1. Abusive Enablers

    (archived post)

    I randomly came across an article today about a(nother) pastor leaving Mars Hill. The author of the article wants to know why. Wants the bigger story. The meat.

    I am going to guess that “the real story” will never be told. At least not publicly. Sure, whatever really happened with Tim Gaydos is probably known to a small circle of select friends.

    But, this is part of the reason why I see this whole movement as a cultsilence. Most people know that something is seriously wrong. But, they don’t say anything. Even after they leave.

    Why? Fear. 

    Even after you leave this cult - if you retain your evangelical beliefs - the New Reformed vultures have their claws in every corner of evangelicalism. You simply can’t be an evangelical and avoid them. So, because of your weird beliefs, you will let slide what you really know “for the greater good.” You simply can’t speak out about what is going on right now, behind closed doors.

    This brings me to another article I came across about a conference that happened just last week here in Raleigh. It’s about a talk that was given by Pastor Tyler Jones, someone I used to be on staff with and considered a friend. In the article, the author paraphrases Tyler as saying:

    …Sometimes church leaders who are versed in pointing out the faults in others ignore deep internal issues in their own lives. The sins of leaders, he said, are often left unnoticed or sometimes even praised.
    Citing the example of a church leader who might be considered a strong go-getter but never worries about the people being hurt as they strive for achievement, he said that was a problem. No one looks at the carnage a leader like this leaves behind.

    He said just like an avocado rotting at its core, sooner or later those internal issues will eventually spill over into the ministry of leaders with these issues. Many leaders, he said, struggle with a grandiose sense of self-importance.

    I’m going to assume that Tyler didn’t specifically mention the person he was using as an example. I know exactly who he is talking about. But, that is not my problem here.

    The problem is that I know dozens of people who criticized this “leader” - who met with other elders to call into question this person’s ability to lead. I know more than a few people who left the church because of this leader. And I know more who were personally damaged by this leader. 

    And, nothing was done about it. This person stayed in leadership well beyond his expiration date. No matter what anyone else said.

    Here’s what I thought back then and still think today: leaders who have power and authority over others but who repeatedly allow abuse to occur are just as responsible as the abusive leader. If the other leaders in that church wouldn’t have enabled that leader to do what he did, it wouldn’t have continued.

    (Here I must confess that I, too, contributed to this, for awhile. Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore, and I had to walk way. But, I admit at least some degree of culpability.)

    At this point, many may say that they had “no idea” of the depth of what that person was doing. To that I simply say, bullshit. Many of us saw it. And we said it. The problem was that those with the power ignored everyone else. Nothing changed until the problems were considered “extreme” enough to do something about (I guess someone “versed in pointing out the faults in others,” who “never worries about the people being hurt as they strive for achievement,” and who struggles with “a grandiose sense of self-importance” isn’t extreme enough to warrant a change).

    In conclusion, sadly misguided cult leaders and members: stop looking for a scapegoat; look in the mirror.




  4. Help us spread the word! 


  5. new post on my new site.


  6. "Jesus *becomes* a human sacrifice through his death as a means of overcoming mimetic violence. But when scapegoating works, it does so because we are able to convince ourselves that the victim is guilty (or otherwise carries our guilt for us), but Jesus exposes the bankruptcy of the sacrificial system precisely because he is acknowledged by all is *being innocent*. In his innocence, he represents the innocent victims of every regime and exposes the evil at the heart of sacrificial systems. Furthermore, through his teaching, he exemplifies another way of being-in-the-world, namely that of positive mimesis, mimetic love if you will. That mimetic love is the heart of Jesus’ teaching and suggests a means by which to overcome the structures of mimetic violence. Finally, through his resurrection by God, Jesus defeats the structures of mimetic violence, by refusing to remain the innocent victim. In triumphing over death, he triumphs over the whole sacrificial system. He is the innocent victim who exposes the system, but he is also the conquering lamb, who defeats the mechanism of mimetic violence through overcoming death."

  7. "The folks most likely to be alienated by her book are, unsurprisingly, the seekers—those who call themselves SBNR, of course, but also those who want religious community, or at least want to want it (full disclosure: like me). For these folks, who may be, as she says, “shopping” for a place to belong, Daniel has absolutely no patience… This book is a very honest confession of how much Lillian Daniel needs church, as well as how tired she is of having to defend her religiosity to liberals who don’t feel the same need, and who are narcissistic enough to think all religion is therefore for suckers… If, having vented, she then hopes to win over some of those who might be testing the waters, she might consider ridding her rhetoric of stereotypes and caricatures designed to shame them for not yet belonging."

  8. "Process theists argue that the deity of traditional theism is at once too active and too static. It is too active in the sense that its control of the universe is absolute, leaving nothing for the creatures to do except to unwittingly speak the lines and play the parts decided for them in eternity. It is too static in the sense that it lacks potentiality to change, to participate in the evolving universe it created, and to be affected by the triumphs and tragedies of its creatures. In short, it is a God who acts but is never acted upon and can therefore never interact. This is summed up in the non-biblical Aristotelian formula of God as the unmoved mover. Fritz Rothschild describes the God of Rabbi Abraham Heschel—a God who feels and is felt by the creatures—as “the Most Moved Mover.” Hartshorne, who greatly admired Heschel, amends this formula in an attempt to distill the essence of process theism, “God is the most and best moved mover.”"

  9. a myth that “fits” and “works” for us

    Had a great conversation with Doug Hammack this morning about trying to figure out which story/myth our Emergent Raleigh cohort will “live into.” This got me thinking about a few things:

    1. Does a group like ours require a defining story?

    2. Are we as individuals, families, communities and so on living out of one primary myth, or are we stuck between a mixture of ideal myths and implicit myths (via what we actually do)?

    3. Is our group just going to be a monthly hangout at a bar, with random events thrown into the mix, or something more?

    4. If our group is, in the least, culturally Christian, should we find ways to clarify what Christian might mean to us, or replace that language with something else that “fits” our group better? Will Christian language last beyond the next few decades to describe the ethos, sensibilities, and trajectories that ring true to so many of us?

    5. Is “humanism” a sustainable (enough) myth? Would humanism better describe our understand of the universe and our role in it than a (redefined) Christian myth?

    What do you think?


  10. "The historical evidence for systematic persecution of Christians by Jews and Romans is actually very slim. There were only a few years before the rise of the emperor Constantine that Christians were sought out by the authorities just for being Christians. The stories about early Christian martyrs have been edited, expanded, and sometimes even invented, giving the impression that Christians were under constant attack. This mistaken impression is important because it fosters a sense of Christian victimhood and that victim mentality continues to rear its head in modern politics and society. It’s difficult to imagine that people could make the same claims about persecution today were it not for the idea that Christians have always been persecuted."