Looking at the use of words such as gossip, slander and bitter. Numerous events have left me to deal with this issue. Its my contention that people who went through their own theological hell are not bitter, but instead expressing a righteous anger. Also in this post I explain why the use of the word bitter will be banned from this blog. Its going to be one of the only words that will be banned.
“The truth hurts, doesn’t it, Hapsburg? Oh sure, maybe not as much as landing on a bicycle with the seat missing, but it hurts!”
Lt. Frank Drebin of Police Squad
“One voice speaking truth is a greater force than fleets and armies.”
Ursula Le Guin
“A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.”
Proverbs 16:28 NLT
These last few weeks have been interesting in many ways. Let me walk you through my world so you can see things through my eyes. This will help explain why I am writing this post for today.
- I have been busy writing about a corrupt Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania. People who were formerly involved have told me how the words gossip and slander have been misused against them and their family. One of the families that left Community told me about how the church claims that they were engaging in gossip. To talk about how the Senior Pastor’s son allegedly raped his wife while allegedly drunk; and then on another occasion to allegedly point a loaded gun at his wife. Talking about that is called “gossip.”
- Outside of Community Evangelical Free Church I have written about The Journey in St. Louis. According to the monthly stats which I analyze the post I wrote about Darrin Patrick is doing extremely well, and when you Google The Journey in St. Louis my post is one of those that pops up near the top in the first two pages of Google. I have gotten some pushback from a couple of current Journey members I believe in the comments. I love it when people from some of these places comment as it reveals the indoctrination that has taken place.
- Privately, and I am not going to get into the details too much but I got an email from an old friend. We’ve known each other for close to 14 years I believe. He once told me in a church activity years ago how much he looked up to me and how I made him feel welcome and loved as I recall. It was one of the kindest things I have heard from any person at all. I later found out that this friend of mine got involved in The Journey and he sent me an interesting email which is remaining private. However, what gave me pause is when he said that talking about what happened with Darrin Patrick after the fact is gossip I realized my friend doesn’t know what gossip is, and he’s let a church redefine gossip for him. He’s no longer involved but his thinking still shows the influence of The Journey on him.
- Behind the scenes I have heard in a few emails how the word bitter was used by some people in the Evangelical Free Church of America. That caused a lot of angst and that was on my radar, and I have wanted to write about that issue.
- Then a few days ago I did a post about Kevin DeYoung and I saw the comments there about bitterness, slander, and other pushback. That became the tipping point to address this issue and discuss it.
There is a lot of ground to cover and I am establishing some new rules here which will be implemented.
What is Gossip?
What is gossip? How is gossip defined? At dictionary.com gossip is defined in the following way: “
- Lack of self control
- Manipulation and Lying
- Misuse of Power
- Refusal of Personal Accountability
So again I ask…what is domineering? What is a misuse of power? What is the lying? As the Chaplain for the St. Louis Cardinals did he privately root for the Chicago Cubs and lie about it? Here is the issue…Darrin Patrick chose to become a pastor. He chose the limelight in which he wanted to be. He wanted the fame, adulation and the people to drool over him as do many Neo-Calvinist pastors. Its one of the many reasons why I categorically and firmly reject the Neo-Calvinist movement. In its heart it is corrupt. If you want to be a mega church pastor and you want that kind of attention then you are going to have to deal with it. It goes along with the territory, you chose to be in the public spotlight, and you have to deal with the less pleasant issues as well. There are many people who deal with things or issues in their jobs that they don’t like. There are people are policeman who have to patrol overnight. That goes along with the territory. Want to be a successful salesmen at IBM, Cantor Fitzgerald, CA Technologies, or Proctor & Gamble or elsewhere? Be prepared to work your butt off and pull late nights. If you want to be in the US Marines be prepared to deal with a grueling lifestyle and deployments to places that are for from comfortable and downright miserable.
Talking about what happened with Darrin Patrick is not gossip because he was the leader of a large church. Its no more gossip than talking about how the President of the United States at the time, Bill Clinton, ejaculated on an intern’s dress. Yes it’s uncomfortable but its the facts of the situation. Gossip as I look at it is meaningless talk that means absolutely nothing in the end. Gossip is what people did in high school when they speculated who had sex with who? Who went to the party and got drunk? I could go on but believe I have made my point. There was no facts and the talk served no purpose. Asking hard or difficult questions is necessary because of Darrin Patrick’s position. Another issue is that the Neo-Calvinists are re-defining terms and words. They are actually doing the same thing that the Mormons have done. When people view gossip as avoiding difficult conversations and submitting to the Elders then in the end they are enabling the problem. Plus they help to perpetuate the issues at hand.
What is Slander? Is the Truth too Hard to Deal with?
I believe that the word slander is one of the most misused words that some evangelicals have used. It needs to be pushed back, and contested, and that is part of the reason why I am writing this in today’s post. Dee Parsons wrote a good post at the Wartburg Watch called “Slander or an Inconvenient Truth?“ Some evangelicals use the word slander as a means to get people to be quiet. They are often telling or talking about something that happened that is true, dealing with facts but are uncomfortable. Let me illustrate:
- Is Molly Fitch engaging in slander when she talks about what Calvary Temple did in turning most of her children against her? No I believe Molly, and believe she is telling the facts.
- Is Happymom and Wallace engaging in slander when they talk about two incidents of child sex abuse at Sovereign Grace Fairfax? No, they are describing something that tragically happened and I believe Happymom and Wallace and their version of events.
- Is Bent Meyer engaging in slander when he talks about what Mark Driscoll did to him at Mars Hill Seattle when he had him fired? No he is telling what happened and I believe Bent.
Basically slander has a different meaning, and they way some evangelicals use the word is done in a wrong context. In order for slander to be done the following three steps need to be taken:
- A lie or something not true needs to be told.
- That lie or action needs to intentional affect another person’s reputation and cause great harm.
- This action was done with a deliberate intent to cause distress.
I will use myself to illustrate as I learned this issue with my false accusation. When Andrew gave birth to a false accusation that took aim at me he did so in the following three ways:
- He gave birth to a false claim when it was stated that I was a threat to his family.
- He did this at work and in the process damaged my reputation with my boss and threatened my name with my employer. He also threatened my name in future employment as well.
- This action was done deliberately as Andrew knew that I was not a threat, and it caused distress.
In my situation Dee Parsons who walked with me through it had me speak to an Attorney who reviewed it and explained to me why I was sitting on a defamation of character lawsuit. Plus there was another factor that strengthened my case…in most false accusations they can be hard to prove. In this case since Andrew dragged in a third party that third party can be subpoenaed and forced to testify. Because the third party that was dragged in is a witness to the defamation. This was explained to me in the process and that is how I learned this…from first hand knowledge.
What is Bitterness?
According to dictionary.com bitterness can have several different meanings. The one I am going to focus on is the following. Bitterness according to the website is “ In this description bitterness means intense hostility and possibility even wishing harm or malice. Anger is often confused for bitterness and I believe anger is good. If your child was sexually assaulted and you were not angry then I think there would be something deeply wrong. Anger is a righteous and good emotion. Jesus was angry in the temple. It seems as if many Christians forget that Jesus did get angry. Please note I am not talking about the “dudebro I can kick your rear end” kind of anger which Mark Driscoll espoused. I am talking about righteous anger that came about because an act of injustice took place. Anger I believe can be a gift from God. Anger can be a sign that tells you that something is not right, and if you were hurt, it reveals that you were the subject of something cruel and harsh. I see a lot of people who I believe are righteously angry.
Now here is the problem…you have many people who have been wronged who have no recourse to address their painful issues. Where are they supposed to go? What are they supposed to do? The Bible talks about not worshipping or approaching the alter until you have worked things out with your brother, and yet many people like CJ Mahaney, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, etc.. plow forward not giving a rat’s behind about scripture like that at all. How can you move forward when you haven’t been able to address the situation which put you in the place where you are at now? The supreme idiocy of this is that there are people claiming to teach the Bible who can’t master the basic fundamentals of what Jesus himself has taught. So where does that leave us…are these people being bitter? I would strongly say no…they are angry and they have every right to be angry. But let me focus on my situation to make the point.
Am I being Bitter when I Write about Redeemer Arlington?
On May 8, 2013 I was subject to a severe false accusation. It was done by an Air Force Captain who graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2005. He claimed I was a threat to his family, and that it happened after he asked me to stay in his house, walk me through his wedding album, and change the password on his computer for sexual purity reasons. My boss raised the issue of stalking, this hit me out of the blue. I know…who invites a stalker into their home and asks him to change the password on their computer? If you want to read about the false accusation you can do so here.
