Not Being Critical (Of People Just Like Me)

I’d like to point you today to an article by Josh Teis, a fellow alumni of Pensacola Christian College. I can’t swear that he’s writing about SFL in this post (although some recent interaction makes me suspect that is the case) but the same kind of “criticize-the-critics” mentality that often shows up when fundamentalists talk about SFL is very apparent.

I could do a point-by-point takedown of the article but most of you who have been reading here for a while will very easily see some familiar patterns including those that often show up in fundamentalist scandal spinning.

What’s unfortunate about this is that Josh isn’t some hardened old fundamentalist pastor from some generation gone by. He’s my age. And he’s perpetuating a philosophy of staying silent about problems that will inevitably reap a harvest of future pain.

I’m encouraged that he does seem to be advocating more tolerance of the wider body of Christianity but I’m also forced to wonder if it’s true (as his article claims) that he shows a truly non-critical spirit to others such as Christians who are charismatic, or Calvinist, or lovers of CCM. Perhaps we should compare and contrast what comes out of his pulpit with the tolerance that he claims to show.

Update 1: It has been correctly pointed out that Josh does not appear to still cling to his fundamentalist roots on many of the standards and separation issues that are typical of places like PCC. Frankly, I’m pleased to hear it. My point about calling criticism inherently wrong, however, remains.

84 thoughts on “Not Being Critical (Of People Just Like Me)”

  1. I was in a class with Mr. Teiss and I always appreciated some of his comments in the class. I never gathered that he was an old-school fundamentalist. He seemed rather moderate on some things. (Door-to-Door visitation being one of them…

    But times can change.

    FIRST

  2. Very typical of leadership in most fundamentalist colleges. The leader can do no wrong and is above criticism. Therefore, anyone who dares to criticize the leader must be living in sin or is guilty of gossip, which are both convenient excuses to make people disappear.

    When I was in the process of leaving Maranatha, I had a conversation with a fellow faculty member, who was also leaving, out by the football field so that we could have some privacy. As I talked, I noticed a number of people peering behind curtains in the big building, and when I entered the building, one even had the nerve to ask me what I was talking about. I simply responded, “Had I wanted you to know what I was talking about, I would have held the conversation in the hallway outside your office. I talked out by the field because I felt what we had to say was nobody’s business but our own.” She was upset, but by this time most people knew that I was leaving, and I guess they were biding their time until I was gone. 🙄

  3. If he is in fact speaking of SFL, it is apparent he has not tapped into the thread woven throughout most of its history. I’m working through the history starting at the beginning as I write…so to speak.

    Like anything else, you have to peel back layer after layer of various comments to get to the heart of the matter. He has not, at least that is my understanding from the very little I read.

    I’m glad, Darrell, that you’ve brought our attention to this blog. It’s good to see how others are reasoning who don’t agree with most who post on SFL.

    By the way, is Fundy U only referring to PCC? Or is it a general label for all fundamental colleges like or similar to PCC?

    B.R.O.

  4. I will say that if he’s actually practicing not saying anything negative about other Christians in the wider realm of orthodoxy then he won’t be keeping his fundamentalist associations for very long.

    In fact, he’s pretty much already off the Christmas list.

      1. Yes because then we will have to be critical of those who are critical of those who are critical of fundamentalism. Then Darrell will have to start another blog titled, “Stuff People Who Like Fundies Like.”

        It could get very confusing.

  5. Also if there’s a girl involved Blame the Girl – even if she’s 16. At my old fundy church the Pastor and quite a few others implied that Schaap was seduced.

  6. First: Oooh Darrell, his comments are so totally about you. lol

    Second: He has, of course, completely missed the point of this website. No big surprise there.

    Third: There are a few people calling him out in the comments about the need to confront abuse in the church. One of his responses was: “Spiritual abuse is subjective. Being a pastor in Las Vegas I have dealt with a lot of real abuse. It’s very sad. There is nothing subjective about physical, verbal or sexual abuse. However, ‘spiritual abuse’ is completely in the eye of the beholder. What one person may call abuse another may call a silly rule.”

    Spiritual abuse is subjective?? What ignorance and arrogance. Not to mention immaturity, which is all over his writing. I spent years in a verbally abusive relationship because fundies told me that verbal abuse is “subjective”! Guess who abuse is subjective to? The abuser.

