"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Scarlet Letter - A (or B for Blogging?)

The Florida Times Union (Jacksonville) ran a story today entitled "Church to 'Out' Ex-Members Sexually Immoral Relationship". This is a story about a female divorced church member at Grace Community Church who is being accused of having a "sexually immoral relationship" with her boyfriend, and the church is exercising what they consider to be biblical church discipline - which included sending her a letter telling her of her sin, presumably asking her to repent or face public revelation of her sin before the church. This member is a local social worker, and a Lt. Col in the Army National Reserves. The pastor of the church is Scott Christmas - graduate of Criswell College (at FBC Dallas), and Southern Seminary - both affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. The church however, from its website is apparently non-denominational.

According to the article, at the church's January 4th service her sin will be publicly exposed before the church. Although not stated in the article, it is likely that this is for the church to understand what she is being accused of so that they may vote her out of the fellowship and revoke her membership.

The member has sent the church a resignation letter to try and stop this public revelation, but according to the pastor the discipline process will proceed.

This is so very sad that the church has decided to do this, and I would like to make a few comments:

- this process the church is going through, is likely spelled out in their bylaws as biblical "Church Discipline", much like what is currently in the new bylaws of FBC Jax recently passed in December 2007 with no discussion or explanation to the members. There is likely a group of elders or deacons who once they become aware of some sin or offense in a person's life, they will go to the pastor and determine if it is worthy of discipline according to their bylaws. They then will likely go to the person to confront them of their sin (which apparently a group of women did at the church) to get the person to repent. If the accused does not respond appropriately, then the committee will make a recommendation to the church - which could include expulsion from the church.

- being a relatively new church (founded in 1996) and certainly not a "mega church" like FBC Jax, its likely that their church bylaws originally had this discipline process in it. FBC Jax has NOT had this discipline process in their bylaws, until this past December 2007 when the bylaws were changed adding an article spelling out a similar discipline process that culminates in the offenders sin being brought to the church. Mac Brunson himself stated just two weeks ago that this process of bringing people's sins before the church, and "dealing harshly" with them is to "put the fear of God" into other church members (listen below).

- this process that is occurring at Grace Community Church is similar to the process taking place at FBC Jax with a long-time member who has been accused of dividing the church through ownership of this blog. One strange twist in the FBC Jax church discipline case is that the accused and his wife both were served with Trespass Warnings until such time that they agree to meet with the a discipline committee of six men - without given a copy of the governing bylaws and without any representation.

- what the press should inquire at both FBC Jax and at Grace Community Church as a follow-up (this Grace Community Church story will likely have legs at the national level - I can see a "pinhead" award coming!) is this: how does the church determine what offenses are so egregious that they require this process? Are all sins committed by the members of congregation worthy of such a process? Are there any men at Grace who have been accused of adultery, and were they subjected to this Church Discipline process? Any obese people at the church that haven't repented of their gluttony? What about drunkards who might be seen at the local bar? Same process?

- I wonder if this woman was issued a "Trespass Warning" as the accused blogger was at FBC Jax. Do they issue Trespass Warnings at Grace to try to coerce people to meet with their discipline committee? Do the FBC Jax bylaws specify which sins are worthy of having Trespass Warnings issued barring people from the church, or is it just people who are accused of divisiveness through blogging? What about adulterers, fornicators, drunkards, swindlers, and the greedy and gluttonous? Trespass Warnings for them?

- Just this week Time Magazine declared the Southern Baptist Convention's failure to begin a sexual predator database as one of the Top-10 most under-reported news stories of 2008! So while the Southern Baptists have decided AGAINST taking prudent steps towards letting people know of dangerous clergy in their midst...at the same time churches like FBC Jacksonville, one of the largest churches in the SBC, is clandestinely changing their bylaws to make sure the church's expose the blogging or sexual sins of their own members! And here's the kicker: which I'm sure will be of interest to Christa Brown: to rub salt in the wounds of FBC Jax members a statement was added in the new church discipline bylaws section saying that all members of FBC Jax have given up their right to seek civil remedies against their church. Minister molests your kid? You've agreed to not sue the church. The church doesn't do a thorough background check on one of the Sunday School workers and he fondles your child? Sorry, you forfeited your right by joining FBC Jax to seek any civil penalties for their negligence.

Is there any wonder why people are leaving churches? Maurilio Amorim of the A-Group has a blog article this week reviewing the book "Quitting Church" - which examines why people in America are fleeing churches for home church and worship. And no wonder, when they see the one-way discipline churches seek to exert on members: Churches like FBC Jax and Grace Community want to make sure they exert "discipline" on wayward members who engage in certain sins deemed by the ministers to be worthy of discipline - yet the church leadership seeks to minimize the church's accountability for misdeeds by their own ministers - and banishes members who are accused of blogging about problems in the church.

Below are two sermon excerpts from Mac Brunson explaining his view of church disipline with an example of how he used it in Dallas - and his statement that church discipline is to be exercised by the pastor to "put the fear of God" in the congregation.

27 comments:

RM said...

Grace (what a paradox) Community Church is behind the times. This has already been done in Dallas by Watermark Church. They actually kicked the woman out of the church and went public with their accusations.

Just wait until you see what they can accomplish at FBC, Jax. I'm sure they have much more in store for you.

I am however still wondering if WD was actually the one who received the no trespass papers...

By the way, did you see that Rick Warren is saying the inauguration prayer for Hussein Obama. What a hoot! That should rev up all the Purpose Driven supporters and detractors. Let the excitement begin!

Anonymous said...

RM - why does it matter whether the WD is in fact the one who received the papers? The committee believes they did in fact serve the WD papers, so the point is that the church is obviously using intimidation tactics to try and silence the content of a person's blog. If the WD only blogged about FBC Ocala, or Grace church, or the SBC, would they bother him/her? Of course not. They are a biased judge and jury who criticize anonymous bloggers while at the same time doing everything they can to keep their deeds and actions SECRET. And not just secret from the world, but secret from their own deacons and members.

So, although I am neither the WD or the accused, I am very, very concerned and upset about how my church leadership is handling this matter. As for Grace, I am equally concerned and I don't even go there. These boys need to read their church history, or at least Foxe's Book of Martyrs and the Scarlet letter, before they remind EVERYONE, Christian and non-christian, of why we are in a post-Christian society.

Jacksonville is already known for being full of chauvinistic, racist and fundamentalist bible thumpers who have a self-righteousness while neglecting the real needs of its citizens. These stories about to go national about Grace and FBC Jax will just support those viewpoints. Good ole boy, Jacksonville. Those good old boys trying to protect their turf. Publicly discussing a lady's sex life in one church and banning another lady from attending church with her children! Does anyone else see the abuse here by these fundamentalist bullies? Will you continue to attend and support churches like this? I won't! Where is the outrage from the Christian ladies in this community? Who wants to bet whether or not even ONE lady is on either of the discipline committees at Grace or FBC Jax. WAKE UP LADIES!

Anonymous said...

WD - I have looked everywhere in my Bible. The Old Testament and the New Testament and I just can't find where it says the pastor is to "put the fear of God into" his congregation. Did I miss this verse/passage or is Mac Brunson just a flat out liar who says the Bible says things it doesn't say?

I am not sure how much he has lied in the past, but I defy him or Jim or ANY Christian anywhere to show me where the Bible says he is use church discipline to "put the fear of God into" the congregation.

Thanks for the audio clip so Mac can't deny it.

And Maurilio - how can you keep living such a high lifestyle when one of your wealthiest clients continues to say and do things that may be killing the goose that lays the golden eggs for you and him? Please, rein this
A-hole in!

RM said...

My only question is that if your church has a reputation for being chauvinistic, racist, and Bible thumping, why in the world would you go there???

Let's see... In the average church congregation you have 10% of the people who are homosexual and approximately 35% who are having extra-marital affairs. Wonder why they are picking on only one solitary woman???

Anonymous said...

