A new church parable of the Good Samaritan

inspired by Valerie Jacobson, and posted in honor of #SBC2019, the convention of which has a theme this year of dealing with sexual abuse in the church.

*****

Samaritan: What happened to you?

Wounded One: I was attacked by a sadistic robber.

Samaritan: Really? Which way did he go? I have to find him.

Wounded: Could you help me first before you bring him to justice?

Sam: Bring him to justice? No, I need to go find him and befriend him and show him unconditional love and help him see the error of his ways through long and patient counseling and maybe some lunches together at that sweet little inn in town. 

Wounded: But . . . he took all my clothes.

Sam: Oh yeah, I noticed—that was how I could see the bruises all over your body. Hey, here’s my extra cloak. Take care, and remember that this suffering is for your good and your greatest problem is your own sin. 

*****

Samaritan: Hi, are you the one who robbed the Wounded One on the highway?

Robber: Oh yeah, my temper just got the better of me for a minute. I don’t know why it happened.

Sam: Hey, it happens to all of us. After all, we’re all sinners. I was wondering if you’d like to catch some lunch at that sweet little inn in town.

Rob: Oh yeah, that’d be great. I have some extra cash on me today.

Sam: Perfect, but it’ll be my treat. Let’s go. And, you know, I’d like to talk to you about learning to do the right thing because, you know, God commands it.

Rob: Absolutely. [A tear forms in his eye.] I want to do the right thing. My temper just gets the better of me sometimes.

Sam: Well, I know how that is, for sure.  No condemnation here! In fact, the Bible says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and I’m not about to be the one pointing fingers.  

Rob (at the inn, eating his lunch) : This means a lot to me. Thank you.

Sam: Oh, don’t even mention it. It’s the least I can do, really. After all, when it comes to repentance, I’d rather err on the side of grace, you know what I mean? Look, I see plenty of evidences of grace in your life already. When I found you, you were counting your money, which indicates frugality. You’re carrying with you an extra set of clothes, which indicates forethought. You have great manners. Buddy, I could go on and on! 

Wounded One appears in the doorway on all fours.

Sam: How did you get here?

WO: I crawled.

Sam: Look, this is really inconvenient. I have a tremendous gospel opportunity, right here, right now. If you come in, it could mess everything up. Anyway, if you pray about what you did wrong to cause what happened to you, I’m sure you can keep it from happening again. (turning back to Rob) Sorry for the interruption.

Rob (his mouth full of food, calling to Wounded One): Hey, I’m really sorry for what happened!

Sam: Whoa! Did you hear that? Wounded One, hey, now it’s on you. Forgiveness is mandated by the Scriptures, by Jesus Himself. Good job, Rob. I didn’t even have to bring it up! Fist bump!

WO: I need help.

Sam: Hey, Innkeeper, could you close that door? We’ve got some heckler interrupting our lunch.

******

This post was inspired by a Facebook post by Valerie Jacobsen, who adds that instead of this parable that represents the dire state of the modern evangelical church: 

“If we’re bringing the true Gospel, 

and if our expectation is that God Himself will raise the dead and replace stony hearts with hearts of flesh, 

we can kindly care for victims 

even as we urge perpetrators to humble themselves before the living God, 

repent of their sins before him, confess their crimes, and make restitution.”

Three fingers pointing back at you

It’s common for preachers and Christian writers to tell us, “When you listen to this sin being described, don’t think about anybody else; just think about yourself and search your own soul.” 

Many Christians, well-meaning and good-hearted, very much take that admonition to heart and do their best never to apply any Scriptural finger-pointing to anyone around them. 

That’s because frankly it’s a little scary and perhaps condemning, to think, “When you point the finger at someone else, you have three fingers pointing back at you.” Continue reading “Three fingers pointing back at you”

The good news about Biblical bitterness (a short talk)

In March I was privileged to speak at the Awaken Network’s conference on abuse. My topic was Biblical bitterness, showing how in the Bible “bitterness” refers to one who has been poisoned and is grieving, and “bitterness” also refers to one who is doing the poisoning. Both are called “bitter,” but only one is sinful.

Megan Cox of Give Her Wings (with whom I also did a recent interview on this subject) said, “This is such good news.” Finding out that the Scriptures teach something different from the heavy burden of guilt and shame that church people often lay on the backs of the oppressed—well, that really is good news.

You can view that talk here:

To All the Christian Friends I Could Not Keep (guest post by Ryan Ashton)

Inspired by Andre Henry’s powerful post “To All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep,” I wrote about the impact of losing friendships in the Christian community. 

All of us have a journey that brought us to where we are today. Many of us left a wake of blood and tears, people we had to leave behind, or who left us. I want you to think for a moment about each of those people. If there was one person you could have back—if abuse and mistreatment were not a factor—who would it be?

This is written to those in my life. Continue reading “To All the Christian Friends I Could Not Keep (guest post by Ryan Ashton)”

Those “renegade bloggers” in the Christian Post

It was all the way last Monday when this Christian Post article (which you can see here) was posted, which is light years in the world of blogging, but I’ve always been light years behind, so here we are.

The article is worth reading in its entirety as a good example of the accusations used by those who tell us not to accuse. (FWIW, I don’t believe in name calling unless it’s warranted, like what Jesus did to the Pharisees.) Greg Gordon, the author of the article in question, makes accusations like these:

Like feeding fresh bloody fish to a group of swarming sharks, the frenzy ensues as web links are made and a new viral news article is born at the great expense of the character of a Christian leader as well as the testimony of Christ.

We never pray or fast for these individuals, we simply feed on their demise for our daily entertainment.

These bloggers consider themselves judge, jury, and executioner at the same time.

Continue reading “Those “renegade bloggers” in the Christian Post”

That forgiveness talk at Harvest Bible Chapel

Do you ever feel, when you watch a movie, that there was an underlying reason for it, maybe a bit of propaganda, so to speak, that it wanted to promote? It may be only a small part of the movie, but it makes a profound impact. (An example that come readily to mind is a 1944 drama about the life of Woodrow Wilson, the purpose of which seemed to me to focus on the death of Wilson’s dream, the League of Nations, in order to push American viewers to become more willing to enter the United Nations.)

I could be wrong, but that’s the way I felt when I listened to this sermon by Michael Vanlaningham from March 31stat Harvest Bible Chapel in the Chicago area. It seemed to me that the underlying reason, the bit of propaganda, began at about minute 25 when he began to focus on forgiveness.  Continue reading “That forgiveness talk at Harvest Bible Chapel”

Because it’s appropriate for a victim to name her offender

Before I began to work regularly on untwisting Scriptures at this blog, Here’s the Joy, I was regularly doing that over at BJUGrace. That was the blog some friends and I set up to discuss the GRACE report on Bob Jones University and serve as a platform for abuse survivors who wanted to speak. (It was also where I first began, in 2014, to expose false teachings and show what the Bible teaches instead.) Continue reading “Because it’s appropriate for a victim to name her offender”

You should come to church to “give” and not to “get”

Years ago when we were visiting a large and well-endowed fundamentalist church here in Greenville, South Carolina, the Sunday school teacher went on a bit of a tirade about how wrong it was to come to church to “get.”

“You’re only supposed to come to church to GIVE,” he rebuked us. He went on to express his disgust with people who come to church wanting something, Continue reading “You should come to church to “give” and not to “get””

When “moral failure” is redefined as “you didn’t submit to church authority”: thoughts on the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal

I’ve been trying to follow the implosion going on in the James MacDonald mega-ministry world, with one person after another from his church speaking out about his alleged arrogance, mismanagement of funds, lack of accountability, deception, foul jokes, threats and intimidation, and other alleged behavior that seems very much opposed to what he teaches and would, if true, disqualify one from being an elder of a church if not cause one to be subject to criminal charges. Continue reading “When “moral failure” is redefined as “you didn’t submit to church authority”: thoughts on the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal”