A Cry For Justice

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

Are We Beginning to Experience What Martin Luther Did in Rome?

UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


[August 7, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

In 1510, while he was still a Roman Catholic priest, Martin Luther was pumped. He got to journey to Rome, the Holy City. Visions of the New Jerusalem. It was a difficult, long, and perilous trip, but he went. He loved his church. He loved that city. But everything was about to change for him. Here is Pastor Tom Browning’s description of the outcome of Luther’s visit to Rome — you can read it in its entirety in Rome and Romans — Martin Luther [Internet Archive link]1 —

Luther had come to Rome with an innocence and naiveté and he was going back home to Erfurt a better, wiser, sadder man. Later he would say, He [sic he] came to Rome with garlic and left with onions…which I think amounts to about the same thing. Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. Luther was not yet a reformer…but the Lord had planted seeds of disillusions in his mind. He was no Protestant…he was still in every way a Catholic…but the Lord had started a rumbling deep down in his soul and the Lord intended that disillusionment to grow until Luther was altogether miserable. It would be necessary for the Lord to hollow Luther out completely before he would be able to receive and hold the truth of the doctrine of justification for himself. And Rome had had helped to push that process along. Luther was no longer quite so naive but he still believed in the medieval Catholic Church. He still believed that all that was needed was a strong reforming Pope to come in a sweep all the unbelief and unbelievers and put an end to all the abuses. But alas, that was not what was going to happen. The pope of the future, Leo X, was exactly the opposite of what Luther hoped for. The abuses were going to get worse and then the gospel was going to break in on Luther and subsequently on the whole world.  [Emphasis original.]

What changed him? The abuses and evils he saw in the not-so-holy city. You can read about them in almost any church history book. He was sick. He was devastated.

I think that I am feeling like Luther – at least in some measure. The conservative, Bible-believing church that I love and have served for nearly 30 years, is showing me some pretty ugly stuff. I am not going to trash-can my orthodox, Bible-believing faith. The Bible is God’s inerrant Word. We are justified by faith alone in Christ alone.  But there needs to be a serious Reformation, and not only in regard to this issue of abuse. Abusers find the professing church a safe haven because of more serious, underlying issues. We do not require biblical repentance. We preach an Easy Believism by which even devils who profess to “believe” in Jesus are counted as Christians. We will not practice biblical church discipline for sin, but we will put someone out who violates one of our traditions. It is a sad state. And the people love it so.

Lord, please come in power and renew Your church! Demolish our false temples and idols so that the true church of Christ will once again flourish.

1[August 7, 2022: We added a link to a PDF of Pastor Tom Browning’s Rome and Romans — Martin Luther. This PDF is from Pastor Tom Browning’s series The History of the Reformation: How Christ Restored the Gospel to His Church by Tom Browning (MP3 & .pdf). The Internet Archive link is a copy of that PDF. The original website Jeff mentioned was monergism.org, which is now monergism.com. Editors.]

[August 7, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to August 7, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to August 7, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to August 7, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (August 7, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


  1. Larry W Dean

    You are absolutely correct that the issue is repentance. It was the issue of the prophets, of John the Baptist, of Christ, and of the apostles. When the churches strayed from that message, Jesus Himself called them back to it through John’s pen. Stay with the issue, brother, it is the core of all of the problems we see.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Hold me to it, brother!

  2. Joey

    The awakening IS coming!! You are at the forefront of the renewal. God’s Holy Word has been misquoted and twisted by mankind, but His truth remains the same…We need to know and follow ALL His word, not just the scriptures that fit individual church doctrine and personal agendas. I am indeed blessed by my church family who follow the Bible in it’s entirety and are open to the Holy Spirit!!

    • Joey

      And by the way, we are Southern Baptist!!

      • Jeff Crippen

        Alright, Joey! Yes, there are some great renewal works going – I know for example of Tom Ascol and Founders Ministries within the Southern Baptists. Thanks much for your encouragement!

    • Barnabasintraining

      I am indeed blessed by my church family who follow the Bible in it’s entirety and are open to the Holy Spirit!!

      And by the way, we are Southern Baptist!!

      There are Charismatic Southern Baptists? I had no idea…

      Sorry for going off topic but I just had to comment on this as it has taken me completely by surprise.

