We the undersigned, as ministers, elders, and members of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), present and publish this open letter in order to express our deep concern with regard to many comments and posts which were published on the “Genevan Commons” Facebook group and which were recently made public.
Our concerns include these:
- We are greatly concerned that members of our church, including Aimee Byrd and Rachel Miller, along with others, have been subjected to disparaging comments which are “corrupt,” “foolish talking,” and “coarse jesting” (Eph 4:29; 5:5). Such words are never acceptable, and certainly not from officers of the church.
- We are greatly concerned that officers of the church, who have sworn to be accountable to “their brethren in the Lord” (4th ministerial ordination vow), would attempt to hide behind a group that pledges itself to secrecy, as if “locker room talk” could somehow be exempted from the accountability of the church on the basis of an alleged right to privacy. Indeed, our Lord warns us that “whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops” (Luk 12:3).
- We are greatly concerned about the overtly misogynistic tone of the critiques leveled at women authors, whom many Geneva Commons members have not honored as fellow image bearers (Gen 1:27), as fellow heirs of the grace of life (1 Pet 3:7), and as members of Christ’s body who are endowed with many glorious and useful gifts for the building up of the church (Eph 4:7). Rather than thoughtful critique, we are dismayed to find officers of the church deriding and mocking others. Such behavior is completely unacceptable towards our sisters in Christ. It is the opposite of love.
- The ninth commandment forbids “undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calleth for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others” (WLC 145); therefore, we cannot remain silent after the public revelation of such unedifying words.
Such sins are an outrage and are extremely grievous in the sight of God. They bring shame and reproach on the church of Jesus Christ, and they encourage a culture of disrespect and derision in the very body which is to be known for its love (John 13:35). Rather than honoring women the way that Christ has honored his precious bride, these men have encouraged each other (and indirectly, the rest of the church and the world now that these words are made public) to disparage women.
To be clear, we the undersigned do not believe all members of the Geneva Commons group to be engaged in these sins, nor are we endorsing the books which they have attacked. Read more»
Rev. Mr. Mark Jenkins et al.
I read the Reformation 21 link in the resources below the open letter.
Ed Stetzer doesn’t care about the Reformed church but signers of the above letter and Ms. Byrd do. Do the signers of the above letter have anything to say about the mens’ lives unfairly being ruined through doxing, or is it only important to defend the women? How is Ms. Byrd not responsible for some of this?
At least one take-away is that the time to get off social media was a long time ago.
The Open Letter referenced above includes this important clarification: “To be clear, we the undersigned do not believe all members of the Geneva Commons group to be engaged in these sins, nor are we endorsing the books which they have attacked.” Thus, it seems clear to me that the purpose of this open letter is to address specifically those associated with the group who are actually guilty of the sins alleged. I don’t believe any of the signatories would approve of doxing, “guilt by association” or any similar kind of unjust actions against those associated with the Geneva Commons who are nonetheless not guilty of the sins alleged.
Thank you for posting this Dr. Clark. One of the men in that group was also unkind to me on the URCNA facebook page several years ago (it felt like for the same reason – that I was a woman who cared about theology). I’m tough and took it, but if he is still in the URCNA, a letter should be written to that person, as well, since he was in one of the copied texts I saw on Genevan Commons in question. Sadly, I searched for those posts — they are removed. I did contact the admin at the time so he must have removed them. Sad to see he is still up to these inappropriate games. Thanks to the OPC for calling these men out properly.
I’m sorry to read this. Judging by the screenshots I’ve seen, I’m not surprised. I have direct testimony that some of the folks involved in this (now hidden) Facebook group have treated the sheep very poorly. I am hoping and praying that this abuse is addressed.
I don’t know if this is a sincere call for discipline or “virtue signaling”. I can’t speak for the OPC but in the PCA, church discipline seems to be reserved to keep the laity in line. I don’t know about privately but we have public scandal involving leadership in our midst (Revoice & Federal Vision) that governing bodies refuse to discipline. I suppose it’s possible things could change for the better but there has been little in the way of church discipline lately in the PCA that I find encouraging. How many marks of a true church must you lose before you are not worthy of that title?
Do you have a reason for doubting the sincerity of the letter? You mention the PCA and Revoice but that is a PCA issue, this letter was issued by Orthodox Presbyterians (OPC) to address other members of the OPC. They are addressing pastors and elders specifically.
Bob, the SJC of the PCA is currently in process with the Revoice issue. Also, ministers are disciplined with regularity in the denomination.
Dr. Clark: My issue with this statement and a recent one about race by the PCA bureaucracy is that at least in the PCA the General Assembly is the only authority which should be issuing statements for the PCA. In this OPC case, why didn’t the signatories to this statement refer these men individually to the presbyteries to which they belong? They usurped the normal discipline process. Therefore some who probably should have been referred for discipline, have been “disciplined” by a letter that carries no force. I won’t question their motivation other than to question why they would handle this in such an unorthodox matter. This “statement” is what we have come to expect from para-church evangelical ministries.
Jeremiah Pitts: I just have one question: Are you aware of how the Missouri Presbytery has handled public scandal by some of their teaching elders?
Where in this open letter are these ministers pretending to speak for the OPC? They are inviting men who have, under the cloak of secrecy, spoken ill of fellow members and officers of the OPC, to apologize. They are doing the gracious thing here. The letter says this is a prelude to formal steps not a substitute for formal disciplinary steps.
This letter is not a statement by an agency. These men are ministers and elders, who, by virtue of their office, have a right and duty to exhort their fellow officers and members to godly conduct.
The timing seems odd. At a time when I’m getting statements from my internet provider about racism, some issue a statement about a website with a reputation for snark.
Have you read the screenshots?
Darryl, this started long before just reading about this. It’s been going on for quite a long while.
Scott, yes. I’m not defending any comments. I’m wondering about the need for a “STATEMENT.” OPers generally don’t do statements (whether they do it well is another question).
Kathy, the statement by OPC officers is current.
Statement? It’s an open letter from OP officers to other OP officers about their part in a public scandal and inviting them to repent.
It’s also fairly clear that failing such repentance, the signatories plan to proceed with discipline.
Maybe I’m missing something but should the letter writers/signatories have proceeded immediately to discipline?
This is a genuine question as there are URC men involved in the Genevan Commons too and some of us are wondering what, if anything, should be done.
Darryl – I think you misunderstand. The abuse has been happening a long time to Aimee.
Scott, I’m not defending the group. I am observing process. Letters/statements are not ecclesial (dare I say, Matt. 18).
But “tell it to the church” is not the 1st step in Matt 18 is it?
okay, is an on-line letter open to the public fraternal? What about correspondence with the GCFB members? Too much work. But this has more show than this kind of communication should have.
There’s merit to the idea that the concerned might have written to the individual OP officers. Had this not gone public, then to publicize it via an open letter would be problematic but don’t you think that there’s merit in a public letter to address a public scandal?
I agree with Mr. Hart, we have procedures and courts to address issues such as this within the OPC. Allowing the court of Public Opinion to first cast its verdict before a Presbytery or GA has convened is not in the best interest of the denomination not Christ’s Church, IMO.
I would see no problem with the signers of these documents sending it directly to the offending parties, calling them to repentance. But as soon as a group of officers signs a public letter/statement, we have brought the general public into an issue without due process.
Dr. Clark, I think there *is* merit in a public letter to address public scandal, but I think a court of the church should decide together if this is a scandal before such accusations are brought before the public. (I am also not defending the group or their comments)
Sorry–I see that this tread continues below and some of my thoughts are addressed elsewhere. I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts–thank you both for your service to Christ’s church.
Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Dr. Clark. I pray that all of the men involved who have been caught in sin will repent and seek forgiveness, first from the Lord and then from their brothers and sisters. To my shame, when I am confronted with my own sin, the old Jeffrey often takes over and self-justification and/or minimizing sin is my first response. That will be a temptation here, I fear, both on a personal and structural level, but I pray the Lord will grant grace to all involved so that the outcome is restoration and reconciliation. I also hope, more broadly, that we will all see the dangers of forming or seeking out “in-groups” within our churches or denominations, which breed self-righteousness and cause us to view those for whom Christ died as enemies instead of brothers and sisters. That’s the way the world system works; the way in which we disagree and debate should be in clear and sharp contrast to that. (That’s not to say, of course, that we sacrifice truth for the sake of unity, but we have clear procedures and church courts to deal with inevitable conflicts and controversies in the most transparent, fair, and Christ-honoring way that fallen, fallible people can.)
All the men who have been caught in sin will repent and seek forgiveness? CAUGHT IN SIN? For exactly what? A few boorish comments? I’ve looked at all of the available screenshots produced as evidence for the alleged sinfulness of these men and it simply does not rise to the level of “abuse”. I agree with you Jeffrey that forming or seeking out in-groups often leads to a certain nasty tribalism, including a penchant for virtue-signaling. All these OP ministers falling all over themselves to call out GC in toto ,defending Byrd’s dubious theology is just disappointing but certainly in step with our times. I’ve never read GC, never had any sympathy for FV either. But this reaction is way over the top. I’m surprised that RSC has joined the pile-on.
I have been seeing disturbing screenshots emerging from the Genevan Commons bat cave for sometime. I agree with that growing list of OPC ministers and ruling elders who are concerned about what was said and how it was said. I’ve been involved in internet discussion groups since 1993. I have left a few of them over the years for the sort of behavior I’ve seen emanating from the GC Facebook group.
We disagree on whether what what, particularly, ministers and elders (but also others) have said rises to the level of abuse. I may be wrong and so may the signatories to the letter.
Judging by the response of the leader of the GC pack (et al) It seems as if this matter may be headed to the courts of the OPC where it will be adjudicated.
For what it’s worth, I’ve long been concerned about pastoral abuse and have spoken to it several times on the HB and on the Heidelcast.
Scott, what is public, what is private? GC was a private group. I don’t use Facebook and so don’t know how public a private group might be. But I suspect you, like I, have private conversations that you don’t think are for public consumption. Does that excuse bad behavior? No. But much of what many people say behind closed doors could be considered by others “scandalous.”
The Screenshots website is also private in the sense that its creator is unknown. Nothing on the site indicates who the owner/poster is. Shouldn’t an accuser face his/her accused?
Believe me — this is probably scandalous — I get a little tingle down my leg when I see some of the names at GC taking grief. But a lot about this does not look kosher. Why didn’t Carl sign the letter?
Obviously the FB was intended to be private, secret and then it was exposed. Screenshots from the Genevan Commons FB group had been appearing in public for quite a while. Someone, who had access to the group, published a lot of screenshots on a website. Once the website was created the comments became public.
Was it right for them to be be outed? Does the Veritas Project have a right to do what they’re doing? I think we’ve discussed this before and that we disagree. I’m a little ambivalent about the outing of a “private” FB group.
Is it really private? Facebook employees and contractors have access to anything on FB, so it was never completely private. I also have doubts about the propriety of elders & pastors forming a secret FB group for the purposes of demeaning brothers and sisters without being held accountable. At least one OP session has public expressed its disapproval of the conduct of one of its ruling elders in that group, thus making the group both a matter of ecclesiastical investigation and semi-public.
We know who runs the group. His name is Shane Anderson. He founded the group. He’s identified himself in public as the group’s founder and chief administrator. He also founded the Daily Genevan FB page and the Twitter feed of the same name. There is a fair bit of overlap between those two entities and the GC FB group. He’s a ruling elder in a Providence OPC, Greensboro, NC. Michael Spangler, a teacher in that congregation, has been very active in the group. The other administrators are, Trent Still, and Peter Jones. I believe Bennie Castle was also an administrator.
I don’t know why Carl didn’t sign the letter but I notice that the number of signatories is growing, including fellow Old Lifer John Muether and some other older OP hands. I think it’s gracious of them to give OP officers an opportunity to repent before proceeding with a formal disciplinary procedure.
Maybe you will call it virtue signaling but I think that it’s beneficial for officers to speak up to say, “this is not the sort of thing for which we want the OPC to be known. We object.” Part of the question has to do with the speed with which characterizations and caricatures travel on the internet. Presbyterian processes are much, much slower, by design. The initial burst of information and interest creates and impression and few will notice when there is a correction a year or two (or more) later. I understand that there is a difference of opinion about how to respond such mischaracterizations. Some think we should say noting and take it because that is the Christian’s lot in this life. That’s a reasonable point of view but I think adapting to emerging technologies, as risky as it is, is also a reasonable course.
I do think that pragmatism, the notion that the ends justify the means, is a danger here. Is the outing of the GC group is pragmatism? I don’t know yet.
Darryl, while I understand what you are saying, if you read my initial post above, one of the men in this group also harassed me in a federation Facebook page several years ago. So Aimee is not the only one that has been affected. Because the Admin or the offender deleted the pages I have no proof, but I assure you it DID happen. I spoke with my pastor and my husband about the ordeal. Both agreed it was inappropriate behavior, which is why I reported it to the Admin as they suggested.
So in Aimee’s case? I believe her wholeheartedly because the same thing happened to me by one of these very men. The difference? I’m not a person who is publicly recognized. I’m not out in public getting beat up by others. I never had my motives questioned by people who really don’t know the details of the situation.
I am a woman who loves Reformed theology, which is why I hoped I could learn more on that particular Facebook page. No person (male or female) should be made to feel belittled and “less” by men who seem to have narcissistic behaviors. In my case (and Aimee’s) it was obvious that being female was an invitation to ridicule.
You, of course, can come to your own conclusion. I always want someone to have the opportunity to defend their actions, but I can assure you that what I experienced was not defensible. When someone practices this kind of behavior for years on end, it becomes a habit.
As is the case on these Facebook/Twitter type pages, it’s easy to delete anything, thus giving the offender a sense of empowerment. They don’t have to face the person face-to-face. They can demean others outside of the church and get away with it. They appear to be in good standing in their home church, but on their own time, they are a completely different person. They use words meant to hurt and no one will ever know because they have the power to delete their words. (Which is what happened in my case when I reported the actions to the Admin).
I would hope that those of us who were abused in situations like this would receive compassion, so I would ask you to be compassionate to Aimee at this particular time. When you say something like, “a lot of this does not look kosher,” you play right into the hands of these abusive men who hope to win over people like you.
These hurts are real, so forgive me when I say that when I read your words, Darryl, it doesn’t feel like there is compassion behind them. Perhaps you don’t mean them that way, but I wanted to express these thoughts to you now so you might recognize the hurt that Aimee is probably experiencing at this moment.
All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. No one is perfect. We all know these things. Neither one of us deserved this kind of treatment. I never made my situation public. Aimee was brave enough to do so and I imagine right now she is experiencing a lot of heartache for her honesty and bravery in a public arena where she is being beaten up with criticism by people who don’t know the full details.
I am grateful to Dr. Clark for presenting this information. Thank you, Dr. Clark.
This is an interesting question you raise. And another question, why didn’t Todd Pruitt sign the letter? And another is why didn’t Carl and Todd object when the ‘director’ of the Alliance for Confessing Christians removed Aimee from the Reformation 21 Blog?
Is it because her voice has challenged men, ‘brothers in the faith’ and women, ‘sisters in the faith’ to look at the ways we relate/or do not relate to women? Aimee Byrd raises questions about the cultural values, ‘the yellow wall paper’, in our thinking about one another within ‘the church’ that are familiar. Do we value ‘culture’ more than Scripture in the way we relate to women?
The reactions of the ‘men in hiding’ who attacked Aimee are being called out to confess and repent by the OPC pastors, elders and deacons. Are ‘the men in hiding’ going to disclose who they are, confess their bitter hatred toward Aimee Byrd, and repent in the public forum they used to attack and demean her?
Perhaps Aimee Byrd’s ideas are as challenging for us to read as it was for Barack when he came to Deborah for advice regarding leading a war? Or the conflicts Jesus dispelled when Mary poured the balm on Jesus before His trial and death on the cross.
