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

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

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Why do they tell you to “surrender rights” that aren’t even rights at all?

One way abuse victims are taught to give up their rights in Christian circles is by teaching them to give up things that are presented as rights but aren’t really rights at all. (So then they’ll say, “Oh, well, yes it’s obvious I should give that up,”  and then the conclusion is drawn that they should give up RIGHTS. But that’s wrong.) This is from Untwisting Scriptures, a few bits in the middle of the section about NOT surrendering your rights.

– Don’t call them rights when they’re really just desires

Revive our Hearts founder Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth says,

All too often, I find myself annoyed and perturbed when things don’t go my way. A decision someone makes at the office, a rude driver on the freeway, a long line at the checkout counter, a thoughtless word spoken by a family member, a minor offense (real or perceived) by a friend, someone who fails to come through on a commitment, a phone call that wakes me when I have just fallen off to sleep—if I am staking out my rights, even the smallest violation of those rights can leave me feeling and acting moody, uptight, and angry.[1]

Nancy talks about “wanting things to go my way.” But that’s not rights. That’s desires. The relatively insignificant desires she names were never her rights to begin with. And she never even tries to grapple with the issue of Continue reading

In the messy middle of the story

At the beginning of the book of Ruth, Naomi was bitter. No doubt about it. She said she was bitter. She changed her name to “Bitter.” (That’s what “Mara” means.) Preachers and writers often point to her as an example of sinful bitterness.

These are some thoughts from the chapter in Untwisting Scriptures called “I must be bitter.”

When many preachers and writers talk about Naomi they say that she—and you—should instead be like Joseph in the book of Genesis. After he was betrayed by his brothers, he said, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

But there are a couple of problems with this way of thinking. For one thing, when we look at the word bitter elsewhere in the Bible, we can see that the majority of the time, it’s talking about grief.  Naomi was grieving. (Untwisting Scriptures talks about what grief really is and how a lot of people don’t understand it and don’t want to acknowledge it.)
naomi-in-the-middle

And there’s another important point we should observe about Naomi in contrast to Joseph. Continue reading

Behind the scenes at “Untwisting Scriptures”

This post is also being published today at A Cry for Justice.

Hello friends! My newest book has been released on Amazon! I’m glad it’s being released in Domestic Violence Awareness month, since in Christian circles, domestic abuse is almost always interwoven with spiritual abuse. Click on the image to see it on Amazon:

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Click on this image to see the book on Amazon.

I wish I could sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea with each of you individually while we talk over some of the Scriptures that have been twisted to keep you or someone you care about in a place of manipulation and control, and think together about Continue reading

New book on the way: “Untwisting Scriptures”

I’ve been hiding in a hole lately, working on the manuscript for this book. While I’ve been working on it, I’ve neglected many emails and most of my housekeeping.

But I’m excited to say it’s almost done! I’ll be addressing topics I’ve addressed in blog posts before, but completely reworked, simplified, and expanded. I had to take a hard look at teachings that had been given by respected speakers and writers.

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It’s a short book so as not to overwhelm readers, with familiar topics including  Continue reading

Bitterness in the Bible? It’s not what you thought it was

This post is Part Three of a larger series on the Biblical concept of bitterness. Parts One and Two were published earlier this month, covering the “root of bitterness” in Hebrews and the “gall of bitterness” in Acts.

Update October 2016: The topic of bitterness is addressed at length in the new book Untwisting Scriptures that were used to tie you up, gag you, and tangle your mind, which you can read more about here.

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griefFar and away the most common use for the Biblical words translated “bitterness” Continue reading

The “gall of bitterness” in Acts — it isn’t resentment

In this series, I’m addressing the concept of bitterness in the Bible, how it is used to shame and blame victims of abuse who are seeking help from their churches.

The first post in this series addressed the “root of bitterness” in Hebrews, explaining how it isn’t unforgiveness, as it’s often presented to be, but is something else instead.

Update October 2016: The topic of bitterness is addressed at length in the new book Untwisting Scriptures that were used to tie you up, gag you, and tangle your mind, which you can read more about here.

 

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