11 July 2013

Running Around without a Church

by Frank Turk

WAIT!

BEFORE you dive down to the comments, they are on moderation, and I'm not going to check them until about 7 AM Central Time.  You might as well read this post before you comment and are disappointed that your comment didn't magically and instantaneously appear ...

As of 2 PM on 14 July 2013, the comments are closed

Welcome back -- some of you are already diving for the comments as this will be the first day in 3 when they will be open -- but sadly for you, they are also set to moderation (as is our New Normal), so your comments won't crash onto the internet with the speed and ferocity of rabbit darting out onto the highway to avoid a fox, but sadly ignoring the oncoming 18-wheel truck full of machine parts.

That said, over the last two days I have been, due to some odd interactions I have had over the last week or so, examining the organization which calls itself "Abolish Human Abortion," or "AHA."  We have covered their version of absolutism, and also their view of being "biblical" about their endeavor, and I find myself left with one other complaint that seems glaringly-obvious to me but maybe not so much to them.

However, before proceeding, and to make sure nobody missed it, I'm going to say this one last time.

Let me make sure I say this as clearly as possible:

All murder is wrong

That's the moral premise which under-girds any work to limit or abolish abortion.  Anyone commenting or responding after this series of posts goes live who ignores this essential fact of Christian ethics in my position is selling something unsavory.  And, since the comments are open today, let me be especially clear: anyone ignoring this statement when they comment will not make it out of moderation.  Those of you who are dying to say that I have already, or would, endorse abortions?  I am talking to you.

OK: so maybe they aren't actually as biblical as they claim to be, and maybe they aren't as absolutist as they claim to be -- but so what?  Shouldn't we just embrace them as an ally in a war against one aspect of our culture which, let's face it, needs to be abolished?  Should we just sort of class them as the Marines and the rest of us can be maybe the volunteer militia or the tax payers who fund the efforts of those who see themselves as called to the front line of the battle?

I have a lot of sympathy for that idea -- because I believe that there is one body but many members.  While there may be a priesthood of believers, some are called to be pastors, some teachers, some evangelists, some janitors, some bloggers, some just as members in good standing who are fathers and mothers and sons and daughters.  In short, God did not save us into a family of uniform Lego minifigs.  For some people, it is right to be more of one thing and less of another because this is what they are gifted for -- and to ignore this is to simply ignore the places where Scripture actually says this.

These are not the Saints you were looking for ...
And there are two ends of the spectrum in that error -- one being the obvious: demanding from everyone that they demonstrate your spiritual gift to the scope and extent that you are personally going to do it.  Demanding everyone be a blogger, for example, would be very bad.  But: demanding that everyone in every church dedicate all time and resources to one aspect of pleading the Gospel to the culture is equally bad. In fact, demanding that every church be a militant abolitionist church is also bad -- because let's face it: since 34% of women live in counties with no abortion provider, it's a likely statement that about a third of churches are in counties where there is no abortion provider.  In those counties, shouldn't those churches minister to the sinners they have rather than the sinners they don't have?

But the other end of the gifting spectrum, it seems to me, is less-obvious, but more important.  It's the view that I don't need the other gifts of the church.  This, it seems to me, is rampant in all manner of good-doing under the tablecloth tent with the letters "G O S P E L" plastered on it with a sloppy paint brush.  People get outside the church in order to do something that seems good -- for example, stopping babies from being killed -- and then they take the moral authority of obeying what is plain in God's created order as the authority to forget the rest of God's plan for the world.  Specifically: they forget that the church is the place where the authority of the Gospel is located.

Don't think so?  Review Mat 16:16-19.  Here's what Calvin says about this passage:
Here Christ begins now to speak of the public office, that is, of the Apostleship, which he dignifies with a twofold title. First, he says that the ministers of the Gospel are porters, so to speak, of the kingdom of heaven, because they carry its keys; and, secondly, he adds, that they are invested with a power of binding and loosing, which is ratified in heaven. ... We know that there is no other way in which the gate of life is opened to us than by the word of God; and hence it follows that the key is placed, as it were, in the hands of the ministers of the word. [Emph Added]
The Gospel is not running around without a church.  The rest of the New Testament testifies to this -- for example in Titus 1-2, 2 Tim 2, 2 Peter 3 and so on -- and demands that the Gospel come from the church under the good order of the body as protected by faithful men.  The fact is that all the people saved into Christ in the NT were saved into the church -- a local church, a physical body of people -- and worked together from the church into the world.

In that: so-called "Gospel" ministries in which the workers and especially the leaders are outside of the protection of the church, and are not accountable to the church for their actions, are problematic.  It's not enough to say that they are members in good standing at their local church: if they are doing the work which is prescribed for the local church but they are not under the authority of the local church, they are either robbing the local church or scoffing at it, or both.

The problem, at its heart, is a failure to see that there is a need for all the parts of the body for the right function of the body -- in this case, the function of leadership over the function of social action.  This problem is present in spades in the AHA organization.

First: there is no visible, accountable leadership structure.  After inquiring with someone who knows, I was able to get a short list of fellows who are sort of running AHA, but that list is not readily visible to the public.  In the best case, that's AHA simply asking for grace that they aren't willing to give anyone else.  They are hell-bent to make sure the names of the people they find lacking are well-known and well-dunked in the shortcomings they have charged them with.  Imagine what AHA would do with a church that wouldn't list its leadership, or an outfit which funded abortions but shielded its leaders behind an anonymous "inquiries@prochoicepayouts.com" e-mail address.  At best it puts them at risk of wandering around without any real purpose; at worst, it gives them a license, as they said in the '70's, to do until others, then split.

Second: they have removed themselves from Gospel accountability.  That is to say, it seems obvious that there is no one with a mature view of Scripture out in front.  Yesterday we saw at least two significant errors in theology and in the meaning of the Gospel; there are more to be found on their website.  Those errors are replicated as this organization goes about its business.  It stems from failing to have a local church accountable for and accounting for their actions, and overseeing their work to make sure both that it is wholesome and godly and also that it is not a scandal.

Think about this for a second: if they were a seminary that cropped up out of the wild blue yonder, or a publishing house, or a prison ministry with no means of maintaining confidence in the theology they were teaching and preaching, who would take them seriously?  But in this case, there is no visible means of doing that at all, and (not surprisingly) they have given themselves a free pass.

Third and finally: they have inverted God's economy of the church.  Yesterday I linked to the "Church Repent" site to show how they are shaming churches they say are not living up to the standards these unaccountable fellows have established.  In the best possible case where these fellows are 100% correct and the churches they are shaming are 100% wrong, this activity is simply never found in the NT -- it's not even implied.

The flimsy excuse they use is from Eph 5:11 (it's telling they don't use James 5, although in private conversations they will use Galatians 2), to "expose evil."  It's fair enough -- but that exhortation is actually regarding shameful personal acts which one is actually doing, not sins of omission.  Moreover, it's a call to personal accountability and not a call to form a non-church mob to heckle a functioning church.

Worst of all, because they have no church accountability themselves, there's no way to correct these fellows.  Talking to them about their opinions is about as productive as talking to the college kid who just discovered Schrodinger's Cat -- it seems to him that everything he knew before is now wrong, and there's no two ways about it.  I'll offer up the anticipated content of the comments section as supporting documents to this point.

Conclusion

Now: so what?  If I'm right, AHA has a significant list of issues to resolve before they can be seen as credible, let alone useful or (to be fair to their point of view and not reason only from pragmatism) faithful.  Should we simply toss them off as another ill-conceived parachurch ministry and consign them to the ash-heap of church history?