The final question, Daryl, have you read Aimee’s books? Have you considered the questions she is raising, as a Christian, for us to consider regarding our values and the Truth in Scripture?
Well, to your first question, Todd isn’t OPC. So there’s that. (“An Open Letter from Concerned Ministers and Elders in the OPC”)
Beyond that, however, when you imply that Carl and Todd didn’t object because Aimee challenged their cultural perspectives on the role of men and women, it seems you are speculating.
In this situation, we must assume that much has occurred that is not accessible to the public: emails, conversations, etc. Since we’re not privy to these, I don’t think it’s charitable to assume the worst about someone’s motivations. Especially when they’ve always appeared loyal and supportive up to this point.
Ms. Paul, for the record I used No Little Women (generally a valuable book) to teach a Sunday school class of adult men and women for an entire quarter.
Thank you for responding to me and for presenting No Little Women to a Sunday School Class of men and women. How did they respond to the ideas? Were Pastors, Elders and Deacons among the participants?
Catherine – I love your thoughtful responses. Look me up on Facebook 🙂 Tried to find you but didn’t seem to find anyone who looks like you. I’ll have a picture with my husband – long blond hair. Welcome to the Reformed Faith. I know you will “rest,” as I have. To me that is what Reformed Theology has given me. Rest. Peace.
Thanks to several of you for responses.
I am not defending GC. My less than better angels likes seeing many of the folks there take a hit.
As I wonder though with so many of the reactions/protests of late, from Christians’ manifestos to urban protests, is whether this sort of statement/letter does any good or whether it gives those associated with it the chance to show opposition/opinion. Which leads to a question of whether it is fitting for church officers to imitate the methods of others who object to social problems. I have my doubts.
A related question is why this now. The host of this site has met with all sorts of ridicule (and more) from members of this group. Why did officers in NAPARC communions not issue a letter on his behalf? Because Scott Clark is not as innocent as Aimee Byrd? That could be an argument but I’d sure like to see it.
One more thought: how many people thought that the OPC was really the kind of communion where comments like these are frequent? If so, Ms. Byrd would likely not have joined (with her family) and OPC church. I get it. The OPC is not a PR machine. It is small, obscure, peculiar, and at times opinionated (read deliberative). But I fear that people who felt the need to write and sign this did so because it is so easy to malign the OPC. If that is the case, the communion needs a heck of a lot more than this (and a lot more media savvy).
I agree that PR is part of the problem. The internet moves quickly and denominations do not. As we saw, in a most unfortunate case here in San Diego, several people (at least one within the OPC) took the opportunity of the evil perpetrated by an OP member, to caricature and mischaracterize both the congregation (about which they knew little or nothing) and the denomination. Those caricatures and mischaracterizations spread quickly. Whoever said that a lie gets half way round the globe before the truth gets its trousers on was more right than he knew.
No one defends me, because why would they? 😂
There is among men of my (and your) generation a strong impulse to defend females under attack.
Is it fitting? How dirty should churchmen, as such (not just as individuals) get in the rough and tumble of internet debate? Maybe I’m too influenced by Luther and Calvin but they did not hesitate to enter the fray when they saw good reason and their reputations have suffered for it but they also did much good. There have been lots of great writers who avoided the controversies of the moment but who really cares about them today? Perhaps that’s not a good test but I think it’s true.
Don’t you think that the vitriol and ugliness of the published screenshots was so repugnant that not to reject it publicly would have left a stain on the OPC (and others) that won’t be easily removed? I guess this gets back to public relations but there’s also an aspect of public disapproval and disavowal. Is that virtue signaling? Perhaps but is it always virtue signaling to say, “We, the undersigned, reject the substance and form of these words”?
Dr. Clark and Darryl,
As a lay person, new to Confessional Reformed Theology, I am grateful to read reasoned ideas and respectful warnings when sin is uncovered and laid bare. I am also encouraged when shepherds, rather than ignoring a damaging condition, protect the sheep who are being attacked by calling out the sin. We need all His Light available to distinguish the Truth in the darkening internet of ideas.
At the end of the day (whatever that means), who will change? I doubt many of the signers/authors of the letter did not have some awareness of the views or biases of those at GC. And will any of the GC folks change? Maybe, sanctification, and the work of the Spirit and all. But the Spirit has been alive and well during much of life of GC and all of the GC folk think they are on the side of the Spirit.
Which raises that thorny question about what we say at home within the four walls. If Christians somehow think that all of us don’t voice private views that we prefer not to go public, they/we are naive.
The more I think about this, the more private communications may be the issue. I suspect that in private Christians say things that other believers would find deplorable. GCer’s got caught, possibly because they were not sufficiently smart about social media. But I think a lot of people who use email, texting, and social media might very well be glad not to have their private communications revealed.
I would likely try to defend many of my own remarks to friends or colleagues. But in the current climate of sensitivity, I’m not sure how many of some of my comments might offend. I’m know some would even be offended that I laugh at Larry David’s scenes in the country club locker room. I don’t approve. But I laugh because I’ve been in locker rooms.
In contrast to Genevan Commons, at least Larry David (I assume) didn’t try to cloak his locker room humor with the veil of sanctity.
Something to consider, Darryl — if any of these men are in the leadership of a church? Can you live with your conscience if this issue were not addressed?
I agree with Dr. Clark that to ignore this stains the OPC as well as the federation of the one who was unkind to me. This does grieve my heart, because coming out of the evangelical wasteland, Reformed theology and worship has been very healing to me. I would hate for others to walk away from the beauty we understand because a situation like this was not handled.
Catharine – welcome to the Reformed faith. I hope you will love the depth of theology as much as I do. It has been a salve to my heart. Sinful people abound everywhere — but I agree with you. It is nice to have these things addressed instead of ignored.
Andrew, I do understand what you are saying. Thank you for that comment. I’m still not sure it’s appropriate. These things have a way of getting back to others and are hurtful.
Darryl, I need to apologize for my last paragraph in the earlier version of my reply. I think the hate we see going on in the world is starting to get to me. It grieves my heart to see this kind of thing in the one place I take refuge, the church. I should not have made my comments personal towards you, and I hope you will forgive my impulsive response to your words.
Catherine, the class on No Little Women was for all adults, pastor to college students. It was not a sensation. But people appreciated Byrd’s book as well as I presented it.
Thank you for responding to me, graciously. You raise ideas I do not think about and so in RSC’s blog, without the benefit of face-to-face, I am edified because the ground rules help us conform our communications in Christ. I am learning to relate to and value each member in the body of Christ, which is challenging. In this I believe women of Christ [who believe we are not our own but have been bought with the price of Christ’s blood] bring a quality into His family. One quality is communication, an exchange that increases and improves our understanding of how we are to work together, eternally. We are in His Family, Eternal members in Christ; His Spirit is bringing each man and woman, who has been bought by His Blood, to grow and display His Spirit in the way we relate to one another.
There are women of Christ whose thinking and living help me understand Reformed theology, piety and practice. One is Angela Werner, another is Aimee Byrd, and now Kathy Bergman. How men relate to women displays the extent to which they are conformed by the Spirit to Christ’s image. Jesus treasured by saving and freeing women from the tyranny of the devil: Mary of Magdala (demon possessed), the unnamed woman at the well (adulteress), Lydia (business woman), Priscilla (a teacher and expediter), His mom (who asked Him to change water to the best wine), etc.
There are two questions I hope you respond to:
1. Could it be that our Father’s Spirit is using this ‘uncovering’ of men’s private communications to show that He wants all of our communications to honor Him (Hebrews 4:12-13) and to treasure one another?
2. Could the presentation of No Little Women, (I am grateful you presented it), have been enhanced by including a woman of Christ who also understands No Little Women as a co-presenter?
We, men and women of Christ, need help distinguishing His Way from the flood of the world’s narcissistic subjectivism. Perhaps women need to hear, see, and participate with men as presenters to discuss ideas, displaying how we are distinct yet equal and valued, treasure by our Father. I am not considering that women present His sacred ordinary means; He provides men for this. But there are historical, Biblical examples of women fully participating in the life of His Church with their hearts, souls, hands, feet, and minds.
My final questions for you this morning:
3. Are Aimee Byrd’s ideas Biblical?
4. Are these ideas exposing an actual sin condition in the way men and women value/devalue one another?
Thank you for your thoughts and time.
you wrote: “Something to consider, Darryl — if any of these men are in the leadership of a church? Can you live with your conscience if this issue were not addressed?
I agree with Dr. Clark that to ignore this stains the OPC as well as the federation of the one who was unkind to me.”
I’m not trying to trigger, but how is the logic behind these comments different from those who think having a statue of a Confederate General in town is a matter of conscience. Don’t we live with odd relatives and church members/officers all the time? People who have views that we don’t respect? Charity seems to call for some sort of live and let live.
I do not think such charity should be extended to comments that are blatantly demeaning. But I don’t think the purity of the church is at stake if Christians engage in rough talk behind closed doors.
Isn’t it ironic that we’re discussing the merits of “rough talk” behind closed doors of a group that calls itself the Genevan commons?
I’m reasonably sure that the Company of Pastors of Geneva would not approve of their talk.
The other irony is that leader of the group as well as a certain number of its members is devoted to the doctrine of sanctification is most concerned about “Lutheran” influences on Reformed theology, a lack of emphasis on the third use of the law, and a lack of concern about progressive sanctification.
These are the sorts things that make one say, hmmm.
Darryl – Certainly, we live with many odd people in our church circles and I love these differences of personalities. They are wonderful creations of God, created by Him alone with purpose, great love, and intent.
As far as a statue of a Confederate General in town as a matter of conscience? I see that this has nothing to do with this particular conversation. We are talking about interactions within the church and members of the body at large. Obviously, how we address others in the body should carry over into society, but your statement about a statue is a distraction from the issue at hand. To “live and let live” is probably not a tenet the church should adopt for the body of Christ.
I sincerely doubt that these men would have said to the “odd” members of their respective congregations what they said to Aimee or me — because it’s harder to say things like this face to face. These men have to see these people every day, thus there is accountability. Not so in the virtual world which sometimes allows you to see the intent of the heart even more clearly.
I’m all for charity for all — because we all fail miserably — repeatedly. Was Aimee given charity with any differences of opinions she might hold? I know I was not.
It’s probably at this point that we shall part ways in regard to appropriate behavior. Something about Col. 4: 6 reminds me that while we may not do life perfectly, we should strive to let our speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt so that we might know how we ought to answer each person. It’s certainly true that a gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit, as evidenced in this situation. I’ve always loved the evident truth that a gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger. Sometimes it even hurts the church and its witness…..
I, myself, have been working hard in this area…..trying to get better at “chewing my words before I spit them out.” Yes, I fail miserably, but I continue to push forward.
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones, and shouldn’t we desire to provide healing to others instead of ridicule? If the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…..then I think we owe it to our brothers and sisters in Christ to strive for these things in our own walk. It’s a worthy goal that, with practice, will benefit all.
It would be my hope that these men who cloak themselves as Christians (men who represent an understanding of theology) would remember the scripture they profess to believe, trying a bit more to guard their tongues in any setting. Simply agreeing to disagree is enough without being accompanied by demeaning words and personal ridicule.
Thus, I wholeheartedly disagree with your sentence, ” I don’t think the purity of the church is at stake if Christians engage in rough talk behind closed doors.” I certainly think the church is affected. Nothing on the internet is behind closed doors. And even behind closed doors, this should not be the norm. It matters what you do in secret because it represents your heart as well as your mind. Agreeing to disagree kindly is more in order for the believer. May we all strive to do this better.
Despite your disagreement with Darryl on some things in this discussion. Keep reading him. Few writers have helped me as much.
Kathy, I think you need to be careful with your premise that a “virtual world which sometimes allows you to see the intent of the heart even more clearly” or that what we do in secret reveals our heart and mind. The reality is more complicated than that.
I might, for example, tell my wife that I think that an acquaintance has gotten fatter, or maybe said something really stupid. It’s not because I have a secret desire to insult that friend but am too cowardly to do so to his/her face. I would be absolutely horrified were they to find out, though; for I didn’t mean anything unkindly. There’s something else going on.
I likewise joke with family and friends on a chat in a manner that would come off much harsher or more judgmental than I would to that particular person or in public, for a variety of reasons. I might, for example, consider a particular novel garbage and talk about how I hate it–but would in truth be honored to meet the author! I don’t think that’s hypocritical, personally.
While I’m not defending the Commons folks here for their nonsense, I hope you see what I’m trying to get at.
Darryl Hart says “But I don’t think the purity of the church is at stake if Christians engage in rough talk behind closed doors.”
“rough talk”? Not surprising you would say that Darryl Hart, but of course you are wrong, according to Jesus, that is.
First off, thanks to the OPC elders for speaking out. Second, do you know of any similar effort in the PCA? Ed Stetzer’s CT article mentioned only the OPC and the PCA (I see that Scott Clark mentions above that some URC men were also involved). I’m a woman in the PCA and have googled quite a bit without any luck.
Nobody has raised the question whether Aimee Byrd has any culpability. Let me give the obligatory caveat that I am not talking about unChristian speech directed at her. In her writings I detect a worldview that skews more feminist than orthodox Christian. Is she to be considered immune from even harsh criticism because she happens to be a woman? If the agenda she is advancing is not orthodox then it should be resisted explicitly without others believing that just because she is female that she should be due some special defense or that those who oppose her are sexist “haters”.
Have you read the book?
Background to the Current Controversy
More background on the current controversy.
Dr. Clark: I have read a number of her articles over on The Mortification of Spin and have had back and forth q&a with her in the comments section of her articles. The issue I remember was the one where she saw no danger in men and women who were married to others having deep, close friendships. I think she was decrying the “Billy Graham Rule” at the time. I don’t think she could see where that would subject the parties to undue temptation despite the Bible’s admonition that we should “flee temptation”. That was enough for me to avoid her other writings. She isn’t going to be around to salvage the human wreckage of those who are influenced by her writings.
So, the answer is no. You have not read the book. You’ve read around the book but you haven’t actually read the book. Should you not read the book before you comment on it? Does not basic justice require it?
As to the Graham/Pence Rule, I did read her essay on that and I responded here:
Pastors, The Graham Rule, And Wisdom
Dr. Clark: If you have such high regard for her books, why aren’t you promoting them on the Heidelblog? I think you’ve got to come down on one side or another on her theology. In this case, your silence is in effect tacit approval. People here look to you for guidance and answers. I always get more than a little suspicious when an author somehow manages to get embroiled in controversy near the release of a new book.
I do not have high or low regard for her book. I do have high regard, however, for the law of God, including the 9th commandment. Because I’ve not read her book I am not commenting on it.
I’ve not promoted any of Aimee’s books because I haven’t read any of them.
I am, however, deeply concerned about the existence, nature, and influence of Genevan Commons. I am concerned about the growing alliance between some allegedly confessional P&R types and some allegedly confessional Baptists with the Federal Visionists in Moscow, ID. I’m concerned that their social concerns are trumping their concern for the gospel. The Genevan Commons membership list and screenshots illustrate this coalescence.
I’m also concerned about the ungodly behavior of the Genevan Commons both on the Facebook and in real life. The GC screenshots and the way they have treated Aimee are symbolic of a larger and longer pattern of behavior.
I’ve been reading and listening (off and on) to Aimee for several years. I’ve sometimes disagreed with her, as I did regarding the Graham/Pence Rule.
I’ve taken the opportunity presented by the controversy to address problems in the critique of Byrd’s book. Here I took the opportunity of a minor kerfuffle surrounding the MoS podcast to discuss a bigger issue, namely, the influence of the every-member ministry in P&R churches.
In short, I’ve not moved an inch. I am where I have been: a Reformed confessionalist.
Silence = tacit approval? You sound like a social justice warrior.