Define: Spiritual Abuse

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273 Responses

  1. monax says:

    “Spiritual abuse occurs when someone in a position of spiritual authority—the purpose of which is to ‘come underneath’ and serve, build, equip and make God’s people more free—misuses that authority by placing themselves over God’s people to control, coerce or manipulate them for seemingly godly purposes which are really their own.”

    ~ Jeff VanVonderen, co-author of The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse

  2. Michael says:


    I like that…how do you tell the difference between God’s purposes and those of a pastor?
    They will look remarkably similar in some cases…

  3. monax says:

    [[ partial transcript: of Larry Crabb defining Spiritual Abuse ]]

    Larry Crabb in short mp4 video

    When a person uses the Scriptures, when a person uses their position of authority to really indulge their own need to feel superior or to be in control or to manipulate or to make things happen that they think should happen; when they’re really serving their own agenda and calling it God’s agenda, whether they’re Elmer Gantrys and just pretending, whether they’re self-deceived, then I believe we’re talking about spiritual abuse, and that’s not a good thing.

    When you’re living in a church situation where your pastor, where elders, where Sunday school teacher, where a father to child, Christian father to child, is using their position of authority to bring the Bible to bear in a way that makes you feel incredibly pressured and guilty and awful. I’m not talking about conviction of sin. I’m talking about: You better shape up or there’s going to be hell to pay—and said in a very nasty kind of a way, in a controlling kind of a way—then you’re in a spiritually abusive environment.

    Any time a pastor, or any person, I don’t want to just pick out pastors, lots of wonderful pastors of course, but spiritual abuse can happen when anybody in a position of authority uses a Bible verse to control another, uses their platform to maneuver another to make a person feel something which is going to make them perform according to their expectations as opposed to releasing the power of the spirit of God in your life through the grace-filled experience of community. Anything that opposes that I would call spiritual abuse.

    . .

    “The worst kind of evil is the wrong kind of love, love that clutches and possesses rather than loosening and liberating. . . . That is Lewis’ final statement on evil. Essentially, it is the wrong kind of love. . . . What the evil man calls love is only a sort of hunger aimed at the total consumption of the emotional lives of those around him. What he calls justice is the selfish granting of his own welfare and pleasure, whether on a personal or a universal scale. And what he calls good is that which will benefit his own aims at the expense or despite the needs of those around him. He is evil not because he wills to be an evil man but because he can do nothing else but will his own narrow desires.”

    ~ Janice Witherspoon Neulieb, reviewing Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis, in Christianity Today, 28 March 1975, page 16.

  4. Ricky Bobby says:

    I like the definition, I think it’s pretty spot on.

    “how do you tell the difference between God’s purposes and those of a pastor?”

    You can’t, it’s entirely subjective. All you can see is the “smoke” and bad fruit as a result of actions/behaviors, but then those people can be easily dismissed as “divisive” and “of the devil” and reinforces the Abusive Pastors role as “Shepherd”

    It’s tough to get kool-aid drinkers to see the light, so it ends up being a (rhymes with itch) fest online vs. the Stone Wall of the particular Abusive situation. Lines are drawn. The faithful generally stay faithful, while the “outsiders” coalesce and form disperate Groups and commiserate over shared bad experiences.

  5. Michael says:


    Define “fruit”.

  6. Michael says:


    We also talk a lot about “kool-aid drinkers.”
    I have used the term myself more than once.
    When all those people returned to pastors and churches we “exposed” do I have the right to label them with a pejorative…or do they have the right to assemble as they choose no matter what I think about what has transpired there?
    My point is this…and this is the reason we need a definition…what some people find abusive, others seem to find nourishing.
    What’s the difference between those people?

  7. Steve Wright says:

    Points 1,2,3,5,6 all seem to be part of the dynamic, and there seems to be a key word in each one. (Refuse, coerce, dictate etc.)

    I think #4 is not appropriate for the definition, and is more in the realm of doctrinal differences. If a church has a dress policy, worship policy, alcohol policy or any other sort of Christian freedom issue that rubs someone the wrong way, then that is the wrong church for them. This assumes of course a standard applied throughout the church and not somebody being singled out. Paul himself makes clear in Romans that Christians have different opinions and conviction on issues of what is and what is not “liberty”

    And #7 does not apply because no church or pastor can deny the right to divorce – for Biblical grounds or otherwise. Churches don’t grant divorces. Now, I’m sure there can be abuse that properly fits in points 1,2,3,5,6 around that issue – and likewise a church may have a “divorce policy” that someone does not like (taking me back to point #4 comments)

  8. Ricky Bobby says:

    Michael, I think the bible defines it for those who profess to teach it “simply”:

    Good fruit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control”

    Good fruit is the Qualifications of a Pastor/Elder/Bishop/Deacon:

    Qualifications for Elder

    If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer[a] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,[b] sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

    Qualifications for Deacons

    8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued,[c] not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must[d] be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

    Titus 1 defines the same “fruit” as above.

    Other “good fruit” as articulated by Jesus Christ (who is supposedly God incarnate):

    “Leave the 99 to save the 1”
    “Forgive 70 times 7”
    “He who wants to be greatest must be the Servant of All”

    those were pretty much presented in the context of “leadership”

    Jesus then rebukes the Pharisees in Matthew 23 and calls out what we can consider bad fruit.

    Much of the Pauline Epistles (also, we’re told, is “God’s Word!!!” and to be taught and followed “simply”) expresses bad fruit as all sorts of stuff like lying, not being fair with people (especially in the context of Stronger oppressing Weaker in relationships like Boss and Employee, Husband and Wife, Master and Servant, etc.

    Other bad fruit is defined as pretty much anything immoral, destructive, unfair, malicious, and pretty much the opposite of “NOT” Love thy Neighbor.

    I think that it’s a high standard and impossible to meet, but c’mon, at least try to do some of it. I think Abusive Pastors could give a flying (rhymes with buck) and justify their behavior under a Shepherding Dynamic and Appeal to the OT God/Jesus vs. taking responsibility for their self-proclaimed “calling” and self-proclaimed Position of Leader in a Jesus Context and then ignoring the rules and good fruit the Gahndi Jesus of the Gospels laid out for them.

  9. monax says:

    Michael asks, “How do you tell the difference between God’s purposes and those of a pastor? They will look remarkably similar in some cases…”

    I think it’s safe to say that when there’s a conflict between the Scripturally stated purposes of God and any stated purposes of the pastor—then Scripture trumps the pastor’s purposes.

    Also, the purposes of the pastor must be in line with God’s purposes for the ekklesia. Every Spirit-filled member of the Body of Christ has access to God’s Word and His Spirit. I believe the purposes the pastor is guided by must be corporately discerned and affirmed by the Body he has been entrusted to serve. And the Pastor leads by persuasion, not by any authoritarian means.

    I think the key is corporate discernment and affirmation of the purposes of God for the local ekklesia.

  10. Ricky Bobby says:

    “What’s the difference between those people?”

    The difference is in the information: Full disclosure and being honest with the rank-and-file is the main factor. The Offended tend to know what really happened (and those close to them) whereas the rank-and-file are left with hearing, largely, only the Offenders side of the story filtered through the Offended being effectively tarnished through poison-the-well tactics.

    In nearly every case, the Offender presents a less-than-truthful explanation of the offenses and presents enough of a lying untruthful cover story and talking points defense to cause the lazy rank-and-file to give them the benefit of the doubt and continue attending the show.

    I think if most of the rank-and-file had all the facts (which are impossible to get, even in a court setting) then more of them would either cease to support a particular Abusive and/or corrupt ministry or they would demand real confession and real repentance before resuming their support.

    Unfortunately, there is no such thing as getting all the facts and being able to make a right judgment in this day and age, unless there is something like an arrest and prosecution by the Criminal Justice System or the allegations are homosexual in nature.

  11. Ricky Bobby says:

    “What’s the difference between those people?”

    The other big difference is that most folks don’t care unless or until the bad stuff happens to them or someone they care about. Then they tend to see things much differently.

    Most of the “kool aid drinkers” are decent folks who are humans just like the rest of us and they don’t want to see the reality of certain situations because they are comfortable at the particular church or ministry and people, in general, don’t like to rock the boat and like to assume the best about who they revere as “special” and a Leader who speaks on behalf of God to them.

    When that particular Leader violates their particular space and does something that offends them, the myth is shattered and they see things much differently. Then many become jaded and cynical after being ostracized by the former Group they used to be a family member (in a church family context) in and then they tend to have trouble re-Borging into another church family as the experiences leave deep scars and are very disillusioning.

  12. Michael says:


    You are conflating qualifications with fruit.
    Fruit is the result of a spiritual action.
    We presented all the facts on many cases…and people still support those we believed were either abusive or disqualified.

  13. Josh Hamrick says:

    There is a church about ten minutes from my house that was making all the children throw up in a bucket before the service to get the demons out. I’d say that qualifies as spiritual abuse.

  14. Michael says:


    You hit on part of what I’m questioning.
    There are areas of doctrine and/or liberty that to some are freeing and to others abusive.
    That’s why I think we need a concise definition.

  15. Ricky Bobby says:

    “You are conflating qualifications with fruit.”

    They are interconnected and you can’t separate them.

    The Qualifications are the Function, the “fruit” is the Form.

    Form follows Function, it’s a law of sorts.

  16. Kevin H says:


    There is currently a situation in the Philadelphia news where a married couple have now let a second of their children die because they refused to seek medical care when they were sick. They did this because they chose to follow their church’s teaching that it is wrong to seek medical care. Now obviously this would be an extreme case of such, but could this fall into category #4 from the list above?

  17. Michael says:


    If their theology is wretched enough to believe such a thing is that abusive or simply wretched doctrine?

  18. Ricky Bobby says:

    Law for the self-professed Shepherds/Leaders, Grace for the Sheep/Followers.

    That’s how Jesus seemed to do it in the Gospels.

  19. Michael says:


    Is that abuse or stupidity?
    Is the church or the people responsible?

  20. Kevin H says:

    Although I directed my question at Steve, it’s not necessarily meant for him only. He had said that he didn’t see #4 as a spiritual abuse category. I had thought of this extreme type of case and wondered if it would fit into catgory #4.

  21. Michael says:


    Jesus offered the leaders grace as well…they refused it.
    I’m glad He still does.

  22. Ricky Bobby says:

    “Is that abuse or stupidity?
    Is the church or the people responsible?”

    It’s both. Both parties are responsible.

    Bad Abusive Church and stupid followers.

  23. Gary says:

    YIKES! Hot potato! Ooch ouch ooch ouch Hot hot hot. bbl to join in.

