Hammond, Accountability and Legalism

The pastoral scandal in Hammond has sparked many conversations about why these disasters keep happening, what the phenomenon says about independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches and ministies, and what ought to be done to fix whatever exactly is broken. The idea of accountability has figured prominently in several of these conversations.

But if IFB and other branches of Christendom1 are going to use accountability effectively, we’ll have to arrive at a clearer understanding of what accountability is, what it’s limitations are, and where its real value lies. My aim here is to make a small contribution toward that end.

Defining “accountability”

For some, accountability has an almost magical power to keep all bad behavior from happening. Whenever some kind of shocking sin comes to light, their first and last response is “we need more accountability.” In these cases the term “accountability” tends to be defined vaguely if at all. At the other end of the spectrum, some argue that accountability is only something that occurs in response to wrongdoing and that has no power to prevent it (see the conversation here, for example).

From what I’ve seen, though, most understand the idea of accountability in a more nuanced way.

Merriam-Webster2 defines accountability as follows.

: the quality or state of being accountable, especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions <public officials lacking accountability>

On “accountable,” the same source provides the following:

1 : subject to giving an account : answerable <held her accountable for the damage>

2 : capable of being accounted for : explainable

Other dictionaries have similar entries, such as the Concise Oxford English Dictionary’s entry for “accountable.”

1 required or expected to justify actions or decisions.

2 explicable; understandable.

In ministry settings

In my experience, when people speak of accountability in church and ministry settings, they usually have one of two things in mind.

  1. Structured diffusion of power
  2. Personal mentoring or discipling relationships

In the first case, it’s common to hear the sentiment that if only IFB (and similar) pastors were forced to make decisions jointly with other pastors or elders, these leaders would be less vulnerable to the temptations of power. In this case, advocates use the term “accountability” for diffusion of a leader’s decision-making authority.

In the second case, many are confident that we’d see less of this sort of pastoral failure if all Christians—but especially leaders—had close, mentoring/discipleship relationships with people who ask them tough questions about their walk with God, their marriage, their family life, the temptations they’re struggling with, etc.

A third group sees the solution as a combination of both of these forms of accountability.

What these understandings of accountability have in common is limitation on a person’s ability or willingless to act independently. In one case, he is structurally prevented from at least some independent actions. In the other, his conduct is restrained by the anticipation that he’ll be expected to defend it.

Some limitations of “accountability”

At this point, I feel like joining the crowd shouting “Vive la accountability!” But we need to temper our expectations.

First, accountability can never be comprehensive. Unless we’re prepared to handcuff every pastor to a practically sinless accountability partner who watches his every move, he’ll be able to find ways around any accountability mechanism if he really wants to. And unless the accountability partner is also a mind-reader, the leader being monitored will still be free to be as internally proud, malicious, greedy or lustful as chooses to be.

Second, there aren’t any perfect accountability partners or perfect elder teams. When you take a pastor who is a sinner and join him with another pastor and rename them “the elders,” you now just have two sinners instead of one. And yep, the math works all the way up to infinity—or at least up to the total number of men who can be enlisted to be elders. As a safeguard against a naïve confidence that multiplicity is inherently more righteous than individuality, consider how many “bishops” worked together at Trent to reject the doctrine of salvation through faith alone.

Third, there seems to be a character trade off here. If our accountability method actually prevents a leader from committing a particular sin, we have to conclude that he would have committed it without our accountability program. If we weren’t looking over his shoulder or forcing him to share decision-making with a group, he’d freely choose to do the wrong. If that’s the case, what sort of leader is he? What sort of Christian is he?

The real value of accountability

Some of the conversations about events in Hammond have included an interesting irony. Some of those who passionately oppose “legalism,” and broadly devalue rules, are equally passionate that IFB leaders need more accountability.

Don’t see the irony? Let’s see if I can help.

Though it may not seem so at first, accountability and what many like to call “man made rules” are two species of the same genus. As such, their value and limitations are almost perfectly parallel. In some cases, rules—and the penalties connected to them—really are accountability measures.

But this is not a vote against accountability. It’s a call to understand that the value of accountability is ultimately inseparable from the value of rules.

  • Both rules and accountability measures are external restraints. They cannot, by themselves, change a person’s heart.
  • In other words, both rules and accountability are limited to regulating conduct, not affections.
  • Both rules and accountability measures involve human discernment and judgment. (People are accountble to someone who is not God.)
  • Both rules and accountability measures can become objects of pride or refuges for people engaging in superficial conformity to standards.
  • Both rules and accountability can be poorly devised and executed, and can be counterproductively excessive (in both quantity and quality).

So those who see rules as unfortunate necessities that ought to be kept to an absolute minimum ought to believe—based on all the same arguments—that accountability is an unfortunate necessity that ought to be kept to a minimum.

Real value

But there is genuine importance in both rules and accountability.

Since not sinning is always better than sinning, both rules and accountability measures have value in keeping believers from harm they would otherwise suffer and in preventing dishonor to the Lord’s name that it would otherwise suffer. Since a believer’s spiritual vitality is always harmed more by sinning than by not sinning, both rules and accountability measures can be instrumental in helping Christians thrive. Both can help develop good habits. Both can help prevent the suffering of victims. Willingness to submit to both can be, along with other things, a measure of godly maturity. Both can limit believers’ exposure to temptations.

At the same time, both are less necessary for the strong than for the weak. The more genuine godly character a believer has (that is, the more God has deeply changed him) the less need he has for external restraints, whether these take the form of imposed rules or imposed accountability.

So, in the case of pastors, the more accountability we say a pastor needs, the less confidence we are claiming to have in his character. If a congregation believes its pastor needs someone looking over his shoulder all the time, that congregation should either rethink its estimation of the pastor’s character or replace him with someone who is the kind of man described in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3.

Would “more accountability” have prevented the devastation in Hammond and other places? Maybe. Maybe not. Regardless, sensible accountability measures (whether structured or informal) are vital in order to help good men remain good men and grow into better men. At the same time, no set of accountability measures, however ingenious or numerous, can serve as a substitute for genuine godly character.

Notes

1 Let’s not forget that sex and money offenses by ministry leaders is a problem in congregations and ministries of all sorts whether independent Baptist, independent something else or not independent at all (including, famously, the Roman Catholic Church). For a small sample take a look at this depressing Wikipedia entry.

2 Web version. Accessed 8/14/12.

[node:bio/aaron-blumer body]

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There are 142 Comments

Ron Bean's picture

Mike Harding wrote:

I have been a member of the FBFI for many years.  I have witnessed it pulling away from the Hyles element ever since the stories broke in the late eighties through "The Biblical Evangelist".  Our FBFI doctrinal statement was re-written by myself and Fred Moritz in part to distance ourselves theologically from that element.  The problem with the Hyles element in IFB churches was first and foremost doctrinal and secondarily ethical.  The doctrinal and ethical violations of FBCH were so egregious, no discerning individual could ever join ecclesiastical hands with them.  As I have said numerous times in print, in preaching, in board meetings, and in private BEFORE this recent scandal, it is wrong and unbiblical for any fundamentalist or Christian or biblical separatist to maintain ecclesiastical connections with Hammond and its ilk.  The fact that this was not done simply indicates that LABELS trumped doctrine and principle--that cultural fundamentalism trumped doctrinal fundamentalism.

 

Then why were people like John Vaughn and others still sharing venues with Schaap?

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Ron,

I think Mike answered your question here, at the end of his post.

As I have said numerous times in print, in preaching, in board meetings, and in private BEFORE this recent scandal, it is wrong and unbiblical for any fundamentalist or Christian or biblical separatist to maintain ecclesiastical connections with Hammond and its ilk.  The fact that this was not done simply indicates that LABELS trumped doctrine and principle--that cultural fundamentalism trumped doctrinal fundamentalism.

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

Gerry Carlson's picture

Bob and Ron ask good questions that probe the why of complex historic connections and alignments. I was at the first FBF where Jack Hyles spoke in 1968 in Normal, IL. Archer Weniger, FBF president, made all the invites in those days, although I think Bud Weniger had the ear of Arch in the matter. I was Bud’s assistant at the time, and it is complicated to relate all of the things going on in 1968 that seem totally unrelated now to the winds and issues of 2012.

