“Testimony”: Post from our Guest Contributor. 5 December 2016

<–The Big Picture. The following piece is posted with the permission of the author, 43, and has not been edited in any way.  It needs no introduction: Where do I begin, to tell the story? …

Source: “Testimony”: Post from our Guest Contributor. 5 December 2016


A Word About Doug Wilson (Part 2)

In Part 1 I summarized and put forth the reasons why Doug Wilson has a well-deserved bad reputation among some inside and outside of the church, and why those Reformed and Presbyterian believers who are fond of him might do well to distance themselves just a bit.

I am not writing about this in a vacuum, and am in fact indebted to numerous other bloggers and writers. Here are some places where one can find more information:

Katie Botkin’s post, “The Man Who Would Be King”, is a good starting point for those who aren’t familiar with Wilson at all, or who are but aren’t aware of the controversies or don’t know much in detail about them. Her blog has several interesting and pertinent posts, actually.

The Truth About Moscow is a site I check frequently for the latest Wilson-related news. (To anyone who would accuse me of liking drama too much, let me just point out that Wilson seems to love getting attention and shocking people, so he and his fans really shouldn’t complain when some of that attention is negative and critical.) Ulysses is quite good at promptly and nicely compiling and presenting all the data that comes his way. I might add that he holds to the Reformed faith as well. Added 2 September 2016: see here and here for helpful overviews of the Wilson empire.

I already mentioned Rachel Miller by name. She too is Reformed and espouses the biblical view of the husband/wife relationship and church governance—which lends her some credibility, I think, when she scrutinizes Wilson and shares her findings regarding, e.g., plagiarism, sex/gender roles, slander.

Natalie Greenfield was the sex abuse victim I alluded to in Part 1. Her blog is about the experience and aftermath of the abuse overall, as well as a place to discuss abuse in general and its presence in communities and churches. There are a number of places where she talks about what happened, and her account differs markedly from Doug Wilson’s.

I wasn’t aware of Cicero’s background, so I did a google check—how happy I am to see that not only is he a Calvinist, he’s in the continental tradition like I am (Heidelberg forever!). Anyway, his blog has a handful of interesting and insightful articles. I might also add that he is a former Moscow resident and once sympathized with Wilson’s position on a number of issues, but no longer.

If you want another conservative Presbyterian, you might wander over to the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ Mortification of Spin blog, where you may eventually find a number of posts in which Carl Trueman, Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) pastor and professor of church history at Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia, indicates agreement with Wilson’s critics, even linking directly to Rachel Miller (and to another writer worth examining, Rod Dreher). This particular repost—regarding Mrs. Miller’s most recent discovery of plagiarism in a Wilson work—by the esteemed Englishman is especially entertaining to me, mainly because of the tagline underneath its title on the main blog: “Who saw this coming? Other than everybody, that is.”

In addition, Dr. R. Scott Clark, professor at Westminster Seminary California, mentions Wilson—though not by name—in this post about abuse in the church.

CREC Memes appears to be run largely by disgruntled ex-CREC members, or people with CREC connections.

Finally, there’s the Doug Wilson Archiveand all the other sites it will direct you to. It asks this question (and several others): If Doug Wilson is a completely righteous and innocent man, how did so much evidence accumulate against him? And, unless one is willing to dismiss all, that is, every last one, of Wilson’s detractors as gospel-denying secularists, liberals, haters, or liars, that’s a very good question.

Once more I close with Rachel Miller’s question:

To all those Reformed, Presbyterians out there who are willing to look past the recent Wilson controversies, is it time to consider if what you like is worth defending? For anything that he’s written that you’ve appreciated, isn’t there someone else who has said something similar without all the baggage? Are the qualifiers worth it?

A Word About Doug Wilson (Part 1)

I wrote this some months ago. I put off sharing it for some reason I don’t quite remember, then sort of forgot about it, but recent events—to wit, the subject and his church supporting the efforts of a convicted pedophile to be reunited to his infant son whom he admits arouses him—have brought it to mind again. So.