Let's go back to my original premise: all murder is wrong, and in this country, abortion is the most-common form of murder.  Whatever we think about AHA's methods and mode of operation, and whatever we think about their theology, abortion is still a vile crime.  To that end, I think it's wise to call these fellows not to fold up the tents and go find another hobby to spoil, but instead to repent of their obvious and critical errors in order to rightly approach the problem:
  • They should repent of their absurdly-bad view and use for the local church.  They behave shamefully toward the local church because they are not accountable to a local church, and have an unbiblical view of discipleship and evangelism.  If they found themselves accountable to elders in a church for their actions, they would find most of their other problems would head toward correction.
  • They should repent of their unwise, misguided use of the Bible.  What they do not need is to replace their random statements with someone else's systematic theology; what they do need to do is to read the Bible as it comes, as it was intended to be read, and ask themselves, for example, how did those people change their culture when they hand little or no political influence, and definitely no active theology of civil unrest?  What does the Bible teach us regarding the role of the local church in changing the culture?  And what is the Christian's role in society when the Christian faith is a minority view?
  • They should repent of their own self-righteousness.  Disguising pride with phony expressions of camaraderie when what is being said is, effectually, "You are an idiot and probably a criminal, brother," is not impressive except as a hallmark of one's own assessment of one's worth.  Hiding behind God's sovereignty as an endorsement of your "ministry" when one's own method of reading God's word is, at best, idiosyncratic, is underwhelming.  Claiming to be the wounded party when one is falsely calling local churches aiders and abettors of murderers is ugly.  They should repent of the idea that they are the ones on the high moral ground.
  • They should repent of their current methods and modes until they have adopted the fruit of repentance from the previous 3 items, and then re-assess their manner of establishing engagement in the communities they operate in -- both toward churches and toward abortion clinics.





JUST TO BE CLEAR BEFORE YOU START YOUR COMMENTS

What I did NOT say this week:
  • I did NOT say abortion is morally justified
  • I did NOT say Christians should do nothing about abortion
  • I did NOT say that Churches should do nothing about abortion
  • I did NOT say that protesting abortion clinics was wrong
  • I did NOT say that Christians have no duties as citizens
What I DID say this week:
  • the AHA version of absolutism on this issue is inconsistent at best, and morally and biblically untenable at worst
  • AHA's condemnation of anyone who doesn't agree with their philosophy or methodology is not morally or biblically tenable
  • There are biblical problems with all 5 of their major tenets for conducting operations as they are stated on the AHA web site
  • The two most important problems are a lack of a clear approach to hermeneutics/interpreting the truth of God's word, and a complete lack of clarity regarding whether or not the methods/means of accomplishing their goals matter.
  • AHA lacks a clear and workable theology of the church, and therefore they don't get right the responsibilities of the local church, and the responsibilities of believers, and the responsibilities of believers to the church and vice versa
If you disagree with what I actually DID say this week, I welcome your comments -- I welcome your critiques in detail.  If you simply cannot stand that I have criticized them, that's another matter.  Ranting about your disbelief that I would criticize these people doesn't interest me.  I don't have an obligation to give anyone who is angry because they are wrong a platform for their ravings, nor do I  have to answer such ravings.

The comments are open, and under moderation.  Mind the gap.


103 comments:

seriously.tv said...

Thanks Frank for this series, which works as a great critique of so many para church ministries. We don't seem to have AHA in London, but as a church planter here I'm often facing the pressure from those who have found a para church ministry whose 'ministry' is kind of glamorous - but ignores a proper relationship with the one institution the Lord himself died to establish!

Frank Turk said...

For the purists, the dog got walked early today, so I checked in early.

Tom Chantry said...

It's fair enough -- but that exhortation is actually regarding shameful personal acts which one is actually doing, not sins of omission.

Good observation, and it ought to be said, in this one particular the "Repent Church" project is very reminiscent of the Westboro Baptist Cult.

How's that? I've had some interaction with Westboro. They picketed the large Missouri Synod church across the street from mine, calling them a [rude slur for "gay"]-church. Now this church preaches that homosexuality is a sin and urges homosexuals to repent and to live in sexual purity before God. Their "sin" is a failure to take a "strong enough" stand against homosexuality, as though the calling of every congregation is to stem the tide of the homosexual movement.

What strikes me about this is that if every church's primary mission is to oppose homosexuality, and if every church's primary mission is to abolish abortion, exactly how many primary missions does the church have? Would it not be as many primary missions as there are sins in the culture?

So part of the problem here is a redefining of "church" from being "the place where the authority of the Gospel is located" to being "the place that is responsible for stamping out that sin which I particularly hate.

Pierre Saikaley said...

This letter comes from an AHA insider
that finally recognized what you are saying, Frank.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/borntoreform/2013/04/why-i-no-longer-endorse-aha-abolish-human-abortion/

Johnny Dialectic said...

You've done an excellent job setting out the issues here, Frank. To me, this is the one that sticks out. From AHA website:

We trust in the spiritual means and methods God has given to us in His Word. 

But as you rightly ask:

The question we have to ask is why these [biblical statements] in particular have any priority over any other statements of truth -- for example, the commission of the church to make disciples of all men (Mat 28) . . .

It seems to me that activism, even with the best of motives, must never be allowed to overwhelm the Great Commission. The "doing of justice" is right and good, but is not the whole (or even primary) role of the church. Perhaps AHA should spend its time trying to recruit and convince individuals that this form of ministry is not only proper, but necessary, esp. for Christians who are not "doing" anything. They might even appeal to churches to consider their aims and methods. But if they really "trust in the spiritual means and methods God has given to us in His Word" then surely they ought to major in the making of disciples--of Jesus, not a movement.

GAHCindy said...

"Third and finally: they have inverted God's economy of the church. Yesterday I linked to the "Church Repent" site to show how they are shaming churches they say are not living up to the standards these unaccountable fellows have established. In the best possible case where these fellows are 100% correct and the churches they are shaming are 100% wrong, this activity is simply never found in the NT -- it's not even implied."

I inadvertently encouraged AHA in this attitude on a Facebook post before I realized that this is what they are doing. They had asked if it is ok to "show graphic images of what happens in an abortion" and I commented that it is just as ok to do that as it was to march the people of the towns near death camps to show them what they tolerated during the holocaust. I had no idea that they meant by this that they were attacking the church in this way. I thought they meant just for informational purposes! The information certainly should be disseminated so that Christians know the seriousness of it, but yikes! Now I get to feel awfully uncomfortable every time they post something on FB to that effect. I'd like to say I'd drawn some kind of lesson from this, but I was kinda blind-sided by it. No idea what I could have done differently. Besides unfollowing them, I mean. Which I've done since then.

GAHCindy said...

PS: I love it when comments are held for moderation, because as soon as I hit enter I wonder what I misspelled or said wrong. Guess I'll have to wait and find out later. ;-)

Frank Turk said...

Tom --

Bingo.

_______________

Pierre --

I almost didn't let your link through because I really would rather protect Justin than subject him to the vemon we general get over here, but his testimony is powerful.

_______________

Johnny --

I think it comes down to the definition of "doing." Their definition of doing is "treating this sin like it is worse than the sins which cause it -- namely, fornication and greed." You know: why, exactly, is it better to address the murder problem when in fact the broader problem is that people think sex is a hobby rather than a sacred act which creates life?

Or: what about the explosion of adoption programs that are now saving babies from abortion? Are those "doing" anything, or are they just allowing all the other babies to die?

Or: what about all the babies that die anyway in spite of AHA's efforts? See -- in their view, a church that funds a crisis pregnancy program 100% and counsels mothers to birth their babies and either keep them or give them over to adoption are not "doing enough" because pragmatically that program does not "abolish" abortion. The pragmatic end of "abolistion" is the standard -- for everyone else. But AHA has not yet abolished abortion, have they? So why do they get a free pass under God's sovereignty?

Yet to be explained. Looking forward to any and all AHA spokesmembers for their input.

Robert said...

Frank,

This was an excellent series of posts and you hit most of the high points very well. There is plenty that could be commented on, but I want to actually extend one bullet point that you have listed.

•They should repent of their own self-righteousness. Disguising pride with phony expressions of camaraderie when what is being said is, effectually, "You are an idiot and probably a criminal, brother," is not impressive except as a hallmark of one's own assessment of one's worth. Hiding behind God's sovereignty as an endorsement of your "ministry" when one's own method of reading God's word is, at best, idiosyncratic, is underwhelming. Claiming to be the wounded party when one is falsely calling local churches aiders and abettors of murderers is ugly. They should repent of the idea that they are the ones on the high moral ground.

