3 Reasons Christians Fail to Care Well for Victims of Domestic Abuse (guest post by MaryEllen Bream)

MaryEllen Bream has been encouraging Christian mothers at her Imperfect Homemaker blog for several years. More recently, she has begun speaking up about domestic abuse on Facebook and at Hope for Hurting Wives. She has impressed me as a calm, steady voice in the world of abuse advocates, and goodness knows we need more of those calm, steady voices. And she loves Jesus. So I’m happy to be able to host her for a guest post.
Continue reading “3 Reasons Christians Fail to Care Well for Victims of Domestic Abuse (guest post by MaryEllen Bream)”

Our Christian Deconstruction Journey (guest post by my husband, Tim Davis)

Deconstruction has certainly been a common term for a while, with its hashtags often heralding an exit from the Christian faith of the Scriptures. This article from The Gospel Coalition claims that there are 4 reasons for Deconstruction:

— “Church Hurt,” a term that I believe diminishes the significance of the atrocities that are taking place in churches.

— “Poor Teaching,” saying, “Today’s deconstruction allows bad teaching to have the last word.”

It depends, I suppose, on how the deconstruction takes place.

— “Desire to Sin,” saying, “It’s a bummer if someone’s dealing with church hurt and you hand him a stack of apologetics books to read. Those same books will be useless if, beneath the surface, he really just wants to justify his sin.”

It would be almost unbelievable to me to think that a stack of apologetics books would be useful for someone dealing with betrayal by the church if it weren’t that this is TGC. (But of course, we dare not be empathetic, lest we encourage him or her in sin, right?)

— “Street Cred,” saying, “Doubt is hip.”

But doubt about what you’ve always been taught can be and usually is a very, very important part of the faith journey.

For some, “I’m deconstructing” means, “I’m deconverting” or “I’m walking away from the Christian faith.”

But when you look at the real meaning of the word, you’ll see that it means taking something apart (in this case, teachings) brick by brick, as it were (the “construct” part of the word), even down to the very foundation if necessary, in order to see if the structure is sound. And “soundness” would have to be soundness as compared to . . . something.

So, for others, like my husband and me, it can mean, “I’m reexamining the structure I grew up in, which called itself Biblical Christianity. I’m removing the bricks, brick by brick, all the way to the foundation, and seeing how the bricks line up with the Word of God.” (We would add later, “And with the Christian life promised in the New Testament,” but that didn’t happen at first.)

If we look at it this way, then I would agree with others who have said that this is exactly what Martin Luther did with his Roman Catholic faith before leaving the Roman Catholic religion completely.

Back when Tim and I were going through this process, we didn’t think of it as “deconstruction”; in fact, the term “deconstruction” wasn’t around (just as social media wasn’t around). All we were trying to do was understand who God was and what His Word actually meant.

So it took us a while to see that what we had gone through did match with the actual meaning of this term.

My journey was slightly different from Tim’s but complementary, and as we both progressed, we discussed what we each were learning, so that we definitely were making the journey together. Here is our story, told from Tim’s perspective. Continue reading “Our Christian Deconstruction Journey (guest post by my husband, Tim Davis)”

Southern Baptists and a Culture that Breeds a Generation of Abusers

This week the 288-page report about abuse in the Southern Baptist Church (SBC) came out. To some, it was utterly shocking.

To others it was, “It’s about time.”

I guess it depends on which side of the road you were standing on. What you had seen, heard, experienced. Who you had talked to. Who you had listened to. Who you had revered and who you had dismissed.

So I join my voice with others: It’s about time. Continue reading “Southern Baptists and a Culture that Breeds a Generation of Abusers”

The Problems with Jay Adams’ Nouthetic Counseling Works-Sanctification Doctrine

Before 2008 I was vaguely aware of Jay Adams’ nouthetic counseling. But in 2008 I read his little booklet Godliness Through Discipline, and I was incensed.

At that time my understanding about abuse and abuse enablers was microscopic, but I had been studying the Scriptures, and I knew this teaching was wrong and would lead people away from Jesus instead of toward Him.

(Only later did I understand the dynamics of how this wrong teaching could lead to abuse enabling and blaming and shaming of victims.)

So I wrote a passionate refutation of the booklet. But I didn’t know what to do with that refutation. I didn’t have any place to publish it. I didn’t even have a blog yet. And when I did start my blog the following year, it was a devotional blog, and this passionate critique didn’t quite fit there.

Finally, in 2013, I realized I could post it as a book review on Amazon. (It is by far the book’s longest review.) In 2014 when I and some friends started the BJUGrace blog, I posted it there in 3 parts.

Since Here’s the Joy took a turn to speak out for the oppressed in 2016 or so, I’ve written to refute Jay Adams Nouthetic Counseling (often called “Biblical counseling”) many times. Many others are also speaking out about it, for which I’m very thankful. Mostly the conversation centers around the abysmal and utterly destructive counseling that is given to abuse victims and abusers about repentance, forgiveness, bitterness, etc, which certainly does merit much discussion.

But the Jay Adams presentation of sanctification merits discussion as well. It is also destructive in its way.

Here is my 2008 critique in its entirety (with only a few small edits), for anyone who wants to better understand what Jay Adams teaches about sanctification and why I believe his teachings are deeply detrimental to our Christian lives.

Because this critique is from 2008, it doesn’t mention abuse and trauma. Perhaps in the comments we can discuss how it applies to the current discussion.

Here is my review of Godliness Through Discipline. Continue reading “The Problems with Jay Adams’ Nouthetic Counseling Works-Sanctification Doctrine”

Did Peter Deny Jesus Out of Fear? I Don’t Think So

Without a doubt, the nadir of Peter’s life, the absolute bottom, was his denial, his disowning, of his Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. I can imagine him looking back on that terrible time with sadness, perhaps even at the end of his life.

I’ve always heard that Peter’s three denials of Jesus, there around the fire with servants and street people, happened because he feared for his life. He certainly had reason to—the Lord had just been arrested and was on His way to be killed if no miracle intervened, and it would only make sense that His disciples would be arrested too.

But a conversation with my husband a few weeks ago led me to begin rethinking this motivation of fear for Peter’s denial.

Continue reading “Did Peter Deny Jesus Out of Fear? I Don’t Think So”

“(Don’t) Save the Body”: A Response to John MacArthur’s Head of Counseling

I enjoy irony when it’s in the context of literature.

When it’s in the context of a Bible teacher who seems to be completely oblivious about the contradictions of his statements, it makes me feel like I need to practice my breathing techniques.

Apparently, according to professor John Street, head of counseling at John MacArthur’s Masters College and Seminary, counselors who do not follow the Jay-Adams style of nouthetic counseling (now labelled “Biblical counseling”) want only to “save the body” of an abused wife. Here is the quote:

We don’t agree [with Minirth-Meier, the “integrationist” counselors] that the primary goal of the counselor in working in an abuse situation is to make personal escape and protection the essential object of their counsel.

Continue reading ““(Don’t) Save the Body”: A Response to John MacArthur’s Head of Counseling”

The Parable of Wavering and Confident

In working on my book Untwisting Scriptures #4, which addresses sin-leveling (treating all sins as equal) among other things, I came across a parable I had written for this book years ago. Ultimately I’ve decided not to use it in the book, but I would love to have your thoughtful input about it here. What answers would you give?

***

Two men, Wavering and Confident, walked together up a road, the High Way to God, which was bounded on both sides by a fence. The fence was low and easy to step over, but the signs along the way very clearly proclaimed “No trespassing.” On the other side of the fences lay the life they had left, full of interesting-looking and sometimes beautiful fruit with the peculiar quality of making a person sick sooner or later. Continue reading “The Parable of Wavering and Confident”

Why “Metanoia” Is So Much Greater Than “Repentance”—And Why That’s Important

Long ago Martin Luther read the Latin translation of the Greek New Testament called the Vulgate. He saw that John that Baptist and Jesus called out to their hearers, “Do penance! For the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

Really? he thought. Did they really call for their hearers to do acts of self-mortification, contrition, confession to a priest, and other acts involved in trying to achieve absolution for sin?

But Luther found that the meaning of the original Greek word metanoia didn’t involve doing any acts of piety. Rather, he found, it meant “change your mind.”

Unfortunately, at least in English versions, the Latin Vulgate has exerted far more influence than it should have. The original Greek word got translated “penitence” or “repentance,” which some would argue wasn’t as far off from “penance” as it needed to be.

What does the “change of mind” mean? And why would I agree with some great thinkers that repentance is not an acceptable translation?

And why do I believe this truth is vitally important for all of us? Continue reading “Why “Metanoia” Is So Much Greater Than “Repentance”—And Why That’s Important”