Can High-Controlling Pastors Lead Their Members into Depression and Even Suicide?

 

Commenters share about high-controlling pastors who leave a path of mental health destruction, even suicide, because they cannot get appropriate help.

 

 

A while back, I found a comment at SGMSurvivor.com blog that cut like a knife. Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) is in the news a good bit because of the sex abuse lawsuits, but the subject of mental health is often brushed aside as a “sin” issue, even in cases of abuse.

Sadly, this kind of teaching is not isolated to SGM. At my former church, I heard stories about people not allowed to get outside counseling or go to support groups for help in dealing with domestic violence.

Prominent church leader, John MacArthur has been very outspoken about the subject of psychology and his Master’s Seminary teaches against psychology:

Such a thing as a “psychological problem” unrelated to spiritual or physical causes is nonexistent. God supplies divine resources sufficient to satisfy completely all the spiritual needs.  ~John MacArthur (Source)

 

Many churches like to confine any kind of counseling to in-house Biblical counseling, even suggesting that if someone seeks outside counseling from mental health professionals, they are opening themselves up to all kinds of evils.

Nearly a year ago, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary offered a class on counseling taught by Drs. Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert. The implication we read is that the Bible has all of the answers to even life’s most challenging situations. The class was entitled, “Counseling the Hard Cases.” It seems there is an expectation that pastors will take care of all of the challenging cases themselves using solely the Bible. We see no mention of referring to outside help at all:

Scott and Lambert will demonstrate Scripture’s competency to speak to the most difficult and complex counseling problems, which are theological at heart.  Because of Scripture’s sufficiency in this regard pastors and counselors can be assured that Scripture contains all things necessary for counseling the hard cases in counseling ministry.  Participants will come to understand that Scripture is relevant to the counseling task, and that the grace of Christ in Scripture ensures help in even the most difficult issues of life.  (Source)

 

From seminary counseling textbooks to conferences to sermons, we hear from notable pastors telling other pastors and church leaders how to handle hurting people in a crisis by using what they deem to be the right way, the “Biblical” way.

It is important to note that sometimes what is taught in high-controlling churches –  extreme focus on sin, wrath of God, types of legalism, and shaming  – can be the source of the emotional problems people face.

 

Seeking counseling by tyrannical church leaders, the very perpetrators of spiritual abuse, can lead to more spiritual abuse and emotional harm. Can you imagine going to an abuser for emotional and spiritual help? Is it any wonder that so many will end up in a downward spiral emotionally and spiritually after seeking help within their church?

 

John MacArthur, SBTS, mental health, depression, suicide, high-controlling pastors, medium_3199720197

Downward Spiral

Here is the comment from SGMsurvivors.com site I mentioned earlier:

 

All –

I am grateful to the victims of sexual abuse via SGM…I am so glad and grateful to Jesus for the expressions of relief and healing that have been recorded on this website…I truly rejoice with you all.

I must state, after years of holding back, that SGM has many more victims without a voice. Those that perished due to SGM’s warped sense of pride, arrogance, “we know better attitude”, and “pastor worship”. I am sick for those that committed suicide under the care and counseling of the CLC Pastors.

CJ preached HARD against psychology and drugs in the mid 90s….many with depression did not go to secular help because it was evil and CJ said so…..so, several committed suicide and were victims of CJ’s erroneous teaching and warped theology of the “pastors know best”…..CJ – what do you say about those who committed suicide under your arrogant teaching???

You see, some victims of SGM cannot testify in a court of law….they have no voice.

SSB reader, Scott, left a comment today that also expresses the same concern:

 

Although I don’t agree with everything posted here, I for ONE wish that a place like this existed when I went through my experience. Being 16-17 years old and going through this sort of thing ALONE is suicide waiting to happen. Two of my classmates did exactly that. These types of “churches” burn people deeply, like searing their souls. Some will never recover. We need to pray everyday for people trapped in these monstrosities that are masquerading as churches. Especially children forced to go to these places by parents or guardians. We also as ” the church” need to say, ENOUGH and not tolerate another Bill Gothard, Chuckie Oneil [sic], Doug Phillips, CJ Mahaney, Jim Jones…….

Psalms 42:11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

 

 

photo credit: ameliabADELIA via photopin cc

115 comments on “Can High-Controlling Pastors Lead Their Members into Depression and Even Suicide?

  1. And some folks still wonder why we speak up against the practices and teachings of pastors like Mark Driscoll, Doug Wilson and others. It’s because they hurt people!

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  2. Before reading the article and only reading the intial question, my answer was, yes!. There have been “hum, hum” pastors?? that lead cults into convincing every last person into suicide. I don’t see the majority of the celeb pastors as more than cult leaders. They most definately can do the crazy making thing and lead people to complete destruction.

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  3. My son (10 yrs old at the time) came home from our ex church (sgm) and told me he wanted to kill himself. It was the last day I entered that cult. I had already been struggling with all the sin sniffing and false teaching and God had been waking me up. In one fell swoop with my son’s cry for help the scales came off my eyes for good!

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  4. Do you think the common denominator of these incidents is a misunderstanding of Scripture, or are too many churches hiring people lacking in empathy, compassion, and common sense?

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  5. I left the SGM flagship suicidal after a pastor spent ten weeks trying to change me (make me submit to my husband and “trust God more”) when my husband had serious sin and addiction issues. When I insisted that it was my husband’s responsibility to rebuild trust in the marriage, I was told I was “making demands.” When I struggled to sleep at night, I was told that anti-depressants were a cop-out and that even Christian counselors would give me unbiblical counsel because their psychology was infected by an unbiblical world view. I mustered all my courage to defy them, got on anti-depressant to sleep and save my own life because I needed to live for my little daughter (18 mo. at the time). I never went back–oh except after I was completely healed, for my new husband to “experience” CJ Mahaney’s preaching, so he could understand the stories I had told him about that terrible time of my life. So, the answer is: yes.

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  6. Beth, the common denominator when I look at the behavioral patterns of many of these leaders is narcissism. Narcissists do not care about others. Their sole agenda is about self and controlling others to benefit self. Some of these leaders had no business being in any ministry – they are unfit.

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  7. Thank you Julie Anne and Brenda. I am thankful for blogs like sgmsurvivors, wartburg watch and SSB. Hearing others stories have helped me in this process of healing. Leaving a cult after 16 years has left us with so much to reevaluate. God has brought us to a church where they speak life giving words. I still have many triggers but I have found that so much of sgm terminology doesn’t mean the same thing in other churches. We also are not married to a church or a pastor and I pray more for discernment so that we won’t fall into the same trap again.

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  8. Shameless promotion of spiritual abuse conference info:

    If you’re in the DC area and can make it to the Silver Spring area any time Wednesday through Saturday, please consider attending the ICSA meeting that’s being held at the Sheraton on Georgia Avenue. I have updated info about how to register at my blog. Check out the first three blog posts there for information about the events!

    http://undermuchgrace.blogspot.com/2014/06/new-instructions-re-registering-for.html

    Thanks, folks,

    Cindy

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  9. Thanks, Cindy – this is perfectly appropriate under his post. Cindy is also opening this up to SGM survivors who want to get together, so please check out her link.

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  10. Just seems I hear more stories about churches in particular mishandling situations involving people suffering from depression and abuse. I know many people who insist this wouldn’t happen if we did away with religion, but I’m convinced the problem is people.

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  11. Beth – I had to ask myself “what does the mishandling look like?” How did they (church leaders) respond? Did the church leadership want control of the situation? Were they capable of handling abuse cases? If the abuse was illegal, was it reported to civil authorities?