I would actually apply this (without automatically including brother) to how they address people heading into the clinics. I read the article you linked to a while back that discussed a group with a mobile unit offering free sonograms to pregnant mothers going to abortion clinics. The thing that stands out to me is that this other group (not AHA) was showing compassion and mercy to these expectant mothers, whereas I don't see as much of that with the AHA approach. When I look at how Jesus approached sinners in the Bible, He met their physical needs while pointing them to their spiritual need of a Savior and repentance from their sins. And Paul became all things to all people because he wanted to win them to Christ, not just to be right.

Just as Schaeffer says about apologetics, it isn't the Christian version if it is not done with saving souls in mind. It isn't just about wanting sin to be gone (which won't totally happen in any of us until we're with Christ), but it is about feeling compassion because we see people as sheep without the Shepherd. That is what I see when I read the Bible talking about Jesus in His earthly ministry (Mt. 9:36)

As a side note, pray for my wife and I as we explore working with people to get one of these mobile units in the Houston area. We have found some interest and are trying to connect the dots to get the right people together to do it. All thanks to you, Frank, for this...without reading the article you linked to, I never would have checked into it.

David Carlson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Robert said...

Frank,

With regards to that last or you stated in your reply to Johnny, it disgusts me to think that anybody would think that the efforts of crisis pregnancy centers are not doing enough. These guys should try to volunteer at one of these places, go through the training to understand all the complexities, and then speak to some of these women who come in broken and looking for anybody to help them. They actually get to present the truth to people who are lost in the darkness...and even sometimes to young, immature Christians who are looking for guidance. I am so moved when I think about what some of these women are going or have gone through because nobody has been there to really offer them good, Biblical counsel and to show them some compassion.

Justin Edwards said...

Thanks, Frank. I'm already in the papist club, but good looking out.

Frank Turk said...

DAC:

Technically you're banned, but you ask an interesting question which, I think, should be answered.

What do you think that the following people preaching against "the church" from the outside all have in common:

Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist

That is: where did their authority to do what they did come from?

I'll bet if we answer that question, we have a far more interesting question for AHA than I have proposed so far.

Frank Turk said...

Shoot: I meant to list Hosea, too. So: Elijah, Hosea, Jeremiah, John the Baptist.

Justin Edwards said...

David, they do make that claim, but the church did not exist before pentecost, they are not Jesus, and John did not speak against the church.

Nash Equilibrium said...

The mere fact that AHA (wasn't that a boy band in the '80s?) wants abortion "abolished" rather than "discouraged" by necessity makes them politicians of a sort. And as politicians, they are reliant upon chariots, horses, laws, etc by definition. So it is bogus of them to maintain that they are strictly playing in the spiritual realm. I think their political modus is made evident by their co-opting the Abolitionist moniker to tug at the emotions of people with regard to the 19th century anti-slavery movement in the US.
Good stuff, Frank, as usual.

Kerry James Allen said...

Two things:

"We must not fight God's battles with the weapons of ill-will. You cannot cast out Satan by Satan, nor correct error by violence, nor overcome hate by hate." CHS

And this issue sounds like it was answered once before in a familiar conversation:

Peter: "What shall this man (John) do?"
Jesus: "What is that to thee? follow thou Me."

A Patriot said...

John may have been outside of a church when he wrote Revelations. However that is only because he was sent there as punishment for his stand. Since he was being persecuted for Christ's sake then I don't think he really counts as para church.

Frank, this has been a good series. As many mentioned it could be used for many para church organizations.

I do not believe that any church is called to stem the tide of abortion, gays, or any other particular sin. Churches are called to preach the gospel. When a church preaches the gospel, then sinners will be converted. When sinners are converted things like abortion will stop. Maybe that is considered simplistic now days, but to me lines up with the Bible.

Paul Reed said...

"To say [the pro-life movement] has done nothing in the last 40 years would be fudging at best. For example, since 1982, the number of abortion providers has fallen by 37%."

Most of what was written was very good and spot-on, but I took a major issue with this part, or at least what is implied. And it basically implies the pro-life movement has accomplished something significant, or even that the pro-life movement is winning. Due to the wide-use of chemical abortions, we really aren't sure what the true abortion rate is. No longer does a woman have to go to a special clinic to get an abortion. Women can get a pill at Walmart, and not even know they had an abortion. Moreover, the pro-abortion side doesn't care so much about abortion, but rather if they can have kids on their own terms. For them, ideally there would be no abortions either. Late-term abortions make their side look really bad, and ideally pregnancy would be completely controlled, or at least all killing would be done very early-term. If we look at public opinion, much of them are against late-term abortion, but are fine with early-term abortion. So when we legislate against late-term abortion only, we have to ask if we are inadvertently helping abortion-at-large look better. Basically, are we trimming the weed? Personally, I'm convinced that if 20 years ago we would have abandoned incremental-ism and told the American public "either every abortion will be legal, or every abortion will be illegal", we would have won by now.

Frank Turk said...

I think their gambit to associate with the previous abolition movement is actually the most-clever thing they are doing. It does speak to the kind of moral imperative we should maintain for all the reasons, frankly, that I have outlined in the first post.

But:

The crazy thing about the abolition of slavery movement is that it did, in fact, seek incremental change. It ended slavery in Great Britain, but not the colonies (at first). If they had taken an all-or-nothing stand as these fellows do, there is no telling how or whether they could have achieved what they finally did.

Nash Equilibrium said...

David: That would be a valid point if one assumed that the prophets you listed had no special standing in God's eyes. Most of us here believe that those prophets had a special, and now no longer operative, office in God's revelatory plan. Therefore, AHA could not be in that same class.

Frank Turk said...

Paul Reed: you're saying the closing for 37% of all abortion facilities is not a good thing? That was my example.

Seth said...

Thank you Frank. Sound biblical reasoning. Gives me pause to more closely consider the parachurch orgs I support.

R.C. said...

Thank you Frank for this. I suspect I am pretty close to where you are, perhaps a smidge more sympathetic. But I share your concerns. I do have a question. There is a great deal of talk about the church here. If these folks at AHA are not members in good standing at evangelical churches then not only are they doing bad, but in my judgment do not have credible professions of faith. But you seemed to suggest that said membership would not be sufficient because they are "doing the work of the church" apart from the church. It strikes me that what they are doing is calling people, inside and outside the church, to repent. It strikes me that Pyromaniacs does much the same thing. I assume, though I could be wrong, that you are not ordained to blog, or at the very least do not hold the position that one must be ordained to write pieces that call people to repent, right? So what gives?

NormanAbolition said...

Honestly, I don't think you'll get too many abolitionist commenters here. Many of us are wary of wasting time in the combox for fear of seeing a repeat of this or this.

We are praying for the encouragement of all the redeemed of Jesus in all these interactions. Our replies will appear on our blog. The first already has, for those interested.

Grace and peace,
Rhology

Michael Coughlin said...

I see what Paul Reed is saying - the number of facilities is a statistic which all by itself isn't entirely meaningful, IF, as Paul pointed out, as many or more babies are still being killed - even if by other means.

So one could say, Yes, Frank, 37% percent reduction in facilities is a wonderful thing, but, there has been some X% more killings by the morning after pill, other abortifacients, etc.

Or it could be simply that the increased efficiency in doing abortions and demand for abortions is so great that less facilities are required to kill at the same pace.

Justin Edwards said...

I think this is really the crux of the whole matter:

"They should repent of their absurdly-bad view and use for the local church. They behave shamefully toward the local church because they are not accountable to a local church, and have an unbiblical view of discipleship and evangelism. If they found themselves accountable to elders in a church for their actions, they would find most of their other problems would head toward correction."

What's more they embrace their unorthodox church founding and structure, and shun any strong defense for biblical church polity and ecclessiology as Pharasaical. It's the only way they can justify the loose sand they are building on.

See Grant Keeter's message at the "Wake Up Church" conference.

GrammaMack said...

