Standing Against Abuse Requires the Making of Enemies
But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. (Matthew 12:14)
If a person’s intent is to remain popular with everyone, especially with all the leaders of the visible church, then following Christ, standing against evil (especially evil hiding behind religion), and exposing abusers is most certainly not possible for them. Look at where Jesus walked and look at what He experienced at the hands of the visible “church” of his day and you will see the path He calls us to walk if we are going to take up our cross and follow Him.
George Whitefield, the great evangelist of the revival in the 1700’s, was not a controversialist by nature. He was a very gracious man. I have been reading the incredibly valuable biography of Whitefield written by Arnold Dallimore and I want to share with you a few paragraphs that illustrate precisely what I mean in this post. This is from Whitefield’s own journal:
…sat up till near one in the morning with my honoured brother and fellow-laborer, John Wesley, in conference with two clergymen of the Church of England, and some other strong opposers of the doctrine of the new birth. God enabled me, with great simplicity, to declare what He had done for my soul, which made them look upon me as a madman…I am fully convinced there is a fundamental difference between us and them. They believe only an outward Christ, we further believe that He must be inwardly formed in our hearts also.
Now listen more as Dallimore comments:
The realization that deep doctrinal differences existed between him and the majority of the clergy was of grave significance to Whitefield. These men were the officers of the Church that he respected so highly, yet allegiance to what he knew to be the truth of God separated him from them and required that he stand against them. The role of peace-maker came naturally to him, but it was now necessary for him to become a warrior and for this he was not at all suited by nature. The status of the respected clergyman must go and he must accept a position of being looked upon as a controversialist, subject to bitter misrepresentation and reproach.
In meeting this experience, Whitefield was aided by the example of the Wesleys. Their self-assertive strength allowed them to face opposition almost with contempt. Charles tells of a conversation with William Chapman, a former Holy Club man, who insisted that there is no need of our being persecuted now. ‘I told him,’ says Charles, ‘I was of a different judgment, and believed every doctrine of God must have these two marks: (1) Meeting all the opposition of men and devils, (2) Triumphing over all. I expressed my readiness to part with him and all my friends and relations for truth’s sake.’
Bluntly, almost defiantly – Charles asserted his clerical rights in a discussion with the Bishop of London, and said of an interview which he and John had with the Archbishop, ‘We told him we expected persecution.’
And so it is. This is the experience of every true follower of Jesus Christ as we stand firm in His truth.
We are surrounded today by professing Christians who insist that we must “get along” with most anyone who claims to be a Christian. We must “work together” and never speak harshly of another person who claims to belong to Christ. We need to “win them over” rather than alienate them. If they are teaching unhelpful stuff about domestic abuse, we must compromise, we must tolerate it, we must help them along and not be harsh on their ‘minor’ mistakes. But the thing is, when we try to teach such folks, they don’t want to learn, they bristle, and sometimes they even start spreading false reports about us.
Here at ACFJ we reject all of this ‘compromise’ thinking. Why? Not because we like making enemies, but because
- we don’t want to water down God’s truth
- we know that God’s truth about abuse has been watered down and contaminated by much false teaching in the church
- we know God hates the lukewarm and the false
- we know the compromise thinking lets victims down.
As a result, we make enemies. Most of those enemies are in the visible church.
The truth of the matter is that we have absolutely nothing in common with anyone who refuses to identify evil for what it is – evil. This means that people who waffle, people who seem to think that the devil himself is redeemable if we just love him enough, people who ride the fence when it comes to calling out church leaders and para-church celebrities for their errors that enable abusers and add oppression to victims, are not our comrades. In fact, if you have been in this fight against abuse hiding in the church long enough, you already know that such people largely are the problem.
All of us, if we are going to follow Christ and do battle for him against evil, are going to have to come to the same realization that George Whitefield did when he said, “I am fully convinced there is a fundamental difference between us and them. They believe only an outward Christ, we further believe that He must be inwardly formed in our hearts also.” There is no middle ground. Either we stand for truth or we don’t. Either we are born again or we are dead in our sins. Either we see evil for what it is and expose it no matter what, or we compromise with it and join it.
To this date we have never yet seen a Christian “celebrity” individual or organization truly admit to the damaging errors they have taught in their books and seminars and practices. Not a single one. What we have seen and what we continue to see is that these kind hate us when we call them to accounts for what they have done and what they are continuing to do. So we make enemies.
Sometimes enemies are very polite. To remain popular, they dance around a question without answering it directly. But if they are pressed to state their views full clearly, if their feet are held to the fire, they become mean … unless of course God works upon their hearts by bringing them to acknowledge their sins (but if that happens they will publicly repent and retract the silly stuff they’ve written).
Whitefield wrote about how ‘polite’ people are often resistant to the truth. After preaching at Keynsham he wrote in his journal
I insisted much on original sin, because there are many in this city who, I fear, have imbibed the principles of that polite preacher, Mr F . . . . but woe to them who deny that they are born in sin.
And speaking of Bath, the famous watering town in England, he wrote
Many adversaries must be expected in so polite a place as Bath.
So be it.
Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)