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.
Psalms 40:4 Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!
1 Corinthians 5:2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
Arrogant people think they know better. Arrogant Christians think they know better than God. Arrogant Christians are enabling evil to hide in the church, even inviting the wicked to come among us. Arrogant Christians are participating in the oppression of the innocent because they believe they have a better “gospel” than God does. Arrogant Christians may not be Christians at all. And I am going to prove it to you right now and in the subsequent articles in this series. Here is Part 1. Stay tuned for part 2 and more.
Arrogant Christians are enabling the wicked by dealing with them in the very same way we are to deal with genuine, contrite, penitent people who feel the weight of their sins, having been broken by the thunderings of God’s unbending Law at Mt. Sinai. That is to say, arrogant Christians are smiling, shedding a tear or two, hugging, and promising the love of God to the impenitent, unbroken wicked man — like the abuser. For example, we hear Christian counselors, pastors, and individuals telling the unrepentant abuser things like:
“Let me put my arm around you. I love you and God loves you. You are destroying [apologizes here for using such a negative word] your life and I can help you if you will just enroll in my treatment plan or accountability group.”
“God values you too much to permit you to continue the way you are going. And so do I. I want to help you become the husband God wants you to be.”
There is soooo much wrong and anti-scriptural in these statements that it is difficult for me to stay focused and on target and just deal with the chief subject at hand right now. (That is why this is going to be a series of articles). Ok, Jeff, stay on target, stay on target….)
Here is the bullseye thesis of this post:
In the vast majority of cases of abuse (sin) in the church, Christians are naively (and often intentionally) failing to differentiate the application of the Law and the Gospel. They are refusing (this is where the arrogance comes in) to acknowledge that God discerns between the righteous and the wicked. Sounding their grand call that “hey, we are all sinners,” these people apply the very same remedy indiscriminately to the impenitent as well as to the broken. That is to say, the abuser is offered the same (or more) promises of God’s love and mercy and grace as his victim is! No one receives the Law! Well, no one except the victim when she decides to confront her abuser and divorce him. Then watch the lightning crack down from Mount Man-Tradition with its Commandments 11 thru 99.
God does not deal with all people in the same way. Hear that? God does not deal with all people in the same way. We are arrogant if we think we know better than He. God gives His terrifying Law to the wicked. He speaks His Gospel to the humble. He commands us to do the same.
Let me give you some examples from God’s Word.
In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul addresses a mixed bag of people in that local church. As a result, you find a real variety of styles in his writing here. Listen to him speak in gospel terms:
For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure — not to put it too severely — to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. (2 Corinthians 2:4-8)
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also. (2 Corinthians 6:11-13)
I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy. (2 Corinthians 7:3-4)
See it? He speaks to them as a loving father. His heart is open to them. He urges and encourages them. These are Gospel words of grace and mercy from the Father.
But then, and in this very same letter, you have Sinai thunderings:
I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ — I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away! — I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:1-6)
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced. (2 Corinthians 12:21)
This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them — (2 Corinthians 13:1-2)
What is the difference? Is Paul some kind of dual personality who pats you on the head one minute, then whacks you with his fist the next? No. He is addressing these people exactly as God does. He is giving the gospel to the humble, even chastising them with a fatherly chastisement when they need it, and he is giving the Law to the unrepentant wicked. How do you discern between the two groups? That is to say, how are we to know to whom who we should speak the Law, and to whom we should give the promises of the Gospel? The answer can be given in one word: repentance.
For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it — though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:8-10)
In large part the professing Christian church today is arrogantly failing to make this vital distinction. When it comes to abusers, when it comes to dealing with the wicked, church leaders and members and supposedly Christian counselors and authors, are offering God’s gospel love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness to evil men who have no intention of humbling themselves before Him. “Come over here, John**,” says the kindly and popular pastor after the Sunday service. “I understand you are having some troubles at home.” John is a full-blown abuser and has been for decades. John’s wife recently asked the pastor for help. John has been playing the eminent Christian facade all along. “You know, John, I love you just too much to let you ruin your life,” Pastor Nice continues. “And so does God. How about you start coming to our men’s weekly accountability group and let us help you get to root of your issues?”
That isn’t even good gospel, by the way. Why? Because this pastor is completely leaving out Jesus Christ, the necessity of the new birth, and the work of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s heart and mind. He is replacing the gospel with accountability men’s groups or some kind of “treatment plan.” But, we leave that for another post in this series.
What does John need? I hope you can guess by now. John needs the Law of God. John doesn’t need (or get) warm fuzzy love-hugs from Jesus. No, this is what John gets from Jesus:
They answered him, “Abraham is our father.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.”
They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father — even God.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:39-44)
“John, you are of your father the devil. That is why you are who you are, an abuser. You are a murderer. You live and speak a lie. God’s wrath is set upon you.” Too harsh you say? “Hey! If you talk to John that way you will alienate him and he won’t come back to church!” Yep, that’s right. Here is the outcome Jesus experienced:
So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. (John 8:59)
Until and unless John humbles himself before the terror of the Law coming from a holy, holy, holy God pronouncing John cursed (yep, that’s the word. “Cursed” — see Galatians 3:10; Heb 6:8), John receives the Law, remains condemned, and is to be put out from among the people of God. And John will hate you, just as these wicked men hated Jesus with a murderous hatred. If you aren’t hated by the wicked, then you are not following Christ. Do you know anything of this hatred?
But Christians are arrogant today. They know better than God, you see. They are more loving than Jesus — ask them, they will tell you. They give John hugs and empathy and like Jack Horner, commend themselves for being such good boys, even though they just ruined the pie.
And John? John goes home, enabled and empowered in his wickedness, assured that he has all these fools duped by his facade, and unleashes hell upon his wife and children in the name of God.
Pastors, counselors, authors, professors — what will you do on that Day when the Lord of Glory comes and calls you to give account for your malpractice and mistreatment of His sheep? He is coming. What will you have to say for yourselves then?
Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked. (Proverbs 25:26 ESV)
**John is a fictitious name for a fictitious person.
Posts in this series
Part 1: Is this post.
Part 2: How the Arrogance of Professing Christians is Enabling the Wicked (Part 2)
Part 3: How the Arrogance of Professing Christians is Enabling the Wicked (Part 3)
26 thoughts on “How the Arrogance of Professing Christians is Enabling the Wicked (Part 1)”
I think there is a fear of calling anyone “good” in today’s church, especially in Reformed churches. So we determine that everyone is evil. And therefore everyone is equally evil. And if we are all just as evil, we are all just as good. And so no one is REALLY evil.
The problem is that the Bible doesn’t think of people this way. It distinguishes between those who are good and those who are not. It doesn’t necessarily fit with our modern day evangelical sensibilities, so we ignore those bits.
And then evil runs amok in the playground we’ve created.
Arrogance and enabling – I see faces of men who claim to speak for God on those words. Even in pastoral circles where my husband and I belonged, I saw faces on those words. Even in social settings, certain men left me feeling like an underdog or lesser person. I couldn’t explain it then, but now I realize that I was not the only recipient of their arrogance. I was just more sensitive and felt their subtle belittling. If they behaved like that in public, how much more terrible did they treat the abused when they came asking for help! And now, in the present, religious groups have been brainwashed to believing that their authority is God-given. They use authoritarian vocabulary that confuses people into believing that they indeed get the final word.
All of this ugliness! For me, the despair and injustice seems greater in December. I’ve decided that it is because of the baby Jesus, wrapped in humility, is their antithesis. I am able to find a refuge, kneeling at the manger. It is the one place that the arrogant never, never show up.
Seeing Clearly – I see those same faces. Pastoral circles. Those faces are why I feel so uncomfortable in those settings. Thank you.
This is something every church needs to hear! Churches are so tolerant of the unrepentant person at the expense of the repentant person. I know as a victim, after sharing with someone what was going on, they turned around called me the very same slander my abuser used. (That hurt!) I have recently been told to just be a 1 Pet 3:1 wife so I could “win him to the Lord” and for “season”, (however long that takes), allow my time to be dictated by his whims and schedule. I was also told to step down from the ministry I lead, by Christians, because my abuser feels he should come first – before my relationship with the Lord. And again, a 1 Pet 3:1 would do this and put him before the church, before God. My abuser thinks he is God and thinks I should conform to him. I have learned once again, I still do not have any “friends” to truly confide in. My church wants to do a 6 weeks marriage program, Sacred Marriage, to fix the marriages in our church that are in shambles.
My church wants a revival but I keep telling them that until we get true ‘revival’ in our homes, we will never have a God ordained revival in our churches…. so here comes the bandaids…
This was a great article and I’m looking forward to the next installment(s).
Thank you and God bless!!
This info is really helpful in dividing the issues at hand. It does get quite clouded up. And, I do see arrogance in it.
My experience has been that although my pastor was supportive in my decisions he doesn’t really understand the abuse cycle. He was very serious and desiring of doing marriage counseling when I first approached him. Thankfully the Lord led me to tons of readings on abuse and found that marriage counseling is contraindicated in abusive situations. I did tell the pastor that on several occasions, but he seemed to persist and at first, I was willing to try anything. We were even about to go away for a weekend marriage retreat and at the last moment a “blow up” occurred and God closed that door.
