Flashback: This Week At the Shepherds’ Conference with Pastor Chuck O’Neal Three Years Ago

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Three years ago, I was sued by my ex-pastor, Chuck O’Neal, pastor of Beaverton Grace Bible Church, for speaking out on social media about the abuse we and other families incurred.

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The Shepherds’ Conference is going on right now in Southern California, and as I see tweets using the hashtags #shepconf and #shepconf2015, I am reminded of what was going on 3 years ago. My former pastor, Chuck O’Neal, requested to meet with pastors at the Shepherd’s Conference, allegedly to get their “blessing” regarding him suing me and 4 others. He (and the church) sued me and my daughter who was working and going to school full-time (read:  broke). He sued another mother and her son. And later, he added Meaghan, another mother, to the lawsuit after she dared to leave a comment on my blog using her real name.  (Now you know why I encourage pseudonyms or first names when posting abuse stories. I don’t want you to have to go through lawsuit drama.)

He was not interested in any mediation or discussion. Apparently he was interested in money, and a lot of money, enough to financially destroy families. That’s some Christian love right there, isn’t it?

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lawsuit, chuck o'neal, beaverton grace bible church

 

 

Here is the original news story that went out Friday evening: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online. This was the original news article/interview that went viral over the weekend.

 

lawsuits chuck O'neal beaverton grace bible church

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I decided to add to the Shepherds’ Conference hashtags by tweeting a couple of tweets:

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Here are some men from BGBC, currently at the Shepherds’ Conference, pretending everything is fine when they are knowingly shunning former members.

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I can’t help but think of the many lives shattered by this man who behaves like a spiritual bully. I am reminded of the many e-mails I received from former members who had attended the church long before we arrived and hearing how their families had suffered, their faith shattered, some hadn’t gone back to church since leaving.

I also remember e-mails and phone calls from extended family of BGBC members who are not allowed to see their grandchildren, nieces, nephews because their brand of Christianity doesn’t measure up to the approved Chuck-O’Neal-brand of Christianity.

I am free from this church, but the memories linger, the anniversary dates remind, and the heart aches. What a travesty in the name of “Christianity.”

Spiritual abuse sucks.

131 comments on “Flashback: This Week At the Shepherds’ Conference with Pastor Chuck O’Neal Three Years Ago

  1. Hi Julie Anne,

    Thank goodness we are no longer drinking the “toxic Kool Aid” at these spiritually abusive churches!

    At my former church a close, long-time friend of Pastor John MacArthur’s, a godly doctor married for 40+ years to
    his wife, faithful, loving father, was excommunicated on some trumped up charge by the bully senior pastor and his ‘yes’ men elders.

    Next it was my turn, over a Megan’s List sex offender they brought to chuch and put on the fast track to leadership etc. Parents and members don’t know!
    The Ca Attorney General called my pastors/elders “liars” and their fabricated claims their friend wad coming off Megan’s List!

    I tossed into recycling all of the books these men wrote, CDs, etc.

    Hateful people. They have harmed so many peoples’ lives and have a lot to answer to the Lord for.

    I love Jesus, My Lord.

    These churches are nuts! No wonder there is a growing population of The Dones, Christisns fed up with organized church.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. What a bully. What happened with the lawsuit? I am sorry you had to go through this. Good for you for continuing to exercise your free speech on Twitter today!

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  3. JerseyGirlinFLA, the judge dismissed the lawsuit less than 5 months later when we countered with an anti-SLAPP lawsuit. None of the alleged defamatory phrases met even the first level of the legal definition of defamation. Chuck O’Neal and BGBC were required to pay all of the defendant’s court costs and attorney fees (probably was over $100,000). It should be noted that the check made out to my attorney was signed by the church secretary. I highly doubt O’Neal paid one cent of the ridiculous lawsuit.

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  4. “Churching” is big business to most modern pastors. There’s a lot of money involved, and the bigger the congregation, the bigger the donations & the bigger the salaries. Pastors like Chuck O’Neal seem to be solely interested in protecting their incomes.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. No doubt, Dash. Although this church was quite small (around 100 people), there were a handful of families who left within a few months and I’m sure there was a considerable loss in tithe $$.

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  6. Julie Anne, I am praying for you and your family. I know anniversaries are very important to God and I have noticed throughout my journey that things always seem to happen on an anniversary.
    May God richly bless you at this time and remember there is nothing in all creation hidden from God. I just read about when Anne Graham Lotz was shunned by nearly 800 pastors. REALLY. How can this possibly be of God. Hasn’t any told these people that we are to reflect Christ in everything we do? I can’t remember Him shunning anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. These ‘churches’ function like gangs as friends and family were recently discussing.

    Even conservative Christian elders in Europe were horrified by this US practice of excommunication/shunning going on in US churches. They said it doesn’t happen there and isn’t Biblical.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. You know there is this big effort to “plant ” new churches all over America. I find that totally unnecessary and even ill-advised. What we really need in this United States is members/attenders that are willing to flee abusive churches, SUE abusing leaders and demand a VOTE of Confidence with the first sign of an out of control, psychologically unhealthy pastor preying on the congregation. The Chuck O’neals of the world are not just an isolated problem, it’s a growing problem. It’s a sin driven problem, out of control egos & greed being at the core. WE MUST CONFRONT THIS VILE EVIL BEFORE MORE PEOPLE ARE INJURED.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. As I see the families leaving that evil environment and rightly so, I can also see that others will unknowingly walk into it. The news dies down. It is no longer talked about within the flock and others will be swayed in. It is truly sad. Blessings to you Julie Anne for continuing to weed out those who are only out for the personal gain and not the cause of Christ.

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  10. “Pope Francis has decried what he calls “the pathology of power” in leaders within the Roman Catholic Church. He says it “comes from [the] narcissism of those who look obsessively at their own image and don’t see the image of God imprinted on the faces of others, especially the weakest and most needy.” Those who are farther removed from the top in this type of power structure tend to deify their superiors and seek their favor. Power flows downward in abusive organizations, and those without it reduce themselves to sycophants and “yes-men” in an attempt to garner a taste from those above them in the pecking order. Pope Francis labeled such behavior an illness. “The illness of deifying the boss is the illness of those who flatter their superiors hoping to get their goodwill. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, they honor people and not God.”

    One of the symptoms of such an illness is to remain silent when witnessing religious bullying so as not to evoke the anger of the demagogue and risk negatively impacting their own influence and power.”

    Excerpt From: Jim Henderson and Doug Murren. “Question Mark.” iBooks.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Julie Anne,
    Just wanted to say look back and see how many people you have helped along the way because of what you went through. I know you have help me cope. Someone on another Forum said to me he doesn’t like the whole victim thing and we should be Genesis 20:50 Christians. Well I looked up to see what he meant and this is the verse: ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people’. I said to him it was a sad reflection on the church if the church intended to harm me, but if I could help one persons because I went through it would be all worthwhile. God bless Rhonda

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Christians conveniently forget to mention the many Scripture about wolves in sheep’s clothing, hired shepherds who don’t protect sheep, and leaders mentioned by Paul who rise up (from within the church) and deceive. For all of the conciliatory talk, there’s plenty of warning about bad pastors and leaders in the Bible.