To my fellow Reformed/Presbyterian brothers and sisters who are fans of Doug Wilson:

I call you my fellows because I too am Reformed; I hold to the Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and Westminster Standards as accurate summaries of biblical teaching. Moreover—and this is relevant—I am not an egalitarian, for I believe that the Scriptures plainly teach male headship within the context of the home and the church. In short, I am theologically rather conservative.

Frankly, I find it disturbing how many of you like Doug Wilson, speak favorably of him, quote him, link to his blog, etc. Some of you may very well do this out of ignorance of the controversies swirling around him. Perhaps you only know his books and haven’t seen his blog, where many of his really nasty writings are. Others are aware of the controversies but dismiss them as tale-bearing. For the former, I hope what I write here is useful in apprising you of the matters. For the latter, I can only hope that looking at each link and really digging through the huge amount of material there is—including the man’s own writings, which some of these sites will direct you to—makes you reconsider your stance. To both groups: even if you aren’t convinced of the validity of the criticisms and allegations described here, I hope you at least use discretion when promoting him. So much of what he says and stands for—his own words—are needlessly offensive to unbelievers and weaker believers. The gospel itself is an offense, yes; but he goes out of his way to be a jerk. And I say that as Calvinist Christian who holds to what the Heidelberg Catechism says about the Ninth Commandment. I do not share these things lightly.

There is substantial evidence—including eyewitness testimony and, where pertinent, official church or court documents—to the effect that Pastor Doug Wilson of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho is a liar, a plagiarist1, and a defender of child rapists (according to the way Idaho state law defines rape; that needs to be pointed out because Mr. Wilson has gone on the record saying that one of the rapists “is not a sexual predator”, and making similar claims). He will stop at nothing to silence or discredit those who disagree with him, his actions ranging from the outright despicable, such as threatening the victim of one of the aforesaid rapists with releasing private journals, smearing her family, and demonstrably lying about her and her family’s role in what happened to her2, to the less glaring but still unpastoral ad hominem attacks, especially against women, whom he will not hesitate to deride using crude, and again, unpastoral language.3 History also shows he would sooner cover up (using threats if necessary) the illegal activity of people closely affiliated with his work and ministry in Moscow, such as the operation of a casino and drug-dealing, rather than suffer the consequences of it being exposed (i.e., the harm done the image of his church, denomination, and schools). The language he employs in his blog is often sexist and crass, and I would maintain, inexcusable—what’s he going for? Shock value? Even if the point is just to entertain, in what way is it at all conscionable for a Christian man, let alone a minister of the Word, to have his fans compete to come up with the best nickname for Melania Trump’s breasts? If Ephesians 5:4 doesn’t apply to pastors, just who does it apply to?

I will refrain from commenting on some of the other controversies swirling around him, such as his views of American slavery, or his Federal Vision teachings (which, while perhaps hard to pin down exactly, are nonetheless manifestly at odds with the Westminster Standards). Those matters are secondary when it comes to evaluating his character. That may be made known through his speech and actions. And those demonstrate that he is a corrupt, deceptive, narcissistic fraud of a pastor.

Harsh language, I know, but that’s how thoroughly disgusting his behavior is and should be recognized as. It’s evil. It’s also a poor Christian witness, to say the least. I have a friend who lives in Pullman, WA—that’s right by Moscow for those of you who don’t know—and Wilson, in his words, is “a blight”. And he was able to confirm for me that, aside from those who attend Christ Church or are involved in the New Saint Andrews, Greyfriars, or Logos schools, Wilson is practically universally disliked in the area. Of course the opinion of the world isn’t a perfect test of character, but first, my friend and his family are conservative Christians, and second, an elder in the church ought to be “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2), and “well thought of by outsiders” (v. 7). Between the cover-ups, the plagiarism, and the ungodly speech, Doug Wilson has given people of the Palouse plenty of reason to suspect him. And Moscow residents in fact think so ill of him that he has to use a proxy to buy property! Yet he revels in all the controversy, enjoying every opportunity he has to insult and mock his “enemies”—but I repeat myself—which seems hardly to fit the spirit of 1 Peter 3:15-16.

Look at the articles I’ve linked above, and, if you’re of a mind to, look at the articles I link to in Part 2. Read carefully; it behooves us as followers of our Lord to be able to make a reasoned case, with integrity, for our stance on matters such as this. How much has to be said and written, how much dirt on the man has to be accumulated, before you will allow that maybe his detractors are right? These aren’t a bunch of angry feminists and “intoleristas” making a fuss and railing against the conservative complementarian Reformed pastor. Some of them, it’s true, are what he might call feminists (I would say he uses that word rather loosely), some are unabashedly egalitarian in their understanding of marriage and gender roles, and some are most definitely not fans of the institutional church, or at least of its “Reformed” expressions (it’s worth noting that in some cases the anti-male headship and anti-church mentalities are largely because of what they saw and experienced in communities led or influenced by Doug Wilson or others like him); but others still hold to the Ephesians 5 prescription for marriage and are faithful Calvinists besides. How many people from both sides of the various debates need to speak out before you start hearing them? How many ex-Christ Church members, or people disaffected with the denomination he founded, the CREC (Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches; or, as one critic said, tongue-in-cheek: Charlatans Rationalizing Egregious Carnality) need to tell their story before you listen?

How much has to be said before you see The Doug for what he is?

And again, if you’re still of a mind to dismiss the myriad of diverse voices raised against Wilson, I hope you can at least stop linking to his blog and recommending his books. Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) blogger Rachel Miller, after examining such things as his lack of academic credentials, his Federal Vision beliefs, his treatment of people who disagree with him, his views of women, his teachings on marriage, etc., put it well:

To all those Reformed, Presbyterians out there who are willing to look past the recent Wilson controversies, is it time to consider if what you like is worth defending? For anything that he’s written that you’ve appreciated, isn’t there someone else who has said something similar without all the baggage? Are the qualifiers worth it?

See Part 2 for additional resources about Doug Wilson.

1There are too many pages I could link here. I settled on the The Truth About Moscow because posts there tend to quote from or summarize, and link to, others which go into greater depth. I’d like to draw special attention to this one, though. It’s just too rich.

2See also here for a helpful summary and examination of what he said at that “Heads of Households” meeting. And see here, too!

3I did not link to anything here because the sort of thing I’m referring to—indeed, some of the specific quotes I have in mind—will crop up if you check out all the pages I linked to. To keep up the tradition of linking to Katie Botkin’s blog in the footnotes, though, I’ll direct you to this relevant piece. Some of the quotes are in there.

Blast from the Past–Kind Of

This blog doesn’t have much of a past, I know. The blast in this case is a past writing of mine that predates Puritan Girl by just a few months. I’ve been thinking lately about the matter of human worth and the Christian’s standing before God, and I recalled a journal entry in which I reflected on the messianic implications of Psalm 45, eventually focusing on verses 10-15. What follows is that portion of the journal entry, dated 14 February 2015, with some edits and additions to make it more fitting for a public posting. I hope it’s helpful for someone.

Ps 45:10, 11: “Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house, and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him.” (ESV)

The entirety of Psalm 45 was manifestly written on the occasion of a king’s wedding, but the author of Hebrews applies vv. 6 and 7 to Jesus. I accessed a handful of translations and commentaries. Some (especially in the Puritan tradition, e.g., Matthew Henry) view the whole psalm as messianic; the NKJV goes so far as to capitalize the masculine pronouns and “Lord” and “King”. Others are cautious to take it that far, preferring to focus it more in its Old Testament context. I think, however, that even people in that second group would think the points I make here are valid.

If the king in the passage is Christ, then the daughter of verse 10 must be the church, and that is exactly what those who favor the messianic interpretation contend. The body of believers is collectively referred to as the Bride of Christ or of the Lamb, whether specifically as in Rev. 19 or by implication as in Eph. 5.

Forget your people and your father’s house” is in its immediate context a command for the Bride to shift her priorities and allegiances and see herself foremost as a member of the king’s household. One might think of some of the exhortations directed at believers to the effect that they be in the world but not of it (John 17:16), that they renounce ungodliness and worldly passions (Titus 2:12). At one time we were darkness, but now that we are “light in the Lord” we are to walk as such and have nothing further to do with “the unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph. 5:8-10). In sum, by coming to Christ one joins a new household, the household of faith, and ought to leave behind—forget—the sinful deeds and habits of his past.

It is by doing that, by striving to live in obedience to God’s will, that a believer manifests the submission called for in v. 11 of the psalm. The immediate meaning of the command (rendered “bow to” in the ESV and “honor” in the NIV) is plain enough: the new wife is to submit to her husband’s headship. Likewise the church is to submit to Christ’s rule (and if that relationship is what is in view, the KJV and NKJV rendering of “worship” is fully appropriate). The obedience called for, the purity and holiness, is the beauty this King desires.

Verses 13-15 remind me of Rev. 19:7-9: “’…for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’ –for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” The church as Bride is dressed in a garment of holiness, having committed “righteous deeds” that are pleasing to the Bridegroom—again, the “beauty” He desires. Ps. 45:15 says “With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the presence of the king”, and Rev. 19:9 makes it clear that in that passage, the final union of Christ and the church is in view, and its celebration.

I said I hoped this would be helpful to someone, and I’m getting to the part I had in mind. For some people, talk about obedience and living in a way to please God can be depressing. There are those who are aware of what is expected of them as children of light, and acutely aware of how much they fall short of those expectations. They may imagine that God is always displeased with them, a displeasure that ranges from disappointment to anger. And they may feel an intense self-hatred, despairing of ever getting better. Even the things they do that might be called “good” they pick apart and find some reason to see as valueless, because they weren’t enough, or didn’t come from the right motives, or some such reason. I myself have periods where I succumb to such depression and self-condemnation.

That’s why I so appreciate this psalm, particularly verses 10, 11, and 13. The Westminster Confession defines Christians’ good works as the result of their regeneration, the Spirit’s indwelling them, and their own diligent stirring up of the Spirit within them (WCF 16.3). Those works are weak and have many imperfections, but because they arise from regenerate people with sincere motives and pass through the mediating work of Christ, they are pleasing to God (16.6). One of the scriptural supports for this is Hebrews 13:20-21. As it says in v. 21, God equips “us to do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Christ Jesus.” I’m grateful for the WCF’s directing me to that verse. I’m grateful for the reassurance, to know that I really can please God, though only by His grace.

The way this connects to Ps. 45 should be somewhat obvious: the church is accepted as Bride by Christ. She is attired in the holy garment He provided. She belongs to Him and worships Him, and He actually finds her desirable, beautiful. The church and the individual sinners that make it up—including me and everyone else who has that struggle with guilt and condemnation. We’re still works in progress and the wedding feast hasn’t happened yet, but it’s not like He hates us or even loves us any less for our lingering impurity.

In May of 2014 I realized that despair at my continuing to sin was itself sinful because it expressed lack of faith in God’s ability to sanctify me. Several months later, it occurred to me that such despair also insults God because it betrays lack of appreciation for what He’s already done in me, the changes He’s already wrought in my character and heart. I ought not hate the person He has chosen to love, even if that person is my own self. Hate my sin, yes, definitely. But hate my person, who has been justified, is being sanctified, is loved by God and even pleasing, beautiful to Him—no, definitely not.

That’s what I hope is helpful. Even now, having articulated all of that, I still need to be reminded of it at times. I still have very low days, when I look at the little petty, selfish things I do, or consider how proud I am, and think, I’m such a worm, how can God love me when I can barely live with myself? But if I’m going to take Him at His word, then I have to believe He does, and for the reasons He gives—He has formed and is forming me into a thing that is more to His liking. And though my cooperation is faltering and woefully meager, Jesus completes and perfects it, makes it acceptable.

Thinking of that truth should be an effective antidote to unhealthy levels of guilt and despair. There is a place for self-examination and all too often is it neglected (antinomianism runs rampant in some “Christian” circles these days), to be sure. But there is such a thing as going too far. And those of us who do go too far at times would do well to contemplate often the Lord’s faithfulness and affection for His children. The Bride may not be pure and spotless yet, but we are still a thing of beauty to the Bridegroom. And He will see to it that we are pure when it’s time for the feast.

The Lies Just Won’t Stop!

The whole church was sent a letter by the “council” (we know for a fact it was written by another pastor who’s been in the VP’s pocket all this time). My dad and I, even though technically still members of the church, were not copied on it. But the judge and his wife showed it to us.

Below is the “letter” I wrote in reaction, which I will not send. As you may deduce, the council’s letter made some misstatements. This is just something I fired off quickly, in the heat of the moment. There’s a lot more that can be said about the factual/historical errors, exaggeration, excuse-making, outright lies, etc. in it.

Members of ________ Church,

I am writing to you out of my own indignation; these are my own words and feelings.

I would like to inform you of a view other than that expressed in the recent letter sent by the council. I will keep this short and only address a few things.

Pertaining to the matter of how urgent this was, and how it was the right decision, the pastor had to go because his “vision for ministry” was not in line with what the council thought the congregation needed: even if that were true, did it necessitate throwing him out so quickly? Could he not have stayed on a few more months, given time to pursue another call? Why does the pastor, with cancer, one leg, no family in the area, have to move in the middle of winter?

That would seem to put the lie to the idea that the council really cares all that much about him and his family, contra what they think the severance package proves. Another item that puts the lie to it is the fact that two of the deacons were in our small group, active for over three years. They, their wives, and one other couple were the closest friends I had in our congregation. Since this has happened, not one of those people, not even the wives, mothers, has stepped forward to offer any word of encouragement, concern, or compassion to us. Even if they think my dad is a bad person not deserving such sentiments, what about me?

Moreover I feel I must address the matter of the council not wanting to do this. My father was informed by two of the elders that the third [the VP] “wants you gone”. That was said to him as far back as summer.

As to the matter of the council having “a unanimous belief that this decision was right”, just last week I heard from one of those two elders that he “threw in with” the rest of the council because he was “just scared I guess”, and he feels terrible about it now. He went against his conscience. And he also said that to the man I believe, with good reason, to be the real author of the council’s letter. He even went so far as to say “I’m sick of [the VP]!” I think I’m justified in saying that whoever wrote that letter is lying.

Now, one more thing. About the “tentative plan” for an open house on the 3rd of January. Whether such a thing happens is more up to my dad and the council than it is to me, but if it were up to me, I’d say “hell no!”


The pastor’s youngest daughter

One Week From Christmas…

And I’ve just been helping my dad pack up some of the things from his study at the church building. Today’s the first day this month that it’s snowed, which brings to mind two things. One, it’s cold, cold enough for snow; and two, it’s finally starting to look just a little like how Christmas in Michigan should look.

So there I was, standing outside in the cold next to the dumpster so my dad could pass me things through the window to throw away. We’d might as well get working on this now, as we’ll have to be out of the church parsonage by the end of January if the council has its way. You see, my father is a minister in a certain denomination, and, as a local Circuit Court Judge and friend of ours put it, “[Elder’s name] and the Cabal have won”—the Vice President of the church council, who for years was actually one of my dad’s closest friends (was that all fake? At this point, I’d have to say, most likely yes) and the abusive members of the congregation have succeeded, aided and abetted by the Classis (the leadership of all the other churches in our denomination located in this area), in not only getting rid of God’s appointed shepherd but also in maligning his character.

The documentation produced to justify his removal is, frankly, libelous. The Circuit Judge, an older and lifelong member of this church, wrote a scathing rebuttal to the primary article and had it submitted to the Classis, but they weren’t interested in the truth and let said article go on the record the way it was written. Compounded with my dad’s age, health issues (cancer), and disability (he lost a leg to cancer a few years ago), the character defamation in the record made basically means: no church is going to call him. His career as a pastor in this denomination is over.

I wish I could convey well just how rapidly all of this happened, and describe how secretive and shady everything has been, the collusion between the VP and the people the denomination appointed to handle a “conflict” that really didn’t exist, how quickly the pastor was thrown out and the total shock it was to many in the congregation (the judge and his wife aren’t the only ones who have left the church over this, and apparently the VP is now blaming the other elders for the pastor’s removal because he wasn’t expecting his decision to be unpopular with some!). But I don’t want to go on too long.

Dad was presented with the termination document on November 5; its original stipulations required us to be out of the parsonage by the end of December. There had to be a special Classis meeting to approve the firing (though they’d no doubt prefer I use a more sanitized term, like “separation”), and no doubt it was the VP and friends who were pushing for it to happen NOW—first on the 18th, then the 23rd, but the Classis couldn’t make either date work, so finally it happened last week on the 8th of December. It was a travesty—the judge compared it to the Star Chamber, and not unfittingly. But one thing that was changed was the move-out date, which was pushed back to January 31st.

I suppose the council and Classis think they’re being really nice and generous. Not just in giving us one more month in the house but also in the other stipulations of the severance package (which I won’t list because that might result in it being canceled). Well, forgive me for not being very grateful.

This whole past year has been hellish for my father, and especially in the last few months. Yet despite the conflict that went on in the council room (and the cold treatment he was beginning to get from others who had been our closest friends and some of the most enthusiastic fans of his preaching—more on that later), the termination was a surprise to him, and it happened so damn fast! As my sister said on her blog, the man had been tormented for months and months and was finally unjustly fired.

It was unjust and evil, as the judge and his wife said. And there’s simply no way a nice little severance package can make it all okay, this abrupt and wicked firing of a minister of the Word of God who has done nothing wrong (even the documents produced could indicate no specific failing, just a lot of vague generalizations about how the whole congregation was suffering, was “spiritually depressed and frustrated” because of his oppressive sermons—cf. that with my earlier observation that a lot of people are upset the council did this, and some of those people have up and left).

My emotions the last month and a half have been quite the roller coaster. At any given moment I can be very angry, very sad, resigned, or maybe happy (if I’m distracted by something). I recently wondered how it was that I wasn’t as bad off as one might think I’d be, when I hadn’t been the best at availing myself of the immediate access I have to the throne of grace. The conclusion I came to was that other people must be praying for me.

But waves of anger at the injustice, the (frankly) demonic evil that occurred, still come over me with some frequency. And that happened today as we were moving things from Dad’s office. Like I said, the snow meant both “cold” and “Christmas”. And there we were. The minister had been fired in early November, with the holidays right around the corner. And he was ordered to vacate the premises the week after Christmas. Why? What was the rush? If he was “certainly accused of no moral failing” as the termination document said, why did he have to be kicked out so quickly? Fired abruptly, and given less than two months to find another place to live and move in there?

Apparently someone somewhere realized how stupid the December 31 date was and pushed it back one month, but is that really so much better? The man is single and has only his 22-year-old, can’t-drive, Aspergers daughter living with him. He lamented yesterday how incredibly hard it was moving boxes of books from his church office to the house with only one leg. We have no immediate family living nearby. I suppose my aunt and uncle probably wouldn’t be opposed to making the hour and a half long drive to help if they have to, but that’s a lot to ask. And in the winter!

It’s all so disgusting! He was “suspended” from pulpit duties a few days after Pastor Appreciation Sunday in October, then the week after that officially fired, just before Thanksgiving and the Christmas season! (Happy holidays, Reverend!) And now we have to move out in the winter. What a great time to be scrambling for a new residence (and job!), packing things up and transporting them, getting around and everything—the cold and the snow just makes it all so wonderful. The use of only one leg makes it even better. A month and a half to find someplace else to be, and that probably only a holding place for the rest of the time we get the severance package and housing allowance; then we’ll have to move again! Two moves for the one-legged, still cancer-ridden (he had an appointment at the U. of M. hospital in Ann Arbor two days ago to have the tumors on his lungs checked on), divorced (my mother ran out on him seven years ago) pastor. And did I mention we have a 20-year-old sick cat that I think will probably die as a result of the stress that will be involved with moving again? He can’t even make the 30 minute drive to the vet clinic anymore without getting so nervous he throws up on the way.

As someone else asked—What was the bloody rush? Why did this have to happen NOW, the pastor be forced out so abruptly, made to move in the middle of winter despite his disability and aloneness? Why couldn’t it have waited—the council could have said, “Your ministry here isn’t as effective anymore, it might be a good idea for you to start looking for another call” then let him go on preaching through spring. Would all the complainers really have left if they’d waited? I’m dubious.

