NeoCals and “Accountability”

First, some stipulations:

(1) When we speak of Calvinism, it is important to distinguish between two things: Calvinism as a hermeneutical model (good) and Calvinism as a dogmatic set of teachings (not so good). Calvinist hermeneutics–which, in a nutshell, takes the Scriptures at face value and allows the Scriptures to speak for itself–is a solid, intellectually honest methodology for Biblical understanding. When one uses that system to dismiss what is clear, natural tension in the Scriptures regarding key matters dear to Calvinists and Arminians, then it’s eisegesis if not assegesis.

The same is true for Arminian dogmatics.

(2) You cannot have a church without discipline. The Old Testament–in the Law and Prophets–and the New Testament–in the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles–are very clear on this. At the same time, it is important to note the scope of the discipline, and to what sins they apply.

The Church, as presented in the NT, is a Body in which members have substantial liberties. While the Church must never excuse sin, discipline, with little exception, comes in the form of exhortation and admonition. Paul is always exhorting the Church to eschew sexual immorality, to engage one another with love, to select leaders with proven competence and character, to be honest and forgiving, to embrace sound doctrine.

Very hard discipline–calling out people for public rebuke–and the “nuclear option” (excommunication) are reserved for the most egregious sins: slander, false doctrine, sexual immorality. The Bible never commands for such discipline to be used to to keep victims of sexual abuse by members of the Church “in line.”

Never once does Paul or Peter or Jesus command the Church to coddle sex offenders, or to harangue victims of said abuses. In fact, Jesus had very stern warnings regarding those who harm children. If anything, the Church ought to be a Body that provides refuge for those wronged–particularly sexually–and pursues justice for the wrongdoers.

And yet, throughout the last century, we are learning that the Church has done the opposite: they have worked to cover up abuses by their members. The Catholics engaged in this, at all levels of leadership, and the depth and breadth of their damage is breathtaking.

Protestants, as we are learning, are almost as bad. And that includes otherwise conservative sectors.

Enter the NeoCals (NeoCalvinists).

FWIW: I go to a church where most of the Elders would identify with the NeoCals. Much of the music is from Sovereign Grace Ministries, and it is pretty solid. The pastor–who spent many years in some very harmful Baptist churches–tends to err on the side of liberty. The Elders are generally “hands off”: unless you’re engaging in fraud, violence, neglect of your family, or sexual immorality, they’re not going to bother you.

I’m a small group leader, and also a teacher for one of the children’s classes. And the Elders cut me far more slack than I’ve received in every other church at which I’ve been involved. They don’t have a problem with my light drinking, and my occasional in-your-face commentary. They have no problem with me providing counsel to others, either.

If NeoCals all operated that way, we would have no problem.

Sadly, what we have witnessed in other sectors, particularly Sovereign Grace Ministries, 9Marks, and even Southern Baptist and Acts 29 churches, is troubling.

The latest calumny includes the actions of Lakeside Bible Church and Ken Ramey against a family whose teenage boy was sodomized by another teen in the church. You can read about it here.

Like the recent debacle at The Village Church–for which, to his credit, pastor Matt Chandler publicly apologized–this is a case of accountability gone off the rails. Even worse, in the case of LBC, the leadership has maligned the victim’s family while coddling the abuser and his family.

While Ramey is not to blame for the abuser’s actions, he IS responsible for his subsequent handling of the matter. And if you think his response is a Christian one, then I would question either your Christianity or your understanding of Scripture in this matter.

My larger issue here is with the NeoCals. The whole “Covenant Membership” paradigm, while often sold in benevolent terms, has been turned into a green light for micromanagement at a level unseen in Scripture.

Over here, we often debate over matters such as public school versus private school versus homeschooling; or whether women should pursue higher education versus a career as a SAHM; or the dating versus courtship versus online pursuit of marriage. This is not a matter of right versus wrong, as there are substantial liberties in these matters, but rather over which is the most equitable or prudent path. There are good, Christian parents whose kids attend public school; there are good, Christian women who obtain PhDs and law school and medical school; there are good, Christian folks who seek their spouse in varieties of ways.

When a church starts telling a family that they won’t support them unless they put their kids in a public school, that is overreach beyond all recognition. When a church starts telling families that the courtship model is the only way to pursue marriage, that’s overreach (my view: there’s nothing wrong with it, but that’s up to the families to decide.)

Confronting sin is one thing–the Church has to do that. And that includes confronting those who sexually abuse children. Not only is this a criminal matter, this also demands the harshest discipline. Those wronged ought to be recognized as wronged. This is not to promote a victim mentality, but rather to acknowledge that, in the process of healing, there is no small amount of baggage to unpack that the victim and his or her family did not invite.

And woe to anyone who seeks to cover that up or otherwise impede either the justice process or the recognition of the truth.

Good Luck With That, Ms. Glass

MrsLarijani pointed me to a piece written by Amy Glass, within which she referenced this.

For her own sake, I hope Ms. Glass recovers from this lapse in intelligence. As she stands now, she is dismissing herself as a biological dead-end. In another generation, no one will either remember or care about her work. If marries and has children, that legacy will have a great chance of extending for hundreds of years.

But hey…I’m a libertarian sort. This is America, and I’m all for her right to live her life as she sees fit.

Do people really think that a stay at home mom is really on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself? There’s no way those two things are the same.

Of course they are not on the same footing; the SAHM is on far-better footing, particularly if she homeschools her kids, thus providing the highest-percentage chance for those kids to grow up and be exceptionally intelligent and productive.

Moreover, those children will one day take care of their aging mother when she is old and cannot take care of herself. They will push her wheelchair, even bathe her and change her diaper and hold her hand in her last days.

The gal who intentionally chooses lifelong singleness, OTOH, will have none of that. While she may be able to afford a nice nursing home if she earns enough money, there is no substitute for family.

Ms. Glass is free to live as she chooses; whatever she does, it’s no skin off my back.

However, Ms. Glass, keep in mind that you are taking a course of action that even Gloria “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” Steinem eventually abandoned. Ms. Steinem eventually got married. Ms. Steinem sought fertility treatments, without success. Ms. Steinem was a fish who needed a bicycle.

While you are free to try to make this work for you, Ms. Glass, there is a logical reason why women generally get married and have children. Many of them do so in the midst of successful careers outside the home; many even ditch those careers so they can be with their kids.

In my 24 years in the professional world, I have met no small number of women–married, with children–who would like to give up their jobs and stay at home with their kids. I have met no small number of women who did exactly that and are happy with that decision. I have female friends in their 40s who are second-guessing themselves for not marrying, and who hope they still will be able to marry.

I can count one one hand the number of women I’ve known who married and had children, who wish they had done neither. They are in fact the most unpleasant and corrosive people to be around.

That said, this is America. I hope it works out for you, Ms. Glass.

Obama Betrays the Good Faith of Americans, Part 2

First, there was Benghazi. Two retired Navy SEALs put in a Medal of Honor-caliber performance; an Ambassador called desperately for help; when Gen. Carter Ham tried to do his part to send in the help–as a military man, he understands the “leave no man behind” ethos–he was forcibly relieved of duty. Four men died. They trusted a President, and that President turned his back on them.

Now, President Obama and his sidekick–John Pierre Kerry–have announced a “deal” with Iran, supposedly limiting their development of nuclear weaponry.

While the strengths of that “deal” are dubious, the fact remains that this “deal” was reached without securing the release of American Christian pastor Saeed Abedini and retired FBI agent Bob Levinson.

I cannot imagine President Carter negotiating a deal with another country that did not include the release of any Americans being held under suspicious circumstances. And yet Obama/Kerry left both an American pastor and a retired FBI agent hanging out to dry.

As Jon Stewart would say, there is no good way to spin that turd.

Carter, for all his faults, was trying to “do no harm”. His policies were often wrong, but no one can say he was corrupt, or that he willfully turned his back on the American people.

For Obama to pass on an opportunity like this–probably the best he was going to get–to free two Americans who are being unjustly held–is a betrayal of good faith. It would have been a simple matter to include the release of both the pastor–and the FBI agent–as a condition of any deal.

For the purpose of this discussion, I don’t care what your religion is. If you’re an American and you are overseas, you should have a reasonable expectation that your State Department–and the Executive Branch–is going to contend for your best interests if another country harasses you or, worse, throws you in jail on some BS charge.

The President is supposed to be the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. As such, he should be expected to understand the “Leave no man behind” ethos. In military circles, that is HUGE. Officers have had their careers ended for violating that.

While the President–like myself–is not of a military background, a President who leaves Americans hanging out to dry–when he had a chance to free them in a very simple diplomatic move–is beyond disgraceful.

Obama is Unhinged

Either President Obama has absolutely no clue how the real world works–and this is possible, as he went from academia to community organizer to politician–or he is trying deliberately to destroy the American health care system.

Fact is, businesses have spent the last three years preparing for the implementation of ObamaCare. That was passed by both houses of Congress, signed into law by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court.

As a result, businesses have made capital planning decisions around their expected costs due to this law. They have laid off workers. They have cut workers from full-time to part-time. They have dropped coverage for certain workers because the coverage did not satisfy the requirements of ObamaCare. That dropped coverage was part of a business decision that was part of a capital plan that was negotiated with investors.

In addition, insurance companies have already made capital decisions regarding the plans that were dropped, and the addition of new, “compliant” plans. Because each state has its own rules for capital requirements, insurance companies must go to great lengths to ensure that they have the necessary reserves to cover the plans that they provide. They dropped the old plans–and added the new plans–with particular capital structures in mind.

As the old plans were dropped–and new plans added–companies made key changes in business rules, some of which are very complex. Those business rules were carried over into their respective IT systems. Developers for those systems have modified their code, made database changes, and have gone through several layers of testing to make sure the new rules are working.

Therefore, to pass a law–or, setting aside the legalities here, issue an executive order–allowing people to keep their old policies, with less than two months remaining in the year and with businesses having already made decisions with respect to capital and operations, does nothing to materially improve the situation, and in fact will only make things worse.

Fact is, even if we repealed ObamaCare today–permanently, effective immediately–a mother lode of damage has already been done. It will take years to recover from this disaster.

I am not defending the Republicans on this, however, as the Establishment has utterly failed to make a coherent case for free markets, and in fact is arguably in bed with the Democrats in their desire for fascism.