Applause over Confession

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Applause over Confession

Postby Dave Roberts » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:18 am

I have been struggling with the news from High Point Church in Memphis and Teaching Pastor Andy Savage. If you are not up to date on this, here is an early report. https://baptistnews.com/article/andy-savage-says-will-take-leave-absence-ministry/

The thing that bothers me is the unanimous report in all media that when Savage made his confession of sexually inappropriate actions twenty years ago in Texas as a youth minister, the congregation gave him a standing ovation. Maybe I am out of touch, but my first response is that the church might have responded with tears of grief over the conduct of a pastor. Then maybe there would have been a deep sense of repentance over how churches cover sexual misconduct to protect "our reputations." Then I would have expected the church to impose some penalty or try to find a way to offer some restitution to the victim(s). I just want to throw up over reports of a "standing ovation." Maybe we in the church really have lost our ability to blush. How do you respond to these reports?
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Re: Applause over Confession

Postby William Thornton » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:52 am

That was appalling. Things have moved a good bit since. You could catch up below.

http://thewartburgwatch.com

The SO made this news to many of the national outlets with the general headline, "Pastor sexually abuses teen, gets standing ovation."

I wasn't surprised by the SO for a number of reasons. Very poorly handled on several levels. There will be more to come on this one.
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Re: Applause over Confession

Postby Sandy » Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:08 pm

https://www.vox.com/2018/1/17/16880278/ ... angelicals

It's tough to get out of the Evangelical "bubble" and see this incident and the aftermath without trying to put some kind of constriction on it. Some of the observations that came out about "Evangelical culture":
Tara Burton in Vox wrote:"Although later media coverage prompted a backlash, the church’s immediate response to the accusation tells us something about evangelical culture."

"Since Woodson posted her story online, Savage has come forward to corroborate some aspects of it. Characterizing the incident as a regrettable sexual encounter, one in which both people behaved sinfully,


So the church's perspective, from the pastor's description, is that both of them did something wrong, he regretted it and apologized, was forgiven, and it was over. Then when she "accused" him 20 years after the fact (obviously with some ulterior motive from their perspective), he finally confessed, and because of that, they gave him a standing ovation. Unless I'm missing something here, he's subtly become the victim, and she's become an accuser.

This should be a troubling sign to the church, and to Evangelical Christians in particular. We've come to a point where a pastor's reliance on celebrity status, good looks, a charismatic speaking talent, and flashy presence is the reason people go to church, and their understanding of applied Christian faith is almost not even there. It's a cliche faith, not a Biblical one. Granted, the author is not writing from a perspective of having a high level of understanding of Evangelical church culture, but on the other hand, probably sees things the way most people in our culture see them.

We're not perfect, just forgiven. But we have to be very careful about how that fleshes out, and in most cases, the way it comes across in Evangelical communities is far more cultural and far less Biblical than we think it is.
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Re: Applause over Confession

Postby Dave Roberts » Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:44 pm

Sandy wrote:https://www.vox.com/2018/1/17/16880278/andy-savage-sexual-misconduct-youth-pastor-evangelicals

It's tough to get out of the Evangelical "bubble" and see this incident and the aftermath without trying to put some kind of constriction on it. Some of the observations that came out about "Evangelical culture":
Tara Burton in Vox wrote:"Although later media coverage prompted a backlash, the church’s immediate response to the accusation tells us something about evangelical culture."

"Since Woodson posted her story online, Savage has come forward to corroborate some aspects of it. Characterizing the incident as a regrettable sexual encounter, one in which both people behaved sinfully,


So the church's perspective, from the pastor's description, is that both of them did something wrong, he regretted it and apologized, was forgiven, and it was over. Then when she "accused" him 20 years after the fact (obviously with some ulterior motive from their perspective), he finally confessed, and because of that, they gave him a standing ovation. Unless I'm missing something here, he's subtly become the victim, and she's become an accuser.

This should be a troubling sign to the church, and to Evangelical Christians in particular. We've come to a point where a pastor's reliance on celebrity status, good looks, a charismatic speaking talent, and flashy presence is the reason people go to church, and their understanding of applied Christian faith is almost not even there. It's a cliche faith, not a Biblical one. Granted, the author is not writing from a perspective of having a high level of understanding of Evangelical church culture, but on the other hand, probably sees things the way most people in our culture see them.

We're not perfect, just forgiven. But we have to be very careful about how that fleshes out, and in most cases, the way it comes across in Evangelical communities is far more cultural and far less Biblical than we think it is.


I have to agree, Sandy, that somehow the pastor in this was received as the victim when something twenty years ago surfaced. You are right that it raises a lot more questions than it solves. What is the nature of forgiveness, and how do we prevent the past from being repeated. In the law, if this had been reported, he would be on the National Sex Offender Registry and this would follow him, but evidently the first church involved buried the accusation after he sought her forgiveness. I have worked with three registered sex offenders in churches, and there are lots of issues about ever trusting such a person alone with underage teens.
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Re: Applause over Confession

Postby William Thornton » Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:42 pm

You guys might read the link and the actual statements. I don't know that there is a broader, more generalized point about evangelicals in this unless you go down to some subsets of subsets.

Clearly, the perp's actions and statements weren't helpful nor straightforward. The current church, particularly the pastor, screwed up big time.

Based on what the perp said the congregation's action was predictable. There's a lot here.
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Re: Applause over Confession

Postby Sandy » Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:58 am

Ruth Graham in the Vox Article wrote:It’s hard to complain about a shift in emphasis from punishment to grace—both concepts are baked into the Gospel message—but it can produce disturbing side effects. In Savage’s case, there’s the implication that repenting means he should suffer no further consequences for his actions. (Even if Savage pursues forgiveness from his victim, his family, and his community, that does not mean he is fit for public ministry.)


And the author's interpretation:

Tara Burton in Vox wrote:In such a worldview, past misdeeds are to be overcome on a personal level, without ramifications for the victim or the community at large. A Christian simply leaves behind sin in favor of salvation. Savage’s perceived bravery in giving “testimony” of his sin, in this mentality, outweighs the need to punish it.


There's so much perspective wrapped up in this, and I agree, there's a lot here. Underlying messages? This is so full of them, it's hard to even know where to start the conversation. Looking at these statements, I think both tend to simplify the matter, though Ruth Graham is accurate in her assessment. Should Savage have to pay, for the rest of his life, for an "in the moment" act when the flesh gave in to a temptation? He probably sensed the young lady's admiration of him may have gone just a shade beyond natural attraction to her youth pastor and it got out of hand. I would agree he should have been let go from the church, that he should have had to face the girl and her parents, and be reconciled from a Biblical perspective, and at that point, be responsible and knowledgeable enough not put himself in that kind of position again. Wasn't he told that a youth pastor should never take a girl home alone? But don't genuine repentance and true forgiveness mean its over?

Some discernment needs to be applied. Women coming forward and confronting their abusers is resulting from changing social attitudes. Depending on your perspective, Trump's campaign strategy of inviting the women who claimed they were assaulted and abused by Bill Clinton was perfectly fine in the minds of many people, including a lot of Evangelical Christians. But when the Access Hollywood video came out, and a whole group of women who claimed Trump had abused them came forward, not so much. For Harvey Weinstein, he's getting what he deserves. For Roy Moore, he's being persecuted for his faith. And so, in this climate, a popular church leader of a mega church that uses, at least in part, his charismatic speaking ability, smile, good looks and features, and personal popularity to attract people to the congregation, gets accused of sexual abuse more than 20 years ago, stands before the congregation to put his perspective on it, and gets a standing ovation from people who are frustrated, and see this particular incident as just another attack on a guy because he's conservative. I get that. In Evangelical culture, there is an insistence that the difference is that women have different roles, not unequal ones. But in actual practice, they are considered unequal. I'm sure there are plenty of people in the church who are wondering why she waited so long, and when does she get over this and have to stop?

I would also agree that the current church and current pastor screwed up, but in the mega church culture that has developed among Evangelicals, the corporate mentality prevails and it's about preserving the institution and keeping the numbers moving up so the offering keeps flowing. They probably see this as damage control.
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Re: Applause over Confession

Postby Sandy » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:23 am

Here's an interesting perspective. Yes, it was published in the Washington Post but it's written by a Southern Baptist.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/act ... 212a842067
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