Paul Reed said, "Personally, I'm convinced that if 20 years ago we would have abandoned incremental-ism and told the American public "either every abortion will be legal, or every abortion will be illegal", we would have won by now."

There have been no legal restrictions on abortion in Canada since 1988. Unfortunately, we have not won.

Frank Turk said...

R.C. -- that's a great question, and I'm glad you asked it.

For my part, I have men in my church (fellow members, deacons and elders) who all read my blogging and hold me accountable not to be a disgrace to our local church and to Christ. I am not merely a member: I am a member doing something like ministry which the men of my church hold me accountable for.

DJP is a pastor himself, and is accountable to the elders of his church, who called him with full knowledge of his writing ministry.

When Phil was with us, I think his chain of accountability was clear.

As a group, we have also always been very sensitive to each others' reputations, and have floated potentially-volatile posts internally prior to posting for group agreement on the content.

In that: we have always maintained visible, clear, open accountability to our local churches for the sake of good faith and good conscience.

I would be surprised if you believed that a generic reference to a baptism would be enough to say that someone was in true fellowship with a local church; I'd probably be surprised if you thought that if someone was secretly doing the things AHA is doing but their elders were not aware of it.

The point of local church membership is not to have your name of a role: it is to maintain the Biblical chain of accountability described all over the New Testament where the believer is not acting as a lone ranger but is connected to God's people by the means God describes.

In case anyone doesn't understand what I mean there relative to RC's question: We do it, and they don't. That they don't is very problematic; that we do it is entry-level stuff, not something which is a huge credit to our character.

Peter said...

I have been reading this blog for over a year and have been very encouraged by much of what is written, but this series of posts has left me feeling uneasy.

I think Mr Turk's arguments are all well made and I'm generally in agreement.

What I can't understand is why this series of posts was necessary. We might not agree with AHA's theology or their methodology, but why not just leave them alone? Why rip into them publicly as you have?

Frank Turk said...

For the record: Rho's links to his site will be the only links that get through the process today. If he won't engage here, I'm not linking to his echo chamber.

Michael Coughlin said...

What do you mean by no legal restrictions on abortion in Canada?

Tom Chantry said...

Frank wrote: Worst of all, because they have no church accountability themselves, there's no way to correct these fellows. Talking to them about their opinions is about as productive as talking to the college kid who just discovered Schrodinger's Cat -- it seems to him that everything he knew before is now wrong, and there's no two ways about it. I'll offer up the anticipated content of the comments section as supporting documents to this point.

And the one Abolitionist comment so far has linked to Rho's posting of the email thread between himself and Frank.

Um.

So, why did Rho post that? I read the thread, and it pretty much makes the point that Frank stated above. Both men are to be commended for maintaining decorum in the exchange. But beyond that, Frank clearly diagnoses what is going on in Rho's thinking, while Rho doesn't ever betray any understanding of what Frank is doing. Odd that he posted it, thinking that it demonstrated something about "How Frank talks to people."

Frank Turk said...

Peter:

[1] Because, frankly, they came to me. Via facebook and twitter they came to me. If they didn't want me to think about what they are doing, they should have left me out of it.

[2] Because, frankly, the Emergents and the class of perpetually-offended liberals are not the only people doing public harm to the church.

[3] Because, as a few commenters have noted, the lessons here are portable. They can apply to a lot of parachurch ministries which, frankly, run afoul of the same problems AHA does -- in kind if not in degree.

As an observation, I'm amused that these blog posts are called a "ripping" when what AHA does every day is far more merciless.

Hope that helps.

Nash Equilibrium said...

I did read the entire series of articles (and just re-skimmed them a second time) and maybe I missed this somehow, but do we know for sure that AHA do not have the blessing of their local church? IOW, is it possible that they are accountable to a local church, but the church they're accountable to just isn't very astute about assessing their error (or may even agree with their error)? I apologize in advance if this is addressed in the series but I missed it somehow.

R.C. said...

Thank you again Frank. So you are saying that they are on some roll somewhere, or that wherever they are members their elders are in the dark about what they are doing? They haven't gone to their elders for even counsel? If I understand your question to me, if I asked a grown man, "What church are you a member of" and he answered, "I was baptized 25 years ago" I would certainly reply, "Can you please answer my question? What elders are you answerable to?" Are you saying, and this is a question, not an accusation, that many if not all of the folks working with AHA can't answer that question? Or won't? It really seems rather unclear to me when coming from BAMH, whether their beef with AHA is "These guys are anabaptistic house-churcherers under no authority" or whether it is a inverse r2k/only ordained men should ever call anyone to repent, and that only when he has his "I Represent The Church" underwear on thing. I believe all Christians are free to call all sinners to repent. And that all Christians have human, on earth elders with names. If it's okay to ask Frank, if there are any AHA folks following this- would you please send me contact info for your elders? I have no charges to bring. I'd just like to know if they approve of your labors. If they do, much of Frank's work here collapses. If they don't exist or don't approve, as is his gift, Frank has plenty squashed you all.

Rhology said...

Via facebook and twitter they came to me. If they didn't want me to think about what they are doing, they should have left me out of it.

I'm sorry, I don't understand. Who came to you?
Did you not initiate contact and then reach out to me via Twitter?

Was there some other contact before that? Or do you mean that you *saw* us on FB and Twitter and then decided to comment on what you saw? If that's what you mean, shouldn't you phrase your answer differently?

Grace and peace,
Rhology

Frank Turk said...

RC: the line break is your friend. Embrace him. :-)

Justin Edwards said...

Nash, this is from their Door of Hope church website: "do not presently have a pastor or elders or deacons (yes, we do desire Biblical leadership, but we will wait until the need arises and the Lord raises up men from within our body who are fit for the task."

As I wrote in my piece,

"AHA claims to be under the authority of the local church, yet the church many of them are a part of is not a local church ruled by, led by, taught by, or equipped by elders, which Jesus Christ has appointed to shepherd His Church realized in the local church (Hebrews 13:7, 17; 1 Peter 5:1-11; 1 Timothy 5:17). Nor is this a church plant that was established under the authority of another local church, nor are the members at Door of Hope sent out to do any work of the ministry they claim to be doing. This is where their orthodoxy affects their orthopraxy in a negative way. They are in no way “subject to the elders” (1 Peter 5:5) and in no way can they “obey their leaders” (Hebrews 13:17) because they have no leaders (elders). They even state above that while they “desire Biblical leadership”, they will “wait until the need arises” (according to who?) and when “the Lord raises up men from within our body who are fit for the task” (such self-appointing leadership by a leaderless group of believers is found nowhere in Scripture!).

The reasons behind this illegitimate church plant are convoluted and multifaceted from what I have gathered. AHA seems to have an account that is colored quite differently than other perspectives and testimonies that have been shared regarding the church from where they left. One such account can be found here: Before Dividing a Church and Starting Your Own. Regardless, the fact is AHA is under no local church authority, and its members not apart of Door of Hope are not sent out to do this work (including their ‘repent church project’) by any elder-led churches to my knowledge.

Ultimately, AHA is attempting Gospel ministry and it is attempting ecclessiastical ministry, but it has no attachment to the local church under the authority of God-appointed elders..."

Shane Dodson said...

For those wondering about whether or not the AHA guys are under the authority of elders...

I can only speak for the AHA guys here in Norman, OK (where this Abolish Human Abortion parachurch was birthed).

MOST of the local AHA guys are not under the authority of any elders. In fact, most of the local AHA guys belong to their own "church."

This place is called Door of Hope. For any interested, here is their website in which they explain what they're all about.

www.doorofhopenorman.org

As for Alan (Rho), he and I are both members of the same church: Berry Road Baptist Church.

I have spoken to our Pastor at length about AHA, and he does not support Abolish Human Abortion. In fact, our Pastor has clearly stated he would never allow any of these local AHA guys (except for Alan) join Berry Road because of disciplinary issues too complex to go into here.

Take from that what you will.

I just wanted to offer some additional information on this group insofar as the local church is concerned.



R.C. said...

