Responding to the Scandal

NickImage

We used to think that the problem of child molestation belonged to other people, but not to fundamental Baptists. Now we are learning otherwise. We are hearing more and more reports of sexual predation, pedophilia, and cover-ups on the part of fundamental Baptist leaders. The resulting impression upon the public is that the clergy of Baptist fundamentalism is unusually goatish, thuggish, and corrupt.

This is not the place to evaluate the truth of individual claims. In a few instances individuals have probably been accused unfairly. Over the past five years, however, too many of these episodes have been verified for us to dismiss them all. Men have gone to prison. More should. The problem is too widespread and has affected too many of the different networks of fundamentalism to permit us to believe that it is merely anomalous or that it is limited only to one branch of fundamentalism.

What is being exposed within fundamentalism is heinous. Pastors, missionaries, and deacons have preyed upon the powerless. Even worse, Christian leaders and Christian organizations have covered up the commission of these crimes. The effect has been to protect the perpetrators. Those who have suffered most—the victims—have been denied justice and have seen their abusers keep their freedom, their livelihoods, and sometimes even their positions of leadership.

So what are we supposed to do? If we are interested in truth and right, if we want to see Christ’s name exalted and not besmirched, and if we care about people, how should we respond to these reports? I wish to provide part of the answer to that question. More needs to be said, but fundamental Baptist leaders, churches, and institutions absolutely must adopt certain core responses.

Of course, certain responses are simply wrong. First, we should not blame the secular media for their reports on these scandals, nor should we dodge their questions. We are witnessing events that are not only newsworthy but salacious. We know in advance that the reporters neither understand nor sympathize with us. We must go out of our way to avoid any appearance that we have something to hide.

Furthermore, we must reject any temptation to blame the victims. An adolescent of thirteen or fourteen is an unequal match for an adult of thirty, especially if the adult is wrapped in the mantle of authority. Yes, the adolescent ought to know what is right and wrong—but our job is to protect youngsters from having to make adult choices. They are not yet prepared for those choices, and we must not treat them as if they were.

Nor should we blame the victims for going outside the fundamentalist network to seek justice. The whole reason that they have been forced to this extreme is because they could not find justice within the structure of the churches and other institutions that were supposed to help them. Our anger (and we should be angry!) should not be directed against the victims who have appealed to other authorities, but against those spiritual authorities who abdicated their responsibility to defend the powerless.

We must also refuse to allow ourselves to be distracted by extraneous considerations. Accusers should never be dismissed just because someone thinks they seem odd or neurotic. Those are actually behaviors we might anticipate in someone who was molested as a child. On the other hand, simply because the accused has a reputation for successful ministry does not mean that he is above accountability. The same character traits that can make a man a visibly effective preacher can sometimes make him an efficient sexual predator.

Those are responses that we should never make. We do have an obligation to respond, however, and that obligation includes certain right reactions.

Our first response must be to refocus upon personal integrity. Many accusations are true, but in the present atmosphere the possibility of false accusations ought to strike fear into every minister. All it takes is one, unsupported claim to end a ministry. Consequently, we have a duty to live our lives such that no credible charge can be leveled against us. We must go out of our way to ensure that we avoid even the appearance of impropriety. How? By common sense precautions. We will install windows so that people can see into our offices. We will never be alone with any female other than our wives and daughters. We will never be alone with a child, even of the same sex, other than our own children. We will never touch a minor in any way except in full view of other adults—and we will guard those touches carefully against misunderstanding.

Just as importantly, our second response must be prevention. We cannot change what has already happened, but we can do our best to ensure that it will not happen again. Every church needs a child protection policy. The policy should define when and where adults are allowed to have contact with minors at church activities. It should prohibit adults from being alone with minors in an unsupervised environment. It should require everyone involved in ministry to minors to receive specific training aimed at avoiding abusive relationships. Very importantly, it should require a background check for every church member who works with minors. It should specify procedures for pursuing complaints and suspicions. It should be widely distributed so that every parent knows its provisions. For a good example of such a policy in a secular organization, churches might look at the Cadet Protection Policy of the Civil Air Patrol.

