“This Ain’t Hell, but I Can See It From Here!” After-Action Report: Ride Across Indiana (RAIN) 2019

This year, I decided to take a break from triathlons and just do one event: Ride Across INdiana (RAIN). I enjoyed that ride last year, and my wife said she and Abigail enjoyed the time.

I figured this would be a long, tough ride that would otherwise be uneventful. It didn’t seem bad last year: I used it as a training ride for Ironman Chattanooga, and it was a good time.

The problem?

Last year, the conditions were perfect: high temperature was in the low 70s with occasional light rain, and a really nice west-to-east tailwind that made the last 45 miles wonderful.

No such joy this time.

Here is a simple comparison, by the numbers:

High Temperature77/light rain97/sunny
Winds18mph (tailwind)16 mph (crosswind from south)
# Starters~1,1001,032
# Finishers1,042644
Total Riding Time (hrs:mins)9:3011:06
Avg Moving Speed (mph)16.814.7

I woke up at 4AM and began my preparation for the ride: brushed my teeth, strapped on my Garmin heart rate strap, checked my gear to see if I had forgotten anything.

Dangit!!!! I had forgotten sunscreen! And I was going to need it today!

So, making no delay, I hightailed it to Kroger and bought some sunscreen. On the way back, I pulled back into St. Mary of the Woods College–where we were staying, and where the ride began–to see a couple riders taking off early. (That is legal, as this is a ride, not a race. As long as a rider completes the course before the 9PM cutoff, it counts.)

It was 5:25 and still dark outside. It was already 80 degrees.

This was going to be a long, hard slog.

Still, I felt ready.

While I was not training for Ironman–and therefore was not as fit as I was last year–I was still pretty darn fit: I had three century rides in the last 2 months, and I had done a fair amount of strength work, as I had bulked up considerably. I wasn’t in Ironman condition, but I was still in good shape. And my training rides were in hot conditions.

I figured I would go slower, but this course shouldn’t be too tough. I had two extra tire tubes “just in case”, and I am experienced in changing out flat tires. If I ran out of fluids, I knew there were convenience stores around. I carried extra cash just for that purpose. I also knew that my wife would be trailing me on the back section.

I made it to the start line with 5 minutes to spare before the official start. There seemed to be a solid turnout. According to the folks in-the-know, the number of starters was less than they had last year, but not by much.

My problems began early: My rear tube blew out at mile 6. Apparently, my tire pressure was too low, and I hit a bad section of road, causing a “pinch flat”. I was able to swap a new tube, and a SAG driver had a pump ready for me, so I did not have to use my CO2 cartridges. I was back in business within 5 minutes.

Unfortunately, I had trouble getting a good pace going due to (a) many traffic lights and (b) bad road quality. I also noticed the climbs, due to the lack of a tailwind. I was clearly working harder for my miles. But I still felt ok considering the conditions.

Pulling into the first rest stop at mile 39, my wife was relieved to see me. She thought I had suffered a really bad accident, as I took longer than she expected to get to the first stop. My riding pace at the time was close to 15mph, but the flats and the traffic congestion–and traffic lights–slowed me down. But at the rest stop, I got some food down, got some fluids down, refilled my bottles, kissed the wife and toddler, and headed back out.

On the second stretch, I felt better and my pace was improving, even as the temperature climbed. I was having a good time until mile 57: that’s when my front tire blew out.

Thankfully, I was ready for that: I had a spare–although I was down to my last one–and was changing it out when a Good Samaritan came by. He let me use his pump–once again keeping my CO2 cartridges unused–and even gave me a bottle of ice water. I was back in business.

Pulling into the second stop, at mile 64, I still felt pretty good. Even with the flat, I was doing well. For the sake of precaution, I purchased two additional tubes from the SAG mechanic at the rest stop. I figured I’d rather have them and not need them, than need them and not have them. In this heat, anything can go wrong.

I made it a point to get more food down, refill the bottles, get some more fluids down, kiss my wife and toddler–who was having a great time–and head back out.

The ensuing 28 miles were brutal. Indianapolis traffic slowed us all down: traffic lights, traffic circles, stop signs, railroad tracks, and some stretches of bad road quality. Making matters worse, I ran out of water and Gatorade. I could feel the heat; I knew I needed to hydrate.

At about mile 87, I found a CVS. I pulled in to get some Gatorade. The manger saw me and invited me to use his walk-in cooler–which was 38 degrees!–to cool off. (I <3 CVS.) Still, I felt pretty good going into the lunch stop at mile 92.

Remarking about the heat, I told my wife. “This isn’t Hell, but I can see it from here.”

From there, I got some food down, got some water and Gatorade down, refilled the bottles, kissed the wife and toddler, and headed back out: 21 miles to Greenfield.

