"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Anonymous Writing Is Not Intrinsically Evil

In light of a great deal of angst expressed over unsigned posts and comments on the blogs, the following anonymous comment, posted last Monday at 1:24 pm, clearly articulated some things for all of us to think about when it comes to anonymity.

_____________________

"All of this talk about anonymity has got me thinking. The term “coward” is sure getting thrown around a lot, and that is unfortunate. I wonder if anyone here has ever read or heard about the Marprelate tracts? They were written by (anonymous) Puritans in 1588-89 criticizing the abuses of Anglican bishops and clergy. They knew the consequences if they were discovered, but they could not remain silent. In fact, two men (both ministers) died (1 executed, 1 died in prison) because they were linked to the printing of the tracts. The printer, Waldegrave, had his press confiscated and was financially ruined. It is debatable whether or not the authors were ever really discovered. When the Anglican Star Chamber issued an edict in 1586 declaring that the Anglican church had the power to license and/or forbid all printing in the country, these men knew that they must speak out, but they didn’t necessarily want to die for it. After all, when a “trouble-maker” is discovered and dealt with (i.e. ruined by those in power that he critiques), then the criticism is silenced and people remain in the dark about the issues.

Please note, there’s a stark difference between a willingness to die for the testimony of the gospel, which I would do, and a willingness to die criticizing an institution. Most of us would rather live and go on criticizing the institution, seeking to make reform than to die and have our voices for reform snuffed out. I love the SBC and want to see it reformed for instance, but I will not die for it. That’s a privilege reserved only for my sweet Savior and family.

Add to that list of contemptible cowards names like John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison, men who published anonymously (OK…they used the pseudonym Publius) the Federalist Papers, called by many the most important political documents outside the Constitution and Declaration of Independence in our nation’s history. Cowards they were… discard their ideas.

Also add to the mix more contemptible cowards like Thomas Paine (Common Sense was anonymous upon publication) and the dozens and dozens of revolutionary war era and anti-slavery tracts published anonymously (see Gutenberg.org for a list). Also discredit the information of historical figures like the anonymous (until his death) “Deep-throat” who let the nation in on major political scandal and corruption in Washington D.C. Guess he was a coward too. Also there have been numerous corporate whistleblowers who have anonymously helped bring justice to out-of-control corrupt companies. Cowards each one...

Incidentally, just this morning in the latest issue of Discipleship Journal, I read a touching testimony about a man ministering to his son in the midst of a drunk-driving incident. The article was signed “Clive Wellington” with the note that this was a pseudonym for an unknown author, probably in order to protect the reputation of his son and his son’s ability to heal and move on with life. I should have been enraged by the article, questioned its truthfulness, and immediately ripped it out of DJ, calling upon them to either print the name or retract the story! Puhleeaze!

A few years ago, I attended a Voice of the Martyrs event where a former Pakistani Muslim who was now a Christian spoke against the evils of Islam. He had to travel, write, and speak under a made-up name to protect himself and his family. I guess without knowing his real name, I should be suspect about his claims. I cannot call his Imam in Pakistan and verify his claims, so he should be discredited…right?

Basically, the history of anonymity in writing is long and rich. Usually (almost always) anonymous writing is done by those NOT in power rightly criticizing those IN POWER who are in a position to shut-up and shut-down the anonymous source, thus putting an end to the public’s knowledge of the corruption. Those of you who are so quick to call others cowards can do so precisely because you support those in power or have nothing to lose (i.e. you’re not in ministry at a SB church or institution!). It’s OK to put your name on your criticism of Wade or Watchdog, because if some of the “higher-ups” look you up or run into you at the state or national convention (and believe me, they do!), they’ll thank you and pat your back! NOT take you to task or blacklist you like they have others!

I personally know a student at one of our seminaries working on his dissertation who was told (off the record) by more than one prof that he had better stay away from blogging or commenting or signing his name to anything critical that could be used later against him if he hoped to have a future at all in the SBC! At times, he has been scared of being kicked out of his program because of being critical of leaders, pastors, etc… during open discussions. Now he just sits quietly and withholds any criticism until he graduates.

Wade is in a unique situation…and I thank God for him. He has the strong support of his congregation and the knowledge that he will continue to be employed in the face of what he writes. They know and trust his character and integrity because of many years of ministry. He knows he will not lose his job by speaking out. He also knows (from experience) that he is not on anyone in the SBC’s list of “up and comers” for future leadership in SBC life. He walked those halls for a while and found out what happens when you refuse to “play the game.”

Many others are not in the same position, and thus, remain anonymous. In itself, that is no reason to discard what they write. Staffers at a mega-church led by a superstar are powerless. Speak out and lose your job, plain and simple. Lose your benefits, pack your bags, and plan to relocate…IF you can find anyone else to employ you after being fired by one of “the boys.” Likewise with seminary employees, agency employees, etc… SBC life is a very small, tight-knit community with lots of nepotism and inside-talk. Many of the mega-church leaders and inner-circle guys preach for each other regularly, defend one another publicly, speak at all the seminary chapels, serve on the same boards, room their kids together at the same schools, and on and on it goes. If you are critical and you make yourself known publicly, you will be shut out from future impact in the SBC.

Those of you who want to throw the term “coward” around, open your eyes to the reality of what’s happening. Look at what happened to Wade. Read the reports at fbcjaxwatchdog. Look at the facts. This man (whoever he is) was a loyal member of the church for MANY years under Lindsey/ Vines; why would he just “snap” when Dr. Brunson came on board? Could there be some substance to his accusations? You’ll never know because you don’t want to.

If you don’t want to believe what an anonymous author is saying, it wouldn’t matter if there was a name attached to it or not. Even if their identity was known, you still wouldn’t believe it. If there’s truth to what they are saying, then who cares if you know their name or not? Will those being criticized answer the criticisms with substance? I hope Dr. Brunson calls Wade back and clears the air, but I don’t foresee that happening.

It’s easy to sit on the winning side and take pot-shots at the whistle-blowers. It’s easy to call them cowards and discredit their work so readily. It’s much tougher to admit that these MIGHT just be honest Christian people telling the truth. It’s much tougher for many in the SBC today to admit that their heroes might be flawed."

125 comments:

Thy Peace said...

Still anonymous…
Mon Mar 02, 03:24:00 PM 2009

Blake said...

I am posting this on my refrigerator.

Dave Miller said...

Wow! That is a gripping and moving advocacy for anonymity.

But honestly, do we really want to try to compare the anonymous flamers of Baptist blogs with Puritans under threat of torture or the founding fathers writing under the yoke of oppression, or a Pakistani Christian fearing the wrath of Sharia.

It stretches credulity to the breaking point to try to put anonymous Baptist bloggers in the same breath as these people. "Dr. Phil" is a modern-day Publius? Anonymous flamers are the moral equivalent of the Pakistani convert? Nonsense!

I continue to believe that 99% of anonymous bloggers are people who want to speak without accountability, vent anger and bitterness without responsibility - in short, cowards.

Is there a periodic exception to this? Perhaps.

But the exception does not disprove the rule. The rule is still in force.

Anonymous bloggers (with the rare exception) are irresponsible cowards who want to avoid accountability for their words.

Anonymous said...

Dave Miller,

Way to use logic and reason. it dosen't happen often here.

I mean who are we kidding the "Watchdog" and the Puritans are certainly in the same situation! LAUGH!

Dwight Schrute

Chris Ryan said...

Dave,

The question is not whether or not WD and Puritans are comparable. The question is if one is automatically cowardly for preserving anonymity.

The post's obvious answer is that there is a time to share your name and a time not to share. Where WD falls will be left to the individual to judge. But you can bet that Anglican Bishops thought that the Puritan publishers were cowardly. They thought they were preserving the lives and livelihoods of them and their friends. WD has articulated that that may be the case. Now you and I must judge whether or not the pastors he is taking on are of so little character and integrity that they truly place him in that kind of predicament.

And on a personal sidenote, I happen to be fond of a great many anonymous authors in the NT.

Security word: mials, as in what you should walk two of in another's shoes before passing judgement.

Anonymous said...

The watchdog will not like the post as he seems to not think history is relevant one of his rants has been that Dr Brunson uses too much history in his sermons.
I am a pastor and have not and will not ever respond to an anonymous email. One reason is I know too many pastors who have and that ended up being all they got accomplished well it was also responding to rumors that it seems it was one fire after the other for them. I also believe that since week in week out I stand in front of the church and speak and am not anonymous church folk should return the same favor.
As far as what Dog has done he should have emailed his pastor or called him and set up an appointment not been anonomys and not gone on the net bad mouthing his church and his pastor. I pastor a church that split some years back people did the same thing dog is doing talked about it in the community not settle it in the church and then those same ones jumped ship went elsewhere and left the church will the bad rep. A problem still being worked on to this day. When I arrived that had already happened. Some of the hold overs who were still here and still angry hunting something to gripe about I went tot hem like Wade did it worked for him the folks here were too angry already and hunting a reason to leave. I also wasted 3 months trying to get the thing solved and finally said God it is in your hands I am moving on those ones hunting a reason to leave left and the Spirit began to move. Yes Dr Brunson should resolve it with his church members who are willing to speak face to face but no church member should run to the net and air the laundry all over the world especially when the church is as big as FBC Jax. He may have some legit complaints over the bylaws but to say too much history in a sermon or too much this or that that is oppion not scripture.
I also disagree with you Wade about getting involved if I was at Jax if Dog wanted a face to face meeting I would talk to him if not then I would not but I wouldnt answer an outsiders questions like I would not come to Emmanuel and get involved over your country club membership if the guy was still pursuing it.
On a side not Wade I do owe you an appology for the big you little other comments I was tired stressed and did not phrase that in a Christ honoring way it was to try to also draw attention how we just trust oneside when we should get both but anyway I am sorry it has bothered me since I made it
Kevin
PS Wade I have emailed you privatley before

Anonymous said...

I love the comment from "Dwight Schrute" mocking at the use of anonymity.

Say hello to Michael, Jim and Pam for us, Dwight.

Sheila

Dave Miller said...

Chris,
You said, "And on a personal sidenote, I happen to be fond of a great many anonymous authors in the NT."

Other than the author of Hebrews, what other New Testament authors were anonymous?

Chris Ryan said...

Dave,

All four Gospels. None of the earlies manuscripts have names attached. They are provided by church tradition.

Anonymous said...

To me, the real problem with anonymous bloggers is the fact that we just don't know who they are.



lol

(that is unless their stupid humor gives them away)

Chris Ryan said...

Also, the Johnine Epistles are letters written by "the Elder." We have no clue who that person may actually be.

Kevin M. Crowder said...

"Also, the Johnine Epistles are letters written by "the Elder." We have no clue who that person may actually be."

The fact is, we can be more sure of the fact that the John of the 3 epistles and the John of the Gospel are the same author than we are of the resurrection. (ok, that is a stretch…but literary analysis is pretty dog-gone clear that the same person forgot to write their name on their paper.)

One need not question the long standing traditions of the names of the canonical authors. That and if you just take my word that Apollos wrote Hebrews, then the whole issue is neatly laid to rest....and speaking of rest...


K

Anonymous said...

Dave,
Thanks for your spirited response to the post about anonymity. Being the one who wrote the original post, I appreciate hearing your opinion even if I do wholeheartedly disagree. I do find your tone ironic considering that you recently wrote on your own blog that we should be able to “disagree without name-calling or character assassination,” and that “We can operate in the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, kindness, patience, self-control) and still speak the plain truth.” Calling others “irresponsible cowards” sure seems to contradict that spirit…but that’s not the point.

