Heath Lambert, Albert Mohler, and SBTS Draw Line in Sand on Christian Counseling and Dr. Eric Johnson

Biblical Counseling, Christian Counseling, Nouthetic Counseling, Heath Lambert, Albert Mohler, Dr. Eric Johnson, SBTS


spiritual abuse, clergy abuse, Psalm 23

There has been an ugly conflict in social media these last few days regarding the apparent firing of Dr. Eric Johnson from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS). This petition – Petition Against the Wrongful Firing of Dr. Eric Johnson  – has been circulating and thus far has collected 636 signatures.

The introductory paragraph from the petition reads:

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, under the leadership of Dr. Albert Mohler, has decided to fire Dr. Eric Johnson after 17 years of ministry in Christian scholarship and soul-care. His termination was not due to differing Christian beliefs or failed morality but rather due to pressure from an outside organization, the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC), and its leader, Heath Lambert.

This seems to be a line-in-the-sand moment as SBTS cracks down on what they believe to be the proper way to counsel: using the Bible only.

Here are a few notable comments from signatories:

Kirk Wakefield PhD – United States, Waco – Always amazing that when it comes to physical health such as diabetes, we are all for seeing a doctor, taking medicine, seeking counsel and praying for recovery. But when it comes to mental health, which include congrenital chemical and physiological disorders, we skip straight to words and prayer, but somehow think heaven forbids medicine. May those behind this decision seek an open heart to learn what their closed minds have hidden from them.

Sokho Kim United States, Montgomery Village Dr. Lambert was bashing Dr. Johnson publicly since I was an SBTS student in 2009. Always misquoting Dr. Johnson and making him out to be this DANGEROUS anti-christian professor. (MDiv SBTS ’11)

Amber Weiand United States, Louisville, B.S. Church Ministry: Children’s Ministry from Boyce College My father took his life while I was a student at Boyce. I didn’t feel supported in my grieving process even when reaching out specifically for help to Dr.Lambert. It took my pastor at the church I was attending who was so concerned with the physical evidence of depression setting up counseling with an outside biblical counseling program that I began to find healing.

I can speak from the personal experience the dangers of Scripture Only counseling, it was a contributing factor to my father’s death.

Meg Eldridge United States, Washington Absolutely disheartening from a school that my husband and I invested a lot into. In fact up until last week my husband was considering a starting a PHD at the school. We will no longer give this school which we love another penny. We have seen hearts changed towards Christ, marriages saved, and sinners repent as a result of this counseling methodology. These same people were denied counseling from the ACBC. It is a shame to not train our future pastors to truly walk with those that are suffering as Jesus did. This does not represent a step towards Christ but a step towards fundamentalism.

Here are a few tweets expressing disappointment regarding the firing of Johnson and critique of the counseling at SBTS.

Layne Hancock posted 30 tweets about the “unjust firing.” I have compiled the tweets and other related tweets here:

 

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I saw Dr. Aaron New discussing this situation on Twitter. Dr. New is currently the Chair of Behavioral Sciences Department and Professor of Psychology and Counseling at Central Baptist College in Conway, Arkansas.

He received his MA Marriage and Family Counseling, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), MA in Christian Education at SWBTS, and PhD in Psychology and Counseling, also at SWBTS.

In one of his tweets, he referred to a letter he had written in 2010 (posted at Wade Burleson’s blog here) to Southern Baptists Convention members about their counseling programs. He shared that at one time, there were two counseling programs offered at his alma mater, SWBTS:

  1. Biblical counseling: only the Bible is used to counsel. This is also sometimes called Nouthetic Counseling.
  2. Christian counseling: the Bible and other resources are used in counseling. This was the only program which offered students the pathway for students to obtain counseling licenses.

But now (keep in mind, this was back in 2010), the Christian counseling option  – the one which helped students achieve licenses – was being threatened. Read as Dr. New describes the situation in his 2010 letter:

For years, SWBTS has maintained courses and programs representing both camps. They have often been at odds with each other, but they have coexisted. [Paige] Patterson [President of SWBTS] has always been sympathetic to the Biblical Counseling perspective, but he seemed to make room for the Christian Counseling perspective and program. Until recently.

Patterson has decided now is the time to eliminate the counseling program at Southwestern that equips students for licensure. As a SWBTS alum, I cannot express my disappointment in this decision enough. Licensure is a critical part of ministering to people outside of a church setting and is of growing importance within a church setting. Removing a program that equips students for licensure is a retreat from the seminary’s mission, not an advancement. Christian counselors will be less prepared, not better.

In his press release dated January 20, 2010, Patterson offered “financial realities” as a rationale for eliminating the support for two approaches to counseling. You might be interested to know, however, that the Biblical Counseling approach is supported by two professors and about a dozen students. The Christian Counseling approach is supported by five professors and over two hundred students. If the decision were solely a financial one, it would seem prudent to eliminate a program that is not thriving rather than one that is highly successful and drawing students from all over the world.

SWBTS did indeed eliminate the Christian counseling option, leaving Biblical Counseling as the only option for students.

I reached out to Dr. New and asked if he would be willing to share his thoughts and concerns about this ongoing battle between Bible-only counseling and Christian counseling.

I think it is unfortunate that Biblical Counselors have appropriated the word “Biblical” for their approach. It automatically implies that if one works from any other model than their own, they are being un-biblical. That strikes me as arrogant and uncharitable – two qualities that should never be used to describe believers, especially towards each other.

This battle has been waging for a very long time. I’m not sure I have much that would contribute to its resolution. It just grieves me that we can’t treat each other better.

Yes, indeed. In reading comments at various blog posts and articles, many people spoke about how Dr. Johnson was treated because he used the Christian Counseling approach, instead of the Bible-only approach. This sounds like “my way or the highway” to me. Yet Dr. New also offered gracious comments about the Biblical-only adherents:

I have learned from the Biblical Counseling proponents. I have learned ways to harness the truth found in Scripture and communicate it to people who are hurting and struggling. Their profound love and respect for Scripture (when presented correctly) can be inspiring, contagious.

But he offered this concern:

I do worry that they are at risk for making an idol out of Scripture, if that makes any sense. And idolatry always distorts.

I don’t approach the “sufficiency of Scripture” issue the same way they do. But that’s not because I don’t love/respect Scripture enough (as they might accuse me). It is actually *because* of my love/respect of Scripture that I don’t want to make it do something it wasn’t intended to do.

This makes a lot of sense to me. In my personal counseling experience (25 years ago) when I had PTSD, the “Biblical Counseling” method used focused on my sin as the root cause of my PTSD symptoms. But my PTSD surfaced after experiencing a 7.9 earthquake in the Philippines. (I wrote my story here: My Personal Mental Health Story: When Christians Say Potentially Harmful Words to Someone in a Mental Health Crisis).

As it turns out, the PTSD manifested itself after this earthquake, but was actually a result of the physical abuse I incurred by my father from the age of 3 years old until 19 years old. In both of those situations, the earthquake and physical abuse, my sin was not the cause of the PTSD. Those were events/harm that happened to me. So, it seems the very core of Biblical-based counseling is flawed if it assumes that everyone who seeks counseling has sinned and caused their own problems. Was I responsible for the earthquake or physical abuse? No, I was a victim of those circumstances.

I asked Dr. New if he knew of people who had been harmed by Bible-only counseling (and also shared a bit of my personal story). He responded:

I don’t know many personally. But I have read dozens of stories that sound just like yours. It is sad. Tragic. We do have to be willing to acknowledge that there can be really *bad* practitioners in every camp – and that the camp shouldn’t be judged by those bad practitioners. So we have to judge based on either logic/reasoning/coherence or by data on effectiveness.

But this raises another problem: Biblical Counselors seem to define “effective” different than other clinicians. In practice (if not in policy), Biblical Counselors are more likely to say in effect, “Well, I told them the truth. So that’s a success. It’s up to them what they do with it now.” Whereas, other clinicians would never take this approach.

It will be interesting to see how this situation resolves, or if it resolves. Heath Lambert issued a statement, Clarifying and Confessing.  I did not find it very clarifying, unfortunately. A better title might be Confusing and Convoluted.

The sad part about this ongoing conflict is that if a student wants to pursue counseling at either SWBTS or SBTS, they have one option: Biblical Counseling. This means that students will not be able to obtain licenses using their degrees. This will greatly limit their employment opportunities, plus they will not have learned that it’s not as cut and dry for challenging mental health cases where there are no clear answers in the Bible.

Another very disturbing issue is that with these well-known Baptist institutions, it is setting the precedence among Baptists that Biblical-only counseling is the only correct counseling. This could lead to more harm done if someone needs care beyond a Bible-only-counselor’s abilities. I have heard a number of stories from people who have been admonished for seeking help outside of Biblical-only counseling. That is tragic.

Related articles:

Hurricanes: How Christian Leaders Use and Abuse During Tragedies

Hurricanes, natural disasters, Kirk Cameron, Jim Bakker, Kat Kerr, spiritual abuse


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Have you noticed whenever there is a natural disaster, certain Christian leaders take advantage of the tragedy and promote their “stuff?”

Huffington Post posted an example in an article about Jim Bakker and his guest, Rick Joyner:

Disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker claims Hurricane Harvey was God’s “judgment” on the city of Houston, where the storm killed at least 60 and left thousands homeless.

And naturally, he used his gloom-and-doom scenario as part of a sales pitch to sell his buckets of instant apocalypse food.

“I have felt ― and I was afraid to share it with anybody ― that this flood is from God,” he said on Monday in a clip posted online by Right Wing Watch. “It’s a judgment on America somehow.”

His guest, “prophet” Rick Joyner, agreed.

You can now give one Bucket to Hurricane Harvey victims and then get one for your own End Times stockpiling for the price of $175. Guess who is profiting from this? Continue reading

Book Review Series – Lori Alexander’s “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – The Chapter that Doesn’t Belong

The Power of a Transformed Wife, Lori Alexander, Dating, Sexual Purity

Screenshot 2017-09-03 at 9.36.35 PM

Screen shot from The Transformed Wife’s Facebook Page


-by Kathi

This is a book review series of The Power of a Transformed Wife by Lori Alexander. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews if you’d like to catch up.

Introduction & Chapter 1   Chapter 2   Chapter 3   Chapter 4   Chapter 5   Chapter 6  Chapter 7   Chapter 8 – Part 1   Chapter 8 – Part 2    Chapter 9  Chapter 10 Continue reading

A “Systems Approach” and Some Historical Background on Dealing with Abuse and Violence

To deal with “systemic abuse,” we must understand systems, victimization, and what makes individuals and institutions vulnerable.

Guest post by Brad Sargent, with input from Julie Anne Smith.

Cross-posted at futuristguy.

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How will our church serve those who’ve suffered the harm of childhood sexual abuse, and seek to prevent it from happening to others? On this difficult but foundational issue of human dignity and care, will we choose conscience and compassion – or corrosion and complacency? The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide and the range of other resources from GRACE equip us with clear definitions, well-organized knowledge, and practical skills to follow a right and righteous path on these global problems of violence and abuse.

In the previous post, I gave a brief preview of key features for The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide from a systems perspective, and listed other resources from GRACE and New Growth Press. In this post, I will add my thoughts on the big picture of systemic abuse, why we’ve needed a set of resources to deal with it, and share some personal and historical perspectives on how the Policy Guide and other books produced by GRACE represent answers to some longstanding prayers. Continue reading

Book Review: The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide, by Boz Tchividjian and Shira Berkovits

Key component in a system of resources on child sexual abuse for policy makers, survivors, educators, and advocates.

Guest post by Brad Sargent, with input from Julie Anne Smith.

Cross-posted at futuristguy.

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Spiritual Sounding Board was invited to participate in the Litfuse “blog tour” for the recently released Child Safeguarding Policy Guide. They asked us to post a one-paragraph summary of our overall response to this resource book, so that could be used as an excerpt on other sites. Here is what I wrote:

How will our church serve those who’ve suffered the harm of childhood sexual abuse, and seek to prevent it from happening to others? On this difficult but foundational issue of human dignity and care, will we choose conscience and compassion – or corrosion and complacency? The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide and the range of other resources from GRACE equip us with clear definitions, well-organized knowledge, and practical skills to follow a right and righteous path on these global problems of violence and abuse.

Available reviews of the Policy Guide share about its concepts and content from a variety of angles. Already posted on Amazon are great summaries, detailed insights from church leaders, poignant personal accounts from survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Litfuse Publicity Group has review excerpts and links to full posts, and New Growth Press, which published this book, has additional endorsements.

In this post, I will give a brief preview of key features from a systems perspective, and list other resources from GRACE and New Growth Press. In a follow-up post, I will add my thoughts on the big picture of systemic abuse, why we’ve needed a set of resources to deal with it, and share some personal perspectives on how the Policy Guide and other books produced by GRACE represent answers to some longstanding prayers. Continue reading

Hurricane Harvey and Two Humble Pastoral Responses

Isaiah 40:11: He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries the close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.


credit: CNN Twitter

 

Sometimes, after natural disasters, popular Evangelists communicate a message on social media acknowledging the disaster and offer a some words of wisdom (or not). We’ve seen some doozies over the years from John Piper, Pat Robertson, Tony Miano, etc. Many use the tragedy and try to fit it into the framework of their doctrinal beliefs —and it can come out very bad — making it look like God loves inflicting people with trauma. Yuck!  Talk about anti-evangelizing!

Here is one such example: Continue reading

Dr. Dan Allender: Trauma, Our Personal Stories, and Recovery through Music

Dr. Dan Allender, Trauma, Music, Spiritual Abuse Recovery, Personal Stories


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Those who have been reading here for a while know how important I believe it is for survivors to tell their abuse stories. It took a while for us to believe the lies our church leader(s) told us about who we are and who God is. Eventually, through manipulation and deceit, we then told ourselves those lies. These “recordings” played over and over in our minds until they were perceived as normal. This is all part of thought reform, patterns of coercion, manipulation, and control, that cult leaders use to keep us emotionally and spiritually bound to them and their teachings.

When we are finally in a place where we can identify truth from lies, we still have to wrestle with the recordings that play in our minds that attempt to shift us back to the dangerous teachings we heard. I strongly believe that hearing ourselves speak the truth when we tell our stories will eventually override the old and damaging recordings in our mind.

I believe this is why many survivors have a need to tell our stories over and over again. It doesn’t mean we are living in the past. No. I believe it means we are validating our experience and further pushing that false and destructive narrative out of our minds.

Telling stories is empowering. It gives us strength to stand on our own two feet and use our critical thinking skills. We own our stories, even though they are negative. But now, as we tell our stories safe from our abuser, we are in control, not our abusive spiritual leaders. We speak not as one who remains stuck as a victim, but as a survivor who can incorporate the negative experience into the fabric of our bigger life story in a positive way. It shapes us, it softens and humbles us. It still hurts at times, but we can become more resilient and intentional with this trauma behind us.

May we never tire of listening to the stories of survivors. When we do listen, we validate them and help them to become whole. Also, if we are survivors, may we never tire of telling our stories without apologies. It may be just what a listener needs to hear.

Lately, I’ve been reading about our body’s response to trauma, and this 2-minute video is fascinating. In it, Dr. Dan Allender helps us to understand the power of music used as a healing agent in relation to trauma. Continue reading

Missing Woman Found after 17 days: Pastor and His Wife Counseled Woman to Stop Taking Bipolar Medication

Mental Health, Spiritual Abuse, Jamie Tull


mental health, jamie hull, bipolar disorder, spiritual abuse

Facebook page to help find Jamie.

Jamie Tull, a kindergartner teacher from California, has been found alive after being missing for 17 days. Tull was found in a private field approximately one-half mile from where her vehicle crashed the day she went missing. According to one of the three men who found her, she stayed alive by drinking water from a cows’ trough and eating locusts. When found, she was dehydrated and severely sunburned.

Jamie Tull’s father, Jim Devenport, reported that his daughter had a mental illness, bipolar disorder, requiring medications. However, Ms. Tull was urged to stop taking her medicines, and here’s the shocking reason why:


According to Tull’s father, she has bipolar disorder. He says she had not taken her medication for about six months because a pastor and his wife told her that pills lead to demons. Source

Listen as her father, Jim Devenport, describe Jamie’s history of mental illness, her faith, and how she took the advice of her pastor and his wife, and stopped taking her bipolar medications 6 months earlier. If this doesn’t get your blood boiling . . .

(For some reason, I am unable to embed these videos. Please click on the links below the following 2 images.)

spiritual abuse, Jamie Tull
This is just an image. Please click here for video. 

 

 

The following video has even more discussion about the pastor and beliefs. This clearly is not a safe church.

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This is just an image. Please click here for video.

So, if she had been found dead, would the pastor and his wife have been charged with manslaughter? If anyone discovers the name of the pastor or church, please let me know. I have a few questions I would like to ask that man.

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Doctrine, Debates, and Salvation. Will the real Christian please stand?

 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—

and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

 

There has been heaviness for me this week, and it has wiped my writing mojo. But I have been thinking about a lot of spiritual stuff, and on a whim, I posted this on my Facebook status:

img_4014-1I have learned a lot these past 5 years. My spiritual beliefs have gone through the ringer as I re-evaluate what I believe and sift out the “teachings of men.” Christians have many differing opinions about doctrines. My salvation is not based on if I agree with you on Young Earth Creationism, pretribulation, Calvinism, Male Headship. Your salvation is not based on these highly controversial subjects, either.

We seem to lose the Gospel message when we get caught up in debates and abandon the people around us. I am Christian because I love Christ. I believe He gave me life through His death and resurrection. It is by His grace that I am His. If you believe in the essentials of the faith, you are my brother or sister in Christ. Period!

Am I the only one who is tired of all the drama about these issues? Just stop, already. Look around you, there are people in your midst who are hurting and need someone to be like Christ to them in a real and meaningful way as they maneuver through difficult waters.

This week, I have dealt with three cases of domestic violence, a shattered family, pedophile’s wife, a lawsuit, spiritual abuse, mental health issues, etc. People need Christ. They don’t need Calvin, pretribulation, male headship. They need Christ. I’m so sick of the doctrinal distractions. What matters?

 

 

Opportunity to Participate in Research Study on Clergy Misconduct

 

I was just in contact with Julie Anne, and she asked me to post this notice on Spiritual Sounding Board. ~ Brad

I occasionally hear through the survivor community grapevine about academic-level research being done on issues related to survivors of spiritual abuse. When I do, I encourage people to participate. The resulting research data and descriptions have proven valuable to our communities. Here is an opportunity to respond to a doctoral research project on clergy misconduct.

This research focuses on clergy misconduct of a nonsexual nature. Case study participants are needed for a detailed online survey about what they experienced. It’s an anonymous survey using SurveyMonkey, and participants from any country worldwide are welcomed!

The requirements for participants:

  1. At least 20 years old.
  2. The person had something happen that reflects wrongdoing by a specific pastor (misuse of authority, breaking confidentiality, crossing boundaries, something financial, etc.).
  3. The wrongdoing was not sexual.
  4. It happened more than one year ago.
  5. The church where this happened was Protestant (Lutheran, Baptist, Alliance, United, Pentecostal, etc.).
  6. The person was a member of the church or a regular attender.
  7. The person was an adult when this happened.

The SurveyMonkey link for the study is:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/N5D8N2W.

The opening pages explain more about the survey, its purposes, and its length.

The study is being done by Marlis Krueger through California Southern University. Results will be accessible on the university website in approximately six months.

Thanks for considering participation in this important study!

~ brad/futuristguy

[UPDATE August 2, 2017: We’ve been in touch with Marlis and will be notified when the results are available, so we can link to them then. Thanks again for considering participating in the survey!]

Kari Benton Shares: Spiritual Recovery after a Lawsuit and Spiritual Abuse

Continue reading

Lori Alexander Dishes Out Heartless Advice to Wife Who Was Sexually Abused

Continue reading

Pastor Chuck O’Neal Continues to Pull the Wool over His Evangelist Friends’ Eyes

Chuck O’Neal, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, Jeff Rose, Dr. Edward Delcour, Mike Gendron, Mike Stockwell, and Robert Gray, Evangelism Reformation Conference, Reformation Fire Conference

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I don’t have a problem with those tweets. On the surface, they are fine. But even false teachers get things right. The Bible tells us:

For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Jude 1:4

 

I haven’t done a post on my ex-pastor for quite a while, but I’ve been disturbed lately to see that he has found a niche with people who agree with him on evangelism, yet probably do not have a clue about his background.

I discovered after the fact that Chuck O’Neal had joined with Voddie Baucham, Scott Brown, Mark Spence, Dr. Jason Lisle,  Jeff Rose, Ben Seewald, Jeff Pollard at the Evangelism Reformation Conference in Texas in June 2017.

 

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This was the only tweet that I found from O’Neal on his Twitter timeline about the conference. He’s known to post many tweets to upcoming events, so it’s odd that he only did one tweet before the event.

 

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However, looking through his Twitter timeline, it appears that Chuck O’Neal and his church, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, is also sponsoring/hosting and speaking at a conference with speakers in August 2017.

 

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Why do I even care about what Chuck O’Neal does? Why don’t I just move on? Why does it matter to me?

 

lawsuits chuck O'neal beaverton grace bible church

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The $500,000 lawsuit he filed against me was dismissed about 5 years ago. It matters to me as much today as it did when I posted my first negative Google review about him many years ago. He portrays himself as a godly man, likable, committed Christian, etc, but beneath that facade, he is a fraud. More than that, he is a wolf who devours. Those were the words I used when he took me to court years ago. But nothing has changed.

I care because while he is finding his fairly new niche in the broader evangelism community by making friends on social media and then connecting, these people with whom he meets and speaks do not sit in his pews. They do not see his behavior on a weekly basis. They do not see how he treats people in his church and people who have left his church.

It’s easy to say, “Oh, yea, I know him, he’s a great guy” when you only know him based on evangelism or pro-life connections, but that is not who this man really is.

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I’m sure that most do not have any idea that while he is currently “evangelizing” and speaking on evangelizing, he has anti-evangelized for over a decade and people have been left bruised, battered, and some have even abandoned their faith due to his abusive leadership.

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To those who have worked with O’Neal in evangelism or pro-life efforts, please be advised that when you endorse this man, fellowship with him, speak with him, you are endorsing a false teacher and a wolf. If you recommend Chuck O’Neal to someone who is looking for a church in the Portland area, you are sending people into the arms of one who spiritually harms people.

I get it. You think I’m nuts because Chuck O’Neal is so nice, wouldn’t hurt a fly, has nothing but the love of God in him. I know how he presents himself. That’s what I thought when my family started attending his church. Some who read this will doubt me. I understand that. However, after reading this post, and looking at the links, you cannot deny that the behavior described is troubling. It’s not enough for you to ask Chuck O’Neal about my claims. Obviously a wolf is going to speak strongly against anyone who exposes him. He has a whole website against me to convince you that I’m the one who is wrong and he uses all sorts of “proof” that I am evil and not to be trusted. That is foolish.

 

If you care about the Gospel, care about families, care about the spiritual health of people, please do due diligence and do your homework on this man.

 

What’s disturbing to me is this man has been able to pull the wool over so many men’s eyes. Have they done due diligence in investigating O’Neal or his history? All it takes is a simple Google search to see that there are many issues with Chuck O’Neal that show up on the internet. Has any of the people he is teaming with chosen to reach out to his victims? No one has contacted me. My contact information is pretty easy to find on Twitter, Facebook, blog, etc. If you would like to speak/connect with people who have been harmed by Chuck O’Neal, I can give you references.

Do they realize that:

  • that numerous people, including pastors at John Mac Arthur’s Grace Community Church,  advised him to withdraw the lawsuit, but he refused.
  • his ministerial license was revoked by the same group who administered it (I can provide names and contact information of longtime godly pastors who licensed him years ago, and then revoked the license).
  • he purchased domain names similar to the name of an ex-congregant in order to “phish” traffic to your site he can spread gossip about ex-members he sued?  Chuck O’Neal
  • he has encouraged shunning for years. If you leave the church, he conveys to the congregation that you were in some sort of church discipline (completely ignoring the church bylaws on church discipline). Many people who left the church on their own were later found out that Chuck O’Neal had “excommunicated” them. He hadn’t informed them of this, but this is what congregants later told them. Congregants were told to never have any contact with those who had left, or they too would be put on the shun list (Mark and Avoid list). I have personal accounts of this “church discipline” shunning practice used as a spiritual weapon by Chuck O’Neal going back at least 15 years. Here is only one story. I know of many others. In Chuck O’Neal’s church, you cannot leave well unless you are moving out of the area for work, etc.

 


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Special note to Jeff Rose, Dr. Edward Delcour, Mike Gendron, Mike Stockwell, and Robert Gray, who are schedule to speak with Chuck O’Neal at his church, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, on August 18-22, 2017:

Gentlemen, I would like to reiterate that I am happy to provide contact information to back up anything I mention in this post. My sole purpose is to alert you that Chuck O’Neal should not be standing behind any pulpit preaching, teaching, or speaking. Why do I do this? Because I have seen the harm done in my personal family and many other families. It is devastating. Please, please, do your due diligence! And ironically, I urge you to please do what Chuck O’Neal suggests in the tweets at the beginning of this blog post.

Blog Series: Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery by Pastor Ken Garrett, Wk 4

Spiritual Abuse, Pastor Ken Garrett, Spiritual Abuse in the church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery


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This is an ongoing series on spiritual abuse using excerpts from Pastor Ken Garrett’s dissertation on spiritual abuse, Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery. We will use excerpts from Ken’s dissertation as a springboard for discussion. You can find all of the other posts in this series here

Ken begins his next section entitled, Cults in America, noting that in the past 50-60 years, an estimated 2,500,000 Americans have been a part of cult groups and how cultists are viewed.

The United States has a strange relationship to cults. A person’s religion can be seen as strange, abnormal, mysterious, or even downright creepy, but as long as that religion does not hurt anyone or break any laws, it is not just tolerated, but protected under law.

He then identifies a few celebrities in American culture who have joined movements and non-traditional groups:

The Beatles had a guru, folk musician John Denver attended and enthusiastically promoted EST (1) courses, Madonna observes Cabalism, and Tina Turner, a self- described Buddhist Baptist, practiced chanting. . .  . Actors, politicians, poets and musicians became Scientologists, espousing the religious creation of science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, seeking personal improvement and happiness through the exploration and study of the immortal, eternal spirit called a Thetan that presumably resides in the human mind and body.

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Ken sitting in front of the church he pastors, Grace Bible Church in Portland, Oregon (the 2nd oldest church in the city).

Apart from Tom Cruise’s involved in the well-known cult, Scientology, when I think of these specific artists that Ken mentioned, I found it interesting that I dismissed their involvement in non-traditional groups or movements in my mind. I have always loved the peaceful sing-along music of John Denver, and it was his musical talent that I focused on, not is spiritual beliefs or practices. Perhaps we as Americans are just tolerant of various practices and we look beyond them, focusing on whatever talent a person has to offer.

Although Americans have long held a benign tolerance for such avant-garde movements and groups, it was not long after their introduction into the religious scene of the nation that disturbing stories arose regarding their inner workings, including accounts of deception, manipulation, and abuse of members. Groups like the Children of God, the Unification Church, the Church of Scientology, the Church Universal and Triumphant, Twelve Tribes, Heaven’s Gate, The People’s Temple, etc., some of which were founded by men and women from Christian homes, experienced various (and v public) scandals and scrutiny. Some of them went on to become bywords of tragedy and death.

It’s important to note that the above-mentioned groups were started by “men and women from Christian homes.” How many people innocently connected and felt safe with the Christian aspect of what these folks were offering, but were then led down a harmful and destructive path? Continue reading

Blog Series: Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery by Pastor Ken Garrett, Wk 3

Spiritual Abuse, Pastor Ken Garrett, Spiritual Abuse in the church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery


Okay, we’re back to our ongoing series on spiritual abuse using excerpts from Ken Garrett’s dissertation on spiritual abuse, Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery. We will use excerpts from Ken’s dissertation as a springboard for discussion.

Pastor Ken Garrett, Spiritual Abuse, Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery

Pastor Ken Garrett

In the Introduction, Ken offers helpful definitions. Here is Ken’s definition for cult:

Cult – While most of the terms and ideas that I introduce are simple and easy to grasp, it is apparent in the project that I struggle greatly with the term cult in describing a Christian church. I will better explain and seek resolution to the struggle in subsequent chapters. But for a basic, consistent definition of the word, cult denotes a small, religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous.

While ideology and doctrine always have a role in the health or dysfunction of any religious group, increasingly a group’s status as a cult is derived solely from its actual treatment of its members, and not from its creeds, beliefs, and theology.

I agree with Ken’s definition and note that the treatment of members is key. When I looked at my church, the stories I read about Sovereign Grace Ministries, Doug Phillip’s church (Boerne Christian Assembly), Doug Wilson’s Christ Church, this is the pattern that has been explained to me. The people adopt a culture created by the cult leader, aka pastor. Not only do they adopt this culture, but they cultivate it, endorse it, enforce it, even to the extent that sometimes the pastor/cult leader doesn’t have to do all of the talking. He has raised his faithful devotees to model his expectations. Since all members are “on board” with this culture, any new person who comes to the group and questions it will be the odd man out.

spiritual abuse, Ken Garrett, Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery

Pic by Ken Garrett, taken on recent trip in Europe.

It does not feel good to swim against the tide, so there is pressure to join the group in their way of doing things. Next thing you know, that new person has become one of them and will also spread this culture and group think to additional new members, forgetting that at one time, they, too, had once questioned aspects of it. Continue reading

“Taking marriage seriously” – what does that mean for a Christian?

Christian Marriage, divorce, domestic violence, abuse, marital counseling, extramarital affairs


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-Taking marriage seriously- means taking the vows seriously and having real consequences for breaking them. The idealists and perfectionists who are trying to turn -marriage- into a protected space for all man.png

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My friend, Valerie Jacobsen posted this statement on her Facebook page and I asked permission to share it. I found it powerful, and yet, so contrary to the way marriage is handled in the church – especially when abuse is involved. I’m sick and tired of women being forced by their pastors/elders to bear the brunt of evil in their marriages by staying in their evil and harmful marriages.

I do not believe for a second that it is godly advice for pastors tell abused wives to remain married to their chronically evil and reviling spouses. If marriage is supposed to be representative of Christ and the church, an abusive marriage is a mockery to Christ. It seems that pastors would want to help rid the church of the blot of evil when there is an abuser clinging to his marriage and refusing to change his evil ways.

Women who leave their chronically cheating and/or abusive husbands are saying NO to evil. It is their husbands who abandoned the marriage long ago when they started their evil ways.

We need to stand beside these women and tell them they are free to go when pastors tell them otherwise. Pastors who give this bad advice are not living with this evil. And I’ll bet that they would not say this kind of thing if it were their daughter living with an abuser. Let’s stop this crazy business!

 

 

 

h/t Hannah Smith for image (taken in Hawaii)