    It seems much of the abuse cases I hear about have to do with pastors who want to keep things under wraps within their church without letting anyone outside the church know it exists. They go on damage control/image control mode to clean up the mess because if word of it gets outside their church, then they have to admit there is sin in their midst.

    It’s ridiculous, isn’t it – – the very same churches that are preaching about how we are so sinful, want to give the impression of being squeaky clean, and essentially sinless. What hypocrisy.

    The common denominator I see is control: control what the church looks like, control how people behave, where they go, what they say, control who gets to be involved or not involved. As long as church leaders continue to put themselves in a hierarchical position and control their congregants rather than guide them and allow the congregants to make their own choices, we will continue to have abuses.

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  12. Beth, I love your kind expression of simple truth. I continued to go to church after my experience (other places) and have tried to maintain faith in the Church and in the people of God, but I never stay in one place more than a few years. It’s about that time that I am involved enough to see the power/control games going on (leadership and members) and need to move on. It is disappointing. I think as Christians we should be able to do better.

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  13. I have come to the conclusion we need to go back even further and realize the desperate need to teach our children how to think for themselves and question everything they are taught both at school and at church. Not disrespectfully but with an inquiring mind. We also need to teach them the importance of standing alone if necessary and make sure they are not living in bubbles where they are only experiencing one perspective on many issues, concepts, etc.

    EVen with all that there is no guarantee but at least they might only toy with some cult practices but have a grounding that eventually they will say, enough. That is what happened to me and I thank God every day for my parents who taught me to question everything and seek answers on my own. Part of the reason what happened to me is I kept asking too many questions they did not like. :o)

    Lastly, we need to teach them to embrace personal freedom and personal responsibility as citizens and before God.

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  14. No, they aren’t saying the Bible is a HOW TO on counseling, note specifically what they are saying:

    “Participants will come to understand that Scripture is relevant to the counseling task, and that the grace of Christ in Scripture ensures help in even the most difficult issues of life.”

    Key phrase: “the grace of Christ in Scripture.” So, the goal of the counselor is to teach the counselee to see the gospel (saving works of Christ) in every verse in the Bible. As the holiness of God is seen “as set against our own sin” in…ALL OF THE SCRIPTURES, the result should be, “vivification.”

    This is the official doctrine of MORTIFICATION and VIVIFICATION that can be found in the Calvin Institutes and is the foundation of 90% of all “biblical” counseling in our day. Yes, among the Puritans, it caused a lot of suicide. But also, it works because it teaches the counselee to totally disregard this life as having any value. “Hey, what do I have to lose? I have no right to exist anyway!” “Hey honey, great news! There are no expectations at all in our marriage! We are wretched and all of our works are as filthy rags, so, lighten up–it’s all good!” We discussed these issues at length at this year’s TANC conference. “Justice” suggests that we can be sinned against and are worthy of being avenged. None of this is rocket science when you understand their view of humanity.

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  15. Paul, we can sum up your comment with this illustration of a woman who was horribly spiriutally abused by her pastor went to a Christian counselor who told her this:

    Why not be wronged?

    Amazing. The counselor took a verse that is applied to dealing with unbelievers and applied it to the pastor…a.long time professing Christian who is PAID to teach Jesus! Totally ignoring all the teaching about judging within the Body of Christ and cleaning it up.

    So the spiritual abused person was to be “be wronged” in order to be a good Christian. Never mind the pastor was NOT a good Christian. Ironic, huh?

    This is a culture of DEATH. Death to the soul and death to the value of individuals. It lacks the basics of justice, love, truth, etc. Soul crushing.

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  16. Right, happiness is found in the perpetual re-experience of the original joy of our salvation. “Deep repentance” (finding the sin under the sin and the sin in our good works) leads to a greater and greater salvation experience (vivification). This is why John Piper makes salvation synonymous with joy. If you don’t have joy, you aren’t experiencing perpetual re-salvation. Hence, this quotation from Paul Washer:

    “At conversion, a person begins to see God and himself as never before. This greater revelation of God’s holiness and righteousness leads to a greater revelation of self, which, in return, results in a repentance or brokenness over sin. Nevertheless, the believer is not left in despair, for he is also afforded a greater revelation of the grace of God in the face of Christ, which leads to joy unspeakable. This cycle simply repeats itself throughout the Christian life. As the years pass, the Christian sees more of God and more of self, resulting in a greater and deeper brokenness. Yet, all the while, the Christian’s joy grows in equal measure because he is privy to greater and greater revelations of the love, grace, and mercy of God in the person and work of Christ. Not only this, but a greater interchange occurs in that the Christian learns to rest less and less in his own performance and more and more in the perfect work of Christ. Thus, his joy is not only increased, but it also becomes more consistent and stable. He has left off putting confidence in the flesh, which is idolatry, and is resting in the virtue and merits of Christ, which is true Christian piety”

    (Paul Washer: The Gospel Call and True Conversion; Part 1, Chapter 1, heading – The Essential Characteristics Of Genuine Repentance, subheading – Continuing and Deepening Work of Repentance).

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  17. We left our abusive church when “theophostics” was introduced as a way to ease the pastoral load. Pastors don’t like to admit there are some cases which need more than in-church “counseling”.

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  18. Beth,

    Just seems I hear more stories about churches in particular mishandling situations involving people suffering from depression and abuse. Here is a classic case that Julie Anne blogged about.

    (Mod note to David: I think I corrected it the way you wanted it. ~ja)

    Here is the problem. Just because you are well versed in the Bible, it does not mean you are all of a sudden an expert who has a leg up on trained professionals in any given area. No, you are not necessarily better at handling mental problems just because you know theology (looking at you, Dr. MacArthur). That goes for not just mental health, but science (looking at you, Ken Ham), history (yeah you, David Barton), finance (and you, David Ramsey) and a host of other fields. Seen any “Christian” films lately? They are beyond unwatchable.

    I think many people in ministry could use some mental health resources themselves. But their belief system keeps them from ever touching any help outside their belief system because it’s “unbiblical.” You can’t expect people with their own deep mental issues to help others who struggle.

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  19. My husband (who had attended a Calvinist school in high school) became really depressed after we had attended a Calvinist/Reformed church. I had also been struggling with some depression as well. We did not know what was happening; we could just tell that something was wrong. Not until the blinders came off (thank you to the Holy Spirit!) did we realize “how blind we were”! My husband still suffers a little with the attitude that somehow God is punishing him, because he was affected with this kind of thinking from an early age. Sin (for the Christian) was looked at as a salvation issue, not an issue of sanctification.
    This makes me sad reading all these stories of so many struggling with their faith, emotional and mental anguish, and physical sickness as well because of these men.

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  20. At issue with the Reformation was not differences in Bible interpretation, but the interpretation of reality itself. Reality (supposedly) is about redemption period, and all reality is a gospel metaphysical narrative. It is Luther’s Cross Story versus the Glory Story (the story of man). There is no in-between. if you are in fact helped by a Psychiatrist, so what? What good has it done you to gain the whole world and lose your soul? would be the reasoning. Hence, J-Mac in the above cited article: “We simply approach the issues spiritually. We don’t refer them to psychologists or psychiatrists or whatever. We don’t attempt to deal with them in those terms. The only real transforming, life-changing guidance is that which God provides through his word to his people. Anything else is going to be the wisdom of man [the Glory Story], not the wisdom of God [the Cross Story].”

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  21. When it gets down to the least common denominator, it’s the most ancient of religions that all material is evil and only the invisible is good, and all of the mysteries and wisdom of God are hidden in the suffering of the cross: See Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, Theses’ 20, 21.

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  22. Nevertheless, the believer is not left in despair, for he is also afforded a greater revelation of the grace of God in the face of Christ, which leads to joy unspeakable. This cycle simply repeats itself throughout the Christian life.