One other thing. I am sympathetic with the argument that we not judge one another for not riding our own personal hobby horse. Different callings, different neighbors, different gifts, different opportunities. That, however, can also be overplayed. The church that hasn't a killing center in their county that decides to devote itself to having a flourishing Dave Ramsey ministry is badly missing the point. (And I love Dave Ramsey.) Picking something safe and clean when babies are being murdered is cowardly. Our descendants are not going to be puzzled over where the church was on the issue of credit card debt in the early 21st century. No one complains that the Christians in Nazi Germany didn't do enough to confront failure to tithe.

Frank Turk said...

With Linebreaks added, RC Saith:

| Thank you again Frank. So you are saying that
| they are on some roll somewhere, or that
| wherever they are members their elders are in
| the dark about what they are doing? They
| haven't gone to their elders for even counsel?

That is what I am reporting. As I have investigated, that is what I have witnessed.

I think the piece which came to me late which only encouraged me more on this subject is this piece by Justin Edwards.

| If I understand your question to me, if I asked a
| grown man, "What church are you a member
| of" and he answered, "I was baptized 25 years
| ago" I would certainly reply, "Can you please
| answer my question? What elders are you
| answerable to?"

See: I knew you were clever. :-)

| Are you saying, and this is a
| question, not an accusation, that many if not
| all of the folks working with AHA can't answer
| that question? Or won't?

I think it’s actually worse than that. I think they have actually convinced themselves that there is only the invisible church, and that they are only accountable to Christus Victor, and because of Him their arguments and conclusions are indisputable.

But to your question, I think the answer is “that’s what I’m saying.”

| It really seems rather
| unclear to me when coming from BAMH, ...

... Bay Area Hydrology Model ... ?

| ...whether their beef with AHA is "These guys
| are anabaptistic house-churcherers under no
| authority" or whether it is an inverse r2k/only
| ordained men should ever call anyone to
| repent, and that only when he has his "I
| Represent The Church" underwear on thing.

I didn’t check anybody’s underwear. Don’t have time to explain all the reasons why.

I think these guys think that they are the first ones ever to read Scripture right as they have tried to pelt me with the Sola Scriptura as the basis for demanding I accept the verses they have provided as the meaning of all moral life.

The only things that really puzzles me about them, to be honest, is that guys this out of bounds usually are following one guy who is somehow charismatic enough to make normally-clever people lose there way. There is no such person that I can see behind all this. It’s like mass hysteria or something.

| I believe all Christians are free to call all sinners
| to repent.

No question. No denying that.

| And that all Christians have human,
| on earth elders with names.

Indeed.

| If it's okay to ask
| Frank, if there are any AHA folks following this-
| would you please send me contact info for
| your elders? I have no charges to bring. I'd just
| like to know if they approve of your labors. If
| they do, much of Frank's work here collapses.

Again: no question. I’d love to see how that pans out.

| If they don't exist or don't approve, as is his
| gift, Frank has plenty squashed you all.

Well, it’s not a gift so much as it is a feature – like how Windows crashes is you don’t reboot it often. But I appreciate your kind words.

Frank Turk said...

Oh rho: you're saying there are no AHA people in my closet full of Facebook friends, and even if there are they are not posting their AHA message via Facebook?

Really? You're better off explaining how Mat 13 being about the World and not about the church makes my first post moot.

threegirldad said...

| It really seems rather
| unclear to me when coming from BAMH, ...

... Bay Area Hydrology Model ... ?


No.

Frank Turk said...

With the Shane Dodson endorsement, I rest my case.

Rhology said...

you're saying there are no AHA people in my closet full of Facebook friends, and even if there are they are not posting their AHA message via Facebook?

I was asking a question, since I don't have any idea either way. The way you are treating me here, are you unaware of the way you are going about it?

Would you mind answering the questions, please?

Grace and peace,
Rhology

Doug Hibbard said...

Ok, there's a lot here but I can't get past this line:

"shouldn't those churches minister to the sinners they have rather than the sinners they don't have?"

and think about how much time/effort I put into the sinners I don't have, I think I have some work to do.

Frank Turk said...

I did answer your question, Rho. Out of charity, and as your last chance to engage in a meaningful way here, I will rephrase my answer:

[QUOTE]
Because there are a few AHA people connected to me via facebook, and they have put their message and methods in front of me on Facebook and Twitter without any provocation on my part, I felt provoked to action.
[/QUOTE]

However, since we are revisiting my answer, I find it limitlessly-funny (and I mean: Arrested Development Funny) that people who show up on church campuses with signs of dead babies to "exhort" churches who aren't sufficiently militant will come out in public to fret over blog posts reproaching them with nothing but reasoned arguments. There aren't even any good one-liners in these posts; they lack any panache at all. This week I wrote a foreword for a new book by Zach and Ted, and it was infinitely more zesty than all of these posts combined -- and only about 10% as long.

Parading outrage at criticism when one's ministry is not merely criticism but hurling bloody photos at people you disagree is a punch-line at the Onion, not a meaningful response to this kind of criticism.

Frank Turk said...

DAC:

Oh yes - THAT'S why you were banned ... I remember now ...

Rhology said...

as your last chance to engage in a meaningful way here

Yep, and that is why I said at first that it would probably be a waste of time to comment here.
Your behavior grieves me.

Grace and peace,
Rhology

Frank Turk said...

Rho:

your lack of engagement in a meaningful way grieves me.

Now what? You pout off and claim to win by means of deepest emotional transgression?

What a poor way to spend your last chance.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

So far the comments in favor of AHA sound like "Let them do evil that good may occur." Because it is wrong to shrug off the Biblical command to submit to the leadership of the local church so that you can go and accomplish something good - Tony Miano even pointed that out when he called for street preachers to submit to the local church in the town they planned to speak in, so this post is broader than just AHA.

Frank's points have been clear, and if we think that working at abolishing abortion at the expense of submission to the local church is the greater good at this point, we are myopic and are in desperate need to have a good brother help us get the plank out of our eye that we might see straight, get submissive, and then go and do the work. I don't think there's an orthodox church that wouldn't be all for a group under their leadership doing what AHA wants to do.

Jon Swerens said...

These questions about AHA accountability are huge, and AHA apologists who bristle at such questions should be seen with heightened skepticism.

The organization's lack of transparency certainly opens it to other questions, such as funding and salaries, especially when the org runs an online store at ahagear.com. How are funds raised here with sales of $18 T-shirts allocated?

Frank Turk said...

Jon -- probably not any less-reputably than the profits from the sales of these t-shirts linked from TeamPyro.

Joe Taylor said...

It seems to me that pride is the greatest cause of all forms of murder.
After all, the sin of pride led to the very first murder.

Maybe AHA should be protesting the sin of pride outside of churches first which then would address the source of murder, especially by abortion.

*this ways all tongue in cheek, in order to prove a point about the danger of creating a sinful hierarchy to speak out against, for the sensitive of heart*

Daryl said...

Michale Couglin, you asked:

"What do you mean by no legal restrictions on abortion in Canada?"

Exactly what it says, sadly. There are no restrictions relating to anything abortion related. Period.

We have a Prime Minister who is a Pentecostal "believer" but who has, since his election campaign, insisted that he will not re-open the abortion debate.
In the past several months, those members of his party who are actually pro-life have been openly prevented from introducing legislation that would prohibit sex-selection abortion, late term abortion and various other abortion related issues.

Prevented them. They were not defeated in the House of Parliament, our "Christian" Prime Minister (Stephen Harper) won't let the members of his own "Conservative Party of Canada" introduce such legislation.

It makes my blood boil. How can I vote for a guy like that, except the alternatives are far worse on a host of other issues.

So that's what "no restrictions" means. No in existence and none permitted to be considered.

Michael Coughlin said...

Thanks for clarifying, Daryl.

"Everything in moderation. Even Pyro comments." --CHS

Frank Turk said...

Usually comments pick up after Lunch.

Everything must have been said already.

back later. maybe.

Michael Coughlin said...

Maybe we are all getting a dose of John 8:7 laid on our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

Let's face it, your post isn't just about the AHA.

I feel like Anakin and you're Obi Wan and I just realized there's more to the force than I knew.

Proud of me?

:)

LanternBright said...

Well, Frank, since no one else has said so, I am INCANDESCENT WITH RAGE that you could have said something so scandalous and offensive about our brothers--the Lego minifigs.

Shame on you, Turk--you are indeed a menace and must be stopped!

Brad "The E List "YRR" Superstar" said...

Frank,

As always, your posts are appreciated and insightful. Obviously, you've laid out part of your concern here which are:

1. That those in an organization cannot have authority over local church seeing as the church local is meant to govern itself via the grace of Christ and his word.
2. That the fact there is no accountability via (most) of this organization to the church local
3. A loss of the whole mission of the church for a small part of it.


All those points show why AHA is not operating under the biblical mandate of the Great Commission and the local church .So my question is (which I have been batting around in my head for years): "what would an biblically acceptable and appropriate para-church ministry look like?"

Abolitionist Society of Oklahoma said...

I love the church body of which I am a part. We submit to the word of God and hold one another accountable to His teachings and the high calling we have as His ambassadors and a local gathering of his Universal Bride. We are Abolitionists and supportive of AHA.

Please visit our worship services or break bread with us before you attack us in this way.

Do these comments get posted or just hidden?

Grace and Peace,

Russell

Frank Turk said...

The Lego things was awesome. Thanks for noticing.

Don Cooper said...

My name is Don Cooper and I am the Executive Director of Abolish Human Abortion.

My role as Executive Director is fully supported by my church here in Vancouver Washington (Household of Faith Community Church - Vancouver). My elders support me and my family in this ministry.

I encourage all the readers of this blog to consider this Proverb:

"The one who states his case first seems right,
 until the other comes and examines him." - Proverbs 18:17

And please read about who we are as an organization and as individuals at AbolishHumanAbortion dot com and ChurchRepent dot com.

Frank Turk said...

Russell --

Fantastic. Welcome! I think you didn't read the post, which twice today and once each day this week notes the comments are in moderation. It's a simple test to see if people have read the post - "why can't I see my comments?" is a dead giveaway.

However, you have a great chance here to redeem your error. Please re-read the post and, rather than dismiss it and imply something about me which you won't come out and say, tell me what the key mistakes are in my post.

For reference: I have listed all the key points from the last 3 days at the end of this post. What if you addressed one of those?

Frank Turk said...

Hi Don -- thanks for stopping by.

The leadership page is brand new -- so new, it still has formatting errors on it. When was it added -- it was not there when I was finishing this series on Monday?

Frank Turk said...

OK - the dark side of this blog is starting to express itself in the comments. Reign it in so that the AHA folks can have a chance to say something productive about this series.

Frank Turk said...

As a reminder, these are my concerns from the past 3 days:

1. the AHA version of absolutism on this issue is inconsistent at best, and morally and biblically untenable at worst

2. AHA's condemnation of anyone who doesn't agree with their philosophy or methodology is not morally or biblically tenable

3. There are biblical problems with all 5 of their major tenets for conducting operations as they are stated on the AHA web site

4. The two most important problems are a lack of a clear approach to hermeneutics/interpreting the truth of God's word, and a complete lack of clarity regarding whether or not the methods/means of accomplishing their goals matter.

5. AHA lacks a clear and workable theology of the church, and therefore they don't get right the responsibilities of the local church, and the responsibilities of believers, and the responsibilities of believers to the church and vice versa

If the AHA readers would stick to those 5 items rather than, for example, whether or not I have had the lord's supper with them, that would be great.

Abolitionist Society of Oklahoma said...

My name is T. Russell Hunter and I am the Chief Creative Officer of Abolish Human Abortion.

My role as Chief Creative Officer is fully supported by my church here in Norman, Oklahoma (Door of Hope). It is true, we cannot trace our elders back to Saint Peter and we are truly a small body of believers who faces the scorn of many esteemed men in high places of cultural approval. We are taking very seriously the scriptural injunction against laying hands on or appointing elders too hastily, and at this point in time, we are simply 6 families and a handful of singles meeting together to study the word of God, break bread, worship our Lord, and keep each other accountable to the high calling we have as ambassadors and followers of Christ Jesus. Christ is the head of our Church!

All of the men in our church aspire to meet the qualifications of elders and deacons and are awaiting future service in this role if the Living God should approve any of us to this appointment.

I am not a follower of this blog so I don't know if Turk is the kind of guy who normally goes to the people he publicly rebukes first or just blasts them in public and refuse to even plead with them to repent. I am not aware of Turk even attempting to contact the brothers and sisters he is here trouncing though.

Dear Frank, If you would like to talk to any of us personally or publicly, and get the other side of what you are saying, I would certainly love the opportunity to iron out any misunderstandings that you have.

“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness." Exodus 23:1

Abide in Christ,

Russell Hunter

Frank Turk said...

Dear T. Russell Hunter --

Thanks for your note.

Who, exactly, established the elders at Door of Hope?

trogdor said...

Their protests against churches might go over better if they use catchy melodies and videos that seamlessly meld live action with black-and-white animated olde-style comic book scenes.

Abolitionist Society of Oklahoma said...

Hi Frank,

I just saw the updated comments. Thank you.

We all have plenty to do today in our other jobs etc, but YES! we would love to address the five things you have focused on.

We'll reply shortly and in full. Please consider what we have to say in response to your queries and give us at least three days to make our own blog posts in response to yours.

We actually have answered many of your concerns before and will simply have to go gather them up from our blog and former postings.

Thank you for all that you do to proclaim and defend the Gospel of our Lord .

Abide in Him,

Russell

Frank Turk said...

For the information of the readers at this point, I am not a follower of AHA in general, so I don't know if Hunter is the kind of guy who normally goes to the people he publicly rebukes first ...

Oh wait -- I -do- know if he is or he isn't: he has videos on YouTube rebuking every English-speaking Christian for not doing ministry the way he does ministry, and not having the same priorities as he and his organization have.

I think it's pretty gutsy to complain when the shoe is on the other foot. let's see how this goes.

Abolitionist Society of Oklahoma said...

PS: I see you updated the comments again and your question about Who appointed the elders of Door of Hope now appears.

GO back and read the comment you are responding to, I don't claim that we have elders that are traced back to Peter or anything like that and I actually state that we have not hastily laid hands on any elders.

The original planter of Door Of Hope was sent with a blessing from his elders at Redeemer Church in Norman but he himself determined that he did not meet the qualifications (or has not yet proven himself) of an elder.

Russ

Frank Turk said...

Don -- one last thing. When I attempted to e-mail the elders of your church, the web form failed. It says it does not have a mail recipient.

Is it possible to get their e-mail address?

trogdor said...

A church sent someone who wasn't qualified to be an elder to plant a church?

Abolitionist Society of Oklahoma said...

Oh man... I see you have commented again and are now accusing me of rebuking people that I have not gone to first because you have watched the open letter to the churches we put out.

We do not complain that churches haven't done what we do... And I do not single any church out for rebuke or public shaming.

Any person or body that I have ever called out publicly for anything has indeed been contacted first. In person, and in smaller groups.

Are you saying that my video "Wake Up Church!" on youtube is a violation of Matthew 18 or something like that. It is a blanket letter to Churches explaining that we have not failed to be pro-life but we have generally acted like the priest and the levite in Christ's parable of the Good Samaritan.

Oh bother, I will work on a reply to your five main things. Right now, I need to go do some completely unrelated tasks.

Thanks again for those things that you do to further the Gospel. In them I do rejoice.

Russ

Frank Turk said...

Door of Hope was planted by a church planter sent to plant a church by Andy MacDonald in Norman Oklahoma? But wait a sec -- the website for Door of Hope says it has no elders or pastors?

We're going to need more than a nod and a wink for this one, Russ. Help us understand how Door of Hope, founded last year, is holding you accountable for the work you do at AHA.

Frank Turk said...


T. Russell Hunter Said:

| Oh man... I see you have commented again
| and are now accusing me of rebuking people
| that I have not gone to first because you have
| watched the open letter to the churches we
| put out.

Well, that, blogging – you know: if you apply it to me, it applies to, well, me, right? But if I apply that same standard to you, why doesn’t it work?

You’ll have to do more than be offended to get that one past the goalie.

| We do not complain that churches haven't
| done what we do... And I do not single any
| church out for rebuke or public shaming.

Well, that’s a fabrication – a very gutsy spin on what is explained at ChurchRepent.com, and demonstrated in your actions toward LifeChurch.tv

And I say that because it’s how you cats explain it on your website.

| Any person or body that I have ever called out
| publicly for anything has indeed been
| contacted first. In person, and in smaller
| groups.

Except for the YouTube video, and the blog posts, and the general message of your websites, I’m sure that’s true. I’m sure that’s how all the people driving by your exhortations see it, too.

| Are you saying that my video "Wake Up
| Church!" on youtube is a violation of Matthew
| 18 or something like that.

No. See: this is the problem with everyone I have encountered relative to AHA. You accused me of something – that my blog series this week was, in some way, bad. You wouldn’t come out and say how bad, but plainly: I’m bad. No coffee first, so I’m bad.

When I point out it’s no different than what you have done – by a specific example – suddenly I’m the one doing the accusing of a very specific thing. I’m the one, again, who is bad.

What I am in fact doing is telling you that, unless you want to start measuring your actions by the standards you are measuring my actions, move on to something constructive. Don’t pretend you’re the bruised reed here. You have bruised plenty of reeds in your efforts, and to suddenly find out you have sensitive skin is self-incriminating at best.

| It is a blanket letter
| to Churches explaining that we have not failed
| to be pro-life but we have generally acted like
| the priest and the levite in Christ's parable of
| the Good Samaritan.

So it’s OK to say that about churches you have never met, but not to say, for example, that the way your organization reads scripture is, in the best case, ill-considered?

Prolly not.

| Oh bother, I will work on a reply to your five
| main things. Right now, I need to go do some
| completely unrelated tasks.

Well, stick to those and we’ll see how it goes.

Abolitionist Society of Oklahoma said...

The guy who planted Door of Hope determined that he was not qualified to be an elder or even a church planter. He now goes to Frontline in Okc.

If you want to track him down and tell him off, that is your business.

As for the current leadership of Door of Hope, we have quite a few super apostles. Jon Speed, Justin Edwards, and Frank Turk.

I imagine you have their contact information.

Frank Turk said...

I'm out for the day, y'all.

I'll update comments tomorrow.

Jeremy VanGelder said...

Families from my church (Westminster Presbyterian in Vancouver, WA) recently started proclaiming the truth about abortion and the Gospel at our local Planned Parenthood. This was a result of gentle exhortation by men like RC Sproul Jr., Tim Bayly, and James McDonald. When these men spoke at our church at various times over the past several years, they would always say, "I hope your Church is witnessing at your local abortion mill." After hearing that several times, one of our men took up the standard and we started to witness at the mill.

How do we witness at the mill? By holding "Babies are Murdered Here" signs (Frank, that is where the BAMH acronym comes from). By talking to pedestrians and drivers (the mill is located on the busiest intersection in the county, and we go out at rush hour). And by passing out materials, including Bibles and AHA materials, to anyone who will take them. For a discussion with someone who supports abortion, but is not currently seeking one, the "Case of Rape" quad-fold by AHA is superb. Seriously, if you haven't seen one, check them out. http://www.ahagear.com/collections/quad-folds/products/case-of-rape-quad-fold-50-pack-1

So, my conclusion for the AHA guys (our Church does not count ourselves as affiliated with AHA) is that your communication methods with the public and with pregnant mothers are effective. But, now that you are talking to Churches, you might want to take some cues from the Pastors who influenced my Church. Many Christians, and many Churches, know that they should do something about abortion. You could identify and speak to those churches and help them get started. That will actually be effective in swelling the ranks of the abolitionist movement. "Exhorting" churches that don't see the need to take action, in the way that you are dealing with LifeChurch, will be less effective.

Don Cooper said...

Frank, you can email me through the AHA website. Please do and I can send you the emails to my elders. Although don't you think it is kind of weird that you would contact the elders of my fellowship? I mean should I be calling your elders because I think you are wrong?

I will again encourage your readers to look at who we are on our websites and to look at our documented actions. I would encourage your readers to not judge us by what you have written alone. Proverbs 18:17. AbolishHumanAbortion dot com. ChurchRepent dot com. FB/AbolishHumanAbortion.

Also, I encourage you in the future to contact me or our leaders before blogging about us. The "Contact" button at the top of our website gives you a toll free phone number that would directly connect you to the leadership in our group including myself. That page has been up for a very long time and has few formatting errors.

Jon Speed said...

Russell,

God bless.

Jon

Tosha Tanquary said...

My husband was the "church planter"..... If anyone wants to discuss how things went down they can contact him directly.
Just FYI, all our elders believe that he is indeed "qualified" and are mentoring him through it right now.... The pastor at Redeemer, never thought anything different of Aaron and they are still very good friends. He still feels Aaron is qualified and able to pastor a church, as do our current elders.
Everyone told us not to do this with "this group"... that they are uncorrectable, unteachable, unreachable.... Aaron told them that he had to try... and we were a part of DOH for 6 months... and right after we got into a building it all came to a head.
Accusations began to fly, and their idea of "rebuking" began... and after discussing things over with other godly men, Aaron told me to cease all contact with "the group", I did... and we walked away.

Tosha Tanquary said...

Hey Frank.... Aaron said he would contact you. :)

Daniel Kleven said...

Frank, I've been working all day musing on this, and I came up with this as a summary, which you then made note of in the comments.

AHA gets called out for "doing it all wrong," in their calling out churches for "doing it all wrong."

I was tempted to feel bad for them because of the public dismantling of their ministry, but then I realized, if they were accountable to oversight, the public calling out wouldn't be needed.

Maybe you need a gruesome and graphic pyromotivator picture of a church being dismembered by division to get the point across.

Frank Turk said...

Jeremy -- thanks for your thoughtful and helpful comment. Well said.

Frank Turk said...

Don:

I'm willing to stipulate entirely to all of your corrections and exortations about your personal accountability for running AHA. In fact, I'd be willing to publish a full retraction of my concern over that article of faith (that is: good faith toward you) -- after the other inconsistencies and theological and pragmatic flaws of AHA have been worked out.

My point is not that your elders need to be answering the phones for you: it is that there is so much misguided and poorly-concocted theology and moral reasoning in AHA that it can't possibly be under responsible supervision.

That's my point, as demonstrated in the call to repent in this post, and as evidenced by 3 days of essays on the subject.

Frank Turk said...

Tosha -- I look forward to it.

frank@iturk.com

Frank Turk said...

Daniel:

I think the really clever thing here is that, without any bloody pictures, the fellows at AHA have found themselves utterly stricken. It's a terrible thing to call them out, apparently, for all their calling-out of other people.

If there were bloody pictures or placard-waving protests, someone might have swooned.

Frank Turk said...

Comments are closed for the night.

Please come back tomorrow.

Marcus Pittman said...

I can't believe I'm saying this, but well done Frank. Great Blog. ;-)

FYI BAMH is the acronym for Babies Are Murdered Here which is a film Crown Rights is currently producing.

We filmed AHA, Russell and his crew for a few days, I even spoke to them on Loving the Local Church because we got the feeling they might be a little anti Church. The more we learned about AHAs leadership, or lack there of the more disturbing it was.

I think Tosha says more about this than I possibly could. I do hope they will go public with their story. It's really important that they do. As far as I am concerned, AHA leadership is currently under Church Discipline if the Elder of DoH left them because of their unteachable attitudes.

R.C. said...

One important side note I didn't want to see get missed Frank. I appreciate and agree with the whole notion that different people have different gifts, different callings, different opportunities. That truth, however, can be a soft pillow whereby we all end up called to minister to wealthy businessmen or to skiers in the winter and golfers in the summer.

