July 27, 2013

A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ (G.R.A.C.E.) PLEASE sign.

A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ
Through the media we have been confronted with perpetual reports of grievous sexual abuse and its cover-up. Institutions ranging from the Catholic Church, various Protestant churches and missionary organizations, Penn State, Yeshiva University High School, the Boy Scouts, and all branches of our military have been rocked by allegations of abuse and of complicity in silencing the victims. And while many evangelical leaders have eagerly responded with outrage to those public scandals, we must now acknowledge long-silenced victims who are speaking out about sexual abuse in evangelical Christian institutions: schools, mission fields and churches, large and small. And we must confess we have done far too little to hear and help them.

Holocaust survivor and author, Elie Weisel, once said, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim…silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” When we choose willful ignorance, inaction or neutrality in the face of evil, we participate in the survival of that evil. When clergy, school administrations, boards of directors, or military commanders have been silent or have covered up abuse, they have joined with those who perpetrate crimes against the “little ones” – often children, but also others who are on the underside of power because of size, age, position or authority.
read more at NetGRACE.org

Please also give a listen to a short second interview of Basyle ("Boz") Tchividjian being interviewed on Janet Mefferd's show [The "hurtful" statements to which he refers repeatedly were issued by Together for the Gospel and The Gospel Coalition.

(t4G first deleted their facebook post after it got about 100 or so comments reflecting respectful disappointment in their statement.    Then they quietly changed their statement, removing "No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C. J. Mahaney. Instead, he was charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals" because they realized that was not true.  Then later they quietly removed their support without issuing any mea culpa. The original can be read here: http://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/05/24/just-like-that-t4g-statement-of-support-for-mahaney-is-removed/)

The Gospel Coalition post can be read here.  I don't know if it has changed at all, but at least it condemns Mahaney and company's behavior in a rather oblique way, by saying what a pastor should do when learning of sexual abuse... those very things that Mahaney and company did NOT do, and Mahaney and company know it.  However, they do not say what a horrible sin it is to neglect those protective duties to the church.  And after they issue this almost-correct paragraph, they go back to being cautious timid leaders, displaying their ignorance of the matters they've finally decided to comment on, and just getting things plain old wrong, including the same thing T4G got wrong.  But hey, at least they haven't removed those things and tried to brush them under the rug. ]

It is unimaginable why any true Christian leader, liberal or conservative, would not sign this G.R.A.C.E. statement regarding sex abuse, or at least issue a similar one of their own.  It's been ten days that it has been up, and I don't see Boz and Emmanuel's brother's name on there either.  :-(  Ignoring this statement and/or saying nothing about the criminal negligence of one's fellow Christians is tantamount to saying "I don't care.  It's not my problem."   A real friend of that negligent Christian would not do that.  A real friend speaks the truth, even when it is painful and brings backlash upon oneself.
"...To all who have been abused, broken, deceived and ignored, we have failed you and our God. We repent for looking nothing like our Lord when we have silenced you, ignored you or moved away from you and then acted as if you were the problem. You are not the problem; you are the voice of our God calling his church to repentance and humility. Thank you for having the courage to speak truth. May God have mercy on us all and oh may the day come when his church reflects the indescribable love and compassion of Jesus, even to the point of laying down our lives for his precious sheep."
(First interview with Boz and Janet Mefferd was here on June 6)

Brent Detwiler and the Sovereign Grace Lawsuit on Janet Mefferd's show

The Reformed Traveler: Boz Tchividjian / Thad Norvell / Shepherding Movement and the circling the wagons phenomenon

MD- Prominent ministers back accused wrongdoer (SGM scandal)

July 24, 2013

Barton on Beck "He's only a Mormon out of loyalty" (as heard on Steve Deace)

Stand Up for the Truth posted a blurb from Right Wing Watch (which I am sure they don't care for, and neither do I, but which can still have accurate information).

As Barton explained to Steve Deace last week, individual Mormons can go to Heaven and Beck really “became a Christian back when he was in Alcoholics Anonymous” but identifies as a Mormon today only “because he has a loyalty to them”:
I listened to the entire Deace episode in question (July 19) shortly after it was posted, and wasn't impressed at all with Barton any more than I have been for years.  Besides the assertions he makes about Jesus' thoughts on economic issues (which he doesn't seem to exegete from Scripture, but just flashes up Bible references that don't really address his claims) (full version here, starting from about 7 minutes through 10:20 or so), like a used car salesman he rattled off a lot of facts that were almost beside the point, and did not really address the core issue of partnering with Beck in spiritual/prayer meetings.   [He used the strawman argument of "well I'm not starting a church with Glenn Beck."  But that wasn't the contention.] It would seem that as long as Beck identifies as a Mormon, then partnering with him in these religious meetings would be at beast a denial of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.

July 13, 2013

Frank Turk arguing with those who would abolish abortion

Frank Turk attacking those who would abolish abortion
Interesting. But not surprising.

Part 2

Part 3

A response from AHA

Please, I think we need to stop using the word "abortion" as it is just a euphemism and keep using "infanticide," "baby murder," or just plain "murder." I don't care if you're being interviewed on the news or what.   Pro choice = Pro Baby Murder/Pro-Infanticide.  It is what it is  We need to stop letting them define the playing field.

At best you can call it "death penalty for babies." Then people will object saying "but wait! that's not right, they haven't been convicted of a capital crime or given a trial!" Yes, exactly.

July 12, 2013

These Words Seemed to them an Idle Tale (Goaded By God)

Goaded By God has a very nice little balanced reminder of how difficult it is not to be believed or listened to, from Luke 24, the women bringing the news of what they found at the tomb on the morning of Jesus' Resurrection.

These Words Seemed to them an Idle Tale
...Among believers there are at least two ditches that we can fall into: Some believers will extend the admonition for women to be orderly in church, and ask their husbands questions at home, to all areas of life. By doing so, they silence half the Christian world, making them irrelevant and causing division. Why would I, a woman, stick around to be dismissed?

The second ditch women endure is to be disrespected by bawdy views and voices. With this view they think our mouths are shut because we have become objects. So we are also viewed in this ditch as being idle tale bearers, good only for the selfish purposes of another person.

Am I offended? Yes. Are these men and women forgiven in Christ Jesus? Yes. Do I wish they would see women differently? Yes. Will I forgive and repent over my being offended? With Jesus' help, yes.

Thankfully, Jesus sees women wholly...
Read more at Goaded By God

July 9, 2013

A Brilliant And Refreshing Good Sermon By Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller (UPDATE)

In contrast to the atrocious sermons of Jim Standridge which I just posted about, here is a fabulous message by Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller at the Free Lutheran Youth Convention in Estes Park, CO just last night.

Wednesday: Pastor Bryan Wolfmuller

(I would embed it but there is no embed code enabled on it)

(added 7-9-2013) For those of you on dialup I grabbed you the audio of just the message:
Bryan Wolfmueller Audio 7-3-2013
(added 9-28-2013 Vimeo version is up http://vimeo.com/71828298)

He gets introduced by my friend David at about 28 minutes in. Pastor Bryan goes on to give us some wonderful law and gospel PLUS engaging delivery. What more could someone ask for? :-) It is well worth your time to listen to it and be refreshed by the living water poured out liberally here. THANK YOU to pastor Bryan! By the end I had tears in my eyes.

I hope they will get these all up on Vimeo soon, makes it easier to share. If so I will edit this and post that link. I think you have to sign up for a free livestream account to listen on livestream.

July 4, 2013

Child Abuse And Matthew 18: The Dangers of Distorting Scripture (G.R.A.C.E.)

Another brilliant piece by Boz Tchividjian at G.R.A.C.E. (Excerpt from an interview he did with Rachel Held Evans - I am not endorsing the teachings of Evans)

Child Abuse And Matthew 18: The Dangers of Distorting Scripture
The scourge of child sexual abuse is not just a sin violating the 7th Commandment in Exodus 20:14 and Matthew 5:27-30, but it is also a criminal offense in all 50 States. It is not a matter which can be handled quietly between two persons or between two families, as was misguidedly done in Genesis 34 and in many churches today. It is a matter of public alarm, because of its pervasive, extensive, and expansive nature, causing a cascade of misery in countless lives. Additionally, the God-ordained civil authorities in virtually every jurisdiction mandate in some fashion that suspected child abuse be immediately reported to law enforcement.

Thus, any claim that we must follow the Matthew 18 progressive confrontation process before reporting disclosures of child sexual abuse to the civil authorities is simply wrongheaded: God’s minister’s—the civil authorities—must be informed first!

In this, child sexual abuse is like murder or any other crime. Anyone who would demand that the family of a murder victim must first follow the Matthew 18 process before calling the police could be criminally charged themselves for being an accessory after the fact. John Schuetze, professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, puts it this way, “Let’s assume you are driving by the local convenience store and notice a fellow member of the congregation holding up the attendant. In that scenario it would be ludicrous to have a conversation with the parishioner. Your obligation instead is to call the police. To say otherwise is to conclude Christ was devoid of common sense.” What kind of twisted mind would reason that kidnapping or rape ought to be concealed from the civil authorities while a process of church discipline is pursued first?
(Bold emphasis added by me to draw attention to how Mahaney and other pastors like him are criminally guilty.)

(The Pedestrian Christian)The Gospel Coalition, SGM and CJ Mahaney-Opinion-Ecclesiastical Malfeasance

Alex Guggenheim has weighed in, with spot-on observations as usual.  His writing style is sometimes a very-british-almost-rambling but the points he makes are very accurate.

The Gospel Coalition, SGM and CJ Mahaney-Opinion-Ecclesiastical Malfeasance
It appears TGC wishes to rest upon the world, the government's enlightenment and trust that its own people (the church) have their ecclesiastical matters determined by a government outside of the body of Christ. No, we are not asking ... that you, TGC, determine the civil cases or the criminal cases, if so you are mistaken. We are asking that you perform an ecclesiastical case, that is hold court, bring witnesses and rebuttals and determine his (CJ Mahaney) fitness and/or appropriateness for ministry with you, TGC.

You must, by all means, hold court as a body, yes you, TGC. You have a government, you have officers and you have a standard, uphold it. Do not hide behind that you do not know that you are not "privy". Such claims are not reasons but excuses.

Jim Standridge Dumbs Down God's Law And Claims He Receives Prophetic Words Of Knowledge

Ok this one has gone viral, so I better comment on it.  I heard that Todd Friel of Wretched kind of handled this with kid gloves.  No surprise there, Todd's always been a little timid and scared to criticize other Christians who like to whip people with the law, thereby corrupting the gospel of Christ.  He tries to justify it by saying we don't turn the guns on people in the camp.  Well, this guy is doing just that but it's ok.

Todd (in Hour 2 of July 1's Wretched) said he wasn't going to say what he would tell the guy because he would to tell him privately.  Ha ha very cute.  So why aren't you going to all the critics of this man privately what we should be doing?

Public false teaching deserves public rebuke, Todd, and you know it.  This man is hardened in his position and getting worse.  If you doubt it, please continue reading.

(addendum - added a few minutes after original post - Todd claims in the audio July 1 Hour 2 that he's had the video for a couple weeks and hasn't said anything because the guy's a Christian.   What about teachers being held to a higher standard?  A couple weeks is plenty of time for him to do research on WHO he's discerning.  - end addendum)

In addition, it has come to light that this man was receiving something like supernatural 'words of knowledge' about these people while he was preaching.   Kind of like Mark Driscoll, and no one complained about Phil Johnson openly criticizing Phil.  More about that further down.  But here is the video in question in case you haven't seen it.  Keep in mind this is only 5 minutes of the hour long sermon.  But the rest of the sermon was equally bad, and he berates people throughout.

A lot of you may be surprised, but (and I am speaking of the ENTIRE sermon, not just this clip) this pastor is a false teacher and deserves all the criticism we can muster.  In this whole sermon he is actually making obedience/conformity to the law of God, and godilness TOO EASY.   Yes, that's right.  This pastor yells and screeches at people and gives them "LAW LIGHT" and "CONFORMITY TO THE PASTOR'S WISHES" as a substitute for God's law, which is impossible to fulfill.

What an abuse victim would say, if she found the strength (G.R.A.C.E.)

Dear Pastor: What she would say if she found the strength

It's too bad these Christian lawyers are doing the work of nearly every Christian broadcaster, almost all of the big name bloggers and talking heads and popular pastors in the nation.  Shameful.  Seriously shameful.

And the cycle of sin sickness in the church just continues, because rather than speak out, all these other talking heads (especially those who are members of the Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel or who are part of that circle of friends) would rather not risk their own reputation. Just keep walking along the road... I mean yeah, it's understandable that if you stop to help the beaten and bruised, you yourself might come under attack. No sense doing that!

