Paul's Passing Thoughts

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

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 2, 2018

Originally Published February 28, 2013

Nobody wants to be humiliated publicly 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@tanc.online

paul

12 Reasons Why…

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 23, 2017

Originally Published August 17, 2015

With football season upon us there is a new meme that has been circulating Facebook recently.  You might have seen it.

 

12 reasons

Obviously, this is meant to be a passive/aggressive criticism of those who use these same excuses for not going to church.  And as usual, it gets its share of “likes” and positive comments and “amens” all around.

So, with one of our topics being all the issues wrong with the institutional church, and with our focus being that of home fellowships, and because I have a tendency to be a trouble-maker, I decided to take the above idea and run in a different direction with it.  For your consideration, I am pleased to present to you:

12 reasons why attending a sporting event is better than attending church.


  1. The coach isn’t going to kick you out of the stadium for being critical of his play-calling.
  2. The only people asking you for money are the workers at the concession stand, and at least you get a snack and a cold beverage in return.
  3. You are surrounded by total strangers, but most people will interact with you like you’ve been lifelong friends.
  4. Those same people won’t judge you for what you’re wearing.
  5. There’s no “fan covenant” to sign where you agree to support the team no matter what.
  6. Nobody is going to question your team loyalty if you show up to the stadium late or not at all.
  7. Group participation is not only allowed but encouraged!
  8. You don’t have to worry about the coach showing up at your house the next day asking you why you weren’t at the game.
  9. You don’t have to worry about the coach getting on the P.A. system to bad mouth the season ticket holders who missed last week’s game.
  10. If you get to the stadium early, that’s ok. There’s most likely several parties already going on in the parking lot, and they won’t mind if you crash in, even if you didn’t bring a dish to pass.
  11. If there is ever a team scandal, the coach doesn’t blame the fans for it.
  12. You can be fairly certain that no one will ever tell you that the outcome is pre-determined!

 

Of course, if you have any others that you care to add, you are welcome to do so!

Andy

Smoking Gun: ACBC is a Nationwide Divorce Mill

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 13, 2017

OrigEDMinally published July 13, 2015

For a more detailed discussion on this book, check out Susan Dohse’s book review and commentary here

Christ made it clear that what God has brought together NO man is to separate. Does this mean God predetermines every marriage in regard to particular spouses? I doubt it. This probably refers to God’s covenant of marriage and the theology of vows. At any rate, death, unrepentant adultery, and an unbeliever who abandons their believing spouse are the only exceptions.

How does one live happily with a spouse who has become difficult? For Protestants, that is a hard question because the focus has been on justification for 500 years with little emphasis on the biblical art of godly living (sanctification). When you are supposedly sanctified by a perpetual “return to the gospel afresh”… knowledge on how to repair a marriage is going to be what it is today, practically nonexistent. And of course, living by the same gospel that saves us (not saved us) is a very complex matter needing the ongoing “research and development” of gospel-centered experts.

Add to that: Protestants don’t even have justification right. Little wonder then that the institutional church is a train wreck after 500 years of scholarship and trillions of hard-earned laity dollars. What is the answer? The answer is a laity movement that will reclaim the priesthood of believers seized by Gnostic hacks dressed in biblical garb.

The answers will come through one Lord, and one word interpreted by individuals indwelt by the Spirit who gives all knowledge needed for life and godliness liberally. In case we forget the obvious, “I was only obeying the elders” will not cut it when you stand before Christ and His blazing eyes of fire. The Nazis were very good at being “subordinate,” and many were hanged accordingly. I realize Reformed elders claim God gave them His authority to rule on earth, but you may want to rethink that claim.

As predicted, the biblical counseling movement overseen primarily by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) has become a divorce mill via its efforts to build marriages that “look like the gospel.” And the smoking gun is a book written by Leslie Vernick titled The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope that is widely used among ACBC counselors.

The obvious problems here are first seen in the title of the book. As Christians, is it really our goal to, “find our voice”? I thought it was our goal to please God in every circumstance. Secondly, the idea of emotional destruction is subjective at best and a ticket to do anything you want at worst. To make the point here, Google “American Civil Law.” In a culture judging anything that causes bad feelings to be abuse, such an approach to “biblical counseling” should give one pause.

Thirdly, why do Christians need a 240 page book written by a serial regurgitator of other people’s thoughts to FIND hope? You would think that by now Christians would be fairly certain about where hope is found.

Chilling is the examination of the 61-question survey found in the book that supposedly determines if one is in an abusive relationship or not. In the hands of a person that is unhappy in their marriage, the outcome will be a foregone conclusion. It’s like asking a chicken if Colonel Sanders is an emotional abuser.

The lynchpin becomes the ACBC’s loose interpretation of 1Corinthians 7:12-16. If the spouse is already an unbeliever, emotional abuse is tantamount to departing from the marriage even if they have not left physically or filed for divorce. Church discipline takes care of the pesky obstacle of the “abusive” spouse being a believer—they can be declared an unbeliever…actually MADE an unbeliever by elder authority supposedly vested to them by God. This paves the way for sanctified divorce.

It boils down to this: whoever is handed the book by the counselor is coronated as the abused spouse. Be sure of this: if both counselees in a bad marriage were handed the book, both would be guilty of the same thing. This is the smoking gun: it depends on who the ACBC “biblical counselor” wants to label abusive for whatever the motives might be.

I think a present situation that I am involved in says it all. I know enough about the situation to know that if the person I am talking with took the book’s survey, the other spouse would be judged as emotionally abusive hands down. The other spouse was handed the book because of who the ACBC counselor wanted to label “abusive.”

This is the niche service that Leslie Vernick now supplies to ACBC counselors.

paul

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

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 2, 2017

Church “Covenants” and How You Should Behave in a Protestant Church

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on September 29, 2016

Originally published July 23, 2015

https://paulspassingthoughts.com/One endeavor on the long list of objectives here at TANC ministries is to get solid legal insight into what has become protocol in evangelical churches. That process began yesterday during a consultation with a local attorney. As documented here at PPT, the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) and its network of churches has become a virtual divorce mill. The pattern that this ministry continues to be made privy to is documented in an open letter to the executive director of ACBC, Heath Lambert.

Simply stated, New Calvinism, which is a return to the original church polity of the Reformation, does not have the force of state to compel church members to follow its orthodoxy. So, it improvises. Instead of simply burning heretics at the stake, or burning a hole through the tongues of those who ask questions in a challenging way, they ruin names and finances.

We must remember, the orthodoxy of the Protestant Reformation was tailored for a church state. America was originally founded by the Pilgrims who didn’t like how the Church of England did church-state, so they came to America and founded “New England.” The name is not happenstance. The American Revolution put an end to the Pilgrims’ theocracy that dominated the colonies. Actually, “Pilgrims” is a soft term for “Puritans.” And please, spare me the emails about the differences between the Pilgrims and the Puritans—the differences are insignificant in the whole scheme of things.

That brings us to the discussion of soft terms. First, the original Protestant Reformation was a simple church state, but in reality, the definition of “cult” comes into play when church states had to improvise in order to control people because of the American Revolution. A cult is defined as follows: it is any religious organization that controls people by means other than a church state. The etymology of the word “cult” does not become significant until post American Revolution.

In other words, without the force of the state to compel people to obey its orthodoxy, it must resort to manipulation and brainwashing to control people. Yes, church states also emphasize brainwashing because murdering people is costly in its implementation, and fewer people amounts to less resources, but brainwashing becomes even more important and refined when the final solution has been outlawed in an open society.

So, let’s state a definitive definition of cult: it is any religious organization that controls people by means other than a church state, and combines faith with authority. Like its church state predecessor, it assumes that the nature of man cannot obtain unity for a given cause without being ruled by those with superior knowledge of realty.

After the American Revolution, churches became a hybrid of orthodoxy and enlightenment thinking. It became an alphabet soup with a broad range of attitude concerning the ability of man to rule self. But, this never resulted in the full-blown focus on individual responsibility mirrored by the 1st century assembly of Christ. The concept of “church” spawned in the 4th century has always permeated the American church psyche, i.e., orthodoxy being a storybook form of truth written by church “Divines” that the saints can understand, and enforced for their own wellbeing.

With that said, soft terms become vital to the American church as we know it today. Church polity is a soft term for church government; church discipline is a soft term for Unam sanctam, or John Calvin’s power of the keys that gives church authority to decide someone’s salvation on behalf of God. It goes without saying that you obey someone that can take away your salvation.

And, “church covenant” is a soft term for “church contract.” Basically, when you sign a church covenant church contract, you are signing away your right to be heard. In most of these contracts, you agree to obey the leadership and to be “teachable.” Hence, from now on, when our ministry hears, “Gee whiz, all I did was ask questions and now my life is being destroyed,” the subject will mostly likely hear, “No, what you did is breach of contract so take your medicine.”

Note: in many churches that deem themselves congregational, the parishioners unwittingly circumvent that reality by agreeing to a revised church covenant prepared and presented by the elders. See how that works?

Moreover, these third party contracts often negate rights found under civil and criminal law. This ministry, more specifically I, stands corrected in my assertion that coercion is being used to control parishioners. In fact, it is not coercion, but according to what the parishioner has agreed to and signed, especially regarding permission to leave church membership. It’s a contract—you signed it, so shut up, nod your head, say amen, and put your money in the plate. It’s all good; if the elders like you—you will more than likely “be able to stand in the judgement.”

What are the redeeming facts here, if any? Education: NEVER sign a church contract. It’s NOT a “covenant” bolstered by your signature—it’s a CONTRACT. This is why TANC does what it does; education, then solution/alternative.

Is there a way to get justice after signing our rights away? Perhaps, because apparently, marriage is also a contract. Rather than burning you at the stake and burying you in the church yard under a stone edict condemning you to hell, which of course is against the law presently, they will begin by ruining your name, and then destroy you financially via divorce.

The process goes something like this: you break your contract and stop being “teachable.” This tells the leadership that you no longer see yourself as a sinner, and you have become “insubordinate.” A dozen or so respected leaders and their wives start telling your wife that you are no longer “humble” and whether she realizes it or not, she is married to an “angry man.” And hark, behavior that your wife formerly assumed not to be abusive, in fact is abusive. Yes, she is married to a man who “doesn’t love her like Christ loved the church.” It’s all downhill from there.

Apparently, legally, this is interference with a marriage contract. Damages would be determined by a jury if the situation ends in divorce. Also, the idea that ACBC could eventually be subject to a class action lawsuit is not all that farfetched.

However, this is just more evidence that the premise and foundations of the institutional church is egregiously flawed and was designed for a church state to begin with. The solution is the cooperation of spiritual gifts, not authority, and fellowship—not membership.

Meanwhile, if you do not like the solution, behave yourself in the Protestant church. Stop going to discernment blogs and whining—you signed the contract, shut up and live by it.

paul

%d bloggers like this: