Julie Anne: I have meditated on this post and the responses, as well as studying the Book of James as sets forth many benchmarks in this area.
The retaliatory actions by Beaverton Grace Bible Church against you and your family, and to significant numbers of members of other Christian churches who have been arbitrarily and harshly "disfellowshipped", "excommunicated", "shunned", sued for alleged defamation, and mentally abused by totalitarian-focused church leaders, have deeply troubled me.
I will not deny that your story, compounded by dozens of other stories of church abuse that I have begun learning about, has left me very worried about the possibility that my own church - which at this time seems to have a relatively "sane" approach to member relations - could at an unknown point in the future be "taken over" by devotees of ecclesiastical totalitarianism (which would be my polite characterization of the governance practiced at BGBC).
I have actually started losing sleep at night lately worrying about the proliferation of extremely radical, dogmatic, in-your-face theology in American churches that underscores the notion that the decisions and teachings of a pastor and church elders cannot under any circumstances be questioned or challenged.
Frankly, the whole topic of "abusive churches" is starting to raise some painfully difficult questions for myself, as to whether any Christian faith community is a "safe place" for learning and practicing basic discipleship skills as taught in the Bible.
Maybe I'm over-reacting, but just had to get this off of my chest. -RB
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36
It looks like my former church has done more changes on the church website - this time on the press release. I didn't notice this change, but another blogger did. Read about it at the FBC Jax Watchdog site. Good detective work, Watchdog!