    Yeah, Josh, I’m calling you out. Get yourself educated about spiritual abuse, or you have no business being in ministry. And you put yourself in danger of becoming the next spiritual abuser.

    1. You disagree that Spiritual Abuse is subjective? Really? How do you define spiritual abuse then?
      When I think of spiritual abuse I think of pastors telling their members they have to tithe, or telling women not to wear pants, etc. But for the discerning, who ignore extra-Biblical teaching, I don’t see how they are abused. Several of the videos posted on this website show spiritual abuse but those of us who watch the video haven’t been spiritually abused.

      1. Abuse is abuse, regardless of how differently individuals are affected. The abuse may or may not be intentional, but the methods of keeping the sheep in the fold, keeping the cash flowing to the leaders, keeping the leaders immune from criticism and criminal prosecution, etc. etc. are well documented, as is the damage done on a mass scale.

        If you think spiritual abuse is simply pastors making up silly rules for members to follow, you are mistaken. To take it just one step further, let’s say the pastor, after telling women to wear pants, tells them they are being disobedient to God (and disobedience is as the sin of witchcraft, Amen) if they don’t. The abuse has only just begun. And if they ignore extra-biblical teachings without also ignoring the command to obey pastor/ parents/ teachers, then there is an internal conflict, often with long-term unhealthy psychological and spiritual ramifications. That’s just the kind of abuse I’m familiar with; I have not doubt there are deeper, more subtle, and more damaging forms of spiritual abuse that are perpetuated in fundamentalist circles.

        1. Spiritual abuse usually involves extreme manipulation, if I’m not mistaken. It is certainly a very real thing. I’ve known several people who were seriously harmed by it.

        2. Spiritual abuse can be leader to follower, peer to peer, or congregation to pastor.

          The short definition would be using your holy writ to manipulate someone into doing what you desire.

          So, if a pastor decides to no longer have Sunday evening services, but the deacon board or congregation offer proof texts as to why that service should be continued, then throw in a comment about thinking their pastor should be more spiritually minded than to want to cancel church, that’s abuse.

          There are already myriad examples of pastor to sheeple spiritual abuse, so I won’t bother with an example.

        3. Ok but if these statements a pastor makes that you are referring to as abuse, are actually Biblically sound and can be explained by Scripture then how is that abuse? I agree a Christian should not be publicly shamed or humiliated should they chose to live their life differently, but at the same token is it not the Pastors job to teach and preach every part of the Bible not just the parts we are okay with accepting? Then how is that spiritual abuse exactly?

      2. I’m not buying all the nuance on abuse. Abuse is abuse. I can see a distinction between physical & non physical, but beyond that trying to differentiate between emotional & spiritual abuse, etc seems too cute by half.

      3. Like verbal, emotional, and physical abuse (to name a few), spiritual abuse cannot be wrapped up in a short definition. There are many factors involved. Abuse is happening any time one human or entity attempts to control another human through pain, humiliation, or threats. A simple search of “spiritual abuse” on Wikipedia will give you the scope of it.

        Like RobM said, you cannot put nuances or qualifications on abuse. Abuse is abuse is abuse. Nathan, your comment typifies the minimization and trivialization of abuse that often happens in fundy and conservative circles. If a pastor says that women should wear dresses, that’s being spiritually stupid, that alone is not abuse. If he uses that belief to humiliate or shame her by telling her that she is not pleasing to God or somehow less of a woman, then that is abuse. If he uses that belief to threaten her with hell fire, then that is abuse.

  7. I is confuzed.

    He starts out his article about being “pointed” to a blog built upon the premise of tearing down fellow Christians (he obviously hasn’t spent any significant time here at all). But then he lists reasons why he won’t critize other church leaders.

    What is the connection between SFL and other church leaders? Darrell, are you pastoring a church we don’t know about?

  8. Don’t criticize the Mullah. If a woman criticizes the Mullah she shall be beheaded at noon in the plaza square.

    Absolute systems require blind, mute, unflinching obedience.
    BJG

  9. Josh is a personal friend of mine. He actually just hates the negativity and cynical spirit that the “Young and Abused” are displaying. SFL use to be a fun place that pointed out the weird stuff in the IFB movement. Then as the scandals and abuse grew it became and embittered stop on the WWW. I disagree with the Pastor Teis in some areas but in reality he is a kind guy that has friends in every circle of Christianity. However, I understand the bitterness and negative spirit that is rampant among the abused. (of which I would consider myself one).

    1. Aaaaaaand here it is, right on cue, the “B” word! ‘Cause no matter how terrible the luminaries in fundyland behave, the people who have the gall to be bitter about it are much, much worse.

      1. But some people ARE bitter, and it may take many years to realize how deeply the bitterness has affected them. Like many people, I can see this in friends who have been hurt who often cannot see it themselves.

    2. The abuse didn’t grow, it’s just that victims started gaining a voice, and abusers started being prosecuted. Phelps was covering up for rapists 15+ years ago. These things have been bubbling away under the surface, and fundy pastors were stupid to believe that the victims they were trying so hard to silence would stay under their spell.

  10. OK, so when stuff like this comes up, I get REALLY curious. I scoped out Josh Teis on facebook – pastor of a Baptist church … not exactly sure of which kind, it doesn’t make it very apparent on their website. His music “likes” include the usual CCM big names like Chris Tomlin, Mercy Me, etc. I do find it strange his whole Pastor crew went to PCC and WCBC but Josh is real cool with CCM and the Beach Boys.

    He’s friends with the guy from Soulation. Could he be referencing that? Also, with the whole Driscoll/MacArthur thing going on, could he be referencing that?

    Dunno, but I highly doubt he’s speaking only about you and SFL.

    1. ” I do find it strange his whole Pastor crew went to PCC and WCBC but Josh is real cool with CCM and the Beach Boys. ”

      You must not know a lot of PCC grads?

      1. I really chuckled at this comment! I personally know 3. They all are cool with “worldly” music.

        I kinda don’t know how to take this comment, actually. Are you saying this is typical?

        1. I am a PCC graduate. A Bible major even. Mr. Teis would probably remember me if I stated my real name.

          I don’t think I know any who have a problem with “worldy” music although most probably draw lines differently.

  11. First, that article (in my travels through fundy blogs) is most definitely talking about SFL. Just the description alone nails it for me. But mainly, what I have found here at SFL is not really what he got from looking at this site for an hour and immediately deciding. If one only looks at this site for a short while, it would be very easy to think that it is all about making fun of or degrading Christian pastors. If one does manage to become involved more though with SFL, he should begin to notice that unless there is some large scandal at the time, the preachers who are put on here are used as a singular example of things that are not right in fundy churches. Or they are just doing something completely insane. It is never criticizing the person themselves or the Gospel, just the overall culture they have built around that gospel.

    Reading the comments too was enlightening; Michelle above hit the phrase I wanted to say, so oh well, but someone did bring up that Jesus was angry at the moneychangers, and Josh just kept sweeping it back further and further. you should read it if you get a chance– its kinda entertaining. It’s between Josh and a Charles Miller.

    1. Josh’s comments and replies bothered me for several reasons. First, to any comment that did not agree with him, he replied with various versions of “I’m sorry you were offended”, which is a load of bovine exhaust. To comments that agreed with him, there was a lot of verbal back-slapping and “Ain’t it great that we aren’t critical like those other people.” Hmm. Ironic much?

      And lastly, while there were several mentions of Jesus and the moneychangers, everyone seems to have missed the elephant in the room of Paul repeatedly and publicly calling out religious leaders for exactly the stuff you see us talk about here- legalism, contentiousness, and letting the rules obliterate the message.

      And of course, when someone beats you up and then turns the tables and claims that you are the one who’s being unfair, that is a classic sign of an abuser. Mr Pot, Mr Kettle on line one…

  12. For what it’s worth, I think intellectually honest criticism is a positive thing…but I do have an issue when an honest critique morphs into an unwarranted attack. Our society has become one where if someone says something critical of you, they are automatically attacking you…which is not necessarily true.

    1. Bro Bluto, I agree — not only positive, but Biblical. Paul criticized Peter publicly for his error; there is no record or evidence that he approached Peter privately.

      In addition, in I Tim 5, the Scriptures say, speaking of pastors: Them that sin rebuke before all.

      So, certainly, some criticism of, uh, “church leaders” is right.

      At the same time, Pastor Ties is right that if we become unbalanced and ONLY criticize, we can allow pride to come in and we believe that we are the great arbitrator of truth and right, and everyone who doesn’t agree with us is wrong.

    2. It is a positive thing bluto you are correct! And anyone who claims to be a “pastor” objecting to scrutiny has something to hide. Maybe not something like sexual impropriety but maybe something simple like doubt. The problem is religious faith has no standard or method for proof. Its all based on subjective interpretations. So it must go into defensive mode in order to self preserve.