    Thank you for all you do, Julie Anne. The Lord turned your lawsuit into great benefit for the Kingdom of God.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am truly grateful that many have benefited from this place – from people sharing their stories and pain to others wanting to learn so they can be an encouragement. This community is the kind of church I want to be a part of – – one that is honest, vulnerable, humble, and supports the whole of the group emotionally, spiritually, etc.

    Thank you all so much for your support in this SSB community.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I can’t believe it’s been three years already. It seems like ages ago, but I’m sure it’s all still fresh in your mind. I remember when the story broke on The Oregonian and all the news channels and I thought, I have to find out who this lady is! 😉

    As far as this Inerrancy Summit – CON is “blessed” and Miano’s in the spotlight as he leads others in “gospel proclaiming.” It’s a huge love/ego fest. If they truly believe that the Bible is inerrant, then they would follow Jesus’ command to love God, love others.

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  15. If they truly believe that the Bible is inerrant, then they would follow Jesus’ command to love God, love others.

    But they are loving, Kathi – they are loving us to tell us the hard truth that no one else will tell us.

    :::must have left my keyboard on in sarcasm mode :::::

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  16. JA, I am sorry you and your family had to go through such pain. Do you think your former pastor had any idea how strong you were? Did it surprise him that you stayed the course? I wonder how many more people you have “shepherded” here in three years than he has in his life as a so called “pastor”. (BTW, as JA knows, my real name isn’t Ann so CON has to try harder to find me and sue me for slander!)

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  17. Ah, yes. Telling the truth in love. Saying that someone who does not agree with you is “angry” is full of love.

    BTW – my favorite keyboard mode is sarcasm mode.

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  18. My all time favorite is being called, “bitter”. I got called that one yesterday for speaking out for upholding my stand on Biblical and legal divorce for abuse. I’m sure the speakers at this conference would “love” me.

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  19. Do you think your former pastor had any idea how strong you were? Did it surprise him that you stayed the course?

    That’s a good question. He might have gotten a taste of it during the many hours of meetings with him after he fired our friend. He probably wouldn’t have sued me if he had known.

    I wonder how many more people you have “shepherded” here in three years than he has in his life as a so called “pastor”.

    Oh, I absolutely believe that more people have been shepherded here, but I certainly wouldn’t take the credit. I provide the forum, but this warm and loving community is what has shown many hurting people what the true love of Christ is all about.

    (BTW, as JA knows, my real name isn’t Ann so CON has to try harder to find me and sue me for slander!)

    First of all, he likely depleted the church’s reserves with my lawsuit. Secondly, even Fred Butler, his friend, did not agree with him on the lawsuit. He wouldn’t sue again. He needs $$ and he needs his BFFs.

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  20. First of all, he likely depleted the church’s reserves with my lawsuit. Secondly, even Fred Butler, his friend, did not agree with him on the lawsuit. He wouldn’t sue again. He needs $$ and he needs his BFFs.

    Does he preach a lot nowadays on “TITHE! TITHE! TITHE!”?

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  21. Do something nice for yourself today as a treat, Julie Anne. You deserve it! That’s what I do when hard memory days come. You have grown—have these men?

    Seventeen pictures…17!!! posted on Miano’s twitter in the last 5 hours of his pre and post Shepherd Conference evangelistic outreach. I guess he likes to show everyone what he is doing for Jesus?

    btw–I still find it funny that Miano’s own church, GCC, does not recognize this pre/post evangelistic tour. Gosh-it’s almost like he’s using the timing of this conference to boost himself:

    “2015 Shepherds’ Conference Outreach (UPDATE)

    THIS EVENT IS NOT OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED OR SPONSORED BY THE SHEPHERDS’ CONFERENCE OR GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH. THIS IS A CROSS ENCOUNTERS MINISTRIES EVENT.” (CE newsletter Feb 23 2015)

    Yet Miano says:

    “Open-air preachers should not be qualifying themselves to open-air preach. That is the role of the church! It’s not my role to qualify me or anyone else. It’s not the role of any para-church ministry (including my own) to qualify open-air preachers. It’s not the role of authors to qualify open-air preachers. It is the role of the church—the body of believers, the pastors/elders of the open-air preacher’s own local assembly.”
    http://gospelspam.com/man-of-god-before-man-on-box-part-3/

    Preacher’s own local assembly? Has that happened?

    I don’t think GCC has given an elder affirmation/ordination/confirmation whatever it is they do to Miano. At least he hasn’t advertised that they have and we surely would have been inundated with pictures if that had happened.

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  22. Muff, this is why:

    SHOULD MY WIFE ATTEND?

    Please note, the Shepherds’ Conference is specifically geared for men only. Our purpose is to minister to the pastors, elders, and leaders of the local church. We encourage you to allow us to serve these men by not bringing your spouse to the conference. We have limited space in our worship center as well as on campus. Our focus is to make this conference a time for these men to be refreshed and rejuvenated in their ministry.

    http://www.shepherdsconference.org/

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  23. Ok, I had to laugh at this:

    WILL THERE BE ASSIGNED SEATING?

    You will be placed into one of three color-coded seating groups, as indicated on the front of your nametag. This will enable all attendees to sit in the Worship Center for twelve of the eighteen general sessions. For the additional six sessions, seating will be provided in the Chapel and Family Center. Please consult the schedule on the back of your nametag to find your seating location for a given general session. The colored dots indicate the two groups seated in the Worship Center for each session.

    I remember Chuck bragging about the BGBC men getting seating front and center at each of the Shepherds’ Conference sessions because they would have someone from the group go in and save spots for the rest of the group. That always annoyed me. Why should they be entitled to have the best seats in the house at all of the sessions? This was one of those thoughts that I filed away as: NQR – not quite right – – and later would use as evidence of a pastor who had a sense of entitlement, proud/arrogant attitude that no pastor should possess.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. You’re right, Diane. Tony Miano is doing this street preaching on his own. I have not seen anything from GCC sponsoring/promoting/supporting him or Cross Encounters in any way.

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  25. “…because they would have someone from the group go in and save spots for the rest of the group.”

    What happened to esteeming others as better than yourself?

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Tony Miano is doing this street preaching on his own.

    Can he get ticketed for preaching without a license on the street?

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  27. “Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.” Luke 11:43

    Well that’s self explanatory, isn’t it? (rhetorical ?)

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  28. What in the world does “inerrancy summit” mean? Is the pope coming? Or are they becoming the pope’s inerrant competition? Haven’t seen anything more ridiculous. Sorry to detract from the topic. I am sorry Julie Ann for all you went through. I would be having a daily flashback.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. You’re experience reminds me of one of my favorite adages, JA: That which doesn’t kill me … can still hurt a lot!

