Thursday, April 14, 2011


"The opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty." -Ieuan Brydydd Hir

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

On the ABC 20/20 Special About IFB Abuse

Some of you may have watched the ABC 20/20 special on Friday, April 12, 2011, concerning sexual abuse in IFB churches.

What we have been hearing about the Catholic church, we are now hearing about IFB churches. I think the two situations are similar. Some will respond that the Catholic church issue is more dangerous because it is the priests who are molesting, but that misses the issue, I think. The issue is that in both the Catholic and the IFB churches, what abuse HAS gone on was covered up well. The issue is not so much the abuse, as molesters can be found everywhere and anywhere that depraved men are able to give into their lusts. The issue is the cover up.

One way I was disappointed in the 20/20 special was that they didn't do enough to tie IFB churches together. One blurb about going to the same colleges was all that I saw. Another unfortunate omission was any fleshing out of what I call the Man-O-God syndrome, or excessive pastoral authority. It is the excessive pastoral authority that is the ROOT of IFB churches' tendencies to cover up, not just sexual abuse, but many, many, other abuses. It is this excessive pastoral authority that gives rise to accusations that IFB churches are a cult.

It is in this way that attacking IFB churches over molestation charges is precisely the wrong way to bring to light IFB error. I can understand that such attempts are the cry of victims seeking redress. I also understand that such attempts are an attempt to harness the sensational nature of molestation charges in the fight against IFB error. But in the end it doesn't stick, because it comes across as so much mudslinging. Now I think surely that these IFB churches ought to be held accountable for covering these things up, and the perpetrators dealt with. But as a broadside against the IFB network of churches in general, it's not going to be effective; rather, it has the potential to backfire.

The molestation charges, for one, don't tell the whole story of IFB cover-ups. You've got numerous "Man-O-Gods" scattered throughout IFB-dom guilty at this very moment of adultery, financial mismanagement, theft, spiritual abuse, and yes even sexual abuse. You've got "Man-O-Gods" controlling and dictating their church members' lives (whether that be requiring them to ask permission or demanding veto power). And it all gets swept under the rug because he's the "Man-O-God." As the English Lord Acton said:

"I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King [and "Man-O-God" -ed.] unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it."

And so we see at the very bitter end of all of this that it boils down to bad theology: the concept of power as expressed in IFB churches, that of a single "benevolent dictator," is entirely unscriptural. The New Testament gives us a pattern of equal elder rule for a reason.

So what's the right way to attack this? Expose all manner of "Man-O-God" wrongdoing and cover-up. Show how these "Man-O-Gods" abuse their position in myriad ways. No corner of IFBdom will escape the scope of THAT investigation.

But us Christians don't have to wait for another episode of 20/20. We need to reaffirm our commitment to Scripture and to Biblical church governance, and reject single-pastor rule.

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Posted by David T. at 8:21 AM

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