How Local Churches Become Enslaved to Evil – Part 4

3Jn 1:9-10 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. (10) So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

This is the fourth installment in this series. It may have many, many parts because I have 36 years worth of stories to tell about evil in the local church. I say “local” church because in Christ’s true church which consists only of His genuine, regenerate people, such evil does not exist. In this present world, sure, there will be flaws and sin in the lives of the saints – but these we confess and repent of. The things I speak of here however are a different beast entirely.

In every single local church that I have served as pastor, Diotrephes has always shown up. It is in yielding to the offspring of Diotrephes that churches typically become enslaved to evil. It is this kind of thing:

2Co 11:20 For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face.

There is something in the typical professing Christian that clings to a false idea of “greatness.” A worldly concept of it, you see. Greatness is power and exaltation. Greatness is authority. Greatness is the guy or gal who just seems to be the one who tells others what to do and “strikes them in the face” if they balk at obedience.

So here is what it looks like.

Continue reading “How Local Churches Become Enslaved to Evil – Part 4”

How Local Churches Become Enslaved to Evil, Part 3 – Yielding to Threats

Way back in January of 2013 not long after my first book was published (A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church), I was contacted by Matt Claridge, a Baptist pastor and member of the Credo.mag (an online magazine) editorial team. He had read my book and wondered if I would be willing to do an interview with him for Credo. Of course I agreed and we taped the interview.

Needless to say I was excited when the day came that the interview was to be published on Credo and that morning I checked and sure enough, there it was. Perhaps after all we were going to be able to reach even more people and churches now in order to expose this hidden evil of domestic abuse.

Well, it was not to be. I stepped away from the computer for a moment and when I came back, guess what? The interview was gone. Zapped. Erased. I contacted Matt and this is what he said:

Jeff,

This is going to be difficult. I have just been informed that our executive editor has pulled the plug on the interview. I don’t know the string of events or communications that occurred this morning leading up to that decision, but apparently he was receiving feed-back from unknown sources (to me) about it. The particular point of controversy were the tone of comments made by you and others on your blog toward certain men with whom you disagree on the subject of divorce. Matt Barrett (the exec. editor) actually felt that you have a real point and contribution to make on this issue, but he was also afraid that there was the possibility that Credo might suffer “significantly and unnecessarily” from this.

I had forwarded to him our interview when it came in, to make sure he was cool with it. He takes full responsibility for this happening. I am deeply sorry and upset. I do think you have something to contribute, and Matt Barrett also thought the interview was a good one. I’m not sure where we go from here. I would really have liked to start a discussion about the topic and see Credo as a platform. After all, we all have points of divergence from any one of those authors and teachers (Piper, MacArthur, Sproul, etc.), but apparently this hit a nerve.

You are free to ask me any questions or discuss the issue further, although, again, I don’t really know the specifics of what transpired. Let’s both pray that there will be a way forward on this.

Well, there was no way forward as it turned out – at least not with Credo magazine. I never heard from them again. As you can tell from his email to me, Matt was genuinely disappointed and I do not blame him at all. However, their magazine staff did in fact cave into what boils right down to threats and intimidation. Is that Christ’s church? Is the body of Christ a place where leaders use threats and intimidation to silence people? No, this thing smells of the devil’s stench.

Joh 9:21-22 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” (22) (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.)

But I am posting this information for all of you as an example. It is an example of the workings of the kingdom of darkness to hide evil and to punish anyone who works to expose it with the light of Christ’s Word. It is the very same thing that happened in the longstanding coverup of sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention and in the Sovereign Grace Church denomination and in many other churches. Cover it up. Threaten and accuse those who would whistleblow so that they shut up out of fear. This is evil. This is the devil and this is his wolves in sheep’s clothing.

I was never told who specifically put the pressure on the Credo magazine editor, so I can only surmise. I do know that not long before all of this took place, I had critiqued a sermon by Voddie Baucham, a pastor who enjoys a huge following (why, for the life of me, I don’t know). I hammered him. I did. Because he not only plagiarized his sermon from a book that I had already read, but he was authoritatively announcing to his people that he and his elders forbade any of them from getting a divorce for any reason at all.  For ANY reason. He was pompous and he lorded his position over the flock. I received virtual hate mail from his fans after my critique was published online. And as Matt mentioned, I had also criticized and exposed John Piper for teaching that the Lord forbids divorce absolutely for any reason. And I told our readers that John MacArthur teaches that the Lord does not permit divorce for abuse. These are the “powers” in the visible church, you see and they are quite used to being obeyed.

Connections you see. Power. The usual suspects protecting one another. And if we permit this thing to happen in our own church and in our own pulpit, evil will certainly take control. Beware. There is something in our flesh that tends to conclude that if someone wields power, orders people what to do, takes advantage and puts on airs, then boy, they must surely be great in Christ’s kingdom. This is a lie. It is the exact opposite of the truth.

2Co 11:20 For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face.

 

The Real Source of Evil Hiding in Local Churches

Mat 13:37-39 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. (38) The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, (39) and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels.

Last week I listened to a podcast by James White, a well-known Reformed Baptist apologist whose program is called The Dividing Line. He was addressing a statement by Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore who was responding to the Houston Chronicle’s series on the hundreds of sexual abuse cases in SBC churches and how they have been covered up by SBC leaders.

White took Moore to task for saying that the Roman Catholic doctrines of the priesthood are not the cause of the hundreds of pedophilia crimes perpetrated by RC priests. After insisting on just the opposite conclusion, ie, that RC clerical pedophilia is indeed caused by the false doctrine of the priest being “another Christ,” White pointed to another cause of sexual abuse by church leaders in the SBC – bad ecclesiology (ie, the doctrine of the church).

White said that among Southern Baptists, just about anyone who claims to be called to the pastoral ministry is assumed to in fact have that calling from the Lord and no one is to question it. I assume then that what White means is that this is a broad path by which the wicked can creep into local churches, even as pastors. White then emphasized the need for a biblical ecclesiology – namely, local churches being led by multiple elders who are biblically qualified and who have been installed in their offices according to biblical procedures. He did not overtly say so, but I hear him saying that the sins of the “sheep” need to be kept in check, and therefore biblically qualified elders must be in place in a local church to ensure that the flock’s sin does not break out among them.

Now, I also believe that the biblical pattern for church leadership is that of multiple elders who are qualified for that office according to Scripture. I believe as well that Rome’s false doctrine of the priesthood absolutely contributes to pedophiles hiding in the churches. And I too agree that many, many people who claim to be called by the Lord to be a pastor have not heard the Lord’s calling at all.  However…

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