The Church is in Great Need of Another Reformation – But of a Different Kind

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.


[October 2, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.  (2 Timothy 3:1-5  ESV)  [Emphasis added.]

We have written on this passage of Scripture before but are compelled to call your attention to it again.

Consider the present condition of the visible church as seen in many if not the majority of local churches at this very moment —

  • Habitually wicked people are considered to be Christians.
  • Pedophiles find easy sanctuary in the pews and even in the pulpits.
  • Those oppressed by wolves in wool are further oppressed by church leaders and members when they seek help.
  • Scandalous evil is regularly exposed in church leaders of “notoriety,” and this exposure is most often not effected by the formal church, but by secular agencies, and Christian “watch-blogs”.
  • False doctrine, the traditions invented by men, is paraded as the authoritative Word of God and by it many are enslaved to cruel bondage.
  • The very existence and reality of evil is denied by those who profess Christ’s name, and when it is uncovered among them they typically strive to cover it up.

This sorry state of affairs in the visible household of God is an exact example of what Paul says is “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” And THAT is where a new and mighty reformation needs to begin: with the exposure and rebuke of men and women whose religion is not at all of Christ but which claims His name. For the religion which prevails in so much of the visible church is like what the Pharisees promoted: white and shiny on the outside, but rotten and dead and stinking in reality.

How do you deny the power of true godliness (Christianity)? Let me suggest to you that this denial is a denial of the necessity and nature of the new birth — the new birth that our Lord told Nicodemus about (John 3). It is a denial of the regenerating and indwelling work of the Spirit in the New Covenant. It is a religion that is nothing more than words engraved on stone like the Old Covenant, impossible to be performed by man, able only to condemn.

Oh sure, most any pastor or local church member talks all the time about the new birth, about getting saved, about needing to be born again. But the POWER of it all is, in practice, denied. In this corrupt and shallow religious ethos, anyone who says they believe in Jesus, no matter how ungodly their life may be in practice, is regarded as a Christian. In this ethos, folks who claim to be Christians are not expected to love the Lord, to love one another, to bear Christ’s fruit, to be able to hear Christ’s voice. Nor are they expected to be able to discern, and refuse to follow, false shepherds. All this is a denial of the power of godliness. It is an outward form of religion that has no Spirit in the heart.

And our churches are full of such people. Look for example (and there are many others) at the condition of one of the largest denominations in the United States, the Southern Baptist Convention. We know from firsthand and regular reports of abuse victims that SBC churches are havens for the wicked. Yes, there are exceptions here and there, but as a whole you must not expect to find the Spirit of Christ truly dwelling in an SBC church. Yes, yes, I can hear the loud protests now. “How dare you say such a thing!!” How dare we? We dare because it is true. And of course, the SBC is only one example of the denial of the power of godliness.

Might I suggest that the state of the Protestant / Evangelical church today is just as rotten as the condition of the “church” in Martin Luther’s time? Men exalt themselves to virtual papal power. Corrupt men, as we keep seeing over and over again. Voices of those who would call for reformation and repentance are shouted down (though with increasing ineffectiveness due to social media). Innocents who stand for Christ’s truth are ex-communicated. How is this really any different in spirit than in the 1500s when Rome ruled?

“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations — I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.  (Isaiah 1:11-17  ESV)

The treatment of domestic abuse victims in and by local churches today is pathetic and wicked. We all know that and we can prove it with myriads of witness testimonies. This in itself is enough proof to say that the professing Christian church of our day is an entity that has the form / appearance of godliness but in fact denies the power of godliness. It is a sham. It is a shiny temple full of demons in desperate need of a King to come who will take His whip and drive the evil out of His Father’s House.

And He is coming.

Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.  (Psalm 98:8-9  ESV)

[October 2, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to October 2, 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 October 2, 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 October 2, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (October 2, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


Further reading

Twisted Theology Produces a Den of Abusers Parading as “the church”

The Method of Interpreting Scripture in the Conservative Evangelical Church Needs a Reboot

Attitudes that Promote Abuse in the Church: Major System Flush Needed

Wise as Serpents: Why Do We Keep Silent About Evil? (Part 15 of sermon series)

How to Deal Properly With Abusers Posing as Christians

35 thoughts on “The Church is in Great Need of Another Reformation – But of a Different Kind”

  1. David said it was not an “enemy” that reproached him or he could have borne it; it was his equal, guide, acquaintance; who he had sweet counsel with and walked into the house of God with. We were never meant to bear these atrocities. Thank you for your stand.

  2. After being dumped by a narcissist who pretended to be Christian, I have found so much joy and wonder in things like leading a hotel service worker to Christ and feeding the homeless – not just sending money, but actually taking good to them and listening to them – that I clearly see now that Jesus calls us to authentic discipleship, and we find His heart for us when we share His heart with others.

  3. Sadly, this hypocrisy in many churches today sends people who are searching for “something religious” to false religions, the occult, etc. I know a woman who ended up as a Jehovah’s Witness because the teaching at her home church was so bland. It was not so much about protecting abusers as just not teaching anything about evil.
    We certainly all need to pray for the truth of the Word of God to permeate our hearts and lives.

  4. It is a denial of the regenerating and indwelling work of the Spirit in the New Covenant.

    Thank you for this post Pastor Jeff… this makes it easier to understand Jesus’ words…. (to the scribes and crowd):

    “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”
    (Mark 3:28-29 NASB1995)

    For a long time, I didn’t quite understand what Jesus meant and perhaps I still don’t totally get it yet… But I believe that Jesus was drawing a distinction between sinners who are saved, delivered from their sins and regenerated to live righteously (“all sins shall be forgiven”) and religious hypocrites who claim to be righteous and proudly wear the godly label, but deny the power of the Holy Spirit to regenerate sinners (i.e. effectively change a sinner’s heart and behavior).

    The modern church is a lot like the religious hypocrites Jesus confronted. It is all about wearing the label and following their man-made rules. They deny (blaspheme) that the Holy Spirit changes and conforms the spirit and soul of someone who is really saved. It is denying the power and activity of the Holy Spirit.

    So, the modern church can easily declare the “habitually wicked” to be “Christians”….and at the same time the modern church can easily reject and cast out true believers who refuse to submit to their man-made rules. That’s the litmus test, the label and the rule following, NOT the evidence of regeneration by the Holy Spirit. I hope what I’m trying to say makes sense, but today’s post is very helpful in sorting out my thoughts on this scripture.

  5. Thank you, dear Pastor, for this observation of the terrible reality that so many of us learned in the most heartbreaking of ways. The young need to know this, before they have children. It is they who suffer the most. My three children have lived through the experience of the Elders at the church where they grew up, who are the fathers of their best friends from birth, telling their father to leave me (their mother) because I exposed and would not tolerate his abuse any longer (at this point, he was no longer pretending to be “sorry” about it). Rather than stand with us, and defend and protect us, they believed our abuser (who, since I would no longer keep silent, was working to discredit me) and told him to “get out” of the marriage, because, they said, I’m a “bad example to the children of how to treat a man.” They referred him to a very wicked lawyer and declared to me that they decided I have a personality disorder.

    This was Elders at a large, seeker-friendly church that prided itself on making everyone who ever visited feel totally comfortable and accepted. (This was said by the worship pastor before the congregation: “Before you behave, and even before you believe, you belong here.”)

    We fled briefly for refuge to a Reformed, extremely devout (I thought) small church. The Elders there said it’s ok to stay with an apostate who calls himself a believer. They told me to figure out what I was doing to make him abuse me. They said they would do marriage counseling only, and would not confront him on his sin. They said I need to “reconcile” with him — and the previous church too (?!?!).

    Both sets of Elders utterly threw us to the dogs. They abandoned my three children and me in our most desperate time of need. Their treachery boggles my mind and pierces my heart in the deepest of places. I now see the church as the most dangerous place for any true believer to be.

    [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

  6. This may be the most excellent and much needed to hear post I have read on this blog to-date. Pastor Crippen, you nailed it, with heart-pin-to-the-heart accuracy! And to you I say “Bravo”. You call a spade a spade and more need to be like this. Thank you for your continued voice, calling evil what it is and not being fearful to put the spotlight on the hypocrites and modern day Pharisees who parade around as a prince of light, when in reality they are indeed white and shiny on the outside but rotten and stinking and dead in reality. Continuing to lift up you and your ministry in prayer!

  7. Could you provide some info into abuse in SBC churches? I don’t go to one now, but used to and my fiancee goes to one.

    1. Hi, Stephen, if you are asking about the spiritual abuse and mis-teaching that is found in some / many SBC churches, I suggest you go to two other blogs: Spiritual Sounding Board, and The Wartburg Watch. That is the kind of thing they deal with a lot.

      They have search bars, and they probably also have have tags for all their posts on the SBC.

      If you are asking about how the SBC deals with domestic abuse, let us know by replying here and we will see if we can search our old posts and comments. By and large, we tend not to call out particular churches, unless we have a publicly documented case study of how a church has dealt with domestic abuse. The same goes for denominations. We find pretty much all denominations sometimes (if not often or always) respond unjustly to victims of domestic abuse. The injustice is across the board.

    2. Oh, I just re-read this post and remembered that it called out the SBC for false teaching. It’s been a long time since I edited this post.

      So your question was not at all out of place here, Stephen!

      1. In Tear Down This Wall of Silence [Affiliate link], Dale Ingraham references the problems in the SBC and how profoundly Christa Brown’s book “This Little Light” affected him.

        When I was working on TDTWS, I contacted Roger Oldham of the SBC (he had been its spokesman when Christa was trying to get the SBC to change). We had an email conversation and then at his request we talked on the phone at length. He said he had never read Christa Brown’s book about her abuse and its massive coverup in the SBC, but he made certain promises to me on the phone. As soon as I got off the phone with him, I wrote to him and said, “This is what you just said on the phone; would you please confirm here through email that this is what you said and this is what you promised to do?” I never heard from him again. So this is the reason I don’t trust the Southern Baptist Convention — I’ve seen evidence of their being untrustworthy.

    3. Hi, I’m glad you asked about the SBC, Stephen. As Jeff Crippen said,

      We know from firsthand and regular reports of abuse victims that SBC churches are havens for the wicked. Yes, there are exceptions here and there….

      I am not a member of the SBC, but I do live in an area where the SBC has a major influence. Thankfully, there are exceptions, as in the case of First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. They’re getting a lot of backlash (from self-identifying Christians and non-Christians alike) for ex-communicating the governor of Alabama about a year ago, due to an ongoing, unrepentant affair. Though not often the norm, in this case, I was grateful that an SBC church set such a clear boundary.

  8. How timely, there was a woman who called in on Hank Hanegraff’s program last night and was asking what he thought about the SBC churches. He endorsed them. You can go to and hear what he actually said. He is supposed to be to have taken over for Walter Martin, and I would think, be more discerning. He does speak out on the treatment of women in Islam but does he not see the treatment of people by the “wonderful” SBC churches?

  9. A most excellent commentary, Pastor Crippen; one which describes perfectly what I and my daughter fully experienced at the hands of a congregation and its pastoral leaders in regards to my former husband’s emotional wickedness and marital betrayal. Only when the evidence of his wickedness of character impacted their lives and ministries, did they choose to look at what was really there….BUT….never did they ever seek to repent of their lack of proper care and concern for my daughter and I. Never did they come to us and acknowledge their wrong. She is a grown, middle-aged woman now and has never set foot in another church; what that church’s failure affected in her spirit as a teenager has wrought a seething anger and contempt toward God, and especially for anything “Christian.” She abandoned God because she believes He abandoned her. It greatly saddens my mother’s heart, as we have little-to-no good relationship between us now.

  10. Bless your hearts, ACFJ!

    I think institutional clericalism is a key part of the deep, hidden, systemic abuse of power going on….the absolute opposite of what the Bible calls leaders to be and do….

  11. I had a conversation once with someone who attended a large Pentecostal church. The pastors of this church of course are highly regarded and well-known in Christian circles and regarded as having successful ministries. This girl attended their church with her family. Her father was abusive and refused to work, so the mother had to hold down three jobs just to feed them. There was some suggestion and hints that their father was sexually abusive in some manner as well. The father had a position in the church and liked to speak out during the service with words he claimed were God’s words. My friend commented disgustedly once ‘You would think they would have noticed that this guy’s kids were all afraid of him and asked why, it was so obvious’. She said her mother had gone to this senior pastor who is so well-known and respected and told him that her husband was beating her and the kids.

    His answer? “It’s your fault for not being submissive enough as a wife. Go home and submit to your husband.” To this day, none of the adult children of this family will have anything to do with this church or any other, that continues to see itself as a cutting-edge ministry. They hate and fear Christians because these are the people who turned a blind eye to the misery and abuse they had to live in and would not defend, protect or rescue them or call out his sin. As far as they are concerned, the church has no credibility. If anything is obvious because of this story which I have personally seen repeated in various forms in that denomination alone, as well as others, its that the church today has a very different idea of what godliness and success are than God does, and is so busy congratulating itself on being cutting-edge and well off, that it cannot tolerate the idea that it is poor blind and naked. So good to see someone call out the truth. Like many others I have said similar things and had the experience of being roundly castigated and vilified as one steeped in sin from birth with a lot of “how dare yous” and “who do you think you are to judge the church”, etc. Keep telling us all to wake up.

    1. Shaken – it will not go well at all on the Day when Christ comes for those wicked false shepherds. It is my conclusion that the majority of what claims to be the church today is in fact not the body of Christ at all. I believe the Lord’s true remnant of His genuine saints are very often to be found in other places, having been driven out of the visible “temples.” I realize there are some exceptions but as the years have gone by, my observation is that it has become very very difficult to find a local church that is truly Christ’s dwelling place.

      1. I sat through a dry sermon recently in which the pastor was preaching on the last part of Acts 2. He touched on these verses:

        Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47 NASB1995)

        Our blog has been getting several new commenters every day, recently. They just keep coming and coming. I know, because I’m being kept busier than ever paying attention to who is new and welcoming each newbie. It seems to me that as the institutional churches get more and more spiritually dead, the sites like ours get more and more true believers seeking fellowship with other true believers.

      2. Hi, Cindy, I made your screen name Cindy 2 as we have another Cindy here and also you’d given what may be your full name, which may not be safe on this blog.

        Welcome to the blog. 🙂
        We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

        If you want us to change your screen name to something else, just email The woman behind the curtain: — she will be more than happy to assist. 🙂

    2. Shaken & Stirred, it’s healing to hear someone recognize this needless heartache. Perhaps this would be a good place to offer practical ways to help women and children who are being controlled and in distress? I was being gaslighted and one morning my then-husband had taken the children out early in the morning. I felt extremely uneasy and called the Pastor explaining this. He said “didn’t my husband know he was supposed to love his wife” and “let me know how you make out”. An officer then came with a court order to a mental health facility. This man was advocating drugs to put up with the abuse —

      1. TruthBKnown, the one place that I know is a good starting is place is to be willing to offer refuge to someone who needs to flee a harmful situation. Even if that means hiding out a small family in your basement and the woman’s vehicle in your barn or garage so a stalking husband cannot locate her that way. Or helping spirit them away to another city or a shelter.

        My mom was being beaten by my dad regularly which no doubt included rape because he was a sex addict who hated women and when she asked her mom if she could come home, her mom said ‘You made your bed, you lie in it’. Her mom was done with raising kids and didn’t want to be saddled with a burden and they had disapproved of her marriage to my dad, as they saw things in him that were not good. If only they had said “yes”. If only. There is so much soul-destroying life damage that I and my siblings would been have spared from if only my grandparents had not been so selfish and punitive. Four lives were seriously damaged by that decision.

      2. I agree with Shaken And Stirred, with the caveat that in some cases the abuser is so dangerous that the victim is better off getting into a professionally run high-security refuge. We encourage victims to seek support from professional DV services as well as (if they are safe) from family or friends. And we encourage victims and their supporters to use the risk assessment and safety planning resources that are out there. Professional DV services ought to be able to help the victim do a detailed risk assessment and tailor a safety plan for herself, adapting the plan according to the circumstances and reviewing it over time because the plan may need to be modified if the circumstances change.

        Here is our safety planning and risk assessment page.

      3. And here is the best Risk Assessment material I know of [Internet Archive link]. It is aimed at professionals — people who in their professional work may come across victims of domestic abuse, people such as doctors, clergy, nurses, mental health workers, social workers, housing workers, welfare workers, school counselors, hairdressers, and specialist DV workers. But a victim or her supportive family and friends can also find it useful.

        This material has been developed in the State of Victoria, Australia, which is the state I live in. Victoria’s goal is that all people in the helping professions are trained in this Risk Assessment Framework, so that they are all using the same Risk Assessment method and that victims are given a consistent support no matter which professional the victim may disclose to. The link gives basic training for workers who are not DV specialists, and a more advanced training for people who work in DV specialist services such as shelters, refuges, and “women’s centres”.

      4. Your pastor clearly knows very little about abusive men! Of course your husband knows he is supposed to love his wife! He just chooses not to love you — he chooses to lie and hate and belittle and undermine and abuse you, instead of loving you.

        The mental health person was also pretty clueless, by the sounds of it, about how to recognise and best respond to domestic abuse.

  12. It is my conclusion that the majority of what claims to be the church today is in fact not the body of Christ at all. I believe the Lord’s true remnant of His genuine saints are very often to be found in other places, having been driven out of the visible “temples.”

    Jeff, that is sadly seeming to be the truth. I wish it were not the truth because I would love to be part of a church that really has it going on. All I see instead is a lot of ‘its all about me or us’, with Jesus practically shoved off the platform and out the back door. Who goes to church to be fed the junk and dysfunction they are trying to escape? How I would like to get a really good glimpse of Him, like the woman who thought to herself ‘If I just touch the hem of His robe’. That is my current prayer at the moment. One look, one touch from Him and the whole universe comes into order! Don’t mean that in a “New Age-y” way, just that He is the one who can put all right.

    Many times I have listened to messages where it was hardly necessary to even open one’s Bible, so much was it a parade of flesh and watered down slop and entertainment. I was tempted to put the little offering card in the plate with the words ‘Sir, we would see Jesus’ written on it. I didn’t because I thought my own life hardly was a recommendation for the Gospel and also that this would be a kind of snarky thing to do. But still.

    [Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    1. In the context of abuse, most women do not freely want “all things put right” which sounds like more of mesmerizing mind-control. Rather these women should be supported to leave for safety and be supported when they divorce so they can carry on in life and for Christ.

      1. Honestly – yep, you can’t fix an abuser and you can’t fix an abuser’s marriage. Abusers don’t want fixing. They want power and control.

  13. Barb’s comment on the mental health person; obviously he got the ‘mental’ part right but totally missed out on the health part. Proof positive that sometimes one would be better off contacting the local veterinarian; at least they might get more compassionate treatment and a comforting pat or two while the humane society is being called to remove the helpless living being in that situation, to a safer home.

  14. At one point in my spiritual journey, I started to see much of the preaching as ear-tickling. The pastor would raise some esoteric theological disagreement and then wave it as a red herring in front of the congregation as he railed against this nameless group of people. At some point, I realized, very few of these people really exist (whatever label he applied), and really, it was just about making our brand of Christianity the purest.

    That was one flavor of preaching. The next flavor of preaching had to do with how utterly worthless people are in God’s sight, and how we couldn’t trust our own judgment (sound familiar) – grooming.

    Then the last flavor was typically how the God-ordained leaders in our life had some special connection to God, and we should obey them without question, because whatever it was, God put them there for a reason.

    And, amazingly enough. This wasn’t a cult — not mainline by any stretch of the imagination, but not the kind of church you would expect to hear this. The practical implications of this kind of teaching, especially on the leadership were pretty horrid. The most humble men would put on their “Elder hat” and suddenly they were Spirit-led to dig up all sorts of sins they imagined in my life. And, of course, when they wore that hat, there was no need to listen.

    1. Churches like what you describe — such as what “Covenant Life Church” was under CJ Mahaney — don’t appear to be cults at first, but definitely have cultic qualities, when “Dear Leader” cannot be questioned. And any man who becomes what you describe when he puts on his Elder hat can’t really be a humble man, no matter how it seems.

  15. I’m a middle-aged autistic woman. Every single church I’ve been to has judged, shunned, or dismissed me when I’ve gone for help. Each time, without exception, I’ve been rejected and further oppressed every single time. I’ve naturally come to the conclusion that churches are nothing more than Satanic social clubs and businesses. I’ve been treated with way more kindness, gentleness and compassion by so-called secular people than I ever have by any so-called “church” leader. So-called churches are actually wicked and venomous snake pits filled with evil, wicked men and women who are in it only for themselves. Thank God, I’m a follower of Christ, and have come to realize that religious institutions that call themselves churches have little to nothing to do with the real Jesus Christ. Helping the needy and oppressed is not on their agenda, at all. They only care about getting more of the right (rich, successful, popular) people in their pews, so they can have a profitable business and a fun social club.

  16. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV)

    The more I write my breadcrumbs, my story strewn in bits and pieces throughout the ACFJ blog, the more it seems 2 Timothy 3:1-5 describes / applies to me. The process of healing is never-ending, and sometimes I believe I am imagining things.

    And then I wonder how many other victims / survivors feel the same way, up to and including those who have faced FAR worse abuse.

    I can read and believe other victim / survivor stories, but struggle with believing my own.

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