No, the rush was because the VP wanted him out now. For a number of possible reasons—he wanted it to happen while he was still on council so he could be seen as the hero by the complainers is one. Here’s another one. He’s gone out of his way to humiliate and hurt my father throughout the last several months, by undermining him to his face and behind his back, turning our friends and supporters against him, raising his voice and making accusations against him in council meetings that he doesn’t even get a chance to respond to, and just generally being what is commonly called a church bully or “clergy killer” (there are books written about how people like this ruin pastors and destroy churches; see here, here, and here for examples). So I think he wanted us to be in this situation, to have to leave in a rush at this celebratory time of year. It’s cruel, but I don’t think it’s beneath him at this point. There are other reasons too that relate to our (and a lot of people’s, actually) conviction that the VP has a character disorder, but I won’t get into that now.

The VP was probably never my dad’s friend. Not really. He was his, our, friend for as long as it suited his purposes. Then he retired from his position as County Prosecutor. Absent someone to go after, and frustrated that my dad wasn’t doing what he told him to (that is, the pastor was following God’s leading on what and how to preach, and didn’t think it’d be right to let parishioners extort a sermon out of him because it was what they wanted to hear), he decided my dad didn’t suit his purposes anymore. So Pastor T. had to go, and fast.

That explains his behavior; but what about that of the other parishioners who we thought were our friends? He deliberately sowed discord among them, that’s what happened. The handful of couples that comprised our small group for three years, and were basically my only “IRL” friends, lost interest in it due to apathy, seemingly, and that’s when he was able to have his influence in encouraging them to find fault with the minister. All of them turned on my dad to some extent, treating him coldly, even treating me coldly. And now they’re so cold to us that:

–he can be abruptly fired

–I can send them all a letter expressing my confusion and grief about the way they’ve acted toward us and the effect it’s had on him for months

–he can be told that he has to move out over the holidays

–he can have a cancer appointment and at least two of the three couples know about it

…and we don’t hear anything from them except 1) a response to my letter by one of the wives, who was very callous and dismissive of my feelings, accused my dad of various evils and said things that were historically inaccurate to justify her behavior toward him (and I have the e-mail record to prove inaccuracy), and said other things about my brother that showed she has no idea what she’s talking about, and was just really cold, period; and 2) a visit yesterday when two of the husbands, deacons, met with Dad to sign the final version of the termination agreement. There’s been no overture, no expression of sympathy. And even if they really believe my father is the ogre he’s been made out to be (I asked in my letter when their perception of him changed; I guess no one wanted to answer that) who doesn’t deserve to be treated like a person, what about me? What have I done? It seems we’re nonentities to them. The Absalom spirit that has been energizing the VP has indeed stolen many hearts.

I have written much, much more than I thought I would. I just became so indignant thinking about us being thrown out in the cold like this by people we thought were our friends! I had to write something to vent, and I had no idea I’d go on as long as I have.

I suppose I’ll close by giving a summary statement: A little leaven leavens the whole loaf, and the VP really has had a cancerous influence on these people I used to trust. We have been betrayed and turned on, and it hurts like hell. I understand now why a similar event at our last church caused my mother to pressure Dad to resign from the ministry, and why there really are sincere, devout Christians who know they should be in church but are too afraid because of really awful and scarring experiences. So many people here have made a mess, a huge mess. Discord, pain, grief, anger—the church may not even survive it if enough of my dad’s sympathizers leave, and it can’t stand to lose a lot because it’s small already. So much ruin. The demons that dwell in this area must be having a jolly good time at the silencing of God’s Word, the decline of the church, and the persecution of the minister.

But they won’t have a good time with me. Because unlike my mother, I am not going to let this diminish my faith. I will continue to affirm God’s faithfulness and sovereignty. We are His to do with as He will, and His will is always good. And also unlike my mother, I’m not going to take the hurt I’ve been caused by all of this and let it make me bitter. Rather I hope I’m able to forgive and heal somewhat, and that the overall effect this has on my character will be positive.

God has to be training me for something.