Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Bears

No, I'm not writing about the Chicago Bears, who (as of this moment) are 6-0, with a two-and-a-half game lead over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC "Norris" Division. I'm writing about something a friend of mine reminded me of recently with respect to the disappointing bombast directed at senior Bellevue leadership.

As we were conversing, I expressed concern and compassion for those in the so-called "saving Bellevue" group; with a furrowed brow, he nodded and said to me "Mike, I love them--I just pray the bears don't run out of the woods on 'em." That remark stuck with me, and has been an additional reminder to me that any conversation should be about ideas and viewpoints, and should studiously avoid self-inflated opinions and personal potshots.

If I may synopsize for you the true story my friend referenced, thusly and like so:

A long time ago, there was a man of God who was anointed to be a leader. He had been the apprentice of a well-known, Godly, much-loved figure--one could even call him a prophet. This prophet was someone who received adulation not just in his immediate vicinity, but throughout their nation. After this well-known, Godly, much-loved figure had completed his ministry (and immediately before he went on to be with the Lord), he passed his mantle on to his apprentice, this man of God who was chosen to be the successor to the prophet's ministry.

The man of God had barely picked up his mentor's mantle when some of his mentor's followers began pining for the mentor. Ignoring the apprentice's appeals, they badgered him until they were allowed to search the countryside, a search which came up empty. After that, most of the congregants began to settle in with their new leader, taking their concerns to this man of God--even concerns they hadn't taken to his predecessor.

Not everyone, though, was so warm and receptive. As he was out one day, on his way to meet with other believers and share what heady things God had been doing in his life, he was accosted by a mob, dozens of young people. Their taunts had nothing to do with how this man of God was doing his job--these were people who made a habit of mocking others, and they repeated their jeers so this man of God couldn't help but hear them. Your mentor is dead, right? Why don't you join him, you bald-headed idiot? Yeah, you heard us! Why don't you die and go up to heaven, too, bald-head?

This was crossing a line. They were mature enough to know better, but that didn't matter. These young people weren't disagreeing with how the new leader was doing his job, but rather ganging up on this man, attacking the new leader personally, publicly, and repeatedly. Their attacks were at once insubstantial and vindictive.

The man of God turned around, and stared at them for what must have been a long moment. It was God's prompting that caused him to utter the curse--what a horrible thing it must be to be legitimately cursed in the Lord's name!--and then, it happened.

Meeting up with one wild bear would be bad enough. Two of them would be a multiplied danger, particularly when God has given them their marching orders. The entire mob, all 42 of them, died in the divinely-ordered bear attack. They weren't just killed, they were shredded, torn by two she-bears. And why? Not for debating policy or doctrine, but for verbally attacking people. Verbally, mind you.

And the man of God? He went about his business.



Anonymous said...

Mike, ok you've told the bear story. Now tell us your source for it's truth. I've never heard the story so I want to be enlightened as to it's true source.

Mike Bratton said...

Let me wait awhile before responding to your request, if you don't mind. I wouldn't be surprised if someone else reading it is aware of its source.

I appreciate your patience.


Anonymous said...

Your problem is that Steve Gaines is not Elisha and his critics are not the unruly youths of 2 Kings 2. It is exactly this kind of analogy that leaves decent, God-loving Bellevue admirers like myself puzzled. Why demonize those who are critics by labeling them Sanballats and the cursed youths?

BTW, I heard Adrian preach that one...long time ago.

Anonymous said...

“And he (the prophet Elisha) went up from thence unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he (the prophet Elisha) turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.” [II Kings 2:23-24]

God Bless Brother Steve and the people of Bellevue. Steve Gaines was my pastor for a long time. He is a great man of God. It is obvious from the way the people of "savingbellevue" have been stretching for "negative" information that their attacks are personally driven. There are quite a few people who will have much to account for sooner or later.

J. Turner
Member-Gardendale's First Baptist Church

Anonymous said...


While I appreciate the Elijah/Elisha story as much as the next person, I do not see its relevance to the current situation at Bellevue. While I understand the point you are trying to make (at least I think I do), I think it a little dangerous to pick a story from the Bible about a great prophet and try to apply it to the situation at hand.

