Another reason why I am an independent Baptist! https://open.substack.com/pub/thedissenter/p/sbc-pastor-who-writes-for-wapo-suggests-597?r=pbjs4&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web
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/
1Timothy 3:1-7 ¶ This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
‘Since his abrupt resignation from Mars Hill Church in 2014, Mark Driscoll has claimed he was the victim of a vindictive plot. But last week, Driscoll dropped a bombshell. He claimed that Mars Hill leaders were planning to accuse him of adultery if he didn’t resign. In this week’s podcast, Sutton Turner—one of only three former executive elders at Mars Hill—joins me to set the record straight. Divulging new accounts revealing the extent of Driscoll’s bullying and rage, Turner paints a picture of a man who refused accountability and abandoned his congregation.’https://julieroys.com/podcast/mark-driscoll-the-trap-the-truth?mc_cid=8cf478b4d8&mc_eid=b13d34ad49
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
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/
‘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
1Timothy 3:1 ¶ This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
As most of my readers know I am an independent Baptist for the New Testament knows of no other type of churches. However, I found this video from Founders Ministries which is composed of Southern Baptist men interesting as they speak about the issues within the Southern Baptist Convention.
‘Today on The Sword and The Trowel, Tom Ascol and Jared Longshore welcome Mike Stone, Georgia pastor and 2021 Southern Baptist Convention presidential nominee, on to the show. They discuss the current state of the SBC, the vision for the days ahead and the need for biblical resolve in SBC churches and entities.’https://founders.org/interviews/tstt-pastor-mike-stone-biblical-inerrancy-women-pastors-resolve-in-the-sbc/
Biblical knowledge isn’t something many Christians seem to have today. For instance if the average Christian knew their Bible Rick Warren and his books wouldn’t have been so popular. Now, not surprising ‘The largest church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention ordained three women as ministers May 6, sending shock waves through the male-centric leadership of the nation’s largest non-Catholic denomination.
Saddleback Church, founded by Pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, in 1980, announced on Facebook that on May 6 it had ordained three women as ministers in a “historic night.”
On Mother’s Day, which fell three days after Saddleback’s ordination, the Sunday morning online message was given by Kay Warren. Although she is not among the newly ordained, her delivery of the Sunday morning message in worship was sure to further alarm the strictest of male leadership advocates within the SBC, who insist women should not preach sermons to men.
The three women ordained May 6 are Liz Puffer, Cynthia Petty and Katie Edwards — all long-tenured staff members within the vast network of the church’s 15 United States campuses and four international campuses. The church counts more than 24,000 members and lists 18 “campus pastors,” all of whom are male.
Because of the massive size of the church spread out over so many locations, no complete staff directory is published online. Petty’s LinkedIn profile lists her as children’s minister at Saddleback, where she has served since 1999. Puffer describes herself as a “minister” at Saddleback Church in both her LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. Her Facebook profile describes her as a pastor for pastoral care at the church. Edwards serves as student ministries pastor at Saddleback’s Lake Forest campus, where she has worked for 24 years.
Saddleback not only is the largest church in the SBC but one of its leaders in evangelism. The church’s emphasis on evangelism and church growth have been studied and duplicated worldwide. Warren was one of the early advocates for what came to be known as “seeker-friendly church,” meaning a church experience intended specifically to welcome unchurched people and bring them to faith in Jesus Christ. He wrote about this in a best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Church.‘ https://baptistnews.com/article/largest-church-in-sbc-ordains-three-women-as-pastors/
1Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…
Today, does it really matter what the Bible says on many issues? It would seem not. Consider, Biblically does the Bible allow for a woman to lead as a pastor of a local congregation? In Chicago, ‘A popular, former Willow Creek Community Church campus pastor is starting a new church, two months after resigning amid a controversial restructuring plan.
Amy Mikal, former pastor of Willow Creek North Shore, sent out an email Tuesday morning announcing formation of A Restoration Church, which will aim to serve the same North Shore and Chicagoland area.
“Many of us have felt God calling us toward something new,” Mikal wrote in the email to hundreds of former North Shore congregants. “A church community shaped and built by God through the voices and gifts of people. People centered around the calling of Jesus, marked by sacrificial love and radical hospitality, living lives full of worship and surrendered in prayer.”
The church will begin meeting remotely on Dec. 18, the first of four “devotional experiences” leading up to Christmas.
“In January, you’re invited into a process of prayer, worship, conversation, scripture, and reflection as we support each other, dream together, and explore what kind of church community God is inviting us to build,” the church website says.’https://julieroys.com/former-willow-creek-pastor-starting-church/?mc_cid=6c2f7c9195&mc_eid=b13d34ad49