RM - I go there because I am not really a committed Christian. I just want "fire insurance" and want to feel like I am a part of something big. I give 10% of my income and get to see and be seen every week by others who give me a false sense of respect. I do NOT love Jesus and I don't really care to actually do any ministry. I can sit comfortably and as long as I keep giving, the pastor is my close friend. I do not love people enough to question the obvious racism, sexism and materialism I see all around me. To put it another way, if Joel Osteen started having services at the football stadium...I would go there. If I really loved Jesus, I would leave and go to a real local church with a real pastor and be led into all kinds of ministy. Does that answer your question?

Signed,

A great multitude

Anonymous said...

Matthew 9:35 - 37 says:
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages (Jacksonville), teaching in their synagogues (and mega churches), preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.[a] 36 But when He saw the multitudes (at FBC JAX), He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary[b] and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.

"Like SHEEP having NO Shepard." AMEN and AMEN! Do you hear that Dr. Vines and search committee. You left us with NO SHEPHERD!

Why? Why is Mac Brunson here? Please, Lord, send us a shepherd.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Churches that practice this church discipline very often require members to sign an agreement that they agree to the rules and bylaws of the church. Not excusing what they are doing at the church to this woman, but their website does outline a process that new members must go through before they are granted membership.

And on more than one occasion Mac has made a remark that we should require members to sign an agreement before they join. So that is coming, I'm sure.

Compare this to FBC Jax: we had our bylaws changed substantially - creating a discipline process that was NOT, NEVER HAS BEEN explained to the congregation...the moderator of the business meeting made ZERO attempt to explain, characterize, or summarize the changes he was asking the sheep to vote on that night. And to make matters worse, as I said in the article, they put a statement in the bylaws revoking the right of a member to sue the church for civil penalties.

How arrogant, self-serving, and faithless must they be to not trust God and to not trust the membership to let them know in what manner they were changing our bylaws?

RM said...

Anon,

If you are serious about what you wrote and not just being sarcastic, I sure hope you can find what you want in Jesus and then a church that truly honors Him. At least you recognize how you feel and hopefully you can find something that brings more satisfaction.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Stephen - you will get more people to read your post if you post it in the most recent article, not one that was posted in July.

:)

Lin said...

This new focus on discipline is sweeping Christendom. While it sounds biblical, one has to ask: Who disciplines the discipliners?

Anonymous said...

The "members can't sue" provision doesn't stand legally.

RRR said...

Given what I read here, I'm hoping for a favorable hearing. I came looking for info on Darryl Gilyard. You've posted on him in the past and I've have commented there but you closed them. Specifically, you said his story of living under a bridge is made up and quoted, at length, an article from the San Francisco Chronicle dated July, 1991. I'm an academic and have access to Lexus Nexus. A search of the entire San Francisco Chronicle for it's history brings no mention of Darryl Gilyard. I'm left with two questions: 1) Where did you get your info? 2) Why would the Chronicle print this if it appears nowhere else (I tried; I couldn't find it). I have no axe to grind in this; I'm not Baptist nor am I anti-Baptist. But I would like to find the truth. I'm reluctant to put my email and I'm uncertain how else to contact you.

Anonymous said...

Mac was probably referring to 1 Timothy 5:20.

"Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning."

Anonymous said...

Watchdog and all others: No church can prevent a civil suit against it if an "illegal act is done" either by the church officers, pastor, member or staff. Insurance companies do not convey coverage for "illegal acts" and no court would condone such practices!!! State constitutions or the Bill of Rights and the amendments thereto do not take into consideration some churchs' by-laws, corporate policy, etc. There are a lot of people in jail today that thought they had themselves covered. Doesn't work that way, some try, however they learn the hard way.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:08 I love your sarcasm, it would be funny if it wasn't so true to the point.

And RM I've read you enough to think that you STILL have not done your HOMEWORK ON PURPOSE DRIVEN. I'm sorry brother you still have no clue how bad PD is. Churches are dying all over the country because of their lack of preaching the gospel.

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH IS SO FAR DOWN THE ROAD TO FULL BLOWN PD THAT THEY WILL NEVER GO BACK. FROG IN THE POT.

As for FBCJAX being a bible thumping, FUNDAMENTAL CHURCH, you have got to be kidding! They used to be FUNDAMENTAL BUT NO MORE. AND, THEY NEVER WERE BIBLE THUMPERS.

Mac is as liberal as you can get. Remember LIBERALS PREACH FELT NEEDS. CONSERVATIVES PREACH THE, GOD GREATHED, WORD OF GOD.

Now what do you think Mac does? Which camp is Mac in? That is right, he is a LIBERAL.

Here it is again folks, Mac DOES NOT BELIEVE THE BIBLE IS GOD BREATHED WORD OF GOD. HE CHANGED THAT IN THE BYLAWS. HE BELIEVES THAT ONLY IN THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS WERE THEY GOD BREATHED.

THAT IS LIBERALISM.

Go on ask him if the KJV is God's Word. Then ask him if the NASV is God's Word. THEN ASK HIM IF THE MESSAGE IS GOD'S WORD.

He sells the MESSAGE BIBLE in the book store. Ask Mac if he believes in CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY. The author of The Message Bible, Eugene Peterson,does.

No, FBC JAX IS NOT FUNDAMENTAL , IT IS LIBERAL.

Anonymous said...

HYPOCRITES.... ALL OF THEM...

What is this Communist Russia..? These people are not The Holy Spirit. They cannot put anyone under conviction by making a public spectacle out of a person. And while we are at it, how are people supposed to obey a set of by-laws they have never seen, nor have had explained to them. What about new members joining the church? They are under the same by-laws, and they are NOT given these by-laws, so how are they supposed to obey them. They probably don't know by-laws exist. This by-laws business is just a way for the preacher to control members. If he sincerely wanted people to benefit by his by-laws he would ALLOW them access to them. Have NO doubt the by-laws exist for the preachers benefit!!! Can not members see what they are being subjected to? Almost every CULT has started this way. CONTROL, CONTROL, CONTROL.

I personally do not believe this type of church discipline (FBC) would hold up in court. One does NOT give up his/her Civil Rights in a Soverign Nation, when one joins a church, with by-laws they have never seen. Has it occured to anyone that the church is not above the civil law, or the Constitution of the United States. To the lawyers: Isn't this why you are issued licenses, to make sure justice is done for ALL. You are allowing the church to deny justice to individuals in a manner that could not be done in a civil matter. And this is supposed to be a church concerned with bringing people to saving Grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Everyone that is suspect of by-law infringement, is subject to being brought before a tribunal and served trespass notices if they don't agree with the "treatment". The accused is to be disciplined after being questioned and chastised. These are the rules for everyone EXCEPT the preacher who won't answer ANY legitimate questions being asked of him. It's good to be the king, you get to play with a stacked deck, and you always win. How spiritual. I am sure Jesus is happy with this.

Anonymous said...

I love Mac Brunson. He and I are actually great friends. He has helped me during some difficult times and has been a father figure to me. He has a sincere heart for God and I am sure he will receive many crowns in heaven for the work he has done. How many do you think you are getting WatchDog? Cant be too many seeing as you spend most of your time up keeing this blog.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Here is another news article on Grace Church:

Go Public With Her Sin

1 Timothy 5:20."Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning."

If the church is planning on telling her sin to the congregation on January 4th even if she is no longer there is probably according to this verse mentioned by the Anon above.

And true, this is probably the verse Mac uses to make his claim that he is to "deal harshly" with sinners to "put the fear of God" in the congregation.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon asking about Gilyard:

Here is my article on Gilyard from last year.

Those articles I copied were available from a news search engine similar to Lexus/Nexus. I would be surprised if you can't find them through Lexus/Nexus. Contact those newspapers if you need confirmation.

Anonymous said...

Blogger 8:33" Why am I not convinced!!!

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

As I predicted, this story has gone national:

Fox News Story

Copy of the letter

The "telling it to the church" is out of Matt 18, the third step of the church discipline process.

Christa Brown said...

"Churches like FBC Jax and Grace Community want to make sure they exert "discipline" on wayward members who engage in certain sins deemed by the ministers to be worthy of discipline - yet the church leadership seeks to minimize the church's accountability for misdeeds by their own ministers..."

This says it all, and it's all so sad.

So this pastor is a graduate of Criswell College, whose former president, Paige Patterson, is reported to have turned a deaf ear to numerous college students (who were under his charge) and women who were alleging abuse and assaults by rising Southern Baptist star, Darrell Gilyard.

Anonymous said...

The quote here of I Timothy 5:20 is taken out of context. That passage refers to elders who are to be rebuked publicly, not just anyone. Also, the reference to "telling the church," is not about discussing the sins of a person and revealing sordid details. That would be unChristlike and inappropriate. The idea is to tell the church after the first two attempts have been rejected to get the erring brother or sister to repent. They are to be told that an issue of discipline is in progress that they may pray and in fact contact and encourage the wayward one to love and good works. The idea of church discipline is to be a rescue mission of an erring saint, not gloating over or discussing sins in the public arena.The trespass warning your church issued to the FBC members is not only unbiblical but assumes guilt without an honest hearing by refusing them on the property.

Anonymous said...

Mac Brunson may be a great person and have a heart for God, etc. but I gotta tell you, that when I heard him say on TV sunday that there are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents, my blood ran cold. Signed: an unwed mother (My blood runs cold to see the treatment of that woman professor, it runs cold to see the treatment of the victims of Darrell Gilyard, it runs cold to see one woman publicly humiliated at Grace Community Church and hear that that pastor is a graduate of Criswell college. Because there's a pattern. How can anybody not see the pattern? I am very sad to see this, and very sad to see that nothing has changed in the church since the first time i saw this crap in 1974, since the second time i experienced it in 1991, and I guess thats just it. Something is wrong with this picture, and God is the only one who can fix it.

Anonymous said...

In context, 1 Timothy 5:20 applies only to elders.

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with these churches today!!!! They have become soooo mean spirited!! All of this we are just going to crucify you in love garbage, hardly makes one want to be part of their merry band of henchmen.

Once when FBC went on Tuesday's for their visitation program, it meant they were doing God's business. They were welcomed (usually) into the home to share Jesus with the lost. Or to visit the sick or those who had not been to church for awhile. They were always kind, and friendly. Now if you see one of them in your yard, you lock the door and turn the dog loose. I have been a victim of them trying to "straighten me out"! My offense was I didn't follow the party line. You just don't disagree with these people. Off with your head. I had been a member longer than most of them had been in the church. And some of them had only been Christians (?)(Ha!) for a short time. And they were there to tell a long time Bible student what to do to "get right". It was very interesting, to say the least. What hypocrites!!! I call them the "depart from me I never knew you crowd". What I knew about most of these righteous zealots would fill a book. Several books!!!
First Baptist is NOTHING like it was under the Lindsays. It was a loving, group of people that shared Jesus with the lost. But the signs were there even then, and once Lindsay died, the evil came out. Stupidity took over and a king was annointed. Now you have a general run of the mill CULT. Obey, or else we will serve you a trespass notices. When you run into them, it's like they must get away fast, before you infect them. Please don't throw me in the briar patch! Pitiful, pitiful. Who want's this church? And for sure who NEEDS it?!! No more Kool Aid for me. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

anon December 18 - 7:20 p.m. - I doubt Mac was referring to 1 Timothy 5:20 since it is clearly referring to ELDERS! But you know Mac, he may have once again been twisting and mis-using scripture to support his unbiblical bully tactics. Here is the verse in its context:

1 Tim 5:17 The ELDERS who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,"[b] and "The worker deserves his wages."[c] 19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 THOSE WHO SIN are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.

THIS SUPPORTS EXPOSING PASTORS/ELDERS ABUSES and Mac may be using against his defenseless sheep? Where is a shepherd to protect the sheep against Mac! Lord, send us a pastor/shepherd!