  3. Barnabasintraining

    This is an interesting post, Jeff. I have been observing church trends for the past few years, ever since Rick Warren came on the scene. Because we were Purpose Driven out of our last church I began to research spiritual abuse. I have since been amazed and disturbed by what is happening in churches all over the nation. If I were Charismatic I would say a spirit of abuse has entered the modern American church. As it is, I keep remembering Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Israel in Isaiah 1:5-6, “…The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; they have not been closed or bound up, or soothed with ointment.”

    I think we are in a similar condition and deserving of the same rebuke. Because there is such a tolerance and even a promotion of spiritual abuse (which is disguised as biblical authority) I don’t find it surprising in the least that there is a similar tolerance and promotion of marital abuse by the clergy, who themselves are often abusers of the flock. I don’t think it’s accidental. It’s a top down thing. Some of the biggest names in Christianity are leaders of the pack and they don’t see it as abusive. They think it is biblical and they are doing what God called them to do. It is also in all quadrants: Fundamentalist and New Evangelical; Dispensational and Covenantal; Calvinist and Arminian…it is equal opportunity. Besides Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven take over mentality, some of the worse offenders of spiritual abuse are in the New Calvinist movement, such as Mark Driscoll and C. J. Mahaney. But it is by no means limited to them. IFB churches and pastors, Southern Baptist churches and pastors, many churches associated with Bill Gothard or Vision Forum, or some kind of patriarchy and the quiverfull movement, Calvary Chapel churches….The list seems endless. And often marital abuse accompanies spiritual abuse in these churches, even while it is strongly condemned from the pulpit.

    The Lord knows what’s going on behind the veneer. I hope you are right about Him raising up people to take this on as He did with Luther. There certainly are a number of blogs dealing with the spiritual abuse aspect of things, exposing these people and their methods and some others that deal with domestic violence and sexual abuse within the body of Christ. I know for my part I have been very sick at heart over it and I do pray He calls this generation to account and cleans house.

    I think one former pastor of Driscoll’s church said it best. He said the world wouldn’t do what was done to him and the world is more ethical than the church. I believe he’s right. The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of the literally criminal abuse we tolerate in the churches.

    I’m going to stop now before this really becomes a rant.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Our church is small. It used to be 2 or 3 times larger than it now is. We barely pay the bills each month. I believe that this is not merely because we live in a small town that isn’t growing, but because we simply preach and teach Scripture, worship the Lord without giving in to the foolish fads that come and go (which means worshiping God rather than making man the center of a worship service), and we practice church discipline in what I hope is a biblical manner. It has been costly. And it is continuing to be costly as we have tried to stand for victims of abuse, particularly in these last 3 years. People have left because we allow divorce for abuse. We have been accused of being unforgiving and unloving because of our stand for victims. Today, as always, standing for truth and for Christ is costly.

    • Dear Barnabas-in-training, I am thrilled to hear you know so much about all the errors and how they are ‘in every quadrant’ as you say. I’m on your page, completely. So nice to have company rather than feel isolated. For me, I’m feeling a little like Lazarus might have felt, winding off those grave cloths. I no longer need to feel like i’m rotting in some cave where nobody sees what I see or thinks what I think about the church being sick. There have been people noticing the disease in churches, but precious few (until now) have realised how much it’s manifesting in Christian homes in the form of domestic abuse as well.

  4. joepote01

    Jeff, I think you are absolutely correct in your assessment that most churches, today, follow easy-believism and fail to protect their flock thru church discipline. Or…in the rare instances when they do exercise church discipline, it is done blindly, with no understanding of the real issues, and often disciplining the wrong parties for the wrong reasons.

    Part of the issue, I think, is that the church is too easily confused by her dual roles as both protector of the flock and light to the nations. In her eagerness to offer forgiveness to sinners, she fails to show discernment and wisdom in protecting her flock. The situation is not unlike a parent inviting a rapist and murderer into his children’s home, out of a sense of need to show generosity to strangers and forgiveness to all.

    It is good to hear you are standing firm in God’s word, demonstrating justice and mercy thru wisdom, in your church, as well as in this blog community.

    Stand firm, brother!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks for the encouragement and insight, Joe. As someone else has said, the church is in the world like a ship is in the water, but just as water must not come into the ship, so the church must not allow the world to come into her ranks.

  5. Maree

    I think I’d like your church Jeff. We think along the same lines. Maybe you could plant a church in Victoria, Australia!

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