    I’m glad that out of all that God has given you this ministry to those who also know what it is to be hurt by the ones who are supposed to be protecting them.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. “Open-air preachers should not be qualifying themselves to open-air preach. That is the role of the church! It’s not my role to qualify me or anyone else. It’s not the role of any para-church ministry (including my own) to qualify open-air preachers. It’s not the role of authors to qualify open-air preachers. It is the role of the church—the body of believers, the pastors/elders of the open-air preacher’s own local assembly.”
    I thought it was the Holy Spirit that ‘qualified us’ – gifted us to be teachers etc. I think where people are in error they see their church as ‘The Church’ so whatever their church decides it has to be ‘of God’.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Scott,,

    When you talk about “Church Planting” are you specifically referring to Neo-Reformed and the abusive Methodologies they practice toward those that don’t embrace their Doctrine and of the Methodology of sinful Spiritual Abuse and Self-Pride they practice towards those that that consider their retaliatory Methods as Sin?

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  32. So, the attendees at #ShepConf gave the thumbs up to CON suing a mom with a baker’s half dozen kiddos? Sweet. (Not) #ShepConfWeenies

    He inadvertently gave JA a wider circle of friends and supporters. God knows the SSB community has been such a strength to me during the last few years.

    Tim’s comment reminds me of the song hubby and I used to listen to a lot during our first year out of the cult. May it be fulfilled. Amen.

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  33. Tim, I would have changed it if you let me know privately, but now I’m not gonna. Haha.

    That is one nice thing about Word Press compared to the old Blogger blog. No fixing typos!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Mister,

    Thanks for your kind words. Inerrancy has to do with the Bible. One of their strong beliefs is that the Bible is inerrant, thus the theme.

    If I had daily flashbacks, that would be giving into CON. He doesn’t get to have that satisfaction. Just like he didn’t get the satisfaction of removing my voice from social media. I’m still talking! Can y’all hear me?!!! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  35. “SHOULD MY WIFE ATTEND?
    Please note, the Shepherds’ Conference is specifically geared for men only. Our purpose is to minister to the pastors, elders, and leaders of the local church. We encourage you to allow us to serve these men by not bringing your spouse to the conference. We have limited space in our worship center as well as on campus. Our focus is to make this conference a time for these men to be refreshed and rejuvenated in their ministry.”

    Barf
    Julie Anne your blog really helps me as does Michael and WWatch. I never got this women cant preach stuff, who do they think supported Jesus and his disciples as they were ministering? Who did Jesus first appear to? Who did not run away?
    Women!! Who ran away, the equivalent to those that are now attending said conference.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. I did watch some of the Shepherds conference then I went out and sand papered my eyebrows off I feel better now.

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  37. Wow – three years already? All I remember thinking is that I never tithed to that church and I would never willingly give one red cent to that man or his “church”. I’m so glad we won and he ended up paying! Justice was done, I’m glad the law was on our side. He thought he was preying on week women and children, he did not know he was actually getting a fierce lioness who does not back down to bullies!

    ~Hannah Smith

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  38. That’s right, Hannah. I still can’t understand why he added you to the lawsuit. Obviously you were struggling with your faith. That shows how much love is in his heart. You don’t win souls for Christ by suing them. Good grief, that man.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Brian wrote:
    “I did watch some of the Shepherds conference then I went out and sand papered my eyebrows off I feel better now.”

    LOL! I took all of my Pastor John MacArthur books and CDs and tossed them in the recycling container recently…and I felt SO MUCH BETTER! (I’d recently been ordered to be excommunicated and shunned at my church headed by one of the MacArthur’s Master Seminary graduates, my former senior pastor. My “crime”? Not backing down as they fast-tracked their friend, a convicted sex offender on Megan’s List here in California, into membership and leadership positions. They even insisted that he was ‘coming off Megan’s List’ and was ‘harmless’. His supervising law enforcement agency – the Sheriff’s sex offenders’ task force – begged to differ. The task force wanted to know what kind of church I went to that would treat me this way? Trust me, I told them, I ask myself that question all of the time!

    P.S. Previously to my excommunication/shunning, the senior pastor and his ‘yes men’ elders ORDERED that a long-time, personal friend of Pastor John MacArthur’s also be excommunicated and shunned. That man is a doctor, devoted husband to his wife for 40+ years, devoted and loving father, and he was kicked out on some trumped up charge!

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  40. Alex Grenier said this in reference to JMac and the Shepherds’ Conference and I thought it was so good:

    Correct doctrine is about as useful and meaningful as having a correct understanding of engineering and science and mathematics and medicine and then never building a bridge or never healing a sick person.

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  41. Thanks, Julie Anne, for sharing Alex Grenier’s words about ‘the walk’ of ‘correct doctrine’ versus ‘the talk’ of ‘correct doctrine’. Spot on!

    Thank you for this blog (which has helped so many and is a ministry as Tim said in his post), Deb and Dee at The Wartburg Watch (another great ministry for people who’ve gotten spiritually abused in churches) and Alex Grenier and the Calvary Chapel abuses.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. “Alex Grenier said this in reference to JMac and the Shepherds’ Conference and I thought it was so good:

    Correct doctrine is about as useful and meaningful as having a correct understanding of engineering and science and mathematics and medicine and then never building a bridge or never healing a sick person.”

    I attended a conference last year which dealt with how one exegete an Algebra and Trigonometry because there was a concern that we were not interpreting the text correctly even though we kept getting the same answer to all the equations because people were using different hermeneutics, some used calculators some a pencil an paper a few did it in there head. Well after a few minutes we realized it was stupid if it actually works so we all played chess.

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  43. Loosely quoting “If the plain reading of scripture seems to contradict or is confusing it is not in the words but it is in our reading.” Um nevermind.

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  44. I have come to understand that the “Word” made flesh is not a sentence or a punctuation if I remember right Greek does not have punctuation. I think I’m a heretic now.

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  45. Such a lot of ridiculous patriarchal good-old-boy rubbish to have a conference for man-pastors where women aren’t allowed. What a boatload of nitwits.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. I find it very peculiar that this group…Miano, O’Neal, etc., as it appears to me, worship GTY, John MacArthur, and co. It seems to me that Macarthur and GCC conveniently avoid being associated with them publicly.

    I mean, Phil Johnson posts pictures of himself with some fairly crummy people. You know, the kind that harass suicidal teenagers and pretend to repent of it for a bit after they kill themselves. But yet, there seems to always be an arms length between GCC and Miano and O’Neal. I wonder, is that because they are embarrassments to them through public harassment, aka preaching, and suing congregants respectively?

    As has been said before, Phi Johnson, I believe, is fairly mean to people who take any sort of issue with him. And from time to time, he’ll give a nod to Miano, being that they both have tendencies to be Twitter jerks on the same issues. But John Macarthur is like the Godfather or something, who carefully tries to disassociate himself with idiots publicly, although he has quite a few that work for him and hang out with him behind closed doors.