You are a sharp man with a keen sense for insight into situations. You usually read and respond very well to posts (I’ve been reading these things for a few years too) and I generally find myself in agreement with you.

However, you really missed the point on this one. My intent was not to compare “bloggers” in general to anyone. In fact, my comment was specifically in reference to the unique situation that Wade was blogging about…the situation at FBC Jax. There are certainly “flamers” and other trouble-makers who abuse the anonymity option, and they should be blocked or deleted (i.e. Dr. Phil in my judgment). However, there are legitimate cases for anonymity, and I think that the one being discussed here validates that point. For “watchdog” to have identified himself would have resulted in immediate expulsion and the inability to continue his course of calling attention to the obvious problems that he had at FBCJax.

Furthermore, the point was NOT in any way to suggest that the plight of anonymous bloggers is comparable to that of 16th century Puritans (although there are many similarities in SB life today!), former Muslims, or American revolutionaries. These examples were given to illustrate a point, namely that throughout history there have been those who have chosen to remain anonymous precisely because to do otherwise would be to forfeit their ability to further push for reform. They knew there was a problem. That problem lied directly with others who were in a powerful position to shut them up. They realized that the only way to continue to pressure those in authority for change was to persist in pointing out injustices. To identify themselves, in every case, would have resulted in the death of a movement. Not everyone is up for martyrdom; as I stated earlier, I’m only going to die for my Savior, my family, and my country.

You failed to address the thrust of the argument while instead choosing to focus on the analogies. The point is that anonymity is useful when those in authority refuse to justly, openly and fairly hear the arguments and grievances of others. When “little guys” know they are in a no-win situation (i.e. facing down an institution), they often feel that their only course of action is to make the corruption known and hope that their strength grows as their numbers grow. Bullies and dictators find it much more difficult to “sweep things under the rug” when they have been made known publicly. It’s easy to silence one voice, but when that voice is joined by a chorus of others, those in power have lost their ability to control the truth.

Whether or not you agree that this is what is happening at FBC Jax, Belleview, or a host of other churches…is not really the question. Each case’s individual merits must be considered. However, I refuse to do as you advocate and bury my head in the sand and ignore the concerns of others simply because they are not immediately identifiable to me.

I assure you of the following:
1. I am not bitter, nor am I angry
2. I do not get on anyone’s site in order to “vent anger” or act in a nasty way towards others
3. If I were to identify myself, I would unnecessarily suffer consequences from the SB institution with which I serve. I already know this to be true. Why would I risk this simply because I have an opinion? Should I have to worry about consequences from those “higher ups” in SB life simply because I choose to talk to others on the internet about SB issues? Well, that’s the sad state that things are in, and until they are different, I will choose to remain anonymous

I simply wish to exchange ideas with others. It is not necessary for me to identify myself for that is it? Can I not have a voice without indulging others with my identity?

I am curious though Dave…I ask this sincerely because I do not know the answer; are you very involved in SB life? I mean, I know you like to blog about issues, but do you serve in roles with conventions, institutions, boards, associations, etc… There are some in SB life that would like to continue to serve in these capacities precisely because they would like to effect change in SB life. That fact alone is enough to have them blacklisted (Wade’s experience with the IMB screams for attention here!). I want to influence change, and I want to do it the right way within SB life, but as things are now, to stay active in SB life means one must keep their opinions to themselves. Or, perhaps to share them, but to do so anonymously. 

Don’t feel so threatened Dave…they’re just ideas. Knowing who they are from makes them neither any more true or any more false. If they are true, then they are true whether I am an IMB missionary, a female pastor, a seminary professor, or a LifeWay employee. Doesn’t really matter who I am…or watchdog for that matter. Try simply judging the merit of the argument and quit worrying about the source.

Still Anonymous…

Dave Miller said...

Anon,

I am an Iowa Baptist and we do not have the same kinds of pressures of conformity that some other states have. I can fully participate in Southern Baptist life without fear that I will be ostracized or punished in some way. I'm a past convention President, but in Iowa, that just means you stayed around a while. I would love to serve as a board trustee, but Iowa does not qualify for representation.

A couple of quick points (I have been suffering clustering migraines recently and took medicine - I have a limited time until I start to drool, slobber and talk nonsense).

1) I agree (and said above) that there might be exceptions in which anonymity is appropriate.

2) I do not think 99% of anonymous bloggers fit those criteria.

3) As you picked up on, I have a very negative (perhaps ungodly) attitude toward anonymous bloggers. I do not respect people who do not sign their names.


4) The big problem is accountability. Look what happened in your comment. I wrote some things previously about what I thought was appropriate, godly blogging. You held me accountable for my words. Why? I signed my name.

(Actually, I use a NY Yankee avatar that is getting me both notice and hostility across blogdom).

If there is a legitimate reason for anonymity, you may have one.

I don't judge you. You have your reasons.

My disdain is for the vast majority of anonymous bloggers whose trees seem to bear bitter fruit.

Dave Miller said...

Try this on for size, anon, its a hypothesis I am working.

If you want to share ideas anonymously, go for it.

If you want to criticize people, sign your name. If you can't sign your name, keep your criticism to yourself.

In other words, add to the general knowledge anonymously? Fine.

Level criticisms againat another? Sign your name or hold your tongue.

Does that sound fair?

Anonymous said...

Dave,

Thanks for the gracious response. I am glad to hear that things are much different in Iowa, perhaps it will rub off on the rest of the SBC. Thank you for agreeing that there are times when anonymity is valid. The muscle that we are seeing displayed at FBC Jax, if it is accurately reported, validates my point.

I do pray that you feel better soon. Keep engaging us with thoughtful comments.

Still Anonymous...

Dave Miller said...

One more thing - it is perfectly acceptable to say anonymous, critical, even brutal things about the Boston Red Sox, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Oklahoma Sooners.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about Alcholoics Anonymous, I doubt very seriously that the millions upon millions of people that have achieved sobriety through the program would have been able to do so without the veil of anonymity to protect them from prevailing social and cultural biases and judmgents

Anonymous said...

Dave,

actually, I like your hypothesis. Allow me to observe however that the validity of it rises and falls on how one defines "criticizing people." There are unfair and uncalled-for criticisms that have no place in discourse. For example, if I suggest that my pastor is a bully or that he is immoral without any cause, then I am way out of line and inviting the judgment of God upon myself.

If on the other hand, I observe my pastor openly violating our church's constitution and by-laws and arrogantly firing staff without fear of reprisal, is it then "criticizing" him to sound the alarm to the rest of the church? What if I knew that he spoke abusively of a deacon but refused to own up to it? Many other such scenarios could be imagined, but I think you get the point.

There is a crucial difference between empty, foolish criticisms and legitimately sounding the alarm about things that have happened or are happening. Most of what "watchdog" wrote about was a matter of record, things that took place in the church. I'm not defending every word he wrote, but the point still stands...if one seeks to make known injustices, systemic bullying, or corruption, is that unfair criticism?

If we can define more sharply what you mean by "criticizing," then we may be on to some resolution.

Still Anonymous...

btw...I agree...I despise the Crimson Tide too...I'll pull for that other Alabama school!

Dave Miller said...

Anonymous or not, all true Christians despise the Tide.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly the most literal Bible translation confirms that you are probably right about women.. came across this site tonight http://www.christianbiblesociety.org/women.shtml

John Daly said...

The Puritans also dealt it out, ask Roger Williams.

If Jax & BBC feel like they need to conceal their identity then so be it, I just hope you're not putting long underwear on at night and patroling the city for bad guys :)

Anonymous said...

Most of the criticism against anonymous writers comes from those who have or had some power and position of influence such as pastor, etc. Just pointing that out.

"It stretches credulity to the breaking point to try to put anonymous Baptist bloggers in the same breath as these people."

When there is evil in the church? Abuse of position? That is no big deal? What scares me is that many here are willing to overlook abuses of power because that particular church has allowed it. That makes it ok. Says a lot about us as Christians what are willing to pass off as Christian behavior.

Anonymity is the least of our problems with pastors like Brunson.

Lydia

Anonymous said...

Take that, C.B. Scott! Anonoy unite! :-)

Sorry, Wade. I couldn't resist. He's the only person that I've read predominiately calling people "cowards" because they write anonymously. It's all in fun, because I know he would say the same thing to my face. And even then, I wouldn't be able to wipe the smirk from my face.

Bill Pfister said...

I understand those who desire to blog but who don't want to lose their jobs, especially those who are being watched because of their Calvinistic beliefs or those desiring to see a change in the good old boy network. However I have seen a critical and harsh spirit in some of my comments in the past because I had the cloak of anonymity, so I have tried to sign my name and city to replies I write so I will remember to write in a manner worthy of the Gospel.

Bill Pfister
Brevard, NC

Thy Peace said...

"You failed to address the thrust of the argument while instead choosing to focus on the analogies. The point is that anonymity is useful when those in authority refuse to justly, openly and fairly hear the arguments and grievances of others. When “little guys” know they are in a no-win situation (i.e. facing down an institution), they often feel that their only course of action is to make the corruption known and hope that their strength grows as their numbers grow. Bullies and dictators find it much more difficult to “sweep things under the rug” when they have been made known publicly. It’s easy to silence one voice, but when that voice is joined by a chorus of others, those in power have lost their ability to control the truth."

Amen, Still Anonymous. God bless you. You write well.

debbiekaufman said...

I am against anonymous posters as well. But I have been reading FBC Jax for quite a long time. I have watched the videos, seen the transcripts. He does not write without pretty solid evidence. I believe him. There is a video of Mac Brunson chewing out his congregation. It's in the archives now I am sure, but that was all the evidence I needed as I was watching. It was abuse at its worst.

He has not revealed himself, and look what the church has done to him. They now know who he is and look at what they have done to him. I can see now why he did not provide his name. The church is out for the kill. It's serious. It could ruin him just as he said it would.

Thy Peace said...

All the below links are from Pastor Wade's blog:

The Power of the Pen to Effect Needed Change

The Blessing of Being Understood

My Top Ten Regrets About Blogging: A Reflection

Stifling Dissent Is Not Baptist, And It Is Not Good

Principles Needed for Healthy Relationships

Label: Dissent

Thy Peace said...

"He does not write without pretty solid evidence. I believe him."

Amen. God bless you, Debbie.

Anonymous said...

"I am a pastor and have not and will not ever respond to an anonymous email." Wow. This is exactly what Mac Brunson said that got the first blog about him and FBC Jax started. When you take that stance, you invite public blogging. To the layman like me, sir, that statement sounds like you are an arrogant and prideful person. It makes a face to face meeting with you far less desirable since you say I "will not ever..." That sounds like a strong conviction, or hard headedness, or arrogance or stubbornness. The problem with that stance from a pastor, is eventually you will run into someone who is just as stubborn - ie: see the Watchdog. The blogs were started because Mac said "I will not ever" and the Watchdog said "then I will blog about publicly, you pompous _ _ _." Iowa pastor, if you were not so insignificant, you would be ripe for a blog about you sir. Please reconsider your stance after reading Wade's two most recent blogs. Thanks. Enjoy Iowa.

Thy Peace said...

Wiki: For Want of a Nail
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

For want of answering some anon questions to pastor ...

Joe Blackmon said...

