4 seminary leaders voice concern over film critical of 'social justice'

"'By What Standard,' [is] being produced by the Founders Ministries, an organization founded in 1983 with a Calvinistic view of Baptist life and led by Florida pastor Tom Ascol." - BPNews

(By What Standard trailer)

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E. M. Gerber's picture

As a Southern Baptist, it's honestly a little discouraging to see these responses.

Granted, our demeanor when addressing false ideologies IS important. Very important. However, the claim that tone is just as important as truth (the position Mohler and Greenway seem to be taking) isn't manifestly correct. In fact, Scripture and reason both seem to indicate the contrary--truth presented with the wrong demeanor is still true (discourteous and unconvincing though it may be). Attempting to address falsehood with love devoid of truth, however, is in reality neither true nor loving. 

More importantly though, it is not at all evident that Tom's movie trailer really is uncharitable or that it misrepresented those recorded. Having watched all of the source material, it doesn't seem that any of it was deceptively edited for the trailer. No, it doesn't give a full picture of what the men presented believe--how could it? It's a four minute trailer designed to generate interest in the cinedoc--did anyone expect it to contain a detailed position statement from each of the men depicted? That would certainly defeat the purpose of a trailer. Unfortunately, it makes me wonder if the reaction was really to "misrepresentation" of SBC personalities or if it was rather to their representation at all. Something tells me they would have been fine with a movie condemning CRT and intersectionality in broad, general terms; but heaven forbid we ever mention any specific instances in the church.

Considering the way Allen publicly denounced the film on twitter, it's also a bit ironic that a primary charge is incivility. Consider:

"This trailer is either a click-bait promo piece or it foreshadows a movie that's uncharitable & unhelpful. @FoundersMin has often played a constructive role in SBC life, but I'm afraid this video isn't such an occasion."

Ouch. If that trailer is inconsiderate this tweet is certainly more so. Apparently, the Southern Baptist's 11th commandment has morphed: "Thou shalt not criticize another southern baptist; unless he's more conservative than you." 

In reality, I'm not convinced that either Ascol's or Allen's "tone" was out of line; a little more vigorous discussion certainly couldn't hurt us. I do think we need to be more careful to back up our statements empirically and/or rationally, however.

-Evan

Jay's picture

That the original trailer was much, much different from the one that has been edited, replaced it, and is currently available, correct?

Considering the way Allen publicly denounced the film on twitter, it's also a bit ironic that a primary charge is incivility. Consider:

"This trailer is either a click-bait promo piece or it foreshadows a movie that's uncharitable & unhelpful. @FoundersMin has often played a constructive role in SBC life, but I'm afraid this video isn't such an occasion."

You can get a flavor of it here.  Some additional thoughts of mine are here.

"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

TylerR's picture

Editor

Saw original. Think this is overblown. Ascol's letter was good. CRT is a serious problem. Grateful for what Founders does. SBC officials are playing PR game with their responses.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

G. N. Barkman's picture

I've known Tom Ascol for a good many years.  In my experience, he has always been gracious, loving, and kind in his presentations of truth.  I'm disappointed in the reactions reported above to his film project.  I pray that further reflection will tone down the criticisms.  

G. N. Barkman

E. M. Gerber's picture

I saw the originally trailer right after it came out. Admittedly, I was not watching as critically, since Mohler, Allen, et al. hadn't posted their responses yet (or at least I hadn't seen them).

From what I remember though, very little changed--I don't recall any changes in the words spoken or the quotes used. In fact, the only difference I remember for certain was that there was some blurry footage of Rachael Denhollander (I think) that was removed for the current trailer.

-Evan

Jay's picture

Hey Evan, 

Yes, it was very different.  Here's a couple of them:

  • Obviously, the footage of Rachael Denhollander was in there and has since been stricken. She actually shows up a few times, not just once.  By the way, Jacob (her husband) and Rachael both affirm and attend a 1689 LBC confessing Reformed Baptist church. Jacob also said that they had personally supported Founders Ministry before this.
  • Jacob has said that they were not contacted by Founders at all prior to the release of the trailer. 
  • A significant portion of the video has been cut and what remains is restructured very differently.  Denhollander isn't the only person who vanishes entirely from their footage.
  • Several people in the documentary trailer have said that they were not warned that they were being filmed by Founders or that they would be included in this documentary.
  • There was also a blurred out image of the book "Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused" (which can be downloaded for free from the link) as a bad thing. 
  • Bernie Sanders and Nadia Bolz-Weber both made appearances, in addition to scary mobs.  Nobody seems to know why they were included since neither are Christians or SBC members. Bolz-Weber, by the way, is Lutheran, not Baptist.
  • There is an opening clip in the trailer of Matt Chandler saying that we should appeal to external authorities on different subject matters.  In context, he's talking about going to the police for handling sex abuse and offenses, not appealing to liberal theology, as it appeared in the trailer.
  • An admonition at the 2019 SBC Assembly on being 'swift to hear and slow to speak' is represented as 'people need to shut up and listen to the liberals'.  Whoever is speaking is actually citing James 1:19-20.

Like I said, it was so much worse than it appears to be now.  I have a copy of the original, as do several other people.  Here's a list of just the stuff that I noticed that was compiled on Twitter.

Doctrine and Devotion did a followup podcast this morning that was really, really good.  I'd recommend that to you as well.

"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

Jay's picture

I should note that Tom Ascol released a follow up statement several days later.  I'm glad they acknowledged they 'made mistakes' (which is my term, not theirs). I don't think that it's a true apology - for that, you have to say we were wrong & state what they did that was wrong.  There's also way too many things for it to have all been inadvertent - but it's something.  You can read that statement here. The Doctrine and Devotion podcast had a follow up to Ascol's statement as well; I pretty much land where they did.

I felt like it was important to link to that for more context.

"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

Larry's picture

Moderator

There is an opening clip in the trailer of Matt Chandler saying that we should appeal to external authorities on different subject matters.  In context, he's talking about going to the police for handling sex abuse and offenses, not appealing to liberal theology, as it appeared in the trailer.

Chandler's comments are very clearly identified as being on sexual abuse. 

I didn't see the original video, but there is an  interesting video of Rachel Denhollander making comments about what the Village Church and Chandler should have done juxtaposed with Chandler explaining that Denhollander's comments were wrong, misinformed, and/or against what the detective told them to do. In other words, the detective told TVC not to do what Denhollander said they should have done. Who are we to believe and who are we to follow? It seems that Chandler is right if he is telling the truth (and it makes sense that he is). 

It does seem, in the broader picture with the SBC, that this is a return to the battles of the previous generation about the authority of Scripture. The comment (and issues surrounding) 1 Tim 2:12 are instructive. If someone can make "I do not permit" say "I do permit," then anything is possible. In such a case, does Scripture have any authority at all?

At least when Josh Harris changed, he acknowledged that he could not change his views while still claiming to be a Christian. Many are not doing that. They want to change Christianity and biblical teaching to conform to their new ways of thinking. 

Joel Shaffer's picture

It looks like Founders Ministry is self-imploding over this video as 3 (half) of their board members have now resigned. https://founders.org/2019/08/01/resignations-from-founders-ministries-bo...   As someone that has been an executive director of a non-profit organization for fifteen years, if half of my board believed that, in a video which we released, we had unintentionally sinned, you better believe I would be pulling the video and making things right with those we offended as well as listening and following the wise counsel from those on the board, who in good conscience, could not continue serving. 

I have a question for those who have commented on this thread and seem so quick to support Founders and this documentary they are putting out, are you really ok with the bullet points that Jay lists concerning the video trailer?  What is your standard when it comes to Yellow Journalism and Slander? 

"Jacob has said that they were not contacted by Founders at all prior to the release of the trailer. 

Several people in the documentary trailer have said that they were not warned that they were being filmed by Founders or that they would be included in this documentary.

There was also a blurred out image of the book "Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused" (which can be downloaded for free from the link) as a bad thing. 

Bernie Sanders and Nadia Bolz-Weber both made appearances, in addition to scary mobs.  Nobody seems to know why they were included since neither are Christians or SBC members. Bolz-Weber, by the way, is Lutheran, not Baptist.

There is an opening clip in the trailer of Matt Chandler saying that we should appeal to external authorities on different subject matters.  In context, he's talking about going to the police for handling sex abuse and offenses, not appealing to liberal theology, as it appeared in the trailer.

An admonition at the 2019 SBC Assembly on being 'swift to hear and slow to speak' is represented as 'people need to shut up and listen to the liberals'.  Whoever is speaking is actually citing James 1:19-20."

Jay's picture

If you haven't seen the original video and what the uproar is about, how can you possibly defend it?

Asking for a friend.

"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

Larry's picture

Moderator

If you haven't seen the original video and what the uproar is about, how can you possibly defend it?

Since I am the one who said I hadn't seen it, I presume this is directed at me, but it makes no sense since I didn't defend it. Where did you get the idea that I was defending it? I have no interest in the video at all, much less defending it. I actually referenced another video (not this one).

And why are you asking for a friend? Why not just ask?

But I wonder why you say what you do about Chandler's comments. In the video, they are clearly identified as being about sexual abuse. Is the original video different? 

TylerR's picture

Editor

Saw original. Not worried.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

G. N. Barkman's picture

Since I previously stated my positive impressions of Tom Ascol, I may be one who is being challenged regarding the movie trailer issue.  However, I have no regular interaction with Tom, nor with Founders.  I had no knowledge of the film project, and no clear understanding of the issues causing the backlash, and now the resignation of board members.  I have no personal knowledge of two of the resigning members.   I do know Tom Malone, and consider him a faithful and gracious brother in Christ.  His book on the baptism of disciples alone is a masterpiece.  I also know Tom Nettles, a continuing board member, and hold him in high regard.  His book on the history of the SBC is outstanding.  Both of these men are excellent preachers.

From my perspective, it's going to take some time to sort all of this out and let the fall-out settle before I will be able to form an opinion.  I would expect, based upon past experience, that those who do not approve of Founders will be critical of Tom Ascol and un-supportive of the actions of Founders.  Likewise, those who are strong defenders of the SBC, and who do not want to admit the possibility of any erosion in its doctrinal fidelity will likely side with the critics of Founders.  But let's not be too hasty.  It appears to me that doctrinal erosion is  taking place regarding the role of women and homosexual orientation.  Objections to the Founders film may be warranted, but could just as well be attempts to silence an unwelcome voice the is correctly identifying problems within the SBC.  Time will tell.

In support of my impression of Tom Ascol, anyone who would print the entire statements of resigning board members on his website and highly commend these men, deserves our respect.

G. N. Barkman

E. M. Gerber's picture

Thanks for the response, Jay--I apologize, I must have missed the notification. 

Part of me really wishes the original version was still available for comparison. I fully understand why it is not, but it makes this conversation more difficult. As I said previously, I saw the trailer immediately after it was released. I am certain that it was approximately four minutes long (the same length as the current trailer), and I recall no differences in the audio track. That said, I do recall some of the visual changes you mention. A few thoughts:

  • Regarding the points you made on twitter, by far the most discouraging to me is that it seems Founders filmed people without permission and/or failed to notify them of their inclusion in the documentary. Assuming that people are being honest about this (I have no reason to believe otherwise), this is troubling. Totally with you on that account.
  • Regarding Rachael and Jacob, I couldn't care less where they go to church or who they support--I don't have a take on them, nor do I intend to ever have a take on them. I do think it's highly unlikely that Rachael's appearance in the original trailer was truly an oversight. Whether or not you think it was reasonable to include her in the trailer, she definitely should have been informed first. 
  • Not having read the book you mentioned, I can't comment on its contents or inclusion in the trailer.
  • Obviously, Matt Chandler's comments are in the context of a discussion about sexual abuse--I have previously seen the full, uncut interview (most of it is available here). What is not so clear is exactly what is meant by "outside counsel." Does he mean we should report allegations of abuse to appropriate authorities? Or does he mean that we need to seek out "experts" in feminist theory and critical gender studies to inform our view of sexual abuse and how to best serve victims? 
  • The issue with the SBC19 panel discussion was not that it was trying to push a "liberal" agenda; rather, it was that the discussion itself was predicated on the notion of wisdom by shared experience/group identity. (At least that was the understanding of many.)
  • The inclusion of cultural/political/religious icons such as Sanders and Bolz-Weber is quite relevant, actually. It takes relatively little research to understand the relationship between CRT (a primary topic of the documentary), the contemporary left, and progressive christianity. While the documentary does focus on the SBC, it would be an Everest of naivete to pretend that what happens in the SBC can in any way be isolated from broader cultural movements.

Honestly, as I look back over this list, it strikes me that there is so much potential for infighting and bickering about who said what, why they said it, what they meant, whether they're being accurately represented, etc., etc. I desperately hope this doesn't serve to discredit Founders' original purpose in releasing the movie.

