That “obey your leaders and submit to their authority” Scripture: examining Hebrews 13:17

For anyone who still wants to follow Jesus after having been treated devilishly by those who claim to be His followers (His shepherds, even!), Hebrews 13:17 might stick in the craw.

Jim Jones, one of the most famous cult leaders ever, none of whose followers can learn about Hebrews 13:17 now because they all drank the Kool-aid. Literally.

Continue reading “That “obey your leaders and submit to their authority” Scripture: examining Hebrews 13:17”

“Loyalty” is not a Christian virtue

When I was a young graduate assistant working at Bob Jones University (learning publishing at BJU Press), like all the other employees I was given certain odious assignments to fulfill each semester, such as monitoring the “dating parlor” for a couple of hours on a Sunday.

One Sunday after I had finished that odious assignment, my replacement came along, a BJU lifer, Miss Potts. She asked me if I was going to obediently head on over to Vespers (the University’s drama program presented on Sunday afternoons).

“No,” I responded somewhat defiantly. “I’m going to church.”

Miss Potts was an old Southern lady with an absolutely perfect Southern drawl.

“The Univuhsity,” she said, “would want you to go to Vespuhs.” Continue reading ““Loyalty” is not a Christian virtue”

Bill Gothard’s umbrella heresy in a day of protests against police brutality

If you’ve blogged for over ten years as I have, you probably have scores of jotted ideas, half-baked posts, drafts, and . . . what do you know it, full posts that somehow never got posted.

Today, when I had a few moments but wanted to avoid listening to the news that literally put me to bed yesterday on Pentecost Sunday, I began scrolling through my files and files of blog ideas. 

And then, there before me was a complete post about Bill Gothard’s umbrella heresy that I never had posted. And since Gothard—a man that I, along with many thousands of others, used to adore—has been in the news again recently, and since his teaching promotes complete compliance to abusive authorities (talk about being pertinent to the news!) I’m posting it now.

My previous blog post about the Umbrella Heresy is here. Continue reading “Bill Gothard’s umbrella heresy in a day of protests against police brutality”

Christians and conspiracy theories: a response to The Gospel Coalition

I had to wait a while to write this post, because last Friday I became angry with Joe Carter at The Gospel Coalition regarding his blog post about conspiracy theories. (It isn’t the first time his writing has angered me—his notorious “Beware of Broken Wolves” post three years ago fired up several of us abuse survivor advocates and others, so much so that the post itself got over 300 comments. Those comments have all been removed now, but the post still stands.)

I warn you, this is a long post. I’m going to be speaking from personal experience about conspiracy theories. Continue reading “Christians and conspiracy theories: a response to The Gospel Coalition”

What The Truman Show can illustrate about church

I don’t want to be tone deaf to the problems of covid-19 and the troubled economy. But when I think about addressing either one, I believe the Lord is telling me that others are already doing this, and my job is to continue on in the work I was undertaking before. So here we are, friends. I’m continuing on.

This blog post is one I wrote in 2019. It seems the right time to publish it now.

In the classic movie The Truman Show, Truman’s life is a 24-hour TV series, without his knowledge, for the entire world to see.

The show’s director, on the other hand, lives a very private life. Continue reading “What The Truman Show can illustrate about church”

A “We Care About Sex Trafficking” Initiative parable, by anonymous guest writer

Pastor: We’re holding this meeting today to talk about ways that we as a community of believers are going to get involved and act as Jesus would to the world of sex trafficking.

Member #1: That’s great—I’ve been hoping we could get involved! Our community has been ripped apart by sexual abuse. It even occurs in our churches, Christian schools, mission programs, Christian universities, Christian camps, youth groups, etc. I have so many friends and neighbors whose lives have been shattered, and they’ve never encountered a church community willing to come alongside them, help them heal, and stand for justice in their oppression. Continue reading “A “We Care About Sex Trafficking” Initiative parable, by anonymous guest writer”

That time I tried to be transparent in a small group . . .

About 15 years ago I joined a certain group because everyone else was doing it and it seemed like the thing to do in order to be a better Christian, which of course I wanted very much.

The group followed a format that I found out later was typical, but it was all new to me at that time: We listened together to the respected speaker for the first hour, and then split up into small groups for the second hour.

This is where we would be transparent. Continue reading “That time I tried to be transparent in a small group . . .”

Blessings are not sweet little things (guest post by Deborah Brunt)

Deborah Brunt is an abuse survivor who blogs at Key Truths.

*****

In the Deep South, you know you’re in trouble when someone says, “Bless your heart!” It means, by translation, “Wow! What a hopeless mess you’re in!” or, “Wow! What a hopeless fool you are!” or, “Wow, am I glad I’m not you!” 

The person who speaks the “blessing” may feel genuine sympathy for you. Often, though, they want  a “nice” way to say something belittling.

Those times when people might bless our hearts, God wants to bless our lives. For real.

But we will likely miss the blessing if we have a wrong idea of

What’s the best way for us to bring glory to God?

This is a burden on my heart (that I pulled from yesterday’s post because it deserved its own) because I believe this understanding is crucial to becoming the people of God He has called us to be. I pray it will help someone the way similar teachings helped me in the 1990s.

Spoiler alert: I believe the Bible teaches that the best way for His people to glorify God is to live in the New Covenant.

This isn’t just distant theory. For example, the harmful theology of what has been called “Biblical patriarchy” is based on living in the Old Covenant.

The power of living in the New Covenant (in which all our sanctification is found in Jesus Christ) has tremendous practical application for us right now.

I believe far too few Christians understand the crucial difference between the Covenants and what that difference means, even though it’s explained right there in the New Testament. Continue reading “What’s the best way for us to bring glory to God?”

Why the Jeffrey Epstein case matters to Christians

It may feel like voyeurism, reading about it, if you don’t know any of these people.

But as I’ve been saying for some time now, I can be pretty doggone certain that you do know or at least interact with a survivor of sex trafficking, even if you don’t think you do. Because they are all around you.

My primary work is with those who have been sex trafficked in the Christian world. And believe me, there are parallels.

One person or small group of people is/are the traffickers. They may be relatively obscure, as Epstein was.

Others, the wealthy and elites (in my experience, it’s primarily been the wealthy and elites in the Christian world) are the buyers who take advantage of the trafficker’s “services.” (Flying in to the trafficking location is not a problem for the Christian elite.)

There’s a lot to learn about how this all works by reading about the Jeffrey Epstein case. Continue reading “Why the Jeffrey Epstein case matters to Christians”