The Scandal of the Evangelical Church- 2022 edition

As you have probably heard, a major scandal and failure has been revealed regarding the cover up of abuse in the SBC. I really do not want to rehash the specifics or focus on this particular episode, which is unfortunately so similar to others, but rather talk more about the underlying issues and causes. Kendall brought to some of our attention this article, which is written by David Brooks, one of the speakers at this years Biologos meeting. It is very enlightening.

I am not subscriber, but hopefully you can get to the article from there. One of the great quotes from the article is
“The fact is, moral behavior doesn’t start with having the right beliefs. Moral behavior starts with an act — the act of seeing the full humanity of other people. Moral behavior is not about having the right intellectual concepts in your head. It’s about seeing other people with the eyes of the heart, seeing them in their full experience, suffering with their full suffering, walking with them on their path. Morality starts with the quality of attention we cast upon another.”

What do you think led these people down the path to destruction? Does intellectual disdain contribute, similar to how it affects the relationship of science and faith, and how it affected the Covid conversation? Is it a heart issue or a mind issue? Is it also a lack of accountability? I have been told, airline pilots have the highest success rate when treating substance abuse. Not because they have great wonderful treatment programs, but because they have rigid, mandatory drug and alcohol screens, and if they fail, their career is over. I can see that independent ministries and non-denominational churches lack oversight, and the SBC really falls in line with that, as the national organization claimed that their churches are functionally independent, thus they are not liable for those church’s leaders.

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I’m a subscriber, so I have a number of “gift articles.” You should be able to view the article here:

The Southern Baptist Moral Meltdown

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Exactly! And yet this has been built into Western Protestant Christianity for some time. You can find it in the articles of Remonstrance which blatantly states that good works only count for those with the right beliefs.

Entitlement.

From this idea that morality begins with right belief, it is easy then to think that right belief is the most important part of morality. Though another big part of this is a warfare worldview that morality is a matter of being on the right side in an all out war, and thus what matters is doing your part in the fight, often thinking that any tactics are justified for victory of the forces of God in the world. Both of these not only fray the lines of what constitutes moral behavior but also builds up the ultimate poison infecting so much of religion – that of entitlement.

Once you think you are entitled to salvation, propped up by popular dogmas of assurance and perseverance of the saints, then it seems to me you have made yourself wide open to the temptations of stepping over the line.

But while I don’t think the above helps, I would hardly suggest that this is all there is to it. The irony of replacing one “correct dogma” with another isn’t lost on me. The truth is that education and understanding is not and never will be the answer to sin or the key to salvation. It is abundantly obvious that the world is filled with people who know only too well that what they are doing is not only wrong but self-destructive. The fundamental truth taught by Christianity is that sin destroys our free will and renders us quite helpless to change. And even when we, with the help of God, conquer one sin which is messing up our lives, it often only leads to other sins like pride and self-righteousness which do even more damage.

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The doctrines of assurance and perseverance of the saints do not imply that someone is entitled to salvation, so I do wish you would stop misrepresenting them. They imply that God is faithful and that you cannot be ‘unbirthed’ (try it sometime). And hey, we’re talking about Southern Baptists here, and those two doctrines are typically not in their collection. ; - )
 

Again you are mistaken. Anyway I sure do not have the impression that they are popular, and they certainly are not with you! XD They are biblical though, as has been thoroughly demonstrated before.

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I think that it’s a straight while male power thing, and the temptations that go with that mindset. And these leaders who want to legislate what women can do with their bodies aren’t interested in controlling their own bodies.

Yes, I think so.

That’s a big factor (as well as mixing politics and religion) in the radicalization of many churches.
Just read this article from The Atlantic:
HOW POLITICS POISONED THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH

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I would add that the doctrines are such that no single person is beyond falling away from the faith, and if they fall away, it means they lacked saving grace from the beginning. Irregardless of what they claim. The elect will be kept from falling off the temple as it were (or falling and smacking the ground) and neither should anyone test God in that regard.

More people, Christian leaders included, should listen to Keener teaching through the letters to the seven churches. Fair warning there that often goes unheard.

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We spent quite a while in a couple of conversations last year making the point about the severity of the warnings (both from Jesus in the gospels and in the epistles, especially those attributed to Paul) and the mandates to test ourselves (including standards to test ourselves against) to see if we are truly in the faith and not just mere professors, to use Spurgeon’s term. There were obviously people in the early church who needed those warnings, and boy do we need them today! People seem to expend more effort objecting to ‘OSAS’* than they do reading the warnings and standards (‘laws of love’) and testing themselves. (I know I have things to work on!)
 


*It really should be OBAB or OANF – once born, always born or once adopted, never forsaken. It’s still all about God’s grace, however.

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Thanks for the article, @beaglelady .
(One of my favorite themes these days: Two Kingdoms.)

The choice of towns in the article (Brighton and Trenton) is interesting. Both places have histories of racist activities. Brighton is in Livingston County, once a place known for Klan activity. Trenton is mostly white, blue- or no collar, industrial, poor and also strongly racist.

Substantial numbers of evangelicals are fleeing their churches, and most of them are moving to ones further to the right.

This is interesting (and deeply disturbing). My husband and I left our old church after many years of thinking, largely (one of 3 main reasons we listed) because of the high value its culture (and some “official” activities) placed on politics, and it was nothing, Nothing, NOTHING like the churches in this article. I don’t want politics to be the driving force in my church . I have the League of Women Voters for that.

I wonder (I’m sure someone on TBN could lay it all out fo r me), what we will end up with in the next 5, 10, 25 years in churches in the US. As memberships keep distilling along political (and apolitical) lines, what will these places look like and will be the many ramifications of this evolution? What will the entire landscape of Protestantism look like in the US?

I’ll stick with the really broad questions. They’re more than enough at least for me for now.

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I sent this last year to my favourite vicar, which was ‘much appreciated’:

Hello…

Delighted to see [your husband] last week. I trust that you are well and thriving on all fronts.

Nothing to worry about, but I have a sense of a loose end from it must be 10 years ago. From when we briefly did … Sunday afternoon sessions across the road …

Nothing happened but I noticed a situation. And I have to confess that my reaction to what I saw was inverted, back to front, which is why I didn’t think to raise it at the time; you’ll see what I mean. From the ground floor far interior, the kitchen area, one could see in to a room via an interior window at the time. A middle-aged man was seated opposite a young woman across a table. He was talking earnestly, dominantly, with full-on eye contact and she was earnestly nodding with rapt subordinate attention. I just didn’t like the ‘spiritual’ power dynamic. Which, until now believe it or not, got in the way of the vulnerability of the situation: It just wasn’t appropriate.

I could hear nothing and it was only for moments that I noticed. I didn’t recognize the man at all from the congregation. The young woman looked like a student. I know [the church] doesn’t use that building anymore and you have perfect instincts and fullest possible awareness and oversight of what goes in the main church building. There were ‘study’ sessions going on at the time. I know that one cannot be everywhere, so there have to be safeguarding protocols that are strictly observed and that is more easily done under one roof; I’m sure it was a type of situation that won’t have recurred since …, but thought I should share it.

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Atheists like myself have often been asked how we can be moral people if we don’t believe in God. My answer has always been that I am moral for the same reason anyone else is moral, because I have an inner sense of morality based on empathy and seeing the humanity in others. It’s nice to find people of faith who share this outlook.

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Real life experience with moral people (often more than I am), who claimed no god, quickly cured me of that kind of pride.

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Instead of asking atheists why they are moral, the question should be “how can theists (ha! actual “men of God” in these instances) be amoral to this extent?”.
The abuses described in the article are not only not unique, they’re tip of an iceberg. Makes me wonder sometimes what religion is good for, if it can’t even make people at least behave in a way that isn’t utterly disgusting :sweat:

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It doesn’t seem as though any set of beliefs alone can make anyone behave well or instill character, and, neither does any set of beliefs (or their lack) prevent the same. But it does at least seem reasonable to expect that those who take Jesus as their role model should recognize their abject failure that will result in acting so blatantly un Christlike. In the US it does seem as though many think the mere assent to a creed entitles them to act as complete jerks with impunity.

Too often the efforts of those pressing for conversion of non Christians ends up looking like a pitch to join them in their hypocrisy.

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Even within Christian theology there is no guarantee that someone will be sin free once becoming a Christian. I think both atheists and theists can agree that there isn’t a cure-all for disgusting behavior.

I also think it is unfair to define a group by the behavior of its worst members. We shouldn’t be keeping score of who does what in order to hold it over them with a “holier than thou” attitude. We should still hold people accountable, don’t get me wrong, but we should also recognize that there are people in the Christian community who are just as disgusted by this as atheists are.

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Be careful there! You might be messing with one of the pillars of Protestantism! :grin:

I wonder if hypocrisy might not just be a necessary condition in all societally-decent human behavior - religion included. Probably all of us wish to cultivate an image of ourselves among our friends that is better than what we in truth live up to. And that causes us to live uneasily - and rightly so. But isn’t that better than not caring at all? I think I’d prefer the hypocrite to the bluntly honest psychopath. At least the hypocrite is aspiring toward something, even if negatively so.

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They sound more like professional acquaintances. There is however wisdom in what a person tells to whom.

Yeah - there are many levels of friendship I’m sure. Our closest friends would (by definition I think) be the ones we come closest to ‘baring our souls’ to. Though ‘friend’ is such a generic term for such a wide variety of relationships, each of which will be unique between any two individuals.

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Hi, Mr. T
When I read your comment, a couple of things came to mind for me to share with you, and I hope you will give them some thought.

First, the Gay President of our Home Owners Association was one of the nicest people I knew. He and his partner were both kind, thoughtful, intelligent, and enthusiastic neighbors. I am not his judge, but I am worried that he may be in trouble because my theistic view reveals a different morality than he embraces.

Second, I suspect that the reason you have “an inner sense of morality” is that you are created in the image of God. From a theistic evolutionary perspective, I believe that Adam was the first Homo Sapien (Modern Man) made in the image of God. I suspect that there may have been a genetic upgrade, but primarily a spiritual upgrade involving cognitive, moral, and spiritual capacities. More specifically, I think the image of God added the capacity to be spiritually “born again” like Jesus explained to Nicodemous in the book of John.

Your inner sense is the spiritual upgrade that allows communication with the Holy Spirit and that is how God reaches out to humanity. If you can sense your morality, you may also be able to sense your spiritual connection as well.

You may want to re-think how this stuff works.

Blessings,

Bill

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There may be people who disagree with how you live your life, and you are probably as worried about their views as your gay neighbor is worried about your views.

We can believe different things as to how we came about our inner sense of morality as long as we all recognize that it exists. Morality isn’t about obeying commands in a book. Morality starts with empathy, reason, and a recognition of the human experience.

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Your inner sense is the spiritual upgrade that allows communication with the Holy Spirit, and that is how God reaches out to humanity. If you can sense your morality, you may also be able to sense your spiritual connection as well.

We can believe different things as to how we came about our inner sense of morality as long as we all recognize that it exists. Morality isn’t about obeying commands in a book. Morality starts with empathy, reason, and a recognition of the human experience.

Mr. T, You are right about morality starting with empathy, reason, and recognizing the human experience. They are human traits we don’t see enough of in our daily interactions or featured on the National News programs. The list in “The Book” is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We don’t see much of that either. So, we both illustrate the NEED for a loving redeemer.
So, you are also correct that “we can believe different things.” I’m just saying that “The Book” offers a superior solution.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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