Friday, January 20, 2012

The Straw Goddess



I haven't written in awhile. I haven't posted in an even longer amount of time. Some of it was the holidays and the business of moving again and starting to homeschool the kids again. But mostly, it was that I have no heart to say anything.

I have many thoughts, and I sometimes put them on paper. My purse is full of old Target receipts with crayon cursive notes on the ideas that come to me when I'm supposed to be doing something else. But I rarely have the will to do anything with them, and if I even get that far I don't care enough to post it.

I know, waaaaahaaaaa. Life gets overwhelming and kids are hard to manage. Marriage is a full-time job, and the dishes don't wash their own sticky selves, though I have tried every spell listed in the fantasy books I so adore.

I fluctuate between feeling genuinely sorry for myself and hating the fact that I let my depression become so damn dramatic. But on either side of that coin, I cannot escape the reality that is now holding my family in an iron-clad (and just as cozy) embrace.

In short, and without being ugly (Southern for mean spirited) we have recently encountered the proverbial Last Straw.

I really love thinking about those old proverbs or wives' tales. I wonder where they came from, who first put the genius together and how it caught on. Did a camel's back really break because of straw? Who was dumb enough to do that science experiment?

But let's go with it. A camel, a lion, a bear, a person, can only take so much. We know this. But then again, we also think that just one more leeeettle thing can't possibly hurt, right? Just ONE more late night. Just ONE more meeting or some such importance. Just ONE more piece of teeny tiny insignificant virtually weightless straw.

I don't know if it is modern man or American values or what. But it seems as if we think that if we continue to add...very...very slowly...or just pretend that we are VERY strong, we can continue to add to the pile indefinitely. We have grown too proud of our abilities. There is a breaking point.

Enter my breaking point.

I've lived in the world of church my entire life. My ancestors on all sides have been involved in pastoring, shepherding, cleaning, counseling, teaching, serving and leading churches for centuries. To say that it is in my blood is an understatement. Even those of my family that have other jobs are so thoroughly steeped in church that they all need a good wringing out.


I don't remember a time when I didn't feel sarcastic or cautious toward most church goers. I don't recall the first time I was duped by someone who used prayer as a means of gossip. Having my dad suddenly leave a birthday party because someone was in the hospital? That's just life. It is a family business whether you like it or not, and I have liked it...and not. 

As such, I consider myself pretty realistic. I don't expect people to be perfect, and rather prefer those who don't pretend to be. I know that everyone stinks, everyone lies, everyone struggles. This isn't being false, it is being normal. I've been on the sidelines watching as church leaders were caught in the webs of divorce, affairs with women, affairs with men, embezzling funds, taking illegal drugs, taking legal drugs illegally, and...the worst of all of them....been total shit heads. Excuse the language, if you will. 

I think that anyone can be tempted to do something they would otherwise not do. I've definitely looked at the Percocet from my last baby delivery and thought that it would make life MUCH easier and nobody would have to know. But I think it is far worse to consistently be unkind to people, to forget the difficulties of youth, to disdain the poor or uneducated, or to believe yourself superior to those whom you serve. I forgive the Percocet takers easier than the ones who exclude you because of your last-season shoes.

And still....life goes on. My faith in life or people doesn't have to be seriously altered because someone had a bump in the road. Times are hard, but times move on. 

I've dealt with mean kids who wanted to laugh at the fat girl. I've faced the horrors of junior high in a new state. I went through countless medical tests and procedures to deal with the fact that I had a horrible eating disorder. I started taking medication for anxiety and depression before I left high school. I was abused by someone in my church. I helped my mother relearn how to walk and eat and use the bathroom. I watched my husband's father die. I watched my house burn down. I've had life-or-death scares with each of my children. I've walked with friends through job loss, death of parents, death of spouse, death of children, loss of homes, loss of sanity.

I'm not trying to say anything other than I am not a weak person, and I know what hard times look like. No doubt you do as well. We can all name some really bad things that have happened to us and those we love. 
The reason that this is pertinent is that I want you to understand how devastating the events of recent months have been. How bad has life been to be worse than all of this together?! 

The straw. The proverbial straw. 

My husband is a pastor. He is a good pastor, in my opinion. He loves people and wants them to know about the loving being who made them. He isn't condescending to those who don't share his views, is enthusiastically involved in relationships with people who are totally opposed to his ideas, and actively looks for ways to make people feel good about themselves. He is a genuinely nice person, which is one of the highest compliments I can pay anybody. I'm genuinely not, which is why I value such qualities in others. I'm mean, I think bad things about people, and I always expect for people to let me down. 

Austin loves to read, to discuss, and to teach. If there was anything that drew me to him (aside from his ridiculous good looks) it was this. We like to be informed, to banter, to draw out the meaning behind the meaning. It is for us as good a time as can be had. Give us a book, a pint, and an argument, and we are truly happy. Add a light saber for good measure, and maybe a wand. We are nerds, but at least he is a handsome one. I'm the witty one. 

In recent months, Austin's views on certain Biblical/Theological topics have come under fire by people in our community. However, instead of talking it out or discussing the differences, as adult people should, he was secretly put on a Radar of Doom. All things we said were suspect, all posts on Facebook were key. Pictures of my children at their baptism ceremony were proof that we were communist-papist-new age-*gasp*democrats. Does this sound ridiculous? It is. 

Austin has been reading the Bible as historical literature for a long time. Yes, he is only 30, but yes he really did start at age 10. Like I said, he is a very smart, very amazingly pretty nerd. His conclusions and ongoing understanding of different aspects of this book are based on years of study including the learning of ancient languages. Is he right? No. Is he wrong? No.

Many parts of the Bible are confusing and unknown. It doesn't have to threaten your belief or disbelief in one way or another. It was written many years ago, in a different culture, language, and to a different people. This means that there are several keys to unlock. But ultimately, the believers of all times have come down to some basic beliefs. Believe these, and the rest is...the rest. We get to discuss and banter about salvation and grace, but in the end we one and all have to accept that we one and all don't know much about it. Faith is mysterious. God is mysterious. The whole lifestyle is often mysterious. If you aren't comfortable with things you don't understand, you need to look elsewhere. Just as in science, you deal with ideas and evidence and hypothesis until something causes you to conclude that you have a real answer. In the meantime, dream big and have fun trying to work out the mysterious of the cosmos, God, Big Bang Theory, and all. 

This doesn't mean that I think, nor does anyone if they are honest, that all ideas are equal. Many ideas are, but not all. Sometimes it is based on personality, sometimes on fallacy. It is my job to work out what I think about life, about God, about politics and art. It is also my job to speak eloquently about such topics so that I might be a good example of what I believe. It is never my job to disdain, ignore, or belittle those ideas that differ from mine. 

Disagreement is supposed to be an adult practice. I do not agree with some of my family members on alcohol consumption. I think I am right, and they think they are right. But I am an adult, and can recognize their ability to choose what they see fit. I would intervene if I saw that my cousin wanted to beat her child. This would no longer be her right, as a life would be in danger. My need to interfere in someone else's life to the point of law or restraint is limited to those situations in which life itself is at stake. But when my cousin wants to let her daughter eat McDonald's, it isn't my damn business. (Though some would argue McDonald's does indeed put your life in danger. )

This doesn't mean that every man is an island. With those whom I have relationship, I am able to ask for input and advice. I banter, I read, I discuss. I come to different conclusions based on the wisdom or folly of the advice. Through such healthy and respectful interactions, I come to know myself better. I know more about life, and how to be a better traveler through it. 

If we want to take this to a very simple level, here's a great picture: I can ask my sister if I look fat in my bathing suit. I want her to answer, because she knows me. She remembers the days when I wouldn't eat and my doctor said I was harming my heart. She knows my fear of people starting at me. She knows my fear of bathing suits. But she also won't lie because she doesn't want me to look bad. She will tell me the truth, praising me in truth, and delivering sad reality in truth. HOWEVER....if I take that same bathing suit to a pool and some wicked beyotch tells me I look like a tub of marshmallow fluff stuffed into a nylon prison, I'm going to literally hit her. Because it isn't her place. It isn't her business. It isn't important to her, because I am not important to her. 

I can liken it to the accusations applied to the President on the front of  The Inquirer. There are so many more things to be concerned with in a leader than if you think he has alien tentacles or a penchant for Pinterest. When there is war and people are without homes, why should such things matter? Does it need to be explained that a pastor can wear pinstriped knickers if he wants? Sure, he looks odd. But it doesn't hinder his ability to fulfill his obligations.

I watched from the sidelines as my husband and my father addressed emails and phone calls and secret meetings. They did so with grace, and far more of it than is humanly possible to give. I watched as my husband sobbed his eyes raw because of fellow teachers and leaders who told him he was a nothing. He replied with dignity and kindness, and then came home to bury his head in my lap. Friendships of many years turned to be nothing more than traps. People lied, people gossiped, and people made my mother cry. My mother never cries. 

The straw broke my back feels like it is stuck in my throat. (Don't think about the physiology of such a statement, as it will only cause O.C.D. thoughts to sprout like mold.)

The thing is, I can deal with real life problems. Tell me that you are struggling with an addiction, and I won't bat an eye. Everyone has problems, and we can only love one another through them and hope to get to a place of greater understanding. Tell me that you want to rid my spouse of his livelihood because we baptize our children and I am shocked with the pettiness. You are the girl at the pool and your cruelty is overwhelming.

I struggle with Southern American Evangelical Christianity. I am fortunate to have learned that it is a sub-sect, and not the whole animal. There are people around the world, and even in my own church, that believe in God aside from the politics, the American flag, the rush for riches and the protocol of Southern Plantations. Jesus doesn't care if you wear white after Labor Day. Jesus probably doesn't even care about Labor Day. 

If we claim to be concerned with things that exist outside of time, yet only become passionate if an usher  smokes, how can we be surprised with the world laughs? 

I don't want anything to do with these vicious people, and we are supposed to be lumped together in that great grey category of Christian. I am, anger aside, embarrassed to be associated with people who act this way. Some of the best people I know do not fit in or abide by the ever-shifting rules according to Scarlett and Rhett Butler. But they care about the poor. They engage in the ongoing discussion of social justice around the world. They read the works of the world's religious and social leaders and look to find their place in the cosmos. I identify with them in everything except that I claim there is one particular God who has a hand in it. 

I cannot abide the deep-fried god of the south who says I have to discount scientific discovery. I cannot drink a glass of sweetened lies. 

I'm interested in the ancient Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. I love the stories and the drama and historical significance. Yet I've also always been intrigued as to how the ancient worshippers could delude themselves into believing that a grain goddess was angry with them. All facets of life had a god to answer to. The god either liked you or he didn't, and you could try to appease him or her with good behavior. It was exhausting and unending, and there was no safety. Question Zeus and you could be blasted. Fail to burn something to Apollo and the sun wouldn't rise. So much to keep track of, and so many ways to fail. There was only time and energy to try to rise higher than your neighbor. Make Hera like you more than your sister. Let the wrath fall on her, pathetic wretch. Keep climbing. Keep throwing people beneath you as you go. Restrict the carnage to anyone other than yourself. 

The only thing that seems to have changed is that we now call it all God and when something goes unexpectedly right, we brightly say something about Grace or Favor. 

I've never felt threatened by those who don't believe as I do. Instead, I feel threatened to the point of back-breaking proportions by those who say that my belief has to look like, smell like, talk and walk like theirs, and theirs isn't molded by anything other than preference. 

My extended family, my husband's extended family, have expressed their outrage and hurt over the situation we find ourselves in. They know it, because they've been there. Pastors have always been there, always will be there. But let's call it what it is. Let's not say it has anything to do with Jesus. People need power and money, and the importance that they have oddly connected with the church. The Middle Ages are notorious for the actions of Popes who dabbled in the same vices. At least the Popes were usually honest about their needs. They rarely claimed that God told them to kill people. They just did it. 

This sounds full of hurt, and I realize that it might sound over the top to you. I hope so, as that would probably indicate that this is a side of church world you aren't familiar with. I've waited months for the ability to separate my anger from the events, and write about just my frustration bewilderment. I do feel honestly that I am there, at least most days. I can move on without wanting to hurt someone or get revenge. But I do want it all to stop. It should stop. 

The reason my husband's aunt teared up last week is because it didn't stop. The reason my mother cried is because it hasn't stopped. The reason my family finds itself with fewer friends is because it just won't stop. People are mean-spirited. They are ugly. They don't have the grace to say that they just want what they want, and they will do whatever it takes to get it. The collective years and tears of many a pastor's family could be saved if people would be more like the Popes of yore and just be honest about their treachery. 

As it is, I don't want any of my children to go into church work. I want them to love people and do something that matters in the world. I want them to find joy, and when a college or boss treats them badly, I don't want it to be at the cost of their faith in humanity. I don't want them to struggle with the church ladies that tell them "God said" they are to stop wearing sleeveless dresses. Life is too short and too beautiful to deal with all this straw.  

There is a verse in the Bible that says that God has made himself known through creation. There are so many beautiful things to be said about this passage, and one day I might say those things. For now I'm grateful that God is known in creation, because he is frequently unwelcome in his own church. 

When he does show up, let's hope he doesn't wear white after Labor Day. 


66 comments:

Ladybug said...

Oh Tiff my comments require a gallon of mint chip ice cream and a good beverage. I'll bring both! I have news I need to tell you anyways. On another note, I had a mini panic attack yesterday b/c the only clean pants I had were white (yes I wore them!). I love you friend.

Phillip Michael Garner said...

Hi Tiff, I wish I could help. I have found your father and husband to be deeply spiritual and wonderfully intellectual. Your father gave me hope when I was at the lowest point of my life. I experienced an instant connection with Austin because of our mutual passion for understanding and seeking God. Hope is always for the present, it allows us to face the opposing forces of darkness. Only the righteous are tested Tiff. Thanks for the blog...I am an unknown at CC and far removed from this sectarian foolishness that has hurt your family.

eL. said...

I don't really have a whole lot to say other than "Grr" and "I love you."

Girls night soon.

Vanessa said...

Hmm... Too much swirling in my head to actually respond. I will re-state what I told your dad and husband. I wish people were as quick to pray about things as they are to talk about them. Praying for someone you disagree with (on big or little issues) only makes your heart softer towards that person. Talking about that person...well, clearly the affect is destructive more often than not.

This really makes me want to wear my white pants tomorrow....just because I can.

Sam said...

I'm a fellow PK.
A fellow girl.
A fellow church brat.
A fellow red head.
A fellow nerd.
A fellow witty woman.

I'm hurt that you're hurt.
I hate reading that your Mom cried. If my Mom cries, it rips my heart out. Because I know her heart. She seeks only to do good and help others.

And I hate that Austin has cried, and you have cried, and your aunt has cried, and your dad has cried. I hate that.

I understand your anger. I don't know who wrote the scene, but I believe that the graveyard scene in Steel Magnolias is a great representation of female human emotion. Sometimes we just need to hit something, or hit someone. Not to be violent or hurtful, we just need to punch. Like the scene in You've Got Mail, when Tom Hanks told Meg Ryan, "you need to go to the mattresses (Godfather reference).

I encourage you to keep working through these emotions and feelings. Keep fighting for your sanity in this insane world. You've got a lot of friends cheering you on, my dear. A LOT!! We just probably fail at telling you, "Hey Tiffany, I love you." We need to do better...

Sam

Cheryl said...

Hi Tiffany...I too have struggled with the church. As business owner, I threatened my spouse with divorce if he brought in anymore "christian" clients. Those transactions were the worst. My love/hate relationship with the church went on for quite a while. It affected my outlook, my mission and my relationships. But God, who is ever merciful reached down and changed everything through a wonderful Christian couple that I believe you may know, Larry and Fran LaPrairie. Through them and God's infinite patience, I was able to heal and finally reconcile with "the church." I am praying for you and your family for God to touch you through true Christians who bring peace, humility and healing with them. I do understand where you are coming from and pray that your journey through this wilderness be much, much shorter than mine.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful Christian folks will get "mean" when they're asked to change too much too fast!

As recent events have shown, don't attempt a barrel roll with a large cruise ship. It gets real messy and there are casualties.

Beatrice Blount said...

Anonymous, not sure how that applies here about changing too quickly.

Anonymous said...

You seem more angry, bitter and filled with hatred towards the church, the south and anyone who challenges your own views. I never saw any personal responsibility in this entry.

If any man among you seem to be religious, and does not bridle his own tongue, he deceives his own heart.This man's religion is vain. James 1:26

Beatrice Blount said...

Well, everyone is entitled to their own anonymous opinion.

Dena said...

Tiffany thank you for all of your blogs.. you always seem to speak what my heart (and head) feels but is not able to say. You are way ahead of my my friend.. i have spent most of my 47 years trying to be what i was supposed to be for everyone and everything. Only recently did i realize that it's ok to just be the me that God created me to be and i'm not broken or damaged.. although the church and it's people hurt me more than you can imagine.. well i guess you can. Your dad helped me on a jouney that i have been side tracked from for years. Your husband was so very kind to my son and help plant a seed that is now growing in his heart. Your mom was always kind and honest with me no matter what we were talking about. And you my dear help me to realize that it's ok not to be that picture perfect christian that is only in my head and not the real me. I love you and your entire family and always will. I will also always pray for y'all. Maybe one day i'll get to see you again. if not i'll be praying... ok. to be honest not daily.. sometimes i just am too sad at the turn of events that are now my life but when i think of you and your family i do send up a prayer. Life is getting better and i'm learning to be me... not what i think other people think i should be.. so keep writing and i'll keep reading and appreciating you for your honesty.

ReflectionsByPj said...

I believe anonymous to be a coward.

Coward = a person who lacks courage, expressive of fear; one who is easily intimidated... hides behind "anonymous"

That's okay 'anonymous', there is still hope for you today... God used Gideon AND there is still grace and mercy extended... look out though, some times it is in the form of a bridle.

Susie W said...

Tiffany, El suggested I read your post after I confided some heart-hurt with her. My heart goes out to you & your family. I assure you of my prayers. You have come into a closer identification with Christ. He, too, was persecuted and even killed by folks who were (self- proclaimed) righteous. Jesus says to you: "YOU are the righteousness of God" 2 Cor.5:21 because you have trusted in Him WHO IS RIGHTEOUSNESS! By the way, you are a magnificent writer!!!! I expect to be in the bookstore looking for your latest publication.

Beatrice Blount said...

Susie, your comments are so very appreciated. I know you have been through tons of church related stuff and so I know you understand what Austin and I are going through. I am thankful for your prayers. From what I've heard, they are kind of extra-special. And when I finally get my book finished, I'm stopping in your hometown for a long overdue visit. I'll sign your copy. :)

Beatrice Blount said...

Phillip, sorry it has taken a few days to respond. I have heard so many wonderful things about you. I LOVE what you said about hope. I'm going to write it down and put it in my wallet. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate it so much.

Beatrice Blount said...

eL - a girls' night can fix many a hurt. Let's plan it soon!

Beatrice Blount said...

Vanessa, I appreciate your love and prayers towards my family during all this. I truly appreciate that you are a kind person. I know that if you agree with me or not on a given subject, you will be gracious. I have lots to learn from such an example. And gurrrrrl....wear them white pants.

Beatrice Blount said...

Cheryl,
I do indeed know the LaPrairie family! I have heard from so many people that business interactions with Christians are particularly horrid. What a bad reflection we can be! I am glad that you found resolve and peace with your situations. Thank you for your kind words. I hope to be out of the wilderness soon.

two cents said...

Here’s a question? What might James mean by bridling one's tongue? Why is this so important that to NOT do so is to deceive one's very heart?

First, to bridle one's tongue is to discipline yourself to be careful what you say (do). Tiff, YOU have examined your thoughts and shared them honestly and broken.

Anonymous... James contrasts true religion with religion that is vain. So it would seem that when he speaks of bridling one's tongue, he is encouraging his readers to restrain themselves from using their tongues to bring about their own purpose.

"I've never felt threatened by those who don't believe as I do. Instead, I feel threatened to the point of back-breaking proportions by those who say that my belief has to look like, smell like, talk and walk like theirs, and theirs isn't molded by anything other than preference. " Well said Tiff!

Anonymous… let go of whatever you're holding on to...it will be ok....no need to be mean.

refer to the following link

http://youtu.be/1IAhDGYlpqY

the blogger's aunt...Lisa said...

Hey ANONYMOUS...suggestion...how about you read the entire book of James...before you attempt to use one verse out of its scriptural context...the book's author would have been appalled at your choice....as would his family... (look it up, you'll figure it out)

Anonymous said...

I'm the first anonymous, not the second! (sigh!)

My reason for being anonymous is to take away any possibility of being blacklisted by writing my true feelings. That being said, let me explain my precious post.

What you wrote about so eloquently is very true, but you're attacking the symptoms..not the problem. If you ran into the back of my car at a stop light, or happen to emotionally or physically harm one of my children, you would see a side of me that you would rather not witness. What you would see is an uncharacteristic response to a problem that I am forced to deal with.

The REAL problem is "too many changes too fast"! What you are witnessing is the symptom or response to that problem. I happen to agree with you that your husband and father have impeccable integrity, and are just trying the best they know how to win souls to Christ. That is not the issue.

What the issue is is the resistance to resistance. (How's that for a sentence!) In other words, I believe you are having difficulties dealing with resistance that comes with change.

Others feel as I do that a proven successful template of church administration and culture is being systematically dismantled to forge another cultural agenda. There's nothing wrong with that, except you can expect a huge mess, casualties and people jumping off the ship!

This is just a proud southern-fried country bumpkin's opinion!

Beatrice Blount said...

The fact that you think you would be blacklisted for having an opinion is sad. But moving on, I don't think that I am attacking symptoms. I think that the problem is that people only want to cling to cultural preference. They want to do things the same way despite life around them moving on.

They are rather like my grandfather who clung to his record player and denounced compact discs. There is nothing wrong with either, but to not let others change is wrong.

Also, and let me be clear here: My family has been the target of extremely unkind, unChrisitan attacks. Symptom or preference, either way you want to see it, there is NOTHING acceptable about personally attacking people without reason.

If it seems that a majority of people want to go one way, and a small group want to go another, than why would it not make sense to part ways? If people want to jump ship, they can do so without calling insults at those still aboard.

I appreciate your thoughts, but I am indeed not having problems with resistance that comes with change. I am having problems with the viscious way in which some people feel that they can address a problem.

There's a huge difference in saying , "No thank you I don't care for that soup" and "This tastes horrible I cannot believe that anyone would be stupid enough to make it". Either way you are saying that you don't want any, but one way shows care and respect while the other is just mean. I don't do mean very well.

Finally, this church administration hasn't worked for a number of years. There aren't many people on one side or the other that feel this way. It isn't 1992 anymore. No amount of wishing or singing the same songs in the same building is going to create a time vaccum.

I appreciate your noting that you have no problem with my family, in a character sense at least. That matters to me. I don't have a bone to pick with you. But since you did express yourself out of concern and not belittling (as opposed to the previous Anonymous) I am compelled to note that not many people will take you seriously if you don't take your own thoughts seriously enough to attach your name to them.

A passionate, articulate, informed opinion can only go so far if nobody claims it. It seems cowardly. If you believe in having things a certain way, don't be afraid of them. Say what you want to say and stand behind it.

Anonymous said...

Ok. One last response and then I will indeed move on! :-)

First of all, here's what I am NOT saying:
1. There should never be change.
2. Change is baaaaaaaad.
3. I wish Christ Church could be frozen in the 90's.

What I am saying is TOO MANY changes are being made TOO FAST!

If a large ship changes course too fast, it will barrel roll. Christ Church is a large ship.

What saddens me is that members that have been rock-solid for many years are being ignored because they still believe the fundamental doctrines that have been the pillars of the church since it's inception. Such ideology seems to be dismissed and is thrown out with yesterday's trash.

I agree with you about name-calling and belittling. It means that they have lost the essence of the debate, and must prolong it by insulting. I respect you and your family too much to do that.

Beatrice Blount said...

Well, forgive me for being wrong in my interpretation of your thoughts. I have reread your comments and don't see where you've said that changes are ok if they are done more slowly. It sounds as if you do indeed what things to stay the same. But if that is incorrect, I'm sorry for my misunderstanding.

Christ Church is a good church, and was founded by good people. But as time marches on and we learn more about the faith, it cannot be denied that some of the ways the church has believed are faulty and unorthodox. If you deny this, you negate and discard the faith of most of the world's believers. We are the extreme minority, and it is worth some careful thought if we think that WE are RIGHT simply because we are. If 99 percent of the Christian world sees thigns a different way, we need to be quite sure that they are deceived before accepting that we have the monopoly on truth.

America's founding fathers didn't address the issue of slavery. Many of them owned slaves and participated in the furthering of the opinion that people of color were subpar. When this issue became too big to be ignored, we had to look at our foundational documents again and reread them in the light of what had come to pass. This doesn't demonize Washington or Jefferson, but it also doesn't allow the continuation of such practices.

I think that this is what our church is currently undergoing. As much as we might love and respect those who founded our church, some of them were also faulty in doctrine. This doesn't make them bad, but it doesn't mean I have to teach my kids that there is no such thing as the Trinity.

I have to disagree that things are moving quickly. I think that some people weren't listening. To keep with the metaphor, some people were sunning at the pool while the captain continually said over the loudspeaker that the course was changing. Those tanned people were shocked to disembark at a different location, but they really shouldn't be.

Anonymous said...

OK,I lied! (So sue me!) One last post.

A few honest questions:

If you're so opposed to the historic fundamental doctrines of Christ Church, why did your family desire to pastor and be leaders of it? Was the strategy all along to change and mold it into your own vision and ideology?

Wouldn't this be a little like being voted in as pastor of a large Church of Christ, then adding musical instruments for praise and worship because you decided that the church's historical opposition was unscriptural, and 95% of Christianity uses musical instruments? Do you think some of the pillar members would get upset and "mean"?

Why didn't you start a new church from scratch where you would have 100% cooperation into your vision?

ahoy matey! said...

To keep with the "ship" metaphor. It is ok to jump off the ship if it is not to your liking! :)

Not meaning to sound like a bumper sticker, but Jesus is the captain! His church will remain. God's Will will be done. He is not about to let rate of changes influence His plans.

I think the heart of this blog is the hurt that takes place when flawed and broken people try and navigate through changes. There is a right and wrong way to treat people. We have a map for that too (wow...I'm full of sorts of metaphors).

Question for: Anonymous said... OK,I lied! (So sue me!) One last post. said...

Anonymous said...
OK,I lied! (So sue me!) One last post.

I've attend Christ Church for a very long time (I'm not related to anyone who is apart of administration), and so I feel like I need to ask to Anonymous specifically:

What are the changes that are making people so upset? Have we gone against the Bible? Can you be more specific? I love Christ Church and so glad to call it my home.

Your thoughts are appreciated.

RE:I've attend Christ Church for a very long time said...

Thanks for asking. I don't want to ignore your important question, but this should be answered by current Christ Church leadership. If you're happy, I don't want to influence you otherwise. God speed.

Anonymous

For His Glory said...

Anonymous said..."If you're so opposed to the historic fundamental doctrines of Christ Church, why did your family desire to pastor and be leaders of it? Was the strategy all along to change and mold it into your own vision and ideology?"

You make it sound like someone was out to get Christ Church. Um...I was there when the 'Christ Church' body asked for Dan Scott to pastor our church. I don't remember anyone saying "YOU MUST or ONLY IF..." We charged him with the responsibility to lead our church. Yes, we expect that traditional doctrines will be upheld, but doctrines do not make up the church. I belong to CC because it is more nondenominational and it allows for our brothers and sisters in Christ to worship with us as long as they believe the tenets of our ancient faith (created long before CC).

Are we not to hold the most respect for those the Lord puts in authority? If the Lord brings in a new shepherd, could it be for the good of his sheep? We cannot be so blind as to believe that growth from time to time is not to be expected...in fact required, and above all biblical.

I feel so bad for the Scott family. They are good people. They seek wisdom and treat people with such grace.

Please search your heart. Pray that CC leaders will be blessed and that ultimately CC will be a city on a hill for all who seek Him.

RE:RE:I've attend Christ Church for a very long said...

RE:I've attend Christ Church for a very long

I think you should validate your concerns. Perhaps people would understand where your heart is coming from. Its more important to be in the Will of God than to be "happy". :)

RE:For His Glory said... said...

I feel bad for the Scotts also. I really do! I'm sure they never imagined the degree of backlash over the changes.

I appreciate the tone of the debate on this blog. All of us just want to be pleasing to God, but may differ in our approach.

You commented on my question:
"If you're so opposed to the historic fundamental doctrines of Christ Church, why did your family desire to pastor and be leaders of it? Was the strategy all along to change and mold it into your own vision and ideology?"

This was a response to Beatrice's post:
"Christ Church is a good church, and was founded by good people. But as time marches on and we learn more about the faith, it cannot be denied that some of the ways the church has believed are faulty and unorthodox."

and

"As much as we might love and respect those who founded our church, some of them were also faulty in doctrine."

I simply thought it was a valid question to ask. Do you think not?

What Christ Church has traditionally believed and taught is clearly stated in it's statement of faith and in the book, "What Christ Church Believes and Teaches".

For His Glory said...

RE: For His Glory
Considering your other comments it didnt seem like a question ...rather a covert acquisition .

I think a church that doesn't change and mature in its beliefs eventually will be fruiteless. Vision should change. Historically throughout cultures and faiths this is true.

Anonymous said...

For his glory, there was nothing covert intended. Really!

Please read the statement of faith of Christ Church and let me know If you find anything in there that would be considered false doctrine. What would be so harmful as to prohibit one from a right relationship with Christ or the body of Christ? I've always thought of Christ Church as being inclusive of most Christian denominations.

I'm trusting that the statement of faith and the booklet haven't already been rewritten or updated recently.

For His Glory said...

