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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Republic's Gone and What's Next Is Chilling

When the invalid eighty-one-year-old Benjamin Franklin was carried out of Philadelphia's City Hall at the conclusion of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, it is said that a woman stopped the caravan carrying the most famous American of the 1700's and asked "Mr. Franklin, do we have a monarchy or a republic?" The response came:
"A republic, Madame, if you can keep it."

I'll never forget my fourth grade teacher asking us if the United States was a democracy or a republic. Most of us didn't know what either term meant, but the majority of us answered "A democracy."

Our teacher then asked us to stand and face the American flag, place our hands over our hearts, and cite the Pledge of Allegiance.
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands..."
Our teacher stopped us..., "Listen to what you just said - 'and to the republic.' Boys and girls, never forget the United States of America is a republic, not a democracy."

After we sat down, a boy raised his hand and asked the question, "How is a republic different from a democracy?"

Our teacher rightly responded - "A republic is a rule of law, established by representative leadership. The ancient Roman republic was the model our American forefathers used in establishing America's republic form of government. Democracy was feared by our forefathers, not favored."

That little exchange when I was ten years old began a lifelong love for republicanism. I began to learn what our forefathers believed. For example,  during the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph reflected on the multiple discussions the delegates had during the four months of debate regarding the "evil" in governments and the "evil" in political systems. He reflected
 "...that in tracing these evils to their origin every man (at the Constitutional Convention) had found the origin of evil in the turbulence and follies of democracy."
John Adams said,
"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."
John Marshall, who later became Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court observed,
"Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos."
The reason Benjamin Franklin responded, "A republic, Madame, if you can keep it" is because he--along with the other Founding Fathers--believed that a republic would eventually descend into a democracy, a democracy would quickly dissolve into anarchy, and anarchy would ultimately lead to totalitarianism.

As of last week, the rule of law in America (i.e. "the Constitution") has been abandoned. We are no longer a country governed by law (i.e. "a republic"), but rather, a government ruled by the wishes of people (i.e. "a democracy"). The trifecta verdicts by the Supreme Court last week are important because the "rule of law" was set aside by Supreme Court activists who decided it was important that people have equal outcomes.

This is cause for celebration by many Americans. It's not my desire to damper anyone's party, but it is my responsibility  to remind those who love our country of what our Founding Fathers believed about the descent from a republic to a democracy.

What comes for America next is anarchy.

Then what follows is totalitarianism.

The good news is for believers in Jesus Christ is that we belong to "holy nation" (I Peter 2:9), are citizens of a "city not built with human hands" (Hebrews 11:10),  and are "pilgrims on a journey through this world" (I Peter 2:11).

Remember to whom you really belong, because the republic you once knew and loved has fallen.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fight It Back, Tullian Tchividjian, This Fade to Black

I've never met Tullian Tchividjian, nor have I had any conversations with him via email or phone. However, I've read enough of what he's written to take up a defense of his gospel preaching. On a side note, I am sometimes asked "What is your favorite post of all the posts you've written?" The one where I defend Tullian Tchividjian's gospel preaching is always my answer.

When information from an anonymous blogger went public last Sunday that Tullian stepped down from his pastorate at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church because of an extra-marital affair, my heart was saddened. I don't know any details of Tullian's sin, but there's enough information out there to know that the decision to step down was wise and necessary..

The moment I heard Tullian stepped down as pastor I began following Tullian on Twitter.

Here's the first tweet from Tullian I saw:

Amen. Tullian. What you've said is gospel truth,

Then, 24 hours later, I read Tullian's second tweet since his sin became public.

Again, amen, Tullian. This gospel truth is sometimes difficult to understand for people who've always equated horizontal consequences with vertical favor. We both know that a believer in Christ has had his sin nailed to the cross, and God's condemnation is borne by Christ. However, since our sins occur in time, the horizontal (human) consequences that result from our sin are often painful. Surrender early indeed. The muscle of self-discipline grows weary quickly, so it's better to avoid temptation than to fight it after it's risen. And we all succumb to temptation and sin -- even as believers in Christ. You are so on target about horizontal consequences being different from vertical consequences.

Then, Tullian tweets a few hours later.


Grace would only be grace if we were undeserving. Otherwise, God's favor would be merited and couldn't be called grace. God feeds off  the bottom of humanity. "Not many self-righteous are called...."

But, alas, Tullian tweeted a final tweet this past Tuesday, less than 48 hours after his resignation, It is this tweet that has caused me some turmoil.

Tullian, I don't know if you are reading this post or not, but I'd like to share with you a conversation my wife and I had the other night about your "fade to black" tweet. We both believe your desire to fade into the background is the result of the criticism you received for your statement to the Washington Post regarding your wife, as well as the public humiliation your sin has brought to you.

The other night I couldn't sleep. My wife sensed it, and she questioned me.

"What's bothering you Wade?"

"Tullian Tchividjian" I replied.


"His statement, 'I'm so sorry. I love you all...fade to black..'"

"Why is that bothering you?"

"Because the message of grace is too powerful in and of itself, regardless of the failure of the messenger. Tullian has preached grace powerfully, but his statement 'fade to black" indicates to me he struggles understanding the difference between the message and the messenger."

"What do you mean?"

"Grace is for sinners. Tullian, like all of us, is a sinner. The message hasn't changed, so why "fade to black?"

"Because he's failed Wade. He's violated his covenant with his wife. He's an adulterer. He's disqualified as a pastor."

"I don't disagree. That's not what's bothering me. It's the message "Fade to black..."  Why "fade to black"? Right now the message of grace is needed more than ever. Tullian should know that at this very moment he has the opportunity share the gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way that it will impact the woman who sold herself into prostitution, or the young girl who had sex with her boyfriend and had an abortion, or the married man who committed adultery on his wife, or the businessman who stole from his company and is headed to jail..."

"But people aren't going to listen to him because of his sin, Wade. They'll call him a hypocrite. I understand why he feels the need to 'fade to black.'"

"Maybe that's our problem with church today. We have created an environment where we must have preachers who pretend they're perfect in order to deliver the powerful message of grace, and if they aren't, then the people refuse to believe their message. Maybe the real sin is church people or church leaders who create religious environments where people can't be real about their struggles, transparent about their failures, and open regarding their weaknesses. In other words, maybe what we've done is create a culture of celebrity preachers who must be perfect in every way - looks, speaking, marriage, etc...-- or else they must "fade to black."


"So what's bothering you Wade is not that Tullian stepped down, but that he went silent with his message of grace."


"Well, what in the world could Tullian Tchividjian say right now?"

"Exactly what grace teaches him to say. I screwed up. I'm a sinner. I committed adultery. Worse, I blamed my wife. I am a bottom feeder in need of Divine favor. I'm not going to white wash it, lie about it, or justify it. I broke my marriage covenant. I committed adultery. But my "big sin" didn't just happen overnight. I walked through multiple smaller doors before I reached the exit door. I loved the adulation of those who thought me inspired. I sought the praise of men. I built a culture at both the church and the ministry I lead that revolved around me. My sin of adultery is only the last step up the ladder of personal pride. My adultery happened to be the step that actually broke my life and caused my fall from ministry, but it's only the last public sin of a long list of personal private sins. I'm a sinner just like you in need of God's grace now more than ever"

"Wow. Wade. That's too long to put on Twitter."

"Yep. I think maybe that's the issue for me. The message of God's grace is too complicated, too profound, too messy to fit into 140 characters on Twitter."

"So, what would you have preferred Tullian tweeted?"

"Something like this: 'My adultery may have disqualified this messenger from the pastorate, but it's certainly not disqualified my message about Him. Truth be known, I need more gospel now; more of Him now; not less. I'll be tweeting more about Jesus.'"

That, more or less, was my wife's and my conversation the other night.

To Tullian and my pastor friends who wish to "fade to black" when it comes to the gospel in the face of our sins, I offer some words that I wrote a few years ago about Jesus:

"In Hebrews 10:17-18 the Lord says, “This is the covenant I will make with them (us)… I will remember their sins no more.” For the life of me I can't understand why pastors would put emphasis on remembering what God forgets. There’s no denial Christians struggle with ‘indwelling sin.’ There's also no denial that sin is destructive. The question, though, is "How does a believer defeat indwelling sin?" I am absolutely, positively, one-hundred-percent convinced that every Christian leader who places more emphasis in his ministry to Christians on indwelling sin than he does Jesus Christ, will ultimately lead his people down the path of religious bondage, emotional pain and spiritual abuse. Sin's power and influence are only diminished by displaying the beauty of Jesus Christ. Focus on sin and it entices you; focus on Christ and He enraptures you. An easy way to remember this axiom of the faith is: "There's no high like the Most High!" When God's people regular taste of Him "and see that He is good," every false high that sin brings will be recognized as a sorry substitute for the real thing. The ancient people said as much when they asked of Philip, "Sir, we would see Jesus" (John 12:21).

Tullian, your adultery has cost you a great deal in terms of this world and your human relationships. However, I urge you not to "fade to black."

We would like to continue to see Jesus in you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

One Walking in Grace Out of Marital Subordination

It's been a privilege through Istoria Ministries to meet many people whose stories are powerful confirmations of God's truth and grace. In a previous article on eternal subordination, an anonymous comment was left by a woman that instinctively gave me a sense that there was something to her story. She fulfilled my request and sent me her personal story, giving permission to share it publicly using "One Walking in Grace" as her name. Today's post will be her story. Later this week I will publish a letter "One Walking in Grace" wrote to the church that led her down the path of belief in eternal subordination.


"I must tell you, I have never told my story outside of my family, who have faithfully walked through the entire ordeal with me. Writing is my form of creativity, but most of my stuff is just for me, as I cannot imagine anyone being interested in what I have to say.
Now, my story.

First, you must filter my story through the lens of abuse at the hand of a distant relative. I believe this is where my ability to accept this doctrine of eternal subordination originated for me, as my amazing Christian parents modeled egalitarianism, even though we have always attended a Southern Baptist church. Drugs and alcohol were introduced to me at the age of 11 by my distant relative; I was not raised around it, so I was na├»ve in knowing that I was being groomed.

By the time I told my parents of the abuse, two years had passed. That’s the lens you must always look through, as you have many people just like me hiding in your congregation. My self-worth was shattered, and I became easy pickings for this doctrine of subordination as it is my belief that women who embrace this theology often have lurking in their past things that have either happened to them, or they have done, or both that compel them toward this as a form of punishment and devaluation.

I met my first husband (I'm now remarried) in school, We began dating in high school, but it was not a relationship that I would classify as safe. He was not faithful while we were dating, but because my self-worth had been altered, I took any affection thrown my way. He set the tone for the relationship by threatening to throw me out of the car if I didn't shut-up. I took it. I was his victim once, but for the remainder of my story I now realize I was a willing participant in my own destruction.

We were married after I graduated, and I tried to adopt his lifestyle, as I had through high school. The abuse as a child left me feeling dirty, so I backed away from church, although I knew the Lord. My husband's anger was always a problem, as was his drinking. He left me several times, as well as other abusive tactics such as calling me names, locking me out of the house, and threatening me.

I was not raised in a dysfunctional home, so I think I must have expected him to change. I am still not sure what I thought. But I knew what I was taught about divorce, that it was always wrong. I knew I had made this bad choice, but I also believed I had no other choice but to stay. By the time I had our second child, I had been attending church for five years, by myself. I didn't fit in anywhere within the church, Looking back I realize my life was really too messy for the good people of the church to get involved. I attended various churches looking to fit in somewhere. 

That’s when I found “the church."

This was the one that had the answers to all my prayers. They welcomed me and my children. They prayed for my husband. They taught me to be submissive at all times to my husband, The pastor would say that I “struggled greatly in that area.” For a while, things at home seemed to get better. My husband eventually "got saved" (I have no idea if it was real). 

It went down hill from there.

I struggled with the teaching of headship,submission, patriarchy,homeschooling, etc... So I received special attention from pastor’s wife, who taught me the ropes of complete submission. I even was held after church one Sunday morning so that our little group could pray for me, since it was obvious that I was having difficulty fully submitting. Nothing will tear a woman down further who already has lost her sense of worth then being singled out as a failure in her only calling of submissive womanhood. So the group of church women got around me and prayed that I would learn submission. 

You can bet that I kicked myself into high gear after that front-of-church prayer meeting. But its weird how it happened, Slowly it all seemed to make sense to me and I began to fully embrace that complete and total submission to my husband was the only true biblical way to live, and anyone else who did not live according to this structure was “in sin.”

I lost my ability to make decisions, and slowly became a spectator in my own life. I was relegated to the role of a child: asking permission to purchase clothes, permission to go visit my family, permission for everything, often receiving a "no". All this was endorsed by our pastor, who taught that men “were sovereign in their own homes.” It didn't matter what you were asked to do, you were supposed to do it.

When my family would try to talk to me about the situation (which they saw as abusive) I would lie and tell them how good it was and that we were all a family at the church. In truth, we were more like a cult. All the men had their own hobbies, their own things to do by themselves, while our lives were surrounded with homeschooling children, keeping the house,budgeting, and anything else that needed doing. There wasn’t any alone time forme, as my job was my home. Proverbs 31 woman was beat over our heads. An you weren’t supposed to question the use of finances for hobbies, as that is disrespectful to husbands. You must take your concerns to your Father, and leave it in his hands. You also weren't supposed to ever talk bad about your husband, ever share struggles in your marriage to anyone, ever reveal things from home,as that too was disrespectful.

I have decided that patriarchy makes great men good, good men bad, and bad men worse. Can you imagine the power my husband had, with God on his side now? I was destined to endure whatever he dished out, for Christ’s sake, because Christ had suffered for me. I was to keep silent at church, as the bible spoke. I was to be a stay at home mom, as the bible taught. I was to dress how my husband wanted, as the bible taught. I was to never deny my husband, no matter what, as the bible taught. In the marriage my role was all about denying myself, for his sake.

Eventually you realize that the only one that matters in that house is the husband. He is king, sovereign, and you end up being his subjects. The list was endless. Little by little, I became a shell of who I used to be. My family was distraught, but I just dug my heels in deeper, believing by now that to live any other way would be against the will of God.

And then the illusion lifted and real life hit me in the face. I could no longer deny the abuse or marital unfaithfulness. I looked to my church for help, but found only encouragement to stay. I was told that if God was my true source of happiness, then the adultery wouldn't hurt me. Again, it seemed that I was being asked to be a joyful victim, and I failed there as well. But I tried. I was constantly aware of my failures,constantly looking for ways to improve my marriage, as I equated the sin of Eve (which we heard a lot) and the wreck that followed with my current situation. So I felt the full responsibility for the situation, as crazy as that sounds to me today.

Finally he was confronted. And he “repented.” We received counseling through the pastor, which I would never recommend now. We were not counseled about the adultery,abuse, or emotional wreckage in our little family. We were talked to a lot about our source of happiness. I was put on display as the poster girl for adultery, choosing the “godly” path. I was used to encourage others who were having this “struggle” in their marriage. We renewed our vows, and I was determined to be the kind of wife that would not cause her husband to stray.

That was my thinking. And he pretty much got a free pass. And during this time, I came to the knowledge that all was not well in our pastor’s household, which would explain a lot. But we kept getting taught submission, and my children and I lived isolated lives except for church. About that time there was a disastrous break in the church. There was so much lying, manipulation, and abuse by powers that be that we left, and not on good terms either. But by that time, I was so lost, had no sense of worth, and was just as near a breakdown as I could be. We quit homeschooling, and then I went to school. My husband quit attending church, and I don’t believe he has attended since then. I was never able to get over the affair, and he was never willing to go to counseling with me.

I thought long and hard before I ever divorced him. During that time, I knew that I could not live like this anymore. After my second time to be tested for STDs, I just felt God tell me that I didn't have to live like that anymore. I counted the cost, realizing that being divorced meant that I could no longer participate in church life, and I have always loved a discussion on theology, its my thing. But I could only have those discussions with women. I had my feet under me by now, and was beginning to wake up from this long nightmare. I remember the night I told him he would have to leave. My daddy offered to take care of it for me, but I knew that part of not being a victim anymore was standing up for myself on my own. And I did.

But its funny. I could hear the condemnation in my head, the voice that stated I was to stay no matter what in order to portray Christ and his willingness to submit to God in his suffering. It haunted me for a long time. It kept me from leaving for many years. And it is still the voice I often hear, as many years later we are still feeling the effects of this abusive teaching in our families.

I do not know if my relationship with my grown children will ever be normal, due to this teaching and his abuse of it. A lot has happened since then, but the fear of that system and the people involved is very real. That pastor still preaches, and I am still afraid of him. All of the young families that were involved in that teaching are now divorced. 

To say that I was bullied into staying is not an understatement. I will never know if things in that marriage would have been different under a teaching of gender equality, but I do know this: I would have found my value, worth, and voice a lot sooner and would have known that no one is created to be dominated. I would have known that I mattered to God, instead of being taught that my husband mattered to God. I would have known that mean behavior is not okay with God, even from a man. But when you boil down what I was taught it came to this: men matter, women don’t,sucks to be you – a woman.

I also will never know what would have happened to him if he had been in a place that was healthy, a place of grace, compassion, and healing. It not only was a chance for the church to stand up for me and my children, it was also a chance for the church to reach an obvious wounded man. Wounded people wound people. But we will never know if that would have made a difference in his life. All I do know is that doctrine was more important than real flesh and blood people. Since I now believe that this doctrine is most fully embraced by men and women who have had some form of abuse, why in God’s name would we ever embrace a teaching that makes fertile ground for abusers to hide or flourish? 

Why would we, in God’s name, tell half of the population you don’t matter, your voice doesn't matter, and your future doesn't matter? What matters is that you stay in your place, which is always going to be a place of inferiority. But I know the teaching very well: God first, then man, then woman, then children. There is no getting out of your station, as again your role in that marriage is to exemplify Christ, who fully submitted, now and forever, to God.

There is so much more abuse involved in my story than I am comfortable to tell. Spiritual abuse: threats of being labeled a heretic when I didn't see things “biblically,” as well as being shunned. My children still suffer, but my daughter even more so. Counseling for her has helped, but the belief in female subordination devalued her as well and put her on the path of self-destruction. But again, there is so much more to my story that I am just too afraid to write down. It makes my hands sweat. I fear those people involved to this day. To this very day. They wield a powerful weapon, for no weapon formed against them shall prosper, and one cannot touch (or question) God’s anointed. Just too much to reveal, too much to sort through.

But now know this: my story is being redeemed. My mind has been given back to me. I began attending a church where people believe in full restoration, instead of disqualification. I slowly began to come alive. But it continues to be along, hard process for me, and the roots of this teaching run deep in me and allowing myself to feel value and worth has been an uphill battle. And I have remarried a man who believes in us walking side by side in Christ together. 

As I stated before, patriarchy/submission/headship teaching makes great men good, good men bad, and bad men worse. 

Don’t tell me it isn't so, because I have lived it."

One Walking in Grace

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Schools and American Public Education

Cincinnati Water Front on the Ohio River (1838)
America is no longer as it once was in terms of educating our children. This is more fact than judgment.

Prior to the 1840's, wealthy Americans used private tutors to educate their children, or paid to send their sons and daughters to private schools. Children of the urban poor worked in factories, even as young as five and six years of age, their parents unable to afford their education. Farming families usually sent their children to the fields to work, or in some cases, to neighboring villages to learn skills through apprenticeships. Only children of the privileged received formal education. Abraham Lincoln, born into Kentucky backwoods poverty in 1809, would later describe his lack of formal education as "the short and simple annals of the poor."1

Cincinnati Water Front on the Ohio River (2015)
But during the late 1700's and early 1800's Christians on both sides of the Atlantic grew burdened for the uneducated children of the poor.

Robert Raikes, a Christian businessman in Gloucester, England, started "schools on Sunday" in July of 1780 to help educate the children who spent twelve hours a day, six days a week, in the factories of Gloucester, England.  The story of how God led Raikes to start Sunday Schools is inspirational on many fronts.  "We'll teach the kids to read and write part of the day and teach them the Bible for the rest of the day," Raikes pledged.  After three years of success, Raikes published a series of articles in the Gloucester Journal on the success of Sunday Schools in transforming the character of an entire community,

The enthusiasm for the Sunday School system of education quickly spread across the Atlantic. For the first one hundred years of our American republic, children of the poor learned to read, memorized the Bible, and studied history from a Christian world view in Sunday Schools. Not many Americans realize that the great forefathers of our country who rose up from poverty, men like Abraham Lincoln, received their only education through effective Sunday Schools. I still believe the two greatest political speeches ever given by a United States politician were Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, both written by Lincoln himself. Read those speeches and marvel at the education given to the poor through Sunday School.

The American Sunday School Union

During the early 1800's American population rapidly expanded westward toward the Mississippi River Valley.  By 1830 an estimated four million Americans lived on the western frontier of the Mississippi Valley. However, these western pioneers had very little access to the books used as curriculum for American Sunday Schools in the east. In 1830, the American Sunday School Union (Philadelphia) sent out a plea to England for help in establishing "a Sunday school in every destitute place where it is practicable, throughout the Valley of the Mississippi."

My maternal grandfather (3x), Charles Tinsley Cherry, answered the call and became one of the Sunday School missionaries sent from England to the United States to help fulfill the Mississippi Valley Emphasis.

Shoreditch Church, London 1830
Charles was a product of Sunday Schools himself. Born to a poor family in Fenny Stratford, Buckinghamshire in 1801, Charles attended the Sunday School sponsored by his Anglican parish throughout his childhood. He moved to London in his early twenties, and on December 26, 1824, he married Mary Foreman at Shoreditch Church in London. Anglican curate Robert Crosby performed the marriage ceremony. For the next five years, Charles and Mary Cherry volunteered their time at Shoreditch Church, their home parish, instructing the poor children of London in Sunday School.

The couple's pastor, Robert Crosby of Shoreditch Church, was known for his ecumenicism and zeal for the gospel. While many Anglican clergymen sought to segregate from other denominations, Crosby allowed the Shoreditch Church building to be used by Methodists and other dissenters for all occasions. Crosby's charitable spirit brought him criticism from some of his fellow Anglican clergy, but his love for reaching the poor put Shoreditch Church at the center of Sunday School missions.2  From the beginning, Sunday Schools were advocated by "Christian laymen of different creeds, aided here and there by clergymen who had the grace to perceive, and the grit and greatness to declare, that Christ's kingdom was larger and more important than anyone or a score of sects into which Protestantism had divided."3 

America's plea to Great Britain for help in establishing Sunday Schools in the pioneer areas of the Mississippi Valley reached the British Sunday School Union during their 1830 preparations for the Jubilee Anniversary (50th) of Sunday Schools. Charles and Mary Cherry responded to that plea, and with funds raised by members of Shoreditch,  Charles, his wife Mary, and their only surviving child, five-year-old Mary Ann, sailed across the Atlantic to the United States in the spring of 1831.

To commemorate the British Sunday School Jubilee and the sending of Sunday School missionaries to America, British poet James Montgomery wrote the following poem, published the year the Cherrys came to America:

For the 1831 Sunday School Jubilee
Love is the theme of saints above;
Love is of God, for God is Love;
With love let every bosom glow: --
Love, stronger than the grasp of Death,
Love that rejoices o'er the grave,
Love to the Author of our breath,
Love to His Son, who came to save; --
Love to the Spirit of all grace,
Love to the Scriptures of all truth,
Love to our whole apostate race,
Love to the aged, love to youth; --
Love to each other -- soul and mind,
And heart and hand, with full accord,
In one sweet covenant combined,
To live and die unto the Lord.
Christ's little flock we then shall feed,
The lambs we in our arms shall bear,
Reclaim the lost, the feeble lead,
And watch o'er all in faith and prayer.
Thus through our isle, on all our bands,
The beauty of the Lord shall be;
And Britain, glory of all lands,
Plant Sabbath schools from sea to sea.

After arriving in America, Charles Cherry received help from Rev. Crosby's brother, who lived in Zanesville, Ohio. With Mr. Crosby's assistance, Charles T. Cherry arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio in the summer of 1831. Charles took the very important position of Western Agent for the American Sunday School Union. Over the course of the next several years, Charles T. Cherry headed the American Sunday School Union's efforts to establish Sunday School's throughout the Mississippi Valley. Charles established the western ASSU office and book depository at 186 Main Street, Cincinnati, Ohio (see above map with red dot), an address that now marks the location of Joe Morgan's statue in the plaza of Cincinnati Red's All-American Ballpark (see picture of ballpark at top of page).

After establishing the western American Sunday School Union's office less than two blocks from the Ohio River, Charles T. Cherry set about recruiting some of the leading businessmen, politicians, and preachers to help him establish Sunday Schools along the Mississippi Valley.

The Mississippi Valley Enterprise

Cincinnati, Ohio during the 1830's was called The Queen City of the West. People from the east desiring to get to St. Louis, the Gateway to the West, would  have to pass through Cincinnati via steamer on the Ohio. Following the Ohio River to its confluence with the Mississippi River at Cairo, Illinois, the steamship would then turn north and go up the Mississippi 160 miles to St. Louis. Traveling by steamship on riverboats during the 1830's was much faster than going by old fashioned stage coach. Cincinnati was the destination for all those traveling to the Mississippi River Valley from the east.

The ASSU library shipped by Charles Cherry to pioneer schools
Charles T. Cherry built wooden bookcases at his American Sunday School office on the riverfront in Cincinnati. He then filled those bookcases with 121 specifically chosen books, and shipped them down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River Valley to pioneer school districts, families, or churches. The individual books in the libraries had uniform bindings, and each volume was numbered to correspond with its number in the American Sunday School Union catalogue:  C. S. L. stood for common school library; P. S. L. for public school library, F. L. stood for family library, and C. L. stood for children's library.  The case would be shipped with a lock and key and all the necessary hangings and fastenings. Upon the door would be painted the words SCHOOL LIBRARY, words which the book agent could change upon request.

 On the inside of the door Charles Cherry would paste a catalogue sheet with the entire 121 volumes listed by title and author. Charles  he would also enclose another fifty catalogues which could then be passed out to families in the community where the bookcase was shipped, so that Sunday School teachers could know which individual books in the community library had been checked out.

The library case was placed into a shipping container and packed so that it could be transported safely down river. The entire library was sold for THIRTY-THREE DOLLARS which included shipping. When the book case reached its destination, the entire case would be removed from the shipping container, taken to the building where the Sunday School children would gather, and be suspended from the wall. The books, having been be approved by a  committee of two Baptists, two Episcopalians, two Methodists, and two Presbyterians, would be ready for immediate use and loaned freely to students and their families.

The Men of Cincinnati Who Served on the ASSU Board

As Charles Cherry worked hard to establish new Sunday Schools and to provide curriculum for those living all along the Mississippi Valley, he also began recruiting others to assist him. In January 1836, Charles established the Western Board of Agency for the American Sunday School Union (see picture left). He asked 22 Cincinnati civic leaders to serve on the board, promising to help him raise funds, prepare Sunday School bookcases for shipping, and work on recruiting volunteers to establish and strengthen Sunday Schools up and down the Mississippi Valley.

The men who served with Charles T. Cherry on the Western Board of Agency of the American Sunday School Union reads like a "Who's Who" of early American leaders. The fact that these men were involved in the establishment of Sunday Schools in pioneer areas shows how important early Americans considered the education of children from a Christian world view.

Though each of the twenty-two men listed as officers and members of the Western Board of the American Sunday School Union has a unique story, I would like to highlight just four men and the influence they have on American history.

Salmon Portland Chase (1808 - 1873)

In 1830 Salmon Chase moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became well known as an abolitionist lawyer. He was asked by Charles Cherry to work with the American Sunday School Union, a position which he accepted (see above chart - S.P. Chase). By 1840 Chase had been elected to the Cincinnati City Council, the beginning of what would become a long and illustrious political career.  In 1849 Chase was elected to the U.S Senate from Ohio. During his service in the United States Senate (1849–1855), Chase was an anti-slavery champion. He spoke ably against the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Chase sought the Republican nomination for president in 1860, but lost to Abraham Lincoln. However, Lincoln chose Chase to be his Secretary of Treasury, and so Salmon P. Chase became a member of Lincoln's legendary Team of Rivals Presidential Cabinet.  Chase's Treasury Department created the U.S. Greenback (the American dollar) to fund the Civil War. It was Chase's picture, not George Washington's, that framed the first American dollar bill. After his service as U.S. Secretary Treasurer, Lincoln chose Chase to be the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. One of the largest banks in America today, Chase Bank, is named in his honor. Charles Cherry and Salmon Chase worked closely together in establishing Sunday Schools throughout the Mississippi Valley during the 1830's.

