Now, how can I say that? Read Romans One. Doctrine is not changing or developing for it is settled. Society does change due to the sinful heart but God’s Word DOES NOT!!!
1Corithians 6:9-11 ¶ Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
2Corinthians 6:14-18 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
There seems to be a considerable amount of people who have come forward publicly saying they have been abused by someone in a local independent Baptist church. This should never be the experience of someone attending a church that claims to be “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” The following is a review of a book written by one who suffered such abuse!
‘Sheltered but Not Protected is the story of a young man that was raised in an independent Baptist church (probably listed in our database) and who did all the right things just like the preacher said, but nevertheless was the victim of a female predator in his church. The church culture around him not only permitted but protected this sort of behavior, and instead of reporting the abuser as a child molester, the pastor forced the victim to repent in front of the church. Sound familiar? As the author says, not every church is this way, but there are enough of them out there that it deserves serious attention.
Justin Woodbury is the author of the book Sheltered but not Protected (affiliate link throughout), his story of abuse in an independent Baptist church, both sexual abuse from a trusted adult, as well as the emotional and spiritual abuse that was standard behavior from the leadership. The book begins with a foreword from Justin’s wife Emily, describing the pain and struggles that she experienced as a new wife dealing with the emotional trauma that her husband had suffered. While there’s a “happy ending” of sorts to the book, the scars–spiritual, emotional, and even physical–created thanks to a system of abuse that came from or was at least enabled by good intentions nevertheless will remain with Justin and Emily, and innumerable other victims, for the rest of their lives.
The Best of Intentions
Justin’s childhood is described as wonderful, with loving parents and a great sister. Even his church was a place full of (initially) love, people seeking to serve the LORD from a pure heart. Unfortunately, the way in which they went about trying to serve God became more about control and rigid compliance with rules than seeking God’s will. The writer of this review grew up in a church that shared some similarities with the church described in Sheltered, though I can’t remember things being quite so over-the-top with regards to pastoral control.
However, the whole idea of the pastor being “the Man of God” and that his opinions were actually the leading of the Holy Spirit (Justin’s job at the church was threatened continually if he disagreed with or disobeyed the pastor) is very familiar, and is unfortunately a very common aspect in many independent Baptist churches. I personally recall a significant emphasis on “she-bears” and calling down fire from heaven on disrespectful people being part of the birthright of the pastor. While my pastor didn’t go so far as telling people which color of car they should buy, he certainly interfered in family matters and felt that he had some sort of special line to God and knew better than everyone else how they should live.
What also resonated with me was the repeated detail that the pastor didn’t believe that there was ever a good reason to leave the church. I remember hearing that there were only two good reasons for leaving church: getting called out (to a ministry somewhere), or dragged out (a la Ananias and Saphira). This now seems like a parallel universe compared to my current pastor’s opinion on the matter: if you can’t serve God here, then please find a church where you can serve God; we’d hate to be the reason you can’t be faithful. Perhaps nine times out of ten, the reason they can’t serve God here (wherever that may be) is because they don’t really want to serve God anywhere, but there’s always the possibility that someone just isn’t a good fit and the LORD wants to use them somewhere else. That apparently wasn’t acceptable in the church where Justin grew up.
Ultimately, out of a desire to prevent the young people from experiencing the same disappointments and sins that the church’s founders had been through, they put in place draconian rules all with the intention of preventing impurity. As the rules evolved, becoming ever more restrictive, extreme, and ridiculous, most of the church members just followed along, since after all, “the Man of God” apparently knew something that they didn’t.
In his teen years, Justin’s mom became close friends with a woman in church, who was a predator and groomed him for about two years. I’ll let you read the details in his book (again, buy a copy and read it), but the abuse scarred him for life. Of course he felt pressured to keep it secret, since all of those people who had to “confess” in front of the church (whether perpetrator or victim) were publicly shamed and humiliated, and then once he finally opened up to the pastor, he was made to feel as if he were the responsible party. Moreover, the pastor, who is by law required to report sexual abuse, especially involving a minor, did not report, but instead forced Justin to apologize to his abuser’s husband.
So, not only was child sex abuse covered up, but the victim was shamed into admitting fault that was not his. Of course Justin was not the only minor affected by sexual abuse in that church; you’ll read about many other situations of leadership overlooking, dismissing, or mishandling situations to such a degree that it almost seems a caricature of reality. After several years of working in the same church, he faced another public humiliation for a private (and rather chaste) relationship with a girl in the church, and finally left to start a new life elsewhere.
