"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top Watchdog Stories of 2011 - According to the Watchdog

As we wrap up another year of blogging on the Watchdog, here are my choices of the top 10 stories covered on this blog in 2011.

10. Ergun Caner Controversy Continues, Caner Makes SBC Comeback: In less than a year after Ergun Caner left Liberty University over his decade of deceit, in 2011 Ergun Caner has made a remarkable comeback by getting hired at fundamentalist Arlington Baptist College as the Provost and Vice President. Soon after the hiring was announced, Brett Shipp of WFAA did an outstanding TV news story on the hiring and highlighted many of Caner's exaggerations. But perhaps more remarkable than Caner getting a new job with a Christian college is how he was given prominent speaking gigs in the Southern Baptist Convention. He had a speaking role at a meeting at the 2011 FBC Jax Pastor's Conference, and preached at Ronnie Floyd's Cross Church using it to again paint himself as a victim of "haters". And to top it all off, in the most brazen and nonsensical move, FBC Jax granted Ergun Caner access to the eyes and ears of their middle and high schoolers for a week at camp by hiring Caner as the summer camp preacher. As I posted here, Caner is STILL stretching the truth and not being completely honest with congregations about his past.

9. Year of the Crybaby Pastors: the series of posts I did on crybaby pastors (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) complaining about criticism were very popular. This seems to be a recurring theme amongst mega church pastors, as they have difficulty with the idea that as they use social media to get their messages maximum exposure, their sermons and ministry tactics will be evaluated and criticized using the same social media.

8. Departures and Hiring at FBC Jax: there were two significant departures this year from FBC Jax - Jim Smyrl left on less than friendly terms from FBC Jax and quickly started a new SBC church, and Shelly Baumgarner-Norman, the long-time children's director at FBC Jax left this fall. Smyrl is currently a bi-vocational pastor. The preaching duties Smyrl performed were partially filled by Danny Crosby - who quickly declared in one of his first sermons that the pastor's salary "ain't none of yo' bidness", and he took aim at those who dare to criticize their church and pastor.

7. Evangelist Tim Lee Defends Caner: I published a story in May about Liberty University's trustees actually forcing Caner out in 2010, which prompted evangelist Tim Lee to chime in on the blog to express his disagreement with my article. Lee claimed that he was head of the committee that actually wrote the vague statement by Liberty when he was let go, and Lee declared on my blog that "I was Chairman of the committee that crafted the statement concerning Ergun. We never once found that he lied." As far as I know, this is the only place where someone on the Liberty committee has spoken publicly about the Caner dismissal from Liberty.

6. FBC Jax's Mike Hogan Loses Jacksonville Mayor Race: Long-time FBC Jax member Mike Hogan lost the Jacksonville mayoral race to virtual unknown Democrat Alvin Brown in a close run-off election. Hogan was the hands-down favorite to win the election, and not many gave Alvin Brown a chance. As I documented on the blog, Mac Brunson called Hogan to the platform the Sunday before the election, asked he and his wife to kneel at the altar, Brunson laid hands on Hogan, and prayed a very long prayer asking for "Godly leadership". I called Brunson's laying on of hands and prayer an "ordination" of Hogan as mayor. This stunt to bring Hogan to kneel at the front did not sit well with many in the community. FBC Jax deleted this portion of the service from their website video podcast - but Watchdog readers can still view it here.

5. James Merritt Pushes Suspected Pyramid Scheme: one of the dumbest moves in 2011 by a mega church pastor has to be James Merritt - former SBC President and pastor of Cross Pointe Church - using his church facilities and his own personal influence as a trusted pastor to push the Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing (FHTM) multi-level marketing scheme. After videos of his pushing FHTM in his church went viral, they were taken down and then Merritt issued a statement through a spokesman denying the "rumors".

4. Jax Pastor Accused of Voyeurism: Berean Baptist pastor Greg Neal was accused this past year of video taping women in his office as they undressed. The church kicked out the church member who took video evidence to the police, and then Neal issued a public denial with his bobble-headed members standing behind him. Neal was never charged with a crime because too much time had passed between the actual video taping and the submission of evidence to the state attorney's office. Greg Neal is still co-pastor of the church.

3. SBC Evangelist Sammy Nuckolls Arrested for Voyeurism: Huge story this past year was Sammy Nuckolls' arrest for video voyeurism. Apparently Sammy got his jollies from using a spy pen with a video camera to video tape women. Sammy was once a preacher at Lifeway youth camps.

2. Mac Brunson Complains of His Tough Life, Then Issues Blanket Apology: for nearly 5 months of 2011 Mac Brunson preached out of the book of Job. A good portion of his sermons seemed to focus on how Christians are supposed to handle criticism (see #9 above), and in one sermon he spent several minutes belly-aching to his congregation just how tough his life has been as a mega church pastor having to deal with criticism. He even went so far as to say that he did not want to come to be the pastor, but that he had to come because God "drove" him to Jacksonville. The following Sunday Brunson gave a strange blanket apology for anything he's ever said that has offended anyone.

The #1 story for 2011 will be posted on New Year's Eve, so check back in on Saturday!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Darrell Gilyard to Be Released Wednesday - A Sad Story of the Failure of Church Leaders to Warn Unsuspecting Church Members of a Deviant "Man of God"

I noticed earlier this month that Tiffany Croft posted on her blog the soon release of Darrell Gilyard, former pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. The Florida Department of Corrections website lists Gilyard's current release date as "12/28/11".

Gilyard plead guilty in 2009 of molesting a 15-year old girl whose parents brought her to him for pastoral counseling, and he plead guilty of sending a lewd text message to another teenager. He was sentenced to three years of prison, and for life will be registered as a sexual predator.

Sad thing is, there was ample warning of Gilyard's predatory sexual appetite long before this molestation in Jacksonville occurred, but church leaders failed to take appropriate actions to warn unsuspecting church members who would never imagined that their "man of God" was a man who used his position as pastor over and over to have sex with women in his churches for years.

This entire saga of Darrell Gilyard, dating back to the 1980's, is a case study on how blogs are necessary to alert people of what is going on in churches, even how blogs can be used to bring justice to men like Darrell Gilyard. And now we will hopefully see blogs keep alerting people to the dangers of Gilyard once he is out of prison.

The Gilyard saga is also a clear example of how church leaders, even denominational leaders and seminary leaders cannot be trusted to do the right thing when allegations arise against "men of God" pastors.

Consider the following recap of events about Darrell Gilyard:

- Gilyard came to the Southern Baptist scene way back in the 1980s at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. Gilyard was mentored by Jerry Vines and Gilyard preached multiple times at FBC Jax, telling his phony story of growing up homeless and living under a bridge. It was all a made-up story, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle back in 1991. Yes, a new preacher brought into the limelight at FBC Jax by Jerry Vines with a phony story about his past - sound familiar?

- Gilyard had a history of sexual misconduct (to put it mildly) in Texas in the 1980s and 1990s. Gilyard attended Criswell College where Paige Patterson was president at the time, and multiple women reported Gilyard's abuse to Paige Patterson with little effect until Gilyard himself admitted to Patterson that he committed adultery. Gilyard even tried to seduce a young member from First Baptist Church of Jacksonville in 1991 during a youth revival tour.

- Paige Patterson knew that Gilyard had confessed to having sexual relations with multiple women who had come to Gilyard for counseling. At my blog here I posted a 1991 article from the Austin American Statesman newspaper that told the entire saga. Probably one of the best articles on Gilyard's past and his relationships with Patterson and Vines is here.

- Perhaps Gilyard's first signs of being a sexual predator were the accusations made against him at Concord Missionary Baptist Church in south Dallas where Gilyard was an associate pastor during his time at Criswell College. Read this Dallas Morning News article about these allegations, and how Paige Patterson did not believe the accusations made against Gilyard by 25 women - some of which were allegations of rape and sexual assault. Tiffany Croft has an article on this where she posted the story of a student who was at Criswell at the time.

- After Gilyard left Concord he became pastor at Victory Baptist Church in Texas. After Gilyard resigned in disgrace from Victory Baptist Church in 1991 over his sexual relations with women in the church, unbelievably, Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church - located about a mile from FBC Jacksonville - hired Gilyard to be their pastor in 1993! Members had no idea their new pastor was a sexual deviant who used his position as pastor and counselor to have sex with women. Did Paige Patterson and Jerry Vines do anything to alert the church members of Gilyard's past, or was it all just "under the blood"? We don't know, they won't say - but it seems to me that prominent men like Vines and Patterson had it within their power to speak publicly of the prior misconduct of Gilyard in Texas.

- There was one bright spot in the Gilyard saga: a local Jacksonville pastor by the name of George Harvey, Jr. DID try to alert Shiloh deacons and members of Gilyard's past. All it got him was the deacons calling him nuts, and a meeting with the State Attorney's office and two Shiloh deacons to get him to stop his efforts. So no one can say that Shiloh's leadership was not alerted about Gilyard's past - but they chose to look the other way because Gilyard was such a talented orator and he could bring members and money to the church. Apparently no safeguards were put in place to prevent Gilyard's access to women in the church.

- As reported by the Times Union, Shiloh Baptist settled a lawsuit in 1996 over allegations of sexual misconduct, and then in 2004 they settled yet another lawsuit over allegations of rape during a counseling session. Still, it seems as though church members were not warned of Gilyard's sexual deviancy.

- Gilyard grew Shiloh Baptist. They built a new worship center. He was bringing in the bacon for sure at Shiloh. I was always amazed to see Gilyard on local TV during his Shiloh years, as I had heard of some of the allegations against Gilyard in Texas. I assumed that people in Jax knew, and that certainly his church members must have known. He was one talented preacher, as we were members at FBC Jax in the late 1980s when he emerged on the scene. His preaching style nearly matched Jerry Vines', in fact Gilyard himself and Vines had joked that Gilyard was the "black version of Jerry Vines."

