friends studying one of his books. I feel like something is “off” with him. Do you have any insight?

    I would suggest that you investigate his theology and compare it to the well-respected theology of the Christian faith.
    -Do you believe that we should pray over the body of a dead child for two days, trying to raise her from the dead? This is Bethel theology.
    _Johnson also claims it is God’s will to heal everyone in this life.
    -They claim there are bored angels and they should help to wake them up “In a blog post she wrote, “I think that they have been bored for a long time and are ready to be put to work.” She relates a story about one of her students at the Bethel Supernatural School of Ministry who claims God told her to go to the chapel and yell “WAKEY WAKEY!”
    -They allow for garve sucking-lying on someone’s grave to soak up their anointing.
    -They see gold dust and angel feathers in their services.
    -Look into the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.

    I have written about this, as have others. Here is one reference. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/9-things-you-should-know-about-the-bethel-church-movement/

    I would never go to one of their churches, but maybe that’s just me. I like more thoughtful theology.

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  23. christiane: Christian ‘dominionism’

    Oxymoron.

    All of your points are spot on.

    Maybe it’s idealism: the viewpoint that if we follow Jesus and embrace good science, we would understand our civic duties, too. We would also model life with Creator God our Father, as Jesus did – so that’s a witness of the Gospel.

    Without being political, and not in the medical field nor a theologian, some religious platforms seem curious.

    “Jesus & John Wayne”, and “The Making of Biblical Womanhood” are good reads, untangling teaching regarding gender. The science regarding gender is good, too. Science does not evidence gender superiority. One leaders the other follows? Not so much.

    In the Bible, Adam becomes a living soul when God breathes into him. So it seems our soul enters our body when our lungs are developed. A heartbeat (“life”) is found in any animal, and most Christians are not vegans. A fetus’ lungs are viable at about 20 weeks. That would be a 20 week window of a living organism without a God-breathed soul? For victims who were violated and compromised dangerous situations (ectopics), it would give time to resolve without judgement and with clear conscience. So it’s curious if God has actually provided that window, just as there are miscarriages naturally for maldevelopment.

    King David was used as the role model for a pastor to maintain his leadership after infidelities, until it was “discovered” that David was never a spiritual leader but always a civic leader. Politicians vs. preachers. Different standards for different responsibilities & job descriptions.

    The Bible, science, the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the church, the Holy Spirit indwelling each believer, our own brains & experiences. God has given us many avenues to seek Him and righteousness.

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  24. dee: -Do you believe that we should pray over the body of a dead child for two days, trying to raise her from the dead? This is Bethel theology.
    _Johnson also claims it is God’s will to heal everyone in this life.
    -They claim there are bored angels and they should help to wake them up “In a blog post she wrote, “I think that they have been bored for a long time and are ready to be put to work.” She relates a story about one of her students at the Bethel Supernatural School of Ministry who claims God told her to go to the chapel and yell “WAKEY WAKEY!”
    -They allow for garve sucking-lying on someone’s grave to soak up their anointing.
    -They see gold dust and angel feathers in their services.
    -Look into the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.

    One YouTuber critic of Bethel refers to the BSSM as “Hogwarts”.
    And according to a NewsBlog site in the area, they’re apparently trying to pull a Rajneeshpuram to take over the county/city governments with the aid of local Patriot Militias. Bethel itself appears to be taking over more and more business locations in Redding.

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  25. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    christiane,

    Perhaps it is allegiance to an individual, most often a man, that is problematic in both faith and civic communities. 100% loyalty and allegiance over and above critical thinking, law, justice, common sense, rationale, reasoning, science, evidence, history, eyewitness accounts, love for God, love for neighbor as self. In essence, idolatry of a leader over all of these checks, balances, red flags, warnings.

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  26. christiane: the ‘culture wars’ are being acted out within our own religious entities but now, we really need to protect women and children from abuse at all costs, using the law and the courts also

    With our CHRISTIAN Supreme Court?
    Don’t make me laugh.

    In other news somebody blew up the “Georgia Guidestones” last week.
    It’s already been spun as Lightning from God instead of a planted bomb.

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  27. Ava Aaronson: Perhaps it is allegiance to an individual, most often a man, that is problematic in both faith and civic communities … idolatry of a leader over all of these checks, balances, red flags, warnings.

    It’s the stuff that cults are made of … fanatical faith and belief in a mere man because he has a touch of charisma, a gift of gab, and a bag of gimmicks.

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  28. it is possible that some ‘good christian people’ have taken a liking to these autocratic bullies in order to manipulate them but saying ‘hey, let’s you and the people I have contempt for go fight’

    the idol bullies ‘the others’ FOR the so-called ‘good christians’, so they don’t have to get in there and do their own dirty work short of mouthing off contemptible insults

    ‘hey, let’s you and them go fight’ is a classic manipulation ploy

    that’s how we get these super-nasty bullies riding on top of the donations and receiving homage and ‘loyalty’ from ‘the base’;
    while their ‘base’ sits back and watches the whole show

    But SOMETIMES, the roles reverse ~
    as when the bully-in-chief riles up ‘the base’ and then goes and sits down in front of a tv and WATCHES the resulting chaos

    two-way stream? these folks stick together . . . one hand washes the other
    but there is little to no real trust, just a cowering ‘loyalty’ in hopes of achieving outcomes without having to put one’s self on the line

    cowards? think Josh Hawley – good grief!

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  29. christiane: it is possible that some ‘good christian people’ have taken a liking to these autocratic bullies in order to manipulate them but saying ‘hey, let’s you and the people I have contempt for go fight’

    Or said Autocratic Bully will (like the Dark Powers in Ritual Magick) give the Good Christian People what they want – like winning The Culture War. Overturning Roe v Wade, Smiting those HOMOSEXUALS, Put Prayer Back in Schools, Crush All The Enemies of God (like the Luciferian Cabal running everything in secret – a Conspiracy so Secret it’s like they don’t exist).

    Or Said Autocratic Bully acts just like their Anointed Superapostle Pastor, escept more so. More Anointed.

    Or Said Autocratic Bully acts just like the God they were catechized with: Domineering, Hair-trigger Mercurial, Demanding Praise and Adoration and Loyalty 24/7, Obsessed with maximizing His Own Glory (h/t John Piper), always about to cast you into Eternal Hell for any hint of Sin/Disloyalty. And all the other good christian leaders/influencers chorus His Praise and Adoration. What would you conclude?

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  30. christiane: but there is little to no real trust, just a cowering ‘loyalty’ in hopes of achieving outcomes without having to put one’s self on the line

    Hopefully Using them more than they Use you.

    Remember the interpretation of Revelation where The Beast represents a corrupt political system and The False Prophet a corrupt religious system, both in cahoots?

    Which of the two is always the Big Boss, and which is always the Fawning Flunky yap-yap-yapping “I’m Really in Charge!” as The Big Boss leads him around on a leash?

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  31. Headless Unicorn Guy,
    P.S. The Beast and The False Prophet are both different classic archetypes of Antichrist:

    The Beast = The Fanatical Persecutor, “Anti-” as “In Opposition To”.
    The False Prophet = The Slick Deceiver, “Anti-” as “Imitation Of”.

    And both work really well as a Tag Team; the people flee The Fanatic Persecutor, flocking to The Slick Deceiver for protection (And taking His Mark). Why do you never hear about The Slick Deceiver these days, only The Fanatical Persecutor? Is it because The Slick Deceiver hits a little too close to home?

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  32. christiane: cowards? think Josh Hawley – good grief!

    Josh Hawley, CHRISTIAN(TM)?
    (Along with Marjorie Taylor Greene, CHRISTIAN(TM), and Lauren Boebert, CHRISTIAN(TM)?)

    It’s always those who talk the toughest (“Punch ’em in the nose and throw ’em under the bus!”) who are first to cut and run when their fantasy goes down for real.

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