Unfortunately, escaping the place doesn’t change the past, and Justin’s long road toward healing was hindered by the fact that “counseling” in his mind was a series of meetings with the pastor to make sure you were sorry and humiliated enough to be “restored.” He was never encouraged to seek professional assistance for his abuse, partly because the church had no real concept of what damage the abuse inflicted, but mostly because they didn’t see it as abuse, just some sort of adulterous affair–even though the aggressor was an adult woman close to twice the age of the minor that she molested.
God’s Grace is Always More than Sufficient
In the last chapters of Sheltered but not Protected, Justin describes his journey from bitterness to forgiveness, along with the various ways that God stripped away the judgmental, spiteful tendencies that had been inculcated in him throughout his upbringing in a cultish Baptist church. Of course I personally wouldn’t move away from the King James Bible as Justin has, nor would I probably feel comfortable in the church where he believes the LORD brought them, but those are irrelevant points. He overcame the sexual abuse from a child predator, the emotional abuse from a system that was designed to create perfect clones, and spiritual abuse from the men that he should have been able to trust, and has come to a place where he can forgive even the unrepentant abuser in his past.
This brings me to the real point that King James Bible-believing, independent Baptists have to face: why is it that we can have the right Bible (and we do), and the right doctrine (at least for the most part), and yet the fruit of so many ministries is complete destruction of families and individuals that should have been helped? How is it that we, like the Pharisees of old, can have all the right forms and technicalities (even if I disagree with many of the traditions purported to be “Old Time Religion”) yet the end result is one train wreck after another? Where in the Bible does it indicate that every believer should look like, talk like, act like, and sound like “the pastor” or else they should be shunned and ostracized by the church? Where exactly does the Bible say that the “proper” male haircut is a crop-top or a high-and-tight comb-over? Or are we allowing the culture around us to dictate what we do and how we do it, even if it is simply to be opposite of said culture?
Sheltered but not Protected is a gut-wrenching story of abuse, while at the same time a gleam of hope in a world with a church that is “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17) and where churches actively protect child abusers and rapists. There IS something that we can do, and maybe it starts with reading and understanding the truths that Justin Woodbury shares in this book.
Sheltered but not Protected: Learning to Love, Forgive, and Heal After Emotional and Sexual Abuse can be purchased on Amazon, and Justin Woodbury can be contacted through his website or his Facebook Page.’https://www.kjvchurches.com/review-sheltered-but-not-protected-learning-to-love-forgive-and-heal-after-emotional-and-sexual-abuse-by-justin-woodbury/
The Lord Jesus said ‘Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.’ Jesus also said of Himself “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Sadly, some “twist” God’s truth and thereby many miss the ONLY way to Heaven. The following article concerns a woman who leads First Presbyterian in Birmingham, AL https://www.fpcbham.org/projects.
The article states ‘We’ve seen a lot of scripture twisting in our day, but nothing quite like the dark arts performed by Pastrix Terry Hamilton Poore, Head of Staff at the
Crypt Church of Birmingham, Alabama, which is a PCUSA Church. Poore gained prominence when she led the fight in her state AGAINST restrictive anti-abortion laws, declaring ” The religious community needs to stand with women, work for just laws, and demonstrate respect for women’s abilities to make decisions about their own lives.”
While we typically see the story of Zacchaeus used by critical theorists and wokesters as a prooftext for reparations, Poore uses it for novel purposes. She starts off by recounting the story of Jonah and the fact that he wanted God to smite the Ninevites, comparing pro-life advocates to the mean old Jonah who just wants to see people punished, then saying Christians ought to be like Zacchaeus and give their money to women to fund their birth control and other social programs.’https://protestia.com/2022/07/20/pro-abortion-pastrix-says-stories-of-jonah-and-zacchaeus-are-proof-we-should-subsize-birth-control/
2Corithians 9:6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
‘In two recent Sunday sermons Televangelist Creflo Dollar preached against tithing based on fear and guilt. On July 3rd, Dollar told his congregation, “I would argue that tithing isn’t required or even encouraged for believers in Jesus Christ…”
Instead, Dollar is now preaching that Christian giving should be based on gratitude.
Dollar made a surprising announcement in his June 26th, sermon titled “The Great Misunderstanding” about how his beliefs on tithing changed.
“I want to start off by saying to you that I’m still growing and that the teachings I’ve shared in times past on the subject of tithing were not correct. And today I stand in humility to correct some things I have taught for years and believed for years, but could never understand it clearly because I had not been confronted with the Gospel of grace, which has made the difference.
I won’t apologize ’cause if it wasn’t for me going down that route, I would have never ended up where I am right now. But I will say that I have no shame at all saying to you throw away every book, every tape and every video I did on the subject of tithing, unless it lines up with this.”
While Dollar’s rejection of fear-based giving is welcome, a lot of questions remain, and Trinity Foundation investigators wonder if Dollar is simply changing his message to appeal to a larger audience.
