Aug 27 2011

Pay No Attention to the Doctrine Behind the Curtain

 By John Immel

(For those of you who don’t care about the specifics of the SGM phenomena, give me a minute. This is going somewhere.)

 Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead.

Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!

Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.

Wake up – sleepy head

Rub your eyes, get out of bed.

Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead.

She’s gone where the goblins go,

Below – below – below. Yo-ho,

let’s open up and sing and ring the bells out.

Ding Dong’ the merry-oh,

sing it high,

sing it low.

Let them know

The Wicked Witch is dead! 

So some time has passed since Vicar Charles Joseph headed off to sit in the bad preacher doghouse. Rumor has it that the doghouse has traveled to other states and other countries south of the border where he is speaking in behalf of the very church he said he should not be leading. Or maybe that was just the local church he had committed grave sins against, and the universal church is fair game for his metaphysical mayhem.  

Anyway, for a few days the blogging world tried to hum a few bars of the song in the Wizard of Oz: “Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead.” People seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief: “See, we really aren’t crazy!  It really is bad in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  It really is!”  

Joshua Harris, beta big dog for the SGM Vatican in Gaithersburg, Maryland, took to the plexiglass podium and admitted that yes, there were grave sins in the church. It really was as bad as it seemed. We don’t answer fools, but God was disciplining US because He loved US.  

SGM admitting they are wrong?  Why, how could it be?  

People broke out in group hugs, speaking of grace and love and mercy and nodding sagely as people thought this was God finally showing up. Why, if the CJ Mini Me was willing to say it was bad, very bad, then surely this was a sign that the bucket of WikiLeaks in the face had really worked:  

“Ding Dong the Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!”  

Armed with ruby slippers, a flood of outrage-filled articles poured forth taking El Primo Doctrinal Mover and Shaker to task. If it wasn’t for his faulty Bible interpretation, his Bible proof-texting, a host of church polity mishaps, and his temerity for seeking to place himself in the same category as John Calvin, all these thing would not have happened. 

“Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.” 

SGM WikiLeaks seemed to embolden a few more victims to take their story public: yet another story of molestation swept under the pervasive depravity rug and another parent villainized for a lack of love and grace and forgiveness showed up on www.sgmsurvivors.com. Rumor has it that this story hit very, very close to SGM Vatican home. The CLC faithful were summoned to a members’ only meeting. The women are in an uproar; the men are scratching their heads trying to figure out how to proof-text their masculinity to get their theologically deficient wives back in line. The pastors are doing their gossip and slander two-step all the while woeing and tumulting about the great sinfulness of man and the great evils of human ego. 

“Wake up – sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.” 

With only a few exceptions—from those on the “anti-SGM” side of the blogging world—Brent Detwiler was heralded as a hero with the pooper-scooper for the SGM dirt and applauded for his courage to face down the green-faced villain of Gaithersburg, Maryland.  

“Don’t you talk mean about Brent! Don’t you dare remember he was one of them for decades! Brent, please come in. Yes, make yourself at home. You are one of US now.  Besides, we need you to tell us we are OK. We can’t know anything unless a pastor makes it clear for us. We can’t understand what is really happening unless a leader tells us. We are so confused. Can we get you some hot cocoa?  Yes, tell us how hurt you are. We are very hurt. So you must be hurt. Brent, tell us where you hurt. Is it in your heart? Is it in your soul?  We are hugging you.  Brent?  Brent?  Brent, aren’t you going to tell us?” 

Denigration of those dastardly bloggers in their underwear daring to speak ill of SGM leaders all but forgotten, Brent slid into the kiddie end of the cyber pool ready to take his side of the story public. Floaties firmly around his arms, like God before Balaam, the very blogs he denounced for a failure of attitude, and gossip and slander became his voice to the world.  See! I’m not apostate! I’m not evil!  I did it right! But CJ, this is all his doing!  It’s him! 

“Ding Dong’ the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.” 

When a house didn’t drop on his head for the rational larceny of joining the blogging world, Brent was encouraged to take his kiddy pool backstroke into the lap lanes. With the debut of brentdetwiler.com, he came out splashing; the mist was felt all over the blogosphere. Tim Challies took his blogging towel to Rat Fink Brent D concerning his documents; yet another Neo-Reformed shill weighing in on the general impropriety of reading the leaky PDFs. Rat Fink Brent D defended himself by pointing out that “two anti-SGM blogs” had been in existence for years before the documents, so he really didn’t have a personal vendetta.  

Share This Post With Others


    Skip to comment form

    1. 116


      I agree with one of the conclusions of this article, that modern pastors/bishops function as Plato’s “philosopher-kings”, by way of interpreting all doctrine, initiating force, etc. What I am wondering, is how you view the biblical role of elder/bishop? Do you think this is a righteous idea, do you condemn the whole idea from the root? Do elders or pastors serve any wholesome functions?

    2. 117
      John Immel

      Hey Jacob,

      I’m always glad you like the articles. BTW.. I put up the last TANC session. And I have a new article up.

      “What I am wondering, is how you view the biblical role of elder/bishop? Do you think this is a righteous idea, do you condemn the whole idea from the root? Do elders or pastors serve any wholesome functions?”

      Well, my first response to all of this is tied to dispensationalism. If we presume that Apostles and Prophets no longer exist, why do we magically assume that Pastors, Evangelists, teachers and Elders still exist? The very same arguments that dismiss apostles and prophets could be applied to the rest of the titles … but it just never has. If the “Authority” of the first two offices vanished why do we maintain an “authority” for the rest?

      And this last question is really the heart of the matter: the quest for Authority. Any time someone wants authority he/she is in pursuit of force, which means he is in pursuit of the ability to compel a given outcome. Since you are a long time reader here, you already know where that goes.

      1. 117.1

        In your comment, you are still referring to mere logic (if..then logic) “if not Apostles… then not Bishops”. When we should examine what the basis of truth, the Bible, has to say on the matter. The Bible explains the need for authority in the context of order and organization (He is a God of order), but with clear directive of servant leadership – not dictatorship and power- mongering. Jesus was the ultimate example. He, who is God, washed the feet of the disciples. Yes, man by his nature will distort God’s word and intent, but once a person is “born-again” he then has the “mind of Christ”, the very Spirit of God indwelling him, allowing him to make wise decisions. I think this is overlooked in the whole “human depravity” debate. With the mind of Christ, a man can be a good leader. With the mind of Christ, a man can understand God’s word as intended.

        1. 117.1.1

          JAL, the problem with that approach is the nearly infinite versions of the Bible based upon who is interpreting it.

          Historically, Religious Professionals interpret the Bible (and construct and teach doctrines) in a way that cements their power over the congregants. Remember, for instance, that the KJV was translated by edict of King James, who famously had a political agenda: he wanted to ensure that the Church of England (and by extension, the British Throne) was cemented as authoritative in God’s eyes. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_James_Version).

          Because most Christians have been taught to interpret the Bible in a fashion that supports the concept of “the authority of the Clergy,” most Christians believe in an interpretation of the Bible that is skewed in favor of “The Clubhouse.”

          For instance, most Christians believe it is biblical for Christians to tithe (which benefits the Clubhouse) even though there is zero evidence in the New Testament for this practice. You could argue that Jesus mentions tithing, and you would be quite right. But it is very clear in context that Jesus is speaking of tithing to Jewish Religious Leaders, who have a legal obligation to tithe and teach tithing to their congregants.

          Anyway, back to the original point. Why not just trust Christians to exercise the “mind of Christ” to understand the Bible? That would work just great if there were not this constant pressure to conform to church doctrines. If the doctrines are in conflict with the “mind of Christ,” congregants have to choose whether to remain loyal to the Clubhouse or to trust God. That is a choice very difficult to make, since inclusion is based on doctrinal adherence. For this reason, the “mind of Christ” is largely silenced in the typical believer, replaced with the Law that is preached from the Clubhouse Pulpit.

        2. 117.1.2

          I have recently been discussing this issue in another venue. The idea that any group of adults ALWAYS need a perpetual leader. Could it be the goal has been to amass followers and not make “disciples”?

          These “functions” are fluid not static. Someone “pastors” a new disciple and that disciple becomes “perfect” like their heavenly father is perfect (mature, fully developed which is what that means) and so it goes. There is no “authority” involved. An elder would be someone who is fed to the lions first so the others can get away.

          “Servant leadership” is an oxy moron. It does not exist but sounds nicer. I was around in the old days when Ken Blanchard was hawking this term to mega church pastors as a kinder way to amass power. Make them see you as a servant who is a leader.

          You know, we have had about 2000 years to get this “Body” thing right. Yet, we keep going in despotic circles. Could it be our premises are wrong? God was angry when the Jews begged for a king (like the pagans had). He was their king but he gave them what they wanted. I find it ironic that Jesus was pegged as King of the Jews. Which He was! We still don’t get it.

          Adults have a “leader” in Jesus Christ. Anyone else is potential danger.



            I agree completely.

            Amassing followers to what end, though? In America, the purpose seems to be pecuniary — providing a living and a retirement to the Clergy Class. More universally, there is power in the position of Anointed Proclaimer, and the pseudo-love congregants shower on their Leaders. All of these ends align perfectly with the ends of most religious systems. Congregants need to be led, Clergy Men and Women need to be praised. Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism. All fit the same pattern, and it comes from a root of self-righteousness. If The Self does the Right Things, The Self is Declared Righteous by the Doctrines of whatever Religious System is being proffered.

            People desperately want to be Declared Righteous, because they do not want to face their shortcomings. So, any religious system that proffers Self Righteousness in a palatable way is going to gain adherents. And the cost of the Self Righteousness is Spiritual Domination. Every. Time.

            Christ alone breaks the pattern of Spiritual Domination by the Clergy Class, but only for those who understand that the Clergy Class is not of His making, and is actually Demonic. Hard to get that message across to those who continue to be dominated, because, like Théoden King, their “minds have been overthrown.” A lot of the fighting that we see on sites like this are about the blind, impotent rage people feel when they realize they have been duped. They don’t know precisely what is wrong, but they have clues. And when they see any of the “warning signs” of despotism, they attack. When they see a Great Leader who seems to agree with their plight, they sometimes attach themselves to such a Great Leader. No matter how incomprehensible.

    3. 118


      What do you mean by “the Bible is the basis of truth”?

      And can a person understand the bible without being saved first?

    4. 119
      John Immel

      Just a layman… welcome. Thanks for you comment.

      I’ll wait for your response to Argo before I follow up on your observations.

      Hope to hear from you soon.


    5. 120

      One cannot touch “couch” any easier than he can touch “blue”. It always boils down to this: what physically IS, which is infinite. And how it is conceptualized, which is a product of the observer and makes that which is infinite relatively finite, with the absolute reference being the observer.

    1 22 23 24

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>