The main campus of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill. The megachurch has been in turmoil for months since sexual misconduct allegations against its founder, Bill Hybels, have come to light. Photo courtesy of Willow Creek Community Church

As Willow Creek reels, churches must reckon with how power corrupts

(RNS) — Amid new sexual misconduct allegations against founding pastor Bill Hybels, Willow Creek Community Church is facing a reckoning at all levels of leadership. The shameful situation at the iconic church should inspire Christian communities everywhere to take seriously how power corrupts, and guard more vigorously against its abuse.

Leaders have been dropping like flies this week at Willow Creek, a megachurch that draws about 25,000 worshippers to eight Chicago-area sites each weekend.

Lead teaching pastor Steve Carter resigned in protest Sunday (Aug. 5) after The New York Times reported a former executive assistant’s allegations that Hybels, now retired, had engaged her in unwanted fondling, which constitutes a type of sexual assault. Three days later, lead pastor Heather Larson also stepped down, citing a need for a “fresh start” at the church. The entire elder board resigned, too. Outgoing elder Missy Rasmussen apologized that the church had not been more proactive when the allegations against Hybels first came to light in 2014.

“We are sorry that we allowed Bill to operate without the kind of accountability that he should have had,” she said, Christianity Today reported.

This is a crucial moment for Willow Creek — and for myriad churches that follow its lead. It’s no exaggeration to say that Willow Creek sets the course for like-minded churches worldwide. Largely through the Global Leadership Network, which is supported by the Willow Creek Association, the church has modeled seismic growth using cutting-edge technology, the arts and consumer comforts not found in traditional houses of worship. How it responds to the allegations now, with new leadership and an independent council, could change how scores of evangelical churches respond to sexual misconduct in their midst.

I hope they get it right.

But I’m not sure Willow Creek can honestly evaluate itself without having to completely recast the way it operates as a church. The Hybels story is, of course, about sex — how sexual desire, left unchecked, damages relationships, marriages and entire ministries. But it is, at a far deeper level, about power: how individuals wield it and how institutions protect it.

Leaders’ sexual impropriety breeds on a power that whispers in their ears: “You are too big to fail.” What Willow Creek, and all Christian communities, need in our #MeToo/#ChurchToo moment is a sober reckoning with power — what power is, how it works in institutions and how to mitigate its subtle lure in churches led by magnetic men.

If money, sex and power are the unholy trinity of spiritual temptation, arguably most Christians have a relatively paltry understanding of the third. Churches teach regular tithing and Dave Ramsey-style financial management. Scads of books and articles are written every year helping Christians practice sexual purity before marriage and sexual fulfillment within it. By contrast, little is taught and written about power and its corrosive effects.

Bill Hybels in 2012. Photo by Marc Gilgen/Creative Commons


 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Arguably no mortal soul can properly steward alone the amount of power Hybels held at Willow Creek. He had built it from the ground up, meeting in a theater and growing from 125 to 2,000 people in two years. Charismatic and entrepreneurial, Hybels befriended then-President Clinton, Bono and Colin Powell, often appearing alongside them at the Global Leadership Summit, a two-day conference for church leaders.

According to Nancy Beach, one of Hybels’ accusers, he could be an exacting leader who didn’t tolerate imperfection among staff. Many of his best-selling books found success in the corporate business world. Over time, his name became synonymous with that of Willow Creek, which remains nondenominational and thus unaccountable to a larger denomination or governing body.

Hybels reported to a board of elders, but as The New York Times notes, oftentimes such boards are approved by the pastor, thus ensuring clergy can recruit friends and otherwise malleable followers. The reaction of Willow Creek’s elder board to the allegations suggests that they were more concerned with protecting the church’s image than pursuing the full truth or justice for potential victims.

According to allegations from at least three women, Hybels used his power, and the trust extended by staff, to pursue sexually inappropriate contact. But Willow Creek leaders also played a role in allowing such behavior to fester.

What would a healthy reckoning with power in Christian communities look like?

1. Churches must seek leaders who are accountable and vulnerable, not just charismatic and driven. Every leader, no matter how spiritually mature, educated and gifted, must submit to normal structures of unbiased accountability on multiple levels. This would mean, at least, a board of elders who are chosen independently of the pastor’s preference; a larger denominational body or regional pastors network that governs local affairs; and a supportive setting in which pastors can share vulnerably about all dimensions of their spiritual growth and challenges. Agreement to accountability should be part of the pastoral hiring process in every church. If an otherwise talented leader chafes against answering to other people, prepare for trouble.

2. Denominations should weed out power abusers. Research suggests a high number of people with narcissistic personality disorder end up in ministry. Narcissists are skilled power wielders, using manipulation, gaslighting and deceit to consolidate power for selfish ends. Denominations should use vigorous, thorough psychological testing to weed out leaders who for various reasons can’t be trusted with that much power over people's lives.

3. Empower the marginalized. If churches are really living out the faith they profess, they will do everything to share power with the powerless — including foremost those who have been sexually mistreated. After all, Christians believe that the kingdom of God brings a reversal of the world’s account of power. This means, for example, that people like Pat Baranowski — who shared a particularly heartbreaking account of Hybels’ behavior — will be believed, and that swift action will be taken to rectify wrongdoing against them.

If the church is worth its salt in the era of #MeToo, it will be the first, not last, place to believe women who come forward with painful stories — even if that means that our beloved pastors must come down off the pedestal.

(Katelyn Beaty is former managing editor of Christianity Today and the author of "A Woman's Place." The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

Comments

  1. Or else, we could think of a way of making church something that does not give leaders “power” over people’s lives. A way of not making a sermon, like the ones one can find on WC’s website, an occasion for emotional manipulation on the people attending, pretending to talk about God when it’s just some regular psychological stuff clothed in biblical examples. A way of not making church a whole list of what to do to manage your little life correctly, from money to sex to raising your children.
    Instead of constantly trying to invent ways of regulating these nondenominational things, which, by essence, are meant not to be regulated, why not realize there is a reason the traditional church was always denominational? Why cling to these carefully built business-like churches that treat “baptism” as a “favourite week-end at a private lake”, like it is some kind of activity that has the same intrinsic value as the next thing?
    Truth is, the devil is only too happy to have people who distort the ways of the Church that much. You can always try to create some checks and balances around that, but in the end, when you pretend to be the Church instead of being it, the spiritual disaster will transpire into the daily lives of people.

  2. Looking at the headline photograph, I can’t help to meditate on —
    “When the Son of Man returns; will He really find faith on the earth?” Luke
    Coincides with — “Many will say to Me, Lord, Lord…………………….go away, I never knew you.” Jesus (my paraphrase)
    “The road is Narrow and only a few will find it.” Jesus

  3. Back in January, Katelyn Beaty tweeted,

    “One of the greatest ironies of the history of Christianity is that its leaders constantly gave in to the temptation of power…even though they continued to speak in the name of Jesus, who did not cling to divine power but emptied himself and became as we are.” ~Henri Nouwen

    https://twitter.com/KatelynBeaty/status/949734722313342976

    I assume that when K. Beaty tweeted this, she knew that Henri Nouwen was a gay man. She surely knew this, since her own Christianity Today published a review of a collection of Nouwen’s letters, noting that he spoke from a specifically gay place as he engaged issues of power and the temptation of Christian leaders to abuse power and harm others through their misuse of power.

    https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/january-web-only/henri-nouwens-weakness-was-his-strength.html

    Beaty’s statement in point 3 of her article, regarding how the churches deal with the marginalized and powerless and their obligation to listen, in particular, to the sexually mistreated would be much more powerful (and honest) if she had specified that among those made powerless and marginalized by the churches specifically due to their sexuality are LGBTQ human beings.

    The refusal of many Christians, including centrist and liberal ones, to acknowledge that we who are LGBTQ are in the room, that we have names and stories to tell, that we, too, have a claim on the churches’ compassion, is deeply disturbing and painful to encounter over and over again.

  4. Willow (and many churches) have prioritized leadership and charisma over true Biblical Eldership. Mega-churches run themselves like businesses, with Elders selected for their accomplishments or positions in the business, legal, or financial world, rather than on how well they manifest Biblical qualifications. It’s not surprising that the Willow Board let their pastor run amok. There were all more concerned about protecting him and the Willow brand than they were safeguarding people and the name of Jesus Christ.

  5. Another symptom of the apostasy of modern Evangelicalism in America…

  6. I don’t know why you want to blame this on the devil. It sounds like people are making these decisions all by themselves.

  7. Any attempt to deal with LGBTQ human beings by a church which purports to be Christian which involves endorsement of same sex sexual activity creates a conflict which can only be resolved by admitting that the church is no longer part of the Christian moral tradition.

  8. So, who or what do you think “the devil” might be?

    Your answer probably relates to “I don’t know why you want to blame this on the devil”.

  9. I agree with your last paragraph, but only because the Christian refusal to “acknowledge that you’re in the room” cuts off priceless opportunities for “everyone in the room” to personally catch the vision of the incomparable Jesus pouring out His overwhelming, totally invincible power of 1 Cor 6:11, 1 Cor 10:13, and 1 John 1:9 upon theor lives..

    When God says, “Is Anything Too Hard For Me?” (Jer. 32:27), and Christians respond, “Yes Lord, You can’t do anything to heal, cleanse and eliminate Homosexuality, even if a repentent person asks You to do so” , then we’ve messed up on ourselves too (whether we’re straight or gay), because now we are really saying that God’s great promises and power really don’t work for ANY of an individual’s temptations, sins, and “feelings.”

  10. So, these mega-churches don’t make scads of money?

  11. You can check, if you like, by seeing if they file a tax return.

    The phrase “make money” has no intrinsic meaning in accounting.

    In common parlance it can mean:

    Have a great deal of revenue (receipt of assets including cash and other assets at some valuation).

    Have a great deal of net income (the excess of revenue over expenses).

    I would not be surprised to find a very large church would have a great deal of revenue and also very high expenses, that it would pay higher-than-average salaries.

    If that is a result of operating an actual business, it’s taxed as “unrelated business income”.

  12. It’s a business.. a for profit business. Do they do some good ? Sure and people need to believe in something I suppose but let’s not kid ourselves.. it’s about money and power.

  13. Just stop lynching gay and trans people, already, Your Blackness.

  14. Atheism is not a business. Christianity is.

  15. Add a fourth point. If Pastor Hybels (or Bill Clinton or Donald Trump) had obeyed the Pence Rule (aka the Graham Rule), much trouble, sin, and anguish could have been avoided. Additionally, in the new #MeToo era, a powerful man who meets alone, especially repeatedly, with a women not his wife is open to accusations that could end his career.

  16. I would not be surprised to find a very large church would have a great deal of revenue and also very high expenses, that it would pay higher-than-average salaries.

    Sooooooo, mega-churches are businesses. Thanks for clearing that up.

  17. Oh, you found they filed tax returns on business income?

    Can you share any with us?


  18. Roy, there is not a single valid prophesy of a modern event in the bible with testable specifics and specific dates. The entire set of Christian beliefs is pure fantasy and fiction. Christianity pretty much follows the Recipe for a Successful Religion, which merits quoting here:

    1. Promise the most outrageous and wonderful things in an afterlife. The wilder the promises, the better, since no one will ever be able to call you on them. Heck, offer eternal bliss, health, wealth, whatever you can think of. Offer hundreds of virgins if you have to to be competitive with that other religion; you’ll be out of Dodge before anyone can prove you wrong anyway.

    2. Invoke an all-powerful all-knowing all-etc. Deity. Give it a short name. If your imagination isn’t too inspired, don’t let that stop you; generic “God” seems to work fine although it’s been taken more than a few times. “Bob” might be a little too common, though.

    3. Prey on people’s guilt: propose an arbitrary set of moral standards. Guilt is incredibly powerful. Put some obviously acceptable stuff in, like being nice to others, just so that you don’t seem too wacky, but put some weird rules in like not eating cheese in December, or praying while doing a handstand. This is important so you can laugh at your gullible followers when they actually follow these ridiculous rules.

    4. Make all kinds of vague predictions and promises about the future. They must be vague; never commit to anything that can be empirically tested. Especially do not specify dates in the future. Avoid any questions about specifics; it is essential to your success that you don’t get pinned down by observable reality.

    5. Predict the past. Grab a history text and go wild: show how your religion accurately explains past events. Claim 100% accuracy -it’s yours for the taking.

    6. Claim your religion as the one true religion. Denigrate all the others; no one likes to be in the wrong social group, so this can be a very effective tactic. This is very important in another way: exactly the gullible sort of fodder that you want to convert to your one true way are most likely to be found following competing religions.

    7. If you are short of more ideas, steal from other religions. Those Christian guys did it repeatedly, so you won’t be the first. Steer away from modern sects like those Pastafarians though; those guys are just too smart and funny.

    and so on…
    ?
    ?
    10. Profit…or just laugh.

    Pretty pathetic “god” that you’ve made for yourself there.

    Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

  19. Ok……………so I ‘break the chains’ and ‘join the movement’………………
    What happens then? How will my life change for the better? Thanks.

  20. What are the advantages of being an atheist? How will my life change if I ‘break the chains’?

  21. I first attended Willow in 1985, and after moving away have attended downtown for the last five years. I have heard Bill Hybels speak many times, and can tell you that:

    1. He never claimed perfection, admitted numerous failures, and exhorted us all to come to grips with the Biblical story that God is great, people are imperfect, and we need help from Jesus and His Holy Spirit;

    2. He often told of discussions with elders and submitting to their desires (albeit not without argument at times);

    Power corrupts. It’s why there is great wisdom in limiting human power. Satan offered Jesus power as part of the 40 days of temptation.

    I am waiting for Biblical inspiration, not a new theology, to help figure out how to better deal with power abuses that can cause victims to stay quiet, but this topic of victim reporting fear has been around for decades, which is why most organizations have ombudsmen and inspector generals and whistleblower procedures and victim hotlines and boards of directors and elders. And there still remains the need for agreement on the truth. I know it’s not politically correct to question accusers/victims, but I worship a Savior who was falsely accused so I just can’t totally discount it can happen. I also recognize the desire for leaders to hold themselves above reproach and be prepared to prove their innocence (I’m not sure where this principal is found in Scripture but it doesn’t sound non-Scriptural: I don’t know anywhere in the Bible where it says to never question leaders).

    Even God says “test me in this” and gives a defense of Himself in Job.

  22. Especially if he harasses, molests or assaults them.

    Most adult men don’t do those things, even when they meet alone with the opposite sex — because they actually like women.

  23. So all you’re saying with your examples is that five out of five christian heterosexual men, three of whom do it for a living, cannot be trusted around heterosexual women. With one exception, all of my heterosexual atheist friends can be. With one exception I would trust any of them with my nieces. And surprisingly, not a single one of them has ever been accused of doing anything that they shouldn’t have been doing. There were no accusations ending their careers

    Hmmmmmmm.

  24. I will have you know that I have made a pile of money by being an atheist. Soon, I will be able to afford my first candy bar.

  25. It would probably be more accurate to say that covers most churches, not most Christians. If Christians of bobworld had much to do with the Christian moral tradition, we’d call them Unitarians.

    After all, apparently you can’t leave them alone with women.

  26. Please allow me to make the comment that it is not about sex. Rather I think it is about what people have been hearing, including the leaders about what the “gospel’ is commonly perceived to be. People, including pastors operate out of a persuasion of the self-what they think and feel about themselves. If after say, twenty years hearing the “gospel’ and yet dabbling in secret sin without conviction, this says something about the kind of “gospel’ people are hearing and believing. At this particular location, it is clear that the structure of leader-ship was un-biblical: The pastor led church. Scripturally, churches are led by Apostles(Ephesians 4:11) Another very important point to make is that the injunction laid down by scripture to the congregants to follow leaders as they follow the lord(1 Corinthians 11:1 )was obviously not adhered to. Man worship must cease immediately in the house of God.

  27. I deeply appreciate this article.

    Will elders and boards read and discuss these points in stark detail? Will pastors – lead and senior pastors – open these discussions with staff and ministry leaders?

    Do senior pastors desire to crucify their own flesh, dying to themselves, for the sake of the flock? Is there humility that voluntarily acknowledges their own human frailty and the necessity of true accountability? Is it important enough to submit to others?

  28. He can’t. All he can do is spout his “rational” hatred.
    They only know their man-centric view of the world.

  29. It is hard to deny that the Pence rule would have prevented the problem at Willow Creek. So you don’t. The point of the article is that men with very high amounts of power (i.e. not most men) would benefit from checks on their power that most men don’t need. If you are really powerful, you face temptations greater than most. Moreover, in the #MeToo era, the sword is double edged. A woman can now bring down a powerful man by a mere accusation. Is it hard to grasp the point of the article, that great power differentiates any situation from the normal situation?

  30. At least they are cleaning house and trying to start over again unlike some churches that date back to the middle ages in Europe. Love the three suggestions for improving the situation. We could even apply that to selection of political leaders.

  31. With great power comes great responsibility. But it isn’t great power we’re talking about.. It’s the pastor of a church. Large fish, small pond. In particular, we are talking about the morals of professional moralists— at least I am.

    Funny how those accusations were not made about Obama, shrub, Bush, resgan and Carter.

  32. The point of the article is that men with very high levels of power are not like most men. If power corrupts, then the powerful face risks beyond the normal. Most men don’t need thorough psychological testing and formal accountability agreements, two of the original post’s requirements. But if they need those two things, then they might need the Pence rule, too.

  33. Actually credible accusations were made about Bush (41), JFK, LBJ, and several other presidents, both in recent memory and past history. And there have been plenty of #MeToo moments in business, the media, entertainment, the medical profession, etc. The issue isn’t the size of the pond, it is the dangers of a power imbalance. I agree that pastors need to be held to a very high standard. The Pence rule would help some of them keep that standard.

  34. I left out JFK and Johnson for that reason. 41? Supposedly credible, but went nowhere. But in that case, you just made the case for another conservative Christian who can’t be trusted around women.

  35. “People, including pastors operate out of a persuasion of the self-what they think and feel about themselves. If after say, twenty years hearing the “gospel’ and yet dabbling in secret sin without conviction, this says something about the kind of “gospel’ people are hearing and believing.”
    I agree with you 100%, yet simultaneously, disagree with you.
    It says something about the kind of people who use their bibles to tell other people how to live their lives, what those other people should do. Something about whited sepulchers, throwing stones, motes and beams, and judging. As I have said many times on these very pages, and will say until the end of life…
    How you read and use the bible really depends on the kind of person you are. The bible doesn’t turn you into that person; you are already there. For accusations against a evangelical megachurch pastor– something about praying in private, not on the street corner also comes to mind– that pastor is demonstrating this in spdes.

  36. I lived in Switzerland for two years. The Swiss are very honest, much more so on average than Americans, but they lock everything up and audit their banks. That doesn’t mean that Swiss can’t be trusted around money or property. It means they are careful and have a culture of carefulness. And they are very conservative, in general, about money.

    I have never voted for Pence for any office, including his current one, so I am not biting on a distraction. The point of my comment is the value of the eponymous rule for people in power positions (see Psalm 146:3), which could just as well be called the Graham rule. That value was ignored in the original post. The author of the original post doesn’t like the rule, but she is proposing less realistic rules. The rule is less intrusive and demeaning than requiring pastors (or candidates or media personalities or journalists) to undergo “thorough psychological testing”, simpler and more easily adopted, and probably more effective, since the original post makes the point that high-power people can be very good at deception.

  37. Bill Clinton was known for liking women, arguably too much so. Embezzlers actually like money. The issue is not whether one likes women, it is whether very powerful people should adopt habits that keep them and their organizations out of trouble.

  38. IMagine how much poverty could have been alleviated for the price of that mega building.

  39. Example: “In 2008 Lakewood had a $70 million budget, up from $50 million in 2005.”

  40. If Atheism is a business..I am getting screwed out of dividends.

  41. we offer free cookies

    Plus…sleeping late on Sunday.

