A Cry For Justice

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

Pounding the facts; pounding the witness; pounding the table

Here is a way to identify whether someone is a genuine shepherd or a hireling-cum-wolf. Ask yourself, “Is this person pounding the facts? Or are they just pounding the witness or pounding the table?”

This post is a recapitulation and coda to Part 3 of my series about Sheep, Shepherds and Wolves.

The questions in italics at the beginning of this post are derived from advice which is given to young trial lawyers / barristers:

When you have the facts, pound the facts.
If you don’t have the facts, pound the witness.
When you don’t have the facts and you can’t pound the witness, pound the table!

A common scenario in the church: When sheep are led by wolves, the sheep and wolves jointly pound a shepherd who comes forward to try to protect the sheep.

Shepherds pound the facts; the truth, in other words.

Wolves pound the witness. Hirelings pound the witness.

Occasionally, a wolf or a hireling-cum-wolf will have an isolated fact which he will pound on relentlessly, blowing it out of proportion in an attempt to shout down any attempt at context or mitigating facts.

Wolves will pound the table as a last resort. They use outright lies and irrelevancies to raise the level of fear, anger and confusion so that no one can think properly and see what they (the wolves) are doing. Attacks like “SHAME ON YOU! SHAME ON YOU!” or “HOW DARE YOU! HOW DARE YOU!” are table thumping and raising the emotions to lower thinking. Hirelings whose pride is pricked will resort to the same tactics as a last resort.

***

In this post have utilised ideas that James gave us ages ago in one of his comments on this blog. Thank you James.

18 Comments

  1. Finding Answers

    From the original post (copied-and-pasted (with minor editing by me)): “Here is a way to identify whether someone is a genuine shepherd (or a hireling-cum-wolf (“shepherd”)). Ask…..”

    (Parentheses around the phrase “or a hireling-cum-wolf” / the word “shepherd” in quotes done by me.)

    Question (copied-and-pasted from the original post (with minor editing by me)): “Is this person pounding the facts?”

    Victims / survivors (who sometimes are shepherds) tend to pound the facts, although sometimes they (the victims / survivors who sometimes are shepherds) are accused by other individuals of pounding the “facts”.

    “Victims” / “survivors” (who sometimes are “shepherds”) will pound the facts / “facts”, depending on what serves their (the “victims” / “survivors” (who sometimes are “shepherds”)) purpose.

    Question (copied-and-pasted from the original post (with minor editing by me)): “….are they just pounding the witness?”

    Victims / survivors (who sometimes are shepherds) are frequently accused of pounding the witness / “witness” when they (the victims / survivors (who sometimes are shepherds)) attempt to ascertain the facts.

    Question (copied-and-pasted from the original post (with minor editing by me)): “….are they just…pounding the table?”

    Victims / survivors (who sometimes are shepherds) will sometimes (for any number of reasons) pound the table.

    • Finding Answers

      Adding on to my own comment (19TH JUNE 2020 – 12:40 PM).

      From the original post “Here is a way to identify whether someone is a genuine shepherd or a hireling-cum-wolf…..”

      The genuine shepherd does not act like they (the genuine shepherd) are God.

      The hireling-cum-wolf (or wolf) acts like (and sometimes seems to believe) that they (the hireling-cum-wolf (or wolf)) are God.

      The genuine shepherd might (of necessity) censor SOME questions.

      The hireling-cum-wolf (or wolf) censors most? all? questions.

      The genuine shepherd does not believe they (the genuine shepherd) have all the answers.

      The hireling-cum-wolf (or wolf) believes they (the hireling-cum-wolf (or wolf)) have ALL the answers.

      The genuine shepherd does not weaponize the Bible, understanding that using the Bible as a weapon instills an unhealthy fear of God, rather than a healthy fear-awe of God.

      The hireling-cum-wolf (or wolf) weaponizes the Bible, instilling an unhealthy fear of God, rather than a healthy fear-awe of God.

      The genuine shepherd points to God, realizing each individual is unique in their (the individual’s) walk with God.

      The hireling-cum-wolf (or wolf) treats everyone (inside or outside of the Church) identically, pointing to themself (the hireling-cum-wolf (or wolf)) as THE prime example of how to walk with God.

      • Finding Answers

        Adding on to my own comment (20TH JUNE 2020 – 8:18 PM).

        I wrote: “The genuine shepherd does not believe they (the genuine shepherd) have all the answers.”