Yes, consider us skeptical. If a preacher is unwilling to apologize for leading people astray, does he really “stand in humility” as Dollar claimed?
If Dollar really wants to change course, he should abandon his extravagant lifestyle and also embrace financial transparency with accountability.
Dollar currently owns two jets registered to a shell company named World Heir (seriously?!): a Gulfstream G-IV and Learjet 60.
Creflo and Taffi Dollar own two expensive homes very close to each other. According to real estate website Redfin the properties are worth about $5.7 million.
Dollar should also explain to his congregation all of his business dealings in foreign countries. In March 2006, Dollar established YBC Limited and The Change Association Limited in the Bahamas. What is the purpose of these offshore entities? Have they been used in international money laundering?
Preachers must do more than just preach accurately about money. They should live a godly lifestyle that doesn’t contradict Scripture. Dollar, are you listening?’https://trinityfi.org/investigations/televangelist-creflo-dollar-preaches-against-tithing-were-doing-a-double-take-on-this-one/#more-2420
‘The Bible makes it very clear that God’s expectations of His people are far greater than anything He expects from the world around them. From Israel being a “peculiar people” (special and unique, not just “weird” in modern parlance) to the church being a “called out assembly” and that judgment must begin at the house of God, we, the people of God, are called to a much higher standard than anyone else. God doesn’t expect holiness from the lost world; He simply calls them to repent. The church on the other hand, is commanded to be holy, as without holiness, no man shall see God. Doctrinally, for us, that is of course Christ’s imputed holiness, but the practical command of 2 Corinthians 7:1 is still applicable: we are supposed to be “perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” That command exists for the already saved: it is to affect and direct our walk as Christians.
Perfecting holiness is much the same as “working out” your salvation: Philippians 2:12 is talking about the external practice of an interior reality, not a process of working for salvation. Obedience to God’s word requires us to perform in the body the good works to which we have been predestinated (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 2:10), which is the only way that a believer can be sure to bear fruit (Titus 3:14), but of course that fruit-bearing stems from the unity of believers in Christ (John 17). When it is not only normal but expected that disunity, discord, division, dissension, and dissimulation define our fellowship, it’s no wonder that God is not made manifest in this world. The “Ruckmanites” can point fingers at the “Baptist Briders” and the BJU crowd can point fingers at the “Hyles” crowd while the “Recovering Fundamentalists” can mock all of them (while banning, blocking, and booting people, hosting Israel trips and camp meetings just like all the other Fundamentalists), but in the end it is the devil that benefits from our refusal to work together to glorify God. Scoff all you want, and I have seen the scoffing, but the reality of the world in which we live is all the proof we need to understand that our direct disobedience to Christ’s command to His church is responsible for the condition of individual believers, the church, and the lost world around us.
When faced with the reality of our situation, the understandable human reaction is to jump ship. No one wants to be associated with a bunch of ungodly, disobedient people. Unfortunately, in both a doctrinal and practical sense, that’s both impossible (1 Corinthians 12:12-14) and forbidden (Acts 27:31). We are all part of Christ’s body and there is no escaping that. The minute one begins to identify himself as separate from other believers, no matter how disgusting they may be, is the moment that division has entered the body. Paul rebuked the Corinthians for identifying themselves with various preachers, including Christ Himself (1 Corinthians 1:12-13), not because those preachers were in disagreement with one another or because it is wrong to follow Christ (or Paul, for that matter: 1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; Ephesians 5:1; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2:14), but because it is sin to identify oneself apart from the rest of the body of Christ.
Division in Christ’s body is sin (1 Corinthians 1:10; 3:3). Yet at the same time, sin in the body is a reason for division (1 Corinthians 5-6). But the difference is that biblical division over sin is always intended to prompt repentance and reconciliation. Perhaps, then, we should look at Fundamentalism’s squeamishness regarding “repentance,” whether it is in the realm of “soul winning” (expecting a biblical change in behavior is counterproductive when one’s goal is to “pump up those rookie numbers”) or with regards to sin being dealt with in the church; after all, it’s much easier to send the pregnant teen off to Colorado or accuse her of being a seductress than actually call the cops on the CHILD MOLESTING pastor/youth pastor/deacon/church member. Of course we wouldn’t want “the ministry” to suffer from a biblical approach to dealing with criminal behavior in the church (Romans 13:1-5).
The cops only get called when nosy church members try confront the pastor over his voyeurism: he secretly recorded women getting undressed in his office. Thanks to a lax statute of limitations in Florida for voyeurism, Greg Neal was never prosecuted. Yet Neal is still invited to preach at various “Fundamental” meetings and conferences. And we haven’t even touched the sordid story of Cameron Giovanelli, who was hired by Neal after being accused of child sexual assault while pastoring in Maryland, prior to becoming the president of Golden State Baptist College, and after an embarrassingly short stint in jail was taken in by Harvest Baptist Church in Fort Dodge, Iowa where he played host to missionary Jordan Webb who is currently being prosecuted for sexual abuse, incest, and child endangerment. Harvest is paying for Webb’s attorney fees despite claiming that he is not employed by or sent out of the church.
It’s normal to want to wash our hands of the situation, falling back on the “we’re independent” excuse and hoping that no one associates us with this vile, putrid stain on the holiness of our Saviour. However, this has never been God’s way. In the New Testament, “legal sin” (adultery, heresy, etc.) in the church is to be dealt with according to the principles of Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 5: expulsion and disfellowship until repentance and restoration is achieved. However, illegal or criminal behavior must be vigorously denounced and immediately reported to the civil authorities; it matters not how much we may love the offender: he must face the legal penalties for his crimes. Furthermore, 1 Timothy 5 is crystal clear on sin among church leadership:
19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
Of course the context isn’t specifically about sexual impropriety, abuse, or criminal behavior: that’s covered under “blameless” in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6-7. However, since we’ve come to the point in modern churchianity where a man can plead guilty to sex offense and assault against a minor and be almost immediately welcomed back into church ministry (quietly and under the radar, of course), we find ourself in a place where we must dig through the sordid details of ghastly accusations and try to determine what to do about such revolting situations. If a Christian is accused of criminal behavior, he is no longer blameless. Until he is cleared of suspicion, he has no biblical right to continue in any ministry position in any capacity whatsoever. This is doubly so for an elder (“pastor” for those that get squeamish about biblical terminology). In fact, in the Bible, there is to be no “sweeping things under the rug”: the man, when guilty, is to be PUBLICLY REBUKED (“before all”) and openly shamed about his sin. THAT is how God is to be glorified in the midst of a terrible situation: open rebuke and purification of the body by expelling the offending member.
But no, in today’s churches, the victims almost inevitably get shunned and excommunicated while the offenders get a slap on the wrist, if anything. At worst, unless the police get involved, the pervert pastor quietly resigns and moves across the country to get a job at a different church, where he will repeat the cycle of abuse. And we, through our silence, are complicit enablers of this behavior.
We should take a page out of the Old Testament though in a conceptual sense and (unfortunately) not a literal one: when God’s people were engaged in fornication and direct rebellion against God’s orders, Moses asked the people “Who is on the LORD’S side?” The subsequent “consecration” (Exodus 32:29) entailed slaughtering 3,000 people. There was no “restoration” for those actively engaged in blaspheming God through their idolatrous (Colossians 3:5), naked (Revelation 3:17) fornication (1 Corinthians 6:18). All that was left, and what was required by God, was to run a sword through their guts. That was “consecration” before God, for a people that were involved in grotesque sin. We’re not going to be able to take swords and start chopping off heads of child abusers, as much as it would probably help, but we can publicly shame, denounce, and rebuke those that commit such sins, those that cover up those sins, and those that enable them. Until it becomes uncomfortable for “good, godly men” to harbor and defend these vile criminals or commit the crimes themselves and get away with it, the name of our Saviour will continue to be besmirched by their heinous crimes.
For this very purpose we have recently implemented a process by which abuse can be reported for every listing on KJV Churches. Of course the hope is that it will never be necessary, but in the event that it is, we will research the case and if warranted, add a warning to the church’s listing. However, it’s telling that almost all of the responses to our announcement of this feature were about how to get that badge of shame removed from a listing, and no one was interested in looking for ways to help the victims. Clearly IFB churches have developed a culture of cover-ups and victim shaming to such a degree that they don’t even realize when they’re doing it.
I would hazard to say that there is nothing in New Testament Scripture that can guide us as a church (each local church or the body of Christ as a whole, take your pick based on your own idiosyncratic ecclesiological position) out of the unbelievable condition in which we find ourselves. The reason is that the Holy Spirit simply didn’t include specific instructions for dealing with child rapists in the pulpit in the New Testament church. Dealing with that kind of behavior seems to require looking back to the Old Testament and the “church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38) to see how God dealt with such depravity. Swords, serpents, and scathing sermons from God’s prophets were the LORD’s approach to sin in the nation, and it’s foolhardy to think that it can be dealt with in any other way (the “swords” and “serpents” being metaphorical in our situation). With few exceptions, the prophets were sent to preach to Israel and Judah, not typically to the Gentiles, and even then it was a simple message of general repentance, not a specific rebuke for direct disobedience against God’s commands.
