Paul's Passing Thoughts

Church Criminality, Thomas Chantry, and “Dr.” Devon Berry

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 5, 2019

ppt-jpeg4I stopped writing about trending church drama long ago. By drama, I mean the constant revelations of church criminality and the church’s attempt to cover it up. Indeed, I used to be one of those out to save the church from those few bad apples. Let me use the handy “LOL” on that one. Church drama is the result of its ideology and the ideology can’t be changed because that’s what defines church—church cannot be saved.

For those of you not familiar with me, no, I am not a “None” or a “Done.” In fact, my relationship with God is better than it has ever been. So, if you won’t deal with the fact that church hijacked Christianity, don’t call me “bitter” while your head is in the sand though Churchians have a gift for doing so. And to those who have figured out that church is the biggest scam ever perpetrated on mankind, you still have a responsibility to partake in sanctification and ambassadorship. This is why Susan and I recently re-upped our weekly live Bible study and home fellowship. This is a priority that was way too low in our lives. If you would do so, you can get up Sunday morning, have brunch, and join us live between 11 and 12; we are in the book of Galatians. Or, utilize the archives according to your own schedule.

But yesterday, while passing by an article on Pastor Thomas Chantry that landed in front of me while I was surfing, I noticed the name, Devon Berry. Usually, I skim past the Thomas Chantry thing with a mere…let me borrow the “SMH” on that one. That whole thing is just the bizarre icing on the church cake. Hence, I really know little about that particular weekly “bomb shell” concerning an evangelical pastor.

Devon Berry is a particularly evil person and I am compelled to write about him today. Why? He is indicative of something I do still write about: the church’s evil ideology that drives its behavior. I have had firsthand dealings with the evil Devon Berry and his criminal behavior.

Let’s start with a little background. I was saved in 1983 with much power and joy in the Holy Spirit. I believe I was truly born again of the Spirit. Unfortunately, I had a misinformed understanding of the new birth and there was no place to find real understanding about the new birth in the realm of church. I was really serious about being a Christian, and of course, if you are really serious about being a Christian, you join a church, right?

I knew that becoming a Christian meant a miraculous transformation by God. I knew this too much, and became concerned that I still “sinned.” I thought, “If I am saved, why do I still sin!” Because I still sinned, how could it be that I was transformed by God? The basic idea was a good one and much more correct than church orthodoxy, but the answers to my questions were never answered by the church because the church rejects the new birth and always has. I was looking for love in all the wrong places; mostly churches. Be sure of this: biblical love and church are mutually exclusive because of its orthodoxy. I visit this in detail in The Church Lie and the Biblical Alternative (TANC Publishing 2018). Visit tanc.online and you can buy the book or read it for free.

Intuitively, I knew what the new birth is,  but having enough knowledge to reconcile that with life experience was not going to be found in church. But, what Christianity is there apart from church, right? I had no understanding of how the new birth changes the Christian’s relationship to the law or what we would say is the difference between under grace and under law. With church, you remain under law; that’s just a theological fact. With church, under grace is merely a system to cover your sins while still under the law. According to the real gospel, the new birth transforms you from one to the other; you can’t be both.

What is the problem with church? Its orthodoxy keeps congregants under the law’s condemnation and that same condemnation also proliferates sin. The Bible is crystal clear on that. Also, because the church peddles in condemnation, especially self-condemnation, mental health is also going to be a problem. Telling congregants they are totally depraved, especially children, is going to yield certain results. Obviously, if you think you are totally dpraved, you are going to act like it.

I struggled in church and its morass of confusion until circa 1990 when I found Pastor John Street and Clearcreek Chapel in Springboro, Ohio. Street was a strong advocate of Dr. Jay Adams’ biblical counseling movement and the Chapel was also a training center for that movement. I thought I had finally found the answer and a “good” church. Fact is, Adams’ movement had some inkling of what it is to live under grace and the results were what I believe to be the only true revival in church history. In other words, Adams had the gospel half right and applied it to counseling with dramatic results. Clearcreek gained a reputation for being a place where people could find real help for deep problems, and that was true to a great extent.

And all in all, I had finally learned to be content with church contradictions and its corporate mentality. Street left in around 1998 to oversee John MacArthur’s biblical counseling program in California, and that’s when a New Calvinist takeover of Clearcreek Chapel began.  I document that takeover in Religious Tyranny A Case Study (TANC Publishing 2017). I also document the TRUE history of the biblical counseling movement and the TRUE history of the New Calvinist movement in New Calvinism for Dummies (TANC 2013), Clouds Without Water (TANC 2015), and The Truth About New Calvinism (TANC 2011). I believe all of those can be found on tanc.online to purchase or read for free. If not, email us at mail@tanc.online and we will get you a copy.

Understand, church had an anemic sanctification because its orthodoxy has always been about salvation alone. Adams cured that to a point. Then, the New Calvinist movement comes along and cries foul and rejected the idea of sanctification altogether. That is, at least the evangelical idea of sanctification. And the New Calvinists are right, there is no growth in the life of a “believer” according to Protestant orthodoxy, ONLY salvation grows.

Well, when the takeover started, I was not happy because I couldn’t make heads or tails of what they were teaching and I had just spent 20 years finding a comfortable place in the church. I started asking questions the New Calvinists couldn’t answer. With New Calvinists, you don’t ask questions to begin with much less questions they can’t answer.

Devon Berry was one of the elders at the Chapel at that time. At the crux of my contention with the elders was infamously known as “The Question.” It followed as a result of what they were teaching. “You say we should never try to obey God or please God, ‘in our own strength or power.’ But when we set out to please God, how do we know if it is in our power or the Spirit’s power?” Of course, they couldn’t answer the question honestly because they believe the saint does not obey God at all and has no ability to do so. One simply focuses on being faithful to the church, and if one does that, the righteousness of Christ obtained by His perfect law-keeping while He was on earth is imputed to the “believer” as he/she partakes in the church’s “common means of grace.” Hence, the only way a parishioner can please God is by acknowledging they can do no good work while remaining faithful to church rituals for perpetual re-salvation. At that point, a realization that the elders were bringing that gospel into the church would have cleared the place out. I was a clear and present threat to exposing the whole elephant they wanted to feed to the congregation slowly over time in small bites.

This group of elders who were in the process of taking over Clearcreek Chapel with New Calvinist doctrine (a return to authentic medieval Protestant soteriology) had no intentions of taking any prisoners. While living off of the legacy that John Street and Jay Adams left at the Chapel, they despised both. I was openly mocked by one elder for saying that Adams’ counseling saved my life. Though Adams’ counseling was only half right, it is still a testimony to the power of God’s truth, even when administered in small doses. However, even after Street’s departure, many people continued to seek counsel at the chapel because they believed Adams’ counseling construct was still being followed. Clearly, the Chapel elders deceptively played along with that notion to draw unsuspecting victims into their web.

The point here follows: I will outline in this article what the Chapel elders did to gain control over parishioners, and Devon Berry was the point man for that activity because of his background in mental health. And yes, as Brent Detwiler points out, Berry was only in his 20s at the time and very indicative of the YRR (Young, Restless, and Reformed) Brownshirt mentality.

First, the Chapel elders played on the fact that Clearcreek Chapel was Reformed Light. Yes, the Chapel practiced church discipline, for what one would expect; public sin of the baser sort. The Chapel elders utilized the authentic Calvinist version of discipline without re-educating the congregation. The Chapel elders believed the reasons for bringing someone up on discipline was totally at the discretion of the elders. And, this is a fact: the only real sin was going against their authority. While several members lived in open sin, only those who challenged the elders’ authority were brought up on discipline. Yet, the Chapel elders deliberately allowed the congregation to believe those disciplined were partakers in “a longstanding pattern of sin.” In my case, as a longtime elder and respected leader at the Chapel, Devon Berry and company allowed Chapel members to believe that I had been leading a double life all along. This was part of the scheme; to allow the imagination of the parishioners to condemn and slander anyone who dared to challenge their authority.

Church discipline was the primary weapon in accomplishing the first priority against anyone who questioned their authority: separation from their families. Marriages were targeted with impunity. Many who were targeted by the Chapel elders knew this and literally fled the state. The quickest way to be brought up on discipline by the elders was to leave membership without permission. So, fathers would seek employment in other states, that is, in both cases where I had firsthand knowledge, in a state as far away from Ohio as they could get. We are talking East Coast and West Coast. One was an elder who objected to a motion that the church pay the tax debt of another elder without the knowledge of the congregation.

If your marriage was any less than perfect, you dared not question the Chapel elders for they would quickly move in for the kill. A seminary graduate who came back to the Chapel and wanted to teach was quickly neutralized through prerequisite “counseling” which ended up destroying his life and his marriage. The Chapel elders engaged in splitting up marriages and matching the pliable spouses with other pliable spouses. Shocking revelations would emerge about longtime members resulting in a divorce, and then the divorced spouses who were in favor with the elders would marry the other leftovers. They had one fellow lined up for my wife, but he backed out of the divorce of his wife when it became evident that she was going to take him to the cleaners financially which included owning half of his business.

My own case is representative of what the Chapel elders did to many families with Devon Berry leading the charge. AFTER I submitted a letter to the elders advising them that I was leaving the Chapel, they came over to my house and placed me under “the first step of church disciple.” When I demanded a specific reason, and the reason be put in writing, the reason given was, “failure to love my wife according to Ephesians 5.” Really? I knew that if I left the Chapel regardless they would ruin my reputation with the congregation. I had poured more than 20 years of my life into the Chapel and my children grew up there, and I really had no life outside of church; so, like many others, the stakes were high and this was a loss few would take lightly. Also, someone being excommunicated was a greenlight for divorce in many cases. I clearly knew where it all was going: if I didn’t capitulate to their authority, I would be excommunicated for reasons left to the imagination of the parishioners who constituted the only friends and relationships I had. Secondly, this would invite a recommendation from the elders that my wife divorce me.  While I was asleep at the switch, my wife had bought into the idea that church membership of “good standing” was synonymous with being part of the body of Christ; ie., saved. So, leaving the Chapel without permission would be leading my family out of the body of Christ. See, your wife may love you, but it’s doubtful she will go to hell for you.

I sought counsel from another church and pastor that was also a member of “FIRE.” If I remember correctly, that stands for “fellowship (I?) of Reformed evangelicals” or something like that. The response from the elders of that church was: “Look, we don’t agree with what they are doing, but play along and do what they want, and then when you are released from the discipline, take your family and leave. You have been there 20 years so it is best to leave in peace.” This seemed like good counsel and taking the high road. Problem was, four months later, I was still there with no end in sight. Furthermore, knowing that my presentation problem under Adams’ counseling was severe depression, they used Berry and another elder to engage me in what was clearly break sessions to drive me to a nervous breakdown. This was very apparent to me at the time.

I knew I had a choice; capitulate to their authority or be under their discipline process forever. I submitted a second letter informing them that I would be leaving. That night, Berry and another elder arrived at my home. Berry was clear: if I left, I would be “declared an unbeliever” and “humiliated before the congregation.” FYI, in the state of Ohio, that is a criminal act under The Ohio Revised Code chapter 2905: Kidnapping and Extortion, and 2905.12 specifically, “Coercion.”

Nevertheless, I left anyway. The Chapel elders indeed announced to the congregation that I had been excommunicated and left the congregation to their imaginations. That was fueled by calling on the congregation to pray for my ex-wife and my children during this “season of darkness in their lives.” According to letters sent to my ex-wife that I obtained; adultery and abandonment were part of the narrative while being totally absent from the realm of reality. The elders deliberately fueled all of this by asking the congregation for a monetary love offering for my wife and children while there were no financial needs whatsoever. Yet another one of their ploys: on the day my divorce was final, the elders stayed in hotels overnight and made sure the congregation found out about it; this, of course, was a way to convey the idea that I was a violent person who was a threat to their safety. And you can bet the money came from church funds. Berry was at the forefront of this evil, and I am far from being the only one they did this to. Initially, when I took my family and left, we started attending the aforementioned church where I received counsel. My ex-wife left me there and went back to the Chapel per the command of the Chapel elders. The response of the elders from the church we attended together follows: “We don’t agree with what they are doing, but if you want you wife back, you will return and submit to their authority.”

But, I was one of the few, if not the only one who didn’t go into hiding. That did present some problems for them because my response didn’t fit the narrative. Also, these events resulted in the answering of a prayer to God I had prayed several years before: “Lord, please show me how to be sanctified and what’s wrong with the church. Please just lead me in truth.”

Much, much good came out this…I am not a victim.

So, it doesn’t surprise me that Berry covered for a pedo-pastor-phile. It’s not about godly virtue at all…it’s about pastoral authority. Not long after what happened to me and my overt public pushback, as well as looking into legal action, Berry and another elder, Chad Bresson, left Ohio. Of course, the timing could be a coincidence.

But lastly, the fact that Berry is recognized as a specialist in the relationship of religion and health has to be one of the more ironic pieces of information I have ever received.

But in the final analysis, the church behaves according to its ideology of religious authority, and that’s why the church cannot be saved.

paul

 

4 Responses

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  1. lydia00 said, on September 5, 2019 at 2:48 PM

    Oh my word! It’s insane what we have allowed. I constantly tell my teens, church is voluntary and has little to do with Christ.

    When the neo Cals took over my former church, A friend of mine stayed there who had a teenager in the youth group. This kid is one of my favorites. Very sensible and responsible. Well, she would call me up and tell me about how horrible they treated her son. I started questioning her very closely and even talked to her son about some of the things that took place and guess what I found out? He was basically questioning what they taught Because it did not make sense to him! He was questioning Piper, Mohler, etc. so they were doing everything in their power to label him a troublemaker. His mother did not see it for a long time because it never occurred to her that they could be that shallow. I told her that they were actually threatened by her son who was about 10 years younger than they were and asking questions they didn’t have the brains or nerve to ask in seminary. I told her that he was asking questions they could not answer. I told her she should be very proud of him for questioning what they were teaching. He is wise beyond his years. (The youth pastor came to their house to “confront” him and his parents for his “behavior”. Evidently it’s bad behavior to question them)

    Once she started seeing it for what it is, she moved herself from being a victim of church discipline to victor. She had raised a fine son.

    Like

    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on September 5, 2019 at 3:27 PM

      Well, as my favorite employee used to say…”der it go.”

      Like

  2. republican mother said, on September 8, 2019 at 2:00 PM

    Sounds like that church had devolved into a glorified swinger club. Sick stuff.

    For anyone having trouble breaking out of the institutional church mindset, try joining a community nonprofit and seeing how it works. You’ll find the similarities to church striking: potlucks, activities, Robert’s Rules, and all the same officer positions. Yet you won’t find the pretense that we’re all mystically running a 501c3 to God’s Glory. You can talk about stuff that’s happening without fear of it being misconstrued as “gossip.” I have found it very refreshing.

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    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on September 10, 2019 at 8:09 AM

      The article doesn’t even scratch the surface. Yet, most of the core members are still there and we are talking super-educated people mostly in the 6-figure category. It speaks demonstrably to the issue of authority as truth. One week, when parishioners showed up for a midweek flock meeting hosted by the Berrys, they arrived to find their finance documents spread out on the dinning room table. Bank statements, tax returns, etc., etc. Obviously, Devon was “leading by example” in regard to transparency regarding finances. Of course, he knew no one was going to actually look through the documentation in front of everyone else. The list of creepy events like this at the Chapel are endless.

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