- Jerry Vines retired from FBC Jax in February 2006, and it didn't take long for Vines to visit Shiloh and preach in Gilyard's pulpit despite his knowledge of Gilyard's past. Apparently Vines bought Gilyard's story that he had been healed of his sexual problems.

- Then, in December 2007 the latest allegations that sent Gilyard to prison surfaced. Tiffany Croft, who was the teenager at FBC Jax who Gilyard tried to seduce in 1991, started her blog focusing on Gilyard to help and encourage Gilyard's victims to come forward. Her blog was a source of tips for the State Attorney's office during their investigation, and they very much appreciated her blog.

- I blogged about the Gilyard story in December 2007 right after the initial allegations surfaced, posting several old news articles from the early 1990's asking the question "You're Telling Me Nobody Knew?". I was honestly surprised that people in Jacksonville did not know of Gilyard's past, not even the reporters who first reported the allegations. Times Union reporter Jim Schoettler emailed me at the Watchdog account about the source of these articles that I posted.

- Strangely enough there is even an element of this story crossing over into the FBC Jax Watchdog controversy of the past few years. In early April 2009 I discovered that FBC Jax deacon and discipline committee member, and Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detective Robert Hinson pulled subpoenas on my blog, Tiffany's blog, and the Bellevue Baptist blog during his "investigation" to find my identity. Hinson's testimony was that he pulled the subpoena on my blog and two that were hyperlinked on my site - of which there were 20 or so - quite interesting that the three blogs of many that he subpoenaed were three that were critical of prominent Baptist pastors. Hinson subpoenaed Tiffany's information from Google, but in his deposition he said he realized he made a mistake in subpoenaing her blog after he realized after-the-fact that Tiffany was the daughter of a long-time member at FBC Jax. But he said the subpoena was already sent, and that he destroyed all of her information received from Google upon receipt.

So now Gilyard will be getting out of jail. He will be a registered sex offender for life, and will be on three years of sex offender probation. He will not be allowed to live within 1000 feet or work at a school, or any other location that children regularly gather. He will not be able to have unsupervised contact with any children, and will be subject to electronic monitoring.

Let's hope that finally the legal system will have done what Baptist leaders could not or would not do: keep Darrell Gilyard away from women and children. Let's hope that this blog, Tiffany Croft's blog, and other blogs, along with the Florida Sex Offender database will warn people of the dangers of Darrell Gilyard. It would not be surprising to see him in a pulpit preaching very soon.

And let's hope the next time that a Darrell Gilyard or Bob Gray surfaces in Jacksonville, blogs will be used to spread the word even when the church leaders try to cover it up.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

First Baptist Jax Pastor's Conference to Host "Elephant Room II" Simulcast Featuring Steven Furtick, T.D. Jakes, and Mark Driscoll

Update: Wade Burleson has posted an article on the Elephant Room, entitled "The Problems with Elephant Room II are the Elephants in the Room." Wade asks some great questions that should be answered.
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The 2012 FBC Jax Pastor's Conference this year has hit a new low: the conference is hosting the "Elephant Room II" simulcast in the Ruth Lindsay Auditorium, featuring Steven Furtick, T.D. Jakes, and Mark Driscoll. Attendees to the Pastor's Conference can watch the event for only $59, reduced from the regular price of $99.

Members at First Baptist Jacksonville have to wonder: just who is calling the shots at First Baptist Jacksonville? Do the trustees or the deacons of the church even care what is being brought into your church?

I have been critical of the way the First Baptist Jacksonville Pastor's Conference has been transformed into a marketing bonanza under Mac Brunson, whose son Trey now runs the conference. You can read just a few of the past articles here, here, and here. In fact my criticism of the Pastor's Conference in 2007 and 2008 was specifically cited by the FBC Jax Discipline Committee as one of my 16 heinous sins in the discipline letter they brought to my door three years ago.

So while the godly leaders and pastors and discipline committee can't bear to have a blogger or his wife on the premises, they have no problem exposing their members and visiting pastors to the likes of Furtick, Jakes, and Driscoll.

T.D. Jakes is roundly criticized by Southern Baptists as being a modalist and a preacher of the false prosperity gospel. He regularly appears on TBN with his false prosperity nonsense. My favorite T.D. Jakes prosperity gospel performance is his classic shake down on TBN that you can see on YouTube here.

Then, Mark Driscoll. What can you say? I had my suspicions about Driscoll based on his 2007 pornographic sermon on the Song of Songs. He speaks of erections, Jesus commanding women to perform oral sex on their husbands, and other sexual topics that I won't mention. If you don't believe me, you can read the transcript of his sermon here. The Wartburg Watch has done multiple articles on the teachings of Mark Driscoll here.

Then, as I wrote a few months back, Mark Driscoll claims to receive visions from God of terrible sexual sins and crimes while counseling people. Yes, he sees the sexual sins of his church members. He even had a vision of a wife's infidelity, which he described in detail, and then confronted the wife in front of her husband over his vision. Weird, wacky, stuff. Don't believe me? See the video here.

So this is what is now being brought into the FBC Jax Pastor's Conference. Too bad the deacons and trustees of FBC Jax don't have the guts to explain to Mac and Trey that the event would better be hosted elsewhere, like at Celebration Church. Their pastor, Stovall Weems, is more in tune with the Elephant Room crowd than will be the visiting pastors or the people of FBC Jax.

It just goes to show you more of the empty words of Mac Brunson. On so many occasions he tells his people to stop reading information by heretical, questionable teachers. He proclaims that one of his primary jobs is to "protect" the people of the church - yet he brings these guys right into the Ruth Lindsay Auditorium during the Pastor's Conference.

So visiting pastors who have signed up for the 2012 FBC Jax Pastor's Conference: click here to register at the FBC Jax Pastor's Conference website for the Elephant Room II, and you can sit at the feet and learn from T.D. Jakes, Steven Furtick, and Mark Driscoll, in the comfort of the Ruth Lindsay Auditorium.

Who knows, maybe next year Trey and Mac can arrange for a simulcast event featuring Bennie Hinn and Joyce Meyer.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Follow-Up on Tim Tebow Criticism: Now Tebow's Pastor Claims Tebow Told Him "I Don't Have Anybody That Believes in Me"

"I was with a young man who late on Thursday night just shared with me....'I've never suffered anything like this in life before...this has been the most difficult week of my life...I don't have anybody that believes in me.' And I said 'let me tell you a story about a man named Job.'" Mac Brunson describing how he consoled a downcast Tim Tebow after the Jets game on 11/17/11. (See video below)
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Last month I wrote about how Tim Tebow has a thing or two to teach whiny mega church pastors about how to handle criticism.

But apparently I was wrong. According to Mac Brunson, Tim's pastor at FBC Jax, Brunson is the one who had to console Tim, and to teach him out of the Old Testament book of Job to help Tim cope with the immense suffering Tim has had to endure of late.

Yes, Tim is criticized. About everything.

But he never, ever complains about it. Unlike mega church pastors, Tim never calls his critics names, or tells them they are nuts or that they are recalcitrants or anything else. He doesn't yell about how people should stop reading what his critics write. Tim doesn't try to shut down unjust criticism. He doesn't stand on a podium and wag his finger about how terrible his life is. He isn't afraid to answer questions from his critics, and when asked demeaning questions by his critics, he smiles and is a gentleman and employs Proverbs 15:1, "...a gentle answer turns away wrath."

That is why it is shocking to hear that Tim Tebow's pastor, Mac Brunson, is the one who has had to teach Tebow how to handle criticism after the New York Jets game. Mac, the pastor who just a few weeks prior to his meeting with Tim went on a rant complaining about how terrible his life has been as pastor at FBC Jax where Tim grew up, needed to tell Tim how to cope with the criticism.

According to Mac Brunson's Twitter feed, Brunson and his son flew to Denver for the Thursday night 11/17 game against the Jets. Brunson also Tweeted that he met with Tim Tebow and his family for prayer and bible study Friday morning after Tebow led his Denver Broncos to a thrilling victory over the Jets. The following Sunday, Brunson couldn't help but to let his congregation know in his sermon that he was with Tebow, how Tim was terribly upset over how much criticism he has had to face, and how God used Mac to help Tim cope with his suffering.

According to Mac, Tim told him he has never suffered in life like he has lately, and that Tim said "I don't have anybody that believes in me."

Really? Did Tim say that to his pastor, that he doesn't have anybody that believes in him? And if he did, why would his pastor blab it to his mega church and stream it on the Internet?

Even more unbelievable than that, Mac said God used him to share with Tebow out of the book of Job to help him cope with his suffering. "Let me tell you about a man named Job", is what Brunson says he told Tim, after he told him how terribly he was suffering.

Do what?

The book of Job?

Tim Tebow does not have one thing in common with Job from the Old Testament, and his life has no resemblance to Job's experience. Maybe Tim is a Samson or a Gideon, but JOB? Job's story is one of immense heartache, disease, loss, and pain, and how God delivered him through it. Tim's story is the exact opposite of Job's: Tim has lived the most blessed life one can imagine, and Tim acknowledges that every single time he has a chance to speak.

Why would a mega church pastor think of referring to the book of Job to console a blessed man like Tim Tebow?

The answer is easy, and one I've written about quite a bit this year (here, here, and here). Mega church pastors like Mac Brunson view criticism as some form of modern martyrdom. Mac and so many of his cohorts in mega church land lead incredibly blessed lives of privilege. Yet Mac tells his congregation how terrible his life is because of criticism he faces. Mac has thousands and thousands of Christians and pastors literally all over the world that love him and adore him. He is invited to speak worldwide. He travels extensively. His own church loves him and supports him and allows him to live a very comfortable lifestyle. Yet as he said here, the criticism he has faced has made his life miserable, and he only came to FBC Jax to endure the pain for the sake of Jesus.

Mac has been criticized here in Jacksonville, and much of it deservedly so over actions his church has taken under his leadership.

