Friday, December 21, 2012

Spiritual Abuse: Verses Pastors Twist and Misuse to Control








 For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction insound[f] doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. 
10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, sincethey are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. (Titus 1:7-11)

In reference to the above scripture, authors David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen in their book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, have this to say:

This passage opens to us the additional problem of placing heavy performance weights upon struggling people by means of misusing or abusing Scripture.
Instead of using the Word as a sword to pierce through the thoughts and motives of their own hearts, many spiritual leaders have used it as a stick to drive others, for a variety of reasons:  to keep others from holding them accountable; to protect their image; to uphold a doctrine they have based a whole ministry upon; to keep funds coming in; to build religious kingdoms in order to bolster their own spiritual self-esteem.  In other words, it's possible that some leaders teach the Word for personal gain, not to heal and to free.


One of the primary purposes of this blog is to identify spiritual abuse.  Just as I used Google search engine to educate myself years ago, others are also searching and stumble across my blog looking for answers.  I want them to be able to quickly find answers to their questions and also provide resources:  Spiritual Abuse Help.   

I would like to solicit your help.  If you know of any verses that pastors misuse in order to control or abuse, please pass them my way.  I'd like to compile a list of these verses and add them to the resource page.  I think it will be very eye-opening for those who are struggling with spiritual abuse to see this list and discover that their pastor has used verses inappropriately.   Hebrews 13:17 is a biggie used by many controlling pastors.  If there was a way to track this information, I have a hunch that this verse would be the most popular misused scripture.    

I have often said that spiritual abusers must go to the same school to learn this stuff because they use the same verses to abuse, same control tactics.  I feel a little guilty putting this list together publicly, because leaders from CSAS (Creepy Spiritual Abuse School), might steal it and use it as their core curriculum, but I'll have to take that risk.  Many spiritual abusers are narcissists who do not believe they are abusing to begin with, so they probably wouldn't look up spiritual abuse, or if they do, they are projecting and accusing others of spiritual abuse.  

My objective here is to note the verses and then maybe in another post we can look at the patterns we see in the verses:  the patterns to obtain control, the patterns of shaming, elevating a position of status, etc.  

I haven't mentioned it in a while, but want to throw this out there again.  When pastors use the Bible to abuse, the Bible itself can become an emotional trigger.  I no longer personally use NKJV translation.   If I read that translation, I can hear the voice of my former pastor on specific verses.  The way he used the verses sometimes was not how they were intended and I need to exchange that with truth so I can really hear from God.  If you are having difficulty reading the Bible you used at a spiritually abusive church, see what happens if you try a different Bible or translation.  If one of God's primary ways of speaking to us is through His Word, find something that works for you.  


Here are some posts I have done and comments by readers on scripture used to misuse or exert control over someone:



Verses Misused to Label People Who Question Authority as Divisive 


Romans 16:17:  Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.  NKJV  

Pastors use this verse to "mark and avoid" (shun) members they deem are divisive.  This is not the correct interpretation.  This is really about marking and avoiding false teachers, not congregants.     False Teachers Who Mark and Avoid Church Members


Titus 3:10-11:   Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition,  knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.

This is one of those verses used to cut off and shun those who are stirring up problems. And by problems, I mean for instance those who are 
attempting to challenge church doctrines that are biblically unsound.(monax)

The Titus passage is about false and divisive people teaching or preaching, not about pew-sitters. Context is important. Check out the verses before and after. (Arce)

The following is from Biblegateway.com in connection with Titus 3:10 verse:  8750 false teaching = Scripture repeatedly warns against false teachings, which deny or distort some aspect of the gospel. The origin of such teachings is attributed either to human error or to demonic inspiration. (ja)



Verses Pastor Use to Puff up Their Position as Authority

Psalm 105:15  - "Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm."

This verse is in a Psalm that recounts the marvelous protection that God showed to the Patriarchs, the Hebrews, Moses, etc. in the context of the patriarchal narratives of the first five books of the Bible.  Verse 5 recounts the protection that these people receive from kings and other rulers who might try to harm them.  False teachers use this to suggest that they are such “patriarchal” and leadership types, and should thus be especially, divinely protected from EVERYONE.  When they cite this verse, they also present themselves as being very, very threatening to other leaders, such as government authorities, other church leaders, etc., and are in need of divine protection as they conduct their “prophetic” ministries, etc.  (Ken Garrett)


1 Timothy 3:1 ESV - "The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” 

Setting aside the question whether pastors are always overseers, the use of the word office in this verse gives rise to a strong inference of overseers being vested with authority.  Trouble is, the word office in this passage does not translate any Greek word. The word office was simply inserted into the English translations.  More specifically, the Greek word episkopes, meaning something along the lines of overseerage or overseership, is translated “office of overseer.” I believe that the passage, if translated literally, should read something like “If anyone aspires to overseerage (or overseership), he desires a noble task.” Young’s Literal Translation reads, “If any one the oversight doth long for . . .” 