  13. The Jesus Mafia strikes again…..the Jeremiah Films people correctly ripped the Jehovah’s Witnesses for having a two-tier religious system (the 144,000 vs. the doomed-to-live-Eternity-on-Earth JWs) but Fundy-ism has a similar setup for the pastors vs. the laity: the leaders can do whatever they want and repent later, but the layman is screwed even for the “appearance” of doing something wrong, and that tag can last FOR LIFE.

    [Jesus Mafia is my thing; I lay claim to it.]

  14. He’s not talking about this blog site. The reason that I know this, is because he starts his article by mentioning that the purpose of the blog he is referencing is to destroy “people who love God.” Stufffundieslike is about people who love self (IFB), who, if the scriptures are to be trusted, are self-destructive anyway.

    1. Yeah, I’m curious who he is talking about specifically. Seems to me to be hiding when you don’t say who you are criticizing. I wondered if he was talking about Dale Fincher, or maybe someone else, but it’s hard to say since he doesn’t name who he’s talking about. Kind of the catch 22 coming up with a bogus “all criticism is bad” philosophy.

      1. It doesn’t matter who he was talking about. If he named the site that would actually be an attack and stir up a fight, which is exactly opposite what he was trying to do.

        I don’t think his post is all that scandalous, it’s just a shallow and unbalanced treatment of the subject of criticism. But a balanced treatment would likely require more than the few paragraphs that are normal for blogs.

      2. Dear RobM:

        Possibly, Mr. Teis means to jab while he exempts himself counter attack. To respond is to identify oneself as the culprit. That can’t be assumed, and it imputes evil motive. But I can’t see into his mind and won’t go there.

        I think Mr. Teis’ approach is less than wise. Rather than making one website the premise of his article, it would be better to describe the issue in terms of trends seen in ecclesial culture more generally. This could then be addressed form the standpoint of [for example] Jo 17/Ep 4 etc.

        The line ‘the creator of the website and blog claims to be a fellow Christian’ was unfortunate. For some, this will cast doubt on the genuineness of this brother’s Christian confession. Perhaps this was an oversight; but it may also mean that Mr. Teis was not yet spiritually prepared to send this article to the press.

        Christian Socialist

  15. I will no longer criticize embezzlers, murderers, rapists, or persons trying to rule over and enslave others for any reason spiritual or mental.
    I don’t know all the facts, so I could be wrong about them.
    That money may have been put in the pastors account accidentally. The 15 year old may have used her years of experience to seduce the reverend. Maybe that preacher tells people to act like himself because of some childhood trauma. It just isn’t my place to say anyone is wrong without knowing all of the facts.

  16. The article is actually filled with logical fallacies and flaws, partly because he uses cliches. But as always, the best rebuttal comes from Scripture: Paul openly, publicly, and more than once criticized Peter for the practice of judaizing. He also lambasted the elders at Corinth.

    1. Yes, Paul did that. Paul also warned about bickering and quarrelling.

      Fundamentalists tend to see things in simplistic extremes. Not just the movement we call “Fundamentalism” but all folk religious movements specialize in it.

      There is a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

      Life doesn’t come in neat little packages colored black and white for easy sorting.

        1. “The internet is not a big truck, it’s a series of tubes.” –the late US Senator Ted Stevens speaking on the Net Neutrality Bill, 2006.

        2. Oh, topic strayage, whee!

          That remark has been mocked often, but really, he was right. You can’t point to one monolithic thing called “the Internet” that goes from here to there and turns on and off. It’s more like a rabbit warren through which swarms of infocritters move on unpredictable, ever-changing paths. This has implications for legislation regarding the Internet.

  17. In fairness to him, he appears to be a pastor, and all pastors are victims of constant (often unwarranted) criticism. I chalk this up to the “thin blue line” syndrome.

    1. FWIW, I consider the overwhelming need to assuage & gloss over actual problems, to be a major problem for all churches in modern times that are dependent on the congregations for their salaries, etc.

      Rachel Held Evans a few years ago had a blog post about (paraphrased) “Why don’t pastors tell us what they really thing”, and the answer (I think she got from a commenter or guest blogger) was that if you speak your mind as pastor you often get fired.

