Sep 082015

Posted Publicly on Pastor Alan Hawkins Facebook page. Alan is a friend and a good dude. I think this is an important issue to discuss….and there are no easy answers:

So this is my professor and he is wanting feedback. Take a close look and reply if you will. Dr. Ruthven is challenging some protestant expositions.


In response to a query from a friend, I am working through what “salvation” means. Certainly, in traditional Christian theology, “salvation” means being forgiven of sins, regenerated and being good, then in a position to go to heaven. I just attended a church service where I heard exactly that.

In the Synoptics, however, “salvation” pretty much always means “healing” or “rescue.” Even in Mt 1:21 and Hb 9:28 Jesus’ “saving” from sins may have had a primary referent to the broken covenant penalties of Dt 28, not simply going to hell, hence, the emphasis on healing in the NT “gospel.”

Since the Synoptic Gospels (Mt, Mk, Lk) were written, mostly later, as summaries and “big picture” correctives to a Christianity that immediately began to drift off course in so many ways, we ought to take these Gospels (and John) as our prime source, and not dismiss them as “historical prologue” to the “real stuff”–“justification by faith” in Paul, as Luther and Calvin taught. (Paul was more amenable to Protestant “demythologizing” of the Gospel than the Gospels themselves).

The Gospels, then, were attempts to reset and recenter Jesus’ original mission and message. Based on the direction church doctrine took after the introduction of the Gospels, it seems that this “reset” didn’t really succeed. Maybe that success would come far in the future, but certainly not from the 2nd century and thereafter, where Christianity increasingly became an exercise in human/demonic speculation and pontificating (creeds and apologetics), not revelation and power. In the NT, demons always “knew” perfect “theology”; they did not “know” God in the way of knowing that God requires.

In my view, we can’t persist in the charismatic tweaking of the Protestant ordo salutis: get “saved,” then filled with the Spirit. The NT seems to promote John the Baptist’s program of “repent and be baptized and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” It seems to me that “repent” means to move from a basic epistemology of the “wrong tree” to the tree of life: moving from the Serpent’s words to the Spirit’s. The immediate goal here is “obedience.” (Paul’s mission was “obedience from the Gentiles”). You can’t “obey” God until you, in some sense, hear his voice telling us what to obey.

There was a man who said he couldn’t become a Christian until he gave up his cigarettes. Normally, I would respond that he needed a “salvation” experience which would then empower him to give up the habit. But I wonder if this man and his cigarettes may have been God’s test to show if he was really going to obey God’s revelation: was he going to hear and obey God in this defining test or not? The cigarettes, by themselves, are trivial, the test of obedience is everything–the first step toward “salvation” that is, life in the revealing, empowering Spirit/presence of God. “Repent” means “turning in the opposite direction”–away from one way of living to another: it involves a basic decision, and action, for total change.

SALVATION IS DEFINED IN THE NT AS ENTERING THE NEW COVENANT defined in Acts 2:39, citing Isa 59:21, and 2 Cor 3, describing Jer 31:33 (also Heb 12:18-25), receiving the New Covenant Spirit of prophecy and power. THIS IS THE MISSION OF JESUS DEFINED IN ALL FOUR GOSPELS: “He will baptize in the Holy Spirit.”

I think, therefore, that the defining pattern for becoming a “Christian” is Acts 2:38-39, and its citation of Isa 59:21–a citation that traditional theology has denied: it is a single package of repentance, baptism, to the goal of receiving the Spirit (the charismatic Spirit of prophecy and power).

“THIS is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.”

So the goal and expression of “salvation” is really the “baptism in the Holy Spirit,” which means, you are immersed in God’s presence, communication, and life. This is the opposite of living “in the flesh”–human weakness without God’s empowering, leading to death. A “man of the Spirit” or a “man of God” in the Bible is one who was a prophet: one who lived in the voice, obedience and power of God to heal and deliver from demonic influence. THIS is “salvation” in the NT. This essentially charismatic experience is flatly denied in traditional Protestantism (e.g., Sect. 1, Westminster Confession).

So, to “repent and be baptized” means to choose the basic way of “hearing” to the Spirit, to be “washed” of that former way of thinking/heeding (the source of all “sins”), and then entering into the realm of God’s Spirit–the power of revelation and power, “cleansed” of demonic input.

One example of how far the Protestant notion of “salvation” drifted is the case of the Philippian jailer: “What must I do to be saved” meant: “How can I have my sins forgiven and go to heaven!” Talk about “demythologizing!” What he was asking was, “The government is going to kill me and enslave my family if these prisoners escape! How do I avoid that?” Paul’s answer was the universal answer to ALL the desperate situations of ALL mankind: “Have faith (hear God’s voice and obey) in the Lord Jesus Christ–all that he taught and modeled about hearing and obeying the Father/Spirit–and you will be rescued from every evil–in God’s own way !”–including the problem of the prisoners escaping.

The basic difference between traditional “salvation” and that of the NT is as follows:

Traditional emphasis: 1) man in sinful state going to hell. 2) ordo salutis, behaves ethically, 3) qualifies for heaven

New Testament emphasis: 1) man denying revelation from God (Rom 1); life in chaos, suffering penalties of Dt 28; 2) hears/heeds revelation, repents (heeds God, not serpent), is “baptized” in Spirit, able to hear and obey and become a charismatic evangelist/disciple as per mandate of Mark 3:14-15 (actually, the mandate for Adam–all mankind), and further spelled out in, e.g., Lk 9&10, Mt 28:19-20; Acts 1:8. The NT emphasis on “salvation,” then, is not on getting “saved” from hell, but to become a Spirit-filled disciple as the NT defines it.

In both cases, of course, hell and heaven are ultimate factors. It’s just that the NT concentrates on the here-and-now and how to be “providers” of God’s “grace/charisms” whereas in the Protestant system you are “saved” to be a permanent, paying “consumer” of ecclesiastical services, including “salvation.” I realize this is an extreme caricature of these positions, but it’s to show the contrast.

Bottom line: I don’t think we should assume the Protestant meaning of “salvation” if we are to get at the NT goals for human existence.
To tradition, “salvation” was getting rid of sins to qualify for heaven. To the NT, “salvation” was deliverance from a demonic way of knowing to a life of revelation in the Spirit of prophecy and power–obedience to God and assuming the mandate of Mark 3:14-15.

Feedback appreciated !

Like   Comment   
  • 9 people like this.
  • Alex Joye Happy to answer. But he probably won’t like it smile emoticon
  • Alex Joye I have been asking and answering that question for over 20 years.
  • Alan Hawkins I assure you that your answer would not unhinge the professor.
    • Hide 23 Replies
    • Alex Joye I’m sure it wouldn’t, he has his mind made up.
    • Alex Joye …or at least his apologetic
    • Alex Joye Pride and fear. It’s why the “professor” will never get a glimpse of the real Truth. He’s too proud to humble himself that he doesn’t know…and too fearful to be brutally honest about things. It’s only when you get to that place that I think you get a glimpse at the Truth.
    • Alex Joye Men like him spend their entire lives chasing an Apologetic and finding more sophisticated ways to appear like they know something to gullible folks.
    • Alan Hawkins You are way out of line Alex and you have no idea the price he has paid and by the way he lived in Idaho for a long time. He went there as a refugee and critic of the system and lived in hiddenness and personal self sacrifice for a long time so take care with your analysis of somebody you don’t know.
    • Alex Joye Ask him what he thinks of my comments. Then tell me his response. Then I’ll tell you what the Truth is about him.
    • Alex Joye …but don’t tell him you are going to tell me his response or his defense mechanism will make him answer dishonestly.
    • Alan Hawkins Alex making judgements and assumptions about people you do not know is so far out of line it makes you someone that people cannot interact with.
    • Alex Joye Tell me what he says after reading my comments w/o telling him you’ll tell me…then I’ll know an awful lot about him.
      Like · Reply · 21 hrs
    • Alex Joye We’ll find out the Truth of what he knows and not the B.S. veneer.
      Like · Reply · 21 hrs
    • Alan Hawkins No I will not mediate such a thing… go to his page and communicate directly.
      Like · Reply · 21 hrs
    • Alex Joye No problem. I can already guess how it will go b/c I’ve tested many like him. I don’t need to know…but it sounds like some of your readers would benefit from finding out whether his supposed knowledge actually means anything in real life.
      Like · Reply · 21 hrs
    • Alex Joye …I can tell you from having tested many a man…the higher the pedestal…the farther the fall….and much of what they toil after means nothing when push comes to shove.
      Like · Reply · 20 hrs · Edited
    • Alex Joye High probability he would respond in a very defensive manner, his pride would be tweaked. He would then go into a rigorous defense of his apologetic or he would simply name-call politely and dismiss me when it got difficult to resolve and defend his position. Very unlikely he would spend the time to have an intellectually honest discussion, and very unlikely he would come to the conclusion based on that discussion that he really doesn’t know very much for sure…as that is too humbling and fearful a position for men like him.
      Like · Reply · 20 hrs
    • Alex Joye THAT is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. I have a gift for peeling back the veneer. It’s not pleasant for those who it is applied to…but it produces more real-world Truth than the PR and veneer of Religion.
      Like · Reply · 20 hrs
    • Alex Joye You’re a good dude Alan. I’ve sifted you just a little and you generally come up as a good man. Not intending any of this toward you personally.
      Like · Reply · 20 hrs
    • Alex Joye I come at things from very different angles. It’s not conventional…but it is very effective.
      Like · Reply · 20 hrs
    • Alex Joye One thing I know well…humans and human nature.
      Like · Reply · 20 hrs
    • Alan Hawkins Since you know human nature you know that if you attack someone there are very few who would endure an unprovoked attack with any assumption that you are a benevolent reasonable person.
      Like · Reply · 38 mins
    • Alex Joye Hey, I didn’t say the Jesus stuff was easy…just calling b.s. and you’ll find out the real story when push comes to shove. Supposedly you are “transformed” when saved….no? Err, not so much.
      Like · Reply · 30 mins
    • Alex Joye He’ll respond just like most everyone does…which is not very much like Jesus.
      Like · Reply · 30 mins
    • Alex Joye Easy to preach the stuff, easy to make careers of it, to get degrees in it, to write books about it. Much harder to actually do it.
      Like · Reply · 29 mins
    • Alex Joye As you stated, everyone will respond in a similar manner to adversity, to provocation, etc. Jesus taught very clearly how to respond to that…yet very few can do it in real life. Yet, you sell a “Transformation Gospel”…and yet very very very few humans can do what Jesus said you are to do. So who is fooling who? The “professor” can engage in intellectual masturbation all he wants and tell you how smart he is and what “real salvation” is…but it probably isn’t true or contains some truth, but is not the Absolute. Truth is, we don’t really know what “salvation” is. Most humans respond the same way to a variety of things. They may change some of their behaviors like getting off of drugs, kicking a bad alcohol habit, etc…but many do that through non-religious means as well, and Mormons and other Sects report very similar “testimonies” and “transformations”…heck even the Scientologists report “transformations”. But, when push comes to shove, the vast majority of humans respond the same way to adversity, provocation etc either overtly or in their hearts. The Gospel doesn’t “transform” you that much at all. So what is “Salvation”?
      Like · Reply · 4 mins
 Posted by at 12:02 pm
Feb 202015
Rejected! Bob Grenier swats down Anti-SLAPP, declared a private, not public, figure.

Rejected! Bob Grenier swats down Anti-SLAPP, declared a private, not public, figure.

We had a major set-back in our defense against my step-dad pastor’s (Bob Grenier) defamation lawsuit.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in California ruled him “not a public figure” despite his multi-state radio program, book, speaking at conferences around the nation and world, etc…and they denied our Anti-SLAPP motion to strike (which would have ended the suit) and he can continue his lawsuit in the lower court.

It is perceived as a big victory by him and his attorney and is certainly a legal set-back for us…but is not a final ruling on the matter in terms of winning or losing the defamation suit. The Court did not rule whether the statements (those we actually made) were untrue beyond a “preponderance of evidence” (previous version said “reasonable doubt”).

We can try to Petition the California Supreme Court (very much a long-shot, slim odds, but not impossible) to review whether or not clergy/pastors are limited purpose public figures. We can fight an old-fashioned defamation suit in the lower court (that will cost a lot of time and money and we don’t have a church and followers behind us to fund us). The most distasteful option for me personally, but an option, is to choke it down and try to settle with something both sides can live with (but I think this option is slim, Bob is very vindictive and despite what he preaches from the pulpit, he’s about as hateful and vengeful a person as you’ll ever meet and he wants blood and money).

We’re in talks with attorneys and planning our next moves. I’ll keep you posted as to significant developments.

Bob is currently doing a victory lap posting bible verses about how God will smite all his enemies and God upholds the righteous etc, typical Bob.

Bob’s attorney, Nick Pritchett, trolled me on a mutual friend’s Facebook page…I’m sure he’d love to see a broken family continue to fight so he can bill his client some fresh Jesus money and put food on his rich table.

Our attorneys are filing some sort of motion in an attempt to correct a factual error in the published Appellate opinion…something I cannot fathom happens very often in a prestigious State like California. The court must’ve missed something as they attributed a quote in their ruling to either me or Tim and concluded their opinion with that online statement…again, something that wasn’t my comment or Tim’s….something we pointed out in the case…something I have emails to back up calling this to the attention of my attorneys, etc…yet there the mistake is in a published opinion. I’ve got no problem standing behind the words I stated (and will)…but how can comments we didn’t make end up in a published opinion in such a credible and big State like California?

Obviously, we’re disappointed with the ruling and disagree…however, the Court is an authority and they saw it Bob’s way (despite the factual error in the opinion of the statement that someone else made online). We accept the decision, minus that error, and we will regroup and figure out what options are available and which of those options is the best from here.

This published opinion is significant because we believe it now defines pretty much all clergy (unless they are national figures like a  Billy Graham) as “not” limited purpose public figures…so anyone making comments online that a pastor doesn’t like can be sued with the low bar of Prima Facia…meaning the pastor can simply claim the comment defamed him and sue you without the threat of a high bar of Actual Malice and without the ability to Anti-SLAPP the suit. That’s scary, but that’s what it looks like. That will create quite a chill in the Church Abuse blogging community. My advice is be very careful, you can be easily sued for speaking out publicly about a pastor now…even if that pastor is very public.

Here is an article covering the Appellate Court Decision:

 Posted by at 4:27 pm
Feb 092015
The Voices are coming in loud and clear....again!

The Voices are coming in loud and clear….again!

ISIS/ISIL, or “Daesh” as my buddy Niels calls them, is doing their best to single-handedly unite the World against Islam. Even Muslims like King Abdullah have had about enough of these m’fer’s….and unlike our bike-riding, basketball brick laying, effeminate POTUS Obama…Abdullah strapped on a Fighter Jet and is getting some cold hard justice for burning one of his guys alive in a cage.

President Obama seems uncomfortable calling a spade a spade. It must be his liberal white half because many Black Christians I know are very clear and concise about their opinion of both ISIS and Islam in general…i.e. they call them evil.

One mythology I think needs to be addressed…and here is my Thesis that addresses it:

Christianity has evolved tremendously and is not akin to today’s barbaric Islam: Obama has to reach back to the Dark Ages for his prime example of barbarity by a majority of Christians (in response to Islam’s aggression). I only have to reach back to….TODAY for examples of the barbarity in the Majority of Islam.

“But the MAJORITY of Islam is not ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah! That’s a small minority!”

In recent polls, there is double-digit support among Muslims around the World for those Terrorist Organizations and what they do.

Terrorism isn’t the only Barbaric act and practice of Muslims and Today’s Islam.

The fact is, the Majority of Muslims…80% plus in fact…live in Islamic Nations this day. These Islamic Nations have Laws and Practices and they have Human Rights Records and they have Cultures.

What do the Laws and Practices of Islamic Nations including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Name-Your-Stan, Tunisia, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc have in common?

Nearly all of the Islamic Nations have laws that condone and protect and even compel Female Genital Mutilation, execution or incarceration for being Gay, condoning and even protecting Abuse of women and children and much more.

Today’s Christianity…with the lone festering tumor of Uganda…does not do Religion in that Barbaric manner.

Sure, Christians may not want to bake you a cake or marry you in their church if you’re gay…but they don’t and won’t throw you in jail or cut your head off. The Majority of Islam will.

“Christians lynched blacks and gave us SLAVERY!”

Some did, and it was wrong. It was also Christians that ENDED Slavery and the Slave Trade…Abraham Lincoln was a devout Christian…so was William Wilberforce. A big Group of Christians stood against Slavery in the US…to the point they fought and died to help end its practice.

Who led the Civil Rights Movement in the US? Christians did. Martin Luther King Jr. and his millions of followers are largely Christians…white and black and brown.

Christianity has evolved tremendously. The Enlightenment was a pivotal epoch and Christianity changed and progressed along with it. Science’s greatest heroes and Stalwarts….many of them Christians. It gave me great pleasure (because I am fan of Irony) when Neil DeGrasse Tyson…in an effort to mock Christians…posted Sir Isaac Newton’s birthday instead of Jesus’s birthday of Christmas. Sir Isaac Newton was a devout Anglican Christian and a brilliant Scientist who believed that what he observed in Science proved the existence of an Intelligent Creator God. Thanks for the reminder DeGrasse-hole :-)

Islam needs to change….and it will only change when those within Islam stand up and resist the bad elements within their own Religion. Religion is not a book, it’s not a text on a page…just because the Bible or the Koran says some whacky and barbaric stuff doesn’t mean you have to do it.

Religion is what man decides through his Conscience and Spirit what his World View and his Cultural System and his Morals and his Laws and Practices are going to be.

In the “Who killed the most humans!” Game…let’s remember that Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, Che Guevara and many other Atheist/Communists and their Non-Religion World View and System killed more than Islam and Christianity….combined.

One thing I have extreme faith in: Humanity and all Human Philosophical Constructs…are capable of great Good and great Evil. Let’s hope that Islam evolves and repents of its current evil behavior and gets more in the Good category…like Christianity, Judaism, Atheism/Humanism and the other Ideologies have (in general).

Fellow Christians and Non-Christians…let’s continue to use our Critical Thinking Skills and Intellectual Honesty to hold Religions and Non-Religions accountable…that is healthy. Let’s also make correct analogies and give some credit where credit is due. Christianity isn’t perfect (and we discuss that regularly here)….but it is not akin to Islam. Would you rather live among Muslims in one of the many Islamic Nations…or would you rather live among Christians in the U.S. and Europe and big chunks of the rest of the World?

 Posted by at 12:21 pm
Jun 082014
Group dynamics, in all groups, require conformity most of all.

Group dynamics, in all groups, require conformity most of all.

Spiritual abuse or proper church discipline? Obedience and submission or rebellious spirit and trouble-making?

One thing many have in common on church abuse blogs is that most have been at odds with a particular church group and church leader/pastor…and were summarily shown the door, shunned, banned, moderated from participating with the church they once called home. This can be devastating for most. You lose friendships, family relationships, you’re called names like “troublemaker” and “instrument of the devil” and “not submissive” and “rebellious” etc. It hurts.

Pastors/leaders often feel justified in the particular banning as a proper form of church discipline….they are just “protecting the rest of the flock” as they say. Behind the scenes, often, it is the majority rules of that particular flock that is pressuring the particular pastor/leadership to deal with the dissenter or “troublemaker” and to deal with this individual or family once and for all.

From the perspective of the person being dealt with in such a manner…they feel they have done nothing wrong. They are simply trying to hold the particular pastor and/or leadership and/or church accountable for some perceived (real or imagined) wrong or injustice or inconsistency with a bible doctrine that needs to be remedied. The person takes their beef up the chain of command and when the pastor and/or leadership disagree…some sort of final judgment is finally made…often resulting in the particular person either “submitting” to the rules of the particular church group or facing expulsion.

“Spiritual abuse!”….or “church discipline for the good of the rest of the flock!”…depends (in general) on which side of that particular line you’re on.

Of course, there are many examples of clear wrongdoing by pastors and church leadership and there are clear cut structural wrongs within many church organizations. Let me be very clear that I am not questioning the reality and truth of “spiritual abuse” nor am I questioning the reality and truth of legitimate church abuses that need to be confronted and reformed. There are many many legit examples that are not mere “differences of opinion”….many of the stories and personalities who comment on this blog have very serious examples where churches and pastors crossed major lines. I’m referring to issues that are lower down the ladder….issues that also become “spiritual abuse” but from the other perspective are viewed as “protecting the rest of the flock” from a “troublemaker”. The line can sometimes be a fine line…sometimes it’s clear cut.

This issue is one that has peaked my curiosity for some time. I’ve observed the Group Dynamics of blog communities very much resembles that of a local church group.

Anytime a group of humans forms….there is a general dynamic that always occurs…this “Group Dynamic” is the sociological science that observes how those dynamics occur and how they generally play out in a group setting. It’s a fascinating area of study…one of my areas of interest since I was introduced to that science as part of my collegiate studies.

Blogs, like churches, take on a hierarchy over time. You have a central leader….the blog host…who becomes akin to the pastor. You have a “core group” of blog voices that participate regularly and contribute to the overall success of the blog as measured in comments and even sometimes in donating money or support…akin to regular church members who give regularly, volunteer to serve and serve as deacons or elders. The regulars in both groups support the pastor or blog host. They protect the pastor or blog host when outsiders come into the group and start “trouble”. The “good” church members and good core bloggers are generally very agreeable to the pastor’s rules and the blog host’s rules and they assume their particular roles within the group in protecting the group and the group leader…the group leader then protects the core group. It’s a very symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationship.

Then comes the outsider…the “troublemaker”…who doesn’t conform to the group’s written and unwritten rules. The person may have a particular beef with the pastor, a beef with how the church or blog does things, a beef with a key member of the core group, a beef with a particular doctrinal or philosophical position….and then there’s conflict and trouble.

The core group generally rallies around the particular irritant like white blood cells around an invading virus. Conflict ensues. The rules are asserted and then broken again…and the core group appeals to the pastor or blog host to deal with the “troublemaker” once and for all….usually after some sort of disciplinary efforts of confrontation, moderation, sanctions etc. When all else fails, the core group calls for the “troublemaker’s” head in the equivalent of the group dynamic’s death penalty: Banishment from the group!

The leader exacts the penalty. The “troublemaker” is eliminated. All is well again within the group.

I’ve been the “troublemaker”, I’ve been a member of the core group, I’ve been the leader. I’ve experienced legitimate church abuse, seen the real thing many times. I’ve been the legitimate target of group discipline when I didn’t follow the rules.  I’ve seen real “spiritual abuse” and fake. The distinctions can become blurred. Where is the line?

In the battles with Calvary Chapel, there are some clear-cut examples and many that may just be typical group dynamics in play where a person just doesn’t conform to the group consensus and bucks the norms there.

In blogging in many online communities…Christian, Atheist, Political, Economic, etc…I’ve noticed clear group dynamics in play…very consistent patterns, rules, core groups, leaders…and every group responds to “troublemakers” in a similar way. Is the “troublemaker” always the victim of “abuse” when they are shunned and banned even though they think they were right to buck the norm of a particular group and challenge its rules, its sacred cows and its leaders etc? Probably not.

Sometimes conformity is a requirement to be part of a group. Those who are non-conformists often have a difficult time remaining part of a group…whether it is a church, a blog, a club…whether it be Christian, Atheist, Liberal, Conservative, Libertarian, you name it. My observations from testing a broad range of groups is that they all tick the same, essentially. Conformity is the primary aspect of being a good and healthy group member.

My practical advice if you want to remain part of any group is this: Learn what the written and unwritten rules are. Learn who the core group members are and don’t challenge their authority within the group. Know the leader’s sacred cows and pet peeves and steer clear of pushing those buttons. Conform quickly and demonstrate submission to the core group members and leader….and slowly build trust with them. Over time, if you play by their rules…and if you pay your dues…you can become part of the core group…and then you can incrementally challenge some things in very small steps and progressions…and affect some small changes over time without arousing suspicion and getting kicked out.

Personally, I am largely a non-conformist and I have a rebellious streak…more due to my abusive high-control upbringing, out of principle and due to my ability to see beyond the surface that blinds most folks with regards to systems of Control. Most have no clue as to the dynamics in play and are rather confused when they find themselves at odds with another professing group of Christians (or insert your particular group here). Much of the time it is not anything spiritual at all….it is simply group dynamics. The folks violated the dynamic and most don’t even know what happened until they’re kicked out. The easiest explanation, often, is “abuse!”…when in fact, it’s simple non-conformity and part of what you’ll face in any group if you don’t notice the rules and don’t get in line.

I know when I’m bucking the group and when I’m going along. I’m rarely surprised. You have to make the personal choice: Do you want to fit in and be a part of this group?

Some don’t want to fit into a group…there are legitimate troublemakers…the internet era has identified them as “trolls”….these are serial non-conformists who like conflict and controversy and exhibit the “dark tetrad” from a psychological perspective…they are akin to sadists who enjoy hurting people through their words. You see these sorts of folks in online forums as well as in physical church groups. There are also folks who like to test their disagreement within a group they disagree with…you see this with atheists participating in Christian forums…and Christians participating in atheist forums….liberals and conservatives in political forums, etc. Sometimes there are folks who are just socially unaware and can’t gauge the dynamics and step in it seemingly every time they try to become part of a group. I once thought there was some sort of “right” and righteous Christian ideal in play…an ideal that trumped the humanness….an ideal that grace was to be given to the worst of the offenders.

There is no pure ideal in play. There is no truly free grace, not within any group. Conformity is the price one must pay.

I’ve conducted some social experiments to see if there was some sort of truly free grace ideal that truly existed…if there truly was some sort of spiritual ideal that trumped human group dynamics. I can confidently report to you: No, there is no spiritual ideal that trumps human group dynamics. There is no Christian “grace” for troublemakers who don’t go with the flow. I even tried to hold a principled line on this blog…wow, I was proven wrong in spades. Matthew Perri shows up and disrupts the group here…everyone reacts adversely to Matthew’s behavior and calls for his moderation or banning….that this isn’t a safe place, I’m not doing my job as a leader to protect the fold, I’m not being just, etc.

Groups like their status quo, they like their rules, they like conformity. Groups want a King to enforce it. There is no spiritual ideal that turns the other cheek and administers blind grace even to the most irritating non-conformist. There are rules. There is a hierarchy. There are sacred cows. There is a symbiotic relationship between the core group and the leader. There is a control structure that expects conformity. Get on board, or get out.

The consensus Christian gospel message is the same: Conform…or go to hell. Grace is earned through conformity. Conformity is required to be in the group.

That’s the truth as I currently know it with regards to this issue after much testing and hashing out.

 Posted by at 2:14 pm