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120 Responses

  1. JD says:

    There is no wisdom, no understanding, and no counsel against the LORD.
    Proverbs 21:30

  2. Duane Arnold says:

    A small tidbit that might get you interested in the theology of Karl Barth…

    https://youtu.be/MLnylZM14w0

  3. bob1 says:

    Thanks, Duane!

    I’ve been reading me some Barth lately. Right now it’s a “Breakfast with Barth” devotional based on various of his writing.

    I’ve been flummoxed at how grace-oriented he was/is. Just amazing.

  4. bob1 says:

    “The world can do anything as well or better than the church. You need not be a Christian to build houses, feed the hungry or heal the sick.

    “There is only one thing the world cannot do.

    “It cannot offer grace.”

    — Rev. Gordon MacDonald in “What’s So Amazing About Grace” by Yancey.

  5. Duane Arnold says:

    A truly wonderful conversation with Rowan Williams (especially the second half)…

    https://youtu.be/gJdbKl-uNCo

    Disclaimer: Rowan is an old friend and was an examiner on my PhD, so I am slightly prejudiced!😁

  6. Steve says:

    Anyone have and opinions regarding Leighton Flowers and soteriology 101 website? He is definitely appealing when you start noticing the problems with Calvinism, but he seems to be also anti Augustine. Is this typical theology for SBC?

  7. Em says:

    JD @2:03 and bob1 @3:40

    AMEN

  8. Michael says:

    My opinion is that Leighton Flowers is a hack theologian.

    There are other options than Calvinism and Arminianism…but you’ll be better off reading Arminius than LF.

  9. Steve says:

    Thanks Michael. LF was definitely refreshing after listening to James White, John Mac, Sproul, Piper but I realized there maybe some issues. Jordan Cooper helped me realize he is kind of semipelagian. But I don’t think I could ever be Lutheran. Is any of Arminius easily accessible?

  10. Josh says:

    Steve, I’ve never met Leighton, but he is a friend of friends. His theology is pretty typical for SBC folks. From all accounts, he’s a good guy and very sincere. My perception is that he’d like to be a heavyweight in the theological world, and he’s just not that. Honestly, that traditional baptist theology that he’s trying systematize, just doesn’t really work systematically. That’s why certain intellectual types veer towards reformed theology. It’s a tighter system. He has gone a long way from Arminius. You’d probably find a lot of disagreement with him, and he’s hard to read. For a good modern theologian, who is readable, from a similar soteriological bend, I’d recommend Roger Olsen.

  11. Michael says:

    I would affirm Olson from the school…

  12. Michael says:

    Jordan Peterson is not a theologian…

    Arminius is not that difficult…and it is important to learn to read theologians from other times…

  13. Josh says:

    Who said something about Jordan Peterson?

    Compared to Flowers? Arminius is rocket science.

  14. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I misread Cooper for Peterson.
    I’m multitasking and doing many things poorly…

  15. Steve says:

    Josh, I’ll be honest, I don’t have the bandwidth or luxury to read a ton. A quick podcast I can listen to before bed is about all I got at this time. Flowers was easily accessible and he made a lot of sense. To me something has been quite off in the reformed camp. It seems to be a cultural thing that seems to breed some arrogance, intolerance and sometimes abuse. I haven’t pin pointed it yet. Our Sunday school class went through the first two DVDs on the Documentary “The American Gospel”: Christ alone and Christ crucified. Flowers did a decent critique of it. The film was out right reformed and Flowers made some decent points that it didn’t have to be to make the points in the documentary. Jordan Cooper seems really well studied and did his own critique of Flowers. But I’m not ready to be a Lutheran. I’ll have to check out Olsen. I’ve heard nothing but decent things from Roger.

  16. Josh says:

    Steve, make sense, and I have no issue with Leighton. The people who know him say he’s the real deal with his faith. I have the same issues with the reformed camp that you do, but even moreso with Lutherans.

  17. Dread says:

    From the Biden HHH,

    “There is no scientifically sound research showing negative impacts from providing gender-affirming care. The decision for the child welfare system to become involved in the lives of families, potentially to the extent of removing children from their families and homes, should be wielded with the utmost care, grounded in evidence, and always prioritizing the well-being of children and preservation of families.”

    This must have brought hellfire as the link has been disconnected but there it was.

    But there are no mean tweets.

  18. London says:

    Devastating images coming out of the parts of Ukraine where the Russian troops have left.
    Pure Evil.

  19. Josh says:

    Why do Trump supporters act like the only bad thing he ever did was tweet out garbage everyday?

  20. Duane Arnold says:

    Dread

    The quote is actually from a research position paper by NCTSN. The paper explicitly states, “This project was funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies, and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.”

  21. bob1 says:

    “Don’t confuse me with the facts — mind’s already made up.”

  22. Dread says:

    Yes here’s the funding statement:
    “This project was funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies, and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.”

    Here’s the doc. https://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources/fact-sheet/gender-affirming-care-is-trauma-informed-care.pdf

    And this — I’m sure it will assuage any concerns. Clearly our health and education authorities can be trusted to do the right thing.

    https://opa.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/2022-03/gender-affirming-care-young-people-march-2022.pdf

  23. Duane Arnold says:

    … And the last document cited has this caveat: “PDF content is undergoing Section 508 review and will be updated pending remediation.” That is, it is under review and is not policy…

  24. filistine says:

    London–truly horrific. I’ve been following developments as closely as I can given our media’s wandering eyes. How are your friends faring?

    I’ve been watching the Discovery Plus documentary series on Hillsong. It’s all of PP’s nightmares rolled into a series. Well documented, well-attested to, balanced as possible considering HS won’t respond to anyone’s questions. ACF & the Courson’s are in the same pattern entirely.

  25. Nathan Priddis says:

    HHS..funding..substance abuse..is not the issue of the day.

    We are in the initial stage of a global conflict. Potentially, more fatalities may result than in the previous two World Wars. Each previous WW has introduced new developments in warfare, previously unanticipated. Respective populations failed to consider developments such as industrialization, mechanical inventions and interconnected global trade.

    Most world populations today, have been oblivious to how, and how much, hydro carbons and metals are required to sustain the current global population. Nor does it sink in that global trade is conducted in dollars. An erosion of dollar dominance would of course be welcomed by potential winners. But the same countries would themselves experience a period of transition. Namely, Russia and China. But authoritarian countries will always survive crisis, if for no other reason than the respective governments do not care about mass deaths. Example; Russia and China.

    Today’s threat is the the invention of the machine gun, submarine or advanced metallurgy. Starvation and poverty threaten the World now.

    Meanwhile back at the American ranch…

    Evangelicalism, and it’s culture warriors are actively undermining a united American culture. Our confrontation with Russia is feeble at best. The loss of Ukraine to Russia would be a massive blow to the US and the entire West.

    The disastrous Rusdian performance aside, Russia should be able to exhaust Ukraine. The Syrian conflict was the template for Ukraine. Urban demolition and population displacement.

    The resulting aftermath will be another disaster for the declining North American Church. Something else would arise on the World stage, but it would not be the Church we have known.

  26. Nathan Priddis says:

    typo..today’s threat is ..NOT..late 1800’s mechanical and industrial developments..

    It’s starvation and poverty. It’s already begun in certain locations.

  27. Em says:

    Nathan
    P. 2Ch.7:14

  28. Dread says:

    Duane

    Are you joining me in sounding the alarm lest these things become policy?

    I’ll add the present policy is damnable enough and POTUS has been clear on his policy here.

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/03/31/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-advances-equality-and-visibility-for-transgender-americans/

  29. Duane Arnold says:

    Dread

    No, just tired of poorly resourced talking points…

  30. Dread says:

    The restoration of those links allowed it to be posted and resourced. I’m not hiding anything and our government is only hiding their intentions behind thinly veiled linguistics. The Biden administration is fully behind the entire trans agenda.

    I would not expect you to join me in concern about this.

  31. Duane Arnold says:

    All being your opinion…

  32. bob1 says:

    Paranoia is heightened awareness.

  33. Josh says:

    Hey Dread, I share concern, but not your outright panic, about the current administration’s pushing of these issues.

    However, at the end of your first post on the subject, you said “But there are no mean tweets.”

    I think we all know what you are saying there, but would like to come out of the closet and be plain spoken about it?

  34. bob1 says:

    Wow.

    Derek’s a one and done here. IMHO.

    Hope it was worth it.

    Shock value? Naw. Nada.

    Consider the source.

  35. Duane Arnold says:

    bob1

    Such things are to be expected. As you say, consider the source.

  36. bob1 says:

    Hatred rears its very ugly head…

  37. Dread says:

    Josh,

    Obviously it means I’m an insurrectionist

  38. Josh says:

    No plain words, just throwing gang signs.

  39. Dread says:

    Haha

    That’s pretty good.

    Ought to tweet it out.

  40. Josh says:

    I’m not on twitter.

    You could just tell me what you meant.

  41. Michael says:

    I’ve tried not thinking about the issue at hand for a long time, even as I have seen the normalization of all things strange and half the country accepting that gladly.

    We all want to be compassionate and understanding of broken people and people unaware that they will be badly broken.

    I do not like spending precious energy on things outside my purview.

    I’ve started paying more attention to what I see and hear…and I share Dread’s concerns, if not his passion.

    All this is going to have a terrible harvest.
    It will probably be past my home going, but it will happen.

    They will still demand my approval soon, but I know my time is short and I will refuse.

    I don’t think anything can change the course of things at this point…perhaps the job of the church will simply be to tend to the first fruits of the destruction.

    Between that which we create and they create, it should keep us busy…

  42. Officerhoppy says:

    So why is disagreeing with the sensitive issue of transgender men and women classified as hate? What can’t people just disagree?

  43. Michael says:

    Because it is now considered hateful to have a tradition view of sexuality by those who have other views…

  44. Josh says:

    There is, of course, more nuance than that.

    But just like our side has people like Dread who panic every time they hear “Trans”, they have a group who panics every time they hear “traditional view of sexuality”.

    Its not the best way to communicate, and won’t help us move forward.

  45. Michael says:

    Josh,

    On this and a fearsome number of other fronts I don’t think there is a way forward yet.
    I get sick thinking about the world T is going to encounter when I’m gone…

  46. Dread says:

    Josh,

    You said you knew what I meant…

    You don’t ever know really what I mean as I do not know what you mean but it at minimum means that those who voted for this got it. POTUS was clear that he would do these things. It means I did not vote for it and was clear about that at the time.

    I am glad you noticed my little ‘jab’ … you double jabbed “out of the closet” “throwing gang signs”

    Welcome to utopia.

  47. Josh says:

    You are correct, something big will have to break before we can begin to pick up the pieces and move forward.
    I do have concerns about the world my kids are inheriting, but in other ways, its a lot better. I’ve done my best to teach them well. Soon my time will come to move to the background and let them take over. They can’t do much worse than we’ve done, really.

  48. Officehoppy says:

    Josh
    Regarding this subject, I am Curious—as a Christian—what “moving forward” look like. Can you be specific?

  49. Michael says:

    Dread,

    We have to move this front from the political to the spiritual.
    I voted against Trump and would do so 10,000 more times…as his ways are as damaging to others as these are to some of our youth .
    There is no hope to be found in the political system…none.

  50. Reuben says:

    Since it’s open blogging, and some of what I have to say is my response to the discussion here…

    Most of you know I have had an entire life of horrible experience with “the church”, being born into it as a pastors kid. Most of you know some years ago I turned into a strident anti-theist, having left behind 12 years of preaching the word myself. Most of you know I have massive struggles with god, and have even asked for prayer for it here. Most of you know I have a mental illness that inhibits my ability to see things in any semblance of conventional thinking.

    What you don’t probably know is I have spent the last few months begging your god to sort this out for me as I dwindle into a mass of defeat and failure.

    My problem with the church has always been that it does not give one single crap about the well being of people in any real sense. Sure it tries to teach people how to think and pray and act… and even vote. But I use this example perpetually with people who try to win me back to the church. I refuse to call a church that has a sound system worth the yearly wages of three people simply serving other people a “ministry”.

    God had spoken to me from the Ukraine these last few weeks via a guy named Joel. He is feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, providing refuge to those that have none. I have always considered this to be “biblical” ministry. The buildings and sound systems and pastor salaries and worship teams of paid professional musicians have never meant Jack squat to me. Not once. I grew up in a mega church before they were called that. Pompous entitled fools, the whole lot, believing they can not be wrong in any circumstance under any condition because “god” is on their side. They can condemn, even “cancel” anyone long before it was cool. They can actually kill people. As I reflect on a “in memorial” Facebook page of a girl who attended my youth group in the early days who committed suicide because I taught her what I was told to teach, that she was inherently wicked… and she killed herself. She left behind a beautiful child. This is not my only first hand casualty. I left the “faith” because of things like this too numerous to mention, and way to bloody for any of you to handle.

    When Michael and others say the church needs to correct within before it can correct outside your pampered walls, I can not agree more. The institution of the church is still in my mind the most destructive entity on this planet throughout history, and that is confirmed in cost of actual billions of lives.

    Ministry is what I am “called to”. I don’t need to preach to do it, I just need to love people, in my case, even more than I love myself. And I hate myself. People need the tangible love and actual ministry, and that is not provided by MURICA church. Not in one blasted bit. Christianity in this nation is a filthy scourge on humanity. It is such because it does not recognize the actual ministry of Christ if it was spelled out for them, and if you believe the Bible to be immutable, it has been. Screw your politics or views on gays, or abortion, or Disney, or Hollywood, or Netflix documentaries, or worship bands, or size of churches…

    For gods sake, just live and serve people, your whole perceived persona would change

  51. Josh says:

    If the Trump fans, and yes Dread has willfully included himself in that, would understand that our country was so desperate to get rid of that embarrassing, hideous man, that we would vote en masse for a lifetime politician who has never done anything and probably wears diapers at this point, maybe they’d see that there are consequences for awful character. Maybe then they’d try to find someone who actually embodies the good things they claim to desire, rather than just the hateful things they pretend not to agree with.

  52. Dan from Georgia says:

    Couldn’t have said it better, Josh (10:25am).

  53. Dread says:

    Josh,

    That was the pound of flesh you really wanted… something to smear and invalidate me with.

    Pretty disingenuous

  54. Josh says:

    Are you even reading what I write? Are you even reading what you write?!?

  55. Josh says:

    Trump is your guy. You can live with mean tweets. You wouldn’t keep throwing your signals if he wasn’t.

    My point is that you are now reaping what you have sown by standing by your man. I would prefer a different way forward.

  56. Dread says:

    Actually Josh,

    I have clearly disavowed him repeatedly here …

    What I favor is…

    Individual civil liberties
    Limited government
    Our constitutional republic

    It means I had to figure out that being a citizen who is patriotic about the exceptional founding principles of this nation does not make me a christian nationalist.

    It means being true to my faith does not mean I have to bow to the public appetite for perversion as a means of hoping my niceness will lead them to faith. I am sorry, the prophets, Jesus and his apostle Paul were disruptive and did not give their imprimatur to demonic philosophies just because they were empowered by the state.

    You goaded me looking for an accusation… what does that make you?

  57. Duane Arnold says:

    “Jesus and his apostle Paul were disruptive and did not give their imprimatur to demonic philosophies just because they were empowered by the state.”

    In fact, they said little about the state. His kingdom was not of this world…

  58. Michael says:

    Sigh…

    Introducing politics into any matter right now is deadly.

    Especially matters of science.

    There are both faith based and scientific reasons to sound the alarm on this…and they should be sufficient.

    The matter will not be solved by politics…it will become one of the issues politicians refuse to solve because it serves the purpose they desire by remaining.

  59. Dread says:

    Duane,

    You must hold a kingdom theology that is purely futuristic because a kingdom that is “in” this world definitely caused the state to seek to destroy the representatives of that kingdom. The actual state felt their presence as an irritant and needed to eliminate them.

    You have to do better than your neoplatonic otherworldliness,

    Any claim of TRUTH you make in this world is a challenge to the powers and they never take it silently.

  60. Josh says:

    Dread, I asked and you gave you a chance to answer, why you flashed the Trump card. You introduced Trump to this conversation, not me or anyone else. You said yourself, you stand with the mean tweets guy. Feel free to better explain yourself if you wish, but mean tweets guy bought you even older, even more feeble guy. You are reaping what you have sown. Is there a better way?

  61. Dread says:

    I hope someone ignores me and engages Rueben who has written a very worthy and important post. I am not a voice in his life but some of you are.

  62. Josh says:

    Jesus was so nice to sinners, he was often accused of being one of them. He didn’t acre, he loved them anyway.

    Was Jesus bowing to the perversion of the age?

    Wew are more concerned with being right than we are concerned with being like Christ.

  63. Michael says:

    Reuben,

    What we see Joel and so many others doing is the heart of the faith…it is the presence of Jesus.

    What we see here is mostly the American civil religion that borrows the terminology of Christianity without the heart.

    It will not change…it will simply recede from view as its leaders age out.

    We can all act here as those in the Ukraine are doing now…this is how the faith will survive.

  64. Dread says:

    Josh,

    Being like Christ means endorsing transgender grooming of children in the public sphere?

    And resisting it means being hateful and unchristlike? Damn me now. I’ll go to hell.

  65. Josh says:

    That’s funny Dread. Have you seen me say either?

  66. Michael says:

    The question on this and so many other fronts isn’t whether to resist, but how.

    Voting is a dead end.

    This gets us back to being a separated nation within a nation displaying the love of Christ and resisting out of love and for the sake of humanity.

    We don’t seem to want to consider that option…

  67. Josh says:

    But, following the thought pattern…I bet in our day the Pharisees would have accused Jesus of being gay. Or maybe they would have accused him of endorsing transgender grooming of children in the public sphere.

    But who cares about the pharisees mean tweets.

  68. Dread says:

    Josh

    I’ve made no accusations.

  69. Josh says:

    I didn’t say that you did.

  70. Duane Arnold says:

    “The actual state felt their presence as an irritant and needed to eliminate them.”

    No, it was because they refused to recognize the religious nature of the state… or rather, they rejected the religious nature of the state. An attitude we should copy…

  71. Dread says:

    Duane

    On that we agree.

  72. Josh says:

    Reuben doesn’t welcome my input, for the most part. I respect that. I was unkind to him during the toughest time in his life.

    My only response to his post is that I certainly sympathize with much of what he is saying. I do so very much hope that God answers his prayers. I’m at a point in my life where I can say with any confidence if he will or won’t.

  73. London says:

    Reuben,
    I see you.

  74. Dread says:

    As usual … when theological debates arise the easy rebuke is to say care about people rather than ideas. How that came to be a necessary either/or eludes me. They are in fact necessary co-laboring realities. It is like saying we need to simply meet the needs of our flesh while our minds are lobotomized. No … ideas destroy lives and/or enrich them. Ideas create genocide and/or human flourishing. Ideas bring beauty and/or sewage. Ideas bond humans and/or bifurcate them. This earth is not zoo where the animals are fed and watered and the pens sanitized. It is a community and we must do both great thinking and great living.

    I can agree that the institutional church has acted monstrously and even genocidally but only if one agrees that the state is even far more demonic… there are two beasts in the earth… the sea monster is undergirded by the land monster. Our faith warns of them over and over.

    Nevertheless anyone who has spent five seconds contemplating reality knows that the kindness, mercy goodness, and generosity of Christ’s actual people is immeasurable… I will always defend the bride knowing that a whore masquerades as her proxy.

  75. Dread says:

    Furthermore, a person can act benevolently and think combatively… and we must

  76. Josh says:

    “when theological debates arise the easy rebuke is to say care about people rather than ideas.”

    I didn’t see anyone saying that.

  77. Josh says:

    Hoppy asked me this way up the thread.
    “Regarding this subject, I am Curious—as a Christian—what “moving forward” look like. Can you be specific?”

    I didn’t mean to ignore the question, but I don’t really have an answer. I’m at a comfused place in my life. I don’t often see Christians acting like Jesus, and I think that should be the goal in every situation. How that works out specifically for this issue, I am not yet sure.

  78. Dread says:

    Josh,

    Nor did I name anyone as saying that but I chose to write it.

    I come here for somewhere to share my thoughts and write them for my own need of clarity and receiving the pushback that inevitably comes.

    I come here for the matter of dealing in ideas… the ministry is person to person

  79. Dread says:

    But I did begin with the words “as usual… ” But I have posted here for many years. And pretty often that concept arises… it seems to me to be embedded in the idea that to speak of ideas is to engage in mere politics.

    Now admittedly my mind has accepted that politics is normal and necessary and should be engaged by all free citizens. Slaves have the useless benefit of not being political. Totalitarians have the luxury of not dealing with citizen politics. Wealth and power seek to live above such pedestrian concerns.

  80. Josh says:

    An interesting take on politics, but I think a different strategy is needed for political engagement. The one Christians have been using for the last 50 years has failed. I haven’t found a good strategy yet.

  81. London says:

    Rueben and Fill,
    I will add more thoughts about Ukraine later but I’m currently trying to DIY repair a leak in my kitchen faucet.
    Not ignoring you guys.

  82. Officerhoppy says:

    Josh
    Thanks. When you have time, give my question more thought. Curious your view of the way forward and the goal

  83. Reuben says:

    Thanks Michael, Josh, and London.

    I really do need prayer. So does Joel.

  84. Dread says:

    Michael @9:19

    It did not escape my notice and I am grateful. My ferocity is unabated — you can take friendly fire standing near me.

    Saying there is no political solution is like saying God does not move among nations. Political solutions have ended slavery, stopped genocides, created civil liberties, brought global prosperity, fostered civilizations that explode creative solutions, demilitarized monstrous powers, birthed our country and many other things

    Political failure is hell on earth and abounds.

    We cannot cause God to love but he does and within the body politic unless we be Deists.

    Anyway thanks for stepping out of the box.

  85. Dread says:

    *to move

    He is love so…

  86. Officerhoppy says:

    I’ve been where Reuben is. It’s dark hole. Anger, feeling abandoned, let down, questioning, doubting, wondering if there is a God and if there is, why does he feel so distant—and all the while, I was pastoring a church and shepherding 400 people!

    I found help in therapy. For two years, once a week, for an hour, I met with a trained counselor. I don’t know if she was a Christian—but I didn’t care. I know what the Bible says…I just needed help getting there.

    Reuben, if you haven’t yet, can I ask you to consider seeing a trained therapist? It too two years for me to climb out of the hole. It will take time—and possibly medication—no shame in that. But sounds to me like it may help you.

    If you’ve started and stopped, start again, maybe with a new counselor.

    I’m still a bit o a whack job—but nit as crazy as I used to be.

    My $ .02–maybe less due to inflation

  87. Duane Arnold says:

    “Be assured that abuses are not done away with by harsh or severe or autocratic measures, but by teaching rather than by commanding, by persuasion rather than by threats. This is the way to deal with the people in general, reserving severity for the sins of the few. If we make threats, let it be done sorrowfully, in the words of Scripture, and in terms of the world to come. In this way, it is not we who are feared because of our power, but God, because of our words.”

    Augustine

  88. Josh says:

    I think when Michael or I say there is no political solution, what we mean is that when we look at the horizon of the US political landscape we don’t see any figure or party that offers hope. If someone with great ideas and a heart to unite the nation came along, we would probably change our minds. Stating platitudes is easy. This is what I believe, therefore this is right for everyone! Meanwhile, the opposition is saying the same thing about the opposite side of the issue. For our political system to work, and it hasn’t in decades, there has to be compromise. It is, here’s what I believe, here’s what you believe, now what’s the best solution for all involved. I see no one pointing in that direction, just further entrenchment on their own causes.

  89. Reuben says:

    Hoppy, I have a wonderful therapist. Not a Christian. She is my 3rd, because the last two simply thought sitting there and listening would solve all my problems. One of those two former therapists was a Christian, his only advice was to get my crap straight with Jesus. I am on a whole pile of medications, some of which I would fear to admit to taking because google would describe me as a complete nut case. Such as Lamotrigine… Ativan… Venlafaxine… which I hear is being banned in some countries

    I am seeing my therapist today. She is also an EMDR specialist, and I am considering that option.

    Therapy with this therapist has been the most effective solution yet.

    I appreciate your input Hopps, because I do believe you “get it”. I have preached to thousands things I did not even believe anymore, and it made me hate myself, as in can’t sleep at night type hatred.

    I understand the Bipolar Disorder will not go away, but meds are helping with evening out the radical swings and stages of being completely out of my own control.

    I just want god to give me a sign, the only one I have had in 13 years is Joel Sterling Brown. A man who is doing precisely what I always knew was actual ministry. I would rather spend weeks fixing people’s plumbing so they have clean and hot running water, or deliver groceries to the poor, or clothe them, or give them a place to stay,, or provide them with the ability to wash their clothes than preach one more damned word. This is what would change Christianity in my mind. The probability of that change happening in this nation, nil, zip, nada, zero. Church has new subwoofers to buy… but they can’t be bothered with actual ministry.

    A week ago, Michael bought me two books. Not the first time he has done that either. I am on the first of the two, and it has ripped my brain apart in understanding all of soteriology. That’s ministry.

  90. Dan from Georgia says:

    Reuben,

    Lamotrigine, Venlafaxine, and Abilify are in my arsenal. I have a life-long case of disthymia (low-grade depression). I have had both Christian-focused and secular counseling. After a near-debacle of a counseling situation with a believer that I was fortunate enough to bail out of before it got REALLY bad, I don’t take seriously anymore those who say Christians should steer clear of secular counselors. I had one good Christian counselor who actually “got it” and didn’t buy into the “read your Bible more/pray harder” BS, but those are hard to find. The last Christian-based counselor I had tried to get me to believe that all I needed was a sincere prayer to overcome my addiction.

    Wow. Gee…I NEVER THOUGHT OF DOING THAT BEFORE!

    My current counselor is my tops mainly because he treats me like a person! Like a human being and not a project.

  91. Reuben says:

    Dan… I can’t even tell you how many times the “word, prayer, fellowship” solution has been shoved down my throat. It has been the mantra of way way too many people, who with a high statistical probability suffer from extreme depression themselves. The value of “church” has been elevated to the level of divine. Like walking through the door causes instant healing, and that in itself is an abuse.

  92. Officerhoppy says:

    Rueben and Dan
    I have struggled with depression for 30 years. I came out of a ministry that taught the solution, as Dan said, was to fast, pray and”seek” the Lord. All that did was make me feel like a crappy Christian who couldn’t even do that right. Then I went to a doctor who was a believer who diagnosed me with depression and prescribed medication. Early on I struggled to find the right drug but eventually I found one that balances my moods very effectively.

    Reuben, you’ll make it. Don’t stop fighting the good fight. It took me a while, but with the help of a good therapist, and meds, i was eventually able to have a positive out look on things—even the church. And it has made me a more empathetic pastor. And I am confident you will do the same for you.

    And I am speaking from experience.

  93. Josh says:

    My last therapist was very helpful. He is a Christian, but that only mattered to me in the sense that he would understand the pressures and dynamics of ministry. He is a real pro. Haven’t been in a few months, but learned a ton about myself in the year and a half before. We have to get the stigma off mental illness so that people can get help. Definitely in the church, but in general society as well. I was diagnosed as bi-polar in 1997, and lost my insurance coverage because of it. I had to go back to the doctor and get him to change the diagnosis to depression so that I could get insurance for me and my family hopefully, we’ve progressed to the point the Reuben hasn’t had to deal with those kinds of issues on top of the mental health issues.
    I do think it was the wrong diagnosis. For sure, I’ve dealt with depression, but I think my main issue has been some kind of acute anxiety that I’ve never really dealt with.

    Anywho, I love to hear what you are saying here the last couple of days Reuben. Even though there hasn’t been some big, glorious, resolution for you, just seeing there has been some movement has given me glimpses of hope for my own life.

  94. Officerhoppy says:

    Josh
    I’ve been told that anxiety is the flip side of depression. So there is some connection between the two—So say the professionals

  95. Josh says:

    Yeah, this last therapist has been the first to make that connection for me. I’ve talked to other therapists, doctors, and ministers for what seems like my whole life. The past 30 years for certain. Told them all the same symptoms, but he’s the first one to call it anxiety. I was like no, its this physical reaction that starts in my chest, he was like yeah, that’s anxiety. I was like no, its like this rage that comes out of nowhere when I find myself in a stressful situation. He’s like, yep anxiety. Suggested I add Buspar to my routine, and he was right. Took that for six months and my life looked way different.
    Of course, for years I was told that physical reaction was some sort of demonic presence. Add to that, obnoxious Reformed acquaintances, and experiences with “Sleep Paralysis Demons” (you’ll have to google that one), and I was sure that God hated me and was punishing me for…something.

  96. Reuben says:

    Josh, that feeling of god punishing me has been glued to my forehead for over a decade. Feels on that one…

  97. Josh says:

    It’s hard to shake. Some days, this morning for instance, I’m racked with tremendous guilt, for no obvious reason. I’ve been conditioned to think that is god. That’s the way he sees me, and that’s how he wants me to feel. It takes real effort to talk myself out of it.

  98. Michael says:

    Reuben,

    A few months ago I had to get a new dishwasher installed and lined a guy up to do it.

    It was a difficult job because of how badly the house and my mom have deteriorated.

    I was embarrassed that I haven’t been able to do much for either.

    When he was finished he cleaned everything up and said “God bless you” and walked out the door…refusing payment.

    He picks his spots to do ministry and I’m very grateful we were one of those spots.

  99. Michael says:

    Josh,

    You nailed my feelings about politics at this time…among other concerns.

  100. Em says:

    Mental illness can be the work of demons, BUT the odds are in favor of a raft of other causes…. Treatable causes….. IMNSHO
    God keep

  101. Josh says:

    Demons don’t respond to medicine and therapy.

  102. Dan from Georgia says:

    That’s why many Christians can’t be honest about their struggle with mental illness.

  103. bob1 says:

    I’m afraid the mental illness equals demons POV has been used by the Evil One to bring untold suffering to way too many of Jesus’ beloved.

  104. Officerhoppy says:

    Reuben, Josh, Dan, bob1, Michael
    I am glad we are all talking about this. All the feelings of guilt,God is pissed, demonic activity etc., etc, I went thru too.

    I am very fortunate that after 35 years of enduring well meaning, but ignorant Christian’s “diagnosis” and “cures” to have come out the other side alive and stable.

    Good thing is I have a pretty good handle on mental illness and am able to cut thru the Christian jumbo jumbo and properly and, hopefully,carefully, bring a clear perspective to people suffering with the disease.

    My main point is the problem is physical not spiritual. The brain fails to produce what it needs fora a sense of well being. So it has to be introduced in the firm of medication.

    I take Tylenol for a headache and don’t feel bad about that. And neither should anyone feel shame for introducing a drug for the brain

    Really really glad you guys shared your struggles

    ‘Em
    We love you but more likely than not the first and best assumption for people dealing with depression or anxiety is to assume it’s a medical issurerather than demonic. Just saying

  105. Em says:

    Officerhoppy makes more sense than I do….. 😉

  106. Reuben says:

    Thank you for saying that, Hoppy.

    I can’t remember a time in my life when I was not Bipolar, but I did not know my problems actually had a name till this last year and a half. My mind has always functioned and processed different. When I heard the diagnosis locked up in rehab, I said it had to be false because of every preconceived notion and stigma around that diagnosis, but I had to educate myself on what it means by reading the DSM 5 definition, and it is the story of my life. As if my face were in the dictionary right next to the title.

    I was raised to believe mental illnesses were nothing but demons that people had to have cast out from them. So I was part of my own problem. I know the mindset… that Legion had to be cast into the pigs. Believe me, if that were possible today, I would go find a cliff with some pigs. For reasons I will not understand, my mind is different, and it is in fact a physical ailment.

    Dan said it best, religion has made people dishonest with themselves and others, because of the perpetual need to spiritualize all the things. So those with mental illness in “the church” are forced to closet a physical problem as if people knew, you become equal to a biblical Leprosy, which again is a physical tangible illness, a disease.

  107. Reuben says:

    Adding an example, Autism is something that can not be miraculously prayed away. There are entire schools that specialize in directing and teaching those minds, and every student is different, how they are approached, how they are taught, how they are successful in focusing on certain things. I know this to be true because my baby sister’s entire career is doing precisely this, something that she went to school for, to learn how to do these things.

    No rational person says Autism is a demon.

  108. Dread says:

    Anyone here have an actual testimony of Jesus in their mental illness. I think you probably do. I certainly do.

    We all say that this and that cannot be prayed away. Can it be endured in Jesus? Is this discussion a denial of Jesus. I don’t think it is. Neither do I think Jesus in inactive in us whilst we whither in our anguish.

    Neither do I feel the need to make Jesus’ zealous followers the villains of my misery.

    I probably have my own villainy. I know I have my own insanity. But he is there and he is not silent.

  109. Josh says:

    Lately, he is mostly silent.

  110. Officerhoppy says:

    Dread
    I don’t know if I understand your question. Unfortunately, I have difficulty deciphering most of your comments. The onus is on me and not you.

    But regarding actual testimony regarding mental illness, mine is “every good and perfect gift comes from above’. I thank Jesus to live in a country and a time where there are new discoveries and methods of dealing with brain function. I am grateful for doctors and their expertise. A friend of mine just had a tumor the size of a tennis ball removed from her brain. Thanks God for the technology and the surgeon who successfully removed it.

    May not be the testimony you are looking for, but that’s my take, sir.

    Like Josh, I know God is here, and active. But, he is mostly silent. But I’m not complaining. I’m a big boy and enjoy my relationship with him nonetheless.

  111. Reuben says:

    I have “heard” god through watching the ministering of Joel Sterling Brown. That broke a seriously long silence.

    I used to have hope for myself through Paul who complained of the thorn in his flesh, the one he begged god to take away.

  112. Dan from Georgia says:

    Dread et al.

    But he is present. I don’t always feel it or understand it or why things have gone the way they did. I am not flippant about prayer. I prayed in my lifetime countless prayers for healing and release from the addiction and pain, and have never received the “deliverance” so many believers have expected me to experience, so yes, I do have a somewhat jaded view of how believers treat others who along the spectrum of mental illness. I don’t apologize for my experiences in this regard, but it’s my job not to let the anger and cynicism not eat away at my soul.

    Life is messy and I am messy and don’t have all my ducks in order. God’s church is a mosaic of souls and lives lived and impacted and we don’t see the finished piece of art that he is creating.

    Evidence of his work in my life and depression? Sensitivity to other’s who suffer, along with a sense of brotherhood with them, I was finally able to marry a wonderful woman who is a strong prayer warrior and doesn’t judge me for having depression, I have a good job to the point where I can take care of myself and my wife and two voraciously hungry beagles, and the ability to FINALLY enjoy aspects of my life.

    Anyways, that was and is the path I am on.

  113. Dan from Georgia says:

    A bruised reed He will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

    He will restore what the locusts have eaten.

    Some passages that have encouraged me over the years.

  114. Dread says:

    I have not hidden from this community over the years my lifelong bouts of crippling depression…Not least the last 3+ years.

    My asking about Jesus purely because my life is equally blessed with an almost ceaseless awareness of his presence. This was true from the beginning but less consistently until about 25 years ago. But even before that there were many encounters with God. Since 1997 it became even more intensely present.

    My Christian faith has been highly experiential. It isn’t belief in the Lord. It is knowing him. It is his presence in the Holy Spirit.

    Likewise there has been the intermittent presence of suicidal darkness. Somehow he has always carried me past my madness. Christianity for me is both propositional and experiential.

    When people say they are not religious but spiritual they are acknowledging that what they see of Christianity is religious and not relational. If Christianity is in the Holy Spirit it cannot devolve to mere religiosity. Thus Christianity is the most spiritual of all faiths.

    I lay this here with no arrogance and the utmost of gratefulness but if I do not testify I betray him.

    Thus I say he is not silent.

  115. Dan from Georgia says:

    Dread,

    I was not aware of that aspect of your life, or I must have missed it. You say “somehow he has always carried me past my madness”…I sense this is true in my life as well. So true! Thanks Dread!

  116. Michael says:

    I do not have a constant experience of Jesus.
    I’ve had one experience that carries me through…

  117. Josh says:

    I have had God experiences over the years. An handful of really powerful moments over the entirety of my life. The last was about 3 years ago, and since that time the American Political culture, the pandemic, and family dynamics have shaken me to the core. I have even really begun to put it back together yet, I’m just trying to find stability instead of freefall. Maybe if I relax, God will put it back together for me? I’m open to that…but it’s awfully quiet right now.

  118. Officerhoppy says:

    Josh
    My doubts and frustration were so strong that I considered walking away. Several factors stopped me. 1)without sounding arrogant, I felt a responsibility to my Christian community. I pastored 3 churches, two of them fairly large. My stepping away would have devastated them.2) I was too chicken to deny it all. No balls. 3) I was kind of like Peter: “where else can I go? You have the words of eternal life.”

    So I hang in there doubts, disappointments, frustrations and all. I stepped down from all my leadership and pastor duties and instead, I try to stay busy doing the work of the ministry with out the titles.. in other words I quite focusing on myself and am learning to live or “shake hands”with my doubts rather than hope or wait til they they go away.

    I feel like it’s made me a more effective and relatable pastor/minister. Im not ashamed to share my true thoughts.

    Where I once felt I had to have all the answers to people’s theological struggles and doubts, I don’t any more. I often say “I don’t know”.

    When people ask me to pray for them, I tell folks I don’t have a great track record on prayer but I will most certainly pray for them

    So that’s where I’m at right now. It’s how I stay afloat as a Christian. No lights in the sky, no voices from heaven, and no big expectations. Just do my job putting one foot in front of another.

    I know it’s all real, but for me a secret to living healthy is to stop looking or waiting for some other world experience, a dynamic worship setting, or profound teaching. Most of life I learning to navigate the low points of life.but churches don’t teach that. Too a much of a downer. Instead they try to create a super positive experience. I get that but as a disciple,Iam unsure if that is the best course of action for maturing Christian.

    Only a few of the Psalms are super joyous. Most have the tone, “how long will you forsake me god…forever”. In my 35 plus years in ministry I’ve learned that God is more interested in our holiness than our happiness.

    I dunno. Just fumbling through my thoughts. Still processing my self

  119. Officerhoppy says:

    In genesis 28, Jacob had a dream of a ladder extending to heaven with angels climbing it “ And behold, tthe Lord stood above it3 and said, u“I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. vThe land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like wthe dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and xyour offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, yI am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and zwill bring you back to this land. For I will anot leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is bin this place, and I did not know it.”

    He was running from his brother Esau, headed to an undetermined future with his uncle and then this dream. Key point” surely god was in this place and i didn’t know it.

    As Rabbi Jonathon Sacks said “ Abraham gave Jews the courage to challenge the idols of the age. Isaac gave them the capacity for self-sacrifice. Moses taught them to be passionate fighters for justice. But Jacob gave them the knowledge that precisely when you feel most alone, God is still with you, giving you the courage to hope and the strength to dream.”

    I found this helpful for me

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