Injustice: an Open Letter to The Gospel Coalition

Nate Sparks

nate.sparks130@gmail.com

natesparks130.wordpress.com

 

 

TGC Council Members

Tim Keller, Don Carson, John Piper, et al.

The Gospel Coalition

thegospelcoalition.org

 

To the members of the TGC council:

I am writing you regarding an important and distressing issue within your organization.  I have been following The Gospel Coalition quite closely for the better part of a year now and have been deeply bothered by many of the things I have observed.  I have read many articles, listened to many sermons, watched many videos and I have noticed a trend developing – an environment of seemingly unchecked systemic injustice perpetrated and/or supported by influential representatives and council members of TGC.  As such, I have chosen to provide a representative list of examples, carefully cited grievances demonstrating the validity of this claim.

As you will see below, I have grouped these grievances thematically in order to facilitate easier reading and engagement.  I encourage you to not only consider my words, but the works I have cited as well.  Read carefully each cited source and decide, is this really what you are about.

What I intend to highlight are intentional, systematic injustices on which your ministry is built and from which it directly profits.  As such, I invite your response to these claims.  I hope you will see the pain you are causing and reconsider your actions.  These things have placed a stain on the body of Christ, as you have repeatedly favored the power and privilege of an elite few men over the well-being of entire congregations.

Sexual Abuse

  1. CJ Mahaney is explicitly supported by TGC and its cohorts. Mahaney has been implicated in what many have called “the largest sex abuse scandal to hit the Evangelical Church.” Multiple persons have claimed that Mahaney and his leadership team have worked diligently to actively silence multiple abuse victims within his church. He is even facing a lawsuit from many of these victims! Yet Kevin DeYoung, Don Carson, and Justin Taylor have openly defended him and no fewer than 6 presiding council members will share a stage with him at this year’s T4G conference.  

How, precisely, are you caring for the victims when two council members of the TGC and one board member of Desiring God have openly stated that the allegations against him are false?

2. TGC has repeatedly supported Doug Wilson. You have peddled his books and one council member (John Piper) has repeatedly given him a platform to write on his own blog. Yet no one has bothered to address the allegations of abusive pastoral practices Doug has used to enable sexual predators like Jamin Wight and Steven Sitler. This is troubling because, despite the fact that Sitler has been medically diagnosed as a fixated pedophile, Doug has refused to call him a rapist.

 

Equally troubling, Wilson has also openly blamed Natalie Greenfield and her father for the abuse she suffered.  Doug has issued blatantly false statements that have been openly refuted, yet he refuses to retract them.  He has even insisted Natalie and her family were complicit in a “secret courtship” instead of admitting the fact that Jamin Wight groomed and repeatedly raped a 14-year-old girl.

 

What, precisely, is the TGC’s take on Doug Wilsons handling of the Sitler and Wight sex abuse incidents? 

wp-1448921961263.jpg3. While we are on the subject of Doug Wilson, here are some other interesting facts. Doug Wilson has stated that rape is God’s way of punishing women who don’t practice his flavor of female “submission”. He has called this the “propriety of rape”. Further, Doug has openly stated that rape statistics are nothing more than feminist propaganda, that by the very nature of their “agenda” they are asking to be raped. He even states that victims still need to repent of their abuse and separates their victimization from the death of Christ on the cross, refusing to draw any line of solidarity in Christ’s suffering.

Do you see Doug’s vision of the cross standing apart from the plight of victims consistent with a passage like Isaiah 52:13-53:12? Why would the TGC sell the books or feature the blog posts of a man who openly blames victims of sexual assault for their own abuse?

4. You have also enabled Matt Chandler. As president of Acts 29 and the leader of the Village Church, a multi-site network of churches, Matt has promoted membership covenants in all his churches. Within these covenants, members sign their lives away to the church, signing contracts that, among other things, forbid them to divorce abusive spouses without the churches permission. As a result of these practices, the Village Church placed a woman, Karen Hinkley (formerly Root) under church discipline for attempting to nullify her marriage to Jordan Root. Jordan had admitted to an active addiction to child pornography and, according to Karen, had admitted to committing sexual assault. Despite this, the church attempted to force Karen to reconcile to her husband and spread lies about her to their congregations. It was only after all of this was made public, and hashed out over many months, that Chandler finally repented of the actions. It seems telling that Kevin DeYoung, during the Karen Hinkley scandal, openly stated that victims should not be automatically believed, that there is nothing wrong with siding with the privileged and powerful against the weak while exercising “caution and patience” about the victim’s report. He even intimates, without explicitly naming her, that Hinkley is lying.

One is forced to wonder, is this the TGC’s official position on instances of abuse? Is the reason there were no precautions within Chandler’s ministry to proactively prevent such an incident from occurring that TGC and its cohorts accept the direct teachings of people like DeYoung regarding how to address reports of abuse?

5. On August 24, 2014 a three-year-old boy was raped by a teenage volunteer at one of your member churches, Fellowship Bible Church of Brentwood, Tennessee. When the family reported the incident to pastoral staff, they claimed the staff attempted to silence them and convince them not to press charges. While FBC has denied these allegations, it is damning that in their official statement on the assault they labeled the perpetrator “alleged” despite the fact that he had already admitted to the crime.

 

I must ask, what policies and procedures does TGC require to be in place for a church to join your network? Is there a commitment to certain standards, or do you simply require financial remuneration?  If there are standards, do they include a strict policy on handling instances of abuse?  If so, how are they enforced and what resources does TGC have in place to ensure the victims and their families receive fair treatment?  DeYoung’s above cited article seems to provide a decent indication to how these questions might be truthfully answered.

 

Spousal abuse

6. I’m sure we are all familiar with statements made by John Piper, TGC councilman, regarding spousal abuse. In a now infamous video, Piper claimed that there is a time and place for a woman to endure being verbally or physically abused “for a season” and then tell her church and let the leadership support her and discipline him. This is an interesting approach because, as noted above, John Piper openly supports Doug Wilson, who has created an environment of unrepentant revictimization of abuse victims.

If John Piper cannot speak out against that situation, to call a friend to repentance, to what degree can we expect him to address it in his own church? Do the actions of your elders reflect the beliefs of TGC? If so, what code of conduct is there for dealing with pastors accused of abuse? In these instances, has John Piper followed this code of conduct?

7. Further, John Piper issued a clarification of his earlier video which also contained a great number of disturbing statements. Piper states that a woman seeking relief from abuse by appealing to civil authorities “May be” the right thing for her to do but she must do so with a “humble, Bible-saturated wisdom”. To be clear, he is not speaking against involving civil authorities, but given his emphasis on appeal to the church it seems clear it is not his preference. This is further supported by noting that Piper also states that such an action must be done with concern for continued humble submission to her husband. Thus he claims:

This legitimate recourse to civil protection may be done in a spirit that does not contradict the spirit of love and submission to her husband, for a wife may take this recourse with a heavy and humble heart that longs for her husband’s repentance and the restoration of his nurturing leadership.

Piper even pleas with women to go to their church before their husband ends up in jail while warning them there is no way of ensuring their church will actually care. It seems notable he does not speak at all of ways the church can be a safe haven, nor does he offer practical advice from his own extensive ministry experience. Noting his open associations with CJ Mahaney, I again find it dubious that Piper has protecting victims at the forefront of his mind here.

Do you see the way Piper, and other members of your council, have backed Mahaney and Wilson as an obvious living out of the complementarian doctrines you teach?  Do you believe that Piper’s teaching protects victims?

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8. In December Jason Meyer wrote an article titles “A Complementarian Manifesto Against Abuse” (see my thoughts here). Within this article he made several very bothersome claims. First, he claims that women are equal in worth but have divinely appointed separate roles. I don’t know about you all, but the concept of separate but equal leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. Further, he claims that issues of abuse within the complementarian tradition are not due to actual complementarian teachings, but the distortion of complementarianism he calls “hyper-headship.

 

It seems to me ironic that he exhorts the virtues of complementarianism when Russell Moore himself has stated that your views are not creating effectively complementarian marriages. Instead people who try to love their spouse as Christ would have them do so, despite their commitment to complementarian theology, end up in functionally egalitarian marriages instead.

Further, Meyer himself states that the headship teachings of complementarianism leave women vulnerable to abuse.

 

Why, then, does the TGC not call out the teachings of its members that claim women are the property of their husbands/fathers and that their purity is a reflection on these authority figures?  Does not such a view of masculinity, one defined against a feminine other, lead to the type of fragility and hyper-sensitive aggressive masculinity that facilitates spousal abuse?

Why have TGC council members teamed up with men who actively silence incidents of sex abuse? Why have so many of you focused on Saeed Abedini and none (that I can find) have taken up the cause of Naghmeh, who has documented spiritual and physical abuse in their marriage?  Likewise, if Meyers is correct about this “fringe” contingent of abusers, why is it that the leading thinkers within complementarianism, and not the fringe “hypers,” have made statements like the ones documented above?

Teachings on Women

9. John Piper has directly stated that no woman should hold any position of direct authority over a man in any circumstance. He even goes so far as to claim that a female cop pulling over a man is an affront to his masculinity and a usurping of his divinely appointed position of authority. He has stated that the serpent did not tempt Eve to usurp God, but to usurp the order in which man stood as her proper head via order of creation (my response here, here and here).

In what way is the TGC an organization which protects women and values their dignity? In what way are women “equal in value and dignity” if the men of your own council are allowed to twist Scripture in order to denigrate against them in positions of leadership, even in the secular world? Further in what way does Piper present an accurate or Christ-centered interpretation of passages like 1 Timothy 2? Doesn’t Piper’s insistence that complementarianism is necessary to understand the Gospel mean that he has placed something before Christ, that his Gospel has ceased to be “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2)? Does the TGC believe that there is no true Gospel without complementarian theology?

10. Doug Wilson teaches that until a daughter has been courted and married she remains under the headship of her father. Her father must be the authoritative presence in her courtship who protects her. However, if the young girl should buck this system at all she is asking to get raped. Further, the fact that she has been raped indicates a certain propriety to the occurrence of rape as a supposed consequence of rejecting the “male headship” of her father.

Does the TGC see rape as simply the consequences of non-submission? Is there a “propriety of rape” for children – even young children? Does this explain why a church like Fellowship Bible Church would call the rape of a 3-year-old alleged’, even though the perpetrator has confessed?

11. Wilson also shows that he has no respect for women. When engaging women who have disagreed with his insistence that women exist for the glory of men, he has often resorted to disgustingly misogynist language. In one particularly troubling incident, Wilson took aim at women who disagree with him by talking about their breasts, stating they are “small-breasted biddies.” Further, Wilson has openly admitted to checking out a host of women in order to determine whether Christian women are actually prettier. He then lays out his own concept of a beautifully modest woman before calling any woman who does not fit this mold an “easy lay” or a “lumberjack dyke”. That is, any woman whom he does not find carrying herself in a way he deems attractive, and thus modest, is insulted and assumed to be sexually promiscuous or a “man hater”. He quite literally treats women as property who exist for the gratification of his masculine identity.