I have read it and attended the class. I agree with it. However, if someone comes to me and with good authority can show me something that should be changed, I think it is the responsible response to measure it against common biblical revealed truths. Doctrine after all is made by man...and we've gotten it wrong before.

I don't know what changes have been made...or what changes are being proposed but if they don't go against the Word of God and it furthers relationship with Christ, then isn't that something we should embrace?

You wrote... "What would be so harmful as to prohibit one from a right relationship with Christ or the body of Christ?" I don't understand this question.

NotAfraidWithNothingToProve said...

To Beatrice, in response to your blog: I am so sorry to hear how you and your family are being treated. You are being treated in a sub-human way and there is no excuse for it. This very treatment is the reason so many of my dear friends have an aversion to Christianity... Sometimes Christians miss the point of Christianity.

To everyone else: I have appreciated reading your posts, and hearing your perspective, but you missed the point of the blog. Beatrice and her family are hurting from unwarranted circumstance. This is not the place to express how one feels about Christ Church, and it is certainly not the place to direct frustrations with Christ Church's doctrine towards Beatrice.

We have a sister in Christ who's hurting... it's about time we grow up, set aside petty differences, and encourage her.

Save the Christ Church political debate for Dan.

The End.

Love you Beatrice. You are an amazing person, a wonderful writer, a great mother/wife, and a true follower of Christ. Don't let the vultures tell you otherwise.

-Daniel Noga

Ladybug said...

Tiff, I love you.

Dan Scott said...

Well,

I'm just now reading all of this. I hardly know how to respond. Social Media has rearranged all my traditional means of communication and I am not always sure of the protocol.

Let me start here: our family has tolerated dissent, for generations now. Family discussions can get lively because we are not monolithic in our opinions about theology, political life or much of anything else. We enjoy the intellectual challenge of ideological exchange; we watch the boundaries and work to keep our relationships healthy.

That is what I always loved about Christ Church as well. We have affirmed the fundamentals of the faith but have tolerated -- even encouraged -- vigorous discussion about issues not directly related to the fundamentals.

The little book, What Christ Church Believes and Teaches has articulated our church doctrine for twenty five years. We still use that same book, without alteration. In fact, I'm teaching from it tonight. and why not? I wrote it.

Like our family, Christ Church is not monolithic when it comes to ethnicity, political opinions, social class or denominational background. This has been the case for a long time. Now, with the change in our senior pastorate, and the fact that baby boomers are reaching retirement age and younger generations are increasingly sharing leadership roles in the church, our differences have become more visible to some. That always occurs in any leadership transition and, given the history of such transitions, ours has been relatively peaceful.

In our increasingly polarized nation, divisions between classes and social perspectives have become dangerous. It is difficult to foresee any candidate winning the White House and being accepted as legitimate by the party who loses, for example. This culture of shrill, "take no prisoners" interchange is something we have to lay down as we come into God's house.

more in next post

Dan Scott said...

Here, we are neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female, democrat or republican, but one person in Christ. In our church especially, we must add denominational differences to that mix. We are an independent church and cannot claim any specific denomination but must find a way to peacefully interact with all.

There has never been any sort of plot to change the essential nature of Christ Church. To make that claim is a bit paranoid and, once denied by those who accused of doing it, dishonest. As God's children, we are called to honesty and integrity. If I am, or have been, deceitful and secretly trying to accomplish something underhanded and manipulated, I must not continue as the church's leader. End of story. What I say and what I write is what I really am trying to do. There is no hidden agenda. Of course there is an agenda, or I would not be a leader at all. But that agenda is not hidden. Read the books. Listen to the sermons. Make a decision. But don't claim there is more to it that what I say, That is a misinformed statement.

Sorry for the long response. Let me end with this:

"Brothers, let us love one another, for love is of God. HE that loveth, knowth God for God is love."

There is the issue: can we forgive those who trespass against us? Can we acknowledge when we have been guilty of trespassing against others? Or, must we have things our own way, whatever it takes to accomplish that? To live together in peace requires a lot of work. It requires honestly listening and directly speaking our offenses to those who have offended us, and it involves avoiding any secret bashing of people who are not present to give their story.

In the end, we may disagree so much that like Paul and Barnabas, we separate for a season. But that is never the best and always to be treated as temporary. The Lord demands our obedience in this mater of guarding the unity of the Body. Our divisions broke His heart in Gethsemane. And when they are over pettiness, we lose our right to represent our Lord before the watching world. The church is neither a business nor a political party: it is the pillar and ground of truth. if it is not, it should close up shop for it has nothing to offer that the world does not already have.

So let's not import the ungodly and uncharitable manner of our present political atmosphere into the Lord's Church. That is a diabolical and damning spirit and we must reject it with our heart and soul, lest we lose our relationship with God and with one another and ultimately lose our eternal home.

In the name of Christ, I plead with us all -- find a way to love one another, even the difficult ones. That is the way of Jesus. All the rest is noise and fluff.

Pax et veritas,

Pastor Dan

Abundant Grace said...

Nothing is going right? It seems everything and everybody is against you. Home, school, job, family,….especially church seems to be going wrong?! You fight, fight, fight and seem to get nowhere. One step forward three steps backward....... WHAT TO DO??? OK, HERE IT IS!!!

Are you listening?

Stop taking something that does not belong to you!!!

2 Chronicles 20:15 says…….Thus saith the LORD unto you. Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude: for THE BATTLE IS NOT YOURS, BUT GOD'S!

Never known Him to lose a battle!

Anonymous said...

I am what it looks like to be anonymous#3.

Tiffany,
It evades me as to why you cannot see the foolishness in putting your every thought out into the blogosphere. It would be fine if you wanted to share your emotions with your friends, but my dear to call the previous pastorate and administration faulty and unorthodox is INSANE. I am shocked no one has asked you to control your tongue!

I usually don't get mad and have never read any of your blogs before but you should know that people are talking about this and you are playing the part of a fool.

I agree with Daniel in that this debate about the church should be left up to Pastor Dan and Im sad this blog was ever posted. I love Christ church and your family and I'm sorry if people have hurt you. But these words you have written have hurt MANY. Look in the mirror.

Ernie Peery said...

I've been employed at Christ Church for nearly twenty years now (and have attended for longer than that). I have no trouble considering it my home filled with my family. I've seen change in those twenty years for the bad and the good.

To my knowledge, no doctrines have been changed. For that matter Pastor Dan is the author of the book "What Christ Church Believes and teaches" that's been our foundation all that time. What I have seen change is the leadership model.

In the 20 years I've been here I've seen the distance between the administration and the congregation grow. I do not think it was intentional but a gap did form.

The changes I've seen in the last 5 years have been all about Pastor Dan closing that gap. Changing the leadership model has brought the congregation and the upper leadership much closer together. Everyone is has more value. Each opinion matters more. The leadership and the congregation stand shoulder to shoulder. That's evident to me every day since and is on display with All-Church work Days, The Adopt-A-Room program, and dedicated volunteers taking charge and relying less on staff. It's been great to see. Those that don't join in miss out.

I think a very small minority of people have gotten used to that previous distance and the perceived status that it provided. Christ Church is moving away from this system of levels and echelons. That change has shocked some while others have felt equality in and with leadership for the first time. Change doesn’t warrant casualties. Change is constant and it asks us to mature. That means growth under duress, acting appropriately, and doing what God asks of us even when our comfort zones aren’t what we’d like them to be.
Tiffany and Austin are doing just fine. They’re maturing in the face of enormous challenge and we should all ask ourselves to do the same.

Ernie Peery

Kelly J. Sims, Esq. said...

Anonymous#3, You should not prohibit the expression of thought and opinion simply because you find such thoughts and opinions offensive or disagreeable.

As a result, you make a shamble of the First Amendment, which is one of the most important features of American law, and as such, should never be denigrated.

Revere freedom of speech and know there are many categories of speech that are unprotected, such as calling people a "fool."

Just kidding.

Anonymous said...

Coward #1
Counterproductive
tending to hinder the attainment of desire or goal

Anonymous said...

Although I was not there I know the humble beginning of Rose and Sadler. I would guess there has been some huge changes to get to the current site on Old Hickory. I find it hard to believe that they would have survived by being unethical or faulty. Surely they did something right? What is really going on here?

Jesus don't do "anonymous." said...

If you're afraid to OWN your own words in a public, published medium, then maybe that's the FAILed litmus test suggesting, "I should probably keep my mouth shut."

Some of you should really be ashamed of yourselves.

Elicia "eL." Huttinger

Wow! said...

Heaven help us!
Drama
Cussing
Assertions
Accusations
Approbation
More accusations
Support
Rebuke
Known and unknown characters

This is the stuff of a great movie! Popcorn please!

Beatrice Blount said...

Daniel Noga, thanks so much for your words. I appreciate that you validated my feelings without even bothering with the rest. I also have dear friends who don't want anything to do with Christians. Many times 'the church' (universal) is guilty of not apologizing and acknowledging someone's ability to have hurt feelings. Poor Galileo was only redeemed after a loooooong time. The Church is not infallible, and to say that 'Jesus forgives' is not an excuse to not make amends with those whom you have harmed.

Ernie, your thoughts were very interesting to me. I feel like you know EXACTLY what I was talking about. The sense of entitlement is a big problem and when you mess with it....woah, watch out!

To the various anonymi: I no longer know who is writing what, making it difficult to follow trains of thought. If you don't take your own comments seriously enough to claim them, I'll join with you in doing the same.

As for the comment from cleverly named Anonyous #3: If you think that this blog represents all my thoughts, you have grossly underestimated both my intelligence and my creativity. There's so much more where that came from.

Let me be clear: I welcome any kind of dialogue that this subject might present. We can disagree and be friends. But you must remember that to disagree with a person is not to attack their character unless you have evidence and authority to do so. You will not be welcome to call me a fool or say that my religion is in vain, especially from behind a mask.

Example:
Tiffany, I think you are wrong. (acceptable)
Tiffany, you are stupid and Jesus hates you. (not acceptable)

I am sorry to have offended anyone, but even as such I very much stand by my comments. They were made in thoughtful consideration and also prayer. These are my thoughts, and I am welcome to them. I am an adult member of a society that allows for freedom of speech.

I'm asking legitimate questions. I attend church, I volunteer, I tithe, and I give large amounts of my time. My opinions aren't a moot point simply because you disagree. I represent a number of individuals that need answers. Tell me why it is ok for church people to say horrible things about my family. Tell me why we can be gossiped about, lied about, and otherwise bullied into not feeling safe at a church. Why is this behavior ok but my words are not? Did you stand up for us when someone whispered in your ear? Did you come to us and ask for clarification or truth? (Rhetorical, by the way)

Graciousness requires of us that we exercise patience with someone who is rude. But that grace stops at a point, or otherwise we live in abuse. There comes a time when it is no longer righteous to look the other direction. Everyone must be accountable or none of us are.

eL. said...

I love you.

...and you make me laugh and stand up and applaud in the quietness of my bedroom. My kids are wondering what's wrong with me. :)

Do not ever be silent - we need your words.

Jeri Cagle-Vandiver said...

Tiffany, maybe it's time for you to do what the chairman of the board told Austin's dad 30 years ago, "I think your wife needs to get a paper route"! (just kidding) The Church is always changing. How can it become a bride if it's never been on a few dates? Ha Ha. Great Blog! I wish I could have been that honest. It might have saved the marriage! love you!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Beatrice Blount said...

Unfortunately, due to highly inappropriate content, I'll be changing the process of leaving comments.

Talitha said...

Wow, Anonymous. As a member of the Scott family, I can't believe the amount of hatred that is spewing from your comment. I can only assume it comes from a place of hurt, and for that I am sorry. But these personal attacks are uncivil, unnecessary, and unchristian. Trust me, pastors and their families are "dumped on" all the time. We know exactly how it feels. No wonder there is such a high burnout rate with pastors, or why pastors' kids no longer follow Christ. People constantly feel that they are justified in their "right" to critize, slander, and insult their pastors simply because they don't agree. Should pastors be kept under scrutiny? Absolutely. But why the insults? If you disagree, you first attempt to go to your brother in love to work it out. I believe that was one of the whole points of this blog in the first place. We should be civil to each other because we should see others as creatures made in the image of God.

I have never seen a situation where hurling personal insults at someone made for a happy ending.

--Gladly signing my name
Talitha

Beatrice Blount said...

I have deleted a comment, which I have never done.

I did this not because of the unkind comments about me or my family, but because it mentions uninvolved persons.

I have not deleted anything else that was derogatory against me. But this is my blog, and I opened up the discussion.

I will not allow other people to receive criticism through this venue.

Pastor Austin said...

To my beloved wife, Tiffany,
You are the most honest person I have ever had the privilege of knowing. You are eloquent, thoughtful, and passionate in your expression. Your questions probe deep into the hearts of all who read your words, and your opinions often cause me to stop and reexamine my own assumptions and feelings about life. You are much more patient and gracious than I, and I have learned more from you than you will ever know. Thank you.

To all who have responded to this blog with grace and love,
Thank you as well. I know we don’t all agree with one another about everything, but then again I have never met anyone that I agree with about everything in life.

I want to begin by saying that what my wife wrote, every last embarrassing detail, is true. She expressed the pain of the last few months very well. I am not as eloquent as she is, but basically this blog said, “hey, we’re hurting because of rumors in the church, let’s not perpetuate this.”

I acknowledge that human relationships are messy. I’ve attempted to live as best as I can in submission to Christ, but I make mistakes. It’s absolutely impossible to say anything at this point without sounding trite, defensive, or self-righteous, but I’m going to say what I believe anyway. Many will judge my motives to be other than they are, but I feel I must speak. To all of you that have been hurt by my teaching, my life, or my ministry I offer my sincerest apologies, and I beg your forgiveness. I know what it is to be offended or hurt by those in spiritual authority or in public ministry. I pray that the Lord will grant you the ability to forgive me and that He will heal your hearts.

To those of you who posted as anonymous I ask you to reveal yourself. You don’t have to do so on the blog page, but if you would please come and talk to me, I would love a chance to speak with you and make things right. The Lord says to “speak the truth in love.” I know you are speaking what you believe to be true. You may even be doing it motivated by love. However, love is given and received. It is impossible to love “anonymous.” However, I am more than willing to love Billy, or Sue, or Carol, or John. Something tells me if we sat down and talked about these differences, we could get through a lot of the pain and find healing.

more in next post

Pastor Austin said...

I am tempted to write a thorough history of my time at Christ Church, and all the reasons I believe God called my family here, but I don’t think this is the right venue for that. I will just say these final things to clear up a few misunderstandings. I have been teaching the material from What Christ Church Believes and Teaches for the past four years. I have no reservations whatsoever with the doctrines upheld in that booklet for the last twenty years. My wife’s use of the phrase “unorthodox” was unfortunate. Many people do not realize that the term refers to a body of beliefs that have been held by the majority of the church for the majority of its history. It does not mean “not Christian.” Also, the move away from sectarianism and into “orthodoxy” was something that predated me, and even predated Pastor Dan. Pastor Hardwick is the one who broke from the United Pentecostal Church in order to reach out to a broader range of believers. That was the move from “unorthodox doctrine” to which my wife was referring. Interestingly enough, Bishop T.D. Jakes just issued a similar statement about his journey with God. He also gave a brilliant response to the question about why he was so careful with his language as he moved away from his background and toward a more orthodox view of God. Google the dialogue between him and Mark Driscoll. It’s worth reading.

In the end, I have never had any intention of making Christ Church into something it is not. I have attempted to lead and teach, as I have been lead and taught. I have submitted myself to those doctrines that the church has held as its core beliefs, and in all other matters I engage in lively discussion with anyone who is willing. No one has ever come to me and confronted me with these wild accusations to my face or by name. Therefore I have never had to answer for them. Now I have answered them, and unless you come to me in person and with evidence, you are spreading lies and rumors and God will rebuke you.

I appeal to you, not as enemies, but as brothers and sister in our Lord Jesus. Let’s be reconciled, and if we cannot live in peace, at least let us depart in peace.

janlovespix said...

Tiffany and Austin,
As a fellow PK, my heart is hurting for you. I've had my heart broken by pious 'christians' more times than I want to count. I love and respect your Mom and Dad more than I can say.
Your family is constantly in my prayers and if anyone in your family ever needs a sanctuary to come to and be safe, my home is open.
I love You!

Randy said...

I too am a fellow PK and I have seen the ugly underbelly of the church more times than I wanna remember. I love God and I believe that Jesus is the son of God and that he died for me and has forgiven me for all the things I've done or even will do. I believe the apostles creed & the ten commandments. Anything outside of that, I'm just NOT gonna get into a spitting contest about. The longer I walk with God, the less I seem to understand...but I too embrace the mystery of faith and my beliefs and I pray that God helps my unbelief. I too want my children to be followers of Christ and to "make a deference" but I wouldn't wish them to go into "church work" for anything. Your husband and your father are two of the most Godly people I've ever had the privilege to call my friends. I have trouble with titles because I think they've been used to elevate people to places that they never wanted to be in the first place. That being said, I'm proud to call Dan Scott my pastor. I don't know you that well Tiffany but you and I see the world, church and non, from a very similar lens. I want you to know that Jan & I GENUINELY, HONESTLY & UNCONDITIONALLY love you, Austin and your family more than I can express with words. You my friend are A GIFT!!!

Brenda Peery said...

Tiffany,

I’ve hardly known exactly what to say (what else is new?). I have known you personally a long time. We have grown up together and I have personally become a more mature believer in Christ under your family's grace, mentoring, and most of all... love. You know me personally and even in our friendship (and times of "rough waters"), you have always been a loving friend even when I, myself, abandoned you. For that I am sorry. Life is too short! The loss of our common friends, Robert, Eric, and Emmy remind me of this reality.

I wish I had the words to heal your hurts. They are very valid and real. I wish people understood how words can truly be abusive. My husband did a better job than I ever could of expressing his thoughts. So I will simply say I agree with him.

You are amazing. You Tiff, and your family helped me through a crucial point in my life. At a point where things could have taken a completely different path, God sent your family to my home. I have always been thankful of the Christian I am today because of your Dad's leadership and your honest friendship who accepted me. I know God brought you to my life "for such a time as this". I will always admire you friend (Kleenex please).

Continue to use your voice and the gifts that God has given you.
Luv,
Brenda Peery

Joel Lewis said...

I don’t attend Christ Church after 20+ years of being a member. I ran in different circles than Tiffany and Austin, mostly because of age difference. I don’t recall a conversation, but Christ Church is a large church and it’s impossible to talk with everybody. Since I don’t know them personally, I’m neutral. I can only come to conclusions by what I saw from a distance. I saw nothing that should cause such a personal assault on them. They seemed like a great couple. Apparently there are issues of which I’m unaware.

What I want to address is the historic doctrinal positions of Christ Church, since it has been made an issue on this blog which I was directed to.

What attracted us to attend Christ Church in the first place back then was that it had the feeling of a hospital. It was a comfortable place where enlightened Oneness Pentecostals or anyone from any denomination could come for healing and escape the negative talk of walking away from “God” or “truth”. Christ Church was a perfect place to land for people like us because it was a doctrinal hybrid. They weren’t pigeon-holed as being either Trinitarian or Oneness. They were exactly where I was and still am – which is somewhere in the middle. To me the differences are in the parsing of words “person” and “manifestation”. I've heard extremists from both doctrinal positions call the other side “heretics”. How sad! I saw Christ Church as a bridge between the two camps.

With the changing of the guard, I saw the neutral position evaporating. Not from Pastor Dan Scott, who is keeping his word, but from others in leadership as evidenced in this blog. There suddenly seems to be a fascination with European old church traditions and with being “orthodox”. Translation=Trinitarian and Anglican. That’s a step that I’m personally uncomfortable with, but I understand that a majority are apathetic towards. Fine. But the eventual residual effects change the historic vision and direction of Christ Church.

If you simply don’t care, fine! Consider it good riddance to some unorthodox religious lunatic and any other fancy word that might end with "ist". To a minority of us, words and vision matter.

Beatrice Blount said...

FROM PATRICIA CROSS

Dear Tiffany,

I am crushed that your family is being attacked the way you are and I want to express my love, support
and admiration for each one of you. Your lives and ministry have enriched mine and for this I thank
you. A year ago Austin presented the most beautiful, moving and instructional depiction of the Old
Testament tabernacle and how every station points to Christ. I wish the whole church could have
experienced this. It made me even more aware of how the entire Old Testament points to Christ and is a
preparation for His coming.

Last year as a Church at the request of our Pastor, we read the one year Bible together. My guess is this
was the first time for many to have read the entire Bible through. This is good.

We took the Financial Peace class together last year. This helped me have a better understanding
of finances and I know it helped others as well. How I handle my money is spiritual. Do I handle my
money so that I can tithe, help others and save for retirement? Or am I spending every penny I have and
getting everything I want now by charging up debt on credit cards and then expecting my kids or the
government to take care of me when I am old? This is not godly behavior. As a result of this class many
of us developed new friendships through the small groups.

This fall we took the experiencing God class as a church. This was a wonderful class and again through
the small groups we developed new friendships. The experiencing God class caused many of us to
get into the habit of memorizing Scripture. It helped us see how so much of our work for God is self-
centered and to seek what God is already doing and join Him.

Now many of us are participating in ‘A Life Well Lived’ on Sunday morning or Sunday evening. I have
to confess I wasn’t sure how a day planner could relate to my Christian life. But is does. The teachings
by Joshua McCloud are wonderful and enlightening. Again we are meeting in small groups afterwards
to discuss the teaching and pray for one another. I am leading a women’s small group that has new
believers, seasoned believers (notice I didn’t say old), young mother’s, working women, women who
are looking for work, single women and married women. We are knitting together, learning from one
another, praying for one another and it is just a joy. Shawne Brown is in charge of the small groups and
is working hard to get stable productive small groups established again at Christ Church. He is doing an
awesome job.

Beatrice Blount said...

CONTINUED FROM PATRICIA CROSS

On Wednesday evenings Pastor Dan is teaching from his book ‘Twelve Drummers Drumming.’ It is an
interactive study of theology where people respectfully share their thoughts and ideas causing all of us
to think and dig deeper into the Word.

Our Sunday morning services are kissed by God. He is definitely with us and ministering to us every
Sunday morning. I see tears, people experiencing true worship and not just enjoying a wonderful choir
concert, there is a sense of expectancy and many are experiencing more freedom. We’ve had messages
in tongues that have been translated. Our Pastor gently explained to people what was going on and
that sometimes a message in tongues is for self edification. The next Sunday a different person spoke in
tongues and it was translated by Daniel.

I’m so sadden and confused about the gossip and conflict that is going on at Christ Church. This is what
I love about Christ Church. Baptists, Pentecostals, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists (that would be
me), Church of Christ and Catholics are coming together and worshipping God and the risen Christ and
growing in a personal relationship with Jesus. We have not been a denomination that says we are right
and we are the way and all you other people are going to hell. Those of you who are engaged in this
gossip (I don’t know who you are but you are obviously out there); please let us not become that. Please
stop this hurtful gossip now. It is unkind, unloving and ungodly and it is hurting beautiful people and
our wonderful church. What is happening right now at Christ Church is exactly the thing that keeps non-
believers and disgruntled Christians away from church. John 13: 34-35 ‘A new command I give you: Love
one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are
my disciples, if you love one another. ’ 1 John 1:5-7 ‘This is the message we have heard from him and
declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (hurting people is darkness – my opinion)
If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But
if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus,
his Son purifies us from all sin.’ John 15:12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
Romans 13:10 ‘Love does no harm to its neighbor.’ 1 John 3:11 ‘This is the message you heard from
the beginning: We should love one another.’ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does
not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it
keeps no record o wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects,
always trusts, always hopes always preservers. Love never fails.

You may not agree with everything Pastor Dan is doing but those of you who are gossiping and stirring
up trouble are wrong. I’m not saying your opinion or concerns are wrong because I don’t know what
they are. I’m saying the behavior is wrong. Something is wrong when the Pastor’s wife and son-in-
law cry because of what the church is doing to them. It is possible to disagree respectfully and with
love. Our Pastor loves us and from what I can tell is seeking God with all his heart to lead us to a full
relationship with Jesus Christ. Can we please pray for God to pour out a spirit of love on Christ Church
again and wait expectantly for Him to do it?

And Tiffany, I love you and your family. From where I stand Austin and Pastor Dan have handled this
situation with the greatest of love and grace. I am grateful for all of you and pray God’s blessings of
peace, joy, healing and love in your broken wounded hearts.

In Christ,
Patricia Cross

Joel Lewis said...

I took Austin's advice and looked at the transcript of the recent T.D. Jakes interview on doctrine. I have to say that I believe exactly how he believes! It is also identical to what Christ Church has been teaching for the last twenty years when I attended.

Here is a quote:
"I still have fellowship, associations, relationship, and positions within and without Trinitarian and Onenness movements, because I believe that until we bridge the gap between our thinking and humble both sides and say, "We are both attempting to describe a God we love, that we serve, and that we have not seen. And that we are viewing Him through the context of the Scriptures, but that with a glass darkly." Why should I fall out and hate and throw names at you when all that I know and understand, be it very orthodox, is still through a glass darkly? And then face to face. None of our books about the Godhead or anything else will be on sale in heaven."

It's interesting that he mentions the word "bridge" in his interview. This has been exactly the Christ Church doctrinal approach in the past that I mentioned previously.

Looking at the belief statement on the Potter's House website, it says, "There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three manifestations: Father, Son and Holy Spirit."

Christ Church's website says, ".. in one God, revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.". IMO,they wisely leave out the divisive words "manifestations" or "persons" for unity sake. I like that!

With T.D. Jakes statement on faith, I would be surprised if The Potter's House baptismal formula wasn't identical to Christ Church.

So, let me ask. Is Christ Church bent on how it has taught for many years? Or was it part of a growing number of churches that are attempting to bridge and unite the body of Christ?

Mare said...

We're impressed you have percocet so long after your baby's birth. I would have long since consumed mine. Though the Dr must have known this, as he has never allowed me such luxuries....soooo, do you share sista?? BTW we wear white year round, and I am born in the south :)

GingerSnaps said...

Goooooood lawd!!!

First of all, to all of these folks who are commenting anonymously: please. Just please. If you feel as strongly as some of you clearly do, have the courage to let your name stand with your words.

To that end, I always find it amusing when church people accuse those who have been wounded by church people of "hating the church". Tiffany, you have been accused of it, and a few months ago, I fell under the same accusation (ironically, by a few of the very folks who have come on here and defended you...amazing...but that's neither here nor there) when nothing could be further from the truth for either of us. The point I want to make is that CLEARLY if somebody takes the time to write out and publicly express their pain, the last thing that followers of Christ should do is dig the knife in further. I'm fairly certain Jesus would not react in that way. I'm positive He would have us pray for each other and restore one another in love.

I just returned from spending my Friday night and Saturday morning listening to our pastor (and your father, Tiffany, for those following along at home) REAFFIRM the foundational doctrine of Christ Church. Not one dot has changed from the same statement of faith that was written decades ago. So...I'm curious to know why some believe it's changed? Also, Tiffany, if you could expound a bit on why you believe some of the beliefs of our founders were "faulty and unorthodox"...are you referring to the original UPC beliefs or the statement of faith that was created for our church in the 80s?

The act of baptizing an infant is in essence a DEDICATION of the child by the parents and loved ones who wish to raise up their child in the fear and admonition of the Lord. In our church, thousands of babies & children (including mine) have been dedicated. Whether there is a sprinkling of "holy water" (good 'ol H2O) or an anointing of "holy oil" (common olive oil from the Kroger down the street), these acts are to SYMBOLIZE consecration and dedication. NO WHERE has anybody ever said that this act was the be-all-end-all for that person and that they are now saved & will not have to go through their own decision of faith and baptism when they reach the age of accountability.

The walls of the church have not collapsed, lightning has not struck, and nobody has turned into a pillar of salt for this symbolic act of consecration.

Again, thousands of children have had this done at Christ Church...where have the ones who are upset been?

Is the issue at hand water vs oil? If so, is that really worth sabotaging a ministry for?
(1 of 2)

GingerSnaps said...

(2 of 2)
There have been many comments here regarding the changing culture of Christ Church...I'm not going to be a hypocrite and say that I haven't been concerned about it. I'm a long-time CC girl, and I don't wanna feel pushed out any more than the new folks do not want to feel unwelcome or uncounted. However, I do not think the issue is "changing demographics" or "the economy"...because we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with the principalities and the powers, and the forces of evil in the spiritual realm. There is nothing more that Satan would want than for there to be a "great divide" between the "old school Christ Church" and the "newer folks"...for neither camp to lay down their pride and for this whole thing to blow up and us close the doors.

I think we all need to back up and realize that this whole thing isn't about us. It's about sharing the love of Christ to a dying world who desperately needs to see unconditional love more now than ever, regardless of their life's circumstance or current belief system. We've lost sight of this, and have turned a church culture into a cultish, exclusive club where nobody who thinks differently is considered worthy of our friendship or love. This is dead wrong, and it is sin for which we need to repent.

It's time for us all to grow up and work toward unity, and to compromise (BOTH those who want to change the church's culture as well as those who want everything to stay the same). There must be balance, there must be grace, and there must be forgiveness & healing from the wounds that have been inflicted by those who mean well, but perhaps haven't approached it in exactly the most graceful manner.

I hope and pray, Tiffany, that you will place all of your expectations on God's incredibly unfailing, all-encompassing love for you and your family, and that through doing so, you will find profound healing from the hurt. Also, Austin, I just want to say that the spirit of humility in your comments were very touching.

Let's ALL get on our knees before God and pray for one another, and diligently make a concerted EFFORT to lift one another up and approach our questions, differences, and frailties in the perfect love of Christ.

the beam team said...

Tiffany and Austin,
Oh, how my heart hurts! I just want to tell you how much we love you both! We are so thankful for the wit, wisdom, and friendship you have brought into our lives. I just want you to know my heart and prayers are with you and your parents.