The condition of the church today should give every Christian ulcers. The idea that Christ’s bride, the “chaste virgin” for whom God’s own blood was shed (Acts 20:28), is being ravaged by the very people that are supposed to be caring for her, is cause for widespread sackcloth and ashes and indefinite periods of fasting and mourning. Yet, people who claim to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God go about their liturgical procedures nonchalantly, as if the very representation of Jesus Christ on this earth were not the absolute laughingstock of the entire world.
“Old Paths” types love to point to Jeremiah 5, especially verse 5, where Jeremiah says that he will go and seek the advice of the “great men.” Ironically they ignore the context: “but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.” God was looking for ONE man, any that sought truth and judgment. The end result is Ezekiel 22:30-31; “but I found none.” But the end of the Jeremiah passage is so applicable to our situation today:
30 ¶A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;
31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
The prophets (preachers) and priests (pastors, since they assume the right to the tithe and all) preach lies and rule forcibly over the people, but it’s because that’s what the people want. The only thing left is the response of the few, or maybe even the one. We’ll talk about Revelation 3:14-22 next time, if you can stomach it.’https://www.kjvchurches.com/recovering-part-6-who-is-on-the-lords-side/
‘The old saying is that men never learn from history, with the addition that those that do learn from history are doomed to stand by and watch it repeat itself. Mark Twain said that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Regardless of your opinion on the repeatability of history, as we already saw in Part 2, the church itself follows a certain cycle that appears to be unbroken since the first century. It’s not very likely for that to change any time soon.
The Inverse-Square Law
Growing up I loved listening to Kent Hovind’s Creation Science seminars. I still remember distinctly his description of the inverse-square law and how it pertains to orbital mechanics, specifically as part of his theory on the Flood and the collapse of the theorized ice canopy that may have surrounded the Earth before the Flood. Simply put: the closer an object approaches to a mass, its gravitational velocity is affected inversely-squared proportionate to its distance; moving the moon 1/3 of the distance closer to the Earth would increase its gravitational pull 9 times (32). Hovind’s application was (is) a comet that struck the ice canopy and collapsed it onto the poles, the comet’s velocity being increased exponentially as it approached the Earth.
I can just imagine the reader scratching his head, wondering what in the world this has to do with anything. Never fear: I shall explain.
As a premillennialist/pre-trib dispensationalist, I believe in a precipitated decline of everything before a catastrophic apocalypse, preceded by a “rescue” of Christ’s church. It’s not “escapism” as such since the church has endured and will endure any amount of tribulation as a sign of her faithfulness, yet “The Tribulation” as an event is for Israel, not the body of Christ. After all, it’s called “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” not the church’s trouble. As we approach this “event horizon,” it would appear that the processes and cycles seen throughout church history are accelerating. Here I offer two examples as observed personally.
Peter Ruckman is widely held to be one of the staunchest proponents of the King James Bible, as well as pre-trib premillennialist moderate dispensationalism. His work sparked a movement that started Bible institutes on just about every inhabited continent, published hundreds of books, some of which have been translated into multiple languages, and sent hundreds if not thousands of pastors and missionaries into the ministry. He himself fleshed out the very cycle that we are discussing, as quoted in Part 2. So, why is it surprising to anyone that the “ruckmanite” movement has evolved into the machine that spits out identical clones, something that Dr. Ruckman himself denounced vehemently, and (I have it on good authority) the leadership at Ruckman’s former church (Bible Baptist Church of Pensacola, Florida) dislikes even the mention of the “cycle” that Dr. Ruckman himself warned of? While the Pensacola manifestation of this process hasn’t reached the point of creating a bronze-cast statue of the founder or a three-story mural of the deceased pastor and his wife complete with cases of their favorite soft drinks left as an offering, the reverence with which Ruckman’s positions, teachings, and even attitudes are held has created its own kind of “monument” in the Florida Panhandle and in the “ruckmanite” camp around the world, all within the span of a few decades, especially during Bro. Ruckman’s decline at the end of his life.
More recently and even more visibly, Steven Anderson made a name for himself using social media, railing on homosexuals and forging a patented brand of theology including aspects of antisemitism/anti-zionism, calvinistic replacement theology, post-trib “anti-dispensationalism” (clearly misunderstanding that premillennialism is itself a dispensational position), his “reprobate” theory, and other bizarre private interpretations of the scriptures, all with a view to generate friction and create notoriety for himself. With the help of a professional video producer, he created “documentaries” slyly promoting his strange doctrines, even going as far as titling the Arabic translation of his film Marching to Zion as The Lies of the Jews. However big his following at one time, he quickly splintered his movement into numerous factions thanks to a series of “excommunications” and executive decisions about churches established under his ministry. Many of his former allies have distanced themselves from him, especially after an attempt to hide some abuse by members of his own family. Others fled his authoritarian-style grasp and started churches espousing various false doctrines from modalism to teaching that salvation can be “lost” by ceasing to believe on Christ (as if it were the individual’s faith that saved him). This particular cycle-within-a-cycle had a very short lifespan, basically petering out within a decade of its inception.
