Monday, October 23, 2006

A common 21st Century malady

As we delve further each day into the new century (which, as of this writing, is still, for some sad reason, personal-jet-pack free), we see more and more evidence of a trend that, in and of itself, isn't fond of evidence. It is the trend of emotionalism, where otherwise well-meaning people give their emotions--and anything attached to them, such as opinions, perceptions, and the like--equal footing with objective, verifiable, no-doubt-about-it facts.

This malady afflicts, to varying degrees, both major political parties in the United States; it is pervasive in the Democrat Party (with the prime example being their core pro-abortion position), and is making inroads in the Republican Party (with the prime example being those in their party who don't address illegal immigration as both a law-enforcement and a national-security problem). It is ever-present in the larger society, where litigation is the weapon of first choice from those who make careers out of being aggrieved. And it is even rearing its ugly, maniacal head in Christian churches, where the old campfire song "They'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love" is being reworked as "They'll know it's a church fuss when they see our laundry."

Those of us who are Christians are, by definition, people of fact. If it is not a fact that God is Who He says He is, if it is not a fact that Jesus stepped out of a grave one Sunday morning, if it is not a fact that the Bible is accurate and authoritative, if it is not a fact that the only way to spend one's eternity in Heaven is through a salvific relationship with Jesus Christ, then we Christians are wasting our collective time. If the Bible is not factual, then it is not credible, and we are no better off than followers of any human-constructed religion; to coin a phrase, "we are of all men most miserable." Thankfully, those are all objective facts: Our choice to accept them as such gives them no more credibility than rejection of those facts gives them less.

The recent brouhaha at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis (sounds like a pay-per-view event, doesn't it? "The Brouhaha At Bellevue!!"), where a small group of members has bypassed the Biblical mandate to keep church disagreements within the church, is an example of emotionalism being the sole fuel for a viewpoint. Just as in the legal concept of the "fruit of the poisonous tree," the entire group is contaminated by the emotional choice (still ongoing) to broadcast their personal disapproval of just about every aspect of what goes on under the leadership of Bellevue's pastor, Dr. Steve Gaines. Using a website orbited by several satellite blogs, the group publicly disagrees with everything from salaries to song services, with lurid headlines billboarding stories of each new imagined transgression.

The headlines are a key to the lack of restraint which is a key element of emotional appeals--desperate times calling for desperate measures, and such. Since officially violating Biblical dispute-resolution principles by going online in August 2006, this anti-Bellevue group (their viewpoint being "anti-Bellevue" because of a refusal of responsibility for the consequences of their behavior) has used personal disparagement as a calling card. Bellevue members who do not share their view, and Bellevue's senior staff have been defamed in various media as "cowards," "the Mafia," Stepford robots, and supposdly employing a "Hitler style of management," among other libelous appellations. This anti-Bellevue activity has even gone to the extent of publishing the e-mail addresses (and, until they had to good sense to remove the information from their main site, the home addresses and telephone numbers) of the deacon body--which, at Bellevue, is composed of more than 180 deacons.

When emotionalism drives people to engage in behaviors that are counterproductive to the larger cause of Christ, it should be a reminder to us all not to fall prey to the same temptations in our own lives. The blogging site I use has as a positioning statement the phrase "Push-Button Publishing." Just because something is suddenly easy to do, such as publishing your opinion when something at church doesn't please you, does not mean it is automatically right to do. The advent of this century has not brought with it jet-packs (though we must not give up hope), but it has brought with it a new ease in indulging one's own subjective emotions. We must guard against pushing buttons in an emotional reflex; after all, the Christian church is a place where Jesus is glorified and saints are equipped, not a place where every whim and opinion must be sated.

--Mike

51 comments:

straining gnats said...

Well said, Mike.

Anonymous said...

Is your blog not part of the same phenomenon you decry? Since you happen to side with the pastor, perhaps feel above the fray as you proudly wear snap-on the armor of the vigilant warrior charged with protecting the church.

However, you are just as much a part of the public airing of grievances as anyone. In fact, you have posted some of the more incendiary posts on both your blog and the others as well. You label everyone who disagrees with you as "anti-Bellevue" just to goad them and then seek to justify the practice with a dictionary definition of "anti." There is nothing healing about poking the other side in the eye.

Note, I am not taking issue with your posts. You have the right to your opinion, as do other Bellevue members. I agree with many of your opinions. Some I disagree with.

Baptists have a history of believing in freedom. We support soul competency. We are free to judge these matters in our church for ourselves. Some agree with you, while others do not. We need to come up with a plan for reconciliation, not take potshots at the tactics of the other side because there has been plenty of wrongdoing on both sides.

Mike Bratton said...

Thank you for Exhibit A, whoever you are.

Don't agree with someone? Why, lob a bomb at them! Say they "proudly wear snap-on armor," or accuse them of being "incendiary" without being able to back up the remark.

If someone's being hit with a baseball bat, it isn't exactly adding to the problem to do what you can to get the bat-wielder to stop. And it is impossible to reconcile with that person until that person put the bat on the ground.

Pastor Gaines has been out front in leading the expression of a desire for reconciliation. What has he been met with? More attacks. Reconciliation is a two-way street; so far, the anti-Bellevue group has shown no signs of letting up, and has actually shown signs of wanting to amp up their attacks.

If you agree with some of what I post, I hope you agree with the need for a discussion of issues within the confines of the church instead of personal attacks in a public arena. This exhibitionism, as I said previously, is what the so-called "saving Bellevue" people are engaging, purely and simply, and why their behavior is aptly described as "anti-Bellevue." It isn't neutral to Bellevue, and it certainly isn't to Bellevue's benefit. That leaves one option.

--Mike

RM said...

Well Mike, you are now learning the tactics of the ungodly. Not only are they smearing the name of Jesus by their attacks, they don't even have the decency (I would say "guts" if I wasn't a Christian...) to sign their names and email addresses. That alone says all that needs to be said about them...

Rene said...

Nice Job Mike,

It appears "I feel, therefore I blog", has become the "raison d'etre" in our present culture.

Mike Bratton said...

Since I'm wearing my NASA cap today, I must tip it.

Anyone who can paraphrase Descartes and use a French phrase in a single sentence--and reference the philosopher in a pseudonym--deserves respect.

--Mike

JJ said...

Now the overseer must be above reproach.

Trespassing may be a mole-hill, but breaking the law does remove you from being above reproach.

The "Saving" Bellevue side has approached this wrong - though one could argue it's a mistake of the head, not the heart. Regardless, there errors can not and do not negate the shortcomings of anyone else.

My heart weeps to see this happen to Bellevue, I pray for true reconciliation - and at this point public reconciliation so that the community can see the love of Christ reflected.

Mike Bratton said...

"...but breaking the law does remove you from being above reproach."

Interesting standard. All you pastors who've ever failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, listen up. Since it has been determined that "sinless perfection" and "above reproach" are synonymous, you will receive instructions very soon as to how you are to step down from your pastorates.

JJ, were I of a mind to categorize mistakes, I would categorize a single, isolated incident of a mistake as one "of the head." The same mistake made over and over, day after day, for weeks at a time? That would have to fall in another category.

--Mike

ilovebbc said...

I wish with all my heart everyone would stop and listen to Dr. Rogers message on a unified church that he preached to us on January 2, 2005 from Ephesians 4. It's available on the Bellevue sermon archive. It's only 35 minutes long.

http://bellevue.org/templates/cusbellevue1103/details.asp?id=1360&PID=5182

JJ said...

Ok... I'll concede traffic violations.

However trespassing (to which I was referring) is (to the best of my knowledge) a criminal offense, not a traffic violation. I'll watch my wording to be more clear. The act of trespassing removes you from being above reproach - or do you not agree?

Obviously you are of a mind to categorize mistakes, since you just did.

To RM (being sarcastic here) am I to assume you aren't a Christian since you did say guts?

RM said...

jj,

I didn't say guts if you will read it correctly. But then, you guys aren't noted for that ability.

notalawyer said...

Trespassing:

Type of Offense: Misdemeanor

Charge Elements: The elements of this offense are:

1. The defendant, without lawful authority, entered, or attempted to enter, any public or private dwelling, building, or other property, or part of such a dwelling, building or other property;

2. The defendant against the will of the lawful occupant or of the person lawfully in charge thereof, or being therein or thereon, without lawful authority to remain therein or thereon shall refused to quit the same on the demand of the lawful occupant, or of the person lawfully in charge.

-from the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia

I wouldn't mind hearing a real lawyer's opinion on this. I don't know.

notalawyer said...

By the way,
Speeding is also listed as a misdemeanor under "crimminal offense" -same source

beamimpaired said...

Mike Bratton!

Stop calling people names, you, you,

benighted troglodyte!

beamimpaired said...

Seriously Mike, I hope you know I was kidding.

You frank and honest comments are being misunderstood and misinterpreted by many.

Anonymous said...

"Those of us who are Christians are, by definition, people of fact."

You are wrong Mike. In fact, it's the exact opposite. "Those of use who are Christians are, by definition, people of FAITH.". The Darwist and the Humanist would say that he is the person of "fact".

Mike Bratton said...

""Those of us who are Christians are, by definition, people of fact."

You are wrong Mike. In fact, it's the exact opposite. "Those of use who are Christians are, by definition, people of FAITH.". The Darwist and the Humanist would say that he is the person of "fact"."

Such an issue-oriented reply as yours deserves to be highlighted in a post. Thank you for your input.

Oh, and yes, I knew "benighted troglodyte" was a gag. Although it does have a certain ring to it...

--Mike

ifitsnotaboutyouwhydoyoukeeptalkingsomuch? said...

Hooray. Another post from Mike. Yippee. I am so excited I can hardly stand it. Please hurry. I need more edification.

Oh, and beamimpaired, did you think there might be a reason that many people "misunderstand and misinterpret" Mike? Maybe the message, perhaps? I wouldn't be so quick to blame the recipients.

Mike Bratton said...

"Hooray. Another post from Mike. Yippee. I am so excited I can hardly stand it. Please hurry. I need more edification."

It's a blog.

No one forced you to read it, no one forced you to whip up a marvelous pseudonym (perhaps the best so far), and no one forced you to respond.

The people who go after me, whoever you are, seem to have a shared viewpoint. Want to take a guess as to what it is?

--Mike

beamimpaired said...

ifits,
I meant no offense, please forgive me.
-b

JJ said...

RM -
I did read correctly - I'm not sure what kind of guy you think I am and why I as that kind of guy I wouldn't be noted for that ability.

You said:
"(I would say 'guts' if I wasn't a Christian...)"

It's right there in your text. You said it - by including that line you made clear your thoughts on the subject (that they were lacking in said "guts"). Adding the caveat "I would say... if I wan't a Christian" does not mean you didn't say it.

Anonymous said...

"The people who go after me, whoever you are, seem to have a shared viewpoint. Want to take a guess as to what it is?"

I'll take a guess...is the shared viewpoint that you are an idiot?

ifitsnotaboutyouwhydoyoukeeptalkingsomuch? said...

beamimpaired,

I was not at all offended. I just wanted to make a point as to why our esteemed author seems to be so often "misunderstood" and/or "misinterpreted".

There is, in communications 101, a term known as the "Blind Self", which refers to the inability of an individual to realize how her or she comes across or is perceived by others. It is not a flaw, per se--in fact my sweet and beautiful wife displays this trait quite often--but it does seem that if one were aware that many of the things one said (wrote) offended many by their tone, you might want to introspectively examine the words you wrote to see if something in them might cause another to stumble.

Rom 14:21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of violating the above exhortation, but I am working on it.

Mike Bratton said...

"I'll take a guess...is the shared viewpoint that you are an idiot?"

Yet one more anonymous bomb, in place of a discussion of an issue.

Thanks for proving my point.

--Mike

Mike Bratton said...

"There is, in communications 101, a term known as the "Blind Self","

There is another term in communications parlance, known technically as "upsetting the apple cart." When people address a given issue from an emotional standpoint, they will address even the slightest challenge to their viewpoint with an emotional response.

It is neither surprising nor encouraging, since it's much easier to go after someone with whom you disagree than to address the issues someone raises.

As the old saying goes, if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail. When the only tool you have is emotion, as we see with the so-called "saving Bellevue" group, every objection will be addressed emotionally.

--Mike

ifitsnotaboutyouwhydoyoukeeptalkingsomuch? said...

I'm not sure of the relevance of your use of that particular "apple" idiom to my comments, but no meaning I am aware of implies that it refers to "addressing a given issues from an emotional standpoint".

And I'll ignore the hammer analogy since we could spend all day arguing about who uses the hammer more.

Why don't we go back for a minute to your "Bears" post. You based that entire segment on a quote you heard from a friend of yours. If that wasn't a fact-less, emotionally-based, offensive, personally attacking piece (dressed in scripture, no less), I'm not sure what is. At least you had the guts to post some of the responses you got, which indicates a commendable honesty on your part; however, I did notice for the first time I can remember that you had no real answers to the criticism you received on that ill-conceived posting--you simply let it drop. That's rather strange, because you certainly seem to prefer to have the last word (it is your blog, though, so I guess that's your prerogative. :)

Here, just for fun, I've written an edit to the "Bears" post for you in case you run out of things to say and need a little filler:

"EDITED TO ADD: After reading and meditating on the many comments I received regarding this post, I have decided that it was probably in poor taste to take a quote from a friend and use it as a basis for a blog entry where the end result of the story is people being killed by a curse from God. I realize now that I got caught up in the moment and let emotion get the best of me--something I have been imploring my readers not to do on numerous occasions. In fact, because this post was so inappropriate, I will probably delete it entirely and leave only this edit as a historical reference to the time I made a mistake of the head, though not of the heart.

--Mike

I'm tempted to "double-dog-dare" you to post that unedited, but only if you really meant it--you have no idea the amount of respect you would gain from your detractors if you did...

Having said that, I will bother you no longer (knowing how sad that will make you) with any further posts.

Good luck and God bless.

Anonymous said...

<"I'll take a guess...is the shared viewpoint that you are an idiot?"

Yet one more anonymous bomb, in place of a discussion of an issue.

Thanks for proving my point.>

You prove my point everytime you open your mouth.

Mike Bratton said...

<"I'll take a guess...is the shared viewpoint that you are an idiot?"

Yet one more anonymous bomb, in place of a discussion of an issue.

Thanks for proving my point.>

You prove my point everytime you open your mouth.


Another bit of witty repartee from the world-renowned "I Know You Are, But What Am I?" School of Argumentation and Debate.

How, exactly, does personally attacking others with whom you disagree facilitate dialogue and reconciliation?