    Paul Washer

    and from Paul Dohse:

    Right, happiness is found in the perpetual re-experience of the original joy of our salvation. “Deep repentance” (finding the sin under the sin and the sin in our good works) leads to a greater and greater salvation experience (vivification). This is why John Piper makes salvation synonymous with joy. If you don’t have joy, you aren’t experiencing perpetual re-salvation.

    I don’t know what in the hell they are talking about Paul, but when I see these guys, I do not see joy. I see strain in their eyes. Paul Washer seems perpetually sad to me. How can you be happy if you’re forever wallowing in your sin? And yea, I toyed with using the “hell” word or not, but I used it for a purpose. I think some of these men are responsible for making life very miserable for many people because they are damned to hell because they are not “elect” or because they are worried about all the sin they have caused (even though they say that Christ died on the cross for them). They have to have a perpetual nailing on the cross ceremony for their sins as if Christ’s death didn’t work the first time. Talk about idolatry of sin. This is sick stuff.

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  23. Julie,
    No, you do know what they are talking about, but it is difficult for you to fathom. Understood. Been there. It’s simply this: perpetual re-salvation. And this is where you really nail it: “They have to have a perpetual nailing on the cross ceremony for their sins as if Christ’s death didn’t work the first time.” You see, Calvin et al believed that sins committed in the Christian life need a perpetual reapplication of the cross to their sins because Christian sin technically removes us from grace. That’s why we must, “preach the gospel to ourselves everyday.” Hence, the man himself:

    “…by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God… Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God” (John Calvin: Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles; The Calvin Translation Society 1855. Editor: John Owen, p. 165 ¶4).

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  24. Paul said,

    You see, Calvin et al believed that sins committed in the Christian life need a perpetual reapplication of the cross to their sins because Christian sin technically removes us from grace. That’s why we must, “preach the gospel to ourselves everyday.” …

    This sounds a lot like Roman Catholic beliefs that the crucifixion of (or benefits of) Christ must be re-enacted and reapplied on a regular basis, via the Mass.

    They believe a person can run out of grace and/or be separated from God by sin, so that a priest has to renew Christ’s atonement on a regular basis.

    I’m not sure I’m wording their views quite right, but the idea is that salvation is not permanent or guaranteed, and Christ’s one time sacrifice is not enough, so it has to be played out over over, contra Hebrews 7.

    From Hebrews 7 (referring to Jesus Christ):
    Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.
    27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.

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  25. Regarding Julie Anne’s original post.

    I know I’ve brought this up at TWW blog before (where I now seem to be on permanent moderated status, as of this past week, for some reason 😦 ), and maybe on an older thread here, but I used to have clinical depression and still have some anxiety.

    I was the most sincere Christian in the world. I tried to rely on spiritual methods alone to get rid of the depression, such as Bible reading, prayer (petitioning God to remove the depression), doing good deeds for other people, etc. I never got any help from any of that.

    When I was young, and into my 20s, my mother used to take me to psychiatrists, and I went on anti depressant medications for many years. The counseling and medications did not personally help me, but neither did the Christian faith alone.

    Even though I am having doubts about the Christian faith, I still have some respect for the Bible. Despite the fact I respect it, it alone simply cannot adequately address and help every problem a person may have in life, including depression. I tried it, and it did not work for me.

    Some books I’ve read by Christian psychiatrists even point out that the Bible itself tells its readers to put the Bible down, stop reading it for a while, and go do what it says.

    Sometimes, the Bible tells Christians to go fellowship with other Christians. People who have depression can be helped somewhat if they have companionship, if they enteract with other people (depressed people tend to want to stay in bed alone all day, with the shades drawn). Too often though, preachers tell a depressed Christian to go it alone, just sit in your room and read the Bible alone.

    I never got relief from my depression from Bible reading – not lasting relief.

    Yes, reading the occasional “warm and fuzzy” Bible verse about how God loves you, will never leave you, and has every hair numbered etc, can temporarily cheer one up, but in the long run, you’re still stuck with clinical depression day in and day out.

    I finally found my way out of depression by learning about codependency. (Years of bottling up my anger when people mistreated me is what caused me to be depressed. Now I know it’s okay to express anger at others if they hurt me or offend me.)

    The Bible is wonderful, but it cannot do everything.

    And though the God of the Bible says he can do everything, sometimes his answer to prayer is NO.

    Sometimes God answers prayers through and by other people, including doctors – so, if you are a Christian who has depression, God may choose to heal you via anti depressants, and/or via psychologists and psychiatrists.

    I was near-sighted up until I got LASIK eye surgery about ten years ago. It’s hypocritical that Christians who oppose anti depressant medication or psychiatry (unless they’re in one of those “Word of Faith” churches that opposes even medical care) don’t shame Christians from seeking medical care for strictly physical problems, such as broken arms, or from using aspirin for headaches, or they don’t tell the near sighted folks to stop wearing glasses.

    All the Bible reading I did and faith I had did not miraculously restore my eye sight: I had to wear glasses or contact lenses for years, and then I got eye surgery. That is probably considered okay from the anti-psychology Christians.

    I don’t know why they are okay with aspirin, casts, band aids, pace makers, and crutches, but draw the line at anti anxiety medications, etc.

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  26. Paul, did you see this recent post at Grace to You? Sin and the Work of the Spirit

    There is colossal confusion about what it means to be a Christian. Through mass communication the culture receives conflicting messages about what defines authentic Christianity. Cults, charismatic speakers, and criminally convicted church leaders only muddle the confusion on a grand scale.

    What’s perhaps worse than confusing the culture is giving false confidence to professing Christians and false doubts to true believers. False confidence comes from a gospel of cheap grace where one can believe without any cost to themselves (contrary to Jesus’ words in Mark 8:34-38). False doubts rise out of accusations of legalism and works-righteousness.

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  27. Notice that he never says WE are righteous and that we actually do the works as new creatures, Note his closing paragraph in particular. MacArthur believes that Christians merely MANIFEST the works of Christ via gospel contemplationism. I have quoted him extensively on this including the idea that the Holy Spirit obeys for us.

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  28. That’s so bizarre, Paul. In Colossians and Ephesians there is so much on who we are in Christ as Believers.

    ok, here’s just from the 1st chapter of Colossians:

    For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

    Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[g] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.

    That sure doesn’t sound like we need to be wallowing in sin. I reject pastors who preach this kind of message. It holds people in bondage.

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  29. Amen, Daisy.
    He is all we need. His blood was enough to save us and keep us that way. Intervention from man is not needed. He is the SUPREME sacrifice.

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  30. Julie Anne,

    They use the Colossians text to teach that the new birth is a REALM and not the actual transformation of an individual. Again, I discussed this in this year’s conference–they teach that Christians only EXPERIENCE righteousness but do not participate in it. The verse that nails it is Romans 15:14. It is clear that righteousness is not only done TO us, but BY us as well.

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  31. JA,

    In this video, http://vimeo.com/50799227 Piper refers to sanctification and the Christian life as being a series of SAVING ACTS. Look, they are ALL a bunch false teachers born of Calvin–it’s just that simple. Between 29:15 and 30:25 Piper states clearly that we participate in sanctification which he defines as, “God’s saving activity.” Um, this is not rocket science. When are folks going to come to grips with this huge problem?

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  32. @JulieAnne:

    I don’t know what in the hell they are talking about Paul, but when I see these guys, I do not see joy. I see strain in their eyes. Paul Washer seems perpetually sad to me. How can you be happy if you’re forever wallowing in your sin?

    JA, it’s the exact same joy you find in North Korea, dancing joyfully with great enthusiasm before the Cosmic Comrade Dear Leader. OR ELSE.

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  33. @PaulsPassingThoughts:

    This is the official doctrine of MORTIFICATION and VIVIFICATION that can be found in the Calvin Institutes and is the foundation of 90% of all “biblical” counseling in our day. Yes, among the Puritans, it caused a lot of suicide. But also, it works because it teaches the counselee to totally disregard this life as having any value.

    Until you’re gargling lye alongside St Rose of Lima. (Now SHE was really into MORTIFICATION of the Flesh; died before 30 because of all the abuse to her body. To this day, I can’t tell whether she was holy in spite of her self-destructiveness or whether the Church mistook her self-destructiveness for holiness.)

    And Calvin, in running from Romish Popery, ended up deifying one of its bad moves. But then, for so many, who needs Christ when you have CALVIN?

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  34. Julie Anne,

    They go on damage control/image control mode to clean up the mess because if word of it gets outside their church, then they have to admit there is sin in their midst.

    It might not be the presence of sin in their churches that they want to keep under wraps. After all, most of these pastors and leaders are willing to at least give lip service to the fact that even Christians can sin. The primary reason why they’re obsessed with image? I think they don’t want to admit that there’s anything they can’t handle on their own.

    And that ties into their narcissism, which you pointed out. Allowing help from police officers, or doctors, or psychiatrists or secular counselors means letting outsiders into their personal fiefdoms. Outsiders who might actually teach their followers how to think.

    The narcissistic leaders might not be consciously thinking like this — for all I know they could be convinced they’re doing God’s will. But it seems there’s something in them that refuses to relinquish control to anyone. Not even for the good of their followers.

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  35. …it’s the exact same joy you find in North Korea, dancing joyfully with great enthusiasm before the Cosmic Comrade Dear Leader. OR ELSE.

    HUG, it always breaks my heart when I see that on TV. Knowing that they’re starving and suffering, and yet forced to beam great smiles and act like they’re in rapturous joy.

    I wonder how many still in SGM and other evangelical groups are in much the same kind of situation…

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  36. HUG,
    Right, the destruction of the flesh frees one from seeing through the lens of the five senses. Suffering helps us to disregard this life, hence,

    ” What, then, is the subjective power of this message? Firstly, we find that there is real, objective freedom, the kind that, yes, can be experienced subjectively. We are freed from having to worry about the legitimacy of experiences; our claims of self-improvement are no longer seen as a basis of our witness or faith. In other words, we are freed from ourselves, from the tumultuous ebb and flow of our inner lives and the outward circumstances; anyone in Christ will be saved despite those things. We can observe our own turmoil without identifying with it. We might even find that we have compassion for others who function similarly. These fluctuations, violent as they might be, do not ultimately define us. If anything, they tell us about our need for a savior” (David Zahl and Jacob Smith: Mockingbird blog).

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  37. Julie Anne,

    Without paulspassingthoughts I would have never been able to “decode” what is said by Calvinists. A good example of “realm change only” was recently given in a sermon from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church I am walking away from. The minster met his wife in Scotland. She has lived in the United States for the past 20 years but remains a citizen of Great Britain. They have been discussing her becoming a United States citizen. “She wouldn’t change. She’d still be the same person…look the same and act the same…but she would have new protections and privileges as a United States citizen.” This is the example that minister gave of the new birth….realm change.

    Every sermon contains a quote from Augustine. So many sermons mention that you are only sanctified by listening to the preaching of the Word IN CHURCH by God’s appointed ordained ministers. To carry the application further he mentioned that an ambassador of the United States carries and delivers the message of the United States, but when you step onto the soil of a U.S. Embassy the ambassador doesn’t just represent the U.S., he IS the United States. An ordained minister is God’s ambassador. Combine this with being told that the church building is the temple, the tabernacle, where you go to worship God. I’ll just throw in that this minister ( born and raised Roman Catholic) was trained at Westminster Seminary, CA.

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  38. “That sure doesn’t sound like we need to be wallowing in sin. I reject pastors who preach this kind of message. It holds people in bondage.”

    Here is just a side note: The guys we are talking about here teach as if scripture was NOT written to believers. That is something to mull over. It is something I kept picking up on over and over when listening to them. You see this theme in just about everything they teach BECAUSE being a believer (to them) changes NOTHING about YOU.

    You even pick up on it when they are talking issues. For example, Piper’s video talking about a wife’s submission even when the husband wants her to have a 3 way sexual liaison. He was more concerned with her making sure she responded in a way that allowed her husband to have leadership but that she did not go along.

    NO WHERE IN THE TEACHING DOES HE MENTION SALVATION AT ALL.

    Was the husband a professing believer? Piper does not say. Wouldn’t that be very important to the discussion? To us, yes. To Piper, it would not matter because salvation does really change anything about anyone as it is pre determined and you have no input at all in living it out.. You cannot know good from evil. You cannot know right from wrong or practice it in your life.

    This stuff is soul crushing. Culture of death. Human value is based upon your place in the pecking order of a determinist god.

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  39. “So many sermons mention that you are only sanctified by listening to the preaching of the Word IN CHURCH by God’s appointed ordained ministers.”

    Carmen, This sort of teaching is all over the SBC. Pastors brag about spending 30 hours a week on sermons. And because of this they cannot visit the sick, perform funerals, etc. So their SPEAKING from a stage to tell us what scripture says is promoted as the most important event of the week. Talk about ego! It is nothing but indoctrination and has NOTHING to do with the “Body” of Christ.

    It is sick. I have come to see pastors as being redundant.

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  40. “They have been discussing her becoming a United States citizen. “She wouldn’t change. She’d still be the same person…look the same and act the same…but she would have new protections and privileges as a United States citizen.” This is the example that minister gave of the new birth….realm change.”

    Hee Hee. I would have loved to see him use an Islamic terrorist as an example here. Would not work as well, would it?

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  41. JA, I sort of followed the trajectory of Paul Washer because he was a friend of my cousin’s husband long ago. (Both rabid Calvinists)

    One reason he became so popular when he came back from Peru is because he was sort of the anecdote to the rise of the seeker cheap grace guys….like Warren, Hybels, Young, Osteen, etc. He was calling out the entertainment party down youth culture of Christianity where sins are mere mistakes and no big deal. Cheap grace abounds. . And he was right about that, too.

    BUT– truth is, he was the same in the end with determinism because while he was raging about sin he had NO real solution to offer because of his determinism. Being a follower of Christ does not mean YOU can choose good or evil. You cannot as you are not able, according to them. It is all done for you by a deterministic god. You really have no value at all as a human here and now on earth.

    In the end, his religion offers no real hope for us to change. So the youth he was so concerned about are to navel gaze their sin stuck at the cross instead of living out the resurrection (new birth) in the Kingdom here and now.

    And then he had children and started promoting Doug Phillips. So he became part of the Voddie, Phillips patriarchal fan club.

    Yes, there is no real joy. In fact, there is quite a bit of condescending anger. My cousin’s husband is like that, too. I think most people would be shocked if they were able to interact with a lot of these guys one on one over time. But their stage persona’s and isolation protect them from that.

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  42. Carmen,

    Yep, what you share from what you have heard in your former OPC is PURE Calvin right from the Institutes. This is the drum I will keep beating: if salvation is found in the institutional church, said institution will be protected at ALL cost. Pray tell, how many times did we hear during the ABWE scandal that ABWE must be protected for the sake of the gospel and those who would be saved–better that the victims forgive and forget for the sake of the gospel.

    Now, also, consider the following quote by Piper, and ask yourself; if the perp is a mere instrument in God’s hands, who are we to judge? No?

    ” It’s right for God to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases. God gives life and he takes life. Everybody who dies, dies because God wills that they die.

