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Is there a biblical precedent for how we handle our feelings? Must we put aside negative feelings when others want to only focus on positive feelings?
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“I learned to my astonishment that God, whose ‘impassibility’ I thought meant that he was incapable of emotion, speaks (though in human terms) of his burning anger and vulnerable love. I discovered too that Jesus of Nazareth, the perfect human being, was no tight-lipped, unemotional ascetic. On the contrary, I read that he turned on hypocrites with anger, looked on a rich young ruler and loved him, could both rejoice in spirit and sweat drops of blood in spiritual agony, was constantly moved with compassion, and even burst into tears twice in public. From all this evidence it is plain that our emotions are not to be suppressed, since they have an essential place in our humanness and therefore in our Christian discipleship.” ~John Stott
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In responding to the death of Calvary Chapel’s founder, Pastor Chuck Smith, we have engaged in a discussion about the timing of the post I published from Alex Grenier, a Calvary Chapel abuse survivor. Alex posted his article on the day – within hours – of Chuck Smith’s death and when I read it, I asked permission to post and did so a few hours later.
A few people have challenged me on the timing of publishing something so negative against Chuck Smith, that it is insensitive, even labeling me as an abuser:
If that is the case then I have to say you are abusing the family as you claim Chuck Smith has done to you and it is insensitive. I had hoped that my comment would make a difference. I am saddened to see it has not. Discernment ministries are good and needed until it needlessly harms as you are doing at this time to Chuck Smith’s family. It is not something I can or will support. You are now being the very thing you claim to be fighting. This is not the only ministry to have become this way in another area. It goes against what you say you stand for. You have now become the insensitive abuser.
Julie Anne: I know you don’t mean to be abusive, but that is what this is. Chuck Smith’s family are raw right now. They are grieving and to put this kind of post up now is cruel. Where is it any different than John Piper writing what he did when the Oklahoma Tornadoes came in May? He didn’t mean to be cruel either, yet he was. I cannot be anymore silent now as I was then. I support your cause, I am glad you and others have been speaking out. It needs to be. This however is not appropriate and it is cruel if not taken down in my opinion. It will hurt what you have worked so hard to build and do.
A man has died and there are already posts out there, more than this blog, with glad he’s gone and here is what he has done posts. Think of the family. That is Christianity. That is Christ. This is not no matter what reason you posted it. ~comments by Debbie
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David, too, had mixed feelings about the timing, too, but had these very strong words:
Look at the exponential effects of evil resulting from just this one sinful decision Chuck Smith made. You now have Wolf Bob Grenier operating CCV as a cult—a monstrous conceited man overseeing his own mini kingdom of bob. Where are the watchmen of the flock of God who will take action toward delivering the blind sheep from these houses of bondage?
Now where the timing of this may appear evil, I believe it provides all of us an opportunity to graciously tell our stories in the hopes that many of the scales of lies would be washed away from the eyes of those believers still trapped by the liars (and complexity of lies) upholding the CC mindset.
The sheep must awake!
On the day of Chuck Smith’s passing Alex’ Calvary Chapel Abuse blog hosted over a thousand visitors at a clip, all over the map, nearing the six million all time hit mark. That is a lot of exposure, and goes to show just how big and global the CC machine has become!
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David has a very good point about the scores and scores of people who visited Alex’s blog. There were times where I saw over 1,200 visitors at the site at a time. Were these people aware of the blatant abuses going on? Could they have been some of those in pews knowing that something was not quite right and now stumbling across Alex’s blog find “the rest of the story,” albeit awkward timing with the death of their beloved leader?
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And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. Mark 3:5
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Trust4himonly offered this remark:
My concern was the timing. We know in Ecclesiastes it says there is “a time for mourning, a time to kill, a time for peace”. Maybe a good thing was to mourn the fact that this man did not use the opportunities God gave him for what was right and good. But at this time I still think it was good to give the family their own space without the blogosphere, no matter the wrong he did.
Brad balanced the other side with his thoughtful comment:
Now that Pastor Smith has passed on, it is natural that the emphasis shifts for a while from the factual to the emotional, as those who survive him in every sense of that word consider his impact, for good or for ill. I suggest we let all people affected by Pastor Smith’s life do what they need to, to process his passing and respond … and let there sift out from this public exchange on a public figure a truthfully balanced legacy, instead of partial information, misinformation, and/or disinformation.
Lydia’s comment caused me to think of those left alone by abuse:
Look this stuff does not have to be personal. Why not simply come to discuss why it is ok or not to discuss this?
You know, there is a whole psychology going on when your abuser or someone who protected your abuser dies. How do victims deal with such unfinished business never to be “finished”? That is one thing but what about when they were ALSO a “Christian” celeb and everyone is singing their praises in the Christian media? That has to be tough and LONELY.
My head has been like a yo-yo trying to think about sensitivity, appropriateness, seeing both sides of the story.
Is there a biblical precedent for mourning? What is it?
I propose that at a time like this, we are given the opportunity to experience a full range of emotions: sorrow, happiness, anger, joy, regrets, etc. We can experience more than one emotion at the same time. Alex Grenier, expressed he had mixed feelings. He felt sorrow over Pastor Smith’s death even though he also had regrets about Smith’s lack of involvement in his father’s situation.
I get concerned, however, when people tell others that they cannot feel or cannot talk because “it’s not the right time.” Where is this in the Bible? Show me the verse, please. Why is it okay for some to express their feelings and others not? Why are we so reluctant to allow ourselves and/or others to respond truthfully with those negative feelings – that we have to put the negative feelings on the back burner for fear of offending others? Why do some people’s emotions trump the emotions of others?
A lot of this feels controlling to me. I don’t believe feelings are bad or good. They are given to us by God and they just are. If emotions were created by Him, and He did not give us a rule book on how to use them, it is not a sin to feel them and express them.
If spiritual abuser survivors cannot feel safe to share how they feel about a leader’s passing here on a blog dedicated to them, where can they go? If they are being told it’s the wrong timing, it’s basically saying, “don’t feel.” But again, if God gave us feelings, are we to reject that which God gave us? Is that not lying and denying the gift of emotions? How is that honoring God in how He created us?
Is this “grieving-the-right-way-and-in-the-right-timing” thing a cultural issue? If so, then how are Christians to respond to that if there is no scriptural precedent to back it up? If there is no scriptural precedent on the proper way to grieve, should we be telling others how they ought or ought not respond?
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