When the “Church” Becomes Goliath
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.
And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him. He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me….
And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.” (1 Samuel 17:4-8; 41-47)
In many, many cases which abuse victims continue to experience at the hands of their local and denominational church leaders (and members), the experience of David standing before Goliath is being revisited. Because the “church,” when it becomes the anti-church and stands with evil, raises itself up like a monster “seeking whom it may devour.” Martin Luther and many other true Christians down through history have faced this same devilish wolf in wool.
Sometimes, yes, what we face in the battle to open the eyes of fellow Christians to the nature and tactics of evil is indeed mere naivete and ignorance that needs to be corrected with truth. But we must not be naive ourselves in this fight, because what we face more often than perhaps we realize is not some uninformed, immature group of people who have not had their senses trained to discern good and evil (see Hebrews 5 on that one). Rather, it is Goliath. A giant enemy of Christ looking to destroy truth and those who proclaim it. Giants use threats, intimidation, mockery, accusation and all the tactics of the kingdom of darkness to keep the victims of evil oppressed, powerless, and shamed.
We must not yield to such tactics, and we must confidently realize the nature of what our foe is. When the “church” becomes Goliath, it is no church at all, but a sworn enemy of Jesus Christ and all who follow Him.
And then we must realize something else. We have the weaponry to bring this giant down. In spite of all his apparent power and tools of destruction, Goliath is brought down by one little stone launched by the Spirit of God by the slingshot of a shepherd boy.
You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
Over and over and over again we see victims of abuse whose abusers are hiding in the pews of the church—wicked hypocritical church “members” who pretend piety and dupe the naive. And we see their victims threatened by the spirit of Goliath. We must, in Christ’s strength, respond as David did. “We come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, whom you have defied.”
I think that Goliath is teetering right now. Perhaps not much, but cracks are forming. Celebrity church leaders, famed theologians and writers, the usual suspects at patriarchal conferences, are not enjoying the unopposed liberty to abuse that they were say a few years ago. I think that increasingly they are hearing the hum of thousands of slingshots spinning and they are afraid. Because they are starting to realize we aren’t going to turn and run. We aren’t going to just go away.
And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. (1 Samuel 17:49)
For further reading