While previous manifestations of this cycle have dragged on for decades or even centuries, more recently they appear to have a more rapid lifespan, exhausting themselves quickly. My pet theory is that it’s a spiritual “inverse-square law” leading up to the catching away of the church, where heresy becomes more common even among believers as the great falling away accelerates. After all, Christ did warn His followers about being deceived in the last days, and we are certainly getting close to the end, so it stands to reason that deception would be on the rise.
Just Another Brick in the Wall
When the younger fundamentalists started leaving churches and the “Recovering” moniker was adopted, I had some hope that this movement would be different, and that churches would start seeking a move of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, my cynical side won that wager. There are undoubtedly many sincere believers that are truly seeking a recovery, whether from the frequent abuse in churches, or to figure out what is real as opposed to the religious fakery that is so rampant in churches today. Yet just as we see throughout church history, the sincere are promptly overshadowed by the ambitious, and the progression of the cycle can only be delayed, not prevented.
In this case, the “Family” that grew up around the various anonymous Twitter parody accounts and moved to a Facebook group started to feel a lot like the very “fundamentalism” that these participants had left. Getting kicked out of the group without notice or appeal has become a common occurrence, while the leadership have assumed a kind of control that is little different from any authoritarian religious movement out there. When Eric Skwarczynski, the founder and host of the Preacher Boys Podcast, announced that he no longer considers himself a Christian, the reaction from both sides of the “Recovering” discussion was about what you would expect. While some aspects of the response were measured and reasonable, others bore the distinct markings of the us-vs-them division so common among fundamentalist churches.
Eric’s defection would require its own series of articles to address, and that’s something we have no interest in doing. Suffice it to say that after detailing scores of instances of abuse, cover-ups, manipulation, and obfuscation in Baptist and evangelical churches, he decided that he had had enough and renounced his faith. We could talk about John 6:66 or apostasy in general, but the reality is that the behavior of professing Christians led this man to renounce his faith. He will give an account of himself to God at some point. What is truly at issue here is the system that he saw, the filth that he exposed, and the results of his experiences, both at the hands of “fundamentalists” and the “Recovering” crowd.
Of course there were responses; what else is a podcast good for? Instead of focusing on the church’s responsibility for Eric’s apostasy, The Church Split decided to argue moral standards, saying that an atheist or agnostic has no authority, lacking an objective moral standard. The point is valid, but irrelevant to the topic at hand. What is at issue here is the same issue that caused the “Recovering” group to head out in the first place: the body of Christ is in direct disobedience to its Head. As a result, the church has no objective moral standard now, since her behavior is diametrically opposed to the commands that Christ gave us to love one another.
There is absolutely a place to oppose false doctrine. It is certainly necessary to warn against apostasy. Objective morality is without question a fundamental issue. However, Eric’s departure was due to the failures of the church. Again we refer to John 17:
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Christ’s prayer to the Father indicates that our role in this world as Christ’s body is to give evidence of Christ’s authority as the Son of God. Simply put: if people don’t believe in God, it’s the church’s fault. You don’t have to like it, but those are Christ’s words on the matter. Eric’s apostasy is ultimately the church’s fault. But since it’s easier to call for someone else’s head than call for repentance within our own “camp,” we see the standard response: finger-pointing and the blame game. How is this different from the hated “fundamentalists”? How is it not hypocritical to point at Tony Hutson’s carryings on or John Hamblin’s vapidity, while in turn blasting a victim of the church’s REBELLION against her Saviour? No, Will and Brian aren’t attacking Eric’s dress standards or the length of his hair, or the music he listens to; yet the end result is the same: ignoring the root issue to point fingers at the fruit of the problem. Granted, their treatment of the situation is nowhere as “cringe” as the typical IFB pastor’s response to an internet sensation, but it still misses the root issue completely. Eric’s problem isn’t that he’s logically inconsistent: Eric’s problem is that the church is logically inconsistent. As he stated in an interview with Jimmy Hinton:
My faith has been hurt very deeply by, again, not by Hollywood or rock stars or all the people I was told were the threats. Like, for me, you know, I struggle to see people who claim to be transformed by the Holy Spirit, living in a way and acting in a way, covering for things in a way, that far exceeds what I see happening in places like Hollywood, or places like, you know, places like secular places that I was warned about. And so for me, you know, it’s affected my ability to believe in there being some radical, transformative “power” to this.