If all this sounds too awkward for English language ears, I suggest something like, “If anyone aspires to the MINISTRY of overseer, he desires a noble task.” The use of the word ministry in place of office makes the passage compatible with Jesus' own teaching and injunction: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25b-28 ESV).  A similar analysis would apply to every appearance I have found of the word office in the ESV New Testament, at least insofar as there is no standalone Greek word for any appearance of the English word office. (Gary)




Obey Pastors, Elders, Church Leaders

Hebrews 13:17 - below are posts I did early in the blog, in March, right after being sued:
Obey Those Who Rule Over You, and Be Submissive, Part 1
Obey Those Who Rule Over You and Be Submissive, Part 2




Tithing

Malachi 3:8-10:  This verse can be used "to attempt to compel giving as a legalistic requirement (to the preacher and his ministry kingdom, of course) rather than as a matter of heartfelt determination: “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (ESV). (Gary)

Arce notes:  "Some of the tithing passages, and this is one, apply to the priests who were supposed to bring the tithes and not keep all of them for themselves. As in preachers taking whopping salaries and benefits, instead of feeding the poor, clothing those in need, and housing the homeless."


Verses Used to Enforce Mandatory Church Attendance

Hebrews 10:24-25: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV)

In my experience, even pastors I would not consider abusive tend to use the “not neglecting to meet together” phrase in this verse to encourage attendance at church functions, especially services. I would be in agreement if the verse were to be used to promote the kind of face-to-face, participatory, fellowship in which all present could actually stir up one another to love and good works and encourage one another. However, I submit that the verse is being used manipulatively, or at least inappropriately, when the intention is to promote attendance at events where the laity, having little if any opportunity to interact with one another, have no choice but to be passive observers—excepting only when doing what they are told to do (stand, sing, sit, give, etc.). (Gary)



Verses Pastors Use to Control How to Dress/Wear their Hair, etc.

1 Peter 3:3-4 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

Deuteronomy 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.

1 Corinthians 11:6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. (Shannon H)




The following notes are from Pastor Ken Garrett.  Thank you, Ken!!! 


Blessing/Cursing the false teacher:  Genesis 12:3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed. = false teachers have used this verse to suggest that they, as men who are favored by God (as Abraham was) are sources of either blessing, or cursing, depending on their followers’ treatment of them.  To be generally well-disposed towards the false teacher will bring blessing, as will any gift or support given to him.  To act/think/speak against the false teacher, well…you get the idea.



Treating the false teacher as responsible for the success of his followers in their spiritual battles: Exodus 17:11 So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.

The suggestion of the false teacher here is that his/her spiritual life (or disciplines, study time, prayer, etc.) is more important than that of their followers, and that their time and freedom should be protected and facilitated.  In this sense, the false teacher presents himself In a more sinister light.  There is also the implicit suggestion that the false teacher plays a sort of mediatorial role between their followers and God (cf. Jude 12b, where Korah is cited for his attempts to usurp the mediatorial role of Moses. (Also, Numbers 16, esp. v3)



Cursing the false teacher:  Exodus 22:28 "You shall not curse God, nor curse a ruler of your people. = false teachers often view criticism and challenge from their followers as a type of cursing.  

Of course, in applying this verse to themselves, they are implicitly claiming to be “rulers,” a very powerful, unbiblical assertion!  In reality most of the “cursing” done against false teachers is in private, in the innermost chambers of the wounded hearts of their followers. 



Taking the Consecrated Bread:  1 Sam  21  6 So the priest gave him consecrated bread; for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence which was removed from before the LORD, in order to put hot bread in its place when it was taken away. And, (Mat 12:2-4)   2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, "Behold, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath." 3 But He said to them, "Have you not read what David did, when he became hungry, he and his companions; 4 how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those with him, but for the priests alone?  

This account from the life of David, commended by the Lord Himself in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, has been cited by false teacher’s to explain why it is acceptable for them to discount or flaunt traditions and policies in their churches that they have found to be restrictive to the goals of their ministries.  For example, the false teacher who is challenged for his use of very secularized music or presentation in the worship service might counter, “Just like David took the consecrated bread to feed his men, so I’m not bowing to tradition when there are bigger issues at stake, like reaching the lost,” etc.  When David took the bread it was with the self-knowledge that he truly was the Lord’s anointed, was innocent—and had to meet the physical needs of his men more than the ceremonial needs of the tabernacle.  Also, he took the bread in full acknowledgment that, as the Lord’s Anointed, he had an implicit right to do so.  (By the way, his decision contributed to the slaughter of many innocent priests!)  In the same way, Jesus made the point to the Pharisees that as the Messiah, He possessed the sole right to subjugate the ceremonial rules of the tabernacle, because “something greater than then temple” stood before them (Matt 12: 6).  That “something greater” was HIMSELF, not a particular flouting or dismissal of rules.



“Stretching out (one’s) hand” against the false teacher:  1 Samuel 24:6 So he said to his men, "Far be it from me because of the LORD that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD'S anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the LORD'S anointed." 

A classic false teacher favorite.  This verse, taken from the account of David’s refusal to murder King Saul as he, uh…was having some private time in a cave…, is cited as a warning and example to the false teacher’s followers—they must never address the shortcomings and failures of their leader, and must certainly NEVER presume to take a corrective or disciplinary role towards them, as they (the false teachers) are to be considered “anointed of God.”  Both Saul and David were certainly anointed by God—through His appointed prophet/priest Samuel, and at the explicit command of God. (1 Sam 15:1, 16:1, 13) While pastors are, hopefully, full of the Holy Spirit as all believers are to be, and they (hopefully) routinely receive the anointing-empowering of the Spirit for preaching, they are certainly NOT anointed to regal positions over God’s people as were David and Saul.  Also, the “stretch out” of the hand that David spoke of was in violence—so as to execute Saul and take over the kingdom, NOT to simply confront him for sin or clarification, etc.



The false teacher’s “Mighty Men”:  2 Sam 23:8ff These are the names of the mighty men whom David had… = The “mighty men” of David, who comprised a group of super-loyal, super-soldier, Band of Brothers all rolled into one, were a select group of warriors and friends (many if not most of them non-Jews, I believe) who pledged themselves to David for life, to obey his commands, defend his honor, fight for him, kill for him, etc.  They were a type of royal bodyguard, only much more.  They were also key leaders in David’s government.  The fact that they are primarily not identified by tribal membership suggests that their loyalty to David was very, very personal—and that they had, for all purposes, given their loyalty to him over their own homes and national identities.  Stunning, dramatic accounts are recorded of their feats, strength, and courage.  False teacher’s (who often identify themselves as Davidic-type personages) have been known to gather their own little band of “might men” from the church.  These men are chosen primarily for their personal loyalty to the pastor, and inevitably view themselves as distinct from the rest of the congregation.  They are the inner-circle, and are often made privy to the secrets, plots, and general political-moral intrigues of the false teacher, and are rewarded for their “loyalty” by public acclaim and personal flattery and promotion in the church.  They act as buffers against the regular congregation-member’s criticism or personal challenge to the pastor.  Often they are put on elder-boards, and expected to demonstrate personal loyalty to the pastor, even over loyalty to the members of the church, let alone to the Chief Shepherd!  (see also, 2 Sam 10:7, 17:8ff)



Not heeding the words of the false teacher:   These verses, and many like them in Proverbs, are used by false teacher’s to claim a type of “wisdom” that any reasonable, godly person would obey and seek out.  To not apply the counsel of the false teacher is seen, in this sense, as an act of the foolish, and an invitation to great ruin.


Proverbs 13:1 A wise son accepts his father's discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. 
Proverbs 27:5  Better is open rebuke Than love that is concealed.  (Ken Garrett)





Please feel free to leave any verses that pastors use to abuse, control, coerce, manipulate, threaten, etc, in the comments.   Even if you are reading this post months later, go ahead and comment.  This post will be linked in the Spiritual Abuse Resource area and will be the master list.  Thank you in advance for your contributions.  I think this is going to be very beneficial to have a comprehensive list.  





Korah





I am very grateful for the contributors to this article.  The names of contributors are listed at the end of each item they contributed in parentheses.  

photo credit: Ryk Neethling via photopin cc

59 comments:

  1. Hi Julie Anne! I emailed you some OT references that are often twisted by FTs in the church. Nothing definitive, but some interesting and tragic misuse of Scripture!

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    1. Wonderful, Ken. Thanks so much. I've got some choir kids coming over today for a party and caroling, so I'll add them when I get a free moment. I love what I saw, Ken.

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  2. After the elders family, helped by that pastors, did theft by deception, they kept repeating to me… "Forgive and forget and be friends again." Of course the $40,000.00 didn't take food off of their table! And they didn't worry about the verses in the bible about widows or paying back what you owe or stealing, etc.

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    1. Ang, that sounds like quite a story. Did they use a specific verse when saying "Forgive and forget"? If so, I'd like to include it in my list. Thanks for your comment.

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  3. While reading through Titus last evening and coming across 3:10-11 (note to ja - you may want to include verse 11 above) I thought surely this is one of those verses used to cut off and shun those who are stirring up problems. And by problems, I mean for instance those who are attempting to challenge church doctrines that are biblically unsound.

    "As for a person who stirs up divisions, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned" (Titus 3:10-11).

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  4. “The worst kind of evil is the wrong kind of love, love that clutches and possesses rather than loosening and liberating. . . . That is Lewis’ final statement on evil. Essentially, it is the wrong kind of love. . . . What the evil man calls love is only a sort of hunger aimed at the total consumption of the emotional lives of those around him. What he calls justice is the selfish granting of his own welfare and pleasure, whether on a personal or a universal scale. And what he calls good is that which will benefit his own aims at the expense or despite the needs of those around him. He is evil not because he wills to be an evil man but because he can do nothing else but will his own narrow desires.”

    ~ Janice Witherspoon Neulieb, reviewing Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis, in Christianity Today, 28 March 1975, page 16.

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    1. That is an excellent quote, David. Thank you. BTW, I added your comments above.

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    2. JA, Monax:

      The Titus passage is about false and divisive people teaching or preaching, not about pew-sitters. Context is important. Check out the verses before and after.

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    3. Thank you, Arce.

      I found the following on Biblegateway.com in connection with this verse. It refers to shunning false teachers.

      8750 false teachings

      Scripture repeatedly warns against false teachings, which deny or distort some aspect of the gospel. The origin of such teachings is attributed either to human error or to demonic inspiration.

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    4. Arce,

      I believe our Titus 3:10-11 directive is inclusive to all “those who have believed in God” (3:8), who profess to be a part of the Church of Jesus Christ. In the epistilatory context of Titus 1:10-11 we read, “For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talker and deceivers especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.” This Titus 3:10-11 directive covers everyone, insiders, outsiders—even “pew-sitters,” whatever you mean by pew-sitter. Personally, I don’t see any clergy / layman distinction as biblical, there is no static pulpit / pew positionings within the church.

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  5. Some verses that get twisted regarding appearance are (I'll post in the KJV as that is what these pastors would probably quote):

    1 Peter 3:3-4 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

    Deuteronomy 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.

    1 Corinthians 11:6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

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    1. Thank you, Shannon. Those verses remind me of the posts I did on Faith Tabernacle a while back - United Pentecostal Churches use these verses for women in their churches.

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  6. Malachi 3:8-10, which I suggest may be the only verses quoted in evangelical churches more often than John 3:16, to attempt to compel giving as a legalistic requirement (to the preacher and his ministry kingdom, of course) rather than as a matter of heartfelt determination: “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (ESV).

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    1. That's excellent, Gary, thank you. I have not covered using verses to shame people into tithing. This is an important one. FBC Jax Watchdog blog covers a lot of these types of abuse stories regarding tithing (on my sidebar).

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    2. This one is personal to me. With the close exception of my father, my grandfather expressed love to me beyond the measure of any other man. It is likely the narrative has lost accuracy over many decades, but the story is told how my grandfather, as a young man, attended a "church" service in which the preacher, after the offering, asked those who gave to stand. The preacher then proceeded to shame those who remained seated. My grandfather was among the seated and shamed, and he never returned to that "church," nor did he to my knowledge ever attend any other church or so called "church" to the end of his life. If the evangelical doctrines of salvation are correct, I have no reason to believe my grandfather (did I mention that he loved me?) entered the ranks of the redeemed before he died in the 1980's. Worse, according to the evangelicals, who with rarest exception preach and manipulatively threaten hell, hellfire and brimstone, my grandfather is suffering conscious, fiery, punishment forever and ever--without end.

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    3. Gary, THIS ^^^^^ what you describe above is why I blog. The pastor who shall not be named thinks it's all about him, creates a copycat blog, yada, yada, what's missing is his passionate heart for the lost. He'd rather pass out business cards advertising his website.

      I am so sorry to hear the story of your grandfather - what a painful reminder of what destruction can be done by a "man of God".

      Gary, if you have more to share on your personal story that you wouldn't mind sharing publicly, please contact me. (bgbcsurvivors@gmail.com) I think it deserves a blog post. Every single time I have posted a personal story, without fail, someone has contacted me either in the comments or else privately to tell me their story is similar or is thankful to read they are not the only one. Gary, let's not let your grandfather's story be the end of the story. It can be used to help others. Thank you!

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    4. Some of the tithing passages, and this is one, apply to the priests who were supposed to bring the tithes and not keep all of them for themselves. As in preachers taking whopping salaries and benefits, instead of feeding the poor, clothing those in need, and housing the homeless.

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  7. Under the heading “Verses Pastors use to Puff up Their Position as Authority” I suggest: “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” (1 Timothy 3:1 ESV). Setting aside the question whether pastors are always overseers, the use of the word office in this verse gives rise to a strong inference of overseers being vested with authority. Trouble is, the word office in this passage does not translate any Greek word. The word office was simply inserted into the English translations. More specifically, the Greek word episkopes, meaning something along the lines of overseerage or overseership, is translated “office of overseer.” I believe that the passage, if translated literally, should read something like “If anyone aspires to overseerage (or overseership), he desires a noble task.” Young’s Literal Translation reads, “If any one the oversight doth long for . . .” If all this sounds too awkward for English language ears, I suggest something like, “If anyone aspires to the MINISTRY of overseer, he desires a noble task.” The use of the word ministry in place of office makes the passage compatible with Jesus own teaching and injunction: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25b-28 ESV). A similar analysis would apply to every appearance I have found of the word office in the ESV New Testament, at least insofar as there is no standalone Greek word for any appearance of the English word office. Disclaimer: I am not a Greek scholar, although, having received above average grades through five quarters of studying pre-Biblical and Biblical Greek at a well known non-denominational Evangelical college, maybe I can claim to be something of a student of the language.

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    1. Gary - Thank you for this. I've added it above. I haven't looked up the Greek on the verse you mention, but it does line up with what I've been reading about pastoral authority lately. Frankly, even if you were a little off (and I don't think you are), the point is that this is a verse that could easily be used to elevate one's status OVER someone which is something that controlling and abusive pastors do. Pastors ought not be concerned about their position or reputation; their first priority evidenced to all should be the care and concern of the people they are serving.

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    2. Gary,

      as you know in translating the Hebrew or Greek into English sometimes there’s not a singular-word for singular-word conveyance of ideas.

      In the Hebrew OT, for example, Psalm 37:23 in the ESV reads “The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way.” However, in this case, I believe the King James is the better translation as it modifies the man as “good”—“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord...” The reason it reads “good man” is that the Hebrew word there—GeVeR—has an heroic dimension to it, thus the translators added the adjective “good” to qualify what sort of man the Hebrew text is pointing to.

      In the Greek NT, for example, Heb 13:17a in the ESV reads “Obey your leaders and submit to them...” However, the NIV adds an additional word to clarify the intent of the Greek. The NIV reads “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority...” The lexicons support this translation, for although ὑπείκω
      (hupeiko) literally means to “yield,” it is used here figuratively to mean “to yield to someone’s authority, submit” (BDAG). The expression basically means to “submit to someone’s authority” (ANLEX). This is why the NIV appropriately inserts the word “authority.”

      In Acts 1:20 the word singularly translated “office” is ἐπισκοπήν (episkopen), literally overseeing, “as the position of an overseer, office, responsibility” (ANLEX). It’s a position of care and oversight of God’s church. This is the same word in 1 Timothy 3:1, “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble work.” This is a proper translation. Acts 20:28 defines this office as one ordained by the Holy Spirit “to care for the church of God” as a good shepherd cares for his flock.

      According to the texts, overseers are vested with real authority, that is a biblical certainty. However, the underlying question is most important: What is the proper nature and scope of this authority? How are elders or overseers called to exercise their care over the church? You pointed out correctly (a la Matt 20:25b-28) that the nature of this leadership is qualitatively different than the sort worldly authorities employ. The position of overseer is one of humble servitude, and one rules by persuasion, not by any authoritarian means.

      Since you brought up the question on “whether pastors are always overseers” let me share my take on this. A few years ago I would have said yes, but now I understand the position of pastor differently. Although there is a scriptural prohibition against women teaching and having authority over a man (1 Tim 2:12), I don’t see a prohibition of women teaching or pastoring as long as they are not teaching men or in a position of authority over men. This would allow for female Pastors to Women and to Children. As elders or overseers are called to exercise authority over the entire body—men, women and children—this would exclude women from the office of elder, or possessing a pastorate over a church that has men as members.

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    3. David, did you really include that last paragraph? You must be bored to open up that can of worms :)






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    4. "can of worms" regardless, it's an issue of Rebellion within the church that must be addressed!

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    5. and as we're discussing how to identify spiritual abuse, my position is that if there is a dislocation in the body—there will consequently exist within that body significant abuses!

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    6. If someone has a difference of opinion on a secondary issue, is it really "Rebellion" (your capital R duly noted)?

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    7. Monax, when reading your last paragraph I am sad to gather that you hold to this position. This view is stifling to women called by Christ to ministry in His Body. It is taking a step back in time.

      Primarily, it does not reflect a healthy and harmonious view of males and females in their combined status before God in the Kingdom of God at this point in history. Taking a closer look at what the Timothy passage is about, in the context of the New Testament, gives a much clearer understanding of this passage.

      The coming of Christ and his finished work on the cross, along with his resurrection and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit ushered God's people into a whole new era of liberty and freedom 'in Christ'! This can be reflected in church leadership and ministry by either gender.

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    8. Julie Anne, why have you relegated this to a secondary issue? From my life of studying Scripture, i see absolutely no way of reading 1 Timothy 2:12 any differently than our best translations read—“I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man...” This is a Scriptural mandate we are to obey. We don’t get to categorize directives into primary and secondary points of obedience. Look at King Saul in First Samuel Fifteen. He chose to obey the LORD up until a certain point—and then he rebelled. At the point where we disobey God—this is our rebellion. And Saul could not foresee that his sin would lead to Purim—to the attempted holocaust of the people of God we read about in Esther. [I break it down it here in Obedience is better than sacrifice with this emphasis: “To obey God is better than rationalizing your rebellion as sacrifices of worship to the LORD!”]

      Barb, what is sad is sin. What is even sadder is calling sin an act of service and worship to God. We are all—men, women and children—gifted and called to minister, that is our privilege and responsibility. We are all empowered by the Holy Spirit and made spiritually free to minister to God, to the church, and to the world. But we are not to minister outside the bounds God has delineated. Also, it’s the Bible that defines for me what is relationally healthy and harmonious. Sharpen my irons, Barb, and please break it down for me, what have i missed?

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    9. David: I disagree that it is a primary issue, just as I believe the creation vs evolution, pre-trib/post-trib, infant/adult baptism are secondary issues.

      Just as you are saying this is primary issue of obedience, I can tell you something that was said to me at one point in time. This person also thought this issue was a primary command and so felt compelled to correct me. This "friend" accused me of disobeying God and being in sin because my husband and I decided to not actively try to procreate during my fertile times of the month. This person used scripture to convince me that any wasted "seed" was a sin and that if we were not actively trying to produce "blessings" by "being fruitful and multiplying" that I was not obeying God. It didn't matter whether I had health issues or not, this was a trust and obey issue and because I was taking matters in my own hands,by preventing conception I was in complete disobedience.

      Do you see where I'm going with this? You are doing the same thing. What does the Bible say we must do to be saved? It's very simple. All the rest are secondary issues and they will be debated until Kingdom Come.

      When we get into strong debates, people try to convince us their way is the right and the only way based on their interpretation. Guess what? Our spiritual abusers did that, too. I don't want this place to be causing triggers for people spiritually, so if you want to get into this topic more than this level, please open up your blog, David. Feel free to post your link here and those who wish to straighten your thinking out can go to your blog :) But I can't have people telling others that they are "in rebellion" because they don't share the same interpretation of scripture that you do. I'm sure we could bring in plenty other highly educated Biblical scholars who would tell you that you are wrong. And for the record, I'm not telling you that your opinion is right OR wrong. We must keep this place safe.

      Thanks :)

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    10. Wow - I probably should have issued a TMI warning ^^^ oops

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    11. i've linked above to my blog,

      anyone, especially "highly educated Biblical scholars" are free to engage me and sharpen my irons there

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    12. Perfect! Thanks, David. I don't consider myself a highly educated Biblical scholar, but I like learning, so I'll probably take a peek from time to time.

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  8. Monax -

    "Although there is a scriptural prohibition against women teaching and having authority over a man (1 Tim 2:12), I don’t see a prohibition of women teaching or pastoring as long as they are not teaching men or in a position of authority over men."

    I have heard this scripture interpreted in another way than how you appear to interpret it. Does that mean everyone who views it in a different way is in "Rebellion according to Monax?" And what does being in "Rebellion" mean? To me that would mean that someone needs to repent or be put out of a local church. Rebellion is a strong word and has implications.

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    1. Bridget, sin is rebellion and disobedience to God. God's Word defines God's will. Any doing or being church outside God's will is sin. Whether it's committed willfully or in ignorance it's still rebellion. Scripture draws the line for us.

      Rebellion is indeed a strong word and has grave implications. And Yes, those women in the church who teach men authoritatively and assume spiritual authority over a man as an elder, Yes, in my view they are in grave rebellion against the Most High God!

      So, Bridget, how have you heard it interpreted permissively?

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    2. Bridget, no need to answer. This will not continue here. It's not an appropriate venue. Go ahead and c&p what you want from here, David, to post on your blog. Thanks!

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    3. Headless Unicorn GuyDecember 25, 2012 at 1:12 PM

      Monax, you sure seem stuck on "Rebellion"...

      Remember Tolkien's "Who are most likely to worry about 'escaping' but Jailers."? Well, who is most likely to obsess about "Rebelliousness" but control freaks?

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  9. An online acquaintance of mine counters the Ps. 105:15 verse with 1 John 2:20.

    "But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge." (ESV)

    The later verse is directed to believers, so as a logical outgrowth she adds her own interpretation. "I am the Lord's annointed. TOUCH ME NOT!"

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    1. tikatu,

      That is SO GOOD! I hope many people will see and remember 1 John 2:20!

      When an abusive pastor makes a charge against someone using a scripture verse, it's often taken out of context. Meant to scare someone to be silent and "submit". But pastors aren't the only ones with access to the Word - thanks for sharing the words from 1 John 2:20 with everyone!

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  10. Julie Ann:

    You said:"David, did you really include that last paragraph? You must be bored to open up that can of worms :)"

    Sadly, Julie, David and others that interpret the scriptures their way would rather divide the church in the name of ferreting out rebellion.

    Sadly, there is no humanly way to even discuss the issues with them.

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    1. Hey Tom: Although I feel David did cross the line with the word "rebellion", I think he handled it well when I asked him to move it to his blog. He was polite and didn't question my reasoning. David has been a friend of mine for many months and has been very supportive of me and vocal against spiritual abusers. I think his zeal got the best of him. I'm cutting him some slack.

      There are others who are relentless about their doctrinal issues and lose all common courtesy when dealing with others. They put doctrine above all. They are the ones who destroy churches/ relationships/families. I agree with you completely - you cannot discuss anything with them.

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    2. Tom Parker, feel free to discuss with me the errors of my interpretation. You will find that i am both a teachable and reasonable man.

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    3. Headless Unicorn GuyDecember 24, 2012 at 2:42 PM

      Remember how control freaks and spiritually-abusive pastors define "Rebellion", monax. Anything other than total blind obedience to the Man-o-Gawd.

      (A news article on ths history of SGM reported that Jack Hybels used to test the loyalty of his elders/deacons by ordering them to drink a liquid marked "poison". Kind of like a Jonestown rehearsal.)

      And a lot of the commenters here have been on the receiving end of what abusive pastors called "both teachable and reasonable men", i.e. themselves. They will be understandably gun-shy of your statement.

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    4. Monax, I want to thank you for keeping to the purity of Gods word! It's not popular, but it is safe. Also I detect a most sincere and humble attitude in you. I appreciate your comments!

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    5. Don, my brother. Your comment has welled my eyes up with tears. Thank you much for your words of encouragement.

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  11. David:

    Julie said to me:"David has been a friend of mine for many months and has been very supportive of me and vocal against spiritual abusers. I think his zeal got the best of him. I'm cutting him some slack."

    David, that is good enough for me. We shall leave this other issue alone.

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  12. Hebrews 10:24-25: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV). In my experience, even pastors I would not consider abusive tend to use the “not neglecting to meet together” phrase in this verse to encourage attendance at church functions, especially services. I would be in agreement if the verse were to be used to promote the kind of face-to-face, participatory, fellowship in which all present could actually stir up one another to love and good works and encourage one another. However, I submit that the verse is being used manipulatively, or at least inappropriately, when the intention is to promote attendance at events where the laity, having little if any opportunity to interact with one another, have no choice but to be passive observers—excepting only when doing what they are told to do (stand, sing, sit, give, etc.).

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    1. Oh, yes, that is a good point. There are churches where attendance is taken, requiring some to feel the need to give excuses if they skip church for any reason. That's a bit much. I think sometimes the attendance thing is done genuinely, it's how they use that info that is important.

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  13. Julie Anne,

    A verse misused to control, I've experienced, is Ephesians 4:29, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification, according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear."

    I've had this verse used against me as a blogger, whether by church elders or by other bloggers, who by divine appointment of some kind determine infallably that something I've written isn't wholesome. Usually a hint of sarcasm disqualifies my semtiments from the realm of June Cleaver purity. Nevermind that it could edify and encourage numerous people (including other pastors) and that many of those could write me and tell me so, it's unwholesome just because a critic says so.

