Re: Paige Patterson at Colonus Splendid post, Doug: moderate, discerning and on-the-nose scripturally. I had previously read all the links you posted in the process of sorting through the accusations myself, and came to the conclusion that it seemed awfully early in the consideration process to come to a conclusion. Your point about the need to define “abuse” is absolutely critical and ought to be set in 72pt glowing bold type. I believe Christians should simply stop using the word. My favorite online Christian example of horrendous super-expansion of its meaning here, and my own thoughts on the controversy here. Caveats: I am no Southern Baptist and knew nothing of this mess until I started reading about it here, but once I started I (regrettably) couldn’t stop. God bless you for your rare common sense and care in what you write. And yes, you’ll surely take some flack for this one (what else is new).
Tom, thanks much.
“Today, Dr. Bingham made it clear that SWBTS denounces all abusive behavior, any behavior that enables abuse, any failure to protect the abused and any failure to safeguard those who are vulnerable to abuse.” Does this not implicate almost everyone in the world? Who among us is riding about on a great white horse safeguarding every person who is “vulnerable to abuse?” And I have a legal question; if anyone knows the answer to it I would be (figuratively) obliged. What responsibility would Patterson have to report a rape of a student that he finds out about? It would seem that it would be up to the raped student to report it. And if that student had reported it, that should be sufficient. Does every person with any knowledge of any crime have to report it, esp if its already been reported? I’m not saying a rape took place back in 2003. I don’t know. But it seems odd to me that a third party is guilty of not reporting what the offended party did not (or possibly did, depending on who you believe) report. And it seems to me that if she did report it (to legal authorities, i.e., “the cops”) then Patterson would have even less responsibility to report it.
Nathan, reporting requirements vary from state to state, and I am not sure what the relevant requirements here were. Every minister should be aware of what they are in his locale. But you are right about the problematic aspects of it.
From what I’ve read, Patterson wouldn’t be one of my heroes, but the apparent lack of due process is troubling. So is the inclusion among the accusations of something that strikes me as trivial (describing a teenager as “built”). I would not like to be pilloried in public for having frequently sexually objectified my favorite prime minister as “hot.” If all the petition signers have refrained from describing men in such gross sexual terms, they are better women than I am. There are conflicting accounts about the advice to the victim of domestic abuse. The statement that she had assured Patterson she had never been struck by her husband is contradicted by the audiotape in which he warned her that the conduct he was advising might make her husband more violent. I think it is a horrible story, and its horribleness is not decreased by my believing it to be likely apocryphal. We are to accept that a man on the edge of sleep is so enraged by the sight of his wife kneeling silently in prayer that he gets out of bed and punches her twice in the face. I cannot imagine a church in which his repentance would not have been met with equal concern for ensuring the future safety of anyone living with someone so clearly deranged. But, whether or not the story is true, we do not promote people’s salvation by allowing them to use us as their personal punching bags. Extreme passivity is in itself provocative to violent people, and physical abuse has been shown to escalate over time. All that being said, it troubles me that this story was told at a conference in 2000. Were the clergymen in his audience troubled by the implications of Patterson’s advice and his apparent willingness to trade a woman’s physical safety for her husband’s spiritual well being? Did they challenge him, call his advice dangerous, and criticize his stated pleasure in seeing a woman with two black eyes? If not, why are they so outraged now?
Jill, the crime would not be in describing a prime minister as “hot.” Whether a crime was involved would depend entirely on which prime minister you were referring to.
Concerning “The Paige Patterson Test” I have tried to learn about the backstory myself, yet remain ignorant. This seems itself a symptom and proof of the #MeTooism of the whole thing. Why are the facts so difficult to find, yet everyone is so sure—we were even scolded by Al Mohler, who publicly repented for all of us baptists and our terrible corporate sins—that Paige Patterson is not only a problem himself, but that he proves the whole association has a problem? This reeks of “listen and believe” virtue signaling. Patterson allegedly told abused women to stay with their husbands. You might comment on this for the benefit of your readers, but it seems to me that “he’s a terrible husband” is not grounds for divorce. The same astonished groans were heard when John Piper excommunicated his own son from the church’s fellowship. Perhaps Patterson’s advice is as sound as Piper’s practice? And then there is some charge about him covering up a rape or some such, but again, the facts are not nearly as abundant as the outrage. If I recall, you yourself have dealt with outside criticism for trying to deal lovingly, wisely, justly, and, above all, biblically with sexual sins of sheep in your own ministry. The SBC is telling us that we need more women and minorities in leadership, the PCA is promoting LGBTism at the Revoice conference, Al Mohler is repenting for all white people ev—sorry, I mean all Southern Baptists— everywhere, and very publicly, because someone somewhere is alleged to have done something bad. Race-baiters thrive in the SBC, Piper practices affirmative action in hiring pastors, Russell Moore is being paid by George Soros to condemn anyone who doesn’t support open borders as hating Jesus, and on it goes. It is these same voices telling me, without providing factual substance in articles, or exegetical refutation in their responses to spousal abuse (which I have heard absolutely no one defend), that I must repent of being a baptist because someone somewhere says in counseling that abuse doesn’t undo the marital covenant. Their persistent wrongness makes Krugman seem an economic seer. In summary: We premillennialists keep stockpiling more and more proofs, while you’re left fighting against all of New Christendom which is spreading her branches over all the earth like a poison tree from a social injustice mustard seed. I’m sure you’ve seen this comic: https://imgur.com/gallery/c4jt321 Everything conservative, Calvinist, inerrantist —that is, everything worthwhile—is being either killed (such as the PCA, and now the SBC) or silenced (such as yourself). Also, smartphones no longer come with headphone jacks. I want to invite you to stop striving, be at peace as I am, and admit that Christ will not find much faith on the earth, and so we should all relax and have a beer together at the top of the hill as we watch the world burn. Then you can truly say, “This is fine,” knowing the solution only has its parousia at the last breath.
Mike, P.J. O’Rourke said he could refute those who did not believe in progress in just one word. That word would be dentistry.
Your statement about the church being as gay as he is was far more profound than even you realized I believe. I set my phone down to discuss it with my wife before finishing reading the post! If the church is the bride of Christ, that implies a mutual attraction between them. It also defines the roles (the church is the girl, Christ is the boy.) Today’s church does seem far more attracted to other girls (other people) than it does to the boy (Christ) and gets involved in all sorts of wild orgies with other people and the world (often under the guise of the word “outreach”) rather than cultivating a passionate, monogamous relationship with Jesus Christ.
Charlie, yes. And there is also the crucial distinction to be made between corporate devotion and individual devotion. The church is the bride of Christ in her corporate reality. But half of this feminine bride is male, and ought not to be conducting personal devotions “as a bride adorned for her husband.”
Up Near the Spigot: I have read, too often, of Christian men who admit to having had a homosexual relationship in their teens, often with the youth pastor. Now married with children, they proclaim they are glad they remained a virgin until they were married! I bring this up because “those Christians who are romantically or erotically attracted to members of the same sex, but who are committed to celibacy . . .” “Celibacy? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” What I’m suggesting is that, perhaps, homosexual relations do not violate their concept of “celibacy.”
John, I don’t think that is the situation in Wesley Hill’s case. But you can depend upon it—it will be the case with many shortly if this foolishness continues on much longer.
Re: Up Near the Spigot/Revoice, redux, etc., et al . . . I much appreciate your recent “mutterings on the regnant follies” (see, I was an old reader of C/A on dead tree from way back). I also appreciate and agree with (I think) most of what you have linked to on the subject (from Strachan, DeYoung). Certainly agree with the folly of concatenating an inherently disordered orientation to your identity as a Christian, and trying to sanctify it. Having said that, much recent writing on the subject from people with whom I’d expect to agree seems to collapse and minimize, if not deny, any meaningful distinction between disordered attraction and sinful lust. Would you (or, how would you) distinguish between them? If there is no meaningful distinction between those things, is there (or, can there be) a meaningful distinction between temptation and sin? It is obviously true that we are not tempted by God, but rather, we are lured and tempted by our own desires. But is the temptation itself sinful? It seems impossible to win the battle of mortification, if the mere occurrence of a battle is defined as defeat. I don’t think that is the conclusion intended, but I’m having some trouble not landing there based on what I’ve read from some. Be glad to hear your thoughts.
Matt, I don’t think mere temptation is sin committed, and don’t believe that the existence of the battle means the battle is automatically lost. Jesus was genuinely tempted, yet without sin. But there are two additional factors. Jesus was tempted the way Adam in the garden was tempted—the attractiveness of the sin (and it was made attractive) came from outside. When we are tempted, there is the additional complication of our “remaining sin.” There is something in us that wants to give in because the sin is prohibited by God. That element of temptation, when it is present in temptation (and it need not be present) should be confessed as a different order of sin than the sin the temptation was enticing us into. The second element, which is plainly apparent throughout Wesley Hill’s book, is the fact that he has a host of sinful attitudes that he regards as either neutral or virtuous.
Re: Up Near the Spigot Bro. Doug, we need some articles on how to deal with homosexuals in the right way. Lemme splain. In my very small town, there is a guy at a certain fast food place who, in former times, we would say is “queering off” exceedingly. The guy is built like a linebacker, but he wears colorful wigs, acrylic fingernails, skirts, glitzy spike heel shoes with his big hairy toes sticking out over the ends. He speaks in a falsetto, simpers in a highly exaggerated way, and addresses male customers as “Sweetie.” This person makes any normal male snarl. So, we went out to eat the other day, and when we saw this guy in the store, we just turned around and left. My reasons for leaving were 1) Being around this pervert makes me angry. 2) With apologies for being crude, I don’t want my food served by a guy who has been doing some of the things they do (whoso readeth, let him understand). 3) My son is only 9, and I don’t want him thinking we accept that on any level. 4) This kind of behavior is swinging a wrecking ball through civilization, and I’m daily more convinced that decent people need to reject it vigorously. I feel like we’re at the point of Reb Tevye, angrily declaring that “There is no other hand,” and then shouting, No! No! No! So as I said, we left the store. At that point, my daughter declared that I had embarrassed her, and then I began to say that Jesus would have . . . well, what, exactly would Jesus do with this situation? While I understand that Jesus is definitely the friend of sinners, gay culture has made a political, social, religious, and even an economic movement out of sodomy and perversion, and that is a horse of a whole ‘nuther color. Any insights you could provide would be appreciated.
Steve, I think it is fine to avoid patronizing businesses that allow their employees to antagonize their customers. It is no sin to avoid going there. Neither would it be a sin to make things obvious from your end, and not just allow him to make things obvious from his end. “I’d rather you not call me Sweetie. Thanks.” Or “I can see you are very religious. Where do you go to church?” But that might embarrass your daughter also. I agree with you that we ought not to go along with the pretense.
Someone somewhere said that one of the fallouts of normalizing homosexuality is that it will hurt normal male friendship, in that it introduces sexual tension where the absence of sexual tension was part of the point. Based on the title of this book, it looks like homosexuals are co-opting the concept of friendship completely. Men won’t be able to call another man a “friend” without having to qualify it. And if “deep, lasting, oath-bound friendship” is a solution to homosexual sin, why is it equally not a solution to heterosexual sin? Somehow, I don’t think my wife would be cool with all my deep, lasting, oath-bound friendships with the other women in her Bible study.
Greg, I believe that point was made by Anthony Esolen. And I believe you are right. This is not helping homosexuals. It is hurting friends.
I have never written, but appreciate your insights, as usual. Thought you might glean additional insight from the following 4 yr old article (maybe you’re familiar with it ), which reveals the church’s own culpability in the current climate of “sexual identity is everything.” Link.
RE Sand in the Sugar Bowl Repentance! Who speaks of this concept any longer? It’s so entirely foreign a concept in our age of easy decision-ism, that we have completely forgotten how to bring the Gospel to bear against Sin. May I suggest a video and article that serves to equip the Church in eliminating the effects on sin on relationships? Of course the third step, conviction, is where pride does its nasty business of hardening the heart and preventing the process from advancing. Sin therefore abounds and we distance ourselves from loved ones or other humans (see the aforementioned hubris of the #metoo people). Thank you for flying the REPENT flag far and wide, Pastor Wilson! Bang that drum repeatedly and UNrepentantly! All Americans could use a MasterClass in the subject.
Ron, thank you.
RE: Sand in the Sugar Bowl To the Editor, Ahhh, but sand in the sugar bowl gives one’s coffee so much more texture than just plain sugar. Sincerely Yours, Ms. Pussyhat Stupidville.
Dan, I think coffee with texture is problematic. If your coffee arrives with any texture at all, this signals a problem.
Sand in the Sugar Bowl Refined white flour? In this enlightened day and age, Doug? Don’t you know that the zeitgeist leans toward non-GMO, gluten-free nutrient bricks? ;)
Anna, I like that phrase—nutrient bricks. May I use it?
This isn’t in response to a post—just a question of applied worldview. I have recently graduated from law school, and begun work for a litigation firm. As such, much of my work will revolve around civil litigation. Also as such, my position as a junior associate means that I have relatively little control over my case assignments. Suppose I have a client, who makes a profession of Christian faith, and is bringing a civil suit against another Christian. Should I ask to be recused from the case on the grounds that I, in good conscience, cannot represent a Christian plaintiff against a Christian defendant in civil suit? Should I point the client towards 1 Corinthians? If they refuse to submit to Scripture, should I contact their church? Do I proceed to represent them on the basis that a true Christian wouldn’t spurn Scripture for the sake of a civil suit? It doesn’t seem like I have powers of excommunication (thank God!). Do you think this is analogous to a gay couple bringing suit against a Christian baker (over which I would refuse the case or resign), or is it different in that I am acting on behalf of a secular corporation with respect to an ecclesiastical dispute (which marriage is simply NOT)? I would love your thoughts for young professionals like me on how to anticipate the battles we will have to fight in our careers.
Charlie, this is a great question, one that deserves detailed development. I would not automatically seek to recuse yourself. This is because you could be in a great position to make a bad situation better (e.g. proposing private arbitration). But if it was a snarled mess from beginning to end, then I would seek to extricate yourself.
Sir, please permit me to defend Tom Bethel’s (and by extension, ID’s) hesitation to identify the designer: ID, as defended by Stephen Meyer and associates at the Discovery Institute and others, pursues strictly scientific means and tools to arrive at their conclusions. From the Discovery Institute’s website, ID is a “scientific theory that employs the methods commonly used by other historical sciences to conclude that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause.” That is, for their purposes, they limit their study to strictly scientific, empiric methods, and thus limit their conclusions to only what scientific or empiric methods can logically conclude. While I agree with you that any designer within this universe would then demand explanation, this is nonetheless a metaphysical, or philosophical conclusion, arrived at using (sound) philosophy and logic . . . but not one that could be arrived at with the strictly empiric methods employed by ID. So yes, the ultimate choice is between a transcendent creator or “turtles all the way down,” but the choice to conclude the one over the other, however sound, rests on metaphysical, theological, or philosophical reasons—this could not be decided using the strictly scientific/empiric methods employed by ID. But consider another angle: It seems at least logically conceivable that God could have utilized intermediaries in order to accomplish the design of life on earth: Hypothetically, God could have created angels, who in turn created hyper-intelligent energy-based trans-dimensional beings, who in turn created physical super-intelligent biological aliens, who then designed life on earth as we know it. ID’s hesitation to identify the immediate designer of life on earth (due to the limits of empirical science on this topic) need not, philosophically speaking, devolve to turtles all the way down . . . in my (admittedly silly) hypothetical, you have 3 turtles before you’d find the third one standing on the transcendent creator. Finally, please consider: I think you’d agree it is outside the realm of empirical science, as science, to somehow decide whether God did or did not utilize any such intermediary. After all, how exactly would one examine some biological feature and determine, scientifically, whether it had been the direct work of the hand of God, or of an angel . . . or demon, for that matter!—and given the biblical attribution of various diseases and biological phenomena to demons, would we rule out the possibility that the unique structure and DNA in various deadly viruses, mutations, and diseases might in fact have been conceived and designed by demonic entities? Thus I find ID’s hesitation to identify the designer 1) consistent with their self-imposed methodological limits, 2) logically consistent with the conceivable utilization of intermediaries, and 3) demanded by the biblical observation that at least some biological phenomena (various diseases) seem to be the result of Satan’s work. Respectfully submitted,
Daniel, thanks very much. But the adoption of a strict empiric method is itself a philosophical choice. The exclusion of philosophy is a philosophical exclusion. It could work as a reductio (e.g. “even on your terms . . .”), but to draw the line arbitrarily in this way just opens the ID people (who have done great work) to the telling jibe offered by one evolutionary scientist that I heard about. She said that ID proponents don’t necessary believe that God designed everything—after all, it could have been someone else with the same skill set.
Pastor Wilson, I absolutely agree with this article. However, I think the larger issue with Les Mis is its theology of redemption (perhaps more correctly stated as “redemption”). The so-called story of mercy, grace, and redemption of Jean Valjean is nothing more than a parade of angst-ridden guilt. Jean Valjean attempts to allay this constant weight of guilt through a life of piety, self-flagellation, and (sometimes pointless) sacrifice, with a great deal of emphasis on the flagellation/sacrifice. Through the entire story, his life is one of constant penance, but he looking only to that rather than to the One True Sacrifice. If there is an overarching theme in Les Mis, it is that suffering, raw suffering for suffering’s sake, somehow sanctifies one—makes one “sublime.” This is certainly an unfortunate “gospel”—a “gospel” which is very clearly shown in the story to bring no comfort, no relief from guilt, and certainly no redemption to Jean Valjean.
Dale, thanks. And obviously, I tend to agree.
Sending you my father’s response to your post about Les Mis. He’s currently incarcerated in a federal prison and enjoys reading your posts that I print off and send to him. Among your posts he also reads about anything he can get his hands on—one of the first he read after being incarcerated last year was Les Mis. He wrote a blog post about it here. Here’s what he wrote me after reading your post: “I think he missed the forest for the trees. Certainly this is a French Revolutionary-related story. But there are several Christ figures in it, and one, without any question, is Jean Valjean. I was able to read almost the whole thing (I skipped some of the historical/pseudo-historical swaths) without a glimmer of anything Wilson had to say. Perhaps Wilson should try imagining himself as one caught in the wheels of a justice system with prosecutors like Javert. I could not have found this story, in whole and in many, many details, to be more soul-lifting. And I always thought I was a member of the Billy Graham/C.S.Lewis/George McDonald/Alec Motyer tribe. According to Wilson, I just failed the test.” (Second email after he digested what you wrote a bit further) “A Presby minister, a priest and a rabbi walk into a bar . . .” Tell that to an Asperger’s sufferer (or a moralist) and you’re likely to hear- “There’s nothing funny about alcoholism!” To hear that Les Mis is socialist propaganda sounds eerily similar to the above. I think I said in my first reply that Wilson missed the forest for the trees, but on second thought, “Where are the trees?” How do you critique Les Mis with not one word mentioning the characters Jean Valjean or Inspector Javert? I have now printed off and reread this, and think I’d have to read it a couple more times to grasp his argument. Not the burr under his saddle—that’s clear. You can not only sense that Wilson has indigestion, but you almost have to reach for the Rolaids, when you read, “I am not saying that liking Les Mis makes you a bad Christian. I am say that LIKING LES MIS MEANS THAT YOU NEED TO GROW IN YOUR WORLDVIEW SANCTIFICATION.”
Tim, thanks, and please send your father my warmest greetings. There will be future posts about this whole topic, and one of them will address the Valjean and Javert story line.
Thank you for the insightful article on the differences between the American and French Revolutions. Edmund Burke was indeed an astute philosopher and student of history. His “clear-eyed” recognition of the trajectory on which the French Revolution of his day was headed was possible because he well understood the depredations that had occurred in the revolutionary century a few hundred years earlier.
John, I am guessing you mean the depredations of the “revolutionary” Reformation. It will not be surprising then that we read that history differently. I believe the Huguenots in France built the kind of middle class that would have spared France the agonies of the French Revolution—had they not be slaughtered and harried out of their country.