I totally understand Galatians 5:16-17. I get it, the “in Christ” of 2 Corinthians 5:17 is the saved person’s spirit added to the body of Christ. I know all the doctrines; that’s not where the issue is. The issue is the part about walking worthy of our Saviour. It’s the practice, not the doctrine. How can a person behave like a lost person, or even worse than a lost person, all the while claiming to have the Holy Spirit residing inside of him? How can churches ignore child rapists in their ministries, cover up for serial adulterers, and fellowship with peeping toms, all the while pointing fingers at Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein? Eric’s point is absolutely correct: the gospel calls for repentance, something that has been thrown out the window in IFB churches in exchange for bigger ministries, larger bus routes, and more “conversions.” We see the fruit of this cheap, flippant approach to God’s holiness: a church that is poor, wretched, miserable, blind, and naked.
Eric Skwarczynski grew up in IFB churches and left because of the hypocrisy. Unfortunately, that hypocrisy didn’t disappear once he stepped outside of the circles in which he grew up. While it may seem attractive to point fingers at the other group, everyone that claims the name of Christ is equally responsible for the way in which He is portrayed. The “Recovering Fundamentalists” aren’t the enemy, the “IFB” aren’t the enemy, and Eric or lost people aren’t the enemy. Do you want to know who the true enemy is? Let’s ask the apostle James:
James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
When you do the world’s work for them and distract from God’s glory, you become the enemy of God. When Eric is discouraged and walks away from the faith, it is the church’s fault, and instead of attacking him, we need to take some time to look inward and see where we went wrong. Our bickering, dissension, backbiting, and overall disobedience is doing the devil’s work for him.
All These Lives
I am still an independent Baptist. I believe the doctrinal positions espoused by the Baptists to be closest to the Bible in any organized group of churches in the world. I have no intention of changing my position or taking “Baptist” off of the name of any churches that the LORD sees fit to allow me to plant in my field of service. As such, it’s important to take stock of our situation as believers and make sure that we truly are following the scriptures as we claim to do. If our wake is littered with broken families, bitter wounded, and discouraged former believers like Eric, then we can only assume that we missed something somewhere; it’s certainly not the Bible’s fault.
Let’s look at an example from economics. “Capitalism” has become a dirty word in politics and the legacy news media, and is constantly blamed for everything that might possibly go wrong in any country with even a modicum of economic freedom. Of course, the real problems are caused not by capitalism which is simply the free exchange of goods and services, but instead are caused by corporatism which is the interference of the state (government) in commerce, preferring certain corporations over others. There are all sorts of issues that arise once the state begins to regulate business: regulatory capture, the use of regulations by established companies to prevent competition from entering the marketplace; lobbying, purchasing preferential treatment from politicians; and collusion, establishing virtual monopolies with government assistance, are among the many tactics used by entrenched corporations to use the power of the state against the consumer.
When these tactics are employed, immediately the socialists condemn “capitalism” as the culprit and insist that more government intervention is the solution, ignoring that it was government intervention that created the issues in the first place. Ultimately, it’s not actually “capitalism” that caused these problems, but it is always the scapegoat.
Let’s apply this truth to the church. The “church” is a called-out assembly of believers, assembling for the purpose of the One that called her out of the world. The “church” is never a construction, a 501(c)(3) corporation, a convention, or a “camp,” yet these are always what the world perceives as “the church.” Therefore, when those organizations that call themselves “churches” hurt others, lie, steal, manipulate, or misrepresent Christ, it is unfortunately Christ’s body that is blamed, even if that body wasn’t even involved.
It is not Christ that does these horrible things, yet He gets blamed for them. Much like Nathan told David:
2 Samuel 12:14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.
There is a price to be paid when Christ is reproached by our sin and wickedness. When churches cover up and marginalize sexual abuse in the pulpits, when spiritual abuse is the norm in churches, and when those who hold the truth do so in unrighteousness, Christ is dishonored and there must be a reckoning.
The answer is not nor has it ever been to split or separate from the body of Christ, form a new denomination, start a new movement, or attempt to distance ourselves from the problem by claiming independence. Yes, we’re independent Baptists, but we’re still in the same body and we will still stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ alongside every other believer regardless of what name was on the church sign (or if they even had a church sign). We’re all in the same boat together, and Christ’s command that we be as one in Him is still valid, even if your brother uses the wrong Bible version.
Unfortunately, sin in the camp will eventually affect everyone, just like with Achan and Ai. The 36 dead at Ai had obeyed God’s commands perfectly; they hadn’t stolen anything from Jericho: Achan did, and he survived the battle just fine. His sin affected others, and the LORD withdrew His hand of blessing and protection from the entire nation. As with Daniel’s prayer, a collective repentance is required before we can expect God’s blessing on our churches.