        Here are some questions I would ask a genuine shepherd.

        In Jesus’ physical life, did He ever experience a physical illness?

        If Jesus experienced a physical illness, did He ever get put outside the camp (something that was occasionally necessary for those who had some kinds of normal-for-the-average-human physical illness)?

        Years ago, I remember hearing a sermon that described Jesus as a very human baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, crying (for any number of the reasons that human babies cry), and yes, needing the equivalent of what we would call a nappie (or diaper) change.

        Did any (or all) of ^That pertain to Jesus?

        The Bible contains SO little of the day-to-day details of Jesus’ life as a child, and the topic of ANYONE’S childhood is something humans frequently discuss in building relationships.

        For me, not knowing ^Those (and many other!) kinds of details, frustrates me in building my relationship with Jesus.

        I had a “dad” who acted like he was “god”, expecting perfection from everyone (except himself!), even as he (my “dad”) sinned BIG time.

        Christian / “christian” folks keep belabouring the point that Jesus-the-Man was perfect and lived a sinless life.

        I am not questioning the point that Jesus-the-Man was perfect and lived a sinless life.

        For me, given my history (written in MANY places on the ACFJ blog, and including details of my perfectionist “dad”), building a relationship with Jesus-the-God-Man is difficult (in any number of ways, for any number of reasons, and omitting details for my safety and protection).

      • Hi Finding Answers, you wrote:

        Years ago, I remember hearing a sermon that described Jesus as a very human baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, crying (for any number of the reasons that human babies cry), and yes, needing the equivalent of what we would call a nappie (or diaper) change.
        Did any (or all) of ^That pertain to Jesus?

        We can be sure that the infant Jesus had many nappie changes. He was fully human as well as fully God. As fully human, he has a gastro-intestinal tract and produced faeces like other humans do. Furthermore, he spoke about it as a natural bodily function: “whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught” (Matt 15:17, KJV).

        We can’t know for sure whether Jesus suffered any illnesses. But it is very possible that he did contract and recover from the normal infections of childhood that were around in those days. And he may have accidentally cut himself as a carpenter and the wound got infected before it healed. So he may have had to keep distance from others while the wound was infected. None of those things would have meant that Jesus sinned. Suffering bodily illness is not necessarily connected to an individual’s having committed sin. It is part and parcel of what can happen to human beings in this fallen world.

        Another scripture that comes to my mind in relation to your comment is “No trial has taken you but such as follows the nature of man. But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tried above your strength, but will in the midst of the trial make a way to escape out.” (1 Cor 10:13, NMB)

      • I agree with all you said here, Finding Answers. Thank you for amplifying the points I made in my post. 🙂

  2. Finding Answers

    My own (personal) quirky sense of humour: Finding Answers on finding answers.

    I commented 19TH JUNE 2020 – 12:40 PM, 20TH JUNE 2020 – 8:18 PM, 22ND JUNE 2020 – 3:44 PM.

    In my comment (22ND JUNE 2020 – 3:44 PM), I wrote: “The Bible contains SO little of the day-to-day details of Jesus’ life as a child, and the topic of ANYONE’S childhood is something humans frequently discuss in building relationships.”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, I wrote: “For me, not knowing ^Those (and many other!) kinds of details, frustrates me in building my relationship with Jesus.”

    ^That.

    No matter which individual is pounding the facts, pounding the witness, or pounding the table, there is one piece of Scripture that answers a multitude of questions.

    Much as I dislike proof-texting, I am citing a (usually) well-known – and frequently twisted – Scripture.

    1 Corinthians 13 New Matthew Bible (NMB)
    The nature and attributes of love.
    13 Though I spoke with the tongues of men and angels, and yet had no love, I would be even as sounding brass, or as a ringing cymbal. 2 And though I could prophesy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge – yea if I had all faith, so that I could move mountains out of their places – and yet had no love, I would be nothing. 3 And if I bestowed all my goods to feed the poor, and even if I gave my body to be burned, and yet had no love, it profits me nothing.

    4 Love suffers long, and is kind. Love does not envy. Love is not contrary, does not swell up, 5 does not deal dishonourably, seeks not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinks no evil; 6 does not take pleasure in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 suffers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures in all things. 8 Though prophesying fail, or tongues cease, or knowledge vanish away, yet love never falls away.

    9 For our knowledge is imperfect, and our prophesying is imperfect. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is imperfect shall be put away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I imagined as a child. But as soon as I was a man, I put away childishness. 12 Now we see in a glass, even in a dark speaking, but then we shall see face to face. Now I know imperfectly, but then I shall know even as I am known. 13 Now faith, hope, and love, these three things abide, but the chief of these is love.

    For me, the NMB translation of 1 Corinthians 13 made a world of difference. (Omitting details for my safety and protection.)

    There are times when no amount of proof-texting will answer some of my questions, because no one has walked in my shoes.

    I was baptised and saved in the hospital when I was at six months old.

    Because I was baptised and saved in the hospital when I was six months old, I have walked with the Holy Spirit as my constant Companion for all but the first six months of my life.

    The Holy Spirit is one Person in the Triune God.

    The other Persons in the Triune God are Father God and the Son of God (aka Jesus Christ).

    Essentially, I was brought up in two family systems.

    I had a biological family of origin and a spiritual Family.

    I had to go No Contact with my biological family of origin to build a relationship with my spiritual Family.

    • Dear Finding Answers, your comment is so profound that I am hesitant to write anything in response to it.

      These words of yours struck me —

      Essentially, I was brought up in two family systems.

      I had a biological family of origin and a spiritual Family.

      What struck me was the way you used the word “I” with such confidence. I heard your voice coming through in a way I don’t think I’ve heard before. Your sense of self, your identity. You. Clear as a bell.

      (I hope I am not being a foot-in-mouth clodhopper by saying this.)

    • Helovesme

      Barb already pointed out the fantastic comment regarding biological and spiritual family. I could add SO much personal experience to back that up, but I too will leave it there for now. It really was brilliantly said.

      Barb does a wonderful job in balancing the “hold nothing back” reality of abuse and it’s aftermath. Coupled with the “hold onto Christ” reality of Him and His long, strong arms.

      This is NOT as easy as it looks. She did a brilliant job in this post by using the would “pounding.” Abuse, even if it’s not physical, is like a hammer. It hits hard, it bangs loud and strong and worst of all—the nails that hammer is pounding, are pounding into you. Almost like they are nailing you into a coffin.

      A hammer can be used to build up OR tear down. It’s not always an instrument of evil. It can be used to pull OUT nails, not hammer you INTO a coffin.

      Sometimes nails being pulled out are the right ones—ones that don’t belong there. Sometimes the nails being pounded in are the right ones—ones that DO belong there.

      A true shepherd will do the latter. I had a high school English teacher who explained how an author will stress a theme over and over again, because he is trying to “hammer” his ideas into your head. He didn’t want you to miss out on what he was trying to communicate.

      One of my favorite, most simplistic aspects about the Lord is how (in the Word), He constantly asked questions (IMO) because He wanted to hear what you had to say. What are you doing? Why did you do this? What do you want? What are you thinking?

      You would think He wouldn’t need to ask anything; He already knows! I honesty think He did this not only to connect with humanity (aka starting a conversation), but also to set an example.

      A true shepherd, however, likely doesn’t know the facts, the answers, the reasons why (or why not). They aren’t ashamed of not knowing, they WANT to know and do not mind admiring that it’s you, not anyone else, who can help them.

      Even a true shepherd needs to learn this often tricky process. You can easily get distracted and start pulling out pages from the wolves’ or the hirelings’ playbook. If you can imagine, not all sheep are easy to talk to, or they might not give up the info so easily. You have to gain their trust, learn to be patient—or give up on being a true shepherd, period. There are no shortcuts. It may feel frustrating at best, futile at worst. This is partially why I think true shepherds often get burned out, run out of ministry, or they run out of hope.

      Bring in my beagle. I seriously wanted to get rid of him a few times, because I didn’t want to take the time and trouble to understand him. It was harder work than I was used to.

      I realized I had only two choices: get patient or get rid of him.

      Barb brought up something so significant, in that sheep led by wolves and hirelings will turn on a true shepherd. As much as the responsibility is on the leaders, the sheep must be vigilant in order to be a flock of sheep focused on heading for pasture, instead of a herd of unfocused sheep heading for slaughter.

      I realized this when I noticed witnesses being pounded, being attacked, stoned and shamed and ridiculed—all the while not having the facts and not even caring about them. Their emotional rants SOUNDED sincere, but it was nothing but a fear tactic. Strong emotions have a way of causing us to back down, but it’s not out of the truth of those emotions, it is the intensity of them that causes so much fear in us—-we feel like it would cruel to challenge them, so we stay silent.

      Barb put it so well: “When you don’t have the facts and you can’t pound the witness, pound the table!”

      What is interesting about what I witnessed, is the supposed rationale. They were pounding this person as a form of punishment that they felt was deserved. So to them, their cruelty seemed justified. Well, they didn’t know WHAT had led this person to make those choices. This person was accused of cruelty, but in reality this person was a product of cruelty, and made a very difficult choice in order to escape that cruelty.

      Pounding the facts may seem “cruel” at times, because you might need to coax the facts out of a person, in order to know exactly HOW to help them. In the situation I witnessed, the irony is that the real facts, ALL of the facts put together, painted quite a cruel picture.

      But focus on just ONE part of those facts, the ultimate decision this person made, label that as cruel enough to justify being excessively cruel to this person—they didn’t even know (or care) about the cruelty this person had already suffered from for years!

      This is a part from Finding Answers that stood out to me:

      “There are times when no amount of proof-texting will answer some of my questions, because no one has walked in my shoes.”

      Exactly. Ask all the questions you want, gather as many facts as possible, but likely it will not really answer anything, because there is no way to “explain away” abuse. We know the facts, abuse is real, evil exists and here is what happened, but that only goes so far.

      I had the honor of hearing this person’s story in more detail, and I felt the same way. I knew things, but I felt like pounding the table in frustration. I couldn’t stop people from hurting this person, and I couldn’t make them understand their cruelty. I honestly don’t think offering them facts and figures would have made a dent.

      Once a pair of hands is holding a hammer, it is up to them how they choose to use it. Will you pound people with it, smashing their heads open? Will you pound nails into their coffin, or pull them OUT of that nailed down coffin lid? Why are you building them a coffin, anyway?

      Or will you put that hammer down and read the manual or look at the blueprints—what do you want to build? A house to live in, or a coffin to die in?

      I’ve put “facts” into the hands of all the wrong people, so often. Those facts were used to hammer at me, causing me much pain and suffering. There is a reason we don’t give a hammer to a five year old, for example! But so often we give hammers to the seemingly sincere, but it is only a masquerade. Or we give them to the seemingly mature, but it is also a masquerade. They were really wolves or hirelings masquerading as true shepherds.

      If we know them by their fruits, perhaps we can also say that we know them by how they use their power (aka hammers)—to tear people down, or to build them up?

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented (6TH JULY 2020 – 1:08 PM) “A hammer can be used to build up OR tear down. It’s not always an instrument of evil. It can be used to pull OUT nails, not hammer you INTO a coffin.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “Sometimes nails being pulled out are the right ones—ones that don’t belong there. Sometimes the nails being pounded in are the right ones—ones that DO belong there.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “A true shepherd will do the latter….”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “One of my favorite, most simplistic aspects about the Lord is how (in the Word), He constantly asked questions (IMO) because He wanted to hear what you had to say. What are you doing? Why did you do this? What do you want? What are you thinking?”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented You would think He wouldn’t need to ask anything; He already knows! I honesty think He did this not only to connect with humanity (aka starting a conversation), but also to set an example.”

        (Bold added by me.)

        You would NOT believe how many times I have had ^That “discussion” with God. 🙂

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “Or will you put that hammer down and read the manual or look at the blueprints—what do you want to build? A house to live in, or a coffin to die in?”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “If we know them by their fruits, perhaps we can also say that we know them by how they use their power (aka hammers)—to tear people down, or to build them up?”

        ^That.

      • Helovesme, I really appreciate your metaphors and analogies of how people can use hammers to destroy people, or to set people free from bondage.

  3. Finding Answers

    From the title of the post “Pounding the facts; pounding the witness; pounding the table”

    Sometimes I am REALLY slow on the uptake. 🙂 🙂

    Words (and the Word) can ALSO be pounded.

    The word “faith” is used and / or misused by WAY too many secular AND non-secular individuals.

    Some individuals use faith positively (in any number of ways, for any number of reasons).

    Some individuals use “faith” negatively (in any number of ways, for any number of reasons).

    In a number of my comments on the ACFJ blog, I wrote about my (mis)perceived struggles with faith.

    In many of my comments on the ACFJ blog, I wrote about my absolute obedience to the Holy Spirit.

    For me, absolute obedience to the Holy Spirit is what I now understand is faith.

    Since the Holy Spirit cannot be physically seen AND since I was baptised and saved in the hospital when I was six months old, I could truthfully say I have blind faith. 🙂 🙂

    • Finding Answers wrote: “For me, absolute obedience to the Holy Spirit is what I now understand is faith.”

      Amen! I am so glad you have come to that understanding, Finding Answers.

      I like the NMB’s rendering of Hebrews 11:1

      Faith is a sure confidence of things that are hoped for, and a certainty of things that are not seen.

      • Finding Answers

        On 28TH JUNE 2020 – 8:27 PM, Barb cited the New Matthew Bible translation of Hebrews 11:1:

        “Faith is a sure confidence of things that are hoped for, and a certainty of things that are not seen.”

        For me, ^That sentence is not accurate.

        For many individuals, the word “hope” has a positive connotation.

        For me, the word “hope” has a negative connotation.

        For me, faith means choosing between a rock and a hard place.

        For me, “choosing a rock” means absolute obedience to the Holy Spirit, personally believing that bad things will happen, a personal belief based on a lifetime of (mostly abusive) experience.

        ^That choice, no matter how painful / difficult / etc., is made of my own free will.

        For me, “choosing a rock” means choosing to obey the Holy Spirit (aka Jesus Christ, aka The Rock).

        For me, “choosing a hard place” would mean disobeying the Holy Spirit, with the sure knowledge REALLY bad things will happen.

        For me, “choosing a hard place” would mean choosing to disobey the Holy Spirit (which would mean following Satan (aka the Anti-Christ, aka “the father of lies”)).

        For me, the word “hope” simply means I can be certain REALLY bad things are NOT going to happen (rather than the personal belief that bad things will happen).

      • Wow. Thank you for explaining that, Finding Answers. I will mull over what you wrote.

  4. Finding Answers

    From the original post “Attacks like “SHAME ON YOU! SHAME ON YOU!” or “HOW DARE YOU! HOW DARE YOU!”….”

    ^That might be condensed down to the (sometimes unspoken, sometimes spoken-only-by-physical-body-language) saying: “Children (of God) should be seen and not heard.”

    (The words “of God” in parentheses added by me.)

  5. Finding Answers

    I wrote (29TH JUNE 2020 – 7:15 AM): “….“Children (of God) should be seen and not heard.””

    For me, there are times when the Holy Spirit communicates: Children of God should be seen and not heard.

    ^That. (Omitting details for my safety and protection.)

  6. Finding Answers

    For new readers: I am a Christian Asperger woman.

    Like many Asperger and autistic individuals, I cannot knowingly lie, and like some Asperger and autistic individuals, I think in pictures.

    I have ALWAYS been a voracious reader of MANY kinds of communications: encyclopedias, manuals, books, articles, magazines, different kinds of manuscripts and documents by a variety of authors, etc..

    From the title of the post “Pounding the facts….”

    ^That is a phrase I have considered, and how (for me) pounding the facts is a bad thing.

    For example: As a child in history class, some things pounded as facts were actually “facts”, and I received lower marks on history tests even at a very young age because I KNEW what the history books contained were “facts” (not facts).

    For example: As a young adult, my abusive “dad” bought me a series of history books, each book covering a different era in history. I don’t remember completing any individual book in the series because I KNEW at least ONE of the books contained “facts” (not facts).

    For example: In pursuing education in one of my jack-of-all-trades fields, I was given a practical lab test and the instructor reversed the directional placement of the object upon which we were being tested. As a result of the improper placement of the object and because I think in pictures, I named the object as if the object had been correctly placed AND THE INSTRUCTOR RIDICULED ME IN FRONT OF MY MUCH YOUNGER CLASSMATES!!! (Pardon my yelling in all capital letters.)

    For example: I spent MANY years in different areas of different kinds of retail, and although I was VERY good at my jobs, I cannot sell someone a product they (the individual) do not need.

    In hindsight, I am sure I received other marks / evaluations / etc. that were not (in any number of ways, for any number of reasons) an accurate reflection of me.

    With all ^That in mind, can you imagine if I had attended a Christian / “christian” school that required rote memorization and / or proof-texting of Scripture?

    • I reckon if you had attended a school which required rote memorisation or proof-texting of scripture, it would have done you grievous harm.

      I don’t mind you yelling in caps in that part of your comment. It was appropriate. You weren’t yelling at any of our readers, you were expressing justifiable outrage about the cruel instructor who mocked you before your classmates.

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