Kris, over at SGM Survivors decided to use her blog powers of Oz and come out from behind the curtain to lay down the final, all-knowing Word on the “real” problems behind SGM’s constant hemorrhaging; allegations of heinous abuse, each one more disturbing and shocking than the last.
Kris’s final word: It has nothing to do with the doctrine.
Well, then…as John Immel astutely points out: Alakazam! Poof! I guess it’s magically not the doctrine.
Now, as a fifteen year member of the SGM juggernaut, an expert in neo-Calvinist doctrine by immersion (as far as I know, Kris has never been a member of SGM), and as one who has actually read Calvin’s Institutes, let me just say: categorically, she could not be more wrong.
I love Kris, and what she has and continues to expose in SGM’s meat-grinder “family” of churches has helped uncounted numbers of people avoid the trauma and despair of such hell on earth.
However, she and I both know that none of that gives her the right to declare that the interpretive premises of Calvinism, a doctrine which SGM wholeheartedly ascribes to and employs ruthlessly, has nothing to do with the the abuses suffered not only by innocent children, but by every past and present member of SGM (and every neo Calvinist church in the world). To be a member of a Calvinist church IS to be abused; for abuse and pain is HOW you, as a Calvinist church member, KNOW you have TRUTH.
At any rate, Kris’s “hammer of blog omnipotence” came down upon me and I was unable to respond further to an egregious allegation by a poster who refers to him/herself as “Presbyterian”; his (angry) allegation, clearly written through clenched teeth, which went as follows (in part):
“Generally, Calvinist churches are less authoritarian, they put less authority in the leaders and more in documents, they are constitutional if you will.”
The ignorance which gushes from this statement is enough to send one reeling. I struggled to find words. I posted a response, but I knew I could do better. But still…struggling to find words to respond to such rank blindness…such fantasy, I decided to go to the “Apostle” John Calvin, himself. After all, I’m arguing that Calvinism breeds abuse by default, and that abuse is driven by Calvin’s doctrine. Well…thankfully, old Johnny has provided me a resource in his Institutes which makes trips to the library and adventures in Google blissfully unnecessary. So, without further ado, forget what I might say, let’s hear from our great and benevolent, Pope Calvin:
“For the doctrine then obtains its full authority and produces its due effect when the minister not only declares to all the people together what is their duty to Christ, but has the right and means of enforcing it upon them whom he observes to be inattentive or not obedient to the doctrine.”
-John Calvin, Chapter 12, Institute of the Christian Religion
Now, someone explain to me how you get from that to Presbyterian’s (I wonder if Presbyterian is a Calvinist pastor…it would explain a LOT; I’m sure, to the purveyors of Calvin’s particular brand of tyranny, a pastor is merely an instrument of God’s mercy and love, even while lighting the match to set ablaze the heretics) assertion that Calvinism breeds tolerance and suffrage to the bliss and eternal peace of believers the world over.
Let me interpret Calvin’s words for you, in case the medieval, dilettante English, noted for its carefully euphemistic and nuanced styled, has lost some of its profundity.
What Calvin is saying is EXACTLY what CJ Mahaney says; what Ligon Duncan, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Mark Driscoll, John Piper, John MacAurther, and the countless other Calvinist despots postulate: That YOU cannot think for yourself. That THEY are the ones who will decide what is and what is not “sound doctrine”, what the “infallible” “Word” of God REALLY says and means; and if THEY, based on whatever capricious interpretations or whims they want to use in any given moment decide that you are not following it properly, that you are “inattentive” and “not obedient”, that
THEY have the DIVINE RIGHT to punish you, and as their right as the sole interpreters of “doctrine” imply, will punish you in whatever way they see fit, because holding to “sola scriptura” is nothing more than proclaiming their gnostic right to determine just what the Bible and God are saying at any given moment.
How again can this breed ANYTHING but authoritarianism?
But again, none of this matters. It’s never the doctrine, because if its the doctrine, then everyone, all us self righteous posters (including myself), and impeccable Brent Detwiler, all those “good” churches that left SGM out of “seeing the light” (and not out of rank doctrinal hypocrisy, which is precisely what they use as a defense: in other words they use the very theology they believe to denounce the very theology they believe), and even Kris, herself, become complicit in the abuse. And that is something they will NEVER concede; they cannot even begin to stomach it. People love to point fingers. We are a finger-pointing society. It’s them! It’s CJ! Let’s get the judge to throw the book at him…let’s get the judge to FORCE him to get the doctrine right. Burn him!…burn him at the stake for actually believing and acting upon and applying the doctrine that we ALL believe and accept, and nodded and clapped our approval of from the purple chairs in our dearest SGM church. How DARE CJ actually believe that when Calvin declares ALL men’s nature, all their actions, thoughts and desires are PERPETUALLY depraved, that Calvin declares that “God must give (CJ) the grace to perceive”; and if God decides He doesn’t want to, well…the elect are elect and the damned are the damned, right? Nothing we can do about it. What’s a little abuse of insignificant and likely damned, children , anyway? They are totally depraved. They reap what they sow; they were born reaping because of “original sin”. Their abuse is justified by their original sin. They have more in common with Adolph Hitler than with Jesus, after all. They were born wicked. They are children of the devil. Why blame the poor pastors, who are merely trying, against all depraved odds, to manage their blind souls and that of everyone else as well? Why should they go to jail to protect those whose abuse is, after all, determined by God in the end?
God didn’t give CJ grace to perceive. Or SGM or any of the other defendants in the suit.
And we agree with them when we declare the doctrine still “sound”.
Folks, this IS Calvinism.
Kris and everyone else, the doctrine has EVERYTHING to do with it. The more you deny it, the more you affirm the very men we pretend to accuse.