The stretch to Greenfield would have been a killer, except there were several wonderful families who handed out bottled ice-cold water to riders. I had, once again, expended both my water and my Gatorade, and those Good Samaritans saved my butt. (Every finisher with whom I conversed, shared the same story.)

Pulling into Greenfield at mile 113 2 was lonely–no personal service vehicles were allowed, so my wife was camped out after that on US40–so I did my business quickly: refilled the water bottles, peed, got food and fluids down, and headed out.

My only problem: I forgot to unpause my Garmin. As a result, I lost about a quarter mile on my data feed.

Turning onto US40, I saw my wife parked at a Speedway station. I stopped, gave her a quick update, kissed her and the toddler, and headed out. We agreed to meet every 8 miles. I was feeling the heat, so I figured I’d sit in the car for a couple minutes to cool down. She also had extra Gatorade in case I needed a refill before I pulled into the final rest stop at Dunreith.

That last stretch of US40 was pure brutality. The heat radiated from the ground, ensuring that we had no relief, even as the air temperature began to slowly drop. The climbs, while not as difficult as the hills of Kentucky’s century routes, are still noticeable when you’re on the back end of a 160-mile ride with heat indexes above 100 degrees. Being able to cool off in the car was a game-changer.

I pulled into the Dunreith rest stop, with 28 miles to go, exhausted. I knew I was going to finish, but this was going to suck. I inhaled more fluids, ate some carbs, got some pickle juice down, and sat in the car to cool off. Then I kissed the wife and toddler and headed out.

I met my wife 8 miles later, and–to my surprise–felt pretty good. I was tired, but I felt better than I did at Dunreith. I told her to meet me in 10 miles.

About 10 miles later, I met her again. As I cooled off, I had one problem: I needed water, not Gatorade, as I was almost out of water. I told her to meet me at the next gas station–or at 5 miles–to get some water. At this point, I had about 10 miles to go. The next stop was going to be precautionary only. I was getting strength back.

With 5 miles to go, I saw my wife on the opposite side of the road. A Good Samaritan had a bottle of ice-cold water: exactly what I needed going into the final climb! Oh, and there was shade now, as it was later in the day. I thanked God for the shade. I told my wife, “Meet me at the finish…we’ve got this!”

The last 5 miles felt easy. Yes, there was a climb left, but it didn’t feel so bad with the shade and some cold water. I finished with 45 minutes to spare. At the finish, I chatted with the folks at the finish line, enjoyed the moment with my wife and the toddler, and downed some chocolate milk.

After the finish, I followed the RAIN Facebook group for updates from other riders. There were mass casualties: riders were dropping like flies. Heat exhaustion TKOd a large swath of folks.

Every rider I know who finished indicated that the Good Samaritans with the ice water saved their day. I can attest to that. The DNF rate was above 37%, which exceeds the mega-brutal Ironman Chattanooga 2016, which was in comparable weather. Heat exhaustion took a lot of riders out of the fight. Several ended up leaving in ambulances. To my knowledge, however, there were no fatalities.

Another dynamic I saw was the support crews out there: just as my wife did for me, other riders had help from their spouses and/or cycling clubs. They parked their cars, vans, and RVs at churches, gas stations, even open fields, providing food, water, and A/C for riders on that last stretch of US40.

As I look back on the day, I was happy to come out on top. I had never suffered a flat tire during a century ride, and I took TWO of them in the first 60 miles. I had never biked in conditions this hot, but this time I did it for 160 miles.

That tormenter of Ironman triathletes–Ironbitch–showed up for a rematch, and she brought the heat with her. I took her best shot, and I won. I even had the legs to tour the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB with the wife and toddler the next day.

As I talked with my wife last night, I remarked that I am not an elite cyclist.

She laughed. “Why do you say that?”

Me: “I’m not pulling that course at 18-19+ mph. To me, that would be the sign of an elite cyclist.”

Her: “You may not be the fastest one on the course, but I’m not sure that matters.”

I don’t have elite speed; I do have elite endurance.

But there is one important difference in me now compared to what I once was: I don’t quit. Yes, I’m in better shape than the average bear, but let’s be honest here: fitter people than I punched out on Saturday. You need to be fit to finish a 160 mile ride in that heat, but you need more than physical fitness; you need mental toughness.

Learning that isn’t an academic exercise. You can only learn that the hard way. I’ve suffered DNFs, so I know the humiliation that comes with it. That teaches you more about perseverance than anything. In general, you don’t start learning until you get pushed to the edge of what you think your limits are.

In my case, as I am getting old, I have severe disk problems in my neck, middle back, and lower back. My heat tolerance isn’t what it once was.

