This is the Spiritual Sounding Board thread to which my thoughts below belong, published here for reason of length, links and JA’s penchant for censoring contrary comments.
There are severe costs to standing up against evil in our Christian communities. As many of us know, our greatest cost is relational. Often, it seems, the prophet who speaks out against evil get’s crucified, and loses friends and gets displaced from the community he’s invested so much of his life in. He does this foreknowing that the cost to himself is nothing compared to the mounting spiritual costs of staying silent.
So here I am speaking up against a spiritual evil within our SSB community, a place that once was my happy home. I came to ja’blog Spring 2012 like so many others when JA’s story went viral. Apparently, there was this Grace Bible Pastor suing a former congregant for $500,000 for calling him out as a W-O-L-F in the public sphere!
Here’s my allegorical take on this from a bgbc.survivors thread (where incidentally the BGB Cult of CON is being scolded for not understanding the unhealthiness of not allowing challenging, contrary and controversial comments on their new and fake survivor blog). Here’s our story to that point:
Once there was an Oregonian Shepherdess who cried ‘wolf!’
All the hillside shepherds came and examined the situation and proclaimed ‘not so.’
Shortly thereafter the shepherdess once again and even louder cried ‘wolf!’ and her cry was heard as far as California. The shepherds on hearing her cry (shepherds who were either wolves themselves or mind controlled sheep playing their roles) determined once again that no wolves were threatening the flock or the shepherdess.
When the wolves came against her again to snuff the Shepherdess out her cry was heard around the globe and rams and true shepherds came running to defend the Shepherdess and the flock from the ravenous schemes of the wolves.
The global attention contained these wolves in a zoo, encased them under the glass of the world wide web for all to see the truth.
I was one of these rams, one of the shepherds who came leaping and bounding to JA’s aid. And I was not alone—other watchmen and sheepdogs assembled to protect and encourage, to help Julie Anne fend off the wolves. We all, best we could, prayed and fought, and did some exceptional things behind the scenes. We came alongside her with glad support and defended her righteousness as our own.
Julie Anne, my dear friend, I knew of some of the private pain and sleepless nights you suffered, and it broke my heart. I was glad to have a share in your suffering. And being given some inside knowledge on how CON’s unchecked abuses were affecting your family (and other families), this information fueled me with the requisite and righteous anger I needed to engage in some pretty bloody battles. From the beginning I came alongside you as a warrior of Yahweh in the fight against spiritual abuse in high places. There has been much deliverance, healing, cooperation and education resulting from our efforts.
Much of this work could not have been done without intensive behind the scenes cooperation. Such as (in a small way) our orchestration in exposing the foolishness in Fred Butler’s heart. So, you’ll remember, we dragged the Bully over to ja’blog and made a spectacle of him. Some of the best of men got to spank him without being censored (as they would have been on Fred’s lambasting blog). He was truly humbled, and I trust our brother Fred is a better man for it. Good times!
And (in a large way) what became known as our WWJS campaign would never had transpired without intensive behind the scenes cooperation. Back in February, just days after declaring war on the Elders of Fourth Presbyterian in Pittsburgh, I was prompted (after reading Paul Grenier’s February 8th sworn declaration) to join myself to Alex and Tim in their fight against a certain Calvary Chapel monster.
As you connected me to Alex via email God then used your gifts to build a small sophisticated team around Alex and Tim. Our teamwork took place in what I called our war room—in sometimes fast-moving, sometimes slow-moving email conversations. It was (we both confess) one of the most amazing cooperative—in the way the body of Christ should truly work—experiences of our lives! After exhausting myself, I watched in wonder as more qualified men than myself built the hammer now waiting in the wings to crush Bob Grenier once the timing is right.
That there still is a HUGE WAR to fight on the Calvary Chapel front is just one of the many reasons why we must remain unified as ever.
I’ve stressed throughout my time here how open, honest, loving communication is the lifeblood of every healthy relationship.
So the question is this: What happens when any one of these three communicative qualifiers—love, honesty and openness—go missing? My answer: The relationships within our communities weaken and become less healthy, to whatever extent.
This Summer when I openly and in the spirit of love confronted you with what I felt was a dishonest portrayal of Tim Keller, when I for the first time spoke of the toxicity here at SSB, you went into lock down mode and moderated even me—someone who has proven himself to be a truly safe friend. You withdrew from me, and were no longer willing to be open.
It was at this point that a spirit of meanness was having its way here. In fact, when from out of the blue I saw a new SSB moderator mocking someone for holding to beliefs that I myself uphold as true, I asked you in an email who this new persona given moderating authority was? You in effect said that it was none of my concern. You wanted me kept blind to the identity of your new bouncer.
So, GW, as I saw this meanness embodied and reinforced by a man who in his masked state of anonymity possessed zero capital with me—this was when I no longer felt at home here. And the unchecked meanness has grown since in intensity. I didn’t look into it, but I believe our anonymous moderator (please correct me if I’m wrong) was Eric Fry, the commentor who earlier in this thread called Debbie Kaufman a “noisemaking windbag” and told her to take her “snotty judgement” and “shove it.”
The manner in which Debbie was engaged by the regulars in this thread is witness to how unsafe this community has become for those who adamantly yet respectfully hold to differing views. So after the gang began to self congratulate with high-fives all around and celebrate her censorship, saying things like “JA’s blog is proving itself to be a safe place.” I had to stand up and say “NO.” Here’s the front end of my short “NO” comment.
Fwiw, and I don’t want to be a lightning rod of hostility, so I reluctantly comment, but I haven’t considered SSB a safe place for months now. Consider in your own hearts how it’s hardly safe for me to even say it’s no longer a safe community, that’s how unhealthy the environment is here.
Safe, of course, is always relative to the boundaries defined. SSB may act as a safety zone for some, but it certainly isn’t (in my personal opinion) a spiritually healthy community.
I received a number of private emails after leaving that comment, mostly from friends of SSB who have watched ja’blog devolve into its present state of wolfish behavior.
One of our dear friends said this:
One of the things that drew me to TWW in the first place was that there was—at least a few years ago—a genuine “big tent” feel, with lots of room for civilized disagreement. Now, depending on the issue, that big tent feels a lot smaller, and in some cases, I think I see some genuine groupthink dynamics taking hold. I think that’s become even more of a problem at Julie Anne’s blog—and in the case of SSB, that transformation has happened a lot more quickly. It really seems to have come to a head with Debbie Kaufman’s comments on the Chuck Smith thread.
Also some of our friends recognized the ugly fight one would be in for if they were to assert anything against the prevailing wind.
And this is my present concern—the prevailing spirit of SSB
We should understand that what Alex wrote and posted on the day of Chuck Smith’s death—something SSB and SpAu made a decision to republish—was a big slap in the face of social propriety; it flew directly against conventional standards of right behavior. We should appreciate this reality in the context of Debbie Kaufman’s appeal for decency.
Again, I support Alex’ timing for having a special vanguard position on the spiritual war against antichrist elements in the Calvary Chapel system. Now, if—as I contend—the spirit of antichrist is operating behind the Calvary Chapel curtain, then perhaps the words of Richard Wurmbrand might help to convince us of the goodness and rightness of Alex’ post.
Please know, from my vantage point it appears that every CC franchised pastor has been trained in the way of the Wolf. Through seduction of lies they manipulate and fleece the flock. Through doctrines of demons they dominate and destroy the sheep. And the sheep are kept blind and dumb and dependent upon their masters—who, themselves, have long been blind, dumb and dependent upon the unbiblical lies that sustain their adversarial system.
Their Moses Model of spiritual authority is adversarial in this respect—these CC pastors set themselves up as heads of their personal chapels, and (in ways I’m not even sure we truly get yet) these spiritual Moseses assume mediating positions that essentially come in-between and against God and His people. [Note: our Greek preposition anti (as in antichrist) carries with it the sense of “in place of” and “against”]
Remember: wolves must not think themselves wolves, nor have others see them so. They speak to the sheep in the voice of a lamb, disguising themselves as ministers of righteousness.
