a WOLF, a SNAKE, and a FALSE PASTOR
On Ash Wednesday, February 13th 2013, after years of behind the scenes attempts to resolve issues of spiritual abuse at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, and after being further stonewalled by Elder Carl Schartner I sent a “two week notice” email to Eric Amundson and his wife, with a CC to Carl Schartner. This email was not a spur of the moment shot in the dark, it was a well thought out arrow crafted to serve at least two very specific purposes.
One: to incite the Fourth Presbyterian Elders to engagement. And, Two: to present my final ultimatum before going to war.
Here’s my February 13th arrow:
ERIC AMUNDSON—you are a WOLF, a SNAKE, and a FALSE PASTOR. You will step down and resign the pastorate of my church. As quickly as you set upon us, I now ask you to leave.
Eric Amundson, heed Jeremiah 21:8-9
You have two weeks. At that point if I haven’t heard back from an elder of Fourth Presbyterian I will leverage all that I have in my power to expose and depose you.
The link in this email takes us to a discussion I had with Steve and Faith in the Liberty for Captives comment-section of a thoughtful post regarding A Believer’s Assurance in Christ.
Having only recently discovered Steve Smith’s Liberty for Captives blog—I am sincerely impressed with him. He’s authentic, transparent, insightful, and an amazingly smart and gifted writer. His blog tagline is: Confronting Spiritual Abuse with Grace and Truth.
What I want to draw your attention to was the way Steve and I interacted with each other as I challenged a soteriological aspect of his Biblical Worldview. This exchange is representative of who I am and how I endeavor to go about engaging things I may be led to challenge.
The entry point for me was February 4th. On February 5th I wrote about my schizophrenic friend to illustrate the precariousness of a certain theological tool under consideration. On February 8th I provided some background to my friend’s story and began (for the first time on the internet) to reveal fragments of our church abuse experience. With the exception of revealing that “Ours was a small and beautiful Presbyterian church of about thirty,” I otherwise attempted, as much as possible, to remain nondescript in the details.
I did not enter into this conversation with the intent of telling my church abuse story. However, on February 8th I was led by the Spirit to do so.
I was also led by the Spirit to visit Todd Robel’s Redeemer Church at the Kepharts home on February 10th—where Providence brought Elder Carl Schartner and I together for the first time since last September.
After service Carl approached me and I shared with him how I was doing, and also how I was nearly ready to press a decision from him on how to proceed with restoring Session back to health. I verbally detailed for Carl the terms of my ultimatum (and with sincere love, grace and truth I attempted to warn him what Session was up against). Then two days later (after a day of fasting for Fourth Presbyterian and being given the green light) I detailed my ultimatum as a comment to Faith.
Here’s two paragraphs from my February 12th comment at Liberty for Captives:
I leave it to them to decide how they want to do this. Either we move forward along the lines of my ultimatum, or we engage this out in the open. The advantage of doing this openly is that the church at large will benefit from the exposure and correction of spiritual abuse and be made keenly aware of some of the spiritual dangers presently facing the Body of Christ. However, the advantage of resolving things behind the scenes allows for a quicker restoration to health of my church. His kingdom come. His will be done.
Here’s my final ultimatum: the presiding false pastor must resign; and the once managing elder must stay resigned until after a more discerning pastor is brought in, a pastor after Christ’s own heart whom I (and the rest of the congregation) approves. If not—I begin openly telling my story.
I left one follow-up comment on February 15th, two days after firing off my “two week notice” arrow.
On February 22nd they answered me in a pdf letter (attached to an email) threatening me with legal and police action.
They write, “we are informing you that we have consulted with both law enforcement and legal authorities regarding your threat and we are prepared to take additional measures as your actions dictate… We must prudently interpret [my reference to Jeremiah 21 and my promise to “leverage all that I have in my power to expose and depose you.”] to be a threat of physical intimidation to Pastor Amundson and his family, and possibly the congregation and leaders. This we cannot allow to take place and we must take every precaution.”
—Carl Schartner (Fourth Presbyterian EPC Ruling Elder)
—Ross Kronenbitter (Fourth Presbyterian EPC Ruling Elder)
—Paul Metzger (Fourth Presbyterian EPC Ruling Elder)
—Eric Amundson (Fourth Presbyterian EPC Teaching Elder)
—Bob Spear (EPC Elder not present at Fourth during my time there)
You malicious wolves! First you maligned my character before the entire church, then (according to the fragment of email Carl shared with me it seems) you misrepresented me to the Presbytery, and now you have slandered my name to law enforcement.
Don’t let your fearful imaginations get the best of you. I engage you Elders with clean hands and a pure heart. I may be a big and fearless man, but I am a law abiding man of integrity. And everything I have done in the last four years in my attempt to confront you has been done in love and respect and according to the principles of Scripture. As I will continue my efforts to hold you accountable, please know: I have and will continue to do this by the book. And by the book I mean both biblically and legally. You Elders are just digging yourselves deeper and deeper into your vipers pit with this!
That these Elders would misconstrue a clear ultimatum to them in such twisted terms as “a threat of physical intimidation” is most devious, and only adds to the proof of Eric Amundson’s snakish nature!
[Children of Light, this is an example of an intimidation tactic WOLVES use to divide “their” sheep from those speaking out against them.]
For the open record: in my engagement with Fourth Session and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church I bring nothing but the sword of my tongue. It is not my calling nor my nature to leverage myself in any other way but with my written and spoken testimony.
For what it’s worth, the last time Eric Amundson looked me in the eyes was March 21, 2011, the Monday of my examination for elder. Carl had asked Pastor Eric to recuse himself from examining me. Before he left, Eric Amundson’s face toward me took on the appearance of a mean little bully readying to tighten the screws. I wish I had a recording of his face and everything that was said to me that evening. It would be quite telling.
I will write more about this examination later, but for the moment to counter these assertions of “physical intimidation” I will tell the world I have never harassed any of these men. In respect to Eric Amundson I have not spoken to him since March 21, 2011. Since then I have never once called him or sent him an email. When my driving was detoured passed his house I did not even look over at his home. I do not fight this most spiritual war through carnal means. This February 13th email was the first and will be the last direct communication I desire to have with Eric Amundson. And I trust with some discernment some will see how my arrow was pointed full of grace and wisdom.
I did see Eric Amundson and his wife on Wednesday, November 21st, the day before Thanksgiving, as they entered the back room of my favorite haunt with another couple. The Amundsons took their seats at a table that offered them an open view of me sitting with a friend at my regular table by the window. Veronica saw me, but Eric either did not see me, or he already saw me and chose not to look.
I found it most marvelous to see him sitting there and not once scanning the room. I would have loved to have looked him in his eyes, to remind him of the fire in my heart. I did not address him then—as I was waiting for things to fall into place as they have now.
I realize there will be questions as to the grace and wisdom of sending this February 13th email to Eric Amundson’s wife, so I will tell you why I did this. First, Veronica has proven to be both naturally and spiritually more discerning than her husband. While I suspected Eric’s “vision” would be all the more blurred by his anger, I was hoping Veronica would be able to see beyond my inflammatory comments (i.e., WOLF, SNAKE, FALSE PASTOR) to the actual sword that was set against her husband. All told, there are a circle of women at Fourth Presbyterian who are wiser than the Elders.
The day after seeing the Schartners at Redeemer Church I sent an email to a key and discerning member of Fourth Presbyterian. I did this only after receiving an email from her that day. Here’s a fragment of what I wrote:
Yesterday, I told Carl how I’m waiting for the final piece of the machinery to fall into place, then I’ll be prepared to bring my sword against them. [Yours truly has in his possession an even more powerful set of instruments than the instruments of ecclesiastical authority they used against me.] I have finally enough weight behind me to force the issue, specifically to force Eric Amundson down. [Btw, that blind wolf will want to fight me—but if he does he’ll only fuel a spectacular machine that will have his head on a platter along with the toppling of some EPC strongholds.] My ultimatum is that Eric Amundson be gone; Ross stay down at least until the next pastor comes in; and I (and the rest of the congregation) have a say in the calling of a new pastor. If not—I begin openly telling my story (and pushing various buttons on this machine).
There are dynamics operating that I’m fairly certain they can’t fathom…. What I do know is that no matter what they decide, the matter has already been decided, and this machine won’t shut down until my stated end has been met. My goal is to have Fourth’s session restored to health and the church safe from its present dangers.
I told Carl with a smile (and he does know how dearly I respect and love him) that there is a spiritual authority greater than their ecclesiastical vote.
I realize the Elders are presently “confused” on what they did and what I am doing, but in the next several months I plan to openly detail my being “voted out,” the place for anger (i.e., healthy righteous anger as tempered by self-control), the issue of “community” that was Carl Schartner’s February 13th “concern” for me, and many other things Session twisted against me, all the while demonstrating to the world how to recognize and fight against spiritual abuse by persons of trust within the church. “As for those elders who persist in sin, [I, David Johnson] rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear” (1 Timothy 5:20).
Elders, when you sow wickedness to the wind you reap a wicked whirlwind [read Hosea 8]. Now as your cover of darkness has been blown—I invite you to openly account for your discernments and judgements against me. No more hiding behind your secret sessions.
Here’s the darkness in this. When the members of the church were pleading for answers as to why I was not approved session maintained my confidentiality and under the auspices of secrecy hid their rationales and reasonings from congregational scrutiny. I’m now offering them an opportunity to openly disclose their discernments and judgements against me. And I’m now asking for arbitration from the Children of Light. Let’s get everything out in the open.
In addition to knowing what you told the church, I want to know what you sent Presbytery concerning my personal charges and ultimatum ( the Elders were given both hard and digital copies—Did you send them what I gave you? ) Also, what in God’s name did you relate to law enforcement concerning my person? I’d like to know.
I’d like to know for the record here—or anywhere out in the open—what you held, spoke or wrote against me. No more phone calls from you men, and no more coming over to my house until this gets resolved. And Carl, Do you really think Cindy believes your lies against me? If she thought I was so angry and out-of-control would she and your little girl have knocked on my kitchen door the day after my arrow to wish me a Happy Valentines Day with a plate of frosted heart-shaped cookies? Really, now.
Finally, let me leave you with some keys toward discerning the meaning of Jeremiah as it relates to our present situation. Just as there was a link (in my “two week notice” email) to the Liberty for Captives blog, Jeremiah 21:8-9 links us to the time and book of Jeremiah.
For My people are foolish; they know Me not.
They are stupid children; they have no understanding.
They are ‘wise’ in doing evil, but how to do good they know not.
In Jeremiah 21 the King of Jerusalem when threatened by war said, “Perhaps the LORD will deal with us according to all his wonderful deeds and will make the Chaldeans withdraw from us” (verse 2).
Then Jeremiah answered, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands… I Myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and strong arm” (vss 4-5).
“And to this people you shall say: ‘Thus says the LORD: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have his life as a prize of war” (vss 8-9).
“I will punish you according to the fruit of your deeds, declares the LORD…” (verse 14).
[[ Habakkuk, a contemporary of Jeremiah, refers to the Chaldeans as God’s instruments of judgement and correction.
Are You not from everlasting,
O LORD, my God, my Holy One?
We will not die.
You, O LORD, have appointed them to judge;
And You, O Rock, have established them to correct. ]]
From Jeremiah 23:
“‘Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: ‘You have scattered my flock and driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD” (vss 1-2).
“When the officials of Judah heard these things, they came up from the king’s house to the house of the LORD and took their seat in the entry of the New Gate of the house of the LORD. Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and to all the people, ‘This man deserves the sentence of death, because he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears.’
“Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, ‘The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the LORD your God, and the LORD will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you’” (vss 10-13).
Where are the parallels between Jeremiah’s day and ours?
Our beloved city of Jerusalem, for me, represents Fourth Presbyterian Church (and quite possibly the entire EPC denomination).
The foolish and blind king of Jerusalem represents Eric Amundson (and those of his class).
I am their Jeremiah.
Finally, the Chaldeans whom Session feared were a sword in my hands are but worldly instruments of judgement and correction in the hands of the LORD.
How will this play out?
I will tell you this much Carl Schartner: for how you answered me on the phone February 13th—you, in my eyes, have made yourself an enemy of the Church. It appears that after all: you seek your own interests, and not those of Jesus Christ.
You can tell your spiritual and legal authorities that I’m going to war against what you did to me and my church, and that I’m as fierce in protecting my First Amendment rights to speak out against Abuse in the Church as I am in protecting Christ’s sheep; and although much of my present energies are focused on another front—I will soon, here at SpAu, be telling my story of Church Abuse at Fourth Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh.
One of the buttons that was recently pushed initiated a series of actions that were engineered to universally expose and depose the WOLF, SNAKE, and FALSE PASTOR Bob Grenier of Calvary Chapel Visalia. The Chaldean army has already breached the garden walls of these Chapels. And the hand of God’s judgement and correction is now upon Chuck Smith and his franchise of Moseses!