A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

A Shepherd Who Does not Know What a Wolf Looks Like is not a true Shepherd

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Eph 6:12-13)

One of the original purposes of the A Cry for Justice ministry was and is to educate pastors and elders and church members about the nature and tactics of the domestic abuser hiding in local churches. But as I suppose most all of you already know, these very people are typically quite resistant to learning.

What we try to explain to them, if we even get an opportunity to do so, is that of all people, pastors and church leaders MUST grow wise about this evil. And then we try to explain to them why this is so necessary.

The verses quoted above tell it. Christians are faced with an enemy whose constant mission is to destroy them. To destroy their faith. To wage war against their souls. To divide and conquer churches. To pollute and pervert the gospel. Prowling, prowling, always prowling and looking for an opportunity.

And what we have said over and over and over again is that if a Christian truly wants to learn about this enemy and his tactics, then get with it and study this thing called abuse and abusers. Because the abuser is one of the most common and clear examples of how the enemy comes against us — the wolf in sheep’s clothing come among the flock. What kind of a shepherd is a pastor if he remains ignorant of our enemy and fails to see him there among the sheep? Many actually become the duped ally of the wolf.

The devil, our adversary, is not of flesh and blood. So how does he come among us? How does he work his evil tactics? Many Christians act like he is to be directly attacked by various means and formulas — spiritual warfare it is often called. But the fact is, our non-corporeal enemy uses very corporeal agents to do his destruction. Let me explain.

In every single local church I have been the pastor of, there were people who craved self-glory and power. People who paraded themselves as the holiest of the holy and claimed to really have an inside track with the Lord. All of them insisted that the pastor (me) exalt them, support them, promote them, and put them first. When I would not, they went to work destroying. It really is the very same thing Paul so often wrote about in the New Testament. Take his letter to the Galatians for instance:

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? (Gal 3:1-2)

Or his second epistle to the Corinthians:

For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. (2 Cor 11:19-20)

Do you see it? Satan comes to us through his servants; through evil people who claim to belong to Christ but who are actually emissaries of the devil, seeking power and control for themselves (and thus for their diabolical master). If a pastor will diligently study the nature and tactics of the abuser, he will surely become wise in regard to the enemy that is trying to destroy him, his ministry, and his flock. If he is arrogant and refuses to learn, he will necessarily become the ally of evil, either passively or actively. Because, you see, evil is evil. Just as the Jewish religious leaders who Jesus confronted were children of their father the devil and shared in his murderous character, so abusers all share certain fundamental qualities that will serve us well in identifying them if we are wise.

And so, if a pastor for example is spending vast amounts of time in what is so often called “spiritual warfare,” by praying or rebuking the devil or other such methods, but all the while remaining ignorant of what his enemy looks like and how his enemy is certainly going to come against him, then all of that pastor’s efforts will be for naught.

After many, many years of frustration dealing with wicked, destructive people in churches, my awakening moments came when I finally had my eyes opened to who these people really were and how they went about their deeds of darkness. They were abusers. They were people who lusted for power and control over others. They were people who paraded as Christians but were not. They were people who ALL used very, very similar tactics to work their evil and oppose Christ’s work. And with help, I was able to learn and NAME these tactics! I cannot tell you how freeing that is as you realize that you are not crazy and that all of the problems you have suffered for so long, for which the abusers have blamed you, turn out not to be your fault after all.

And that is when I was set free, and our entire church was set free. Because that which had been hidden for so many years was now out in the light. The evil of abuse, the nature of abusers, was laid bare before all. And eventually the wicked could no longer stand the light.

***

If you’ve never commented on this blog before it is important to read our New Users’ Info page because it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog. And if you’re new to this blog we encourage you look at our FAQs.  The New Users Info page and the FAQs can also be found on the top menu bar.

19 Comments

  1. Absolutely, so true. The churches of my background weren’t so much about rebuking the devil, but about making sure “doctrine” was “pure.” They were on guard for “false teachers.” All in scare quotes, of course, because surprise, surprise, the ones who are the worst false teachers with the most terrible doctrine are often the ones who look like they’re maintaining the “purest” doctrine–one young man related recently that it wasn’t unheard of for his father to write a 40-page letter to someone about how a certain Greek pronoun should be parsed–his way, of course. These wolves are certainly living out their false doctrine, but it takes someone who recognizes it and will believe the victims in order to make sense of it. Thank you for this post, Jeff.

    • Jeff Crippen

      The seminaries exalt “exegesis” and minute examination of Hebrew and Greek prefixes, words, prepositions, syntax, etc. Students who are good at this are exalted. But NO ONE teaches about true evil. NO ONE that I know of in any seminary I know of.

      • Rebecca Davis

        I think Boz Tchividjian is making some headway in seminaries with teaching about sexual abuse. That’s a chip at the monolith.

      • Yes 🙂

  2. Herjourney

    When I finally saw the subtle ways the abuser controls their victim and made a bold choice to say… NO! The abuse escalated. Winning was the main objective.
    I saw the evil ways the abuser sets up to cover his sin. And then project it on his victim. If one tactic didn’t work? Surly the next one would!
    Thanks be to God who saw what He was doing. It’s a game to them. Intimidation is used to wear the victim over. The light will drive them away. I have witnessed this over and over.
    Be a light! Satan hates the light. Keep
    Shinning the light. Perseverance pays off. 💜

  3. I wonder, what is the answer? Not to go to church at all? I have not gone for three years because of bad experience and…don’t know where to start. We are supposed to be with God’s flock. Is it enough that it is written in our heart? If we are not among believers, is it not easier for the enemy to attack us?

    • I don’t think there is a one ‘answer’ to your question. I know for myself I generally go into a church for a service on Sunday, but I may not always stay for the sermon, I may just sing the hymns and hear the scripture read and leave before the sermon.
      And I listen to good sermons on the web such as from Jeff Crippen (Christ Reformation Church Tillamook) and Liam Goligher (Tenth Presbyterian Church Philadelphia).

      I also read lots of web posts by good theologians — The recent Trinity Debate has made me interested in hearing/reading people like Fred Sanders and Scott Swain. And in the absence of good face to face Christian fellowship, I find that reading biographies about or books by great Christians from the past, is helpful.

  4. bright sunshinin' day

    NoMoreTears, it does seem difficult to find a healthy church these days! In my own journey to stay away from the wolves and find a healthy church, I’ve tried to avoid those who seem more interested in self-worship or exalting a “celebrity pastor” over exalting Christ. God will not share His glory with another.

    Rebecca, your comment highlights the need to examine what is really behind those who are making sure the “doctrine” is “pure.” Again, is it for self-glory or God’s glory? While we are called to study Scripture so we rightly understand, obey, and live it, we do not want to be like the Pharisees who Jesus spoke of in John 5:39-40: “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me [Jesus]. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” Wow! The teachers of the law in all their study of Scripture and strict adherence to it – missed Jesus!

    • standsfortruth

      Boy did they ever miss Jesus.
      Gnat strainers and Camel swallowers they are..
      Those who twist Gods scriptures to their own destruction .
      Any subject for them to focus on insted of the Heart of the matter-that would set the captives free.

      Evil that parades itself as holy but lacks truth
      Is very much like our spouce abusers.
      Denying the very truth that would set us free.

      There will be a day of reckoning for their mishandling of Gods Word someday.

      When the victim to become aware of it all, it is indeed a blessing, as we can see the evil and finally remove ourselves, and shake the dust from our feet.

      The only church that I trust today is THIS ONE, that gave me the truth clarity and validation, that I needed to help set me free from both my abusive husband and the church that continued to deny and downplay my 30 years of abuse.-

      Thank you ACFJ as you continue to proclaim Truth of Gods Word which offers newness of life and hope to the afflicted.

  5. Once you see the light the playbook of the wicked is rather predictable!

  6. Anonymous

    Thank you so much!

  7. MarkQ

    Yeah, in addition to doctrinal purity as Rebecca mentioned, I think in a heavily patriarchal system, seminary is about deprogramming the learned helplessness prevalent in the culture. The churches beat the “you are worthless” drum so hard that there seems to be a conscious effort within seminaries to flip that over to “you are God’s gift to the church”.

    It’s interesting. I was in a place where I heard lots of seminarians preach, and there is definitely a transition from the “preaching to us” mentality to the “preaching to you” mentality.

    Biblical counseling has been added broadly as training, but based on Tripp/TT, and a lot of anecdotal evidence from those who have gone to the church for help, I think it’s a complete waste of time.

  8. StandaWithAFist

    Several years ago I was visiting a friend in another city, and my visit fell on a day that she was leading a Bible study to women.
    She said something that day I never forgot:
    “Jesus gathers, Satan scatters”.
    I don’t even remember the scripture she was teaching from, b/c my mind was racing with that truth:
    when a wolf is in the sheepfold, the sheep scatter, they run & hide, they cower, they are agitated, fearful, fragmented & confused.
    But when the Good Shepherd is there, He gathers the sheep unto Himself. There is peace, there is calm, there is protection, there is clarity.
    That visual metaphor has helped me; I wanted to share it in case it may help others here.

    “Jesus gathers, Satan scatters.”

    • Thanks SWAF 🙂

      Taking what you said further… there is also the counterfeit of this phenomenon. There are many on the broad road, many who admire the celebrity ‘c’hristian leaders, many who point the judgemental finger at those who run and cower when these big names get the podium in ‘c’hurches…

      Satan gathers the pseudo-believers and the foolish and the proud. They are easy to gather into a pseudo-flock. But Satan also he tries his hardest to keep the naive sheep under his control (or at least to keep them under his influence).

      The sheer numbers gathered together in that mixed-up-messed-up camp seem to offer a collective security: peace, calm, protection and clarity. But the Holy Spirit will reveal to the spirit of a Christian that there is something NQR — Not Quite Right. So the true believer feels (even if only faintly) agitated, fearful, fragmented & confused…and this gives the believer the impulse to run, to hide, to cower.

      • StandsWithAFist

        Yes, abusers are quite skilled at counterfeit.
        Because this past week was the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, there were many programs on tv reviewing WWII…. and, of course, the deception and abuse of Adolf Hitler on an entire nation, continent & the world.
        It was just as you described: a pseudo-flock of naive sheep under the influence of a skilled, coercive leader, “enjoying” a “collective security” that was an illusion, a mirage, a fake.
        Hitler was a fraud on a global scale.
        Those who dared to oppose him were targeted for destruction.
        Yet, like many abusers, the charade & counterfeit eventually exposed itself & imploded….but only after millions of lives were destroyed, both literally & figuratively.
        Counterfeits cannot be sustained forever, b/c of the inherent destructive nature of the counterfeit itself. (Think Doug Phillips, SGM, Mark Driscoll, etc.)
        Wolves are destructive….and we must trust our instincts, our own gut reaction & flee.
        But it’s difficult: the deception is slick, smooth, skilled.
        I am so grateful for ACFJ.
        And I like your NQR!! Not Quite Right.
        Charles Spurgeon once said “discernment is not merely knowing right from wrong, but knowing right from ‘almost’ right”.
        Not Quite Right, indeed.

      • The short path to heresy is not in denying biblical teaching. The short path to heresy is just in affirming part of biblical teaching. Honing in on a verse, honing in on an idea, and trying to let that be the be all and end all of your theology. But the orthodox fathers said no no no, we can’t do that! Scripture can’t function as our supreme authority unless it’s the total message of scripture that’s our authority.

        Dr Scott Swain said this in his talk God from God, Light from Light: Retrieving the Doctrine of Eternal Generation
        (~ 21 minutes into the talk).

  9. Anonymous

    “I cannot tell you how freeing that is as you realize that you are not crazy and that all of the problems you have suffered for so long, for which the abusers have blamed you, turn out not to be your fault after all.”

    Jeff, this is SO TRUE! When God was first waking me up to this truth through His word, it took a long time for me to be able to hold this truth in front of myself–it kept slipping back down behind all the lies I’d been fed my entire life. Between the Catholic church and its, “You’re working your way to heaven so you need to keep working!” (by the way this is of Satan–HE’S the one who wants true Christian’s to doubt their salvation and keep working like crazy for HIM) and the psychology of the day that told me to fix it myself and figure out what I did to cause or contribute to it–I was hopelessly depressed and felt worthless. Even though I had given my life to Jesus through a VBS-type program at a very young age, I was set adrift among the many who didn’t realize the difference between Catholicism and Christianity–but I got just enough to help me know that once Jesus entered your heart He was there forever–which is probably the only thing that kept me from committing suicide at a very young age.

    So when He tore down the lies that I’d built my life on, at first it was terrifying. I had no where to hide and many of the books I read about psychopaths and abusers weren’t Christian and many were new age so I was careful in how much I took in. And nobody in the Christian community seemed to see what I was forced to see. I ended up reading anything that spoke truth and I took all of it to God. Any new information I gleaned I went right to His word, I begged Him and demanded that He show me in His word where He had written about it (by the way, IT’S ALL THERE–written down for us for our own protection and proof that GOD knew about what was gonna take place) and I refused to believe any more lies. I’d already lost everything that I’d been told was foundational for me–my family, my church, my education (I’d given this up), my children–and in the worst kind of way (or so I thought at the time was the worst kind of way) God allowed me to learn the truth without the need to conform any longer to the standards of this world.

    It’s funny how this happens–for a person like me who was SO CAREFUL her entire life to behave, not harm, pay attention, be a blessing……to have it all fall apart while I was working SO HARD! “Jesus…lover of my soul….Jesus, please don’t ever let me go.” When I let go of all of it–(when God forced me to let go of it by taking it all away) and when I turned and told God that I hated him for what he’d allowed to happen in my life…this was when I started to grow up. When I admitted to myself and to Him that I HATED him for the evil in my life. Why did things change? Well, GOD already knew I was angry at him, but I had to allow MYSELF to admit this and to be able to TELL God this…AND TO NOT BE REJECTED BY HIM. Far from rejecting me, God, for the first time in my life, was able to reach my heart!

    And so it went–for years. I went back to college, I stopped following many of the social norms that I felt enslaved me and had allowed evil ones the chance to manipulate me through false guilt, God kept (keeps) putting me in situations that forced me to take a stand even when I wanted to run and hide, and He made me fall in love…with Him. He was never harmed by my anger or my fear and He was always right there, even when I tried to push Him away and to quit Him and to give up…He stayed right with me, stoically.

    You see, God already knew the truth about the lies that had formed my foundation, about the lies that told me to serve my husband as god, about the lies that good behavior or saying the right thing made you a good person……and all the other things that this website exposes to the light. So when I finally admitted that I hated all of it, was when He could then show me the HE hated it too because it WASN’T FROM HIM, I could finally HEAR what He had to say to me through His word. And His word speaks PLAINLY of all these things.

    Thanks again Jeff for a place to put this stuff. Same thing, different day, but it’s all so important if it helps someone who is walking in despair to know they are not alone and that the lies and evil they see are NOT from God. And that they can trust that He has a plan–just for them…..because He loves them special–they are special just to Him. This is so important to know–that God loves each of his little ones individually–uniquely–and always.

    • when I turned and told God that I hated him for what he’d allowed to happen in my life…this was when I started to grow up. When I admitted to myself and to Him that I HATED him for the evil in my life. Why did things change? Well, GOD already knew I was angry at him, but I had to allow MYSELF to admit this and to be able to TELL God this…AND TO NOT BE REJECTED BY HIM. Far from rejecting me, God, for the first time in my life, was able to reach my heart!

      By being honest with God and telling Him you hated him, you were in effect ‘fastening on the belt of truth’ (Ephesians 6:14).

      Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: