Monday, April 25, 2011

Spiritual Leadership Coverups Enabled? You Get What You Honor

Posted by Hannah at 6:41 AM

One theme that is written about to many times, and is quickly echoed as ‘not in my church’ is the blame shifting.

In the case of Chuck Phelps people are quickly asked to blame the police.  Chuck called, and Chuck reported.  He had her mother do the same.  

Chuck’s defense of Ernie Willis NOT being arrested until 13 years later is blame shifting.  No one wants to admit it for some reason, because ‘technically’ he followed the law.  The police never followed up.

The fact that the law was indeed broken, and a child was harmed wasn’t a good enough ‘biblical’ reason to make sure the police DID follow up.  Did this man EVER encourage the mother to make sure SHE followed up?  I would assume not, because he never EVER mentioned that.  He knows that people are questioning him NOT following up with the police, and yet he stays silence.

Since most are well aware of the fact that there are churches that don’t like outside influences within the church?  Since most know that they would rather handle these things ‘in house’?

The lack of following up by her mother and her pastor, and their example of blame shifting and also the church taking heat due to his authority is a great example of:

You Get What You Honor

I think to most that have not experienced the influence of a neglectful church truly have a hard time wrapping their minds around what happened with Tina Anderson, and so many others.

I found an IFB handbook online, and just to be clear that doesn't mean every Independent Fundamental Baptist Church follows this handbook. 

If you read parts of it particularly regarding the Head Pastor, and how he is to be seen from the congregation?  If you have wolf in sheep's clothing your congregation is being primed for abuse.  Lets look at one section, but you can read the entire handbook as well.
Responsibilities of the church to the pastor.

a. The church is to pray for their pastor; for God to give him wisdom to lead the church, and to willingly follow his leadership (Heb. 13:7).
b. The church is to submit to his God-ordained authority over the church, so that he may have a joyful ministry in the church (Heb. 13:7).
c. The church, especially the men of the flock, are to help him and be supportive of his pastoral ministry (See Exodus 17:8-13 — two men who held up Moses’ hands in battle).
d. The church is responsible to provide his family needs as well as the expenses of running the operations of the office he holds (1 Cor. 9:7-14; 1 Tim. 5:17-18).
e. The church is to protect the pastor and his family from those who would go about sowing seeds of doubt and discord among the membership; casting a shadow upon his ministry and accusing him of misdeeds in the ministry. It is a dangerous thing to attack this sacred office; and equally as dangerous to allow others in the church to do so (1 Tim. 5:19-20; Prov. 6:16-19).
f. The church should exercise firm church discipline to those who refuse to live in harmony with the other members; who are bent on destroying the fellowship of the church (Mt. 18:15-19).
g. The church member should always consult the pastor first, on any problem or matter of concern, and not spread talk around until it gets built up all out of proportion (the devil will see to that). Most often, when you sit down with your pastor, with an open Bible and prayer, things will be clearly understood and resolved so that peace can continue and that misunderstanding doesn’t create confusion.
h. There can be only one leader in a church. The pastor is that man. A church cannot survive when it has a divided allegiance towards more than one leader.
i. When God is finished with the pastor in a church, He will lead him to another work. Unless he is found unfit for the ministry, or is guilty of open sin, he is to be respected for the office he holds by all the members.
j. If any member of the church, after serious counsel with the pastor, still cannot follow his leadership, that member should, in the spirit of Christian love, quietly seek another church and pastor where he or she can serve the Lord. If that same member persists in trying to destroy the integrity and ministry of the pastor, he or she should be dealt with in accordance with church discipline as found in Matthew 18:15-19.
I have formatted the text they way they did on page 9.

I think we all know that not everyone would assume the position of a control freak, but if you had one in your midst?  I think anyone can see how these 'handbook' rules can be twisted to their advantage.

You are to willingly follow his leadership, and if you can't?  Find a new church.  The church is to protect the pastor and his family, and the pastors will inform you who are attacking his sacred office.

In the hands of sinful men?  Those rules can be seen as Menacing; threatening: ominous!

There is tons of wording about 'submitting' and 'obeying' the pastor.  When the concentration is on that part, and doesn't shed to much light on his accountability? You have people covering up for him, because they feel it is their duty.  If you listen to the people speak about the particular IFB churches they attended in the 20/20 video they also speak about the concentration on the church authority.

You Get What You Honor

Do not judge Trinity Baptist so quickly   a newspaper headline read.

You can read both Trinity Baptist members either defending or disgusted at being lied to.  You can tell the members that didn't like the answers they received after this issue was brought to light, and were pretty much told they can leave IF they couldn't stand behind them.   They didn't owe the congregation anything firm like explanations as to WHY they were not told a known pedophile was welcome around their children.

When you have no accountability you open the doors for spiritual abuse.

I was reading an interesting article on spiritual abuse on soulation.

The 20/20 special covering Tina Anderson’s forced confession of pregnancy, the shameful smothering of her own feelings in the name of discipline concerns me on several fronts.

First, Jesus gets a bad name, a really bad name.

Second, spiritual abuse is often much more subtle than they make it out to be.

Third, the 20/20 episode points to the Independent Fundamental Baptists (IFB) as a group that takes the Bible literally. Taking the Bible literally is not the problem. Every time we say “Love your neighbor” and take that literally to mean love, we’re taking the Bible literally. No problem there, right?

The problem with the IFB (and Quiverfull and Christian Patriarchy) isn’t their devoutness or serious value of Scripture, we’d hope all God-fearers would do this. When the IFB claims to speak for God, claims that their authority is irrefutable, expects that their beliefs and desires ought to usurp each member’s needs, desires and their own conscience, when their reading of the Bible is believed to be the only absolute, irrefutably true interpretation, when they believe they could never be wrong about what they think God says. This is the problem.

IFB lacks humility and mercy. IFB is in trouble because of their practice of spiritual abuse, not because they take the Bible seriously, not because they believe in the fundamentals of the faith, not because they believe in historic Christianity.

Knowing Scripture, it’s easy for me to come up with spiritually abusive slogans. I’ve heard them, I’ve lived them. I’ve believed them.

Remember Carnegie in the movie, The Book of Eli? He wanted the Bible because they know that people will do anything as long as you can find a verse, any verse to bless what you want to do. And the Bible opens itself up to that. God lets people abuse his message.

All. The. Time.
God would wish his people to be more concerned with the welfare of Tina Anderson than how the media portrays certain churches that everyone knows misuses their spiritual authority.

I read a comment that I don't think most think about when they felt the 20/20 show was attacking them.

The media has been a better friend to the young people who are raped, sodomized, enslaved, starved, beaten, etc by Fundamentalist tyrants than any church ever, anywhere, has ever been. If we judge them by their works towards God's beloved little children, then the news media is a Christian organization, and the churches are secular.
We may not KNOW that not any church has been a friend to them. We know that this secular media program gave more attention to their pain compared to the churches they attended at the time of the offense.

You also can see another form of blameshifting then you see people claiming that the 20/20 program HURT the church, and Christ's name. 
So what about the unsaved people seeing this on TV? What if this is the only thing they know about God? What if this is what directs their thinking about religion? First I'll say that watching the episode I don't get the idea that this was about God, Christianity, or Jesus. This was about abuse that happened in the church. The fact that the piece ended with Tina attending her new church, and making a point to point out that she was not bitter at God shows that 20/20 had no ill intent on organized religion, God, Jesus, or Christians. I believe Jesus was exalted. What 20/20 did do for those who didn't know was point out one faction of a religious group and point out abuse that has happened there. If that hurts the cause of Christ then you should take that up with Phelps, with Trinity and with any other IFB church that has tolerated abuse within its ranks. They are the ones that hurt Christ not 20/20. All ABC did was reveal the ugly truth that already existed. Blaming it on 20/20 may make you feel better, but it doesn't cover up the fact that what happened to Tina was horrible and wrong. Telling the story doesn't cause damage, it actually might help to repair some of it.
This author as a strong point!   The program pointed out some truths that people don't wish to admit, don't wish to deal with, and don't wish to confront.  Showing the national news audience about some ugly facts that certain churches REFUSE to deal with?  Do they EVER stop to think that their SILENCE, and their defensive nature to this HURTS the cause of the Christ?

When church members realize they have been betrayed?  Don't let the manipulation go any further, and allow yourself to be their pillow to lesson their fall.  I have no doubt there are many members of Trinity - as well as other churches that have been deeply hurt by their church government.  Church leadership is quick to tell people they deserve double the honor, but scripture also speaks about their consequences when they betray the church.

God had many that fell in the bible, and he restored them.  We have all read about them, and they showed more than 'I'm sorry now lets move on!" type of attitude.  These church leaders need to model the behavior for their sin that they ask others to do.  That means deal with the hard questions.  Deal with the consequences of having to build the trust all over again, and possibility not have that trust fully restored at times. 

Pastor Fuller made it clear that not all IFB churches are the same, and I have no doubt that is true.  What is sad is the 'network' that he claims isn't there, and yet you can see some churches are more beholden to it than others.  Its there, and I'm sure there are cliches within it as well.  There truly was no need for that diversion.

Ever since September 11th when the World Trade centers were bombed?  People have asked the Muslim community to step out and condemn the radicals that pervert their faith.

How much healing do you think might happen if more and more IFB churches call out what they know is truth, and call out those that seem to be hiding behind their IFB position.

Would not Christ's name be honored?  The defensive nature, the excuses and all the rest we have seen are not the humble nature that God would require of them.  To use a phrase we know some churches like to use?  It honestly shows bitterness.

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