      1. Yes. Show that you’re human, that you’re needy, that sometimes you struggle, and some people see it as weakness. Being open and vulnerable doesn’t usually pay off when you’re a pastor.

  18. Aww, I’m sad this article was featured.
    I saw Josh’s article and I thought it was clearly about SFL. However, he made some good points and like others have said, he’s one of the IFB guys doing it right. As soon as I saw his article on FB, I thought “please don’t let Darrell see this.”

  19. Also, while I don’t think this site’s purpose is to destroy people who love God, I do see how a superficial reading will give that impression. I wouldn’t say that it’s Darrell’s fault though; that’s more on the commentators. Some commentators were even so ridiculous to criticize Josh for not spending more time on this site to see what it’s about. If your blog’s purpose isn’t clear from a few posts then how is that the reader’s problem?

    1. There is an ‘about’ page. There is a big link to it above. It explains the purpose of this site in Darrell’s words. If someone can’t be bothered to read the ABOUT page before criticising a site, then they should be called out on it.

      So many people have been harmed or are being harmed by IFB churches, sites like this are essential. And those that say we should all stay silent about abuses in the church are part of the problem.

    2. I have to agree that this blog is not the normal, and takes a lot of getting use to. For at least the first 6 months I read SFL, I couldn’t comment, and had to limit myself to only reading once or twice a week max, when I first found it.

      Both from defensiveness & sometimes rage at the fundy activities.

  20. We honestly don’t know what page he was referring to. I remember Josh Teis as being a lot more “normal” and balanced than most other preacher boys at his Fundy U.

  21. Let’s translate this to another faith for a comparison.

    One problem that Islam has in the United States is the Islamic stricture against criticizing publicly another Muslim. If a Muslim commits an act of terrorism, there is no great outcry of Muslims against such an act.

    The silence created by non-criticism is deafening.

    Oh, there are some few voices. Those that do speak up are often criticized for being disloyal and unIslamic.

    The general effect of not speaking up is to make Muslims look more radical. The spotlight is on the radicals anyway, the ones with the fiery speeches, the Anti-American rhetoric, calling for jihad, holy war against the ungodly West.

    Moderate Muslims who have come to America often wonder why they are viewed with suspicion. The reason is simple. They are not calling to account their radical “brothers.” They have yielded the floor. The ones doing the talking are the ones not worth following.

    Cue the Christians who criticize other Christians for criticizing their brethren.

    There is a fundamentalist tradition of criticizing everyone else who isn’t them. They believe in first, second, third degree burns, oops, I mean “separation.” KJV worshipers separate from people who don’t believe in KJV only. Conservatives separate from moderates. BJU separates from Billy Graham, then from those who don’t separate from Billy Graham. The flames spew forth from fundamentalists hoping to send their enemies to hell.

    But they don’t get criticized for being disloyal! No, they are held up as standing for a standard!

    It is those who fundies have hurt that get criticized for being disloyal, often by people fundies themselves have burned as compromisers. People like Darryl are roasted by fundies and non-fundies for providing a place for those who have survived the fundamentalist holocaust to vent, to reminisce about the very real problems in the camp of hatred.

    Criticism of fundamentalist Christians is disloyalty, but criticism by fundamentalist Christians seems to be acceptable.

    If we keep silent, we cede the floor to the haters. Christianity becomes known only by its worst examples. Without voices against the hatred, that is all anyone would know about the Faith.

  22. The fact is that you don’t criticize someone when they are speaking as the oracles of God. When they depart from that and start spewing american tradition, personal preference, and nationalism as if that was scriptural, and start treating the flock as dinner-on-the-hoof instead of being a servant to it, then they open themselves up to all the criticism anyone of any spiritual maturity wants to hand them.

    1. In fact what we should really do is not blaspheme the Holy Spirit and follow our Master. Trying to decide when someone is or is not speaking “the oracles of God” is too hard for most of us. Unless you’re speaking of ex cathedra.

  23. Any man who claims to be speaking for some deity should be subject to the highest scrutiny on a continual basis. How could any sane and reasonable person object to that? He just doesn’t like it when his sacred cows are touched. When a “pastor” objects to reasonable critisim or questioning; he is hiding something.

  24. Josh was a pretty nice guy. I was a Th and he was a Ti, so any classes we had together we sat together (yes, we had name-based seating charts. In college). I hope he clings to the pure gospel and grows out of the works-based righteousness and man-made laws that characterize fundystan.

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