This was already 2-3 years ago. At that time a couple in my church was doing the “Sacred Marriage” series in their home and my pastor suggested I go even if alone. I agreed and much to my surprise my now ex agreed to participate as well. On the way the first night I endured a short bout of car rage but pushed on. We did finish the 6 classes (they are very good for non-abusive marriages) and he even admitted in session 2 that he treated me badly. However, nothing changed and I felt angry during the lessons. Now I know why.
But, this leads me to this (and I am thinking you are talking about Gary Thomas’ “Sacred Marriage”): recently I read something written by him saying this particular work does not address abusive marriages and should not be used in these situations. He mentioned he was putting in a disclaimer in his next publishing so that people would be aware not to use it if abuse is happening. I was so happy to read that!
Anyway, I tried to educate my pastor a little during the meetings we had, but not too sure if effective. I had read that when the pastor doesn’t confront in any way it’s like he endorses the abusers behaviors. I felt this and decided it was healthier for me to leave. Tired of wearing a mask and pretending all was status quo. It definitely is different when you’re no longer living in a state of denial!
Yes. Thomas never intended to have that book handed to targets of abuse. I’ve had that book suggested as a fix for me as well. Thomas WOULD NOT approve of that nonsense.
Hi Proud Mommy, welcome to the blog 🙂
Here are two I wrote on 1 Peter which you may like to check out if you haven’t already seen them:
1 Peter 3:6 — Sarah’s children do what is right and do not give way to fear
Should wives submit to harsh husbands just like slaves submitting to harsh masters? (1 Peter 2 & 3)
So true Proud Mommy. What does repentance look like in church, for I have not seen it practiced. Only “I know more than you” and “I can do whatever I choose because God loves me.” No guilt, no conviction, thus, no repentance and no change.
Perhaps the greatest persecution of born again believers in Jesus, the Christ, alone for salvation will come from and out of “the church.”
Praying for you and encouraging you to trust in Jesus and abide in Him alone for your unfailing and abundant faith. He will never leave you nor forsake you, nor ever lead you astray, that is His Promise, unlike that of mere man. Joshua 1:9 for you today.
There is distinct difference between being abrasive and arrogance. Abrasiveness is about delivery – arrogance is about entitlement and justification.
Thank you! I know about a dozen (and counting!) churches that need this explanation nailed to their front doors – glass ones included!
What a great article. It is almost unpardonable in Christian circles influenced by some of the worst elements of psychology that anyone should “feel bad”. I hear everything from pathological parenting, to addiction, to abuse dismissed with the statement “we don’t want to say anything so that they don’t feel bad after all most people are trying as hard as they can”. In fact, abusive people are not trying to do anything but get away with their oppression and tyranny. Scriptures tell us “it is the grace (and kindness) of God that leads to repentance”. If feeling bad about my motives, actions, thoughts or deeds leads me to repentance, that liberation from sin which results in real joy, thank God for the gift of feeling bad! We treat the sorrow that leads to repentance as the thing to avoid at all costs in ourselves and others when it is actually the path to freedom in our relationship to God.
By contrast, false guilt is something abusers USE against their victim “see what you made me do” was something my abuser said after I burned the roast and had a black eye to show for it. He used false guilt to shame me and excuse his actions and project the blame of his abuse on his victim. Meanwhile he wouldn’t own the real guilt that would have lead to his freedom and forgiveness from Christ Jesus.
If “feeling bad” about my actions results in seeking cleansing and healing and receiving forgiveness for Christ and his atoning work on my character, than bring on feeling bad for my wrong actions. Abusers want to project their guilt and not let conviction change them Those that love them and really care about them would want them to feel bad if it saved them from the consequences of the hell that will fall on their lives. Love does not enable loved ones to create hell on earth and go to hell when this life is over.
Prodigal Daughter Returns – Excellent! Thank you for the clarity and truth of your words here.
Jeff, God bless you for showing how Scripture applies to these situations. Too often it becomes a shield for wicked oppressors. I keep sharing your articles with my friends and hoping that even a little bit of this gets through, because everybody in the church is going to encounter these situations in one form or another at some point; it’s my prayer that more people in the church will be informed about abuse BEFORE they find themselves trying to help a victim.
You packed one heck of a punch in this piece, Pastor Jeff. I love it. The Scriptures you used facilitated a much more balanced picture than we so often see in the Christian counseling domain. I look forward to reading more from you on this subject.
Speaking of arrogance, George Simon Jr (Divorcing The ‘Character Disordered’: An Interview With Dr. George Simon [Internet Archive link]) gives the red flags for the attitudes shown by Character Disturbed people:
(bold font added in the quote by me)
Wise words from George Simon, taken from same link as above (here [Internet Archive link]).
