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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sheep Attacks

A Rant Against Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs

sheepbitesLast week I read with head-wagging sigh-inducing astonishment about a pastor leading his congregation to sue an ex-member for defamation and slander against him and the church. Allegedly, the slander was in the form of a negative review the ex-member left on a website.

The ex-member in question, a homeschool mother by the name of Julie Anne, complained of being "spiritually abused" by a legalistic, over-bearing pastor who would threaten church discipline against those who disagreed with him and asked pointed questions. He is also said to have led the other members to publicly shun this gal and her family, and his constant pastoral abuse supposedly drove one of Julie Anne's daughters away from attending any church at all.

Those are troubling allegations against this pastor and his church. The fact that he has unwisely leveled a half million dollar lawsuit against this woman only serves to exacerbates her charges.

However, I am even more troubled by the way this pastor has been pilloried in the press accounts as being practically a borderline, baby-eating Satanist. Throngs of grievance mongering antinomians have rallied around this woman as if she's been the victim of a serial rapist who was released on a minor technicality.

Now, I'll probably agree that the pastor is acting foolishly with this lawsuit, and perhaps he displays an overall bad attitude that negatively impacts his ministry, but is he really deserving of the name calling and accusations of deviancy made by faceless, anonymous blog commenters? And the rest of us are to let such comments slip by unnoticed?

Surveying the host of news articles, so-called "spiritual abuse" blogs, and even this gal's own "survivor" blog, my "Hmmmm..." alarm began beeping.

I'm sure Julie is as sweet as a plate of cookies, but she comes across, at least to me, as petty and vindictive. The accounts I read is that she and her family exited this church a few years ago, and then at some point after, she was inclined to leave a negative Google review complaining how this church is legalistic and doesn't live up to the name "Grace" that is in their official title.

Her comment wasn’t particularly slanderous. It's the kind of whiny comments that are typically found on any Google review page. You have to take them with a grain of salt. I read similar stuff about every hotel I researched when the family made a cross country trip to Arkansas.

But there certainly has to be more going on than just a weepy lady crying about her feelings getting hurt at this church. American evangelicalism is dotted with disgruntled ex-members of such-and-such a church/denomination who would also complain about similar problems that drove them to leave their churches. I could probably be numbered among that group.

The difference is they don't run to the internet and write hostile reviews or start a "survivor" blog aimed at the church in question. Nor does the church feel the need to take those disgruntled ex-members to court to make them cease their slander. There’s more going on than we probably are aware.

I've circled around the ministry block enough times to learn that the folks who start an active "survivor" blog outlining in scrutinizing detail their alleged spiritual abuse at the hands of a pastor or church are generally coming from the fever swamps of tin-foil hat theology. Not saying this is Julie; I’m just saying its been my experience – and I have a lot of it.

Just notice the people who were stirred up to respond positively to the news report of this lady's pending lawsuit.

First are the atheists and agnostics. Obviously they will chime in because they hate God and Jesus, and I imagine some of them have genuinely been excommunicated from churches.

But the biggest supporters are coming from these hives of spiritual malcontents (nearly all of them women, btw) who maintain various spiritual abuse survivor blogs.

Do any of them attend a Bible teaching church? If so, where? Again, speaking from generalities I’ll admit, the folks who I have encountered who run an active “survivor” blog either don’t attend church anywhere, or the church they do attend is one of these fruiffy emerging style churches with the water-downed doctrine. They’re the ones who are “open” to other points of view on key doctrines like Christ’s divinity and the authority of Scripture. But I digress.

In fact, I am curious as to where Julie and her family attend church. If she does, what does her pastor think of the tactics she has taken starting a “survivor” blog? From what I gather on her blog, she doesn’t attend any church, and in point of fact just recently started “trying” church again. Okay, that’s great; but after a three year’s absence?

Moreover, with all the various “survivor” blogs I surveyed, pretty much everyone of them are overran by anonymous commenters who have a streak of anti-authoritarianism running through everything they write. In my opinion, these are some rather problematic allies. A person doesn’t want spiritually unhealthy individuals informing his or her decisions in matters like what Julie is dealing with.

Now, are there mean, bullying pastors out there? Sure. Do those bullying pastors foster an atmosphere of hostility by encouraging gangs of finger-wagging Delores Umbridge types to stick their legalistic nose in everyone's business and then rat out any non-conformists? Certainly.

However, is taking to the internet with a blog called "shepherd watch" or "battered lambs" or "such-and-such survivors" the best course of action? No. Honestly, those blogs make a person appear loopy, demanding a double-portion of his pound of flesh at all costs. Their white whale must be destroyed or there will be no rest.

Let me add a closing word on 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 because I am sure someone will ask about it in the combox.

I don’t believe Paul’s words here are intended as an absolute prohibition against Christians involving themselves in lawsuits against other Christians. The primary point is to rebuke litigious oriented Christians whose first reaction is to take a person to court over personal offenses. Just as it is today in our society, Roman society encouraged people to sue one another to protect one’s rights. Matter’s were made worse because the courts favored the wealthy and judicial decisions tended toward injustice against the one who could not defend himself in court.

Additionally, Paul is reminding the church as a whole that Christ’s people should not involve the world in the matters of the church. God’s people have the spirit of discernment operating among them. The world does not. Hence, in severe disagreements between two Christian brothers, the Christian church has the true resources to judge rightly.

At the same time, however, Paul is clear in Romans 13 that the civil authorities exist to maintain the order of society and protect its citizens. Law courts are a big part of that category of “civil authorities,” and depending on circumstances, there may be a need for law courts to intervene in serious matters in order to protect one group of citizens from another. In rare occasions, such situations may involve Christians.

But, coming back to 1 Corinthians 6:7, 8, Paul exhorts all offended parties to take such offenses and lay them aside. As he says, “Why not let yourselves be cheated?” In other words, it is better to let the bad situation go rather than making a mockery of Christ in the eyes of the world and damaging the overall Christian testimony.

That last point applies just as equally with Julie Anne as it does with her ex-church, and to all the sob-sisters “survivor” blogs.

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34 Comments:

Blogger Les said...

Well said. This is a situation with a lot of outside parties speaking as inside parties. A little discernment would go a long way for everyone in ear shot of this melee.

Hopefully both parties will be convicted and put a stop to what they have made into a foot-hold for the enemies of The Lord.

Les

7:39 AM, May 22, 2012  
Blogger Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"But the biggest supporters are coming from these hives of spiritual malcontents (nearly all of them women, btw) who maintain various spiritual abuse survivor blogs."

o Any humble theories as to why it's overwhelmingly women?

o Fred, can you anticipate the response that because you're a man, that you just don't understand? That you're unsympathetic response is aiding and abetting the spiritual abusers out there?

9:45 AM, May 22, 2012  
Blogger Unknown said...

Whan you throw aside all the emotional components of the story you are left with two truths..neither side has correctly handled the situation. The chick should stop with the blog, and the church is insane for suing. Nothing good can come from it. Think of the precedence it set..

1:34 PM, May 22, 2012  
Blogger Julie Anne said...

I would like to correct some statements you made regarding my situation. I go by Julie Anne, not Julie, which can be clearly seen on my blog.

We have never stopped attending church after this bad experience. How did you come to this erroneous conclusion?

There would be no media attention if the pastor hadn't sued.

Did the pastor ask us to remove the reviews? No. Did the pastor return phone calls or e-mails? No. Did the pastor agree to mediation with a local pastor? No. Did the pastor heed the advice of at least three Grace Community pastors? No.

Combining the posts and personal e--mails, I would say that it's 50/50 male/female. Do you have something against women to make such an accusation?

It sure seems like you made up your mind with your own version of my story very quickly without even doing a simple cursory glance at my blog. Please set the record straight.

4:54 PM, May 22, 2012  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Hey Julie ANNE glad you could drop by,
I go by Julie Anne, not Julie, which can be clearly seen on my blog.

Sorry about that. I'll try and correct that forthwith.

We have never stopped attending church after this bad experience. How did you come to this erroneous conclusion?

You mean you didn't stop attending THIS particular church or did you began attending somewhere else? I never stated you "stopped attending church." I merely pointed out that nothing on your site speaks about your current church or where you attend church. I am also reacting to your May 19th post where you talk about "trying church again." This suggests to me that you are currently not involved with any church whatsoever. Is this wrong?

With that stated, answer the questions I raised in the post, particularly about your current pastor and his thoughts about your "survivor" blog. What's his take on it and why?

Did the pastor ask us to remove the reviews? No. Did the pastor return phone calls or e-mails? No. Did the pastor agree to mediation with a local pastor? No. Did the pastor heed the advice of at least three Grace Community pastors? No.

Indeed. I am aware of all of those things. But again, I am not agreeing with him over you, per se. He could very well be an unqualified guy. I certainly don't believe he is a pedophilic monster than many anonymous commenters on a host of supportive "survivor" blogs have suggested he is. In spite of his problems and the way you feel you were treated by him still doesn't really warrant you throwing up a "survivor" blog and labeling his church a cult. Totally ridiculous and I stand by my assertion.

Combining the posts and personal e--mails, I would say that it's 50/50 male/female. Do you have something against women to make such an accusation?

Not that I have something against them, I just know that women in these situation tend to be much more "emotional" than they need to be and their catharsis doesn't aid in their spiritual maturity when dealing with the situation from a biblical perspective.

It sure seems like you made up your mind with your own version of my story very quickly without even doing a simple cursory glance at my blog. Please set the record straight.

Actually, I spent a good several days going over your blog and the many other "survivor" blogs that have rallied around you. I have to say that I am extremely troubled you allow their support, because as I noted in my article, many of them have a serious anti-authoritarian streak running through their own blogs as well as their supportive comments toward you. I am also troubled by the fact you link to atheists who are merely supporting you because they hate their creator. In a sense you are their tool for their rebellious end.

Honestly, Julie Anne, I have no idea who you are. Like I stated in my article, I've been around the block enough times that just because some seemingly nice individual is crying spiritual abuse and accusing a church of being a cult, doesn't make that person automatically correct in his or her assessment. 9 times out of 10, I found they have some personally issues. Maybe you're that 1 time, but I go with what I know to be true until otherwise informed.

8:41 PM, May 22, 2012  
Blogger Julie Anne said...

We were planning on one more Sunday at church to say good-byes, but got the call on Saturday night that we were not welcome to come back, so in essence, we were forced out.

We started attending a new church that Sunday. Tried it for 6 wks, and then moved on to another church and stayed there for over 2 yrs until we moved out of state.


"I am also reacting to your May 19th post where you talk about "trying church again." This suggests to me that you are currently not involved with any church whatsoever. Is this wrong?"

Keep in mind, my blog is for spiritual abuse survivors. It was written to help broach the subject of abusers attempting to try church once again because I've become aware of so many who leave the church after being hurt and never return. As I said earlier, we have never stopped attending church.

"With that stated, answer the questions I raised in the post, particularly about your current pastor and his thoughts about your "survivor" blog. What's his take on it and why?"

Apparently he doesn't care for it as he is suing me.

"In spite of his problems and the way you feel you were treated by him still doesn't really warrant you throwing up a "survivor" blog and labeling his church a cult. Totally ridiculous and I stand by my assertion."

That's fine. I'm not doing the blog to meet everyone's approval.


"Not that I have something against them, I just know that women in these situation tend to be much more "emotional" than they need to be and their catharsis doesn't aid in their spiritual maturity when dealing with the situation from a biblical perspective.

I took a quick scan of my e-mails again and what I'm finding is there are definitely the emotional responses from women as you suggest, but a lot of men are responding - some mentioning scriptures as it pertains to the case, etc.


"Actually, I spent a good several days going over your blog and the many other "survivor" blogs that have rallied around you. I have to say that I am extremely troubled you allow their support, because as I noted in my article, many of them have a serious anti-authoritarian streak running through their own blogs as well as their supportive comments toward you. I am also troubled by the fact you link to atheists who are merely supporting you because they hate their creator. In a sense you are their tool for their rebellious end."

Truth is truth. Atheists can see it and are pointing it out. I'm not sure what you're talking about "linking" to atheists. What's that?

" . . 9 times out of 10, I found they have some personally issues. Maybe you're that 1 time, but I go with what I know to be true until otherwise informed."

I'm definitely the 1 - lol.

Well, I normally overlook simple errors, but there were so many in your blog post, that I had to point them out. Thanks for making corrections, being bold enough to approve my post and also conversing with me. I appreciate it. :)

Typing fast - hopefully there are no typos!

9:21 AM, May 23, 2012  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

We started attending a new church that Sunday. Tried it for 6 wks, and then moved on to another church and stayed there for over 2 yrs until we moved out of state. ... Apparently he doesn't care for it as he is suing me.

I highlight these two statements, because they sort of confuse me. So I am attempting to clarify here.

If I am understanding your first statement, you're telling me you and your family no longer live in Beaverton, right? And yet you go on to identify Chuck as your current pastor in the second statement. From the media reports I've seen, you were dismissed from Grace Bible nearly 3 years ago, correct? So I take it from your words here that you attended some other church in Beaverton for 2 years until you moved to another state.

I am confused as to why you would still identify Chuck ONeal as your current pastor when you are saying you no longer live in OR. I can only assume you are attending a church now in the other state where you live. What I am asking is where do you attend church and what does your current pastor think about your survivor blog and you airing out your grievances in such a public manner.

As to the link to atheists, in your sidebar you link to an atheist site called Patheos because they carried your story. It's not the wisest thing to give enemies of the faith a favorable link because it sends the wrong message to folks.

1:31 PM, May 23, 2012  
Blogger Julie Anne said...

Please help me out. I cannot see where I have stated Chuck is currently my pastor. Can you please quote it for me so I can see what you're talking about? He was no longer my pastor after 11/08.

11/08 left BGBC

We tried a new church for 6-8 wks.
1/09 until 6/11 we attended a church in the area until we moved out of state due to change of jobs.
We have attended the same church in WA from 6/11.

My current pastor knows of this situation. I had a long phone conversation with him (maybe 1-1/2 hrs) at the beginning of the ordeal, maybe even before I had retained an attorney.

I also met with him in his office for 2 hrs last week.

He told me that while he wouldn't have recommended doing Google review like that, he understands why I did it and said "it is what it is" at this point.

Upon hearing my whole story - he said that it sounds like God has hand-selected me to speak out against spiritual abuse. That sometimes what we have planned, God uses for different purposes. He urged me to be careful. I had no idea what to expect because I had never met with him before, but it is apparent that he understands the damage of spiritual abuse.

We also discussed the negative aspects of it: atheists and others using it as a stomping ground against Christ. That is sad and unfortunate. But on the flip side, I am connecting with many atheists who have left the church because of abuse. I reacted by pointing out the abuse. They reacted by turning completely away from the church/God. We have an instant connection and hopefully I can extend love and grace to them in ways they did not see during their church experiences.

We need a reality check here, though. My initial review would have died. How many people read Google reviews on churches? Not many. Chuck engaged it, sent others to engage it, lied about former members being in church discipline, removed the reviews and he is the one suing which is far more public than a simple Google review.

Re: patheos - I think it's pretty clear that those are links to my story, not endorsements of the host sites. Maybe I could add a disclaimer.

Hope this helps clear things up for you.

9:21 AM, May 24, 2012  
Blogger Julie Anne said...

Fred: I found it. I misread your question here: "With that stated, answer the questions I raised in the post, particularly about your current pastor and his thoughts about your "survivor" blog. What's his take on it and why?"

I missed the word "current" and assumed you were talking about my former pastor. Sorry about that. Hopefully my last response cleared it up for you.

9:25 AM, May 24, 2012  
Blogger Steve Lamm said...

Fred,

One news article claims that the BGBC pastor was counseled by a pastor at GCC to sue Julie Anne and others. Since that advice is short sighted, I find it hard to believe that it came from any pastor at GCC. The end result is that the church leaders appear to be bullies and the secular media loves a story like that!

The bottom line in all this is that any public airing of disputes between believers ultimately defames the glory of Christ. This is why Paul rebuked the Corinthians so strongly in I Cor. 6!

This entire event on all sides is so covered in sin that it makes me ill. What did Paul say?

For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2:24 ESV)

Once again believers have given the Gentiles an excuse to blaspheme the Lord.

Steve

11:34 AM, May 24, 2012  
Blogger chapmaned24 said...

This is to show a history:

http://suspiciousberean.blogspot.com/2010/05/american-christians-is-your-pastor.html

Notice the date? This is nothing new in regards to Chuck Oneal.

3:47 PM, May 28, 2012  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Chapman,
If that is your blog, I am rather concerned about your discernment. There's a lot of conspiratorial stuff on it. At one point, the article cites Alex Jones. Alex Jones? He's a nutter who has no credibility on telling me what Romans 13 says.

What would be helpful than just grousing about so-called pastors who abuse Romans 13 is to tell me what it actually says. What is Paul saying here? I agree with John MacArthur's position on the passage. You can readily find his material at our website, www.gty.org. Search for Romans 13 or "The Christian and Government." I am guessing you would be of the opinion that Mac is wrong? If so, please explain why.

5:46 AM, June 05, 2012  
Blogger chapmaned24 said...

Fred, No it is not my blog. Having said that, I, too, also know that Alex Jones is a nut case.

8:10 AM, June 05, 2012  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

The tone I receive from the post where the writer uses Chuck ONeal as an example of spiritual abuse is that the person has a general disdain for authority to begin with. He or she is hunting for excuses NOT to submit to the elders.

Though I certainly believe pastors and churches can "spiritually abuse" (a term that is subjectively defined in all honesty) just because a guy recognizes what Paul says regarding the Christians submission to the state does not equate a "spiritual abuser."

8:29 AM, June 05, 2012  
Blogger chapmaned24 said...

I didn't see what you saw. I spent many years in the US Navy. I know that it is not against any law in the UCMJ to question authority. Yes, we are to follow the orders of the officers appointed above us, however, that does not subtract the fact that we have a conscience in deciding to question those orders.

The Bible discusses many things in regards to qualifications of spiritual leaders. If the qualifications do not fit, then I would not submit.

The one thing that I learned about Christianity, is the word "freedom". Not to be entangled in bondage. Come to Jesus, all ye who are heavy laden. Jesus will give you rest.

If ye be dead in Christ from the rudiments of the world, why as though, living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances (Touch not, taste not, handle not)?

There is such a thing as leaders overstepping their authority. This is why it is lawful in the military for the commanding officer to be replaced by the second in command.

8:40 AM, June 05, 2012  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

First, and hopefully you understand this, the Church of God and the Navy are unrelated. The so-called abusive elder who is unqualified is going to be handled differently than the corrupt naval officer.

You write,
The Bible discusses many things in regards to qualifications of spiritual leaders. If the qualifications do not fit, then I would not submit.

That's a rather subjective approach. It sounds do me that anyone could claim an elder is unqualified based upon rather superficial issues. "He told me that smoking isn't the best thing for my personal testimony so he ain't qualified."

Additionally, if you are led to believe a pastor is unqualified, why not leave the church after explaining to the leadership why you are moving on? Is it really necessary to start a spiritual abuse blog like Julie Anne has? Completely a waste of time and does nothing be generate strife and stir up other spiritual rebels to vent their poison against biblical authorities.

9:02 AM, June 05, 2012  
Blogger chapmaned24 said...

The Church of God and the Navy are unrelated? Again, I do not see things as you do. You seem to have a dictator personality in that no one has any right whatsoever to question authority. You asked "why not leave"? I can't believe that you asked that question. Why do abused wives not leave their husbands? FEAR. The abuser tells his victim that if she says anything, he would kill her. Now, while that is extreme, so is abusive pastors. They hold SALVATION as their threat, which puts fear in the hearts of people.

Your compassion is lacking here. Your judgment is lacking. Your empathy is non-existent.

You do know what empathy means, right? You do know what compassion is, right? Come on, Fred. Have a heart.

9:15 AM, June 05, 2012  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

You write,
The Church of God and the Navy are unrelated?

Yes. They are very unrelated. The Navy is not established by the blood of Christ, nor is there a promise that the gates of hell will not be able to withstand the Navy. The qualifications for shepherding God's people is entirely different, and in some places, the exact opposite of the qualifications to be a naval officer. I'm truly surprised you are arguing with me on this.

You seem to have a dictator personality in that no one has any right whatsoever to question authority.

I am not entirely sure how you concluded that. Lookit. I've been around the ministry block many times and know disgruntled, bitter, antinomian types quickly cry spiritual abuse as soon as some pastor begins to hold the person accountable to his or her personal sin. They don't like it and consider it meddling and their first response is to call the pastor a wolf. Again, not saying spiritual abuse doesn't exist, but I would imagine it is more exaggerated than many of these so-called spiritual abuse survivor people claim.

You asked "why not leave"? I can't believe that you asked that question. Why do abused wives not leave their husbands? FEAR.

That comparison is extremely suspicious. I've known folks who come from difficult churches that genuinely abused folks. Genuine Christians respond in a non-fearful way. To say individuals don't leave a church because they are afraid is a bit of a stretch.

Your compassion is lacking here. Your judgment is lacking. Your empathy is non-existent.

If by "lacking compassion" you mean that I am not going to just roll over and believe everything a so-called spiritually abused person claims, then yes, I guess it is lacking. I could say similarly that your discernment is lacking and you're being led empathetically rather than biblically.

6:44 AM, June 06, 2012  
Blogger chapmaned24 said...

Psalm 107:23-24 KJV)

23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;

24 These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.

You are in classic denial. The Apostle Paul used warnings to people. Julie Anne is doing the same.

Your examples are nothing more than minimizing.

Especially the smoking cigarettes example.

Empathy, Fred. You have none.

In regards to a congregate sinning, there is only two options for that person. One, repent, or two, be kicked out. There is no discipline. There is discipleship. But, the sin had better be identified as a sin. Disagreeing with the Pastor is not a sin. But this isn't just a disagreement issue. It is about a Pastor run a muck in his authority to Pastor, not about Julie Anne.

I suppose you would have scolded the Apostle Paul in his warnings to people about bad preachers and teachers, too?

We have a right to question authority, whether you like it or not.

7:06 AM, June 06, 2012  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; 24 These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.

With all respect: Are you kidding me? This passage has nothing to do with the qualifications of either elders or naval officers. You're getting onto me about my lack of compassion toward abuse survivors and you're not even interpreting the Bible correctly. Misapplying it in amazing ways.

You are in classic denial. The Apostle Paul used warnings to people. Julie Anne is doing the same.

No. It's more like I am using discernment. If a person has an agenda, such things are often misunderstood, and falsely labeled, "denial." Julie, by the way, is not an apostle. She certainly could warn people, but there are better avenues in doing so than going public with an "abuse survivor blog." For instance, going to the leadership of the General Baptist denomination where Chuck was ordained and explaining her plight. Getting them involved. Starting a "survivor" blog is hardly the best way to go about dealing with this.

Your examples are nothing more than minimizing.

My examples are based upon real life experience. I happen to know what I am talking about even though you don't believe me.

Empathy, Fred. You have none.

Can you explain your definition of empathy? You're actually manifesting the same attitude you accuse these abusive, control pastors of having when someone asks pointed questions. I'm asking pointed questions of Julie Anne and all the folks associated with her and their claims of "abuse." What's wrong with that?

In regards to a congregate sinning, there is only two options for that person. One, repent, or two, be kicked out. There is no discipline. There is discipleship. But, the sin had better be identified as a sin. Disagreeing with the Pastor is not a sin. But this isn't just a disagreement issue. It is about a Pastor run a muck in his authority to Pastor, not about Julie Anne.

No one reading Julie's blog is probably aware of ALL the baggage behind the events that led up to her leaving (or being dismissed) from that church and their lawsuit. There has to be more behind the story than what she is laying out on her blog. I'm not accusing her of intentionally lying or deceiving her readers, just that she is probably putting her spin on the events without any meaningful cross-examination. I would say the same about the church as well.

How, for example, do you know that there were no attempts at discipleship made with her? Just because she says so? BTW, discipleship often means the one being discipled has to trust the authorities in the church when they tell them to shut up about stuff that may not be any of their business.

We have a right to question authority, whether you like it or not.

Indeed. And I have the right to cross-examine your claims and challenge your questions whether you like it or not.

BTW, Ask Julie Anne why she doesn't link this post in her sidebar with all the other favorable posts? To my knowledge, I'm the only person actually giving her a bit a push back on her claims while everyone else is just patting her on the back and telling her to "good job!"

7:31 AM, June 06, 2012  
Blogger chapmaned24 said...

You are not discerning correctly. You default to believing the Pastor, rather than hearing both sides of the story.

The Pastor was completely wrong in bringing a lawsuit. Can you imagine all the people that Jesus could have sued? While on the cross, Jesus was reviled, and he did not revile back.

The Pastor cannot seem to take criticism like Jesus could, and so he resorts to a civil lawsuit. I have many tears for him....NOT.

That is an example of a Pastor run a muck.

He has taken his authority overboard. We both seem to have a different take on what his authority entails.

I mention the word discipleship, and you want to turn it into a word called discipline.

There is no example in the Bible in regards to discipline. This pastor disciplines, not disciples.

This Pastor took it upon himself to separate FAMILIES, telling her that her daughter was "IN SIN" because she had had enough of the brainwashing. Julie Anne and her husband was ORDERED (that isn't discipling) to have nothing to do with their daughter.

But the Pastor was WRONG. The daughter was not "IN SIN". He made false accusations, and he never did identify the sin that she was in. All she did was disagree.

You call that discipleship? I have been in a church that attempted to separate families. My best friend had a strained relationship with his children for years. That relationship was mended. The preacher was a novice. One day, he decided, "I think I will form a church." He was not preaching grace...he was preaching works based salvation. My best friends son has been a church goer for all his life. He disagreed with a works based salvation. He told the elders, and the novice pastor. He was showed the door. His dad, my best friend, was told by the Pastor to get his son in line. He refused. The Pastor decided to "discipline" my best friend for supporting his son. At that point, my best friend told the Pastor that he was not a member of his church from that point forward. He then proceeded to ask the Pastor who his spiritual leader was. The Pastor said, "God". In other words, this Pastor was accountable to no one.

Your discernment is off base.

7:51 AM, June 06, 2012  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

You are not discerning correctly. You default to believing the Pastor, rather than hearing both sides of the story.

Actually, I have really only heard Julie Anne's side of the story. But be that as it may, I am not "defaulting" to just believing the pastor. I think him leading his church in filing a ridiculous defamation lawsuit that will not be won is despicable. He needs to drop it immediately.

That being stated, Julie Anne needs to take down her blog because just as you say the pastor can't take criticism so he resorts to a civil lawsuit, it appears as though Julie Anne couldn't move on and insisted on stirring up strife with a problematic pastor and his church. How come the pastor is accused of "not taking criticism" but Julie Anne gets a pass?

We both seem to have a different take on what his authority entails.

When it comes to his foolish lawsuit, we are pretty much on board together with that.

I mention the word discipleship, and you want to turn it into a word called discipline.

Oh please. Look at what I wrote. Do you believe discipleship entails the confrontation of a person's sin, teaching the person how to handle problems biblically and in the Spirit, and would that entail the one being discipled to trust his or her elders? Yes or no? How exactly do you understand Heb. 13:17?

There is no example in the Bible in regards to discipline. This pastor disciplines, not disciples.

Okay. Your take on 1 Corinthians 5 and Hebrews 12:5ff.?

This Pastor took it upon himself to separate FAMILIES, telling her that her daughter was "IN SIN" because she had had enough of the brainwashing. Julie Anne and her husband was ORDERED (that isn't discipling) to have nothing to do with their daughter. But the Pastor was WRONG. The daughter was not "IN SIN". He made false accusations, and he never did identify the sin that she was in. All she did was disagree.

Do you have first hand knowledge of what happened? How exactly do you know this is what happened?

Your discernment is off base.

Well of course it is, because it doesn't walk lock-step with the meta-narrative you have created about this incident. Because I'm challenging you and Julie Anne a little bit about your all's attitudes, my "discernment" is all of the sudden "off base." I imagine if I was giving you all "amens" and telling some sob-sister abuse surviving story, I'd be an insightful guy, now wouldn't I?

8:16 AM, June 06, 2012  
Blogger chapmaned24 said...

Julie Anne does not have to listen to you, either. She is not the one who brought the lawsuit. The one in the wrong is the Pastor, not Julie Anne.

What is my take on Hebrews 13:17? Simple. The second half of that verse states:
"for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."

Which means that they watch out for our souls.

If they do not watch out for our souls, then we do not have an obligation to obey and submit.

Yes, I have a first hand knowledge. I was PRESENT. The house that I lived in was where my best friend lived. They were in the living room, and I was in the kitchen immediately off the living room.

I gotta say, your "opinions" are strange.

What is my take on 1 Cor 5? Simple.

As I stated, there is NO DISCIPLINE. The only choices are
1. Repent, or
2. Kick out.

But, the sin was identified in 1 Cor 5. It was also a well known sin within the church, in that everyone knew about it.

What is the Pastors identification of the sin? Who knew about it?

The Chastening of the Lord, huh? False accusations of sin is what is at stake here.

By the witness of 2 or three may every word be established.

You had better have witnesses before you falsely accuse your "brethren".

In addition, this Pastor believes that if you do not attend his church, then you are apostate. If one decides to go to another church, he hunts you down, and writes letters to the prospective pastor. That is harassment.

4:54 PM, June 06, 2012  
Blogger chapmaned24 said...

Oh, sorry, I was not a witness in regards to Julie Anne...I was discussing my best friend. Ooops.

4:56 PM, June 06, 2012  
Blogger Julie Anne said...

I haven't checked in a while, but see there are more comments and confusion.

"Additionally, if you are led to believe a pastor is unqualified, why not leave the church after explaining to the leadership why you are moving on? Is it really necessary to start a spiritual abuse blog like Julie Anne has? "

We did go to leadership - 11 hours worth of meetings with elders, Chuck. There is nobody over Chuck. He answers to no one, including his elders (and apparently even Grace Community and Phil Johnson who told him to withdraw the lawsuit). He must think he is above all of them. My Google review would have sat quietly, maybe seen by 20 or so people over the years. This became big solely because he pursued the frivolous lawsuit. Let's have a little reality check.

"I am not entirely sure how you concluded that. Lookit. I've been around the ministry block many times and know disgruntled, bitter, antinomian types quickly cry spiritual abuse as soon as some pastor begins to hold the person accountable to his or her personal sin. "

We had 11 hours of meetings with elders/pastor. There was never any mention of our sins in those meetings before we were finally asked to leave. A few weeks later, we found out we were being shunned. After I put my first Google review, nearly a year later, I discovered that members were told that we were put in "church discipline". How could we be in church discipline without knowing that? What about Matt 18? That was never initiated even though it is in the church bylaws. Please help me understand that one. If you leave the church, by and large, you will be put in church discipline and shunned. It is nearly impossible to simply leave over differences of opinion.


"For instance, going to the leadership of the General Baptist denomination where Chuck was ordained and explaining her plight. Getting them involved. Starting a "survivor" blog is hardly the best way to go about dealing with this.

Although the church is affiliated with Grace Brethren, they are not "over" him in authority. And during that time, Chuck had already distanced himself from the Grace Brethren and said he was going to begin the process of removing affiliation with them. They couldn't have done anything, anyway. We did have a local pastor who agreed to help mediate, but Chuck turned down that offer. He also refused all efforts of communication (e-mail, voice mail). Additionally, he refused to withdraw the lawsuit at Grace Community's request.

4:15 PM, June 12, 2012  
Blogger Julie Anne said...

cont.

"That being stated, Julie Anne needs to take down her blog because just as you say the pastor can't take criticism so he resorts to a civil lawsuit, it appears as though Julie Anne couldn't move on and insisted on stirring up strife with a problematic pastor and his church. How come the pastor is accused of "not taking criticism" but Julie Anne gets a pass?"

Because just as he has a "free pass" to spiritually abuse probably hundreds of people who have left in the wake 12+ yrs of pastorate, I am free to publicly post my experience after exhausting all other ideas. Every effort was made to resolve this in Biblical fashion, in "small circles", and even in normal civil fashion. He refused. Well, guess what? I can't sit by and watch this evil practice continue and see families and lives torn apart by this man. Would you stand by and watch someone abuse someone? I can't.

"BTW, Ask Julie Anne why she doesn't link this post in her sidebar with all the other favorable posts? To my knowledge, I'm the only person actually giving her a bit a push back on her claims while everyone else is just patting her on the back and telling her to "good job!"

The links on my sidebar are the most popularly viewed sites, not "favorable" towards me. Reading the comments will show you there are naysayers. If I added links to all blogs posted online about the case, it would take my whole right sidebar. But I will be happy to add yours just because you mentioned it.

Your questions and responses to chapmaned24 above show me that you really are ignorant of my story. That's fine. Just ask before publicly judging. My e-mail is plainly noted on my blog and I respond to all of my e-mails.

4:15 PM, June 12, 2012  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Julie Anne writes,
Your questions and responses to chapmaned24 above show me that you really are ignorant of my story. That's fine. Just ask before publicly judging. My e-mail is plainly noted on my blog and I respond to all of my e-mails.

Thanks for stopping by again. And I'll look for that link in the sidebar.