Our third response should involve prosecution. When pastors and church leaders become aware of abusive situations, they should report these situations to police and child protective agencies. In fact, they should do more than to report. They should demand that the authorities take action. Concerns over confidentiality are badly out of place here, as are concerns over 1 Corinthians 6:1-8. Paul was not writing to the Corinthians about situations in which crimes were being committed or the powerless being victimized. In most states, pastors have a legal obligation to report any situation that they even suspect of being abusive. Justice and protection for victims requires action against abusers. Christian leaders have a duty to protect the powerless. Too often have they adopted the role of shielding the abuser.

The fourth response is more systemic, but just as necessary. Baptist fundamentalists absolutely must repudiate those models of leadership that foster abusive and predatory behavior. Too many fundamentalists equate spiritual leadership with bluster, demagoguery, egotism, authoritarianism, and contemptuousness toward deacons, church members, and especially women. We must stop tolerating such attitudes.

Pastoral authority extends no further than the right to proclaim and implement the teachings of Scripture. Pastors must recognize the God-ordained authority of the congregation, and congregations must hold pastors accountable. Churches must seek pastors who focus upon the exposition of Scripture, who are gentle in their dealings with people, who are open and transparent, and who welcome criticism and accountability. Most of all, churches must reject numerical and financial growth as a measure of success and realize that the very first qualification of any minister is that he must give evidence of knowing and loving God.

Baptist fundamentalism has endured dark episodes in the past, but none has been blacker or more ugly that the present hour. We have no one else to blame. We have been too lax for too long. If the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God, then we should welcome the purifying effect that the exposure of sin will have upon us, and we should respond rightly.

The Descent From The Cross
Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Is this the Face that thrills with awe
      Seraphs who veil their face above?
Is this the Face without a flaw,
      The Face that is the Face of Love?
Yea, this defaced, a lifeless clod,
      Hath all creation’s love sufficed,
Hath satisfied the love of God,
      This Face the Face of Jesus Christ.

[node:bio/kevin-t-bauder body]

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There are 57 Comments

Jim Racke's picture

Let's remember that some IFB churches not only may be guilty of sexual abuse but many are also guilty of spiritual and emotional abuse through dictator and legalistic pastors. There are many wounds that are as deep as sexual abuse and if not for the grace of God these Christians will not heal. We should not judge these people who are hurting but offer them a hand up to help them heal from this abuse. I am one who but by the grace of God would not have healed from abuse. It is a long road of recovery and it does not happen overnight. May all IFB churches do some spring housecleaning and make sure there ministry is above reproach or else groups such as 20-20 will tear us to shreds.

Jim Racke

RPittman's picture

Jim Racke wrote:
Let's remember that some IFB churches not only may be guilty of sexual abuse but many are also guilty of spiritual and emotional abuse through dictator and legalistic pastors. There are many wounds that are as deep as sexual abuse and if not for the grace of God these Christians will not heal. We should not judge these people who are hurting but offer them a hand up to help them heal from this abuse. I am one who but by the grace of God would not have healed from abuse. It is a long road of recovery and it does not happen overnight. May all IFB churches do some spring housecleaning and make sure there ministry is above reproach or else groups such as 20-20 will tear us to shreds.
I cannot agree that "[t ]here are many wounds that are as deep as sexual abuse. . . ." Now, it seems that we're getting into theories of victimhood and recovery. I do not think everyone who struggles with life issues is a victim of something and is some state of recovery. Life is tough and our feelings are often offended due to our own sensitivity. Sensitivity, many times, is based in our self-views and expectations. We, often, are persuaded of own victimhood and abuse by knowing or accepting the self psychology (i.e. humanistic psychology) of Rogers, Maslow, et. al.

Whereas child sexual abuse is an observable and definable act, "spiritual and emotional abuse through dictator and legalistic pastors" is not an observed and defined phenomenon. What is perceived as abuse by one is acceptable behavior to another. Feelings are not necessarily the direct result of an event as much as one's own psychological processing of the event. Our feelings are unique to us. Two different individuals may have two entirely different feelings triggered by the same event. One may be hurt or offended whereas another may be totally indifferent. We have to deal with our own feelings rather than blaming others. On the other hand, it is entirely another matter to say one has done wrong or defrauded another, which is based on the moral/ethical aspect of a behavior.

RPittman's picture

I keep hearing the cliche "dictator pastors." Pastors may be domineering, aggressive, gregarious, controlling, etc. but they are hardly dictators. In America, we have religious liberty. No one is required to attend any one church. We choose with whom to associate. If we make poor choices, then it is the result of our own choice. Sometimes, people choose to associate with a church having a domineering pastor. However, they are free to leave at will. It appears to me that we are trying to blame someone else for our poor choices.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I agree, Bro. Pittman, and am always a bit confused by the idea that a pastor or church leadership can be given so much control over one's life that a person will willingly submit to the micro-management of their private lives, and even to the point of being verbally and spiritually abused. I've had conversations with people who were literally 'afraid' of their church leadership, because they would 'make their lives miserable' or ostracize them. But if you aren't doing anything that is immoral, unethical, illegal, or clearly unScriptural, then church leadership is out of line to take any action against anyone. What are they really going to do anyway? Slash your tires? Burn down your house? It's like the dynamic in high school- control by intimidation but without real teeth. People can't control you unless you allow them to do so. And if they quit talking to you- so what? Having people like that out of your life will be the best thing that ever happened to you.

I also agree with Bro. Brown that child abuse is nothing new. It has been redefined in some ways- I've heard some really strange things labeled as abusive, like expecting kids to develop a work ethic and live without unrestricted access to tvs and computer games. And while abuse has gotten more media attention and garnered quite a bit of indignation, it hasn't lessened to any degree that seems significant. We've reported suspected abuse just in the last week- the police show up, take a report, and the kid goes right back home into that environment- while neighbors threaten us for calling the cops. Isn't that just peachy? But are we going to stop doing right based on unpleasant outcomes?

People, in general, are too busy trying to preserve the status quo instead of asking hard questions about right and wrong and taking appropriate action.

Mike Durning's picture

RPittman wrote:
I keep hearing the cliche "dictator pastors." Pastors may be domineering, aggressive, gregarious, controlling, etc. but they are hardly dictators. In America, we have religious liberty. No one is required to attend any one church. We choose with whom to associate. If we make poor choices, then it is the result of our own choice. Sometimes, people choose to associate with a church having a domineering pastor. However, they are free to leave at will. It appears to me that we are trying to blame someone else for our poor choices.

Clearly you are correct. If a situation is intolerable, the proper solution is to refuse to tolerate it. An armed uprising (such as in Libya) is hardly necessary. Send a letter removing your membership. Find another church.

But I take exception with what you say in two ways...
1). I think the term "dictator pastor" is a great way to say what the Scriptures express in I Peter 5:3. It's the attitude of the pastor in question in that verse, not the submission of the people. Though you are correct that the submission to a "dictator pastor" is the fault of the people under such spiritual abuse (at least the adults), the spiritual abuse of authority is entirely the fault of the pastor, who is in the Word all the time, and should, we would think, know better.
2). There is a psychological trick involved in the ultra-submissive behavior of the crowds under the sway of the "dictator pastor". Too often, he controls and defines their total reality. Departure will be costly. They will lose friends, perhaps family-ties, and (in the most extreme cases) suffer a church discipline that will feel completely valid to them. They may view themselves as "in sin". Remember, these folk have been raised in an attitude where all of Scripture is twisted to make that over-reaching authority seem like "God's Will." So let's not be too hard on those who suffer in these settings. And we mustn't discount their psychological distress as they recognize the ways in which they were used and manipulated.

A short story to illustate. I do not offer this to open a debate about BJU or their rules. I simply state what happened to illustrate how when you are surrounded by an environment and the control it exerts, your mind can be tricked into forgetting the real relationship.

About 1985 I was at BJU. I had met Scott, a young man who had been a Christian for just a few weeks when his pastor sent him off to BJU. Talk about total immersion in a culture! A few weeks into the new semester, one evening, we heard a clattering behind the speech building (I have no idea if it is in the same place now). We walked behind the building, to find Scott perched on top of the fence-post (disregarding the barbed wire), ready to make his leap for freedom. "Scott," I said, "What are you doing?" Reply: "I can't take it anymore. I'm going to go crazy here! There's rules for everything! I have to escape!" "Scott", I said, "It's a college, not a prison. If you really feel that way, go back to your room and pack. Tomorrow, go to the administration building and withdraw as a student. Walk out the gates tomorrow afternoon with your bags in hand." There was a long pause. "Oh, right." And he climbed down. He also stayed all year.

Charlie's picture

Mike Durning wrote:

2). There is a psychological trick involved in the ultra-submissive behavior of the crowds under the sway of the "dictator pastor". Too often, he controls and defines their total reality. Departure will be costly. They will lose friends, perhaps family-ties, and (in the most extreme cases) suffer a church discipline that will feel completely valid to them. They may view themselves as "in sin". Remember, these folk have been raised in an attitude where all of Scripture is twisted to make that over-reaching authority seem like "God's Will." So let's not be too hard on those who suffer in these settings. And we mustn't discount their psychological distress as they recognize the ways in which they were used and manipulated.

I entirely agree. We are all familiar with the concept of mental conditioning. We applaud it when it shapes our children to be good thinkers or our soldiers to be stalwart under fire. However, we need to remember that a conditioned person has literally surrendered some level of personal will. Susan, this is the point I think you are missing. Many people in dictatorial churches (I will let others decide which churches fit this description) have reached a level of conditioning that includes significant surrender of will. They believe that their church is the only church within 100 miles that pleases God and that going to any other church will call down God's wrath on them. They further believe that their Christian duty is to obey the church leadership without question or complaint, and that the church's authority extends to just about every aspect of their life.

I have personally tried many times to get friends and family out of such churches. In almost every single conversation, the same question arises: "But where would I go?" These people are literally unaware of the dozen other gospel-preaching churches within 10 miles of their house, and they're too afraid even to visit another church. Here is where the "taboos" come into play. Their church has so many taboos that it really would be virtually impossible to find another church that met the criteria for "godliness" laid down by the church leadership. The church member is conditioned to reject immediately any church that employs the wrong music, Bible version, dress standard, etc..

Furthermore, when pressed about the glaring problems in the leadership, these members begin rationalizing their church's/pastor's behavior. It's Stockholm Syndrome. Like addicts, or like victims of Stockholm Syndrome, these people are no longer able to exercise sufficient personal will to leave. They surrendered it in bits and pieces over many years. Now, they need intervention from the outside. Even if they do leave and relocate to a healthy church, it will take years to erase the programming and rebuild their autonomy (the good kind). I'm not speaking hypothetically; I've been down this road with both friends and family.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I'm not entirely missing that point, Bro. Charlie. I think we agree that even when there is mental conditioning taking place over time, the person at some point willingly surrenders to it. And there are some who, even under truly life-threatening circumstances, would not succumb to the pressure. That makes it a choice. So while I agree that a form of coercion is at work here, Stockholm Syndrome is that of willing captivity because their captors are nice to them, not abusive. A more accurate comparison IMO would be http://www.rainn.org/get-information/effects-of-sexual-assault/battered-... ]Battered Woman Syndrome .

RPittman's picture

Charlie wrote:
Mike Durning wrote:

2). There is a psychological trick involved in the ultra-submissive behavior of the crowds under the sway of the "dictator pastor". Too often, he controls and defines their total reality. Departure will be costly. They will lose friends, perhaps family-ties, and (in the most extreme cases) suffer a church discipline that will feel completely valid to them. They may view themselves as "in sin". Remember, these folk have been raised in an attitude where all of Scripture is twisted to make that over-reaching authority seem like "God's Will." So let's not be too hard on those who suffer in these settings. And we mustn't discount their psychological distress as they recognize the ways in which they were used and manipulated.

I entirely agree. We are all familiar with the concept of mental conditioning. We applaud it when it shapes our children to be good thinkers or our soldiers to be stalwart under fire. However, we need to remember that a conditioned person has literally surrendered some level of personal will. Susan, this is the point I think you are missing. Many people in dictatorial churches (I will let others decide which churches fit this description) have reached a level of conditioning that includes significant surrender of will. They believe that their church is the only church within 100 miles that pleases God and that going to any other church will call down God's wrath on them. They further believe that their Christian duty is to obey the church leadership without question or complaint, and that the church's authority extends to just about every aspect of their life.

Charlie, if you're going to argue from behavioral psychology (i.e. classical conditioning), then perhaps we ought to update our views to genetic psychology, which is pretty much where behaviorism is today. There are some who will argue that our responses are genetically determined so that we really make no autonomous no choices. It follows that certain people are genetically determined to follow leadership of whatever sort and there are those genetically determined to fill that role of leadership domination. Thus, if you accept an up-to-date genetic view, there's no will to surrender.
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I have personally tried many times to get friends and family out of such churches. In almost every single conversation, the same question arises: "But where would I go?" These people are literally unaware of the dozen other gospel-preaching churches within 10 miles of their house, and they're too afraid even to visit another church. Here is where the "taboos" come into play. Their church has so many taboos that it really would be virtually impossible to find another church that met the criteria for "godliness" laid down by the church leadership. The church member is conditioned to reject immediately any church that employs the wrong music, Bible version, dress standard, etc..

So, you find your outsider's take on the situation significantly different from those inside the situation.
Quote:

Furthermore, when pressed about the glaring problems in the leadership, these members begin rationalizing their church's/pastor's behavior. It's Stockholm Syndrome. Like addicts, or like victims of Stockholm Syndrome, these people are no longer able to exercise sufficient personal will to leave. They surrendered it in bits and pieces over many years. Now, they need intervention from the outside. Even if they do leave and relocate to a healthy church, it will take years to erase the programming and rebuild their autonomy (the good kind). I'm not speaking hypothetically; I've been down this road with both friends and family.

Have you ever considered that those within the situation, which you abhor, actually find it safe, comforting, and beneficial. Now, who is to decide what is best for them? I always thought that liberty was the ability to choose--either good or bad. Would it not being controlling and domineering to force them to leave where they want to be? It seems to be a struggle for control of individuals. Who has the right to reprogram another?

RPittman's picture

Mike wrote:
There is a psychological trick involved in the ultra-submissive behavior of the crowds under the sway of the "dictator pastor". Too often, he controls and defines their total reality. Departure will be costly. They will lose friends, perhaps family-ties, and (in the most extreme cases) suffer a church discipline that will feel completely valid to them. They may view themselves as "in sin". Remember, these folk have been raised in an attitude where all of Scripture is twisted to make that over-reaching authority seem like "God's Will." So let's not be too hard on those who suffer in these settings. And we mustn't discount their psychological distress as they recognize the ways in which they were used and manipulated.
Well, that's our point-of-view. The problem is that we can't straighten out the situation through our intervention by coercing them. It's basically the same thing as the "dictator pastor" although we are acting with the best of intentions. The things are complex relationship that are never one-way streets. The congregates have bought into the church under the pastor with heavy personal and emotional investments. We may not be comfortable there but I wonder if we are simply destabilizing a relatively stabilized, balanced relationship. I haven't sufficiently argued my point but I don't have time for more comment.

Charlie's picture

RPittman,

You raise some great questions, the most pointed being how to help people that may not want help. First, we should admit that there are people who need help but don't want it. Most addicts, for example, need significant support and even pressure to get through their delusions and rationalizations.

However, this doesn't come up with me very much. I don't go out of my way to make happy people unhappy with their churches. Normally, people contact me for help, through email or facebook or even SI. They're confused, because crazy things are happening in their churches, and they think something's wrong, but they can't bring themselves to do anything about it. These people are living with loads of cognitive dissonance. For example, they will tell me some really awful things that a church leader has done, but then say, "But he's such a godly man." When I reply, "Do godly men do that?" I can see the pain in their souls. Some of them will admit that their churches are horribly sick and even abusive, but still refuse to relocate to a healthier situation. The point is that even people who call out for help or send out signals that they want help, often resist help when offered.

Now, why is my intervention, which includes bringing people to my way of thinking, any morally superior to what their pastors do? Well, my goal is to help them reach a place of autonomy, whereas their pastors want to keep them under control. Also, I refuse to use guilt, shame, and fear as manipulation tools, whereas their pastors specialize in those activities. I suppose someone could call it re-brainwashing, but all the people who have relocated have told me that they are much happier and freer than they used to be.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Mike Durning's picture

A few decades ago, it was fashionable to kidnap cult members and de-program them -- soft of "unbrainwashing" via lengthy sessions with family and a counselor.

Some of this discussion raises the ugly prospect that someday, somewhere, (if it hasn't yet happened) someone will kidnap a member of an IFBx church (KJVO, Dictator pastor, extremist views) and try to deprogram them.

Would we approve? Well, I suppose it depends on which views were being deprogrammed.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Mike,

That's good! Lol!

G. N. Barkman

dan's picture

Is there biblical support for kidnapping an adult and holding them captive until they admit their religious beliefs are wrong?

"Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy."
G.K. Chesterton

Jay's picture

dan wrote:
Is there biblical support for kidnapping an adult and holding them captive until they admit their religious beliefs are wrong?

Only if they're "young fundamentalists". Then there's probably all kinds of support that no one's ever seen before.

/sarcasm

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jim Racke's picture

Unless you have been snowed by certain people in the IFB to believe you were going to a good church to minister as an assistant pastor you will not understand what it feels like to be stuck in a situation where you have to live day in and day out with a pastor who dictates what you may do and not do, how to raise your children, and the list goes on and on. Yes Pittman you are right sexual abuse does hurt more but unless you have been in a spiritual and emotional abuse pastoral relationship don't throw your wisdom around. You have no idea what it's like to live under that pressure for a LONG THREE YEARS until God moved us away. It's not as easy as you think to get away from the abuse. Those who think pastors don't act like dictators explain to me how it's right to say your above the law of the land to clearly disregard church policy concerning the will of the congregation- what about telling members touch not God's anointed to run away from allegations that he was involved in a questionable activity with someone of the opposite sex? I could go on and on but I will not. I was not the only staff member that was hurt- there were other good people hurt.

Jim Racke

RPittman's picture

Jim Racke wrote:
Unless you have been snowed by certain people in the IFB to believe you were going to a good church to minister as an assistant pastor you will not understand what it feels like to be stuck in a situation where you have to live day in and day out with a pastor who dictates what you may do and not do, how to raise your children, and the list goes on and on. Yes Pittman you are right sexual abuse does hurt more but unless you have been in a spiritual and emotional abuse pastoral relationship don't throw your wisdom around.
Again, I point out that you speaking of emotions and feelings, not reasoned options. Emotional discomfort is something that is common to the human condition. However, there is a vast abyss between child sexual abuse and the so-called "spiritual and emotional abuse pastoral relationship." One is a child who does not have the power to resist a more powerful person and the other is a situation of adult-to-adult conflict. The adult can always make the decision, although it may be hard and costly, to walk away.

BTW, don't tell me that I cannot understand a situation without having experienced it. That's pure poppycock. There may be a some very good reasons why I've not experienced it. First, I made good choices in choosing my ministries having turned down some very attractive offers when I sensed the atmosphere of the ministry and the potential for problems. Second, I worked to establish good working relationships with my employers. Third, I was not afraid to stand up to powerful people when principle was at stake. Fear of losing my job was much less than my commitment to doing right on principle. Furthermore, I kept the at heart the interest of the people under me and protected them. Finally, I must humbly say that God has been very good and gracious to me in blessing me with good employment and church situations.

Quote:

You have no idea what it's like to live under that pressure for a LONG THREE YEARS until God moved us away.

Was God keeping you there? If so, perhaps there's a reason. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin (Hebrews 12:1-4)."
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It's not as easy as you think to get away from the abuse.
What's hard about it other than one is not willing to pay the price for the break (i.e. job loss, social pressures, etc.).
Quote:
Those who think pastors don't act like dictators explain to me how it's right to say your above the law of the land to clearly disregard church policy concerning the will of the congregation- what about telling members touch not God's anointed to run away from allegations that he was involved in a questionable activity with someone of the opposite sex?
Yeah, he can say it but I wouldn't be gullible enough to believe him. He's a man like us. If he's involved in a sinful relationship, then he's not speaking for God ( I John 1:5-8). Why didn't someone have the guts to call him out? Whom do we obey--God or man?
Quote:
I could go on and on but I will not. I was not the only staff member that was hurt- there were other good people hurt.
If as you say this man was involved in wickedness, why did you let him go unchallenged? Were you afraid? Of what? If you were in a position of leadership, why didn't you protect those under you? Sometimes, we are faced with hard choices. Now, I do know what that means.

Jim Racke's picture

I did not confront because I was counseled by the president of the university I graduated from to leave when two brothers cannot walk in agreement. Everything in me wanted to confront the situation with the church but it would have ended up destroying a good church and good people. I don't have the time or liberty to tell you the whole situation and I'm leaving it at that.

I'm getting tired of Christians who want to open up wounds and shoot the offended rather than offer medicine to the hurt.

I refuse to comment further anymore on this issue.

Jim Racke

dan's picture

I think the counsel you received from the university president is the kind of thing that helps perpetuate the environment that leads to situations like the ABWE.

Protecting the leader always seems to be the goal.

John 3:19-21

"Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy."
G.K. Chesterton

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

We should obviously minister to the wounded, but at some point they need to stop picking the scab.

Quote:
Baptist fundamentalists absolutely must repudiate those models of leadership that foster abusive and predatory behavior. Too many fundamentalists equate spiritual leadership with bluster, demagoguery, egotism, authoritarianism, and contemptuousness toward deacons, church members, and especially women. We must stop tolerating such attitudes.

A friend of mine was telling me about attending a service in a Baptist church on Easter where the visiting preacher was talking about Peter and John at the tomb, and how Peter got a bigger blessing because he went inside ("Let's go all the way for God!") and John stayed outside and missed it- apparently because he was distracted by 'the bawling woman'. (that would be Mary Magdalene for those of you in Rio Linda). Apparently lots of men are distracted from serving God by emotional women. "Can I get an 'Amen'!" Har-dee-har-har-har. http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-confused002.gif[/img ] The facts of the passage were completely ignored in order to support the outline. I think it was even said that "it ain't in the passage but it's in my outline!". Uh-huh.

Is it bad form to throw hymnbooks at the speaker? 'Cause I'd've been seriously tempted. But then I'm a woman and that would have proven his point! http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-sick014.gif[/img ]

Quote:
Pastoral authority extends no further than the right to proclaim and implement the teachings of Scripture. Pastors must recognize the God-ordained authority of the congregation, and congregations must hold pastors accountable. Churches must seek pastors who focus upon the exposition of Scripture, who are gentle in their dealings with people, who are open and transparent, and who welcome criticism and accountability. Most of all, churches must reject numerical and financial growth as a measure of success and realize that the very first qualification of any minister is that he must give evidence of knowing and loving God.

Nice formula. Would that more churches embraced it.

Greg Long's picture

Roland, forgive me if I've misunderstood you, but are you saying the only way a pastor can abuse his authority is by physical abuse?

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Susan,

Where do you get those emoticons? The fainting woman near the end of post 49 almost made me spit out my coke when I realized what it was.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

RPittman's picture

Greg Long wrote:
Roland, forgive me if I've misunderstood you, but are you saying the only way a pastor can abuse his authority is by physical abuse?
Yup, you did because I didn't. Just read the words . . . don't extrapolate.

We're really talking semantics. When a pastor exceeds his authority proscribed by God, he abuses it. However, abusing one's authority is not the same as abusing a person. There's an obvious difference. Every time a leader oversteps his authority, it is an abuse of his authority but it is not necessarily abuse of a person. For example, if the pastor orders a new organ without approval, it may be an abuse of his authority but we hardly find it personally abusive to individuals. Furthermore, if someones claims personal pastoral abuse of authority, then he or she contributed to the situation by remaining and submitting. We have freedom of association and can leave at any time.

RPittman's picture

dan wrote:
I think the counsel you received from the university president is the kind of thing that helps perpetuate the environment that leads to situations like the ABWE.

Protecting the leader always seems to be the goal.

John 3:19-21

I don't think that we really know enough to make these conclusions. After all, we've only heard one side of the story. It is presumptive to form conclusions with knowing something more of the situation and the other side. Perhaps, the university president knew more than us and had good reason to advise as he did. I don't know that he was covering for some pastor. Do you?

Doesn't the very act of going to an university president for advice seem indicative? It appears to be a search for the authoritative, which may explain why one was in an authoritarian environment.

RPittman's picture

Just read a couple of weeks ago Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership by McIntosh and Rima, two Biola professors. Although I don't accept their use of Humanistic Psychology (and this is the specific theory, not just a rant because they followed Maslow, the father of Humanistic Psychology), the book brings out some pertinent points about failures in leadership. Every leader has his dark side, which harbors the very traits of successful leadership in extremity. Some leaders are better at controlling their dark side. However, the leader's dark side is provoked by his followers. The constant emphasis on growth, expectations of new things, lack of accountability, adoration and adulation, etc. tend to bring out the dark side.

Mike Durning's picture

RPittman wrote:
Just read a couple of weeks ago Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership by McIntosh and Rima, two Biola professors. Although I don't accept their use of Humanistic Psychology (and this is the specific theory, not just a rant because they followed Maslow, the father of Humanistic Psychology), the book brings out some pertinent points about failures in leadership. Every leader has his dark side, which harbors the very traits of successful leadership in extremity. Some leaders are better at controlling their dark side. However, the leader's dark side is provoked by his followers. The constant emphasis on growth, expectations of new things, lack of accountability, adoration and adulation, etc. tend to bring out the dark side.

I'm emailing this to my board. They need to understand this.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

This is was many posts ago now, but earlier I observed that I didn't think IFB had more cases of sex abuse than the general population or that authoritarian leadership, etc., is unique to it.
Just to be clear, what I'm not saying: I'm not saying IFB doesn't have a serious problem it needs to deal with. The general population is not our standard, nor are "other highly independent groups," as I think I put it.

So I'm attempting again to reject some of the hysteria (which says IFB is special in having this problem) but, at the same time, not deny that there is a problem.
It's also really hard to measure the problem in a loose knit group of independent congregations. Nobody's really polled all these churches or even examined a well chosen sample to project stats from. Add to the mix that there is much more awareness and openness on the whole issue today--that in particular makes it hard to measure how "new" this problem is.
I think Kevin's reasoning that the number of reported cases in recent years cannot be coincidence is clearly right. But that's far from having solid numbers.

And if we suppose that there is a huge surge in cases over the last several decades and/or that they are more numerous in IFB than other places, why would that be the case? The 20/20 broadcast suggested a factor is that we believe in hierarchical family structure and some use of bodily discipline of children. This is almost funny to me now, because 200 years ago everybody in the western world believed that--going all the way back to the middle ages and beyond. (Vargas and co. acted like this was some novel new--and heinous--concept. lol)

I'm just randomly musing, I guess.
In all this analysis we need to not lose sight of the obvious: each church & ministry should do everything it can to prevent this sin and properly handle it when it happens. That part's really not controversial and probably is 90+% of the solution.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

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