The defiled conscience: should we lovingly help or sharply rebuke?

“And what we don’t want to do is say everybody binds everyone by their conscience with things that the Scripture doesn’t bind us by, right? Usually everybody’s bound by the preacher’s conscience. I don’t want to bind you by my conscience; I want the Holy Spirit to bind your conscience, and I want you to obey your conscience.” ~Mark Driscoll, in his sermon “The Weaker Christian”

Hi friends~ I’m eager to explore with you what the Lord has been showing me about the defiled conscience. It has much bearing on where we are in the church of Jesus Christ in this day.

The weak conscience: recap

In Part One of the conscience series I explored what is meant by the “weak conscience” in a Christian.

A weak conscience is one that lacks the full strength of understanding of what Christ has accomplished for them and who they are in ChristThe result is believing that certain morally neutral activities would affect that standing.

I also discussed how the weak conscience can be manipulated by spiritual abusers, resulting in

— confusion over right and wrong, as well as

— guilt and shame when one has done nothing wrong.

That fact—the guilt and shame when one has done nothing wrong—is immensely important in the life of the body of Christ.

The weak conscience can become defiled

First Corinthians 8:7 says that if the believer with the weak conscience partakes of something he thinks will spiritually defile him, there’s a danger that his conscience will be defiled, or “soiled” or “contaminated.”

This means the one who has believed in Christ will bear the guilt and shame of having sinned, even if he has done nothing wrong. From what I can see, there are two types of situations that can cause a weak conscience to become defiled: Continue reading

Thoughts for the hopeless from Isaiah 40

I’ve received a few heartfelt responses from readers who read Part One in my Conscience series, about the weak conscience. The responses, though, weren’t so much about the conscience as they were about Mark Driscoll and how his teachings facilitated their abusers’ abuse.

I’m still working on Part Two, which will look at the three ways the Bible describes increasingly disturbed consciences: contaminated, seared, and jettisoned. I’m looking forward to posting that as soon as possible, but for now have another thought, from encouragement the Lord gave me in His Word this past week.

I’ve mentioned before the importance of learning to pray, before reading the Scriptures, to ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten the eyes and open the understanding to receive what He wants to give. This always makes a difference as I read and meditate.

***

Isaiah chapter 40 shows the God of heaven to be truly glorious. From verse 12 to the end of the chapter in verse 31, God is seen high and lifted up. So I rejoiced in that.

But my eyes came back to verses 10 and 11.

Behold, the Lord God (Adonai Jehovah) comes with power, and His arm rules for Him. 

That sounds intimidating, and appropriately so, because we’re talking about the God of heaven and Lord over the whole earth, glorious and mighty.

Behold! His reward is with Him, and His recompense is before Him.

That’s interesting. So what is His reward and His recompense?  What reward and recompense will be great enough for a God that holds the waters of the earth in the hollow of His hand and measures the dust of the earth in His scales, who counts the nations as a drop in a bucket and brings the princes of the earth to nothing (as the rest of the chapter describes)? What reward could this infinitely glorious God be referring to?

How arresting it is, then, to see this next verse, verse 11, seeming almost out of place, Continue reading

“Conscience” in the Bible: insight into abusers and their targets

Scout’s honor, I didn’t start out to make this a blog post about Mark Driscoll. I was thinking about how those with hardened/polluted/jettisoned/seared consciences take advantage of those with sensitive/weak consciences, and I wanted to study conscience in the Bible to understand it all better, and then post about what I had learned.

So I did the Bible study, learned a lot, and then wanted to see what other people were saying about the conscience. In the middle of all that, another former member of Mars Hill Church (which had imploded after the many scandals of the Driscoll debacle) decided to speak publicly about the spiritual abuse she and others endured, and in that interview she mentioned something significant about the conscience (which I’ll get to later).

Mark Driscoll Uncle Sam wants you

Mark Driscoll admonishing his listeners.

That led me down a very intriguing trail, which I have to say, made a study of the conscience a whole lot more compelling. Continue reading

Four ways teaching Christians to embrace “I’m the worst sinner I know” is harming the church

SermonTitleSome background of the teaching

When CJ Mahaney began proclaiming “I’m the worst sinner I know” somewhere around the late 1990s, it certainly wasn’t the first time this teaching had been promoted. But from what I could find, this was when it began to go mainstream.

Mahaney himself claimed it regularly, often even as a way of introducing himself when he would stand up to speak. “I’m CJ Mahaney, and I’m the worst sinner I know.”

But it isn’t only Mahaney who is supposed to be the worst sinner he knows. Each one of us Continue reading

On calling people out via social media—a response to Jarrid Wilson

On my personal Facebook page I have the “On This Day” app so I can see everything posted on each day through the years. So during the month of February I’ve been following what happened in February of 2014, which in my little world was significant. Early that month, Bob Jones University had fired the team that was investigating their handling of sexual abuse allegations, Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment (GRACE), headed by Boz Tchividjian. Because I spoke out about the firing in various places on social media, including my own personal Facebook page, I gained quite a following Continue reading

Why “moral injury,” like “PTSD” is a term that applies to far more than our soldiers, and why that’s important to all of us

What Have We Done coverI recently finished reading the book What Have We Done: The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars, by Pulitzer-prize-winning war journalist David Wood (Little, Brown, 2016). When my husband brought it home from the library my interest was piqued because I hoped it might give me insight into why the abusive situations I’ve known about involved what seemed like a disproportionately high percentage of abusers who were military veterans. Continue reading

New book: Tear Down This Wall of Silence now in its second edition!

I well remember the 1990s when the sexual abuse scandals among Catholic priests were being broadcast all over the news. But whenever they aired, I turned them off. I didn’t want to know about them because they were horrible. And besides, my pea brain told me, that was the Catholics, and of course horrible stuff like that is going to happen there, but it had nothing to do with me. It was very, very distant from my world. So I thought. (Even though I knew I had a close relative who had been sexually abused. And other girls in college had confided in me that they had been sexually abused. Those were all in a different compartment of my pea brain.)

Well, I’ve repented of that attitude, for sure.

Which brings me to . . .

TDTWS full cover

Click on the book cover to view a larger version to read the text on the back.

I’m so delighted to let everyone know that Tear Down This Wall of Silence  (which you can see on Amazon here) is now in its second edition (with Justice Keepers Publishing) and better than ever! Dale and Faith share a passion to help the oppressed that I’m privileged to be a part of.

What makes this book important? Well, like Unholy Charade, it isn’t written so much to the survivor of abuse (though one chapter is specifically to the survivor) as it is to the churches. Wake up and Continue reading

Rethinking the idol factory: challenging the “idol” construct as the explanation for all sin in the lives of Christians

Clay-Ganesh-Idols-1024x562Why does it matter whether or not all sin is described as idolatry? 

It has surprised me, as I’ve researched it, how many Christians simply assume that all Christians churn out idols. To think that everyone who worships Jesus Christ is all the time actually worshiping something else is disturbing at its core.

As I studied the topic, I saw this quotation again and again from John Calvin: “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” (Even though the writers who quoted him Continue reading

Tullian Tchividjian, Tom Chantry, BJUGrace, and gossip

In the beginning, I had a little blog called Here’s the Joy on which I just wanted to blog about the Christian life and the wonderful truths of the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ in us, the Hope of glory. I was happy with my eight readers, and life was (relatively) uncomplicated.

Then I began to interact more and more with abuse survivors and those who blog about abuse. That does have a way of upending your world, doesn’t it? I may still have only eight readers, but my blog has taken a turn.

So yesterday I was supposed to be working on the publishing policy for Justice Keepers Publishing and other fun things, but I got waylaid for a bit by someone’s blog post with links and more links. Eventually it led me to a blog where I had a spirited discussion with the blog admin, who had said we should keep silent regarding scandals such as that about Tullian Tchividjian and Tom Chantry, because otherwise we are breaking the ninth commandment, “thou shalt not bear false witness.”

Tom Chantry, former pastor charged with child molestation

Tom Chantry, former pastor charged with child molestation

Continue reading