Now in my case here is the problem. Andrew White doesn’t believe he has done anything wrong. He broke off the discussion as it was getting started. He won’t listen to what the consequences of his actions created. Yes he said he was “sorry” in a conference call between him, myself, and Jordan Kauflin but the attorney who I consulted explained to me what needed to be done in order to neutralize the false accusation. We never got to that point at all. I would very much love for this to be resolved. But the issue rests with Andrew White and not me. He has no desire to resolve this mess, and he doesn’t care. Granted I am dealing with a former Sovereign Grace church so I knew from the get go that there are going to be deep issues. After all Redeemer Arlington’s roots are in the same culture that produced places like Solid Rock, Sovereign Grace Fairfax, and Covenant Life Church. I approached 140 people and the one person who claims to be all about scripture and following the Bible doesn’t want to resolve it.
So I am still moving forward and trying to find a way ahead. It’s happening slowly. This could be resolved by a number of conversations, a sincere and deep apology, a situation where he grieves what he did, and expresses deep remorse. If he did that, it would be helpful and soothing. But in the meantime what am I supposed to do? I think the fact that this is being written is a damning indictment of Sovereign Grace culture. So am I bitter? I am still angry. After all in my case the false accusation threatened my job, my future employment, my ability to pay a mortgage, my home equity line of credit, my school loans, my credit card, and my Nissan Sentra loan. That is a lot that was threatened by a false accusation. I’ve even had people contact me who are in the military or former military that say, “I have to tell you this…” It may have happened years ago, but I get them. These are events that we are discussing that are psychologically traumatic.
The Word Bitter is now Banned from The Wondering Eagle
I have given it much thought and I have decided to ban the use of the word bitter. No one who reads, and comments that went through their own personal hell, or nightmare will be told that they are bitter. Churches and pastors who do that often do it as a means to control people. Its a way for them to dominate and manipulate their authority. Remember authority is earned and not freely given. Respect and trust is earned in the course of time. But there is another reason why I am banning the word bitter as well. People like John MacArthur, C.J. Mahaney, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, Matt Chandler, and more have a lot of press, influence, publishing companies, and the Reformed Industrial Complex backing them. They have a lot driving them now. Many people in the pews or those who were hammered by a church, ministry or shoddy organization don’t have a lot of places to call home. They don’t have a lot of places that will stick their neck out on the line and go to bat for them. That’s one of the things this blog is pursuing. I want this to be a place of sanctuary and respite form the tyrannies of fundamentalism, and ministries that are corrupt that never should be in existence. Organizations like Sovereign Grace or 9 Marks are an abomination to the church and should be viewed more as a cancer than anything else.
Because of all this no one is going to pop on here and tell someone or a group of people that they are bitter. So here is what I am going to do…if some one comes to this blog and says that people are bitter they will be warned. They will get one chance to knock it off. If they continue they will be put in slow moderation. What that means is that their comment will be approved 8 hours later. I’m incredibly serious about this and have decided to do this to protect people. John MacArthur already has his tools like Phil Johnson out there blasting people who disagree. None of their followers need to come here and wage jihad against people who have already been hurt. Now I think you will admit that I am a very liberal person when it comes to commenting. I have let everyone and anyone post. Heck I was the only blog that let Seneca post and I even did it when people emailed me asking, “why do you let him post?” I wanted to give him a second chance, and an opportunity to prove himself. Its in these situations that I am going to be hard about this rule. Some of you guys have been through a lot. This blog is writing about the Evangelical Free denomination, Sovereign Grace, and a number of other places out there. Plus there is also this issue to contend with…here at The Wondering Eagle its my goal to create a blog that is much more diverse in readership and articles than The Wartburg Watch. I write about topics like doubt and atheism for a reason. I do so because of the 5 year faith crisis and what I saw and observed. In my opinion there isn’t a blog that creates a middle ground to allow atheists and Christians to regularly and freely interact. That is one of the things I plan to do here. So here is the other problem…you are going to have atheists and secular humanists interact in a number of discussions, and when they see someone proclaiming people as being bitter, or something like engaging in slander many secularists are going to laugh at you and say that you behavior is ridiculous and stupid. There are a number of secularists who are straight forward and blunt, which is one of the many reasons why I like that crowd deeply.
These rules go into effect today. They will be carried out and implemented. They are being put into place for those who have been through a lot. Now if you are a C.J. Mahaney fan boy or a John MacArthur fan boy who doesn’t like this…I have this to say to you. Life is hard, life sucks, life is difficult…my word of advice…deal with it. I welcome your comments, feedback or critique. On Wednesday we are going to talk about pastors who gossip with an amazing guest post. I am going to close out with a classic 80’s pop/rock song about rumours for this post. As always I love you guys!