Paul's Passing Thoughts

Preliminary Thoughts on the Texas Church Shooting: It’s Surprising More Don’t Occur

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 7, 2017

ppt-jpeg4The day before yesterday, during a morning church service at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a 26-year-old Devin Kelley entered the church and shot the majority of people attending the service.

Mass shootings have become almost commonplace of late, and our culture is frantically looking for answers and solutions. But this you should do: cross the whole “mental illness” reason off your list of possibilities.

Another reason you should cross off your list is, “evil.” That, like the following, are way too easy. “The devil,” “He was mentally ill,” “God’s will,” etc., etc., etc. Besides, which of these easy answers is the right one in each case? Especially when the blame is placed on God’s will and we don’t know why he allows such things, and to ask is the opposite of “trust.” Since we are talking about these incidents in context of church, and God is sovereign, why not chalk it all up to God’s will in every circumstance? If someone is mentally ill, isn’t that God’s will? Isn’t evil in the world God’s will?

But here is why I am somewhat perplexed by the infrequency of mass shootings in churches; it concerns what the church says it knows. It “knows” that it has the right and authority to rule over your personal life and everything in it. That’s stated orthodoxy, not my opinion.

Let’s pause to consider some simple answers if there are any: these events happen because of ideology, identity, hopelessness, and injustice.

Clearly, in some cases, ideology drives people to commit these acts. It is an ideology that leads to an intense hatred. Secondly, the church’s identity and function as an institution makes it vulnerable to such attacks, and furthermore, its function as a political institution in particular makes it game for the ire of other political parties and ideologies.
But surprisingly, unless the fact is hidden somehow, hopelessness and injustice are not driving forces resulting in many more of these horrific incidents. First, let’s identify specifically what I am talking about from personal experience and hundreds of hours counseling people who have been disillusioned by church.

Families are groups of people who are really, well, families. Herein, we touch on an essence of church being a time bomb, and we heard it from the pastor’s wife of First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs; she said those lost were not just parishioners, but were family that ate together, cried together, rejoiced together, etc., etc. The way church defines family is very problematic, and has a tendency to stir up some pretty strong emotions in its ideological application.

Real families live together 24/7, and increase in oneness through thousands of different experiences and interactions. It’s a totally different dynamic than being a member of a group. Feelings generated by true family experience run deep and are the primary premise for hope in many people. Often, church leadership believes they rule over this deep well of life experiences (good and bad) that establish oneness between blood relatives. We have all heard the saying, “blood is thicker than water,” and that is demonstrably true. Let’s examine this whole notion that church members are “family.” Right, in the Olive Garden sense of the idea, “When you are here, you are family.” In a real family, members are forever wherever they are. Come now, let’s get a grip, in all my years in church, the sum of your “church family” was the last church you attended. Where to start with all of this nonsense? Think about everything that takes place in real families, and then compare that with the shallowness of church relationships painted with lofty rhetoric. Unbelievers have more contact and more respect for their former spouses in a divorce situation than the churched have for former members…hands down.

Enter the following into the record: contemporary churches are dominated today by a counseling organization known as the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). I have written extensively regarding their doctrines and policies, but suffice to write for this post that they claim absolute church authority over every aspect of a member’s life. They are the construct for so-called “formal church discipline” or “corrective church discipline” that occurs when a church member requests or is deemed in need of formal counseling. According to prominent Southern Baptist leaders, a denomination that has all but completely farmed its counseling out to the ACBC, every church member is already under “Formative Church Discipline” or “preventative” positive teaching, which can lead to “Corrective Church Discipline” (counseling) and ultimately “Church Discipline” in which the member is dismembered and therefore deprived of the “means of grace” (means of salvation).

In marriage counseling, any spouse who does not completely submit themselves to the authority of the pastoral counseling is often “declared an unbeliever” and the church reserves the right to declare that marriage mixed between an unbeliever and a believer. The believing spouse is then informed that the other spouse has no say in any family affair and said rights should then be taken over by church leadership. Often, as a result of this counseling, spouses will separate finances and the other spouse’s position in the family will be substituted by church leaders. Also, the green light for divorce is often given along with financial support. Moreover, church members will begin to “be a Father” or “brother” or “mother” to children who have relatives who are not “fulfilling their God-given roles.”

What’s going on at this point? I think you know; churches are messing around in very dangerous territory. They are messing with real families. When you start taking away a person’s family, regardless of how messy, you are swimming in very dangerous waters. Ask any police officer; when you intervene in a domestic disturbance, the family will often unite and become aggressive towards the officers. Real Families are often forgiving enough to treat each other any way they see fit, but if you are outside the fold, you better be careful. And in most cases, it goes without saying that the whole church is seen as complicit because in essence they are. The fact is, in the vast majority of cases, families have a way of overcoming difficulties while outside “help,” more than not, makes the situation worse.

I have experienced firsthand the arrogance of church leaders who think they can love your family members better than you. Where were they when you were up all night fixing your wife’s car in the rain? Where were they when you worked all week with a severe flu in order to support your family? Who are they to confiscate a book of memories and discard it in the trash? This will certainly invoke feelings of hopeless injustice on steroidal levels, and has on a wide scale.

While this church behavior is now commonplace, it seems to be a very rare reason, if at all, why church shootings take place, and my theory concerning the reason may surprise you: those who suffer under this despotism are probably true believers. Think about it, they have adopted enough of church to accept/trust the process until it is too late. Therefore, the majority of these shootings are probably going to be ideological in nature while the primary pushback against the church’s tyranny is going to be lawsuits. Along with the advent of the biblical counseling movement was the spawning of three large mediation organizations supported by churches that strive to keep churches out of court. One even specializes in cases involving pedophilia and child rape.

However, in light of some facts that have emerged, this most recent shooting may be what this ministry has expected to see a lot more of. Nevertheless, there may be another reason why so-called biblical counseling doesn’t create more of these events. In-house security in churches, especially those that emphasize counseling, has been the norm in contemporary churches since the mid-80s. Known as the “security team,” they are members who have conceal carry permits. In addition, many of these churches have in-house police departments that have jurisdiction on church property according to local law. Counselees are going to know this to be the case, and perhaps it is a deterrent.

In 2009, I was threatened by a security team member of a church that knew they had all but destroyed my life. Specifically, I was told, by email, that I would be shot on sight if I ever entered the church property “with bad intentions.” Who would be the judge of that? I took the threat seriously, and made different arrangements in regard to dropping my son off from weekend visits.

lastly, church shootings, as tragic as they are, hardly equate with “martyrdom.” Church, historically, has always been a political entity, and claims itself as an authoritative kingdom commissioned by God to take dominion over the earth. Historically, “spiritual warfare” has never excluded bullets.

So, we have no clue about what God is up to because that wouldn’t be trusting Him, but on the other hand, we know that He wants us to take dominion over the earth. Oh, and replace your spouse if necessary. Hmmmm, I see. And even though we don’t know why God preordained these shootings, we should do our best to prevent them, and when we do prevent them, that was God’s will also. Hmmmm, I see. So, churches should have security teams just in case it’s God’s will that casualties are reduced. I see.

Authoritative institutions are often the target of ideological warfare that strives for control. The church has carelessly chosen to identify with that venue. Therefore, the assembly of Christ meeting in homes as an organized body cooperating with one mind, the mind of Christ as understood by individual conscience, is going to be far less at risk and have fewer enemies. And among many other things, security is a far lesser issue.

If authority has less chaos and danger, and chaos is “trust,” where are the results except for the glory of more chaos celebrating a God that says he is “not a God of confusion” or for that matter, death itself?


4 Responses

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  1. John said, on November 7, 2017 at 1:15 PM

    Yes, the ACBC is Calvinism’s rotten breath, Reformed rubbish’s guano. Only a while back, I said that the despicable ACBC (I cannot stand that weird little “cult” leader of theirs. What’s his name again? Heath somebody?) wish to control the bedroom so that they can control the house. Believe it, people, and call that evil lot out for what they are: Workers of darkness. And perverted in all ways imaginable. They must be over the moon, as they are always reforming and after deformation Day, most of them are probably still hungover from listening to hours of warm cow dung.

    The murderer of the 26 people had a violent past, all right, and apparently, he had it in for his mother-in-law:

    But, Paul, I can’t but agree with your assessment of things. What we will see next (hope not, of course) is a Protestant leader taking out hundreds of souls in one go . . . oh, wait, that has been happening for hundreds of years already, such is the danger and death of Protestantism.

    However, my condolences to all who have lost someone in this senseless yet predictable massacre. There is but one true comforter, seek Him. He will not let you down. There is but one savior. His name is Jesus and he was so good that He only had to die once, rise only once to accomplish eternal life for anyone who calls on His name. Once. Your choice.


    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on November 7, 2017 at 1:56 PM

      From John’s link:

      “What triggered the latest rampage to cut down Americans in a public space remains unclear. Texas officials have only said that unlike other rampages at houses of worship, religious or racial animus did not motivate it. Instead, they pointed to the gunman’s rage at his own relatives, saying that he had sent threatening messages to his mother-in-law; she attended the church but was not there Sunday.

      ‘We know there was conflict,’ Martin said. ‘He was upset with the mother in law.’

      Officials have not elaborated on the conflict, only saying that Kelley was angry due to “a domestic situation.” Further details on the dispute may be found on Kelley’s phone, Martin said.”

      Shortly after Susan and I began dating, I predicted that church shootings would skyrocket and would occur whenever these church counseling programs “messed with the wrong guy.” As I stated in the post, this cause has been all but completely absent. This may be an exception because he had plenty of time to ascertain who was there, and the mother-in-law wasn’t. I know this guy was deranged, but it would seem that he blamed the church for some reason. Why didn’t he go to the mother-in-law’s house if that’s who he had the beef with? Perhaps more details will emerge, but aside from the sickening reality of the children that perished, I find some of the rhetoric coming from the pastor and his wife almost equally disturbing. Also, the pastor and his wife were out of town in two separate states? Where and why? Also, his present wife, daughter of who he had the beef with is absent from the whole narrative. Strange.


      • John said, on November 7, 2017 at 3:30 PM

        That’s why I linked to that story. It reeks from top to bottom, doesn’t, Paul? Take a closer look at the “church” and the different roleplayers there is what the authorities need to do, but I doubt they will get it. His beef was with his mother-in-law, but he takes most of the church with him? You are onto it, Paul, and the foundation to the whole damn mess is . . . protestantism and all its evil branches, like ACBC. I will not be surprised at all . . .

        Great work, Paul. What will it take for people to wake up?

        As a former cop, I can tell you now that this dude had something against the church or someone else in the church too, as you suggest. What a mess.

        To lift the gloom a little, let me share this. I often had “beef” with my former mother-in-law. But instead of destroying stuff, I’d simply say I was an atheist whenever she was around. It drove her up the walls and through the ceiling. Oh, she belonged to some obscure cult where women had to wear hats and stockings and were forbidden to speak. And they worshiped every word their husbands spoke, and wives were told to wake up the husbands whenever there was a demon in the house so the husband could “rebuke” and “chain” the thing and send it to the “nearest ocean.” It’s “all coming back to me now” and I’m beginning to feel like Celine Dion. No, I will not link to that song. Not a chance.


      • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on November 7, 2017 at 4:05 PM

        Not going to speculate too much at this point, but based on what is known and my experience being in the middle of like situations as a counselor where a church is heavily involved, I think I know what might have gone down. And if I am right, a person who is a very bad player to begin with would have been plenty angry.


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