Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Wartburg Watch *Fosters a Comparison of CJ Mahaney’s Re-entrance to T4G as Analogous to Serial Murderer, Cannibal and Sexual Assaulter, Jeffery Dahmer being on the Food Network. Hysteria, Mania or Unadulterated Hatred Run Amok?



*(Update - Dee Parsons, one of the blog admins at TWW commented below that Deb's response of "Bravo" which followed the derisive comparison by the commenter, Eagle, was not a reply to his comparison but to an earlier comment about arriving "first". With good will, I have accepted this plausible explanation but really don't believe it has any impact on the greater concerns addressed in this article. However, because of that I have adjusted the article's title to reflect what I believe would then be appropriate which is my use of "foster". This means they, TWW, permitted and did not challenge or correct the offensive comment and further failed to censor such an irresponsible claim in the first place.)


The other day at a blog entitled, The Wartburg Watch, a post was published about a minister named CJ Mahaney being reinstated as a visible leader with T4G. We will get to that very quickly but first a qualifier.

The Wartburg Watch (a blog which I have written about in the past regarding a personal episode I had while commenting there and which you may read here) in my view, is a blog of Christian and non-Christian malcontents who, from time to time, may have a point but it is among mounds of refuse. And the trash piles up quickly in the form of vitriol, self-aggrandizing insults, extreme caricatures of those they appear to despise with gusto and very prejudicial narratives regarding events which they debate and pursue in their articles and comments section.

That is my opinion, of course, but when you read this entry I hope it has some impact if you consider yourself more temperate in your judgment regarding their efforts which, as I pointed out, aren’t all just rhetorical feces. But as they say, going through the trash to find a morsel when there are far more healthy venues for theological and intellectual dining, belies claims of altruism and benign interest in feeding there.

Enter TWW and Mahaney’s Restoration to T4G

Charles Joseph Mahaney, commonly known as CJ Mahaney, is the Pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He once was the head and co-founder of the Sovereign Grace para-denomination. He was and is (I have yet to hear of any recantation on this view) a full-fledged charismatic who holds to the view of the present day offices of Apostle and Prophet along with all of their miraculous spiritual sign gifts.

C.J Mahaney has no formal theological training. However, this did not prevent him from rising as a personality and teacher with great celebrity among Southern Baptist Calvinists as he adopted and mixed with his charismaticism, a Calvinistic theology. This elevation in ministerial exposure and promotion among the Southern Baptist Calvinists conspicuously paralleled his sect’s monetary giving (under his direction) to Southern Seminary and peripheral ministries.

However, at the peak of his notoriety among the Calvinist Southern Baptists and out to many Neo-Calvinist and Neo-Reformed ministries within that theological galaxy, Mahaney and SGM (the ministry which Mahaney was heading) came under serious investigation for allegations of failing to report sexual misconduct and abuse by ordained ministers and volunteers. Court plaintiffs claimed that church leaders, including Mahaney, failed to report charges, by church and SGM members of such abuse, to law enforcement and further, went to great lengths to cover up the matter.

As well, in 2011 CJ Mahaney took a leave of absence in the wake of vehement indictments by former co-minister(s) against Mahaney of pride, dishonesty and forms of sinful adjudication on a number of matters.

T4G – Subsequent to all of this, Mahaney was dropped from visibility with a ministry called T4G (Together for the Gospel) which is, as many describe and I agree, a Neo-Calvinist/Neo-Reformed cooperative that has strong ties to The Gospel Coalition. Essentially, it seems they are a Bible conference alliance who talk about what they consider to be important doctrinal issues facing the church and charge people significant fees to attend such conferences (I suppose part of this charging people for the ministry of the Word is justified by the offering of SBTS credits for attending). However, this year after a few years of absence, Mahaney's name, face and ministry have exploded back on to the scene with T4G hence, the understandable measures of objection by some groups and then, what I can only categorize as hysteria prone outbursts, by others.

The Wartburg Watch and a Guy Named Eagle - So let’s fast forward to The Wartburg Watch, who claim to care for truth, justice and the Biblical way (my summation of what I believe they assert). Recently, in response to CJ Mahaney’s reestablished visibility with T4G, they published a blog entry entitled, Together Again – Mahaney Reinstated at T4G (click on the embedded link). There is a commenter at TWW who uses the tag Eagle and who, the other day, decided to drive-by with an opine, a broad and unrestrained one. We will visit that in a moment.

(Feel free to spend your time researching The Wartburg Watch’s self-admiring sharing of their restoration, or whatever you wish to call it, of what I view as a rather theologically and emotionally impaired individual named Eagle. I don’t recommend using your time for such mining but if you wish to observe the evolution of this individual via The Wartburg Watch who, it seems, believe they took him from being an agnostic of sorts - the best as I can recall - which was the result of some bitter experiences at “fundamentalist” ministries - again, very general here - to a renewal of his faith, such an investment will at least be informative as to where not to take a person if you wish to restore him or her to spiritual health as demonstrated by the product of his eagerness to post the severely immodest analogy he offered in the comments section).

Before getting to the astonishingly repugnant, and in my view - sinful - comparison which not only was permitted but cheered by one of the blog administrators (Deb), I want to say that their basic objection is reasonable but beyond that and to how they conducted themselves here as well as having in view the nature of so many of the discussions which go on in the comment section at TWW, I am led to believe that the blog is tactically, a very hysteria and mania fueled endeavor which attracts, by majority, malcontents and destabilized personalities who have large personal and inter-personal conflicts which are exacerbated by an overwhelming juvenile narcissism of perpetual victim-hood and anger.

This, of course, is my opinion which is why I invite you to form your own conclusions. However, if my assessment is true, this makes such a group mephitic and ultimately detrimental to the well-being of a Christian's spiritual welfare.

The Comment and the Applause

As I provided earlier, you can click on the link embedded in the article title to read it in its entirety with all of the comments but here is the particular comment followed up by Deb saying, “Bravo”:
Eagle on Wed Sep 09, 2015 at 07:55 PM said:

This made me so angry….good thing I saw this before the gym. Having CJ Mahaney speak is like having Jeffrey Dahmer having a cooking show on the Food network.

Deb on Wed Sep 09, 2015 at 07:55 PM said:

@ Eagle: Bravo!
(*Herein lies the justification for my blog title. Deb, one of the administrators of the blog, commends this comment with "Bravo" thus, giving it approval or sanction.)

Personal, Intellectual and Spiritual Integrity

First, I want to make it clear that I am not a fan of CJ Mahaney’s theology nor leadership. I do not believe he belongs in the pulpit, anywhere in an Evangelical church at this time and certainly not in a position of leadership until, in the least, he receives comprehensive theological rehabilitation and demonstrates the integration of this training and until he fully abandons, with utmost clarity, his charismaticism. But in truth, none of that will happen and I do not expect it to occur.

Further, I would demand a full and exhaustive reply to all inquiries by mature and disciplined ecclesiastical investigators to all of the matters surrounding the number of devastating events and issues raised which occurred under his leadership at SGM and even then, simply being willing to respond to them is not a default re-qualification seeing that it may reveal a need for even greater remedial training.

So let's be clear, I am not CJ Mahaney's apologist in any shape or form.

However, this does not mean I do not believe he should not be permitted personal evangelistic efforts or other spiritual ventures allowed regarding involvement in a local assembly under the authority of a senior Pastor until he again, demonstrates fitness for ministry in his theology and disposition. But I know, and most others know, this is not going to happen. Still, for the record, I want my view made clear and if I were to have to provide a summation for CJ Mahaney I would state that though he is sincere and though he has done some good work for the Lord and stated some true things and helped some people advance in some ways, spiritually, he remains a seriously theologically and psychologically challenged individual.

Will God use him in spite of this? Sure, he uses all kinds of errant people but none of that justifies what should not be. God will use whatever tool he may. As Joseph told his brothers, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good”. Though God may bring good from something, it does not remove the negative property of the thing he uses - at whatever level - in word, thought or deed.

So, that aside let’s consider what has been done here - A serial murderer, cannibal and sexual assaulter whose offenses were so acute, so maximal, that he was ultimately sentenced to sixteen life terms (my understanding is that Dahmer became a brother in the Lord in prison by receiving Christ as his Savior, may God be praised for his mercy and grace extended to all sinners), is given an analogous comparison to CJ Mahaney? Lest someone retort that the individual who calls himself “Eagle” wasn’t comparing them as being the same, that he was using it as an analogy, let me retort back and say so what? It is an a gross distortion of measure, analogically speaking.

Analogous things, while differing in form, are still required to be equal or close to equal in measure with respect to their context. To Eagle, TWW and any sympathizer of this corrupt equation, are you really insisting that Mahaney’s possible ecclesiastical malfeasance is anywhere proportionate to a serial murdering cannibalistic sex assaulter? If so, we have nothing more to discuss and I recommend a long, long time on the couch of a qualified therapist.

What kind of sickness is eating away at people who would not only make such a contrast but commend it with a “Bravo”? Is such a group really where you want to go to have your mind renewed? Are these the kind of people who you wish to have forming your objections - because remember, the minute you fall out of favor with them, you, too, will be subject to such gross departures from reason and equity in judgment?

This is genuinely appalling. I am sure those who associate with TWW blog up to ordained Ministers and take themselves seriously will be re-evaluating their nuptials such as Warren Throckmorton whose silence on this gross distortion by his friends at TWW can be taken as tacit approval based on TWW’s own practice of demanding ministerial associations to speak out against offending friends or else one may assume some form of cooperation or approval of said offenses. You may find Throckmorton here.

The World in which we live

We have all been guilty of overstating things but the reality of human foibles certainly does not exist to justify gross distortions of reality in the pursuit of ecclesiastical protests. However, in a world where there is little self-restraint (the internet – which is now beginning to infect real world behavior in primary ways) this is what we are served, even by Christians, all in the name of whatever crusade on which they are.

I get that there are valid criticisms of ministries such as The Gospel Coalition and T4G. I have a list of them, myself. But at no place and at no time are we permitted by God to allow, encourage and reward unscrupulous distortions of people or ministries in such an obscene manner. We must make true accounts, fair analogies and when using hyperbole, use it as it was intended which is not in an analogous context. We only discredit and damage ourselves and those we influence.

As for TWW, I only continue to observe them that I may be aware of the damage I believe they do and to be prepared to counter such influences and appeal to those who are still able to fairly weigh things. And this occasion is one where I believe my rebuttal is essential.

Whatever anger, whatever injury and whatever disruption you believe may have occurred to you in an ecclesiastical setting, hysterical, maniacal and volatile forms of dialog are not appropriate and only lead to more offenses but in this case you're the person out of control and committing the offense. Personal resolution to internal and external conflicts and wounds you believe you have receive from others are not healed by rage and irrational rhetorical eruptions. Such things only exaggerate your perceived nemesis and prolong your trauma by initiating further disturbances and creating mammoth barbarians who don’t exist at the level your frenzied indulgence has permitted you to craft.

Feed, if you wish, where toxic waste abounds, as you search for that singular morsel of nutrition you imagine awaits your discovery in the depths of disease. However, understand that the virulent waste in which you forage doesn’t simply fall off your person. It seeps into your pours, into your lungs and is upon the very crumb which you claim will give you life and health.

* A note to TWW administrators - you seem to wish to be heard by those to whom or against whom, you raise your protests. The more you amp up your ridiculous and self-serving and self-aggrandizing rhetoric the less likely you will be given a hearing or any serious consideration. Your discussions have degraded into nothing but cult-like group affirmations of strict theological narratives. Maybe that is what you desire and frankly, if you can't see what is going on by now, there isn't much helping you. You are clearly not uneducated but it seems to me that you are seriously lacking in circumspection and the kind of perspicacious wisdom you so loudly demand from your tormentors.

29 comments:

Daniel Golob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Alex,

I appreciate you writing about TWW and some of the problems presented by their influence, both among Christians and non-Christians alike. I am an avid reader of their blog because I do think it provides a valuable service of sorts on certain issues which need to be highlighted by more people in evangelical circles. I am, however, very much like you in being confounded by the fact that they typically devolve into what they (and their commenters) so often despise. In the process, they embrace "fellowship" with those who are hostile to the faith. That's not to say that those individuals don't have legit points (they sometimes like to reference The Friendly Atheist), but they are engendering a deep like-mindedness with those individuals and it comes off as a very disturbing kinship. That's why I also appreciated you bringing up Eagle. I know he did a series of guest posts on TWW about a year back, detailing his "journey" from faith, to doubt, and back to faith again. It read very much like the testimony of someone coming out of psychological and emotional turmoil , rather than testimony of one coming to the redeeming power of Christ. That may or may not be his true feelings, but that's clearly the way it came across. Not only that, but it was his being specific about things involving his doubts and reconciliation of them that was so odd, seeing as never wanted to be specific about how he was wronged by an individual from fundamentalist past named Andrew.


Anyways, I'm rambling a bit here, but I did want to express my appreciation for you bringing up TWW and I hope you'll do more on them in the future. Like I said, they provide an important service. But their smug and loose attitudes in reaction to the things they write on are discouraging, to say the least. That and the fact they pride themselves a little too much on being a "watchblog", thus giving them cover for whatever type of reaction and outrage is engendered.

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

Thanks for dropping by and sharing your observations. As I indicated at the end of the article, its seems rather ironic that TWW wants to be heard as a voice for change but chooses to engage in the very intimidating dialectic group-think affirming behavior against which they claim to crusade and, of course, punish those who disagree through such a cooperative dialectic and certainly exaggerate their targets in order to ignite and foster such circles of co-rage.

I suspect that if they were to actually hold themselves to their own standards both in their writing and in the comments section, they would lose substantial web traffic because what you see there, in large part, are people who understand they are free to offend at very high levels without much in the way of consequences hence, my reference to its main attraction being malcontents and significantly maladjusted people.

Thus, I cannot take them seriously and I doubt anyone who is engaged at any sober level does. This does not, as you observed, remove any points they may make but it is much like a very temperamental teenager who, in spite of all of their jejune or adolescent posturing and offending, may raise a valid issue now and then but are certainly inadequate emotionally and spiritually, to treat such issues in a cultivated, considerate and circumspect manner as the Scriptures teach.

The poster or commenter named Eagle is like most Christians and people in general, fighting against the things we believe are harmful but as I have observed, I believe he creates many of his own ghosts and enemies in the shadow of past events. Has he been moved from his most extreme bitterness? I suppose but it appears he is affirmed in marginal movement in which he now sits as if there is only the journey of him perfecting his narratives and being patted on the back by people who echo his sentiments.

You point to something else which is critical, in my view, in understanding and defining TWW. When you state about atheists/agnostics commenting at TWW they embrace "fellowship" with those who are hostile to the faith. That's not to say that those individuals don't have legit points (they sometimes like to reference The Friendly Atheist), but they are engendering a deep like-mindedness with those individuals and it comes off as a very disturbing kinship it belies claims of genuine Biblical/Spiritual fidelity or loyalty and demonstrates, instead, a very self-invested thus, self-serving effort by TWW.

Ultimately, as I said, while one might find something there as a valid objection to some issue in Evangelcialsim, any kind of nutritional consumption, I believe, will only result in theological and spiritual malignancy which I am convinced is manifested both by the blog administrators and commenters.

Eli G. said...

In reference to your article you linked about your previous experience on TWW, I find it hilarious that they stand firmly against the supposed anti-intellectual stands of the church (e.g. young earth creationism), yet they accused you of being a "mathematician", "astrophysicist", "programmed automaton", "oratorical exercise(r)", etc. And that was after you put forth a perfectly legitimate (and seemingly innocuous) point about Thabiti Anyabwile's stance. They very much remind of the comments section on Raw Story, which is just a bunch of liberal groupthink and they will destroy with verbal gunfire any supposed objection to the party line, almost a "how dare you enter in with an alternative thought". I would be scared to death to comment on TWW, even with the most polite and legitimate disagreement. I would likely get beaten down by some deflecting tactic that they most certainly used with you.

Steve said...

One thing I think you fail to mention about C.J. Mahaney is that Mahaney blackmailed the group's cofounder (Larry Tomczak) and then was hidden for over 10 years. One would think that action alone would disqualify a Christian leader for some period of time. Sadly both SGM Leadership and others outside of SGM didn't think this disqualified Mahaney. Rather then using the term blackmail they like to call it "poor judgment."

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

Steve

My article did not intend to enumerate the issues with CJ Mahaney thus, I only made general references but I am aware of this major contention. It is one of the things of which I would require full disclosure before permitting him a role of influence. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your perspective

Dee Parsons said...

Alex

You may want to check the comment to which Deb was responding "Bravo." It was not to the Dahmer comment but to his comment that he was the first to post a comment. Click on the word Eagle in her comment which is shown in blue. It takes you back to the first comment in that post which was Eagle's declaring he was first to comment. The Dahmer comment came after that. If you note, she had no time to see that before she posted her *bravo* comment to Eagle. Perhaps an apology is in order?

As for Eagle, I am glad you have been a Christian for 30 years. Not all Christians become Guggenheim™ approved at the time of their conversion. Eagle is working with a number of people as he develops in his faith. Sadly, he will never catch up to someone as spiritually mature as you, bless your heart. But he is coming along.he is a sweet man who gives of his time to help friends move and to comfort friends in crisis. He is the kind of guy who would do anything to be of help.

We all, and even maybe you, could learn from the humility of Eagle as he approached over 140 people to ask forgiveness for the way he treated them when he was an angry agnostic. I read all of his letters and all of the responses. We've published some of them. Anyone with half a heart would find many of these conversations touching.

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

Dee,

Thank you for visiting and posting your thoughts. Your explanation regarding the comment is plausible thus, in good faith, I have adjusted the title of the article to reflect what I believe would be a more appropriate title again, accepting your explanation. Beyond that, essentially the body of the article remains as it was with its major concerns.

To the rest of your response - It is ironic you wish for a list of grievances or concerns to be addressed yet there was no point at which you addressed the malignant and controversial comment by Eagle which was fostered by TWW in the comments section and which remains, with its maliciousness and wantonness unaddressed.

Not only does this speak volumes about one of the blog admins to readers who are weighing this matter but much of your caustic sarcasm in addressing imagined and assumed things I have never claimed, do as well. You only injure your reliability, reputation and integrity by engaging in such a petty manner.

It is too bad. You seem to be more intelligent than the average bear but knowledge and wisdom aren’t necessarily companions. I certain wish you no ill, you are a sister in the Lord, it appears, but I do hope that you take the time to evaluate the negative effect which leads a person under your influence to feel at liberty to speak as the commenter in question did.

AG

Micah G. said...

Hi Dee,

Honest question. Do you think CJ Mahoney also "could learn from the humility of Eagle as he approached over 140 people to ask forgiveness for the way he treated them"? I think you would concur, because if anybody needs to genuinely seek the forgiveness of those he has hurt, it's CJ Mahoney. I doubt, however, that something like that could happen with someone who decides to draw up some sort of analogous comparison between Mahaney and Dahmer. It's certainly fair enough to be critical of Mahaney's continued involvement in ministry. I don't think any of us disagree with that. But the problem is that the grievances expressed against Mahaney have gone from legitimate concern of his ministerial involvement to an "anything goes" mentality that permits any sort vitriol to be directed at him, no matter how outlandish. I think that's the whole point of this discussion and the concern that Alex is bringing up. The fact that we have mistook the "Bravo" that Deb posted as directed to Eagle's second comment is a minor point and I don't think Alex did it purposely. Nevertheless, you understand that it was likely out of line, that's why you didn't try to defend it. You can't cover up the main thrust of the discussion by focusing on a minor point that doesn't detract from the overall focus on the attitudes that we believe infect TWW at times.

I can't speak for Alex, but I'm pretty sure he wasn't dismissing all of Eagle's experiences, so condescendingly asserting that he believes in his own personal trademark method of being a Christian is being incredibly disingenuous. That and your "anyone with half a heart" assertion is nothing more than an attempt to divert the main point. We don't know Eagle. We only know of what he has written and shared over the Internet. That's all we have to go on and all we can tell is that sometimes his anger gets misdirected in the overzealousness created by ghosts of his own making, not necessarily concern with biblical fidelity. I will state like Alex that I am being very general, but that's the impression created by his testimony. It reads more like a journey of battling personal demons than it does being called to repentance by Christ. I'm not saying that didn't happen (nor is their a problem with battling personal demons), it's just that his testimony does not highlight those things. That's why his comment on that blog post was so disconcerting. It showed a complete lack of maturity that is surprising from someone who seems to genuinely care about people. His comment showed neither care for Mahaney or those he has hurt or a biblical framework for approaching sensitive issues like this. It came off as nothing more than an attempt to kick Mahaney back down to size. Eagle does not seem to lack maturity in other areas, so that's the reason he doesn't get any sort of pass for the flippancy of his comment. Not only that, but it provides wider commentary on many of our concerns with TWW. We appreciate the content and the necessary concerns addressed. We even agree with most all of it. It's just that the conversation tends to delve into pack-think of the disenfranchised, where any and all reactions are just fine so long as you agree with the collective grievance(s). Your last two paragraphs above are very representative of this attitude. Instead of engaging those who have legitimate concerns and disagreement, you attack with an eye to putting the one with whom you disagree on the defensive about his motives, thus the condescending "he will never catch up to someone as spiritually mature as you", "bless your heart", "anyone with half a heart". These are all motives you are projecting onto Alex, to try and paint in a light that shows him to be some sort arrogant reactionary or spiritually prideful believer. I don't see how you think this to be either helpful or constructive.

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

Micah
Thank you for your input and your comments to reflect my thoughts. I am not surprised by Dee Parson's failure to respond to your inquiry. From my observation point, I have seen little in the way of interest in changing form or hardened narratives and an effort to simply exist in an echo chamber. However, there are thoughtful people who will consider the concerns expressed here and realize, as they recover from their anger and injury, just where they have been or are and its added harm and they will look back and appreciate someone not permitting an intimidating and bullying form of dialectic to go unnoticed and be passed off as some form of Biblical virtue. In the meantime, as in every online community, there will always be people who are eternally locked in via an arrogance complex that will never permit themselves to see anything else than what amplifies their own ideas and prefer to stay in a fit of frustration and exaggerated antagonism rather than deal with their own contribution to their poor psychological/spiritual health. I wish no one ill will by any means but am stating what I believe to be the reality of the situation. May God's mercy be upon them and may there be a way that they may find themselves out of such dark expression and into more edifying challenges to things which do need addressed.

Anonymous said...

I still have mixed feelings about TWW. You may be being a bit hard on the articles themselves - if the church in its various guises were policing itself properly, these ought not really to be necessary. I also think the permission to comment regardless of your views is in principle a good thing, better than many sites.

That said, I do think some commenters on the site seriously undermine the value of the articles, especially in attitude. You mention Eagle. His asking for forgiveness has been mentioned more than once, and I think this was a good thing to do that should be encouraged. Nevertheless, I can't help feeling that needing to ask 140 people for forgivenness should not be viewed as something meritorious. His likening my imo moderate views on complementarianism to the Taliban was way over the top. Was I hurt? No. Gobsmacked, yes! That sort of silliness will do nothing to counteract men who do view women as second class and need correcting on this.

I have found commenting a good thing inasmuch as it is good to expose your current thinking to people who disagree with you. It's also not bad thing not to forget how much hurt can be dished out to some believers and what a mess it can make of them. A downside is when the discussion of abstract ideas is taken personally, as personal insults, or when people can only talk in terms of stereotypes. You do have a point that there are some who perhaps should sort out some of their own problems before weighing in on others. I too don't like it when hurt people start siding with the enemies of the faith as a way of hitting back at those who may have mistreated them.

I do think it is very easy to say what pastors ought to do or have done when you have never pastored a church yourself. It's something I would try to avoid, the barrack room lawyer (trial by Internet) or armchair strategist. Or apostle!

I do see what you are getting at - the toxicity of church life being critiqued by a site where some commenters themselves become toxic. I will mull over your admonition to beware of spending too much time there. There are some decent and articulate believers there, but also some whose company is not edifying.

KB

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

KB (1 of 2)

Thanks for the visit and taking the time to share your observations and views. Your response is essentially the ideal my article and focus on the issues with TWW has in mind. That is to say, this is an adult blog and I believe that what adults need is information and explanation. From there, they are responsible for deciding.

So to your comment. As I said it is ideal. My goal is to justly and fairly make people aware of the abuses and weaknesses in both the blog admins and commenters with regard to content and how the blog is moderated. I have acknowledged their redemptive property of identifying certain kinds of flagrant offenses which is right and I agree that, would ecclesiastical bodies do this, such endeavors would be far less common.

In my view, you objectively see both sides of the issues. I think that really is the bottom line goal, here. It is easy for people, being what we are, to be so easily swept up into crusading and mob thinking and fail to temper themselves especially when they have, real or imagined or somewhere in between, been a victim of ecclesiastical injury.

A recent article at TWW points to one of its administrative deficiencies, in my view, which is the way in which issues are reported. Too often it is done so in a manner that is void of all the essential fact for a fair and just discussion or in a rather prejudicial manner as if to skew the discussion in one direction. This, of course, leads to the poor quality of discussion and treatment of subjects at the blog and tends to invite the kind of discussion which is all too common namely, people commenting with presumptions and assumptions and ultimately condemning whatever person or organization is being reported on in rather sweeping and dogmatic manners.

The story I am talking about is "Woman Excommunicated from Lutheran Church Takes Legal Action" http://thewartburgwatch.com/2015/10/14/woman-excommunicated-from-lutheran-church-takes-legal-action/

The couple involved, the Pfeils, is reported to have been denied the specifics regarding the ecclesiastical charges which led to their excommunication. However, it is also stated that "many attempts at reconciliation" were made before the church and then the district and synod hearings occurred to excommunicate the couple yet, in all of this they were never given any details or specifics? Maybe so, but rarely and I mean rarely, is there an excommunication of this nature in the LCMS and even when there is flagrant immorality, it takes quite a bit for formal excommunication and at some point the details are communicated. What they may not have been given is a formal report in writing rather, one in counsel.

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

(2 of 2)
As well, their innocence and victimization is being presumed. I do not know why but if I had to guess, and it is merely a guess, part of it lies with their age and sympathies toward aged people who are easily victimized. Of course, the newspaper article from which the post reports, only conveys Mrs. Pfeil's claims of victimization without any narrative of the ecclesiastical processes which took place (and should not be revealed to the world at large, it isn't their business but apparently will be forced to be so via the lawsuit) and then the article goes further to report Mrs. Pfeil's implication that her husband's death was somehow contributed to by this conflict.

To that I say, age has no bearing on sin and sin has no bearing on age, if their age is a matter of consideration, here, it should not be but worse, we only have one side being reported and interpretations of the other side with suspect motives being assigned or at least, implied.

Additionally, what I find interestingly absent, is the fact that the LCMS, from the church to the synod, followed the Scriptures and held ecclesiastical trials and judgments. Everything reported appears to fall in line with the Biblical process and yet, Mrs. Pfeil, having lost in ecclesiastical, is going to sue the church in secular courts for a matter which is strictly ecclesiastical (membership as opposed to a contract for business). The silence is deafening on her violating the Bible's admonition that this is not acceptable remedy.

And to add to this, the post mixing with the report of this event the recounting of a similar event claimed by Dee (one of the admins)in which her membership into a new church, along with that of her husband, was temporarily halted because of unfavorable information given to the potential new pastor by their former pastor. And of course, it spares the readers nothing in making sure we know how injured Dee was, which is fine, I suppose, but the shift from the Pfeils to Dee and then back to the Pfeils, seems quite telling as to what I have been taking issue with regarding TWW. Not that personal anecdotes do not have their use in reporting other events but that is just what they should be anecdotal, not central, to the reporting and narrative development of another story which indicates, to me, a superimposing of one's events, feelings, hurts and so on, onto the other event being reported.

In my view, the admins appear to have some significant unresolved emotional or personal issues which are projected onto the way they construct their posts and reporting. To me, it is therefore, no mystery why they attract what they attract in the poor quality of commenters.

Having said all that, I still conceded they have some qualitative points but they are minority in number and certainly do not model what I believe is a thorough and helpful Biblical mode in attempting to provide remediation in these issues. I guess I've just produced another blog post in the comments section, my apologies.

Finally, let me thank you, again, for your response, here. It is exemplary. God's grace and peace.

AG

Anonymous said...

Alex - Thank you for your lengthy and kind response!

I didn't personally find your post to be too critical. The issues at stake in the form of improper and damaging actions by churches or leaders are serious, and trivialising these through thoughtless commenting itself a serious matter. ... "hysteria and mania fueled endeavor which attracts, by majority, malcontents and destabilized personalities who have large personal and inter-personal conflicts which are exacerbated by an overwhelming juvenile narcissism of perpetual victim-hood and anger ... rage and irrational rhetorical eruptions" is fair comment in some cases! The anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.

Some inter-blog discipline is no bad thing, and I think your criticism was intended to be constructive rather than destructive. Your criticism of Mahaney was aimed at his teaching and conduct, not at him personally, so I don't think you could be accused of not practicing what you preach.

Providentially, I happened upon Mennoknight's blog recently and it deals with this whole area of letting rip at those you disagree with, together with some sobering scriptures on this theme. We really can do real damage to others - and I would add to ourselves - by lacking self-control here. It was a word in season to avoid going down that road. In my commenting on TWW, it has been tempting to hit back in kind on one or two occasions, and very frustrating when you have views imputed to you that you have already said maybe three times already that you do not actually hold. I think when this happens an objective reader would have to conclude that prejudice is at work.

In the Douglas Wilson paedophile issue currently being 'tried on the Internet' he is winning the propaganda war hands-down in my opinion at the moment, if only because his critics are using this to bash him with every other thing they happen to disagree with him about. He may very well have made an error of judgment here, but who could blame him for not listening to his critics whose criticism probably says more about them than him.

In the case of the Pfeils and church discipline, I had already considered commenting to the effect that Paul clearly steers us away from such legal action, and my comment should I hope appear in the Woman Excommunicated thread soon. It may or may not garner much comment.

I should be interested in your post on the 'governmental' aspect of marriage, as opposed to egalitarian and complementarian arguments. I have a strong suspicion I know what you are going to come up with, there is an aspect to this I have have seen in the overall structure of creation, something which explains why the whole subject generates more heat than light in many cases.

Wishing you all the good that is ours in Christ Jesus.

KB

Anonymous said...

'Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? ... Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.'

As a very late addition, I think there was more wisdom in your word to watch out for toxicity at TWW than I first thought. The actual number of those who are suffering from bitterness may not be that great as a proportion of the whole, but they can affect you out of proportion to their numbers, in particular the leaven of malice and evil. This of course can spread to those who would otherwise prefer sincerity and truth, and be spiritually damaging. Depressing anyway. I think it is unwise to spend too much time in the company of messed up Christians. John Piper may have said some unwise things, for example, but malice is not the answer to this, all the more so when Eagle can get away with his comments unscathed. And he is not alone.

Even where the conversation is polite - and this does happen - there is still the leaven of 'we are not going to obey what the NT teaches on this' where it conflicts with perceived rights, and this disobedience makes such commenters the mirror image of the disobedience of ecclesiastical malfeasance (as you put it) they are so eager to criticise. It can take a long time before such an underlying attitude comes to light, but sooner or later a short phrase gives the game away.

You are also right that once on the losing end of an argument, your posting style is attacked. I'm really no longer sure whether any good that is being done is outweighed by the bad, because the bad leavens the whole lump.

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

Thank you for the stop-by. I am convinced that with both of the women who administrate the blog there is deeply unresolved conflict and it's subsequent bitterness. Thus, to identity the expression of bitterness and rage as inappropriate in others would force them to confront themselves.

In my view, this is precisely why they permit the egregious offenses in posting, without remedy.

I believe they seek to justify what I see as this unresolved internal conflict/bitterness under or within the guise of crusading against perceived or real offenses perpetrated by others. They are right, at times, and appear to want to use that to hide their error.

They take our license of legitimate reproof and correction and go far beyond which ultimately and consistently degrades into personal campaigns.

And this is the telling key, in my view. We all may use, sparingly, personal barbs in criticisms to add a bit of color but such things should be uncommon in how we regularly address issues. But for those with long-term unresolved internal conflicts, they cannot help but foster an expressly personal context in dealing with issues.

They have not properly identified the parties responsible for what they believe are personal or psychological injuries. They may know one party but not all parties because, most often one of those parties is themself. And identifying self as part of one's real or perceived injuries forces one to reprove self and ego and admit they aren't the smartest or most insightful one in the room.

Consequently, the list of the perpetrators who have harmed them involve shadow people or undefined parties. From that, everyone is suspect and even a hint of similarity to either the identified party (s) or shadow parties, brings on hysteria and personal overreaction due to imagined threats of re-injury.

Therefore, the person related to the issue is attacked or given permission to be attacked, vigorously, as an outlet for their long simmering anger and rage and poorly qualified perpetrators.

Anyway, thanks for the sharing. I haven't been free to blog lately but have one almost finished.

AG

Anonymous said...

Well, Alex, you were right and I was wrong! I wish to say thank you for this piece and the previous one. Together, they have finally helped me see what was staring me in the face about the toxicity of TWW, and especially the negative affect this can have on you (and I’m afraid it has).

I feel a bit of a fool for not seeing this earlier, and wasting so much time trying to be a voice of moderate conservative evangelicalism at TWW. It has definitely deteriorated over the last three years from being thoughtful and considerate to shrill.

My journey to ‘seeing‘ the problems there was helped by Dee herself in her non-reply to you in the comments here about Eagle. I was rather shocked at this. Guess what! In my own case, she first attacked my posting style, and then went on to relate a story about herself, behaviour you have previously noted.

As you have addressed this theme, you might well like to take a look at how this developed. Go to TWW, call up the comments on the What’s wrong with Douglas Wilson piece of 12 Feb. See Dee’s reply towards the end dated Fri Feb 26, 2016 at 10:07 AM and the post it refers to. The following interaction shows how I have finally parted company with this kind of comments section. Dee doesn’t really deal with what I say, and doesn’t get what I am objecting to in my comment of Tue Mar 01, 2016 at 09:55 AM which she describes later as baloney.

Dee (and her commenters) consistently will not listen to well-meaning criticism, surely something vital to do if you are running a watch blog and don’t want to end up mirroring the attitude of those you are discerning. By pure fluke/providentially, I found this is nothing new. Enter Mark Driscoll Returns - The Wartburg Watch and look at the comments by lower case ken and linda (if you have time and inclination). Starts from linda on Mon Aug 25, 2014 at 02:49 PM said: and below.

One might speculate just why the word bitter is banned (though it was OK for Daisy to use it!!) even if you accept the stated reason. Is this the underlying problem of discernment site commenters who don’t want to face their own sins? From my internet trawl over Wilson, it is difficult to think otherwise. And I wish to trawl no longer! No living water to be found, rather pools of stagnant swamp water!

There are only a couple of other sites where TWW has itself been subject to discernment (e.g. Wartburg Whiners!) and a pastor I found. The latter made the point that there is almost nothing positive dissected at TWW, coupled with the “bitterness, strife, narcissism, vindictiveness, petty name-calling, anger, antinomianism, and anti-authoritarianism” (Fred Butler) of so many other sites - and this makes you doubt whether the criticisms reflect reality. These attitudes are not excused by the very real sins and abuse they may be rightly wanting to expose.

Sadly, for all the good it might have been doing, I reckon TWW is now a spent force.

KB

Anonymous said...

And as a final part two, in trawling the net, Eagle of TWW has surfaced a couple of times.

In April 2013 he was still very much a potty-mouth. I won’t link, but he was not reprimanded by the owner of the survivor blog he was on.

His baptism followed some 6 months later, but one wonders just what faith he had returned to after his ‘crisis’.

I should perhaps add at this point I’m in no way criticizing anyone who helped him out at this stage and patiently showed consideration and love for his plight. Nor that he might well have something to teach the evangelical church about the effect its lack of thoughtful answers and engagement can have, assuming Eagle is being reasonably accurate in his testimony about this. What he has to teach though is more the long-term damage this can do - where he is an example.

But … as a supposed example or trophy of what the discernment community can *achieve* as opposed to criticize, he leaves you scratching your head.

I think he has allowed mending broken relationships to override everything else. On his blog ‘wondering eagle’:

“If the goal of the [atheist] movement is to convince people to abandon Christianity then what will happen when people walk away and have nothing that offers similar services? How are their needs going to be met?” Article ‘Analysis on 4 Things the Atheist Movement has Done Badly’ 20 Feb. 2016

He opines about how atheists could be better if more inclusive of women, minorities and the elderly, and how they are already ahead of evangelicals in accepting LBGT people. Why is he doing this? How can light partner with darkness? Isn’t this where ‘diversity’ hits the buffers?!

What kind of a Christ has he put his faith in when he want to help the enemies of that faith? It just doesn’t make sense.

Imo he would be better served by moving away from trying to be an apostle and put the evangelical church right, based on the warped views he has inherited from some of his mentors.
KB

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

KB

I took time to visit the comments as you suggested and wow, is all I can say. It, of course, wasn't just Dee but the normal sycophants who know their inappropriate commenting (according to alleged TWW commenting policies)will either be shielded by the moderators or justified via some leap of logic.

I am sorry this was the end you came to, there. You went to great lengths to be cordial and explain your views. Their responses, individually and collectively, were nothing short of the injurious and unjust movements of a mob.

Alas, this is what you get when from any organization, whether a blog community or whatever, when it is generally ruled but self-serving policies, contradiction, dishonesty and eventually their injury to others. You have now become their victim.

To be frank, I would call them predators at this point. They use the unfortunately offenses or alleged offenses of others to prey on the emotions and injuries of those who identify with victimization and then pull them into cult-like group affirmation exercises where anyone with a different opinion or challenging view such as yours is verbally abused, repeatedly.

I am glad you discovered a good boundary for yourself with regard to this diseased group.

As for the person calling himself Eagle, I agree he is a discombobulation of a number of things but when his admiration is with the Christ-denying community, he essentially is an enemy of Christ, though he may indeed be born again. He has chosen identity with the old man, not the new, as we are commanded, at this point.

Regards,

AG

Anonymous said...

I don’t want to overfill your comments section, but thank you for your observations. The comments you waded through were not the worst by any means, and to be fair to TWW they did ask all commenters to clean their act up a few months ago when things got really out of hand. It’s not been quite so bad since, but business as usual reasserted itself fairly quickly.

At least positive things have come out of it. For all my arguing about the ‘role of women’, and I have a very positive attitude to this, my experience at WW has only strengthened my conviction that 1 Tim 2 is indeed for today. If a group cannot see the difference between ‘women are easily deceived’ and ‘women may be prone to deception in specific areas’, what would they do with a hard saying of Paul? The only person who got what I was getting at here was a man!

I hope the ‘research’ there (the same few names accused of the same few things) is not degenerating into mere speculation , egged on by commenters who are learning to be idlers, gadding about from blog to blog, and not only idlers but gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. For some have already strayed after Satan.

It also struck me that if you want to do a bible study on false teachers and brethren, known today as celebrity pastors or charismatic charlatans, you could take a large section of both 2 Peter and Jude to do this; and how up-to-date these epistles are! But there is no specific section dealing with ‘survivors of spiritual abuse’ as though this were a special category of persons. There is no ‘Now regarding those of you who have been abused, brethren, …‘

You could only find general teaching in various places in the NT dealing with this, such as not letting bitterness grow and defile ... So why is there now a special group of people, who need special treatment, and more to the point, who seem to exempt themselves from NT teachings they do not like? (I do not wish to minimize suffering at the hands of abusive churches here, only wanting to say an understandable reaction to such treatment must not itself become sinful.)

I heard (in my imagination you understand) a former pastor of mine say ‘why are you arguing at such length about complementarianism and Eph 5 etc. with people who so blatantly don’t want to discover the will of God in this and try to do it’.

But your sentence above “Feed, if you wish, where toxic waste abounds, as you search for that singular morsel of nutrition you imagine awaits your discovery in the depths of disease. However, understand that the virulent waste in which you forage doesn’t simply fall off your person. It seeps into your pours, into your lungs and is upon the very crumb which you claim will give you life and health” that got to me, a kind of come ye out from among them.

I can’t imagine you want to bet bogged down in this sector of blogdom, but this piece and any other you may choose to write is worth it if it warns people off getting sucked into something that I assume set out to do good, but is now unhealthy.

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

Well, there certainly is no threat of my comments section being overfilled so feel welcomed, always, to fully share your thoughts.

My hope is that those greater than us share these observations and refuse to legitimize their voice in its present form and I think that is the case for the most part.

In my estimation, the average person is an emotional thinker more than rational. As well, they are not very sophisticated and have to be brought into or taught, critical thinking.

In my view, TWW gives all the evidence of acting as social predators, not just through promoting emotional thinking but hyper-emotional reactionary thinking based in grievances and real or alleged injuries. This is their chosen stream of audience and activity as I have observed.

I do have a theory regrading TWW's chosen model and practice based on personal revelations and comments shared by the moderators in the past.

First and foremost I believe both have experienced multiple emotional/psychological disruptions in their lives which have gone unresolved. And I suspect these events were not just church related but part of their formative childhood/adolescence. I am convinced they are both deeply wounded but have chosen to attempt to address their emotional/psychological pains through anger, hostility and an abuse of power (likely the very thing they experienced). The abused often become abusers, that is no secret.

This does not mean they cannot ever be correct in their observations or register a respectable IQ. or accompany it with some academic success. That is because their maladjustment isn't a learning disability but an emotional/psychological one.

As a result of the internet they have been afforded a wider and immediate audience than people like them before the internet. And because they are more motivated, have the time and likely have a slightly higher IQ. than their readers or at least more talent with the use of language and writing, they end up being central personalities for their weaker satellites, i.e, followers.

Their intent, as I believe is prima facie, is not to establish independent thinking skills and help people resolve issues that their disciples may move on but to build a following based on the creation or maintenance of conflict, especially emotional/psychological conflicts which is like crack cocaine for drug addicts.

Why?

I believe, as I said earlier, that for both, their real or perceived past traumas remain unresolved, which in turn fuel and lead them.

In my mind they have done what many erroneously do which is to assign a prejudiced and permanent narrative to past events which means permanent bad guys and good guys an do not revisit these events in pursuit of true resolution but only to re-tell their version to themselves and their audience that they may further reinforce who the boogeymen are and their innocence.

If they were to choose the path of internal reconciliation they could not speak as they do and permit, if not encourage, the abuse that goes on at their blog, nevermind engage in it themselves as I have observed.

There are thousands of TWW's in the world that hide behind Jesus or some righteous figure and/or cause, large and small, instituted mainly to heap abuse on others, though they will claim altruistic motives and point to their rare handful of apparently thoughtful deeds.

Such groups do not form for healthy reasons but as proxies or surrogates, a vehicle or mechanism, for one or more people to "get back" at their demons who, in truth, are internal unresolved conflicts.

But again, to resolve such emotional/psychological issues is to take away one's licensing of self to always be right, innocent and the hero and anyone disagreeing, wrong, guilty and the boogeyman. And in the end, some people really do want to and enjoy being, this kind of person.

Anonymous said...