Where wolves have successfully called down the darkness, there they are provided amply cover to enslave and abuse the sheep. They prey on the weak and undiscerning, and pass something of the wolf spirit into their hearts and minds. They demand absolute adherence and loyalty to the spirit. And any “un-submissive” or “un-believing” sheep that might attempt to challenge the wolves, or to show others something of the true light, are taken down and ran out of their territory.
Of late, SSB has become the haunt of a couple mean wolves. And since I know, Julie Anne, how good your heart truly is, and since I’ve never seen you personally do anything wolfish, I have to assume that the evil taking place under your nose here is due to a spiritual blindness on your part. For I suspect you have only unwittingly become a shepherdess of wolves.
In this thread I witnessed an alpha female wolf target a ewe who dared enter SSB pasture to bleat a protest against the wind. I watched the wolf masterly twist perceptions, distort truths into lies, project upon the ewe the very sins the wolf, herself, is well known to me for doing. The wolf belittled the ewe, snapped at her flesh, and incited others to do the same.
Why was this done? Why was this allowed to happen?
The Writing is on the Spiritual Sounding Barn wall.
Where it once read ALL GOD’S LAMBS & ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, the “purpose” now reads:
OBJECTS OF WRATH & APPROVED TARGETS
1. Tim Keller & anyone & anything smelling of reformed theology
2. Wayne Grudem & anyone & anything smelling of complementarianism
3. Debbie Kaufman & her nasty kind…
Seriously, you’ve got some cruel pigs managing the farm. Lydia couldn’t let Debbie feel different than her without trying to destroy her person. SSB is unsafe because Lydia is given free reign to trample upon the precious pearls of God. SSB is unsafe because you have attack-dogs tearing into sheep before the eyes of other bewildered and presently or previously victimized sheep. This bashing and bullying is terribly destructive. It’s costly—and the spirit behind the hostility incites such divisiveness as a stratagem for sabotaging any respectful dialogue toward consensus on biblical truth.
Seems certain survivors of church abuse at SSB have been given Victim Cards to play over and over again to this effect: If any cardholder feels offended or wounded they get to wound back, abrade, abuse and victimize their offenders—for whatever trespass. Meanwhile these wounded wounders are behaving like dogs and pigs and wolves and God’s little lambs are not safe here.
Wounds all around! Many wounds.
Last week after John Stewart asked Malala Yousafzai how she handled the knowledge of the Taliban wanting her dead, the 16 year old now famously said:
I started thinking about that, and I used to think that the Talib would come, and he would just kill me. But then I said, ‘If he comes, what would you do Malala?’ then I would reply to myself, ‘Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.’ But then I said, ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.’
Peace allows for dialogue, and dialogue allows for education.
Even though this is ostensibly an open board for discussing Christian faith and practice, there is, however, a certain stronghold of hostility working against anyone who would be about respectfully exposing the ever growing body of false ideas concerning the gospel and spiritual authority that are being planted here. A peaceful dialogue toward the exposing of these lies does not, at present, seem possible. I’m afraid the prevailing spirit at SSB will not allow it.
Lydia excoriates Debbie for her view of a God Who upholds every atom according to His ultimate sovereign control. Lydia misunderstands much, and is responsible for reiterating lie after lie after lie after lie here. Lies that are so easy to plant in the pasture, but prove quite arduous to eradicate. I was glad to answer three of Lydia’s lies—here and here—providing the research to show that what she was authoritatively asserting to be true has little basis in reality. But its like fighting the Hydra, for every rooted lie cut down two more serpentine heads grow in its place. Then I remembered the old George MacDonald quote: “To give truth to him who loves it not is only to give him more plentiful reasons for misinterpretation.”
Julie Anne, I saw Debbie’s comment that you scrubbed. When Lydia from the outset began to personally attack Debbie you let that song play. But then when Debbie answered back (making it no more or less personal) you chose to gag her. What sort of double standard was that? Especially since I did not detect in Debbie’s defense a mean spirit. However, in Lydia’s case I saw a wolf get a pass by a manipulated shepherdess.
So, at present, I do not regard Spiritual Sounding Board to be an altogether spiritually sound or safe community.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”
(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.