It may well be that many believers don't have mills in their counties. That's a good thing. But that should lead the church to determine that their ministry is to encourage better body stewardship by establishing Gwen Shamblin workshops, or even orthodox weight loss for Jesus programs. We all live in a country where 3000 babies are murdered every day.

I have multiple callings in my life, including teaching teenagers the difference between their and there. But I will not and cannot be silent or inactive on the life issue, not because it's "my" hobbyhorse but because it is such a profoundly widespread and wicked evil. No one in five hundred years is going to bewail the failure of the 21st century American church to do more to keep its members fit and trim. They will wonder why we didn't do more more babies. No church in Nazi Germany will be able to say at the judgment- We were too busy with our Nouthetic counseling program to deal with the Jew problem. But we certainly believed it was wrong, evil, to murder Jews. Hope that makes sense, and perhaps helps explain the what may be the frustration of AHA toward the broad evangelical church which is largely indifferent to the holocaust.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Frank, thanks for taking the time to lay out your case and the careful attention in the comments as well. I may need to re-read it all to see if I missed anything, and I don't want to steer the cart towards the ditch, but what is your opinion on their methods, especially the large gruesome photos? I drove past a Home Depot in the suburbs of Philly about 7 years ago when I was pregnant with our third child, and I was shocked to tears and angered and I didn't really know what to think of them.

(My husband is familiar with one local young man who served time related to his AHA work in the past decade or so, and he seemed to float around from church to church in this area. )

HSAT, what matters more than their gruesome methods is what you have noticed: the poor handling of Scripture, which I'm sorry to say did not initially seem to be as important.

Frank Turk said...

Let me admit that I would probably take a perverse joy in watching Marcus interact with the AHA guys.

Frank Turk said...

OK: this has pretty much run its course. Before I make any closing remarks, one thing that bothers me about the comments overall is that even the supportive comments have trended toward only taking today's piece as the only problem with AHA.

I think you readers are more astute than that, so my warning label over the whole thing is that you ought to read the AHA site and then come back and read ALL THREE POSTS to weigh the state of things with that organization.

Other comments to follow.

Frank Turk said...

OK: when Marcus and I agree on something, somebody better check the calendar and the Dispensational end-times charts because something eschatological may have just happened.

But after the punchline settles, the take-away for AHA ought to be this: you have a bizarre coalition of people who generally don't usually line up in lock-step on most issues in spite of being generally Christian people who all agree that you cats have some very significant and serious issues. If you took 5 days off from self-defense mode and asked yourselves, "how could we make sure we're doing the right thing -- besides hiding behind Christus Victor -- to consider whether or not our critics have anything to offer us regarding the fruit of repentance?"

Consider it.

Frank Turk said...

RC used line breaks. My job is done here.

Jon Speed said...

R.C.,

I know your comment was addressed to Frank, but I can't help but comment.

You are very right and I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said. Amen.

However, the evil of abortion does not give AHA carte blanche when it comes to their ecclesiology, or lack thereof. Their frustration with the church does not justify extremism.

Why is it that those of us who are in the fight on this issue will accept, almost without question, anyone (and I mean anyone) who comes along with a good idea to end abortion? Why is it that the standards that we would use to determine who could teach a Sunday School class in our churches are practically ignored when we evaluate the legitimacy and calling of those who lead internet-born ministries? I wouldn't turn a class of pre-schoolers over to the leadership of AHA, but many will look the other way on their glaring doctrinal and practical deficiencies just because they have nifty-neato internet memes and t-shirts? People that ought to know better, and do know better, are looking the other way and have for awhile now. Those who have for the sake of the cause need to repent of their pragmatism. This war will not be won with lies. The truth sets people free. Not compromise and equivocation on doctrines that seem to matter to us everywhere else but in front of the abortion clinic. Truth is not relative to geography or cause.

Mobilize the church certainly. But not at the cost of truth. This does not make me a "super apostle"-- whatever that is, although that would be nice if it comes with a company car or something--it just makes me a Christian who recognizes a train wreck in the making when I see one.

Justin Edwards said...

Worth repeating with bold underline:

the take-away for AHA ought to be this: you have a bizarre coalition of people who generally don't usually line up in lock-step on most issues in spite of being generally Christian people who all agree that you cats have some very significant and serious issues. If you took 5 days off from self-defense mode and asked yourselves, "how could we make sure we're doing the right thing -- besides hiding behind Christus Victor -- to consider whether or not our critics have anything to offer us regarding the fruit of repentance?"

Frank Turk said...

RC Saith:

| One important side note I didn't want to see
| get missed Frank. I appreciate and agree with
| the whole notion that different people have
| different gifts, different callings, different
| opportunities. That truth, however, can be a
| soft pillow whereby we all end up called to
| minister to wealthy businessmen or to skiers in
| the winter and golfers in the summer.

This is a great point. This is, in fact, the point of all my blogging ever at all times. Jesus came for the lost, not the righteous.

| It may well be that many believers don't have
| mills in their counties. That's a good thing. But
| that should lead the church to determine that
| their ministry is to encourage better body
| stewardship by establishing Gwen Shamblin
| workshops, or even orthodox weight loss for
| Jesus programs. We all live in a country where
| 3000 babies are murdered every day.

I completely agree. I completely and utterly endorse this. I have already said this explicitly in this series.

| I have multiple callings in my life, including
| teaching teenagers the difference between
| their and there. But I will not and cannot be
| silent or inactive on the life issue, not because
| it's "my" hobbyhorse but because it is such a
| profoundly widespread and wicked evil.

Well, as I said in my summary, nobody said anyone should not demand an end to abortion. Everyone should demand an end to abortion.

What is at stake, it seems to me, it how to go about it.

Let’s think about something: openly, in the TEXAS captial this month – DJP’s home state, the land of guns and Jesus – people chanted “HAIL SATAN” in support of abortion in a completely unironic and serious way. While the actual church of Satan had the good sense to say, effectively, “well, we’re a little more subtle that THAT, since we are the minions of the prince of darkness and not moral clowns – even if we do support abortion,” the problem is really not the state of the law.

I have said this a few times of the years, but I’ll say it again here: the law is not the leading indicator of or culture. It’s not the thing out in front of change. The law is a trailing indicator, telling us what state our society is actually in right now. In spite of widespread opposition to abortion, the fact is that the supporters of abortion are indoctrinated into a view of the thing which is not even false: it’s fictional. It’s an epic mythology they have accepted as sacramental truth.

[more]

Frank Turk said...

[con't]

To overcome that, of course, we could make the decision that we will use an absolutist view of the slogan “the Gospel is the Solution to Culture,” and stop trying to change the law in favor of changing the hearts of men with the Gospel. Then: when we have converted the whole world, we can stop abortion.

The problem, of course is the 3000 babies today. And then tomorrow. And the ones yesterday we missed because we were thinking about whether or not we are truly post-millennial. There is an intermediate step between 3000 babies aborted (that’s just in the US, btw: there are 125,000 abortions every day worldwide) and zero babies aborted. 2000 tomorrow would mean a lot to the 1000 we saved – and in the same way God would have spared Sodom for the sake (Gen 18:32) of even ten good men, we should find a way to do what’s right for those we can save in between right now and the day when every baby everywhere is safe.

That’s the prize we covet – and every baby saved is part of it. But the root cause is not abortion: it’s the culture’s acceptance of sex as a hobby.

That’s a different blog post, however.

| No one in five hundred years is going to bewail
| the failure of the 21st century American
| church to do more to keep its members fit and
| trim. They will wonder why we didn't do more
| more babies. No church in Nazi Germany will
| be able to say at the judgment- We were too
| busy with our Nouthetic counseling program
| to deal with the Jew problem. But we certainly
| believed it was wrong, evil, to murder Jews.
| Hope that makes sense, ...

It makes perfect sense.

| ... and perhaps helps
| explain the what may be the frustration of
| AHA toward the broad evangelical church
| which is largely indifferent to the holocaust.

I think we disagree on that, but that's a fair place to disagree. That's a place where there are some facts to assess and then some theology to process about the why the church, and individuals, operate in the culture at large.

It is also a good place to close the thread.

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