A Response to J.D. Hall
A few months ago, a debate intensified between two groups of well-respected Christian leaders, in which members of the International Coalition of Abolitionist Societies and members of Apologia Church, Polemics Report, Cross Encounters Ministries, Bible-Thumping Wingnut, and Crown Rights Media began disputing over an event known as the Church Repent Project. For those who do not know what this is, you will learn more about it as you read, and you will find people who are both in approval and opposition to the project, so I plead that this be discussed peacefully to avoid yet another breakout, otherwise forever hold your peace.
One such person who has retracted his support for the Abolitionists over this is J.D. Hall, blogger at Polemics Report, formerly at Pulpit & Pen. A series of posts were made to warn people about what he considered to be dangerous behavior, and these were spread far and wide to people in Reformed and Evangelical circles. This unfortunately was used by people who are already opposed to “AHA” in the pro-life movement, whose emotionally-driven advice was heeded by members of my church family.
My aim here is not to malign J.D. Hall. He is a faithful Christian and brother in Christ who has done a lot of good in teaching theology, discussing heterodoxy within Christian circles, and being a voice for people such as the victims of Clayton Jennings. However, every discernment blogger has their flaws, since every discernment blogger is a fellow sinner. The event that took place raised genuine concerns in his eyes, as it did mine, and I am glad that he expressed them. However, I believe he overstepped his bounds when he resorted to some of the rhetoric that you will read below. In a plea to recant his accusations, he refused, and offered the following articles to attempt to justify his accusations. I thanked him for his opinion, and told him I would respond when I had the chance.
So here are his posts with my response, article by article, with my commentary in italics to hopefully disprove and refute his points. Starting with the article that started a lot of this controversy:
An Open Letter to AHA
While faithful Christians in a Biblically-constituted and qualified church met together for Lord’s Day worship, two religious anarchists decided to meet outside a church worship service with posters of dead babies. The two abolitionists who protested outside Heritage Grace Community Church have promised to do it again this Sunday, and are soliciting more help.
Before I explain the Church Repent Project, let me point out that a presupposition has already been made about the men that met outside the building, one of them being a friend of mine. They are referred to as “anarchists;” in other words, they have a different ecclesiology, or view of church structure. They view elders and deacons differently than most Reformed church members.
What you have just read about in the first paragraph from Mr. Hall is known as the Church Repent Project. Simply put, this is where Abolitionists go to a church, stand outside with signs and literature, and have discussions with the church members about abortion. With pro-choice “churches,” our plea is to repent of their support of child sacrifice. With pro-life churches, our plea is to become more involved in the fight against abortion. What happened at Heritage Grace was not a protest of Heritage Grace itself, but a protest of abortion and a plea to get more involved.
What did the members of Heritage Grace Community Church do to solicit such treatment? After looking at every single piece of evidence provided by AHA members, I have no earthly idea. I don’t think they know, either. They claim the church is guilty of apathy toward child sacrifice. Apathy seems to be defined by the abolitionists as not wearing their label and running in their gang. Their protest will harm the church, and give the impression that Heritage Grace is somehow pro-abortion, and that would be a Satan-breathed deception. What these abolitionists are doing, and what AHA leadership is condoning and in some cases affirming, is a demonic treatment of the Christian church and they present themselves as enemies of the Bride of Christ.
No. We are not enemies of the Bride of Christ. We are a part of the Bride of Christ. Matthew Tringali and Todd Bullis, the men who participated in the Church Repent Project that day came referring to the church members as brothers and sisters in Christ. Matthew greeted the members by saying, “We come to the good man’s house.”
Like I mentioned earlier, this was not to say the church is pro-abortion. It is adamantly opposed to abortion, and it is dedicated to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ at abortion mills, college campuses, and on street corners, and we commend them for doing so. This was a plea to be more involved, to live in a way that reflects how we ought in a culture that murders children. They were not saying the members had to be affiliated with an Abolitionist Society or wear the Abolitionist symbol. They were simply trying to point out that children were also being murdered on days that they didn’t go to the abortion mills, including Sunday mornings. And they were asking for help in the fight.
As a polemicist, I spend a few hours every week contending for the faith with enemies of the church, whether charismaniacs or cultists or other schismatics. Those people who claim to be Christians, but are not, and who serve as doctrinal Trojan Horses to infiltrate and attack the church from the inside receive from me an especially tough treatment. If one makes themselves an enemy of the Bride of Christ, they are due a righteous hostility. What is being done to Heritage Grace Community Church – in the name of Christ, no less – is as wicked and wrong as any sub-christian sect that I regularly engage.
I disagree. The Reformed community largely considers the main issue here to be the local church. Well, I am the Praise Team Leader at my local church. Suppose for a minute that I was not an AHA adherent: if they came to my church, I believe I would welcome them as brothers or sisters and invite them to advise the church as to how to get more involved in the fight against abortion. I might be shocked, but I would see the signs they were holding and be broken over the images of the murdered children.
I say this because that’s exactly what broke me four and a half years ago. I saw the graphic images provided on the Abolish Human Abortion Facebook page and couldn’t stop shaking. So if someone else is awakened and a church becomes engaged in the fight against abortion because of the Church Repent Project, and the Gospel is preached and lives therefore saved, how is that wrong? I believe I would support that.
So then, here are some thoughts in an open letter to Abolish Human Abortion (AHA) and I pray they receive it well.
ICAS, not AHA, just a reminder.
You know me. I’ve defended you. I’ve supported you. I’ve worn your logo. I know you’ve never lacked in zeal, and have kept your religious fervor, and you’ve sought to serve the Lord (Romans 12:11). You have helped to stir me up to every good word and work (Romans 10:24-25) and you have encouraged my heart and helped to strengthen me in those good words and works (2 Thessalonians 2:17) outside the abortion mill and for the cause of abolition. You have stirred up, in fact, thousands if not tens of thousands to see the evil of our age and to act accordingly. As for my credentials, I’m an abolitionist. I believe the Pro-Life movement is a spiritual succubus that sucks the life out of our moral conscience and exists to sustain its profitable existence. I’ve sat down with my state senator and representative and others from surrounding districts and explained to them the importance of abolition and why it’s an ideological necessity. My church has financially supported the cause of AHA and I had an abolitionist in my home who spoke during my Sunday School just a few weeks ago, so the church would understand the difference between being pro-life and being an abolitionist. I’ve strategized with AHA leaders on the phone – who called me – and in person on how to best accomplish their goals. I have supported with certain reservations the Church Repent project, as sometimes necessary for churches who are supportive of child murder or even non-opinionated in their official stances. So then, any attempt to paint me as just another apathetic first-world Christian who acts in word but not in deed, I assume will be met by at least a few AHA abolitionists who know better. And for the record, most AHA participants are wonderful Christian brothers who are not playing the fool, as are the two scalawags outside Grace Community Church. I will do my best, therefore, not to paint with a broad brush.
We thank J.D. Hall for his past efforts. What we ask is that he listen to the input of the brothers who went to Heritage Grace and asked for help.
That being said, I exhort you in the following ways.
- About this word, exhort. This word means “to strongly encourage or entice someone, by words or advice, to do something.” Exhorting by giving advice or words requires a conversation. It does not require holding up dead baby pictures outside someone’s church. That’s a protest, and calling it “exhort” doesn’t make shinola smell like sugar.
Yes, it is a protest, but not a protest against the church. It is a protest against abortion. It is a protest against sin. Remember, repentance is a continual process. We continue to repent of our sins, both of commission and omission. We are all sinners. We all need to continually repent of this. We are not doing all that we could do, nor all that we ought to do to oppose this sin of child sacrifice.
Understand, we’re not saying we have fully repented, either. Luther stated that, “The man who truly repents is never satisfied with his own repentance.” We Abolitionists continually remind each other to get more involved in the fight as well. I keep graphic images of children murdered by abortion on my phone. I force myself to look at them. I don’t receive any joy out of that. I do receive conviction, though, a conviction that I hope leads America and the church to repentance.
In the video you posted, a church deacon – Robert Reece – came out spoke with you very cordially. He conversed with you politely and reasonably, and he listened to what you were saying. You had in your head that the church was apathetic, based upon nothing more than your subjective, poorly-informed opinion. Nothing he said about the church’s or church members’ activities seemed to matter to you. That the church calls abortion a damnable sin didn’t matter. That they preach Law and Gospel in the open air didn’t matter to you. That they were listening to you and treating you respectfully didn’t matter. You were hell-bent on proving your self-righteous superiority and their supposed spiritual apathy by playing the martyr outside the church with attention-getting signs.
Todd Bullis publicly apologized for the way he handled his conversation with Robert Reece. Talk with Todd and Matt. They see themselves as wretched sinners in need of Christ. Everything that you listed that Heritage Grace does is good. Matt publicly stated that we see them as brothers and sisters in Christ. The words used were not the best by any means, and Todd acknowledged that. But the project itself was well-intentioned.
You hold up signs when people don’t listen. If they think they can or should just ignore you, then you get out a megaphone or look for another creative way to get your point across. I know. I’ve specialized in getting people who think they can just ignore you to stop ignoring you (remember back when I was on social media – I was called a terrorist more times than I can count). However, you don’t go full protest when you can just walk up and have them talk to you. Didn’t you feel kind of stupid when Robert Reece walked up to talk to you like a normal human being? It was awkward for me, and I was just watching it on video. Emilio Ramos would have invited you over to his house to visit, but you had to hold up signs? That’s not only obtuse, it’s asinine. A megachurch like LifeChurchTV, with whom abolitionists have tangled, wouldn’t give you the time of day. They act like you don’t exist and it’s beneath them to talk to you. That’s who you might want to get their attention through more… creative means. But you could sit down and talk with a church’s pastor or leadership because they’re reasonable human beings and aren’t megachurch growth-drones and you think the best thing to do is protest them?
They were not protesting the church itself, nor the members, as I explained above. Multiple tactics have been discussed and attempted. What is spoken by Abolitionists in a Church Repent Project needs to be Biblical and needs to be self-controlled, but showing graphic images to church members on Sunday morning is not a sin.
Could you imagine the president inviting someone into the White House to talk, and some dirty hippy decided to instead protest outside the gates? Good strategy, Pedro. No, really. Genius. I bet that’s effective.
I don’t see this as an accurate comparison. The men were not necessarily trying to get into the church, but trying to see how best to get the church out into the abortion fight.
So, without having esoteric knowledge into the state of your heart or mind, let me tell you what it sure looks like. It looks to us (by “us” I mean sentient human beings) like you just get your jollies by protesting churches. It appears to us that it’s an outlet for the overflow of your self-righteousness, relieving the pressure in your exceedingly narrow mind from the build-up of ego inside your psyche. It could be, I admit, well-deserved rage at a Christian culture that by-and-large marginalizes and minimizes the murder of babies and so you’re just out blindly swinging at any target that presents itself. However, that tomfoolery leads me to number two.
Not even that. We are outraged that this continues. But we’re going to the church and begging for help because we are tired of watching children die. And the door keeps getting slammed in our faces. But like the parable of the woman who kept knocking at the door, so we keep asking the churches to help, and many have responded positively.
The motive was to ask for help. We don’t take joy in pictures of aborted children. Matt and I have both had nightmares because of the images. We don’t want the Church Repent Project to even exist. But we don’t want abortion to exist, either.
- Zeal has to be tempered by wisdom. Storm the gates! Ra ra ra. We get it. You really, really, really care about abortion. Well, that’s good. It is the evil of our age. We will all (maybe an over-statement, maybe not) be judged – to whatever lengths redeemed people are judged and subsequently pardoned on that Great Day – for our apathy toward child murder. Unless you go the lengths of Paul Jennings Hill, Scott Roeder or Eric Robert Rudolph, there will probably always be the thought you could have done more to stop abortion (by the way, do not go to the lengths of Hill, Roeder or Rudolph). I applaud the zealousness of most abolitionists, and I rejoice in their fervency. However, zeal without wisdom is counter-productive lunacy, and counter-productive lunacy is the playground of certain abolitionists. Wisdom-tempered zeal would understand that not everyone is an enemy.
Likewise, we also get it. You really care about the local church. That too is good. It is where believers meet together and read the Word of God to each other. It is where the sacraments are performed. It is where the Gospel is restated to believers. I applaud you for caring for it. However, zeal for your particular view of ecclesiology can lead to assuming that everyone who meets together differently than you do is doing it wrong and is in willful disobedience, as we have seen by many in recent months.
I agree, we need wisdom, and we are constantly discussing with fellow Abolitionists how to better engage with church members. We don’t see them as the enemy, regardless of how they see us. We are angry over how we have been treated, yes, and we need self-control when responding to people over said treatment. But we still see them as brothers and sisters in Christ. We refuse to give up on them, regardless of what they do or say against us. Christ didn’t give up on us when we were sinning against Him.
Man, I get it! I do! Certain abolitionists have been kicked out of their churches. Pastors, like Ronnie Rogers of Oklahoma, have repeatedly mistreated abolitionists while maintaining the mantle of “pro-life,” all the time supporting close family members playing Russian Roulette with their unborn children via in vitro fertilization. Once burned, twice shy. I get it. Heck, a close friend of mine had their family and children shunned from the Christianesque home school co-op because they were abolitionists. But friend, that does not mean that the established church at large is fair game to be at the receiving end of your petulant, self-absorbed temper tantrums. This leads me to number three.
Before going to number three, let me say thank you for sympathizing with what we have lost. Christians hate us. Despite all the claims we receive, we adamantly reject them. We do not hate local churches. But never have I felt more hated by the church than at this point in time, from the first week of the Heritage Grace event to now. I have questioned every friendship I have. I have found solace in remembering that God’s Fatherly love for those who are in Christ is Unconditional. Meanwhile, I have concluded that the love of every other person on the face of the planet will fail if put under enough pressure. But that doesn’t mean I will break fellowship with Christians. I will refrain from name-calling and treating brothers as heretics or as subordinates. They are my equals and my brothers in Christ, and I am commanded to fellowship with them.
We don’t see the established church as the enemy, but as our brothers that we ask to wake up to the slaughter happening around them. And many have! Some actually approve of the Church Repent project now, in front of their own churches! So viewing this as a “petulant, self-absorbed temper tantrum” is false. We don’t want to do this. I actually never have. I’m in church on Sunday morning leading the praise music. That’s my position. But if God uses the Church Repent Project to His glory, who am I to interfere?
- Your home abolitionist Bible study group is not a church. It’s here I want to be careful about broad-brushing. Many – and I would hope most – abolitionists are practicing members of Biblical, New Testament churches. There is a very unhealthy stream of abolitionism, however, that has replaced the Bible with Barna’s Pagan Christianity and who have replaced the church with a cult. By “cult,” I mean a group that gets together for religious purposes but doesn’t have Biblically-defined leadership (the offices of elders and deacons), clear expectations or delineations of membership, and organizational structure that Christ built. Furthermore, by “cult,” I mean an organization for whom its attendees or participants have chosen it instead of (not on top of) an actual church. A deconstructing of the organized church is Emergent-church type demonism, not some kind of reclamation of First Century ecclesiology. If abolitionists (and there are some, but not all and probably not most) who have forsaken the church for an abolitionist-centered churchy-type opportunity in their homes, they’ve abandoned the bride of Christ and have made themselves one with a whore. I use that word because any religious group that takes people away from the Bride, is a harlot or mistress.
Calling a church to repent, when you belong to a cult, is a level of cognitive dissonance that should make your head hurt.
See, here we have resorted to name-calling. It is this that leads to accusations and causes further controversy between brothers in Christ. I will strive to refrain from doing so in this response and in future conversations that I hope will happen between Jordan and other AHA and non-AHA brethren. I will delve more into the name-calling issue later when I respond to another article by J.D. provided later in this response.
Matthew Martellus laid out some justifications for this ecclesiology, and it actually makes some sense. It’s made me question my own. Here is the link to his explanation: http://blog.abolishhumanabortion.com/2014/10/church-repent-some-history-of-abolition.html
If J.D. wants to refer to our friends and brothers who share a different ecclesiology a “cult,” he needs to provide a refutation to this as well as a refutation to Barna’s Pagan Christianity that he referenced. But even then, the name-calling is misleading and confusing in regards to terminology, and it needs to stop altogether. Even when Paul went to churches to appoint elders, it doesn’t say they became churches as soon as they had elders. It was a church before then. So questioning one’s salvation over ecclesiology is a tiring practice that I find divisive and not at all beneficial.
- It’s time for organization. For some time, AHA has been able to distance itself from the crazier types that hurt the movement by their unqualified preaching or anarchial religious spirit by pointing out the organization has no organization. Anyone can call themselves an abolitionist and anyone can call themselves a part of AHA. This was an intentional decision to foster a grass-roots and grass-fire type spread of abolitionist ideology. By nature, this particular group of abolitionists were already prone to deconstruction of organization, and so the last thing they wanted to do was create some non-organic, highly bureaucratic organizational structure. Here’s the problem, though. The movement has grown (it has been wildly successful), but the paradigm has shifted and what was once the boon of abolitionism will soon destroy it if the brain-trust (Russell Hunter and the gang in Norman) doesn’t realize that safeguards must be put into place to protect the organization from the type of idiocy that was displayed last Sunday outside the Heritage Grace Community Church. Instead of being able to say, “we’re not responsible for what any AHA member does,” the reality is quickly becoming that because of the lack of organization, that negligence makes AHA leadership directly responsible for what every AHA member does.
“AHA” doesn’t have leadership, we’re told. Yes, you do. It’s T. Russell Hunter, Toby Harmon, and the boys in Norman. Everyone knows this, and everyone recognizes it. The wagon is out of control, and it’s time for somebody to take the reins. There needs to be a controlled burn, but the fire is out of control. I would argue that Hunter, Harmon and the others have a responsibility to take the reins. You can’t just start a fire and walk away. Your fire. You control it.
AHA is an ideology. I.C.A.S. is the organization. Now, I.C.A.S. does have leadership, and accountability is absolutely important. These are ideas that are constantly being discussed among fellow Abolitionists, and we do hold each other accountable and discuss what could be done differently or done better. We are open to the advice of people opposed to “AHA,” as I am constantly asking my local church family for prayer, and they are constantly inquiring and advising me. Likewise, Matt and Todd and other Abolitionists are open to the opinions of non-Abolitionist brethren. When I told Matt that I didn’t see it as a good idea to return to Heritage Grace a second time, the conversation got heated, but at the end of it, he responded by thanking me for sharing my concerns, assuring me that he took note of them.
This is one of the many reasons I identify as an Abolitionist. Not only are they leading the fight against abortion, but they are willing to explain their train of thought thoroughly to whoever will listen, and no matter how heated a debate might get, they are willing to reconcile afterwards. Opponents to ICAS have often blocked anyone who disagrees with them and encouraged others to have nothing to do with us. That gets nothing done. It only further divides the Body of Christ. If you are opposed to us, we will listen to everything you have to say. You are not merely a potential Abolitionist. You are a person, made in the Image of God. We will strive to treat you as such and reason with you.
- It’s time to repudiate the ne’er-do-wells in Texas. AHA leadership needs to clearly, articulately and passionately call the protest against the godly and Biblical, sin-rebuking, Gospel-preaching church what it is – unwise (if not wicked) and wrong.
Todd Bullis publicly apologized for the way he handled himself the first week at Heritage Grace. And if anything sinful has been said or done in Church Repent Projects by Abolitionists that were in themselves sinful words or actions, then I apologize on their behalf. I have publicly stated, and will state it again, that on some things, Russell Hunter and the main figures in I.C.A.S. are wrong on some issues. Sometimes they speak in manners lacking the fruit of the Spirit. But the Church Repent Project outside of Biblical churches itself is not a protest of the church. We are by no means saying not to go to that church.
- If the de facto leaders of AHA don’t repudiate the ne’er-do-wells in Texas, it’s time to leave AHA. If you have to leave AHA, it’s not a tragedy. Hey guys in Oklahoma, thanks for using Russell Hunter’s freakishly smart brain to breath life into this awesome ideological movement. Thanks for the good times. But, it’s time to move on. You can still be an abolitionist, take abolitionism and make it your ethos, but it might be time to drop the AHA from your signs.
He’s right: you can. You can be an Abolitionist without wearing our symbol or associating with us. We will still cheer you on, pray for you, stand beside you outside the abortion mills, etc. If you leave I.C.A.S., we will miss your affiliation and might inquire why you left, but you are not in sin simply for dropping the label. But we ask that you give brothers the benefit of the doubt and show them grace instead of accusing them. If you long to change the minds of the Abolitionists you specifically have concerns about, breaking fellowship and cutting off communication, like some have done, will not have a good effect. This is not an issue of someone willfully disobeying Scripture. This is both sides believing they have the correct interpretation of Scripture. So show them your interpretation, and let them present theirs. In the end, the Truth will prevail. If your view can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be. If theirs can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be. This discussion is not something to run from.
Cult Warning Signs
ABOUT WHOM THIS IS WRITTEN
This post was written to deal with the sub-Christian sect and organization known as “Abolish Human Abortion (AHA),” but can apply to virtually any number of such sects that fit the definition of “cult.” As time progresses and as our Lord tarries, many such cults will arise and Christians would be wise to apprise ourselves of their tactics and strategies.
First, let’s clarify terms regarding “AHA”: Abolish Human Abortion is not an organization. There are multiple groups that adhere to AHA that are not an Abolitionist Society. The International Coalition of Abolitionist Societies is the main organization that runs under the symbol that you see on our literature and clothing, and there are dozens of Abolitionist Societies within I.C.A.S. But AHA is an ideology.
The word cult has several definitions. The term itself invokes thoughts of black-robed and hooded mystics conducting midnight ceremonies deep in the forrest glen. And although that might be accurate of certain cults, most of the time it isn’t that dramatic.
Which is why we request that you stop using that word. You meant it to warn people of “AHA” and some practices that you thought to be dangerous. The ambiguity of this word is leading people to think that we’re hell-bound heretics, children of the devil. We’ve lost family and friends because of your posts.
We reject the claim that we are a cult, and so does the church which I attend. And using the phrase, “No one who is in a cult believes they are in a cult,” does no good. That’s essentially calling someone a cult member, and when they respond, “No, I’m not,” it’s like responding, “That’s what a cult member would say!”
The presupposition has to go away entirely. One has to stop viewing everything we say through cult lenses. The problem lies with the one providing the accusations.
The first and most benign definition of cult is that it is simply a system of religious belief directed toward an object or person of worship. In other words, a cult is basically just a religion, and Christianity qualifies.
We agree here: to fit this definition, if one wants to call “AHA” a cult, they also have to call all Christians cult members.
Another definition of cult is that it is simply a system of religious belief directed toward a mortal man. In this case, Christianity wouldn’t qualify because Christ is the immortal God-Man. Those cults that would qualify in this definition typically include stand-offs with the ATF and drinking poisoned Kool Aid.
Be careful, Mr. Hall: this could include many people groups here within your own circles. It doesn’t say that it’s directed toward the worship of a mortal man, but only a mortal man. This could include a mortal man’s teachings. Christianity could still be included here because of Paul’s exhortation to “follow me, as I follow Christ.” Paul was a mortal man. So is Calvinism now a cult because you center around Calvin’s monergistic soteriology? Are your Reconstructionist friends to be avoided for reading the writings of Rushdoony?
Now, this is where some might say, “Wait! Don’t you follow the teachings of Russell Hunter?” In a way, sure. But we believe Immediatism, Gospel-Centered missions, Reliant on Providence, Evangelical, Obligation of the Church, and any minor points underneath the five tenets that are part of the ideology to come from Scripture. If there is something that Scripture prohibits, we will gladly abandon it for a more Biblical stance. Russell Hunter is not our Lord and Savior. Jesus Is. Russell Hunter is not sinless and all-knowing. Jesus is.
A third definition of cult would be a group that holds to beliefs that are aberrant, false and damnable. This definition of cult isn’t always helpful, because it’s completely subjective based upon who is doing the judging. To Christians, cult might apply to Islam, Buddhism, Animism or any false religion on Earth.
This is what we meant. The word “cult” could apply to people who preach true doctrine, as in the first definition, or it could refer to groups to adhere to damnable heresy. One is essentially calling someone both orthodox and apostate in one word. The ambiguity could either encourage one to embrace the term sarcastically or run from it for their lives. Which is what people have done to us.
A fourth definition of cult is used in a specifically Christian context, and is determined by historical orthodoxy, and would include those groups ruled heretical or schismatic by church council or creed. For example, this might include Montanists or Judaizers.
No issue here.
A fifth definition of cult is similar to the fourth, but includes any group that claims to represent the Christian Church, but is clearly not, whether or not the belief is ancient enough for historical orthodoxy to have officially denounced it. This definition includes Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, who even though they weren’t condemned by any historic council, practice the Arian heresy and so they’re to be considered a cult. It might include the Hebrew Roots movement, who even though they weren’t addressed by historic creed or council, practice the Galatian heresy and must be considered accursed.
In this helpful guide that provides warning signs of cult behavior, the characteristics below fall under the fifth definition of a cult. But for for the sake of clarity, instead of using the term cult, we’ll use a term that’s more precise and less confusing (not having four other definitions to contend with), sub-Christian sect. The fifth definition of cult is a sect (a group holding to heretical beliefs that put them outside Christianity) and it is sub-Christian, meaning that the group professes Christ and claims to be Christian.
No issue here, either. I have acquaintances in all three camps that you mentioned: Arian/J.W., Hebrew Roots, and the Galatian Heresy. None of them are AHA-affiliated, though. In fact, people who used to wear the AHA who currently adhere to those beliefs were called out on it, and when they didn’t give up their false doctrine after many discussions calling them to do so, we distanced ourselves from them.
The issue here is that you try to put us into this camp. We do not belong outside of Christianity, other than the fact that we are sinners who deserve to be cast out of God’s Presence. We are your brothers in Christ. We do not hold heretical beliefs that put us outside Christianity, though people do hold different various doctrines throughout the Abolitionist movement since this movement is inter-denominational.
THE WARNING SIGNS
If you want to discern sub-Christian sects, watch for the following warning signs (these are numbered so you can list the Warning Sign Number when you see the behavior demonstrated in social media; for example, “Cult Warning Sign #8).
PLEASE NOTE: Sub-Christian sects do not necessarily have all the warning signs as listed. Likewise, the presence of a single warning sign does not mean the practitioner is by necessity part of a sub-Christian sect. Orthodox Christians can sometimes fall into these practices, whether due to zeal or foolishness. If more than just a few are present, however, you might just be dealing with a sub-Christian sect.
Agreed. Orthodox Christians, such as Abolitionists, can fall into these practices. I see Reformed people do it all the time.
- Sub-Christian sects often purport to be the only authentic believers, and characterize all others as sell-outs, compromised, or watered-down imitations of the real Church or of real Christians. This tactic has been particularly powerful since the Restorationist Movement in the mid-19th Century. They will speak of “restoring” the church and going back to the “real church” that was lost in the Apostolic Age. This belief eventually causes them to reject the Visible Church.