Do you agree with Wilson here? Is it okay to speak about women’s breast size as an insult of their femininity as long as they are not submissive, “biblical women”? Might it then be okay to call a woman who has had a double mastectomy a “breastless biddie? Is calling your perceived opponent “gayer than an NPR tote bag full of rainbows” consistent with the values of the TGC? Do you see any indication whatsoever that Wilson recognizes and honors the inherent imago dei in his detractors? Do you agree with using violent, aggressive, misogynist language to silence women?

12. Voddie Baucham has made a number of strange and disturbing statements about women. First, he has stated

A lot of men are leaving their wives for younger women because they yearn for attention from younger women. And God gave them a daughter who can give them that. And instead they go find a substitute daughter…. you’ve seen it, we’ve all seen it. These old guys going and finding these substitute daughters.

Further, he opposes women leaving their father’s home before marriage. He does not approve of women going to college unless it is through a home study program, like the conservative Christian homeschooling program his daughter completed. As if this wasn’t bad enough, he supports “training” daughters (and sons) to behave by having “an all-day [spanking] session where you just wear them out” and further states that “if you only spanked your child five times [today], then that means that almost every time they disobeyed you, you let it go”. Likewise, a child’s shy behavior should be taken as an affront to the parent and the child should be spanked on the spot and forced to talk to the person.

If someone who comes across Baucham through TGC reads this, how do you think they would handle abuse? If their young daughter were raped by a family member, and if she recoiled at the sight of that person, would she then be spanked? Is a daughter’s every action about satisfying her father’s need for attention and respect? Is this not a breeding ground for domestic abuse and the revictimization of sexual abuse victims? Why then does the TGC website proudly include several posts by Baucham? 

13. CJ Mahaney has openly stated that women are responsible for the lust of men. He has stated to them that when a man stumbles into lust, it is because she has failed him as. He goes to great lengths to shame women for their bodies and to insist that they – not men – are primarily responsible for their failings because men are “wired that way.” Is it any wonder Mahaney has been implicated in a sex-abuse cover up scandal? Does he not encourage an environment where women are treated as sex objects, breasts and butts to be ogled when arbitrary standards of modesty are violated?

 

Does it really uphold the dignity of women to place the weight of lust on them?    What are you doing to vet the men you associate with?  Why is there no requirement for your council to distance themselves from these men?  If men like Mahaney don’t represent the reality of complementarian theology as taught by the TGC, why have you done nothing to combat their abusive teachings?

 

LGBTQ+

14. Doug Wilson has openly stated that being LGBTQ+ is a disease, an affliction. He openly supports reparative therapy, even though it has been proven not only harmful, but completely and utterly bankrupt as an endeavor. It has shown near zero actual results. Wilson has shown time and again, by using terms like “homo-jihadi” that he considers the LGBTQ+ community his enemy. He even uses the word “gay” as an insult against women seeking ordination!

Do you agree with Wilson’s opinion on reparative therapy? Since Kevin DeYoung openly endorsed the plagiarized content of Wilson’s A Justice Primer, do you then accept the actions and words of Wilson as just? Do you think Wilson is qualified to speak on Justice, or Love/Respect based on his open endorsement of abusive psychological practices?

15. Further, Wilson has expressly stated that transgender women are little more than rapists. He equates allowing your child to attend a public school with Lot offering his daughters to the mob. This is incredibly sad because more than half of all transgender persons report having experienced sexual assault in their lifetime. Not to mention the occurrence of so-called “corrective rape” where transgender persons are violently raped as a means of “converting” them “back”. Yet Wilson paints these persons as the enemy. He tells parents that transgender women are perverts looking to ogle and assault their daughters. He goes out of his way, as it seems he so often does, to demonize victims and try to make them into perpetrators instead.Time and again, I have shown that Wilson intentionally and with a great deal of vitriol goes out of his way to demonize entire people groups. So I feel some questions need answered regarding the close associations between Wilson and many persons who represent the TGC.

Why have you ignored Wilson’s repeated failure to obey the biblical command to “love thy enemy” (5:43-48). Why would the TGC, regardless of their opinions of same-sex attraction, promote the “biblical” teachings of a man who fails the basic test of loving neighbor by imitating Christ’s love for us (Mark 12:28-34; 1 John 4)? Why have you failed to make a public statement condemning his tactics? Why have you not removed his teachings from your website? Why do you still have links selling his books as solid biblical teaching? If a Christian is known by their fruit (Matt 7:16-20), what fruit do you see in Wilson’s ministry?

16. Albert Mohler supports the idea of developing hormone therapies to “reverse” homosexuality. He completely ignores the fact that this has been tried before. A well-known example will demonstrate the dangers. After WW2, prominent British scientist Alan Turing was found guilty of being gay and forced to undergo “chemical castration” to reverse his homosexuality. As a result of the therapy, Turing became increasingly depressed and committed suicide. Yet Mohler would apparently see nothing wrong with the way Turing was treated and even thinks that a fetus should be altered to prevent it from being gay if a test were ever developed that could demonstrate sexuality prenatally. Let that sink in, if a chemical reparative treatment ever should exist, Mohler wants to use it on children still in their mother’s womb! Perhaps this has to do with the fact that he considers being gay an illness, an infection that we need to diagnose and treat like a doctor with a cancer patient.

Further, Mohler claims that no practicing LGBTQ+ person can be a Christian and that no one who disagrees with him in his stance on same-sex marriage is a Christian either. He considers these people the enemies of religious liberty and persecutors of the true Christians like himself. I want to say that again, Mohler openly states that anyone who disagrees with him is an enemy of “true” Christianity (see my response here).

Is it the official position of the TGC that all persons who disagree with you on a particular topic can automatically have their Christianity revoked? Even if being gay is a sin, do you believe that sin automatically cancels out faith? Or, is being gay and exceptionally egregious “sin” which automatically makes one reprehensible and unacceptable by God? Would you support a chemical reparative therapy if it should be discovered? If so, would you want a therapy which fundamentally alters the hormonal balance of a person used on a fetus in utero? How about on a small child?

17. Denny Burk has stated that even being gay is a sin. That is, he not only thinks that gay sex is a sin, but that their very existence is sinful. He states there is a difference between orientation and behavior, yet he equates being gay with suffering from “unnatural” lusts and engaging in “perverse” sex. He equates attraction with lustful desire and thus he refuses to recognize that the attraction and love a gay person feels for their partner has no more to do with sex than the attraction and love a straight female feels for the male she desires to marry. That is because Burk categorically defines being gay as a sex act (either of lust or fornication) while he considers being straight a default orientation. He does not believe you can be gay without engaging in illicit sex (see here for a counter argument. As a result, he even rules out celibacy as an acceptable expression of being gay, instead insisting gay persons need to be made straight by Christ – though he does oddly oppose reparative therapies).

Does the TGC agree with his assessment? Is being gay automatically an act of lust?  If so, why do you not call the attraction a man feels for a woman lust?  Why distinguish between lust and attraction among “heterosexuals” but deny the same distinction between “homosexuals?”  Why is the love between same-sex partners equated with fornication, assumed to be only expressed in sex, but the love between opposite sex partners believed to be more than mere sex?  Do you honestly believe Burk’s position is internally consistent OR that it represents a loving engagement with the LGBTQ+ community?

Concluding Thoughts

It is my opinion that the seventeen grievances addressed above, and the many like them I very well could have included, demonstrate an environment of sustained and unchecked injustice festering within the TGC.  You have commodified fear, then sold it to the weak and victimized as faith.  You have entrenched yourself in privilege, then built a god in your own image to keep the “peasants” from revolting.  And worst of all, you have built an empire which profiteers off the abuses suffered by its subjects, all the while silencing their voices of impoverished dissent.  Thus, I contend that your commitment to complementarian theology is a commitment to corruption, an adherence to a tradition in which even the leaders do not have the victim’s well-being at heart.

And so I must ask you:

 If the TGC refuses speak up against the systemic injustices inherent to those who practice its theology, in what way can it be understood to be The Gospel Coalition? Can the Gospel of Christ be joined to systems of abuse and still remain “good news,” or does the cross of Christ stand against such systems in solidarity with those they oppress (1 Cor 1:18-31)?  In what way, given the multiple citations above, and the many more we both know I could have cited, is The Gospel Coalition a Christ-centered or Christ-like organization?

 

I enumerate these grievous offenses as a brother in Christ seeking your repentance. And thus, as a sign of good faith, I invite you to read my blog and consider its contents during your deliberation process.  Thank you for your humble consideration of each of them.  I will patiently await your reply.

In the meantime, I bid you peace and wisdom in Christ as you consider your answer.

 

Nate Sparks

**Cover image from https://thouartthemandotorg.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/t4gteam.jpg**

 

 

 

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156 thoughts on “Injustice: an Open Letter to The Gospel Coalition


  1. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.js
    https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.js
    https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsThank you for your letter and the questions you raise. I have laughingly told people that I am feminist only as it applies to the way most churches look at and treat the subjects of complimentarianism and egalitarianism. The issues you raise in your letter go far beyond what I thought the problems were. I admit to being completely and thoroughly sickened. One person however does not surprise me to be found in the midst of such controversy; John Piper. After reading on Desiring God that a miscarriage was a direct result of a woman’s sin I was determined to be done with him. Having watched a daughter in law suffer through a miscarriage and its aftermath I was deeply offended by this stand. How naive I was.
    While there are so many who feel it is their ‘Christian duty ‘ to call out false teachers and heresy there are not nearly enough in the Body calling out these same people on their own false teachings and the damage they are guilty of.
    ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…….’

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  2. Dear Nate, thank you for bringing these incidents to my attention. It is extremely concerning that TGC continues to be widely promoted and read in many churches in Australia (where I’m from). Almost a year on, did you receive any kind of reply to this letter from them? Nicola

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      1. Thank you for your reply! That is very sad. I think this is worthy of discussion in our churches. Thank you for so thoroughly documenting evidence in one place so we can easily verify what’s happened. And thank you for your courage in calling this out. I’ll be following your blog!

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      2. Anecdotal, and non-church related:
        When a person is secure in his/her identity, they are open to criticism even if they don’t agree with you.
        It’s the insecure who can’t take criticism.
        I find it funny that being “elect” means you can’t be critiqued.

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  3. Thank you for putting the time and effort into putting this into such a thorough post.
    I grew up with TGC authors as major authorities in my life. I read Piper and Grudem and Mahaney in college as though they were Gospel truth…and then the house of cards fell down.
    These men peddle such damaging, misguided messages and pass them off as truth.
    Thank you for speaking up.

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    1. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsNo, it’s not just you. I had the same thoughts as I read this. These men are using Gods Word to promote the same type of subjugation as is found in the practice of Islam. I mourn for those who are under their influence. These are truly evil men, and I don’t use the term lightly. Human beings have been using religious faith to justify their sinful acts down through the ages and these men are only the most recent group to do this. By their words and actions they have demonstrated that their loyalty is to themselves and not to God, His Word, or His people.

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      1. Just to be clear, the subjugation of women in Islam is similar to that in Christianity. It isn’t a practice held by all, and whether the sacred texts teach it is very highly debated.

        Patriarchy is definitely a problem in our world in all the forms it takes.

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  4. Just rereading this I saw the link to Kevin DeYoung’s “God of Justice Hates False Reports” piece. With what I’ve seen of TGC’s actions favoring CJ, and in light of how SIM’s recommendations and their missionary was treated by The Village Church initially, I think he should review that and take it to heart.

    He and his friends never apologize though, they just keep spreading half truths and attacks on victims, such as the one included in that statement he signed supporting CJ. The lack of context could constitute a false report, as is the idea the lawsuit was dismissed for being paltry in its evidence.

    Finally, he digs at some bloggers as “weeping prophets”. That is pure wickedness and God is not mocked. In that phrase, he is mocking to discredit God’s people, just as the leaders of old mocked God’s actual prophets. Kevin DeYoung is thus entirely disqualified to teach God’s people.

    Many men have made a career out of smarmy arrogance towards the humble people of God, twisting the Word of God. Though it grieves me, this week I state publicly that I reject entirely any ministry or self-proclaimed leader who refuses to listen to victims with humility while continuing to pontificate using God’s Word. Jesus Christ is Lord, and He hasn’t changed. Psalm 101.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Given that I live in the UK and my only recent experience of the US Church is through the internet I find these comments of one aspect of the church disgusting. It is the wholesale literalist interpretation of the Bible to manipulate power in their name, discriminating women in a barbaric way in the process. As a Methodist I am encouraged to use Scripture Reason Experience and Tradition to understand life. Where is their reasoning? their use of experience especially when considering the LGBT community?
    Thank you Nate for highlighting such travesties.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for writing such a frank and thorough article. Two things kept coming to mind as I read this: “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and “antichrists.” Perhaps “antichrist” does not accurately describe the men of TGC, but I firmly believe “wolves in sheeps clothing” is accurate and correct. Perhaps in their ministries, they preach enough truth to make it seem like they are furthering the kingdom of God. However, the lies and abuse that spews forth from them negates all of that. Why? Because Satan is the great deceiver, and what is more deceitful than “mostly truth?” These men are not ambassadors of light. They are spewing darkness into this world in the guise of the gospel. It is for this reason their deception must be brought to light. Because they are clearly deceiving people, just as they are themselves clearly deceived.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for this very detailed and informative post! I knew about quite a few of these situations before but have never seen this many clear, documented objections laid out in one place. Great work.
    I’m including a link (with credit, of course) to this post in my communication with some pastors at a local church. I’m hoping to convince them to avoid purchasing material from TGC members in their church-wide studies, which I know they have done in the past.

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  8. I’ve just seen something else with Piper that makes my jaw drop: his advocacy of spanking children:

    “If Jesus were married and had children, I think he would have spanked the children.

    Well, I will go to jail over that issue!

    “Children have little fat bottoms so that they can be whopped.”

    You may find this material very enlightening. I am so glad I left the evangelical church network. I am, however, disturbed that they are having an increasing influence in my country (the UK).

    Source: http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/would-jesus-spank-a-child

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am, among others, thankful for you exposing these issues and calling them out on it. It’s sad that many of these you named are so respected among today’s evangelicals. These extremists give Christianity a bad name. I look forward to reading other posts.

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  10. The Go$$$pel Coalition is simply a misogynistic and homophobic old boys club and you have proved that. I will certainly not follow the Pied Piper of Minneapolis, nor listen to the ravings of Mark Drivel…I mean Driscoll.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. It is an excellent, well thought out and documented letter. You provided so much evidence to back up your statements. I hope you continue to get wide readership.

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  11. I agree with you that DeYoung’s first statement you share is not correct. Mahaney is implicated in the three paragraphs you cite as being part of a conspiracy. His name is included with a number of other names in these paragraphs and could be overlooked. But still, DeYoung is factually incorrect. Have any of you tried to contact DeYoung for clarification/retraction? Any results?

    On the second section you share, do you know where a copy of the judge’s ruling is online? I could see the first part being more a matter of interpretation (what, after all, does make for a massive conspiracy?) but the second part could be factually incorrect if the merits of the case were no part of the judge’s ruling and it was just a matter of statute of limitations issues.

    I will try to contact DeYoung for further clarification on these points. What is true matters more than what theological jersey we wear.

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    1. Many people have tried to contact them. It has been pointed out by many that they are factually errant. If you want to do some research, The Wartburg Watch has an entire section of their website devoted to Mahaney.

      Also, people have contacted Doug about his factual errors. He openly claimed a woman would corroborate his story about the Greenfields. When she came forward and said she had never even met the Greenfields, she tried to comment on Doug’s blog. He erased the comment and has refused to change his statement.

      This is linked in the body of the letter.

      I get these men have had beneficial teachings. Some of their work has touched my life as well. Particularly used to enjoy some of Keller’s work. But when someone’s core beliefs run so far counter to Gospel (Keller believes you don’t truly have faith in God unless you accept complementarian gender roles!), when they consistently support men who lie and abuse others under their ministerial care, then I make a choice. There is nothing to any persons ministry so profound, so unique, that I could not with a reasonable degree of research find a better resource.

      You claim TGC could shutter tomorrow, all of this could be true and it wouldn’t affect you. Then why fight against the well-documented evidence? Why not research the victims stories. For instance, SGM Survivors has well documented the abuses of Mahaney and his church. Wartburg Watch, Watchkeep, and Spiritual Sounding Board all have many articles dedicated to the abuses of these men. Why not hear the victims’ stories?

      There comes a point in time when I cannot personally invest in a ministry without recognizing I have a moral responsibility to address its abuses. I have no desire to destroy TGC, but I cannot sit back while abuse takes place. I would have loved for TGC to respond. To contact me (my contact info was provided) so they could give me their version of events. Instead, they continue to hold themselves above reproach even as the vlives of their victims crying out in testimony against them.

      If you are comfortable engaging in protective strategies rather than reading the cited evidence, researching my claims. Google them, I’m the first to put them all in the same place, but not the first to note them. In my opinion, the evidence is overwhelming.

      I could provide you evidence for the next hundred years, but let’s be honest this isn’t about whether the evidence is credible. This is about your desire to protect your own investment here by attempting to keep the scales balanced. Personally, I dont do scales,I focus on the cross of Christ which exposes privilege and abuse and exalts the abused and oppressed (1 Cor 1:18-31).

      I guess the question remains one which you keep trying to dodge:

      How many victims will it take to unbalance your scales?

      Like

      1. I don’t care about the victims, I only care about Doctrine, just like everybody who likes TGC (sarcasm alert). Your self-righteousness is astounding (I concede that this may be the pot calling the kettle black but it is my observation).

        You like the scales metaphor but I used the fruit metaphor. I think the overwhelming evidence that we can see as outside observers points to good fruit in the lives of most of the people at TGC. Are there outliers like Doug Wilson and Mahaney who have more serious issues? Yes, as there are in every large organization, Christian and otherwise.

        If you think about your life, I am sure you will find lots of good fruit God has produced in your life. But if you really look closely, you’ll also find some bad fruit, won’t you? And you’ll even probably find that you don’t always come clean about your bad fruit. Now imagine a group of people constantly clamoring for you to come clean and then any time you make an attempt to come clean, that same group rails on you because you didn’t come clean enough or didn’t deal with it to their satisfaction. How likely are you to be forthcoming with this group? Why respond to someone who has already judged you guilty?

        Also, could you please supply me with the quote for where Keller says those who do not believe in complementarian gender roles do not have true faith in God?

        Like

        1. Actually, no I will not provide you with anything further. I have stated there is a difference between individual sins of imperfect persons and the systemic oppression of multiple people stemming from corrupted theology of elitist men who only care about preserving their own privilege. I have allowed your comments because I believed there could be some fruitful dialogue. However, you have rather glaringly demonstrated that You have not read the sources or watched the videos provided.

          You have revealed yourself when you stated you don’t care about the victims. You previously stated their plight breaks your heart, now their suffering is not as important as your own doctrinal correctness. You claim sarcasm, but you’re repeated refusal to do the prerequisite research and your attacks on my character without having read any other post on my blog suggest a microagression here.

          With that comment, the use of sarcasm and as hominem attacks without having ever addresses the sources you’ve been asked to read, dyou have shown yourself to have no desire for reasonable or respectful dialogue.

          Do not attempt to comment again, any further comments will be relegated to the spam folder.

          This blog is about the intersection of abuse and ideology. If you have no concern for victims, if you haven’t actually read my blog and are more concerned with protecting your own comfort through baseless ad hominem attacks than engaging the conversation, then you have demonstrated you have no desire to follow my fairly simple and lenient commenting guidelines.

          All further comments from you will be deleted.

          I bid you peace and pray you consider the cross not the scales of convenience in the future.

          Nate

          Like

        2. For the record, saying the good fruit outweighs the bad fruit is a scale metaphor. And you have already used the phrase “the good outweighs the bad”. So, no that wasn’t my invention to slander you it was an accurate representation I’m your actual words.

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    2. Dear JS,

      I don’t know whether you’re still reading, now that our host has deemed that you’re not welcome here. However, I did want to answer a few of your questions, since you took the time to ask me.

      The statement to which I linked in my first comment was issued soon after the lawsuit against SGM was dismissed. After receiving blowback, TGC deleted it, only to reissue it many months later, with no discernible changes. As soon as I learned about The Big Three putting out their statement again, I tried to leave a comment there, calling out DeYoung and his colleagues for being so irresponsible. My comment was deleted, probably without ever seeing the light of day.

      Also, I’ve commented on DeYoung’s personal blog from time to time (also at TGC), to remind him that I haven’t forgotten about his negligence regarding this statement. (In particular, one post he wrote entitled, “The God of Justice Hates False Reports”. How’s that for hypocrisy?) And while he has allowed all of my comments to stand, The Big Three’s statement in support of CeeJay is still there. No corrections, no retractions. Not even an acknowledgement of any criticism.

      Some time ago, you made the point that TGC is under no compulsion to respond to Nate, or to me, or to anyone they don’t know. That’s true as far as it goes. However, if they refuse to respond or listen to the criticisms of fellow believers, inevitably they will face the condemnation of those outside of Christianity. Jesus warned the leaders of his generation that they would be condemned by the people of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba. If TGC and other self-styled evangelical “leaders” continue on their current track, their accusers will be journalists, reporters, bloggers, law enforcement, and the general public. And that condemnation will be just, because their behaviour falls far short of that accepted even by non-Christians.

      If TGC doesn’t become more responsive, that might turn out to be the only fruit of theirs that the world remembers.

      Like

      1. jsf08 wishes to respond to your comment. Because of the nature his comments here and several which were deleted, if you wish to continue the discussion I ask that you do so via personal emails.

        Emails are attached to both of your blog profiles, so that should be an easy to facilitate arrangement.

        I apologize for this inconvenience, but there does come a point in a conversation when a person stops engaging the actual post and it’s content and resorts to attacks on another person or their character that a line needs to be drawn.

        I have been fairly lenient in comparison to many other bloggers with my comment threads, but tough decisions must sometimes be made.

        Thank you for your understanding.

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        1. Nate,

          Thank you for letting me know. I read the exchange between you and JS on TWW a few days ago, and tried to respond to him there, but I haven’t heard from him.

          If he would prefer to respond to me in private rather than on the Deebs’ blog, I’d be fine with you telling him the e-mail address that I use here.

          Thank you again for your hard work in putting this letter together.

          Like

  12. “My posts are intended to provoke thought and start conversations.”

    No, they are intended to slander. One thing that becomes obvious when you read slanderblogger’s stuff, is that they don’t believe in the Bible as the Word of God, they don’t believe in Christ. You can always find their anti-biblical views if you look hard enough, and with this article you don’t have to even look hard. The heresies of feminism and that homosexuality is not a sin show that you stand against God, and you’re just mad at these men because they stand for him. It’s also shown by the actual lies and half-truths you are using to try and slander them with. Repent and be Saved.

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    1. Here’s the thing, Lance. People are talking. A LOT of people are talking. They aren’t talking because I lied, or because I didn’t do my research, or because they don’t know my stance on these topics. They are talking because someone has the guts to stand up to the bullies and abusers and expose them.

      So here’s the thing. You didn’t make a single argument here. You launched an attack on my character as if you are somehow the gatekeeper of Christianity. The problem is, you’re not. And the Apostle Paul has some pretty harsh words in Galatians for those who think they get to make these decisions.

      So, as you have resorted merely to baseless attacks with zero evidence for your claim, I feel it important to invite you to try again. Your comment is rhetorically unsound and logically flawed.

      I’m sorry this post angered you. Personally, I find that the things which anger me most, those things which cause me to lash out with hateful words and vitriol -are the things which hit closest to home – the things that I know are true, even if I don’t want them to be.

      As a brother in Christ, I bid you Grace and Peace.

      Nate

      Like

  13. As a recovering American Evangelical, Nate, be encouraged in the fact that you have many in support of your efforts to uproot shame, prejudice, homophobia, misogyny, and intolerance toward others. I, for one, am not afraid of being blackballed or excluded from these communities for standing up for what’s right and fair for the unfairly marginalized – which, unfortunately, includes many men and women who simply are fighting for the right to exist in equality and strength alongside a patriarchy that has transcended the church for hundreds of years.

    Keep fighting, and let me know how I can help.

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  14. Dear Nate,
    I want to thank you for the courage and the insight it took to write this email. I was a woman in full-time ministry, serving the poorest of the poor overseas in the name of Christ, overwhelmingly supported by loving brothers and sisters in Christ who believed in my ministry. I married a man, also in ministry, and agreed to submit to him. He proceeded to abuse me in myriad ways, including sexual, throughout the marriage. Over years I pleaded with my missionary leaders and Christian marital counselors for help, but was repeatedly redirected to submit to him; meanwhile, he manipulated anyone who could potentially help me by telling them I was unsubmissive and disrespectful. The church just did not have the equipment to see through him or to stand firm on issues of marital abuse, so lost and blind were they in the ideology of male domination and female submission. (The book Love and Respect nearly killed me.) When I finally escaped him, I lost everything, including my ministry and my entire Christian community. By the time they were through with me, I had (spiritual) PTSD. I now cannot set foot in a church, read the Bible, or be near Christians without having a panic attack (though I still retain my own deep faith in God, who has never abandoned me). Most of all, my heart is broken over the women and children of my ministry whom I had to leave behind in the wartorn country where I used to serve. I dream about them sometimes still. I so wish I could still be there with them.

    I have long marveled at how blind and completely deceived the church could be on the very issues you have raised. I want to thank you so much for voicing what I, among the helpless, defenseless, and disgraced, cannot voice. PLEASE do not stop speaking out. I hope someday I can come home to my community of faith. Maybe people like you can purify the church, open her eyes, and make church a safe place again for broken people like me.

    Yours truly,
    S.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. S.

      Thank you. Yours is the voice I wish could be heard! You’re story breaks my heart and I appreciate the courage necessary to share it.

      I am against the Love and Respect book. It was given to my wife and I as a present and we have refused to use it, except as a way of addressing the abuses of submission culture.

      I pray one day the Church will be the haven you deserve. Until then, I will pray that a God who is not bound by either church or Scripture, will continue to reveal himself to you and give you peace as yo face each day. Thank you again for sharing.

      Nate

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you for your article and for the courage to engage TGC . I eagerly hope for their response, not just to these specific incidences/issues you have raised but to the whole issue of violence/injustice against women (and the culture that perpetuates that).

    I’m wondering about the other articles on TGC site that do provide some counterpoint to this discussion. Among other supporting articles (from both men and women) — what do you think of this posting, which provides some direction and hope for how churches can respond: http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2015/04/28/hyper-headship-and-the-scandal-of-domestic-abuse-in-the-church/

    I think, though, you are pointing out the formal responses from the Council, and not just the bloggers/posters on the site?

    With you, against injustice,
    Audrey

    Like

    1. Since Meyer is a pastor at Piper’s church, I’d say his support for Piper says something.

      Also, this line is telling.

      ‘Door 1: side with the abusersmDoor 2: take no side, orDoor 3: side with the abused and stand up to the abusers.

      If you are tempted to open Door 2, please know that it is a slide that just takes you to the same place as Door 1. Doing nothing is doing something: it is looking the other way so the abusers can do their thing without worrying who is watching. Saying nothing is saying something—it’s saying, “Go ahead, we don’t care enough to do anything.”’

      Meyer (I addressed his manifesto against abuse in this post BTW, a post he released the day after the FBC Brentwood news broke) has yet to write a post calling out any actual abuses because he sees them as fringe instead of recognizing this is a top down issue. Thus I would offer this post, and my post “Not All Comps” as a response.

      I’d say the above cited excerpt leaves a finger pointed at Meyer.

      Thanks for the comment. Great question.

      Like

      1. I’m not sure I understand your conclusion here? From my reading of Meyer’s sermon, he is saying to his listeners– you have to actively respond and do something to help the victims/abused. Door 1 and 2 are not Christian responses/options.

        That seems to be a step in the right direction, no?

        Definitely agree that people on the other side of the argument will tend to see the abuses as exceptions/fringe (sadly, I have experienced this personally).

        Toward wholeness,
        audrey

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        1. I am saying I agree with what Meyers says, but that he has remained blind to abuses and has a close relationship with John Piper.

          I am of the opinion that words are empty without praxis. In this case, Meyers says silence is the same thing as actively working against the victim.

          The problem is, when I asked him directly how he would respond to the FBC Brentwood issue – a story which broke the day before he released his post – he refuses to comment. He even blocked a comment in which I asked to discuss my post “Not All Comps” from his blog.

          I’m saying, by his own standards he has taken door #2.

          Like

          1. Is Jason Meyer above reproach? Does he not a responsibility to his own words? What are we do to when he upholds the teachings of leaders who have been implicated in abuse scandals? Do we ignore the voices of the victims? Because that is door #2.

            Like

          2. He has a responsibility for his own words but he doesn’t have any responsibility to you in particular. He has a right to respond to whomever he wants for whatever reasons he wants. It’s not my job to put him on trial or to assume he is taking door #2 because he chooses to not respond to my comment.

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          3. He is choosing #2 because he supports men who perpetuate abuse.

            He wrote a piece of abuse as a means of taking cheapshots at the people he disagrees with. He claimed his theology is the way while the men he is associate with (he has spoken at CJ Mahaney’s T4G conference and serves alongside John Piper) have covered up abuse.

            I asked him to respond to the abuses of his comrades, he didn’t. He may not have a “responsibility to me”, but he does have a responsibility to those victims. He hasn’t spoken up…thus door #2.

            Like

  16. Could you provide some positive examples of leaders who have placed themselves in the public eye who I can follow? Maybe some who have made no grievous errors while claiming to be Christians? Or some who are willing to publicly write off other Christian sinners? Someone who has no sin, or atleast claims to have no sin? Is there anyone you can name maybe who sins but it’s just little unimportant ones? Who am I allowed to enjoy or grow from? Christ only?

    Like

    1. Brady, I’m sure you are capable of answering these questions for yourself. I endorse a number of blogs, start there.

      Also, this isn’t a post about isolated sins. It is about a system of abuse that runs across the TGC, and from which they intentionally profit. If they won’t call it out, if they won’t address the corruption, someone has to.

      Here is how I decide who to follow:

      Do they use abusive language against other people?

      Do they use intentionally fallacious and/or untrue arguments?

      Do I see the fruits of the Spirit in their work?

      Is their gospel “Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor 2:2)” or do they have precursory qualifiers you have to meet first?

      Is the way they treat their critics or those they consider “enemies” Christ-like?

      Start there, there are plenty of people who aren’t perfect but are striving to do these things. There are others (like those listed in this post) who aren’t.

      The cross is the Christian ethic, so start with Jesus and work out from there.

      Hope that’s helpful.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Nate,

    I appreciate what you did here, and all the work that went in. On many of these, I agree with your assessment, and I hope people reflect on this seriously.

    I would say that the Chandler incident probably does not belong here. He has genuinely repented of that situation, and all accounts are that he and his elders have taken real steps towards a correction of what caused that incident. You mention that he repented only after a public backlash. True, but this in no way guarantees that his repentance was not genuine, and all accounts are that it was. It’s one thing to be thorough, and another to pile on.

    I also think your equating of complimentarianism with abuse is misguided, unfair, and opportunistic. Attacking complimentarianism because some who espouse it have misused that doctrine is actually a fallacy called “hasty generalization.” I know many men and women with a healthy understanding and practice of complimentarianism who would never agree with Wilson’s comments. As I read it, your post leaves complimentarians in common territory, without proper grounds, and runs the risk of undermining your entire argument with TGC complimentarians who might otherwise listen to what you have to say about abuses from within the ranks.

    Overall, I think you’re saying some valuable, helpful things. thanks for the food for thought.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What I said about Matt Chandler was, how did he get there in the first place? Not by caring about the victim. I’m not denying the repentance or steps taken. In fact, I linked to Hinkley’s letter accepting his apology.

      Also, I addressed the concerns about. Hasty Generalization when I talked about Meyer. I made it specific I am focusing on how the leaders of a movement practice their ideology. I then asked how, if they work complementarianism into their opinions on these abuses, how we can trust the theology.

      I have asked different questions around the same thing here.

      https://natesparks130.wordpress.com/2015/11/17/not-all-comps/

      I have complementarian friends I highly respect who strongly oppose the TGC and see everything they say as a perversion of complementarianism. I am not lumping them in. I am speaking to specific men who consider themselves leaders of a specific movement in the church. I am tying theology to action with a whole heck of a lot of citations to make sure people know I’m speaking to specific instances and specific words.

      If your interested in my work on the theology – and not praxis among leadership – of complementarianism. See here.

      https://natesparks130.wordpress.com/complementarianism/

      I disagree with the theology, I don’t think – not have I stated – that every complementarian is guilty of these abuses.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  18. I’ve tracked Wilson’s writings for many years. What fascinates me is that those who have the courage to call him out (for the language, behaviors, and beliefs you’ve referenced in your post) all seem to be outsiders, save maybe one or two closer associates over the years. But mostly, these call-outs come from outside — those who are on the outside of Wilson’s empire looking in. And what they — you — I — see when we look in is just so disturbing that, well, it’s baffling to us that so many of his peers seem to stay silent publicly. Perhaps they’re not silent privately … who knows. If they ARE correcting him privately, either 1) they’re not doing a very good job or 2) their words are falling on deaf ears.

    I remember John Piper once saying something about Mark Driscoll akin to (not a direct quote): yeah, his manners aren’t great but his THEOLOGY is solid. For ONCE, I’d like to hear one of these Revered Reformed Superstars say, “You know, I may agree with him theologically, but we really need to talk about [abuse of power, abuse of language, abuse of people] because it’s unacceptable and needs to stop. This is where I draw the line.”

    When it comes to living out the Gospel, theology isn’t the end game. People are. It was for Jesus. It should be for us.

    Like

    1. Spot on! I would also argue theology isn’t just what we write in a book or say in a pulpit, it is how we embrace the cross and model Christ-likeness to the suffering around us. When actions contradict theology, I am reminded of white-washed tombs.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I can’t speak much for peers outside his congregation, but it’s a well known fact in Doug Wilson’s church that anyone who speaks out against Wilson in any manner is immediately shut down and demeaned. Anyone in his church who has a bone to pick with him has to either shut up and swallow it or leave as peacefully as possible and never bring up the disagreement. When Doug feels that a member of his congregation is gossiping about him or slandering (ANY discussion, public or private, of grievances against Doug or the church falls into those categories) he will readily resort to blackmail, extortion, and mud slinging and he will not stop until the person in question is destroyed in as many ways as possible. I watched him systematically destroy my own father’s reputation, livelihood, and nearly his sanity.

      I attended Christ Church for the better part of the first 19 years of my life and the horrors I witnessed could fill a book.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Natalie, God bless you for having the courage to make what you have endured public knowledge. I hope your dad can find peace and strength in knowing that DW is WRONG! Keep fighting by speaking the truth!

        Like

  19. Nate– you seem to have hit a nerve. Wilson has responded on his Mablog– but rather than name you or your article, he’s making it about Rachel Held Evans and her supposed lack of reading cmprehension. Of this post, he writes, “The post in question, if you find it, contains a farrago of slanderous nonsense directed against me.” Wow! A whole farrago-full!

    Like

    1. Haha…I saw his response. I personally liked the “unnamed blogger” moniker. I’m thinking about going by Voldermort or Racer X now. I like the whole “mystery man” vibe 🙂

      Like

      1. In her Biblical Personhood article in the pingback, Retha does a great job of responding, IMO. I hope you won’t mind some friendly criticism about a technicality. But it’s a technicality with which Wilson made much hay a few months ago. As James, a commenter on Natalie’s blog and former leader in Wilson’s CREC denomination wrote, “The CREC is a society that turns on nuance and technicalities (not really what normal people experience in regular life). ” So as his critics, we might need to be more nuanced than we would be ordinarily. You wrote of Doug enabling peophiles like Jamin Wight and Steven Sitler, and Doug’s refusal to call Sitler a rapist. Although Wight is, like Sitler, a rapist (and a sexual predator, which Wilson denies) there’s no evidence he’s a pedophile (sexually attracted to prepubescent children). Natalie has never used this term to describe him, though she did quote one prosecuter who used the term. After several bloggers repeated “pedophile” as describing Wight back in September, Wilson responded by pointing out how Natalie was 8 inches taller than him. This assertion was untrue, but illustrates how we should not open him more doors than needed. Like I said– this is a technicality and you’ve brought up many good points. I especially had been thinking about #15 back when Wilson posted that whopper, and hopefully I’ll find time to discuss it further, since I’ve seen no other critics address it.

        Like

        1. Thanks Phred. I understand what you at saying. But I would argue that they way in Natalie has described Wight’s advances toward her and the way he controller her life through abuse and fear that this is classical sexual predator behavior. My point was to communicate that Wilson has played down the predatory nature by placing blame on Natalie and her Father.

          I take your point about the pedophilia. Technically Natalie would have been going through puberty at 14 so it is technically hebephilia and that is an important distinction. I will adjust my wording to better fit that nuance. Thank you.

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          1. “My point was to communicate that Wilson has played down the predatory nature by placing blame on Natalie and her Father.”
            Totally agree. A “dark underbelly” of patriarchy is that a father who tries to move his family away to protect them from a “Kirk” may be accused by the pastor of being “abusive”. The pastor might even (no idea whether or not this happened in this case) encourage the wife to divorce her husband (to whom she’s supposedly supposed to submit) so she can stay in the “Kirk”.

            Like

  20. Engaging these voices can be exhausting and intimidating because they will try to attack you personally. Nate, just wanted to let you know I and many others are praying for you. May you have God’s assurance as you speak the truth, and may God protect you and your family from any stress or worry. Peace to you; you are doing what is right.

    Like

    1. Nate,

      This comment jumped off the screen.

      How could Christianity be intimidating?

      Because it is.

      The anonymous poster is telling the truth–and suggests you need to be protected from the backlash.

      And, they are telling the truth…anonymously.

      Why…possibly as an “anonymous” commenter?

      Because they know just how intimidating Christians, and especially the establishment leadership in evangelical circles, can be.

      They know the truth.

      How can a religion based on the teaching and example of Jesus Christ–a message of love, hope and outreach to others–prove to be intimidating?

      Just ask a question or two…

      Stay strong, Nate. In Christianity there may be an untapped silent majority–time will only tell. Cheers to your courage and bravery.

      All the best,

      luke

      Like

      1. Agreed. Many have chosen to comment without their full names because they know there will be consequences if others find out. Christian and Christ-like has long since ceased to be synonymous. The Church ought to be the safe space where love, healing, and nurture occur. Instead it is quite often a den of ravenous wolves waiting to eat their own at the first sign of weakness.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Nate,

          Agree 100%–“The Church ought to be the safe space where love, healing, and nurture occur.”

          I think it was Philip Yancey who said, to paraphrase, “Where is God when bad things happen? I would ask, ‘Where is the church?'”

          But, that is where (the “church”) strange, paradoxical things happen. And, that confuses people seeking to engage with the promoted message of “love” flowing from a church.

          A message of love and the “belief” women “tacitly” agree to the “propriety of rape” because they supposedly “choose” to fail in their duty of being submissive to “godly” men- husbands and fathers-seems to not “fit” under the same roof…or tent.

          On a sidebar, I read Wilson’s response to Rachel’s tweet–based on your excellent blog post–and heard what I expected: deflection, accusations and personal attacks offered by Wilson in his “defense”

          Nothing new…Circular, warped and incoherent thinking embraced and reflected in Wilson’s words…all for what purpose?

          A defense? Against what?

          I just responded–outside of the questions you offered and the issue of “submissiveness” furthered by Rachel. My query on Wilson’s blog simply asks if Wilson’s original words–what he wrote about women “tacitly” agreeing to be raped based on his “no masculine protection” belief is what he intended.

          Doesn’t that alone say a lot?

          It is not a redundant question. He is trying a smokescreen, foggy, circular deflection to distance himself from the reality of what he wrote. Much like his writings in “Southern Slavery”, love of rebel flags and consistent hate-filled “reasoning”, Wilson’s words–on their own–speak volumes to those lacking the indoctrination to simply agree with his foolish thinking.

          For me…and others…Wilson is a fool.

          On its own merits…forgetting the leadership and other issues…his words say more than enough about Mr. Wilson…enough to know he is warped and out-of-touch with reality of the world we live and even his own “faith.”

          Nate, I know you know this, but arguing with “crazy” will only drive you crazy.

          You hit a nerve. You offered solid questions and evidence to support the queries. Now, it’s “their” turn…

          Their own words in response indict themselves…and prove what you suggest:

          Change–a nearly sinful word for many evangelicals–is needed.

          All the best,
          luke

          Like

          1. I agree. He chose RHE to deflect attention because he knew one he said her name, it didn’t matter what he said next. I’m not a big name, so people don’t have a preformed opinion.

            I have refused to reengage him for precisely the reasons you note. This is about ego for him, it isn’t for me.

            Thanks Luke.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Nate, No need to waste your time, but the responses to my question on Douglas Wilson’s blog included: multiple responses by a commenter professing to be a “Christian” using a Confederate flag for an icon accusing me of “judging” Wilson; a poster identified as a female saying women “deserved to be raped” if they “failed to submit to God”; an analogy of “Bridge Out” warnings and resulting rape for women without “masculine protection” (that was a real sick one); and numerous racist, hate-filled responses defending Wilson’s perspectives. I am through with it–I did my best. As I noted to one of the few reasonable commenters, this type of unreasonable, illogical and decidedly out-of-step version of “Christianity” is not a surprise–they are simply following their leader… Best, luke

            Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you, friend, for this thourough and very true list of problems that the TGC has. I first came in contact with their name and ideals when I (accidentally…long story) attended a Reformed Seminary. I, a “liberal, feminist, universalist was so shell-shocked by it all that I left the church for a few years. It was terrible. But what I’ve learned from TGC, and others in that circle, was that ideas can be poison, and they can kill just as surely as a weapon. TGC and others seem to forget that their (incorrect) theological ideas have serious consequences.

    Thank you for helping to expose those toxic ideas, and the sad results of drinking poison.

    Like

  22. Several years ago, after growing up spiritually in evangelical churches, I had a sense that if Islam took over in the U.S., how many “Christian” men would be bothered by its treatment of women? My observation was that many of these men (not all evangelicals, but enough) were committed to traditionalism, that is a cultural Christianity rather than to Jesus. So, I wondered how many would convert to Islam because it’s the same thing as these Christians are preaching.

    I thought I was being too extreme. That wasn’t, after all, the message I got from the Bible and from most evangelical leaders when I was a new Christian. People like that were considered nutcases on the fringe. You know, the kind depicted in movies like Footloose: fundamentalists.

    The recent resurgence of Calvinism, which is something that I found appalling to most evangelical Christians at one time, is now seen as wonderful by many. It used to be one of those things that I could say, “Well, they have their preferences, but we both share an emphasis on the gospel.” The differences could be overlooked. It seems though that Calvinism is repeating history and leading into pride. This was well-depicted by George MacDonald in at least one of his novels.

    Note: if there are any moderate Calvinists reading this, I don’t intend to offend you. I am speaking here of those who, like many in TGC, place the doctrines of it above the value of the gospel.

    The more that I see, the more convinced I am that my thoughts are not so strange. This post of yours brings a lot of that out. Thank you.

    Like

    1. Thank you. I agree, I have a lot of Calvinist friends who would be equal appalled. But the Neo-Cal group is more Neo-Puritan than anything. And you wouldn’t be the first to see a disturbing similarity to the way women are abused in some (not all mind you but some) Muslim traditions. Patriarchy is the common denominator.

      This a great book on the topic. Cannot recommend it highly enough.

      http://amzn.to/1WXLVze

      Like

  23. I know you’re trying to be as civil as possible, and that’s always my goal as well. Unfortunately, merely trying to state the beliefs of the Reformed in layman’s terms so often sounds like a low blow.

    Since no one else has, I feel the need to point out that as far as your final question regarding the “gospel” part of The Gospel Coalition, you must consider their esoteric definition of that term. For the Reformed, “gospel” does not just imply or merely depend upon but specifically means penal substitution + precisely nothing else. The good news is that God inflicted punishment for the sins of the elect on Jesus, and “believing the gospel” is consciously acknowledging this as fact, particularly in contradistinction to any view of the work of Christ that allows for anything resembling works or human effort (which makes your claim that Mohler requires LGBTQ+ to be cured in order to be saved strike me as a little incongruous with his soteriology…but I digress). Aside perhaps from “common grace”, they make no bones about the fact that precious little good news is implied for any but those who have been chosen to believe.

    The most intractable factor in all of this is that the judgment, exegesis, and spiritual wisdom of all of those who are reasonably sure to be part of the Elect tends to be unassailable from anyone outside. This is particularly the case when 1) they agree with each other against the challenge and 2) the challenge concerns cultural aspects that would require them to admit some possible deficiency, myopia, or other kind of limitation on the part of biblical authors. Sadly, I can’t imagine that your open letter will prevail against either of these.

    I hope and believe I’m being fair in my characterization. Or rather, I hope I’m misstating things, but I do not believe I am in substance.

    Like

    1. I don’t see it as a low blow to lay out what people have said. But yes, Wilson has already called it a low blow and me a liar. So that is about what we can expect.

      Here is my logic on Mohler. He has said no “practicing homosexual” can be a Christian. Nor can anyone who supports them. Then he says in order to avoid these people being outside by their very nature, we should correct the problem in utero or in early childhood. The problem with theology is it isn’t just about what you affirm doctrinally, it’s about how you live it in dialogue with others. Thus, Mohler may be contradicting his doctrinal affirmations, that may say something about how he dichotomizes belief and practice.

      I do agree their theology prevents them from seeing beyond their noses. They are the “elect” so they must be blessed and right. When you dismantle all that, their just privileged men defending their privileges. We tend to create a god who preserves us, stands against out enemies. The scandal of the cross is that it levels the playing field by raising up the weak and humbling the strong. So when someone uses the Bible to say who is out, it puts them in the camp of the Pharisee and not the Tax Collector (to use Jesus’ parable).

      Thanks for the comment.

      Like

      1. Having a “logic on Mohler” is simply not a reasoned argument for including him in your enumerated offenses. You had my attention with much of your posting until Mohler. It is so completely off the mark that it institutes caution for me in the veracity of some of the claims about the other listed offenses.

        There is simply no chance that Mohler is making the claim that there is a prerequisite for salvation. Full stop. The citation to Mohler making such a claim for “practicing homosexuals” is incredibly weak. The phrase certainly does not appear in the article verbatim (which suggests you should consider discontinuing using quotations insinuating it does) and it further seems to take gymnastic maneuvering to arrive at the claim you have saddled him with.

        This claim is antithetical to decades of evidence exemplified in his writings, and is counter to Southern’s own doctrinal statement
        — “Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal of sinners, who believe in Christ, from all sin, through the satisfaction that Christ has made; not for anything wrought in them or done by them; but on account of the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith.” (http://www.sbts.edu/about/abstract/) — to which “Every professor makes the solemn vow to teach in accordance with and not contrary to all that is contained within the Seminary’s historic doctrinal statement” (http://www.sbts.edu/about/history/). Arriving at your conclusion places Mohler in contention with the board of his own seminary, but oddly enough not a single member of his board, his institution, or the theology academy at large has arrived at your conclusion. Which either points to an incredibly orchestrated grand conspiracy or the potential of a weak accusation.

        Brother — the listed concerns are should invite scrutiny by the Church in order to better minister to our brothers and sisters. But #16 simply does not pass muster in the slightest, and I would humbly ask you to reconsider your endorsement of its inclusion in your enumerated grievances.

        Like

        1. First, You are responding to comment I made, not point 16. Nowhere within #16 do the words “practicing homosexual” exist. Also, to help with why I use quotation marks, those are called scare quotes. They are there to show that I am emphasizing the words without agreeing with all the connotations attached to them.

          Nowhere in #16 do I even remotely say any of the stuff you’ve accused me of. And I have written a post critiquing Mohler’s position and detailing my reading of him. It might be helpful to read that first. I expressly stated when I wrote this post that I wanted people to read all the links because I was making a case based off what certain leaders have said as well as off the body of my own work. So, I struggle with you critiquing a comment, calling it part of my post, all without knowing what Ive said or why I’ve interpreted it this way.

          So listen to the podcast of Mohler about “religious freedoms”. Read Mohler’s post on not accepting homosexuality”.

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        2. Then read Mohler’s post on why Christians cant affirm “homosexuality” then read my critique here. https://natesparks130.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/rhetorical-questions/

          Now, as I stated above, there is a difference between praxis in theology and theological affirmation. Mohler can affirm one thing and those who support him will generally try to justify what he has done by appealing to his stated beliefs. But I am saying, he has said one thing but acted completely differently. Thus saying, “Well he said this…” is unhelpful because we are talking about his active persecution of the LGBTQ community. He may say nothing before Christ, but he thinks a true Christian believes what he believes. Thus he disqualifies those who aren’t in his camp from Christianity from the get go. So yes he says, “Salvation is based in Christ alone” but then he refuses to consider his opponents Christians. That is a hypocritical stance setting himself up as the gate keeper of salvation.

          I do appreciate your comment, and I can appreciate your perspective. But I wholly feel you have missed the point of what I am saying and that you have not fully engaged the materials I provided.

          Peace to you,

          Nate

          Like

  24. Thanks, Nate, for giving voice and attention to the reality of abuse and the consent and support of abusive practices and thinking by many establishment Christian leaders and groups.

    I found your blog via Rachel Held Evans and Dr. Peter Enns on Twitter, two highly respected Christians who, by example, choose to NOT allow silence to be an endorsement of the abusive behaviors, practices and thinking of many “Christians.”

    You asked “Is this really what you are about?” That question demands an answer without deflection.

    “Silence” in so many cases in the church is perceived to be consent and approval–and the ugly consequences are evident. While you will have many attack you, you also have the support of many others and the truth on your side. All the best, luke

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  25. Thank you for caring for the poor and the oppressed and the abused. I pray that your message hits home, and people see sin and destroy it at the root. As you see here in the comments, people are already blind to their complicity. I cry out in Christ’s name. Amen.

    Like

  26. Nate, welcome to the club! Some of these people are going to go for your jugular. That means you are hitting close to home. My posts have been emailed to Matt Chandler, Covenant Life Church and others. Keep up the good work!

    Like

  27. I appreciate your willingness to go toe to toe with these power-brokers on behalf of those who do not have the power. I would like to challenge you regarding your comments on reparative therapy. I know MANY (as in more than 50) individuals for whom it, along with counseling and prayer, has allowed the individuals to live at peace either as a single man or woman or in the context of a heterosexual marriage. The caveat? They all wanted this level of transformation, vs being told they needed to do this. While I do cringe when heterosexual men make condescending remarks about those who are members of the LGBT community, please don’t assume that God’s transformative powers are not available to all who desire transformation. thanks for reading. Blessings.

    Like

    1. Dorothy,

      Reparative therapy is a very divisive and highly controversial topic. There is a lot of complicated conversations around the “ex-gay” community that I do not wish to duke out at this moment. But I would point to the shuttering of so many reparative clinics and the apologies that soon followed.

      I believe quite strongly in the transformational powers of Christ, Christ the fact that I’m writing this is evidence of them. But Mohler is talking about removing a person’s choice from the equation. Likewise, Wilson is stating a person must go through a “reparation” to be a Christian. He believes you have to conquer the “sin” of being before coming to Christ. I thin we can both agree those are troubling trends.

      Like

    1. Which quotes?

      Did he not say there is a propriety of rape?

      Did he not use the words “small-breasted biddies?

      Did he not say “immodest” women are easy lays and lumberjack dykes?

      Did I not provide a screenshot showing he said Natalie Greenfield is somewhat responsible?

      Did he not directly say Sitler isn’t a child rapist?

      Which quote did I misrepresent?

      Also, can I assume you agree on the other quotes from other people?

      Please be specific when making accusations. I was very specific in my accusations against Wilson.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Your mind is clearly made up about. I didn’t comment in hopes of persuading you that you are wrong, but rather to encourage readers to investigate the quotes for themselves. If you believe you have written this piece honestly and fairly, than surely you have no problem with that. I actually don’t think debating is necessary. Just taking a look at the context for oneself should be all it takes.

