There is a part of Beth Moore’s story that hit home with me. It deals with how Moore felt like her head was spinning when many Southern Baptists who criticized Bill Clinton then both defended and embraced Donald Trump as his affairs and abuse came forward. For me the painful aspect of being thrust in such a crisis is when you realize that faith is a lie. And that is because of what occurs when those who taught you what faith is throw it all away to support someone of questionable character.
“A wise man may look ridiculous in the company of fools.”
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.
2 Timothy 4:6 NIV
My former Milwaukee Campus Crusade for Christ leader Steve Papez
In a previous post I looked at the issue of Beth Moore leaving the Southern Baptist Convention. You can read about it in, “Beth Moore Leaves the Southern Baptist Convention. What Does This Mean? The Convention is Dying…” Moore talked about how much she loved the Southern Baptists and how it was her home. She recalled as to how when Bill Clinton’s affairs came forward many Southern Baptists criticized him. They called him immoral. She heard that Clinton was unqualified and that he didn’t have what it took to be a leader. Character was stressed. And that is how it was inside the SBC in the 1990s. Then in 2016 a fast changing situation developed as she began to realize that she could not be a Southern Baptist. The same people who called out Bill Clinton ignored, supported and then defended Donald Trump. Affairs with porn stars? Well everyone is a sinner. Being on the cover of a pornographic magazine? People make mistakes. Boasting of grabbing pussy and committing sexual assault? Its just locker room talk. Beth Moore who was sexually abused talked about how it felt like her head was spinning. Almost like it was a personality crisis. The church is not what she thought it to be. Despite nearly forty years in the Southern Baptists it was the beginning of the end for her. And ultimately why the most influential female inside the SBC walked away from it.
Part of Beth Moore’s story hit a nerve with me. And that is what this post is about. For me it was hard to reconcile the faith that I was taught vs. how people behaved in 2016. The hypocrisy from ministry leaders was so troubling, bold and openly corrupt. It was on a level I have never seen in my lifetime. And in my case the take away is that faith in God is a lie. It was all a lie because in the end none of the Christian theology, scripture or principles mattered. Nothing was sacred or holy. The Faustian bargain was so severe and sickening that I want nothing to do with the Christian faith.
In my own life I recall the Campus Crusade retreats to Lodi, Wisconsin and Lake Geneva. The importance of respecting females and having authors like John Eldredge pushed. There was the lectures and preaching about sexual sin. The dangers of pornography. There was the Men’s session in TCX in Minneapolis where the Cru staff member spoke about the harm of masturbation. And how a Christian frat house had a jar which people paid into every time they masturbated as a form of punishment. And I recall the teaching and preaching by Steve Papez on all these topics plus many more. But it also extended to my church Wooded Hills Bible Church. I remember the men’s events and one retreat I attended. The importance of boundaries and not putting yourself in temptation. The necessity of confession of your sins. The emphasis on sexual and spiritual purity. The calls to be like Paul as a spilled offering in 2 Timothy 4:6. It was explained at both church and Crusade events that we were to live our lives like Paul proclaiming Christ crucified. That we were consumed by the Gospel so that you can be like Paul and prepare for the end of your life one day. A holy offering for the Lord so you can hear the words, “Well done thy good and faithful servant.” There is one problem that popped up that overturned much of what I wrote above. It was Donald Trump.
Before 2016 came on the scene. I was trying to rebuild my life. I crawled my way out of a faith crisis and through tears, sweat and PTSD struggled day by day. In 2013 a military officer and graduate of the Air Force Academy involved in a Sovereign Grace Ministry plant in Arlington, Virginia taught me why rape and sexual abuse is a problem in the military by making a false accusation that took aim at my career and ability to earn income, and then using his rank to pull it off. In those two years between 2013 to 2015 I cried more than I did in forty. And I saw how it affected my family. I dealt with the psychological ramifications, as such spiritual abuse was all new to me. I didn’t know how to respond, act or even raise it. Would I be believed? What I remember most is when it dawned upon me as to how a military officer in a military environment used the system in an abusive way and taught me why rape is a problem. Prior to 2013 I thought the issue of rape in the military was exaggerated. Its not…this entire blog has written about the issue in different forms over the years. As I tried to rebuild a faith at the time I approached almost everyone I could to seek forgiveness and rebuild bridges. Chances are if you are from Wisconsin, California, Montana, or the Washington, D.C. area and you knew me I once approached you asking for forgiveness for how I acted in a faith crisis. And as I was trying to stabilize everything coincided Trump came down the golden escalator in Trump tower to announce his candidacy.
Throughout 2016 and into 2017 like Beth Moore the faith I had rebuilt found itself in a new crisis. And the majority of it came from people I knew in ministries like Campus Crusade or churches like Wooded Hills Bible. Ministries and churches I once respected and called home. Though I approached 140 people for forgiveness in 2013 and 2014. Now I had to contend with some of those people questioning my faith in God because I could not support Donald Trump in good conscience. After learning why rape is a problem in the military I was horrified by all the sexual abuse that was coming from Donald Trump. There were days I felt like I wanted to vomit. But it was more. It was remembering the teachings of people in Crusade like Steve Papez and Erick Lettner. It was recalling the teaching of people like Joe or Ruth Jenkins from Wooded Hills. Or Trish Stern or Bob Hennis. Everything that they had preached, taught, and emphasize about faith now suddenly didn’t matter. It all was cast aside as the new meaning of being a Christian was to get behind Donald Trump lock, stock and barrel. And with that I saw people throw away entire ministerial careers to support Trump. All of them and many evangelicals kicked Jesus’s sorry ass to the side of the road.
Steve Papez of Milwaukee Metro Cru threw away nearly two generations of what he taught and believed to support Donald Trump blindly. Donald Trump was Steve Papez’s new Messiah.
I saw the behavior of the Jenkins family from Wooded Hills. The spiteful anger, questioning my faith because I voted for Marco Rubio. And the rejection as the Jenkins family followed Donald Trump as their personal Lord and Savior.
I saw so much of this from so many individuals I was stunned. I was sick. And like Beth Moore my head was spinning. The people I once looked up to and admired who made up the pastors’ or ministry leaders now taught me something else that I never thought I would say. Faith in God and the church is all a lie. All that they had taught me in the end revealed that it was all a lie. None of it is true. That is the only was I can reconcile how a ministry leader like Steve Papez from Milwaukee Campus Crusade can throw away an entire career and all that he taught to defend a man who boasted of grabbing pussy, and who had affairs with porn stars. To support someone like Donald Trump theologically meant that Steve Papez threw away and rejected all that he taught at Cru chapters in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa over three decades of time. In the end he didn’t believe a single word of what he taught.
In the end it was all a lie.
But there is even a more horrifying angle that I learned because of all these double standards on a scale not before seen. History is filled with dark stories. And some of the darkest come from the Christians who perpetuate evil. And after watching people I once considered friends, acquaintances and brothers and sisters in Christ, sadly I now understand the following:
- After Pope Urban blessed the first Crusade, I can understand how Christians in the Crusades could commit the horrific atrocities in the Siege of Jerusalem. in the first Crusade in 1099. The killing of 60,000 Muslims, children, women and even Jews. The violence was unlike anything seen so much so that people walked in pools of blood that was ankle deep.
- There is also the Battle of Askalon in which in the name of our Lord Christ, Jesus 200,000 non-Christians were slaughtered.
- Then in 1618 in Germany the 30 Years War commenced with over 40% of Germany’s population murdered in the name of God. While horrific now I can understand it better.
- There was the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre which commenced in 1572, when the Catholic leadership of France triggered an orgy of violence that in the end left 70,000 dead.
- Then you also had the Christians who supported the Third Reich because in the end the Nazis supported families, shut down gay cabarets in Berlin and elsewhere in Germany. And even in the 1940’s as Jews were being sent to extermination centers like Chelmno or Treblinka and being killed in mass, there were many Christians who were okay with this. Their Christian faith and family was being protected while the Jews and those who rejected Nazism were destroyed. Today in tears I can understand why the Christians behaved the way that they did in Germany.
In the end the possibility and capacity for great evil comes from those who know their Bible and can teach a good sermon or put together a good Bible study. They can do their devotions in the morning and support murder in the afternoon if it were Germany. But today the blind, rabid defense and associating ones own identity with a demagogue. makes me aware of how societies go down dark paths. I thought Christian faith meant that you had to be reborn through spirit. Now Christian faith is remembering that it was Donald Trump who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Donald Trumps’ suffering is worse than Jesus. That is what the Christian church and faith taught me. And like Beth Moore my head is still spinning.
In the end events like the Holocaust, violence in the Crusades and the Religious Wars of France were taught to me in a fresh horror by the Steve Papezs, and people from Wooded Hills. Which also confirms why faith is a lie.
But I can relate to Beth Moore talking about how disorienting it is to walk through such an event. Some of what she said hit home with me. The take away for myself is that much of the faith I was taught in evangelicalism from 1999 until 2017 was all a lie. The pain is deep, searing, and those who think individuals like me will just bounce back or get involved in another church are epic fools of incredible proportion. To go through what I did in 2013 and then go through what I did in 2017 at the hands of people who once taught and discipled me is sickening. I almost feel like the Steve Papezs or Erick Lettner’s or Trish Sterns raped my mind. I will not go back to church. To go back to church after all the abuse that came from 2016 and 2017 is like a female who is bloodied, bruised and has a broken eye socket going back to her abusive husband. Faith is not about following God. Its a means to an end. Its about obtaining power and using faith to preserve power and control people. That’s hard to admit also.
But when it comes to why those of us like me soured on the faith and will not go back. I’m going to tell you that it was all a lie and point to how the church conducted itself. All of this was unnecessary but it is how many chose to act.