    God is taking life every day. He will take 50,000 lives today. Life is in God’s hand. God decides when your last heartbeat will be, and whether it ends through cancer or a bullet wound. God governs.

    So God is God! He rules and governs everything. And everything he does is just and right and good. God owes us nothing.

    If I were to drop dead right now, or a suicide bomber downstairs were to blow this building up and I were blown into smithereens, God would have done me no wrong. He does no wrong to anybody when he takes their life, whether at 2 weeks or at age 92.

    God is not beholden to us at all. He doesn’t owe us anything.

    Now add to that the fact we’re all sinners and deserve to die and go to hell yesterday, and the reality that we’re even breathing today is sheer common grace from God.

    I could make the question harder. As it was stated, it doesn’t feel hard to me, because God was stated as the actor.

    My basic answer is that the Old and New Testaments present God as the one who has total rights over my life and over my death.

    “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). How he takes away is his call. He never wrongs anybody.”

    ~ Ask Pastor John | Desiring God .org | February 27, 2010

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  43. Choose one fellow Christians: a culture of death or a culture of life; there is no in-between.

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  44. “At conversion, a person begins to see God and himself as never before. This greater revelation of God’s holiness and righteousness leads to a greater revelation of self, which, in return, results in a repentance or brokenness over sin. Nevertheless, the believer is not left in despair, for he is also afforded a greater revelation of the grace of God in the face of Christ, which leads to joy unspeakable. This cycle simply repeats itself throughout the Christian life. As the years pass, the Christian sees more of God and more of self, resulting in a greater and deeper brokenness. Yet, all the while, the Christian’s joy grows in equal measure because he is privy to greater and greater revelations of the love, grace, and mercy of God in the person and work of Christ. Not only this, but a greater interchange occurs in that the Christian learns to rest less and less in his own performance and more and more in the perfect work of Christ. Thus, his joy is not only increased, but it also becomes more consistent and stable. He has left off putting confidence in the flesh, which is idolatry, and is resting in the virtue and merits of Christ, which is true Christian piety” Paul Washer

    Note: There is no real definition of JOY here. They have to define it FOR you. That is where control comes in. THEY have to decide if it is real joy. and they usually base it on YOUR BROKENESS. The more wretched you see yourself the more joyful you should be. (That is why they see no problem bragging about what horrible sinners they are all the time. It is PIOUS to do so)

    They do not believe in our living out the truth of the resurrection and our victory over sin. That would give you too much power over yourself.

    Note, they want you to see yourself as having no real value at all.

    So, the entire focus is WRONG. It is not about that at all. Joy comes from SERVING and DOING. LIVING out the truth of the resurrection where you can know right from wrong, good from evil and do something about it for others. There is JOY in seeking justice from victims. There is JOY in curing cancer. In creating jobs, and on and on.

    Oh and the horrors for them when you do live these things out you become more confident as an image bearer. And as a confident image bearer you no longer need them to be your Holy Spirit for you!

    They hate that.

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  45. Carmen S. –

    I live very close to that place. I know several young men attending. I wouldn’t want to be in their churches. They believe churches (institutional) are the only manifestation of the Church. People in line with their teaching write “I trust you will find a place for being under the care of the Savior.” My question to them is “Do I need a place to do that? – No. (Not to be confused with desiring fellowship, teaching, and breaking of bread.) Am I not now a new creation in Christ? – Yes. Am I not now considered a sister to Christ? – Yes. Do we need to view Christ as our Savior even after we repent and believe in Him or do we enter a new life in Christ? – He will always be our Savior, but we now have a new life and do not need perpetual salvation.

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  46. So, let’s build on Lydia’s above comment and delve deeper into the creepiness of Calvinism. The joy you supposedly experience is a remnant of the actual joy you will experience in heaven. Don’t miss that. Remember, there is no good thing in you, or on earth. So, what joy is it exactly that you are experiencing, hmmmmm? The joy they are talking about is actual resurrection joy. Trust me people, this creepiness goes very deep.

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  47. @PaulsPassingThoughts:

    The joy you supposedly experience is a remnant of the actual joy you will experience in heaven. Don’t miss that. Remember, there is no good thing in you, or on earth. So, what joy is it exactly that you are experiencing, hmmmmm?

    The Purity of Correct Theology, of course.

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  48. @PaulsPassingThoughts:

    Yep, what you share from what you have heard in your former OPC is PURE Calvin right from the Institutes. This is the drum I will keep beating: if salvation is found in the institutional church, said institution will be protected at ALL cost.

    Wasn’t that the Reformers’ beef with the Pope in Rome and THAT institutional Church?

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  49. “Wasn’t that the Reformers’ beef with the Pope in Rome and THAT institutional Church?”

    Yes. And note the Reformers only replaced the “sacraments” that you must keep up with for salvation front and center with a one institutionally approved man telling you what to believe…front and center.

    Everywhere you turned it was about the institution.

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  50. @Lydia:

    This stuff is soul crushing. Culture of death. Human value is based upon your place in the pecking order of a determinist god.

    Isn’t that also one of the continuing problems Islam has had throughout its history?

    Both Mohammed and Calvin were very much into the Omnipotent Will of God and Predestination, and one former contact of mine in Louisville described the same behaviors among the people of this one Calvinist One True Church he encounted that are normally associated with Extreme Islam. So I wonder if this is the side effect of “a determinist god”.

    In the words of JMJ/Christian Monist, “You end up with a God who is Omnipotent but NOT Benevolent.” Raw POWER, nothing else. Is it any surprise that the Elect of such a god of POWER seek and grab POWER for themselves? They are being Godly(TM) when they put their boots on your neck. God is just the Biggest Boot, that’s all.

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  51. No, Calvin and Luther never left the Catholic Church and sought legitimacy in Augustine. It’s no accident that Augustine in the Doctor of Grace for both systems.

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  52. Hug,

    Islam and Calvinism both find their roots in Plato’s Republic. This is fairly well documented.

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  53. “God is not beholden to us at all. He doesn’t owe us anything.”

    What a sick way to represent Yahweh. He wants a LOVE relationship with us. It is not about owing us anything. They totally misrepresent God and make a mockery of His attributes.

    Beware how they frame concepts to direct the message. God does not owe you anything so if you end up saved it has nothing do with you and you won’t really know if you are elected until you die…..if they are honest about the P.

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  54. Calvin:

    “Moreover, the message of free reconciliation with God is not promulgated for one or two days, but is declared to be perpetual in the Church (2 Cor. 5:18, 19). Hence believers have not even to the end of life any other righteousness than that which is there described. Christ ever remains a Mediator to reconcile the Father to us, and there is a perpetual efficacy in his death—viz. ablution, satisfaction, expiation; in short, perfect obedience, by which all our iniquities are covered” (The Calvin Institutes: 3.14.11).

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  55. Calvin:

    “Nor by remission of sins does the Lord only once for all elect and admit us into the Church, but by the same means he preserves and defends us in it. For what would it avail us to receive a pardon of which we were afterwards to have no use? That the mercy of the Lord would be vain and delusive if only granted once, all the godly can bear witness; for there is none who is not conscious, during his whole life, of many infirmities which stand in need of divine mercy. And truly it is not without cause that the Lord promises this gift specially to his own household, nor in vain that he orders the same message of reconciliation to be daily delivered to them” (The Calvin Institutes: 4.1.21).

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  56. Calvin:

    “To impart this blessing to us, the keys have been given to the Church (Mt. 16:19; 18:18). For when Christ gave the command to the apostles, and conferred the power of forgiving sins, he not merely intended that they should loose the sins of those who should be converted from impiety to the faith of Christ; but, moreover, that they should perpetually perform this office among believers” (The Calvin Institutes: 4.1.22).

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  57. Calvin:

    “Secondly, This benefit is so peculiar to the Church, that we cannot enjoy it unless we continue in the communion of the Church. Thirdly, It is dispensed to us by the ministers and pastors of the Church, either in the preaching of the Gospel or the administration of the Sacraments, and herein is especially manifested the power of the keys, which the Lord has bestowed on the company of the faithful. Accordingly, let each of us consider it to be his duty to seek forgiveness of sins only where the Lord has placed it. Of the public reconciliation which relates to discipline, we shall speak at the proper place” (Ibid).

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  58. “In the words of JMJ/Christian Monist, “You end up with a God who is Omnipotent but NOT Benevolent.” Raw POWER, nothing else.”

    That is it. In my view it is simply about “degrees” of determinism whether you are talking Calvin or Islam. (I know that blows folks minds) But both start with a premise of determinism to a powerful god directing events and people. It is simply a matter of discussing the degrees of determinism when it comes to god or allah directing events and people. the bottom line is humans have little value or input in their eternal life.

    This is why Calvinism resurges and dies out over history. It has no real practical application in the Christian life unless you are willing to navel gaze going deeper into your total depravity all the time and follow a tyrannical guru. (that is why mainline Calvinist denoms go the social justice route and ignore the determinism. They have to have some practical application or they die out like the Puritians did)

    Calvinist gurus do not see the resurrection as the way to our representing Jesus Christ and reflecting His love and justice back out to the world. That is a whole different story. We have things to do! And we are valuable to God!!! Don’t let a “church” hold you back!!!

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  59. Calvin was still Catholic in practice. The power of the Catholic church was simply rejected and practices rewriten to place more power in the hands of Calvin and more.

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  60. …because a gospel that separates justification and sanctification empowers the individual.

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  61. Dr. Carl Trueman ( Lloyd Jackson Memorial Lecture Series: March 2014)
    John Owen and the Mortification of Sin: Q&A segment.

    Question: Reading Owen’s book on sin often leads me to despair. How am I to read his work in a way that leads to encouragement rather than despair? What lens should I be reading Owen through?

    Answer:

    ” In some ways it is difficult to answer that question without knowing exactly what it is that leads you to despair. I think if you are reading Owen, and he is leading you to despair because he seems to be setting the bar incredibly high, then I think you are reading him wrong. I think what Owen is doing is pressing the urgency of mortification on Christians, but I don’t think, I wouldn’t put Owen in the ranks of reading Jonathan Edwards diary for example, which would certainly lead me to despair because of the high level of godliness that Edwards appears to be achieving.

    I would read Owen against the background….Owen is an Augustinian and Augustine believed in what I would call mediocre Christianity. That the greatest and the best Christians are always going to be mediocre at their best. So I wonder if your reading of Owen on sin is being shaped by some preconception about what he is saying. He’s a Puritan, therefore he’s a very godly man. I would encourage you therefore to set Owen in a broader context. Maybe read some of his other works. Maybe read some of his sermons as a means of trying to, relativize is the wrong word, but to set his teaching on mortification and sin in context.

    I have to say I have the exact opposite response when I read Owen, and I find it very liberating because it meant that I didn’t have to be perfect, to realize the perfection I didn’t have that left me feeling crippled, was not what the New Testament was teaching me to expect as a New Testament Christian. And if I had more time I’d go and talk more about the clear conscience idea. That I think is a much better thing to hold in mind.”

    I guess Carl Trueman has a clear conscience for his role in allowing Mahaney to continue in ministry? After all, we only have to be mediocre Christians.

    Doesn’t this make you want to scream at these ministers? They can’t read Scripture without filtering it through their systematic theology. They go to a seminary, memorize it, and parrot it back to your congregations. I used to think so highly of them. They knew so much. Take a very good look…..they aren’t who you think they are.

    John 10:10

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  62. …and most people read that and say, “Oh, ‘mortification,’ he’s talking about fighting sin.” No, he is talking about seeing your sin in a deeper way in order to be reborn again, and again.

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  63. In these churches you are told that, even as a regenerated Christian, you are a sinner with a wicked heart. Not only is that depressing, but how could you ever form healthy relationships with other people in the congregation?

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  64. Easy, no one judges each other! Perfect UNITY. The pastor owns the truth as God’s anointed to save us from ignorance, so he is always agreed with as well. UNITY also defines social justice. Hence, if you disrupt unity, your wrong–period! Sound familiar?

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  65. @PaulsPassingThoughts

    Right, the destruction of the flesh frees one from seeing through the lens of the five senses. Suffering helps us to disregard this life, hence,

    I thought the original Christian afterlife was Resurrection of the (physical) Body in a New (physical) Cosmos, not shedding the body and its “lens of the five senses” and floating around as a wisp of a soul/spirit in Fluffy Cloud Heaven.

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  66. @PaulsPassingThoughts:

    Easy, no one judges each other! Perfect UNITY

    Wasn’t that also the alphabet-soup acronym for the Antichrist’s regime in Thief in the Night?

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  67. @Carmen @HUG: Not familiar with Borg or Thief in the Night, but when it gets right down to it, all of this stuff is as old as the hills. I will be tracing the historical roots in The Truth About New Calvinism Volume 2. There is no new thing under the sun, but the idea that Auggie, Luther, and Calvin were theologians is not even in the ballpark of reality, they were just really good at dressing up ancient mysticism in Bible verses.

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  68. I want to make sure and point out that abuse certainly covers the gamut of doctrines and church types. In many of the above comments, we can see how abuse is allowed to continue, and is even perpetuated by certain doctrines, but it also occurs in other churches as well. I’ve covered personal stories of Calvary Chapel abuse cases here and they are Arminian. Today, I spoke with a friend and discussed abuse within Emergent and more progressive/liberal church settings. It is not confined to Calvinists.

    I’d love to hear from people outside the Calvinist camp, too.

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  69. The question to ask is why abuse can happen in any Christian environment by those who make their living as Christians.

    Arminian is calvin-lite.

    I have often wondered how the Catholic Church could even continue to exist after all the worldwide scandals came out. What is it that people saw credible enough to continue..?

    My abuse took place in a seeker mega church. Not at all Calvinist.

    But I also recognize a lot of the roots of the same problem. And yes it is driven by what people believe. From the leader to the pew sitter…. There is a reason why the abuse happens and why people either accept it or ignore it. The reason is because they believe wrong things. Like most of us here have done

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  70. JA,

    The common denominator among all of them is the idea that salvation is found in the institutional church. “The church is the people and not the institution” gets a lot of lip service, but that’s not how Calvinists function.

    SECONDLY, all of those DIFFERENT groups you mention are merely different variations of Protestantism. ALL are predicated on an aversion to law-keeping in sanctification leading to a weak and ignorant Christian walk.

    Example: Joseph Prince is a proponent of Luther’s “Justification by Faith” to a T. Prince knows more about Reformed soteriology than JMac would ever dream of.

    Thirdly, while Christians all profess to “Justification by Faith” few understand what it really means. The doctrine itself is grounded in a culture of death.

    Lastly, I contend that we may not assume abuse is prevalent across the board which of course conveniently disconnects logic from action. It’s no secret here, I believe the answer is a return to how church was originally done in the beginning for almost 400 years. Just walk away from all of the drama and stop giving these people your money. All these “leaders” do is pontificate and live large. Anything done in the church past talk is accomplished by the laity. Why are we enslaving ourselves to these spiritual dorks?

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  71. paulspassingthoughts,
    In the first 400 years, did no one have a sanctuary that cost money to maintain? I really don’t know how specifically they conducted their worship in those days. I do know there were house churches. But large numbers were added on occassion. They must have put them somewhere to pass on the gospel and money would be needed to have a place big enough for them to go.

    I’m not saying that anyone should give to mega churches where their leaders are living the luxury lifestyle while trying to get the last cent from grandma’s hand. I’ve heard a few of those on late night tv. “I feel the Lord saying to send $300” while at the same time this guy is saying that he has an elaborate house, lots of acreage and 7 ponds on the property. I didn’t hear him invite anyone over for tea.

    I don’t believe that we are required to give 10% to the local church. I like the idea of giving on how the Lord has blessed me. I believe what we give privately is blessed far more than what we give while telling someone abou it. If I was making 6 figures, which is not likely, I would like to think that I would be giving a whole lot more than I am now on a lower 5 figure. I give and my bank account always seems to have money in it. I have no idea what our pastor makes, but he lives in a small modest home and drives used cars. So if he has more he certainly isn’t flaunting it. His wife buys a lot of her clothes at second hand stores.

    Paul does talk about how he made his own money and asked nothing from the people to support his missionary journey’s. That conversation leads me to believe that he could have expected at least help from the church, but not an elaborate life style. A large chunk of what is brought in at my church goes to help support missionaries and keep them on the field. I have not seen one yet that had anything more than Social Security to keep them going once retired.

    I’d really like to understand more about how the original churches operated.

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  72. Brenda,

    The “church” (not a biblical word) founded on Pentecost was Jewish. During that time, there were about 400 synagogues in Jerusalem of which the vast majority were home fellowships. This was a tradition from the very beginning during the Exodus. Sacrifices were done at the Tabernacle, but teaching and fellowship was done in informal gatherings overseen by elders. Some synagogues were Greco-Roman-like institutions and were politically connected.

    When the “called out assembly” was born on Pentecost, it was pretty much business as usual, the converts merely continued to meet in the already established home fellowships.

    This continued until the death of Peter and Paul which resulted in a great controversy about apostolic succession. Most of the church fathers feared the church would fall apart into Chaos if there wasn’t some sort of central authority, so they established Linus, a disciple of the Apostles, as bishop of Rome. This is the beginning of the Roman Catholic Church.

    The home fellowships led by elders rejected the authority of the Roman bishop and bishop underlings. A 300 year struggled ensued between the elder led home fellowships and the institutional church (see the letter of 1Clement). In the very first church counsel (circa 199), St. Victor1 excommunicated the home fellowships over the Quartodecimanism controversy. That was giant step #2 towards the establishment of the Catholic Church. The “church” was formally established as a institution by Constantine circa 300 AD which began the practice of outlawing home fellowships.

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  73. By all means, but don’t give any of your hard-earned money to a Protestant Professional. New Testament giving was based solely on personal need, not the supporting of mass infrastructure. Penn State slam-dunked abuse in one instance, but the institutional church cannot and will not get it done. Why? Because it is the magical yellow bus going to heaven full of people who know how wicked they are as opposed to those who think they have some partial good. Yes, the bus is banged up and the seats are nasty, but it is the only bus going to heaven, and if you don;t fall into line, they will take you off the bus and throw you under it. Driscoll states that outright, MacArthur will merely sic his in-house police dept. on you.

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  74. “I do know there were house churches. But large numbers were added on occassion. They must have put them somewhere to pass on the gospel and money would be needed to have a place big enough for them to go. ”

    The historical context of what happened in Acts is really interesting. Diaspora Jews tried to make the trek to some of the Holy events in Jerusalem as they were able. It was a huge undertaking. For Passover (When Christ was crucified) there would have been tents of Diaspora Jews set up even outside the city gate. Thousands of Jews would come from all over the place and usually stay from Passover to Pentecost. (Pentecost was a Jewish “harvest” festival). The timing of the crucifixtion/resurrection is so interesting. While the priests were slaughtering sacrifices, Jesus Christ was dying on the cross. (The amount of animals that were brought in for sacrifice on Passover is astonishing)

    The Diaspora is why you see the issue with the Hellenistic widows in Acts. They would have traveled with extended family and if they were believers and their keepers not, it was a problem for them.

    So the fact of thousands being added to their number is significant in Acts. These Diaspora Jews would trek back home and tell others what happened in Jerusalem. (The “harvest”)

    So while the church in Jerusalem is often touted as a mega church the facts are more complicated than that. I researched this because I have yet to be in a mega church that did not use Acts as justification for remaining that size as if Jerusalem body stayed that way. It would have been nothing like we think of as church anyway for the time they were together. They all did gather at Solomons porch at the temple for a while but that eventually became dangerous. The Jerusalem believers eventually went to the catacombs. The Diaspora went home and told others what happened.

    One reason you see Paul asking for money for the Jerusalem Body later on and in several letters is they were being persecuted and having a hard time making a living. He was tasked with gathering offerings for them.

    From what I could gather in research the typical body was comprised of home churches within a city and revolved around eating/fellowship/encouragement more than anything. It was not like there was preaching each week around some paid guru. The “wages” issue for the Body was more about taking care of those who came to them or giving money for their travels to tell others. They way it is presented is more metaphorical. The ox is paid in food, shelter, etc. One does not withhold those things while the ox is working. It was not a salary situation for one guy to teach them all the time.

    The bottomline is a “special designated place” for believers to gather consistently was not really the focus until a few centuries later.

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  75. Paul, what amazes me about the 1st century and beyond is how soon after their King resurrected they ignored the Holy Spirit He promised to look to a “king”. When Jesus was their King. We have all done it in various degrees. Too bad not enough out there making these points and how it parallels the Jews wanting a king like the pagans had.

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  76. A central meeting place was never the model. To what degree the elders and teachers were supported is still an issue of debate, Note that the home fellowship model works in all situations and geographies albeit in some places underground. In many countries, the money for an institution is simply not there. So, money dictates the best model? Really?

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  77. A massive amount of money is given to the institutional church which has NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, done anything about abuse unless compelled to by the secular courts. We beg, hound, and write, pleading for someone to stand up while we continue to give these people our hard-earned money. Why? Because deep down, we believe they control our salvation.

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  78. Thrilled to see information about the history of development of The Institutional Church (and her traditions) being posted here by paulspassingthoughts and Lydia, thank you! I believe understanding these things, for example, the truth about the tithing tradition (paying salary to the gurus) vs “giving” freely, as Jesus taught it, greatly helps many who are dealing with the painful aftermath of abuse and confusion, suffered within the IC. Understanding the history and difference between what Jesus started, and the “Thing” that man created for politics, power, prestige, wealth and control, is invaluable for the healing process.

    I especially am glad to see this stated here on this blog:

    “The common denominator among all of them is the idea that salvation is found in the institutional church.” — paulspasingthoughts

    This traditional Churchianity belief (doctrine) is central to answering all the “whys” of Church abuse, bondage and lies.

    The Church (Protestant & Evangelical included) preaches that The Church is the only savior. Many come right out and admit that is what they believe. Many teach that the pastor is the mediator between God and men. All this erases everything Jesus Christ teaches about “the way”.

    Jim from fleebabylon and I both wrote about “I’ll be honest about the Roman Baptist Church, will you?” The “I’ll be Honest” video site put out a disturbing vid of a Reformed Baptist pastor teaching “go to Church or go to hell” (Church membership and submission to the pastor is required for salvation). In other words, the daughter Churches are really no different at the core, from the Mother (Roman) Church.

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  79. Regarding the topic of the o.p., I have one friend who had a serious glandular illness and surgery which caused a temporary disturbance of the mind’s functioning and behavior, due completely to an imbalance of hormones which help the brain to work properly. This friend of mine was very sick and suffering greatly. The leaders at her Church basically refused to visit her and implied that she was in some sort of sin because of the temporary symptoms she was suffering. She needed love and visits and she got the cold shoulder from them. She was not an official paying (tithing) “member” and her illness included temporary mental malfunctioning and she was judged and avoided for that, as if she had done something wrong. Realizing this was how they were treating her caused her genuine sorrow and hurt and it made me angry. She is doing well now, spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. I love her and it hurt to observe her not receive love and care by “The Church”. Watching this event in her life taught me a whole lot about love and compassion, that I never learned by listening to a sermon or watching the actions of Church leaders.

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  80. Loretta, I am a life long Baptist and more recently gone to an independant Bible Church. I have never, ever heard a pastor say go to church or go to hell. Church membership and submission to the pastor has never been taught. The only means to God is through repentance and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t know where all of these ungoly teachings are coming from, but I have never been to such a church.

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  81. Loretta,
    Not attending the sick no matter if they give you money or not is not Christ Like and should not happen in the “church”. That is why we commune together, to see to one anothers needs. There are a lot of buildings that the word “Church” should not be on. We live in a fallen world. Illness is a part of that fallen world. I help out an older woman with Dementia. She does not have dementia because of a particular sin. She has it because it is the ailment that affects her body as we all will have something at some point and time. Shunning a person in pain or sickness is just wrong.

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  82. I haven’t heard “go to church or go to hell,” but I have heard some very strong teachings on the amount of time you spend at church, missing church due to kids’ sporting events, even to the point of questioning someone’s commitment to the church and God based on how often someone goes to church.

    There was a lot of pressure at my bad church to be there every time. I believe the pastor passed this message in a passive-aggressive way to congregants, who in turn put guilt trips on people who weren’t at an event. I felt the constant need to explain where I was and wondered if my excuse would suffice. I thought it was just me until I talked to others who felt the same thing. That is the power of a high-controlling church. The unspoken words are sometimes just as powerful as the spoken ones. Ridiculous.

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  83. Brenda R , I’m so glad you have not encountered this teaching! I believe this teaching comes from the Roman Catholic Church which teaches this formally (no salvation outside the RCC) and it is in their official catechism. It is becoming popular in some Reformed Evangelical/Baptist circles, to teach this.

    The last time I listened to Christian radio, a pastor in my local area stated (on his radio preaching show) quote:

    “The pastor of the Church is the mediator between the people and God.” -local Evangelical pastor

    Also, this I’ll Be Honest video I came upon where the pastor teaches “The Church is the mediator” between the people and God. This is very much official RCC teaching that goes back many centuries. This man in the video threatens any believer who leaves a local Church. He equates Church membership with salvation. He basically teaches that it is The Church that functions in the role of all things pertaining to salvation, substituting The Church for Jesus Christ. Fascinating, the word “antichrist” as we know, means, 1. against Christ, 2. a substitute for Christ. So here this man is effectively preaching The Church as a substitute for Jesus Christ and everything He does and is.

    Here is the vid, in the comments section here:
    http://witnessingencouragement.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/mediator/

    Julie Anne, I had the same experience… lots of pressure to attend all the time and you were treated inferior and like an outsider if you were not 100% in attendance. Spouses who had to work Sundays were treated like persona non grata.

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  84. Brenda R, your second comment — i so agree. I mentioned this story because of the quote by JMac in the o.p. Our Church leaders “followed” &taught literally whatever JMac taught, and that quote reminded me of how they might have treated my friend thus due to that kind of teaching about matters involving the mind, psychological issues etc. ugh.

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  85. Liked the article. I’m way past “semi-churched” I’m full on hellbound heretic, according to some former friends of the Reformed Theology persuasion. ; ) This Church as Savior thing, it’s like another gospel– wait, it is!

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  86. If SALVATION COMES THROUGH THE INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH, why do we keep expecting ordained ministers to address abuse of the laity.

    The Gospel According To John Immel ( find him at paulspassingthoughts)
    1) All people act logically from their assumptions.
    2) It does not matter how inconsistent the ideas or insane the rationale, they will act until the logic is fulfilled.
    3) Therefore, when you see masses of people taking the same destructive actions, find the assumptions and you will find the cause.

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  87. Loretta,
    Jesus is the only mediator that I need. If someone wants to pray with me that is fine, but Jesus is who I go to. No man can take His place, that is why He came.

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  88. JA,
    The unspoken words are sometimes just as powerful as the spoken ones.

    I know this first hand what words spoken and unspoken can do having been in abusive relationships. I have said that between having things thrown at me, verbal abuse and physical abuse, I will take the physical. The scars and bruises go away faster and the fear runs much deeper when you are trained to fear just from a look or a gesture.

    Guilting people is not uplifting and makes no sense to do it. What about the guy who works second shift and can’t be to an event because he needs to work? I go to absolutely no church picnics. I am heat intolerant. The pavilion at the church is completely in the sun and inevitably they always land on days that it is 90 degrees out. No one tries to guilt me for that. Fact is there are several other people in the congregation with MS and have the same problem and don’t go to the picnics.

    Our commitment should be to God. Missing for a child’s sporting event is not the worst thing in the world. Now if Mr or Mrs Whomever is missing church because they are at a bar or strip club, then I might see a problem. Actually, I would see a problem even if they weren’t missing church for those purposes. That would not be very Christ like. Jesus loves our children and parents need to pass on that love.

    I have had times when I have felt explanations were needed, but I don’t anymore. I hope that you no longer do either.

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  89. I don’t know who Kevin DeYoung is, but I live in Michigan and am glad not to have run across him.

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  90. Brenda,
    Kevin is in Lansing, Michigan. The church is right across from the University of Michigan. Is that “Go Green” or “Go Blue”? The congregation has recently voted to join the Presbyterian Church of America ( PCA).

    I actually pray for Kevin. He’s Dutch, from a Dutch Reformed family that went to church morning and evening. It’s all he knows. But there is neither Jew nor Greek…nor Dutch in the body of Christ.

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  91. Carmen,
    U of M would be “Go Blue”.
    I grew up in church where we went Sunday morning and night and Wednesday night. Sunday morning and night were sermons, Wednesday nights Bible study. But no one would question your salvation or say you were going to hell if you didn’t attend all of those. We do know what we are trained to know, think or feel.

    The church I attend at the present has Sunday morning sermon, Sunday night Bible study, Wednesday night varies depending on what they decide for that year. There are no Sunday night or Wednesday night events in the summer, unless it is a picnic. I had a hard time adjusting to that. We know what we are trained to do. I’m no different. Knowing more of the story helps to understand.

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  92. I never hear them say go to church or hell. That would not work with most people. It is much more flowery and subtle than that. It is presented as imperative to your spiritual health to be involved in a “local church”, having accountability and in “covenant relationships”, etc, etc. Ever notice when negative comes out they will jump on bandwagon, :”that is a local church issue” to shut folks up? What they do is edify the local church to the point that people start taking it in as Holy Grail. Scripture is taught and read through that lens.

    There are many such concepts that are not technically true — taught that way that become “orthodox” Christianity. (And “orthodox” simply means man decided it was so)

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  93. To paulspassingthoughts or anyone else able to answer, what does salvation look like, and act like? How does a saved person live and think about God? Since most of us have been fed various flavors of errors, from Calvin on down, please shed some light.

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  94. Waking Up,

    That question deserves a post. I will clear my schedule this morning and write it. the link will be forthcoming.

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  95. Pingback: Russell Moore and John MacArthur Offer Diverse Responses on Challenging Issues | Spiritual Sounding Board

  96. Pingback: Examining The Bridge Bible Fellowship in Reseda, California and their Biblical Based Counseling Program | Wondering Eagle

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