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        1. I allowed your comment, so you’ve certainly been allowed. I also encouraged reading the cited texts, because people shouldn’t take my word for it. But you also attacked my character – said I was intentionally (shamelessly) twisting. So I asked you if Wilson did or didn’t say those exact things. You are welcome to disagree, but you still have to deal with whether Wilson thinks there is a “propriety of rape”.

          To make sure we are on the same page, here is a definition for propriety.

          http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/propriety

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Wilson said that others affirm the propriety of rape. He did not affirm it himself and actually is saying the opposite – that rape is bad and godly men should protect women from being subjected to it.

            If simply saying that other people affirm that there is a “propriety of rape” equals affirming the existence of such a thing yourself, then you are guilty of the same thing you are accusing Wilson of. You’ve used the term far more than Wilson has at this point. (Ah, but you are talking about how
            someone else believes in it…you don’t believe in it yourself, right?)

            I don’t know whether you misrepresented him on purpose or if you genuinely don’t understand what he wrote, but the fact remains that you did misrepresent him.

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          2. Here is the link to the full page from Her Hand in Marriage (13).

            http://moscowid.net/2016/01/13/the-propriety-of-rape/her-hand-in-marriage-page-13/

            Wilson used the word Tacitly, which means active consent. It is the equivalent of nodding ones head in active but silent agreement.

            Propriety means that it is perfectly good and acceptable for something to exist in society. It has a proper and beneficial societal function.

            So he has already stated that any woman who rejects the headship her prescribes is opening herself to all kinds of harassment by ungodly men.

            (Which leaves me wondering how to classify Wilson and his followers treatment of RHE).

            He then states that women who don’t submit actively consent to a society in which rape has a normal and beneficial function.

            But he doesn’t stop there. He isn’t just saying they are signing up to be raped. He says that this is happening because they have resisted God and bad things happen to those who resist God. So, already, we have a God who sets up for those who defy him rape. And in case you think Im stretching, he states this is a way that “those who exalt themselves are humbled”. Since he is quoting a Scripture passage where God actively humbles the proud, and since he says the rape happens to people who resist God’s order, he is saying God designed rape as a punishment for unsubmissiveness.

            Now, if Wilson, by the words he suses, implies it is appropriate and beneficial to society apart from God that God humbles the self-exalting feminist through her rape, then does it not stand that Wilson thinks she had it coming? That received what she deserved? Or does Wilson believe in an unjust who doles out underserved punishment?

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      2. Nate,
        I agree with Wilson, don’t ‘…entrust our cultural future to people who can’t read.’

        https://dougwils.com/s7-engaging-the-culture/smash-the-complementarity.html

        ‘So feminism — smash the patriarchy feminism — wants us to be ruled by harridans, termagants, harpies and crones. That sets the tone, and the pestering is then made complete by small-breasted biddies who want to make sure nobody is using too much hot water in the shower, and that we are all getting plenty of fiber. And if anyone reads these words and believes that I am attacking all women by them, that would provide great example of why we should not entrust our cultural future to people who can’t read.’

        Like

        1. That’s nice. I let you know when an illiterate person reads my blog so you can explain it to them. Until then, if you only wish to perpetuate Wilson’s hateful rhetoric without engaging the fact that he said rape has a corrective, appropriate purpose in society, I’m fairly sure we’ll be fine without your continued input.

          BTW, Jesus used fisherman and women not Scribes and Kings, so while I am educated person, I don’t find privileged white males like Wilson trying to insult my intelligence particularly bothersome. As Paul said, the cross of Christ will confound those who think they are wise and powerful in this world and exalt those who follow him, knowing they are not (1 Cor 1:18-31).

          Liked by 1 person

    2. No, they’re not. I’ve read Wilson’s blog posts and see these types of statements from him and shake my head in wonder that anyone thinks he is being pastoral. Take the way he denigrates women whose ideas he disagrees with by calling them names that have nothing to do with their intellect.

      This post doesn’t take Wilson out of context. It exposes him.

      Liked by 2 people

  28. Nate,
    Thank you for writing this. I was blackballed from Christian apologetics for making similar remarks eight years ago, so I know that voicing these ideas often comes at a high price. But such solos become a chorus soon enough. I’m proud and honored to sing with you. May the symphony and voices continue to grow until change is fully realized.
    Cindy Kunsman

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Nate, I imagine if any TGC leaders found this page they’d stop as soon as they got to the word grievance (except perhaps for Thabiti Anyabwile, who has shown a gracious ability to engage those he disagrees with). You probably considered that when you wrote this. Your decision to go ahead with all the work to create this post is appreciated.

    Like

    1. I sent it to Thabiti and many others. I have no doubt they will ignore, it is just as much for those who need to know that people are standing up as it is about standing up against those who oppress. People need to know the emperor is naked.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. They will ignore it because it is too long, too angry and too lacking of affirming any good at all in these people and organizations. People tend to ignore you when you verbally roast them. And many readers tend to write off a one-sided view of people unless said view affirms their pre-existing bias. Ours is not a day for nuance and balance though. You don’t get clicks that way. And that may be as much a problem for TGC as it is for those who oppose them.

        Like

        1. Here’s the thing. I’m not writing to preserve polite sensibilities. Jesus called the Pharisees white-washed tombs and filthy cups. He called them vipers. He pointed out their exploitative tendencies. Heck, he even flipped tables in the temple.

          What about the victims who went to CJ Mahaney or Doug Wilson? What about Karen Hinckley? Should their stories not be offensive to us? Should there not eve moral outrage?

          Could it honestly be that this isn’t about clicks or making a name for myself? Could there actually be a problem?

          I have spent countless hours writing posts which politely dialogue with the theological flaw and abuses of complementarian theology. I have reached out to the TGC and its members to dialogue on every one without the accusations of abuse. TGC does not answer to criticism.

          When is it enough? When is it time to expose the corruption driving the machine? Or do we just maintain the status quo because “they won’t listen?”

          I’m sorry, but enough is enough. I’m not going to stand by and protect the egos of these men while they actively silence victims and profiteer of their abusers. If that offends you somehow, if you need to reduce it to click-baiting to dismiss it, that’s your prerogative. But the thanks of victims, the one’s saying “Yes, that was me! I’ve been through that!” are precisely what the post is about. And the TGC has shirked it’s responsibility to those people under the flag of the Gospel.

          That’s a problem.

          Like

          1. I’m just telling you why they’ll ignore it.

            There is a place for outrage. Jesus had a good mix of compassion and loving words along with the sharper ones (even took a little time with a Pharisee named Nicodemus to help him get straightened out). I think we’re way too quick to go into table-flipping mode on the internet and way too wimpy in real life to confront sin where we see it.
            It could be that this is not about clicks or name making. Only you can answer that truly but I know it is a temptation for many people. Most people want to be well-known, I’d say. The desire to be well-known could be achieved through pointing out a real problem. The two are not mutually exclusive.

            Why does TGC have to answer to you? Are you a member of one of their churches? Are you supporting them financially? If you are just disputing their views of complementarian theology, why would you think they would want to dialogue with you? You are convinced. We had a guy come into our Sunday Bible study last week off the street from a local Church of Christ (this variety believes you must be baptized to be saved). He came in and asked some questions and we dialogued for a while but it was clear we were both firm on our position. I was happy to share the gospel of grace apart from works with him but I don’t think it was a true dialogue and there comes a point in there where it just becomes a waste of time for two thoroughly convinced people to have dialogue. What are they going to say to you to make you change your mind or view them differently? “Yes, Nate, you are right and we are wrong. The whole way we have viewed Scripture is misguided. The way much of the Church has viewed Scripture over the last 500 years is misguided. We are wrong and you are right.” I just don’t see that happening with anybody. People change, yes, but these fundamental changes are not usually things we are argued into.

            It’s easy to slam TGC. They’re big, they’re loud, they’re prominent. I don’t care about protecting anybody’s ego and I don’t have any stock in the machine. I like a lot of the folks at TGC from a teaching standpoint but I read and listen to all kinds of people. If TGC fell off the planet tomorrow it wouldn’t affect me a bit.

            As to the victims, I hurt for them and I realize there are real victims. There are also real victims in charismatic churches and in the Catholic church and in non-Reformed evangelical churches. I hurt for them all. No one should be victimized in the name of Jesus.

            Like

          2. First, I have made real world stands on these issues in my own church and brought about some change. I will continue to take those stands.

            I do real world advocacy work. I stand against all forms of patriarchy wherever it occurs. Complementarianism happens to be the prominent Christian form. I’m an evangelical, and I constantly hear evangelicals call out other people’s abuses. I think it’s time to start working on the plank in our own.

            I have called out non-neoreformed abuse as well. I also have written a majority of posts on the our theological issues without focusing on abuses at all.

            So this isn’t a majority of what I do.

            As far as why they have a responsibility to answer to me – perhaps they don’t. But the victims ennumerated are the people who support them financially, the one’s who attend their churches, and TGC ignores them. They silence them, they call them liars, and they say they have no responsibility to listen to them (all thing cited in this post). I would speak up if they are big or small. But the size makes them more problematic.

            There is one thing I which we agree, no one should be victimized. The question is, what are going to do about it?

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  30. As someone who was abused by my pastor, I want to make sure people know that this is a thing – a horrible, evil, twisted thing – and I want to make sure those who abuse and those who attempt to conceal it keep at the forefront of their minds the (mainly spiritual) lives this kind of abuse destroys.

    Thank you for your courage, Nate. Grace and Peace to you.

    Like

  31. What an exceptionally well-thought out expose! Thank you, Nate. I challenge every one of those who read this to make some response. Contact your pastors, you denominational leaders, seminary professors. Make this known. We must stand up. We must also stand up with those who have stood up, such as Nate Sparks. We will get nowhere unless we begin to speak with one voice to those who do not read our blogs. Make it known!

    Like

    1. What should be the end result of this “making it known”? Marginalization of any Christians who hold the complementarian view? The dissolution of the Gospel Coalition? Burning Doug Wilson in effigy? Simple awareness of these things which have been known in most cases for a long time? Is this an opportunity to advance one theological perspective at the expense of another? I dare say if you gave most pastors, denominational leaders, and seminary professors this blog post, they would be inclined to dismiss it but not for the reasons you think. They would not reject it because they would believe it totally inaccurate. They might believe some of what it is in the post. They wouldn’t reject it because they want to keep their jobs or they don’t want to rock the boat. They wouldn’t reject it because they want to uphold injustice or perpetuate wrongdoing. Many pastors, professors and leaders would reject this piece because they just got finished on their sermon preparation on John’s gospel and closed their DA Carson commentary. They would reject it because they read and were inspired this morning by John Piper’s “A Godward Life” devotional. They would reject it because Matt Chandler’s sermons helped their adult children to re-engage with the church. They would reject it because Mark Dever’s passion for the local church helped them recapture how important the life of the body is in the daily world. They would reject it because they were helped immensely by Tim and Kathy Keller’s book on marriage and because Keller’s views of identity and idolatry were greatly used in their ministry. Many, many pastors and leaders out there, myself included, have benefitted greatly from the ministry of the gospel coalition. So we are inclined, when having experienced years of blessing from the ministry of these leaders, to not believe the worst of them. That is not simply being naïve it is weighing what we know of the good of these leaders against their real and perceived sins. I must say in my estimation the good of these leaders and their ministries far outweighs the bad and deserves to be evaluated along with the accusations of systemic abuse.

      Like

      1. This post has been shared by pastors, seminary professors, missionaries, and many others.

        Is the pastor reading Carson’s commentary on John willing to overlook that Carson has openly stated he misrepresents the Gospel unless complementarianism is taught. Can a pastor not find a commentary by a scholar who doesn’t work against women’s ordination? Can he not find one by a scholar that didn’t openly call the victims at CJ Mahaney’s church liars?

        Do you think Doug Wilson’s “good” outweighs his “bad”? Can he make flippant comments about the “propriety of rape” and still be an effective minister of the Gospel?

        Does the fact that Matt Chandler uses shaming tactics in his sermons to silence his detractors matter? Is it okay that tells someone that being bored during one of his sermons is evidence they aren’t a real Christian?

        Is Tim and Kathy Keller’s marriage book a good book if it openly promoted complementarian gender roles and female submission? When Tim Keller states you can’t understand the Gospel without complementarianism. Does that make his statement that he doesn’t see the need for epistemological humility as long as he has the “truth of Scripture” suspect.

        Is the devotional pick me-up you get from reading Job Piper’s devotional enough to ignore the fact that he doesn’t think women should be doctors or police women or CEO’s? Does it help you to accept that he publishes Doug Wilson’s work on Desiring God?

        Here’s the thing. Individually, these are personal flaws. Everyone has them. But what happens when they are all placed together. What happens when they’re all associated with the same organization, committed to the same values, and adhere to the same ideology? What happens when individual missteps keep compiling? When a pattern emerges and suddenly it becomes evident this isn’t a problem of simple individual sin, but a systemic covering up if abuse while defending and making money off the abusers?

        I don’t want to burn Wilson in effigy, I want to defend his victims and help people to see his hypocrisy. I don’t want to the dissolve the TGC, I want to remind them that the G stands for Gospel and the Gospel of Christ is the story of the Christ who stands among the victims and cries “My God, my God!” He exposed the abuse of the temple changers by turning their tables. He stood up for the law breakers while calling out the law enforcers. He was anointed king by a prostitute yet rejected the platitudes of the rich.

        I’m not “out to get complementarians”, but exposing abuse is necessary – even if it makes you uncomfortable because you really like Tim Keller.

        I really liked some things Tony Jones had to say, but learning of his unrepentant attitude and abusive personality – not to mention his abuse of his wife – made his words suspect. There are other thinkers who I can learn from. I don’t need to perpetuate systems of abuse to learn about God.

        So I do not patronize the TGC. Jesus had the opportunity to rule the world, bring about a lot of good by partnering with the devil and he didn’t do it. He could’ve reformed Judaism by simply working to change the minds of the religious elites, he didn’t. Jesus stood up for the poor and oppressed, not kings and empires. I choose to stand with the victims as well.

        If you ca state you know of their abuses but think the good outweighs the bad, that’s up to you. I cannot do that in good conscience.

        Like

        1. All I know is this . . . if you interpret people’s words in the worst possible light, they’re not going listen to you. This “open letter” therefore is far less an attempt to engage tgc than it is due up the base of readers who already agree with you. For all the talk about conversation and dialogue, you don’t really want it. You are already convinced and nothing can move you. “Conversation” has simply become a code word for “let me show you where you’re wrong.”

          Like

          1. Do you really think there is a moral equivalence between the actions of Tony Jones and those of Tim Keller, so that the ministries of both should be ignored by all earnest Christians?

            Like

          2. Where, precisely, did I draw a moral equivalent?

            Here’s the thing, where in the Christian religion is there a scale to balance? You insist the good outweighs the bad. How many victims are needed to outweigh the “good” of their ministry? At what point would you be willing to make a stand, at what point do the voices of the victims become more important than your personal benefit? How much bad does there have to be for your scales to tip? Do you think that Kathy and Tim Keller’s statement that those who reject their conception of gender roles don’t believe God makes their theology suspect? Does that change how you view their refusal to call out Piper or Wilson or Mahaney for their well documented abuses?

            When is enough a enough.

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          3. You said you don’t listen to Tony Jones because of the abusive way he handled his marriage. You said you don’t listen to Keller because you don’t agree with some things he teaches. You said these were the reasons for staying away. I think what Jones has done is far worse than anything Keller has done and I would not be inclined to listen to much of what Jones had to say. Keller, on the other hand, has just said things you disagree with or hasn’t taken enough of a public stand for your liking. I see the two men very differently but you don’t seem to see much difference.

            And anyway, what does “making a stand” even mean? Crying about how bad all these people are? Ridiculing them publicly to make myself feel better? Criminal prosecution? Lawsuits? At what point do the victims become a tool of those who want to oppose these people on theological grounds? Everyone starts out caring for the victims but the victims can also be used as a wedge by their advocates. So often all this stuff is about power on both sides. It becomes about controlling the message.

            I don’t think any Keller quote I’ve read makes them suspect, nor do I know exactly what they have done with regard to abuses in private.

            Like

          4. Here’s the thing. You said I would only expose someone who disagrees. So I gave you the example of Tony Jones. I admire a lot of the work Trip Fuller does, but I don’t listen to his work because of his association with Tony Jones.

            I did not say Tim Keller has done what Tony Jones does. But Keller has upheld men like Piper – who blatantly abuse Scripture and flaunt men like Wilson on their forum – and men like Carson, DeYoung, and Taylor – who call victims liars and back the man who covers their abuse.

            The reason, because these men are in the same camp as him. If Keller were to hold everyone under him responsible in any way, the TGC would fall apart. Not because the world was out to get them, but because they ascribe to a theological position which intentionally and unabashedly ignores victims and favors their abusers.

            It isn’t that I disagree theologically with Keller. I don’t write about everyone I disagree with. I do write about those who use theology which perpetuates abuse.

            That is why I wrote a post on Ben Witherington III’s view of adoption. I like Witherington’s work, I have benefited greatly from it. But his statements about adoption perpetuate theological abuses.

            I notice you refuse to address any of the actual issues of this post. To try to move to a side question to avoid the problem. Does it make you that uncomfortable to hear about these abuses? Does it being your own theology into question? I find that often times the things I defend most adamantly are those things which I cannot admit about myself. Do the actions of these men require a change in your personal theology you aren’t willing to make?

            Lastly, I’m not ridiculing these men. I quote them, then I asked if this aligned with the TGC’s statements of belief or their official positions on situations of abuse. Right on their site it asks people to inform them of issues with their members, so I did.

            But it seems to make you more comfortable to view well-cited work based in the facts of actual statements these men have made as slander.

            In a few days, my name will be an afterthought. Heck, everyone interacting with it is talking about Rachel Held Evans. But the man who thanked me for helping him to see the abusive nature of Piper’s theology will not be reading Piper any more. The victim of Mahaney will know people care and tell their story. And that is what matters.

            It seems to me the point the victims become a utility is the point at which someone starts saying “the good outweighs the bad.”

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          5. You really haven’t read my blog. I’ve written posts about being wrong. I’m working on one right now about things I’ve had to learn because I have been wrong. Heck, I even changed this post because someone pointed out to me in the comment section that something I said was inaccurate.

            But you keep coming up with reasons why it is invalid. So let me ask you some questions that you seem uncomfortable considering.

            If Jason Meyer openly associates with the ministry of CJ Mahaney, how does that speak to his words on caring for victims?

            What positive understanding do you have for the words easy lay or lumberjack dyke? How about “propriety of rape”?

            How would you spin the fact that no fewer than 7 pastors in CJ Mahaney’s staff have admitted to knowing about the sex abuse allegations, their testimony was enough to get Nate Morales 40 years, but not a single one ever mentioned it to a notorious micromanager like Mahaney?

            How do interpret Kevin DeYoung stating that the church has no responsibility to the victim, that it’s okay to support the institution against the allegations if the institution denies them? Did Kevin DeYoung ever apologize for this commentary on the Karen Hinckley debacle? Because Karen Hinckley did nothing wrong but was spiritually abused by her church while a pedophile was protected and nurtured by her church.

            You seem to be of the opinion that I’m just a click-baiting sensationalist. Thus, I invite you to interpret each of the incidents presented above to demonstrate how these things “really aren’t that bad.”

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          6. Dear JS,

            Here’s one of the statements that Nate linked to above:

            http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-we-have-been-silent-about-the-sgm-lawsuit

            It contains at least two demonstrable falsehoods, to which Carson, DeYoung and Taylor signed their names. (I can point those lies out to you if you’re not aware of them.) Many bloggers and commenters have called the big dogs out on this, and they have yet to respond or issue anything like a correction or retraction.

            Can you think of a “good light” in which I’m supposed to interpret this?

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          7. No problem, JS.

            From DeYoung et al’s statement:

            As the motion to dismiss points out, although C. J. Mahaney is named as an individual defendant, “the sole allegation against him in the Complaint is that he founded Sovereign Grace Ministries (“SGM”) and is currently its President. . . . He is not specifically identified or alleged to have performed any other act or omission throughout the 143-paragraph Complaint.”

            This is just blatantly false. In the lawsuit’s second amended complaint, Mahaney is accused of much more than just “founding SGM”. The suit calls him to task repeatedly for ignoring or covering up reports of abuse (he’s named specifically in points 109, 112 and 138). For DeYoung and his bunch to make this assertion proves that they haven’t bothered to even read the complaint.

            As to the specific matter of C. J. participating in some massive cover-up, the legal evidence was so paltry (more like non-existent) that the judge did not think a trial was even warranted.

            The lawsuit was dismissed before depositions could be made, or evidence could be heard in court. It was dismissed based on statute of limitations and nothing more. There is no way that the judge could have commented or even held an opinion on the evidence — none had been heard. These three TGC “leaders” have no business trying to read the judge’s mind.

            I find it irresponsible for DeYoung, Carson and Taylor to make comments this ignorant, and unconscionable for them to let such words stand without correction for so long.

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Thanks for taking the time to read and engage. I look forward to your feedback, I welcome any criticism. However, as my goal here is mutualy respectful, beneficial conversation, I only ask that we keep civility in mind with our words. Grace and Peace.

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