At any rate, I was quite clear earlier both in my post and in the various comments that I have no idea who you are except from your blog and the publicity surrounding your case. So yes, I am quite ignorant of your story. And can only go by what you choose to publish.

That being said, this may sting a little, but I don't automatically give you a pass and believe you 100% just because your former pastor may be wrong-headed with his actions and unqualified overall to pastor a church. I believe I have asked pointed, but fair questions of your side.

If you read the context of my interaction with this one particular supporter of yours, the person (again anonymous, that should be a red flag) linked me to some weirdo site blasting Chuck's teaching on Romans 13 and promoting all sorts of conspiracy theories, even supporting Alex Jones. Just because Chuck may be a jerk does not mean he is wrong about Romans 13. It would be helpful to take note of that context rather than cherry-picking selected responses from me.

Additionally, I am under no obligation to "email you first" to clarify. My responses have been to information I find on your blog and within the responses of your supporters who comment freely at your site and your responses to them. I also pulled in additional articles and comments from related "survivor blogs" and weaved them into my initial post.

All of that to say that if you put things on-line, I can only assume it is fair game for a response. If something is unclear or confusing or if I "get facts" wrong, that is hardly my fault.

6:25 PM, June 12, 2012  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Julie Anne says,
We did go to leadership - 11 hours worth of meetings with elders, Chuck.

11 hours? What on earth did you meet with the elders for 11 hours about? Even if it is over a period of time, still that is a lot of meeting. Seriously. About what? And after all of those meetings what was concluded by you and your husband? By the elders? Do you care to share that information?

There is nobody over Chuck. He answers to no one, including his elders (and apparently even Grace Community and Phil Johnson who told him to withdraw the lawsuit).

And I am guessing your concluded this after a period of time at this church? And it didn't raise any red flags with you and your family? Your husband, whom I suppose is to be shepherding your family, didn't clue into this? Why?

If there was some rouge pastor who wasn't accountable to other leadership, I would certainly want to address this issue with him. If he continued to persist in his "authoritarianism" that is when you leave.

I would add that I would not stir up strife with the guy by leaving unfavorable comments on Google or starting a "survivor blog." It is just as petty and self-serving as this pastor's so-called control issues.

We had 11 hours of meetings with elders/pastor. There was never any mention of our sins in those meetings before we were finally asked to leave.

Again. Eleven hours of meetings? And after that you were asked to leave? What was discussed that brought the elders to that conclusions with you and your family?

A few weeks later, we found out we were being shunned. After I put my first Google review, nearly a year later, I discovered that members were told that we were put in "church discipline". How could we be in church discipline without knowing that? What about Matt 18?

I can't speak to this pastor's way of handling your all's situation. Maybe he handled everything in a wrong manner, but if they perceived you as being factious, they can rebuke once or twice and then consider you banned per Titus 3:10, 11. I've seen this happen a few times at Grace were I attend. We don't suffer factious people because the Lord doesn't suffer them.

Please help me understand that one. If you leave the church, by and large, you will be put in church discipline and shunned. It is nearly impossible to simply leave over differences of opinion.

Differences of opinion on what exactly? Care to share? Is it something as mundane as whether Samson was truly saved or not? Or were there genuinely more serious matters at stake? Your telling me it is an 11 hour meeting marathon, so you all talked about something.

Although the church is affiliated with Grace Brethren, they are not "over" him in authority. And during that time, Chuck had already distanced himself from the Grace Brethren and said he was going to begin the process of removing affiliation with them. They couldn't have done anything, anyway.

Oh they most certainly could by issuing a public statement and getting other men involved. Doesn't matter if Chuck recognizes their authority. Other similar bodies of fellowship could have also been brought in. Waging an online comment battle with that church and starting survivor blog is hardly the best course of action.

6:43 PM, June 12, 2012  
Blogger chapmaned24 said...

Fred said:
"All of that to say that if you put things on-line, I can only assume it is fair game for a response. If something is unclear or confusing or if I "get facts" wrong, that is hardly my fault."

My response:
If you get facts wrong, it is your fault if you fail to do "proper" research. Otherwise, your opinions are siding with the pastor by default.

Let me ask you a question. Would you have believe Jesus, or the Pharisees? Whose opinion was more popular? The Pharisees, of course. They were the scholars of the day. They knew scripture. And based on their interpretation of scripture, Jesus was a liar. By default, would you believe the Pharisees, or Jesus?

Food for thought.

8:44 PM, June 12, 2012  
Blogger Don said...

Fred, My name is Don, and I worked closely with this pastor. I must say, you have absolutely no idea about this pastor. What Julie Anne is writing about (in my opinion) is true. I base that on my first hand experience working with him. She has tried biblical remedies at reconciliation with this pastor and HE is the one not wanting reconciliation. By the way, long meetings with this pastor are typical. I want to set one other thing straight, There are many pastors aware of this guy, and only one pastor bothered to get involved, and he too was shut down. When all other avenues were exhausted, she took to the blog. What I find funny is, Pastors don't want to get involved in trying to help the situation, but rather criticize Julie Anne for taking it to the blog. I realize you don't have all the facts and insights to this situation, but I want to add; it is my personal opinion that Julie Anne's critiques of this pastor are spot on! Fred, reading from John MacArthur's Titus bible study, what are some practical ways Christians can, and should, "rebuke" and "silence" false teachers in todays church? I want to ask you this, assuming what Julie Anne has said is true, then who is she to go to if the elder won't listen? If what she says is true, then others should be warned about this man. It seems to me that going to the blog levels the playing field a bit, and should be utilized when other avenues have failed. I would encourage you to go to Chuck's website and review his sermons if you want to get some insight into this pastor.

11:03 PM, June 12, 2012  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Thanks Don for stopping by,
You write,

I worked closely with this pastor.

In what capacity, exactly, if I may ask?

Like I have noted a few times in the comments, I am not taking this pastor's side over Julie Anne's. I have even stated I think he has serious issues and he may in fact be a bad guy.

What I have stated is that I just don't take one so-called "survivor/spiritually abused" person's word on everything. I work at Grace to You, been attending and actively involved at Grace Church for 20 years or more. Do you know how many folks I have come across that accuse various pastor's or members of the same stuff Julie Anne is accusing her ex-pastor? I've encountered more than one former "member" claiming all sorts of wild stuff that happened at my church. Not saying my church is perfect, but seeing that I happen to know the parties involved who are being accused, I can confidently say the accusers are crazy.

Again, I am not saying that is Julie, but just because she cries "spiritual abuse" doesn't mean she is free from honest scrutiny, especially if she goes public with a "survivor blog."

As for practical ways to rebuke false teachers, I would do what the scriptures teach which is first, separate yourself from them. That's is what Titus 3:10, 11 states. Additionally, you do rebuke them, but when you do so, you need to thoroughly and accurately document why this person is a false teacher. Be specific. The writers of scripture name names and the reason why what they teach is false. You can't be vague or subjective, and it has to be biblically oriented error that makes the pastor false. Saying that you don't like the pastor's opinion as to what you should do about your wayward son doesn't make him a "false teacher." If he is "controlling" as everyone is claiming this Chuck fellow is, document and explain how he is controlling. You have to be specific and the accusation must stick biblically and justified by the facts. Anyone can accuse a pastor of being controlling. My church is accused of being "controlling" by a number of folks because we take firm stands against sinful behavior and exercise church discipline at times. Believe me. We are hardly "controlling."

Lastly, if you can get other church/denominational officials involved to make a public statement that can be referenced to make your case that would be great. Regrettably, most people don't want to get involved because they are cowardly and don't want the hassle. It's life, sadly. Also, just because the guy can be documented as being a "false teacher" doesn't mean people will heed you. And I'll make this clear again: I personally don't believe taking the route of starting a "survivor blog" to air out your grievances is a good thing. It only generates strife among other unrelated malcontents who know nothing of the situation and who want nothing but to agitate and stir up more strife with their anti-authoritarian views.

7:54 AM, June 13, 2012  
Blogger Julie Anne said...

Fred: Let's back up a bit. I did not originally start a "Survivor Blog". I posted a one paragraph Google Review. Evidently, it was removed by the pastor. I added it again, and it was removed (repeat this story a few more times). This was the only place I intended to say anything. He removed my voice, so I went to a different venue.

I did what I felt was right. Yes, it is messy. The whole thing is uncomfortable. What feels right about false teachers? Nothing! However, after beginning the blog, I have been in contact with countless people who discovered the story thanks to the pastor's foolish lawsuit and subsequent media response. These people have told me story after story of abuse that I was unaware of because they experienced it many years before me and I had never heard of them. They have been living in silence for years, sometimes more than a decade, some families have been torn apart, some no longer go to church or are afraid to go to church - - - all because of this one man. I felt by not doing what I did, I would be sinning: http://apprising.org/2010/11/22/john-macarthur-jesus-and-false-teachers/

Criticize and rant all you want about my method, but until you walk in my shoes . . . .

9:17 AM, June 13, 2012  
Blogger terriergal said...

" . . 9 times out of 10, I found they have some personally issues. "

You know, I bet that's because there are sinners involved. Who cares? Do you think people get kicked out of churches because everyone there is perfect and has no problems? The point is the leadership ought to be mature enough to help sort these things out amicably.

I really don't care what sex the sinners are, but in general, it's much easier for men to oppress women at least until women finally get it through their heads that they don't have to unbiblically 'submit' to it.

And as far as the overwhelmingly large number of women complaining, I don't hear nearly as many men complaining about domestic abuse, for example. Is it wrong when a woman puts up a blog in support of domestic abuse victims then because men don't do it? Maybe some men SHOULD do it.

>Hey Julie ANNE glad you could drop by,
>>I go by Julie Anne, not Julie, which can be clearly seen on my blog.

>Sorry about that. I'll try and correct that forthwith.

Speaking of men/women and sexism, if a woman used that kind of petty jab in the eye in a blog post, she would be out of line by these men who seem to have a lot of time to whine and complain about abused women not liking to be abused in the name of Christ.

I'm thinking the guys are just too emotionally sensitive to face the fact that they are falling down on the job of protecting the women around them from spiritual deception and coercion. It's just so much easier to have those Stepford wives that don't do anything as sinful as complain. Why can't women be like that?

12:27 AM, July 09, 2012  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

TG opines,
You know, I bet that's because there are sinners involved. Who cares?

Ah yes. Who should care, right? I mean, heaven forbid a pastor tell a person he or she is wrong about something and need to change the spiritually dysfunctional thinking. I mean, the pastor might be perceived as a "bully" and a "sexist."

TG continues,
The point is the leadership ought to be mature enough to help sort these things out amicably.

Oh. So a pastor and church leadership should be more long-suffering with a domestic abuser in their midst? Not be so hard 'em, because you know, the church is full of sinners. I mean, if they don't have the maturity to see that...

TG goes on,
Is it wrong when a woman puts up a blog in support of domestic abuse victims then because men don't do it? Maybe some men SHOULD do it.

Ummm. The issue is with a group of malcontents grousing about "wrongs" done to them by an alleged, abusive pastor. You're projecting domestic violence onto the situation for some odd reason. Is there some baggage you're bringing along in your comments the rest of us are not privy too?

6:02 AM, July 09, 2012  

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