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    1. I tell you, Steve, bloggers and pastors - not always a good mix. That is the perfect verse to use against us. I'm wondering if I should put in the heading: Verses Used to Silence Bloggers :)

      Now that you've reminded me, I think I need to go through a bunch of Google reviews and e-mails to the congregation which were used against me and "those with me".

      If my former church buddies have any that come to mind, feel free to e-mail/text me.

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  14. Julie Anne, It's not only the misuse of scripture by pastors, but probably more serious is the pastor not living up to what he preaches. How many pastors have you heard preach on " Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth..." preaching from a thousand dollar pulpit, inside a multi-million dollar church, wearing a 500 dollar suit, then goes home to a bigger than normal house. Or thou shalt not steal, then build a new church sanctuary using mostly free labor from the congregation, then pay himself thousands of dollars over his already high salary and call it contractor fees. Or my personal favorite, to preach against the sin of divorce, then council one of your staff members to divorce her husband because the husband approached the pastor about some illegal practices he is taking part in to save the church money. I could go on but my point here is not always the message that is being preached, but sometimes the messenger that is doing the preaching.

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    1. Raymond: Can you say: False Teacher? ^^^^ Godly Shepherds do NOT break up marriages, period. Raymond, I'm saying a special prayer for you as you go through your first Christmas after the divorce. My heart goes out to you.

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    2. Just a side note to the Pastor that convinced my wife that divorce was in her best interest. He is the same Pastor that six years earlier recited our wedding vows and married us.

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    3. No, Raymond, the divorce was in HIS best interest. The mark of a false teacher is that they put their own interests ahead of others. It was a lot easier to get rid of you than for him to face his congregation and acknowledge that he intentionally gave wrong information for the permits. Who wants to go to a church with a lying pastor?

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  15. 56 years a Baptist, mostly SBCDecember 24, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    The verse where Paul says "I do not permit" is an example where Paul was surely inspired to say that he, not God, did not permit. Therefore, once Paul went to his reward, the question becomes whether that is a command of God or of Paul, and the latter was clear that he was not the former.

    I must say that Paul is surely more anti-woman that Jesus was in many ways, and we are to follow Jesus, not Paul, which is something else that Paul taught.

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  16. Well done!
    Particularly regarding 1Timothy 3:1 and many others like it that are twisted please read
    awildernessvoice.com/GEC.html
    Eye opening to say the least.

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    1. Andrew: Thank you so much for posting the site. This page in particular discusses twisted scripture and points how even certain Bible translations convey a different message and meaning when looking up the original Greek: Twisted Scripture

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  17. Our former pastor, when talking about those who had left the church--not mentioning any names of course--used 1 John 2: 19 and Matthew 7:23 to say that we had never belonged. He said "We are to go and bring our brothers back and then if they do not come back 1 John says 'they went out from among us because they were never of us'. It's not that they were saved and lost their salvation. Jesus doesn't say 'Depart from me--I knew you then but now I don't anymore'. He says 'Depart from me I never knew you.'" Totally taken out of context. Do you think that could be called slander? That was the beginning of the end of his tenure!

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  18. Verses used in an attempt to impose the requirement of cover by, that is submission to, ecclesiastical position holders:
    Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. (1 Peter 2:13-14 ESV).

    Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. (Ephesians 6:5-8 ESV).

    See, for example, John Bevere’s 2001 book, Under Cover, where at pages 100 and following he quotes and interprets both verses as applying not only to civil authorities, according to their plain meaning, but also to ecclesiastical “authorities.” However, to make his point, Bevere must quote from the not-so-literal Contemporary English Version and from The Message, a paraphrase. Most egregiously, he embellishes the already paraphrased Ephesians 6:5-8 passage from The Message, which he “quotes” as follows: “Servants [employees, church members, civilians, etc.] respectfully obey your earthly masters [employers, church leaders, civil authorities, etc.] . . .” The words in square brackets are simply inserted by Bevere. His book does not disclose that he is doing this, leaving the impression that the bracketed wording is from the author of The Message.

    So, Paul addresses the Ephesians passage to “douloi,” which is Greek for “slaves,” ESV turns “slaves” into “bondservants,” and The Message turns “bondservants” into “servants.” Bever turns “servants,” that is “slaves,” into “church members;” all of which, both in theory and in all too frequent practice, turns church members into de facto slaves of pastors and other people with positions in church organizations.

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  19. I am a new Christian, so perhaps I am ignorant of things that more experienced Christians would take for granted. In my view, church doctrine is what it is, and if I don't like it, I know where the door is. I saw with my own eyes the nearly 1000 bodies The Rev. Jim Jones left behind. Those people knew where the door was too.

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