Blog Series: Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery by Pastor Ken Garrett, Wk 2

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


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

Pastor Ken Garrett

Ok, here we go, plowing through Pastor Ken Garret’s dissertation about spiritual abuse. I used the word plowing intentionally. For some of us, it will be work. It is not enjoyable to be reminded about difficult experiences. However, some push that pain under the rug and haven’t been able to process it in a safe environment. If you feel ready to do that, come along and join us. Even if you don’t feel ready, you can still read. And for those who have never experienced spiritual abuse, I’m grateful that you are reading, too. Having compassion and understanding is so important in helping someone who has gone through spiritual abuse.

Just an FYI, Ken has removed his dissertation from his blog because he plans to publish it into a book. Ken has graciously allowed us to continue using his original dissertation for this series. (Thanks, Ken!!!)

Well, let’s dig in. Here is the very meaty paragraph we will start with this week:

Abusive churches, past and present, are primarily characterized by strong, control-oriented leadership. These leaders use guilt, fear, and intimidation to manipulate members and keep them in line. Followers are led to think that there is no other church quite like theirs and that God has singled them out for special purposes.

Other, more traditional evangelical churches are put down. Subjective experience is emphasized and dissent is discouraged. Many areas of members’ lives are subject to scrutiny. Rules and legalism abound. People who do not follow the rules or who threaten exposure are often dealt with harshly.

Excommunication is common. For those who leave, the road back to normalcy is difficult, with seemingly few who understand the phenomena of spiritual abuse.

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Church Member Responsibility and Church Discipline at Pastor Eric Davis’ Church

Church membership, church discipline, Pastor Eric Davis, Cornerstone Church


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Church Member Responsibility and Church Discipline According to the Cornerstone Church By-laws

mind-the-gap

-by Kathi

I recently wrote about how Julie Anne and I dared to comment on an article at The Cripplegate which subsequently caused our comments to be deleted and comments to be closed. Pastor Eric Davis provided an entirely too long explanation about how the discussion had run its course, more humbleness in being a part of God’s community was needed, and that there was too much focus on logistics. Let’s not forget that he provided the wonderful 16-point article challenging excuses for not going to church. But who’s focusing on logistics? Continue reading

Comments Closed and Removed at The Cripplegate

Pastor Eric Davis of The Cornerstone Church (WY) Decides to Remove Two Comments from Women and Closes Further Commenting

-by Kathi

Thanks to Boston Lady, I looked up a blog post that was linked in a comment on this blog’s previous post. Eric Davis wrote, “Reasons We Miss Church (But May Not Need To)” which was posted on The Cripplegate.

This post discusses all of the wrong reasons why someone might miss church. They include:

  1. “There is no command that says I need to go to church every Sunday.”
  2. “There aren’t any good churches in my area.”
  3. “Family/friends are in from out of town.”
  4. “The preacher/teacher I like is not preaching/teaching.”
  5. “I can watch the/another gathering online, or listen to a message online.”
  6. “Recent birth of a child.”
  7. “Gatherings are too long.”
  8. “It conflicts with the kids’/family’s schedule/sleep/sports/stuff.”
  9. “Church is far away.”
  10. “I work during the church gatherings.”
  11. “I am traveling.”
  12. “Some hard things have happened and I need space.”
  13. “I’m tired.”
  14. “The church isn’t a location or an event, but people, so I don’t need to be there.”
  15. “My spouse/significant other/roommate is staying home so I will too.”
  16. “I know all of these reasons, but you just don’t understand my situation.”

As noted by Boston Lady, the ever eloquent A. Amos Love had left some comments on there, so I decided to chime in as well.

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Practical Guidelines for Teaching Complementarity

Ligon Duncan, CBMW, Complementarianism, Egalitarian, headship


 

Practical Guidelines for Teaching Complementarity

by Kathi

 

Ligon Duncan stresses that if pastors do not regularly teach complementarity, then “we lose on this issue.”

 

 

Screenshot 2016-07-04 at 12.15.57 PM

Feel free to play along while you watch the video. You are guaranteed a black out!

 

In April, Ligon Duncan addressed pastors at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) pre-conference of the 2016 T4G conference regarding how to address complementarianism.


Duncan offered eight guidelines for pastors when teaching complementarianism. Three celebrate complementarianism, and five realizations as you practice this “Biblical” view.

You have to teach and preach complementarianism.

Duncan stresses that if pastors do not regularly address complementarianism, then congregations will be won over to the teachings of culture and “we will lose on this issue.” Duncan also stresses that pastors need to make sure that leaders in the church are equipped in this teaching as well.

This leads me to wonder: how often is he talking about addressing this issue from the pulpit? Every other Sunday? Every Sunday? Should it be taught in Sunday school classes and small groups? How about in children’s and youth ministries? If he is calling for equipping leaders, then it sounds like he wants the church to be infiltrated to follow complementarianism on all fronts.

The church needs to become a culture that honors women and loves people who struggle with same sex attraction.

Duncan states that when pastors teach on complementarity they will be labeled as misogynistic and homophobic. Yes, very true. So how is a pastor to combat that view? By publicly honoring women and loving people with same sex attraction.

It is this part of the talk where I get the feeling that Duncan is stressing that complementarianism requires an image make-over. Is he sincere about honoring and loving? I really hope so. However, he goes on to say that he hopes that women’s and gay’s testimony to complementarianism is that “we’re not treated like that.” So really, it seems more of concern about how complementarianism is portrayed than anything else.

As you celebrate “beautiful complementarianism” make sure men know that headship is a service and not a “tool for self-interest.”

Doesn’t this make you wonder why Duncan must tell pastors to address that women should be honored and men cannot use complementarianism as a tool of abuse? In relationships where each partner is treated as an equal, men do not need to be reminded that they are given a “unique responsibility.”

And, for good measure, I’ll throw this quote out to stand on its own:

When women realize that the Bible’s teaching on men being godly spiritual leaders in the home is something that is in their best interest, they are the people in local congregations that are loudly most for it.

Sigh. I haven’t realized what is in my “best interest.”

Moving on to the realizations…

Don’t assume the next generation agrees with complementarianism.

Gasp! And if they don’t?! What is a pastor to do?

Don’t panic!

A pastor must show the next generation the beauty of complementarianism by living it out in marriages and preaching it from the pulpit.

Polity is theology.

This is what it all comes down to. It’s not the death, burial and resurrection of Christ that dictates theology, but church policy and governance on complementarianism. A secondary issue becomes a primary theological issue.

Don’t overreact.

The goal here is to stay calm and carry on. Don’t restrict women’s ministries in the church and make sure that people understand that preaching/teaching of the church is to be done by “qualified men.” Apparently this is not a male/female issue, but an issue of making sure that a qualified man does the job.

Be firm in your conviction and winsome in your persuasion.

Make sure ardent feminists and gays are offended by your teaching yet are overwhelmed by the respect and love you show them.

None of this information is new. Duncan has been teaching about complementarianism for years. But I get the feeling that there has been a bit more push back toward CBMW in regard to their teaching. More women are telling their stories about suffering through abusive marriages that resulted from following strict gender role teaching. Aimee Byrd recently wrote a fantastic post about how CBMW has left complementarian women feeling betrayed by their silence.

CBMW needs to learn that showing respect and love to people, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, is what should be preached from the pulpit because it is how God commands us to live. That should be the primary issue on a pastor’s heart.  Any public display of honoring a woman or loving a gay person will only be seen as a facade if all you are doing is attempting to show that complementarianism is “not like that.”

Ex-Wife of Pedophile Speaks out about The Village Church and Josh Duggar Sex Scandals

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Ex-Wife of a pedophile shares from her heart about mishandling of sex abuse cases at The Village Church and Josh Duggar

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Insidious Behavior at The Village Church Regarding a Pedophile and His Former Wife

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Horrific story of spiritual abuse, mishandling of sex abuse, church membership, Matt Chandler, The Village Church, Jordan Root, pedophile, child pornography

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Kevin DeYoung Pushes Church Memberships and Making Vows

Church Membership, Pastor Kevin DeYoung, Making Vows, The Gospel Coalition, here we go again!

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Whose Rights are Protected in The Gospel Coalition’s Article on Churches and Current Legal Culture?

 Church Membership is being pushed in The Gospel Coalition’s recent article. Whose rights are protected?


Christina Holcomb, litigation counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, wrote an article for The Gospel Coalition (TGC), 5 Actions Churches Should Take in a Changing Legal Culture, which was published today.

I can’t help but perk up and take notice when I read about churches and legal counsel after having been sued by my former pastor, Chuck O’Neal, and the church, Beaverton Grace Bible Church. Please note that both my former pastor and the church were plaintiffs named in the lawsuit. Here are a couple of screenshots from this lovely document that altered the course of my life:

bgbc2

Back page:

bgbc

Ms. Holcomb summarizes the new threats she sees in our current culture as it relates to religious rights and freedoms:

These new political, cultural, and legal realities directly affect the church’s freedom to live out its faith. While most church decisions about internal governance or doctrine currently enjoy constitutional protection, churches cannot assume that these protections will stand indefinitely. Maintaining a gospel-centered witness in today’s culture requires not only standing firm on the truths of Scripture, but also taking affirmative steps to protect the church’s freedom to continue peacefully teach and live out its faith.

She gave a brief paragraph for the following points:

1. Adopt a written statement of faith about marriage.

2. Establish religious employment criteria.

3. Create a facility use policy.

4. Establish a written marriage policy.

It is the last point, “Adopt a written membership policy,” where I would like to focus.  Here is what she wrote:

5. Adopt a written membership policy.

Only those persons who “unite” with the church have consented to the church’s authority over them. As a result, churches with formal members have greater legal protection when it becomes necessary to exercise church discipline. Churches are encouraged to adopt a written membership policy that explains the procedure for becoming a church member, procedures for member discipline, and procedures for rescinding church membership.

Of course, this recommendation does not mean that a church should adopt a form of church government to which it does not subscribe. Churches can still have designated members who affirm they are committed to and part of a church body, even if there is no voting or say in church practices.

Okie-dokie, I have a couple of thoughts:

Notice in the first sentence:  Only those persons who “unite” with the church have consented to the church’s authority over them

When you become a member, you are agreeing/consenting to the church’s authority over you.

Ok, now take a look at the second sentence:  As a result, churches with formal members have greater legal protection when it becomes necessary to exercise church discipline.

Look again closely. Who has the protection?  The member or the church?

Also please note that she’s encouraging all churches to adopt a written membership policy. 


Christiana Holcomb lays it out for us pretty clearly. She says the church must protect themselves first.

But when abusive church leadership has the law on their side and they don’t agree with you, a covenant-signed church member, you could be hosed.


I was sued without being a church member (despite the fabrications you read elsewhere by Chuck O’Neal). We never signed any documentation, never went before the church body to say we were formally agreeing to be members. I have a copy of the bylaws and know what membership entails and we were not official members, but my daughter and I were still sued.

Imagine, however, being in an abusive church in which your church membership is hung over your head and you are reminded that you signed the dotted line. You may have forfeited some of your legal rights. Please think very carefully about church membership. It is not a biblical mandate. It is a modern cultural trend.

Edited to add:  It looks like Dee at The Wartburg Watch blog also had a strong reaction to this article and wrote a blog post. There are some real practical helps here: http://thewartburgwatch.com/2015/04/09/further-proof-you-are-signing-a-legal-contract-not-a-membership-covenant-courtesy-of-the-gospel-coalition/

Mark Dever’s New Book and Pastors Who Use Language to Control Their Members to Not Connect with Others Outside of Church-Approved Groups

Mark Dever, 9Marks, and other pastors using language to control and coerce members to not engage in outside activities without church endorsement

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Fallen Patriarchy Leader Doug Phillips Leaves Former Church and Becomes Member of New Church without “Letter of Transfer”

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Vision Forum’s fallen patriarchal leader, Doug Phillips, has become a member of another church without obtaining the required “letter of transfer” from the church he established and formerly led, Boerne Christian Assembly

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The Family-Integrated Church Movement is Getting Some Much-Needed Heat from Critics

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The Family-Integrated Church movement is getting some heat by critic, Pastor Shawn Mathis. Pastor Kevin Swanson is forced to make a choice: OPC or National Center for Family-Integrated Churches (NCFIC)

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Pastoral Confidentiality: Does it Still Apply after Church Member Resigns?

 

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What is the responsibility of pastors for those they deem have “gone astray?” Do pastoral confidentiality rules apply even when someone resigns their church membership?

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Learn to Discern: Church Membership Accountability and Discipline of Children

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Learn to discern church websites, church discipline procedures, membership rules and accountability, attendance, and tithe requirements before joining a new church.  A lot of information can be found on church websites.

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Learn to Discern: Doctrinal Statements and Spiritual Authority

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We can learn a lot about the spiritual health of a church and how they function by reading their church governance bylaws and doctrinal statements of faith.

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Harvest Bible Chapel Files Complaint Against Blogger Paul Dohse, Resulting in Loss of YouTube Privileges

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In a concerted attempt to control others, someone from Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) filed official complaint with YouTube against blogger Paul Dohse’s YouTube account, resulting in blogger’s loss of YouTube privileges. Continue reading

What Does Non-Institutionalized Church Look Like?

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We’ve spent the last several days discussing a variety of issues stemmed from Brenda’s very important topic of institutional churches failing to meet the real needs of their people who are suffering abuse.  Quite a bit of the conversation shifted to the subject that church as an institution is the root problem as boatrocker suggests here:

For me, what I believe about the ekklesia is not based upon how the traditional church paradigm is run, but whether it should exist at all. I’m not one who was hurt by “bricks and mortar”, though I attended for 47 years, very regularly and with much involvement, as had my family for generations.

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9Marks: Church Authority over Church Members

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windmills


I’m long-winded so today you get a picture of windmills. Can you see them along the edge of the hills? Sorry about the window reflection. I’ll be driving this road today.

Over the weekend, I was reading at Sharperiron.org and commenting on a thread that went on a rabbit trail about 9Marks.  My comment got long-winded and I thought it might be good to discuss it here as I’ve never brought up 9Marks before and my concerns with this group.

9Marks exists to equip church leaders with a biblical vision and practical resources for displaying God’s glory to the nations through healthy churches. (Source)

Evidently, churches can be identified as a 9Marks church if they follow their practices/guidelines, so if you want to find a church that adheres to the 9Marks guidelines, you can search here for a church in your area.

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Independent Churches = Recipe for Spiritual Abuse?

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We were taught submission at our former church:  children to parents, wives to husbands, husbands to Christ, congregants to pastor/elders, civilians to governmental authorities.


Most churches have a check and balance system in place to ensure that there are no abuses going on in church.  Here is part the doctrinal statement from our former church (located on the church website).

To each of these churches, He has given needful authority for administering that order, discipline and worship which He has appointed (1). There are two Biblically designated offices serving under Christ in the church. Elders (males, who are also called bishops, overseers, and pastor-teachers) and deacons (males), both of whom must meet Biblical qualifications.(http://www.beavertongracebible.org/doctrine.html)

Here is part of the bi-laws discussing the responsibility of elders at our former church:

ARTICLE VI. ELDERS 

The New Testament Scripture is clear about those who have the responsibility of rule, oversight, and care of the church.  These men are called elders, overseers, and bishops.  All three different titles are used to refer to the same spiritual office of leadership in the church and are interchangeable (1 Tim 3:1-7).  We know that Christ is the head of the church and that He mediates His rule in the church through the shepherding of elders (pastors).   (Acts 20:17-18, 28-31; 1 Pet 5:1-4)

SECTION 1. THE AUTHORITY OF THE ELDERS 

A. DECISION-MAKING AUTHORITY 

All the decision-making authority of the church is vested in the elders (pastors) who shepherd the church.  The objective of any and all decisions made shall be to do the will of God regarding the matter at hand. (Prov. 11:14)

B.  DECISION-MAKING PROCESS 

Decisions shall be reached after prayerful consideration in a spirit of humility, with each elder regarding one another before himself.  All decisions are to be made unanimously.   This will at times require a dissenting elder to yield graciously to the elder body as a whole, thus allowing the Lord to direct and correct the decision made, while keeping the unity of the elder body intact in private, in public and before God.  Any decision will bebe a unified “yes” or “no” decision.  All elders agree to be unified in the final decision, “yes” or “no” in public and in private, even though it may not agree with their personal preference (Heb 13:17)

C.  SPECIAL DECISIONS 

1.  The calling of or removal of the pastor-teacher.
2.  The calling of or removal of pastoral or non-pastoral ministry staff.
3.  The church’s annual budget.
4.  Expenditures involving new property or new buildings and related indebtedness.
5.  The selection of elders.
6.  Any changes or amendments to the constitution and by-laws.

 

In one meeting with just the elders (we purposely asked that the pastor not be present at this meeting), we asked if they had ever, in 10 years of working with the pastor, brought up anything that needed to be addressed, ie,  any sinful behavior, anger, pride, relational issues, any issue whatsoever.  We weren’t asking for any specifics, just asking the elders if they in fact were holding him accountable.


This was his first pastorate.  No person is perfect and it is the job of elders to keep their pastor in check and hold him accountable.  


Elders are supposed to be on the same level as the teaching pastor.  Our pastor should not have been exempt from that close observation just as the elders were certainly not exempt from his watchful eye.   Both elders told us that they had found no reason to bring up any issue, behavioral, sin, etc, in the prior decade.   


Not even one minor issue for a first-time pastor in 10 years?  That raised a huge red flag for me.    


So, if the elders did not and were not able to bring any issue to light, correction, criticism, concern, regarding any character issue, behavior, sin, etc, then who is?   We did not see anyone fulfilling that role.   What we saw were yes-men as elders and a pastor as an authority with no other pastoral oversight.  I never got the impression that the elders were equal level with the pastor . . . ever.







As I have been reading so many stories of spiritual abuse, there seems to be a common thread.  Some of these involve independent churches with pastors and elders who are yes-men with no other accountability or oversight.  If you are in a church with elders who are yes-men”, it can be a perfect system set up for spiritual abuse.  


I’m sure this subject will come up again with the amount of stories I’ve read.  Perhaps this is something very important to consider when looking at new churches.  I had never thought to consider this when looking for a new church. Hindsight is 20/20, huh?