Benjamin Jennings Seward (1793-184)

Benjamin Jennings Seward was the brother of the more well known William Henry Seward (picture left). The Seward brothers were very close, and when William Seward decided to enter New York politics in 1838, he contacted his brother Benjamin (see above chart - B.J. Seward) and asked him to leave Cincinnati, Ohio and return to Westfield, New York to take over the family land business.  Benjamin was eight years older than his brother William, and had worked with Charles Cherry in Cincinnati to establish Sunday Schools all along the Mississippi Valley during the mid-1830's. But when his brother was elected Governor of New York, Benjamin Seward moved from Cincinnati to the Seward farm in upstate New York to take over the family business. William Seward moved to Albany and served effectively as the abolitionist governor of the largest state in the Union. William Seward was the odds on favorite to win the Republican nomination for President in 1860, but like Salmon Chase, lost to Abraham Lincoln, Seward also became part of Lincoln's Team of Rivals Cabinet, being appointed as Lincoln's Secretary of State. It is said that nobody was closer to William Henry Seward than his brother Benjamin Seward and the President, of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. When Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865, the conspirators targeted William Henry Seward as well, brutally stabbing the Secretary of State and several members of his family. Charles Cherry's close relationship with the Seward family began in the 1830's while living Cincinnati and continued throughout the 1840's and 1850's when Charles T. Cherry also left Cincinnati and moved to New York to become the eastern Agent for the American Sunday School Union in Rochester, New York.

Thomas Brainerd (1804 - 1866)

Thomas served as pastor of the Fourth Presbyterian church in Cincinnati during the 1830's, and was a close personal friend to Lyman Beecher and Albert Barnes. His ancestors were the famous Indian missionaries David and John Brainerd, and Thomas would write The Life of John Brainerd, the Brother of David Brainerd.  Thomas gave up the study of law for theology, and graduated from Andover Seminary in 1831. He served as pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati from, 1831 to 1837 and then pastor of the Pine Street (Third) Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1837 until his death. He was a leader of the New School branch of the Presbyterian Church and distinguished himself for his patriotic ardor and services during the Civil War. He was an excellent writer and published many articles in religious periodicals, served as editor of the Cincinnati Journal, a Presbyterian religious paper (1833 - 1836), Thomas Brainerd and Charles Cherry worked together for four years to establish Sunday Schools along the Mississippi Valley, and their friendship continued throughout the 1840's and 50's, when Thomas lived in Philadelphia and Charles in Rochester, New York.

Edward Deering Mansfield (1801 - 1880)

E.D. Mansfield was born in New Haven, Connecticut and graduated from West Point in 1818, but he declined to enter the army and chose rather to study at Princeton, from which he graduated in 1822. In 1825 he was admitted to the Connecticut bar, but then moved to Cincinnati in 1835 to become professor of constitutional law at Cincinnati College. However, shortly after arriving in Cincinnati, he abandoned the legal profession and took up journalism. He became editor of the Cincinnati Chronicle (1836–49), Atlas (1849–52), and the Railroad Record (1854–72). E.D. Mansfield also wrote and published several books including Political Grammar of the United States (1835); Life of Gen. Winfield Scott (1848); History of the Mexican War (1849); American Education (1851); Memoirs of Daniel Drake (1855); A Popular Life of Ulysses S. Grant (1868) and Personal Memories (1870), an interesting social and political chronicle reaching to the year 1841. While editing the Chronicle and Atlas E.D. introduced many young writers to the public, including Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe (1811 –  1896)  was an American abolitionist and author. At the age of 21, Harriet Beecher moved to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1832 to join her father, who had become the president of Lane Theological Seminary. There, she also joined the Semi-Colon Club, a literary salon and became friends with E.D. Mansfield. Harriett came from a prominent religious family, but is best known for her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852). It depicts the harsh life for African Americans under slavery. It reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and Great Britain. It energized anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South. She wrote 30 books, including novels, three travel memoirs, and collections of articles and letters. She was influential for both her writings and her public stands on social issues of the day, and it is said that when Abraham Lincoln first met Harriet, he remarked, "So there's the little lady who started this war." E.D. Mansfield and Harriet Beecher Stowe worked with the American Sunday School Union in Cincinnati for the establishment of Sunday Schools along the pioneer areas of the Mississippi Valley.

The above four men and one woman only represent the more than  22 Cincinnati civic leaders who served with Charles T. Cherry on the Western Board of Agency for the American Sunday School Union. All of them were devout in their Christian commitment.

The greatest change in the education of American children may be the declining interest and involvement of civic leaders in the moral and intellectual instruction of children from a Christian world view. Everyone sees the world through mental prism. Educating children from a secular viewpoint without reference to God will reap generations of leaders with broken moral compasses. 

We may be actually reaping what we have sown since the 1870's and the cessation of Sunday Schools in favor of free, public, secular education.


1 William Lee Miller,Lincoln's Virtues: An Ethical Biography (New York: Random House/Vintage Books, 2002), p. 17.

2 Melanie Barber and Gabriel Stewell and Stephen Taylor, eds., From the Reformation to the Permissive Society (London: Boydel Press, 2010), p. 309.

3Edwin Wilbur Rice, The Sunday School and the American Sunday School Union, (Philadelphia: American Sunday School Union, 1917), p. 3.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Eternal Subordination and the SBC Divorce Rate

In 2010,  the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution entitled On the Scandal of Southern Baptist Divorce. The resolution states "that conservative Protestants in the United States of America are divorcing at the same rate, if not at higher rates, than the general population." The resolution further states "the acceleration in rates of divorce in Southern Baptist churches has not come through a shift in theological conviction about scriptural teaching on divorce but rather through cultural accommodation."

Very often we never look back at resolutions passed by the SBC, but on this fifth anniversary of the "Scandal of Southern Baptist Divorce," I'd like to encourage you to think about why this resolution may actually reveal the real reason many SBC marriages--especially among pastors--may be in trouble.

Let's begin by asking a question.

How can the divorce rate in every state in the union be declining while at the same time the Southern Baptist divorce rate is accelerating? Because divorce rates are in the culture at large are declining, if Southern Baptists were "accommodating culture," then our divorce rate would be also declining.

Pay close attention to this categorical statement in the resolution:
"The acceleration in rates of divorce in Southern Baptist churches has not come through a shift in theological conviction...
I disagree. I propose one of the major reasons for the increasing divorce rate in the Southern Baptist Convention is precisely because of a shift in theological conviction during the 1990's and early 2000's.

Many of those who were in positions of leadership during those years promoted a doctrinal error called The Eternal Subordination of the Son.  Few Southern Baptist lay men and women even know what that doctrine is, but when you go to a church led by a Southern Baptist pastor who believes it, the emphasis of the teaching will be on "the authority of the husband" and "the subordination of the woman to her husband." This pastoral demand that a Christian wife alone (not the husband) is called to be subordinate and submissive is based on the false belief that Jesus the Son is eternally subordinate and submissive to the Father.

The Word of God teaches a mutual submission of husband and wife to Jesus Christ--the creator God who became Man (Emmanuel)--and a mutual submission to each other (see Philippians 2:3,5-7; and Ephesians 5:2 and 5:21).

When the emphasis in any Christian environment--be it a church, home, or ministry--is on one's alleged superior authority and demand for another's unconditional submission, a separation in relationship is imminent.

A desire to exert power, control others, and demand submission is unnatural to God's design for His creation.

When Adam and Eve rebelled against their Creator, the radial effect of their rebellion included an increasing and ultimately innate desire to dominate and control one another. The curse of sin causes those who are under it to concentrate on establishing an air of authority and demanding complete and unquestioned submission to that authority. This is true of both men and women. Jesus calls this "lording control over others," and said this should not ever happen among His followers (Mark 10:42-43).

Here's the catch. Southern Baptist leaders have made the tragic error of believing that a husband should rule and a wife should be submissive because the Bible demands it. Truth be known, the Bible calls any desire to control and dominate--be it the husband or the wife-- "the curse." The divorce rate increases when Southern Baptists call "the norm" what the Bible calls "the curse." When the first man (Adam) sought to rule over the first woman (Eve), Adam was manifesting a curse, not meeting a commandment (Genesis 3:16).

Jesus came to reverse the curse. Redemption causes curse-filled people to become grace-filled people. Those who seek to rule over others by exerting authority, when they come to see what Jesus says about life, will turn loose of trying to control other people and will only seek to love and serve, NEVER exerting any alleged authority. Again, Jesus said that "the Gentiles lord over others" and "exert authority," but "it shall not be this way among you" (Matthew 20:24-26).

Southern Baptist Convention leaders have wrongly pushed for men to lord their authority over their wives, and called on wives to submit to the authority of their husbands because of a belief in and promotion of "the eternal subordination of the Son." I've written about this doctrinal problem among Southern Baptists for years, but I recently came across a brilliant article by Dr. Keith Johnson (Ph.D. Duke), the director of theological development for Campus Crusade for Christ.  Johnson's article is called Trinitarian Agency and the Eternal Subordination of the Son: An Augustinian Perspective.

Dr. Johnson's article is long, but in my opinion, it gives a definitive refutation for any claim that the woman is to be subordinate to the man in a marital relationship because the Son is subordinate to the Father. Dr. Johnson's summarizes the critical error of those who hold to the eternal subordination of Jesus to the Father (Paige Patterson, Al Mohler, Danny Akin, Bruce Ware, etc....) when he writes:
Bruce Ware claims that “inherent authority” and “inherent submission” constitute the Father/Son relationship; however, this misreads Augustine. “Authority” and “submission” are not “personal properties” for Augustine. To the contrary, “eternal generation” is what constitutes the Son as Son. Augustine is unequivocal on this point. Ware... rejects eternal generation as the distinguishing property of the Son. In Ware’s theology (eternal subordination), “submission” effectively replaces “eternal generation” as the distinguishing property of the Son. Augustine is then read through the lens of this alternative understanding of personal properties.
I'd like to close this post by summarizing for Southern Baptist men and women the practical application of seeing mutual submission of a husband and wife based on the biblical view of mutual submission of the eternal Trinity.

(1). Nobody in marriage has any inherent "authority." Christ has all authority, and He sends His Spirit to live within us, dispenses spiritual gifts for us, and provides loving watch care over us so that we might learn how to love and serve each other.

(2). Submission in a marital relationship is "putting others needs before my own." The submission and subordination of Jesus Christ to the Father was never about 'greater authority' because Christ had "all authority." Christ put the Father's plans first, submitting Himself to the cross in obedience to the plan of redemption (i.e. "If it be Thy will, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, Thy will be done"). Jesus Christ also submitted to us (the church) when He sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane and died in our place. Submission is never about 'greater authority,' but rather, it is always about putting the plans, desires, and needs of others first. In marriage, both the husband and the wife are to be mutually submissive to one another (see Ephesians 5:21). Sometimes what is in the best interest of your partner is to say no! In every decision, your partner's best interest comes first. Don't give up on your marriage until you have sweat blood looking out for your partner.

(3). When we stop trying to control our spouse, and we learn what it means to love and accept him or her the same way Jesus Christ accepts us, then we begin to build a marriage on grace and love instead of domination and control. When that happens, the curse is reversed.

We Southern Baptists do a great many things very well. We do missions well. We perform acts of mercy well. We also -- since 2005 -- are doing well in the election of new leadership in the SBC.

I predict we will see the divorce rate of Southern Baptists decline in the next few years, and it will not be because of cultural accommodation. It will be due to our new leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention laying aside the doctrinal error of eternal subordination.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Thor Has a Potbelly and Missing Teeth

My wife has never been in a car that ran out of gas while driving. Until yesterday (6/12/15).

Rachelle's Type One on the Enneagram, so she's always prepared, organized, and in control.  I don't usually drive her X3 so what I thought was the fuel gage was actually the mileage to our next turn on Interstate-44. Fifty miles west of St. Louis on the busy and dangerous highway, the drive train lost power -- in the left lane -- and we barely had enough speed to pull to the razor thin right shoulder and park it. We were completely out of gas.

Of course, initially we didn't it know the problem was gas.  We thought the gas gauge was saying "50 miles" to go, and with the electronic console flashing "Drive Train Problem - contact your dealer" we had visions of tow trucks, expensive repairs and massive problems.

Cars and semis zipped by no more than five feet from us, and after multiple phone calls to tow truck companies repair shops who never answered their phone (it was 7:15 pm, after hours), I tried to start the car again - and again - and again. I finally said, "It sounds like we are out of gas." We Googled "Drive Train Problem for X3's" and found several people who had experienced the same error message on their console. Most of them eventually discovered they'd run out of gas.

So, with no help coming and loaded with this new Google information, I told Rachelle I was going to walk back the two miles to the last exit we and try to get some gas.

"I'm going with you. If you get hit by a car and die, I'm going to die with you." Type One's have limited optimism. At first I told Rachelle I thought it best for her to stay with the car, but then realized if someone stopped while I was gone, she could be worse off than dying with me. My optimism was much better.

So, with sandals on her feet, and I in shorts, a Field and Stream fishing shirt, and sneakers, Rachelle and I held hands and walked back east on the narrow shoulder against high speed traffic like soldiers moving toward Bataan. Half a mile from the X3, Rachelle almost stepped on a dead armadillo. The animal was flatter than a pancake - a very thin pancake - and Rachelle screamed as she almost stepped on it and exclaimed she didn't know a armadillo could get so flat.  We continued our walk through the valley of the shadow of death. At some point I felt it safe to cross four lanes of high speed traffic and begin walking with westbound traffic.

I later discovered that Rachelle had prayed when we crossed the Interstate that God would send an angel to rescue us. Like usual, her prayers were answered in a striking manner.  God sent an angel not more than thirty seconds after we crossed highway.

His name was Thor.

He was driving an ancient pick-up. He passed us, pulled over a quarter a mile ahead, and then proceeded to back up to where we were walking. Rachelle muttered, "Oh my word." Due to the look of the pick-up and the erratic manner in which it was backing, Rachelle was thinking, "This is it. We are going to be kidnapped, robbed, beaten and left for dead."

But when we reached the truck, the passenger side window was already down and the driver asked, "Need some help?" I told him I thought we might be out of gas and were walking to the nearest gas station. He said, "Get in. I live in the next town and I'll help you out."

With our prospects limited, I opened the door and saw just two small bucket-seats in the pick-up. Cigarettes, beer cans, and litter filled the passenger floor board. I crawled into the passenger seat, and Rachelle sat in my lap, having to crane her neck, bending down her head to avoid hitting the inside roof.

"My name is Thor," the driver said.

I introduced myself and Rachelle. "Thor?" I said, "I don't think I've ever met a Thor except in the movies." He grinned and said, "I like my name because not many people have it."

I found out Thor was a mechanic in the town we'd just passed, and he really was wanting to help us. He told us that he had been out of work because of seizures. I felt my wife jump at the word seizure and her inner nurse took over.

"When's the last time you had a seizure Thor?" It was a while back, but he assured us he could tell when it was coming on.

"Do you take medication for the seizures Thor?" Nope, medication was too costly and really did no good came the response.

"Have they told you not to drive Thor?" With this question I began to have a creeping desire for my brilliant nurse doctor to stop asking questions about Thor's seizures. There was nothing I could do if Thor lost his chariot. It was a stick shift and with my wife on top of me, if Thor were to begin shaking like a bobble-head, we'd all go down in flames together.  I would rather die ignorant than with my eyes wide open.

However, my wife persisted, and after the few minutes it took to get to Thor's garage, obtain a five-gallon gas can, fill it up with gas,  and then arrive back at our X3 on the side of the highway, I knew more about Thor's medical condition than his own mother.

But we made it.

Thor poured the gas in our stalled car, and within 30 seconds I had it started. We followed him east bound to the next gas station, and after filling up Thor's truck and gas can, giving him some money for his remarkable kindness, and then telling him a little about our ministry to people, we shook hands with our new friend and parted company.

One hour after the power train in the wife's X3 failed due to insufficient gas, we were again heading east toward St. Louis and our ultimate destination of Columbus, Ohio.

God sent us an angel.

He could have been named Charlie, Sam, Billy Bob, or any other name, but this angel was named Thor. And to top it all off, Thor had a pot-belly and missing teeth.

Though it's only day one of our  working sabbatical,  Rachelle and I learned a lesson we will not soon forget.

God's best gifts are sometimes wrapped in unusual paper.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Child Abuse, Statute of Limitations, and John Perry

Buzz Feed news reporters Andrew Kaczynski and Ilan Ben-Meir published a story yesterday entitled Co-Author of Mike Huckabee Books Was Accused of Child Molestation in Two Legal Cases.  Using public documents, including court papers and police reports, the reporters revealed affidavits alleging child sexual abuse against Nashville author John Perry, a co-author and/or contributor to books authored by famous evangelicals, including Mike Huckabee, John MacArthur, and Richard Land. A Nashville police spokesman, responding to queries from Buzz Feed, said: "The alleged sexual battery was reported to have occurred when the victim was between the ages of 11 and 14."

Then the Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron elaborated:
"As a result of the investigation, the allegations of sexual battery were sustained, but it was determined that the statue of limitations had tolled, barring prosecution."
It is Don Aaron's next statement that startled me:
"The victim was age 18 when she first disclosed the allegations to non-law enforcement and said at that time she did not want the matter reported to the Tennessee Department of Children's Services or the police."  
Read that again: "The victim was 18 when she first disclosed the allegations to non-law enforcement."

I spoke to the victim over a year ago. She read an article that I wrote and reached out to me via email. Later we spoke by phone. Like all victims of child abuse, she has been traumatized. She does not wish to be re-victimized by her story going public. I explained to her that it was my desire to protect her identity, but the reason there are mandatory reporting laws is because child abuse is a crime against society.

The victim initially reported her abuse to non-law enforcement in the summer of 2007. She was going into her senior year of high school. Her abuser was repeatedly confronted by church authorities, and finally, allegedly confessed to his crimes. John Perry was then allowed to resign from his position as an officer of Covenant Presbyterian in Nashville in July of 2008.

The Buzz Feed article reports that the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department "launched an investigation in 2012 and found the allegations against Perry were sustained" -- now let this next sentence sink in -- "but it was determined that the statute of limitations had tolled, barring prosecution."

In 2012 the Metropolitan Police Department "launched its investigation."
In 2007 the victim first disclosed her abuse to non-law enforcement.

5 years.

5 years after the abuse was first reported.

In those five years a teenage girl crosses the threshold of adulthood to turn 21-years-of-age. It's like having the fire alarm triggered after the house has burned down. It's like posting a warning sign on a washed out bridge after the car has been swept down the river. It's like city officials sounding the tornado alarm after the town has been blown away.

And here is what seems even more bizarre about this John Perry story. The person who reported the child abuse to the police in 2012--in order that the police could "launch their investigation"-- was a man named Austin Davis. There's an axiom in dysfunctional families and covenant relationships that those who report the problem often become the problem.

I'm sure, like all police departments, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department depends on city attorneys for legal counsel, and will on occasion consult with their specialized police attorneys. There are a few questions that reporters, bloggers, and advocates for victims of child sexual abuse should be asking.
(1). The Tennessee Code of Law indicates that the statute of limitations for sexual battery of a minor which occurs between July 1, 1997 - June 2006 is when the victim reaches the age of 21. When the police spokesman says "the statute of limitations had tolled," was that date of limitation the summer of 2007 when the abuse was first reported? No? Okay, then was it the summer of 2008 when the alleged child abuser was allowed to quietly resign his position at the church with no explanation? No? Okay, was it 2010 when Covenant Presbyterian ex-communicated John Perry for ""...committing heinous and repetitive sin against his family"? No? Okay, was it 2012 when the police "launched their investigation"? When did the statute of limitations run out? If it is possible to withhold information from police until the statute of limitations runs out, and the alleged perpetrator cannot be prosecuted, it seems that might be incentive for friends and loved ones to cover, hide and suppress any allegations of child sexual battery? That's why we have mandatory reporting laws. I don't pretend to know the answers, I just have some good questions that should be asked.
(2). If some of the "non-law enforcement" were church officials to whom the victim reported her abuse when she turned eighteen, it seems a legitimate and fair question to ask if those church officials sensed any obligation to file a mandatory report to the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department and the Tennessee Department of Children's Services in either 2007 or 2008 when they were first informed of the abuse by the victim. It does seem as if Covenant church officials knew of the child abuse when John Perry was allowed to quietly resign in 2008 and then "ex-communicated" in 2010 for "...committing heinous and repetitive sin against his family (without) evidence of repentance" (Source: Covenant church minutes). However, to be fair, reporters need to ask this question to Covenant Presbyterian officials: "When did you first find out about the alleged child abuse?"
(3). Finally, child abuse seems to be an epidemic in our country. While we all have empathy for the victim, the bigger question that needs to be asked is simply this: "Has everyone in Nashville, Tennessee, from the police, judges, church officials, lawyers, and civic leaders taken the proper steps in following all state and federal laws in regards to allegations of child sexual battery?" 
It's definitely time to do the right thing.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

D-Day, Normandy, and Saying "Thanks" to Soldiers

Today is June 6, 2015, the 71st anniversary of D-Day. I repost this article as my way of saying "Thanks" to the men and women who've fought for our freedom from tyranny. Someone once said that "If you can pick up a book and read it thank a teacher. If you can read the book in English thank a soldier." Today I would like to thank the two men to the left for helping me read in English and not German. My paternal grandfather Reed Burleson fought at the Battle of the Bulge and received multiple medals, including the Purple Heart. My maternal grandfather Fred Cherry also fought on the battlefields of Europe, riding throughout France and Germany in his jeep that he nicknamed "John 3:16." Thanks to my mom, Mary Burleson, for the photographs.

I am currently working on some background information on my grandfather Reed Burleson, particularly focusing on his landing in Normandy after the D-Day invasion and his movement into Belgium where Hitler's divisions of Panzer tanks turned back from their retreat and put up a fierce fight at the Battle of the Bulge. I pause to remember my grandfathers for their service to our country. I would like to also honor another man, a contemporary of both my grandfathers, a native of Enid, Oklahoma, and a graduate of Enid High School. His name is Leon Robert Vance.

Rachelle and I were in Normandy, France in September (2011). We spent a day at Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery where over 10,000 Americans are buried France's soil. One cannot help but be deeply moved when thinking of all the soldiers who gave their lives in June 1944 as Americans joined Britains, Canadians, Australians and others as the combined Allied Forces invaded Europe to put an end to Hitler's despotism. A very compelling story, told in the exit lobby of the impressive American Cemetery and Memorial is that of Bob Vance of Enid, Oklahoma. Most Oklahomans do not know Bob Vance's heroic actions at Normandy, and that includes most people who live in Enid, Bob's hometown. Everyone has heard of Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma, but few know the reason why the former Enid Army Air Corp base is now named after Bob Vance. This Veteran's Day of 11/11/11/ is posted in tribute to my grandfathers, Bob Vance and other American soldiers like just like them.

Leon Robert (Bob) Vance, Jr. was born in Enid, Oklahoma, on August 11, 1916. His father was the principle at Enid's Longfellow Middle School, and his mother was an Enid educator as well. Bob graduated from Enid High School in 1933. He had been an exceptional athlete and an honors student in high school, and after graduation Bob entered the University of Oklahoma and the ROTC program at OU. Bob attended the university for his freshman and sophomore years before transferring to the West Point Military Academy in 1935.  Bob  would spend four additional years at the Academy,  graduating from West Point in 1939, part of the class that Newsweek magazine called in 1999 The Warrior Class because the graduates would go on to fight in WW II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Bob was training to become a pilot for the Army Air Corp (now called the Air Force). While at West Point he met a native New Yorker, Georgette Brown, and the day after his West Point graduation, Bob and Georgette were married at the Academy's chapel.

For the next five years Lieutenant Robert Vance would first be trained, and then train, Army Air Force pilots at various Air Force bases around the United States. He would sometimes wonder if the war would be over before he actually saw combat, but his expertise as a pilot trainer was both needed and rewarded. By 1944 he had become a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Air Force. One of Bob's best friends in the Army Air Corp,  having met him early in his pilot training at San Angelo, Texas,  was Lieutenant Horace S. Carswell. Carswell was a native Texan who had earned his wings in November 1938 and was subsequently assigned as an instructor in the Air Corp, just like Lieutenant Vance.  The Vance and Carswell couples became fast friends. Both Vance and Carswell would eventually leave the Air Corp training program to fly combat in B-24 bombers. Both would arrive in different theaters of combat in April of 1944. Both would earn the Medal of Honor within six months of each other. Both would have Air Force bases named after them - Vance Air Force Base and Carswell Air Force Base.

Bob Vance's Actions at Normandy which Led to His Medal of Honor

Lieutenant Colonel Bob Vance kissed his wife and two year old daughter Sharon good bye and left for England in April of 1944. For two months he trained with other men in a B-24 bomber, preparing for D-Day and the invasion of Europe. Vance's combat mission would be to fly with a crew in a bomber named the Missouri Sue and drop bombs on the German lines located on  the shores of France twenty four hours before invasion, softening the beach for the infantry landings that would arrive a few hours later. Early on June 5, 1944, the Missouri Sue took off from England for the bombing mission. The bombs failed to release on the first run over the  target, so Lieutenant Colonel Vance ordered a 360 degree turn for a second pass. Somewhere in the process of the second bomb run Missouri Sue was repeatedly hit by German flak, killing the pilot, wounding several members of the crew, and nearly severing Bob Vance's right foot, pinning him to the floor of the plane.  The crew fought to complete the mission and then turned the plane toward home. Three of the bomber's engines eventually shut down and the fourth had to be shut down to prevent a stall. The damaged plane showered  gasoline throughout the trip back across the channel to England. The bomb bay doors remained open with an armed 500-pound bomb dangling precariously there from. Vance was the command pilot of the craft, and as the plane continued its forced descent from 10,000 feet, he ordered that all the crew parachute to safety. Unwilling to have the plane crash into the English landscape, particularly with a 500 pound bomb dangling from the bomb bay, Vance, still pinned to the floor with his severed foot, piloted the gliding plane back into the English channel where it crashed into the water. The force of the crash propelled Bob Vance from the plane and knocked him unconscious. Somehow he managed to  float to the surface where he was eventually rescued. Unfortunately, Bob's career as a pilot was over. His right foot had been severed.  The surviving ten men credited the actions of Bob Vance for their safe parachute landing on English land.

Vance's Recuperation and Tragic Death

Vance recuperated in England from his injuries for the next eight weeks. He wrote letters home describing to his wife and family the injuries he sustained, urging them not to worry, and that as soon as he was able, he would be on a medical flight home. His letters were initially filled with excitment and enthusiasm for Operation Overlord (the invasion of Europe), and he expressed pride for what his bombing crew had done in preparation for the landing. His spirits lowered, however, when he left the hospital for the first time, hobbling on his crutches in the streets of London, and was met by a small boy who looked him over, saw his missing foot and said, "Don't worry Yank, you won't miss it!" The emotional impact of realizing he would never fly again was enormous, and his depression increased when word came that his father had been killed in an aircraft accident.

The only thing that kept him going during his eight weeks of recovery was the knowledge that he would soon see his wife and small child. He made plans to leave England on a medical evacuation plane. Just before he left he discovered he had been nominated for the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions. On July 26, 1944 Vance joined other wounded soldiers as they boarded a transport plane for the trip back to America. His wife Georgette and Sharon, anxiously anticipated their loved one's arrival. Sharon, just over two years old, didn't understand much, but she could say, "Daddy's coming home!"

Bob Vance never made it. Somewhere between Newfoundland and Iceland the plane went down. The plane has never been discovered, nor has Bob Vance's body ever been recovered. Georgette received this telegram, informing her that her husband was missing in action. The family was stricken with grief. Just weeks later, the government told Georgette that her husband had been bestowed the Medal of Honor. She requested that offical ceremony be delayed until her daughter, Sharon, was old enough to comprehend what her father had done. Two years later, in 1946, Sharon Vance, Bob's four year old daughter, officially received on behalf of the Vance family the Medal of Honor which the U.S. government had bestowed upon her father, the highest recognition given American soldiers. Later, the Army Air Base in Enid would be renamed Vance Air Force Base.

On this 71st anniversary of D-Day, I say thank you to Bob Vance, my grandfathers, and others like them because when I read books, I read them in English.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson