Why Southern Baptists’ Social Justice Spat Is Actually About the Sufficiency of Scripture

"The Founders documentary trailer uncovers a larger disagreement over how to approach secular theories around race and gender." - Christianity Today

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G. N. Barkman's picture

Does anyone on SI disagree with Ascol's statements regarding the necessity to personally experience certain cultural identities before being qualified to declare the Bible's teaching on race or gender roles?  

G. N. Barkman

Jay's picture

No, nobody disagrees with that.

That has never been been the problem with the Founders trailer.  Anyone that tells you otherwise doesn't know what they are talking about or is deceived / lying.  Period.

"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

It's not that simple, but yes, that's part of it. 

The meta-issue is the juxtaposition of handling of sexual abuse/rape with the rise and use of critical race theory and intersectionality within the SBC.  Everyone I've seen or spoken with opposes CRT/I in varying degrees, as I do.  All of us are horrified at what this trailer did.

Matt Chandler was also misrepresented when his discussion about 'outside authorities' was used to indicate powers outside of the church; those powers and principalities were identified with Denhollander.  Akin and Mohler both asked that the footage they granted for the cine-doc be completely removed from the project, so there's something going on there.  Dwight McKissic has repeatedly asked that they remove him and his comments, but Founders has so far refused to do so or even respond to him (the last I knew).  It's a real mess.

CrossPolitic has made it very clear that they consider Denhollander a part of Satanic "principalities and powers", and James White confirmed that when he spoke with Chocolate Knox (David Shannon, one of the trailer editors) on the phone last Monday.  You can listen to that conversation starting at the 1:10:54 mark of his podcast (actual discussion is somewhere around 1:14). 

The bottom line is that the people at CrossPolitic decided to explictly link sexual abuse reporting and other accompanying issues to the threat of CRT/Intersectionality within the SBC.  They've been exceedingly clear that was what they intended to do.  Doug Wilson has also come out and defended it as well, linking RD to Demonic "powers and principalities".  All of this is coming out of Moscow, ID, and they have been very clear about it.

That's why this is a big deal.  It's also very disturbing that so much of the media coverage whether in the Federalist article or this article from Christianity Today really doesn't talk about that.  Instead, they represent it as something that it's not (like the sufficiency of Scripture).

"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

Mark_Smith's picture

The point of the movie, i suspect, is that SBC is drifting in the direction of using "authorities" other than Scripture to rule over the church. For example, using Critical Race Theory as an analytical tool. More challenging, using outside "abuse counsel" in how to handle abuse in the church. Chandler said we need outside experts, Founders disagree. That is why what he said is germane.

 

Bert Perry's picture

Should it be shocking if we say we might want to understand a culture in order to contextualize it for the hearers?  Let's be blunt here; there are numerous places in the New Testament where Jewish practices are explained for the Gentile readers.  We've all, when being taught about the Pauline response to meat sacrificed to idols, had it explained that for anyone who wasn't rich in the Roman era, the main source of meat was the leftovers from idol sacrifices.  No?   Reality is that the doctrine of Biblical authority and sufficiency is not contradictory to the use of historical and other sources to better understand Scripture; it is, rather, two sides of the same coin.   Or have you put white-out on all the translators' notes and commentary in your Bible, and have you ripped out the concordance and maps?   We all use outside authorities, and the question is simply which ones we use.

Regarding the kerfuffle, of course it has something to do with flashing a picture of Rachael Denhollander while noting "principalities and powers" are opposed to us.  Do we need to spell this out in big bold letters so people will understand the dig at her and others who think fundagelicalism needs to get some perspective?

We might also note that taking cheap shots like this--I don't believe it's an "accident" for a moment, as these guys have been pretty clear in their other communications--is generally a confession that one's arguments are not very strong.  I agree with them in this.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joel Shaffer's picture

So here is the Resolution that Founders says is leading towards the Social Gospel.   

ON CRITICAL RACE THEORY AND INTERSECTIONALITY

WHEREAS, Concerns have been raised by some evangelicals over the use of frameworks such as critical race theory and intersectionality; and

WHEREAS, Critical race theory is a set of analytical tools that explain how race has and continues to function in society, and intersectionality is the study of how different personal characteristics overlap and inform one’s experience; and

WHEREAS, Critical race theory and intersectionality have been appropriated by individuals with worldviews that are contrary to the Christian faith, resulting in ideologies and methods that contradict Scripture; and

WHEREAS, Evangelical scholars who affirm the authority and sufficiency of Scripture have employed selective insights from critical race theory and intersectionality to understand multifaceted social dynamics; and

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith and Message states, “[A]ll Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried” (Article I); and

WHEREAS, General revelation accounts for truthful insights found in human ideas that do not explicitly emerge from Scripture and reflects what some may term “common grace”; and

WHEREAS, Critical race theory and intersectionality alone are insufficient to diagnose and redress the root causes of the social ills that they identify, which result from sin, yet these analytical tools can aid in evaluating a variety of human experiences; and

WHEREAS, Scripture contains categories and principles by which to deal with racism, poverty, sexism, injustice, and abuse that are not rooted in secular ideologies; and

WHEREAS, Humanity is primarily identified in Scripture as image bearers of God, even as biblical authors address various audiences according to characteristics such as male and female, Jew and Gentile, slave and free; and

WHEREAS, The New Covenant further unites image bearers by creating a new humanity that will one day inhabit the new creation, and that the people of this new humanity, though descended from every nation, tribe, tongue, and people, are all one through the gospel of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:16; Revelation 21:1–4, 9–14); and

WHEREAS, Christian citizenship is not based on our differences but instead on our common salvation in Christ—the source of our truest and ultimate identity; and

WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist Convention is committed to racial reconciliation built upon biblical presuppositions and is committed to seeking biblical justice through biblical means; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, June 11–12, 2019, affirm Scripture as the first, last, and sufficient authority with regard to how the Church seeks to redress social ills, and we reject any conduct, creeds, and religious opinions which contradict Scripture; and be it further

RESOLVED, That critical race theory and intersectionality should only be employed as analytical tools subordinate to Scripture—not as transcendent ideological frameworks; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the gospel of Jesus Christ alone grants the power to change people and society because “he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6); and be it further

RESOLVED, That Southern Baptists will carefully analyze how the information gleaned from these tools are employed to address social dynamics; and be it further

RESOLVED, That Southern Baptist churches and institutions repudiate the misuse of insights gained from critical race theory, intersectionality, and any unbiblical ideologies that can emerge from their use when absolutized as a worldview; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we deny any philosophy or theology that fundamentally defines individuals using categories identified as sinful in Scripture rather than the transcendent reality shared by every image bearer and divinely affirmed distinctions; and be it further

RESOLVED, That while we denounce the misuse of critical race theory and intersectionality, we do not deny that ethnic, gender, and cultural distinctions exist and are a gift from God that will give Him absolute glory when all humanity gathers around His throne in worship because of the redemption accomplished by our resurrected Lord; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That Southern Baptist churches seek to exhibit this eschatological promise in our churches in the present by focusing on unity in Christ amid image bearers and rightly celebrate our differences as determined by God in the new creation.

 

Jay's picture

More challenging, using outside "abuse counsel" in how to handle abuse in the church. Chandler said we need outside experts, Founders disagree. That is why what he said is germane.

It is not germane if Chandler is talking about experts on abuse and Founders made it appear as though he's talking about the use of liberal theology like CRT/I, which is what they did. They did not provide the context for Chandler's discussion - others found the full discussion and noted the disparity.

Founders didn't put the video together.  CrossPolitic did, and they've publicly defended the juxtaposition.  

When you refer to 'outside experts', what are you referring to?  I think there's some cross-talk going 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

Mark_Smith's picture

knew the context who was paying attention!

This isn't about theological liberalism. It is about using authorities other than the church. The video isn't just about CRT/I. It is about the broader movement of the Powers that Be in the SBC drifting towards using the guidelines of socially and culturally liberal groups to control it. A cultural liberal and a theological liberal are two different animals.

Jay's picture

It continues to fascinate me how many Christians are OK with lying and slander because of incipient liberalism.

It is about the broader movement of the Powers that Be in the SBC drifting towards using the guidelines of socially and culturally liberal groups to control it.

So then answer my questions:

  1. Was what Cross Politic did acceptable to Rachael Denhollander, Matt Chandler, and others?
  2. Is your position actually what CrossPolitic / Wilson said - that the use of the police and courts in reporting sex abuse part of demonic "Powers and Principalities"?
  3. How would you handle a report of domestic violence or rape?

"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

What does any of this have to do with CRT, and aren't there better things for Christians to do than follow a social media train-wreck like so many groupies at a Stones concert?

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?

Jay's picture

What does any of this have to do with CRT, and aren't there better things for Christians to do than follow a social media train-wreck like so many groupies at a Stones concert?

The whole fury is about Founders' trailer, which said that CRT/I and the handling of sexual abuse is part of an evil world system / liberalism that is creeping into the SBC.

Doug Wilson seems to be the only person defending this idea in writing (Cross Politic did a podcast), so I'll link to him:

But in an unbelieving law order, when the principalities and powers are allowed to have it their way, guilt and innocence is assigned on the basis of an assumed status. If you are in the approved class, then evidence is not necessary. If you are in the disapproved class, then evidence won’t help you.

This is the heart and soul of identity politics. You already know who the good guys are, and you already know who the bad guys are, and you are in a position to dispense with fussy little things like trials, evidence, and the rule of law.

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. But in our current climate, she is the designated victim, which is why their rallying cry can be something like “believe the woman.”

This is not a trifle. We are standing at a crossroads, and the two roads lead to two completely different kinds of civilization. In one of them, the Lordship of Christ is acknowledged. In the other, the principalities and powers already know who the culprits are. And if I might be so bold, if you are white, heterosexual and male, I would urge you to think twice about going that way. And, lest anybody pounce on that, I would also urge everybody else to follow their example.

Conclusion

So I have no problem with Rachael Denhollander being removed from the trailer, because that commotion really was a distraction. But I hope and pray that she and her misguided approach are going to be in the full documentary. And why?

Because she has been urging people to utilize the resources of GRACE, headed up by Boz, who is now part of the legal team suing Village Church. Who is Boz appealing to? What court is he resorting to? He is appealing to the principalities and powers.

And Rachael contributed to (and endorses) a book Becoming a Church That Cares Well, and in that book we find the sheer authority of the principalities and powers affirmed. You believe the victim because the powers that be have kindly informed us beforehand who the designated and approved victims are.  

Here it is:

“Regardless of whether the victim wants to take steps to pursue safety, there 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” - Cares Well, p. 87

And so in conclusion, Joel McDurmon is not paying close enough attention to the real game. Of course real men apologize when they are wrong. Of course it is not effeminate to seek restoration of a relationship when you have damaged it. But it is unmanly to get woke. It is unmanly to try to give back to the principalities and powers what the Lord Jesus wrested from them in His resurrection.

 

"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

Jay, What part of Wilson's argument is wrong or misleading? That's what I keep trying to understand from you. 

Mark_Smith's picture

Jay wrote:

It continues to fascinate me how many Christians are OK with lying and slander because of incipient liberalism.

It is about the broader movement of the Powers that Be in the SBC drifting towards using the guidelines of socially and culturally liberal groups to control it.

So then answer my questions:

  1. Was what Cross Politic did acceptable to Rachael Denhollander, Matt Chandler, and others?
  2. Is your position actually what CrossPolitic / Wilson said - that the use of the police and courts in reporting sex abuse part of demonic "Powers and Principalities"?
  3. How would you handle a report of domestic violence or rape?

0. I don't appreciate being called a liar and a slanderer. Not right of you at all, sir.

1. CrossPolitic... don't know them from Adam. If you want to know why they did something, ask them. You are deliberately being obtuse, Jay, so that you can complain and criticize. Why did the video bring up Denhollander? Because she is an outside force trying to influence the church. Why Chandler? Because in the linked video he said the church isn't good enough to handle certain situations. The point of the video is that the church is equipped to handle any situation. Agree/Disagree with that conclusion, but at least acknowledge that is their position. That is why the video is called "By What Standard."

2. Honestly, I think they are using the term "powers and principalities" in a metaphorical way to mean something akin to "the establishment". But, hey, what do I know. Now, the FOUNDERS ARE NOT SAYING do not report abuse. Come on....

3. The nanosecond I hear about rape/abuse I report it to the police or to child services, etc. Period.

Mark_Smith's picture

over who controls the convention. There is a new group of leaders running the SBC right now. Some things they are doing right, imho. Other things they are relying on worldly opinions and worldviews. I have written some on various threads here are SI. For example, the official SBC leadership response to sexual abuse is odd, imho. They say that sexual abuse is widespread. That is the word they used. Now to me widespread means something like "common" or "everywhere." The fix, they say, is education. They are playing the "we know you didn't know what abuse was, so here we are telling you." This is patently ridiculous and is 100% self-serving of the leadership. EVERYONE KNOWS what abuse is. A 15 year old cannot be a youth pastor's "girlfriend." A pastor doesn't just "make a mistake" with a counselee. On the flip side, why do too many of our youth think being a girlfriend/boyfriend includes sexual activity? The entire system is broken, and an entire generation of leadership supervised it. IF ABUSE IS THAT WIDESPREAD then heads need to role from pastor, deacon, elder all the way up to president. But they didn't call for that. It is nonsense what they are claiming.

Continuing with sex abuse, several high profile lawsuits involving suing the church for coverups. When you look into them I am not sure that is what happened.

When it comes to CRT, one seminary in particular, though the presidents of the others seem accepting, is promoting the use if CRT to analyze the American church. This is going nowhere good, and it is quite frankly shocking that otherwise solid theological leaders would fall for this.

All of these topics are why the FOUNDERS made the video.

Jay's picture

Part of it is here:

But I hope and pray that she and her misguided approach are going to be in the full documentary. And why?

Because she has been urging people to utilize the resources of GRACE, headed up by Boz, who is now part of the legal team suing Village Church. Who is Boz appealing to? What court is he resorting to? He is appealing to the principalities and powers.

And Rachael contributed to (and endorses) a book Becoming a Church That Cares Well, and in that book we find the sheer authority of the principalities and powers affirmed. You believe the victim because the powers that be have kindly informed us beforehand who the designated and approved victims are.  

There is a place in our churches for ministries like GRACE and MinistrySafe.  To ask them to come in and help is not an appeal to demonic "principalities and powers".  Getting a third set of eyes on a situation by other believers who are trained in the law is not appealing to demonic forces.

Doug should know this since his association, the CREC, advised him to involve a female trauma counselor for one of the women in his own congregation who was sexually assaulted instead of involving himself.

I also object to aligning RD / GRACE with demonic "principalities and powers", as was done in the original Founders trailer.  Cross Politic was kind enough to confirm the linking of that phrase with Eph. 6:12 a few days ago.  That's also wrong.

"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 point of the video is that the church is equipped to handle any situation. Agree/Disagree with that conclusion, but at least acknowledge that is their position. That is why the video is called "By What Standard."

No, it is not. The purpose of the church is to glorify God by making and growing disciples.

The church is not responsible to adjudicate crimes or conduct criminal investigations.  That's the role of civil government (Romans 13).  Is the church  equipped to fight a war in its defense or decide which homes are safe enough for habitation?

"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

They say that sexual abuse is widespread. That is the word they used. Now to me widespread means something like "common" or "everywhere." The fix, they say, is education. They are playing the "we know you didn't know what abuse was, so here we are telling you."

Have you read the "Abuse of Faith" articles in the Houston Chronicle?  

Haven't you read about the lawsuits at Village Church or Sovereign Grace Churches?  

Didn't JD Greear ask for an investigation into ten churches, seven of the largest ones in the SBC, for possible expulsion from the convention on this very issue?  

Wasn't that investigation shut down not even five days later by powerbrokers with the SBC?

Aren't Paige Patterson and SWBTS being sued as we speak for covering up a series of rapes by a former student?

Didn't a woman say last year that the same thing happened to her when she was a student at SEBTS and Paige Patterson was the President there?

Isn't it possible that a significant portion of the reason why so much of the SBC Conventions in 2018 and 2019 dealt with this is because there is indeed a massive problem with abuse and coverups?

"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

Bert Perry's picture

Wilson has actually called Boz an "ambulance chaser" because Boz had the temerity to be right about a child molester, Steven Sitler, for whom Wilson performed his wedding.  So Wilson's got an axe to grind against GRACE, more or less because, as a former child crimes prosecutor, Boz doesn't necessarily wait until he's invited to speak up on an issue.  

Much like the apostle John did not wait until he was invited by church leadership to start rebuking Diotrephes, and much like Jesus did not wait for the Pharisees to invite him to start rebuking them and their theology. I don't agree with Boz on absolutely everything--two exceptions are where Boz seems to endorse "I believe you" (attacks presumption of innocence) and the notion that false reports are "rare" (they're actually 2-10% of reports plus whatever false reports aren't figured out by investigators)--but I'm firmly in his corner on this one. 

I used to have a great deal of respect for and admiration of Wilson, but over the past decade or so, either something has changed about his presentation, or he was always pulling fast ones (e.g. "Black & Tan" and "Slavery as it was"), and I either wasn't paying attention, or I wasn't reading the objectionable work.  The Denhollanders are showing WIlson for who he is now by paying him not too much attention.

Regarding MinistrySafe, I've taken a look at their website, and it seems reasonably good, but there is suspicion of them because SGM and others so quickly moved to them instead of investigating the CLC controversy.  There is also the suspicion--I don't know how well it's grounded in fact--that they are more about protecting churches than about protecting children.  I tend to view that as two sides of the same coin if it's done right, but on the flip side, there is the "no holds barred" kind of defense that happens often, where any pretext to attack the accuser is indulged.  The Nassar/MSU/USAG case is one of these, and many accuse Doug WIlson of the same.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

The issue with MinistrySafe is that the founders also have their own private law practice (Rose Law Firm) that they direct churches towards using if/after investigations.  That means that anything disclosed to MinistrySafe is protected by under attorney-client privilege, hindering further criminal prosecutions and investigations as necessary.

Here's a definition of Attorney-Client Privilege from US Legal:

Attorney-client privilege is an evidentiary rule that protects communications between a client and his or her attorney and keeps those communications confidential. It protects both attorneys and their clients from being compelled to disclose confidential communications between them made for the purpose of furnishing or obtaining legal advice or assistance. The privilege is designed to foster frank, open, and uninhibited discourse between attorney and client so that the client's legal needs are competently addressed by a fully prepared attorney who is cognizant of all the relevant information the client can provide. The attorney-client privilege may be raised during any type of legal proceeding, civil, criminal, or administrative, and at any time during those proceedings, pre-trial, during trial, or post-trial.

Just the conflict of interest is enough for me to want to stay away from their organization, but some people don't have a problem with it.  I would advise churches to steer clear of this.

"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

Bert Perry's picture

I'm not an expert on "critical race theory", but regarding Mark Smith's claim that a lot of this is about cultural liberalism, it might be a good thing to discuss precisely what is meant here.  When I think of cultural liberalism in the context of fundamentalism, that could mean anything from allowing rock music or a glass of wine all the way to endorsing gender reassignment surgeries for 3 year olds.  So precisely what we are talking about matters, as I'm one who can endorse modern music or the responsible enjoyment of alcohol, but I cannot endorse the latter.  To lump all of this together as if it were one phenomenon is just silly.

Since race is mentioned, however, I can state with confidence that there must be a nice midpoint between defending BJU's old interracial dating ban (and BJ2's endorsement of segregation) and the most radical proposals of "Black Lives Matter", or Kamala Harris' absurd claim that Michael Brown was murdered, which even the Washington Post gave four Pinocchios.

These examples, though, give us a good point of reference for investigating the new claims in exactly the same way we ought to examine works from "our favored sources", be it BJU Press, Zondervan, or whoever.  Reality is that for many years, many/most fundamentalists did not see that the interracial dating ban had no support in Scripture--we owe the secularists and "cultural liberals" a huge thank you for helping us there.  On the flip side, regarding Michael Brown, we can point to a grand jury and DOJ investigation that found that there was not significant information leading to that conclusion.

In other words, we process "new sources of information" in exactly the same way as we do the old--or at least ought to--and in that light, the invective coming from CrossPolitic and Founders is something of a confession "we don't know how to make a real argument, or we're not willing to."  

Same thing with sexual abuse.  Regarding Mark's claim that we already know, if we already knew and understood and applied this, we would not have the PII report on ABWE, the GRACE report on BJU, the push for an investigation of CLC/SGM, or for that matter a huge push in the USOC to ban coaches "dating" young athletes.  It's very clear that for whatever reason, too many of us simply don't get it.  Hence while I don't agree 100% with the "young turks" here, I welcome them to the conversation. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Jay wrote:

You believe the victim because the powers that be have kindly informed us beforehand who the designated and approved victims are.  

Here it is:

“Regardless of whether the victim wants to take steps to pursue safety, there 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” - Cares Well, p. 87

Jay,

First off, I can't really see anything in your quote from Wilson up until the "Conclusion" line that I would disagree with.

After that point, I know almost nothing of the good or bad of GRACE or Denhollander, but I most certainly would disagree with her and GRACE if they affirm the quote from the book above.  In fact, if you always "believe the victim" (and that's assuming you know who the actual victim is, which until there is a verdict, you don't, Wilson is right on that, so I'll change it to "believe the accuser"), you are already being a judge, whether you claim to be or not.  You can and should take the accuser's charges seriously, and follow the law regarding them, but you cannot be acting correctly if the accuser is always believed over the accused.  "Innocent until proven guilty" has to be followed, even by the church.

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

It strikes me that if MinistrySafe is claiming that everything they do is protected by attorney-client privilege because they're associated with a law firm, they are just waiting for someone like John Manly (attorney for many of Larry Nassar's victims, the guy who won $500 million in the MSU debacle) to slap them into next week, legally speaking. The question is when, not if, IMO, and that particular hazard would lead me to favor one over the other. 

(personal note; I've used Boz's guide to child safety to help develop a program for my church)

Regarding "believe the accuser", that's more or less (IMO) an overreaction to what many have observed all over regarding sex crimes, which is "disbelieve the accuser."  So while I'd agree with Dave that the goal is to take accusers seriously, in practice that often means compensating for a bias to not do so....in other words, a slight bias towards believing the accuser.

It's also worth noting that your chief job in hearing out an accuser, or a victim's relatives (I've done this), is to give them comfort and protection so that they are willing to talk to governing authorities.  The reality with most sexual assault is that because of the shame and violence of it all, most do not get to the police quickly enough to get a rape kit (physical examination) taken and processed.  Hence there is a lot of he said/she said, and the one who loses is the one whose story starts to change and/or be found inconsistent with known facts.  

End result is that if you say you believe them, provide support to them (possibly including personal safety support), report to police and encourage them to press charges, they will make or break the case for themselves.  In other words, saying "I believe you" in a church setting is not the same thing as Mike Nifong saying it and refusing to even interview the accuser.  It's almost a tactical consideration, really. 

(put differently, liars often desist when they're confronted with someone who is paid to sort out truth from fiction, like detectives)

That said, again, I still favor "I am taking you seriously and am going to do what I can to make you feel safe enough to go forward with charges."  Couple that with "I'm going to see which of our deacons have both a carry permit and an extra room for you to stay in so that you're safer working with the police."  Limited resources and all, a collaborative approach between advocates/supporters and the police seems to be the way to go.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Bert Perry wrote:

Regarding "believe the accuser", that's more or less (IMO) an overreaction to what many have observed all over regarding sex crimes, which is "disbelieve the accuser."

I suspect that "innocent until proven guilty" will always feel to the accuser like "disbelieve the accuser," yet the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" is writ large in both scripture, even if not by name, and our system of law, so I'm going to have to err on that side of things, if necessary.  I most assuredly would not be able to lie by saying "I believe you" as a "tactical consideration."

Quote:

That said, again, I still favor "I am taking you seriously and am going to do what I can to make you feel safe enough to go forward with charges."

I'm pretty close to that.  I'd personally go with "I am taking you seriously and am going to do what I can to make you feel safe enough to take this to the authorities."  Charges will be up to what the authorities find and what the accuser is willing to do at that point.  If the accuser resists going to the authorities, a counselor would have to point out that determining the verdict of a crime is not the province of the church, and if the accuser is unwilling to go forward with the authorities, the church could take no action against the accused.

Dave Barnhart

Jay's picture

Dave, Bert and I are pretty much all on the same page - we're just disagreeing with terminology and semantics, I think.  I can happily affirm either of these statements:

That said, again, I still favor "I am taking you seriously and am going to do what I can to make you feel safe enough to go forward with charges."  Couple that with "I'm going to see which of our deacons have both a carry permit and an extra room for you to stay in so that you're safer working with the police."

As for what Dave wrote:

I'd personally go with "I am taking you seriously and am going to do what I can to make you feel safe enough to take this to the authorities."  Charges will be up to what the authorities find and what the accuser is willing to do at that point.  If the accuser resists going to the authorities, a counselor would have to point out that determining the verdict of a crime is not the province of the church, and if the accuser is unwilling to go forward with the authorities, the church could take no action against the accused.

I did have a case once where a young woman was raped but chose not to press charges due to the trauma of reliving her rape to the police and in court.  We all strongly wanted justice but it was clear that she wouldn't be able to take the strain.  As far as I know, he's still an uncharged and free man and God will have to hold him to justice someday.  He was not a member of a church so there is no discipline that we can bring to bear on him.  It's a hard thing. 

One of my objections is what if there is enough evidence in your eyes as the ministry leader to convict but the accused is found "not guilty".  That's the loophole I've been concerned about although I haven't specifically said so because I didn't think to.

It's probably semantics, but I'm trying to be precise.  These situations are messy and hard enough.

As for this:

"Innocent until proven guilty" has to be followed, even by the church.

The issue that I have run into is that there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that makes it clear something happened, but there hasn't been enough evidence to 'convict'.  My concern, as is Rachael's (I think), is that the victim is allowed to process her trauma and deal with the circumstances even though the assailant may 'get away'. 

I'd also like to push a little on the 'innocent until proven guilty'.  If there is evidence on the basis of witnesses - say two or three people who have been privately confided in, since most victims will disclose to family or friends before a spiritual leader, or some kind of other material evidence - then is right to 'believe the victim'? Or do you need to wait for a formal conviction that may never come for whatever reason?

"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

Joel Shaffer's picture

When it comes to CRT, one seminary in particular, though the presidents of the others seem accepting, is promoting the use if CRT to analyze the American church. This is going nowhere good, and it is quite frankly shocking that otherwise solid theological leaders would fall for this.

All of these topics are why the FOUNDERS made the video.

Founders seem to have a difficult time discerning whether SBC leaders are being influenced by CRT or whether they are being influenced by Carl FH Henry, Tony Evans, or Dr. John Perkins. They have published some extremely careless and slanderous articles and blog posts on their website such as this from Josh Buice (founder of G3) https://founders.org/2019/04/11/the-race-issue-how-social-justice-is-dis....  Buice's accusation in the article that Eric Mason believes being "Woke" is the mission of the church (rather than what Eric meant, which was that the church has a calling to discern and be aware of the individual and institutional sins, such as racial injustice) comes down to two things: Ignorance and a lack of actual research about Mason-(Mason is on record several times saying that the mission of the church is making disciples, the church he planted (Epiphany Fellowship and the 6 churches they've planted all have on their website that their mission to Glorifying God and/or  Making Disciples, and the overseas ministries they support are primarily about planting churches and making disciples.) Or slander where Buice is willing to cherry-pick Mason out of context to make him look bad and to legitimize the witch hunt that Buice is on that somehow the SBC is on the slippery slope towards the social gospel as they abandon the authority of Scriptures for CT/CRT.  I pray it is the first one rather than the sin of slander.  

As I've mentioned many times before, its not the conservative SBCers that are compromising Scripture for CT/CRT.  Its the progressive evangelicals and mainliners. And many prog evangelicals and mainliners are quite attractive for the 20-something socially concerned conservative evangelicals that are disillusioned with the churches they grew up in because those churches have openly aligned themselves with the Republican Party.  Here are two articles from Sojourners that illustrate this.  The first one "For Our White Friends Desiring to Be Allies," towards the end the author brings up reparations and makes the declaration. "Privilege means that you owe a debt......It is up to you whether you choose to pay this debt and how you choose to do so.....(you can read the article for its context). https://sojo.net/articles/our-white-friends-desiring-be-allies But this is the type of CRT that is fundamentally anti-Christian and anti-Grace, which conservative Christians should be rightly concerned.  This is the type of White Privilege birthed from the dung heap of a pop form of CRT that needs to be confronted.  But there are no SBC leaders that are linking White Privilege to a debt that is owed and needs to be paid off in reparations.  A few might believe in the concept of reparations for black folks, but its motivation does not come from Christians being in debt to oppressed people.  This CT  type of thinking leaves people in bondage of guilt that they can never get out of.  

 Let me give you another example from Sojourners.  Here is an article attempting to make a "Biblical Case" for AOC's Green Deal and democratic socialism, quoting MLK and the Bible. https://sojo.net/articles/biblical-values-ocasio-cortezs-democratic-soci... author commits several hermeneutical fouls and twists several passages of Scripture to make a Biblical case for support of centralized government intervention through democratic socialism.  When I wrote this article for Sharper Iron,https://sharperiron.org/article/was-war-poverty-too-ambitious I had people such as these Progressive Christians in mind. Again, where are the SBC leaders whose CT is committing hermeneutical errors such as this, anointing AOC's Green New Deal as Biblical and come up with a shallow Bible-twisting justification of it?  

So to me, it was no surprise that the video trailer was also sloppy and slanderous because Founders has shown itself be that way at times, failing to help Christians know how to apply Biblical discernment when it comes to social justice but rather create unnecessary fear within the SBC.  

Jay's picture

So to me, it was no surprise that the video trailer was also sloppy and slanderous because Founders has shown itself be that way at times, failing to help Christians know how to apply Biblical discernment when it comes to social justice but rather create unnecessary fear within the SBC.  

That's what the uproar is about.  It's lazy, sloppy, and malicious to equate the handling of sexual abuse as part of a slide into theological liberalism and compromise.  It's also slanderous to paint some of the people in the original video as people who want to introduce that into the SBC when they have been working very hard within the SBC to help it get better in that specific area.

What I don't understand, and maybe someone can help me here, is why the involvement of outside authorities on criminal matters is so objectionable to some.  We've talked about Doug Wilson, so I'll quote from the report that his association wrote (I am sorry but have to quote at length):

C. Care and Protection for the Abuse Victim
When a woman is no longer safe in her own home, where is she to tum? She should be able to look to her church and to the police for protection. Sadly, all too often churches underreact, or move too slowly, when an abusive situation arises. In this particular case, there is no question that Jamin was emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive towards [redacted] Forms of abuse included verbal threats, physical violence, use of pornography with the express intent of hurting her, reckless driving intended to endanger [redacted] and the children, taking [redacted] phone and/or keys when she indicated she might seek help, and so on. This was a classic case of an aggressive, angry, out of control male intimidating, oppressing, and seeking to control a vulnerable female, using manipulation and deception to cover his wicked actions.

It is absolutely crucial for marital counselors to identify and categorize abusive situations since they are very different from more “normal” marital problems commonly encountered. Typical forms of marriage counseling simply are not effective when abuse is involved, and can in fact backfire, making the situation even worse for the victim. For example, telling an abused wife she should respect her husband, or confess her sins to him, or give him the benefit of the doubt, is likely to be counter-productive and only intensify her suffering. While the various counselors from the churches involved did finally identify the situation for what it is was, it should have happened earlier and the counsel given should have been tailored more appropriately to an abusive relationship.

Generally speaking, trusted Christian counselors are agreed on many “best practices” in abusive situations. While counseling the spouses together can be important in order to get a full read on the situation, it is vital they also be counseled separately. The abused spouse may be afraid to describe what is truly happening in the home in front of the abusive spouse, lest the abuser later intensify the abuse as punishment for any revelations. An abused wife should be given a safe place to describe in detail what she is facing at home without fear of intimidation or reprisal. Such a wife should also be encouraged to reach out to law enforcement immediately if she is harmed or endangered in any way. Likewise, the abuser should be directly confronted and should be required to demonstrate tangible ways in which he is repenting of his actions. He should be required to submit to a program of strict accountability.

In typical marital situations, counselors can assume that both spouses are at fault in various ways and both spouses want to make the marriage work. But in abusive situations, the abuser very clearly only wants what is best for himself, not what is best for the marriage; he is using his spouse and has no interest in actually improving the marriage. Counselors should recognize this and deal with the situation accordingly. In this case, Jamin showed virtually no credible evidence of a willingness to deal with his own sin and do what needed to be done to salvage the marriage. Yet, his side of the story was given considerable weight for quite some time.

At times, the counsel [redacted] received at least partially blamed her for Jamin’s outbursts. We believe this was a mistake, and enabled Jamin to continue getting away with abuse. An abused woman should never be made to feel as if she deserves the abuse or has somehow brought it on herself. This is especially true when the abuser is a master deceiver and manipulator, like Jamin was.

Finally, in abusive situations counselors must be careful not to invest more in saving the marriage than in protecting the victim. It is possible to attempt to save a marriage at the expense of an abused spouse, thus prolonging the abuse. A pattern of abuse should certainly provide grounds for divorce for the victim (cf. Exodus 21:10–11). In such cases, it is crucial for the church to assure the abused spouse that she will be taken care of if she pursues a dissolution of the marriage.

We believe the counseling provided by church leadership in this case did genuinely seek to protect [redacted] but not always in ways fully consistent with the sorts of “best practices” described above.

III. Recommendations
Wide-ranging recommendations to the CREC as a whole are also found in our report delivered to Christ Church. The following recommendations especially arise from Trinity Reformed Church’s efforts to deal with the Wight family.

A. Domestic Abuse Counseling Training
We have commended Trinity Reformed Church’s handling of Wight’s abusive treatment of his wife [redacted] in many respects, but we believe our churches would benefit from more training in this area. Thus, we recommend that all CREC church leaders who are going to be responsible for counseling receive specialized instruction in how to recognize and handle domestic abuse. If such training proves impossible to secure, CREC pastors should connect with qualified, biblically grounded Christian counselors [Jay edit - this is what GRACE does] in their geographic location who can provide counseling services (at the church’s expense if needed) for those involved in cases of domestic abuse.

Churches that (rightly) teach and practice masculine headship, as set forth in the Scriptures, need to be especially sensitive to potential abuses of that headship. In recent years, we have seen many associated with some form of “patriarchalism” fall into serious sins involving sexual and/or physical abuse of women. It needs to be very clear, both within our congregations and in our public witness to the world, that our churches do not condone such practices. Indeed, we stand against them with all our might. Church leaders are called upon to protect women and children from those who would harm them or prey upon them. Our churches rightly uphold male, masculine leadership, but this does not make women voiceless or powerless; indeed, when women have no recourse and no power, abuse can go on unchecked. Church leaders should work hard to protect women from men who would prey on them. We should Work hard to detect and root out any forms of abuse in our community. We should make it clear by our words and actions that true masculine leadership entails sacrificial care for the weak and the vulnerable. Christian men do not take advantage of women, but serve them; they do not abuse women, but honor them.

This is all great information and extremely helpful.  I wish I'd had it when I was in seminary or college.  But now it heralds the return of theological liberalism and compromise within the SBC?  

Someone help me understand this.

 

"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

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Jay wrote:

I did have a case once where a young woman was raped but chose not to press charges due to the trauma of reliving her rape to the police and in court.  We all strongly wanted justice but it was clear that she wouldn't be able to take the strain.  As far as I know, he's still an uncharged and free man and God will have to hold him to justice someday.  He was not a member of a church so there is no discipline that we can bring to bear on him.  It's a hard thing. 

You're right that that would be a tough situation, but as we do believe that God will judge, if we did the best we know how, we can rest assured that God's perfect will and judgment will be carried out, and it's far greater than anything we could do.

Quote:

One of my objections is what if there is enough evidence in your eyes as the ministry leader to convict but the accused is found "not guilty".  That's the loophole I've been concerned about although I haven't specifically said so because I didn't think to.

I guess I'd have to know the situation.  Usually things like abuse or rape take place in private, so without the ability to gather physical evidence (DNA, rape kits, etc.), questioning witnesses would not be sufficient, and no matter what one may "believe," the church would not be able to act.  Regardless of whether the victim will press charges, evidence that ends up being gathered might be sufficient for the state to press its own charges.  IANAL, but if something like that happened, the church might be able to take some action based on the outcome.  However, if there is actually a "not guilty" verdict, I'm not sure there is anything the church could do to make some kind of additional judgment without putting itself in legal jeopardy.

Quote:

The issue that I have run into is that there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that makes it clear something happened, but there hasn't been enough evidence to 'convict'.  My concern, as is Rachael's (I think), is that the victim is allowed to process her trauma and deal with the circumstances even though the assailant may 'get away'. 

I'd also like to push a little on the 'innocent until proven guilty'.  If there is evidence on the basis of witnesses - say two or three people who have been privately confided in, since most victims will disclose to family or friends before a spiritual leader, or some kind of other material evidence - then is right to 'believe the victim'? Or do you need to wait for a formal conviction that may never come for whatever reason?

Again, I'd have to see the evidence, and "something happened" is interesting, but usually won't tell us what did happen.  2 or 3 people that have been "privately confided in," do not constitute sufficient evidence, at least IMO, to take action.  They are not truly "witnesses."  All you then have is more people that can testify only that the accuser believes what he or she is saying.  As I said above, if there is some kind of material evidence that comes to light (and that could include witnesses who actually observe abuse), even if the state did not take action, the church might be able to, but it would have to tread awfully carefully.  I would guess that if the evidence is not sufficient for the state to take any action, most of the time the church would have to back off as well.  Again, that sounds unfair, but we know our God sees what we cannot, and judges righteously and completely.

Dave Barnhart

TylerR's picture

Editor

I was just thinking about that very thing yesterday. Just because someone wants to engage social problems with the Gospel in a faithful way (ala Carl Henry's book), this doesnt mean they've been infected with CRT.

I'm reading an intro to CRT written by CRT scholars, and it is a very dangerous feamework for reality. VERY DANGEROUS. I'm also reading a similar work on intersectionality, and gave identical concerns.

But, we must be careful to not tar everyone who champions mercy ministries and social engagement with a CRT label.  In other words, let's not be the worst examples of 1950s style separatists and be simplistic. 

I wonder if this makes me a moderate? Would I have been one of the guys in the Fuller orbit back in the day saying, "guys, we ALL KNOW neo-orthodoxy is BAD, but let's make sure we're careful about throwing out the label whenever someone says something that could be interpreted as neo-orthodox ..."?

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?

Mark_Smith's picture

Are you SBC? If not why do you care so much to write so much about something you have no part in?

Yes, I read the Houston Chronicle articles. All of them. Did you? Many interesting things in there, like (and I am making up these numbers because i do not have them in front of me. My numbers are representative only) the HC investigated ~350 cases of church abuse and over 300 had resulted in convictions. The point is, most cases get taken care of.

Yes, JD Greear asked that committee to look at the churches. He wanted action. They punted, against his wishes, saying they had no authority. At present the SBC national entity has absolutely no control over any church in the SBC.

 

 

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