    None the less, Johnny Mac is responsible, IMO, for the idiots who flock towards him. Flies are attracted to poop.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. I left a comment on their site, will wait and see if it passes the moderator test. This is the quote + my comment: ‘The one thing missing in most pulpits is the one thing most important — the Word of God. This is life and death. It is bread to those who are hungry. [Al Mohler]’ So do you mean the majority of ministers do not preach from the Word of God. So if this is the case what are they preaching from.

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  48. ‘Correct doctrine is about as useful and meaningful as having a correct understanding of engineering and science and mathematics and medicine and then never building a bridge or never healing a sick person.’

    JA, Thank you for pointing this comment out. That is so true.

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  49. Oh my-

    “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.” Matt 6:5

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  50. Yep, anniversaries of significant events in our lives are milestones that can bring back memories of the event, but can also help the healing process as we realize how far we’ve come. You (and others) confronted and called out religious sin in leadership and got sued! But religious sin was the only sin Jesus confronted publicaly, I believe. So you know you’re all in good company ☺
    Praying for all of you who work on this blog. Thank you ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  51. JA, I would also like to underscore many of the above comments; your pain was a cornerstone of my healing. My excommunication several years ago (and the shunning that persists to this day, as well as the slander of my reputation) left me spiraling downward. It was stumbling upon SSB and The Wartburg Watch, and especially the hundreds of comments therein that dragged me from the pit into truth and hope, and finally, to healing and the desire to help others in the same situation. I know this anniversary is bittersweet; many the bitter lose is bite and the sweetness grow with each passing anniversary. I love watching the fruit of this blog (I would have called it “your ministry” but that’s just a gross trigger word for me). Live long and prosper! And may your tribe increase. 🙂

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  52. “Flashback: This Week At the Shepherds’ Conference with Pastor Chuck O’Neal Three Years Ago”

    Would that the flashback in this instance related to nothing worse than the re-experiencing of a bad trip, also know as Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD). There ought to be a term for when that which is surreal is exactly concurrent with that which is real. Happens every time the kool-aid gets laced with iron sunshine (metaphorically speaking, of course).

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  53. Pastor Chuck O’Neal helping Brother Kevin Jandt (Grace Fellowship Church, Iowa), get ready to herald the gospel. #ShepCon2015

    “FOR YOU CROSS ALL HEAVEN AND EARTH TO MAKE A SINGLE CONVERT, ONLY TO MAKE HIM TWICE THE CHILD OF HELL AS YOURSELVES!”

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  54. ‘Correct doctrine is about as useful and meaningful as having a correct understanding of engineering and science and mathematics and medicine and then never building a bridge or never healing a sick person.’

    “You’re going into the forest with a book on how to cut down trees but no axe.”
    — H.Beam Piper, The Cosmic Computer

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  55. Ha, Gary – – I actually only meant it as thinking back to an anniversary date. It hasn’t bogged me down. Watching the Twitterings of the Shepherds’ Conference and knowing the men who are there annoys me, however. It just seems like such a farce.

    If you’re going to be so focused on inerrancy – what about telling your brother he screwed up by suing 5 people and repent and apologize to them. It’s that kind of thing. They can talk inerrancy-shcmerrancy all they want and it doesn’t mean a thing if they aren’t living it.

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  56. Thank you for your willingness to expose the abuses going on in churches today and to help the victims heal and recover. I have been in the ministry for 30 years, 23 of those years as a pastor. I have always served smaller congregations, and in recent years I have transitioned to bi-vocational. Quite honestly, and if I may unburden myself, I doubt I’ll make it as a pastor until I reach retirement age in around 10 years. I’d have to leave the ministerial burnout I’m suffering and the hateful attitudes of church members for another time. It’s all wearing me out. I am exhausted spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Pray for me.

    What I see going on in the modern church in America often makes me ashamed to call myself a Christian. I’ve always affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, but good Lord, could the name “Baptist” take on any more negative connotations, especially in light of nutcases like the Westboro Baptist Church lunatics? I have also spent some time reading the web site, Baptist Predators, and again it sickens me what I have found there. Many of these pastors, even after their sexual abuses became known to the congregation, somehow kept preaching, living large, and making huge salaries.

    I also see the rock star mentality of many mega church pastors today, who are making millions and living like royalty. And then there are guys like me, who are seeking to live godly lives of integrity while trying to financially keep our heads above water. It’s enough to cause serious discouragement. Between my church salary and my part-time job as a school bus driver, I bring home around 35,000 a year. Would you believe I have had complaints from some church members that I make too much money? I assure you, as I told them, I am living anything but a lavish lifestyle on what I make. I realize I sound bitter, but It’s a relief to get this off my chest.

    Maybe I am an oddball, but I have no desire to run my church like a cult where I am the supreme head and the people do what I say without question. I am a simple servant of Christ who desires to see lives transformed by Jesus’ love. Speaking of the Lord Jesus, He’s awesome, but I find many of His alleged followers to be complete asses. Which reminds me, you were wise to get out of BGBC. I had never heard of them, but I went to their web site, and my gosh, what a weird, legalistic, rigid, and strange bunch. Their “About us” section of the web site where they listed their church doctrines would have taken me 2-3 hours to read. I lost interest real quick.

    Anyway, this is interesting and eye opening reading. Thanks for letting me vent, and thanks also for sharing, because it reminds me anew of the need for transparency, accountability, humility, and grace in the church.

    God bless.

    Liked by 3 people

  57. BTW – Women are allowed at the Summit! To volunteer, that is. Wasn’t that thoughtful of them? Miano posted a picture of his daughter volunteering.

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  58. Dan, welcome! You are a breath of fresh air. I’d love to hear more from your perspective as a pastor who does see the bigger disgusting picture, yet you are in the thick of things as a pastor and all that entails (which I understand can be very challenging). I’m so glad you commented!

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  59. “The Bible is sufficient. Now make sure to stop by the bookstore on the way out and pick up the 50 other books of ours that you need to interpret it.”

    Liked by 1 person

  60. Kathi – “I created a Bingo card that we can all play as we follow along with the crazy antics going on at the Inerrancy Summit.”

    The center space is the best, Kathi.

    P.S. My own response to the conference is going up on my blog on Monday.

    Liked by 1 person

  61. @Dan

    “Maybe I am an oddball, but I have no desire to run my church like a cult where I am the supreme head and the people do what I say without question.”

    If that’s “oddball” then I hope there are more pastors like you out there! Long live the oddball pastors! I’ll take one any day.

    Thank you for your kind service to the Body. And thank you for commenting.

    Like

  62. Tim – I tried to use the word “Gospel” as much as possible. Now I see I could have used it more. Gospel Truth, Gospel Book, Don’t buy that non-Gospel book, Women are not allowed – #Gospelsays

    Like

  63. Since the word gospel is so abused and misused, I have a question, and I’m being serious. What exactly is the gospel?

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  64. Dan, Thank you for your post. It is important for people like me (spiritually frustrated) to know there are pastors who truly want to serve God. It seems like pastors like you get the raw end of the stick when so many mega-church pastors have such great influence on Believers. I agree, $35,000 is a very small salary in this day and age. I hope you are able to continue to pastor. I also would like to know how does a person find a church that is safe and practices Christ’s love? I am not looking for perfection, but it seems the young men coming out of seminary only want to plant new churches ( here in the south where we already have enough) and create their own personal “kingdoms”. The church world is going crazy! Also, how can members of a congregation best serve their pastor? Thanks again for your insight!

    Liked by 1 person

  65. My comment was posted and the moderator finished with this comment: ‘he is unquestionably correct’. Guess what, I disagreed and told him he was entitled to his honest opinion. Wonder if comment no 2 will pass the moderator test.

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  66. Julie Anne,

    Blessed Anniversary. You have blessed so many by what you did and what you continue to do. I don’t remember when I started reading here, but I do remember the first time I saw info about what you went through at the hands of a “pastor.” It never entered my mind that a “pastor” would do such a thing. What I did not know when I started reading was what the future would shortly hold for me in a church. Knowing your story going into that situation was such a huge help and inspiration to me. May you be blessed by the knowledge that your life has meant so much to so many. This is truly a redemptive story of God bringing great blessing and good out of the evil intentions and acts of people using his name.

    Liked by 1 person

  67. Dan,

    Thank you for telling part of your story. It is encouraging to hear from a true pastor, and I wish that I could address the people who are being hateful to you and help them to understand. It is people like you that came to mind when I read the line about providing a time of refreshment for pastors. It is the men like you who need an all-expenses paid vacation, not the ones making all the money and all the fuss about themselves. Not to mention the many men and women who are working such long hours under stress who are not pastors. I wonder if these pastors understand that.

    Liked by 1 person

  68. I am glancing over this so I have not read every post. Are the people on this blog against church discipline as according to Matthew 18 or the abuse of church disciple?

    Like

  69. Julie Anne,
    This is my last comment interesting to see if it gets posted
    ‘he is unquestionably correct’ and that is your honest opinion and you are entitled to that. However based on what I have seen here in Australia, in my honest opinion, he is incorrect. If you believe that wouldn’t that also mean most of the ministers at your conference are also not preaching from the Word of God as they are a cross section of the population.

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  70. jkpvarin wrote:
    “JA, I would also like to underscore many of the above comments; your pain was a cornerstone of my healing. My excommunication several years ago (and the shunning that persists to this day, as well as the slander of my reputation) left me spiraling downward. It was stumbling upon SSB and The Wartburg Watch, and especially the hundreds of comments therein that dragged me from the pit into truth and hope….”

    Thanks JK for sharing your post. I concur. These blogs dealing with spiritual abuse saved my sanity. I am now coming out of my ‘funk’ of many months. (I am training for two endurance marathons, have gotten back to my love of live music which I haven’t done in 8+ years it was too worldly at my controlling, legalistic, authoritarian church, spend time with folks who cuss and I don’t blink an eyelash because by in large they are good folks who tell it straight and wouldn’t stab a person in the back). I decided to get back into waters sports.

    And I’m going to go tall ship sailing and I’m going to a race track to drive a fast, high-speed car. Life goes on! What a joy!

    P.S. The music alone – thank you youtube – has given me joy. Hours and hours of it. All different kinds.

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  71. @Julie Anne,

    The men at my former church would return with bags of free books they had been given at The Shepherd’s Conference. I think that’s what that white tent might be in the photo you posted.

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  72. Ray,

    You ask, “Are the people on this blog against church discipline as according to Matthew 18 or the abuse of church disciple?”

    I can only speak for myself, but I expect there is a strong consensus here in opposition to abuse of every sort, not just abuse of church discipline. As to your understanding that Mt 18 is addressed to church discipline, I wonder if you could explain a bit where you are coming from. I read Mt as only applying to a situation where an individual Christian sins against another individual Christian.

    What, exactly, are you referring to when you refer to church discipline? Instead of “church discipline, Is there some term you could come up with that’s actually in the Bible?

    Liked by 1 person

  73. Dan wrote:
    “Thank you for your willingness [Julie Anne] to expose the abuses going on in churches today and to help the victims heal and recover. I have been in the ministry for 30 years, 23 of those years as a pastor….I doubt I’ll make it as a pastor until I reach retirement age in around 10 years. I’d have to leave the ministerial burnout I’m suffering and the hateful attitudes of church members for another time. It’s all wearing me out. I am exhausted spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Pray for me.”

    @Dan,
    Thanks for your candor: That you are as troubled by what is going on in so many of today’s churches as the rest of us. The church has, in a large part, lost its mind and has become radicalized and bizarre! Those men spreading their hateful, non-Christian ideas through seminaries.

    I have found Pastor Wade Burelson’s book Hardball Religion (I bought it used off amazon) most helpful in explaining, in part, what is going on with the SBC. They ran off any moderates and liberals and now are attacking fellow conservatives.
    (I see his E-Church service from Enid, OK, on The Wartburg Watch.)

    I’d like to buy you a copy of Wade’s book as a gift, given your tight pastor’s salary, if you can email Julie Anne your information.

    Liked by 1 person

  74. Julie Anne, one of the first things I did was go to the minister one of one as per Scripture. One of the hardest things I have ever done. This was after I discovered what I believed was fraudulent behaviour, I left him to ponder Hebrews: 4:13. ‘Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account’.
    Four years on and I am still fighting to have some one held accountable for what happened but that’s another story.

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  75. rhondajeannie,

    My thinking on this topic isn’t very well developed, but as I mentioned above, it seems to me that the Mt 18 process is only prescribed for use in those situations where an individual Christian sins against another individual Christian. It is not intended as a mandatory process for confronting error. Certainly Paul seems not to have followed the process when confronting Peter’s error. Gal 2:11.

    I suspect that when we attempt to confront church leaders with error, they try to manipulate us into a Mt 18 process because they know they can control the outcome. How can there be a just outcome when the person you are attempting to hold accountable holds the hearts and minds of the very church they expect you to appeal to as a sort of jury. Good luck getting these people to act against their leadership.

    Certainly I applaud you for having made the attempt.

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  76. That is an interesting question about church discipline. I think that if someone is caught committing a crime at church, the police should be called and the person not allowed to return. If someone is teaching theology in Sunday School that differs from the church’s theology, then I can see asking them to step down. If there are noticeable problems in the church setting (someone is intoxicated in church, husband and wife come in arguing), I think the pastor should take them aside and offer to help.

    I have big problems with churches intruding into personal lives, however. I don’t support judging people for divorce, kicking a couple out for living together, fussing at people for missing services, commenting on parents being too permissive with teens, etc. We are all sinners and where else should we be but church (assuming it is a healthy one)? Let the Holy Spirit do Its work.

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  77. Ray wrote:
    “I am glancing over this so I have not read every post. Are the people on this blog against church discipline as according to Matthew 18 or the abuse of church disciple?”