Still, in the nearly two decades with such health issues, I’ve learned to adjust and improvise, and focus on what I could control, and roll with the punches. I couldn’t make it cooler outside, but I think of all the times I got into the car to cool off. I think of the time I walked into the cooler at CVS to cool off. I think of the times I stopped to grab some ice water, the time I sat in front of a fan.

Even with the 2 flats. Even with heat exhaustion. I had no doubt about the outcome, only the finish time. I didn’t quit; I just stopped to regroup and get my bearings. I was never out of the fight.

Over the years, I have learned to embrace the suck.

And on Saturday, I French-kissed it.

Joshua Harris, of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, and Wife, are Separating

This is both saddening and infuriating.

As a very young, intelligent–but untested–adult, Joshua Harris rocketed to the top of the evangelical world on the basis of his landmark book–I Kissed Dating Goodbye–which promoted the notion that dating was evil and that courtship is the preferred Christian alternative to dating.

Sadly, a large sector of Big Evangelical embraced Harris and imposed this dogma on the larger segment of singles, making getting married marginally harder at a time when it was already difficult due to many factors in play. Focus On The Family ran with it. Many homeschooling families ran with it. Churches used it to banish singles into a proverbial black hole.

The book made Harris an evangelical rock star. He would become C.J. Mahaney’s right-hand man at Covenant Life Church, the flagship church of Sovereign Grace Ministries.

As a student of Mahaney, Harris helped commandeer a dysfunctional church whose model of discipline was overbearing. Worse, multiple child abusers operated with impunity. The gross negligence was so severe that even Al Mohler–and the larger Southern Baptist Convention–are now reconsidering their support and alliance with Mahaney.

And make no mistake: Harris was an integral part of that abusive system. He was an executive under Mahaney, and therefore he has command responsibility.

(That is the price of being in charge.)

To his credit, Harris has recently repudiated his book and apologized for the damage he caused with it.

Sadly, it now appears that his marriage was not all he made it out to be.

I am saddened for his children. They didn’t ask for this. They will bear the brunt of this epic disaster.

Do I feel bad for Harris and his wife? Yes. The Church failed Harris, his wife, and his children.

I believe Big Evangelical used him for their financial gain. Yes, he benefited–sort of–but it was other parties which made the really big money at the expense of the larger Body. Harris was a means toward their ends.

NOT ONE evangelical leader stood up and tried to stop this big promotion of Harris.

NOT ONE evangelical leader stood up to question the wisdom of IKDG.

NOT ONE evangelical leader lifted a finger when Harris, an untested young adult, was Mahaney’s right-hand man.

Where was Piper? Where was Keller? Where was Mohler? Where was MacArthur? Where was Duncan? Where was Dever? Where were all of these super-knowledgeable mega-leaders? Most of these leaders pride themselves on their ability to ask hard questions. But none of them bothered to ask any of their own ranks.

Who was holding Harris to account? No one.

This is what happens when you take an untested, young adult–even someone otherwise intelligent like Harris–and make him a General.

Ravi Zacharias In More Trouble

For decades, Ravi Zacharias (RZ) has been one of the most popular faces in the world of Christian apologetics. Not since C.S. Lewis has a public apologist made such an engaging case for Christianity. A very conservative, articulate, and bold speaker, RZ has been a reliable, popular source for conservative evangelicals interested in making a case for their faith and worldview.

Up until the last 18 months, RZ’s record has been sterling.

(On a personal note, I always thought he was a solid speaker, although I was put off by what appeared to be a lot of self-promotion. Personally, whenever a minister names his ministry after himself, it’s problematic to me, as it strikes me as narcissistic.)

But in late 2017, RZ ran into some serious trouble.

For one thing, while he has promoted himself as a “doctor”–which is legitimate for those with doctoral degrees–he has never earned a doctoral degree. He has an MDiv degree along with several honorary doctorate degrees, but no earned doctorates. And yes, there is a difference: representing yourself as a doctor, with only an honorary doctorate, will get you fired in every legitimate professional circle, as that is a violation of academic integrity.

Moreover, he claimed to have taught at Oxford University. In point of fact, he has never taught there: he once did a sabbatical at a Ridley Hall, which has a relationship with Cambridge. (Again, such inflation of one’s vitae is a firing offense in the professional world, and RZ knows it.)

On top of that, he had a sexting scandal. Without getting into the details–I’m going to tell you I believe he’s guilty, and I say that on the basis of HIS ACTIONS as well as the emails I saw (he threatened suicide toward his alleged victim). His settlement of the suit–with a non-disclosure agreement–gave him the mother of all “have your cake and eat it too” deals: he took to Christianity Today to deny any wrongdoing, while falling back on the NDA to avoid answering the hard questions.

But it gets worse.

Now, we have an account, provided by Julie Anne Smith of Spiritual Sounding Board, of a woman who, in 1973, was romantically involved with RZ’s brother (Ramesh) and got pregnant. RZ allegedly pressed her to have an abortion.

