Aug 172012

I’ve been following Julie Anne Smith’s story for awhile. She was sued by her former Pastor, Chuck O’Neal of Beaverton Grace Bible Church, for defamation after she began addressing her negative experiences with the church and leadership in online reviews and even a blog dedicated to the issues.

I first became aware of Smith’s story over at: 

In a nutshell, O’Neal and BGBC sued Smith and some others for $500,000 for “defamation”. Smith believed, rightly, that she had not only the legal right but also the obligation to report on abuses she experienced, witnessed and was reported to with regards to O’Neal’s church and methodology and practice, etc.

The Oregon Judge agreed with Smith and dismissed the suit and awarded her attorney’s fees to be paid for by the Plaintiff.

See the news article here:

See Smith’s blog BGBC Survivors and the article where she announces her court victory with the details of the ruling and award of attorney’s fees here:

Word on the street is Bob Grenier and Calvary Chapel may be planning some sort of defamation lawsuit.

Two words: Bring it.

I would love the opportunity to defend my Free Speech rights, bring much needed attention to the serious issues that need to be dealt with in Calvary Chapel, but also to prove what I believe to be true in a Court that isn’t biased against those bringing the accusations.

 Posted by at 12:58 pm

  94 Responses to “Huge legal victory for Free Speech and Church Abuse bloggers”

  1. Looks like the good folks at the Wartburg Watch may allow me to tell our story. Prayers appreciated.

  2. As one of the regular denizens who comment over at TWW, I can assure you that you will get a fair hearing. The ladies of TWW are not afraid of playground bullies in whatever guise they cloak themselves. It is also my fervent prayer to the Great Spirit (I’m Native American) that those who might seek to harm you even more through the courts, get knocked on their asses in court.

  3. This is awesome to hear about.I saw this on a different news source months ago.I bet the abusapastor is really rankled that his authority has been given the smack down,and he has fork up all the cash to pay for the court cost and seedy lawyers……………………….Have great day Alex …

  4. I guess I amswered my own Q to Chuck S at the othe thread.
    These women are brave, and they had much to go on.
    I read their blog months ago and thought…wow..

    Alex-Will pray for this. What happened to that documentary from last year? Anything?

  5. Muff, thanks for that input.

    TWW has a great reputation and they are one of the best blogs I’ve seen in that space.

    They’ve already received some pressure to not deal with CC…that didn’t take long…but from what I’ve learned of Dee and Deb, they won’t succumb to CC pressure to suppress the abuse issues.

  6. Blessed, yes, it was great to see.

    Hannah, there are two different folks who have discussed a documentary…one is very well-known and has covered CC stuff before…I was hoping he’d do one and he was interested at first…however he is less inclined now as he took a lot of heat for the last one he did that was perceived as critical of CC. I don’t think he’s moving forward with another one now, or if he does it will probably be more of a broader look at the Chuck Smith/CC history…which would bring up some of the issues we’re dealing with, but would be much less about the abuse issues. I’m not sure if the other person is going to be able to follow through on it or not. As of today, my best guess is there won’t be one now.

  7. Alex, almost a 1000 hits in 24 hours… your’re making a difference and people are waking up!

  8. guru, thanks.

    I think The Wartburg Watch is going to shine a lot of light on all this as well. Great opportunity to address the issues over there.

  9. BG would be a fool to attempt to sue anyone for defamation– it seems the skeletons in his closet would begin flying out beyond his sense of control and desire to see them come forth!

  10. “The Oregon Judge agreed with Smith and dismissed the suit and awarded her attorney’s fees to be paid for by the Plaintiff.”

    Pastor: but she called me all kinds of names and hurt my reputation in the commune-ity and thus affected my ability to get over on people to make money off them… (waa…! waa…!! insert cry baby hysterics here)

    Judge: well, are the names and stories true?

    Pastor’s Attorney steps to the mic: (echoed feedback…) ah, sir… ah, we don’t think that’s ah … relevant to these proceedings, but ah… yes, it ah… seems to be ah… irrefutable given the amout of evidence and ah… records we have been given ah… so we ah….. (speaking in a low whispery voice that only resonates for dogs and ah… attorneys 🙂 )….
    …we stipulate….

    Judge (thundering from the bench, like a cop late for a doughnut sale at Dunkin’ D’s): Then why are we still here? Get the **** out of my courtroom and “Treat Your People Right or get out of the Pulpit!!!”

    (no actual doughnuts were injured in the enactment of this scene)
    (fully approved and sponsored by, for a nominal fee of course, the PETDA -people eating tasty doughnuts association)


  11. LOL 😆

  12. Andy G said, “BG would be a fool….”

    He is a fool, unfortunately.

  13. alex,

    do you think pastor o’neal’s name was ‘richard’ in a previous incarnation?

  14. MiC, LOL.

    He’d be King Richard, but that is reserved for BG.

  15. @BbG #3

    The pastor won’t have to pay for anything, that’s your tithe money at work in modern day churches.

  16. alex,

    how ’bout we start referring to BG as ‘BM’? we could help him move his way around the cycle of samsara quicker…

  17. Hi there – I saw hits on my blog coming from this site and had to check out the action. I am so glad that my case got all of the media attention because it is a precedent-setting case for all pastors who think they can get away with trying to control people and their right to free speech. I’ve been hearing stories of CC for years.

    I’m thinking of putting up a dedicated blog post specifically for pastors which will include all of the court documents so they can decide for themselves if they want to make themselves look like fools by suing church members or former church members. I think I’ll document all of the costs involved, the time involved, etc.