I remember in the summer of 1960, while working in the Conservative Baptist office for Myron Cedarholm, hearing Cedar talk to Jack Hyles on the phone. Hyles had just weathered the storm of fending off the rich businessmen at First Baptist Hammond who didn’t want him preaching a gospel that brought in dirty urchins and common folk.  Hyles also led the church to cut ties with the American Baptist Convention and that was not welcomed by the ruling class at the church. A big crowd of 250-300 or so left FBCH and Cedar was giving Jack encouragement to hang in there. I had dated a girl in high school whose family left in that split and so I knew a little about the background.

My ordination service was held the night before that FBF meeting in 1968 and during the service Dr. Cedarholm, who preached my ordination sermon, announced that he was starting a new college. I was at the dedication service of Maranatha later that summer and Jack Hyles was the speaker. From there Cedar established a yearly conference at MBBC with Hyles, and soon Arch Weniger initiated an annual conference at his Lucerne Conference Center where Hyles spoke. During the succeeding years Hyles spoke at various FBF gatherings.

Ultimately all of those relationships came to an end due to the excesses of Jack Hyles, and the fact that Hyles’ established conferences and institutions, and new orbits had emerged that aided in facilitating the fracturing of the Independent Baptist fundamentalist movement. But back to the question: those connections and alignments developed extensive complex relationships that have for years crisscrossed many churches, schools, families and friendships.

We tend to give people we know more flexibility, or we will cut someone slack if we think we can influence them. Many times hindsight proves that to be unwise, indefensible or even downright toxic. It is a good caution to realize that some of today’s new celebrity preachers may turn out to be an embarrassment.  That’s why we have to keep our eyes on a great God and be careful about promoting mortals into being great men.  
 

Gerry Carlson

Jay's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
Ron, I think Mike answered your question here, at the end of his post.

As I have said numerous times in print, in preaching, in board meetings, and in private BEFORE this recent scandal, it is wrong and unbiblical for any fundamentalist or Christian or biblical separatist to maintain ecclesiastical connections with Hammond and its ilk.  The fact that this was not done simply indicates that LABELS trumped doctrine and principle--that cultural fundamentalism trumped doctrinal fundamentalism.

Chip, 

I spent a lot of time thinking about this yesterday, and I've got a growing problem with the leadership of the FBFI and the structure as it is established.  This is a BIG problem with the 'fundamentalism' that I was trained under.  We've now had documented instances of Binney teaching at FBC Hammond ( at least two times), the Shrock and Vaughn relationship at FBC Hammond a while ago, BJ3 at some conference with Schaap in 2011, and the continued problem of Phelps being on the board of the FBFI (not that I want to dredge up the whole Anderson-Willis-Phelps issue again).  I should also mention the Danny "Calvinists are a threat to the church and Soulwinning" Sweatt's fiasco in 2009 (and I'm FAR more comfortable with the 'Arminian' label!)

I'm not trying to crucify the FBFI, but I'm seeing a LOT of repeated instances where the leadership of the FBFI is screaming 'compromise' at MacArthur (and others who are orthodox like Dever) and is quietly joined at the hip with a bunch of people who have either run the name of Christ into the ground, been linked with and/or are key players in questionable and borderline illegal activities, or who seem to be far more interested in the numbers and size of their churches than they are in whether or not those ministries are Scriptually focused and based.  Their warnings about about separation and orthodoxy are running counter to the resolutions and things that they keep posting (hence my initial posts last year about the Shrock/Vaughn thing).

That's why I can't endorse the FBFI any more, and until there is serious cleaning up inside the org, will actively campaign against other people joining.  I'd MUCH rather be affiliated with the 'questionable' issues of MacArthur and the blood than someone who is OK with hanging out with the kind of foolish and blasphemous claims that Schaap and others of his ilk made.

"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

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Jay,

I totally agree with you, and I have also withdrawn my support from FBFI for the same reason. I think Mike summed it up well with his final statement (emphasis added) 

The fact that this was not done simply indicates that LABELS trumped doctrine and principle--that cultural fundamentalism trumped doctrinal fundamentalism.

​I think there are some good men and some solid churches within the FBFI, but I cannot wink at these kinds of discrepancies (there were some other reasons for withdrawing as well).

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

Ron Bean's picture

I'll add my dittoes to Jay and Chip. These are the very reasons why I ceased to continue my association with the FBFI.  I know I'm insignificant to them having never received even an acknowledgement of receipt to any correspondence that I had with them over my personal concerns with these issues.

 

I also listened to Binney's talk at FBCH last Wednesday and came away with the impression that nothing is going to change. His comparison of Schaap to David was sadly laughable. His appeal to Schaap's "I have sinned" moment reminded me that the same phrase had been uttered by Pharaoh, Achan, Saul, and Shimei. His tone of "you're all sinners and share the blame" serves only to maintain the bondage of guilt that keeps people in "The Village" that is FBCH. His allowance for the possibility of Schaap's restoration makes me want to shout to the people, "Head for the exits! Jack may be back!"

I believe in the restoration of brethren who have been caught up in sin but I have seen nothing in his life or language that shows evidence of saving grace.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I have no involvement with FBFI but want to suggest patience. Though I was not impressed w/them in my BJU days and the group is far from perfect, all groups are imperfect (unless maybe we're talking about groups of Labrador Retriever puppies). There is evidence of positive change there and over time "direction" is more important than "current location." As Mike has pointed out, FBFI has made some changes to distance itself from Hammond going back quite a few years. But no fellowship of that sort can (or wants to) control every association of every one of its members.

Bob Nutzhorn's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

 But no fellowship of that sort can (or wants to) control every association of every one of its members.

I understand that, but we are talking about the president of the fellowship. 

Shaynus's picture

Why can't we rebuke, exhort, and appreciate many different sides and be consistent? I would ask the FBFI to be more consistent just like I might ask my evangelical friends to be more constant. A little more than 24 hours ago, I shook Mark Dever's hand, then heard a fantastic sermon on sin by Christian rapper Tripp Lee. I have some concerns about the movement of Christian rap/hip-hop, but Tripp's sermon was more orthodox about sin and God's love than about 25% of sermons I heard from BJU's chapel platform over 10 years of listening (if there's a sliding scale). I might have a few words of caution for them, and I would have still different words of caution for FBFI folks. Why does it have to be an all or nothing endorsement or not? "Rebuke, reprove and exhort" is for believers. One can rarely wholly endorse a movement no matter what.

Ron Bean's picture

Shaynus and I are nearly two generations apart in age but, in many way, we share many similarities.

I still consider myself a fundamentalist although I have some good friends who would challenge that because some of my practices go against their traditions.

I look at my personal associations and affiliations  and seek out those that can be mutually edifying and don't maintain relationships that are not beneficial to either of us.

Personally, I could see no benefit to maintaining a relationship with the FBFI. My departure went without notice (except for the request to renew my subscription to Frontline), similar to the way our brethren in the SBC are unaware of FBFI resolutions.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Mike Harding's picture

Ron and Bob,

 

As a board member for the FBFI I thank you for the constructive criticism.  We can and should learn from our mistakes.  I have had a number of good friends resign the board.  We lost their needed advice and wisdom.  I am glad that Kevin Schaal is our new leader.  All of you would appreciate him a great deal.  He is careful, a thinker, a biblical separatist, a good expositor, and a godly man with a godly family.  Kevin planted his church in the Phoenix area several decades ago.  It is an excellent IFB church with a fine school as well.  I think Kevin represents most of the men who serve on the board.  What has greatly hurt the FBFI are the failures of some of its key officers, all of which have been dealt with.  Some of those failures were ethical, but frankly some of those failures were doctrinal ambiguity.  This ambiguity on the part of some of the leaders led to the acceptance of the FRIENDS conference as a legitimate venue for speaking.  It wasn't.  Many men on the board spoke to that issue in clear terms including myself.

 

For men who have been reasonably well-trained not to recognize the doctrinal and ethical problems of FBCH and their ilk is a gross lack of discernment.  I am not saying anything in public that I have not first said in private.  There have been neon signs at Hammond for decades advertising their compromise on sexual/financial ethics, the gospel, on repentance, on perseverance, on sanctification, sacrilege in the ordinances, on basic honesty, on biblical preaching, and on the doctrine of inspiration and preservation.  How can men who claim to have an earned doctorate overlook these things.  Maybe it is what David Wells calls "The D.Min.-ization" of the ministry, consisting mainly of courses that ignore the biblical languages, systematic theology, church history, exegetical book studies, and serious doctrinal paper writing for fluff courses in order to put an impressive degree in front of one's name.  Where's the beef?

 

There is also a tendency to be hard on men and ministries who are outside our circles and soft on those inside our circles.  I understand that friendships and relationships certainly play a part in this.  Though I don't agree with Dever on eschatology and would not join the SBC, we are much harder on a guy like him than a man like Schaap.  That is completely indefensible.  It is the worst kind of cronyism.

 

The Hammond situation must be a wake-up call to those who have been sleeping at the wheel.  Clearly Schaap is at the very least a disobedient brother and at the worst, an unregenerate imposter who followed in his father-in-law's footsteps.  I lean toward the latter in my view.  God knows!  For men like Binney and Sexton who joined hands directly with Hammond, there is no excuse.  For men who indirectly joined hands with them, they must understand that this causes confusion and damage to the cause of holiness and doctrinal integrity.  It must stop! 

 

 

Pastor Mike Harding

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
[Subject line: now that the SI sages have settled the FBFI question]

They can move on to weightier matters.

Angels on the heads of pins, perhaps. Trees falling in forests. Etc.

Don,

This is exactly the kind of attitude that has caused so many of us to abandon the FBFI and other self-proclaimed fundamentalist groups. Perhaps, if FBFI were more concerned about their own associations than about the associations of the conservative evangelical crowd, more of us could rally to the cause. Mike Harding nailed the issue when he wrote that too many fundamentalists are more concerned about culture than doctrine. 

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

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

We're really cranking out generalizations today. In general, I don't hate generalizations (Foghorn: "That's a joke, son. Laugh!") But they can pretty useless for solving problems because they're just too sweeping and vague.

So much chucking of babies with bathwater happens that way.

I've more than half a mind to join the FBF, and two or three other fundamentalist groups that'll have me, out of sheer rebellion against the "some are bad, ergo all are bad" mentality or the "bad in the past, ergo bad forever" mentality... or the "flawed, ergo useless" mentality.

(I have a lot of respect for just about all of you guys and it's beneath you to reason like that.)

A different kind of generalization, but similarly unhelpful... 

Tripp's sermon was more orthodox about sin and God's love than about 25% of sermons I heard from BJU's chapel platform over 10 years of listening (if there's a sliding scale).

What does "more orthodox" mean? Either an assertion is orthodox or it is not. What did you hear that was not orthodox?

I'll concede that during my years there, a good many of the chapel messages were pretty thin and cliched. There were certain guys I always looked forward to hearing because you could count on solid insight well communicated. (And being dead tired most of those years, it sure helped if they could keep me awake). I rarely heard doctrinal error and never heard anything contrary to the fundamentals of the faith.

But my point is really that accusations of lack of doctrinal orthodoxy are thrown around recklessly and vaguely an awful lot these days and that helps nobody. The alleged guilty do not know what to fix, and the accusers offer no clear alternative. It's too vague. (Imagine me taking one of my kids aside and saying "You have bad habits. Straighten up!" What are they going to do with that?)

Don Johnson's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
But my point is really that accusations of lack of doctrinal orthodoxy are thrown around recklessly and vaguely an awful lot these days and that helps nobody. The alleged guilty do not know what to fix, and the accusers offer no clear alternative. It's too vague. (Imagine me taking one of my kids aside and saying "You have bad habits. Straighten up!" What are they going to do with that?)

Exactly.

Hence my latest smart alec  reply.

There really is no way to answer the pontification found in the thread above.

 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Aaron,

Not sure if your generalization (couldn't help myself) included me, but, if it did, I would plead not guilty in this instance. I think I, and several others, have given specific explanation of the things with which we disagree. For us, these issues brought us to a decision. As I stated earlier, I respect a number of men and ministries in the FBFI, but I chose to disassociate from the organization. Others have chosen to remain in and continue pushing in good directions. More power to them. What I object to is the trivializing of the problems - in the FBFI or anywhere else. No one is perfect, so a big question becomes what are you doing about it. As has been pointed out before, too many fundamentalists are willing to point out the flaws of the other guy while ignoring and downplaying their own  problems. 

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

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
There really is no way to answer the pontification found in the thread above.
Are you speaking about your posts here, Don?

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

Steve Davis's picture

I'm not sure who Mike had in mind but with all the honorary docs in FBFI circles and board of directors a DMin would be a good place to start unless a good ole boy doctorate confers special insight. What's worse, an earned DMin in order to have an impressive title you worked for even if not very hard or an impressive title that's unearned that gives a false impression?

Mike Harding's picture

Steve,

 

Had no one particular in mind.  The concept that Wells points out is that seminaries are offering "D.Mins." today without M.Div. prerequisites, thus circumventing the theological and exegetical training necessary for serious preaching.  I think Fundamentalism has been doctrinally weak in certain areas, otherwise how does one explain the KJVO epidemic, the easy believism problem, and the lack of good systematic thought among so many Fundamental preachers.  Hammond is certainly one of the poster children for those weaknesses.

Pastor Mike Harding

Ron Bean's picture

I was greatly encouraged by your post (#73). I had no idea that such things had been addressed and was under the assumption that the FBFI was just the same old bunch doing the same old stuff. Perhaps publicizing this kind of stand would help the FBFI and IFB's in general shed their image as a sort of exclusive club.

And dittoes on your DMin comments. I know of a guy who desperately wanted a doctorate and academically couldn't handle a PHD program so he settled at one of these seminaries where he'll shortly get his DMin as long as he keeps his mouth shut about his KJVO position. The school will give him his degree in spite of his abysmal track record in churches, his inability to exegete a text, and repeated ethical failures.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Steve Davis's picture

Mike Harding wrote:

Steve,

 

Had no one particular in mind.  The concept that Wells points out is that seminaries are offering "D.Mins." today without M.Div. prerequisites, thus circumventing the theological and exegetical training necessary for serious preaching.  I think Fundamentalism has been doctrinally weak in certain areas, otherwise how does one explain the KJVO epidemic, the easy believism problem, and the lack of good systematic thought among so many Fundamental preachers.  Hammond is certainly one of the poster children for those weaknesses.

 

I was thinking more along the line that the DMin is not the issue. There may be some schools that offer a DMin without an MDiv but none that I know of that are reputable (Trinity, Calvary, Detroit, Central, etc.). My point was that that men with an unearned Dr. before their name might benefit from a DMin. There are too many "doctors" in Fundamentalism and not enough nurses.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Chip wrote:
Not sure if your generalization (couldn't help myself) included me, but, if it did, I would plead not guilty in this instance. I think I, and several others, have given specific explanation of the things with which we disagree. For us, these issues brought us to a decision.

Got a bee in my bonnet for a bit there... but it did seem like there was a succession very sweeping remarks.

But I'm glad to see you and others noticing and appreciating a few of the positive things that have happened.

About the whole DMin/honorary thing ... since we're well into topic-wander anyway, to me an honorary degree that has "letters" attached to it that are only used for honorary degrees is not the same animal as a DMin that has voided masters work requirements. Any degree that doesn't pretend to be what it isn't is OK by me (for whatever that's worth), but as newfangled as the DMin is, it's still got a tradition... so it's a claim to have advanced through​ the masters' level to achievement beyond that.

(By the way, I'm offering a DSIFA degree. Doctor of SI Financial Assistance. You 'earn' one by sending me a hundred bucks. I'll send you a nice certificate for your wall... you also pay shipping and handling unless you are one of the first 30 callers. Act now while supplies last!)

Bob Nutzhorn's picture

Thank you Pastor Harding for your clear and very helpful comments. I have a much better understanding of where the FBF is going. I am very thankful for leaders like yourself who are willing to take a stand as you did in these sensitive matters. Aaron and Don, his statement is exactly what I have been pleading for the past several years in these matters. Several conversations I have had with Don have gone exactly the way Don has directed his conversation in this discussion - no where! But here we see Pastor Harding say, yes, it is a problem, yes we have dealt with it, and here is how we are trying to make sure it wont happen again. 

Don Johnson's picture

Bob, my sarcastic jab about angels, pins, etc, was not meant to shut down conversation for sure.

It was intended to be a response to the posts basically saying the FBFI is unacceptable for a variety of reasons, some of them, in my opinion, completely erroneous. There seemet to me to be a good deal of pontificating going on, as if this was the be-all and end-all of such a line of conversation. The arguments being made were to me absurd, so my response was intended to 'fight the absurd by being absurd' (the Limbaugh method).

However, if you and others would take some time to investigate the FBFI, its publications, its positions and its leadership, I don't think you would find it as useless as some seem to be decreeing.

I am very glad to serve with Mike on the board and appreciate his contributions. The whole board is comprised of serious godly men from all over the country. I would encourage any who are reading this exchange to get to know the FBFI a bit better before making judgements about its usefulness. 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Rob Fall's picture

Proclaim and Defend, I think we'll see the FBFI be more timely in its communications.  In talking this matter over with Brother Vaughn, he recognizes the short comings of dead tree only communications.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Ron Bean's picture

I hadn't heard that phrase before but have seen it in practice. I was part of a ministry that still publishes a quarterly paper that "projects the light of truth on the issues of the day" by pointing out the compromise of people who, while being Christians, are not as separated as they should be. (You know the type, I'm sure.) The problem is that nobody knows they exist. They just talk to themselves.

If the goal of addressing faults in our brethren is to restore those brethren, it seems that that would involve personally confronting those brethren with that intent.

If the goal of the FBFI is to Proclaim and Defend than they need to do that to more than themselves. As I read Mike Harding's encouraging comments I wish that I had read about this in Frontline or on the net.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

JG's picture

Ron Bean wrote:

If the goal of addressing faults in our brethren is to restore those brethren, it seems that that would involve personally confronting those brethren with that intent.

Are you trying to shut down the Internet? Smile

Edit:  Just a thought, wonder how many SI members who criticized medical leave so strongly in recent days contacted FBCH about their concerns....

Jay's picture

JG wrote:
Edit:  Just a thought, wonder how many SI members who criticized medical leave so strongly in recent days contacted FBCH about their concerns....

JG, 

The criticism isn't about medical leave.  It's about whether or not the FBC Hammond leadership used "medical leave" as an acceptable reason for announcing why Schaap wasn't in the pulpit that first Sunday.  I am glad that they announced the real reason on that Wednesday night service several nights later, and I think that if they did lie to the congregation, then they ought to confess that themselves.

I appreciate your points and will respond more in time, but framing the conversation so that people like I are criticizing "medical leave" speaks poorly as to your understanding of my posts.  There is a place and time for medical leave, and being caught cheating on your wife with a 16 year old doesn't qualify.  That's my point, and has been my point since posts #20 and #24 of the FBI Thread.

"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

JG's picture

Thanks,  I understand your points,  My addendum here was an edit ten minutes later, and I think that's all the time we get, so I was hurrying and said "medical leave" as shorthand.  But I was just asking about Ron's point here.  Did you contact them?

Jim, did you contact them about their "bald-faced lie" (your words) or do you disagree with Ron's statement about personally confronting?  I can't believe you really expected a response to what you sent.  He denied adultery, as far as I know, they chose to believe that, so the reason you gave for your suggestion would hardly be likely to get a positive response.  This is different.  You believe there is clear evidence of a bald-faced lie, clear enough to make the charge on a public forum, and that you have grounds to denounce them for it.  If you agree with Ron's statement, you should contact them about it, right? 

Ron, you suggested they were in cover-up mode.  So did you contact them?

 

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