A Cry For Justice

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

Christless Religion is Always Abusive

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.

***

Luke 24:44-47 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (45) Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, (46) and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, (47) and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Christ is the central and chief theme of the Bible in both Old and New Testaments.  His disciples could not understand the Scriptures until He opened their minds to this fact.  They just didn’t get it.

Neither do many who claim to know Christ today.  They just don’t get it. And that is bad news.  Not only for them, but also for those whom they try to teach or pastor or control.  A Christless “christianity” becomes the religion of the Pharisees, and it is always abusive to people. Why?  Because Christ and His character is the spirit of the Scripture.  Without Him, the Bible becomes mere letter that kills.

Christ is the sum of the whole Bible, prophesied, typified, prefigured, exhibited, demonstrated, to be found in every leaf, almost in every line…. Christ is the main, the center to which all these lines are referred. (Thomas Adams, 1583-1652)

Christ is the pearl of that ring, Christ is the object, the center wherein all those lines end; take away Christ , what remains?  Therefore, in the whole scriptures let us see that we have an eye to Christ; all is nothing, but Christ.  (Richard Sibbes, 1557-1635)

This means we have some questions to ask today.  Why do we see the Scriptures being interpreted and applied so often in a manner obviously devoid of mercy?  Why is the church so often characterized by a spirit that is apparently so foreign to the Person and nature of Christ?  Why is the Bible used so frequently as a club to oppress the oppressed?

Could the answer be one that we really don’t want to face?

2 Corinthians 4:3-6 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. (4) In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (5) For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. (6) For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

16 Comments

  1. 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.

    ***

    Jeff, you uttered it: the thing about which we have been exchanging glances across the room for some time.
    Yes; the gospel is veiled to those who are perishing; the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers.
    … do the unbelievers include some? many? most? of the people who attend church each Sunday? Even – or especially? – those who preach and lead?
    May God have mercy.

    • I am at times convinced there are more genuine believers than I’d thought, and at other times far less. I think in the end it’s near impossible to know. Professing Christians, even ones we revere to this day, have been responsible fore many atrocities against others throughout history. Knowing this keeps me humble.

      I am not ready to declare the church as a whole unregenerate, but I am more keenly aware that the people who behave the most like Christ are not always the ones with theology I expect. I am not going to spend time trying to figure out the state of souls, but neither am I going to assume all see and know Christ. My focus is, and will always be, living out the truth I know and proclaiming it to others.

      I do believe that God is redeeming the issue of abuse in the church, and while it will be opposed in the name of another Gospel, even deceiving true believers for a time, eventually the light will shine in the darkness. I also believe that as bearers of this truth we have a responsibility to shine it as brightly as we can.

      • Thank you Jeff S. I think I needed to hear that, to help me stay humble.

      • MeganC

        Thank you, Jeff. I had the same questions as Barbara and your response keeps me grounded, aware and humble.

    • Laurie

      And when the Son of Man shall come, shall He find faith? Even JESUS wondered about this one!

      • I was going to quote that one but you beat me to it, Laurie. 🙂

      • Laurie

        Sometimes it seems that faith is hard to find even in those who know they are God’s children…still too pragmatic in our understanding. BUT…He did say that “if it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived.” And that statement lets us know how close to the bone this thing cuts…I thank God for the escape in the utterance, “if it were possible.”

        Sorry I cut in line, Barbara. 😉

  2. Anonymous

    “I am not going to spend time trying to figure out the state of souls…”

    I agree, yet sometimes, when I read Matthew 7:14 “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (ESV), I wonder just how few is few?

  3. Laurie

    Ps. Jeff,

    First off, thank you for this posting. It comes at a very convenient time for me.

    I don’t think it is a quick decision, to become a Pharisee, but a slow falling away. Many are awakened to God through the Spirit and love Him. Wanting to serve Him in any capacity, they study the Scriptures and listen to teachings and read all kinds of books. Slowly, God and fellowship and communion (common union) with Him are replaced with verses and doctrines and fellowships and behaviors which all seem so pious and I don’t think the believer is even aware of it.

    But…if you ARE a believer, GOD won’t let you stay there. He WILL pull you out of it through various crises…He is SO good! But even then, how we respond to the crises is very tell-tale to the foundation of our faith. Personally, I think many are missing what God is trying to do. From His own dealings with me, I can see that He is interested in revival on the personal, one-on-one level, not whole country movements. But again, if the personal revival is real, then the whole country revival is not out of reach–it just shouldn’t be the main focus. I don’t think it is God’s focus. (Like heaven–we teach people, “Believe in Jesus and go to heaven,” making heaven the goal, when in all actuality, heaven is the by-product of a relationship with Jesus. Enter that and you WILL be in heaven because that is where HE is…different focus will produce a different outcome. Maybe we will have real faith if we teach real relationship with Jesus and not give people fire insurance and a get-out-of-hell-free card…)

    • Jeff S

      Laurie, I just wanted to say I think you have a fantastic perspective and this was a great post. I’ve long thought “heaven is the goal” evangelism misses the point, though the most respected pastor I’ve ever had was a big pusher of that kind of witnessing. I still think very highly of him, but I think he was in error on that point. We aren’t just selling fire insurance- a true Christian desires real reconciliation with God, not just an escape from eternal torment.

      I am also not a big fan of getting excited over geographic revivals- this can be human driven so often with human (temporary) results. It’s easy to get swept up in “revivals”.

    • Laurie, that is wisdom, and very well expressed. Thank you.

    • Anonymous

      Very good Laurie! And yes, God will save us from the leaven and becoming a Pharisee ourselves, even if it means He has to excommunicate us from among them. Everything God does for His own, is good, so very good.

  4. LorenH

    Last week at our divorce recovery group we studied what the bible says about divorce. The program video makes an aggravating muddy mess of it. Every time I find myself apologizing afterwards and trying to explain their graceless exegesis and give alternate viewpoints. I always leave the group feeling like it has been handled inadequately.
    Jeff your posting this week gave me something to bring back to the class last night. I told them that interpretations of what scripture has to say about divorce have to look like they are in the spirit of what Jesus taught and lived or they are at best, incomplete. I think that got through! Jesus wants to bring life more abundantly, not condemnation.
    I avoid trying to judge whether people are Christian by their words and deeds. We cannot know how God perceives them. I know that I am incomplete as a Christian, maybe just different from others I see as questionable in their faith. None the less, I clearly see what you are writing about. “They just don’t get it” is a phrase that has passed my lips many times when I experience or hear of the behavior of Christian Pharisees.

    • Laurie

      LorenH,

      “Jesus wants to bring life more abundantly, not condemnation.”

      AMEN!!!!!

  5. Anonymous

    I have not read all the responses here, but I will throw in my two cents worth anyway, so excuse me repeating anything already said above.

    After spending time with people who believe they are living for Christ, but have sorely confused the issue, I would say that the verse above, “if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived”, should lead us to say how easy it is to be deceived and how many are or will be deceived before it is all over! So, how do we determine that “narrow way”? I think we must have and bear the Holy Spirit in our lives and that He leads us. So, what does that look like for the true Christian? Mercy, love, justice and a desire to give up yourself for Him, to follow Him wherever He leads; a heart for the Gospel and the salvation of all God desires to be saved; presenting it lovingly and truthfully to all; knowing His Word so we can know how to share it and live it. Are we ever going to do that perfectly? No, but in our feeble attempts, we are humble and subject to Christ.

    So many times I have seen “works” replace “grace” and people being led by their works instead of the Spirit. Ask them, and they will say, “oh no, we are saved by grace alone”, but WATCH THEM and they will live, “I am more righteous because…(fill in the blank)”; and “do this and be saved” ie baptism or church membership; or any of the other multitude of works that can be listed there, including “you are not a Christian if you do not stay with your abuser”. So sad, because Jesus said, those who practice life that way, –no love–no mercy–no justice, will not enter the Kingdom. They are the Pharisees of this generation and woe to them, as they lead and deceive the poor people who came seeking Christ and His answers to life.

  6. Martin

    Jeff,

    Thank you so much for this post. As you no doubt are aware, Martin Luther saw Christ on every page of the Bible, and it was Christless religion that lie at the root of the Reformation.

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