(Julie Anne, shortly before breaking her story, informed the Twittersphere that she had a big story coming on RZ. I knew it would be damaging, but this is far, far worse than I expected. And given my cynicism, that’s saying something!)

No, RZ will not face any criminal charges here, nor is he facing a lawsuit, as Steward, the alleged victim, is not seeking monetary damages.

The problem here: if true, this scandal, dating back to RZ’s early days in ministry, would–combined with his false representations of himself and his sexting scandal–show a pattern of conduct that has RZ showing callous disregard for other people as well as the truth.

He has a record of lying about his background–he has never earned a doctoral degree, and he has never taught at Oxford–so his credibility is problematic. His evasions regarding his sexting scandal are also damaging to his credibility. So far, I have not seen a response from him regarding the allegations from Shirley: no denial, no explanation, nothing.

And make no mistake: I do believe he owes the Body an explanation. And not just regarding the allegations from Shirley Steward. It’s long past time for him to cut the veneer and speak plainly for everyone.

For the record, I know Julie Anne. I’ve never met her personally, but we are friends in the Interwebz. She and I have differing viewpoints on theology and politics–I’m a conservative, knuckle-dragging Biblical Patriarch and she’s a moderate-liberal egalitarian.

Having said that, she’s a friend of mine. She is a fair reporter of facts. She knows what libel and slander are, and she is meticulous about avoiding them. She was sued before, and she won the suit. She’s careful about covering her tracks.

I believe Julie Anne is reporting factually, as I am convinced that she has the paper trail. I believe Shirley Steward.

I’m not saying this with any sort of happiness. In fact, I’m outraged. Not at Julie Anne or Shirley, but at RZ.

At this point, RZ is not “above reproach”. As I said, he has a lot of explaining to do. If the reporting is correct–and I believe it is–then he has a lot of apologizing to do, and I would suggest he isn’t fit to be a minister.

I wish I could say otherwise, but I believe Julie Anne and Shirley are being truthful. Can RZ produce facts that prove otherwise? The cynic in me says he’s in serious trouble, but I’m open-minded. I’m just not convinced–based on his recent conduct–that he has it.

The ball is in your court, RZ.

Tom Chantry Guilty

I’ve been following the case of ARBCA leader and pastor Tom Chantry for a little over two years. (ARBCA is the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches in America. It is a hub of NeoCalvinism, and Tom Chantry has been a mover and shaker in those ranks. Many ARBCA leaders are either family or friends of Chantry.)

Chantry was on trial for multiple counts of abuse, to include child molestation. Last year, he was convicted on two counts of aggravated assault, while the jury deadlocked on a child molestation charge. This year, he was retried, charged with four counts of child molestation.

Yesterday, the jury found him guilty on all four charges.
The jury also determined that there indeed were “aggravating circumstances”, so Chantry will be facing a hard sentence on July 19.

(HT to Todd Wilhelm of Thou Art The Man, who attended the trial and provided down-to-the-minute reporting via Twitter.)

Two years ago, as Chantry awaited trial, I wrote the following:

The case of Tom Chantry, a Reformed Baptist leader who has been indicted on multiple criminal charges, including child molestation and aggravated assault, is not simply about Tom Chantry.

If the evidence supports the charges against Chantry–which are damning–then Chantry is far from the only culpable party here.

That is because, if Chantry is guilty, then his abuses were enabled by a culture that, in spite of ostensible proclamation of Scripture regarding sexual matters, knowingly coddled leaders who were sexually licentious and who abused children.

And if that is true, then every one of those leaders would be better off taking a long swim with a millstone around his neck.

In Chantry’s previous trial last year, the judge–weighing in–noted the damnable evidence that implicated ARBCA leaders in covering up abuse. He said that, if ARBCA were on trial, that they would likely be convicted.

ARBCA leaders should be very nervous right now, as Chantry–a leader whom they have defended and covered for years–now has SIX felony child abuse convictions, with the “aggravating circumstances” tag to boot. And he still faces an additional nine charges later this year.

The larger issue is the rampant abuse and coverup culture in the Church, which encompasses both Catholic and Protestant/Evangelical ranks.

Big Evangelical has been rocked badly, as major leaders–Mark Driscoll, Tullian Tchividjian, C.J. Mahaney, Joshua Harris, Bill Hybels, James MacDonald, Perry Noble, Paige Patterson, Andy Savage, and Ravi Zacharias–have either been nailed for (a) heavyhanded, malevolent leadership, (b) gross financial malfeasance, (c) sexual abuse, (d) coverup of abuse, or (e) some combination of all the above.*

Even worse, entire denominations–from ARBCA to the Independent Fundamental Baptists to the Southern Baptist Convention–have aided and abetted this culture.

To some of us, this is no surprise. While this culture is not restricted to Church circles, the fact that it is pervasive in Church circles ought to be alarming as, among all institutions in the world, the Church ought to be setting the example and leading the fight against this culture.

The silver lining in this: this immolation in Big Evangelical is a good thing, as this should force Christians to rethink their entire Church paradigm that recruits, rewards, and promotes leaders who are narcissistic, Machiavellian, sociopathic wolves with the best-looking sheepskins.

We are in need of a Great Awakening, and this can be the foundation for it.

May we not squander this opportunity.

*And those are just some of the “high profile” names. The ranks of abusers in the lower-tier clergy are voluminous.

The Mother of All Comebacks: Tiger Wins Masters 2019

Tiger Woods has endured quite the fall. Some of that was his own doing, as his sex scandal–and ensuing fallout–arguably cost him two years of his golf career. In 2009, he was already recovering from knee surgery, and the scandal threw in a mental challenge that was new to him, in a sport where small mental issues can make or break you.

But in 2012, he seemed to be on the way back. He had a strong game, racked up some wins, and was making strong showings in the major tournaments, and he was bringing in more money than anyone else.

Then, his problems began to mount. His back began to fail him. His driving distance dropped. Holes that he once counted on as eagle-birdie chances became birdie-par. He wasn’t hitting greens, and was forced to go “up and down” more than before.

He started missing cuts. Lots of cuts.

He became a non-factor in major tournaments that he once dominated.

Three back surgeries left him unable to contend.

When he opted for a fourth surgery, most experts–even Tiger himself–wondered if he was done for good. Back surgery is hit-and-miss, and even when successful, there is no guarantee that he would have enough range of motion in his swing to get the distance that he needed. And as he ages, back problems can continue to mount.

But this year, it was different.

His swing was better. He was more comfortable. He missed fewer cuts. He was farther up on the leaderboard.

Going into this years’ Masters Championship, Tiger was more ready than he’d been in years. Sure, he wasn’t what he once was, but–as the song goes–he was counting on being “as good once as he ever was”. Or, more importantly, good enough for 4 rounds.

His first three rounds weren’t perfect, but he was close enough to make a charge. And to win, he would have to do something he’d never done before: come from behind. (Yes, you read that correctly: in Tiger’s 14 previous Majors, he had never come from behind to win; he had always led in the final round.)

Yesterday, after coming back from a severe knee surgery in 2008, a sex scandal and a messy divorce in 2009-10, and four back surgeries, Tiger won his first Major championship in 11 years: his fifth Masters Championship.

And he came from behind in the final round to do it.

Yes, I know, the naysayers will pile onto him over his sex scandal. I say he’s suffered plenty.

At this point, it is fair to recognize his victory for what it is: arguably the biggest comeback in the history of sports.

I know a thing or two about back surgery. It’s why I refuse to get it before I absolutely must have it. It is hit or miss, and even when it is successful, there are no guarantees.

There’s a difference between being functional versus being able to enjoy athletic activity. I know marathoners who, after back surgery, had to retire to smaller distances.

In a sport like golf, range of motion is everything, as that is critical to having distance both off the tee and in the fairway. If surgery can’t allow you that, it’s a failure, even if you can otherwise walk comfortably.

And rehabbing from surgery is no walk in the park, either. Literally anything can go wrong.

But Tiger not only recovered, but he came back able to compete. And he was good enough to beat a field that was more competitive than at any of his previous Masters championships.

Tiger is officially back.

What does this say of his challenging Jack Nicklaus for career Major championships? I don’t know, but his odds clearly went up after yesterday.

Woods is at 15 and Nicklaus is at 18. Woods is 43 years old; Nicklaus was 46 when he won his final Major.

If Woods manages to stay healthy, he will be a major force at every tournament. Whatever mental challenge he had before, he just buried that. He has his game back; he also has his Game back.

His competition will be tough, but so will he.

At this point, I’d say Nicklaus is in trouble. Tiger’s win yesterday was a game-changer.

Not just THAT he did it, but HOW he did it.

Victim Confronts Minister Who Abused Her — RECORDED

Hat tip to Dee at Wartburg Watch.

That audio is very telling. I highly recommend that you either (a) read the transcript or (b) listen to the entire call, which lasts about 14 minutes.

I applaud Leanne Kay. What she did here is not just brave; she has provided the whole world a first-hand look at the way an abuser manipulates and spins, casting himself as a victim and demanding grace.

I have a few things to say about “Raggy”:

(1) What has the United Methodist Church done regarding his ministerial credentials? While he may not have active status as a minister, he needs to be defrocked and excommunicated.

(2) The revelant authorities in Mississippi need to bring charges against Ragsdale. Statute of Limitations do not apply here, and he has–in a recorded conversation that is admissible in court–admitted to at least one grievous felony. He needs to go to prison.

(3) I have a personal message for “Raggy”, that demented wolf:

You are a spineless, shameless, perverted disgrace of a human being, and those are your best qualities.

Your demand of forgiveness from Leanne was cowardly and manipulative and speaks volumes to who and what you are. The Church in America is broken because of wolves like you and parishioners who tolerate your type.

You’re damn lucky I’m not in your venue, as, if that were the case you would have reason to hope that the cops got you before Pilgrim and I did. And while we would not kill you, it would end with your begging us to do exactly that.

I hope you end up in prison, and that you have a Clear And Present Danger experience while you are there.

UMC, With Help of African Blacks, Rejects SJW Agenda

Going into the Special Session of the 2019 General Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC), American news outlets were ecstatic at the prospect of the UMC joining the ranks of other mainline Protestant denominations and endorsing the marriage and ordination of LGBTs.

The “woke” faction of the UMC, dominated by American progressives, was confident that their highly-touted “One Church” plan would cement the convergence of the UMC. The “One Church” plan basically said that, while many members didn’t agree with LGBT inclusion, the UMC would still allow everyone else to include LGBTs.

Instead, the progressives lost, twice.

First, the “One Church” plan failed to pass.

Then, conservatives–led by delegates from Africa–passed the “Traditional Plan”: an affirmation of Biblical sexuality that rejects any attempt to grant legitimacy to LGBTs, by a score of 438-384.

(A friend of mine, a longtime United Methodist, referred to the Traditional Plan as “Making Methodism Great Again”.)

On top of that, the conservatives passed a number of items that make it painless for the wokeists to leave the UMC. In other words, they not only endorsed Biblical sexuality, they held the door open for dissenters to leave.

What was poignant about the vote was that, for many years, American SJWs have long-insisted that white Americans must “check their privilege” and give more credence to perspectives of “oppressed” classes.

This time, blacks from Africa voted to reject what Nigerian pro-life activist Obianuju Ekeocha calls a “neocolonialism” that seeks to impose “new sexual ideologies and abortion into African nations, against the will of the African people who still largely reject these ideologies.”

What IS sad: the West, which has long been a fortress for a conservative theology that has been the backbone of Western Civilization, is in a severe decline that corresponds to the turmoil in the Church.

Catholics have a longstanding gay pederasty culture, evidenced by a horrendous amount of sexual assaults and coverups spanning the globe, encompassing at least half of the clergy.

Mainline Protestants have embraced theological liberalism that has made their message irrelevant.

Conservatives and evangelicals, however, have a critical mass of sexual abuse and coverups, fueled by shallow theology and a system that attracts, develops, and promotes a clergy who market themselves as Alpha Males but instead are dark, greedy, malevolent, perverted cowards who wouldn’t know the truth if it bit them in the nether regions.

Against this backdrop, Christians in AFRICA are leading the way forward.

While the Church may be bloodied and bruised, Jesus promised that not even the gates of Hell would prevail against Her. The Church is never out of the fight.

And if the Laodiceans in America won’t show up for the good fight, God has shown that He’ll raise some Smyrnans from the poorest region in the world to take up the full armor.

The Southern Baptist Convention Has An Existential Crisis

There is no pretty way to spin this.

The Houston Chronicle is reporting a damning collection of abuses that implicate Southern Baptists at every level of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

The abuses and coverups include volunteers, deacons, youth and children’s ministers, music ministers, pastors, missionaries, even foundational leaders in the SBC. Most of us who have been following these things are not surprised. And trust me, this is not even the tip of the iceberg.

The abuse/coverup culture precedes even the Conservative Era (1980-present), but it has snowballed during the Conservative Era. There are many factors that have led to this disaster.

(1) The Conservative Resurgence–in which many moderates and liberals were run out of key SBC seminaries and institutions and replaced with Fundamentalists and Calvinists–fostered an institutional arrogance.

What do I mean by that? Here is the story you will hear:

The SBC was hijacked by liberals who believed that the Bible was full of errors. Those liberals dominated the seminaries and Bible schools and fostered a culture that was dead: they didn’t really believe the Bible, and this reflected dead preaching and teaching, and that caused the SBC to descend into the same liberalism that has destroyed mainline Protestants.

The conservatives–led by a grassroots movement of faithful Baptists and the organization of conservative preachers and activists such as Charles Stanley, C.W. Criswell, Adrian Rogers, Paul Pressler, and Paige Patterson–saved the SBC from the onslaught of liberalism.

When it came to scandals, the conservatives never confronted the institutional culture that existed before; they just replaced a left-leaning structure with a right-leaning one, only with arrogance to boot.

Why do I say arrogance? The conservatives developed an “It can’t happen here” mindset.

Even worse, if a pastor or other worker DID sleep with a parishioner, it was treated merely as a “sexual indiscretion” rather than an abuse of power. (The liberals treated it that way, too. That’s how they addressed it at SBTS when I was there.) As a result, if a pastor had an affair, he was often allowed to quietly resign, move on to another church, and set up shop after a season of being under the radar.

What if a father rapes his daughter and she tells the church about it? They rally around him but show her the door. Ask me how I know.

What about the children’s worker who fondles a kid, and that kid reports it? The church tells the family “we’re taking the situation seriously”, lets the worker quietly leave and go on to another church, then he resumes his abuses. Ask me how I know.

When high-profile ministers cover up abuse in their churches, SBC leaders–who were financially-beholden to such churches–failed to confront those ministers.

Paul confronted Peter–“to his face”–over lesser offenses, but SBTS President Al Mohler could not find it in him to confront C.J. Mahaney over his coverup of at least one child abuser at Covenant Life Church.

(2) A culture that values and rewards charisma over character and competence, allowed a critical mass of narcissistic, sociopathic, Machiavellian personalities into the ranks of ministers, and then rewarded them based on metrics that are functions of charisma.

If you have winsome charisma and can regurgitate conservatism–and even better, do it with NeoCalvinist spin–you’ll go places in the SBC.

You have to make sure that you champion the hot products from LifeWay, preach inviting sermons that have enough conservatism to wow the masses but so soft that you step on no one’s toes. But if you play the game, you go far.

If you provide the requisite “fruits of your ministry”–growing membership, new baptisms, and, yes, more dollars going into the Cooperative Program–you receive great recognition. And as you get to know the right people, and say the right things at the right meetings, you get key appointments to the appropriate committees.

(3) A culture that throws victims under the bus to protect the institution.

This did not begin with the conservatives–truth be told, it’s a longstanding problem that goes back to the very foundation of the SBC–but it has snowballed on the watch of the conservatives.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler and his protege Russell Moore are a major part of the problem. Why? They are years late and millions of dollars short, as they sat for decades on this issue. For decades, they failed to call out key leaders, they have failed to demand change where doing so would have yielded better policies.

For his part, Mohler has begun to repudiate his longtime support of C.J. Mahaney, whose Sovereign Grace Church is now in Lousiville and who has given The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary $200,000. Perhaps that will lead the way for other Big Evangelical names to start distancing themselves from Mahaney, whose heavy-handed leadership, probable coverup of several sexual abusers, and systematic attacks on all who questioned him, ought to permanently disqualify him from ministry.

And make no mistake: the abuses and coverups extend from local churches to particular arms of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Former missionary Mark Aderholt, who is on trial for his abuses of 16-year-old Anne Marie Miller while he was a 25-year-old youth minister and seminary student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, went on to a distinguished career with the International Mission Board (IMB).

When Miller reported the matter to the IMB, their own investigation concluded that the abuses “likely happened” and that Aderholt was not truthful with them about it. What did they do? They allowed him to resign. Did they report the matter to authorities? No. Did they inform the next church he went to? No. Did they inform the South Carolina Baptist Convention, where he became a strategist? No.

(And don’t start here with the argument that the whole thing was consensual. He was 25; she was 16. Irrespective of what you think her issues were at the time, the fact remains it was on him to be the adult. If he wanted to eventually marry her, he could have steered her in the proper direction and exercised propriety. Moreover, given that he was in training for MINISTRY, it was incumbent on him to do the right thing.)

The SBC also has a storied history of saying they will look into this issue, but not doing it. Their fallback is always “but muh church autonomy!”

Fact is, if FBC Timbuktu ordained an LGBT pastor or deacon today, the SBC would move Hell to ensure that FBC Timbuktu was disfellowshipped as soon as SBC 2019 opened session.

If the SBC wanted to confront the abuse culture, they’d do it. But to do so will mean stepping on toes that are connected to very large amounts of money. It means that popular leaders–with big radio presences, book deals, and academic credentials–will have to face censure if not complete repudiation.

It will also require a total cultural transformation: from a culture of theological arrogance where predators operate under the radar to a vigilant, humble culture where victims are welcome and predators are not.

That is a tall order for the SBC. It is probably not the battle that new President J.D. Greear was hoping to fight. But this is every bit as serious as any fight that the SBC has faced in its history.

Greear had better be up to the call.

Abortion and Matt Chandler

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine from my seminary days–she leans a little left politically but is otherwise pro-life on abortion–posted this meme on her Facebook feed:

Yes, she is a friend of mine, and we had an otherwise collegial, low-key discussion about this matter offline. I did this to keep other FB friends of mine from turning this into a foodfight.

First: a few stipulations:

(1) Abortion is murder. Period. Abortion kills a living human being. You don’t like that? Calling me names won’t change that reality, as I didn’t create it.

(2) Abortion, in spite of being a great evil, is sold in America with the best New York ad agency sloganeering and political posturing. For a woman in a crisis pregnancy, it is easy to see how appealing it can be.

(3) Abortion, like other sins, is very forgivable. And, contrary to what you might think intuitively, the pro-life crowd is a very merciful and graceful lot with women who seek mercy.

(If you have had an abortion, you will have a harder time showing yourself mercy than you will have finding it in the pro-life movement.)

Still, the Chandler quote sticks in my craw. And here’s why.

First of all, abortion has been legal in all 50 states, for the full 9 months of pregnancy, for 46 years.

(And yes, before you start saying, “THAT’S NOT WHAT THEY SAID IN ROE!”, just hold your pants on and read: abortion IS legal for the full nine months when you consider the ramifications of the Roe v. Wade decision AND its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, which SCOTUS ruled on at the same time on 22 January 1973.)

Because abortion is both legal and government-funded, Americans have killed about 60 million babies since 1973.

So let me ask you, Mr. Chandler: how high does the death toll have to be before we pass a law banning in utero infanticide?

Before we have any discussion about what pro-life is, and is not, on this issue, I’m going to lay the card on the table.


You think I’m being mean?

Think about it this way. if you believe that rape–which goes on nearly unabated in spite of laws against it–should be legal, we would rightly say you are NOT pro-woman, even if you otherwise support a myriad of rape prevention efforts.

Moreover, if you believe that child abuse should be legal, we would rightly say that you are not pro-child even if you otherwise support programs to prevent child abuse.

And consider our former national atrocity that was slavery. Those who supported slavery could not be reasonably considered abolitionists.

But back to Chandler’s quote.

On one hand, I’m all for the Church showing more compassion to women in crisis pregnancies, with couples stepping up to the plate to adopt and/or provide foster care.

At the same time, I can also tell you that, having been through training for foster parentage, and having spent two-and-a-half years on an adoption waiting list before we got picked and Abigail made her grand entry, Christians make up the overwhelming majority of adoptive and foster parents.

While we can reasonably argue that we need the Church to do more, it is also fair to say that Christians are hardly inactive on this front.

Perhaps if the Church spent more resources taking care of widows and orphans and less on high pastor salaries and building new churches in areas that are already inundated with them, you’d see more foster children receiving compassion.

The problem I have with Chandler here is that his statement is often used as a subtle form of blame-shifting for abortion, as well as a code-term used by people who wish to keep abortion legal. It fosters the “if only the Church reached out the right way, women wouldn’t murder their babies” mindset.

In point of fact, the waiting lines for adoption typically exceed 3 years. At Catholic Charities, the venue through which we adopted Abigail, the average wait is 3 years. (And they ONLY deal with infertile couples.) For many agencies, the average wait is about FIVE years.

There are at least two adoptive couples for every baby murdered in the womb in America. And most of those couples are Christians.

And while we are on the subject of abortion, I am going to make some hard statements here. Most of you aren’t going to like this, but I’m going to say it anyway.

(1) The death toll from abortion is proof that neither sex has a monopoly on evil. While we can all point to examples of “toxic masculinity”, the fact remains that toxic femininity is every bit as serious, even if pastors are scared to death of pointing to the elephant in the room that is standing on the blood of 60+million babies.

(2) Just as we rightly blame rape on rapists, it is fair to blame abortion on (a) those who make the decision to kill the baby and (b) those who carry out the act. Yes, there are some women for whom the abortion decision is made FOR them–ask me how I know this. Those, however, are totally in the minority.

My point here?

Yes, let’s extend the best compassion that the Church can offer for single mothers, foster children, orphans, and widows.

Yes, let’s extend the mercy and grace of Jesus to those who, for whatever reason, have blood on their hands due to their participation in the atrocity that is abortion.

Still, we must continue to call abortion for the evil that it is, and demand that our legal system right this terrible wrong by ending its sanction of the practice.

If you aren’t for that, then you aren’t pro-life. Period.

IKDG: The Final Repudiation

Joshua Harris finally KIKDGG  Here is the link.

Personally, I put less blame on him than I do the larger evangelical celebrity world for imposing his damnable grid on singles.

Shame on them for uncritically embracing the ideas of a whipper-snapper who had no formal theological education, and then using those ideas to shame singles and make the already-difficult world of singleness an order or magnitude worse.

At any rate, I am glad to see that Harris has seen the error of his ways and has shown the courage to repudiate them. That alone puts him light years ahead of Piper, Mohler, Keller, Mahaney, and the rest of his former Amen Corner.