OK, I’ll continue the discussion! The subject is still fresh in my mind.

I’ve only picked up very little on the personal histories of the TWW administrators, but enough to make your theory they are fighting personal demons plausible. Dee’s final comment to me had little to do with what I was actually saying, and made me think something else is going on here.

We should always strive to be fair, and it may also be the administrators there have heard credible tales of abuse in private that has made them want to expose it with such passion – and call out wimpy church leaders who cover it up.

The internet is a place where appalling failures of judgment by leaders or serious doctrinal aberrations can be revealed and discussed, subject to the accuracy of what is being reported. I’ve come to the conclusion it is not the place to try to deal with the results of abuse, i.e. it can inform but it cannot substitute for a genuine ‘pastor’ figure. Such ministry should aim to bring the victim into freedom, liberating them from what others have done and from any sinful reaction they have themselves had. The spiritual gift of mercy. The internet enables victims to continue ad infinitum feeling sorry for themselves, even reinforcing this where no attempt is made to correct their own behaviour.

The overall effect of my time at TWW has made me more likely to doubt reports of abuse, or at least be more cautious. There is always going to be two sides to the story, and emoting women give the impression of exaggerating – that subjective feelings have taken over. This is what happens in the internet – in private it might be a very different story, and such testimony more credible. There is no way of checking what people say on the net.

I’ve been around long enough to know that sinning church members can be confronted with wrong-doing by a healthy leadership, and then go round playing the victim card to all and sundry. The current Ken Ramey thread at TWW replicates a pastoral letter to a victim, and I don’t see anything desperately wrong with it. The pastor admits he hasn’t dealt with the situation perfectly. Yet he might be the authoritarian monster he is painted to be, but how can you tell? It’s trial by third-party internet, with everyone’s personal bias and presuppositions working against objectivity.

If there is one weakness in the watchblog/discernment posting community, it is criticizing real ecclesiastical failures (‘Jesus explicitly told his apostles not to lord it over the flock’) whilst simultaneously being very publically disobedient in their own lives. Parsons once said “I respect my husband but I do not submit to him”. So much for submission being mutual!! But any Patriarch or extreme complementarian reading that will not take any notice of legitimate criticisms of their system, because the critic is herself in a place of disobedience. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

I think this is where ultimately I came a cropper. It is not right for Christians to exempt themselves from careless words, foul talk or coarse jesting about their own experiences or those of others. I reckon I was triggering guilty consciences rather than painful memories.

I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit to being drawn into this a bit myself. It can be contagious.

To conclude by being a bit preachy, I’ve been impressed by 1 Peter 3 : 8 – 12. The apostles tells us not to revile but to bless, and if we want to see good days and experience answered prayer, to watch our tongues and make sure we are being truthful. Failure to do this will mean God starts to oppose us. (That’s a very sobering thought.) I just wonder if this is part of the reason some people never get out of the cycle of being a victim. Endlessly reviling. It just won’t do to ban the word ‘bitter’ if the thing itself is the problem, and manifests itself in the unhealthy commenting you have rightly drawn attention to.

KB

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

Thanks again, for your thoughts, excellent they be! I am sympathetic to private stories of abuse but as you said, none of this can be verified in any real way online, it is not the appropriate format to deal with the results of alleged abuse and generally it only fosters permanent victimization status which is why I suggest TWW is truly about creating an environment for raging and commiseration, not resolution and healing.

Do they uncover something legitimate now and then? Of course, as does the worst of anything which is, as we well know, beside the point.

Their denial of the use of the word "bitter" is about as telling as it gets. That is a form of cultural Marxism where certain possible realities and/or narratives are forbidden. These are not truth seekers but collaborators in a social narrative scheme. My theory is that the word touches too close to home with both moderators.

As I stated before, there are people in this world with chips on their shoulders, quite a number of them. They find each other and form groups who will always advertise as altruistic people because they really do have a cause, so they can seem to care but eventually the person seeking truth and well-being will discover the cause is not others, it is themselves and their individual/collective unresolved emotional/psychological problems. The stories of "others" they deal with are simply vehicles for projecting their own internal maladjustment onto them and while purporting to crusade on their behalf. It appears like they genuinely care, and may to a degree, but stay long enough and one will discover that ultimately it is about something else, for the most part. Of course these are my observations.


Anonymous said...

I think you are right in your observations. It gets ever harder if you have frequented discernment/‘survivor‘ blogs not to use the word ‘bitter‘, because this is often the best description of what you will find there.

I’ll accept this may be born of genuine pain and anguish and mistreatment. I’ve had to battle it myself over a church situation, and it can stick like mud. One very good piece of Anglican advice I read was not to ‘pray the problem’, meaning keep on bringing it up in prayer so you keep focusing on it rather than filling your mind with something else.

Obviously this theme of watchblogs mustn’t become a new predestination and freewill topic, but I’ve continued to lurk at TWW out of curiosity. The latest piece shows the dilemma I have. A church may have botched up ‘counselling’ for a genuine victim. It gets harder to tell this though from the reactions expressed there. Is the victim being used to bash nouthetic counselling, and is nouthetic counselling being rejected because it concentrates on human sinfulness and having to deal with it with a bible in hand rather than Freud?

Parsons currently writes “Victims need to tell their stories, often over and over again. Abuse takes place in silence. Sometimes, it takes telling the story over and over again to fill in the gaps of what happened.”

I can’t say whether this is true or not due to lack of experience in this field. Not being believed must be awful. Yet I can’t get away from the feeling that it mustn’t remain here, that is, endlessly going over it all again and again, drifting into exaggerating and embellishing. That sooner or later you really do have to try to move on from what happened or what you said above will occur “it only fosters permanent victimization status”.

In my own church experience I have known ordinary believers who have indeed been abused and moved on from it. The passage of time, hearing the word of truth that sets you free, believer’s baptism, the work of the Holy Spirit … Isn’t there a danger of being unbelieving about just what can happen in a believer’s life over time without pretending to get to perfection? That God can indeed give you new start? That there is good news that liberates from a treadmill of rehashing the old, bad news? Or is this being glib?

I want to move on from too much TWW, but in seeing what others say about them, I found a site who engaged with them some time ago on the theme of Derek Prince. Now he left the Shepherding Movement in the mid-80s, and has been dead for over a decade. Yet WW are still only interested in the victims of Prince’s legacy, as though they cannot get free of it 20 or maybe even 30 years later. Derek Prince’s repentance was glossed over, exposing a lack of belief a man may change. (I’m not incidentally a Derek Prince fan, but credit is due to him for realizing he was wrong and moving on from it despite other dodgy stuff he may have been into doctrinally.)

A biblical example would be Paul’s confrontation with the apostle Peter. It was sorted out, and no-one believers Peter remained a false teacher for the rest of his days.

You could do worse than produce an occasional piece on TWW or survivor blogs in general (what is the origin of this term? Please tell me they are not comparing themselves to holocaust survivors) as it may enable people to see the potential harm of over-engaging with them and allowing this to become a preoccupation they would be better avoiding. It just make the proprietors of such blogs ask the question whether they are now doing more harm than good.

Well, ‘do not be seen too often at your neighbour’s blog lest he grow tired of you’. Thanks for the opportunity to get some perspective on an interesting experience in the world of blogdom!

KB

Anonymous said...

It may be legitimate to write about, and then discuss, the failures of a pastor and his eldership. In the context of a thread about this (Steve Estes), in which Hebrews 13 v 17 was alluded to, the aptly named Headless Unicorn Guy made the following comment at TWW:

At which point, they’re Kapos in the KZ.
Staying alive & useful by helping shove other prisoners into the ovens.


"They" here refers to pastoral leaders in the Hebrews sense. A Kapo was a prisoner who bullied other prisoners in a concentration camp (KZ) on behalf of the SS.

This, it seems to me, outdoes the Dahmer comment. It's inexcusable. Words fail. The comment comes from a man who is obsessed with Adolf Hitler, frequently mentioning him in connection with discussions of leadership.

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

I am familiar with HUG, also from Internet Monk where he comments (which has become a dreggingly awful blog, lost in itself in pursuit of some kind of leftist utopian thelogical dream where all boogeymen are fundies and conservatives). I, too, have noticed his Hilterian obsession.

HUG is your average reactionary who tells you how complicated life is and nothing fits into a neat little box ad nauseam (this is because rarely do his type actually have answers, just criticisms)...until, that is, he wishes to address his antagonists. Then they are all Hitler, Nazis, fundies and a little Mussolini now and then, all simple stuff, they don't get to be understood via the complexities of life.

Anonymous said...

Admonished by your observations here and previous correspondence (it’s KB), I gave up commenting at WW a couple of months ago after visiting there regularly on and off for about two years.

For some reason I succumbed to temptation and tried an April Fool joke on them. This was not to get bogged down in the site again, I’m not sure my motives were wholly good, perhaps I just wanted to rattle the commenters’ cage. I wondered if I had been a bit too critical. Not anymore!

Without simply repeating what has already been said above, the result was worse than I could have imagined. The post might not have been OTT enough for them to see it wasn’t serious (one or two got it), but out of concern it didn’t actually rile up anyone I owned up to it pretty quickly.

The tone and nature of the comments, almost all of which were after I had said it wasn’t serious, were the last straw in any hope that good is being done at TWW. (The thread is the latest John Piper/CBWM moan.)

One comment in particular that was allowed to stand beggars belief. Even a commenter who doesn’t like me questioned it. It’s a case of believing the worst, letting rip, and if you fall from favour there I think you would have to grovel and even then you might not be allowed back in. Who’d want to?

I can only think of three commenters there who have not at some point been snarky with me in their disagreements – two of them male!

I wanted to leave there on a better note (for some reason, it seemed right), and left two well-reasoned and I think irenic posts, which were not approved. Perhaps too long, but I suspect more likely there is no desire to re-think the comments policy. In a way I was relieved, as I had no intention of engaging in any more pseudo-Christian trench warfare!

If there is one word that strikes about TWW and fellow survivor-type sites, and comments in particular, it is unforgiveness. This is clearly at a horizontal level, but from my understanding of the NT I suspect at a vertical level as well as a result. He who forgives little, loves little.

The noble of goal of exposing error and malpractice at such sites is wholly undermined by the comments. Anyone who is guilty of abusive behaviour who reads them will conclude the problem is with the critics; in this way, such sites can actually aid abusers or the authoritarian in continuing in sin by rendering criticism unbelievable. The bitterness can do commenter and reader alike very real harm.

It took the weekend to get this out of my system. It takes prayer to get free of it (‘deliver us from evil’). The wisdom displayed is at best soulish/psychic, and often demonic. It’s not the Spirit of truth, but slander and accusation, with just enough fair comment to prevent this being too obvious.

It does leave me with the question as to why people want to be like this. To go round in circles, never leaving the past behind. Some other brave soul who is a first time reader is now questioning the nature of the comments, and the establishment there just doesn’t get it. There is real potential for damage to Christian testimony and witness at such sites, and I am glad that you and one or two others have borne testimony in a reasoned and more gracious manner that this kind of behaviour is not justifiable, is counter-productive, and even harmful. It is necessary that someone should do this.

I have learnt all I ever want to from this sector of the internet!

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

"Why" is a good question and essential one which needs answered. I suspect there are a number of contributors but with respect to TWW, I believe it goes, as we have discussed, directly back to the blog Admins.

When people hold onto hurt they license themselves to be offended at anything they choose and of course, react in any way they choose. It does not mean they may not be right with respect to identifying the hurt, both the source and the injury, but as Christians, we can easily, like all other things, fall into the snare of the world, the flesh and the Devil who wishes us to become self-righteous, angry crusaders seeking our pound of flesh and a little more.

It simply is choosing to deal with injury in a sinful manner and they aren't about to let go because it is also empowering. Empowering, of course, in a sinful manner.

And this is the lot of many believers, they like some of their Christian discipleship but not all of it. And one day our Lord, at his Bema Seat, will exposed false crusades which paraded as righteous causes.

Anonymous said...

The big 60 is fast approaching, and I don’t like it! It can also make you take stock of your life, and brings home the awareness of the judgment seat of Christ in a more sobering way.

Allow me to be positive. I’ve had a couple of runs ins with churches. One in particular, where I was given the left boot of fellowship for mentioning ‘tongues’ in a sermon in a youth service. I think they though I had the gift, but if they – the pastor and deacons - had asked, I didn’t! But it was hyper-controversial back then and I was only 21. Fast forward 20 years, and the man who wanted me away from the youth group and was now the pastor shook hands welcoming me onto the diaconate of that same church. We had never become enemies, but were estranged, and I have no doubt this was the work of God to end the rejection from the church. I was fully at home there again, but within 3 months, in a case of very specific answer to prayer, a job opportunity took me to Germany!

One thinks of Paul and Mark being estranged and later reconciled in the NT. Not, you understand, that I think of myself as an apostle! But these things happen, and God wants them to be healed.

I also without a murmur of dissent threw away 5 years’ work on a new fellowship when the hierarchy started a new one down the road. That took longer to get over. The beauty of it was that the ‘submission’ I had imbibed which was the ethos of the set up back then (watered-down shepherding) meant I could not say I was forced to do this. Some of the resentment I later felt was more the result of impotent rage – an anger with myself for not having stood up for myself and the church better when the fall-out became apparent. It took a while, but I got over it, and fought off the self-pity and bitterness it is all too tempting to indulge in. It wasn’t easy though.

I’ve also known people over the years who have suffered various kinds of child and marital abuse, and in most cases bog-standard evangelical life has set them free from this. Word and Spirit and Christian fellowship, ‘forgetting what lies behind’ … They didn’t seem to have a need to talk about it either.

In our joint criticism of TWW, I do wonder if we have to be careful not to underestimate the very real anger at the covering up of abuse. Yet there is a fine line between righteous and unrighteous anger, and particularly for me when what they are talking about happened on a different continent, and therefore remote, I can’t relate to the anger very easily. But I do wonder if some of the anger there is the impotent rage I mentioned earlier. It’s very difficult to let go of, and constantly bringing up C J Mahaney (for example) is a symptom of this. Even if he is actually guilty of covering up abuse, this does not let victims or parents or other church members entirely off the hook either, and they may be angry at their own failure to act.

It might be more loving and more positive to aim to let go of all this, and see that all of us will receive justice at the judgment seat, and may have to content ourselves with that rather than an earthly lawsuit. To take encouragement that others before us have managed this, then there is hope for all of us that we too can be set free. Sin, whether our own or others, really doesn’t have to have dominion over us. What God did back then in the NT he still does today, it’s all true!