    In a defamation case, the plaintiffs have the obligation to prove that the alleged defamatory phrase(s) was an intentional lie and also that it was done with malice (intent to harm). That is extremely difficult to prove. In my case, none of the phrases were shown to be an intentional lie, so the judge didn’t even have to check the next level – to see if there was any malice on my part or not.

    The reality is – what I said was true and my intent was always to expose the truth. Amen and Praise God that the judge could easily see that my words were protected speech.

    Feel free to contact me if you have ?? My blog is now more general in nature and covers all spiritual abuse/recovery, etc. If you have something to contribute, please feel free to send me a note: ~Julie Anne

  18. Julie Anne

    You are one brave lady! God Bless you!

  19. Julie Anne, you are my hero. I admire what you’ve done. God bless you!

    Thank you for blazing a tough trail. That must’ve been quite a gut check at the time. You’re a very strong person. Appreciate your input here and look forward to that online resource.

    I will refer folks to your site for healing/help. I’m not good at that. I’m better at addressing the problems/abuses.

  20. Right on, JulieAnne! It’s time pastors start learning what Jesus intended them to be– not the pulpit idols and celebrities they want to be!

  21. Thanks, Hannah, Andy, and Alex, for your kind words.

    Alex – Your job is so important. Sometimes people will sit in their churches for years having a gut feeling that something is not quite right and are afraid to question or make the move. That is why people like you exposing the truth is so helpful. Thank YOU!

    The first week or so until I found my attorney was gut-wrenching. After that, God sustained me. I didn’t worry about the $500K anymore. I had amazing support. My closest friend, Michelle (whose husband was fired from his job at that church), heard from me sometimes multiple times a day. I also had support behind the scenes from Dee and Deb (Wartburg Watch blog), and so many others who have experienced spiritual abuse and knew this could be an historic case. During that time, the idea of winning the case didn’t really concern me; the pressing effort was using the opportunity granted by the media to expose spiritual abuse – not just in my church, but the universal church. This is a huge problem and we are not alone. I wasn’t planning on having this “ministry”, but Someone else had different plans 🙂

    I thank God for the media attention given to the lawsuit because it allowed the whole world (people from all over the world contacted me, NZ, Australia, S. Africa, UK, Germany, The Netherlands, etc) to hear about one of the church’s best kept secrets: spiritual abuse. There was also a surprising outpouring of support from people who call themselves atheists. The common story I heard from atheists was they left the church after a bad experience and never returned. Come on, people, what does that tell you?!

    Alex – keep going, brother. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to support you.

  22. From Julie Annes Blog:

    Julie-Hope I am allowed to paste from your blog. I know others have said that it is wrong before you ask the blogger (But I’m sure it’s OK ;))

    In a controlling church, it is impossible to leave on good terms. Because the pastor’s sense of worth is usually based on the control he is able to exert over the congregation, when someone leaves, this insecure leader considers it an affront to his leadership. Therefore he often takes it personally. As a result, when people do leave, they are labeled rebellious, or the rest of the congregation is given the explanation that they left because they had become offended.

    In an unhealthy church, there is never a good reason why anyone should leave. Regardless of the situation, the people who leave are always the “problem.”

    I also find it to be true that this is not only the case when someone leaves, but when someone is forced to leave because the Pastor/leadership will not face a conflict that they know they are wrong about, so events are turned around and someone is forced to leave BECAUSE of the insecurities of the Pastor in facing the truth. The same dynamics of being labeled “rebellious” or in my case “not submissive to leadership”, and basically lies about the situation to paint the person who left as a troublemaker or apostate. The same insecurities, just in one instance the person leaves on their own, and the other a situation is manipulated FOR the person to leave.

    The true test of leadership is whether the Pastor/leadership deals with conflict in a biblical manne with the sheep, or else resorting to lies and manipulation of the truth to make Himself look good, in spite of Him clearly being in the wrong.

  23. Absolutely fine, Hannah 🙂

    What I find in so many abusive church situations is pastors/leaders seem to think they are exempt from their own conflict. If there is conflict, it is coming from the sheep who are creating the problem. In our situation, the elders never had any occasion to bring up any issue (even minor) to our pastor in the 10+ years he was there (we asked). Wow, a sinless pastor? Fo real? ::::red flag:::: These are the same pastors who preach humility, using their own stories to demonstrate humility ::::blech:::: and never apologize.

    Hannah, most likely your pastor is whatever he labeled you. They are masterful at projection.

  24. Julie Anne and Hannah,

    The so-called pastor loved calling everyone who was ousted or left, “Backbiters.” He had no qualms about going before the congregation to call them such– sure does seem awfully wrong and at odds with the idea of love covering a multitude of sins, doesn’t it? Especially, since that’s the card they like to play when it’s their own sin being confronted.

    CC pastor in sermon to congregants:

    “Love covers a multitude of sin… hmmm…. Mine, yes. Yours? Not so much, since I’m God’s anointed.”

  25. Julie Anne, thanks 🙂

    Great having your input. I linked your blog on the left blogroll. I hope folks here will visit your site. You have a gift at helping people.

    It’s amazing how similar the tactics are across denominational lines. Hearing you and the others describe things…it’s giving me flashbacks to watching behind-the-scenes as a PK (Pastor’s Kid) and then experiencing the other side of it when I confronted the abuse in our home.

  26. What’s especially frustrating with Calvary Chapel is that it’s maximum church discipline and OT Law and fire and brimstone for those the Calvary Chapel Senior Pastor deems as a “troublemaker” etc…and MAXIMUM grace and pretty much antinomianism when it comes to dealing with the CC Senior Pastor and his sinfulness and wrongdoing.

  27. I see Andy G said, it much better and more succinctly here:

    ““Love covers a multitude of sin… hmmm…. Mine, yes. Yours? Not so much, since I’m God’s anointed.””


  28. Hey Alex: Thanks for the blogroll link (I’ve reciprocated). I can feel comfortable here as well as SGMSurvivors where I used to be a regular when I was learning about my own spiritual abuse. The abuse stories are so similar, just change the pastor’s names and the pastors use the same control tactics, same Bible verses for their authority, same discipline methods. I joke on my blog that all spiritual abusers seem to have graduated with honors from Creepy Spiritual Abuse School (CSAS) because they all act the same way.

    I loved reading your “two words: bring it”. It reminded me of a conversation I had this week with a guy who has supported me behind the scenes since I first was sued. He told me he was very jealous that I got sued – lol. I completely understand and don’t tell anyone, but I was just a bit miffed that there wasn’t some court confusion causing a need to appeal. I wouldn’t mind the prolonged media exposure to highlight spiritual abuse.

    I don’t know anything about BG, but if he’s acts like a narcissist, it wouldn’t matter whether there was a legal precedent or not because narcissists think they are above everything. You may still get your day in court.

    So you’re a PK. I’m sure you have interesting stories. Do you have your story posted anywhere?

  29. Just reviewed Julie Smith material and the comments made on this site. Hooray for her and the body of Christ in her neck of the woods.

    Some things I just can’t share right now. But I can say this, the biggest weapon that any abuser will use is that of silencing their victim through terrorizing, tyrannizing, discrediting, intimidantion, misuse of authority, by proxy, legally, slandering, starvation, deprivation, and even murdering the body, mind, and spirit.

  30. Linda,

    Always remember that no one can murder your Spirit.
    Jesus purchased that for you at the cross, and you are His.

    I understand the intimidation, and the warfare against the enemy.
    But the battle has already been won, and we may not see it in this lifetime, but will experience the joy and peace of living with the Lord in perfect harmony with other believers eternally. This is the blessed hope that we have. Not in anything here on earth, but a future hope. My focus needs to be on this truth, to keep the focus off of what the enemy is doing, and instead focus on what God is doing, even though I may not see it now. It is all for an eternal purpose and mysteries that are His alone to know.

  31. Linda – I hear you. I remember the adrenaline rush when I clicked publish for the new blog. I knew I was entering a bigger battle field. Silencing is the biggest weapon because they know if they do not have control over people’s words, their big secret is out and they are being exposed – like being naked before the world. They have no control over the internet. It should scare them. Funny thing, though, pastors who are preaching God, shepherding people in humility and care – they don’t seem to be afraid of exposure. There is nothing to hide.

    Somewhere down the road – and it probably happened after my daughter left the home abruptly abandoning her faith – I didn’t care anymore. I realized that it’s not about my life, but the lives, more specifically, the souls of so many who have become “victims” of spiritual abuse.

    I don’t consider myself a hero or brave as some have said. I’m an mom who is angry at abuse. I’ve been abused my whole childhood, but when you mess with my kid, you’ve crossed the lines. We wouldn’t be afraid to call out someone who raped our child, why should we be afraid to call out someone who we believe has raped their soul?

  32. RE: Julie Anne Smith @ #22,

    Many Christians will not listen to their gut instincts because they’ve been indoctrinated to believe that their guts inherit nothing of the divine, but only corruption and wickedness.

    I no longer subscribe to this view. I now see it as a lie from the father of lies. He hates us humans with hatred cruel because we were made a little lower than him and yet crowned with glory and honour.

  33. Julie,

    I haven’t spent enough time on your blog but I can relate to “messing with my kids”.
    I was able to tolerate abuse from Pastors, leadership, etc.
    When it hit my kids at the church school, at first I thought it was spiritual warfare and that was to be expected, and being involved in a moms prayer group, I began to pray asking the Lord to remove the leadership that He did not want there.
    The entire group of moms turned on me (because their experience was not what mine was) and said”How dare you pray that way?!”. That was my first attack. I thought it normal to encounter the enemy at every turn, because that was what was happening. Every situation seemed to be handled incorrectly. It was unbelievable. The most simple things…situations that a heathen would know was wrong, was happening. I tried to go behind the scenes and get Chrisitan movies into the school. Thought God had planted me know “for such a time as this”. I could tell you story after story.
    I just did not want to believe that the person who stood at the pulpit and portrayed one persona, could be the one that became revealed to me. So I fought. In the edn, the school tried to drive us out because of what I was revealing that was actually HELPING them, but they couldnt see it. And then He removed us. I still dont know if from the beginning He wanted us out, or he used me there to some degree. I have to believe He allowed what happened to open my eyes, because I was blinded by admiration to a man and a system. To this day thousands worship the man and the church. And hundreds get baptized and supposedly saved every month. So if there is any issues, people say IN SPITE of it God is using that church. I have a hard time with this.

    I dont know what happened to your daughter but mine was hurt very badly, and then the situation was covered up with lies. Same with my son. I think they now have discernment, although they are kind of lukewarm..well, my son… and I know God uses all things to mold and shape us. Praying that is the case with your daughter and she returns to Him.

  34. Hannah – You discovered what I discovered – the person behind the pulpit sometimes shows character completely different when outside the pulpit. It is so important to look at the evidence of fruit in one’s life.

  35. Julie Anne and Hannah…big amen.

    What I personally witnessed growing up as a CC Pastor’s Kid (watching Bob Grenier my step-dad) was exactly as you describe. Nice (mostly) in public…a cunning shark and very violent and temper prone and authoritarian behind the scenes. Very abusive, physically, mentally, verbally, spiritually, emotionally.

  36. Alex will attest to this, I am an evolution affirming I E there is a great deal of evidence that supports the Theory’s validity, old earth ( even more evidence way more evidence), no literal flood, even more evidence denying that event. I could list websites, so can the other side, but I will point out that there is no controversy among the science disciplines about any aspects of these positions. Of course I would chuck all this, being the coward I am, for just a moment of the peace the other side preaches. But that is an unreasonable expectation and I get that. Why did I go to pheonixpreacher, because Michael cared about me, I appreciated that, another sin I should not have committed. Micheal and the PP thought about people like me and gave us a forum to express ourselves, even if we were / are heretics.

    I mean I am an evolutionary believing universalist, that is about as far outside the vale of orthodoxy one can get. But Michael always loved me and I him and his. I held on to my faith with my fingernails with a slim string of hope. Which goes to show my total apostasy. I true follower never doubts, never questions, is always effective, efficient and an over comer. Always. I get that part of the good news, which it is not and never has been, but I get it.

    You see we need hope and that is our sin, Hope. A true follower of Christ would never need that, ever no matter what. I know for a fact I am not the only one that sees this, I know that. You want to hear something really pathetic, all I ever want to do was serve the Risen Christi, how pathetic is that?

  37. I can personally vouch for brian 🙂

    He’s one of my favorite cyber-friends from PP. His perspective has always resonated with me. The more I learned about his personal story and life, the more I liked him (and like him). He’s got a great heart.

    Love you man (brian). I mean that.

    In my opinion, brian is not an ideologue, he’s a truth seeker and is extremely sincere, despite his gift (I think it’s a gift 🙂 ) of mild sarcasm.

    I am a big Science buff / fan / follower, and I have many Atheist / Skeptic friends. I have a heart for these folks.

    brian is a skeptic, but he is no Atheist, not by a long shot. I have questioned my faith in the past, I still have lots of questions. There was a time where the circumstances I was dealt in life were a catalyst for looking deeper into things as I just couldn’t believe God was true after experiencing what I did in the “church” from Pastors and Elders.

    I’ve had a resurfacing of doubt with the disillusionment with how Chuck Smith handled our situation. I had faith it would get resolved in a right manner if I just got to meet the Wizard of Oz.

    It was a huge disappointment and it shook me for a bit.

    What it did was removed another Idol and destroyed another myth about “church” and Leaders.

    However, my faith in God is still intact, and strangely, it’s been strengthened in a way I didn’t expect.

    brian, you are always welcome here and I personally want to thank you for all you’ve shared here and at PP. Your input always helps me in an outside-the-box way.

  38. “Whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”- Wilhelm Neitzche

    Had to look this up as this came into my mind after Alex’s post.
    I didnt know this man was an athiest, but it is exactly what the Bible teaches.

  39. alex, i agree
    idols are meant to be crushed, broken and discarded. whether that’s a pice of rock formed, a false concept of who and what God is. or a ‘once great and well thought of’ father figure…

    the link and similarity in them all is that they all interpose themselves between the true God and the people He loved SO MUCH that He sent Jesus to die on a cruel cross and rise TRIUMPHANTLY from a cold garden tomb… just for them. just for us.

    anything that keeps you from THAT kind of love and acceptance and yet demands your devotion and loyalty is NOT worthy.

    at some point, we all have to turn from the false, and accept the true… peace and rest comes from that turning and acceptance. Jesus is there.

  40. The thing about spiritual abuse that makes me most upset is how a man uses his power for his own benefit and sometimes resulting in someone else having a crisis of faith.

    Brian – I’m new here and don’t know your story, but I don’t think everyone has a perfect faith. I sure don’t. Sometimes I have a very hard time hearing God, believing that He loves me, that His grace is sufficient for me. Some of that difficulty stems from childhood abuse, but some also probably has to do with the spiritual abuse from church leaders who misrepresented Christ – I hear their words in my mind. One thing I have learned through my recent experience is that God has met me, has brought people into my life and cared for me, has shown me His love in such real ways when I was at very low points. When I have doubts, I have to cling to what I have seen Him do.

    BTW – I have issues with forums who won’t allow “heretics”. That’s not very Christian. Some people had the gall to tell me I shouldn’t be friendly with atheists when they expressed support to me for my lawsuit. Say what? Guess what, some of those atheists were former church attenders who were burned by pastors. I will always have room for anyone who has been hurt. Period. If God doesn’t reject them, who am I to reject them? Give me a break. JA rant over 🙂

  41. Brian, re;#37

    I do not hold any credit for knowledge of, or doctrine of, Religion, nor do I claim to be a normally intelligent commoner. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am likable, but somewhat strange. I personally believe that my viewed strangeness comes from others observing my tangible inner self testing my own understanding of my non-tangible inner self, in order to try and figure out what I really believe and who I really am. My reason for saying this is because I sense the same in some degree of strangeness in you . If I am wrong please forgive me.

    You stated, ..” You see we need hope and that is our sin, Hope. A true follower of Christ would never need that, ever no matter what. I know for a fact I am not the only one that sees this, I know that. You want to hear something really pathetic, all I ever want to do was serve the Risen Christi, how pathetic is that?

    (..all I ever want to do was serve the Risen Christ) First and foremost, that is NOT “pathetic”. In fact it is the answer to your own question about yourself. You did not just say “Christ” you said “the risen Christ”. The main point lies in the way you define “Hope” and “Follower of Christ”. Actually the definition of hope is not as important as what one is hoping for. I will address “Hoping” for the tangible self to be correct in understanding the non-tangible “follower of Christ” self. I think that you will agree that a follower of Christ is a disciple of Christ. The Biblical disciples of Christ were both followers of the pre-risen Christ and the after-risen Christ. The two separate time periods showed two separate methods of being a follower/disciple. They were weak in the pre-risen state and strong in the after-risen state. Next is to address the fact of what one is referring to by “After-risen” (Tangible or non-tangible). The tangible “After-risen” is ones human self being alive after the death of Christ. The non-tangible “After-risen” is one’s own thought of existence with Christ after they will die themselves. Again the difference is the Biblical two types of disciples of both being before and after Christ is raised. When they were with Christ before being with the risen Christ they were week; when they were with Christ after He had risen they were strong. In my own opinion, we will always be weak followers until we are tangibly with the risen Christ and become strong.

    My last thing to address is the word “Strong”. Strong about what? Strong in “being a follower of Christ”. In this tangible, human life we will always be weak because we do not live tangibly with the risen Christ. But by being a follower as the disciples were when Christ lived as a human is the best we can do as a human. When we die and live tangibly with the risen Christ, we will become a REAL follower with power, strength and confidence.

    Just remember we will always be a follower (or not), we will never be HIM. But as long as we follow Him we will always have Hope to be with Him. If we do not follow Him there is absolutely NO Hope that we will be with Him. To “hope” in being with Him is understanding we are not worth it. The only tangible place to find out how to be with Him is to look at the Bible where He tangibly put in writing His answer of how to be with Him. (KJV John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the father, but by me.) Believing the previous verse is not Hope, it is believing in Christ’s promise to His followers. The tangible proof of Jesus being a real person is simply observed by our method of recording time by years, they are years either before or after Jesus was real. That is tangible enough for me.

    God bless you,

  42. Julie Anne, I apologize for breaking away from thread.

  43. Brian #37 & Paul Lytton #42 – Brian, I agree with Paul completely. In fact, after reading your post, I thought to myself, “Hmm, from what Brian has written, he must be a Christian but just does not know it yet.”

  44. rick
    “he must be a Christian but just does not know it yet.”

    what does that even mean?

  45. Mike,

    “he must be a Christian but just does not know it yet.” Means that he is more that likely going to become Christian becaue he has more qualities than he is aware of. Did you really not know that?

    God bless you,

  46. Paul, this is ridiculous. Without Christ we are not a Christian. You don’t become a Christian because of good qualities in ourselves. Its precisely the opposite, we come to Christ because we realize we are desperate without him.

  47. paul,

    i appreciate the attempt to explain what rick was saying, but i think there may be more to it that what you’ve said. i’m still not sure what rick meant. i have an idea, but didn’t want to put words in his mouth,

    so again… rick,
    “he must be a Christian but just does not know it yet.”

    what does that even mean?

  48. Andrew, re#47

    We appear to be talking about two different things. We do not become a Christian because we realize we are desperate without Him. That is how we are saved. We become a Christian because we follow His ways both physically and mentally. That is why I believe their were Christians before Jesus manisfested as a human. All of the Old Testiment greats had a character of being Christ like. Although Christ was not yet human Jesus, He was still there with them noticing their walk. That in fact is another form of being a Christian and not knowing it.

    God bless you,

  49. Just to be clear … Brian knows the power of the Gospel. It appears he writes tongue-in-cheek and makes some very poignant points about some of the negative things Evangelical Christianity can communicate to people.

    A word to the wise … I’d listen carefully to Brian’s message, because he has a way of exposing the wrong in what we often overlook in Evangelical Christianity.

  50. Paul,

    First. I would be careful about making a distinction between being saved and being a Christian. I believe they are one and the same in the new covenant that we now live in.

    Second. I would also becareful in your understanding of old testiment saints. You appear to be making an argument that old testiment saints were Christian based on their walk. I would say no to that. I believe old testament saints were “saved” by Christ alone through faith alone although they saw dimly which we now see clearly.

  51. Grateful, very good point.

  52. Paul, i really have to disagree.

    the bible declares that we are not christians because we ‘act like Christ’. we are christians because we have accepted the death, resurrection, and new life of Jesus as our own… then it is lived out in and thru us. no, there were no christians ‘before’ Christ died, rose, and poured out the Holy Spirit.

    acting and living in a ‘christian way’ doesn’t make someone christian. it may infact be the greatest ‘innoculation’ in the world to true salvation and Christian Life (which is no less than Christ’s life in and thru us). it’s easy for men to be ‘religious’ and have enough ‘outward’ show to fool those only looking for ‘morality’.

    could it be that ‘many’ who have ordered their lives this way have never truly accepted Christ? could it be that some of these are professional pastors and ministers but without the benefit of ‘true’ christian character that only comes as a fruit of the Spirit and a result of salvation?

    if living in morality and being a good person is the mark of a christian, then i can understand how ‘you’ would say someone could ‘be’ a christian without knowing it. however, the bible doesn’t support your definition and I still don’t think that’s what rick meant.

  53. Paul,

    Just to drive home my point number 2 above a little more clearer about faith alone. I reference Rahab from the Old Testament. She made it into the Hall of Faith in the New Testament.

    By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

    I don’t think Rahab would be considered someone with a sparkling walk but I do believe she had faith and I expect to see her in Heaven someday.

  54. Andrew, re#51

    I beg to differ. There is a huge difference between being a Christian and being saved. Matt 12: 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

    Is this not in reference to the new covenant?

    Second, Why do you believe that the “walk” in being Christ like is not having faith in Christ?

  55. Paul,

    This passage doesn’t even refer to the word “Christian” and second even if it did there is a big difference between being a professing Christian and a true Christian just as there is a big difference between professing to being “saved” and to truly being saved. In the Bible I believe the terms disciples, Christian and “being saved” all seem to be synonymous. I agree that many people using these terms may only be professing and not possessing.

  56. Paul,

    Now to address your second point. If being Christ like was the standard for faith than no one would make it. We all fall short. None of us would make it. Try, try and try as hard as you would like and we will never measure up to Christ’s standard which is perfection. This is why being Christ like is not the same as faith. Yes, we are being conformed into the image of Christ after we become Christians but we fall short miserably every second of every minute of every year and none of us will ever be saved if this is the method to salvation.

  57. brian,

    if you are out there… the point of my comment to rick was not to challenge or question or doubt the sincerity of your faith. that is obviously between you and God. i trust that you are on ‘speaking terms’ as it were. 🙂 no offense intendedjust in case there was recieved. keep on pluggin’ away.

  58. Andrew RE: #56,

    I agree with you 100% about a “true” Christian/Disciple being saved. However, I also believe that this is only developed in stages from the heathen. My original point was that Brian is not a heathen. Nor is he yet a Christian but he is closer to becoming a Christian than he thinks. Mainly because he seems to know how a true Christian should act. This can be a first step in becoming a follower of Christ.

    God bless you,

  59. paul,
    “My original point was that Brian is not a heathen. Nor is he yet a Christian but he is closer to becoming a Christian than he thinks”

    good of you chap to ‘affirm’ for brian that he’s not a heathen. i’m sure he’s just been waiting for someone with so little personal knowledge of him to ‘validate’ his life… (insert sarky smirk here)
    but …brian’s ‘not’ a christian either? and you know this and make this declaration how?
    so, …you ‘become’ a christian over time and without necessarily ‘knowing it’?

    wow, i gotta wrap my brain around that for a bit.

  60. Paul,
    Basically my point is you can appear to be infinitesimally close to Christ but in reality until you have a relationship with Christ and are regenerated you are actually light years away from God. With this in mind no man can boast no matter how outstanding of a person you are.

    I don’t see the stages to becoming a Christian as you see it. Consider the example of the apostle Paul who wrote half of the New Testament. He went from persecuting Christians to becoming one literally instantaneously when he was struct down with blindness on the road to Demascus.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am not against God working in a person’s heart over time to convert someone but it has nothing to do with a moralistic piety on our part to do good but rather its genuine faith that God gives us to believe.

    Now my question to Brian is. What is stopping you from believing the good news?

  61. RE: my 59,

    Instead of Brian “…is closer to becoming a Christian than he thinks. Mainly because he seems to know how a true Christian should act.

    I should have said that Brian is closer to becoming a Christian than he thinks. Mainly because he seems to know how a true Christian should act AND WANTS TO BE LIKE THAT.


  62. Mike, RE: #60

    I in no way assumed anything about Brian except what he wrote, “I am an evolutionary believing universalist, that is about as far outside the vale of orthodoxy one can get”. He also said, “You want to hear something really pathetic, all I ever want to do was serve the Risen Christi, how pathetic is that?”

    This indicates that he does not consider himself as a Christian. I also believe he understood me much better than you did. If not, I honestly apologize.

    I apologize to everyone if I offended ANYONE. My intention was to encourage a possible confused brother in his step towards feeling good about wanting to be a Christian. I guess you guys are far above me in knowing what being a Christian is. I will now bow out and beg forgiveness.

    God bless you,

  63. Paul,

    I hope its clear to Brian that being a true Christian is one because of “belief” and faith. I reference the gospel of John who wrote these things so that we would believe. Without faith its impossible to please God as written in the book of Hebrews.

  64. Paul @ 63 you wrote: ” My intention was to encourage a possible confused brother in his step towards feeling good about wanting to be a Christian”.

    Paul, if someone wants to feel good about wanting to be a Christian then encourage that person to believe but until they do believe, what makes you think they are a brother? Christianity is not some religion that you can morph it into whatever you want it to be. That is ridiculous.

  65. “I guess you guys are far above me in knowing what being a Christian is. I will now bow out and beg forgiveness.”

    ‘beg forgiveness.’ now that was brian-esque. 🙂 however the apology, if it even was more than defensive swipe, was really not necessary. we are, as are all humans, in the same boat when it comes to needing what Christ is giving. we all stand on level ground at the foot of the cross and submitted to His Word as to what salvation is and the meaning of being a christian.

    still curious about what rick meant though…

  66. Andrew RE: # 65

    “..but until they do believe, what makes you think they are a brother?”
    I believe they are a brother because Jesus believed they were His Children. I fully understand those children were not saved yet but Jesus still treated them as such but taking the good news to the gentiles.

    Many of you are pastors (although I do not know which ones are) and I am just a strange commoner. I repeat my #63 “I guess you guys are far above me in knowing what being a Christian is. I will now bow out and beg forgiveness.”

    God bless you,

  67. nah, come on paul,

    you can be honest. don’t play the ‘ignorant commoner’ card ..i know you want to say it… why do you think that they were His children ‘before’ they believed?…

  68. Paul,

    Wow, I am just scratching my head in total amazement with what you are saying. So you can be his children but not “saved”? Wow, all I can say is wow.

  69. Brian #37 & Mike 366 – From what Brian had written, I suggested that “he must be a Christian but does not know it yet.” This is consistent with the Protestant Reformation thought which holds that each Christian is elect and predestined to salvation before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-5; Eph 1:11, Rom 8:29). In this case, Brian could very well be elect but not know it yet.

  70. Mike @# 68,

    You do not know anything at all about me. Why do you not believe that a Christian (myself) cannot honestly be humble? Were we not instructed by Jesus Himself to be humble?

    You also said, “..i know you want to say it…”…..Say What??

    Regarding, “why do you think that they were His children ‘before’ they believed?…”. Because all of us (human beings) are His children. That is why He willingly went to the cross. I admit that we may be His children but He is not our father until we accept being His child.

    Nah, come on Mike. Surely you know this.

    Alex, you know a little about me, am I that off base?
    God bless you,

  71. Rick @ 70

    First the protestant reformation was about sola fide (faith alone). Lets get that straight Second, I believe the only way to know if someone is elect or not is when they respond to the gospel. If they respond they are elect. If they don’t respond than we don’t know. They may or may not accept the Lord. But if they don’t accept the Lord and believe in Him before they die, I believe time has run out. (Hebrews 9:27) I plead with Brian to believe because the Lord is good and time is running out..

  72. My #71 is for Andrew too.

  73. Paul @ 68 wrote:

    Regarding, “why do you think that they were His children ‘before’ they believed?…”. Because all of us (human beings) are His children. That is why He willingly went to the cross. I admit that we may be His children but He is not our father until we accept being His child.

    Paul, this really isn’t biblical language. If it was than what does being born again mean to you? Jesus said we must be born again. If Jesus views everyone as his brother and as his children than there would be no need for us to be born again. We are born again into a new spiritual family of which we can speak of the brethren.

  74. I meant Paul @ 71 not 68.

  75. rick, @70

    thanks for the straight skippy. i thought that’s what you meant, but didn’t want to put words in your mouth. i don’t agree with you on the election thingy, but thx again for being honest in your reasoning. i thought it might be the whole “regenerated first in order to be able to believe/ believe because you are already regenerated” reasoning.
    just wasn’t sure and i wanted to give you opportunity to elaborate.

  76. Mike and Andrew,

    For some reason I feel that you disagree with me somewhat like the Pharisees disagreed with the other commoners then. They used Legalistic knowledge, without consideration of application of it to the common person’s language and understanding. Jesus even let them know that by doing so they missed the point.

    God Bless You,

  77. ah paul,
    “You do not know anything at all about me. Why do you not believe that a Christian (myself) cannot honestly be humble? Were we not instructed by Jesus Himself to be humble?”
    was ‘that’ a humble way to respond? your freudian slip is showing…

    i think we all can tell the difference between a person ‘being’ humble and ‘showing’ humility in the way you did …

    “I guess you guys are far above me in knowing what being a Christian is. I will now bow out and beg forgiveness.”

    “i guess you guys are far above…” “… and beg forgiveness”. wow, paul. pretty good theater.
    ((sniff, sniff…)) sorry, didn’t stand the smell test though. even true christians can use ‘false humility’ as a weapon to slap back at others. difference is you didn’t think i would catch it. i did and now your upset. no big, i forgave you already. have a great rest of the day.

  78. paul @77

    please just stop… not very humble of you after all.

  79. Andrew # 72 – First the Protestant Reformation was about a lot more than sola fide (faith alone). Let’s get that straight. Second, I disagree with you just a little bit. Only God knows His elect. We can only surmise. Matthew 7:21-23 states that there will be many self professing Christians who never were elect and never known to Jesus even though they claimed to have done great works in the name of Christ.

    michael in chandler #76 – “…skippy”? Why do you resort to condescension in civil discourse? See Proverbs 16:18.

  80. My last words,

    Brian, do not give up with questioning the truth. I really believe that it is your search for the truth that is what will get you to reach the goal of knowing the truth. The truth is God and he wants you to find him. Although you may need to battle with the cross of not finding Him as quickly as you would like, KJV Jeremiah 29 13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

    Do not stop searching to find the truth because of what you observe us Christians do that does not make common sense. As you can obviously see, we cannot even agree on what a Christian is. I do not want to be one of the types of Christians that are like that either.

    Father God, bless Brother Brian,
    Brother Brian, do not give up,
    God bless you all and good bye,

  81. Brother Paul #81: Amen to that.

  82. I have a question relating to the discourse taking place regarding when a person becomes a Christian and if God knew beforehand that he or she would, then basically wasn’t that person saved all along.>

    Question: Did Jesus say that no person knew the time and hour of His return, except for the Father?

    Comment: The Scriptures tells us that we were predestined. It also calls His children, the elect. Additonally, we are told that many are called and few are chosen.

    Question: Isn’t it possible, using the analogy of a parade and God’s attributes that although God, the Father was fully aware of who would believe and repent, given the free will that he also gave us.

    Comment: The Bible tells us that we must repent and believe. That is we must believe that the Father provided a way for all humankind to reconcile their broken relationship to Him, as He cannot dwell with the wickedness of that which is unholy. We must believe that there is no good in us that can possibly make up for the corruption that lives within our hearts. We must believe that He did sacrifice His only begotten Son, Jesus to pay for the sins we”ve committed, for God is a just God and without payment we cannot be justified, thus stand in righteous and fellowship with Him. What more we cannot walked in obedience without the power of His Holy Spirit. The fruit or evidence of this conversion is living in and by and according to having the Holy Spirit. Without it, we only continue to be locked into living a life of sin, guilt, shame, and bondage.

    As for the Scripture telling us that many are called, but few are chosen:

    Jesus died for the entire world, no one is exempt. But the gift of the cross is only available for those who believes and repent. That is turn away from all unrighteousness and walk in obedience to His Word. Although Jesus paid for our sins through shedding his blood, we do not have access to the Father unless we repent and believe. So all are called, but few actually repent and believe.

    God’s attributes:

    He is all knowing: Omniscience
    He is all presence: Omnipresence (being everywhere at all times, past, present, and future.}
    He is all powerful: Omnipotent (nothing is to hard, difficult, or impossible)

    Analogy of Parade:

    The parade is displayed before us as it passes by us. We can only see what is in front of us. We don’t know what is going on behind the scene behind us nor what is happening in the parade line in front of us.

    But God, the Father sees it all. It is His choice when and how he will or will not intervene. But he will never go against man’s free will to choose. He will give every participant opportunites to come to Him, but whether he or she does is an indvidual choice. God knows who that will be, but because of free will He cannot violate His own creation by taking that choice away from them. He can however, provide a way for them. That is to give us Jesus, who as a result of loving us so much layed down His life to pay for the sins that deserves the penalty of death and eternity in hell, open up the gateway for the Holy Spirit to live within us to empower us to forsake the world and to purify our hearts to live a righteous and holy life in Him.

    When James wrote, “If any man says he is without sin, he is a liar. It is telling us that not one of us came into this world without sin in our hearts and thereby we are not able to have a right relationship with the Father, unless we repent and believe.

    In the book of James, in a nutshell: Show me your faith without works and I will show you my faith with works. For without faith you cannot do the works of the Father. You cannot walk in obedience and you cannot avoid the temptations that are surely going to come to test you, to stumble you, and to teach you in order to get rid of any and all corruption and unholiness that remain in your heart and to make you stronger. (paraphrase, my own).

  83. Sorry, wrote an imcomplete statement:

    Question: Isn’t it possible, using the analogy of a parade and God’s attributes that although God, the Father was fully aware of who would believe and repent, given the free will that he also gave us.

    Correction: Isn’t it possible, using an analogy of a parade, God’s attributes, and the free will that we were all given, that God knew beforehand who would or would not believe and repent? And that no life is unused in the plan God has for His creation? For He shines upon the just as he shines upon the unjust. He hates who He chooses to hate and he blesses who He chooses to bless. But no evil, corrupt, or unholy thing shall dwell with Him?

  84. One other item of importance.

    We must have the Holy Spirit, for Scripture tells us Jesus said, that He (H.S.) would be sent to teach us, to convict us, to guide us into all truth, and to direct us.

    Without Him, we can only rely upon our own understanding. Thus the decisions we make can only be that which is wood, hay, and stubble. To be burned and counted for loss.

    Anyone ever hear that song: Walk and obey, walk and obey, for He”ll show us the way, If we put trust in Jesus, we will walk and obey. (sorry, came to mind as I was finishing this up 🙂

  85. I don’t know who said this, but it sticks in my mind when examing myself and figuring out what is of the Lord and what is of my flesh.

    That is: Everybody wants a Savior, but few wants Him to be Lord of their life.

  86. rick,

    no offense or condecesion in the term “straight skippy”. it was used not in calling you a ‘name’. it is a coloquialism. where i come from (small town kansas) to give some one the ‘straight skippy’ means to honor them by telling the truth, or being honsest in their comments. i thanked you for being straight with me. that’s all.

  87. Paul @ 77 wrote:

    “For some reason I feel that you disagree with me somewhat like the Pharisees disagreed with the other commoners then. They used Legalistic knowledge, without consideration of application of it to the common person’s language and understanding. Jesus even let them know that by doing so they missed the point”

    All I am is a commoner. I have tried to be accurate in what Jesus said.

  88. andrew
    i agree, we are all commoners.

  89. Andrew@#88 and Mike@#89,

    I need to sincerely apologize to you. After re-looking at all of what I previously said, I see that there was some sarcasm and insult implied. That was wrong of me and I am truly sorry.

    Not that it is an excuse but to just attempt to explain, I really am nothing but a commoner. Not just a spiritual commoner but a human one also. I have very little education and I get frustrated when I have difficulty explaining myself to educated people. One of the bad side effects to being a human commoner is that we seem to automatically sense a fowl discourse between us and those who are more educated; and wrongly think that we are only being viewed as being in the wrong because we do not obtain a higher view of knowing more.

    I need to learn better how to simply agree to disagree.

    God bless you,

  90. paul,
    “I need to learn better how to simply agree to disagree. ”

    no harm, no foul. and i would agree that we all should be more ‘agreeable’ when we disagree. but as you know disagreement is inevitable where there is more than one person involved and i think that’s healthy in a way.
    my mom always told us “if two people are exactly the same, at least one of them is unnecesary”. she said this in the context of a marriage partner, but i think it applies to the Body of Christ as well. even the Apostle Paul said so in 1 cor 12, we are all members of one another. even the least ‘comely’ (like me). i don’t know if it’s biblical or not to say, but every ‘body’ needs an ‘A-hole’, we just need to make sure we ( I ) aren’t monopolizing the position. it’s all part of the ‘conversation’.

  91. Paul,

    no worries. Let me put your mind at ease. Regarding my own education, I have never been to seminary, bible school or any other formal Christian education and I am not an elder, pastor, deacon or hold any other office in the church. I don’t know Greek or Hebrew and honestly don’t read as much as I should.

    However I have been a Christian for a long time so I have learned a few things over the years which I hope are fairly solid. I don’t assume younger believers in the faith would necessarily get everything I say. However, with that said, I do believe there are some basics everything Christian should hopefully get and understand. Anyway enough of this.

    I certainly don’t know your educational background but I appreciate your honesty. We can certainly learn from each other because we all have different back grounds. I certainly hope you will grow and continue in your knowledge of the Lord.

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