Thursday, October 03, 2013

Boz Tchividjian shocks those who aren't paying attention

Billy Graham's grandson takes to the HuffPo to make the "shocking" claim that sex abuse is worse among evangelicals than among Roman Catholics.

I have a few thoughts about such a claim.

1) Would anyone care about his assertion if he didn't have the grandfather he has? Would HuffPo feature this interview?

2) How is he defining "evangelical"? Does that include Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and groups that basically qualify as cults? What about Church of Christ, who holds the heretical view that water baptism is a pre-requisite for justification?

3) Does he mean sex abuse of children or is he including, say, married pastors committing adultery with other women in his flock?

4) The main reason for "pointing" (as Tchividjian puts it) to Roman Catholics is not that Roman Catholics commit acts of sexual abuse. Who could deny that professing Protestants , or yes, "evangelicals", have done the same?
Rather, the main problem has been that unlike Protestant churches, the Roman Catholic Church claims to be unified under the Pope and Magisterium, to have a holy hierarchy and government, to be the One True Church that Jesus founded, preserved by God all the way from then to today, and that this hierarchy and government has not only ignored but indeed actively protected and hidden men who were known to be gross sexual predators.
Unless and until some grand sex-abuse-concealment conspiracy among numerous different "evangelical" organisations or churches or denominations, what we have chez evangelicalism is an example of bad apples in a large basket, rather than a rotten root. (And no, I'm not denying that the number of apples  is probably quite high.)

The closest parallel to Rome mentioned in the article is probably the missions agencies, who allegedly systematically move and hide known sexual predators. If this is true, those predators need to be called to repent by their church and prosecuted for their crimes, and if they will not repent, they should be excommunicated by their church while under prosecution. The missions agency should fire them, obviously, instead of hiding them. That's a no-brainer.

And for the record, given my experiences with a very large missions organisation whose name rhymes with Shminternational Gission Toard, it would not surprise me in the slightest to learn that many people within that agency are guilty as Tchividjian contends. The hierarchy of that particular place has a well-earned reputation for hiding and ignoring sin, and sin has a way of getting too big for the leash you try to put on it.

Regardless of what definition he is using of "evangelical" and his misunderstandings of the actual issues at hand with the Roman priest abuse scandal, I applaud Tchividjian's efforts and his shining a light on this dark place. Far too many in the evangelical and Reformed world seem to think that calling sinners and possible false converts to repentance in the hopes of reconciling them to God and to their neighbor(s) is bad and sinful, that it's "talking smack about the Bride of Christ". They could not be more wrong and it would be hard to imagine how it could be more self-serving.


Fr. David Wooten said...
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Fr. David Wooten said...

"Unless and until some grand sex-abuse-concealment conspiracy among numerous different "evangelical" organisations or churches or denominations, what we have chez evangelicalism is an example of bad apples in a large basket, rather than a rotten root."

I understand how evangelicals at large could claim that, because they're not all completely affiliated with one another through some monolithic and automatic hierarchical structure, that "guilt by association" can't be done as well as with Catholics (i.e., "That's a Church of Christ congregation; it doesn't involve Reformed Baptists, who aren't in communion with them.")

What I find odd about the comment above (which I would surmise is your overall point) is that it seems to place the cause of the occurrence of sex scandals at this or that type of church structure, whether your "rotten root" comment to describe the Papacy or Tchividjian's allegation that less hierarchically-bound Christians have it worse. I just don't think that either has merit, to be honest.

The Orthodox, of course, have historical and theological problems with the Papacy (not to mention moral), but to draw the line between the "rotten root" of the Papacy and something that RCs, Protestants and, of course, Orthodox have in common (we have, for example).

Plenty of things to find wrong with the Papacy; blaming sex scandals on it as an institution isn't one that will stick, imo.

Fr. David Wooten said...

Sorry: * premature.

Rhology said...


it seems to place the cause of the occurrence of sex scandals at this or that type of church structure

I apologise for not being as clear as I could have been.
What I mean is that everyone has sex scandals on "their" side. But the guilt of Rome is much more pronounced because of what they claim about their church hierarchy and the fact that said hierarchy has gone to great lengths to HIDE AND PROTECT known predators, and they still haven't repented of that sin.

your "rotten root" comment to describe the Papacy

It was referring to the Roman hierarchy in more general terms.

RPV said...

One, the gross immorality of the Roman clergy at the time of the Reformation did not help its cause.

Two, the current scandal with Rome is remarkable for two reasons.
First, the cover up went right to the infallible top of the organization.
Second, it's not about pedophila, but homosexuality in that the Lavender Mafia is a sizeable and tolerated cohort in Romanism.

(But homosexuality is good, viva SSM! Oh, priests can't get married and slut shaming notwithstanding, rape is bad. Consensuality is the desideratum.
But what about NAMBLA and lowering the age of consent? Never mind.)

Last, nobody denies that sin, much more these kinds of sin, are quarantined/found only in Romanism.
But when you make all kinds of boasts about the superiority of the Vatican religion - well, to whom much is given, much is required.

Nicholas Leone said...

In addition to Boz and his groups GRACE, there have been many groups chronicling sex abuse and denominational coverup in all denominations and advocating for the abused in all these groups. SNAP advocates for victims of all churches and denominations, as well as other religions and other groups such as the Boy Scouts. Christa Brown, a member of SNAP, is a victim of clergy child sex abuse in the SBC and has been shining a light on this problem in the SBC for a long time:

All denominations, conservative, liberal, protestant, catholic, orthodox, etc. have suffered from the problem not just of clergy child sex abuse, but of denominational coverup as well:

Too many conservative evangelicals want to dig in their heels and attack the messengers rather than address this issue and bring real reform to their churches and church bodies.

Nicholas Leone said...
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Nicholas Leone said...

Here is just a sampling of websites and blogs which chronicle this problem in Protestantism/evangelicalism/fundamentalism: (This blog is run by Jeff Crippen, a Reformed Baptist minister)

We are no less guilty than the Roman Catholic Church, and it is a self-deception for any protestant or evangelical to believe otherwise.

Rhology said...

We are no less guilty than the Roman Catholic Church

"We"? Speak for yourself. No church or organisation in which I am involved has, to my knowledge, covered up or protected sexual predators. If I discovered that any did, I would work to expose and bring to repentance the offenders.

What Roman Catholic can say the same? That's right - no Roman Catholic can. I'm not averse to claiming guilt where it's due, but it ain't due here. We gain nothing by overgeneralising the guilt.