And further, here are those who have so far voiced their support for at least one of the men who enabled the beating:

From The Gospel Coalition:
Justin Taylor
Don Carson
Kevin DeYoung

Together for the Gospel:
Al Mohler
Mark Dever
Ligon Duncan
(their statement was surreptitiously altered to correct an error, and then mysteriously removed when Mahaney withdrew from T4G 2014, supposedly voluntarily, to 'spare' his brethren 'unfair criticism.') I link you to Denny Burk's supportive reposting of it since it has been taken down.
Denny Burk
(Added to T4G's original statement by his own open and public request)

July 3, 2013

When The Church Prefers Perpetrators (Mary DeMuth)

I just was reading another blog about The Southern Baptist Convention and Sex Abuse of Children Within

in the article there, Julie Anne linked to this fabulous piece by a lady named Mary DeMuth that we should all take to heart:
When The Church Prefers Perpetrators
Paul’s dealings with the Corinthian man who had sexual relations with his “father’s wife” is instructive here. “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you” (1 Corinthians 5:1-2, ESV). Paul did not ask them to coddle, to hear the man’s story. He didn’t ask them to protect the man or silence the victim. He mandated the man who sinned be removed from their midst because of his egregious sexual sin.

Yet some have settled for keeping the violator within the ranks of the church with no penalty, and even defending him or her. We have “protected” the integrity of the church by violating its integrity through hiding and evasion. Of course the goal of this kind of church discipline is restoration, but it must first be acknowledged as sin, openly. More than that, we must dignify victims, validating their voices. Our concern should be overspending ourselves, working feverishly toward the victim’s restoration and operating within the legal system to ensure justice is served.

The outcome of the Corinthian man’s situation was beautiful, surprising restoration. (See 2 Corinthians 2:5-11). As the church of Jesus Christ, we hope for no less. We long to see both perpetrator and victim come to a place of surrender. Jesus died for the sins committed against us and the sins we commit, so that we can all experience His profound grace at the level place of the cross.
And, as a case in point:

Blog: Pastor chastises abuse activist
Amy Smith, Houston representative of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has been active for years in trying to expose what she believes is a systemic problem of abuse and cover-up in Southern Baptists’ free-wheeling polity in which each congregation hires and fires its own ministers.

The Reformed Traveler: Boz Tchividjian / Thad Norvell / Shepherding Movement and the circling the wagons phenomenon

The Reformed Traveler has found a couple gems and put them together in a nice setting:
From a Pastor’s Heart: Thad Norvell’s Guest Post on G.R.A.C.E ~ and the Perpetual Shepherding/Discipleship Movement

RT makes some great observations about the Shepherding Movement (which is still rampant in far too many churches, including the Sovereign Grace, and other churches that sometimes overemphasize women's submission and male headship)

[NO I am not an egalitarian but the submission model can be abused like anything else.]

There is a brilliant quote in the Norvell article that RT also brings out that explains exactly why every big name evangelical is afraid to critique any other big name evangelical. 
"While the temptations to love being right, to yield to pride, and to tolerate or even celebrate arrogance are always lurking for the Church universal, I believe that they present some unique challenges among a group who assumes a vanguard identity (in this case the preservation and resuscitation of the true Gospel). In other words, in a movement where correcting error is a central task, these temptations loom large. And, when they are indulged, they easily can be mistaken for virtue and become almost self-sustaining.

The cycle goes like this: The urgency of the cause reinforces the importance of being right, which further fuels the notion that the most important people in the cause are those most skilled at being right in front of the most people. And if that is true, then those people must be protected and kept on stage at almost any cost. Question them without an air-tight case of disqualifying sin, and you risk being sacrificed for the greater cause.

It’s all very logical. And it’s very common. It just isn’t biblical."

C J Mahaney drops out of Together For the Gospel (still no real humility displayed)

Another chance to make himself look self effacing on behalf of his friends.  It's too bad those deluded friends didn't have the wherewithal to disinvite him long before this.  Yes, I'm still angry.  Glad you noticed.
Citing a desire to keep his peers from any "unfair and unwarranted criticism"
The criticism they have received is warranted and fair, and still is, because they didn't give him the boot themselves.
"Though dismissed in May (and now on appeal), the lawsuit could prove a distraction from the purpose of this important conference. "
Do you maybe think, Charlie, that sexual abuse occurring in your church and punishing people for going to the police and not trusting/being fearful of the abuser might have been a distraction from the all-important gospel/mission/message of the church? Just maybe?