Diversion Tactics: The Confrontation Initiation

Diversion: “Why are you criticizing what [insert big name pastor here] said in his sermon last week or wrote in his book or did with that stripper in Vegas? Have you gone to him and talked to him personally about what he said/wrote/snorted?”

Origin: Eisegesis.

Usage: Whenever someone is pointing out really horrible logic or unbiblical thinking coming from a person that I admire.

Strength: Sounds really spiritual.

Translation: “Since I know you’ll never be able to talk to the guy personally, I’ll use this as a clever way to shut you down and make you look bad in the process.”

Biblical Support: Allegedly Matthew 18:15-17

Fallacy: Misreading of the passage. The context is talking about a brother or sister within ones own congregation to which one has access and over whom the local elders have authority. The public statements of the president of a fundamentalist college or a pastor who lives 1000 miles away and who does not attend your church or even belong to your denomination hardly fit into this passage.

Biblical Counter: Luke 13:32. Did Jesus have a face-to-face sit-down with Herod before calling him a fox?

95 thoughts on “Diversion Tactics: The Confrontation Initiation”

    1. I’ve been noticing this EVERYWHERE in the IFB world lately: basically telling people to just “shut up.”

        1. I never “shut up” in fundy school and always questioned why. 😈
          I guess that is what makes me a free thinker today. 😉

    1. Aw, fifth. Oh well, close enough. 😛

      More on topic, though, good point. That’s such a terrible misuse of that passage. I should think the reference to the local elders should make it clear that this is talking about someone in the same congregation as you, as someone who lives a thousand miles away is hardly under the jurisdiction of your local elders.

      But it’s OK to twist Scripture to your needs if it protects a Managawd, amen?

  1. And yet, the same MOG who will give you this lecture will excoriate the pastor across town for allowing visitors to his youth department’s events to wear immodest clothes.

    1. Exactly! All our lives we heard constant criticism of anyone and everyone with whom the pastor (or the college administration) had a disagreement, but turn that eye of criticism on the IFB and suddenly they pull out this “psuedo-spiritual” position of “you can’t disagree with them unless you go to them in person first.”

      1. My father likes to say “What you do speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you say.” And that is why I left Fundyland.

      2. That’s why I love you P.W. You say so succinctly what I want to say and never can.

    2. @Christopher – “…will excoriate the pastor across town for allowing visitors to his youth department’s events to wear immodest clothes.”

      Or for simply wearing jeans.

    3. And, as one who has Gone To Them Personally, you may expect:
      1. Intimidation
      2. Manipulation
      3. Public humiliation

      In other words, a cart full of BS.

      1. Apparently, it is only ok to verbally attack someone’s ideas if you are doing it in public in front of a whole church who has nothing to do with the situation being addressed and you graduated from Bible College with a BS (pun intended) in Biblical Studies.

  2. I’m fairly certain that level of denial is just a defense mechanism of someone that has bought in way too far to the notion that IFB pastors are universally the last stalwart of good on the planet fighting against evil, and evidence to the contrary is so threatening to your perception of reality you just have to find a way to deny & ignore.

    1. Anyone or anything that threatens the supreme leader of the “cult-like” group must be discredited or removed! Power is derived from unquestioning loyalty. These techniques must be used, else folks would realize their great leaders are “just fallible men”.

      1. I thought power was derived from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

        …oops, wrong thread (although in some instances baptism might fit that description 😀 )

        1. you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you!

        2. Come and see the violence inherent in the system…Help! Help! I’m being repressed!
          It’s amazing how Monty Python provides such adequate descriptions of the IFB…

  3. And of course the very act of questioning makes one unspiritual and lacking faith.

    1. Don’t forget “bitter”. Questioning means you are not spiritual, hard-hearted, lacking faith, and bitter.

      1. Ah bitter the other “B” word. At this point when someone says bitter it automatically turns their voice to Charlie Brown’s teacher. Wah wah wah wah wah

  4. Paul also never personally talked to the young man in Corinth that he excommunicated, (right over the heads of the local church elders for all you fans of radical church autonomy, by the way).

    1. Which man is that? The only person I can think of/find is Alexander the coppersmith, but that’s in I and II Timothy and doesn’t really mention excommunication, so I assume you’re not referring to him?

        1. Paul even writes, “t is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, etc.” He had multiple reports, but it is clear that he was going strictly by reports (as he was not at Corinth) and taking very drastic action.

        1. Paul didn’t excommunicate anyone, he directed the local autonomous body of Corinthian believers to do so.

        2. Yet they had no choice but to obey him. Then he directly ordered the reinstatement of the young man, again over their heads. Clearly, he expected them to obey his directive.

  5. Another level of irony is that some of these men, even if I did have the chance to speak to them one on one, would immediately discredit anything I had to say because I am a woman.

  6. As many have witnessed, those who did confront the pastor have been publicly humiliated from the pulpit and usually excommunicated from the church. That will make anyone else think twice before speaking. The level of brainwashing also leads one to believe that a life lived outside the church and pastor’s approval is hell.

    1. “The level of brainwashing also leads one to believe that a life lived outside the church and pastor’s approval is hell.”

      Yes. Exactly.

  7. I actually confronted my ex-MOG to his face, in his office about his covering up crimes, among other things. (Guess how well that went :cry:)
    To this day I haven’t criticized him by name but I have a feeling that if I did, I would still get this verse preached at me.
    It goes well with the other fundy-misapplied verse: “Touch not mine anointed”.

      1. Thank you for your kindness.
        I read two articles on your blog. I especially liked the one from March about Eurocentric Christianity. That is something that I have been studying about lately. I have been convicted (to use the IFB term :wink:) about that in my own life. It is amazing the blinders that we wear. Thank you for writing about such a touchy subject.

  8. If you question the M-O-g then you are questioning God as well. The M-O-g is the FINAL authority in any IFB Bunker. He is the Captain, the Grand Poo-Bah, he is the proxy god and none dare defy him. His disciples will fight you tooth and nail to defend the man they have vested so much un-questioning devotion in.
    This is the result of lazy Churchianity and the power of the Cult of Personality.

  9. How does such an oppressive and xenophobic attitude prevail in a world where each of us have so much access to information. Martin Luther managed to break away hundreds of years ago when we were still writing on scrolls. 😳

    1. That is a contradiction that I was meditating on yesterday. Why is is, in this age of globalization, are people less inclined to learn? We have so much more access to information and learning, it is right at our fingertips on the internet.

      1. the interwebs is a tool of the prince of the power of the air, can’t be trusted

    2. I think the problem is that there is so much information on the internet that one can find something to confirm whatever belief one has, regardless of how wrong it may be. All other information conflicting with the initial belief is simply disregarded.

    3. Actually, virtually no one wrote on scrolls when Martin Luther came along. They had been using codexes for centuries and printing presses had been firing out books for a couple of decades by the time he published his 95 Thesis in 1517. It was the printing press, in fact, that gave rise to the Reformation. Without the printing press, Luther would have just been a heretical German monk.

      But in answer to your question: the plethora of bad information on the internet has given us a real problem with who is credible and who is not. Further, for Evangelicals, at some point every discussion about the Bible enters a state where credible scholarship ceases to be relevant. So then it becomes a matter of belief, which no amount of knowledge can cure.

    4. As the price of publishing drops to near 0, Sturgeon’s Law looks more and more optimistic. 😕

  10. The mog usually attacks you from the pulpit because he is too much of a coward to talk you face to face and in private.

    1. Not only does he have the pulpit to physically stand behind, but he always can throw in the phrase “Don’t get made at me. I am just preaching God’s Word. If you have a problem with what I say, you have a problem with God”.

      1. The types of people who I feel for the most are IFBs who have been kicked out of other IFB churches yet still remain in the denomination. They get totally screwed over by an IFB church, school, college, etc. but all they do is move away to another IFB church.

        1. My parents actually got the gusto to leave their first IFB church when the pastor misappropriated church funds to the Christian school because his son was running it and he wanted the numbers to look good with his son at the helm. When my parents left, they relocated to another city 3 hours away to go to a “well-respected” church in fundyland. It’s the exact same thing, but they’ll never believe it until they’re burned again.

  11. Direct quote from a letter my sister sent me when I questioned her about our childhood abuse being related to the IFB belief system.

    “Also be very careful when you talk about any pastor. If you believe the Bible you will know God doesn’t take it lightly.”

    (Her pastor openly says that women shouldn’t vote) Immediately I wanted to respond with “He’s a chauvinist pig and a jerk” But I didn’t. I’m still trying to reason with her because she was abused too, but she’s in so deep it’s hard for her to see it. And she doesn’t want to experience the complete isolation from the rest of the family that I have. (which is actually awesome)

    1. The response to your sister should be: you are right, God does not take child abuse lightly. “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Explain to her that “touch not mine anointed” was about regicide, the killing of a king. In a democracy we are allowed to criticize.

      On second thought, it is kinder to just smile and nod.
      But if she was abused and is your sibling, I would hazard a guess that you were too. Seriously, don’t underestimate it. It will bite you when you least expect it.

      And yes, complete isolation from the family can be awesome.

  12. I’ve seen this attack occur – I think here on SFL as well as on Sharper Iron.

    I like Darrell’s analysis: that it’s someone’s attempt to look spiritual while trying to “make you look bad in the process.” Trying to do so should immediately be clear to the person doing it that he is not walking in the Spirit but fulfilling the lusts of the flesh, but apparantly that hasn’t stopped the accusers from using this ploy yet.

    1. Didn’t someone come on here recently and defend Chuck Phelps that way? Or did I read that somewhere else?

    2. Actually, I’m with Camille here: This whole routine is just a complicated way of saying “Shut up!”

  13. Here’s another jewel!

    “If we think someone that we are under is leading us in the wrong direction, we have the right to make a sincere and humble appeal to them. If they do not heed our appeal, then we are to leave it in God’s hands.”


      1. He teaches that Abigail was wrong. Ignoring the Bible that specifically says she was wise, Gothard calls her sinful. After reading that, I put away the Character Sketches books and never read them again. IMO, anyone who twisted Scripture so blatantly in order to fit his agenda could not be trusted.

        1. Agreed, PW, totally agreed. We had some friends that were totally caught up in Gothardism and added Harold Camping to the mix. Need I say more?

  14. My fundy ex-MIL actually used a version of this tactic to try to defend her son. He had abandoned me several weeks prior, and I found evidence that he was having several extra-marital affairs. When I called her in tears, instead of comforting me, she said, “Well, things aren’t always what they seem! Have you ASKED him? Have you listened to his explanation?!” Um… no, I haven’t. If you recall, he LEFT ME! He’s not here for me to ask, and besides, my evidence is irrefutable. But thanks for your concern. UGH!! Infuriating.

  15. Response: “Clearly it’s easier to play Pharisaical mind games to guilt someone into silence than it is to face the truth. I thought we were supposed to be able to identify a tree by its fruit. Or at least that’s what the red letters in my Bible say.” 😎

    1. Ooo! I like that! I don’t think I’d ever be brave enough to say it though!

  16. While I agree that the passage is over-used and often mis-applied, in recent years I’ve seen the exact opposite, also — where the passage is too hastily dismissed. As I wrote (as part of a much larger post) on my blog recently:


    I find it interesting that the Matthew 18 passage gets batted down so quickly. While I understand that Jesus was particularly referring to more “private”, one-on-one sins, I have searched several translations and have yet to find one with a verse where Jesus says “unless it’s a public sin, then all bets are off”. The ludicrous speed with which the applicability of the passage is dismissed speaks not so much of someone who wants to move on, as it does of someone who is so loathe to try one-on-one confrontation, that any loophole is seized desperately as a lifeline.

    Does inapplicability [of this passage] automatically mean that we are commanded *not* to use this method sometimes?


    And yes, “ludicrous speed” is a Spaceballs reference :mrgreen:

    1. Well put, Brendt. Love is to be the rule of all. We see Joseph, “being a just man” wanted to put Mary away privately when he thought she had betrayed their vows of betrothal. Legally, he had every right to seek her full punishment before the Law. But he was godly and did not do that. I think we have to opt for discretion when we can. And I don’t think the factor is so much a public person, as a public sin. But there are public sins that do demand public action:

      In Corinth, the shock and the shame of the sin was all over the church by the time Paul heard it, and the culprit was open about his disgraceful behavior. The matter of the shame of the sin had to be addressed and rebuked.

      Paul also, because Peter openly practiced legalism by refusing to eat with Gentile Christians, openly rebuked Peter. There is an element of vindicating the victims of wrongdoing in that. Peter publicly humiliated them, so Paul publicly vindicated them. The honor of all Christian conduct was at stake.

      But to this day we have no idea who was right or wrong between Paul and Barnabas, or if either was rebuked by the Council at Jerusalem, or on what grounds. We see Paul dealing gently with Philemon over holding a Christian brother as a slave. John sets out to go confront and expel Diotrophese himself, commanding the church not to act, possibly to avoid a major rift in the church.

      Christianity definitely needs charity. For charity was the first victim of the desperate race to build mega churches.

  17. I recently discovered that Sir Thomas More was my 9th great-grandfather, who was beheaded by Henry XIIi for not shutting up. Ergo, I am genetically inclined to keep talking. And for you history buffs, my first name is Margaret.

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