That was a interesting comment you posted here as a blog post. Of course, it has nothing to do with anything resembling something like what the Dawg was doing related to Brunson and FBC-Jax.

If the Dawg believed what was going on was sinful, scripture says he is supposed to go to the person in question and talk to them about it. The commenter's allegation that some people died because of their criticism or that Thomas Payne wrote as an anon is like comparing apples and oranges.

If the Dawg was a real man and had half the conviction that he pretends to have on his blog he would have come forward publically. What he did was cowardly and completely without biblical support.

Period.

Anonymous said...

You pastors are unbelievable sometimes. Let's say you were abusing children, or misusing finances. (Hypothetically of course) I found out and sent you an email to ask you about this, I sent it privately but did not sign my name. Instead of responding, you preached an angry message about anonymous emails, how you never read them, and how the senders are cowards. So then I blog about your misconduct. You then call blogs, anonymous ones especially, as not credible and written by cowards. Your defenders then start questioning who the blogger is, saying why didn't he go talk to the immoral pastor, and saying "touch not God's anointed." Then your deacons and trustees use all their resources to "shut em down." No ONE ever even considers the facts that you are an adulterer and charlatan. Then Jon Estes comes on and continues to want to know who blogged about your abuses. Its almost laughable about how the issue becomes about the blogger's identity, whether HE is open and transparent or not, and about anonymous emails. Incredible. Why will no one address the underlying abuses and ask the pastor to be more open and transparent about finances, about nepotism and by-law changes.

Maybe you have to be a clear thinking laymen to notice the ridiculousness of all of this?

Anonymous said...

As a pastor I get very weary of people making saints out of anonymous bloggers like Watchdog and then chastising and even casting doubts on a pastor's mental stability if he doesn't answer anonymous emails.

The bottom line is that if WD was a spiritual as Wade says he is (from a one hour phone conversation) then he should have gone in and met personally with Mac Brunson. The sticking point here is that I doubt that WD is that spiritual or that committed to the church--or he would have known the right thing to do.

The proof is in the pudding.

Thy Peace said...

"Why will no one address the underlying abuses and ask the pastor to be more open and transparent about finances, about nepotism and by-law changes."

Amen. God bless you Anon.

RKSOKC66 said...

My major problem with anonymous blogging is that I can't tell who is on first. For example, the guy down there in JAX has been described as Dr. Dog, Watchdog, or Still Anonymous, or any of several other titles. Also, I can't really tell which, if any, of the JAX anonymous bloggers is the guy that was banned.

There are so many anonymous guys in this hunt I can't really sort them out. There could be multiple guys blogging anonymousy regarding JAX and/or Bellevue.

Each of the anonymous guys should choose an avatar and use it consistently.

There is so much noise that this whole movement to expose problems with JAX and/or Bellevue is being diluted by the "worst and most zany" of the anonymous guys. The more rational anonymous bloggers are being swamped by those anonymous bloggers on the fringe.

When Wade says something I know it is him. When Dave Miller says something I know it is him.

Roger Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

Thy Peace said...

[Fbc Jax] Watchdog = WD = Dr. Dog

Still Anonymous: a different person

It looks very likely that WD is the "accused". But I will leave it up to him to make a post about it.

"Each of the anonymous guys should choose an avatar and use it consistently."

Good point.

IT IS WRITTEN said...

To Anon 9:51:00..I as a Pastor am equally as weary of people making all Pastor into Saints!!!

Anonymous said...

Yall really think Mac Brunson will meet with someone who is disagreeing with the way things are being handled at the church?

It is pretty tiring that folks keep throwing Matt 18 at the dog. The pastor is called to higher accountability in the Bible. Is handing someone an envelope with trespass papers in them an example of Matt 18? If you say it is please explain how it is. If you are going to stress Matt 18 at least stress it to both parties.

Do you think Mac Brunson would meet with the accused blogger or any church member and answer:
1. Why the Pastor's Guidebook he wrote instructs pastors NOT to accept expensive gifts, live in expensive homes, or drive luxury cars yet he has done all those things himself?
2. Why the Pastors Guidebook instructs pastors to go meet with a disgruntled member yet Brunson did not do that himself?

These are just 2 of several issues raised by the blogger.

Take off the pastor hat and put on the church member hat and tell us please how do we handle it? How do you get these things in the open?

It seems that the only thing is to continue to allow the church to split. There are very many in FBCJAX who just won't even consider that the issues the blogger raises are true. They just don't believe anything there could possibly be true. Is the church destined to become irrelevant?

If you can't see why people are remaining anonymous I don't understand why you aren't. Folks do have a desire to spare their families from what the accused has gone through.

annymouse

Joe Blackmon said...

annymouse

I'll tell you exactly how I handled it. I called the elders of our church and asked to meet with them and told them exactly where I saw problems. I did this to their face. I didn't set up an anon blog and whine about it. I followed the biblical principal of going to the person with whom I had a problem. If you don't like people citing Matt 18 in relation to the Dawg, then I suggest you get over it. Again, if the Dawg was half the man he pretends like he is with 1/4 the conviction that he claims fuels his oh-so righteous indignation he'd say what he had to say to the man's face. He should rent a backbone and try cleaning that yellow steak off of his back.

Just as an aside, if I were a member of FBC-Jax I imagine I would have problems with the way things are run as well. I'm not saying the Dawg is wrong in WHAT he says but rather in HOW he says it.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Love you too, Joe Blackmon.

You seem very bitter and hateful to people who wish to raise serious issues at a church through anonymous blogging.

I understand people not agreeing with people who wish to blog anonymously, but to be so absolutely certain, so absolutely indignant as you are, to claim the Watchdog is a yellow-belly coward, tells us more about you, sir, than it does about the Watchdog.

Joe Blackmon said...

Never trust anyone who refers to themselves in the third person. "Bob Dole says what Bob Dole means". Anybody who does that just weirds me out, yo.

Dr. Phil said...

To all my anonymous friends and clients of the Southern Baptist Convention, and to those Southern Baptists who are not anonymous, but should be my clients (which, credit given to Dave "Miller Lite", is 99% of you).

Dr. Phil here.

I am about to diagnose the Southern Baptist problem - for free. Contributions can be made to any Darfur Relief Fund, since writing a check to help those being killed, tortured and maimed in the interior of Africa might actually wake up us KFC bloated Southern Baptists to the recognition that our silly little game is like playing Monopoly when compared to life in the interior of Africa. Now to the diagnosis.

We Southern Baptists are incredibly self-absorbed but we posture like we're Jesus. SBC ministers speak as if they are representing God in the pulpit and get in the car and ask their wive's "How'd I do?" It's hard to imagine Jesus giving His Sermon on the Mount and then turning to Mary and saying, "Mom, what did you think?" For God's sake (literally), go about your ministry and quit worrying what people think of you. We Southern Baptist laymen are just as stuck on ourselves. We remind me of my old 56 Chevy whose transmission never could get out of reverse without a great deal of groaning. We say we want progress, but instead of doing something about it, we whine like an infant baby who can't find momma's tit. For God's sake (literally), if you have a problem, march in to the pastor's office and tell him your problem. It's 20th Century America! You won't get shot. You won't be hanged. You may not be liked, but since when is being a Jesus follower about being liked? To cry over what the pastor will do to you if he discover's your identity sounds to me like a five year old throwing a tantrum for losing his lollipop. Self-absorption is our problem. We love ourselves a heck of a great deal more than we do anybody else.

Additionally, Southern Baptists blow up like peacocks mating when criticized. Grow some balls men. Wade Burleyman has deleted 90% of my comments because he says I am too offensive. So what? My goal is to let Southern Baptists know that if you dish it out for others, you need to love to eat it yourself. There will be dozens and dozens of people who will come here after my comment and damn me to hell for my anonymity. CB Snott will call me a coward. Dave Miller Lite may hiccup and then shame me. Others, I'm sure, will chime in.

The SBC Psychiatrist doesn't care. My sole purpose as the official SBC Pychiatrist is to help you identify and root out the self-absorption and pride that is causing our Convention to look like a rerun of the Brady Bunch. My pen will be turned on anyone who dishes it out and then tries to act like they are Jesus when they're scooping it.

You are welcome. Send your check to Darfur.

Dr. Phil

Anonymous said...

How do you deal with it when the pastor wont listen to you? You take it to the church when new business is brought up you bring it up in the open in person. Church business should stay in the church family. It does no good if me and my wife have a spat to have one of us go down to the local gossip hall and talk about the other. The gossip hall represents the net.
To the layman thinking it is arrogant to have a policy of not responding to anomomous emails here is the reason for it. It has nothing to do with ego or thinking I am always right I welcome being questioned it has to do with the fact that a lot of anoms want some facts they can twist. They will use half the comment not all. I also am of the persuasion in business meetings I speak in the pulpit I spreak it is all done openly and publicly. I can not hide from anything I have said and yes I feel a layperson should do the same.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Joe - I don't trust guys who for their blog picture use a man in tights, a cape, and a sock in his shorts. Come on coward, put your real picture up there.

But of course, I don't care about the picture, and I don't even care whether you are Joe Blackmon or Steve Smith or Rob Johnson. I don't know either of those three men, so I just judge your words based on, well, the words.

If I needed to know every person's name, their background, their character, etc. before I was interested in what they said, I wouldn't be blogging and neither would you. So get off the high horse, sir, about anonymous blogging.

Anonymous said...

" . . . . personally know a student at one of our seminaries working on his dissertation who was told (off the record) by more than one prof that he had better stay away from blogging or commenting or signing his name to anything critical that could be used later against him if he hoped to have a future at all in the SBC! At times, he has been scared of being kicked out of his program because of being critical of leaders, pastors, etc… during open discussions. Now he just sits quietly and withholds any criticism until he graduates."



" he had better stay away from blogging or commenting or signing his name to anything critical that could be used later against him if he hoped to have a future at all in the SBC!

What future? A future of keeping quiet, overlooking the spiritual abuse of others, turning away from those in need who are victimized by 'the authorities', abandoning all hope of behaving honorably in order to 'survive' in a tyrannical mockery of 'authoritarian' Christian rule? What future?


Better to have a future in the Kingdom of God.
than to cower one more moment in fear of the SBC's so called 'leadership'. The 'leadership' took over the SBC in a 'hostile take-over', they have ruled by intimidation, they have harmed many people spiritually and professionally, and DO NOT REPRESENT the compassion and wisdom of Christian leaders. They are charlatans with their hands in the cookie jar.
Now they are beating the sheep and the sheep are not allowed to cry foul.

Silent, tormented, beaten, fleeced sheep:
need to be following the Real Shepherd and find some peace.

Joe Blackmon said...

Dawg

This isn't about anyone being interested in what some anon blogger has to say. This is about not following the biblical principal of going to someone and identifing yourself as having a problem with them. There is no biblical justification for someone to question a person's integrity or character behind the veil of being anon. The fact is if you are not the person to whom they issued the restraining order that you allowed a person to suffer when they were innocent and you were not willing to own up to what you did is shameful. However, if you can justify saying the things you say without signing your name to them or talking with the persons directly from Scripture, I'd be glad to listen.

Again, to all readers, let me say once again that I am not some fan of Brunson. Quite frankly, I suspect I would have a problem with the way he does things if I were a member there. Just FYI.

Thy Peace said...

This comments is address to all those would Watchdog followers:

If you can follow Pastor Wade's courage, please do so with your name splashed on the blog.

If not, for whatever reasons, then do this:

I am fairly certain, this method will avoid detection. Including subpoena's issued because you are videotaping a pastor's wife or stealing a pastor wife's email. If there are more bloggers, they will soon run out of people who are being accused of leadership wife's being videotaped, no-trespass warnings issued and getting kicked out of Church.

The key idea here is consistency. And developing good habits that protect your anonymity.

To set up a blog, you need a handle or avatar or blog id.

First you need to spend some time getting to know this:

Tor: anonymity online

and possibly this:

Opera+Tor

EFF

Using the above, setup a google gmail account, get a google blogger id. Then post your blog. Then comment. All by using the above. Do not ever visit suspicious sites, like Maurilio's web properties or any blog posts, without using the above

Then the only way, even with court subpoena's, they can reveal your identity is by doing extensive traffic analysis of the exits of the Tor Servers. Remember, every 10 minutes, you are routed through a different Tor Server.

A note of caution: After 9/11, the US Govt. went after aggressively most anonymizers around the world, shutting them down. The ones that are left standing, are highly suspect. This includes the BIG GORILLA. This BIG GORILLA (euphemism for the easy to use anonymizer), is easy to use, you have to pay them money and you are easily trapped.

Please test these ideas. Feel free to research this on your own.

If any one finds holes in this, please post your comments for other Anon bloggers.

Oh, one more thing. If you wish to use a handle, even though it does not reveal your name, remember, your IP Address from you ISP can be used to track and hunt you down.

Normally these techniques should be used by people in oppressive regimes who are being persecuted. What does this tell you about SBC politics?

Thy Peace said...

This is very important:

Warning: Want Tor to really work?

Sometimes, the link does not take you to the exact paragraph. So please scroll up and read the text and follow it carefully.

Thy Peace said...

One more thing:

If you are like Watchdog, posting video and audio from fbc jax/316 networks, remember, these video viewers will not work through tor networks. Also it's very likely they are embedding and watermarking their video and audio streams with IP Address and Date/Time stamps. And if you post these video/audio on your blog, then you are done for.

Ways to work around it:

You can research TOR anonymizers that work with all ports not just port 80, 443. You might have to research this.

You can become a hacker, and zombie somebody's computer. This of course is not ethical.

You can access free wi-fi networks, but use clean computers. Flush cookies, hard disk contents that reveal your identity, your past internet history. The scripts in those video viewers (the beginning ones) are trying to pin you to a given ip, given email address and given past visit.

Thy Peace said...

EFF Releases How-To Guide to Fight Government Spying: 'Surveillance Self-Defense' Gives Practical Advice on Protecting Your Private Data

Dave Miller said...

Dr. Phil,

If you knew me, you would never call me "Miller Lite."

I have to admit my disappointment that CB Scott hasn't stopped by this thread.

I took two pretty good shots at the Alabama Crimson Tide. It's no fun if he doesn't take the bait.

Jon L. Estes said...

Most of us would rather live and go on criticizing the institution

If the volume of anonymous ones were only criticizing institutions, there might be room for acceptance but there is a vast number of anonymous people who are tossing out accusations towards other people behind their "I'm a coward" sign.

I would agree there are times when anonymity is needed, as in the safety of missionaries but when one person publically bashes another person but remains in hiding - there is a problem.

The accused ought to be able to face their accusers.

Jon L. Estes said...

Anon, 9:44,

Since you mentioned me let me clear the air a little bit in your hypothetical...

If I were a layperson who discovered that my pastor was (1) abusing children or (2) misusing finances, I would:

(1) - call the police immediately
(2) - make it public to the church finance committee, treasurer, trustees and police if necessary.

...all with my identity being
known.

There is a fear among the anonymous persons who are attacking their pastor that man's retaliation is greater than God's protection. And the anonymous bloggers want us to trust them when they can't even trust God for protection over man's retaliation. This is sad, very sad.

If I am wrong, what is it you fear so much you remain anonymous? Is your God big enough to cover you and carry you through? Mine is.

Pamela said...

In the climate of fear that a good number of leaders use to rule their people the accused facing their accusers is not a reality. Depending on the dynamic of the group many people will just quietly leave, especially if there are people like myself that were falsely accused of being an accuser when only asking questions. I know I will never go to a leader questioning anything at this point. I will not blog about them either. I will just disappear. I will say I also do not plan on being that close to a church leader to have any kind of information that some bloggers feel they need to expose. However only if I ABSOLUTELY KNEW of criminal activity I would speak out.

I guess some would call me a coward but I'm not going to be a sacrificial lamb for a group. For Christ I will. However in most cases in the USA it is the group that is at stake, not the cause of Christ. There is a vast difference in standing up for a religious system. There is no guarantee of God's protection there. HOWEVER if you are indeed dealing with the cause of Christ we have every right to expect His hand to intervene.

Jon L. Estes said...

Anonymous 10:25

The problem with you posing the Do you think Mac Brunson would meet with the accused blogger or any church member and answer:
1. Why the Pastor's Guidebook he wrote instructs pastors NOT to accept expensive gifts, live in expensive homes, or drive luxury cars yet he has done all those things himself?
2. Why the Pastors Guidebook instructs pastors to go meet with a disgruntled member yet Brunson did not do that himself?


is...

Who has gone to him and asked?

The call is from the cowards bench for someone else to man up and go talk with their friend, peer... about these things.

You say Mac is more accountable, OK but it is obvious he is not doing what you want him to do, so where then does the responsibility lie with watchdog? Who was the first to be offended (Mt. 18)? I think it was WD. Therefore he should be the first to approach Mac.

M. Steve Heartsill said...

Dave,

I would never want to speak for Mr. CB, but as a true Crimson Tide fan myself, I can tell you that we rarely waste our precious time with such dumb statements about our beloved team...then again, I guess being from Iowa, you probably don't know much about powerhouse sports teams...we just consider the source of such statements.

Steve

Thy Peace said...

Some more info on Anonymizing your tracks:

One big problem with Tor is DNS leaks:

Wiki: Tor (anonymity network)

Opera+Tor
The Javascript to reveal your IP address uses the java.net class which is disabled in Opera.

Nonetheless, more and more developers are using Flash as a payload for multimedia content. Actionscript allows you to create direct sockets using the flash.net class, but it seems as if Opera passes sockets through the proxy by default (correct me if I'm wrong). I looked it up, and it seems like Flash 10 can only reveal your IP through malicious code. Myspace or Youtube is not going to get your real IP.

In addition, Opera makes DNS requests through the OS if it doesn't get a timely response through Tor.

Alan Paul said...

Just to be sure I am understood Wade, when I said I was disappointed that you allowed anonys back on to the site earlier this week, I was referring to he flamers and those just wanting to take shots at someone... anyone.

In the case of the fbcjaxwatchdog, I agree with his anonymity. I was thinking last night after reading another blogger who has been cast out of his convention because he exposed the junk that was going on in it and didn't do it anonymously, that whistle blowers usually never come out unscathed. They usually have their lives and livelihood turned upside down. And if their cause is one of integrity, then I wholeheartedly support them - even if they choose to remain anonymous.

The flamers? The fools who just take shots at people anonymously? I can do without their space wasting comments.

Dave Miller said...

Steve, you have deeply wounded me.

I will, though, leave you with one word:

Wrestling!

(I guess it is sad that we have to look to our national championship wrestling team as our source of pride)

Steve said...

Alabama is a really tough football team! Why, they're all set to beat up on Troy State the next time they play 'em - as long as the game positively does NOT take place in the state of Mississippi!

Anonymous said...

There is a mighty case to be made for BEING a whistle-blower if you are witness to the blatant abuse of others and what would be 'regular channels' for correction have been shut down by those in power:

The case is simple: if you stand back and witness the abuse of others, what ARE you? Is the loss of self-respect not greater than the difficulties involved in standing up honorably for others in trouble? Once you lose your self-respect, what else is there to lose? If material things or a position of power is at risk, and your self-respect no longer matters, then you have already lost everything of importance. You just don't know it yet.

Dave Miller said...

Alan, I don't know if you have read the comment line above, but that is kind of what "Still Anon" and I came to in our discussion.

He blogs anonymously for reasons he thinks are valid.

I am much more skeptical about the validity of anonymous blogging.

But I think that advancing ideas anonymously has a long and noble tradition.

However, when the subject is petty criticism, the "flaming" you mentioned, it is inappropriate.

That leaves the question of someone like Jax Watchdog (is that the same person as "Still Anony" - I am not sure).

I am sympathetic with many of the goals and aims of FBC Jax Watchdog - at least based on what limited knowledge I have.

But my preference is for open blogging. What would have happened if the watchdog had gone public? He(?) would have been put out of the church. But perhaps his courage would have inspired others.

As it is, FBC Jax's leadership has the option of just saying, "Look at this anonymous posting of sinful gossip."

Again, I am a position where I don't have to worry for my job or my reputation (what little there might be).

But I still maintain that the noble response is to own your words, take responsibility and hold yourself accountable, by signing your name.

Anonymous said...

The saddest thing that I have read on this post and in the comments is that Dave Miller can't serve on a board.

We have never met, but you are one of the sharpest guys in the blog world.

We defintely need you on a board somewhere.

Louis

Jon L. Estes said...

Anon,

The loss of self respect comes when the first step taken is to lob accusations towards someone while remaining hidden instead of being sure God would protect truth if one went to the person privately.

Anonymous said...

In my usual fashion (I think they teach this in lawschool - "argue 'yes'; argue 'no", my feeling about anonymous blogging is - it depends!

Blogs like this promote the discussion of topics and ideas. Sometimes anonymous bloggers make really good points. It doesn't bother me whether an idea or point of view is promoted by Dave, Lydia, CB or Anonymous.

When people intentionally use their anonymous status to tell someting that is false or to start a fight, I feel differently.

I am not really that up to date on Dawg and FBC Jax. I knew that the courts have become involved, and that intrigued me enough to become interested. I would still enjoy seeing any orders, subpoenas etc. that were issued.

Where I have seen most of the church disputes jump the track is on a lack of judgment on the part of the dissenting member and a lack of patience on the part of the congregation.

Bylaw changes, staff hires, music changes, ministry emphasis or church style changes, compensation issues etc. are usually the stuff that gets the fur flying.

It is o.k. to disagree on this stuff. It is o.k. to be passionate.

It is generally NOT o.k. to start casting a lot of judgments abou these things.

For example, a pastor wants to start a contemporary service. A small but powerful faction of the church objects. The pastor makes the case that "I feel that God is leading us to do this..." The dissenting member says, "This is not of God. It is ungoldy."

And thus - we are off to the races.

If the church votes to do what the pastor has suggested, the member can go along with the majority, but still feel that the new service is not the best way. Or he can continue a protest movement.

If he takes that protest movement underground, this is where things get weird, usually.

Now, if the issue was actual theft, rape, mayhem etc. By all means report that ASAP and remain anonymous if you must.

But if the issue is a decision by a standing committee of your church, a financial decision, a decsion to change the music or style of your church, don't surrender your conviction, but just get over it.

That's where I have seen these things go wrong. A few lay people believe that God has called them to set the pastor sraight etc.

Then the church overreacts, and we're in a bad spot.

If anonymity is added to this mix, it is usually a very bad thing because it adds another layer to the debate.

So - for me, whether to be anony is all a question of context.

I have no hard and fast rule against it, nor do I have a strong suport in favor. Just look at all the surrounding facts. Usually, the situation will scream out - "this shouldn't be anonymous" if that is the case.

Louis

M. Steve Heartsill said...

Louis,

After seeing Mr. Dave's views related to the University of Alabama, I will use my influence to fight his appointment to any board in the SBC, unless it is a Wrestling board...he would be fit for that...or is that rassling board...depends on where you live, Steve Austin...

Steve

PS My influence and $.55 will buy you a soft drink in the machine down the hall from my desk...

Anonymous said...

To Jon Estes:


"There is a mighty case to be made for BEING a whistle-blower if you are witness to the blatant abuse of others and what would be 'regular channels' for correction have been shut down by those in power"

The important thing is that efforts ARE MADE to handle things through normal channels UNLESS the 'authoritative' pastor and his hand-picked 'trustee's (whatever happened to deacons?), decide to SHUT EVERYTHING DOWN.
When people make threats, attempt to intimidate, refuse to answer phone calls, they are basically insecure with 'normal channels' and cannot handle working with people who are self-respecting. They also MAY have a very great deal to hide. The weak 'authoritative' pastors cannot be 'reasoned with'. They shut the door and show contempt for their flock.

What then, would you do, Jon?
Walk away? Do nothing.
Bow down before the Golden Calf?
What would you do?

Alan Paul said...

Dave Miller- From what I have read, it sounds like being put out of the church would be the least of his worries if he wasn't anonymous. I think there were some who he thought would ruin his business and standing in the community. All I know is that whistle blowers are punished for blowing the whistle most times in one way or the other. And if he wants to avoid that, I don't have a problem with it - just my opinion though.

Jon L. Estes said...

Anon,

If I couldn't stand up for what is right, as myself, I would remain silent, go into my prayer closet until I could be godly enough to stand against wrong --- for Him.

Anonymous said...

Something to think about:

PEOPLE NEED A CHANCE TO
BE HEARD.

When they are 'shut down', they will still find a way to be heard.
Mac Brunson could 'order' silence all he wanted to, but he could not physically silence WD. Mac preaches 'my way or the highway' and forgets that the only Way is His Way, not Mac's.

Wade's way of trying to open up lines of communication directly is a VERY HEALTHY, respectful way of treating others AND shows his own sense of security and self-respect.

Mac wants to put all of his flock
on guard that he will not 'tolerate' any dissension or questioning. He doesn't trust his own flock to be responsible, mature, members of a faith community. That is sad

What's worse is that Mac, like PP, both show signs of having no compassion towards anyone they feel is 'irrelevant' or 'disposable'.
When pastors treat people along a sliding scale of 'Most important to 'Not At All Important', then that pastor has lost his way.

Dave Miller said...

Alan,

Permit me to make an argument that may come across as harsh, or whatever. Like Louis said above, I'm still working this all out.

Taking ownership of your words is either right or wrong. If it is right to publicly own your words, then it is right regardless of the consequences.

In other words, lets assume for the sake of argument that FBC Jax Watchdog is the servant of God in the jax situation. (I'm am making an assumption here, not a judgment.)

What is his responsibility before God? It is to stand and proclaim the truth. I believe (and I don't want to be too judgmental here, since I've not had to walk that road to this point) that he should stand up and say, "My name is Mortimer Hornswoggle and I am opposed to what is happening here at this church."

So, he becomes the focus of an unjust smear campaign. If he has taken a stand for truth, for God, and done so in a righteous way, then he should bless those who persecute him, return good for evil and leave room for the wrath of God.

"Vengeance is mine, I will repay."

in a much more limited sense, I have seen this principle work in my own life. If I do what is right and trust myself to God, his hand sustains me and his power deals with those who would destroy me.

I know how this must sound. But I believe it. And when I have practiced it, God has been faithful. Stand up. Respond to attack in grace. Let God protect.

So, while I understand why the Dog might do what he has done, I would counsel him differently (if he asked me, which he didn't).

I would counsel him to stand for what is right, to follow biblical procedures (private confrontation first), to speak the truth in love and to trust God to protect him against those who would come against him.

All I can say is that in the limited times when I have had the chance to put this principle into practice, I have seen some amazing things.

RKSOKC66 said...

Louis:

You make a lot of sense. I agree with your cogent analysis of the issue of anonymity on blogs. You are one of the most thoughtful people around here. The reason I know this is that I recognize your name from other comment streams. If you had a habit of always posting anonymously then I wouldn't know it was you.

Comments regarding JAX DAWG(s):

One problem I have with the JAX DAWG (or DAWGS), is that evidently he speaks of himself in the third person. This compounds the problems of trying to keep track of who is who on these comments because the same person is depicting himself under multiple personas.

I don't think any of JAX DAWG's allogations -- even if true -- rise to the level of a "serious" problem at JAX. High salaries, fancy cars, family members on staff, starting up a school, etc. in my mind are "minor". Things crossover into serious when there is criminal activity.

Mr JAX DAWG what is your goal? To remove MAC from his job at JAX?

At one time or another all these things have applied to me:

(1) "high salary" -- six figures

(2) "fancy car" -- 2008 Corvette

(3) "nepotism" -- Both my wife and I were being paid by the same church for work we did. My wife was the librarian at the elementary school run by the church and I was a part time sound engineer for the church

So I guess I'd be a hypocrite to call out MAC on stuff I've done myself.

In any case, I don't think the stuff you mention is necessarily disqualifying of MAC. However, I might disagree with one or more things MAC is doing.

JAX DAWG, I don't know much about the JAX situation except for whatever info filters through from you. However, from my own experience in mediating disputes in churches and elsewhere I don't think you are going to make much progress unless you go down there to the leadership at JAX and talk to them personally. If you go down there and talk to them I think there is a 33% chance you can reach some type of "accomodation" with JAX or at least "agree to disagree". Alternatively, you can just give up and let this thing go and walk away from this. Another alternative is that you can continue to blog until you are blue in the face hoping against hope that you are going to be an agent for change at JAX.

You are not making much progress with the last alternative are you?

Speaking only for myself, I don't think whatever is going on at JAX rises to the level that I'd spend many months in a campaign waging war against them. Fighting this stuff gets old.

Roger K. Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

New BBC Open Forum said...

"How do you deal with it when the pastor wont listen to you? You take it to the church when new business is brought up you bring it up in the open in person."

Oh, surely you jest! Have you read any of the information about the infamous 2007 "monkey bizness" meeting at Bellevue? Details here, here, and here. When people were lined up at the mics waiting to speak, they shut off the mics and quickly voted (looked like about a 50-50 vote) to shut down the meeting. People were calling in vain for them to "divide the house" (i.e. count the vote) for shutting down the meeting, and they were ignored. Steve Gaines was later heard bragging about how they shut down that meeting.

What many think likely triggered the "plant" to stand up in the middle of the reading of a motion and move the meeting be adjourned was the fact that the victim of the molesting minister whom Steve Gaines harbored for six months was approaching the microphone. There was absolutely no way they were going to let him speak, so as Mac Brunson says, they "Shut 'em down!"

Lest you think anyone was loud or rude or in any way tried to disrupt the proceedings, here are video clips from that meeting.

Even though visitors and non-members were allowed to stay for the meeting, they were distinctly told they could NOT vote. Yet, the pastor's sister-in-law (Donna Gaines' sister) and her daughter, who are members of a local Presbyterian church, were seated, along with her parents (who are members) in front of a row of members who observed the sister and daughter vote on every motion. I observed this from my vantage point as well.

When the meeting was abruptly shut down, Donna Gaines' father turned and stared and smirked at the people sitting behind him. His daughter (not a member of the church) turned around and stated loudly and snippily to the people behind her, "You have no ministry at this church! It's time for you to go!" Again, I was able to hear her from where I was seated, too, so it's not hearsay. No one had said a word to any of them or been disruptive in any way. The group's only "sin" was respectfully voting contrary to the majority on some motions, and one of the group was the man presenting a motion when the meeting was shut down.

Here is a description of the 2008 "bizness" meeting. By this time few recalcitrants were left to care.

By the way, the one-page-long church bylaws, written in 1929, mention monthly business meetings, but that was just another motion (to change to quarterly business meetings) which never got to be heard in the 2007 "bizness" meeting. Now they have an "Annual Church Business Meeting" preceded by a lengthy worship service accompanied by much fanfare. By that time, if anyone cared in the first place, they're too tired to care by the time the meeting is finally called into session. It's nothing more now than a big show of "Look how wonderful we are!" and "Here, rubber-stamp these motions."

Standing up and having a voice at a business meeting may work in your church. It could, but it rarely does in a large church, especially when you have a bunch of power-hungry dictators running it.

So... what's "Plan C"?

Anonymous said...

Matthew 18 doesn't say HOW to take it to the church--just to TAKE it to the church.

Anonymous said...

People get the kind of leadership they deserve.

Anonymous said...

The wimpier a flock, the more the pastor CAN be a dictator. Teaching that wimpiness is godliness flies in the face of Scripture.

Anonymous said...

So much discussion, and so many opinions, regarding the Watchdog, who we all agree is not a pastor, takes no tithes and offerings from sheep, and only blogs about concerns at his now former church. Imagine how much discussion we would get if the Watchdog pastored a mega church, accepted a land gift of $307K from a member only 3 weeks after he arrived, put his wife and son on staff, wrote a guidebook advising pastors not to do the things he did, changed bylaws, issued trespass warnings against a lady in the church who was accused of "associating with her husband." (Good things ladies at FBC don't get banned for NOT "associating" with their husbands.)

But no. Why be concerned with the well documented, ongoing abuses of Mac Brunson when we can focus on this blogger and whether he is "man enough" or is a "coward" or whether he handled his concerns appropriately. Sheesh!

No wonder religion is such huge lucrative business for the mega pastors and the marketing consultants. No common sense by the people forking over the millions.

WatchingHISstory said...

Steve Gaines should have followed Adrian Rogers practice of not having business meetings. Rogers just did things with a small group.

Gaines should have never had a business meeting in a church that had not had one in many decades.

Church business meetings are a good way to run a Church but not with a church, especially a large one like Rogers' w/o conferences.

It was a mistake that only complicated problems.

Anonymous said...

It's a perfect storm at FBC Jax. Arrogant, insecure bully who loves wealth and respect and power, takes over a church full of men who pride themselves on their wealth and power and they empower each other. A.C Soud and Mac Brunson. Twins of insecurity who have been treated with a false respect based on their positions/jobs. They want more wealth and more respect. And if anyone dares ask a question, well then these big powerful men just have to crush the plebe who dares question their mightiness.

I have NO respect for either of these bullies. They have exposed themselves as not being Christ like.

Paul Burleson said...

Since my questioning mind is always doing that..[especially about standards that are stated as if they were perfectly clear biblically but are not at all]..I'm wondering if--- since there was no gathered group other than the original diciples and a few others hanging out with them at the time--- and since the word church /ekklesia means 'a called out people for a special purpose'--- Do you suppose when Jesus used that idea in the real time moment of stating it in Matthew 18, He might have meant ANY group you choose to call out for the purpose of resolving the offense? I keep wondering how the disciples would have heard His meaning in that moment.

"Upon this rock I will build my church..." I'm sure would have been understood to mean His called out people [He's calling them] for the purpose of establishing whatever in the world He was doing.

I'm thinking maybe those guys would have heard Him say as recorded in Matt.18 take it before a group you call out for the purpose of resolving the offense.

Maybe?? I'm not staking my eternal destiny on this idea, I'm not even sure I believe it, maybe just wondering out loud...but, somehow, Matthew 18 is too easily interpreted in light of the institutional concept of the church that developed later instead of the real time meaning for me. But that's just me.

Joe White... said...

Wade's title is "Anonymous Writing Is Not Intrinsically Evil". Agreed. Of course, Anonymous writing is not "Intrinsically" anything except Anonymous.

- It certainly is not "Intrinsically" Courageous (i.e. Martin Lutheresque).

- It is not "Intrinsically" Compelling (even Wade is compelled to ignore it).

- It is not "Intrinsically" Candid (no one to confront)

Then again; while not being "Intrinsically Evil", it is basically cowardly.

Anonymous said...

Roger K. Simpson:

Thanks for the nice compliment. Same applies to you.

The reason I use the "anonymous" option on the blog comment is simply because that's the way I learned to do it when I first started comment. But I sign my name at the end.

I really don't mind anonymous comments as long as I can keep up with who is who.

I am not really that knowledgeable about FBC Jax or the Dog, but have just read some things on his website.

I also found BBC's posting about Bellevue Baptist interesting, but he also commented about a church in Nashville. So it's hard to tell if he was involved at Bellevue or the church in Nashville, or neither. Not that it matters.

The Bellevue situation is unusual in its facts, but not in its polity.

In my opinion, many Baptist churches (even big ones) are run really by the presence of persuasive, large, strong pastors. The paperwork (bylaws and such) are often old, and are merely an afterthought.

The problem is that laws regarding property, employee relations etc., and church programming, accounting, church staffs, marketing issues etc. have all developed and become complex.

People in the average church are now more educated, too.

But many churches have only old sets of bylaws that no one has read and old procedures.

When the old pastors move on, or there a move for a change brought on by society etc., and the church faces a new major decision, the situation is ripe for trouble.

Add to this the fact that lots of churches have open business meetings where anyone can step to a mic and say anything, and you end up with a dangerous mixture of lots of forces, again, in my opinion.

I have visited Bellevue maybe 3 or 4 times in my life.

A church of that size, with that property, with that complex an operation, should not (again, in my opinion) have any kind of a meeting structure where everyone who wants to speak can come to a mic and speak. The bylaws being one page from 1929 (assuming that is accurate) is a great indication of the potential for trouble. While Adrian was living, his years of service and force of personality could keep any meeting in check. But that meeting that BBC describes sounds like a zoo. And this is one of our biggest churches.

I don't want to go around telling people how they have to organize their church, or what their bylaws have to say. I know what has worked well for us, and I would recommend it. But each church has its own history that should be respected.

People's questions should not be shut down. And meetings can't become free-for-alls. Certainly there is some medium or way to structure meetings so that doesn't happen.

At a church in our town, they tried to have a vote on a matter, and dissidents in the crowd refused to stop talking and tried to shut down the vote with shouting and such.

I think that if I became a pastor, one of the things that I would work on before I got to a church was how business was conducted. I would want the input of the true leaders of the congregation factored into any decision, and I would want a time for any question that needed to be asked could be asked (even if submitted in writing ahead of time). And I would want the congregation to have a voice in the decision on most major stuff. But I would do a secret ballot vote.

And then I would hope that however the vote went, the folks who did not carry the day could move on with us - even if they felt differently.

It just makes no sense to run these multi-million dollar budget churches on horse and buggy procedures and the good will that people show to a pastor of long standing, but that might not carry over to a new person.

Louis

Jesse said...

Having been blacklisted by an Associational DOM, I can understand why some might wish to not sign their names to a post.

However, it does bother me when someone has the tendency to write vitriolic, posts and then hide behind anonymity. From the little I've read of WD's posts, it doesn't seem like he is a keyboard commando, just someone pointing out serious problems with his church who is also afraid of serious recriminations.

Jesse

P.S. Just because someone puts a name at the bottom of their post doesn't mean they have signed their real name.

Christiane said...

Lenten Reflection

COME, LET US RETURN TO THE LORD

Hosea
Chapter 6

1
In their affliction, they shall look for me:

"Come, let us return to the LORD,

For it is He who has rent,
but He will heal us;

he has struck us,
but He will bind our wounds.

2
He will revive us after two days; on the third day
He will raise us up,
to live in His presence.

3
Let us know,
let us strive to know the LORD;
as certain as the dawn
is His coming,
his judgment shines forth
like the light of day!
He will come to us like the rain, like spring rain
that waters the earth."


COME, LET US RETURN TO THE LORD

Chris Ryan said...

Kevin,

I don't know about Apollos being the author of Hebrews. He's my runner-up. I am inclined to think it was Pricilla.

But women shouldn't be "indulging in the exposition of scripture," much less writing it, so that can't be right...
*rolls eyes*

But I am with you. I see no reason to doubt the authorship traditions. But I wanted to point out that they are traditions, and the documents themselves were anonymous.

Christiane said...

Lenten Reflections:

Teachings on HUMILITY from
St. Tikhon of Voronezh
(Orthodox Russian Church)

"One of his teachings on humility is entitled, "water flows from high mountains onto low places":

"We see that water gravitates from the mountains to low-lying areas; so too, the grace of God
is poured out
from the Heavenly Father
upon humble hearts."

He goes on to explain what is needed to acquire such humility.


"Try to know yourself,
your own wickedness.
Think on the greatness of God
and your wretchedness.

Meditate on the suffering of Christ,
the magnitude of Whose
love and suffering
surpass our understanding.

Ascribe the good that you do to God alone.

Do not think about the sin of a brother but about what in him is better than in yourself ....

Flee from glory, honors and praise, but if this is impossible, be sorry that such is your lot.

Be benevolent to people of low origin.

The lowlier we are in spirit,
the better we know ourselves,
and without humility
we cannot see God."

Tikhon of Voronezh

New BBC Open Forum said...

"I also found BBC's posting about Bellevue Baptist interesting, but he also commented about a church in Nashville. So it's hard to tell if he was involved at Bellevue or the church in Nashville, or neither."

Louis,

The answer to your question is "Bellevue." Hence, the "BBC" in the name. :-)

The Two Rivers situation was well-documented on the internet. You seemed to be presenting only one side of it. I was trying to provide some balance, but I have no "inside" knowledge of their situation.

As for that "zoo" of a meeting, if you're talking about the 2007 meeting, you can watch the videos for yourself. I think everyone can clearly see that no one was being disruptive. The powers-that-be had a plan to shut the meeting down early, and they did -- with the stamp of approval of the SBC's "star" parliamentarian. And Steve Gaines bragged about it.

Here is Steve Gaines speaking at another church six months earlier describing his own actions an "information meeting" at Bellevue the night before. You really have to listen to it to get the full effect, but a little over halfway in he says, "We sat everybody down. Said, 'This is not a business meeting. It's an information meeting.' What that meant is, 'We're gonna talk.' Heh heh heh. 'But you're not.' Heh heh heh heh heh. Heh heh heh ha ha. I didn't just fall off the cabbage truck, amen?! Aha ha ha heh heh. I've been around this for a long time. Amen!"

Can anyone explain to me how this man could ever be considered "a rising star" in the SBC or anywhere else?

Alan Paul said...

David Miller-

Would you like to see a person destroyed while learning the truth? Or would you just like to learn the truth. Because that is the question. What is the truth? And the truth does not depend on the teller or the hearer. It stands by itself.

Paul may have called Peter out publicly for his hypocrisy, but had he done it anonymously, Peter would still have been guilty.

BTW: We don't read of Paul going to Peter privately do we?

Anonymous said...

Joe White - okay, you think the blogger is a coward. So what?

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that we have heard nothing lately from Wade about whether he has talked personally to Mac Brunson. Somehow I doubt that Mac is going to give him the time of day--nor should he.

Thy Peace said...

I have been slowly working my way through Pastor Wade's sermon series The Long Reach of Your Speech . Today, I listened to #14, Truthful Speech (Ephesians 4:14- 15; Ephesians 4:24-25).

This sermon is very apt for this post in particular and it also sums up Pastor Wade's heart and approach as far as this blog is concerned. I would encourage you all to listen to it. Very good.

If you watch the video, it's titled, "Apples of Gold: Truthful Speech", October 12, 2008 - Part 14 of series. The sermon is from 22:18 to 53:07.

Dave Miller said...

apologies, Alan,

I am not sure exactly where you got the idea I would like to see anyone destroyed.

My point was that if we behave honorably, biblically, obediently, even courageously, the God of heaven has obligated himself to avenge us, protect us and provide for us.

I think that sometimes we make our plans and decisions while failing to factor into our calculations the power of God.

There is a slight disconnect between what I tried to say and how you responded. I don't know if I communicated poorly or you did not read carefully.

Anonymous said...

I think Alan's point was that the truth is the truth regardless of whether the speaker is known or anonymous.

So what if any given anonymous blogger is cowardly? Isn't that between the blogger and God? Whether a blogger is cowardly or not has nothing to do with whether what he writes is true.

Shouldn't we focus on whether what is being written is true rather than on the identity and/or cowardice of the writer?

Matt

Lin said...

"I guess some would call me a coward but I'm not going to be a sacrificial lamb for a group. For Christ I will. However in most cases in the USA it is the group that is at stake, not the cause of Christ. There is a vast difference in standing up for a religious system"

Pamela, Good point.

Thy Peace said...

Wiki: Anonymity

Anonymity on the Internet

Most commentary on the Internet is essentially done anonymously, using unidentifiable pseudonyms. While these names can take on an identity of their own, they are frequently separated from and anonymous from the actual author, creating more freedom of expression, and less accountability.[2] The online encyclopedia Wikipedia is collaboratively written mostly by authors using either an unidentifiable pseudonym or an IP identifier, although a few have used an identified pseudonym or their real name. However the IP number allows identification and thus the anonymity on the internet is rather an illusion — unless you use anonymizing services such as I2P or Tor — which is for free and in fact grants more security than centralized anonymizing services where a central point exists that could disclose your identity. Your anonymity or proxy can be analyzed by using this free online tool

RKSOKC66 said...

There are several dimensions to the activities of the dissident bloggers.

One point is whether or not the stuff being raised by the JAX DAWG and/or BBC Open Forum is true. [In my opinion I'd say that the narrative is "true" -- given the narrative is substianted by various video and sound bytes. However, we are only getting one side]

Another point is do the offenses charged raise to the level that termination of the pastor is warrented.

Another point is whether or not it is proper for these bloggers to operate anonymously. [I have no input either way except I wish the bloggers would either adopt a standard avatar or use some consistent psuedo-name so I can keep track of them. This is especially challenging when evidently the JAX DAWG refers to himself in the third person]

MY MAIN POINT is "what is the blogger's goal?" What tangible changes are they trying to implement? Are they trying to have certain pastors removed? If so, then I don't think blogging is going to help them achieve their goal especially if they are operating anonymously.

To remove pastors from office requires marshalling considerable support from the leadership of the church. Your not going to marshall this support by doing stuff that pits you against them.

Even if you could convince 99 44/100% of all of us here in blogtown that these guys should go it doesn't mean anything.

Blogs can help to address systemic problems accross the SBC at large because many of us are going to (or could if energized) attend the annual SBC meeting and vote for a given candidate or resolution. However, very few of us are going to be weighing in on who is the pastor at BBC or JAX.

My bottom line -- I think the dissenting bloggers are going to find that they are not getting much traction.

Roger Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

Anonymous said...

What is going in here?

Some puffed-up gas-bag in Jacksonville is holding his flock hostage, threatening to 'shut 'em down' (whatever that means) if they so much as breathe loudly.

And his minions are on this site howling 'coward' at the Watchdog because the All-Seeing Canine has it in his mind to write anonymously on his own site.
Good grief.
Will someone please tell me what century this is and what country I'm living in?
I thought it was the year 2009 and someone recently told me it looks a lot more like America now than it did last year.

Like FREEDOM OF SPEECH is back.


Gas bags deserve a bit of rough and tumble. They can dish it out and Mac does, but they can't take it, and Mac can't.

As for you Observant Canine, you can say anything you want short of threats and crying 'fire' in a crowded theater. If Mac has done the HALF of what you have documented, he is a gas-bag from hell.

You don't NEED permission from ANYONE to speak up. This is America, son, and YOU ARE A FREE MAN. You have my word on it.
I myself am sixty-two, old enough to say any darned thing I want to, which I do, and nobody stops me.
Just let 'em try. By the time I'm ninety, I will really get into high gear. My advice is to say what you want, when you want, to whom you want, and don't pull any punches. Give 'em hell. Go for it. It's about time somebody around here told you it's okay.

As for Debbie, those two deserve each other and what goes round comes round. This Florida soap opera is a JOKE, that place is not a church, it's a circus.

Somebody needs to go in there and tell Mac his zipper is down and his pride is showing. Nuff said.

Dave Miller said...

The anonymous flamer directly above me is exactly why I tend to call anonymous bloggers cowards.

The blogger calls names, uses ridicule and just about every form of ungodly speech - but will not sign his or her name.

that comment is exhibit A on why I am against anonymous blogging in general.

Anonymous said...

I CAN SIGN ANONYMOUS.
IT'S A FREE COUNTRY.
CALLING ME A 'COWARD' DOESN'T WORK, YOU IDIOT.

I CAN DO THIS BECAUSE I WANT TO DO IT.
I HAVE THAT FREEDOM.
AND YOU CAN'T TAKE THAT AWAY.

nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave, your own words, "you believe: IT IS JUST YOUR OPINION, YOU HAVE NO FACTS TO SUPPORT YOUR "BELIEF"

ANON

Anonymous said...

What's that crack about 'ungodly'.
I've never seen a more ungodly set of leaders anywhere than PP and MB.
Defend 'em if you want to.
But they are NOT of Christ.
This word 'ungodly' is used to label anyone who stands up to their crap.

gmommy said...

"Steve Gaines should have followed Adrian Rogers practice of not having business meetings. Rogers just did things with a small group.

Gaines should have never had a business meeting in a church that had not had one in many decades."

Dave,
Then there are others who DO sign their names but say things that are not true at all. Is that any better???
The person making that comment about business meetings at BBC was never a member there.
I was present for many Wed. night business meetings while AR was pastor.
There were no Parliamentarians present or dog and pony shows prior to a business meeting.

Signing his name to a false statement does not make it true.

Anonymous said...

Oh snap!

Rex Ray said...

Dave Miller,

What is going in here?

Some puffed-up gas-bag in Jacksonville is holding his flock hostage, threatening to 'shut 'em down' (whatever that means) if they so much as breathe loudly.

And his minions are on this site howling 'coward' at the Watchdog because the All-Seeing Canine has it in his mind to write anonymously on his own site.
Good grief.
Will someone please tell me what century this is and what country I'm living in?
I thought it was the year 2009 and someone recently told me it looks a lot more like America now than it did last year.

Like FREEDOM OF SPEECH is back.


Gas bags deserve a bit of rough and tumble. They can dish it out and Mac does, but they can't take it, and Mac can't.

As for you Observant Canine, you can say anything you want short of threats and crying 'fire' in a crowded theater. If Mac has done the HALF of what you have documented, he is a gas-bag from hell.

You don't NEED permission from ANYONE to speak up. This is America, son, and YOU ARE A FREE MAN. You have my word on it.
I myself am sixty-two, old enough to say any darned thing I want to, which I do, and nobody stops me.
Just let 'em try. By the time I'm ninety, I will really get into high gear. My advice is to say what you want, when you want, to whom you want, and don't pull any punches. Give 'em hell. Go for it. It's about time somebody around here told you it's okay.

As for Debbie, those two deserve each other and what goes round comes round. This Florida soap opera is a JOKE, that place is not a church, it's a circus.

Somebody needs to go in there and tell Mac his zipper is down and his pride is showing. Nuff said.


Dave, does that make you feel any different?
Rex Ray

Rex Ray said...

This is what happened to me when I protested the influence of my pastor in shaping our church constitution.

1. Our church is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas that accepts the BFM 1963.

2. Our church started in 1944 where I was a charter member. It has never had a church constitution, so our pastor of two years and I have been working on one for over a year and the statement of the BFM 1963 was never in question.

3. The deacons were called on to help us and in the first meeting the BFM 1963 was accepted.

4. I was sick the second meeting and the BFM 1963 was deleted and replaced by two pages of both BFMs stating, “Scriptures, God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Man, Salvation, Church, and Second Coming.”

5. The pastor gave the church a paper saying he would lead the church to join a conservative convention and accept the BFM 2000.

6. Two days before the deacon’s meeting that I missed, he sent an email to me saying, “If we spell out our ‘Essentials of Faith’, there would be no need to reference the BFM at all.”

7. Wade’s post of Thursday January 15, 2009 was: “Problem of Authoritarianism in the Conservative Pulpits of America”. I made a comment saying, “Our pastor wanted the BFM 2000, but in failing, influenced those present to specify neither one.” January 15 1:55 AM.

8. The same day, the pastor emailed my comment to the deacons.

9. And the same day, the oldest deacon, besides me, emailed the deacons: “How can Rex say this publicly when he did not attend the meeting in which I proposed [deletion of 1963.] Pastor I can only apologize if what I recommended caused one of the other people to attack you unjustly.”

I have not talked to the deacons about the emails and I stand alone for having the 1963 in our constitution. I know the deacons like me, but their kidding is getting too much…last Sunday before church started a friendly message on the church screens got a laugh when it flashed, “Rex—troublemaker.”

Any advice?

Anonymous said...

In Texas corporation law, a church constitution by itself is not considered a document all that important--instead, a church's Articles of Incorporation (filed with the State of Texas) and its bylaws are, by far, the more important documents. So, aside from spelling out a bit further what the congregation considers itself to stand for, the work of your group isn't that important--and, if your church is like the typical one, the document will go on a shelf and seldom see the light of day again. So, a person would have to consider whether or not any action is worth the effort.

It might be that the senior pastor prefers the BFM 2000 version and the SBTC convention; he ought to say so and permit the matter to be discussed/decided about. If you prefer the 1963 version, tell your fellow-members why. The body will have to make the final choice (but ANY YEAR'S VERSION OF THE BFM WILL DO). Stand on your admirable record of service, but be the first to admit it when/if you make a mistake--no one is perfect. Let the circumstances speak for themselves and for whomever they may point to as messing up in this situation if a mistake has occurred. Don't take anything too seriously, and be ready to forgive and forget; don't be passive-agressive, be a proactive discussion-leader if one is needed and be one of the first to grant forgiveness.


David

Anonymous said...

to Joe B and all

re going to the elders to voice concerns:

If anyone does and they ask the "wrong" person they will be reported to the discipline committee. Asking questions = disagreeing = criticizing.
If you ask a question then you must disagree and therefore you are a threat to the unity of the church.

anny

WatchingHISstory said...

gmmomy

This is news to me! Wed night business meetings, no parlimentary procedures! Were ther mics for people to speak?

Strange in all the discussions this is the first mention of AR's business meetings. You mean to tell me that all that was built at Bellevue was built with wed nite business meetings?

Why then could not Bellevue conduct a legitimate business meeting, in a orderly manner? Didn't the leaders know that you could not conduct a formal meeting with a large crowd that did not know what a formal meeting was?

Gmmomy, informal wed nite meeting are for information to the congregation informing them what has already been decided. It is a dictorial form of leadership.

But you are right that I posted without knowledge of these informational meetings. I apoligize for that itty bitty error.

Anonymous said...

BBC:

Thanks for clarifying. I just couldn't tell what church you were from.

I will take your word for it that the Bellevue meeting was terrible.

I don't think that I have the stomach to watch it.

I am not trying to present any "side" of the Two Rivers situation.

I don't know what's on the internet. Anyone can put stuff up on the internet, and testing its truth is really hard to do.

What I know comes from the court's decision and some of the paper work filed in court.

The 70 or so members sued the Church, the Pastor, another staff member, the church secretary, the chairman of the deacons, the chairman of the finance committee and others, seeking to have them ousted and for damages, I believe.

The court dismissed the bulk of the lawsuit. That opinion is probably available on the net somewhere, and that internet posting would be a reliable document.

The court did allow the plaintiffs to see some financial records that had not been previously provided. But whatever was provided did not breath life back into the suit or provide any basis for church to act against the pastor or others.

The records showed various things, but none of the expenses were anything that the church chastised the pastor about or asked him to pay the church back for, as far as I know.

I heard the biggest deal was the church's payment for the pastor's daughter's wedding reception. I heard that at the time, the staff recommended and the finance committee approved that expenditure because they encouraged the pastor to invite the entire church since the woman had grown up in the church, instead of a private reception that had been planned for just close friends etc. (I guess it's expensive to have a reception for more than 1000 people, so the church paid for it).

The 70 or so plaintiffs didn't like that, but the church apparently didn't mind.

In the midst of the lawsuit, the press reported that the church voted to affirm the pastor's leadership.

You asked about the destruction of records and why the court did not hold the church or the people who did that in contempt.

I don't know the facts regarding that. But usually courts are very stern about this stuff, and I am sure that if the court felt its order had been violated, the court would have acted. Apparently, the court did not. I am not in a position to second guess the court's judgment on that. And, again, my only reading on this has been in the press and from court papers (not internet sites or private allegations).

The thing that I was saying in my original comment on this was not really to evaluate the right or wrong of the lawsuit etc.

It was to report that this church went through a lot of public turmoil for a year or two for really no reason.

The pastor has moved on and I understand is doing well.

The church is struggling. I don't know how many of the 70 plaintiffs are still there. For all I know, their lawsuit may still be on appeal, but I don't know. (They did appeal the trial court's dismissal of the suit).

I understand that a lot of the people who supported the pastor left after this was all over because even though they were in the majority, they feel like a vocal and hostile minority filed a frivolous lawsuit and ran off their pastor.

I am sure there are 2 perspectives on this.

But there is only one result.

I don't think that unsuccessful lawsuit (which apparently was meritless, according to the court), all of the negative press about the church for a couple of years and all of the fallout from that helped the church in any way.

I would definitely feel differently if there was a case of theft or criminal wrongdoing. That obviously did not occur here. There was never any criminal charge filed.

There has to be a better way of resolving differences than this.

That's my only point.

I hope things get better at Bellevue. Do you still go there, or did you move your membership?

Take care.

Louis

Christiane said...

Dear REX RAY,

It's me, L's

Just reading your time-line there, I was thinking that your new pastor has probably had an agenda that is slowly being revealed.
It sounds like he 'tests the waters' to see how far he can go.
Once 'successful', he goes further.
At least now you know his plan to 'lead the church to a conservative convention and adopt the BF&M 2000'.

So finally your pastor has put his cards out on the table.

Other observation is that 'gentle joshing' of flashing 'Rex-troublemaker' on the church screen is neither gentle nor just joshing.
It was mean-spirited and designed to intimidate you with humiliation.
Fat chance they have to do this, I say. We know you too well, Rex, and nobody is going to intimidate you: you come from good stock.

Another thought: of course the deacons like you, how could they not? Yet they allowed changes to be voted on when you were not present. These changes were not minor ones. Looks like your absence provided the pastor with the incentive to 'move' on his agenda.

As for the pastor quoting your e-mail, my former students from the projects would have said this:
'he is stirring the pot'.
In ghetto-talk, this means, he is game-playing: setting you up as the 'opposition', warning others not to oppose him or they could be humiliated too, and 'dividing' the congregation into 'his followers' and 'troublemakers'. Not good.

My concern is two-fold.
First your pastor sounds like he is walking tentatively and not forthrightly in accomplishing his agenda. He has made use of:
1. your absence at the meeting
2. 'stirring the pot' quoting
your e-mail and trying to
'divide' in order to conquer.
3. using the church screen trying
to humiliate you 'gently'
(hogwash: I say 'brutally')

I think this postor sees you as 'in his way', Rex, and my second concern is this:

the tactics displayed so far were intended to 'marginalize' your influence, especially with the 'joshing', but I think it is hitting you very hard indeed.

I am concerned that the pastor is trying to PROVOKE A REACTION from you, and that the strain will be great for you.

I think he is counting on a 'reaction'.

So. Advice.
Don't 'react', REX.
Quietly pray about this.
Decide on a a course of positive ACTION that expresses your personal stand, your love of your church, and your faith in Christ.
Then follow your heart under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Then, no matter what happens,
you will have done what is right.
You may have to endure some attempts at 'humiliation', but REX, they shame themselves.

This 'plan of action' is something that YOU initiate. It gives you much more power and control over the situation than 'reacting' would.

Don't count on earthly victory here, Rex. Just do what is right, after praying for guidance and strength. It will come. :)

I will continue to pray for your well-being during this time.
When my friend is troubled, I am troubled.
Remain peacefully in His Care. Love, L's

New BBC Open Forum said...

Rex,

If you were a member of Bellevue, the advice would be "if you don't like it, leave." I hope your pastor is more gracious... and all that stuff L's said. :-)

Anonymous said...

"I don't know what's on the internet. Anyone can put stuff up on the internet, and testing its truth is really hard to do."

Translation: I don't care if you have video of Gaines talking and of the entire meeting. It proves nothing

"I would definitely feel differently if there was a case of theft or criminal wrongdoing. That obviously did not occur here. There was never any criminal charge filed."

Translation: If there are no criminal charges in a secular court, then nothing wrong was done.

Lydia

New BBC Open Forum said...

"I don't know how many of the 70 plaintiffs are still there."

Uhhh... I would guess zero since they were voted out of the church... at least the second time a vote was held. Jerry Sutton didn't like the results of the first vote, so he held another one, this time not allowing the recalcitrant members to vote. Or at least that's what I read on the internet.

Only By His Grace said...

Wade.

As usual I am running way behind. I loved this article and the sane approach you have taken.

I have a couple harebrain ideas and at sixty-eight, I ain't got much hair left, but here is a couple or three.

1. If you disallow all anonymous comments, it is sort of an argumentum ad hominem approach where the argument must stand with the person and not the argument itself.

2. A couple of those in history I can think of are George Eliot the wonderful author of "Silas Marner" and C.S. Lewis who hid behind the name of "Screwtape" after his dramatic conversion to Christ which shook the whole western literary world. I believe George Eliot's real name was Mary Ann Evans.

3. I understand that "anonymous" writers can take unfair advantage of your blog, but you can always intervene.

Okay four.

4. I do wish the anonymous comments would have some way of identifying themselves as the same person such as "whacko," "Jerk One" or "Jerk Two" or some other panhandle name so we can talk intelligently with the same person. I believe the personal touch is important. We do not need to really know the actual person, but a made up name would be helpful to me.

Phil in Norman alias, "Red on the Head," "Carrot Top," "Rabbi," "YoYo," "Kentucky," "Rebel," and "Sudzie."

You can tell I was a street child of the fifties when no one called anyone by their real name. In the seventh grade, one of my teachers was giving out report cards at the end of the school year. When he called my name, he said, "Who in the world is Phil Ratliff? I stood up and the teach said, "Oh, Kentucky, I just forgot." When you come out of Pike County, KY into Rochester, NY, your ridge runner accent dominates everything.

WatchingHISstory said...

well at least Gaines tried to have a business meeting in a church that didn't know what a business meeting was. He was like a bull in a china shop.

Rogers built a delicate china shop where he alone could waltz through without distrubing crystal. This is not what Christ had in mind when He said He would build his church. Pastors should come and go in Christ's church but if a man builds a church then no one can follow.

Bellevue was built on Rogers' personality and not Christ.

Lin said...

Phil, You are hilarious. Good points, all of them.

Rex Ray said...

David,
Thanks for the advice. I agree our constitution will seldom see the light of day, but it becomes an anchor if some leader wants to change from grape juice to cool-aid.

Our small country church with a new million dollar addition has never had bylaws. The deacons were called in to help because of a ‘deadlock’ of ‘my’ version had the pastor reaching for a towel (Wade’s blog) instead of his (my opinion) reaching for a throne.

I agree with you the church should decide if they want the old convention and the BFM 1963, or the new convention and the BFM 2000.

This question was settled years ago when I was on the pulpit committee on deciding what applicants to consider. But when I volunteered to be on the pulpit committee again that question was disregarded and I was replaced by a 15 year-old girl on the excuse it would be good training for her.

Most of our congregations including the deacons don’t know the difference between the two BFMs. At our last meeting I gave the deacons a comparison:
http://www.mainstreambaptists.org/mob1/articles.htm


New BBC Open Forum,
I’ve enjoyed reading your comments and your blog.

I’m glad our church is not like Bellevue, and I hope it stays that way.

I take it you agree with “all that stuff L’s said. :)


Speaking of L’s,
Thanks for the encouragement. I don’t get much from deacons as yesterday; I was asked if I would be happy in heaven. In my opinion he paints the picture if there’s a problem it’s the messenger’s fault.

L’s, you hit the nail on the head with your “test the waters”. At the question and answer interview of being chosen as pastor, I asked about the ‘paper’ he gave the church since it agreed with ten of Frank Harber’s bylaws.

He replied they wouldn’t work at our church.

“See, he said they wouldn’t work here.” Duhh

I need to explain more about “Rex-troublemaker”. It was sort of an example of ‘When life hangs in the balance and a friend tosses on a rose’.

I don’t believe the screen controller meant to do me harm. While I was working about full time to construct the new church, he spent his spare time doing the same…even using vacation time. He was the designer, engineer, carpenter, master electrician, and problem solver. He was the main person to get the project started with a vision of looking fifty years down the road.

Due to a fall, I missed almost a year of work on the church, while he carried the load. He and I are on the ‘building and grounds committee’ which interprets we’re expected to do any work that needs to be done without ‘thanks.’
Any complaint is countered with “are you working for the Lord or the praise of man?” That really puts us in our place.

A year ago, the church had a ‘Saturday work day’. The 39 year-old pastor did not attend, and I had told him we lacked two pieces of insulation.

Next day in the morning service of asking for concerns or praise, I said we wanted to praise the Lord for the ‘work day’ in getting the sheetrock done in the youth department. The pastor replied, “Did you get all the insulation up?”

L’s, your advice of “Don’t react” is reassuring. The ‘new song service’ is killing me, and I had told my wife that I was planning not to attend the song service.

My friend above called and asked what I was doing. I said “Nothing”, but I was constructing in my mind a ‘goodbye letter’. He asked if I’d go about twenty miles with him to get some church supplies. I went with him and realized he wanted to talk. I thought how can I let him down because the ‘letter’ included only attending SS.

Things are looking up though, as in the last deacon’s meeting several deacons voiced their concerns of the traditional songs being done away with. One said a survey concluded the number one reason why people left churches was they didn’t like the song service.

We have many new members, but the back door has a leak. The glowing prediction of within two years we’d be near 300 in attendance has not reached a third of that. Granted it was cold last Sunday, but we had 59 in SS. Even so, our budget has no problem as it has increased for next year with the faith of growth.

Dave Miller said...

Okay, I am sure this thread has run its course, but let me just say this:

Yes, you have the right as Americans to say whatever you want.

But, as christians, we have the right to do only that which brings glory to HIM.

I would question whether some of the anons above give much thought to glorifying God.

Anonymous said...

Anons who hate gas-bags probably so.

Anonymous said...

1 Timothy 5:19 "Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses."

If the church is organized according to God's word then many of these problems can be avoided. Part of the problem is that most traditional baptist churches have gotten away from being organized properly. If a pastor is in sin (especially abusing his power) then there should surely be 2 0r 3 witnesses to come forward. If not, then the scripture clearly teaches that the charge should not be admitted. I have seen this happen 1st hand. The charge came from 1 and in fact even ended up being truthful(future evidence came out and there were 2 0r 3 witnesses. If members of the Local Body are not willing to step up and speak out against sin and confront then Biblically the leaders of the church cannot take action.

Michael Scott

Jennifer said...

Rex~My father is about the same age as you and he has much better ways to spend his "later years" than on a blog spewing lies and hatred. Your accusations of "stirring the pot" fit the bill of another lovely metaphor known as the "pot calling the kettle black". Get a life Rex.

Rex Ray said...

Jennifer,
Thanks for giving me credit of “stirring the pot”, but I’m afraid that wisdom came from the Catholic lady, L’s.

Would you agree her loving attitude puts most of us Baptists here to shame?

I hope your accusations of “lies and hatred” don’t get so bad that Wade has to do another deletion program.

I also hope your father does not have a fundamentalist pastor desiring a non-fundamentalist church to do things his way.

I believe any birthday presents I get today will be better than yours. :)

Christiane said...

Hi JENNIFER,

It's me, L's

I made that statement about 'stirring the pot'. It is ghetto-talk for doing that which gets everyone going, and then either enjoying the outcome or taking advantage of the outcome.

I am worried for my friend, who is troubled. He has asked for advice and I gave the best that I could. I am the 'trouble-maker', although I really just wanted to help my friend. Please blame me for that phrase which you attributed to REX. L's



Hi REX RAY: Happy belated birthday. God Bless You, L's

Jim said...

Rex Ray,
What's up? A "little fall" and you skip a years worth of blessings! My back is still hurting from carrying you for that time . . . all over a lousy bunch of pears!

Dave Miller, I tip my hat (if only I wore one) to your for the comment
"Yes, you have the right as Americans to say whatever you want. But, as christians, we have the right to do only that which brings glory to HIM."

All to often we get stuck on a issue and cannot "see the forest for the trees". If our words and actions are not promoting His kingdom, then they are nothing.

We should not hide behind a veil of anonymity when communicating with others, especially if we want to be taken seriously.

L's,
I wish you only knew how good of a relationship that Rex and I have. You would know that the screen comment was nothing other than the back and forth harassment that he and I do. Another check would also let you know that I aspire to be like him when I reach his age - although I don't think I will tell my wife that I am going to live to be 100 . . . Hey Rex . . . should I continue??? Better not. Maybe neither of us will get in trouble that way!

Speedy