To begin with, if you are implying that Steve Gaines is a prophet as was Elijah, you will open up a whole line of argument on that point alone. To even imply that every called preacher today is a or could be a Prophet on par with the Old Testament prophets is a very tenuous position--and one the is not supported in scripture in any way I am aware of. The Bible is clear on individuals being called to be apostles of Christ (as Paul was--Rom. 1:1), but transferring the privileges, rights and responsibilities of a Old Testament prophet to any man today is likely a major stretch. If Paul was not and did not call himself a prophet, I find it hard to believe that Steve Gaines or any other modern preacher could claim such a title.

Conversely, if you are not implying the Steve is a prophet, then your story lacks the relevance to support your point, which I have to assume (since you didn't tell us) is that anyone who makes a personal attack on a man of God is subject to being cursed of God (I'm sure you don't mean that anyone who criticizes him is going to be eaten by a bear next time they are near the woods). I presume you don't mean that Steve is going to turn around one day, curse anyone who criticizes him (personally, or otherwise) and they will be struck down dead by God (or an animal of His choosing). For one thing, introducing parallels of Old Testament vengenance into a modern church conflict has its own problems since the judgement of that day was replaced with the testimony of love and sacrifice that Jesus brought. While prophets were routinely bringing the wrath of God on to the people who did not heed His word, the antithesis of this was the ministry of Christ.

Or maybe I just missed your point completely, in which case I have no doubt you will reply. :)

westtnbarrister said...

So, you liken Dr. Rogers to Elijah and Dr. Gaines to Elisha?

In 2 Kings 2, those young men were jeering and mocking Elisha by asking him to "go up" (be translated) via a whirlwind just as Elijah had done. They were mocking and insulting the prophet of God. Whether he was truly baldheaded is unclear from the text. Regardless it was intended as an insult.

Do you expect Dr. Gaines (the totem Elisha) to call down a curse from God on Bellevue members who question his actions?

Anonymous said...


Fair enough. I just grew up under too many 'preacher stories' to know that there are some that are just for illustrative purposes rather than to be taken literally. Preacher stores sometimes get to be too much like urban myths. Somebody’s bother in another state had a neighbor which had thus and thus happen. I am sure you understand my concern. Thanks.

sword said...

Read 2 Kings 1 and 2; note chapter 2, verses 23-25.

RM said...

I just found your site today and find it refreshing. I have read the anti-Bellevue blogs and find them sick and disgusting.

I was a personal pastor friend of Adrian's and I can assure you that most of what they are accusing Steve of doing, Adrian did. They didn't publish his salary and perks nor did they inspect his credit card receipts. I guarantee you that he and his wife entertained numerous guests at the church's expense--as it should be. Nowhere should the deacons be permitted to scrutinize all those figures (salaries and expenditures). That should be done by the Budget and Personnel committees. A deacon is a servant--not someone who runs the church.

I have no idea what Steve makes (nor do I care) but I seriously doubt that he makes $500,000 a year. Even Jack Graham doesn't make that much! By the way, Adrian was always at the top of pastor salaries in the convention while he was your pastor.

Honestly I have never seen such venom and evil things as I have seen on the anti-Bellevue blogs. We have some just like them in Dallas and they all say the same exact things...

Good luck bud. Keep up the good work and word!

Mike Bratton said...

A few things, if I may:

1) Yes, the true story is from 2 Kings 2.

2) I didn't make the initial analogy--my friend did.

3) No one can "call down a curse from God" as though He were some blue-skinned genie. "It was God's prompting that caused him to utter the curse," and God Who gave the bears "their marching orders."

4) It is grasping at straws to even attempt to assert that anyone is placing the Biblical title of "prophet" on Pastor Gaines.

5) Or, even, on Pastor Rogers.

6) It is presumptive to insist that God cannot do this thing or that because of our existence in a given point in time.

7) It is anything but an attempt to "demonize those who are critics" by reminding them that bad behavior can have worse consquences. The Bible reminds us that events documented in Scripture are examples for us.


Anonymous said...

Hmm, so then what was the point of your posting? Why would you post a story/analogy by a friend if you did not agree with it or at least explain the relevance or purpose for posting it?

The fact that the remark by your friend "stuck with" you enough to put it on your website is certainly implicit agreement with his point of view. And his reference was certainly one of hoping the "saving Bellevue" group won't be "gotten" by a curse or other judgment from God (or even Steve Gaines, given the context of the story). I think reasonable people would agree that invoking a reference to a curse called down by a prophet the results in the deaths of 42 people is not a very Christ-like way to refer to group of people, whether you agree with them or not. In fact, it may even solidify the view of those trying to get to the bottom of the issues that certain people are simply not interested in entering into any type of meaningful dialogue because of their refusal to accept that there are two sides to a story and that all the facts are still not known. If this quote isn't "disappointing bombast" (to use your reference), I'm not sure what is.

Gene said...

There was an article written on "blog responsiblity" on a webzine called "boundless" which is a website sponsored by Focus on the Family.

It is by Suzanne Hadley, and as I said it's called "Blog Responsibity", and it helped me.

If anyone else wants to read it, the address is

Anonymous said...


Excellent post.


Anonymous said...

Mike Bratton:

Sadly on this day I welcome you to an elite club with members no less than Jesus Christ himself. Also: the first martyr Stephen, Paul, Peter, all the apostles.

Just like the rest of us, you have officially been subtley intimidated by a Pharisee.

You learned the way we all did. We also broke broke the golden rule of coercive Pharisees: Never express concern and compassion for anyone who is not a "yes-man" for the "chief priest".

...I expressed concern and compassion for those in the so-called "saving Bellevue" group; with a furrowed brow, he nodded and said to me "Mike, I love them--I just pray the bears don't run out of the woods on 'em." That remark stuck with me, and has been an additional reminder to me...

Mike, I love them--I just pray the bears don't run out of the woods on 'em.

TRANSLATION: I "love" them so much... I wish they were publicly torn to shreds and eaten by wild animals.

Holy Spirit filled Christians love their enemies and do not curse them and wish them harm.

Jesus did curse a fig tree, but never a person. You could go to Ananias and Sephira in Acts, but be careful, that was about hiding church money from the Holy Spirit. That true story may backfire by analogy in the present case.

Again, it is not with joy that I welcome to the club. You won't realize you're a member for a while. You'll have to go through denial like the rest of us had to first. You may spend years in this early stage of membership.

If you want to test this membership and see how it works, try again to express concern and compassion for those in the so-called "saving Bellevue" group. You will start to see a pattern of getting negative feedback and warnings. You will not get the biblically mandated command to continue to show compassion and concern (love) for critics of the Pharisees.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, this was pretty sophisticated. Whoever did this to you was very adept at strumming your strings & playing you like a violin.

Think about it...

Says he prays... prays what? Prays for their safety, right?

What a nice guy!

But the story he is referring to includes an explicit **curse** for harm.

So wait a minute...

The guy just said he's praying for their safety but also
he's cursing them so they will be destroyed.

Which is it?

If he really wants them to be safe then just... skip... the curse.

If he really wants them to be destroyed, then... skip... the prayer.

This is called a double bind. It is a when a single person gives
you two mutually exclusive statements in the same message.

The goal is to put you in a state to where you do not have an appropriate response.

Once you are in that state of cognitive helplessness you are then guided in the direction the person wanted you to go into.

Check out an sbc site

This is Section Spiritual Abuse.
Following are the articles published under this section.

How to Tell if a Ministry is Cultic (124 reads)

The Bad Shepherd (120 reads)

The Boston Church (57 reads)

Abusive Churches (120 reads)

The Untouchables: Are 'God's Anointed' Beyond Criticism? (78 reads)

Authoritarianism in The Church (73 reads)

Why & What: A Brief Introduction to Christianity (70 reads)

See also, for fun, Assimilatin University

Mike Bratton said...

Apparently, I haven't responded enough here, so let me remedy that situation.

For you folks playing the "What He Really Said" game, your viewpoint holds no water. The man I was speaking with expressed his concern for the "saving Bellevue" folks with tears in his eyes and a break in his voice. Make all the fun of it you want, but his concern is genuine, as is mine.