--Mike

Anonymous said...

< How, exactly, does personally attacking others with whom you disagree facilitate dialogue and reconciliation? >

Probably about the same as your sarcastic and baiting responses to people who try to discuss issues with you.

justthefacts said...

When the only tool you have is emotion, as we see with the so-called "saving Bellevue" group, every objection will be addressed emotionally.

That doesn't even make sense. Emotion isn't a tool, fool. (Sorry Mr. T, I couldn't resist.) Blogs, websites, forums and telephones are tools. Emotion could only be called a factor that influences the method of using the tools. Certainly emotion is involved to an extent in the way some people have approached this situation. If you are right, and emotion is the overriding factor driving the “so-called Saving Bellevue crowd”, then it will all go away as soon as emotions die down. All you do with your incendiary comments is continue to stir up that emotion and give this artificial life. I think you are smart enough to read between the lines on that one.

Funny how you are critical of people who throw bombs, assign motives, assassinate character and otherwise not address issues, and then you go and do that very thing.

And before you even say it, I'm not calling you or anyone a fool. It was just a little rhyming pun that's intended in the same spirit as Mr. T’s “I pity the fool”.

I am accusing you of being guilty of the same things you accuse the "so-called Saving Bellevue" crowd of. It’s very difficult to calmly address issues with you, because you are the biggest grenade thrower in this entire debate either on your blog and “other” blogs.

Mike Bratton said...

"ifitsnotaboutyouwhydoyoukeeptalkingsomuch? said...
I'm not sure of the relevance of your use of that particular "apple" idiom to my comments, but no meaning I am aware of implies that it refers to "addressing a given issues from an emotional standpoint"."

Then allow me to amplify my remarks.

Emotional appeals, such as the ones the so-called "saving Bellevue" nonsense is built upon, are very unstable things. Apples used to be sold (and still may be, in some locales) by vendors who walked the streets pushing carts that were piled high with apples. The vendor had to take care how he handled the cart, particularly if he had a large supply of apples piled high in the cart. The slightest nudge could cause a cascade effect; even nudging a single apple from the top of a pile of apples could cause the rest of the pile to collapes and spill out of the cart.

Similarly, the viewpoint constructed out of emotions cannot weather the slightest attempt at questioning or debate without seeing piles of emotions come tumbling out.

"And I'll ignore the hammer analogy since we could spend all day arguing about who uses the hammer more."

You may ignore it if you choose, but it still stands. "Saving Bellevue" has one tool, that of emotion. It attempts to foster outrage instead of debate, division instead of reconciliation, character assassination instead of respect.

"Why don't we go back for a minute to your "Bears" post. You based that entire segment on a quote you heard from a friend of yours. If that wasn't a fact-less, emotionally-based, offensive, personally attacking piece (dressed in scripture, no less), I'm not sure what is. At least you had the guts to post some of the responses you got, which indicates a commendable honesty on your part; however, I did notice for the first time I can remember that you had no real answers to the criticism you received on that ill-conceived posting--you simply let it drop. That's rather strange, because you certainly seem to prefer to have the last word (it is your blog, though, so I guess that's your prerogative. :)"

I'll go back and look at the responses again; last I checked, nothing really prompted me to respond.

Please, though, explain to me how it's so bad to 1) pray for people with whom you disagree, 2) pray that God will not punish them for verbally assaulting others, and 3) express love for those same people.

"Here, just for fun, I've written an edit to the "Bears" post for you in case you run out of things to say and need a little filler:

"EDITED TO ADD: After reading and meditating on the many comments I received regarding this post, I have decided that it was probably in poor taste to take a quote from a friend and use it as a basis for a blog entry where the end result of the story is people being killed by a curse from God. I realize now that I got caught up in the moment and let emotion get the best of me--something I have been imploring my readers not to do on numerous occasions. In fact, because this post was so inappropriate, I will probably delete it entirely and leave only this edit as a historical reference to the time I made a mistake of the head, though not of the heart."

Sounds like you didn't get the point of the post.

"I'm tempted to "double-dog-dare" you to post that unedited, but only if you really meant it--you have no idea the amount of respect you would gain from your detractors if you did..."

Let me be blunt. If I cared about garnering respect from people whose behavior harms the local church and the body of Christ in general, people whose best responses are to call those with whom they disagree schoolyard names and broadcast those slurs as widely as they can, I'd do just as you suggest, whoever you are.

However, I'm not at all inclined to sacrifice obedience to God on the altar of "respect." My call is to challenge the despicable behavior of a small group of disaffected individuals who somehow believe that the best way to "save" a church is to try and kill it.

"Having said that, I will bother you no longer (knowing how sad that will make you) with any further posts.

Good luck and God bless."

You weren't a bother in the first place.

And there's no such thing as luck...

--Mike

Mike Bratton said...

"justthefacts said...
When the only tool you have is emotion, as we see with the so-called "saving Bellevue" group, every objection will be addressed emotionally.

That doesn't even make sense. Emotion isn't a tool, fool. (Sorry Mr. T, I couldn't resist.)"

Personally, I'm fond of deleting things I don't think I should post, but that's just me...

"Blogs, websites, forums and telephones are tools. Emotion could only be called a factor that influences the method of using the tools. Certainly emotion is involved to an extent in the way some people have approached this situation. If you are right, and emotion is the overriding factor driving the “so-called Saving Bellevue crowd”, then it will all go away as soon as emotions die down."

Have you not noticed that the original issues that gave "saving Bellevue" its excuse for coming into existence have moved to the back burners? There will always be a crisis, in the minds of the crisis-mongers, else their group would have dissembled already.

"All you do with your incendiary comments is continue to stir up that emotion and give this artificial life. I think you are smart enough to read between the lines on that one."

No, from what I read, I'm supposedly an idiot--among other things. Your remark reads like those who want to excuse their personal sin because someone else "caused" them to sin, as an attempt to shift responsibility from where it belongs.

"Funny how you are critical of people who throw bombs, assign motives, assassinate character and otherwise not address issues, and then you go and do that very thing."

I keep asking for a single example of where I deal with anything other than issues and viewpoints, and I have yet to have anyone provide an example. You had a wonderful opportunity to do just that, whoever you are, and did not.

"And before you even say it, I'm not calling you or anyone a fool. It was just a little rhyming pun that's intended in the same spirit as Mr. T’s “I pity the fool”."

I'll take your word for it, then.

"I am accusing you of being guilty of the same things you accuse the "so-called Saving Bellevue" crowd of. It’s very difficult to calmly address issues with you, because you are the biggest grenade thrower in this entire debate either on your blog and “other” blogs."

Since you don't provide any examples, or even a single piece of shrapnel, your opinion would appear to be foundationless.

--Mike

justthefacts said...

Have you not noticed that the original issues that gave "saving Bellevue" its excuse for coming into existence have moved to the back burners? There will always be a crisis, in the minds of the crisis-mongers, else their group would have dissembled already.

How does this address my statement that you mischaracterized emotion as a tool? Of course emotion is involved. All you did in the above was agree with me. But emotion isn’t “their only tool”. It isn’t even in the toolbox. All you can say it’s the controlling force behind the hand that uses the tools.

Since you appear to be fond of movie quotes, here's one from the Princess Bride

“Inconceivable!!!”

"You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means".

Not quite apropos , but close.

Mike Bratton said...

Pastor Gaines hopped a fence to try and reconcile with a brother?

BAM! Hit it with emotion.

The music service isn't to suit you?

BAM! Hit it with emotion.

Pastor preaches somewhere else on Wednesay nights?

BAM! Hit it with emotion.

Someone has the temerity to disagree with your group's behavior?

BAM! Hit it with emotion.

Notice any pattern?

--Mike

justthefacts said...

Yeah, a pattern of you assigning motives, and not addressing people's comments directly.

BAM! Assume they are motivated by emotions.

BAM! Refuse to address my comment/question that emotion is not a tool, but that blogs et.al. are.

Here's another question for you to ignore or mischaracterize. If what you say is true, and there is only one tool in the "saving Bellevue" toolbox, emotion, then what would you call blogs, forums, etc in the metaphorical world you live in?

Mike Bratton said...

"If what you say is true, and there is only one tool in the "saving Bellevue" toolbox, emotion, then what would you call blogs, forums, etc in the metaphorical world you live in?"

The savingbellevue.com website, and the various blogs and forums that orbit it, are all fueled by the same substance: emotion.

I've been pretty clear about that, actually. They have no "smoking gun," else it would've been front-website-page by now.

--Mike

JJ said...

There is a difference between loving the people to whom you're speaking truth and speaking the truth in love. (Not directed at anyone just a thought)

I present my question again, I'll try to be more succinct so as to not muddle my point (as is my wont).

Does trespassing remove you from being above reproach?

rr said...

jj,
you ask a good question.
Would not be reasonable to say it depends on the circumstances of the offense to some degree?

For example, as has been said, speeding is a crimmal offense. And is a misdemeanor, the same as trespassing. But if someone were speeding one mile over the speed limit would you judge them the same as someone speeding thirty miles over the speed limit? In one case it is incidental, but technically it IS speeding. In the other case, the speeding may be endangering to a larger degree the life of the speeder as well as others.

In the same way, don't we have to look at "trespassing" that way? If a man forcible breaks into a property, with the intent, and actually causing damage to the property, and refuses to leave the property whe he is asked, that is one level of trespassing.

But if a man is intending to see someone he knows, and feels the matter is urgent, climbs over a 47" high fence, is this the same degree of trespassing?
Especially if the occupants of the house invite him to go swimming in their pool?
But the man immediately leaves. Is it reasonable to put this offense on the same level as the previous trespasser?

As you know, above reproach does not mean sinless perfection, but blameless. Do you really think Dr. Gaines is a habitual trespasser who enters property illegally in order to do harm to property or to persons?

I don't consider what Dr. Gaines did to disqualify him from being above reproach. He has admitted it was not the right thing to do. He broke man's law.

Jesus healed on the Sabbath, which was against the pharisaic law, is this not true?
Does that mean Jesus now is no longer above reproach? And His sacrifice was not worthy, and we are all dead in our sins?

None of us knows the motives of each others hearts, even our own hearts.

JJ said...

RR-

Very well put. While I may disagree I thank you for your response. I was really just trying to get some other thoughts, and you definitely presented some points to consider.

I do concur that there are levels of trespassing. I understand what Pastor Gaines did and how it was different than the worse offense you mentioned. I am not trying nor have ever tried to lump him in with those who cause damage and other worse offenses.

He did in a way "forcibly enter" the property. I realize he did not have to break anything to enter, but he did have to climb the fence. I think of it as his own Rubicon, he reached that point and had to make a conscious decision to procede. The height of the fence doesn't really matter; two feet or four feet he still made a decision to ignore the law.

The question to me is, did he have to trespass? He could have called ahead, but he chose not to do so.

I am glad he admitted his mistake, and I think repentance can restore your blamelessness (which I know is different than sinless perfection). However, I'm not sure what I think of apologies that are followed with a but (but, it was a mistake of the head, not the heart). If you try to justify why what you did was alright, then can you truly be admitting what you did was wrong.

I am curious to hear your thoughts RR; I appreciate those who can present their views in a manner as to make me question mine (even if they don't convince me).

rr said...

jj,
Thanks for your response, here are my thoughts, even though I realize we may disagree on this.

For me it comes down to the point of intent, which we cannot know, but only assume. For Dr. Gaines, climbing a fence did not seem like a big deal to him. I really don't think in his heart he thought it was wrong to do so.
That's why, if you take him at his word, he said it was a mistake of the "head" and not the "heart".
I think it was only after the fact he realized it was not the right thing to do.

Let me illustrate:
There are some acts that are also forms of trespassing that not everyone would realize. Anyway, this is what I have read about these.

For example, If you build a house and your roof overhangs your neighbor's property, that's trespassing.

If your child goes into your neighbor's yard to retrieve a ball- trespassing

If you plant a tree too close to your neighbor's property line and the tree limbs overhang the line, you are guilty of trespassing.

If you cut across your neighbor's yard to retrieve a newspaper without first asking permission- trespassing.

If you accidently mow one inch of your neighbor's yard while cutting yours- trespassing and property damage.

And you will be surprised at this:
In Germantown, if you are a commercial property, if you turn on flood lights, and any of the light in terms of footcandles escapes your property line, it's called light trespass. All developers have to submit photometric plans to prove exterior lighting has the proper cutoffs to prevent this.


I suppose my point is, we don't know what was in Dr. Gaines heart when he climbed the fence.
He said he wanted to protect the church, if he had other motives, we can only speculate.

JJ said...

rr -

Only issue I take with what you have said regarding trespassing... there seemed to have been a fair amount of signage saying - "No Trespassing." So he couldn't have not known it would be trespassing.

JJ said...

First, I will say - I do not think of Steve Gaines in the same light as Bill Clinton. I am only using this to a method or reasoning. If you disagree with the reasoning explain why.

When Bill Clinton committed adultery and then perjured himself, he only lied to protect his marriage (according to him). Yet he was still impeached (for the perjury) and many people wanted him removed from office.

Steve Gaines committed trespass (knowingly), he only did so to protect the church (according to him).

Other than one's perception of the magnitude of the offense - what is the difference?

Mike Bratton said...

"Other than one's perception of the magnitude of the offense - what is the difference?"

Perceptions are many, varied, and irrelevant. Comparing the hopping of a fence that was hardly designed for security purposes in an attempt to "leave your offering at the altar and be reconciled with your brother" is impossible to legitimately compare with felonies committed in conjunction with adultery and abuse of presidential power.

It isn't even a matter of apples and oranges--these ridiculous attempts to compare Steve Gaines and Bill Clinton are attempts to compare apples (Pastor Gaines) and hand grenades (former President Clinton).

--Mike

P.S.: Has Mr. Sharpe called the Shelby County Sheriff's Department yet?

rr said...

jj,
I can see you are a hard man to convince! That's OK, we can be brothers in Christ and agree to disagree.

One other thing you might not have known, that is, on the way out, the men were able to just walk around the end of the fence, where there were not any "No trespassing" signs.

Regardless, we all have pretty much made out minds up about the situation one way or another.

God Bless,

rr

JJ said...

What does Mr. Sharpe's not calling the Shelby County Sheriff's department have to do with anything? I've seen you mention that several times and still do not understand why that would matter.

Mike Bratton said...

"What does Mr. Sharpe's not calling the Shelby County Sheriff's department have to do with anything? I've seen you mention that several times and still do not understand why that would matter."

If a serious crime is committed against you, a crime so heinous and which leaves you so shocked--shocked!--that you feel you must tell everyone just how violated you are, why would you leave out local law enforcement?

And to respond to something I've heard before about this point, "because of grace" is not a legitimate answer. Grace would mean not broadcasting the shocking, heinous details to anyone.

Neither Mr. Sharpe nor anyone affiliated with him has yet to volunteer an answer as to why, after nearly two months, the so-called "saving Bellevue" group attempts to make political hay out of the "incident," yet can't quite get around to reporting it to the sheriff's department.

--Mike

justthefacts said...

Mike,
I have had a chance to read you multiple comments on this subject on the SB blogs, as well as this thread. After pondering the issue, I agree with you. We should publicly call on Mark Sharpe to prosecute the men who trespassed. I also spoke with Sheriff deputies as well as MPD officers who I'm acquainted with, and they all agreed that this was a crime that could be prosecuted if MS choose too.

Your above comment is correct. Why would you leave out Law Enforcement? The only reason I could think of is that you aren't interested in revenge, but reconciliation. Since that isn't the case among the SB crowd, you should publicly call for MS to prosecute the pastor et. al for the crime that they admitted committing, or at least expect the entire SB crowd to do so. I'm with you though, I don't understand why there hasn't been a massive outcry to prosecute. You'd think if they (the SB crowd) were more consistent, they would have already set up a legal fund for MS to pursue such an option.

Of course, it would end any hope of reconciliation, but reading your multiple comments, you would agree that MS isn't interested in reconciling, just hurting Bellevue and the Pastor, that isn't an issue. Since the SB crowd ignores scripture when it’s inconvenient, they will easily ignore the passages about taking a brother to court, or seeking reconciliation. They apparently have been following that so far, but they could be talked out of it easily. Especially by someone with your powerful words and position of influence and power of persuasion.


I look forward to seeing your leadership on this issue. Post a entry on your blog publicly calling for MS to prosecute the men who committed a crime against him.

Mike Bratton said...

Apparently, "sniper fatigue" hasn't universally set in.

Yet.

But we can pray expectantly.

--Mike

justthefacts said...

I'm sorry Mike, since you say that there is nothing wrong with "humorous satire" to make a point, I thought that you would have no problem with me using it to make a point. Your entire "sniper fatigue" post is offensive to honest, sincere people on both sides of the issue. I know you will just dismiss that as “my perceptions” which you’ve stated are invalid because they are not true. I’m just telling you how it’s perceived by me. However, as we watch Bellevue go from a mile wide and an inch deep to two miles wide and still only an inch deep, I'm sure you will find plenty of people who will pat you on the back and tell you how "right" you are in your combative and arrogant attitude.

One or two final thoughts on the SB movement, which unless Pastor Steve makes another “mistake of the head” will be over soon, one way or another. It's been shown throughout history that more often than not, the majority is wrong. The Bible teaches us that in the last days, this will be even more true, and that deception would be so widespread that "even the very elect" would be deceived.. Jesus was even at odds with the established church in his day, and arguably through much of recorded History. There is coming a day, perhaps soon, where the established church will be at enmity with God, and true believers will be driven underground, as it was in the days of the Early Church. It is very wise for a congregation to be on the lookout for the wolf's in sheep’s clothing that God foretells will be a hallmark of the last days. Is Steve Gaines such a man? Only God knows his heart. However, what if he, or his successor some years down the road is? Shouldn't the people of God be vigilant, and not just sheep who "swallow and follow"?

Now, drum roll, what is my position in all this? Since you asked. My biggest problem is what I’ve said for years at Bellevue. When someone sees a real or potential problem, be it allegations of wrong behavior of leadership, or spiritual issues, there is really no true mechanism to deal with it. Sure you can go talk to someone, but if they tell you to get lost, that’s it. There is no Biblical (or otherwise) accountability structure at BBC. It appears that is what happened here. Some respected men went privately with what they felt where some very serious issues. They were met with what such people have always been met with at BBC by the leadership, just in a much more blunt, brash way. Unfortunately, it took the “bullying” tactics of the SB website before the church leadership even agreed to form this Committee to look into the allegations.

We were able to survive and even thrive for years as a result of the cult of personality of Adrian Rogers. However, there is still the same group of people, a lot of whom have business relationships with the church and each other, who occupy positions of leadership at BBC. This must change. We will be able to tell a lot about the character and intent of Pastor Steve by the way he handles and deals with this over the coming years.

Our ‘system’ was totally dependant on the integrity and strength of character of AR. Did BBC engage in idol/man worship over the past 30 years? Perhaps, and perhaps God intended all this as a chastisement on BBC. Or maybe He intended it as a cleansing time. Or maybe He’s just giving us over. Who knows? Only time will tell.

What if Ted Haggard was the pastor of Bellevue? Would the chairman of the deacons, author of The Bratton Report, et al. still be telling us to support the pastor, unity above all, swallow and follow, etc etc? If they were consistent they would. Rev. Haggard is vigorously denying anything other than a mistake in judgment in purchasing the meth, “but never used it”. I’m sure it was just a mistake of the head, and not the heart. It’s all just allegations anyway.

I’ve had private conversations with various deacons over the years that have expressed variations of the same concern that “Problems are not dealt with at BBC.” They are swept under the rug or hidden, all in the name of unity and not defaming the “Lord” in public. It’s like a big Jedi mind trick “There are no problems at Bellevue”. AR used to say all the time “if you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem”. The problem these deacons would have is that if you even acknowledged there was a “problem” and attempted to solve it, you were in danger of being branded a ‘troublemaker” and “being part of the problem” and you needed to be removed. I believe this entire brouhaha has been simmering under the surface for years, and once the force of AR’s personality was removed, it blew into the open. I know it sounds like I’m blaming the former pastor for the current situation. I really don’t know if I am or not, but I do firmly believe that Pastor Steve walked into a situation that he did not create. I will agree that he made it worse and threw fuel on the fire by some of his unwise actions, but I continue to believe that he has born the brunt of a lot of frustration that’s simmered for years. Many people resent or feel strongly about the fact that it’s the “same people” who’ve been on and chaired important committees and the deacon body for decades. Every time there is a new “Foundation of the Future” type committee formed, you can guess the names that will be on it before they are announced. Are they godly men? I don’t know their hearts. I can’t say. I do know that even good men can become intoxicated with power, and it doesn’t take much for them to see threats to that power and influence. I think that there should be full disclosure to the church of ever deacon and committee member that is doing business with the church. I believe that we should operate with a transparency and integrity greater than that of the world.

You have been very critical of people being anonymous in all this. I believe that two things drive the anonymity of people involved in this entire affair. 1) a fear of man, which I agree is ungodly nor biblical and 2) related to #1, an overwhelming desire by people to “build up their Bellevue resume.”
(My anonymity with you is because I’ve come to suspect that you aren’t interested in honest debate, but ridicule others and building up yourself. I’m not going to subject me or my family to that from you directly. I won’t post on the SB blogs because I’m not willing to be “public” on the issue. My family does not want unnecessary division between them and friends on both sides of the issue. I respect that and have stayed out of the fray, but I have watched with both sadness and optimism.)


People are deathly afraid of losing their position in the church. There is a tremendous amount of pride at BBC. Both as individuals and collectively as a church. To illustrate, some years ago, I was teaching a children’s class in the music ministry. A young girl, perhaps 4 or 5th grade told me that they had just joined Bellevue, but “felt like they (their family) had been there all their lives”. Her attitude, doubtless from her parents, struck me as desperate to appear to be “old Bellevue”. Even I remember telling people when asked that “I’ve been here for 10 years, but I grew up going to Youth and college events, and going to the Bellevue productions. As I examine myself in light of all this, I realize what a prideful attitude that is and was. I am more and more convinced that at the judgment day, there are going to be countless former BBC members who are going to be shocked that a lot of their countless hours volunteering on the SCT/MPP, music ministry participation, deacon & Sunday school class teacher service and other church activities. are going to burn up as “wood hay and stubble”.

This is my serious discussion of the issues. Feel free to ridicule, satirize and dismiss it as you see fit.
One final thought. It's been shown throughout history that more often than not, whether it be on a world, nation or local basis, the majority is wrong. The Bible teaches us that in the last days, this will be even more true, and that deception would be so widespread that "even the very elect" would be decieved. There is coming a day, perhaps soon, where the estabilished church will be at emity with God. It is very wise for a congregation to be on the lookout for wolf's in sheeps clothing. Is Steve Gaines such a man? Only God knows his heart. However, what if he, or his successor some years down the road is? Shouldn't the people of God be vigilant, and not just sheep who "swallow and follow"?

Mike Bratton said...

The Bible teaches us that in the last days, this will be even more true, and that deception would be so widespread that "even the very elect" would be decieved.

False.

The Bible teaches nothing of the sort; as a matter of fact, it teaches the opposite of what you stated.

The words of Jesus, from Matthew 24:24 read thusly, and like so: "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." (emphasis mine)

Whoever you are, you left out an awfully important part of that verse, a part that illustrates our Lord Jesus disagreeing wholeheartedly with what you said.

--Mike

justthefacts said...

Mike,
You sure pick and choose what to address. Why don’t you address the substance of what I said instead of looking through it for something you can disagree with and put me down over.

Just for the record, the opposite of what I said is that 'the elect would be the only ones not deceived" or "all would be deceived accept the elect".
I doubt Jesus would disagree with me that in the last days there will be false prophets who WILL deceive some of the elect. Go do some commentary research on that passage. And how does that passage disagree with what I said about in the last days deception would be widespread? The phrase about the “elect” makes it clear that the deception would be in the church. My entire point was that the church should be vigilant against this deception. You appear to disagree with that. Do you?
I do think Jesus would disagree that you should belittle, demean and be argumentative to your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in "doing the Lords work".
Reference 1 Cor 13 for starters. You have much to answer for in the way you have treated me and others.