Tag Archives: religion

Submit to this question!


How can you submit to an authority before you evaluate that authority?

If a religious authority claims to be flawed and broken and sinful, evaluate the extent and nature of his influence and control.

If an academic authority claims to have the best answer on an issue, ask him about the best points his opponents make.

South Park Eric Cartman

Christ busted


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Florence Postcard: Inside the dome of the Florence Cathedral


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On the way up 400-plus steps to the top of Florence Cathedral, a loop around a narrow interior gallery provides a closer look at the dome.

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Florence Postcard: From the Top of the Cathedral


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Is Pastor Mark Driscoll’s leadership at Mars Hill Church unique?


(Updated 2:20 p.m. July 16 to include Churches That Abuse by Ronald M. Enroth, a sociologist whose work has been insightful and helpful. The book cover is linked. It appears as the last book on the list below.)

(Updated and edited 10:20 p.m., July 3: I decided to remove some of the books I originally placed in the post because I thought they would distract from the best and most relevant books in the list. However, the books removed from the post are still available on the linked book page; just click any of the book covers below.)

Mark Driscoll and the current situation at Mars Hill Church are NOT unique.

In the U.S., spiritual abuse, toxic religious communities, and narcissistic leadership are substantial problems.

These problems have spurred dozens of books — and who knows how many counseling sessions.

Before I list the books, two blog posts can give you some background on the Driscoll-Mars Hill situation.

If you haven’t already, be sure to read “Hello, my name is Mike, I’m a recovering True Believer” by Mike Anderson, and “A Former Mars Hill Pastor Speaks Out and Why Others Are Afraid: The Mars Hill Non-Disclosure Agreement” by Warren Throckmorton.

Apparently, Driscoll isn’t the only pastor who has caused problems for his congregation and ministerial team, as these books suggest (click a book cover for more information about the book):

Click the image to learn more about the book.

Click the image to learn more about the book.

1112HealingSpiritualAbuse 127ICantHearGodAnymore 121FreedomOfMind 120ByHookOrByCrook 119TwistedScriptures 118PropheticCharisma 117TakeBack 116RecoveryFromCults 115HealingYourChurchHurt 114ToxicSpirituality 113HolierThanThou 111SubtlePower

Churches That Abuse by Ronald M. Enroth(Remember, for more information, you can click on each individual book above.)

Also:

Websites that give specific accounts of spiritual abuse:

From various people who grew up in particular types of authoritarian churches and homes: Homeschoolers Anonymous

Ongoing coverage of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church in Seattle: Wenatchee the Hatchet

A helpful look “cultic aberrations” in the Roman Catholic Church: International Cultic Studies Association’s Catholic Aberrations Page

That last webpage includes an interesting point, a good thought for the closing of this post:

The hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church makes it easier to connect these various movements and organizations to the Church. Protestantism also has many cultic movements; however, there are so many Protestant denominations and so many independent Protestant churches that it is more difficult to associate them with an institution.

Tullian Tchividjian apologized; should Tim Keller and D.A. Carson apologize, too?


The Tim Keller and D.A. Carson blog post of May 21 begs for further analysis.

The purpose of the post was to clarify some changes that had taken place on The Gospel Coalition website: Tullian Tchividjian’s blog had been removed, and the names of C.J. Mahaney and Joshua Harris had been deleted from the list of Council members.

Here, I want to focus on the May 21 post, not its fallout (Tullian said some angry things in response his blog’s premature removal), or its encouraging resolution (Tullian apologized).

In their post, Keller and Carson write,

In Tullian’s case, it was obvious to observers that for some time there has been an increasingly strident debate going on around the issue of sanctification. The differences were doctrinal and probably even more matters of pastoral practice and wisdom. Recently it became clear that the dispute was becoming increasingly sharp and divisive rather than moving toward greater unity. Earlier in the year our executive director spent two days with Tullian in Florida. Coming out of that meeting, it was decided that Tullian would move his blog. Finally the Council at its meeting last week decided that Tullian should move his blog immediately, and we communicated this conclusion to Tullian. (emphasis added)

And then, in last paragraph, Keller and Carson write,

We commit ourselves to not recount the parting of the ways in such a fashion that it makes us look good and the departing persons look bad…. John Newton’s famous letter “On Controversy” should guide us all at such times. When warning that the “leaven” of self-righteousness exists in the best of Christians, Newton wrote: “Controversies, for the most part, are so managed as to indulge rather than to suppress this wrong disposition.” Pray for us that moves and changes like these will be marked on all sides by the startling, visible graciousness that should be present in all saved by grace. 

Consider how peculiar it is to accuse someone of divisiveness and stridency and then to say they won’t make “the departing persons look bad,” and then to jump to the moral high ground by warning everyone against self-righteousness with a thunderclap of authority from a John Newton letter.

It’s a great technique: Readers of The Gospel Coalition website naturally will be dazzled by the reference to a Newton letter — plus, they’ll immediately know that self-righteousness is a horrible label we can all agree we’d like to avoid.

So Keller and Carson’s last paragraph pulls the rug over the earlier accusations of divisiveness and stridency, or directs attention away from the accusations. But, whether Tullian deserved it or not, in that post, Keller and Carson have already made him look bad (“strident” and “divisive”), which in turn makes their call to avoid self-righteousness and their commitment to avoid making “the departing persons look bad” seem disingenuous.

The solution disagreement


Sure, we all agree we have a problem. We just don’t all agree we have a solution.
(drawn from Thomas Sowell’s ideas)

Religious liberty and thought crimes


When the mechanism for punishing conscience is established by law, any political power that takes control will use the mechanism to punish those with opposing ideas. The mechanism is neutral, and eventually, you’ll be on the opposite side of the controlling power. You could avoid this by not allowing the mechanisms for punishing conscience to be established by law. Has anyone ever changed another person’s conscience by coercion? Forced underground, conscience eventually re-emerges, angrier and stronger. Beware of well-intended mechanisms that can be turned against you when the center of power shifts. Beware of politically suppressing a group with which you disagree.

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/62/A_protester_wearing_breathing_gas_mask._Clashes_between_protesters_and_interior_troops_persist._Euromaidan_Protests.jpg/640px-A_protester_wearing_breathing_gas_mask._Clashes_between_protesters_and_interior_troops_persist._Euromaidan_Protests.jpg

A protester wearing breathing gas mask. Photo by Mstyslav Chernov

‘Dreamweaver: The Visions of Mark Driscoll’


An excerpt from today’s Warren Throckmorton post on Pastor Mark Driscoll: “On many levels, I find this problematic and more troubling than the plagiarism controversy. The potential for error, trauma and false reports of assault is great…. As a psychology prof, I cringe at this video as well as the other similar material I have found on the Mars Hill website.”

Read Throckmorton’s “Dreamweaver: The Visions of Mark Driscoll” and view the aforementioned video.

‘Instead of calling the police, they prayed the Lord would make it stop’


In the Memphis, Tenn., area, the police did the Lord’s work.

What happened when a 16-year-old girl complained of sexual assault from her pastor?

A reporter says, “The victim apparently told church and other family members about the abuse, but instead of calling police, they prayed the Lord would make it stop.”

Watch the local news report.

When political authorities go bad, we have revolutions. When religious authorities go bad, we pray.