Thursday, April 19, 2012

Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 2

This is Part 2 of the Korah series.  In Part 1 we discussed pastoral authority and how the Korah scripture was used to exert imagined pastoral authority over people.   Another pattern I saw when the Korah scripture was used (or abused) is:  what happens when congregants ask questions.   We've touched on this subject before and it will most likely come up again and again because it is a key issue in abusive church situations:  asking church leaders questions.

Can I Ask You a Question?

When I am teaching music to students, I love it when they ask me questions.  It shows they are following along with me, they respect my opinions and experience, and want further information.  They most likely will improve their musicianship by increasing their knowledge base and applying it to their abilities.  People asking questions might be confused, might not understand, or might want to know more info.  It should not be viewed as a threat to ask a question.   It's not a threat to me if someone questions me.  In fact, there have been times I may have overlooked a small detail on sheet music and I appreciate that they are paying close attention to details.  I know that I'm far from perfect and they are well on their way to being fine musicians by noticing these details (even those details that I missed).   This actually excites me because I know they are progressing to a higher level.  It is thrilling for me to play a small part in someone’s life musically.

I think of a pastor as a shepherd who cares for the flock and a teacher.  If a pastor is confident about his teaching and beliefs, one would think he would be comfortable with people asking questions.   I'm convinced that when most people ask questions, they are trying to work out this particular issue in their own mind, not at all trying to create problems.  There are so many issues in the Bible that are open for interpretation.  We look to the shepherd of the church as a teacher of God's Word, one who has studied well, one whom we respect, and hope to find answers so that we can have the same assurances and confidence he has.

We are taught in school:  there is no dumb question.  Why is this seen as a threat for some pastors?  Is it a threat?  What do they think it is a threat to:   their knowledge,   their position,  their authority,   the church,  God’s Word?  Is there something they are trying to hide?  Do they not know the answer to the question?  Are they afraid that the congregant could be right and don't want to be proven wrong?  Are they afraid that the congregant may know more?  Is it wrong for a congregant to have more knowledge than a pastor?  Think about the situation where there is young pastor with congregants who have been Christians longer than the pastor has been alive.  Doesn't it make sense that congregants may have more knowledge/experience?  It is all very puzzling to me.

Why is it that sometimes questions are not answered at all, but instead the focus is turned around and put on the questioner?  Why does the person asking the question sometimes have to endure a barrage of questions of “why” he/she is asking the pastor a question, what their motive is, and is their heart right before the Lord?   Is it a sin to ask a pastor a question?  How is it that when someone asks a question, they are given scripture verses on how they are acting like Korah?   By calling someone out as if they are in the sin of Korah, are they not saying:  “I'm the authority and you have to obey me unquestioningly?

The bottom line and unspoken rule is:  do not question authority.  The cost has been dear for those who have dared to question Chuck O'Neal.  

Thankfully, that false power is no longer over us and we have the freedom to express our thoughts and opinions here.   

I admit - sometimes I let my mind wander:  what would my life be like right now had my questions been answered in a normal fashion as most pastors would?   Then I get back to reality . . . . . and keep blogging :)

Admin note:  This is a 4-part series:

Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 1
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 2
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 3
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here, Part 4


  1. "Think about the situation where there is young pastor with congregants who have been Christians longer than the pastor has been alive. Doesn't it make sense that congregants may have more knowledge/experience?"

    This absolutely was the case with Chuck. I used to believe that although CO'N was very outspoken and reckless, the elders who had been at the church a long time would keep him in control. I felt that they would rein him in when he went too far and admired that they took a chance on a young pastor who had not even finished his pastoral degree. My blood ran cold when I knew they were completely on board with him. I wonder which came first Chuck's or the leaders' authoritarianism?

    1. "My blood ran cold when I knew they were completely on board with him."

      "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears" (Ac. 20:29-31).

      I hope the people still at BGBC will pay attention to the scriptural warnings!

    2. Oh how we wish we would have paid attention to the numerous people who warned us about Chuck's teaching. Sometimes you just have to learn the hard way!

    3. Anon 11:57: I've thought about this a lot. I don't think they knew what hit them originally. C'ON was very convincing. Look up the definition of convincing with its relationship to the word convict. I love the study of languages.

    4. Anon 12:56: Did people warn you before you attended the church or while you were at the church?

      You are not the only one who learns things the hard way, sadly.

    5. No one warned us before we attended, but many friends warned us after. We were told he was charismatic, dogmatic, and legalistic by people who attended once or twice. Many comments came from people within the church but we took it all with a grain of salt. Finally we were completely delivered by God. Praise the Lord!

    6. I started thinking about your comment and looking back, I think there were three individuals who aired their concerns to me. One took me privately in her vehicle to talk and spent close to an hour expressing her concerns. Her concerns were heartfelt. I remember agreeing with so much of what she said, too, but at that time, leaving was out of the question. I think I need to call her and thank her for her boldness. That was not an easy thing to do.

  2. Here are some of my questions:

    * Why women shouldn't wear black/dark colors?
    * Why triple dipping was the "correct" method
    of baptism?
    * Why foot washing is part of a communion
    * Why were we made to feel swimming could not
    be done in a modest way?
    * Why can't women ask questions at Wednesday
    night Bible study?
    * What is that strange teaching on Romans 7:1-3
    The Divorce Dilemma Part 1 & 2?
    * Why are people told not to talk with those
    who leave the shun them?
    * Why would a pastor sue people?
    * Why is there no forgiveness and
    reconciliation with former members?
    * Why are unsaved people and people who were
    never members being shunned?
    * Why were people at BGBC so angry and
    * Why do people blindly follow Chuck?

    There are too many questions...the more questions we asked the more trouble we got into.

    Jer. 5:31
    The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?

    1. Here's a question.

      Why is it "defamation" when people question Chuck or his methods or his teaching?

      "DEFAMATION IS A CRIME: It is convenient and crafty to wage a three and a half year war of reviling defamation in which you and those with you ACCUSE THE PASTOR AND CHURCH OF HORRIFIC CRIMES AGAINST GOD AND MEN,..." as per his google review comments.

      But not "defamation" when he says whatever he wants in google reviews, from the pulpit, or in church wide emails?

    2. Thanks, Julie Anne, for a very thought provoking post. In our time at BGBC we had several questions. One thing that bothered us was some of the people being baptized didn't seem to clearly understand salvation. Some couldn't even give an understandable testimony. We did ask Chuck about this and were told we needed to "trust God". If you watch baptisms at Grace Community Church the people give a thorough testimony to God's saving grace in their life.
      We found inconsistency between the heavy teaching emphasis on "Authentic Salvation" and the baptism testimonies.

    3. Thanks to the Anonymous comments above, I have replenished my pile of "future blog posts". :) It's amazing how much there is to discuss!

      So many times I read comment and then my brain starts taking off on a new blog post - lol. :)

  3. I have a question:
    If I, as a woman am not allowed to learn (by asking questions, reading, internet), how is it that I am qualified to teach the children at home - especially the male children?

    1. No kidding! And what about those with unsaved husbands?


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