    A. Once Upon A Time Church Discipline Seemed Like A Good Idea To Me

    Church discipline seemed like ‘a good idea’ to me when I heard about it at my former church. I had never heard of it before and I was told that it was something the church ‘had lost’ and needed ‘to return to’. They got all of us to sign membership covenants based on that. (I was familiar with the Scripture where a man in a church was having an affair with his step-mother, the church did nothing, the Apostle Paul told the church to discipline him, and later to welcome him back. That seemed reasonable to me.)

    B. The Abuses Of Church Discipline In American (Conservative) Churches

    But in point of fact, that’s not happening in American churches. “Church Discipline”/Matt 18:15-17 is used as a way to exert iron-fisted control over church members’ lives, and to call people ‘sinners’ who have disagreed with church leaders.

    C. Spiritual Abuse/Abuses Of Church Discipline At My Former California Church

    Examples at my former church of 8+ years (the senior pastor is a graduate of The Master’s Seminary which John MacArthur heads):

    *A godly doctor, a personal, long-time friend of Pastor John MacArthur’s was ordered to be excommunicated/shunned because the doctor had questioned the senior pastor/elders about Biblical error in their leading of the church. The doctor is conservative, a godly man, married to his wife for 40+ years, devoted husband, devoted father to grown children. He gave generously of his time and money to our church. The pastors/elders destroyed his name and his reputation.

    *A married woman refused to attend our church any more because she disagreed with their teachings and their lack of accountability to ANY higher church authority. She even moved out of the family home when her husband insisted they go to this church. She refused. She faced “church discipline” at a members only meeting.

    *The church secretary, a conservative married woman, wanted to leave the church because of what she saw behind closed doors and faced church discipline. Smart woman, she brought her new pastor (unannounced) to a meeting with my former’s church’s elders. They didn’t dare make a move against her in front of him.

    *Countless other members faced threats as well.

    *I was excommunicated/shunned for discovering, while doing a legal project for a prosecutor, that one of our church members’ was a convicted sex offender on Megan’s List. The pastors/elders said he was ‘harmless’ and ‘coming off Megan’s List’. The Sheriff’s sex offenders task force (his supervising law enforcement agency) called it “all lies” and “total lies”.

    The alarmed sex offenders’ task force contacted the California Attorney General’s Office, which runs my state’s Megan’s List, and they too confirmed it was “all lies” and that my pastors/elders were lying!!! (Note: There is an epidemic of child sexual abuse in the evangelical church that rivals that of the Catholic Church. Source: Church Mutual, the largest insurer of churches.)

    D. Mars Hill (Seattle, WA) – Excommunication/Shunning Of Paul Petry, His Wife Jonna, And Children

    When I was researching excommunication/shunning after it recently happened to me, I discovered the heartbreaking story of The Petry Family who went to Mars Hill in Seattle. Paul Petry, a godly pastor/elder (who is also an Ivy League law school graduate), was fired, excommunicated, and shunned when he questioned Mark Driscoll’s wanting to change the church governance structure.

    The damage done to the Petry Family was great (emotional, spiritual, financial, and relational). Only recently, as Mars Hill was imploding, did some of the elders apologize to Paul and Jonna Petry (and another elder who was excommunicated/shunned) here: http://repentantpastor.com/

    (Note: Dee and Deb who started The Wartburg Watch to deal with spiritual abuse also endured it and unwarranted church discipline for raising legitimate concerns.)

    E. Excessive Discipline Is A Sign of Spiritual Abuse

    What’s going on in today’s churches is abusive. It harms Christians, the Church, and the Lord’s name before horrified unbelievers. It does incredible damage.

    Here is Dr. Ronald Enroth’s book about Churches That Abuse, now for free and online here: http://www.ccel.us/churches.toc.html

    Dr. Enroth’s follow up book, also now available for free here and online here called Recovering From Churches That Abuse, here: http://www.ccel.us/churchesrec.toc.html

    E. There Are Many Other Books On Spiritual Abuse

    F. European, Conservative, Experienced Christian Church Elders Horrified By The Abuses Of Church Discipline In American Churches

    Conservative church elders in Europe who have heard about what happened at my California church and what is going on in American churches, this enormous amount of excommunications/shunnings, have said it is un-Biblical and NOT done at all in their churches, they can’t cite a single case in decades as being church elders in Europe. They are HORRIFIED and GRIEVED. They have said — all of the way from Europe — that these pastors/elders who are doing this will give an account to the Lord.

    G. Do You Believe In Scalpels?

    So, in answer to your question to us about Church Discipline, I have a question for you: Do you believe in scalpels? Would it make a difference to you if a scalpel was used to save a person’s life in surgery by a surgeon OR if was used to stab them in their home?

    Church discipline must be done correctly and in love, just like the Apostle Paul did it. It’s NOT being done that way in the American church.

    H. The Rising Population of “The Dones”

    There is a rising population of older Christians called, “The Dones”, by researchers: smart, loving, devoted Christians who are fed up with the problems in the organized church and they are leaving it in droves. They are different than The Nones, those who never believed in the first place. I understand why we have so many of them!

    I’ve met them, including other devoted Christians ordered to be shunned/excommunicated.

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  78. Julie Anne sorry but I just noticed that was not the most recent Shepherd’s conference blog where I posted my comment. Interesting how Terry Enns still responded. Still shaking my head at the ‘he is unquestionably correct’.

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  79. In your case, Rhonda, it was not private personal behavior that caused your concern but failure to follow by-laws and avoid conflicts of interest. These are organizational matters and also public matters given that churches have non-profit tax status.

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  80. Dan,

    You have been, and are, a target of spiritual abuse. No doubt there are many in the organizations we call churches who are the spiritual descendents of diotrephese. Where these operate in Baptist churches, they tend to be people who were instrumental in the founding of the church, or else their ancestors were. Sometimes, though not always, they bear the title of deacon.

    Whoever, they are, they keep their pastors poor, the better to control them. However, this strategy only works for true shepherds who are willing to lay down their lives for their fellows. The hirelings move on to greener, more lucrative pastures.

    You say you realize you sound bitter. Nah. You sound discouraged. Discouraged to the point of breaking. One of the marks of the abusers is that, after they have driven you to the point of despair, and maybe beyond, they lay on blame, guilt and shame with accusations of bitterness. Nobody should expect that the satan, or his minions, will play fair.

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  81. Gary W,
    It is written in their Code of Discipline, also I felt totally led to do this, even though I was freaking out, I think this was God making sure they couldn’t come back at me later and say you didn’t do Step 1.

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  82. Thanks for reminding us of this painful anniversary, Julie Anne. The country where I live has a few of those coming up in short order. Next Wednesday marks the 4th anniversary of the East Japan earthquake and tsunami. Later this month, it’ll be 20 years since the terrorist attacks by the Aum Shinrikyo cult. And, of course, all kinds of war-related dates to mark this summer.

    I expect to hear many stories of remembered pain and loss in the weeks and months to come, but also stories of courage and hope. Yours is definitely one of the latter. Thank you so much for your faith and perseverance, sister. May God give you much comfort and encouragement, as you have given to others here.

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  83. @Ann, Thanks for your kind words. I’d like to ponder what you said and offer some thoughts that might benefit you in seeking out a safe place of worship. I know they are out there. You are in good company with the countless spiritually frustrated people in the world.

    @Gram 3, Thanks to you also for your kind words. I could use that vacation 🙂

    @Michaela, God bless you for your kind and encouraging words and yes, I will receive your offer in the spirit it is given. I will email Julie Anne with my mailing address. This is an extremely sweet offer. I would love to read the book you mentioned. God bless you for your concern and desire to offer support – I believe God will use this to my benefit. Thanks so much.

    @Gary W, Your thoughts truly touched me and are right on target – thank you. You gave me a blessed perspective in what you shared. I deal with many bitter people and I do not want to ever be like them. And yes, I have been spiritually abused at the hands of mean and hateful church members. When I reflect back on the last three decades, I am amazed I am still at it. Only God could give me the strength to keep me doing this – that and a burden to share Christ’s love. God called me to preach, so I hold to my calling and keep on. On the other hand, I have ministered to, and encounter many who are genuinely decent people who love the Lord and are very supportive and are blessed by my ministry. This inspires me when I feel like giving up.

    One of you said that the church and Christians have gone crazy. I agree with that sentiment. Your thoughts and concern for me have touched me deeply. Please pray also for my sweet wife of 32 years. She is a cancer survivor whose faith inspires all who know her. God is faithful – all the time.

    God bless you all.

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  84. Barnabasintraining – P&P in the house! will work for Phil Johnson. I’m sure you’ve filled that space already.

    Julie Anne – A KSwan card?! I’ll need at least one glass of wine to do that!

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  85. A student I knew for 25 years and was very close with even after she left the program I work at passed early this morning. She was a caring soul that struggled with many disabilities in illnesses. God grant her peace and comfort to her family.

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  86. Kathi said:

    P&P in the house! will work for Phil Johnson. I’m sure you’ve filled that space already.

    I’m so glad nothing was in my mouth when I read that. haha You crack me up.

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  87. @Michaela:

    I have found Pastor Wade Burelson’s book Hardball Religion (I bought it used off amazon) most helpful in explaining, in part, what is going on with the SBC. They ran off any moderates and liberals and now are attacking fellow conservatives.

    What do predators eat after they’ve run off all the prey?

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  88. @Michaela:

    The men at my former church would return with bags of free books they had been given at The Shepherd’s Conference.

    What else can you do with all those “sales” ResultSource staged to juice the book onto the best-seller lists?

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  89. Please pray also for my sweet wife of 32 years. She is a cancer survivor whose faith inspires all who know her. God is faithful – all the time.

    Dan, I will pray for both of you. Your wife must be such an encouragement for you. God is faithful–all the time. Amen.

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  90. Barnabasintraining – P&P in the house! will work for Phil Johnson. I’m sure you’ve filled that space already.

    You is good to me, Kathi! 😀

    Regarding Johnson’s apparent neglect of duty in calling us bitter, I am not worried. I have the utmost confidence in him. He will come through eventually. 🙂

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  91. Yes, I do believe in scalpels when used correctly despite the great pain they may inflict in the name of healing.
    Based on your response, it seems as if you do agree with church discipline (Matthew 18) as long as it is done biblically.
    How would that look if it actually went through all the steps as prescribed by our Lord?
    I have only seen the excommunication of a believer once in my 25+ years as a believer and it appeared to have been done biblically.

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  92. Yes, I agree that Matthew 18 is referring to when an individual Christian sins against another individual Christian. Perhaps a more biblical term would be “winning your brother” since that is the motive (Matt.18:15).
    I have not read all of the posts but it does seem as if the people on this blog would not go to the extreme to say all biblical efforts at winning your brother as according to Matthew 18 are bad.
    Has anyone actually seen this process carried out all the way through the excommunication process biblically? If so, it would be great to post so that we can have a current example of how it looks.

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  93. Ray wrote:
    “….Based on your response, it seems as if you do agree with church discipline (Matthew 18) as long as it is done biblically.
    How would that look if it actually went through all the steps as prescribed by our Lord?”

    @Ray,

    The conservative American church has given birth to a resurgence, via controlling, unloving, ‘Church Discipline’ (demanding obedience and ‘submission’ on matters that are none of the elders/pastors’ business in the lives of church members and punishing members who won’t comply) to something akin to The Salem Witch Trials. It is a disgrace!

    All of these seminary leaders and Christian leaders, like Mark Dever/9 Marks, mislead us (if not outright lied to us) when they claimed that we were missing ‘Church Discipline’. You know what Dever and the rest of them are missing? Biblical love! They DON’T love people. They are control freaks, authoritarian, abusive, who treat grown adults like idiot children and misuse the Bible and Matthew 18:15-17 as a bully club. They are tyrants who are running regimes. They are full of pride and arrogance.They don’t care who they destroy. They rationalize the enormous damage they do to Christians and they aren’t the least bit sorry for it! They should all step down!

    They can’t, I discovered, claim to simultaneously be ‘loving shepherds’ while at the same time claiming that we ‘blindly obey them’ and ‘submit to them’. Those are mutually exclusive behaviors: choose one.

    Liked by 1 person

  94. Gary W

    I really love the Matthew 18 Process…
    But, NOT as it was taught to me in “The Corrupt Religious System.”
    That ole “Church Discipline” monster.

    In Mat 18, WE, His Disciples, are to become as little children…
    And, *The Humble* are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven…

    And, church leaders, pastor/leaders, are NOT mentioned at all, in Mat 18.
    “Church Discipline” is NOT mentioned at all, in Mat 18…

    Mat 18:1-6
    …Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?…
    …Except ye be converted, and become as little children…
    …Whosoever therefore shall *humble himself as this little child,
    the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

    *Humble – having a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.

    Hmmm? Have I met any, who call themselves “church leaders,”
    Who are humble? Having a modest, low estimate, of one’s own importance?

    I mean, even the nice guys I’ve met in leadership, and ME…
    Did NOT have a low estimate of their own, my own, importance. 😉

    And, I was the most humble, and superbest, servant/leader you ever met.
    🙂

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  95. Gary W

    Yes – I really love the Matthew 18 Process…

    In Mat 18, Jesus asks WE, His Disciples, to forgive seventy times seven.
    And have compassion on fellow servants, our brethren…
    Even as Jesus has pity on us…
    And forgives us our debt…

    Mat 18:21-35
    …Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me,
    and I forgive him? till seven times?
    …I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven…
    …O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt…
    Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant,
    even as I had pity on thee?

    Yeah, forgive “seventy times seven.”
    Is that a lot???

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  96. Gary W

    Yeah, forgive “seventy times seven.”
    Is that a lot???

    But, “The Corrupt Religious System,” only gives the trespassing “brother” 3 shots at obeying their rules, their interpretation of Mat 18:15-17. Sheeeeesssshhhh! 🙂

    1 – if **thy brother** trespass against you, go and tell him his fault
    between you and him alone: if he hears you, you have gained your brother.

    2 – if he will NOT hear you, then take with you one or two more…
    in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

    3 – if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church:
    but if he neglect to hear the church,
    let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”

    And that means to “The Corrupt Religious System.”
    To vote him out of the congregation, excommunicate him, shun him.

    Three strikes and you’re out…
    But Jesus said in Mat 18 – forgive your brother “seventy times seven.”
    Is that a lot???

    And, Jesus ends Mat 18 with verse 35…
    35* So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you,
    if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

    Hmmm? Does Jesus want ME to excommunicate MY Brother???

    When Jesus says…
    “let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican”
    Does anyone know what that really means???

    How did Jesus treat a “heathen man and a publican?”

    Oh snap. Holy Rotton Pharisees Batman, Pharisees complained when…
    Jesus sought them out. Went to their home. Had dinner with them.
    Loved them…

    Mark 2:16
    And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him
    eat with publicans and sinners,
    they said unto his disciples,
    How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?
    When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them,
    They that are whole have no need of the physician,
    but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous,
    but sinners to repentance.

    NOPE – I do NOT see Excommunication in MAT 18…
    Biblical or otherwise…

    I kinda see Jesus asking WE, His Sheep, to forgive and love…
    From our hearts… Our Brother…

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  97. @Ray,

    I’m curious why you posted a question to us about our beliefs about “Church Discipline”, but ignored its many abuses in the, primarily, conservative, evangelical church and pastors/elders destroying the lives, reputations, and relationships of countless upstanding Christians.

    Care to answer? Would you address the abuses now taking place and the harms done?

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  98. Amos,

    Excellent points, as always. I’m especially picking up on what you say about the way we treat unbelievers. We can all be grateful that Jesus does not shun unbelievers. Rather “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.

    Yet it seems discernment and wisdom are called for. We read:

    “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”” (1 Corinthians 5:11-13 ESV)

    It appears we are to break off fellowship with a brother who is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler. (Note that thought crimes, such as holding to a different interpretation of Scripture do not incur this drastic consequence. Neither does a refusal to submit oneself to the arbitrary authority of a man or “church” institution.) However, once that drastic step is taken, and given that we are called to treat the brother as an unbeliever, are we not then to quit judging him and, in fact, leave the 99 to pursue the one who is lost?

    But that isn’t the end of the matter. Wolves, pigs, vipers, scribes, Pharisees, lawyers (of a certain religious type) and hypocrites would appear to fall into a whole different category. Certainly we are to avoid the wolves and pigs; and Dan has reminded us that sometimes it is the congregants who are the wolves and sheep, and that it is the faithful minister (a/k/a “pastor”) who is a true sheep that they devour.

    Am I not right to understand that you were a “pastor” who found himself being devoured by false sheep? Yet they did not succeed in destroying you. Rather, they were the catalysts by which your true ministry of shining the light of Scripture, unimpeded by the traditions and vain philosophies of men, was born.

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  99. Ray,

    Michaela has put a question or three to you. I would join in petitioning you to share your thoughts. I suspect that any differences you and I have might not be that great. I like what you say about referring to “winning your brother” in place of church discipline.

    One area where we may differ most may have to do with our understanding of the meaning of “church.” I no longer believe in church. At least I no longer believe in church insofar as it has taken on an organized form, complete with coercive authority structures, since, as I understand it, about the time of emperor Constantine. Church, to my mind, is simply a coming together of called-out followers of Jesus–and it is best if they aren’t like minded, that iron might sharpen iron. Their mutual relationships are defined by Love, not authority. There is no place for constitutions, by-laws, covenants, pledges or any such thing.

    Such a gathering of believers has no authority to enforce it’s will on another, other than for protective purposes. Even in such an instance, the available sanctions are limited (basically, cutting of fellowship–without slander, shunning or such), and sanctions must be administered with a view to redemption, not punishment.

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  100. Happy thirdaversary, Julie Anne! Wow … what a journey — then and now … Glad to see how the Lord has made something redemptive from what seemed at the time unlikely to turn positive.

    P.S. I think you should get three free spaces on your Biblical BINGO card …

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  101. Thanks, Brad. I so greatly appreciate how you have supported me over the years and especially your friendship. There’s nothing like having a friend who truly understands spiritual abuse and has the gift of . . . .listening. And to think we’ve never met IRL!

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  102. BTW – Thanks all for your patience with me. I had meant to get another post out this week, but this term has been a doozy. It’s going well, but I feel like I’m in a constant state of never-ending deadlines and cramming for tests. I will never be more happy to see Spring break.

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  103. @Dan,

    Just a few songs of encouragement I wanted to pass on to you and your wife (and anybody else here on SSB!):

    1. “Lord Help Me To Hold Out” Spencer Taylor & Doug Williams at The Gospel Legends recording in Miss. (All of the Gospel Legends performances here are AMAZING and EDIFYING!)

    2. “Hold On” Lee Williams & The Spiritual QC’s

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  104. Ray: As regards church discipline, I see two problems which have occurred:
    1) Some clergy (“leaders”) have cloaked personal animosity against individuals in the mantle of church discipline, and pursued an abusive/oppressive agenda against those persons.
    2) Church discipline had fallen into disuse amongst “evangelicals” to the extent that most members and clergy found it an unusual concept. Its revival in certain circles is thus met with suspicion, and often rightly so, as the quelling of dissent from the agenda of the discipliners serves a purpose other than caring for the well-being of the sheep.
    My view on church discipline:
    1) I believe in church discipline, but it must be pursued with extreme caution and care. If a member abuses one of the sheep, such as molesting or assaulting them (here I am not referring to a fair fight at the church picnic, as long as no serious injury ensues, and the parties apologise to one another and the church for being knotheads)(insert smiley), that person should be removed from the church. If there is some personal sin, such as drug abuse, financial irresponsibilty, and so on,excommunication is not the aim, and should not be the subject of disciplinary action at all, but rather pastoral care.
    2) As regards false doctrine, each denomination has the right to determine what amounts to teaching of false doctrine. Thus, if I were a member of the Metropolitan Community Church, and I believed and taught marriage was a monogamous arrangement between a man and a woman, they would be right in giving me the boot. However, if you read some of the accounts of folks involved in abusive churches, you will see the scriptural view that one should not gossip transformed into an information-choking “no talk” rule. Similarly, the idea that pastors are to be honored is used by abusive groups to shield the “leadership” from even mild criticism.
    I may well be in a minority in this regard on SSB, but I really don’t know.

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  105. Obviously these are not Christians commenting. No grace and plenty of bitterness and dividing. The wicked always expose their hearts with what their mouths say.

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