ERLC Panel on Sexual Abuse at the SBC Annual Meeting

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by alexandermsmith, Jul 31, 2019.

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  1. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    So I watched the panel that was held at the annual meeting which included Rachel Denhollander, J.D. Greear, Beth Moore and Russell Moore and from which certain clips were taken for the Founders Ministry film trailer. Matt Chandler wasn't on this panel. The clip of him in the trailer was from a separate, stand-alone interview that he gave.

    It started with Beth Moore talking vapid nonsense. Rachel spoke next and at this time what she said was perfectly acceptable. And I liked her focus on our unity as Christians in Christ. However one question which did spring to mind was how she actually fitted into this discussion. As far as I'm aware she wasn't abused by someone in her church. She was abused in an institution outwith the church. Did she mention it to her pastor and he ignored her? She spoke about the "survivor community" but what is this community? All victime of sexual abuse Christian and non-Christian alike? Only those within the SBC? She said that survivors have been calling out for help for decades. Does this include her, even if she wasn't abused within the church?

    Beth Moore turned the conversation over to attitudes towards women: she said that "our culture" makes us vulnerable to sexual abuse because there is a disparity between how we treat men and women. Is this American culture, or the culture within the church? And if in the church does she mean Biblical teaching on the differences between the sexes? Well I think she made it rather clear when she immediately quoted as an example of what she was talking about Luke 24:11. So a text which informs us of the Disciples' lack of faith in the promised resurrection of Christ is turned into a #EverydaySexism anecdote.

    We see here a focusing on the material which is so much a part of the social justice movement. Instead of chiding the Disciples' for their lack of faith, she chides them for their "devaluing" women. Later in the discussion one of the panellists will say that with the right approach we can not just teach salvation in eternity but we can "save" people here on Earth (in the sense of healing after abuse). I get what the person meant but, again, I'm troubled. We are not promised redress on this side of eternity. God's Word explicitly teaches us that the wicked will often prosper in this world and go to their graves without ever facing justice. That must wait until the age to come.

    Rachel then spoke again. She said that the SBC is happy to allow disagreement over views of the Trinity but not complementarianism. Well maybe she missed the huge storm over those teaching eternal subordination. Now if the men promoting that view have not been disciplined that is certainly wrong but to say people ignored it is also wrong. (How that controversy affected the SBC specifically I don't know.)

    It was suggested that not having women in even a "semi-leadership" role in the church for a victim of abuse to go to is part of the problem. There was, of course, no pushback on this. This is how it goes: trauma is used to push for unbiblical "strategies" to address the trauma and because no-one wants to be see to be uncaring they go along with them. If the response is to go against what the Bible clearly teaches it's the wrong response.

    Beth Moore was then asked to "give a word" to survivors: basically, to preach.

    Rachel made a good point about the situation at Chandler's church: apparently they alerted the police, which was good, but when they announced what had happened to the church they didn't name the individual and they didn't say that the individual had been in leadership and had had access to children. So parents weren't able to find out if their children had perhaps been victims. The anonymous aspect of the announcment hindered the investigation.

    Throughout the discussion we heard the buzzwords "safe spaces", "virtue signalling", "be better". These are not neutral terms. They have an ideology behind them, an ideology which has no place in the church. While we do hear Christ mentioned a bit throughout it, this discussion could have happened in a secular context with very little difference. That is worrying. The message coming from the chairman of the discussion was: "currently we are not equipped to deal with this issue. The church is not presently able to address it. Enrol in our new curriculum; come to our conference." There was no discussion about God's Holy Law. No discussion about church discipline. This was not a discussion rooted in the Biblical concept of covenant community; of what the church actually is and our identity as Christians. Rather it was a discussion saturated with the therapeutic philosophy of the world.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2019
  2. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

  3. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think the church has badly mishandled abuse cases and they’ve been on the wrong side of a biblical response in a few too many instances. How is it that DenHollander is sharing the stage with these other individuals? That didn’t just happen. (The rest you can research, I’m not gonna go there here, I feel like a walking closed thread for some reason, maybe I just have a complex, lol). But I fear a failed or poor response in legit matters can compromise the church.

    "The reason I lost my church was not specifically because I spoke up. It was because we were advocating for other victims of sexual assault within the evangelical community, crimes which had been perpetrated by people in the church and whose abuse had been enabled, very clearly, by prominent leaders in the evangelical community. That is not a message that evangelical leaders want to hear, because it would cost to speak out about the community.... Because I had taken that position, and because we were not in agreement with our church's support of this organization and these leaders, it cost us dearly.

    "When I did come forward as an abuse victim, this part of my past was wielded like a weapon by some of the elders to further discredit my concern, essentially saying that I was imposing my own perspective or that my judgment was too clouded. One of them accused me of sitting around reading angry blog posts all day, which is not the way I do research. That's never been the way I do research. But my status as a victim was used against my advocacy." – RDH
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2019
  4. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    From my perspective as an occasional closer of threads, I think this is a needed discussion.

    I think it would be good to understand what is a proper biblical response to someone's complaint of sexual (or other) abuse in the church.

    We can acknowledge that there is a scale of conduct ranging from an awkward inappropriate comment up to outright criminal and sometimes violent acts. Somewhere along that scale requires involvement of civil authorities and the justice system. How we deal with that while avoiding the latest social movement fad is important.
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  5. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    The issue needs to be focused on. Just because some who discuss this subject are theologically suspect is not a reason NOT to discuss it.

    (1) About Rachel Denholllender: I have heard it from several supposedly solid Reformed pastors (2 of them) that her closeness to the situation disallows her from being objective on this issue. But, she was not only a victim but also now a lawyer. She is also a member of a solid Reformed Baptist Church. She is in a prime position to influence the church for good.

    Instead, the ones who are too close to the situation are many pastors who don't want discredit to come to their churches and so they cover up cases of abuse and keep it hush-hush to save their own reputations and the reputations of churches. But this always has a boomerang effect and silence concerning abuse does more damage than total transparency.

    (2) Yes, some cases of abuse of women are related to a hyper-patriarchal view of men and women. If a man wants to be ruler of his home and King of his Castle, then he must remember he is in charge to protect and to provide. We wield our power to protect the weak and innocent. Some men cling to the former and forget the latter truth.

    (3). If the subject is broader than the Gospel than, yes, you can share a stage with others. For Pro-Life issues, for example, the Catholics are often much better than the Protestants and I wouldn't have a problem sharing the stage with Catholics for the issues of human rights and bioethics. If Rachel Denhollender shares a stage with Beth Moore about abuse in churches, so what?

    Of course one reason a Reformed Baptist church member (Denhollender) is sharing the stage with folks of other theological traditions is probably because she cannot find a Reformed Baptist venue or enough RB pastors who care about this topic. There are seminars and conferences aplenty if you want to talk about 1689 Federalism or Impassibility. But I can't think of any RB conference or seminar on abuse until Denhollender showed up.

    (4) About angry bloggers: Over the past year or so, several ARBCA pastors railed from their pulpits or sent admonitions to their congregations not to listen to the angry gossipy discernment bloggers. These same pastors who rail against angry bloggers are folks who often put out their own sermons, their own blogs, their own articles, and yet denounce others who do the same. I suppose they want a monopoly.

    And in the case of ARBCA, several of those pastors railing against angry discernment bloggers turned out to be complicit in some way.

    Simply put, there are good and bad bloggers just like there are good and bad pastors. Not every blog is a Pulpit and Pen just like not every pastor is a Steven Anderson. I just see these admonitions against bloggers to be an attempt to silence dissenting opinions. If your pastor warns you against bloggers, this just makes people want to read them even more. And if a pastor tells his congregation what to read or not to read, I'd think about finding another pastor.
  6. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
  7. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    Certainly her experience gives her insight that others do not have. But it doesn't automatically qualify her to implement anti-abuse strategies, or to offer counselling. If we accept secular counselling I don't know that I would want a counsellor who had suffered the same trauma as me. I think someone with a detached, objective view of the situation and who is actually trained in treating psychological diseases, would be desirable.

    But we should also examine why she is the one being raised to this position. As I said in my OP, she was not abused within the church and the panel was on sexual abuse within the church, actually within the SBC. We should not be blurring the lines between the church and the world. The MeToo movement is decidedly not Christian. It is a mix of legitimate complaints and pure slander. The Kavanaugh circus- a direct creaton of the MeToo movement- illustrates how corrupt and untrustworthy it is. We should have nothing to do with it in our churches nor should we in any way adopt its ideology. (At the beginning of the panel the moderator promoted a new book from Harvest House called "We Too" well I can just imagine what that will be like...)

    That is not to say that Rachel has nothing to offer in this area and that she can't do good. But it is to say that we shouldn't uncritically accept her being raised up as some uniquely qualified spokesman or advocate. Sexual Abuse Advocate is not an office in the church.

    Well I think we should be very careful about who we share platforms with. Roman Catholics are not Christians. The Church of Rome is the Antichristian religion.

    As to Beth Moore: she is a false teacher. She does "ministry" with Joyce Meyer. She changes her teachings according to the spirit of the age. She is untrustorthy and clearly has an unbiblical agenda. She is not to be associated with in any manner. Or Russell Moore for that matter who taught one thing a few years ago and has completely reversed course to ingratiate himself with the Left.

    I'm not sure a conference is the best way to approach this matter within the church. If she can be used that is good but conferences or panels which, as in this case, descend into open advocacy for egalitarianism and wordly ideologies do more harm than good.

    Well we just need to use discernment in all that we read. I don't know how profitable it is to be extensively reading blogs. This is the only forum I regularly look at, sometimes a couple of others. Blogs can do a lot of harm.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
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  8. Santos

    Santos Puritan Board Freshman

    1.) I agree with you here. I don't believe having been a victim of something necessarily disqualifies one from being an advocate. However, I also don't believe that your experience necessarily gives one a platform either. Some people who have experienced legitimate abuse at some time in their life have gone on to wreck other folks lives who were innocent because they believed and advocated for a supposed "survivor". Not to say that Denhollender would do so but I have seen this happen myself. And that person who is wrongfully accused can not regain his reputation. Again, consider Justice Kavanaugh. How many people still believe that he is some kind of sex offender even though all those "victims" who made accusations against him have been discredited? That is not justice.

    2.) I don't know of any instances of women who have been abused due to a "hyper-patriarchal" view of men and women. Are you talking about the creepy Mormon cults? And if so what does that have to do with the Church?

    That sounds like an uber egalitarian talking point.

    3.) I completely disagree here. And I think that scripture does also.

    2 Corinthians 6:14-15 English Standard Version (ESV)

    14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?

    I don't think faithful Christians should share a platform with unbelievers. I also don't believe faithful Christians should share a platform with those proven to be unreliable (whether or not those person's are saved is a different subject.). Because, when people see folks sharing a platform with those who are unreliable it typically has one of two affects.
    A.) It lends the credibility of the faithful to those who are unfaithful.
    B.) Causes one to discredit the faithful due to the one you know to be unfaithful.

    I also don't see how you can say that Catholics have been better than us at defending the life of the unborn. For example, most Hispanics, such as myself, are Catholic, unlike myself. And those Hispanics show up at the poles in droves to cast their votes for baby killing democrats despite the "official" teaching of Rome. And I would bet they are not disciplined or barred from the supper ( if you could call it that ) for doing so.

    4.) I don't know of any of the pastors that you are talking about but I would agree in this way, IF, you can not trust your pastor's recommendation not to read certain bloggers then he should not be your pastor. ( By IF, I mean IF he does not meet the Biblical qualifications of an elder.)

    However, I don't believe based on Hebrews 13:17 that you could make a case for ditching your pastor or your church because they warned you not to read a certain blogger. And if you find yourself wanting to do something simply because someone told you not to you should probably confess and repent of your rebellion.

    Honest question: Do you feel this way concerning your wife? Because I can tell you that I have asked my wife not to listen to a certain " discernment "
    YouTube channel. And she has honored and submitted to that even though she did not see anything wrong with it. Should she find a new husband?

    Grace and peace,
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
  9. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    I have to part with you there...
    1. Should be discussed
    2. The fact that it is discussed by the theologically suspect is exactly why we are running into all these problems. She hurts the greater cause by sharing a stage with false teachers who will exploit for ill purposes
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
  10. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    Precisely. You've hit the nail on the head. And that is why it is problematic to say we must separate this issue from the other "Social Justice" issues. Nothing leaves the church more exposed than when we declare something off limits to honest discussion and inquiry.
  11. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    1. She is also a lawyer. A victim. A Christian in a solid church. She has experience in trials and victim impact statements. She has the backing of her pastor, who has even interviewed her as a subject matter expert so that he (her pastor) and others may learn from her. If she is not qualified to speak, then who possibly is?

    2. False accusations do happen. So does victim silencing. Due process needs to be followed. But due process is often not followed when churches deal with it internally and do not report it. They feel as if it will shame the cause of Christ and so they cover it up...which, ironically, brings much more shame to the name of Christ.

    3. I am far from an egalitarian (whatever that means nowadays). I have an old-fashioned view of marriage where the husband is head of the home and makes the final decisions. BUT...I believe this view can be used to "keep women in their place" in a sinful fashion in a bad marriage. Domestic abuse probably happens more by women towards men if we define it in egalitarian terms (women throwing dishes at men or slapping them. Men retaliate less often but when they do it leaves more marks because women are weaker. Women even taunt/hit men to provoke them and then play the victim). Yet, I do believe a hyper-patriarchal view DOES contribute to men being tyrants rather than gentle leaders.

    In some Fundamentalist churches women are often pressured to forgive and submit to abusive husbands.

    4. I do not agree with the degree of separation that we must maintain. On human rights issues, we may share a platform more broadly than if we were to preach a conference on soteriology. I have been invited by both Catholic and Charismatic groups to speak to them based on my tribal experience and I have been able to explain the gospel as a motivation for my actions and did not feel I compromised.

    5. I have never told my wife not to watch any podcast or read any article. That seems like a strange request, honestly. If something is really weird, I am more likely to say, "Come here and take a look at this...isn't it crazy?" Are you in the habit of providing no-watch lists or banned book lists for your wife? I find that strange.
  12. Santos

    Santos Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm going to skip over most of you're numbers out of weariness and pretend that you responded to any of my counter points or that you engaged the scripture that was quoted with something beyond your feelings and personal scenarios that are also contrary to scripture.

    5.) A.No I have not banned my wife from anything. And for you to intimate that I do is uncharitable and not Christlike.

    B. Sometimes when my wife reads something from someone or listens to a sermon from someone she hasn't heard before she will ask what I think of them or if I have heard from them. And if I have, which is often the case, I will tell her what I think. If not I will give them a read or listen and then give my opinion. She wants to know what I think. And she loves and honors me as her husband.

    If this is strange to you then you may be more egalitarian than you think.

    By the way, words have meaning and egalitarian has a definition.

    Grace and peace,
  13. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    Read his statement, brother. He never said she wasn't qualified. He only said (more generally) that being a "victim" shouldn't automatically mean that one is a reliable authority on how to address these problems.

    When reading the statements of others, we must labor to not go beyond what is written. Taking that to heart will prove beneficial to yourself and others.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2019
  14. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    Not to hijack the thread, but you're painting with a really broad brush here, brother. As an ex-Catholic myself, I know the situation with Catholics is a lot more complicated that this. Many Catholics are sincere Christians. Why they don't leave that church is probably a complicated question.

    Plus, the Catholic church is not as theologically monolithic as some believe. There can be, I believe, real differences between the official pronouncements of Rome and what the average lay Catholic hears "down here on the ground" at the local parish level.
  15. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Experiencing a tragedy or an experience does, indeed, add to the degree of qualification a person possesses in speaking as a subject matter expert on a subject.

    If a person teaches mountaineering technique and has climbed Everest, then this adds to his credibility. If a person lectures on surviving an avalanche and they survived an avalanche, then that person possesses a special qualification to speak. If a person speaks on SE Asian culture and has lived in SE Asia, then this experience is a qualification. Many times having an experience IS a qualification.

    A lawyer who advocates for sexual abuse victims who has been sexually abused is very qualified to speak on the subject. Certainly much more than some pundit on the internet.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2019
  16. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    You said:

    "I have asked my wife not to listen to a certain " discernment "
    YouTube channel. And she has honored and submitted to that even though she did not see anything wrong with it."

    Then, "If this is strange to you then you may be more egalitarian than you think."

    Since you have bit back at me and have called me uncharitable and not Christlike, I will reiterate that this seems like a strange and unhealthy marital practice and thinking so does not make me an egalitarian. Maybe we need to start a new post on the propriety of off-limit reading lists for our spouses, if you'd like.
  17. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Hyper-patriarchal beliefs can contribute towards abuse:

    A quote from a Christianity Today article:
    "The answer is complicated, since some research suggests that gender traditionalism fuels domestic violence. For example, a study in the Lancet found that domestic abuse was higher in regions across the globe where “norms related to male authority over female behavior” are more common."

    Other studies seem to show that Fundamentalist couples with only sporadic church attendance result in higher levels of abuse.

    But Christianity is not to blame...
    "I found that women married to churchgoing evangelical men—compared to women married to men in other major religious traditions or women married to unaffiliated men—report the highest levels of happiness. Their self-reports were based on two markers: “love and affection you get from your spouse” and “understanding you receive from your spouse.” This same demographic of women also report the highest levels of quality couple time."

    (from the same linked article above).

    My thoughts are that unsaved men are hijacking traditional teachings of men and women and leveraging these traditional gender roles against their wives even though they themselves are unsaved. The Bible clearly says the husband is in charge, and yet that husband is to love the wife like Christ (i.e. die for her)....but I think rigid religionists who are not saved grab hold of half this truth to gain control over their women and show them who's the boss ..or to "put her in her place."

    This then becomes fodder for feminists who hate any submission to men at all. Which is then reacted to by men who post "Make me a Sammich" memes.

    Many strict churches also teach that there is NO divorce for any reason and that abused women must still submit to their abusive husbands.

    Churches can protect women by allowing divorce for abuse, since abuse is a form of desertion that is even worse than simply leaving.

    So yes, even though I believe in patriarchy, this must be a Christian patriarchy. Done wrong, patriarchal views can lead to abuse. We lead in order to protect. I am hardly an egalitarian but since I married a wise woman I listen to her a lot.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2019
  18. Joseph Knowles

    Joseph Knowles Puritan Board Freshman

    I don't agree with all of the commentary (which should start at the 1:02:59 mark, if I did it right), but the juxtaposition of Denhollander and Chandler shows seems to me to show, at a minimum, that one or the other of them is either misinformed about or misrepresenting the situation. When I read the original NYT article shortly after it was published, my immediate reaction (without seeing this defense) was that I didn't see what else Chandler and the Village Church reasonably could have done in that situation.

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
  19. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    Much Ado About Nothing.... I still think DenHollander makes a good point, not sure I even agree with the detective there. You got to let the parents know as soon as you can, which it seems Chandler did basically. So somehow DenHollander didn’t have all the info, or the detective delayed the notification. If it was my kid, I’d want to know names without much delay
  20. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Almost every time when something scandalous arises in a church (or in any other organization, for that matter), hindsight shows that the church could and should have done a better job of handling the crisis. This should teach us two things: (1) churches should carefully study the mistakes other churches have made and be better prepared in case of a scandal, which can be very damaging; (2) folks should give their church leaders a bit of a break, knowing that these situations are complex and it's hard to manage them perfectly.
  21. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

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