ABUSE & VIOLENCE IN THE CHURCH, C.J. Mahaney, Calvinism, Christian Marriage, Divorce, Leaving the Church, Marriage, Marriages Damaged-Destroyed by Sp. Ab., Sovereign Grace Ministries, Sovereign Grace Ministries Lawsuit

My Thoughts on Josh Harris as a “Fallen Christian”

from Josh Harris’ Instagram acct

Josh Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and former senior pastor at Covenant Life Church, has issued a new statement on his Instagram account. He is being very honest. Not only does he confirm that he is going through a divorce, not just a separation, but he has also abandoned his faith. I’ve copied the text below in case it doesn’t show up large enough in the Instagram post.

View this post on Instagram

My heart is full of gratitude. I wish you could see all the messages people sent me after the announcement of my divorce. They are expressions of love though they are saddened or even strongly disapprove of the decision.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I am learning that no group has the market cornered on grace. This week I’ve received grace from Christians, atheists, evangelicals, exvangelicals, straight people, LGBTQ people, and everyone in-between. Of course there have also been strong words of rebuke from religious people. While not always pleasant, I know they are seeking to love me. (There have also been spiteful, hateful comments that angered and hurt me.)⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is “deconstruction,” the biblical phrase is “falling away.” By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Martin Luther said that the entire life of believers should be repentance. There’s beauty in that sentiment regardless of your view of God. I have lived in repentance for the past several years—repenting of my self-righteousness, my fear-based approach to life, the teaching of my books, my views of women in the church, and my approach to parenting to name a few. But I specifically want to add to this list now: to the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry. I hope you can forgive me.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ To my Christians friends, I am grateful for your prayers. Don’t take it personally if I don’t immediately return calls. I can’t join in your mourning. I don’t view this moment negatively. I feel very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful. I believe with my sister Julian that, “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

A post shared by Joshua Harris (@harrisjosh) on

My heart is full of gratitude. I wish you could see all the messages people sent me after the announcement of my divorce. They are expressions of love though they are saddened or even strongly disapprove of the decision.⁣⁣

I am learning that no group has the market cornered on grace. This week I’ve received grace from Christians, atheists, evangelicals, exvangelicals, straight people, LGBTQ people, and everyone in-between. Of course there have also been strong words of rebuke from religious people. While not always pleasant, I know they are seeking to love me. (There have also been spiteful, hateful comments that angered and hurt me.)⁣⁣

The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is “deconstruction,” the biblical phrase is “falling away.” By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.⁣⁣

Martin Luther said that the entire life of believers should be repentance. There’s beauty in that sentiment regardless of your view of God. I have lived in repentance for the past several years—repenting of my self-righteousness, my fear-based approach to life, the teaching of my books, my views of women in the church, and my approach to parenting to name a few. But I specifically want to add to this list now: to the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry. I hope you can forgive me.⁣⁣

To my Christians friends, I am grateful for your prayers. Don’t take it personally if I don’t immediately return calls. I can’t join in your mourning. I don’t view this moment negatively. I feel very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful. I believe with my sister Julian that, “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”


My Thoughts

I have nothing but heart-felt support for Josh. Yes, I know some of you are upset because of how the SGM sex abuse scandal was handled and you believe Josh did not tell the truth. Yes, I know some of you don’t believe that he was sincere enough in his apology about his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Also, some of you feel like he didn’t represent you well in the documentary. I get it. I really do. And your concerns are valid and appropriate. I don’t want to dismiss your reality at all. It’s important to acknowledge the truth – from all sides.

In my earlier post about Josh, I shared my thoughts that I believe he was a victim of the culture in which he was raised. I mentioned his father, Gregg Harris, was a superstar in the Christian Homeschool Movement. This culture was destructive. It has left families in shambles, some completely torn apart.

And then he moved on to be mentored by C.J. Mahaney and take his place as senior pastor. We all know about C.J.’s character and why so many pastors removed their churches from the mother ship, Covenant Life and Sovereign Grace Ministries.

So then, after Josh left CLC and moved to Vancouver with his family, he sought out – asked for – people to send him stories about how his book affected them. I have read many, many comments and articles on the internet of people sharing how Josh’s book harmed them, their marriage, contributed negatively to their lives. Try to imagine yourself as Josh reading all of those notes – knowing your book affected lives so deeply. That’s pretty heavy.

Not many people are willing to do that. I give Josh credit for taking the difficult road and trying to understand what people went through.

Somewhere along this process, evidently Josh has also been questioning his faith and foundation. This is understandable. He’s in his 40s and doesn’t it make sense that he would want to re-evaluate his core beliefs after the mess he inherited and left at CLC?

Josh says he is no longer a Christian. He had to say that because in his old Calvinist camp, of course they would say that. They probably say that he never was a Christian because that’s what Calvinist’s believe: once God calls you, you can never leave. If you leave, then you never were. At least that’s what I’ve been told numerous times by numerous Calvinists.

We don’t know the spiritual and emotional battles he has faced these past years as he has been reflecting. We don’t know what has been in his thoughts or his heart. But for some reason, he has been willing to share part of his journey publicly with us. He didn’t have to share anything, but by doing so, he is showing his humanity, his vulnerability, and transparency.

But do you know how difficult it is to challenge everything that you’ve ever known? Do you know how difficult it is to take what you’ve learned from your parents and sift through it? Do you know the emotions that go along with that – the feelings of anger, betrayal, and sadness when you discover that you can no longer hold onto those teachings?

“Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.⁣⁣”

Josh is not alone in this journey. There is a grieving process during this sifting work. It takes time, along with emotional and physical energy. This is hard work. But Josh is currently walking the path that many of us who have harmed by church have taken. This is good stuff. We should be grateful that he is doing this necessary and challenging work.

We do not know where Josh will be spiritually in 10 years. I am very grateful that he is taking the time to reflect and figure out where he is emotionally and spiritually. I hope and pray that he is able to weed through the crap, and when he gets to the end of the end of this process, that he finds Jesus, who was waiting for him the whole time. The sad reality in many of these personal stories is that he may not find Jesus, and I understand why he may not, but that is my sincere hope and prayer. Let’s give him the time and space he needs to do that.

131 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Josh Harris as a “Fallen Christian””

  1. Thank you for this article, Julie Anne. I hope your blog is one of the places that Josh will look to for healing and information. He could learn a lot from your story, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is very sad. I know in the first post, he talked about his faith being narrowly defined and I wonder if this plays into that. I am so thankful that God showed me a healing and gracious church. By the standards of my old church, I was (and maybe still am) ‘fallen away’ like Josh. My old church allowed no place for anger towards God. My new church says, ‘anger is okay, but don’t turn and walk away.’

    Maybe I’m projecting, but I see so many similarities. I walked this path that started out as having an amazing Christian upbringing and being part of an amazing church. Then my upbringing was still amazing, but God was “working on something in my heart” through a difficult church. Then I realized that my church was abusive. Then I realized that my family was abusive. That was the bottom for me, and I had nowhere to go, because the God I was taught was too holy to come to with my complaints, especially if I was complaining about his holy plan for my life.

    At my new church, I heard, ‘it’s okay to come to God with your anger, even if you’re angry with him!’ Then I heard, ‘the abuse is not from God. It’s from the enemy.’ I can’t say that I’m fully at peace with God allowing the abuse in my life, but I am convinced that wrestling with God (‘deconstruction’?) doesn’t make me apostate.

    It’s a hard place. After I researched this new church and decided to give it a try, I got out of my car. My first thought was, “if I get back in my car and drive home, no one will know”. I had to get through the gauntlet of greeters, then got ushered to the guest desk to get my first time visitor kit. I was completely regretting not getting back in the car when the service started, but the first thing I noticed when the music started was that people looked happy and free. They were smiling! At my old church it was like people at a funeral.

    All that to say, maybe Josh has lost “a faith” rather than “the faith” 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

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  4. Wow, this leaves me shocked and a little numb. And, tbh, a little hopeful. After divorcing an emotionally abusive man a few years ago, the fallout has led me to a similar place as Josh. It’s so lonely. So reading his words gives me an odd, tiny feeling of hope, or at least the comfort that I’m not alone. He’s originally from my part of the world, and I know people who knew him growing up, so that connection feels especially meaningful.

    I feel like I’m rambling, so just, thanks for posting this

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  5. “Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.⁣⁣”

    I’m 10+ years out of church and still not there. Still sitting in the unknown of “practicing faith,” what that means, and if it’s actually worthwhile. All I know is to be in the present and I hope Josh and Shannon find that.

    My heart goes out to both of them. I can’t imagine having their whole lives reviewed and criticized publicly. May they both find peace and joy and love.

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  6. Julie Anne, I’m glad you take that view. This is actually good news! People need to understand “faith shifts.” Josh has taken a major step in the right direction. People worried about him losing his Christian faith need to remember two things: (1) the pendulum often/usually swings way to the other side coming out of fundamentalism, and (2) what really matters is whether Josh embraces a life ethic of love. If he does, which I suspect he will and still embraces, it won’t matter where he lands with a religious label.

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  7. Josh: But I specifically want to add to this list now: to the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality.

    This is nice to hear. And I had some speculation previously (that I didn’t mention) and this doesn’t exactly counteract it but I obviously have no idea.

    I don’t know who this Justin Peters person is but he seems to be kind of a jerk. What ever posses these people to act like that is beyond me. They are downright gleeful at the idea that someone might be ‘apostate’. It says nothing good about them. Throw the RHE haters in that category as well. Ugh.

    There are people who manage to do christianity and accept other ideas, and maybe Josh will find his way there someday but I get why he can’t yet.

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  8. “Booooo!” “Arrrgh!” and “Ssssss!” to Justin Peters. What a jerk. Can’t blame Harris for wanting out of that tribe…

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  9. RE: Justin Peters — Josh was groomed and trained for ministry all those years ago. If it’s anyone’s problem, it’s those who were guiding him into those positions.

    To Josh – Enjoy your freedom from this mind oppression! I hope you are able to come to terms with your faith and beliefs whatever they may look like.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. It’s horrible, and, unfortunately, the “glee” is that it fits their narrative that leaving a fundamentalist definition of Christianity means leaving the faith altogether.

    I have a friend who stood up to his abusive church. An elder told him essentially that God would punish him for leaving the church. Either he’d crawl back with his tail between his legs, or he’d leave the faith. It’s stories like these that they use as ammunition for their asinine claims.

    The SGM god is not the real God. Plain and simple. The real God is not going to punish Josh Harris for finally being truthful with himself and realizing that “Allah” doesn’t fit who he is. I trust that “Jesus” will.

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  11. Yea, SKIJ, I tried engaging with Justin and eventually waved the white flag. Too reminiscent of CON and I know there is no way there will be understanding. I’ll use my time elsewhere.

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  12. Thank you for this Julie Anne. I feel less hopeful for those who never question what they’ve been taught. May truth continue to set him free.

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  13. This is lovely, Julie Anne.

    I always say that if God is the gracious, loving God of all comfort, He is certainly magnanimous enough to love us despite our doubts – if not because of them. His love and Spirit bring liberty, and I believe that God respects us even more for trusting Him with our doubts. If we cannot be honest with God, who then can we dare take that risk?

    I’m encouraged that Josh seems very humble in all of this, and he seems to be starting at the best possible center — one of compassion for himself as he is ever mindful of the road he’s traveled. He needs time and room to sort so many of these things out. (Twenty plus years later, I’m still sorting out my own ideas, but that is a part of growth.) May we all find great mercy.

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  14. I can’t imagine growing up in an environment where your path in life is predetermined at such a young age. Then being encouraged to be a role model-rockstar for Christian youth at 21. I can image Josh is probably throwing a lot of his indoctrination out at this point. My prayer for Josh and his family is they can take time to examine the bubble they have all been placed in and seek truth, which starts and ends with “God is love”.
    I am sure the whole family is hurting and need healthy relationships and even professional therapy to help recover from a cult like mentality and for each member to discover their individuality.
    Those who throw stones usually do so from a point of fear. And even worse, pride.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Ugh – Twitter conversations. Now this woman is trying to school me. You see if I say that I don’t, then she’s going to call me a heathen. I know how this works.

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  16. I am simply grieved to read Josh’s account, full of regret and pain and doubt.

    I know many of us had to leave our churches to find Jesus. I did. So I pray Josh is able to do the same. Our Lord is so gracious, so good. I just pray that the day comes when Josh rediscovers Him, the real Him.

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  17. Sad story here.

    If Justin claims to believe in Calvinism he should be stating (per their doctrine) that Josh was never part of the “elect” vs. calling it “apostasy.”

    I am sure it never helped Josh being around C.J. Mahaney and being exposed to Mahaney’s hypocrisy first hand and was harder when Josh tried to do the right thing and seeing all these older leaders including Mahaney not want to do the right and biblical thing. That is they chose to deny the sin and hypocrisy of C.J. Mahaney.

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  18. ‘Do you affirm the bible is the INERRANT WORD OF GOD’ equals ‘agree with me about everything without daring to think about it in any unapproved way. Bah. I have no patience for these people.

    Anybody who dares to think is bound to have a crisis of faith with these people around!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. My wife and I led divorce recovery groups for many years. When participants who had been stoically quiet for weeks suddenly burst out with tears, remorse, anger and regret we knew the process of healing was engaged. My wife would squeeze my hand under the table and I would supress an inappropriate smile by looking down and biting my lip.
    I hope Josh is there.
    I also hope he drops the Instagram posts for a while. Save his thoughts for a journal, a therapist and carefully gauged ones for his kids.
    Thank you Julie Ann for your insights.

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  20. It’s not easy to own the harm you have done as a religious ‘leader’, but it is a necessary part of the journey towards a more honest spiritual life. I wish Josh well as he negotiates the path before him.

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  21. “I also hope he drops the Instagram posts for a while.”

    I agree. I don’t think he’s going to find healing by making those public statements. The wolves are licking their chops.

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  22. When Josh announced he was going to Regent College after leaving SGM I though, Whoa…I hope he can stick it out.
    Over 20 denominations represented in the faculty, a veritable U.N. of students, and world class professors and scholars from 4 corners of the earth.

    The culture shock must have been something. To learn to think, to be challenged academically, to be in small classes that aren’t bubbles, and not be a star…or a clone.

    I often wondered how his family coped being in Canada.

    He stuck it out, and the world an infinite and transcendent God created opened up to him.

    “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

    He might enjoy David Hayward (another Canadian) over at The Naked Pastor as he goes through deconstruction.

    May he and his family find healing and peace.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Bene D, yes, David would be a good person – also the guys at Almost Heretical, specifically Nate, who lived in Josh’s old area in OR and has gone through his own deconstruction.

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  24. I see this train wreck in my own family. We raised our kids in this swamp, with honorable motives, but now 2/4 kids are walking away. Calvinists are taught they were chosen, so if you don’t measure up, oops you are not IN the fam!!
    Yes I grieve this situation, because we followed Bill Gothard, Doug Phillips and others who distorted our view of Christ Jesus. Our kids see us hurting and unable to be a part of any church due to years of spiritual abuse at the hands of the Bayley Bros Narcissistic Cult.
    Now I see Jesus alone on my front porch surrounded by nature and struggling with the list years. Josh will grieve this too😥

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  25. It must take a ton of courage to deliberately ask for stories of how your work has hurt other people. That humility has to be closer to the heart of God than any insults being lobbed by self-righteous Pharisees.

    Back when I was a Calvinist, I got to the point where I realized that if Calvinism was the only way, then I couldn’t be a Christian anymore. That was terrifying, but fortunately, the river of Christian thought is very broad, and Calvinism is just a VERY small part. I’m sure it probably felt like it was the whole Universe while Harris was in it. I know the feeling.

    If Harris keeps living into love, he will be ok. I’ll send kind thoughts to his kids. Divorce is never easy on children, even in situations when it needs to happen

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  26. I have zero problem with anything Josh is going through or claiming he is not a Christian.
    None of us are supposed to come to Christ through our parents, or churches. He never had that chance to really come to the decision of choosing Christ in the first place. That choice was already made up for him as a kid. And then He was told his whole life to honour his parents.

    To me, if he so chooses later on after he sheds this burden that has unjustly placed on him he can fully choose if he wants Christ for who Christ is. Not who His Mega Star Dad is, his church is or even what his theology says.

    He is on hard hard path but a good one.

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  27. Bene d

    I was wondering the same thing. The religious climate in Canada is much different here than in the states.

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  28. Such a kind and compassionate post, thanks Julie Anne! I was encouraged to hear how “surprisingly hopeful” he feels. Yep, that is freedom from a structure that is not Good News. He’s not alone in this journey and I trust that he’s safe in the Father’s love. I was especially happy to hear him reference a Julian of Norwich quote at the very end of his post. Ultimate hope and rest right there!

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  29. Monique, yet those harmful people on Twitter are taking issue with his “surprisingly hopeful” comment and publicly shaming him. 🤦‍♀️😡😢

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  30. Yes, so sad. They can only see and validate a faith that “walks and talks” a certain way, otherwise you’re out.

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  31. Makes sense, and I’ve been there, too. When you leave a theological system that held to a flawed view of the gospel–you’re personal assurance of having received the gospel is profoundly shaken. But I would say, it’s not completely accurate to say, “Josh Harris is no longer a Christian,” because that’s not what he himself said. He said that according to the “measurements” that he holds regarding the definition of a Christian, he cannot call himself one. That’s actually good, because his measurements, standards, etc., failed him terribly when he needed them the most, and also did unintended damage to his readers and church members. Perhaps like Paul, he is battling with his perception of himself, as a religious leader. Or, like Peter, he is realizing that the rules, dogma, and application of the beliefs he grew up with do not, and never did, please God, and that “what God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” That’s a good journey to be on, and he’s not alone on it.
    I don’t mean to sound catty about it–but I have found that it is very, very true, that “…if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” God often shatters and tears down our flawed building projects when they are dangerous and unsound. But He then faithfully uses the rubble as His building material in making something beautiful.
    I wish Josh well.

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  32. From what I understand, “Sovereign Grace” embraced Calvinist doctrine (i.e., “predestination”), so Justin Peters’s comments (accusations?) above referencing 1 John 2:19 should not come as too much of a shock to Josh, since Josh, too, as a (now former) SG Senior Pastor, would have been expected to endorse such doctrine during his tenure at Covenant Life Church.

    Divine election (which Josh obviously espoused, as well, through his prior association with SG) is one of the distinguishing characteristics of “reformed” theology–hardly news to Josh.

    It’s like if a “cool” kid suddenly starts listening to classical music, wearing glasses, and dressing formally. He KNOWS his previous “cool” acquaintances are going to brand him a “nerd.” He sees it coming because he’s witnessed them doing that to others. This does not excuse, however, Peters’s brash insinuations.

    Maybe at some point, Josh realized that Calvinism and a prescribed, detailed formula for securing a future spouse were thoroughly incompatible. And then, perhaps, this cognizant dissonance, along with a myriad of other issues, sparked his transitioning.

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  33. “The popular phrase for this is “deconstruction,” the biblical phrase is “falling away.” By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.”

    I wouldn’t equate “deconstruction” with “falling away” either, although I know that is a common misunderstanding. Like Ken said, I personally don’t see him as a non-Christian, just stepping beyond the small niche of evangelicalism that he grew up in and was immersed in. That niche is a small percentage of worldwide Christians, which tends to be forgotten and not considered.

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  34. Yes, great points, Ken. I originally had no quote marks on the title of this post, but later added them in because I agree with you. He is saying he is no longer a Christian based on the measurements of his previous practice/teachings/culture/doctrine. I believe he is in a time of reflection. I do not believe he has ruled out God at all.

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  35. Like

  36. “By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. ”

    I understand exactly where Josh is coming from, especially now that an idiot like Bret Detwiler is trumpeting that Josh is “apostate.” I don’t claim to be a “Christian” either, mainly because I refuse to argue semantics with totalitarian, legalistic pinheads.

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  37. It is baffling how contradictory Brent’s comments are his supposed belief in Calvinism. Calvinism (sometimes called a “sovereign grace”- lower case) teaches man has no choice with regard to salvation and that God gives only some an irresistible grace. A Calvinist would say that God never really elected Josh to salvation vs. state it was an act by Josh.

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  38. Calvinism says both…and. But, here’s my perspective. Again, lots of parallels.

    Josh was raised by parents who were Christian ministry leaders. At a young age, he was identified as being gifted, and in 1994, he was writing articles for popular homeschooling magazines and even published his own (my wife knew it by name). I’m guessing he was encouraged due to his readership to publish a book on his views of courtship – as a hip homeschooler. Again, this was probably not what he wanted for himself, but something that was strongly encouraged by those around him who knew better. Then, he was identified as gifted in ministry, and again, probably encouraged by those more godly and more wise (i.e. CJ Mahaney) to use his gifts. So, at the “pinnacle” of his career, he’s there because he’s taught to be a man-pleaser from birth, and all the people were telling him what he should be doing.

    I’m guessing that as the SGM scandal became known, he started realizing that he didn’t have the desire to slog through everything, and seminary became the answer to the question, “am I really called to be a pastor by Jesus, or just the influential people around me?” Seems like the answer became clear and he stepped out of ministry completely.

    Now, he’s unwinding everything. What was Josh Harris and what was Gregg Harris/CJ Mahaney/SGM?

    I think he must be stronger than I was because I have this feeling that, while I has all these sorts of issues, God only gave me a taste of them, rather than full force. Josh has suffered, in my opinion, very deep and strong emotional and spiritual abuse, and I can see why he needs to dig much further down than I did into what he really believes and why. That’s why I appreciate that he is still questioning.

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  39. I have yet to see ANY good fruit come from Calvinism. I know and love many wonderful Calvinists (or should I say, “many wonderful people who happen to be Calvinists”), but I have never seen any good fruit from this ideology, has any one else?

    I have met and talked with Justin Peters. He is a really nice, sweet man. Yet he is also an illustration of what happens to many (not all) Calvinists…they can easily lose their minds and spew ugly things (perhaps we can, I guess). Despite what they may say, Calvinism does take precedence over Christianity.

    On another note, yes, this whole thing is so tragic, in a multitude of ways. No doubt Calvinism and CJ and SGM played a part. But, in this, and many similar tragedies, a major factor are bitter former Christians, bitter blogs, and bitter quasi-Christian/quasi-new-spirituality peeps who snipe at Christians and Christianity, all in the name of love, grace, etc. They may not know exactly what they believe about God (at least they won’t tell you), all they do know is they are zealously against Christianity, or Christians who have a high view of Scripture.

    The bottom line is that these Echo Chambers are death–death to truth, objectivity, and, apparently, to the faith of many poor souls. Did you notice how these same people were literally rejoicing over this?

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  40. There are many who reject God and/or absolutely hate Jesus, and many who claim some belief in Jesus, yet they are all wildly celebrating a person leaving Jesus (ostensibly, at least in their eyes). Why is that? I get those who do not believe in, if not hate God, but why aren’t more people alarmed about this unity of rejoicing?

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  41. M, need to separate Calvinism from authoritarianism. Calvinism justifies the authoritarian perspective because the church was at its worst, from that perspective, during the lives of Luther and Calvin. Luther and Calvin took a stand against the abuse of church officials and started the wave towards freedom, but it didn’t stop with them. Thoughtful Christians since the Reformers have seen the dangers of authoritarianism and written against it.

    However… today’s Calvinists don’t follow in his tradition of refining the bounds of authority. Instead, they believe Calvin and the Reformers were the pinnacle of Christian truth. Why? Because it justifies spiritual abuse in the name of church authority, and Calvin is used to justify it. My pastor is Reformed, yes, but he also has followed faithful men, post-Calvin, who understood the Reformation as a stepping stone towards a better understanding. Let’s say this is a “growth” mindset vs. a “static” mindset, and that’s much of the reason why the church is becoming increasingly backwards and irrelevant – because authoritarian spiritual abuse is more important than lifting peoples’ burdens in the name of Christ.

    Listen to the dialogue. One group is laying on burdens, cursing and pushing fear and condemnation. It’s the Calvinist pastors. The others are comforting and lifting burdens. It’s the done’s.

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  42. I applaud honesty and transparency- it’s always a move in the right direction. If faith in God is to mean anything, it’s got to start with an honest heart. I have faith that looking with truthful eyes leads us the right way even if it doesn’t seem at first to be the way we’re expecting.

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  43. I hate when these things get turned into calvinism because that’s so simplistic. None of this IKDG or homeschooling or oppression of women came generically from calvinism. The denomination I joined is SO different and it’s my first experience with calvinism in a church setting.

    This is something else.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Well said. I was also reflecting on how much courage and humility it must’ve taken for him to double back on his entire life’s work, seeking out and reading all the stories, and even seeing it blow up in his face within his own marriage. How could that not affect one’s faith? The deconstruction process is hard, hard work, and too few embark on it. He is a brave soul, and I hope he finds a community of people to rally around him and show him patience and love. It’s not important that he know what he believes right now. Like you said, I hope he comes back to Jesus in his own way, in his own time, and finds something more truly life-giving than what he had before. There are a lot of resources and people out there to help those who are in a similar place.

    Like

  45. I pray that Josh and Shannon will get back together. I pray that love will win! The promises that they made to each other on their wedding day and intended to keep, I pray they will keep. No marriage is painless. But, love can overcome almost anything! Love is a choice. Christ shows us this in drinking the “cup”.

    Like

  46. In reading the letter from the church, it hit me. I went through something similar as them, as one of my former pastors, one that participated in one of my milestones, also did something similar. I would rather not go into details. But I will say that 1 Kings 11 is strangely comforting. I am glad he is grateful for prayers. I pray for him, as well as those he’s baptized, couples he’s married, those who have lost family members and he did the funerals, and those who were mentored by him in any other kind of difficult time.

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  47. Aside from whatever doctrinal beliefs would cause people to respond in such a hateful manner, I think they’re just mad to lose one of their respected celebrities. There’s a certain loss of validation for them in this. They really don’t give a hoot about Josh and probably never did.

    “Doctrine Over Person” is also one of Robert Lifton’s criteria for Thought Reform. Just sayin’.

    Liked by 2 people

  48. I do get it and I do appreciate this article. The PDI/SGM model was so destructive to the body of Christ. I am reminded of when the disciples were complaining to Jesus about the way another group was represented Jesus. Jesus said leave them alone as they are preaching Jesus. In PDI/SGM there was such haughtiness in how “we got it right” which says or certainly implies everybody else is wrong. If you didn’t homeschool your kids you didn’t get it right. If you allowed your daughters to wear a two piece bathing suit you didn’t get it right. If you allowed your children to get tattoos you didn’t get it right. If you moved to take a job in a city without a PDI/SGM church you didn’t get it right. If your kids were rebellious you didn’t get it right. If you didn’t accept the pastors counsel as straight from Jesus you didn’t get it right. If you fellowshipped with a non-accepted group you didn’t get it right. If you didn’t manage the Holy Spirit you didn’t get it right. I could go on and on. Thank God for His mercy to Josh in this time to maybe get some things right that weren’t so right in the destructive denomination. There will always be those who feel it is their right and responsibility to judge and will tell him once again if you don’t do it their way you didn’t get it right. Thank you Julie!!

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  49. Keith, you describe EXACTLY what I have heard from countless people who have attended PDI/SGM/SGC churches. It is such an unhealthy environment, so legalistic, so lacking grace.

    I hope you are in a safe place now and that you are recovering from these teachings. Thank you for sharing here. It’s important for people to understand what Josh has lived/taught for so many years.

    Like

  50. Justin Peters in his exchange with Julie Anne

    “Please do not ascribe motives to people…”

    Draggin my jaw off the floor.

    Liked by 2 people

  51. I responded to Jacki Vinson. What an awful human being.

    Like

  52. Singleman – the Christian Post article seemed to me to be contradictory. Farris said

    You have walked away from your marriage. That’s not right. You have walked away from your faith in Christ. That’s even worse.

    Here he seems to be taking the line Harris is committing apostacy. Certainly backsliding, but third-party observers cannot know what is going on inside, and Harris may be trying to cope with his life’s work turning out to be little more than hay, wood and stubble. It’s also possible that Josh Harris was not the one initiating the separation and divorce, but at present that can only be speculation.

    But then he goes on to say

    As immersed as you were in Christian culture and a career as a pastor, you never actually knew Jesus..

    He can hardly fall away from a faith he never really had in the first place.

    You haven’t walked away from a relationship with Jesus. You have walked away from the culture you were raised in.

    This might be the most accurate statement. I know very little of Harris’ teaching, his best seller is not the kind of book I would gravitate towards (too late anyway!), as I don’t usually like books giving detailed information on ‘how to do’ something when the bible has little to say on the matter – of which dating would be a prime example.

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  53. David Shere – I have checked several times and I have no clue why your posts keep getting stuck in moderation. You are NOT in the dog house!!

    Like

  54. “Mike”, I’m going to pat you on the back just so I can get close enough to you to make the dagger dig that much deeper, Farris?

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  55. As rarely as I agree with KAS, It is rather interesting to watch everybody claim that Josh is the one responsible for the divorce. Is this because of patriarchy? That he is the ‘famous’ one? He is the one they want to blame?

    We know nothing about why they are getting divorced. It is silly to blame either of them at this point.

    Justin Peters in his exchange with Julie Anne “Please do not ascribe motives to people…”

    HAHAHA. Right.

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  56. So, Michael Farris, the patron saint of child abusers is tut-tutting Josh Harris. And… only to score points for courtship, purity culture and anti-LGBTQ and all the other things he wants to hate on.

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  57. Well, the response from Michael Farris and all the rest of this crowd isn’t surprising but sickening. Their true colors come through. So disappointing. As others have pointed out, ironically, the “formula” faith that Farris denigrates is the very thing he’s using to beat up JH with. It shows how their “formulas” are worthless and empty.

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  58. @M

    “bitter former Christians, bitter blogs, and bitter quasi-Christian”

    Do you think people who write books, have blogs and cry about their misery living through Children of God, NXIVM, or the Taliban are just bitter? Do you believe they should keep their mouths shut about how much these cults ruined their lives and childhoods?

    When Christians call other people bitter the truth is Christians are bitter that people can leave Christianity and speak out against it.

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  59. Daisy, I would comment at your blog, but I only have a Google Account of the options and for reasons… I’m not wanting everyone in the world to know who I am.

    I’ve been digging into some areas – trauma, especially childhood trauma, attachment theory and how people carry those with them. While addictions often cause horrible issues for those around the addicted, there are often trauma-related causes of addiction. There are some pretty good videos out there from experts in the field.

    One of the researchers said that when there is trauma, especially where a person has a lack of control over the source of the trauma, the brain creates a negative feedback loop. This is where “triggering” comes from. Depending on the severity of the trauma, people will often self-medicate (i.e. get addicted to something that prevents the triggering) to avoid the effects of the negative feedback loop.

    I don’t think everyone follows that path. In a sense, I’m more scared of losing control than I am about getting into a negative feedback loop. That doesn’t mean I’m somehow healthy and non-addictive, just that I’ve found other ways of preventing triggering – mostly through protecting myself from vulnerability.

    I don’t know if this affects Harris – I suspect somewhat it does, because he suffered abuse as a child while being in a ministry family that had to keep up appearances. So, whatever pain he was feeling inside had to be suppressed and controlled because looking the part was the only objective. That may have also led to the explosion. If he was trying to maintain an image for so long, then once the image was tarnished sufficiently, the cost of keeping up the facade was more than the cost of losing it.

    That’s why I’m concerned about him keeping a public persona. The defense mechanism is making everything look good on the outside while on the inside… not so good. Even the announcement was sort of… having everything under control – and just needing some time to think it all through. Instead, the world is shattered. All his ‘friends’ are now enemies. His most faithful supporter (his wife) has called it quits, and he doesn’t even know which way is up for himself. I see the picture of him looking at the calm lake and the mountains, and I’m thinking… this is exactly what you need… just don’t post about it on Instagram 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  60. Mark,
    I don’t know what the deal is with commenting on my blog, because I’ve had other people tell me before they have issues posting there, too, but i don’t know how to fix it or change it.

    I just checked the blog’s admin section.

    My blog’s only options are limited to a person has to be logged in and registered to post, and my blog accepts any e-mail address.

    If your current e-mail doesn’t work, you’re welcome to post to my blog under another e-mail address, from Yahoo or Hot Mail or G-Mail or whatever works.

    The only thing with my blog is if it’s your first time posting there, your first comment or two are held in moderation until I manually approve them to appear (this limits spammers and trolls), after which, any additional comments you make automatically are published to the blog

    Like

  61. Anyway, I am grossed out by how so many Christians are attacking Harris or bad mouthing him or speculating why he’s leaving the faith.

    I saw several really bizarre and/or mean spirited comments by Christians on Twitter, where they are saying they bet anything that in the future, Harris will say he divorced because he committed adultery (with another woman), and/or that he is a gay dude,

    So the thinking is, he’s ditching the faith because he wants to sexually sin all over the place and not be held to any standards. Sigh.

    Look, I’m over 45 and still a virgin, I am not sleeping around with men, and I am not LGBT, and I’m kind of like Harris in doubting the faith. I do wish Christians would stop assuming the reasons for why people leave the faith or think about leaving.

    It’s not true that all of us are liberals, bought into liberal theology/ arguments, or that we are sexual libertines who want to boink everybody in sight and not be held to standards.

    I will even concede that maybe these speculators will turn out to be right – maybe Harris will say in three to ten months that he’s a gay dude now or whatever, but even it that turns out to be true, it’s still just so annoying and horrible how so many Christians want to go there now, or just assume that is why all others go that route.

    I may be in a quasi-agnostic (or whatever one would term it) place right now, but I am still very chaste (no boinky-bonky for me), I am still hetero, and I am not a SJW, liberal, feminist (I remain right of center politically).

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  62. I don’t want to speculate although I understand the impulse, but if Josh were gay I think that would be a good example of a good reason to amicably end the marriage. That would be no one’s fault. [I realize the crowd who is criticizing him most harshly probably would not feel the same but I think most people would understand that]

    As I said, it’s not a good impulse to jump directly to blame, and blaming Josh in particular. I do think it’s interesting because it seems like the wife is usually the one who is blamed even in the face of known infidelity and that hasn’t happened here.

    Like

  63. Josh Harris is having a crisis of faith.

    I had one at age 9 due to corruption in the church and inconsistencies I saw in some (not all) of the respected adult pillars.

    Finally resolved it. At a decent church home where I feel loved and accepted too. Despite chronic illness, poverty, and marital status.

    Like

  64. Daisy, Weird, it gives me the option of WordPress, Google, Facebook or Twitter login. When I log in using Google, it shows my full name. There’s no way to just put an e-mail and name.

    When I read Josh and Shannon’s posts, it doesn’t seem like any sort of sexual issue. It seems like a constant culture of having to look perfect while things are not settled internally.

    One of the divorce spikes is when kids are moving out. When people get married and start having kids, then instead of focusing on the relationship, they hold everything together by putting their energy into the kids. When the kids move out, there is no basis for a relationship and it falls apart. Possibly it’s the defense mechanisms they built up to suppress their anger with each other while raising kids that come back in full force. My mom cooked all the time for us and we rarely ever went out to eat. When the kids moved out, she pretty much hung up her apron and told my dad, if you want to eat, there’s lunchmeat in the fridge or we can go out. They went out almost every day.

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  65. @Christianity Hurts

    We are all hurt, and some far more than others. The pain is real, and often extreme, and we need help, and we need the correct answers. There are solutions, of course, and there are many wonderful people who do offer actual help.

    However, obviously there are some people (who ostensibly want to help), and some chosen ways that not only thwart hope, healing, and solutions, but make things far worse (e.g. they foment bitterness; give false hope; give harmful solutions; practice false accusations; etc). There are countless “bitter blogs,” etc that do just that. This has always happened, and will continue to do so.

    And, if I can say so, they often blame Christianity as a whole, and in over generalized ways, rather than identifying the specific wrongdoing or offender. This is not merely a false accusation that profoundly hurts others and distorts the truth, it greatly hurts those who make these. There are always wolves in sheep’s clothing, predators, counterfeits, etc in the Church, but to blame “the Church” or all of “Christianity” is precisely what happens in these harmful groups.

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  66. “Fallen/Failed Christian”?

    “Never One Of Us!
    Never One Of Us!
    Gooble! Gobble!
    Never One Of Us!”?

    Is that the new Rationalization Spin of The Pure?

    Like

  67. @MWCamp:

    People worried about him losing his Christian faith need to remember two things: (1) the pendulum often/usually swings way to the other side coming out of fundamentalism

    That’s what happened to both Wondering Eagle and me. The swinging eventually damps out, leaving us both still in the faith but in a more stable church environment somewhere in the middle. But…

    WARNING: For a while, it can rock-slam from one extreme to the opposite (Fred Phelps to Marilyn Manson To Fred Phelps to Marilyn Manson…) before it finally stabilizes.

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  68. @Daisy:

    So the thinking is, he’s ditching the faith because he wants to sexually sin all over the place and not be held to any standards. Sigh.

    There are some who do “ditch the faith” for those reasons.
    SOME. NOT ALL.
    But the Myth that All who ditch do for that reason is Very Reassuring to the abusers preening in their Righteous mirrors. “I THANK THEE, LOOOOORD, THAT I AM NOTHING LIKE THAT…”

    Like

  69. HUG said,
    There are some who do “ditch the faith” for those reasons.
    SOME. NOT ALL.
    But the Myth that All who ditch do for that reason is Very Reassuring to the abusers preening in their Righteous mirrors. “I THANK THEE, LOOOOORD, THAT I AM NOTHING LIKE THAT…”
    – – — end quote — – –

    I think that is behind a lot of the usual Christian reaction to these deconversion stories, especially by more famous Christians, such as Harris.

    (I agree that sexual hedonism may play a part in why some people dump the faith, but that’s sure not true for everyone. I also think some Christians find the idea that everyone who leaves the faith due to sexual reasons, because it makes it easier for them to think there are no problems with their faith.)

    I think a lot of Christians are secretly uncomfortable with doubt, or uncomfortable with or afraid of those who seemed solidly Christian who later leave the faith.

    A lot of them seem very uncomfortable with ambiguity. Some Christians want and need 100% guarantees in life.

    They want to believe that Jesus and Christianity are fool proof and work in any and all situations (but my life experience has taught me this is not so).

    I see a lot of conflation among certain types of Christians between conservatism and Christianity.
    (Sometimes liberal Christians do this as well, they conflate liberalism with the faith.)

    There is this view that Christianity = Conservatism, so if you are a conservative Christian, and a guy like Josh Harris, who appeared to be a fellow conservative Christian, rejects the faith, it’s comforting to think he did so not because there is something with the faith (or how it’s taught and believed), but that he was seduced from it by liberalism.

    Once you start chalking up someone’s rejection of the faith to sexual desires or liberalism, you don’t need to re-examine your own faith, and is it really true, good, workable, etc.

    I suppose it’s a psychological self defense mechanism.

    As I got into in that one post on my blog (about Harris), going through a deconstruction process is very painful and scary, if you grew up as a devout Christian and was one for many years.
    Because when you question your faith, everything goes along with it.

    You have to find new ways to cope with the problems and pain of life. You have to find new ways to think about a lot of things. It’s not easy.

    So, I think some of the judgmental conservative Christians I see online giving Josh Harris a hard time find it easier to remain on auto-pilot, just continuing to live their lives as they always have, with certain assumptions about the faith in place. There’s no questioning, no searching, no confusion if you llve life that way.

    Some of you may be interested in this (it’s kind of related to some of what I said above):
    _An Intolerance of Uncertainty is Linked to Anxiety and Depression. Here’s How to Get Better at Tolerating It by K. Wong_

    Like

  70. Ooh, there were a lot of typeos in my post right above, and I left out entire words!

    I hope everyone was able to make sense of what I said in spite of that.

    Mark,
    I have different Yahoo and G-Mail e-mail accounts. I use one Yahoo e-mail address to sign up for Julie Anne’s Word Press blog here.

    Maybe when my blog asks you for a Word Press I.D., that is what it means.

    Daisy is not my real name. I’d never post some of the content I have posted here and at my Daisy blog under my real name. So I don’t blame you for wanting to stay Anonymous / use a pen name.

    Also, if you get a Twitter account, you can use whatever e-mail address (real name or not), but the way Twitter works, if I recall right, is you don’t have to publicize the e-mail address you use to sign up for the Twitter account.

    You could always sign up for a free G-Mail or Yahoo address and sign up for a Twitter account, and then use that Twitter to log in to Word Press based blogs.

    Like

  71. There are some who do “ditch the faith” for those reasons.
    SOME. NOT ALL.

    HUG, you also don’t have to ditch the faith to be a sinner when you are in power, and a man, and know that others will cover for you forever. Unfortunately, we can see that all over the place. If that’s all Josh wanted, he could have done it on the downlow and just yelled for grace when he got caught and he would have slid on through.

    Like

  72. HUG said
    That’s what happened to both Wondering Eagle and me. The swinging eventually damps out, leaving us both still in the faith but in a more stable church environment somewhere in the middle. But…

    WARNING: For a while, it can rock-slam from one extreme to the opposite (Fred Phelps to Marilyn Manson To Fred Phelps to Marilyn Manson…) before it finally stabilizes.
    — end quote —

    Interestingly enough, that never happened to me.

    I’ve seen it happen to others, and I’ve read it’s kind of common for conservative Christians who are leaving/ questioning the faith to do a 180 and morph into a hard left liberal (standing up for everything they used to oppose), but that has not happened to me.

    Some of my views have changed a bit, and I’m not quite as- to- the- right as I was, but I’m still right- of- center.

    Like

  73. Some of my views have changed a bit, and I’m not quite as- to- the- right as I was, but I’m still right- of- center.

    Eh, my views on things have changed gradually, as I’ve listened more to other viewpoints from an open perspective and learned more and had different experiences. It’s rather a cliche that people get more conservative as they get older, but I’ve done the opposite. But it wasn’t an about face.

    I think many people who outwardly seem to have changed radically, Josh included, have probably been thinking things through for a long time and finally sorted them out enough to be open about it.

    Like

  74. @Mark

    I brought up Calvinism merely to point out that I have never seen good fruit from it, not to blame it for JH’s situation, or necessarily for JP, et al. For what it is worth, Calvin himself was exceedingly oppressive, and even deadly, literally. Neither Luther or Calvin truly and fully broke away from their Catholic influences.

    However, Luther did, as far as we know, start a major movement away from the Catholic Church (there were other non-Catholics, like anabaptists, which Calvinists tend to hold great ire toward). Yet there is, in certain Calvinist circles, exceptionally elitist mentalities (but, as I said, there are some wonderful people in there as well).

    So Calvinism does not equal authoritarianism. Yet many falsely accuse them, and others, of just that. False accusations are not only on the rise, they are increasingly acceptable, just as long as we are against the “bad guys.” Yet some, or many of the bad guys are not bad, they are just getting falsely blamed, A LOT. And, with no accountability, and very little if any concern about accuracy (particularly in the “bitter blogs”), these false narratives grow and grow, all to the profound deceit and destruction of many people (and their faith).

    Speaking of this, I have found that if person A holds to beliefs or values to the right, even if it is just a little, of person B then A often gets falsely judged in a multitude of ways, including being authoritarian, misogynistic, racist, Pharisaical, a hater, of the devil, etc. You can’t win, you are summarily judged and condemned. But everyone actually loses.

    “Listen to the dialogue. One group is laying on burdens, cursing and pushing fear and condemnation. It’s the Calvinist pastors. The others are comforting and lifting burdens. It’s the done’s.”

    As for listening to the dialogue … See my paragraph above. If you listen, and then try to respond with anything but the prevailing (often false) narrative, you are obviously guilty of something heinous, you are not a true Christian, you have no compassion or love, etc (and this usually comes from those who condemn “judging” and who proclaim to be accepting, the ones who truly love, etc).

    Yes, some are guilty of laying on burdens, fear, etc, yet many are being falsely accused of this as well. Also, many are falsely given credit for being loving, yet their “comforting” or “lifting burdens” is not based in truth. Even if a person actually cares, caring a lot is not enough. There are countless people who care, who want to help, but they are in error. They are enabling the demise of those who have been so hurt, and they, too, do so in the name of love, justice, Jesus, and even Christianity. Yet they rarely experience any consequences.

    Liked by 1 person

  75. While there is perhaps far too much speculation on which person is to blame, one thing I did not know until recently (or perhaps forgot) is that JH did not go to seminary until 2015. It is not all that uncommon for people to lose their faith after going to a Christian college or seminary. There is a reason why seminaries are often referred to as “cemeteries”! I believe it was in Canada, but I would wager that had a huge negative impact on his faith, even if he didn’t realize it.

    Like

  76. If you just vaguely or without specific knowledge constantly accused people of ‘false accusations’ isn’t that in and of itself a false accusation?

    Like

  77. @Lea

    Well, there could be a lot of irony in what you just did towards me ; )

    I pointed out a pattern, which, I don’t think anyone could deny or at least refute. I also used several specific words–and with specific knowledge–that are frequently used, which, again, I don’t think anyone could deny, or at least truly refute. Is it not commonplace? This is human nature. They are happening toward JH, and his wife, but also toward others involved in all of this. Shouldn’t we care about all falsehoods, and all false accusations?

    Also, in our biases, when someone on “our side” presents an accusation, or relates an experiences of being harmed, then it is common for that person to be believed, but not so much if they are not on “our side.” How many people are pronounced guilty until proved innocent (in the court of public opinion/social media/blogs/the internet)?

    Either way, we know false accusations occur, we know people are shot down and shamed and shunned (and worse!) through these false accusations. Yet it has always fascinated me, and grieved me, by how people respond to these. There are very little if any consequences, and, even worse, there are many who enable these by not standing up to these, especially those that come from “our side,” as well as all sides. Yet these falsehoods hurt everyone.

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  78. M, you asserted that false accusations are ‘on the rise’ and ‘becoming acceptable’ with pure vagueries, and no specifics. I think you will find that no, everyone will not agree with you on that.

    False Accusations is a theme you have repeated many times in your comments. It is one I see way too often thrown around without any merit. If you are going to accuse someone of lying you better be clear about who you’re accusing and that you are being accurate yourself, is all i’m saying.

    Disagreement on a point is not the same thing.

    Like

  79. Ray Jeske Gregg Harris, Josh’s father, conducted one of his first ever homeschooling workshops at our church in 1981. He had five-year old Josh in tow with him. So we go back a ways. Josh came from an incredible family, and from a great movement. Surely some do not fare so well in the home school environment, but millions have thrived within it at every level — spiritually, academically and socially. Just thought it important to characterize homeschooling fairly, as we seek to understand Josh’s story.

    Like

  80. Look at what you said to Christianity Hurts above.

    @Christianity HurtsHowever, obviously there are some people (who ostensibly want to help), and some chosen ways that not only thwart hope, healing, and solutions, but make things far worse (e.g. they foment bitterness; give false hope; give harmful solutions; practice false accusations; etc).

    You said people who want to help practice false accusations.

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  81. Maybe I am wrong about this,
    but is the poster “M” above possibly the same guy (“Necron48”) who has posted to this blog several times over in the past?

    Either him or maybe the guy who used to post here under the name “Anon Grace”?

    I don’t know if Julie Anne wants to look up this person’s e-mail address and/or IP number to do a compare and contrast here.

    Like

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