Phil Johnson Claims the Main Trouble in Churches are the Sheep, not Wolves

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Phil Johnson of Grace Community Church claims that sheep, not wolves are the main trouble with churches

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Yesterday, Phil Johnson of Grace Community Church tweeted this:

 

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He is assuming the primary problem are the “sheepiness” of sheep???  That does not surprise me. Let me show you my personal experience with three pastors at Grace Community Church. It is my opinion that Grace Community Church’s default mode is:

1) Protect the pastor at all costs

2) Assume the sheep are the cause of your church’s problems.

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I will share with you my personal experience that led me to come to those conclusions.

A few years ago, in response to my negative Google review, my former pastor said publicly that he had contacted a pastor at Grace Community who gave him the green light to sue me (my wording). I hadn’t received a subpoena yet, but knowing my pastor, I knew that me being sued was a likely possibility.

Here is the screenshot from Pastor Chuck O’Neal’s public lawsuit threat:

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 7.32.46 AM

By the way, notice how O’Neal says “under John MacArthur” – – – he meant waaaaaaaay under John MacArthur, but the way he words it, it almost implies the person he spoke with was at the top of the leadership.

So, after seeing that note from O’Neal on Google Review, I contacted Grace Community Church (GCC) and spoke with the volunteer pastor of the day and told him my story of spiritual abuse at BGBC.  My intention was to find out if there was any record of O’Neal calling GCC and a pastor telling him it was okay to sue a former congregant.

This volunteer pastor said that he could see no record of my pastor calling, but couldn’t rule it out, either, saying that he may have had a direct number with another pastor instead of through the number where they log all calls.

This volunteer pastor and I talked for a while. I noticed that he didn’t have anything to say about my pastor’s behavior of threatening to sue me. I was shocked. But what he did do was turn the conversation around to me my sin issues which he was trying to get me to confess. He questioned the state of my family/marriage and clearly did not like that I had posted something publicly about my pastor.

Verdict with Pastor 1:

Pastor = innocent (even when told about lawsuit)

Congregant = automatically guilty even before hearing story

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Fast forward about a week, I did receive the lawsuit.  Days later, I also received a phone call from Bill Shannon of Grace Community. I had no idea who this man was and he seemed surprised that I didn’t know who he was in the GCC chain of command. He said everyone knows who he is. He actually told me to look him up which seemed a bit arrogant to me, but I did look him up as I spoke with him.

Since this guy was a counselor, surely he would be able to listen to me share my experiences and would have understanding that I was dealing with an abusive pastor. I had heard John MacArthur’s sermons on spiritual wolves. At the time, I was devouring them trying to understand what I had gone through. My experiences lined up with what MacArthur described as a spiritual wolf.

Well, funny thing happened. Bill Shannon nearly duplicated the previous phone call conversation with the volunteer pastor of the day. I also felt like I was a less than – that my story didn’t matter and that my only respectable Biblical place for me was to be using all my time on my family/husband.  He said he was trying to hear my side, but yet he defended my pastor. For the first time in my life, I felt like being a woman was hindering me from having a normal conversation with him. In fact, I told him something like: “I feel that if I handed the phone to my husband, you would give him the time of day.”

But what stumped me about these phone calls is this:  what kind of church leadership defends a pastor who is threatening to sue a former congregant?  Just the fact that a pastor was suing 4 and then later 5 congregants against scripture should scream “abusive pastor.”  We already had the evidence that he was going against scripture on suing Christians.

Verdict with Pastor 2:

Pastor = innocent (even when told about lawsuit).

Congregant = guilty

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Fast forward a bit and Phil Johnson got involved after The Wartburg Watch blog covered my story.

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Phil Johnson was on damage control mission trying to do whatever he could do to protect Grace Community Church from getting in the spotlight of encouraging a podunk pastor to sue former congregants.

I heard that Phil Johnson had talked with Dee Parsons of The Wartburg Watch and he shared with her what he knew, but what about me?  I was the stay-at-home homemaker sitting in Eastern Washington with a $500,000 lawsuit and had 10 days to respond to the court. If he found out that Grace Community pastors did not encourage Chuck O’Neal to sue me or even if they did and now were regretting it, wouldn’t a pastoral response (Phil Johnson is first and foremost a pastor) be for him to initiate a call to me? Ask how I am doing? Maybe offer prayer or assistance of some kind?  To reach out to Dee Parsons before reaching out to me personally showed that he was more interested in protecting Grace Community Church’s reputation.

I reached out to Phil Johnson and he called me. He did acknowledge that the lawsuit was wrong. Regarding some of the stories of spiritual abuse, he in general said something like, “if what you say is true about your pastor, then that is wrong.” I felt like he heard me well and even blogged about it in a positive light.

However, the following day, Phil Johnson posted a link to a blog with commentary about pastors suing congregants (referring to my story) on his personal and public Facebook page.  Here is Phil Johnson’s closing comment on that Facebook thread:

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Phil Johnson - Facebook - May 16, 2012

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That kind of stung. It seemed as if he was now saying I was now an out-of-control complaint blog.  So I actually questioned him if he was referring to my blog as “online nests of disgruntled, emotion-laden but biblically hollow chronic complaint” and his response to me was that he had never read my blog. Well, alrighty then, I guess it’s just amazingly coincidental how all of this came up: linking to a post about a pastor suing, and talking on the phone with a defendant of a $500,000 defamation lawsuit brought on by a pastor all within 24 hours.

Phil Johnson’s tweet shows what he believes: sheep create most of the church problems, pastors do not, and that is why I believe if you have experienced spiritual abuse and reach out to Grace Community, do not expecting any sympathy from their pastors. Even if you have a $500,000 defamation lawsuit in your hands from a pastor who is going against Scripture to sue you, the questions will go back to you and what sin you brought to the church.

It’s interesting that Johnson said in his Facebook note:

Abusive and heavy-handed, high-control church leadership is a serious problem among some very conservative churches, and those of us who are conservative should speak out against it. If there were fewer control freaks in church leadership, I think there would also be fewer out-of-control complaint blogs.

Aside from attempting to clear Grace Community Church’s name in the case against my pastor, it appears that Grace Community Church has not spoken out against the behavior of my pastor and in fact welcomes him and the men from BGBC with open arms each year at the Shepherds’ Conference (pics from BGBC men at Shepherds’ conference)– the very conference where O’Neal told a former church member that he would go Old Testament on him. Yea, there’s a wolf at the Shepherds’ Conference each year and:  crickets.

Yea, Phil, so go ahead and blame sheep. Bah, Bah

 

 

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166 comments on “Phil Johnson Claims the Main Trouble in Churches are the Sheep, not Wolves

  1. We did at least get a “sorry” from him of some sort, and one not qualified in fifteen different ways such as to completely eviscerate the original apology and put the onus back on those calling him to task. That puts him at least a few steps up the scale from the standard.

    Like

  2. Yes, I noticed, Diane (which is why I preemptively grabbed a screenshot of it at the top of the post).

    Obviously, he’s been thinking more about sheepishness:

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  3. “January 14, 2015 @ 9:35 PM
    ….I have watched a few upclose in their trajectory and I can tell you that it is almost always about power. They get it (even in small venues) and it is intoxicating. I could write much about this but it is one reason I so plead with folks not to see them as shepherds. It is not healthy for them. See them as another priest (like you) in the Holy Priesthood…. We really need to start seeing these guys as equals in the priesthood. The rotten fruit that power can bring is quite damaging to everyone involved.” Lydia00

    @Lydia,
    Thanks for your post. Yes, I agree about their getting intoxicated by power. Unfortunately between that, the growing movement of patriarchy in evangelical circles, and the resurgence of the shepherding movement (whose founders in Florida apologized and repented for it and its many abuses and un-Biblical treatment), it makes many churches very dangerous places to go.

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  4. We must have touched a nerve. Must be hard to admit the tweet was a total fail from the get go. Some of his word choices are condescending:

    “Phil Johnson, ن ‏@Phil_Johnson_ · 2h2 hours ago
    @Wrenzo60 No, they say it’s cruel of me to say the sheepishness of sheep is more widespread & deadly than the wolves’ wolfishness.”

    That IS a cruel thing to say. Sheep don’t eat wolves…it’s the other way around.

    “Phil Johnson, ن ‏@Phil_Johnson_ · 2h2 hours ago
    @Wrenzo60 It’s a nest of wounded souls who apparently thought I was trying to defend some wolves.”

    Nest? Why use that word? It’s a blog…not a nest. Is that meant as a compliment or a subtle put down? It doesn’t sound very sympathetic to me.

    I thought professing Christian elders were supposed to be the example FOR us to follow? So far, our examples from him include a quote that we were supposed to be mind readers regarding its “real” meaning that he failed to make clear; taking a quote out of its context and using it to mean…well, I don’t know yet what he meant as he never defined church, sheepishness or apathy, but at least we NOW know it’s not a pro-ecumenism quote even though it really is; diverting the blame-we were misconstruing; a sort of apology; a Spurgeon quote about being worse than we could possibly know; some words that seem less than sincere to me and, most importantly, he ditched “the 15” logo!

    Now if he could get rid of the naked women on his twitter banner page that would be a positive example for a professing Christian elder in a mega-church to set…not to mention more God glorifying than leaving it up. Would Jesus have people on view in a side show for other people to stare at? How can side shows be something to even joke about?

    Oh there I go…wringing my hands again.

    Like

  5. It’s a nest of wounded souls
    _________________________
    “Did he call us bitter yet?” Barnabasintraining

    B.I.T. — you read my mind!

    Like

  6. Well done Julie Anne for standing up for what is right. My story hierarchy Presbyterian Church of Australia – innocent. Congregant (ME) guilty. Reason for guilt – FEMALE.

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  7. @WendellG:

    Gee, perhaps we should excommunicate for sneezing in church, or looking the wrong way at the pastor! Why stop there? Why not make everyone have a bar or rfid chip that they have to swipe when they put money in the offering so that they can be exommunicated for not donating enough?

    An RFD chip implanted in the forehead or right hand so that Pastor KNOWS they are his own?

    “And none could buy or sell or worship or tithe except they had the Mark of the Pastor…”

    Like

  8. What do you suppose Tony Miano’s relationship was with his father?

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    Truth Detector
    January 15, 2015 @ 10:09 AM

    Michaela’s post:
    “What do you suppose Phil Johnson’s relationship was/is with his father?

    These “men” that go on these tears against other people, subscribe to patriarchy and all of this “obey” and “submit” stuff, in my experience have always had either: a) non-existent relationships with their fathers (therefore they are grasping at straws as to how to ‘be a man’ and overly compensate via things like patriarchy); or b) had abusive fathers with some kind of addiction in many cases (like alcohol).

    All of the abusive pastors (or those in church leadership) I’ve known and heard about have had horrible relationships with their own fathers.
    _______________________________________________________

    My experiences exactly. Have no knowledge of any exception to this rule.


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