We have been accused of this. And we patently reject this accusation. You do not have to be an adherent to AHA to be saved. We would be damning our allies and our close friends and family members in our own local churches if we claimed that. Jesus didn’t wear the symbol.
- Sub-Christian sects focus on proselytizing believers rather than evangelizing the lost. The false teachers the church was warned about in Acts 20:30 come into the church, appearing to be disciples, only to “draw men after themselves.” Satan desires to destroy Christians, and typically leaves the pagan alone. Sub-Christian sects, like their lord and master, Satan, spends most of their time trying to proselytize professing, church-going Christians rather than win the lost.
Also not true about us. Satan is Not my lord and master. Jesus is. But back to the issue:
This is not what’s going on here. You will see Abolitionists often post about discontentment with the amount of service taking place on the part of the churches while the churches are simultaneously building multi-million dollar facilities, having fancy gatherings and unnecessary or even worldly events. But we go to the lost as well as “proselytize.” In fact, far more going to the lost than going to Christians. Matthew Tringali was at the abortion mills almost every day. He pleads with people to repent and believe the Scriptures and to have faith alone in Jesus Christ.
- Sub-Christian sects spend an inordinate amount of time lobbying for approval of the church-at-large, desperately asking (or demanding) acceptance. Of extreme strategic importance to the schismatic is having established churches lend the sub-Christian cult credibility or to embrace them as orthodox. A massive amount of time and resources of the sub-Christian sect will be spent trying to project themselves as orthodox. Those within orthodoxy simply don’t have to spend much – if any – time desperately trying to gain acceptance by the established church, but sub-Christian sects have to.
We don’t need the approval of the church-at-large. We need the approval of the Word of God. We do go to them and hope they will get behind us, but as many should know, they are often reluctant because it is centered around an issue that comparatively few want to talk about: abortion.
- Sub-Christian sects engage in victory-by-victimhood, projecting themselves as virtuous and long-suffering victims of marginalization or mistreatment. These sects “cry foul” at every given opportunity, clinging to the status of victimization in order to signal help from unsuspecting Christians who are drawn in at the accusation of mistreatment, playing on the good but naive intentions of believers. It could be called the “Servetus Syndrome,” in which five-hundred years after the death of a heretic, people still give sympathy and credence to one who (although he should not have been burned at the stake) was still a heretic and should have been marked as a schismatic and shunned from society. Every accusation against the sect is met with charges of “slander” or “persecution,” a martyr-syndrome that manifests itself in crying for help from well-meaning believers.
So, if someone is being mistreated, they’re not allowed to report it, otherwise they should fear being labelled, “cultic?” In the first article, you described what Abolitionists have been through. That’s not victory-by-victimhood. We’re asking the church to stop letting the world mistreat its children, and we get mistreated, instead. We’re not asking for help in winning an argument, as people don’t need to associate with us specifically to be an Abolitionist. But we are asking that you help the real victims, the unborn children.
It’s not persecution if it’s coming from fellow genuine believers. But it is a disagreement that needs to be settled lovingly, peacefully, without acting as a divider in the church.
- Sub-Christian sects engage in double-dog daring “are you saying I’m not a brother in Christ” strategy designed to force the critic to anathematize or accept them. A very popular tactic, these schismatics will demand that you call them a “Brother in Christ” or a “fellow Christian” or dare you to say they aren’t. If you concede they seem to be a fellow Christian because the confess orthodoxy on certain soteriological matters, then their charge is that you’re “attacking fellow Christians” and YOU will be made out to be the schismatic. If you say they aren’t Christians, then they’ll demand you explain why, given they agree with this point of theology or that point of theology. They’ll then make you to be an uncharitable curmudgeon. Don’t fall for this. You are not obligated to affirm or disavow anyone’s salvation based upon their profession alone (heretics lie).
Here’s the issue here, Mr. Hall: because of the articles that you have written, people do not consider us Christians who are indeed our brothers and sisters in Christ. Your “open letter to AHA” reached my church family and made people doubt about me. And I have acted in this way, and I have apologized to them for acting in anger. But that’s not a cult indicator. That’s a natural reaction when one feels like they’re getting kicked out of the place they belong. The reason being because the language you used and that they used, specifically regarding the usage of the word “cult,” could be inferred by saying that one is not a Christian and not saved simply for wearing this symbol.
The issue is not confronting us on a disagreement. Please do so. The issue is using ambiguous language that sounds like you’re comparing us to a false religion. The problem is sounding like you’re saying that I’m going to Hell, regardless of my faith in Jesus Christ.
- Sub-Christian sects make their beliefs as nebulous and ill-defined as possible, so as to confuse their opponents and make them harder to discern. They claim “straw man” at virtually every criticism, yet don’t define their convictions clearly enough to be properly understood. Schismatics do not like confessions or exhaustive faith statements, because they like to have beliefs that are fluid and ill-defined. Because their goal is achieving for themselves their own disciples, they find that a wide and shallow theology is more conducive to accomplishing their goals, as it is less exclusive as to who can follow them.
I like confessions and exhaustive faith statements. I adhere to the L.B.C. 1689 more closely than others. What I don’t like is the assumption that if someone doesn’t like lengthy confessions, then they are schismatic.
Our goal is ending abortion and telling people about Jesus. If our goal was achieving our own disciples, and if we wanted shallow theology, we would have united with Roman Catholics a long time ago. We refuse to. Salvation is by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, to the Glory of God alone. The Roman Catholics we encounter at the abortion mills are yet another group of people we are commanded to love, listen to and discuss with about what following Jesus truthfully looks like.
The “straw man” response is usually in reference to the tenet of Immediatism, which we often get criticism over from pro-life incrementalists. We reject bills like the 20-week ban or the heartbeat bill because there is life in the womb before there is a heartbeat or functional pain sensors present in the child. Incrementalists accuse us of being “Overnight-ists” for rejecting this, accusing us of wanting “all or nothing,” in regards to how much abortion we abolish, when we actually see the “nothing” as disobedience to God as well. We have responded to this elsewhere time and time again.
- Sub-Christian sects commonly twist words and phrases from their intended meanings (also known as ‘equivocation’) to make themselves appear orthodox. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses advertise celebrating Easter, but only speak of the crucifixion because they don’t believe in a bodily resurrection – and yet, people seeing their fliers at Easter time assume they believe in the resurrection. AHA speaks of their protests (which include picket signs and disrupting church services) as mere “exhortation.” Andy Stanley claims he believes in “inerrancy,” but means that term far different from the way others understand it. Again, this is to fool people into assuming their orthodoxy.
We’re not trying to fool anyone. A Church Repent Project is an exhortation of the church because we love the church as our brothers and sisters and want to see them join us in the fight. It is a protest of apathy because if abortion has existed for nearly 45 years now, then we have been apathetic. It is both.
- Sub-Christian sects are dishonest about the details of how their organization or ‘fellowship’ operate. They want to purport that their sect is just another church, but in order to continue the charade, have to conceal the real truth regarding the details of their organization. Those who follow after them will find out the details after they’ve already been inducted. Pay close attention as to how many people leave the organizations once they’ve joined. Often, the sub-Christian sects have “large back doors” through which a sizable proportion of their converts leave after being within them long enough find out their real beliefs.
Also doesn’t apply to us. We never claimed to be another church. Universal church, sure. We are a part of you if you trust in Jesus Christ.
Yes, people have left ICAS and no longer want to be associated with AHA adherents (Sometimes because of the faulty actions of one Abolitionist, and to those who have been hurt and sinned against by specific Abolitionists, I sincerely apologize.). But that’s not indicative of a cult; it happens with every natural group. And they never had to wear the symbol in order to be an Abolitionist or a true Christian. We still cheer them on and pray for them and consider them friends, regardless of the disagreements that may have come about.
- Sub-Christian sects portray their beliefs as common or ordinary as a means to deflect criticism. Theonomists – those who believe the Mosaic judicial law (including penology) is obligatory for all nations and times – will say that the term “theonomy” is limited to its etymological definition of “God’s Law,” when in fact it means far more than that. AHA claims that the organization is synonymous with abortion abolition, when in the fact the majority of its work is directed towards converting Christians to Sectarian Minimalism and following after their leaders. These sects reduce their beliefs to a simple, often-repeatable mantra that lacks controversy, hiding their actual beliefs and intentions.
Once again: AHA is not an organization. ICAS is. And you do not have to be in ICAS to adhere to AHA. Missionaries to the Pre-born adheres to AHA. Hoosiers for Life adheres to AHA. You don’t have to associate with us to believe in the ideology.
Don’t follow after Abolitionists. Follow after Christ. Hold us accountable. Confront us. Adhere to the local church according to the Bible.
“Hiding our actual beliefs and intentions”? Everything is on the website for you to see, other than strategies for future conferences and projects that we want to keep away from abortion advocates. We’re not hiding any beliefs. Our intention is to end abortion and tell people about Jesus.
- Sub-Christian sects prefer to project themselves as movements or ideologies rather than as organizations, in order to insulate themselves from criticism. Almost every sub-Christian sect in the last 170 years (since the Restorationist Movement) has claimed that their sect was just a grass-roots or “organic” movement, repudiating “organizationalism” or “insitutionalism.” They repudiate the label of organization (or denomination, etc…) even though they fit the qualifications of such. This way, they can argue that it is a move of the Holy Spirit and not the subtle guise of spiritual schemers. This also insulates the organization from criticism regarding the claims of more honest members, who are sure to be radicalized and ostracized for their unorthodoxy.
After sending this to me, J.D. referred me to #10 specifically. So, let’s break this down again: AHA is an ideology. ICAS is the foremost organization that adheres to AHA. We are not denying that we are in organizations such as Abolitionist societies. We are simply saying that AHA itself is not an organization. In fact, people who believe in the five tenets, yet don’t want to be associated with “AHA,” nevertheless adhere to the ideology that is AHA.
Please, give us your feedback. We are open to criticism. If you have a problem with a specific Abolitionist society, let us know. But assuming all adherents to AHA are bad because you had a bad experience is like assuming all of Christianity is bad because of some of the antisemitic writings of Luther, of which we do not approve.
- Sub-Christian sects have a tendency to rove in packs in social media, and they call for help from fellow sectarians in the event of argumentation. Infiltrating one social media group at a time, the sect targets seemingly vulnerable subjects and strategically “run together” to intimidate, annoy, or in some way coerce Christians into either following after them or risk being abused, shamed or shunned if they speak out against them. This is a very successful and common strategy, as it appears the movement is far larger, when it only has a small handful of highly motivated adherents.
So that includes Calvinism, Reconstructionism, B.A.M.H. supporters, local church pastors, general street preachers, etc., if we’re referring to groups that roam in packs. This is not a process that indicates a cult. It’s a natural process we tend to practice as humans.
- Sub-Christian sects often try to win arguments through a victory-by-volume approach to argumentation. The schismatics produce an over-abundance of blogs, articles, books, videos and (in 2016) Internet memes to simply repeat over and again the same talking points. Schismatics, because they are by nature law-oriented and works-focused (as opposed to being Gospel-focused) are highly motivated (their righteousness depends on it), deeply fanatical, tireless individuals who will dedicate the many hours upon hours necessary to win a single argument. Their goal, after all, is building up their organization. Schismatics often believe they’ve won an argument simply because they’ve used more words.
We are not law-oriented or works-focused. We are Gospel-Centered. We deny the Galatian heresy. It is the Spirit that keeps us in Christ. Not our works. We affirm Faith Alone. Our righteousness is complete in Christ. Christ’s kingdom is the only organization that will last forever. ICAS and AHA will be forgotten. If you can prove our interpretations of Scripture wrong using Scripture, we will listen. Russell Hunter publicly stated that if there was a Scriptural prohibition to the Church Repent Project, we would not do it, and with that I agree.
- Sub-Christian sects often apply ecclesiastical pressure to their critics, taking advantage of orthodox church structure (which they themselves often lack) to silence the opposition. These sects will find out information about their critic, and use it to call their church, pastor, or ecclesiastical authorities (using Sub-Christian Sect Warning Sign #4), accusing them of slander, violating the 9th Commandment, or mistreating of “fellow Christians.” Often, the threat of controversy alone is enough pressure to silence opposition.
We don’t want this kind of controversy. That’s the very thing we’re asking you to stop causing about us. But many of the things said about us are lies. People have talked with us, at times for as many as reportedly 17 hours, who heard about us and had reservations because of things you and your friends have said, and they responded when we finished explaining everything to them, “Why did we not want to associate with you again?”
Heresies: Sectarian Minimalism
Sectarian Minimalism is a heretical sub-christian sect consisting of professing believers in Jesus, but who minimalize, repudiate, or neglect the local church. Sectarian Minimalism manifests itself in many Christian traditions, and typically leads to great harm both among its adherents and also to churches where it has taken root.
Already, we have a problem of assuming that anyone who disagrees or who does church any differently is sub-Christian and possibly cannot be considered a brother. Don’t meet on Sunday, but rather another day? You’re out. Don’t keep an official registry? Sorry, you can’t possibly have your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, either.
Sectarian Minimalism has two primary characteristics that are always present, and other characteristics that are often present. The two primary characteristics include, as the name suggests, (A) a sectarian mentality that separates adherents from the local church and (B) a minimalist approach to ecclesiology that both insults and rejects the organized church.
I write this response as a local church adherent. I am the Praise Team Leader at First Baptist Church in Lovelady, Texas. My elder is Charlie Adams, and my deacons are Byron Shoemaker and Charlie Bell. This excludes me from being legitimately accused of this “heresy.” However, many of my friends will be seen as wolves in the midst of sheep for disagreeing with some. My hope is to show that they are not separated from the local church and that they are not trying to either insult or reject the church.
Other secondary characteristics of Sectarian Minimalism include:
- A belief that offices of elder and deacon are unofficial, or that these are simply men who hold elder-like or deacon-like gifting
The people in ICAS who hold different ecclesiologies have acknowledged the importance of elders and deacons. They disagree in what that is supposed to look like.
- A belief that church meeting houses, buildings or property are a sign of a watered-down “corporate” church
Not necessarily. We are dissatisfied with the amount of rebellion against the culture, but we applaud the efforts of the “corporate” churches who have joined us in the fight or started their own thing.
- An assertion that taking advantage of charitable tax-status is being enslaved to the state
Also not necessarily. We have referred to the tax status because many do not speak out against abortion for fear of losing their benefits. We applaud those who have taken bold stances while having a tax exempt status.
- A belief that preaching (a monologue of exposition in an authoritative oration) is pagan-influenced or unbiblical, instead having “share times” when individuals can speak whatever they “feel led”
Who is saying that it’s pagan? I don’t have a problem with either as long as people are being fed by the Word.
- A belief that church membership is unbiblical, and have a tendency to speak of the church in only universal terms
Meeting together locally is important, and if you want to take registry, by all means. But how does not having an official membership make one apostate?
- A disinterest or contempt for a liturgy, no matter how minimal (for example, the typical “order of service” that you find in most evangelical or Protestant churches)
I think the people you’re trying to refer to would admit that their own meetings have Bible readings, songs, exposition or commentary, etc. It’s just less formal.
- A tendency to refer to local churches as “organizations” or “fellowships”
Nothing is wrong with this, nor is that a cultic behavior. It’s simply calling local churches what they are.
- A belief that the family unit is actually the church (among some)
The argument is that the father and mother are the main contributors to the faith and spiritual well-being of their children. They’re not saying accountability is unimportant.
- Often there is a doctrine espoused within the Sectarian Minimalist cult that is sub-Christian, and the actual church as a whole rejects that doctrine (Sectarian Minimalists often include aberrant sub-christian sects like Hebrew Roots, Abolish Human Abortion [AHA], extreme charismatics or other fringe or radicalized groups)
We reject this claim that we are sectarian minimalists, and we reject the claim that the actual church as a whole rejects it. You just read earlier that Mr. Hall has worn our symbol, associated with us, supported us, etc., so orthodox Christians hold to this.
- A twisting of the doctrine of “Priesthood of the Believer” that denies distinctions of church offices and spiritual gifting
Abolitionists are not saying don’t have elders, they’re just disagreeing on what it looks like. They’re not denying spiritual gifting, they’re just saying everyone in the church can use their gifts to support Abolition, of which the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Salvation is the Crux.
- A repudiation of religious education in organized settings like Bible College or Seminary, relying heavily upon their supposed “leading of the Spirit”
We don’t condemn learning about Christian doctrine or obtaining education, and I actually hope to obtain a seminary degree after I obtain my bachelor’s.
However, we have seen people say they can’t get involved in the fight because of school. But there’s always something that people can do. Abolition doesn’t have to look like going to abortion mills. It can look like leaving drop cards where you go, or passing out leaflets on campus, or wearing clothing with the Abolitionist message on it, or even (and especially) praying for us and for the abortion industry to end, for souls to be saved by Faith in Jesus.
- A reverence and dependence upon books like Pagan Christianity (by George Barna) or Re-Imaging Church (by Frank Viola).
Barna is not the standard, nor Viola. The Word of God is. The issue here is interpretation of Scripture. Mr. Hall needs to provide a refutation of these books if he wants to undermine the position of specific Abolitionists and call them to his view of repentance. Also, only some Abolitionists think that Pagan Christianity? is a useful book.
- They have a greater passion for proselytizing church-going believers than evangelizing the lost
Not us. J.D. is using this to refer to the Church Repent Project again. But in doing so, he is referring to men who spend almost every day preaching against abortion at the mills and on the streets, using abortion as a direct link to the Law of God, and using the Bible to lead people to repentance and Faith in Jesus.
The consequences of Sectarian Minimalism is that it:
- Denies the importance of historic theology
Actually, they’re doing this because they believe it to be the historic version of church fellowship. You keep referencing Barna but lack a refutation (I haven’t read this book, so I lack the information the book covers).
- Takes members out of the local church and away from the Bride of Christ, making its sub-christian sect into a spiritual prostitute
Believers in Christ are a part of the Bride of Christ. The only way for them to leave would be to abandon the Faith completely. This is a disagreement on what the local church looks like, or has to look like.
- Often observes the ordinances without the duly constituted Biblical authority, making them blasphemous and condemned under God’s judgment
I don’t know, Mr. Hall, churches in the New Testament were considered churches before they had appointed elders.
- Does not fit the qualifications or marks of a Biblical church (for an explanation of “what is church,” click here).
Actually, my friends fit the description you provided in the link.
- It fits the Scriptural qualifications of the wicked apostates of Romans 16:17-20
No. It doesn’t. That verse says nothing about ecclesiology. If someone is purposefully trying to set brother against brother over useless controversy, or denying essential truths to the Christian faith that teach how to be saved, then we have a problem.
Spiritual Prostitute. Wicked apostates. Agree with my ecclesiology or go to hell. This is what it sounds like you’re saying. Change the way you address people you disagree with. You don’t like us. I get it. But this is only causing further division between brothers who disagree on what even high-ranking Reformed theologians admit is a secondary issue.
Polemics Terms: Slander
THE POLEMICS DEFINITION
“Slander” is a term improperly used by many who oppose discernment or criticism in a way that colloquially means, “something I don’t like hearing” or “something that is spoken or written ill of someone I like.”
Example: An article about Hillsong Church’s cover-up of homosexuals leading ministry is met with the response that the article is “slanderous,” even though the information presented is true.
Example: A polemicist discusses Todd Bentley’s marital affair while he was conducting the Brownsville Revival, and they are told that they are “slandering” Bentley by pointing out his moral failure.
Example: A pastor explains why theonomy is a sub-biblical teaching that Judaizers the Mosaic judicial law, and he is accused of “slandering” theonomy or theonomists, when all he has done is give his theological opinion about why the teaching is bad and has made no definitive truth claims that can be proven false.
THE TEXTBOOK DEFINITION
From Websters-Merriam dictionary, slander is “to make a false spoken statement that causes people to have a bad opinion of someone.”
Slander is spoken, and is the counterpart of libel, defined by Websters-Merriam as “the act of publishing a false statement that causes people to have a bad opinion of someone.”