But to criticize a pastor is to criticize God himself in the minds of the mega pastors. Brunson's church even passed a "Deacon's Resolution" condemning what they called "unjust criticism and ridicule" (aimed squarely at this blog) as being an attack on the Lord's church. They used a police officer who was a church member, a discipline committee member, and a deacon and church employee to pull investigative subpoenas on this blog and two other blogs critical of mega church pastors resulting in a first amendment lawsuit settled last year.

Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if Brunson will have his trustees and congregation pass a resolution condemning "unjust criticism" of Tim Tebow. Surely that would pass unanimously!

But we know the truth. Tim doesn't view himself the way Brunson characterized him, not one single bit. If he does, then he has been lying every day when he says how blessed he is and that it is the support of his fans and family that keep him going. And Tim is no liar, Mac.

Tim Tebow has told his fans for years now that he is the most blessed man alive, and that he doesn't let those that criticize him get him down. Tim tells us he concentrates on the blessings he has, and on the millions of supporters that do love him and pray for him.

He even posted on Facebook just yesterday the following:
"Hey everyone! I just wanted to thank all of you for your prayers and very kind words of support. I noticed that a few people were wondering if I actually read all of your comments and I wanted to let you know that I try my best to read all of them and that I use them as encouragement throughout my week. Thanks again everyone, have a good night and as always, God bless & Go Broncos aka GB bless & Go Broncos" Tim Tebow on his Facebook page, 12/13/12
Tim told Deion Sanders on national TV after the Jets game: "God has blessed me with so many people that support me, a great family that supports me, great teammates and a coaching staff and that's what I'm focused on."

Yet Mac wants us to believe Tim thinks he has no one that believes in him.

I believe Tim. I don't believe Mac.

Next time you run into Mac at the airport or at the cruise terminal, please take the time to help him and say:

"Mac, let me tell you about a man named Tim Tebow."



Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chandler and Noble in Elephant Room: Internet Bloggers Can't Call Out False Doctrine, Only Pastors and Elders Can

In case you missed it, earlier this year in the "Elephant Room" open forum hosted by James MacDonald and Mark "I see church members having illicit sex" Driscoll, Perry Noble and Matt Chandler said some very interesting things about just who in Christianity is and who is not allowed to call out pastors for their false doctrines and nutty, even abusive practices.

You see, as Al Mohler pointed out in the FBC Jax Pastor's Conference this year, pastors apparently are "God-appointed agents" to deliver God's word to the unlearned pew sitter. Thus, pew sitters and the lowly "Internet bloggers" are not allowed to call out false doctrine. Perry says only "pastors, elders, leaders of the church" are allowed to call out error.

If you give these guys say another 100 years or so, they will establish another Catholic church where the pope and the church God-appointed hierarchy delivers God's word to the masses.

In the clip below you'll hear Perry say:

"Pastors, elders, leaders of the church should be the ones, if error is going to be called out, not based on their personal preference, but on doctrinal accuracy."

If error is going to be called out? IF? Perry probably hasn't read Acts 17:11 where church members were commended in how they checked the accuracy of what they were hearing against the Bible. Sure, Perry would like to limit criticism to his pastor friends, and to leaders and elders that worship him and wouldn't dare to cross him.

Then Perry says:

"I don't think that God raised up Internet bloggers to call out wolves - who have an opinion and a website."

This is more of the whining of pastors who dish it out but can't take it. Noble and his emergent mega church pals are experts at using social media to get their message out. They hire marketing experts to brand their church, they blog, they Tweet, they have video podcasts. They write books, then they travel to each others' churches to push their books. They hold seminars like the "Elephant Room" to influence other pastors. They have virtually unlimited resources to get their message out, and yet they declare that Christian Internet bloggers shouldn't use the same social media to call out their false doctrine or even express criticism of the methods they use.

Sorry, Perry. If you believe God has blessed you with the social media you use to evangelize, then you better accept that God will use Internet bloggers to point out your error, and to criticize you. God is using bloggers like Wartburg Watch and Wade Burleson and Chris Rosebrough and Christa Brown and others to shine a light on false doctrine, nutty church practices, and abusive church systems and to speak plain truth about mega churches and egomaniac preachers.

Praise God for the "Internet bloggers". They are doing a great service to Christianity. When I hear guys like Noble and Chandler popping off about bloggers, it lets me know that Internet bloggers ARE doing good, and are making a positive impact on the church.

And in the video, you'll also hear Matt Chandler say that Internet bloggers get no support from him because they are people who "live with their moms." Hardy-har-har.



Also, in the video, at the end, you can watch Al Mohler deliver his statement from the 2011 FBC Jax Pastor's Conference about just how important preachers are to the salvation of souls. Al's quote:

"...we believe that those who teach and preach the word of God are God-appointed agents to save God's people from ignorance....life and death, heaven and hell, hang in the balance. If you do not faithfully teach the word of God such that your people hear it and understand it and grow upon it, they are consigned to unfaithfulness and many will be consigned to hell."

No wonder these guys want no criticism. Their work is so important - heaven and hell are in the balance! If they don't do their jobs, or if we point out that they are NOT God's anointed, church members will fall into unfaithfulness (meaning they leave the mega churches?) and many will be consigned to hell. Yes, a pastor's poor preaching will cause people to burn forever in eternal torment. We need pastors to tell us what the Bible says, and to criticize them is to criticize God himself. No wonder these guys have huge egos.

Speaking of the FBC Jax Pastor's Conference, did you know that live video feed of the next "Elephant Room" round table discussion moderated by Mark "I see church members having illicit sex" Driscoll will be one of the options for attendees at the FBC Jax 2012 Pastor's Conference? It is true. Mac and Trey Brunson have decided to use the FBC Jax Ruth Lindsay Auditorium to expose SBC pastors at their conference to the likes of Driscoll, T.D. Jakes, Steven Furtick, and James MacDonald.

FBC Jax Pastor's Conference attendees: click here for more information on how you can pay $59 extra dollars to sit at the feet of T.D. Jakes and Steven Furtick and Mark Driscoll in the Ruth Lindsay Auditorium while in town for the pastor's conference.

Hosting the Elephant Room is a new low for the FBC Jax Pastor's Conference.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Senate Hearing on Child Abuse Set for December 13th - Senate Needs to Hear from Some Baptist Witnesses

"Without institutional consequences, we will continue to see the pattern of Southern Baptist leaders – leaders such as Philip Gunn, Jack Graham, Greg Belser, Steve Gaines and many more – who weigh each scenario for themselves and conclude (for whatever rationalized mess of a reason) that their particular scenario is somehow exceptional and that reporting isn’t necessary." Christa Brown, 12/8/11
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Christa Brown is exactly right. And not only are institutional consequences necessary, but also stiffer legal penalties as well.

While it will probably be a cold day in Hades before baptists enact institutional consequences for their lay folk and ministers who don't report abuse, we can rejoice that our government is moving forward on the legal side. In the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State child sex abuse scandal, the U.S. Senate is doing the right thing: they are going to hold a December 13th hearing on child abuse reporting, and legislation has already been proposed to require states to enact tougher laws to punish any adults that fail to report suspected child abuse to law enforcement.

If the focus of the hearing is to help legislators understand the risk to children from sex abuse because of failure to report the abuse to law enforcement agencies, the Senate must focus on a bigger risk to children than college administrators and coaches: that of the risk from failure to report allegations of abuse by ministers as in the Bob Gray scandal at Trinity Baptist here in Jacksonville (Bob Gray's booking photo is above, next to Jerry Sandusky's). Tougher penalties must be imposed on clergy and lay leaders in churches who become aware of abuse allegations yet fail to report them to the police. This nonsense of "priest penitent" privilege as an excuse to not report pedophile ministers must go out the window, as evidenced by the latest scandal where even lay "elders" of a church are using the priest penitent excuse to not speak to law enforcement in an abuse case.

The witness list of the hearing has not been announced. I would recommend the Senate consider some of these as witnesses at their hearing to fully understand that the Penn State scandal is nothing new, these cover-ups have been going on for years in baptist churches.

Witnesses I would suggest at the hearing:

- Christa Brown: Christa would be a powerful witness. As a victim herself, she has lived through the pain of trying to hold her perpetrator accountable while watching him continue to minister and receive the support of his peers. She can speak to this problem of churches failing to report abuse, why so many churches fail to report, and why tougher penalties should be enacted against clergy and lay leaders who cover for an accused minister.

- Dr. Jack Graham: the most recent scandal amongst Southern Baptists involves John Langworthy, who ministered at the megachurch Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas. The Senate ought to subpoena the Prestonwood pastor Jack Graham to ask him why the local authorities were not contacted about John Langworthy when allegations arose of sexual abuse. The Senators should ask Dr. Graham why his church chose to conduct their own investigation, fire Langworthy, and chose not make a report to the local authorities, allowing Langworthy to move on to another position without warning the next church.

- Dr. Tom Messer of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida: Messer would be an excellent witness. The similarities between the Bob Gray scandal at Trinity Baptist Church and the Penn State scandal are really unbelievable. Messer should be asked why Trinity Baptist church did not call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office when allegations of sexual misconduct arose against pastor Dr. Bob Gray. He can be asked about why allegations were not disclosed to parishioners of the church (and in fact why Messer and church leaders stood by while Gray lied to his congregation about them), and why Gray was allowed to go on mission to Germany without the mission sending agency being alerted to the allegations. It is a story like that of Bob Gray, and the tendency of churches to not report their "men of God" ministers who are accused of abuse and to even accuse the victims of wrong-doing, that will help Senators realize that stiff penalties for failure to immediately report allegations are required, and no statute of limitations should apply in these cases.

I hope the Senate does act. I hope states are required to enact tough laws with mandatory jail time for all persons who become aware of child sexual abuse allegations and don't report them to the police.

And we can thank God we don't live in a theocracy run by Baptists or Catholics or any religious men. We can thank God we have a government who can do something to increase protection for children from pedophiles and their friends who think they are doing the will of God by not reporting the abuse.

Monday, December 5, 2011

"First Fruit" Tithing Teachers - Their Theme Song is "You Ain't Never Had a Friend Like Me"



The above video is the perfect "first fruits" tithing theme song for Ed Young, Perry Noble, Robert Morris, and Stovall Weems who teach the "first fruits" tithing doctrine. They teach their church members that the first 10% of their income belongs to God, that is a "holy portion", and you give it to God by giving it to their church, and in so doing you "redeem" the remaining 90% of your income. In return for your tithe, you get God to "rebuke the devourer".

But it is not just these emergent church mega pastors who have caught on to this. Even Mac Brunson of FBC Jax believes this and teaches it to his people. In Brunson's tithing sermon in October he spent 15 minutes of his sermon explaining the Old Testament book of Leviticus principle of "first fruits", characterizing God's sacrifice of giving Jesus as a "first fruits" tithe.

"God established the tithe to redeem the rest of the material world. God sent his son in the form of a servant...to redeem you, and God established in like manner the tithe to redeem the material world. He [God] says these things [first fruits] are set apart and they're holy to God, and nothing is to interfere with that."

Mac explains that the "tithe" by Christians today is a biblical principal that started at the fall of man in the garden of Eden, instituted by God to "redeem" all material things, and Jesus was God's tithe to us. Then Mac falls right in line with the teachings of Robert Morris and Perry Noble, and declares that the way you get God to bless your finances, is you fork over 10% to your church. It is releases God from his magic lamp:

"God says you set apart that first tenth, that 'first fruit', and the other 90% will be blessed, will be blessed. I'll put my hand on it. I'll watch over it."

And of course this implies that if you don't tithe, God won't watch over it. In fact in the same sermon Brunson uses Bernie Madoff as an example of what becomes of a man who has wealth but doesn't have God's blessings through the tithe (Steve Gaines, you can use this in your next "God robber" sermon). Last year Brunson declared that the tithe is something that a Christian owes to God and must give it to God (i.e. give it to his church) or if you don't, God collects on what he is owed by bringing calamity. This is not an exaggeration; click here to see it for yourself.

According to all these pastors, all you have to do in order to unlock all of God's blessings and benefits for your life is to rub God's magic tithing lamp.

Their doctrine reduces God to a magic genie who is trapped in a golden lamp waiting for you to drop 10% of your income into your nearest 501(c)3 church. When you do, you effectively rub God's magic lamp and the magic genie will appear, and he will be obligated to bless you. If you don't drop the 10% into the plate, then the genie will never appear, he will never be indebted to you, and the magic genie will be unable to protect you from an invisible "devourer" who will begin to consume and waste your money as you live under a curse. I don't think I'm exaggerating one bit - this IS their doctrine.

These preachers' tithing doctrine has much more in common with the Aladdin folk tale portrayed in this Disney video from their 1992 movie, than it does with the Bible. And apparently people are entertained by it and they find it very appealing. It appeals to the consumerism mindset that you can use your money to buy whatever you want in life - you can even secure the blessings of God. The Catholic Church taught this through their indulgences - Robert Morris has even joked about how the tithe is a great bargain, paying only 10% to get God's blessings and buying God's protection from the devourer. Morris and Ed Young even have gone so far as to offer a money-back guarantee.

Aladdin was right to be skeptical of the genie's claims at first. Only difference is that Aladdin's genie could grant him his wishes, but the "genie" sold by the modern day first fruit tithing teachers doesn't exist. God can't be bought for 10% or for any price - he gives the same love and grace to all who trust Christ. But preaching that won't help pay the mega church bills and salaries.

So enjoy the video, or just read the lyrics here.

Well Ali Baba had them forty thieves
Scheherezad-ie had a thousand tales
But master you in luck 'cause up your sleeves
You got a brand of magic never fails
You got some power in your corner now
Some heavy ammunition in your camp
You got some punch, pizzazz, yahoo and how
See all you gotta do is rub that lamp
And I'll say

Mister Aladdin, sir
What will your pleasure be?
Let me take your order
Jot it down
You ain't never had a friend like me
No no no

Life is your restaurant
And I'm your maitre d'
C'mon whisper what it is you want
You ain't never had a friend like me

Yes sir, we pride ourselves on service
You're the boss
The king, the shah
Say what you wish
It's yours! True dish
How about a little more Baklava?

Have some of column "A"
Try all of column "B"
I'm in the mood to help you dude
You ain't never had a friend like me

Can your friends do this?
Do your friends do that?
Do your friends pull this out their little hat?
Can your friends go, poof?
Well, looky here
Can your friends go, Abracadabra, let 'er rip
And then make the sucker disappear?

So doncha sit there slack jawed, buggy eyed
I'm here to answer all your midday prayers
You got me bona fide, certified
You got a genie for your chare d'affaires
I got a powerful urge to help you out
So what-cha wish? I really wanna know
You got a list that's three miles long, no doubt
Well, all you gotta do is rub like so - and oh

Mister Aladdin, sir, have a wish or two or three
I'm on the job, you big nabob
You ain't never had a friend, never had a friend
You ain't never had a friend, never had a friend
You ain't never had a friend like me
You ain't never had a friend like me, hah!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Please, for the Love of the Almighty, Would Someone Buy the Brunson's Last Two Cabins on the Luxury Med Cruise???

We interrupt this blog to bring forth a special request to assist FBC Jax during the month of December:

Would someone, anyone, maybe a wealthy person at FBC Jax, maybe one of the FBC Jax Sunday School classes, maybe our new Jacksonville Jags owner Shahid Khan....would you please buy the remaining two cabins on the Brunson's Deluxe Mediterranean Cruise on the Norwegian Jade?

FBC Jax has been hawking this cruise for about 4 or 5 months now. They extended the original registration deadline, now they are hawking those last two cabins. If someone could find it in their heart to purchase these two last luxury cabins at about $3000 per person or around $12,000, FBC Jax could finally remove this advertisement from their website scrolling marquee, and they could remove it from the sanctuary pre-worship announcement slides.

The cruise will be a great time. While it really has nothing to do with a ministry of the church or spreading the gospel or helping anyone, you will be able to rub shoulders with the pastor and other big wigs from FBC Jax. Even if you have to take a little bit of money from what you would have given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, you will be blessed indeed by joining the Brunsons on this cruise.

So let's get going, and make it a goal to get the ad removed from the FBC Jax website by December 10th.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mac Brunson Issues Blanket Apology to Church and to Viewers on Internet for Anything He's Ever Said That Offended Them



Mac Brunson has just completed a grueling 5-month long series on the book of Job, which focused on how to handle criticism and tough times, especially if you're a mega church pastor. One of the primary lessons God taught Mac through his study of Job? Be careful what you say to people.

"God has spoken to my heart out of the book of Job: I should be very careful what I say to people. I should be very careful how I talk to people...many of you are struggling and going through difficulty and hardship right now....from my heart I want to say that to you: I deeply regret if I've ever offended you...if you speak as speak as much as I speak you're going to say some goofy things from time to time."

Yes, we should watch what we say. Too bad it took Mac to read through the book of Job to figure THAT one out.

Why is he saying sorry? There must have been some sort of offense that would cause him to do this. Could it be the week before when he said he never really wanted to come to FBC Jax and be the pastor, and that the people of FBC Jax didn't call him to preach and "only Jesus can take me outta here"? Did the trustees tell him to get out there and apologize to the good people of FBC Jax that DID call him to preach at Jax, and that do give sacrificially to support his comfortable lifestyle, and that CAN remove him as pastor?

Maybe he was apologizing because he told the good people of FBC Jax that he has things he could be doing other than be their pastor. Well, no offense there really because they already knew that, as Mac has been busy doing those other things ever since he became pastor.

But thanks, Mac. We out here in Internet land and TV land tell you too, Mac...if we've ever blogged anything that has offended you, or written anything that offended you, we're truly sorry. We know you're going through difficulty and hardship as a mega church pastor. But if you blog as much as we do, we're bound to blog some goofy things from time to time. So we know you will forgive us, right?

:)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Seminary Trustee, Lawyer, Tells Church Leaders to Not Speak to Police About Meetings They Had With Molester

As further evidence of the institutional problems within the Southern Baptist Convention when it comes to reporting child abusers, we look at the latest article by Bob Allen at the Associated Baptist Press in the John Langworthy case.

Attorney Philip Gunn, who is also a trustee of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville and a Republican state legislator, is advising the elders of Morris Heights Baptist Church to NOT discuss with police investigators details of their internal investigation into accused child molester John Langworthy (click here for links at New BBC Open Forum regarding Langworthy case).

Yes, you heard right. Gunn is claiming some sort of "priest-penitent" privilege that binds the church leaders to secrecy regarding THEIR discussions with Langworthy.

The church leaders/elders aren't priests. Then men aren't pastors. The men are lay people who are "elders". And they may have important information that could help prosecute a child molester but they won't talk to the investigators.

How much more of this nonsense are Baptists going to have to endure? So now the church elders are "men of God" and apparently are above having to answer questions from the police and prosecutors about a molester going on trial next spring ? Isn't this the entire problem - men in a church who think they are the ones to investigate molesters and who don't willingly hand over information to the police?

Bob Allen quotes Amy Smith of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), who sums it up quite well:

“It is very troubling that Philip Gunn as the legal representative for Morrison Heights Baptist Church is trying to keep information from Hinds County prosecutors about a recently arrested and indicted child molester on whose behalf Gunn attempted to ‘discuss a resolution’ with me last May."

“It certainly seems that Mr. Gunn has some explaining to do about why he, as an elder and attorney, participated in an internal church investigation into child sex crimes without going to the police. It raises the question of what he and the church leadership are trying to hide that could help effectively prosecute a confessed child molester.”

Good question. What are they trying to hide?

Again, as I wrote several days ago, until Christians are as disgusted over these actions by Morris Heights Baptist Church and Prestonwood Baptist Church in the John Langworthy case and stay away from these churches, it will be just more of the same, in Jesu's name and for his sake. Sick.

Watch this news report for more information on this case: