Paul's Passing Thoughts

What to do if you are being Held Hostage at a New Calvinist Church

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 28, 2013

conf-logoNobody wants to be humiliated publically in a Sunday morning church service in front of hundreds of people. Especially if it is a church where you have been a member for several years, and in many cases, the center of where the majority of your closest friends gather on a regular basis. Not to mention strangers who may be there visiting. Your employer may be a member there, and family members who still trust the leadership may be members there as well.

This is why you are staying put in a church you want to leave. After you informed the elders that you were leaving they placed you under “redemptive church discipline.” This is in-house counseling that deals with “longstanding patterns of sin.” What patterns of sin? Anything that the elders think is such—that’s what. You may have also done something very stupid: entered into formal counseling at said church and revealed intimate details about yourself. Ouch, that is now information that could become public during your excommunication day.

You are now officially a hostage. If you leave you will be excommunicated and humiliated publicly. You are probably in this position because you know something about the leadership that is damaging or you have challenged them doctrinally. You are also not one who is usually excluded from this process: those with power, influence, and money. Your resources are limited. You are in a very bad spot. Walking away could cost you your job, all the friends that you have, and at least some of your family. You are not alone. I contend that thousands of Christians are being held hostage at New Calvinist churches in this way. They are playing along until an opportunity provides itself for a way out. If it ever does.

Let me continue to emphasize that Christians need to wise up and prevent themselves from getting into these situations. If you are the type that is willing to look the other way on everything don’t worry about it, but if you have an inclination to care about the truth, you need to be discerning. Because you are on your own and other churches will not stand with you (if any do, it would be a first), don’t join any church. It’s not necessary. You can be faithful to an assembly and not be a member. If they won’t let you serve in certain areas because you are not a member, so be it. The Scriptures are (I think deliberately) ambiguous regarding formal church membership. Even though many New Calvinist churches think they have authority over you whether you are a member or not—not being a formal member affords some protection. Actually, a lot of protection. In our day, don’t join any church formally—just don’t do it.

And if you do, for crying out loud, do not sign a church covenant. I am going to say this as lovingly as I can: in our day, if you sign a church covenant you are just plain stupid. I love you, but you are stupid. Not only that, in most New Calvinist churches, you are not allowed to leave membership for “unbiblical reasons.” And I will give you three wild guesses as to who determines what is “unbiblical.” If you are a member of a New Calvinist church “in good standing” (i.e., you don’t ask questions) and want to leave for doctrinal reasons, do so carefully. This ministry has, and continues to counsel people who want to leave these churches with as little drama as possible and it’s not easy. If you are in a church that strongly emphasizes formal membership—flee and don’t look back.

Back to those who find themselves in the belly of the beast. You have bitten off the whole enchilada. You are a member. You signed a church covenant. Much of your life is invested in the church. They have counseling records on you, etc.

First, don’t attempt to plead your case biblically; you’re wasting your time, these people play by their own rules. I should repeat that: don’t attempt to plead your case biblically; you’re wasting your time, these people play by their own rules. Do keep detailed records. Communicate as much as you can by email and ask lots of questions. Tape-record all meetings (check laws in your state, but in all but a handful of states it is legal to record private conversations as long as one party (that would be you) is aware the conversation is being recorded) and ask lots of questions. Here’s why: In most states what they are doing is a criminal act. In most states it is against the law to control somebody’s free will of moral actions with threats of reputation loss or financial loss. In the milieu of the mess, get them on record saying they will do this if you do that. Get them on record saying that you are not free to take your family and leave. Get their response on record regarding your concerns that you will lose your job, your family, your reputation, etc. Get them on record stating that they have the authority to void your salvation. Here is how the law reads in Ohio:

2905.12 Coercion.

(A) No person, with purpose to coerce another into taking or refraining from action concerning which the other person has a legal freedom of choice, shall do any of the following:

(1) Threaten to commit any offense;

(2) Utter or threaten any calumny against any person;

(3) Expose or threaten to expose any matter tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule, to damage any person’s personal or business repute, or to impair any person’s credit;

While gathering information, if at all possible, obtain an attorney that will work with you in the situation and contact the elders of said church when you leave post preference. Advise the church that you will be present with your attorney during the excommunication. In most cases the elders will back off and allow you to leave with your family quietly. I have seen this work quite well in lesser degrees of application.

If you can’t afford an attorney, gather good information that violates the coercion laws in your state and then contact the local police. If the church follows through with the excommunication, file criminal charges against the elders.

For further questions regarding this issue, email us at mail@ttanc.com

paul

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6 Responses

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  1. paulspassingthoughts said, on February 28, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    Reblogged this on Clearcreek Chapel Watch.

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  2. Christian said, on February 28, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    It is amusing how they want you to sign a covenant. Oh, how biblical they are! I wonder how these reformed pastors would feel if the church to which they are called made them sign a covenant before they could pastor the church! LOL

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  3. Lydia said, on February 28, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    This is from TWW. An Attorney designed the letter below for readers:

    The Membership Covenant

    Did you know that most churches consult attorneys to draw up these covenants? Are you aware that they were developed, not for purposes of sweet fellowship, but to protect the church in case an angry church member sues them? Did you know that some angry church members are actually justified? For those of you who have signed such a document (Dee has), were you advised that you were signing a document that had been vetted by lawyers? (Dee was not). An open and honest church should advise unsuspecting potential members of this fact and encourage them to seek similar advice.

    How to Resign

    Three years ago, I spoke with a nationally well-known attorney who informed me that the only power that churches have is the ability to throw members out of the church. They can do that with very little recrimination. But, they could have some legal trouble announcing a member’s supposed “sins” to the full church if said member employs the following procedure. What we are about to discuss has been “run by” legal experts. However, TWW states categorically that this should not be taken to mean it is an official legal position. Please seek advice of an attorney for an authorized opinion.

    The Steps:
    •Resign your church membership prior to the all-church announcement. Better yet, before harsh discipline is applied.
    •Keep your lips sealed.
    •Do not tell anyone that you are going to take the following action. You do not want Sally Sycophant (we all know a few of these) to run to the pastors and report this, giving them an opportunity quickly schedule the all church gossip session.

    The Letter:

    We give special thanks to Arce, who knows a thing or two, for sending this format to TWW

    •Send the following letter, return receipt requested (and tracking, in case the Post Office lets them have it without returning the card).
    • Put the return receipt number on the heading of the letter (you can get the form with the number at the PO, before typing the letter).

    Date

    To the pastors and administrators at ____________ church.

    This letter is notice that I am not longer a member [attendee] at _______________ church, effective with the date of this letter.
    As a non-member, I am no longer subject to any of your discipline as of (date on letter). After (date on letter), any publication, notice, or speaking about me by any church staff or recognized church leader is no longer authorized by me.
    Any negative remark or statement about me, any encouragement that people shun me, or any action other than deleting me from your records will be evaluated for possible legal action for libel or other tort claim against the individuals involved and the organization.
    If any one asks about me, refer them to me, any other action may result in a tort claim against you.
    YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. You must desist from any act that may harm my reputation or me or come between me and other persons of my acquaintance. Legal action may ensue.
    Sincerely,
    ____________
    •You must mail the letter on the date on the letter and they will not receive it for a couple of days thereafter.
    •Keep a copy, print out the tracking showing when it was delivered, keep the green card or, if it is refused, the returned letter (they are legally responsible for the content if they refuse it).
    •Document any response or any failure to comply. If they (leadership or staff) call, listen but do not talk, except to say “I disagree” if they make a false statement about you.
    •Document the conversation.
    •Go to an attorney if they proceed to trash your reputation or that of your business.
    •Do not respond by trashing the organization

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2012/02/01/how-to-minimize-damage-when-resigning-from-a-mark-driscoll-like-church/

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  4. […] What to do if you are being Held Hostage at a New Calvinist Church. […]

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  5. Christian said, on June 11, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    And do not be deceived this is coming into your local Southetn Baptist Church, sooner or later, while we continue to lift up the elite neo Calvinist in our denomination. There is a lot more to Calvinism than the Doctrines of grace, or should I say DOG.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. John said, on May 2, 2017 at 12:05 PM

    Lydia, my fellow “follower” ( 🙂 ) has given good advice on this matter.

    My three points regarding this matter:

    1) Don’t join a church; join a home-fellowship or start one! That’s real church; that’s the body of Christ, sisters, brothers, little ones, all getting together in Born-Again unity and living out the love of Christ.

    2) Sign nothing in a church; not even a going-away card (uh huh) for the organist whose been playing for the past 65 years. My point? Sign NOTHING.

    3) Stay away from ACBC “certified” counsellors in this churches or in the branches that are not in Protestant churches. I say this often, but with reason. They are vipers, a dangerous, poisonous, vulgar, unbiblical unskilled arm of the diabolical Calvinism or Reformed rubbish, in whatever stench it presents itself.

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