Tedd Tripp and Tom Chantry: Shepherding a Child’s Heart … or Not

Tedd Tripp, Tom Chantry, Failure to Report, Mandatory Reporter, Spanking, Shepherding a Child’s Heart


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tedd tripp, failure to report, mandatory reporter, spanking, Tom Chantry

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In the late 1990s, I attended a parenting seminar by Tedd Tripp. It may or may not be significant to note that the seminar was held at a Sovereign Grace Ministries church in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart

The seminar covered material from Tripp’s book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart (1995). Among my circle of friends, this book received high praises, after the Train Up a Child (1994) parenting book by Mike and Debi Pearl made its rounds. Yes, both books influenced our parenting, sadly.

At the time, we liked a lot of what Tedd Tripp had to say about parenting. Here are some of the good quotes from the book:

  • All behavior is linked to attitudes of the heart. Therefore, discipline must address attitudes of the heart.
  • The finest art of communication is not learning how to express your thoughts. It is learning how to draw out the thoughts of another.
  • The most powerful way to keep your children from being attracted by the offers of camaraderie from the wicked is to make home an attractive place to be.
  • God is concerned with the heart—the well-spring of life (Proverbs 4:23). Parents tend to focus on the externals of behavior rather than the internal overflow of the heart.
  • You must regard parenting as one of your most important tasks while you have children at home. This is your calling. You must raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. You cannot do so without investing yourself in a life of sensitive communication in which you help them understand life and God’s world.

Tripp’s focus on the child’s heart was an improvement from Mike and Debi Pearl’s teachings where greater emphasis was on spanking – even down to describing the tool used to implement discipline (a 1/4-inch flexible plumber’s line, intended to give a good painful sting, without leaving marks).

It wasn’t until many years later that I saw problem’s with Tripp’s teachings. While his emphasis was the child’s heart, he honed in on the sinfulness of cihldren, how they are born into sin, and spanking would remove the foolishness from a child’s heart:

  • The child’s problem is not an information deficit. His problem is that he is a sinner. There are things within the heart of the sweetest little baby that, allowed to blossom and grow to fruition, will bring about eventual destruction.
  • Your children’s souls are in danger of death—spiritual death. Your task is to rescue your children from death. Faithful and timely use of the rod is the means of rescue  (106).
  • God has ordained the rod of discipline for this condition. The spanking process drives foolishness from the heart of a child (106).
  • God has commanded the use of the rod in discipline and correction of children. It is not the only thing you do, but it must be used. He has told you that there are needs within your children that require use of the rod. If you are going to rescue your children from death, if you are going to root out the folly that is bound up in their hearts, if you are going to impart wisdom, you must use the rod (108).
  • I knew that failure to spank would be unfaithfulness to their souls (109).
  • The use of the rod is an act of faith. God has mandated its use (109).
  • The rod . . . is the parent, as God’s representative, undertaking on God’s behalf what God has called him to do. He is not on his own errand, but fulfilling God’s  (109).
  • When does a child need a spanking? When you have given a directive that he has heard and is within his capacity to understand and he has not obeyed without challenge, without excuse or without delay, he needs a spanking. If you fail to spank, you fail to take God’s Word seriously. You are saying you do not believe what the Bible teaches about the import of these issues. . . . If obedience is to be absolutely mandatory for him, you cannot tolerate disobedience (149).

Now, having researched people and books that influenced us over the years, I have come to similar conclusions as Anne Sokol, who wrote this review of Shepherding a Child’s Heart. If you were part of that wave of people who were reading Shepherding a Child’s Heart, I encourage you to read Anne’s review and see what you think.

If you are unfamiliar with Tripp’s teachings, I found a short YouTube video in which he discusses spanking:

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So-Called Biblical Parenting Leaders

We, as parents, seemed to follow trends that so many others did – especially in the Christian homeschool movement. Unfortunately, many of those trends ended up being more harmful than helpful, such as: Doug Phillips – Vision Forum, Mike and Debbie Pearl – Train Up a Child, Gary Ezzo – Growing Kids God’s Way). Perhaps Tedd Tripp should be added to this list, too.

Harmful Results

This brings us to the case of Tom Chantry:

Tom Chantry, who occasionally wrote with Phil Johnson at Pyromaniacs blog, is a former pastor with the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America (ARBCA), and has been in hot water in the past year or so:

Chantry, 47, was indicted in Yavapai County Superior Court on eight counts – five counts of child molestation and three of aggravated assault – for offenses committed in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when he worked at the Miller Valley Baptist Church. (Source)

What does Tom Chantry have to do with Tedd Tripp?

My friend and blogger, Todd Wilhelm, has been closely following this case, and it is the following information from an earlier blog post by Todd that got me interested in reporting on Tedd Tripp:

In April 2017 the ARBCA, feeling the heat from numerous bloggers (hereherehere and here), who presented credible evidence that they had covered-up the sexual abuse and physical assault of children by ARBCA pastor Thomas Chantry, published the document below. While ARBCA leadership clings to their false claim of no cover-up by the ARBCA, irrefutable evidence continues to mount which puts to flight the lies contained in their published document. (It should be noted that this document seems to have disappeared from the ARBCA website.)

You can read the document at Todd Wilhelm’s blog here, but notable quotes follow. Todd’s commentary is in green, the quoted document is indented and in italics:

“All parties agreed to the three men who would serve on the Council. Those who served in this capacity were men of integrity, elders in their respective churches, trusted in the association, and had considerable experience in the fields of law, counseling, and law enforcement.”

Who were these three men?

The three men who served on the Council were Mike McKnight, Pastor Tedd Tripp, and Pastor Richard Jensen. Yes, that Tedd Tripp, who at the time was the pastor of the Grace Fellowship Church in Hazelton, Pennsylvania.

Anyone with “considerable experience in the fields of law, counseling, and law enforcement” would know that they have a responsibility to report abuse cases to law enforcement. Evidently, this did not happen.

The document continues:

“Contrary to the recent false charges made by internet bloggers and others, from 1995 to this day there has never been a cover-up whatsoever by anyone in the Association with knowledge of these events.”

Now we’re back to Todd’s commentary:

I [Todd Wilhelm] attended an Evidentiary Hearing for the upcoming Thomas Chantry trial yesterday. One item that came out in the hearing was the fact that the ARBCA investigative three-man committee published a “sealed, confidential” report of their findings. This document was not meant for wide distribution but was intended for ARBCA leadership’s eyes only. This document stated that the spankings administered by Thomas Chantry to the victims were “punishing for the personal pleasure” of Thomas Chantry. The parents of the victims were never given this information. The prosecuting attorney, Susan Eazer said that every family stated that if they had been made aware of this information they would have reported Chantry to the Police.  Instead of reporting this information to Law Enforcement, leaders of ARBCA chose to remain silent and instead attack the bloggers for “false charges.” [JA bolded]

“Everyone has been open, as far as discretion allows, and everyone with knowledge of these events has operated within the parameters of the laws of the land.”

I was recently provided with some information which proves that ARBCA leaders did not operate “within the parameters of the laws of the land.”

Cutting to the chase, Todd Wilhelm writes:

As you can read in the highlighted section of this motion filed on behalf of Thomas Chantry, the three-man panel of Mike McKnight, Pastor Tedd Tripp, and Pastor Richard Jensen were, (among others) under the law, mandatory reporters of abuse. Further, their failure to report Chantry’s abuse to Law Enforcement was a criminal act! Yet the ARBCA document claims “everyone with knowledge of these events has operated within the parameters of the laws of the land.” (Source)

Ok, that brings me back to Tedd Tripp. So, evidently Tedd Tripp failed to report abuse by then-pastor Tom Chantry. My brain has gone wild with questions about this.

  • Why would this man fail to report child abuse when he knew it was abuse?
  • Is it because he doesn’t fully believe it is abuse?
  • Is he merely trying to protect a pastor?
  • Is he thinking that if this pastor gets in legal trouble for spanking, then it will not look good for other Christians who spank children?
  • Is he trying to protect a pastor who believes the same way he does about spanking: that it should be mandatory?
  • Does he believe that his spiritual obligation to uphold the practice of “biblical” spanking exempts him from following the laws of the land?
  • I wonder – has Tedd Tripp ever reported any cases of abuse (physical or sexual abuse) to authorities?
  • What does Tedd Tripp believe about Romans 13 and obeying civil authorities?

 

Here’s what I think. I think Tedd Tripp is no different from the people who believe it is spiritually wrong to intervene medically when their children are sick. I think he is putting his legalistic viewpoint of spanking at a level that now leaves children (and parents/adults who follow his teachings) in harm’s way.

Another thought I had is this: remember how Neo-Calvinists defended Mark Driscoll and CJ Mahaney? Why was that? I believe it was because they didn’t want to cause harm to their doctrinal beliefs. For Mark Driscoll, it was to protect Neo-Calvinism. For CJ Mahaney, I have a hunch it was because his staunch teachings on complementarianism and he was a popular speaker at their conferences. Is that what’s happening here with Tom Chantry?  Is it that Tedd Tripp et al didn’t want to report Chantry because of who he represents (friend of Phil Johnson et al) and what he represents (Calvinism, pro-spanking, etc)?

I’d be interested in reading your thoughts. Regardless of the reason, and we may never know why Tripp failed to report, but if this is how Tedd Tripp Shepherds a Child’s Heart, it is egregious! Imagine the spiritual and emotional pain these now-grown adults have experienced, knowing that Tripp apparently dismissed the abuse, and instead, defended/protected a man he knew was abusing children.

References: In addition to Todd Wilhelm’s blog, this site has also been keeping up with Tom Chantry’s criminal case.

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Blogger Claims Because of our Culture of Death, Our Children Need a Belt and the Bible

Culture, Spanking, Bible, Lori Alexander, Abortion, Feminism, Divorce

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Man Shares Personal Testimony of How Bill Gothard Used Bible Verses Which Led to the Abuse of Children, Part 2

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Personal Story of Abuse following the teachings of Bill Gothard, ATI, IBLP

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The following is Part 2 of Dash sharing how the teachings of Bill Gothard influenced his parents to “spank” his siblings. Although I know Dash’s identity, he has asked to remain anonymous. Dash’s account shows that they were not spankings, but abuse:

I am a survivor of Gothard’s cult. I experienced unspeakable physical, sexual, and emotional abuse from my mother and father, who were at one point among Gothard’s “model parents.” Gothard is not human. Gothard does not deserve compassion. Gothard is not a man, and he does not have the slightest shred of decency or humanity within him. Bill Gothard is a monster in human form, and as far as I am concerned, he can’t die soon enough.

I asked Dash questions about his childhood and more specifics about how he was disciplined. Again, I must issue a trigger warning to those who have experienced abuse.  There may be some parents reading who used to follow Gothard’s teachings and have now left that behind. This, too, might be difficult for you to read.

In the following, Dash responds to my questions. My questions are in green:

What kinds of things did you and your sister do that resulted in “spankings?”  Can you give an example of what disobedience looked like, i.e, talking back, not doing what you were told to do, etc.?
It’s hard to dredge up specific examples of behaviors that resulted in beatings (I’m going to use the term “beating” rather than “spanking,” because that’s what they were), because frankly my recollection of the events leading up to the beatings are hazy. However, punishable offenses included: Not getting a chore done on time, or to the required degree of perfection (chores included dusting, vacuuming, taking out the trash). Arguing or fighting with my siblings (to clarify, I have an older sister and younger brother), and I mean trivial things like arguing over which record we were going to listen to or who got to play with which stuffed animal. Arriving home late from a friend’s house, arriving home late after school, not getting out of bed promptly in the morning, complaining about going to church. The list is endless.

As our family began to seriously decay and slide toward doom, punishments extended to include: making a salad incorrectly, accidentally dropping a dish or a milk bottle, getting the bathroom floor wet during a bath, not setting the table for dinner quickly enough, forgetting to put clothes in the laundry basket, putting a book back on the bookshelf in the wrong place. In other words, any trivial perceived imperfection became grounds for beatings.

One of the worst beatings of my life was administered by my mother around nine years old when we were making chocolate chip cookies. I was given the task of running the hand-held mixer, which I was happy to do because then I might get one of the detachable beaters with cookie batter on it after. I was standing on a stool, and I turned to ask my mother a question. Being an absent-minded kid, when I turned I unconsciously lifted the mixer out of the batter and cookie dough flew all over the wall. My mom went livid and slapped me full in the face, knocking me sprawling off the stool. She then dragged me bawling upstairs and beat me with the 3/4″ dowel rod for almost 30 minutes.
What made them stop the beatings after an hour or however long?  Was there something you or your sister did that helped them to stop? Were your parents looking for signs of remorse?  Did they finally give up?
The stipulation was that we had to hold still and submissively accept the beating, and we had to stop crying and be silent and not make a sound. This was a specific part of Gothard’s beating protocol, found in one of his pamphlets: the silent, limp submission to a beating was his metric for a “repentant spirit.”

To this day, I cannot show normal emotional responses to my environment as a result of this aversive conditioning; I reflexively suppress every emotional response. I cannot maintain a long-term relationship with a woman because of this emotional dysfunction, which is why I am still single at 44. I have had therapists hint that I might be a sociopath because of the superficial appearance of this emotional dysfunction, which I know not to be the case. I have emotions, I just cannot show or express them properly. It makes me want to kill myself.

Did your parents talk to you while you were getting “spanked?”  How was their tone of voice? Were they yelling or did they use a normal tone of voice?  Did they use scripture while “spanking?”  Did they pray with you after?
They would yell and scream and bellow. They would tell us what bad, awful, evil, horrible, sinful children we were. In the beginning, there was no pretext of spiritual context; later on as I got older and the beatings continued, my father began making attempts to pray with us after a beating, as if it was a spiritual exercise. For the most part, however, the beatings took place in an atmosphere of apoplectic, psychotic rage, especially when my mother was administering them. I use the term “psychotic” because my mother has been diagnosed as bipolar, and her fits of apoplexy were probably manic fugues. It was terrifying. To this day I have nightmares about it.
Did they realize you were bruised?  Did they ever acknowledge they went overboard or apologize?
The bruising and other injuries (which at one point for me included a broken finger, and for my brother once included a broken forearm) were never acknowledged by my parents. It was implied that we deserved it. “That’s what you get for your sinful disobedience” was the message.
My parents have never really acknowledged the specific details of what they did. Both of them have acknowledged that hitting us was wrong, but we can’t discuss details properly because they are so horrified and humiliated by the recollection of what they did to us. My mother has sobbing fits when I try to bring any of this up. Both my parents have tried to make amends through financial reparations: paying for therapists, occasionally helping with rent or medical bills. But I’m still broken, so everyday life is a constant struggle. I wake up every morning and look in the mirror, and I have to find a reason not to kill myself.
I have a cat that I adopted 13 years ago who snuggles with me and is my little buddy. Having a cat is the only thing that keeps me going; I have to take care of my cat, so I can’t kill myself. I have to focus on something other than myself in order to go on living. It’s pretty bleak.
I’d like to state again for the record that Gothard apologists are remorseless sadists, and this includes that Alfred character who comments on your blog. These people KNOW THAT THESE THINGS ARE HAPPENING IN THE IBLP/ATI PROGRAM, AND THEY ARE FINE WITH IT. They are sociopaths. And Gothard is a monster, because he knows about these events and he ENCOURAGES THEM.
photo credit: bark via photopin cc