This is what so many counselors and pastors don’t get. They think that the abuser does not see his abusiveness, and so he needs to be helped to see it (educated, enlightened, sent to educational programs). But the abuser sees, he just disagrees.
He pretends that he doesn’t see, in order to give the pastors and counselors the idea that they, with their superior skills, can help him.
But so it’s often just a ploy, a ploy to lead the professionals round the garden path and back again, a giant delaying tactic that works very well for keeping his target in limbo — it has the effect of encouraging the target to hang on ‘in case’ the abuser changes and finally GETS IT. And it butters up the foolish pastor and foolish counselor no end, making them feel important. And it’s a nice little earner for many program providers and book authors . . .
Thank you for that clarification / explanation, Barbara! I have read this quote by George Simon many times and tonight was the first time it unlocked new, deeper understanding for me in a personal application kind of way.
Yes. This is my h to a tee. I’ve heard those words paraphrased straight from his mouth: “I don’t see it that way.” He knows what he’s doing – he simply disagrees that it’s abuse. There is always an excuse. It’s poor upbringing, trauma from his childhood, misunderstanding, a different point of view…SOMETHING. Regardless, he is never to blame. Ever. And I am always to blame. Always wrong. Always searching for the plausible explanation to attach to his actions in order to apply logic to the situation or find the exception to the rule.
Well, no more. Thank you for making this point crystal. The fog grows ever thinner….
“Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.” (Proverbs 25:26 ESV)
Just this week, the insidious nature of our narcissistic culture was sadly revealed when a dear friend showed unmistakable symptoms of being infected by the unrepentance tolerated in the church. There had been several incidents in her character that were disturbing & inconsistent with the person I thot I knew, but were painfully unmasked in an recent email. “A little leaven” goes a long way & a false gospel produces bitter fruit.
Then I stumbled on a horrifying metaphor: the Ebola virus is most infectious in the dead. In fact, cremation is advised for those who die from it. They are “polluted”.
It seems there’s a lesson there for dead churches who infect others with their evil.
Love that verse!
Thanks for this refreshing post Jeff.
There seems to be a codependancy between the church and the abuser, which is fueled by the twisting and misapplication of scripture as your article so well explains.
Thank you for continuing to expound on this.
now that’s a use of the term ‘codependency’ which I can agree with!
You’re right. As a victim moves from the fog toward the light, she/he starts to be able to make better boundaries, and be more confident in independent thinking. As the truth starts to come out, the abuser and supporters become more firmly entrenched in their ‘denial’. Desperate to hang on to their fantasyland, they resort to self imposed ignorance, increasingly grabbing hold of lies so that they can stay in their fake little comfort zones. They resist the truth that threatens to rip off the facade, exposing the white ants and corruption going on underneath. The facade that props up their very identity. Now that sure sounds like codependency and addiction to me! Thank you for this post Jeff and looking forward to the others on the subject!
Thank you Pastor Jeff! This is exactly what has been on my heart for some time now and you have addressed it well.
Just this morning at the church I happened to attend the pastor said we all have both good and evil within us. What??? I sat with my mouth open a bit waiting for the explanation to that and he went on to say we all sin. So the logic is sin=evil, we all sin=we are all evil. So then what does it mean in 1 Peter when he states we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation? We are told in 1 John we all sin but isn’t it a leap to say that since we sin we are evil? What, then, is the term for those who persist and enjoy sin with no fear of God and no desire to repent? Isn’t that what is evil? As I see it this is just the kind of preaching that enables abusers so they can say, “Hey, we’re all evil after all so I’m just like everyone else. Whew, no one can call me out since we’re all the same!” Simultaneously, the victim slumps down in the pew in discouragement and despair for being hurt and frustrated with her abusive husband who “is just like her- no better, no worse”. Sin leveling.
Valerie – you stated it very well. Exactly. That pastor is sin leveling. Thus he is enabling the wicked. And he necessarily is NOT faithfully teaching God’s Word.
… the abuser is offered the same (or more) promises of God’s love and mercy and grace as his victim is!
This so wrong. I have been trying to understand how we encourage mercy for perpetrators at the expense of their victims. We have accepted that people can’t control their behavior. We don’t hold abusers accountable because:
First, at church, we’re all sinners, so who is going to throw the first stone?
Second, in therapy, we are victims of heredity, environment and socialization. We abuse because we were abused.
Who then, is accountable?
From: Psychology, Philosophy & Real Life
Dr George Simon, Ph
[ACFJ Eds note: some formatting has been added to this lengthy quote]