  24. Basically spiritual abuse is controlling people. Most of it comes from people who are unhealthy insecure, fearful, and arrogant. People like most of us.

  25. Kevin H says:

    The parents are most definitely responsible. It is an act of stupidity. But I also feel like there is an element of responsibility on the church also for teaching such things knowing that some people are going to follow them. That’s where I wonder if it would be properly categorized as spiritual abuse.

  26. Josh Hamrick says:

    That’s the church I was talking about. Wow. Can’t believe it was linked at the watchman site.

    Most of what is classified as “spiritual abuse” is not abuse at all. The overuse of the term has rendered it impotent.

    And are we really gonna have to go through a Ricky Bobby charade?

  27. Ricky Bobby says:

    “Jesus offered the leaders grace as well…they refused it.”

    Not really, “Millstones” “You fools!” to the Pharisees. “Get behind me satan!” to Peter, Judas was predestined for hell, Leaders are held to a “Stricter Judgment” etc etc.

    I think the Jesus of the Gospels presents a “stricter” Law for the Leadership and more Grace for the everyman. The bible tends to support this narrative many times over by saying the “Rich and Powerful” enjoy their good stuff here on earth and then suffer in eternity and that those who suffer here on earth get it good in eternity etc. It’s a pretty recurring theme.

    Leadership seems to encompass both worldly and spiritual leadership and the Narrative, again, is one of Powerful vs. Weak Rich vs. Poor etc and in a Spiritual Context, Pastor vs. Sheep.

  28. Kevin H says:

    What is most definitely abusive is when the pastor of the church was interviewed by the media, he said the children died because of the “spiritual lack” of the parents.

  29. Michael says:


    I will post RB when he is contributing something.
    I think you hit on one of my concerns when you said that we’ve rendered the term impotent through overuse.

  30. Michael says:


    Good questions…lets see what answers we come up with.

  31. Ricky Bobby says:

    “I think you hit on one of my concerns when you said that we’ve rendered the term impotent through overuse.”

    I agree to a degree. I think much like the “Racist!” card being whipped out at every opportunity, the term loses it’s salt when it is overused and misapplied, no doubt.

  32. Michael says:


    Is the church leadership being prosecuted in that case?

  33. Q says:

    The word Binding is also in #4

    Maybe stating the belief plainly and leaving it to a mans conscience and the Lord.

  34. Kevin H says:


    To this point, no, the church leadership is not being charged. I don’t know if there are any intentions to try to do so or not by the authorities. The parents had previously been put on probation when their first child died. They are now in jail with a bail set apparently too high for them to be able to reach.

  35. Josh Hamrick says:

    Spritual abuse is any abuse (psychological, physical, or emotional) that you receive from a person you accept as a Spiritual Authority.

  36. Kevin H says:

    In just re-reading a news article from a couple weeks ago when the parents were first officially charged, an assistant DA is quoted as saying they would consider pressing charges against the pastor as they further investigate the case.

  37. Q says:

    Maybe a short version of Spiritual Abuse would be:

    Whenever someone uses the bible whether half true or wholly true to control or manipulate another person, whenever a person does the same to physically hurt them, and wherever their is a spirit of elitism.

  38. Josh Hamrick says:

    Q – That’s all subjective though.

    For instance, is speaking against adultery spiritual abuse? One could do so fromt he bible, and the hearer could think the preacher was trying to control him.

  39. Crowned1 says:

    Is it possible for doctrine to be spiritually abusive? Doesn’t it all come down to whether or not you believe what that man/woman at the pulpit is saying?

    The church cannot even unilaterally agree on ‘how one becomes saved’. I would consider that spiritually abusive if I didn’t have a choice to believe 1 or none of them.

  40. Steve Wright says:

    “Binding conscience on matters that are in the realm of Christian freedom”

    Those are the words of #4. My elaboration about church beliefs is in the context of those words. “in the realm of Christian freedom”

    Is there liberty in Christ to force people to vomit or to let kids die?

    And even if one wants to argue there is, then lock them up for violating the laws of government. We are commanded to obey the laws, and civil disobedience is only allowed in times of direct conflict between the commands of God and the laws of the land and even then, is always understood to lead to judgement by the laws of the land – and to willingly submit to such punishment for the Lord’s sake.

  41. Gary says:

    Has this council been properly convened? By who’s authority? Just kidding. I wanted to get a rise out of those who would get a rise out of it. This a topic for the ages and since we’re in the age of free market religion (great definition) we need to address it as an appeal, a dictum rather than an edict.

  42. Josh Hamrick says:

    Is there some kind of “spiritual abuse” that wouldn’t be better categorized as “mental / emotional / physical” abuse?

    Does spiritual abuse exist in and of itself?

  43. Q says:

    Yeah Josh I see your point.

    I think if someone is in that type of sin it would fall under church discipline by those who are spiritual and for restoration.

    I think there is a difference in encouragement, sound doctrine, church discipline, and manipulation, control, elitism.

    Maybe if those things are defined plainly by a church a short statement works better.

    A lot of places with spiritual abuse do not have a constitution or proper checks and balances.

  44. Gary says:

    Abuse is abuse is abuse whether it’s known by the victim or unknown. Our culture is loosing it’s common sense. People are falling into an abyss of stupidity and they’re so stoo-pid they don’t even sense anything is wrong. It’s no wonder people can call themselves pastor or whatever and have a following. bbl

  45. Q says:

    “Does spiritual abuse exist in and of itself?”

    I think so.

    I think in Alex’s case for instance, he could take physical abuse and get over it much easier if it wasn’t done by the man of God, it seems to make it much worse.

  46. Kevin H says:


    I would think that any instance of spiritual abuse would fall into one of the categories of mental/emotional/physical. I would think however, it gains an extra element of also being “spiritual” when it is done within the context of someone or some entity that holds some level of spiritual authority over or with another.

  47. I get the feeling some people would feel that Paul was spiritually abusive.

    Jesus too.

  48. Q says:

    I was at a service and the pastor was obviously manipulating people to get money for another “campus”. They went for it but to me he was manipulating, they can’t be members and don’t know where their money goes sometimes for years.

  49. Josh Hamrick says:

    So, could it be said that if an event does not meet the criteria for the other types of abuse, then we should also not call it spiritual abuse?

  50. Michael says:

    I’ve read in other places that Paul was abusive and a woman hater…a defender of the oppressive patriarchy.
    Yes, I have…

  51. Lutheran says:

    “We live in an era of free market religion.

    That means that anyone can be a “spiritual leader” as long as they stay within the bounds of the law and someone will follow them.”

    Ah, yes.

    The wonderful free market.

    Gift from God?

    Not really. At best, a mixed bag. At worst, a system that rewards greed and getting ahead at all costs.

    It does some things well. Other things, not so well.

    Yes, welcome to America,,,where the wealthiest 400 Americans have the same combined wealth as the poorest half of Americans — that’s over 150 million people. There are 10 Latin American countries whose income inequality is less than ours.

    Want it explained in 2 and a half minutes? Scroll down to “Reframing the Debate.”

    Is it any surprise that spiritual abuse flourishes in a religious free market system? Where any pinhead can hang up a shingle and call himself a (self appointed) pastor? You’re basically on your own, dear parishoner.

  52. Steve Wright says:

    And yet…there was a time when one man was believed by most Christians in Europe to have power on earth to send even the most powerful king to hell – and this one man threatened to do just that if others did not do as he desired.

    If that isn’t spiritual abuse, nothing is.

  53. covered says:

    Prior to moving to our current location the pastor who hired me to be his assistant told the congregation from the pulpit that they need to be grateful that he doesn’t “exercise his right to see what is in each persons refrigerators, what movies they watch and check out what what they read” The people here had very few choices for worship and many were so used to this type of leadership that they didn’t think it was strange.

    Immediately after we moved to this area, he told the church that if they or their children were watching any of the Twilight stuff on t.v. or at the theatre, they needed to step down from ministry. Again, only few thought this was strange. This broke my heart as so many thought that this was how it’s supposed to be.

  54. Nonnie says:

    Run, Forrest, run!! (re: number 53)

  55. I second Nonnie’s #54.

  56. Lutheran says:


    I’d bet that the behavior of that pastor is typical of someone who abuses power — they keep pushing the envelope more and more. Kinda like the frog in the saucepan — as long as you increase the heat very gradually, they’ll get cooked and not even know.

    It’s sad when there are few church options. And I’ll bet some of these pastors brainwash their people into believing that their particular church is The Only One — all others are suspect.

  57. covered says:

    Lutheran, your assessment is right on. This guy would hit on women in the flock without a second thought. Here’s why I say your comment is right on. The women all had husbands who were timid or who were intimidated by this guy. He knew that none of them would dare question his actions. In my mind, this makes him a pedator. I think he got off as much on being a bully as he did chasing women.

    When we (elders) called him on his actions he called me in his office and said that I wasn’t qualified to determine if he was in sin. He went on to fire me which led to a new work where grace is taught over law. The entire Bible is taught but Jesus is first. The folks seem to be responding to the new concept…

    Yes it is sad in a small town with limited options but his actions caused his kingdom to shrink from around 300 to 30.

  58. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    “There is currently a situation in the Philadelphia news where a married couple have now let a second of their children die because they refused to seek medical care when they were sick. They did this because they chose to follow their church’s teaching that it is wrong to seek medical care. Now obviously this would be an extreme case of such, but could this fall into category #4 from the list above?”

    Some Idiot who considered himself a leader told me that Christians shouldn’t go to Doctors and should just have faith for healing. I called him out on it and we had a sharp disagreement. A week later he had a mild heart attack and went to the hospital. I called him and asked him why he decided to stay in the Hospital when he should be trusting for a healing. I told him that as a Leader he should be an example and practice what he preaches. He quickly made an excuse to get off the hpone.

  59. Rob Murphy says:

    Josh’s 42 and 49 are very worthy . . . especially the ‘concrete’ comparison(s) in 49. That put a really good handle on the issue for me, lets me think through this issue better.

  60. Lutheran says:


    Well, I’m no prophet. But I’ve encountered pastors like the one you were working for. I’m really glad the Lord got you out of it and into a much better setting! I believe all things work together for good (Ron. 8:32), though sometimes it takes a long time for that to play itself out! Often a lot longer than we would’ve hoped for.

  61. PP Vet says:

    I was once in a discipleship relationship with a man who oversaw men who oversaw groups of churches.

    At the time, he was considered to be of the stature of Moses.

    Once it all collapsed, in retrospect he was considered abusive.

    I realized that he needed to understand this:

    People are not pawns in the game. They are the game.

  62. Linnea says:

    Acts 20:28-30 speaks to Paul’s warning about spiritual abusers:
    “28Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God,a which he bought with his own blood.b 29I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.”

    Jesus confronted spiritual abusers:
    John 2:13-17
    13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”[a]

    Two points jump out. Spiritual abusers draw away disciples for themselves and do it for selfish and financial means. If you look many of the spiritual abusers we’ve discussed, they fit both of these criteria. You ask, “How can we know men’s hearts? We can’t know men’s hearts.” And that is why the Church cannot live without those with the gift of discernment. We need to listen to those who have it.

  63. Gary says:

    Are there any books on the subject of spiritual abuse? The only thing I could find were 2 books written by Francis J. Beckwith in the ’90′s: Churches That Abuse and Recovering From Churches That Abuse. Got a bad review from CRI cuz the author interviewed the victims but not the alleged perps.

  64. Gary says:

    Correction: The author of the books is Ronald Enroth. Francis Beckwith wrote the review.

  65. Jtk says:

    #2 and #6 are soooo ugly

    #4–the issue of the conscience is hugely important.

    A massive percentage of my thought life is taken up by me in considering how I can minister while always respecting the priesthood of the believer (even when the congregant just wants to be told what to do!).

    Yet I know people that have justified sexual sin and even heroin addiction that say ministers overstep their boundaries addressing these issues! How defiled consciences can be–but how beautiful increasingly sanctified consciences can be!

    Here’s hoping for blood-washed,mature Christian consciences!

  66. Q says:

    Linnea,has good points. I mean it’s scripture.

  67. Q says:

    I would like to add suppression as a form of abuse.

  68. Michael says:

    Churches That Abuse by Enroth free online

  69. Ixtlan says:

    I had an encounter with a spiritual bully recently. He was defending his right and mandate to confront another brother.

    Here was his tactic.

    1. He did not lay out the situation in detail. He gave me a very generalized description that that not doubt was subjective. This serves as a shield from teh other person’s point of view.

    2. He began to quote scripture that he no doubtedly used to support his actions. He would ask me if this was true. He then began to quote other scripture and attempted to juxtapose them in my mind. In reality one was Old Testament, the other New. He would then again ask me if I agreed and if I believed it was true. This serves to paint me into a corner where I have little choice than to agree with him or disagree with scripture.

    3. There was no sense of openess or recognition that the other person was not in sin. The reality was it was grey area, admittedly unwise (IMO) to pursue, but not an area the is specifically identified as sin in the Scriptures. This a result of view the situation exponentially, so that it grows and grows into something that is offensive to God.

    4. The person I spoke with lacked the ability to see outside of their own experience. This is progressive in nature where a person begins to feel that anything outside their own belief structure is superflous, beyond the scope of what a Spirit-filled believer should engage in, and an endulgence in evil rather than a pursuit of godliness.

    People like this are almost impossible to reason with and unless God grants them grace are unlikely to ever view the Christian walk any other way

  70. Gary says:

    Yes, suppression is abuse.

  71. Gary says:

    People with the gift of discernment better be careful how they use their gift.

  72. Steve Wright says:

    One twist on this discussion. (and if I misrepresent anything let me know)

    How about a church that sees communion as a sacrament, and where the pastor/priest exercises his right to withhold that sacrament, and the forgiveness of sins which it provides, to a member for what that pastor/priest alone believes is proper cause.

    Is that abuse? I assume we would say, No, because the point of denying is to bring repentance and there certainly is a willingness to have the person join in communion once more as soon as the issue that caused the forbidding is dealt with. The pastor/priest is actually looking out for the best interests of the person, of the church as a whole, and seeking to do the Lord’s will.

    Of course, the member might see abuse, especially if he does not believe there is cause for the withholding of communion. And to have the power to deny someone the body and blood of the Lord is a pretty big deal, especially if that power is used at a time the member strongly disagrees is necessary or appropriate.

  73. Gary says:

    If the pastor/priest explains his reason he would be justified. If he doesn’t it’s abuse.

  74. Q says:

    Gary, I’m being suppressed by moderation.

  75. Michael says:


    You are very, very funny.
    Are you suffering from blog abuse?

  76. Gary says:

    post distress syndrome

  77. Gary says:

    Who was it that said “All things in moderation”?

  78. Gary says:

    Is someone suppressing the truth?

  79. Gary says:

    I wonder if someone has hurt you deeply and you’re taking it out on someone here.

  80. Michael says:


    In most sacramental churches the process to ban someone from the table would be pretty extensive.

  81. Gary says:

    Talk to me Q. Type slowly as I’m a simp.

  82. Q says:

    Gary, No.

    But all my comments go to moderation, your funny but not sure you get what is going on.

    Step 1. Church leadership withdraws affection.
    Step 2. Suppression.

    …….then other steps

    It’s like a playbook or something.

    Pretty soon you just leave.

  83. Steve Wright says:

    Here’s my point about the communion example. I think it speaks also to the type of Christian that frequents different churches. As Xenia has said, some people think “Nobody is going to tell me what to do”

    In my example, it is assumed the person would be told by the pastor/priest why communion was being withheld. I believe the average person who is a member at such a church, would not think they were being spiritually abused by such a pastor/priest – even though the decision was totally that one man’s decision.

    Meanwhile, in an evangelical church, a similar situation may exist, except instead of communion the pastor is asking someone to step down from a position of service or leadership – again, it is assumed the person is told why this decision is being made, and the repentance needed to bring a restoration. The same principle applies it seems. The pastor seeking what is best for the person, for the entire church, and what is honoring to the Lord.

    Yet, I think we are far, FAR more likely to see in the second example that person leave the church, move on down the street, and possibly claim what a controlling, power-hungry bully the pastor happens to be.

  84. Gary says:

    It’s hard for me to imagine. Seems like a good pastor would attract good leaders. A good pastor would work through the other’s problem to a resolution. Only when Matthew 18 was followed would he be forced to ask -or tell- the leader to resign.

  85. covered says:

    Steve that’s an interesting twist. As a pastor, I don’t feel that it’s appropriate for me to withhold communion. There comes a point where each person receiving communion needs to make that decision of judging himself as to whether or not his heart is right.

    I believe that none of us has the right to assume the role of the Holy Spirit. This is just an area where I trust that the Holy Spirit will convict if necessary.

    As Gary said @ 73, a pastor has the responsibility to educate the church about what is an “unworthy manner” etc. We always take communion as a family, together, and we always take time to seek God prior to taking communion. Hopefully it’s in this period of time that people realize “I need to repent” or “I need to abstain from taking communion”. In any case, I think it’s abusive when a pastor takes the role of the Holy Spirit on himself.

  86. Q says:

    Gary one of my comments from 1:42 pm today is still in moderation.

    If it is posted now it’s already buried (suppressed).

  87. Gary says:

    Like in the case of David Hocking. If CC hadn’t intervened he would’ve sat under church discipline for a season as his church decreed. Then he would’ve been restored in due time. Chuck made a boo boo.

  88. Lutheran says:

    What Michael said in #80.

    I’ve never seen it happen at my church. I doubt it happens much.

    The thing is, a pastor/priest plays a different role in a sacramental church than in a low-church evangelical setting. We believe the pastor stands in an office — it’s called the Office of the Holy Ministry in the LCMS (I assume the ELCA and Anglicans do something similar, but I don’t know for sure).

    In that office, the pastor stands in Christ’s stead. So when the pastor pronounces forgiveness of sins to parishoners, he is standing in Christ’s stead. He has zero “power” or authority in and of himself. He’s saint and sinner just like everyone else. It’s a derived authority. Think of a cop directing traffic. He’s not Superman. But his power and authority derives from the office (that of cop) when he’s directing traffic.

    If a pastor denied someone communion, no, I don’t think that’s abuse. If he did it “out of the blue,” let’s say at the communion rail, I think that might be abusive — cloddish and insensitive for sure. If the pastor met with the parishoner, counseled him/her, that, IMHO, is much different.

  89. Michael says:


    This is not a church.
    It’s a blog.
    It’s MY blog, not yours.
    I can post everything, nothing, or something in between.
    Last night I gave you the opportunity to think about why your comment was objectionable.
    You didn’t receive what I was saying so I moderated you.
    You are going to be “suppressed” if all you want to do is take shots at another member of the community.
    You can learn to play well with others or you can not be here at all.

  90. Q says:

    Yes, this is blog abuse, control of information.
    Typing slowly for Gary.

  91. Michael says:


    In my opinion, that was bigger than a boo boo.
    It was usurping the authority of a local group of elders who were already devastated by the sin of pastor and the responsibility they had to undertake in discipline.

  92. Steve Wright says:

    But his power and authority derives from the office
    Thank you for the contribution, Lutheran. I assume the denial of communion is very rare – but then again, asking someone to step down from a ministry role is very rare too.

    I like what you wrote there above (that I copied) – isn’t that true of a pastor in the general sense? There is an authority and power that comes from the office?

  93. Michael says:


    Read my #89
    You have no rights here other than to be treated with the same respect you give to the rest of the community.
    You are choosing to be disrespectful, you won’t be posted.

  94. Q says:

    “I can post everything, nothing, or something in between.”

    But when the news does this they misrepresent people. Things are not in context or in sequence, that can misrepresent people.

  95. Gary says:

    I just looked and I didn’t see anything new up there. Maybe you can restate what you said earlier in an unmoderatedable way.

    Yes. I was being a simp. Hocking was proud and shortsighted. He would’ve been restored. He would have his church today. and have more friends than Israel. 😉

  96. Q says:

    People go at it all the time here, I think there is more to it. I could copy and paste lots of stuff from here to prove it.

  97. Michael says:


    This isn’t the news.
    Or a church.
    It’s a blog.
    You have one post moderated that was an attack on someone else.
    It’s not getting posted.
    Start a blog and post it yourself.
    This thread has now become all about Q…and it ends now.
    If you have something of value to the topic at hand I’ll post it if I’m awake.
    If I’m not… 🙂

  98. erunner says:

    Q, You were so awesome on Star Trek the Next Generation. It’s clear you’ve lost your powers. 🙂

  99. Gary says:

    You gotta play by the owner’s rules. Now c’mon. Play. I’m waiting.

  100. Gary says:

    lol mon Capitan.

  101. Q says:

    Sure Gary – Babylons Dread said something about the way abuse is being stated Paul and Jesus could be accused of abuse.

    And I said no,

    Jesus was the most reasonable person that ever walked the earth and Paul after conversion was maybe second.

    Should this be moderated?

  102. Q says:

    erunner, not lost, moderated. 🙂

  103. Lutheran says:

    isn’t that true of a pastor in the general sense? There is an authority and power that comes from the office?


    Well, sure. I see it as a 2-way street, however. The pastor doesn’t get to act any way he wants and treat parishoners any old way. Anything that erodes trust, IMHO, either way, is not the way it should be.

    Do you have the authority to forgive sins? That and other functions of the Office of the Holy Ministry are spelled out in our Confessions and taught diligently in our seminaries. My experience has been that these definitions make a big difference in terms of a pastor and congregations functioning well together. The pastor doesn’t have to continually reinvent his role.

  104. Xenia says:

    In my parish, people get temporarily banned from communion all the time. If they didn’t keep the fast from midnight, if they are not Orthodox, if they haven’t been to confession in the past 24 hours, if something came up during confession that the priest felt needed to be addressed more extensively- these are all common reasons. At my parish on any given Sunday probably half the congregation does not receive, for one reason or the other.

  105. Michael says:


    I missed one.
    I don’t have the time (or desire) to sit in front of the computer and moderate every comment 24/7.
    No grand conspiracy, I just got busy.

  106. Q says:

    Just so anyone who cares knows: Michael has let every comment recently through moderation, just one he didn’t, I think he missed it and I may have stated it better before, also sequence can make a difference.

  107. Gary says:

    Not as you stated here (obviously since your post wasn’t moderated) and I agree but it looks like B D was setting up a hypothetical since we all know Jesus wasn’t abusive. By the way- without saying who, I get p.o.’d by what some people say. I just let it go. Ya can’t let some people’s apparent attitude get to you. Don’t make their problem your problem.

  108. Gary says:

    I understand about sequins. Ok, enough snark. *supresses snark*

  109. Q says:

    Gary are you decorating your Levi’s? 🙂

  110. Gary says:

    How do you know about which posts get moderated? How would anyone know that?

  111. Gary says:

    I used to but I’m out of sequins. I ran out in 1973.

  112. Q says:

    Challenge Steve and you will find out. 🙂

    There is a notice above your post that ‘your comment is awaiting moderation’.

  113. Gary says:

    What should I challenge him on? How many Baptists can dance on the head of a pin? (That otta stump him!)

  114. Gary says:

    Maybe there’ll be a notice that my comment is too religious.

  115. Covered,
    I need to ask about your statement that you don;t think it is your role to withhold communion.

    If indeed taking communion in an unworthy manner does actually lead to sickness or death, you don’t feel any role in preventing a person from bringing that upon themselves?

  116. Q says:

    No one else would know unless told.

    It happens in the church all the time, hence this thread.

  117. Gary says:

    I know Michael likes Steve. I try not to be too jealous. Did Steve do something to hurt you?

  118. Gary says:

    I don’t get it. What do you mean?

  119. Q says:


    # 121 asked and answered.

    #122 only the person being moderated can see it.
    Michael tells you when he has done it, he say things like they have to play somewhere else, just not always that nice..

  120. Steve Wright says:

    Well, sure. I see it as a 2-way street, however. The pastor doesn’t get to act any way he wants and treat parishoners any old way. Anything that erodes trust, IMHO, either way, is not the way it should be.
    Well that certainly is something all should be able to agree on. 🙂

  121. Gary says:

    While I may or may not agree with you, I disagree that it’s something all will agree on. But we can agree to disagree. I hope that doesn’t make us oxy morons. Uh-oh. getting tired.

  122. Gary says:

    I may be in the Twilight zone but the post where you mention #121 and #122 is post #119 on my screen.

  123. London says:

    Really Gary, you don’t get it?
    Let me spell it out…sometimes people say they will stay away for the benefit of the group but really they just keep ousting using other names thinking they are being clever enough no one will figure it out.

    Never works.

  124. Gary says:

    What I didn’t get was about it happening in church. I need a new synapse or 2.

  125. Gary says:

    Do you mean it never works cuz the moderator has a way of knowing or cuz they show their hand?

  126. Gary says:

    I miss the old wbs chatrooms.

  127. Q says:

    Gary, the numbers must be off because of mine in moderation that were not let through, but there is nothing in them that is directed to anyone or is hurtful to anyone.

  128. Steve Wright says:

    Gary, here’s the thing. In the past, I believe before you started posting here, there have been some who never acknowledge a pastor having the right to tell someone ‘No’ – even when I used rather obvious examples of improper church behavior, there was the idea that saying ‘No’ without first having some all-out church debate with formal voting was being an abusive, power-hungry pastor.

    Now of course, it is possible such posters simply never acknowledge that I (or others in my particular tribe) have the right to say no. 😉

    But it is hard to imagine too many things more serious for one’s walk with the Lord than to have the pastor/priest tell someone they can’t take communion today. But yet it happens, and the Christians that are members at such churches don’t seem to find it abusive at all.

    Look, if someone asks me, the pastor, if they can use the sanctuary for a teenage fashion show next month, I’m not going to pass the buck to someone else and make them say ‘No’ (while making it seem like I was all for it), and I’m not going to call a formal Sunday night meeting of the church to discuss the pros and cons and then have a vote. I’m going to say, kindly, ‘No’ we don’t use the sanctuary for such things and explain some reasons why – and then I am likely to have this person who for weeks and weeks before was gushing how this was the best church they had ever been to just take off, nose out of joint, to move on to the next church – all because they were told ‘No’

    Such Christians tend to not gravitate to Lutheran, Orthodox, Anglican churches – but they are everywhere in American evangelicalism.

  129. Q says:

    Well they are directed but not in a negative way, if Michael releases them you will see.

    And I only post as Q

  130. Lutheran says:


    Lutherans aren’t very spiritual.

  131. Lutheran says:

    Such Christians tend to not gravitate to Lutheran, Orthodox, Anglican churches – but they are everywhere in American evangelicalism.

    Steve, not sure what you’re basing this opinion/judgment on except maybe your own thoughts and imagination. But in the real world, if someone came to our church with the teenage fashion show request, our pastor would have no problem saying “No” on the spot.

  132. Gary says:

    Attitude is everything.

  133. Steve Wright says:

    Lutheran, my point was that I doubt such requests come to your pastor – and even if they did, I doubt that when they were told ‘No’ that they would split to find another church.

    My ‘such Christians’ was not a comment about the PASTORS at such churches, but about (some) of the people that attend…..

  134. Gary says:

    You should get more letters. Omnipotent beings always get the best letters.

  135. Gary says:

    I suppose those who have been abused need a lot of time to heal. If I was a pastor-which-I-am-not and someone came asking to use the sanctuary for a dance I would take an hour to splain what Christianity is. I know you used a ridiculously ridiculous example. Just saying.

  136. Gary says:

    A priest or pastor telling someone they can’t partake of communion is outside my frame of reference, which is a trapezoid, so I can’t comment. Dng compter is acting up aga.

  137. Lutheran says:

    Such Christians tend to not gravitate to Lutheran, Orthodox, Anglican churches – but they are everywhere in American evangelicalism.


    Still not getting it. Why wouldn’t a Lutheran/Anglican pastor get the fashion show request?

    And is your point that your type of church gets people who leave when they’re told No to a request? That seems to be what you’re saying, or are you saying that a Lutheran, etc. pastor couldn’t make a decision on the spot without a committee meeting. The latter is more how it came across to me.

  138. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    Having lurked for a year or so here I wanted to add some things about spiritual abuse and how regulars and some guests seem to have discussed it.

    Way up at the start the Crabb definition of spiritual abuse seemed solid. It also seemed that parents can be guilty of spiritual abuse as readily or more than official clergy. If a person grew up with parents prone to prooftext, pull rank, and do other things to get their way then they may not recognize when these kinds of things happen in other settings (like a church).

    But last year when some debate flared up about how abuse gets defined I noticed there might be a generational divide. Older/traditional folks may have a definition of abuse that is, for want of a better term, basically physical. The refuge/Drury continuum seems to have a definition that includes spiritual abuse that doesn’t involve physical force but instead consists of emotional or social coercion. Now the thing I learned reading Baumeister and some other social psychologists on abuse is that emotional abuse is considered difficult to define because it hinges on relational contexts and because without physical violence or sexual assault criminal liability is often impossible. This doesn’t mean people aren’t verbally or emotionally abusive but it means that defining what abuse even is depends on a variety of contexts.

    This can be why for some abuse is a word that is, well, abused. I would go so far as to suggest that in some cases people who have grown up in emotionally manipulative settings where the Bible is just proof-texted without serious exegesis and people with authority pull rank and view themselves as having no obligation to regard those under their authority that it becomes more difficult for people who grew up with that to suss out spiritually abusive dynamics because that’s what they grew up being used to.

    Something that I’ve seen happen is that a church leader can declare that the activities of X are emotionally and spiritually abusive while the church leader, guilty of the same approach, does not see his own weakness in the same things. It can be a variation of the “I am firm/you are obstinate” situation.

    To attempt to frame this in terms secular associates and unbelieving friends can appreciate, spiritual abuse can be considered a subset of emotional abuse.

    So those are some ideas shared for consideration. It’s getting late for me and I’m not running on all cylinders but I figured I’d better trying sharing this now for sake of discussion than later in the week.

  139. Michael says:


    Good stuff…thank you!

  140. Gary says:

    There are definitely different types of spiritual abuse. The most insidious covert being the worst.

  141. brian says:

    Spiritual abuse was often a thought I struggled with, I have often started with the premise that “I had, have, and will always have it coming.” It makes life interesting, well actually sad. It even leads one to think if one is not being punished he should go out and try to find a way to be punished. This is not a healthy way to view life, there is this “church”, it is not really Christian thought they incorporate much of scripture into their spirituality but it is definitely outside the historic Christian religion, a place I have been standing for some time. I have been teetering on this decision for quite sometime. This group does not require me to relinquish any of the “distinctives” that are part of the Christian faith. The lady who runs the place basically said, you dont have to join, just come be a part and find some rest. I almost broke down crying when that was said but did not.

    I hope to rejoin a orthodox Christian community of the protestant type soon but needed to be around human beings in the real world.

  142. Gary says:

    So in our report we should include as spiritual abuse
    emotional spiritual abuse
    physical spiritual abuse
    sexual spiritual abuse
    What else?

  143. Gary says:

    What type of orthodox protestant churches are there?

  144. Steve Wright says:

    I know you used a ridiculously ridiculous example. Just saying.
    Nope, true story.

    This was a couple and hardly an example of abused believers. They both were very extroverted, eager to plug in and start serving, friendly to others, very generous with their praise about all the CCs they had attended but how ours was so different and special. He was a Bible college graduate from somewhere. They both showed a lot of knowledge about Scripture. They were both in their 40s-50s

    And then someone (me) told her ‘No’ – and they disappeared. I reached out to him after I realized I had not seen them for a couple weeks, expressed my concern. Was given a polite ‘thanks for thinking of us’ and that was it.

    You see, I agree 100% that the pastor needs to be kind, have the right attitude, explain things clearly and so forth – but I am telling you, there are some people who will not accept a ‘No’ in this world. And in the freemarket religion we speak of (especially where I am located) there are dozens and dozens of alternatives within a few miles radius.

    I share the occasional anecdote to remind the non-pastors of some of the things that pastors deal with. Some day I’ll tell you about the girl who asked to sing in the praise band the 2nd visit to the church and when I lovingly explained we like people to just come and worship and get to know the place for six months before even thinking about serving, she ran crying into the womens bathroom for almost an hour.

    Sometimes, the pastor is not even remotely at fault. And yet some refuse to think that is even possible. If only the pastor had been more loving, understanding, explained better etc.

    But that goes with the responsibility of the office.

  145. Gary says:

    Well shut my mouth and post a ‘vacant’ sign. I never wouldda thunkt it. I feel sorry for that girl. Every 28 daze I do.

  146. Steve Wright says:

    or are you saying that a Lutheran, etc. pastor couldn’t make a decision on the spot without a committee meeting. The latter is more how it came across to me.
    Not at all, Lutheran. Not at all.

    I was basically agreeing with many of the criticisms I have heard you express about modern evangelicalism over the last five years. But apparently doing so very poorly. 🙂

    I’ll ask you your opinion on this though. How often do you think a Lutheran pastor is asked to set up a table for a political petition to be signed there at the Sunday service on the patio…versus how often your average independent evangelical pastor is asked the same thing. My guess is it would be less for you guys, but I am just guessing.

  147. brian says:

    I wont know that for some time to be honest.

  148. Gary says:

    I need some zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz bye

  149. covered says:

    I need to ask about your statement that you don;t think it is your role to withhold communion.

    If indeed taking communion in an unworthy manner does actually lead to sickness or death, you don’t feel any role in preventing a person from bringing that upon themselves?”

    MLD, I can see that I do need to clarify the above statement. Let me say that in the context that Paul teaches that the folks were making a mockery of taking communion, of course I would stop that immediately. I have never seen anyone abuse communion as Paul describes this in 1 Co. eleven.

    If I was aware of habitual sin in someone’s life or even unrepentant sin that would also be a reason that I would withhold communion.

    If you go back and read my post, I believe that I have a responsibility to teach why, how and who should take communion. I cannot however become the spiritual police and decide who is worthy unless I am aware of sin. When Paul says “But let a man examine himself, and so let him heat the bread and drink of the cup”, it is my belief that at this point, the Word says that each man/woman is to examine themselves. This is where I feel that it is now between the individual and God. Again, I do not take communion lightly and yet it would be a form of abuse if I took the role of the Holy Spirit and “examined” in the sense that Paul writes.

    MLD, keep in mind that I also posted about a pastor who thought Jesus said “beat the sheep” instead of “feed the sheep”. He was abusive and I saw him withhold communion because he didn’t approve of behavior from family members or spouses. This was in mind when I posted my original “unworthy manner” comment. His actions were (are) a form of abuse.

  150. London says:

    I think your 145 is inappropriate.

  151. brian says:

    I had one long diatribe which is useless and pathetic, it has been a long few months I spend many hours in writing letters, making phone calls, going to meetings where the services I provide are called, unnecessary, useless, waist of money, Cadillac programs etc. It is discouraging and I admit it should not be but to think as one’s work as useless or even worse. We did gain some ground, we convinced officials what we are not pond scum tax sucking hanger on’s and we actually do provide a service. That is a big victory, having sat through man y meetings where legislators sought to cut funding to aides that provide day to day services and make maybe 10$ and hour as way over the top. I mean these folks give baths, help with personal hygiene issues and so on as way to expensive, try getting a full colostomy bag across the side of the head a few times and tell me that is to much to pay.

    I could go into alot of stories which are anecdotal and are outside of the logical passionless apologetic, which makes them utterly useless. So I don’t share them, they have no meaning but they have shown me the true gospel. Parents taking out loans to keep us open, volunteering to help, community members staying this is important. My opinion God may be sovereign but He sure does miss the strike zone so many times sovereign often appears to be random. We are a species that seeks order to maintain continuity, I could go on with the clap trap. All I ever wanted to do was provide a safe place for the people I work with. I want to see them become independent, I even dream of putting us out of business so that our culture will provide those opportunities. It does in many ways. I am happy I went down the road I did, I find joy in what I did, but in evangelical understanding as I have seen it, I hate those things I love.

    An honest expression all I ever wanted was to serve, and I have come to understand I should loath the very second I made that hope.

  152. Linnea says:

    After reading through the thread, it occurred to me that our perceptions of how we’re treated are based on many things, the most foundational of which is the relationship with the person.

    We come to Christ when we accept God’s assessment of our condition, confess, and ask for for a relationship with Him. We accept a friend’s exhortation more readily when we know the friend loves us and has our best interests in mind.

    Recently, I had a tough conversation at work with someone I’ve known since I was 22. He made some observations that stung, but because of my long-standing relationship with him, I received them and knew that he had my best interests in mind.

    Now, how this translates to a church or a blog is interesting. Many churches are so large that it is unreasonable for a pastor to have a substantive relationship with his parishioners. This blog, too, though not a church, is large and disparate and many have never met face to face. It’s easier to be short or to not cut slack for one another when there is not a face to face, ongoing relationship. And that relationship only comes with time, work and love.

    That said, I think it’s time for another E-Fest! I’ll come this time 🙂

  153. mike says:

    Well now, let’s just see if this gets thru the ‘moderation’ filter shall we?

    Definition of Spiritual Abuse? I’d have to say…

    The Moses Model of Church leadership would be a good definition of Spiritual abuse on a local church wide basis. Yuppers !! And it’s funny how much some are perhaps subconsciously affected by it and function by it’s presuppositions of Pastoral Authority long after they’ve ‘unplugged from the Matrix’ of whatever system they come from.

    ** Warning: Please retract any feet or hands outside the vehicle for safety… Wouldn’t want to step on any toes out there **

    Another funny thing is that ‘Chief Shepherd’ or senior Pastor (or any of it’s possible permutated equivalents) is only used ONCE in the NT… and it’s of Jesus Christ in 1 Peter 5 where Peter warns the Elders (plural here) of the Church (singular here… get the point?) not to Lord it over God’s Flock (not their flock, but God’s and Jesus’ as the Chief Shepherd or Archepoimen).

    There are no Senior Pastors or Head Honchos, one man, over the local church envisioned, described or taught in the NT. Shepherding or Pastoring is a ‘function’ not a Title or an Office. Elders (plural) are what the NT teaches and there is no one ‘head elder’ or Senior Pastor.

    CCSPC is like an Amway Distributorship Meeting where you come to get hyped up to ‘sell, sell, sell’ and the Big Whigs ‘upstream’ come to bolster the Small Whigs ‘downstream’ to grow their ‘ministries’ by getting as many as they possibly can under their ‘Pastoral Authority’

    CC’s, like most other churches nowadays, are really just ‘Franchise Businesses’ under ‘Spiritual’ CEO’s with God (or Moses) complexes.

    The Moses Model creates ‘another mediator’ between God, Jesus, and man. it is therefore Anti-Christian because it seeks to put man back under other men instead of leading them simply to follow Jesus.

  154. Josh Hamrick says:

    mIKE, so…since Calvary Chapel is not big in my neck of the woods, North Carolina, I don’t have to worry about spiritual abuse.

    Whew, that’s good to know.

  155. Mike,
    “CC’s, like most other churches nowadays…”

    Can you elaborate on just how many of these churches you have been to (actual experience) to know how “most churches” operate?

    I have been a Christian 32 yrs and at most have probably been to less than 20 different church buildings for every and all occasions.

    I always wanted to meet a guy who has experience with “most churches” – help me out buddy..

  156. Andrew says:

    “CC’s, like most other churches nowadays…”

    MLD, maybe I can help you out here. My previous CC church and pastor put any church less than 200 members in the category of a “FAILED” church. So according to this CC pastor, it would not even be considered a church. So according to this CC pastor “most churches” would probably be considered MEGA churches. Its just that my ex CC pastor during is Vision sermon considered less than 200 members a “FAILED” church. Other than this, I think Mike is spot on.

  157. Josh Hamrick says:

    Andrew, would you consider that abusive, or just completely inaccurate?

  158. Lutheran says:


    Dunno about the setting up the political table thing. I guess I agree with your take. I suppose most parishoners would not be dense enough to put their pastor in that sort of situation. Doesn’t mean we don’t have folks with strong political opinions in our ranks. But yes, I think they’d know enough not to put the pastor in that awkward situation.

    Good discussion!

  159. Andrew,
    “I think Mike is spot on.”

    I don’t, Your pastor made a general dumb ass statement. But Mike made a qualitative / comparison statement. My question to Mike was how does he know how most churches operate?

    I would guess he has never been involved with any kind of historical, liturgical church – which is probably 75% of all churches worldwide – so how would he know how they operate.

  160. Andrew says:

    So what is the difference between a dumb ass statement and a qualitative/comparison statement? They are both wrong in my opinion.

  161. Andrew says:

    “Andrew, would you consider that abusive, or just completely inaccurate?”

    The context was in a Vision casting sermon. Taking the entire context into consideration, I do believe that Vision casting in the church is abusive in general.

  162. Josh Hamrick says:

    @ 161 – How can vision casting be abusive?!?!

    Think about that for a moment. It may be bad church practice, poor theology, but abuse?

    I have sat through several “vision casting” sermons. They usually go something like this:

    “we are gonna preach the Gospel, and make disciples, and have awesome music, and have a whole buncha people in our church”

    Shallow, lame…sure. Abusive? No way.

  163. covered says:

    How is vision casting a form of abuse? Just curious.

  164. Andrew says:

    Vision casting puts the congregation in bondage to the pastors vision. Definitely not healthy and creates a reason for church discipline that is not biblical. Biblical reasons for church discipline include teaching heresy and unrepentant sin. But to discipline someone because they aren’t on board with the vision is abusive.

  165. Josh Hamrick says:

    So Andrew, the times I heard vision casting sermons, you are saying I was abused?

  166. covered says:

    “Vision casting puts the congregation in bondage to the pastors vision.”

    At what point does someone decide it’s time to leave? I shared that I wanted the church to get more involved locally in the community last Sunday. I felt that it was important that we reach out more as there is a great need. If someone felt abused because that vision was cast out, then that’s a huge problem.

    I’m not sure that you understand what abuse is. If every thing the pastor does that you don’t like falls into the abuse category, I suggest you find the perfect church. Let us know where that one is.

  167. Andrew says:

    I don’t know your experience but you could have been. I think about Visionforum and its patriachal vision for the world. To me this vision is both abusive to both men and women and does not consider cultural biases. Is a pastor having a vision that all women in the church are to not work good? You mean to tell me you see no abuse in this at all?

  168. Josh Hamrick says:

    Good? No.

    Abusive is a whole different thing though. IF there is something tied in that makes you unable to leave, perhaps. But in most cases, you can ho to the church down the street.

  169. Andrew says:

    “At what point does someone decide it’s time to leave? I shared that I wanted the church to get more involved locally in the community last Sunday. I felt that it was important that we reach out more as there is a great need. If someone felt abused because that vision was cast out, then that’s a huge problem. ”

    So I guess to you only the pastor can make the call what is important and cast his vision as he sees fit. What about the aunt sally down the street that wants the church to get more involved in her nursing home and she constantly gets stonewalled. The problem is when the pastor thinks ONLY he can set priorities and VISION in the church. The church doesn’t revolve around the senior pastor. It revolves around Jesus.

  170. mike says:

    Sorry MLD, I’m not biting on the hook today. Gotta get back to work
    -mike (mic)

  171. Josh Hamrick says:

    Andrew, I do want to make it clear…I am not for overly authoritative pastors, vision casting, or anything like that, I just think the word “abuse” should be saved for severe actions.

  172. Andrew says:

    Josh, Church discipline is severe. And should be reserved for those teaching heresy and those in unrepentant sin, not for those opposing a vision that some pastor got. Consider Mark Driscoll and his pornographic visions. He may discipline some in his churches solely on a vision that he received. This is scarey stuff especially when the pastor thinks his VISION is right from God. To question it is to question God. This is outright abuse.

  173. covered says:

    You see Andrew, here is where the conflict begins. I never once said that as the pastor I am the ONLY one who can share what is on my heart. In fact, I believe with all my heart that one of my roles as pastor is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. When you take a benign statement and twist it into something different, well one could say that you are being abusive. If not abusive at the very least judgmental, accusatory and narrow minded.

    Whether you agree or not, as the pastor I do have a right to share what The Lord puts on my heart. You have a right to not participate or you can go elsewhere but you still haven’t identified a case where sharing a vision is abuse. Like Josh said as long as there is another church to worship in, it’s not abuse.

  174. “Like Josh said as long as there is another church to worship in, it’s not abuse.”

    Actually, this is why I do not buy into the spiritual abuse claims. Pick up and go elsewhere.

    What people look back at as spiritual abuse, they found as attractive structure in the beginning.

    When I find ‘restaurant abuse’ I don’t stay and I don’t try to change them – I find a new restaurant.

  175. Andrew says:

    Covered, I don’t go to your church so I make no judgement of you at all but you have judged me.

    “I’m not sure that you understand what abuse is. If every thing the pastor does that you don’t like falls into the abuse category, I suggest you find the perfect church. Let us know where that one is.”

    I submit to my pastor. I love my pastor and not accusing him of abuse. But Vision casting in general is above a pastor’s pay grade. It belongs to Jesus to cast vision for the church.

  176. Andrew says:

    “Like Josh said as long as there is another church to worship in, it’s not abuse.”
    So basically what you are saying is there is absolutely no abuse anywhere since you can always go somewhere else.

    i’m not buying any of this.

  177. Andrew says:

    Lets go back in time to the Jim Jones cult and those Kool Aid drinkers. I guess no abuse there since they could have gone somewhere else. This is ridiculous!

  178. Many didn’t drink the kool aid and had left Jim Jones. Why did the Kool Aid drinkers stay? They obviously thought there was more reward by staying than loss by leaving.

  179. Josh Hamrick says:

    Now we’re getting somewhere. The Jim Jones situation was obviously abusive.
    1.) People died.
    2.) There came a point where people were detained against their will.

    Both of these points would qualify as abuse even if they happened at a grocery store. That feeds my definition of spiritual abuse.

    Again: Spiritual abuse is abuse (mental, physical, or emotional) that is carried out by someone seen as a spiritual authority.

  180. Josh Hamrick says:

    “Why did the Kool Aid drinkers stay?”:

    In some cases, armed guards.

  181. Andrew says:


    If you wait until there are body guards and dead bodies its too late. The thing with the Jim Jones was that the leader preyed on the weak and vulnerable. People certainly had a choice but they were vulnerable. This is the key to spiritual abuse.

  182. covered says:

    Andrew, according to your #175, are you saying that Jesus doesn’t direct HIS church through the pastor He has equipped and called to pastor that particular church? I’m ok with you and I disagreeing but it sure seems like you have an issue with most things that pastors do.

  183. covered says:

    MLD, did you read my response to a question you had asked at #149? I didn’t want you to think that I blew you off.

  184. Andrew says:

    Covered. I repeat I love my pastor and appreciate pastors in general. However, I don’t think vision casting in the church is from God. Please don’t confuse directing and leading with Vision casting. They are not the same and I never said they were.

  185. Josh Hamrick says:

    @ 181 – you definitely make a good point, but how far do you take it? Jim Jones wore a suit. Do other pastors wearing suits make them abusive?

    I think you could say some of these things are signs that might lead to an abusive situation, but not abuse in and of itself.

  186. Andrew says:


    The mayor of San Francisco was part of the Jim Jones People’s church. Wearing a suit or tie makes no difference but devout unquestioned following of a charismatic leader was the issue. I say, be a Berean and study the Word of God for yourself. Where in the scripture does it instruct a pastor to cast a VISION? It doesn’t and this is huge potential for abuse. I’m sure Jim Jones had a vision that he cast and there were those that followed his vision and those that did not. Scarey stuff.

  187. Michael says:

    I have a ‘vision” for our church.
    It’s going to stay very small.
    I’m not interested in and indeed am opposed to growth.
    Our focus is on discipleship.
    We teach verse by verse and interaction during the teaching is expected and welcome.
    We have the Lords Supper every week without fail.
    We pray together as a family every week without fail.
    Those are “non negotiables” for me.
    That’s my vision.
    Is that abusive?

  188. Michael says:

    Every elder led church I’m aware of has one elder who is first among equals.
    John MacArthurs church is elder led…but I suspect that he has more weight in his pronouncements than the rest of the boys.

  189. Andrew says:

    “That’s my vision.
    Is that abusive?”

    Michael, I don’t know. I am just curious how your particular vision corresponds to the “Great Commission”. Some have said that the Great Commission is part of Jesus’ vision for the church in general. I do believe the Great Commission is binding on every pastor. So this is my only question to you. Don’t mean to pick a fight with anyone. I just don’t like the term VISION. It has some kind of implications that the pastor received it directly from the Lord.

  190. Steve Wright says:

    I have two friends who were lifelong little league coaches – until they finally quit. They coached even back when I used to play. They usually coached together, but sometimes coached different teams. Loved baseball, loved serving and teaching kids how to play the game.

    Great guys, but things had gotten so bad that they could not tell a kid who was screwing around in practice to run a punishment lap without that kid running home to Mommy and Mommy calling the administrative board to try and get the guys fired for child abuse. I am not exaggerating.

    The point obviously being that when one defines down something that is serious, then the true serious issues tend to get ignored.

    See it with people yelling racist for no legitimate reason, even though there is certainly still racism in this country.

    And as an insurance guy I saw it all the time with false claims of harassment, discrimination and such being brought against employers because the employee was a flake.

  191. Q says:


    I believe you are correct about first among equals, but could John MacArthur by fired, pretty sure yes, bylaws have room for it.

  192. Michael says:


    I see it at Trey’s martial arts classes.
    The instructor is a hardass…and he does get his toes on the line sometimes, but you knew what you were getting when you signed up.
    Sure enough though, when someone gets their feelings bent the cries of ‘abuse” can be heard from then parking lot.

  193. Andrew says:


    I see your point. Spiritual abuse is a bit different from all other types of abuse. I believe it involves the demonic sphere of influence since it is spiritual in scope and nature. We will never get to the bottom of this in a blog but I think its sufficient to say that this type of abuse is orchestrated and carried out by the devil himself. This is why I encourage people to be a Berean and study the Word of God for themselves instead of blinding accepting what a charismatic leader says.

  194. Josh Hamrick says:

    “This is why I encourage people to be a Berean and study the Word of God for themselves instead of blinding accepting what a charismatic leader says.”

    And I don’t think anyone here would disagree.

  195. Michael says:


    The Great Commission is to go and make disciples.
    That’s what I’m doing.
    Simply attending a religious lecture does not a disciple make.

  196. Steve Wright says:

    Andrew @193, I likewise see your point as well. About the distinction and the devil himself.

    My only addition would be I think the devil is behind it all – child abuse, spousal abuse, racism, all of it.

    And he probably is behind the false cries of such abuse which result in a muted reaction from our world to the true outrages in which the devil seeks to flourish.

  197. Q says:


    “I’m not interested in and indeed am opposed to growth”

    As you make disciples, you would be teaching them to make disciples and perhaps the fellowship would grow.

  198. Michael says:


    I don’t want the fellowship to grow.
    The kind of teaching I do demands interaction and discussion.
    The type of discipleship we pursue requires that each person in the fellowship is able and expected to interact with both the scriptures we’re engaging and with each other.
    You simply can’t do that in a large group.
    We have other churches we recommend to others that God puts in our circle of influence, but our group has to stay small.

  199. Andrew says:


    I think we need to be open to possibility of growth while we are making disciples.

  200. Michael says:


    Then you wouldn’t want to attend our church. 🙂
    Now, we’re getting somewhere.
    Your concepts are different from mine…that doesn’t mean that I’m abusive, it means that this particular assembly is not for you.
    If you joined and tried to introduce your ideas into our group that wouldn’t be received well.
    Would you graciously move on or would you proclaim me a tyrant?

  201. Andrew says:


    You misunderstood me. I am looking at the global church in general not your particular fellowship. If we make disciples, I can’t imagine that Jesus meant that the church would never grow. Even your own church is an example of some sort of growth from somewhere, would you not agree?

  202. Michael says:


    Of course the church universal will grow.
    However, those folks will assemble with those who share their particular doctrinal and ecclesiastical tastes.
    What I hear a great deal of is people who join an established church and want to take it in a completely different direction and call it abusive when things don’t go their way.
    We even see it here…there’s a sense of entitlement that I have to deal with of people who believe they should be able to say anything they want whenever they want even though they aren’t paying for the cyber space or writing the articles or answering the emails.
    They don’t just move on…they want to fight me tooth and nail and if I don’t give in then I’m “abusive”.
    We have cheapened the word to the point that it has little moral authority behind it.

  203. Lutheran says:

    A lot of the growth at my Lutheran church has come from commonly shared life events. For example, one young lady who was raised Catholic joined because her future husband was a lifelong member of our church. Now she’s a member. If they have kids, they’ll increase our membership rolls. Another family joined because the husband’s brother invited them to our church. Etc.

    I don’t think growth should be pursued as an end in itself. I once heard someone exegete the Great Commission who said it says, “As you go, make disciples…” Organic.

  204. Fundy Drive-By says:

    covered –

    re: @53 I was there long before you came and I do not recall the pastor ever saying anything about looking into refridgerators and such.
    As to the Twilight issue, I specifically remember you saying to me that you agreed with that discision. I guess you have a habit of telling people what you think they want to hear.

    re: @57 It was one woman who the pastor made an inappropriate comment to. The pastor repentnted to the family and they forgave him. Somehow, someone kept bringing it up. The elders (of which you were one) tried to remove the pastor, but the by-laws have a procedure in them for that. The pastor and the elders met with a group of outside pastors (two chosen by the pastor, and two chosen by the elders). Both sides were heard and the outside pastors did not see that there were grounds for disquaification. If this had been the case, the pastor would have stepped down. Now, a lot of people left the church, and you were right there to scoop them up. But not all of them that left followed you.

    I understand why you said what you did, again, you have a habit of telling people what you think they want to hear. Maybe that is why they followed you. That is what they were looking for all along.

  205. Fundy Drive-By says:

    I post my 204 only because if we are going to discuss abuse, we should be accurate with the facts and understand that there are always two sides (sometimes 3).

  206. Covered,
    Yes I did see your response – thank you

  207. Josh,
    Back to the Jim Jones stuff – that is not spiritual abuse, it’s a criminal matter – call the cops.

    Has anyone here called the cops for the spiritual abuse guys?

  208. Josh Hamrick says:

    @ 207 – MLD, that is my point completely.

    Spiritual abuse is the same as any other abuse except that it is carried out by one whom you accept as a spiritual authority. The people in Jonestown were certainly abused, and since they saw Jones as a spiritual leader, I’m sure damage was done to their spirit as well.

  209. Steve Wright says:

    I once heard someone exegete the Great Commission who said it says, “As you go, make disciples
    Daniel Wallace in his grammar has a few pages (p.640-645) devoted to the Attendant Circumstance Participle with special highlight on that verse and really does a scholarly job (in my opinion) of eliminating that as a proper interpretation.


  210. Steve Wright says:

    I guess I could summarize Wallace. Almost all attendant circumstance participles are aorist and come before the verb (both true in the Matthew verse). When the main verb is an aorist in the indicative mood, you can see both attendant circumstance as well as adverbial uses.

    However, when followed by an aorist in the imperative mood, AND when in narrative literature (both again true for Matthew) the participle is almost always attendant circumstance.

  211. Josh Hamrick says:

    Ehhh, what does Daniel Wallace know?


  212. People need to call the cops.

  213. Steve Wright says:

    More Wallace…

    Matthew uses the aorist participle of that particular verb, followed by an aorist main verb, ten other times in his gospel,

    All ten are clear examples of the attendant circumstance participle.

    So while it is grammatically POSSIBLE this is a lone exception, it sure seems unlikely.

    This is why exegesis is called both science AND an art.

  214. Steve Wright says:

    I should make clear, the first two sentences above @213 were Wallace. The last two were mine. 🙂

  215. Andrew says:

    “Back to the Jim Jones stuff – that is not spiritual abuse, it’s a criminal matter – call the cops”

    Really? And be laughed at when the major of San Francisco buddies up to Jim Jones. Like I said, it wasn’t until it was too late before there was dead bodies. The spiritual manipulation was going on long before the Kool Aid

  216. Michael says:


    Before the mass suicide what would have someone reported to the police?

  217. Read up on it – before the mass suicides the authorities were notified. If you remember, a congressman and his team were over there investigating and were killed.

  218. Michael says:

    The issues that created Jonestown were outside the purview of the law until almost the end.

  219. covered says:

    Fundie Drive By, for the record, if you re-read my #53 you would see that I clearly stated that the refrigerator and movie comment was before my time. It was something that one of your leaders shared with me. As far as twilight goes, you feeling that you need to defend my comments on that post proves my point that any pastor who thinks he has the right to tell people what they can watch on t.v. or the theatre is abusive.

    As far your other comments, you seem to struggle with the facts a bit. That family that you claim to have repented to, they would not agree that there was actual repentance. Furthermore, it was never our intention to remove you, we wanted to get you help because it was evident that there was a problem and you even admitted as much. We had no choice in who heard our side because you ran to the mother ship crying that I was trying to steal your church. Your friends determined that the actions of a pastor within their tribe who struggles with women really wasn’t a problem. In fact one of your idiot friends blurted out, “come on guys admit it don’t we all struggle with this?” We moved on.

    You may want to go back to your records and see that there were more than one women involved in what would be considered inappropriate behavior whether it be hitting on them at a gym, driving alone in a car with a woman, or counseling with a woman alone and the office door closed.

    Finally, this pastor would never have stepped down because of his pride. If ever there is an example of the Moses Model backfiring, it is here with this church. There are many more lies that perhaps should be dealt with if you would like to discuss the facts further, I am available.

  220. Josh Hamrick says:

    My point is that almost every church would share SOME traits with the early Jim Jones stuff. Almost NONE of them will end up in mass suicide. There is wisdom in seeing dangerous traits, or unwise practices, and even in making those things known. However, because these traits exist does not mean that abuse has occurred, or will ever occur.

  221. Andrew says:

    Yep, almost until the very end, law enforcement could do nothing. But in retrospect, we can see the abuse happening long before the group suicide.

  222. Andrew says:

    “However, because these traits exist does not mean that abuse has occurred, or will ever occur.”

    You are right to the extend that it can’t be prosecuted by the law but spiritual abuse is in a different category altogether.

    If it smells like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck and walks like a duck, and behaves like a duck, it mind as well be a duck. Now consider the Moses Model and the simply questioning of charismatic leaders. Make your own application.

  223. Josh Hamrick says:

    @ 222 – So again, at what point does it become abusive? I have no problem questioning a charismatic leader, bur I understand why it is more difficult for others.

  224. Andrew says:

    Josh, You can never prove spiritual abuse in a court room. But you can only see the symptoms and signs of it and sometimes the terrible fruit it produces.

  225. Fundy Drive-By says:

    covered –

    You have me confused with the pastor. I am not, just someone who knows what happened.

    I am not agreeing with you. You said to me that you agreed that those serving needed to step out of ministry if they wanted to continue to watch and read Twilight. Now you say it is abuse. You are an ear tickler and a wolf.

    Funny, you mention other women, but none of them came forward when everything was going on. Seems that would have helped your cause if it were the case.

  226. PP Vet says:

    One point that needs to be made is that what I do on PhxP is not abuse. It is cavil.

    These are very different. 🙂

  227. Josh Hamrick says:

    @ 224 – Well, as long as it means nothing, no one is going to pay attention when it is accused.

  228. covered says:


    You are very naive. Re-read your post @225. There were other women and everyone of the 5 people involved in this process knew it. The fact remains that we did not try to destroy you (or your friend) which is why none of this has come out (it’s called grace). If you are so close to the situation then ask any of the other 4 men who were part of the process.

    Also, when we drove all the way to Visalia, the other leaders who were chosen by the mother ship refused to hear any accusations against the pastor. Their position was and I quote, ” have you ever heard of the blue line, if so, you know that we won’t cross it”. So, instead of dealing with a serious problem, they swept it under the rug and re-wrote 20+ year old by-laws which now protect this pastor even more. Again, I am available to enlighten you anytime. Michael knows how to get a hold of me.

  229. Andrew says:

    “Well, as long as it means nothing, no one is going to pay attention when it is accused”.

    Just cause you can’t prove something, doesn’t negate its reality. And thank God there are those in the body of Christ that do pay attention because spiritual abuse is one of the most insidious things I know of. I am all for those sending out the alarm and warning about the affects of structures such as the “Moses Model” that have no place in the church.

  230. Ricky Bobby says:

    Fundy Drive By, Bob Grenier of Calvary Chapel Visalia was supposedly one of the ‘overseers’ doing the investigation.

    And, Chuck Smith Sr. says that Calvary Chapels are all 100% independent (at least that’s what he began saying after he got sued in Idaho for the Calvary Chapel Iglesias Molestations).

    Something doesn’t add up. Why would Bob Grenier of Calvary Chapel Visalia be “investigating” stuff at a Calvary Chapel some 10 hours north of him if Chuck Smith Sr. isn’t a liar?

    What gives you confidence in Bob Grenier’s take on that situation? Do you consider him an honest broker and example of a righteous Calvary Chapel representative and authority in that matter?

  231. Michael says:

    Just for the record…
    Covered isn’t on trial here, nor will he be.
    I allowed the FDB to say his piece and that’s as far as it’s going.
    If he would like to speak to Covered personally, I can facilitate that.
    I’ve met Covered and his wife personally, have had many interactions with privately, and I believe his story.
    I will be away from the computer for a while.

  232. Andrew says:

    In 1978 at Jonestown in Guyana, 913 people committed suicide or were murdered due to the “vision” and leadership of their “Moses”, Jim Jones. Jim Jones clearly considered himself to be the absolute ruler that a cultist would presume that Moses was. Jim Jones began his ministry as a somewhat evangelical clergyman. His religious system, the Peoples’ Temple, revolved around the personality of a man: Jim Jones. After moving his congregation to San Francisco he began to blend his religious system with left wing politics. He gradually exercised increasing power and control over the people, culminating in the tragedy in Jonestown.

    This was Jim Jones “Moses Model” with his vision casting. Please don’t think suicide is the only negative fruit in the Moses Model. If i could send the warning out any louder I would.

  233. Steve Wright says:

    Please don’t think suicide is the only negative fruit in the Moses Model
    Wow. That’s a first even for this website.

  234. Michael says:


    The “Moses Model” is nothing more than a really bad theological construction of a pastor led church.
    There are multiplied thousands of such churches.
    To conflate either a pastor led church or vision casting with Jim Jones and suicide is a preposterous leap that no thinking person would take seriously.
    Now, I think pastor led, independent churches have a greater vulnerability to scoundrels and abuse, but that falls far short of your proposition.

  235. Andrew says:

    Michael, you equate pastor led with Moses Model. Not me. Moses Model deals with the untouchableness of the man in that position. Very dangerous and is personality worship to say the least. This is exactly what happened with Jim Jones.

  236. Michael says:


    Every pastor led model is saying basically the same things about their theology of ministry.
    Personality worship is rampant in many other denominations.
    Gross overstatement of valid concerns renders them invalid to thinking observers.

  237. Andrew says:

    I don’t think there is any gross overstatement of the evils of the “Moses Model”. This is not about a pastor led model this is about a vision casting Moses Model. And yes, more than one denomination has problems with personality worship but I only know of one that has codified the Moses Model into a doctrine and agreed upon in their affiliation. Now of course I don’t believe every one in this denomination/nondenomination actually believes in the Moses Model but never the less it is codified in their distinctives.

  238. Michael says:


    To my knowledge there have been no mass suicides in any CC or Baptist or any of the zillion other pastor led churches, thus gross overstatement.
    The other problem you have is that there are hundreds of people at the church you left who are happy as hell with the leadership they have.
    What do you say to them?

  239. Steve Wright says:

    Michael, your next “Define” column could be “Define: Moses Model” 🙂

  240. Q says:

    “happy as hell”

    How happy is hell?

    Pretty much sums it up.

  241. Andrew says:

    I said Moses Model NOT pastor led. Suicide has been documented recently in a Moses Model church. All you need to look at is Cardelli’s wife. A zillion is a big word especially since there is only about 7 billion people in the word. You ask what about all the happy people well I guess you could say this about all the happy people with Jim Jones. But this does not stop people from speaking out now on abuse blogs something they didn’t have before. I will not discount them all as some here have done.

  242. mike says:

    A pastor with access to ‘the philosophy of ministry of calvary chapel’ and ‘calvary chapel distintives’ should be able to define moses model pretty well. CS even directly draws the comparasin of moses with the senior pastor.
    Also check out larry taylor’s “things I learned from my pastor”

  243. Andrew says:


    “I looked at the The Ministry of An Assisting Pastor
    (Or, More Things I Learned From My Pastor)” by Larry Taylor and I found this:

    “In a situation where something in the church is so completely wrong that the sheep in the body are in spiritual danger, then say nothing to anybody, resign, and move on.”

    All, I can say is WOW! As I stated before, I can not overestimate the serious danger this philosophy/attitude poses to the body.

  244. Y’all are OCD on that Moses Model.

    Mike, you are basically a very dishonest person in addition to being harsh. You get kicked to the curb for disrupting a prayer thread and decide to butt your way back in all the time. No shaking the dust from your sandals, lets just keep being the contentious one there Mike.
    So much fruit to pick from, but all the wrong kind.

  245. Josh Hamrick says:

    You guys do know Larry Taylor has changed his ideas from that book, right?

  246. Oh snap, Josh is right. erunner needs to post the links again.

  247. Andrew says:

    My understanding is that Larry changed his idea but not CS or CC.

  248. Josh Hamrick says:

    Well, Andrew, your understanding is incorrect.

  249. Michael says:

    Mike is a master at getting around moderation.
    He’s banned from the site after the prayer thread incident, but claims it’s because he disagrees with me.
    Like everyone here agrees with me…
    Dishonest man.

  250. Andrew says:

    Josh, Do you mind telling me what I am incorrect in understanding? Can you show me where CS or top official of CC has ever denounced the writings of Larry Taylor. I’m willing to be corrected. Just haven’t seen this.

  251. Michael says:


    To compare Cardelli’s wife to Jonestown is frankly, ridiculous.
    How many CC’s actually run off of the classic “Moses Model”?
    I would say in my experience, less than a quarter.
    Most are some variation of the pastor led model.

  252. Michael says:

    You’re all missing the point.
    The problem isn’t in the type of governmental structure.
    The issue is what kind of accountability is built in to the structure and what recourse people have for grievances.

  253. Andrew says:

    I believe you and certainly hope you are right. That is not my point though.

  254. Michael says:


    Don’t get me wrong…that classic model along with Taylors old manual was a train wreck waiting to happen.
    However, when we expostulate beyond the facts we lose credibility.
    You guys keep shooting at Steve…who has a whole set of bylaws written in for pastoral oversight and accountability.
    Many of these guys do.
    CC is not one mind spread over 1500 churches…there are huge variations from church to church.

  255. Andrew says:

    I like Steve. I am not directing any of my comments specifically to him.

  256. Gary says:

    Good idea to define Moses model. It would invite CC pastors over.

  257. covered says:


    I don’t know how you came up with the idea that the Moses Model is responsible for Mrs. Cardelli suicide. I will be one of the first ones to pin as many wrongs as I can on CC but in this case, the problem was with a unloving husband and other issues that we see over and over with many families. We can’t pin her suicide on CC, CS or anyone but a cruel husband and a fallen world.

  258. Andrew says:


    I see your point. Question for you though is how did a cruel unloving husband with these kinds of problems get away with what he did in the position of “TOUCH NOT GOD’s ANOINTED” for so long? And can you tell me with certainty that Cardell’s wife did not reach out to the leadership in CC for help?

  259. Steve Wright says:

    If not for anti-Calvary Chapel websites on the internet, nobody today would even know about Larry Taylor’s booklet. The folks who desire to be critical of CC are the ones who keep bringing it up in conversation.

    Calvary Chapel Distribution does not even offer it for sale. In fact, the only way someone could even buy this 20 year-old booklet is through a used book seller on Amazon.

  260. covered says:


    Dino obviously had issues if you are familiar with his situation. We can’t assume however that Dino’s issues with his marriage were all connected to the Moses Model (some could make a strong argument though). As we see much too often, pride is taking out many men who were called to minister. When I see one of these guys fall, I thank God that it wasn’t me because the temptation can be brutal. I don’t think it’s a Moses Model or CC thing, I think it’s a flesh and a pride thing.

    As far as Dino’s wife reaching out for help, yes she did. In fact about 1 month before she took her life, she attended a luncheon with my wife and 2 other pastors wives and apparently she did ask for prayer for “personal issues” without further explanation.

    According to the pastor of the church where the luncheon was held, he told me that he was asked to help or counsel to some capacity but that opportunity never materialized according to him. At that luncheon there were 5 senior pastors in attendance. The “men” separated as the hosting pastor went on to share how he was the “senior in tenure” and therefore was willing to be there for all their needs etc…. It was a dog and pony show that sickens me now knowing how this guy thinks so highly of himself.

  261. Steve Wright, how do you explain the fact that many in CC still teach and practice the principles that are taught and communicated in Larry Taylor’s book?

    CC had no choice but to distance themselves from that nonsense when it surfaced outside the Bubble and non-kool-aid-drinking folks saw the glaring cult-like problems with it.

    Why has Larry Taylor’s message persisted in many CC circles? I have personal experience and the testimony from others (as of very recently) who say their particular CC taught and exampled the principles in Larry Taylor’s book and that the methodology and ideology still exists in CC?

    Wouldn’t it be better for you as a medium sized SoCal CC Pastor to take a stand and call out the error in Calvary Chapel’s Taylor book to use your influence to try and get the other CC’s to stop doing it rather than using your influence on here to silence criticism?

  262. Michael says:


    Both manuals are available on some CC websites.
    They haven’t disappeared completely by any stretch of the imagination.

  263. Steve Wright says:

    I stand corrected. I was going by the first 6 pages or so of a google search.

    I do stand by the earlier comment that they are not pushed, or even available, through CC Distribution.

    At some point we need to talk about all churches and movements based on what they are today, and not simply anecdotes from the past. When current events are deserving of criticism, by all means….

    This goes both ways. Somebody will give a scoundrel a free pass for present sins because 20 years ago he led them to the Lord. Meanwhile, others will be critical of 20 year-old teachings that have very little influence (if any) on today.

    Both ways.

  264. Michael says:

    There have only been about a hundred critical comments on this thread alone.
    To say that criticism has been silenced here is simply not true…and I’m very, very, tired of the accusation.
    Here’s the deal…until we learn to take the CC’s and the independent Baptists etc on a church by church basis the problems will get worse.
    The only voice that counts in terms of overall policy in CC is Chuck Smith’s.
    He has refused to budge an inch over the years…and he will be leaving this planet soon.
    We can keep harping on trying to change the institutions and get nowhere or we can start to look at other ways to answer the problem.
    Go look at the Baptist abuse pages…they are full of the same issues but multiplied.
    The SBC hasn’t and won’t change the corporate values of independence.
    Neither will Costa Mesa…and if they did, churches would leave in droves…which leaves us exactly where we started.
    We have to learn new ways to address a very old problem…yelling isn’t getting it done.

  265. Why have Distinctives then? Seems that if it’s such a free-for-all in CC and no one is the same, then why push a set of Distinctives that require a signed agreement administered by the Calvary Chapel Association (formerly CCOF) that gets its power and licensing rights for the name and dove logo owned by CCCM and Chuck Smith?

    Seems it would be really easy to eradicate the Larry Taylor cult-like book from CC by using the Distinctives and signed Affiliation agreement. In my opinion, the lack of making it a priority to file in the trash heap allows it to persist in many CC’s today.

    Similar for other common sense things like making church finances transparent, child abuse protocols (SBC is finally doing something, i think it will take a better lawsuit to get CC to do so since they won’t do it on their own and continue the “We’re not a denomination!” …”We’re a denomination!” charade.

  266. CC is quite a cluster.

    It’s more important for a large Group in CC to eradicate the evil Calvinism than to eradicate Larry Taylor’s cult-like methodologies and ideologies taught and articulated in the book that was published and distributed by Calvary Chapel.

    That’s very telling, IMO.

  267. Michael says:

    The anti-Calvinism faction isn’t getting much traction.
    Brysons workshop drew very few people.

  268. Steve Wright says:

    Why give someone your word, if you word doesn’t mean anything?

    Why believe or trust anything such a person ever says?

    Moving on…..

  269. “The anti-Calvinism faction isn’t getting much traction.
    Brysons workshop drew very few people.”

    Good, that’s good to hear. I think many of the CC guys are decent guys who are smart enough to see through his stuff.

    Steve said, “Why give someone your word, if you word doesn’t mean anything?

    Why believe or trust anything such a person ever says?”

    You have empathy now. Multiply that by a gazillion and you will understand the chip on my shoulder over the betrayal of a pastor/dad and mother who threw me under the bus for “ministry” and who violated the bible rules they professed all my life. When push came to shove, when I followed the bible they taught me, they betrayed me and it still hurts.

  270. Quick question for the group, didn’t Larry Taylor repudiate those books?


  271. Nonnie says:

    Wow, Ricky R. Bobby. As a mother, I am really sorry for what you have gone through. I cannot imagine the pain of that. That is heart breaking.

  272. Michael says:


    Yes…very ashamed of them.

  273. Michael,
    Can we get a link of Larry’s repudiation, make it highly suggested reading for anyone struggling with the unique “history” of The Moses Model?

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