To become wrapped up in these particulars at the expense of ever addressing the issues the documentary hoped to address--CRT, intersectionality, post-modern deconstructionism, etc.--would be a grave mistake indeed. These theories/philosophical frameworks are enjoying tremendous influence in secular culture, politics, art, and economics. To assume that the Church is impervious to the influence of exterior philosophical movements is foolhardy. Indeed, many of the philosophical concepts developed by the likes of Derrida, Foucault, Crenshaw, etc. are already making headway in some Christian circles. Most believers simply aren't equipped to respond to these narratives, or in many cases to even recognize them. We desperately need better resources for believers confronted with these ideologies, that will help them recognize these narratives, understand why they are problematic, and to help them develop a well-reasoned, scripturally informed response. 

Scripture absolutely has cultural and political implications. If we fail to actively shape our political/cultural philosophy in light of our theology, our philosophy will eventually shape our theology.

Whatever you think of the trailer, there are issues that need to be addressed.

-Evan

Jay's picture

Does he mean we should report allegations of abuse to appropriate authorities?

That's what he means.

Or does he mean that we need to seek out "experts" in feminist theory and critical gender studies to inform our view of sexual abuse and how to best serve victims? 

This was not at all what he was talking about or meant.  But it IS what was implied in the original Founders Trailer.  Which is exactly why I'm so angry about this and keep talking about it.

For the record, CrossPolitic media put out something a little while ago about the trailer, and why RD was targeted in the trailer came up.  It's fascinating for all the wrong reasons...make sure you read the entire Twitter thread and comments.

"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

Jay's picture

The original trailer is still available here.  Keep your eyes open for the blurred pictures of Rachael Denhollander.

The line I used about "asking for a friend" is used lightly on Twitter.  It's a joking way of saying "I'm the one asking."  No offense intended.

Someone mentioned the Denhollander / Chandler mashup video.  Jacob (Rachael's husband) responded to that in this thread on Twitter.

Also, James White addressed this on his show this week.  He's backing off of the trailer as well (start around 1:09).  His original defense of the Founders Ministry trailer is here.

Finally, it's worth noting that Doug Wilson confirmed every suspicion about why Rachael was included in his recent blog post; it turns out that the three men at the firm (CrossPolitic) that edited the Founders trailer are all members, staff, or elders at Wilson's church. Wilson is by far the most vocal defendant of the original Founders' trailer.

I should also note that Wilson's animosity towards Boz T. and GRACE goes at least as far back as his mishandling of the Natalie Greenfield case in 2015.  

"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

dmyers's picture

Jay, Doug Wilson confirmed nothing of the sort.  Your glib insistence that he did undercuts the credibility of anything else you say on this subject.  You can't be trusted to be accurate, let alone fair.  You obviously despise Wilson, disbelieve everything he says, and are therefore happy to twist what he says to fit your narrative.  For those who won't follow your link to his actual blog post (which is confusingly buried after a link to -- apparently your? -- caustic and incoherent twitter thread), here are the two questions he raises about Denhollander, one indirect and one direct:

  1. She "urg[es] people to utilize the resources of GRACE, headed up by Boz, who is now part of the legal team suing [Matt Chandler's] Village Church."  Given 1 Cor. 6, Wilson raises a legitimate issue about Boz's conduct.  Christians are commanded not to sue other Christians, but to resolve disputes within the church.  We're supposed to be ashamed to bring a dispute with another Christian before a secular court.  If for some reason you can't resolve the dispute within the church, rather than embarrass Christ and the church to the world, we're supposed to suffer the wrong and allow ourselves to be defrauded.  Fortunately, we have formal avenues within the church (broadly defined) to resolve disputes even where the two parties are members of different independent churches or different denominations.  For one thing, the parties can always agree on a mutually acceptable forum -- the boards or courts of one or the other's denomination, mutually selected elders from one or both local churches, neutral Christians from other churches, etc.  For another thing, there is at least one national, respected Christian dispute resolution organization that is eager to help resolve disputes between Christians rather than see them take it publicly to a secular court -- Peacemakers.  I've had their training and it's solidly biblical.  Depending on what the parties want, Peacemakers will appoint 1-3 trained Christians to first mediate (seeking a voluntary settlement between the parties) and then, if mediation is not successful, arbitrate (rendering a binding decision).  As an attorney myself, I have represented numerous Christians, Christian organizations, and churches in lawsuits.  In EVERY case, my clients at my urging offered to submit the dispute to Peacemakers in compliance with 1 Cor. 6.  In all but one case, that invitation/request was declined by the professing Christian on the other side.  In my view, a Christian attorney who sues a professing Christian or Christian organization in the secular courts on behalf of a professing Christian is either directly violating 1 Cor. 6 or aiding and abetting his client's violation.  Or do you bow to the social justice zeitgeist and take the position that 1 Cor. 6 doesn't apply to civil suits regarding alleged sexual abuse?  Is the Bible out-dated or out-moded on this particular issue as far as you're concerned?
  2. More directly, as Wilson notes, Denhollander has published some very concerning advice about how churches should handle sexual abuse allegations.  Denhollander, and I assume you since you are so vociferously defending her, has bowed to the zeitgeist and insists that churches always believe the victim, no ifs ands or buts.  "[T]here are two powerful things you can do as a ministry leader. First you can believe the victim. ‘Innocence until proven guilty’ is the appropriate legal standard, but you are a ministry leader, not a judge or investigator.'"  Wilson argues instead, rightly, that this is a wrong standard, sourced more in today's social justice warrior culture than in the Bible, with all kinds of negative consequences.  Whether or not you're a judge or investigator, a Christian pursues truth -- taking the claim and the alleged victim seriously, but believing the evidence rather than relying on culture-based presumptions in favor of anyone.

But you want to excoriate and misrepresent Wilson, without even addressing his arguments.  I don't think he's the one we have to worry about in this discussion.  

GregH's picture

I think Wilson is a disgrace and embarrassment to Christianity and not just because of this issue. 

Truthfully, it would be nice if Christians did not have to sue churches. Unfortunately,  churches often refuse to accept responsibility for their actions (sometimes for legal reasons) and they often consider themselves above the law. To me, a church in that category is deserving of getting sued and I have no problem with that happening. Wilson obviously is not interested in government oversight over his kingdom (church) but from what I have heard, he could probably use some.

Second, you are misrepresenting Denhollander in what she says about believing every accusation. There is some nuance there that should be obvious to you. The idea is that when it is a he said/she said situation with no other compelling evidence, the victim's story should be considered the correct one because that is the safest route to go. In other words, you don't send a woman claiming abuse back to her husband just because he denies the accusation. That is stupid, but churches do that stupidity all the time.

dmyers's picture

The incoherence continues.  Wilson's actual arguments don't need to be addressed on the merits because he's a disgrace and embarrassment to Christianity for a bunch of (unmentioned and unestablished) reasons.  I suppose those unmentioned reasons are also "from what [you] have heard" from unidentified, unexamined sources?  That certainly settles it for me.  Makes it easier for you too.

Of course, scripture is always overruled by what we think someone "deserves."  I guess as long as it's ok with GregH, the rest of us can just excise the first half of 1 Cor. 6 from our Bibles.

Your qualification of Denhollander's advice is interesting, but there are at least three problems with it.  First, the qualification is yours, not hers.  There is nothing in what she actually wrote that even hints at the gloss you supply.  

Second, if what you added to what she said is what she meant to say, she is and you are still wrong.  You don't believe one equally-supported story over another equally-supported story because it's "the safest route to go," not least because it is NOT the safest route to go.  If it turns out that the accused actually didn't do anything wrong, you've just harmed him (or her).  You've given a church stamp of approval to a liar, and you've tagged an innocent person as a sexual abuser -- something that he can't live down, no matter his actual innocence.  C'mon, man, use your head.  If you had a young adult son who was falsely accused of sexual abuse by a woman -- a date, a girlfriend, a wife, a student -- and an authority figure investigated and concluded that both he and the woman were equally believable, would you really insist that your son be disbelieved and punished as if he had committed the offense, just because he's a he and she's a she?  If so, God help your sons, and God help the men who attend your church.  As to the latter, God help them find another church.  Or perhaps, in a divine irony, when one of those innocent men sues you and your church for defamation because you have a standing policy of believing the alleged victim and disbelieving the accused, evidence be hanged, he has your advance permission to sue your church, because your church doesn't believe in 1 Cor. 6 and "is deserving of getting sued."

Third, I don't know how you moved from Denhollander's statement to wife-beating, but as I understand it she's talking about allegations of sexual abuse against a church leader or member, not domestic abuse.  And no one ever said anything about "sending" a wife back to her husband based solely on his denial.  

dmyers's picture

Mohler and Ascol are a lot less worked up about the infamous trailer than is the Twitter mob.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/08/05/trailer-new-documentary-revives-sou...

From the article:

Ascol shared personal information on this note: “My grandfather was a Muslim immigrant from Syria who was murdered by a white man in Arkansas as my 10-year-old dad sat beside him in a horse-drawn wagon.” The Ascol family is not many generations removed from the kind of racism the SBC is attempting to combat. Ascol simply questions whether opening the SBC to identity politics and intersectional theory will truly further the gospel’s work of forgiveness of sins.

Despite Pastor Ascol’s efforts and background, a social media mob was able to erase half of the board of directors of his respected SBC ministry arm. One of the lost board members has been Ascol’s friend for 40 years. What other effects on the SBC, and American Christianity, might such social media mobs have in the long-term?

TylerR's picture

Editor

The whole thing is silly. Looking forward to the film. Getting ready for Sunday. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Larry's picture

Moderator

1.  Why doesn't someone interact with Wilson's arguments instead of his personality and style? What part of the following is incorrect or unbiblical? (Or enlarge the question to the whole article).

In a Christian system, justification and condemnation follow the trial and are assigned on the basis of evidence. In identity politics, justification is granted to certain classes of people. This is why they know who the victims before any evidence has been presented in open court. They already know. And this is what befuddles Christians who think like Christians. Sure, we say. We ought to rally behind the victims, but don’t we have to find out who the real victim is?

No. In a Christian system, the trial tells you who the actual victim is. In an unbelieving system, the principalities and powers tell you who the victim is. A woman accuses a man of rape. If the accusation is true, then she is the victim. If the accusation is false, then he is. Christian await the outcome of the trial. 

2.  What should happen when Rachel Denhollander gives advice that is apparently contrary to the police detectives? Who should be followed? 

GregH's picture

dmyers wrote:

The incoherence continues.  Wilson's actual arguments don't need to be addressed on the merits because he's a disgrace and embarrassment to Christianity for a bunch of (unmentioned and unestablished) reasons.  I suppose those unmentioned reasons are also "from what [you] have heard" from unidentified, unexamined sources?  That certainly settles it for me.  Makes it easier for you too.

Of course, scripture is always overruled by what we think someone "deserves."  I guess as long as it's ok with GregH, the rest of us can just excise the first half of 1 Cor. 6 from our Bibles.

Your qualification of Denhollander's advice is interesting, but there are at least three problems with it.  First, the qualification is yours, not hers.  There is nothing in what she actually wrote that even hints at the gloss you supply.  

Second, if what you added to what she said is what she meant to say, she is and you are still wrong.  You don't believe one equally-supported story over another equally-supported story because it's "the safest route to go," not least because it is NOT the safest route to go.  If it turns out that the accused actually didn't do anything wrong, you've just harmed him (or her).  You've given a church stamp of approval to a liar, and you've tagged an innocent person as a sexual abuser -- something that he can't live down, no matter his actual innocence.  C'mon, man, use your head.  If you had a young adult son who was falsely accused of sexual abuse by a woman -- a date, a girlfriend, a wife, a student -- and an authority figure investigated and concluded that both he and the woman were equally believable, would you really insist that your son be disbelieved and punished as if he had committed the offense, just because he's a he and she's a she?  If so, God help your sons, and God help the men who attend your church.  As to the latter, God help them find another church.  Or perhaps, in a divine irony, when one of those innocent men sues you and your church for defamation because you have a standing policy of believing the alleged victim and disbelieving the accused, evidence be hanged, he has your advance permission to sue your church, because your church doesn't believe in 1 Cor. 6 and "is deserving of getting sued."

Third, I don't know how you moved from Denhollander's statement to wife-beating, but as I understand it she's talking about allegations of sexual abuse against a church leader or member, not domestic abuse.  And no one ever said anything about "sending" a wife back to her husband based solely on his denial.  

Got it... I have learned from experience when people are as emotional about this topic as you are, there is probably some personal history involved (not you but perhaps someone you know has been falsely accused). I am going to let it go. I have my own history on this so I see it from the side of protecting victims and I have seen too many churches mess this up not to be wary. You see it another way which is fine but I am not going to argue it.

Jay's picture

That Federalist article is a fiasco as well.  I dealt with that here.

She "urg[es] people to utilize the resources of GRACE, headed up by Boz, who is now part of the legal team suing [Matt Chandler's] Village Church."  Given 1 Cor. 6, Wilson raises a legitimate issue about Boz's conduct.  Christians are commanded not to sue other Christians, but to resolve disputes within the church.  We're supposed to be ashamed to bring a dispute with another Christian before a secular court. 

I'm still not sure what the objection is to GRACE.  As for 1 Cor. 6, I would bring Matthew 5:25-26 into play, and ask this - if TVC refused to follow that Biblical injunction and insisted on stonewalling (which appears to be the case) and not disclosing the actual facts of the abuse that occured on their watch, then they should be further investigated to see if/what else was not dealt with and that they brought this on themselves by refusing to work it out with another believer in the first place.

More directly, as Wilson notes, Denhollander has published some very concerning advice about how churches should handle sexual abuse allegations.  Denhollander, and I assume you since you are so vociferously defending her, has bowed to the zeitgeist and insists that churches always believe the victim, no ifs ands or buts. 

What exactly is the objection to her advice?  Rachael is an attorney who is extremely well versed in this stuff. She's also a Reformed Baptist that agrees with the 1689 LBC.  I'd take her advice over just about any other pastor's, particularly if the pastor hasn't dealt with this before.

Wilson's argument is that she is using an external standard to handle matters in the church.  Isn't crime within the purview of the state, cf Rom. 13?  Are pastors qualified to investigate and adjudicate crimes?  And isn't it just a little concerning to you that Wilson has married off one of this sheep to a self-described pedophile who is attracted to his own child?

I've been on record for a long time on this site that these matters are matters for the police and the courts.  That is the realm that they belong in.  Pastoral work is spiritual, and comes in conjunction with or afterwards.

"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

E. M. Gerber's picture

Why the harsh words for Wilson? (Honest question, not trying to pick a fight) I take it from your comment that you disagree with his eschatology, but that's hardly any reason to call him "a disgrace and embarrassment to Christianity."

-Evan

Mark_Smith's picture

GregH wrote:

The idea is that when it is a he said/she said situation with no other compelling evidence, the victim's story should be considered the correct one because that is the safest route to go. In other words, you don't send a woman claiming abuse back to her husband just because he denies the accusation. That is stupid, but churches do that stupidity all the time.

Greg, who has the authority to "send a wife back to her husband"? What pastor wants that power? Are we slaves under a pastor's rulership?

Joel Shaffer's picture

 

Why the harsh words for Wilson? (Honest question, not trying to pick a fight) I take it from your comment that you disagree with his eschatology, but that's hardly any reason to call him "a disgrace and embarrassment to Christianity."
 

From my view, his polemic style often strays into a string of logical fallacies, which leads to the sin of slander.  

Mark_Smith's picture

Jay wrote:

I've been on record for a long time on this site that these matters are matters for the police and the courts.  That is the realm that they belong in.  Pastoral work is spiritual, and comes in conjunction with or afterwards.

Jay, I admit I know next nothing about the TVC case except that an employee is accused of having raped a girl. Do you know, is the rapist being prosecuted by the DA?

What gets me is, repeatedly, churches or Christian organizations are being sued but the rapist, the actual criminal, is not being prosecuted. Why is this? How do we justify this?

Also, why is GRACE suing TVC?

EDIT: I found an article that mentions that the accused rapist has been charged and is in custody. What I don't get is, if the guy is being prosecuted, why sue the church? Is the church "required" to answer all the questions and needs of the victim? Is it a good idea? Yes, Is it Christian? Yes. Is it a legal requirement to the tune of $1 million dollars for not doing so in the eyes of the family? Uhhhhh..... No.

GregH's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

 

GregH wrote:

 

The idea is that when it is a he said/she said situation with no other compelling evidence, the victim's story should be considered the correct one because that is the safest route to go. In other words, you don't send a woman claiming abuse back to her husband just because he denies the accusation. That is stupid, but churches do that stupidity all the time.

 

 

Greg, who has the authority to "send a wife back to her husband"? What pastor wants that power? Are we slaves under a pastor's rulership?

Mark, I wrote a long series on an abuse situation on my blog and my email filled up with women telling me the same tired story and this was a common refrain. I asked them the same question: why do you listen to an idiotic pastor that tells you that? I still don't know the answer. But they listen and go back. Over and over.

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