Both of these are continually being done against us.
FURTHER EXPLANATION OF ACTUAL SLANDER OR LIBEL
Both slander and libel can be criminal offenses (although rare) in certain states or nations (for example). However, virtually no state or nation contains laws making criminal truthful speech (except for some nations that do not permit this when done towards magistrate or civil authorities). Most of the time, slander and libel is not a crime, but is a “tort” and subject to civil lawsuit.
To truly be classified as “defamation” (how slander and libel are usually prosecuted), it must have the following characteristics:
- First, the “statement” can be spoken, written, pictured, or even gestured. Because written statements last longer than spoken statements, most courts, juries, and insurance companies consider libel more harmful than slander.
Agreed. This is what’s been happening to us.
- “Published” means that a third party heard or saw the statement — that is, someone other than the person who made the statement or the person the statement was about. “Published” doesn’t necessarily mean that the statement was printed in a book — it just needs to have been made public through television, radio, speeches, gossip, or even loud conversation. Of course, it could also have been written in magazines, books, newspapers, leaflets, or on picket signs.
So many of our friends who disagree with AHA count as this third party. When Emilio Ramos released his initial video in response to Matt Tringali and Todd Bullis, while Matt was overwhelmed with statements of legitimate hatred, Todd was overwhelmed by people apologizing to him. People supported him, decided to join “AHA,” stated that the pastor was “mean,” etc. Some even said they no longer wanted to be considered Reformed because of how Pastor Ramos reacted in the video he released. (Honestly, I myself have strongly considered this motion. Not just because of how Pastor Ramos reacted. I have respect for him and his local church’s ministries outside of this whole debacle. But the overwhelming amount of legitimate hatred I have received from Reformed brethren has been, well… overwhelming. I don’t know if I will retain this label of Reformed just yet. I need to weigh the pros and cons. I have friends in Reformed and non-Reformed camps. But a lot of people have complained to me about how I would constantly go off about Calvinism for years, in ways that made people feel inferior. “Cage Stage” is no excuse. Now, seeing how hurtful the words of Reformed leaders have been to my friends, I can see how hurtful my words have been in the past, and I don’t know if continuing with the Reformed label is beneficial.)
- A defamatory statement must be false — otherwise it’s not considered damaging. Even terribly mean or disparaging things are not defamatory if the shoe fits. Most opinions don’t count as defamation because they can’t be proved to be objectively false. For instance, when a reviewer says, “That was the worst book I’ve read all year,” she’s not defaming the author, because the statement can’t be proven to be false.
This has happened. Sometimes by you, Mr. Hall. You wrote an article entitled, “Convicted Terrorists Now Terrorize Church in Texas with AHA.” Yes, Jered Ragon and Michael Plaisted have criminal histories. But that’s the beauty of God’s saving grace. We’re not what we once were. In fact, they now consider all forms of violence to be sinful. They’re on the opposite end of the spectrum now. Terrorize? They simply stood there. Agree or disagree with the Church Repent Project, there was no threat of violence.
We’ve been called apostate, God-haters, wicked, of your father, the devil, demons, etc., and your friends persist in doing so, especially Andrew Rappaport, after being called to repent and having forgiveness extended to him time and time again. We’re getting used to it, but it would be really nice if someone would listen to us so we could explain why we have our tenets and projects, and maybe it might make sense to those who actually listen without a cultic presupposition about us.
- The statement must be “injurious.” Since the whole point of defamation law is to take care of injuries to reputation, those suing for defamation must show how their reputations were hurt by the false statement — for example, the person lost work; was shunned by neighbors, friends, or family members; or was harassed by the press. Someone who already had a terrible reputation most likely won’t collect much in a defamation suit.
That’s exactly what happened. Some of us have lost work. We have lost friends. We have lost family members. Children of broken homes are put in danger when people Google Abolish Human Abortion and “cult” comes up in a lot of results. The legal authorities are more inclined to give greater access to children of Abolitionist women to ex-husbands. Husbands and wives are currently being pulled further away from each other because of the words you have stated. We were harassed by writers of discernment blogs like the one I’m responding to. I have worked for months to convince my church family that I am not in any spiritual danger by being in an Abolitionist Society.
- Finally, to qualify as a defamatory statement, the offending statement must be “unprivileged.” Under some circumstances, you cannot sue someone for defamation even if they make a statement that can be proved false. For example, witnesses who testify falsely in court or at a deposition can’t be sued. (Although witnesses who testify to something they know is false could theoretically be prosecuted for perjury.) Lawmakers have decided that in these and other situations, which are considered “privileged,” free speech is so important that the speakers should not be constrained by worries that they will be sued for defamation. Lawmakers themsleves also enjoy this privilege: They aren’t liable for statements made in the legislative chamber or in official materials, even if they say or write things that would otherwise be defamatory. (source).
We could try, but we are not going to sue you. We have no reason to. We’ve been commanded by the Apostle Paul to do otherwise instead.
“Why not rather be wronged?”
We’re just asking you to stop. This is bigger than civil lawsuits. This is about accountability before God. Jesus tells us in Matthew 12 that we will be held accountable for every word that we speak. Hurtful words have been spoken from both sides and from third parties. But there shouldn’t be sides in the first place. We are one in Christ. And the Bride of Christ is suffering because we continue to attack each other over this issue. And children continue to die seven days a week because we spend more time fighting each other than abortion itself.
We are willing to reconcile and come together, not under a common cause, but under a common King, Jesus Christ. I forgive you for the words you have stated against us. Healing, understanding and reconciliation has come for me personally with many people who heard about this whole debacle, and I pray that it will come with you as well.
God bless you, brother.
Finally, to the non-AHA affiliated reader: if you disagree with the Church Repent Project or take issue with the ecclesiology of specific Abolitionists, that is completely understandable, and your concerns have not gone unnoticed by us. Many of us were formerly opposed to it as well. But we have seen the effectiveness it has with awakening the churches to the Holocaust happening all around us. If you want to explain your reasons why you disagree with the Church Repent Project, please do so! We want to know every argument against it. Not to fight, but to examine every side of the argument, and to discuss how best to fight abortion.
If an Abolitionist comes to your church and performs a Church Repent Project, you might be confused, outraged, as some have been. But consider what you have read here, and remember what their motives are. My recommendation is that you not do as others have done in shunning them, but rather go to them in love. If you want to change their minds, “do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother,” as Paul told the Corinthians. Offer to meet with them. Listen to what they have to say. Be willing to explain your viewpoint in its entirety. If they still disagree, pray for them. Not that they would see things from your point of view, since every sinner’s point of view is still somewhat skewed until our final glorification, but that God’s will would be done in their lives. Show them that you care about their soul as well as sound theology.
“Holy Father, keep them in Your Name, which You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are One.” – Jesus, John 17:11
– Alex Johnson, Born-Again Christian, Praise Team Leader, Abolitionist