Daniel 9:5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
Even though Daniel himself was a godly man, he recognized himself as being part of the problem. We will never see God’s blessings on us until we realize that WE are the problem and repent.’https://www.kjvchurches.com/recovering-part-5-more-of-the-same/
Mark 7:21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders
‘Investigators say an affair led to the shooting of a man on the square in Ozark on Saturday.
Joe Newburn, 57, of Ozark, died in the shooting. Matthew Dedmon, 47, of Ozark, faces a first-degree murder charge in the case. A Christian County judge has yet to set a bond for Dedmon.
The shooting happened Saturday near the historic courthouse in the 100 block of West Church Street around 1 p.m. Investigators say Dedmon drove his truck to the square to contact his wife. Once he arrived, they say Dedmon observed his wife with Newburn in a restaurant. Investigators say Dedmon confronted Newburn, knowing he and his wife were having an affair. Investigators say that is when Dedmon shot Newburn three times.
Newburn died at a Springfield hospital from gunshot wounds.
Investigators uncovered the gun used in Dedmon’s truck. Police arrested Dedmon shortly after the shooting.
Investigators say Dedmon told them he was a pastor at Heritage Baptist Church in Rogersville.’https://www.ky3.com/2022/05/31/investigators-release-motive-deadly-shooting-ozark-mo-square/
‘The Muslim World League (MWL) hosted the “Forum on Common Values of Religious Followers” last week in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which was the first “interfaith event” ever held in the Arabian peninsula.
This event was attended by Christian leaders from the United Kingdom and the United States.
Here are a few facts to lay out before proceeding with this story:
- The Muslim World League (MWL) was established by the Saudi Royal family in 1962, and was the first International Muslim Brotherhood front group ever created. The head of the MWL is appointed by the Saudi King.
- The Muslim World League has been used as a financial mechanism to support Al Qaeda to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. For those not aware, Al Qaeda was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) on 10/08/1999. See the State Department link HERE.
- One of the Muslim World League’s organizations, the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), also funded terrorist activities across the globe, including terrorist operations in the United States, building terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, and the like. A declassified 1996 CIA report details some of this information HERE.
- The Muslim World League (MWL) is a Muslim Brotherhood organization. The stated objective of the International Muslim Brotherhood is the destruction of all “un-Islamic governments” and the implementation of a global Islamic State ruled by “allah’s divine law”/sharia. Oddly enough, this is also the stated goal of Saudi Arabia. All authoritatively published sharia calls for all non-muslims to convert to Islam, submit to sharia and pay a non-muslim poll tax, or be killed.
- Muslim Brotherhood doctrine states the only reason muslims conduct outreach with non-muslims is to subvert them.
- One more critical note: it cannot be forgotten that Saudi leadership directly participated in and supported the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar was directly tied to 9/11 hijackers through payments to their handlers from his bank account, senior Al Qaeda leaders and operatives who had personal numbers of Bandar’s, Saudi intelligence officers running dry runs a year before 9/11 and much more.
Do American Christian leaders really want to praise a government that participated in killing 3000 Americans on September 11, 2001?
With all of this on the table, one must wonder how blind, naive, and stupid American Christian leaders must be to participate in this Muslim World League/Muslim Brotherhood hosted event in Saudi Arabia.
“Lying. Permissible Lying. It is permissible to lie (to non-muslims) if the goal is permissible…and obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory.” Um dat al Salik, Islamic Sacred Law, Book r 8.0
A few of those Americans who fell into – jumped into – this dangerous pit include:
Sam Brownback, former Kansas Governor and U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom (2018-2021).
Dr. Walter Kim, President of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Joel C. Rosenberg, political consultant, author, and evangelical.
Bob Roberts Jr (Dallas, Texas), Senior Global Pastor at Northwood Church and founder of several non-profits and “multi-faith” organizations.
Chris Seiple, President Emeritus of the Institute for Global Engagement.
UTT is working to assess the complete list of other key U.S. figures who attended this hostile enemy operation.’
‘A blistering report on the Southern Baptist Convention’s mishandling of sex abuse allegations is raising the prospect that the denomination, for the first time, will create a publicly accessible database of pastors and other church personnel known to be abusers.
The creation of an “Offender Information System” was one of the key recommendations in a report released Sunday by Guidepost Solutions, an independent firm contracted by the SBC’s Executive Committee after delegates to last year’s national meeting pressed for an investigation by outsiders.
The proposed database is expected to be one of several recommendations presented to thousands of delegates attending this year’s national meeting, scheduled for June 14-15 in Anaheim, California.’https://www.al.com/news/2022/05/will-southern-baptist-convention-start-warning-churches-about-pastors-known-to-be-sex-abusers.html
The “blistering report” may be read at https://whatyareckon.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/522da-guidepostsolutionsindependentinvestigationreport.pdf