  42. used to be a youth minister for one….now atheistic humanist

  43. I may disagree with Pence on about everything, but I agree with his policy as it relates to kids. Just…never ever ever be alone with a kid not your own.

  44. Especially since no evidence of any devil has been demonstrated.

  45. There’s nothing wrong with this article. But just be aware of the fact that this isn’t a mega-church problem. It’s not a small or medium sized church problem. It’s not a church problem. It’s a human problem.

  46. “It says something about the kind of people who use their bibles to tell other people how to live their lives, what those other people should do.”

    Is that inferior in some significant to telling other people how to run their society based on your urges and needs?

  47. The sight of a black man discriminating against the LGBTQ+ community is very troubling to me.

  48. Try reading my post in more detail -not just the signature line. If you can see past your delusions, it will open up a whole reality for you.

  49. I actually never sleep late. Too much to do in my one life. But your point is valid. I just have better ways of using the time.

  50. they all eventually became Scientologists 😉

  51. I asked you a serious question……………….
    If I “break the chains”……………….how will my life be different? Tell me how my life is in some alleged bondage?
    So I can screw as many women as I desire? Is this the benefit of Atheism?

  52. I’m Sold!!! I love sleeping in on Sundays. Thanks for helping. 🙂

  53. “So all you’re saying with your examples is that five out of five christian heterosexual men…”

    This is just being silly on your part. Five or three or examples do not mean 100%. If I pointed out three bank robbers, you wouldn’t be justified in saying that I thought all men are bank robbers.

    “ three of whom do it for a living”

    This is incoherent. What do you mean by a Christina being heterosexual for a living?

    You totally, totally missed the point in the original post about power imbalances and the opportunities and temptations that go with that. Most people can be trusted with money, but some cannot, and especially if they are in a position to get away with it. That is why prudent institutions have financial auditors and strict accounting practices. These are actually more common than thorough psychological testing of bank tellers and officers.

  54. What do you mean by “this” and “these decisions”?
    In any case, the devil is always at the root of every sin and error we fall into, just as it was in Eden. The devil is at the origin of Protestantism, as well as any heresy, and he is also behind every sinner who does something that goes against God’s will. This is Christianity 101. That we make the final call does not mean the idea is not originally from the one who always wants us to stray from God.

  55. the “is anything too hard for me?” relates more realistically to converting those christians who don’t understand that god made some gay, lesbian (and on), and that the bible as it is, is not condemning those who follow and believe.

  56. Clinton didn’t like women; he used them, and above that, he disrespected his own wife.

    Men who respect and care for women won’t need this rule. Men who don’t respect women won’t benefit from it. Do you honestly think that a manipulative jerk like Hybels couldn’t have found a way around the Pence/Graham/Whoever Rule?

  57. I didn’t need to find tax returns. You said it yourself: Mega-churches likely have a lot of revenue and higher-than-average salaries. That makes them businesses.

    If its main purpose is to line the pockets of its leaders, then a tax-exempt business is still a business.

  58. You’ve defined business, you’ve defined big, you’ve defined yourself as right, you’ve defined their purpose for existence.

    Now define yourself gone, at least as far as dealing with me.

  59. Assuming you’re a Christian, as I am, I have to wonder what you mean by this. Are you saying that anyone who attempts to use reason does so out of pride? Are you suggesting that reason and faith in Jesus are mutually exclusive? “Reason Over Religion” seems to think that way, but do you agree? I certainly don’t.

  60. I’m not convinced that power, in and of itself, is capable of corrupting anyone. It’s a common maxim, but I think it’s a little inaccurate. There’s a more nuanced assessment that makes more sense to me: Power is attractive to the already-corrupted, and to the easily-corruptible.

    I also like what Abraham Lincoln had to say on the topic — if you want to know a man’s true character, give him power. This would suggest that the nature of power is similar to the Super Soldier Serum, as described by its creator in the first Captain America movie: It makes good men better, and bad men worse.

    If that’s the case, then it makes a lot of sense to test potential leaders for personality disorders, in order to help weed out the bad people, and keep the reins of power out of their hands.

  61. The author of the original post doesn’t like the rule, but she is proposing less realistic rules. The rule is less intrusive and demeaning than requiring pastors (or candidates or media personalities or journalists) to undergo “thorough psychological testing”…

    You think that the Pence/Graham/Whoever Rule isn’t demeaning? How do you think it feels to be told that I can’t have normal relations (either friendly or professional) with an adult of the opposite sex? To be told, tacitly or otherwise, that I’m incapable of controlling myself because I’m a man, or that I need to fear the possibility of another adult’s accusations simply because she’s a woman?

    Have you considered that females in the workforce might be needlessly hampered in their jobs by this rule? Based on what I’ve read from other online commenters, many women consider a rule like this to be an unnecessary and unhelpful complication on normal relations with co-workers. They seem to find it very intrusive and demeaning to hear that, as professional adults, they still need a chaperone with the opposite sex. I agree.

  62. No. I was just being snarky. I don’t like that bob is constantly attacked – although he holds his own.
    I do believe that those on this board who deny Christ or the creator (or say they are without sin) are guilty of pride.

  63. Some of them, yes. You’d think that black people would understand that lynching is wrong, but apparently not.

  64. Free yourself. Devils are not Behind anything. And many Protestants claim that the Red Whore of Babylon, aka the RCC, is of the devil.

    When you can prove that a devil exists, and that he is behind anything except your imagination, let me know.

  65. If you want to know a man’s true character, give him a Bible.

  66. We could begin by having you exorcised and seeing what happens.

  67. “The power paradox is this: we rise in power and make a difference in the world due to what is best about human nature, but we fall from power due to what is worst. We gain a capacity to make a difference in the world by enhancing the lives of others, but the very experience of having power and privilege leads us to behave, in our worst moments, like impulsive, out-of-control sociopaths.” (2)

    “Attack the stigma that devalues women in society. Confront racism that costs African Americans in terms of their health and well-being and contribution to society. Call into question elements of society–solitary confinement, underfunded schools, police brutality–that devalue people. And seek change. Create opportunities within your community and workplace that empower those who have suffered disempowerment due to the moral mistakes of the past. This may not feel like the game-changing social revolutions of earlier times, but they are quiet revolutions just the same, and they are very much needed today.” (163)

    From Dacher Keltner’s book, The Power Paradox. cf. https://vialogue.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/the-power-paradox-review-notes/

  68. This means, for example, that people like Pat Baranowski — who shared a particularly heartbreaking account of Hybels’ behavior — will be believed, and that swift action will be taken to rectify wrongdoing against them.

    No, it means that they will be HEARD, and their charges investigated. The New Testament explicitly forbids disciplinary action based on a single person’s accusations.

    J’accuse is not the way of the Church, anymore than coverups should be the way.

  69. No, you can’t, because exorcism doesn’t work; there is no “devil” there to be exorcised. If you think otherwise, then present even one modern, verifiable instance of an exorcism actually removing a devil from a human.

    If you cannot do that, then please retract your latest insulting attack on Ben.

  70. Your pride prevents you seeing that which stands right before you – the one, true, living God.
    Repent.

  71. I feel sorry for you. Your limited ability to reason prevents you from understanding what can’t be seen but exists right in front of you.
    He is the way, the truth and the life.
    I will pray for you.

  72. Ok…………….so I “break the chains” and join the ‘modern world’. Then what? Can I screw as many girls as I want? Can I stick my penis into a man’s anus and it be righteous?

  73. Reason is the disease of the soul. Inoculate it with trust in the Lord.

  74. Glad you agree with me. Thank you for acknowledging that.

  75. Same cut and paste as before….
    If you would take the time to learn a bit of theology; or, open your heart to the truth, you may understand.
    Instead your vanity and arrogance rules your heart and thus your soul.
    I will pray for you brother.

  76. Curious that the matter of consent is not even mentioned by you. How typically Christian of you.

  77. Cut and paste. You have no original thought or faith. I’ll pray for your conversion brother.

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