“Blogging is a conversation, not a code.” – Mike Butcher.
Yesterday I got a call from a woman who was being subjected to retroactive discipline. The story was the typical abusive behavior of a church that would most likely invite CJ Mahaney and Mark Dever to speak to their church. I spent some time commiserating with her, encouraging her, and coming up with positive steps which might be effective. However, I receive frequent calls from people suffering unjust church discipline every week. Many people do not realize that 50% of my work is talking with people who have been hurt. They call me. They ask my opinion but ask someone to believe them and support them even if a situation cannot be changed. However, it can be redeemed.
I had a reason to think more about this a few days ago when a discussion on Twitter ensued after Sharon Hodde Miller asked a challenging question on Twitter. According to CT:
Sharon leads Bright City Church in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband, Ike, which they planted together in 2018. Sharon earned her MDiv from Duke Divinity School and her PhD from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where she researched the topic of women and calling.
Here is a link to her website and Bright City Church.
The pejorative “discernment blog label
The discussion was about a group of well-known blogs, such as Julie Roys and Warren Throckmorton. Surprisingly, I was among the folks mentioned, although I am different from them.
How to be discerning about “discernment blogs”:
If a “watchdog site” is not making a transparent effort to adhere to journalistic ethics and integrity, you are probably getting half truth and half agenda.
— Sharon Hodde Miller (@SHoddeMiller) March 20, 2023
What is The Wartburg Watch, and how does it express what Todd and I are doing?
I read the news before I started blogging, especially about faith. I was shocked as I read or heard of abusive behavior by church leaders. I was raising children, and when I would bring up the subject with Christians, I got the “eyes glazed over” stare. I thought people weren’t interested. However, I continued to find the subject exciting and read everything I could find. As the internet became more available, I would download articles of interest to me. I developed a two-year course on church history. No, I was not a history major, but it was a hobby.
I seemed to know more than others and found others interested in church history. I started leading classes on the subject and would post some information on “Did you see this in the news?” articles on church issues. I was surprised that folks found what I said interesting. Over time I thought, “I need to start a blog.” A friend recently told me that he thought I would never do it.
Most of you know the rest of the story. I watched a church that I believed unjustly handled an abuse situation that may have affected up to 30 young teen boys in my church. To this day, I think it is some of the most disgusting and depraved abuse of teens that I have heard. I have been at this thing for 14 years, so my opinion counts unless you don’t wish to accept it, which is fine.
Early on at TWW, I often received criticism that we were just “another discernment blog.” Consider me stupid, but I thought that discernment was a darn good thing. How in the world was I supposed to look at an abuse situation and not “discern?’ It was a silly pejorative term. It meant “shut up, you’re upsetting me.” The same thing happened with the word “watch-blogging.” It was denigrated in certain circles. Once again, I could understand why. I had been watching the Christian world and abuse for decades. Was I supposed to shut my eyes and not write about what I saw?
In the end, I wrote about Mark Driscoll and CJ Mahaney in the early days. I was roundly critiqued because they were all “cool,” and all the big guys at The Gospel Coalition loved them…until they didn’t. Then, they removed articles and pretended like, “Driscoll, I never knew ye.” I still remember one guy who used to work for John Piper until he didn’t. He was irritated when I pointed out John Piper clapping at his son’s second wedding. That was something that was a “no, no.” Piper didn’t usually believe in second weddings after a divorce if the spouse was still alive. I was thrilled he remarried. But…I shouldn’t have talked about it. He wrote a complaint about my “tone.” I told him that he was mansplaining. He denied it. I stopped the discussion. I was a woman commenting on a man’s world, and I was just a bit too “out there” for the “subtle boys” who overlooked the over-the-top manifestations of people like Doug Wilson (loved by the TGC boys), Owen Strachan of CBMW, and others.
Who am I?
Todd can describe himself if he wants to, so this is about me. I am not a journalist. I am not trained to be one. I didn’t study “journalistic” codes and practices. I have a BSN (Nursing) and an MBA, which means I have some training in looking at people, businesses (which the church has become), and finances. When I discuss something a person did, I have links to prove it. I tell the truth, and I never knowingly spread something untrue. For example, when I wrote Blindsided: The True Story of the Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Iain Campbell, I caused a bit of an uproar in Scotland and the US. I posted some emails that Campbell wrote to his lover. I explained exactly what happened when he died. I never will tell anyone my source, but it was impeccable, and many in Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland knew it. I don’t know what “journalistic standards” may be, but I know I told the truth and will go to my grave protecting my source. I don’t care if people don’t like that. I know it is accurate, and it has helped so many people. For example, a particular tribute to Campbell was canceled after the revelation.
Since becoming a Christian, I have been intensely interested in “how the church works.” I still remember sitting on my kitchen floor with my two little girls as they played. I was reading an issue of Christianity Today and read about a conflict in a church I had not heard of. I spent some time looking through books I had collected to see if I could find out more. Then, one day, Google was born! What a gift! I could finally research and learn things so quickly.
Why my blog?
Yes, I wanted to fight abuse. What happened in my church was sickening. I also wanted to share other things I found upsetting. Pastors making exorbitant salaries and living in mansions are one. Pastors and church leaders who covered up abuse to “protect the church” were another. Attempting to figure out how churches work and discovering the abuses and strange theologies of the Church of the Highlands and other ARC churches was another. CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Churches shocked me, and I shared the shock with you.
Last night my husband said, “Your blog is your opinion, perceptions, and love which comes out of your lifelong interest in trying to figure out the church.” I have been writing for 14 years this month. I’m not sure I can describe exactly what I do, but I share with you the things I care about, some so profound and disturbing that I have trouble sleeping at night. During the Twitter discussion, I perceived rightly or wrongly that my “lack of a board” was a net negative for some. My lack of board is not the issue for an opinion blog. I get more feedback on this blog than many get from a board. Look at how many people comment. I allow many comments that are negative. (I even allow HUG-an internal joke.)
I am sharing with the world what interests me. I share my love for others. I deeply care about churches that mess up and then profoundly care about those that do well. I do not need a board to tell me what I can share from my life. On this blog, you are getting me: my strengths, weaknesses, and knowledge gained from years of observation. I am not a journalist, nor do I pretend to be one. But I care about truth and believe I can discern some stuff like anyone else.
This kind of some it up.
I just remembered that this month marks 14 years since I started blogging. Sometimes time is the best witness to others about one’s personal integrity. Not the lack of sin but a desire to do what is right and to apologize when one gets it wrong. And we all get it wrong every once… https://t.co/kUshZm3agK
— Dee Parsons (@wartwatch) March 21, 2023
I have been writing for 14 years. The sum of my work is a testament to my integrity and my weaknesses. If that is not enough, then there are many blogs, websites, and journalists to discover. I would imagine that my truthfulness lines up with many of them. How many of them have an EChurch, which is there to help those who cannot attend a church for many reasons? That is not something a real journalist would do.
This blog is Todd and me looking at the world of the church. I have often said, “Having my own blog is a wonderful opportunity to get some things off my chest.”
I, for one, am so thankful to have found your blog. It has helped me immensely.
Thank you. Never stop.
“Consider me stupid, but I thought that discernment was a darn good thing.”
Then consider me stupid, too.
And maybe include the Holy Spirit, as stupid: 1 Corinthians 12.10. The Holy Spirit gives the gift of discernment to the Body of Christ, the church, by anointing someone(s) in the church with discernment. Holy Spirit level of discernment. From God.
I’m not saying I have this gift of discernment from the Holy Spirit to the church. I don’t. However, like Dee, I consider discernment to be a darn good thing.
As a former journalist, I don’t have a BSN or an MBA – and the skills journalists have translate into other professions:^)
Discernment is “the ability to judge well.” According to Webster: “an act of perceiving.”
You don’t gossip or brag, and what shines brightly here at The Wartburg Watch is your life experience, your research and listening skills, coupled with a deep, deep compassion for others.
That isn’t taught – I believe your compassion is a wonderful gift from God.
Thank you for your 14 years, you have made a difference in a lot of lives.
Dee, thank you for 14 years of standing for victims and their truth in a (church) world gone amok. Your skills are important, more important is your compassion for those who are hurting.
Thank you for saying that.
Thank you for being so kind.
I’m glad you are here. I always smile at your name. It fits me as well.
Glad you agree. I don’t get what’s wrong with trying to figure out what’s happening. That is being discerning.
How is this blog any different than us sitting around at a public pub/bar/coffee house discussing these issues?
I have a weekly group that now meets by Zoom (we have met for over 30 years) made up of mostly faculty from different disciplines…It’s focus is not abuse within the church…. It is more application/exploring Christianity in an academic setting, as well as critiquing Academic life and our culture…
So, very much like TWW with a different focus…
Shouldn’t you be discerning about all sources? Or do the ones that allege to “adhere to journalistic ethics and integrity” get a pass as without bias? I find it naive of Miller to suggest such by her tweet.
From the main article up-top:
Then, one day, Google was born! What a gift! I could finally research and learn things so quickly.
That was mostly true back then, but times have changed, Google is now mainly just one huge ad agency.
I have spent a great deal of time n my life following news from many diverse sources. I long ago came to the conclusion that ethics can be a solitary or a group effort. No one answer fits the need or fills the void.
Your work with TWW and many commenters here helped confirm I wasn’t the crazy one when I started to see abusive tactics in our (now former) church three years ago. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
And maybe I am naive, but why have a board if you don’t solicit donations?
You’ve convinced me. I need to do this! Todd and I will resume the discussion.
Sarah (aka Wild Honey),
It may come from a theology that claims one needs authority in everything that one does.
I’ve been around here at TWW for a long while now, even back in the early days.
You’ve never changed your tune, and have always spoken up for the little people.
You’ve never backed down from the big boy churchmen who bully the little people.
And when you lambast em’, they squeal like schoolyard sissies.
In some Native American cultures, they’d make up songs about you, to honor you.
Congratulations on 14 years of publicly discerning things Dee. Thanks for your service, I appreciate all your work and it has been a pleasure to work with you. I also appreciate the faithful readers and commenters, yes, even you Lowland guy. (I know you’re reading this!)
You (along with Deb at one time, and now Todd) fill a vital role that was previously lacking in the church.
Thank you for your work Dee.
Very true. I appreciate you and TWW. The critism just seems odd to me (and off base) like she is talking to people who blindly believe whatever they read. That is NOT the TWW readership, imo.
It may be that in standing up for the abused and in sharing their stories, that in addition to helping the wounded, light is put on the perpetrators of abuse in a way that may prevent more victims in future.
I can’t imagine a worse abuse than that of a pastor or church leader using their authority as a ‘cover’ for trying to intimidate and silence victims. The best thing for the whole Church is to know the truth and to act on it to find help for the victims AND to refer perpetrators to law enforcement first, for the sake of the protection of the innocent;
and then, to counsel perpetrators in the clergy towards some type of moral recovery that is NOT going to be the temptation of allowing them to return to service in the clergy itself. . . .
patriarchy has proven to be a flawed theological position with rotten fruit . . . thank God for women who speak up and who speak on behalf of those who are victims of abuses
for such is a Christian work of mercy.
I thought the subtitle “dissecting Christian trends” covered a great deal.
Telling the truth, after making very diligent efforts to discover the truth, is a good thing. If people are afraid of true facts’ being reported, or are offended by true facts, that is on them.
It sounds as though the instigator of the discussion you mentioned is experiencing status anxiety and is trying to preclude any reports to the effect that the pastors of Bright City Church of Durham, NC – or religious Big Cheeses in general – are just regular people like everyone else, with no special juju from On High.
I am enormously thankful for your blog and all the hard work you have put in to write it. Not only has it raised my own awareness regarding abuse in the church (I have felt the pain of learning the truth about some of my former spiritual heroes), but it helped me to see that I wasn’t crazy… That I had been terribly mistreated by some of the Christian institutions that I have been a part of. Thank you for your many years of faithful service for the kingdom!
My greatest pleasure in being a part of TWW is how it makes NeoCals wonder why Dee was predestined to rain on their parade . . .
It’s hard, isn’t it, to hear about people you thought were Christian leaders and you find out they are leaders play Scripture tag. I’ve been there with you.
You made me laugh.
Sometimes we have to laugh, otherwise the utter sadness of incivility and gracelessness in the name of God would lead us all to massive amounts of Jack Daniel’s and fluoxetine
When I first sought out TWW, like Sarah, I also thought I might have not been really seeing the things I was seeing. The Christians around me insisted everything was fine, but I had an overwhelming sense that everything was not only not fine, but that things were very, very wrong.
It was what I saw at LIberty, NAMB, and SEBTS that led me to search for information about Brian Goodrich, and that’s how I landed here. I knew who Brian was. Justin Taylor used to hang out at my apartment with his roommates. I saw others who earned kudos from professors who treated everyone around them terribly. I had conversations with Paige Patterson about missions, but was terrified of the dead animal heads in his office. I went to church after church that talked a big game of love and redemption, but played mind games with members or taught one thing and did another. I was backed into corners by baby pastors who claimed they knew all the answers while their moms still did their laundry because they didn’t know how.
Evangelicalism was an empty promise shouted from a crumbling rooftop, crushing everyone below. I wonder why I ever spent that much time trying to make it work for me.
Thank you, dee, for tirelessly speaking out for those who are being crushed. Maybe some will escape with less injuries than I did.
This is about trust. Whom do you trust to tell you the truth? Once truth is between 2 people, then a healthy relationship can begin.
The internet has called into question the gatekeepers, whomever they may be. The blogs provide many people the opportunity to find a person they trust to help them understand the world. As information becomes more decentralized, the gatekeepers will loose their status. They will be challenged by the many people who will research subjects and who will challenge the gatekeeper on their rhetoric. This is a good thing. The truth can be known.
I trust the ‘little people’ more than I do the self-appointed authoritarians, like pastors, in our society. I believe I’ll get a fairer hearing of my beliefs and values from them than most intellectuals who are loquacious.
Forward boldly, Dee and Todd!
IMO, much of “discernment” is simple observation … looking, listening, evaluating … which leads to reporting, informing, warning. TWW has been faithful to do that. Church leaders have also been “faithful” through the years to persecute those who speak out about the ails of their message and messengers, beginning with killing the OT prophets until now with attempts to silence those who see and hear.
Dee is a watch(wo)man on the wall. Stay the course. I have a feeling that there will be much more to cry from the rooftop in the days ahead.
I was just troubled by and angry about the way churches in my area were tightening the reins on women, slowly rendering us useless, powerless. They had really started buckling down fast around 2011. ….. no-girlz-allowed men’s meetings about the direction of the church, etc……. And, my husband was taking classes at an SBC affiliated Bible college and he was right in there with them, at church and at home (he tends be stealth-attack/blindside sort of operator, too).
So, I started googling and found TWW.
I learned a lot about things that have been going on on our churches and found some great links to other sites from TWW.
Tom Rubino said TWW helped him see that he wasn’t going crazy. That’s how I feel, too – except I’ll admit that I am a little crazy anyway.
Dee and Todd: I’m glad that people can come to you for whatever help you can provide, and thank you for all the work you do. May God bless you and strengthen you.
Wayward ministers and ministries have feared this day would come for generations … when they would be exposed by a mouse and a click.
But if The Gift of Discernment constantly mistakes Donald Trump for Jesus Christ (as happens a lot these days) and/or constantly discerns Demons! and Witches! under every bed and in every thrift-shop sweater (like my SIL’s Spiritual Warfare Guru), how can anyone trust it?
With GAWD Almighty as his personal Enforcer.
Just like a conjure-man’s familiar spirit.
And/or a cushy jobs program for the MenaGAWD’s relatives, flunkies, and mistresses.
Until Screwtape and Wormwood redefined “discernment” to mean “Seeing DEMONS! and WITCHES! under every bed and in every thrift-shop sweater and possessing everyone you don’t like”.
The thought occurs that the pejorative term of a few generations ago, “muckraker”, may have been intended by its users primarily to draw attention away from the reality that there was so much “muck” in need of “raking.” I suspect that the same is true of present uses of the term “discernment.”
Not every spirit is from YHWH, and it behooves believers to test them all, including those of the leaders, influencers, etc., etc., whose misconduct is the subject of the reporting of the pejoratively-characterized ‘blogs.
Ya’ll might enjoy using your discerners on this one: James River Church pastor claims prayer regrew woman’s amputated toes. You can google it, big news in the Ozarks. For real.
Let me know what you think.
Dee, there’s a genuine service provided when you give someone the message, “You’re not crazy. I believe you.” That’s among the many gifts you and TWW provide. May God bless you and Todd for your work.
I am so glad you wrote this, because both me and my husband began reading here about 5 years ago. We were horrified at some things going on in our church, but we were sure we were alone. But Jesus turned the tables. Jesus was all about truth. Teachers are held to a higher standard (James 3) And thanks to the internet we found you: a lovely lady on the other coast, and a fellow couple who also found comfort and order in the Lutheran church, told us we were not crazy. And Luther stood up for the people. So thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you and Todd!
My prayer is that you will find peace as you go through this difficult process. Thank you for your kind words.
The problem is that I often feel crazy!! 🙂
I want absolute proof. The doctors involved, the xrays, etc. Prove it is my mantra.
It’s definitely that, but much, much worse – now, one wonders what they AREN’T showing you when you do a search – they have significant control over what they choose to let you see and what is hidden. I’m not a web expert so I cannot suggest better options – yes, there are a few other search engines often suggested as alternates, but I haven’t found much of a difference between them (my own experience/opinion and nothing more).
Thank you Dee for all that you do – you are a blessing to other discerning followers of Christ and you will receive an eternal reward for your efforts. I have to admit that it can be really depressing to read how flawed our churches (of any flavor) can be, especially for those of us who grew up in that world with our sense of values, purpose and mission so intertwined with one’s denomination.
I have become one of the “dones” because of what I have witnessed in the two churches I most recently attended (similar issues as you cover on this blog). I never thought I would be saying this either, but here I am . . . So again, thank you and keep on being you as we navigate these end times, always looking upward!
Fourteen years! What a testimony. I think I’ve been around for most of it. Thank you for all the time and help you’ve provided over all these years, Dee, and now Todd. I appreciate your perspectives and all the research you put in to exposing the dirt in the church.
Missouri is known as the “Show-Me State”
Dee, I just noticed that the site header says The Wartburg Watch 2022.
i think I discovered this blog around 2016 when I learned of the disgrace of SGM and Mark Driscoll. I am not a believer, but it is nice to see someone is trying to look out for those that are.
And there are companies that charge big bucks for tricking the Sacred Algorithms of search engines to puff YOUR website/blog/ad/clickbait to number-one on the results and bury/kill websites/blogs you don’t like down around return page 1 Million (if that).
Like Social Credit (Loyalty to the CCP) scores as a sortkey on Chinese nets.
It’s called “Reputation Enhancement Management”.
Dee, several years ago I watched something about Morley Safer of CBS when he was investigating atrocities committed by American forces in Vietnam. This was probably related to the My Lai massacre.
Safer interviewed people in U.S. government and military, and showed them some difficult photos after civilian homes had been destroyed. There was an infamous photo of a U.S. soldier setting fire to a thatched-roof hut, and Safer asked the question, “What is that American G.I. doing with that Zippo lighter?”
Safer was vilified, CBS was accused of yellow journalism, there were questions of lack of patriotism, hints of treason. Smoke, mirrors, bluffing, tactics of distraction and deflection. But when all was said, the question remained:
“What is that American G.I. doing with that Zippo lighter?”
Keep asking the questions, Dee.
Linda, I’ve observed that those who claim to perform or command God to perform miracles at Will are ALWAYS subject to the same diseases and maladies as the rest of us. For example, Bill Johnson, the invited miracle worker, just suffered through the death of his wife after a protracted battle with cancer. In addition, his son, a co-“pastor”, suffers from deafness and Bill himself wears glasses.
There are some days that TWW is the only place I find relief, knowing that:
– No, I’m not alone
– Yes, what I experienced was spiritual abuse
– No, I’m not crazy
– Yes, there are still Jesus-lovers out there who have the advancement of God’s kingdom at the top of their priorities.
I’m kinda the new kid on the block around here, but thank you for all you do.
P.S. I’m glad you “allow HUG.” His comments many times provide the needed relief! I say, “Come for the blog, stay for the HUG.” 😉
Nor have I found much difference between them.
They’ve lost sight of an old cardinal rule in any type of engineering.
And that would be the KISS rule (keep it simple stupid).
Suggesting you can’t speak without journalistic standard sounds very much like telling you to use the proper channels.
… always a sure sign the speaker has control of the proper channels!
You can’t make a critical point about a power structure without disturbing the structure.
Fully agree with all your points, Ariel
It’s a lie anyway, because they go after the journalists, too.
I was telling someone earlier today that the evangelical church just seemed like one lie after another, with very few leaders following their own “biblical standards”.
That’s an easy one. I did look and he’s refusing to produce proof.
If it was a miracle he’d be falling over himself to prove it’s one woman and not twins whose amputated toes grew back.
Fake, with no hesitation.
Exactly, it’s derailment 101:
‘ If only you would say what you have to say in a way that is acceptable to me I might listen.’
I’m sure journos are told they don’t have discernment to understand!
Thank you, Dee, for TWW! Thank you for your tenacity, your courage, your research, your fierce determination to give victims a voice, and for standing with the hurt, and abused of all ages. I have been a TWW reader for about 3 years. Your blog has encouraged me to continue reading and researching particular topics, and even answered my questions about emotionally abusive behaviors from two “pastors” when I was a worship leader/music director years ago. You bring to light so much of what has been hidden. Truth isn’t always welcomed, but representing the Christian faith and teachings of Jesus demands truth. Jesus is “The Way, The Truth, and The Light.” Thank you, Dee! You are doing a great job!!!
Good job Dee. I enjoy your coverage even though the stories make me sad. I think some of the detractors feel like they cannot read anything unless the writer lines up with them on all the doctrinal issues. I had to grow out of that myself so I understand that narrow way of thinking.
Truth. I’ve seen it before. Unless you are of the same theological flavor, anything you say is dismissed.
“Truth is unkillable” (Balthasar Hubmaier)
If you disturb the structure, you interrupt the power … power interrupters are never welcomed by theodudes.
Could have happened. I am sure if it did really happen that he won’t mind proving it.
If he can’t or won’t prove it . . . . . well, then he should keep his flappers shut.
Headless Unicorn Guy,
Yeah, right, well that’s one manifestation of this gift that I, for one, would never affirm. Lots of that sort of thing – so-called manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit – around. Like some situation now where a lady is growing toes – so, healing.
The class I took on the 18 gifts of the Holy Spirit given to the Body of Christ through the members of that same Body of Christ, explored the Bible’s descriptions, definitions, and examples of each gift. God does not contradict Himself. God is no fool and no fake.
False prophets have been around forever. My POV is that historically Elijah and Elisha, for examples, were the real deal.
No envy for the falsifiers when they get their day with God. Reckoning. Uffdah, oy-vey, OMG, Blimey. That will be a real experience for the falsifiers that nothing in their being will be able to deny. Can’t even imagine.
Another note/quote about truth: Lies take the elevator. Truth takes the stairs, and gets there, eventually. (attributed to several people)
And a fav: “When someone shows you who they are (truth), believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelou
Just when you say “18 gifts” I think “Tongues Tongues Tongues Tongues Tongues Tongues Tongues Tongues Tongues Tongues Tongues Tongues Tongues Tongues Tongues Tongues Tongues and Tongues”. Charismatics tend to have a one-track mind.
i.e. TONE POLICING!
A form of both Gaslighting and Sealioning, with a sprikling of DARVO.
Great for sidetracking everyone into trivia.
This goes back a long time.
In the annals of my church (RCC), Saints who were noted for Healing Miracles were often chronically-ill themselves. They could heal others, but could never heal themselves.
Dee, thank you for your loving endurance in this ministry.
We’ve never been a part of that group. Watchman Nee wrote about this in his book: “Spiritual Reality or Obsession”. You’re referring to an obsession.
We studied the 18 gifts in a Baptist church, not charismatic.
The study gave us new perspectives on our past missionary work and service projects. When we would team up and all do, for example, evangelism, some had the gift, some didn’t. Some had the gift of giving so they financed the team. Etc. The unevenness indicated gifts of the Holy Spirit, 18 ways.
Headless Unicorn Guy,
“However, Prophet Elisha, one of the most anointed among God’s Prophet died sick.In His lifetime, Elisha raised the dead without speaking a word. He merely laid himself on the dead body twice and the dead rose up. After his death, his dry bones raised back to life a dead man. Yet with all his anointing, he died sick.”
God is in charge; the miracle is always from God.
From what we can learn today, neither the woman Kristina Dines or the pastor will speak to the press. There is a website, ShowMeTheToes.com, that is calling for them to prove the incident or deny the incident.
Could be interesting to see what they do.
Same church that periodically uses Mark Driscoll to equip macho-men. Yep, the one and only potty-mouth Mark Driscoll! Not much discernment needed on that one.
Joe Carter came right out and admitted in the comments of his Broken Wolves article that anyone who isn’t under their “loving authority” is a wolf.
Funny how that camp keeps coming out with scandal after crime after lawsuit, and yet they are calling everyone else wolves…
BiblicalPlayground Masculinity a la Andrew Tate?
When I was in-country during the Dispensation of Hal Lindsay, Watchman Nee was also an obsession. To the point of Nee being the 68th Book of the Bible (the 67th being Late Great Planet Earth.
The only group I’ve seen who were able to pull off Tongues without descending into total OCD and Woo-Woo was Azusa Newman Center (RCC) circa 1980. There the Glossolalia started at the point in (informal) Mass called “Elevation of the Host”, where the priest holds up the “wafer” after the Consecration. At that point the tonguing would begin and last for around a minute (two, max). It did NOT sound like the usual “Scat-Singing in fractured Hebrew” but more like ocean waves breaking on a beach. Starting out soft, then growing in volume, ebbing and flowing like the ocean, before fading away. After which the priest would continue with the Mass.
well, let’s face it – church is a heady environment. it’s like being in a stuffy oxygen-poor tent, where we’re breathing everyone’s exhales.
TWW is like the picnic table outside the tent in the cool fresh air, set with a cute checkered tablecloth, a camping stove sounding (love that sound) and heating up hot coffee…
and kind people are sitting there making a place for you to come join the very honest conversation.
Loved your comment!
Back then, there were places here in Southern Cali where in addition to tongues, they’d flop around on the floor like landed tuna.
If memory is correct, I believe they called that one “slain in the spirit”.
Good imagery and I agree.
James River Church is known to have whoever is the celebrity of the moment there. You can see their services on livestream and if you do, turn off the sound during the music. Typical rave/mosh pit behavior.
Another middle aged or old man trying to look hip and young and bouncing up and down.
The plot thickens in the show me state. Turns out the “pastor” who “performed” the “creative miracle” is none other than Bill Johnson from Bethel in Cali.
“…We’re loopy in the head from breathing Yappy’s gases…”
— “Funday Pawpet Show” (old puppet-show podcast), opening song
“Let the Bodies Hit the Floor”, starring Benny Hinn:
And with photoshopped lightsabers!
The Force is Strong in Darth Hinn:
“ well, let’s face it – church is a heady environment. it’s like being in a stuffy oxygen-poor tent, where we’re breathing everyone’s exhales. “
Good comparison, EG.
Oxygen-poor …….. hmmmm, not enough to air to have a campfire for warmth, or roasted hot dogs, or apple cobbler in a cast-iron Dutch oven, or toasted marshmallows……or s’mores……… or laughter…….
Yeah. I like it better here, too…….. where my spirit is warmed and fed and free.
The fools should have kept it to themselves, it’s not relevant to the rest of us.
Never did get what that was all about.
And the laughter deal …
Histrionics. Entertainment. Showtime. Church.
Headless Unicorn Guy,
Don’t really get the point of the performances. Putting on a show?
Doubt if Watchman Nee would be on board with any of this. He spent many years in prison. Nothing showy about that.
Church as entertainment, the American way … big screens, fog machines, skinny jeans … where the Great God Entertainment is on the throne. The majority of American churchgoers would have nothing to do with “faith” if there wasn’t a grand performance with cool music, laughter, standing ovations.
Turn up the persecution dial only a few degrees and most American churchgoers would run like crazy! A pursuit of holiness which is pleasing to God, at any cost, is not on their radar. Cheap grace only, please.
“Oxygen-poor …….. hmmmm, not enough to air to have a campfire for warmth, or roasted hot dogs, or apple cobbler in a cast-iron Dutch oven, or toasted marshmallows……or s’mores……… or laughter…….”
… or to think clearly & objectively.
but yes to all the hot dogs and apple cobbler.
…that sounds so good at the moment.
They’re still around, and not just So Cal. My husband and I are church dating, again, and looked up a service at a church near us. The Spirit was doing lots of slaying the day we happened to watch.
As someone who grew up amongst the so-called “frozen chosen,” it was all a bit overwhelming.
Or just plain fake.
Thanks Dee. I have enjoyed reading your work since you started. I look at you doing the work of the Old Testament prophets. They were covenant enforcers. Here is a section from 1 Kings 22. Read verse 8.
Micaiah Prophesies Against Ahab
22 For three years there was no war between Aram and Israel. 2 But in the third year Jehoshaphat king of Judah went down to see the king of Israel. 3 The king of Israel had said to his officials, “Don’t you know that Ramoth Gilead belongs to us and yet we are doing nothing to retake it from the king of Aram?”
4 So he asked Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to fight against Ramoth Gilead?”
Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” 5 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of the Lord.”
6 So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?”
“Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”
7 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?”
8 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”
“The king should not say such a thing,” Jehoshaphat replied.
9 So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once.”
My writing partner (the burned-out preacher) told me that the reason they go for Tongues Tongues Tongues Tongues Tongues is because “Tongues are the easiest Gift to fake.”
And when I was around them, I got the distinct vibe of “You fake it as a matter of survival. Or Else. Beware Thou of the Mutant.”
Careful what you wish for, Max.
P.S. This is the 100th comment on the thread!
“O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
Makes sense. Now we get what’s going on. Fake. Easy peazy fake.
Long ago, a group of the church men from the Charismatic group stood around me and prayed for me to receive the gift of tongues. I just sat there praying and waiting. One of the men, thinking that my teenage shyness was getting in the way of the gift, urged me to start: “Sometimes you have to help it along a little.”
The utterance that crossed my mind was “What the heck what the heck what the heck.” I stayed quiet, and the men gave up.
And then for the interpretation: Bologna, spumoni, rigatoni. IOW, Nonsense.
The longer we’re associated with church, the more it feels like a sitcom. That never gets cancelled. Gets old, but never cancelled.
“Everbody Loves Church”.
“Church and Friends”.
“Curb Your Charisma”.
“Curb Your Fanaticism” – or “Curb Your Fundamentalism”.
not wishin’ …just sayin’
Many American Christians (not you) have no idea what persecution is, and equate it with feeling insulted, or seeing someone in a bikini at the pool.
Persecution is always bad. It hurts Christians. It silences them. It forces them across borders. It takes away their children. It takes lives. Christians in China are not better because of persecution. They are few, and they are dead.
Nobody needs persecution. What we do need is seriousness of purpose, critical thinking, goodwill, and Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount—among other passages.
Waiting for Godot huh?
Which one’s Didi and which one’s Gogo?
I’m bettin’ Jesus would prefer the campfire, the hot dogs, and the apple cobbler in the cast-iron Dutch oven if he decided to visit Earth on a vacation.
Rather than listening to the preacher prattle on about ——-(fill in the blank).
“The longer we’re associated with church, the more it feels like a sitcom.”
or being stuck in a pepsi commercial.
Indeed. Brothers and sisters in Christ were imprisoned somewhere in the world today standing for their faith. Others were tortured; perhaps some died. We’ve talked about discipline, shunning, and excommunication exercised by the NeoCals and other counterfeit pulpits in America, but that in no way compares to the suffering of believers elsewhere. May God grant the truly persecuted with strength to stand.
River Church Ipswich have still got their Overflowing with life, deus ex machina, golden buzzer machine picture up.
In an old tongue twister from original telephone exchange days, a trainee operator is asking her supervisor “Which switch is the switch for Ipswich Miss?”
If pressed we could always say “Yabba dabba doo Hullabaloo” with ecstatic emotions to match.
I and some neighbours went to an inspirational spiritual event (not in Ipswich) and there were eerie purple lights coming out of the floor and the sound track was beyond deafening and we were the only ones there and I left after 10 minutes.
The world needs more critical thinking, not less.
Christians here in America suffering under persecution?
It’s so ludicrous, it’s actually funny.
“Hurry, Hurry, Hurry, Step Right Up To The Greatest Show On Earth!” where the Great God Entertainment sits on the throne. It’s called Christianity Lite and nowhere has it been perfected better than in some corners of the American church.
I just checked out their website. Turns out you exemplify their values:
1.Christ: like you, they center on Christ: the way, the truth, and the life
2.Community: They value a community of “life-giving relationships.” There is a community here on this blog, many of whom have seen abusive church leaders without their masks or been torn by wolves. Both your articles and the comments can help with healing that comes from seeing patterns & seeing how others have processed their experiences.
3.Character: They believe Christians should reflect the character of Christ. And it is exactly the lack of the character of Christ that you call out in abusive leaders.
4.Calling: They believe that Christ calls every person to impact the world around them. You do that here. You provide warning to look out for the false leaders and point out the characteristics. You provide compassion for those who have been harmed. And your analysis (discernment) helps both groups.
5.Courage: answering the call of Jesus requires courage. You’ve endured so many attacks. You could be happily attending your safe church, still volunteering in your community organization, tending to your mother, enjoying your retirement, and playing with your pugs. Already a full life! Why expose yourself to the attacks? Courage to speak truth.
6.Compassion: You show a tremendous amount of compassion for those many in the organized church don’t know what to do with (even if they are not themselves abusive.)
7. Celebration: E-church for those who can’t yet limp into an “official” church gathering.
I think it’s possible that some Christian leaders who are not themselves wolves find it hard to believe that so many others who look good on the outside are not actually what they seem, even though Scripture says exactly that. Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. It is that outward disguise which is the false leader’s sheep’s clothing.
Successful sociopaths are always masters of camouflage (and blame-shifting).
We only hear about the ones dumb enough to Got Caught.
“WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS
TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS!
WE’RE SO GLAD YOU COULD ATTEND!
COME INSIDE! COME INSIDE!”
True enough. I spent the first fifteen years of my overseas life working in a country where persecution was and still is the norm. People did not confess Jesus or join a Christian meeting unless they were serious. These I worked with were eager for spiritual input and put into practice what they learned. They continue to produce spiritual fruit to this day.
Then I moved to a nearby “free and open” country where the church is less than 1% of the population. Sadly, in the 15 years I’ve been here training leaders how to start simple reproducing churches few leaders have put it into practice what they’ve learned. Too many distractions, too much easy foreign money to be had by running after the right people… It’s discouraging.
My friends in the “closed” country would run away from the people we read about on TWW. By contrast, believers in the “open” country where I now reside would sit right down and consort with charlatans if they thought it would make them richer. It’s human nature- when things are easy people tend to choose “easy” things; when things are hard people will rise to the occasion and become great.
I would not wish persecution on anyone. I’ve lived through it and suffered loss alongside my brothers and sisters. At the same time, it sure does weed people out fast.
I am grateful for this blog. Thank you Dee and Todd. Discernment blog? Watchblog? Call it what you want. All I know is before TWW I used to go to the US for home assignments only to be blindsided by the shenanigans of supporting church leaders. Now I know what’s going on, when to call “shields up”, and how to prepare for difficult conversations with calivinsta and high controlling leaders. Figured all this out from reading TWW.
So I’ll say it again, thanks Dee. And Todd too. Keep discerning. Keep speaking up.
And thank you to everyone else who posts here regularly. I learn just as much from you all as I do from the posts themselves. Vive la Wartburg Watch!
“Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.” (Matthew 5:11)
“I often received criticism that we were just “another discernment blog” … The same thing happened with the word “watch-blogging.””
When that happens, say “Thank you!” Their criticism is actually a confirmation in the Kingdom of God that you are on the right track. Watchmen on the wall inform and warn. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it; once you know it, you can’t unknow it – it’s in your knower. The blind and the blind who lead them have no ability to discern these things, so they criticize and mock to protect themselves and their little kingdoms.
Thank you for your words and work, which I am sure is both worthy and sincere.
Underground faith might be stronger, but at a cost I think too high. In my experience of autocratic countries, oppression forces people to make hard choices, not necessarily good ones. A Christian friend in a Communist country smuggled amber; people sometimes acted from desperation or selfishness more than ethics.
Meanwhile I would not draw a connection between religious freedom and charlatanism. I go to church in the United States. I believe I can usually spot a charlatan in a secular or sacred setting.
I also don’t expect to get rich by going to church or meeting other Christians. Forgive me, I don’t understand that.
Anybody can be fooled, of course. I experienced some abuse in a church in the past. Still, I now see that signs are there—everything from the design of church offices (can people be cornered?) to demanding money for another jet. High-demand organizations have certain qualities in common. TWW has done so much good in pointing out the big and small signs.
Freedom of religion does not corrupt people.
Headless Unicorn Guy,
I have experienced what you described a 2 times in my life back in the very late 70’s or early 80’s.
Every one at once. Just a couple of minutes. Back to normal order of service afterwards.
I think a church I went to several years ago almost experienced it, but the band was too focused on being the band to let a few moments of silence be just silence. Can’t have any silence with all this electronic gear just begging to be used.
“If this is Too Loud, You’re Too Old!”?
Headless Unicorn Guy,