Chad Holtz now believes in hell. As to homosexuality . . . ?

Chad Holtz

Yesterday Chad Holtz left a comment to a post of mine from May 2011, What Jesus Really Meant by the Story of Lazarus, in which I suggest that the parable is not, as it’s traditionally accepted to be, intended as a lesson about the reality of a literal hell, but rather as a lesson about ourselves. In response Chad wrote:

As someone who lost his pulpit for not believing in hell, I would have loved this rendering. But I think Its [sic] wrong.

I believe the point of the rich man now begging for even a drop of water off the dirty finger of a poor man illustrates how dreadful hell truly is. It is so awful that pretense is gone, and he would now gladly beg for just a drop of water to quench his thirst from the one he ignored in his life.

Lets not forget the plea as well. He wanted his family to change…to know that this hell is real and to repent lest they all join him.

Hell is real. Woe to us who have lost all fear of God.

Some of you may recall Chad as the pastor who in March 2011 made national news when he was dismissed from his job for writing a note on his Facebook page supporting Rob Bell’s then-new book Love Wins, which questioned the notion of hell as a place of eternal damnation for sinners. (The reality behind Chad’s firing was a bit more complicated, of course—but, to paraphrase the saying, the media wants what the media wants.)

Unemployed but heralded as a martyr for the Christian left, Chad turned his attentions to his blog, Dancing on Saturday—where, earlier in the month in which he got fired, he had stirred the ire of his congregation by publishing a piece entitled “What I Lost Losing Hell,” in which he spoke of how no longer believing in the traditional view of hell had freed him to become a more deeply spiritual person. “Love does, indeed, win,” he wrote. (Chad also wrote that in “losing hell” he had lost “a very powerful and useful motivator: Fear. … I lost the ability to use fear as a tool to manipulate others to believe as I did.”)

Buoyed high by the tidal wave of Love Wins, a revamped Dancing proved very popular. But as the months passed and the waters calmed its popularity waned. What seemed to finally drown Dancing was Chad’s efforts to utilize it to launch a new church ministry he attempted to start based upon the sexual addiction he often blogged about suffering.

According to his blog it was said addiction which led to Chad’s wife of eight years, Amy, filing for divorce in July 2011. The couple have five young children, two of whom are siblings from Ethiopia who were ages three and five when the Holtz’s adopted them in early 2008.

In October 2011 Chad declared on his blog that early the following month he would be leaving the world behind in order to spend seven months overcoming his sexual addiction at Kentucky’s Pure Life Ministries, where they practice a brand of Christianity it’s safe to call ultra-conservative.

From PLM’s website:

Our 35 full-time biblical counselors and support staff are fully committed to bringing the hope, healing, and restoration found only in Christ to those who have been touched by the leprosy of sexual sin. …

In fulfilling our call, Pure Life Ministries is founded upon the authority of the Word of God as the supreme and all-sufficient Truth for overcoming sin. We unashamedly preach a message of repentance unto salvation. Everything we do—whether in our counseling programs, our speaking ministry, the distribution of our books and resources—all these things are based on the Word of God, with the goal of leading others to victory over sexual sin through a deeper life in God.

Italics mine.

For a few months before he left for Pure Life, Chad and I emailed back and forth, sharing links to one another’s posts on our respective Facebook pages, and so on. Once he left for rehab I didn’t hear from him again (nor expect to), until his comment yesterday on my Lazarus piece.

Accompanying that comment was an invitation to visit Chad’s new blog, Unchained. (On their website Pure Life Ministries presents slick, drama-drenched testimonial videos called Unchained: The Stories, which includes such titles as It never ever dawned on me that I was on my way to hell; I associated myself as a gay man; All I knew was that I had a secret life of homosexuality; I was angry, so angry; and He finally got up the nerve to tell me he struggled with homosexuality. Each video ends with its subject saying, “My name is [so-and-so], and I’ve been unchained.”) I originally deleted the link within Chad’s comment on my blog because, having looked at Unchained, I thought it and the comment itself fake. Subsequent poking about convinced me it’s not.

Chad’s new blog consists of but one entry. Dated June 1 (byline: “chadholtznew”), it is titled “I repent.” Highlights of that post include:

“I repent of my past denial of hell or that a person could ever be eternally seperated [sic] from a holy God.   I know now that I had no fear of God.  Therefore, I had no knowledge of God (Prov. 1:7).   I was a fool with an MDiv.   I was wrong.”

“Marrow’s Chapel United Methodist Church was right to ask me to leave.  It was God’s mercy.”

“Love doesn’t win.  God wins.  And it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a holy, living God (Heb. 10.31).  I lost sight of this and God, in His mercy, granted me a chance to repent.”

“Like Paul, I count pretty much everything I said and did in the past as dross (Phil. 3:8) compared to the intimacy I now have with Jesus.”

“[Jesus] saved me.  I know today that I am free, redeemed, delivered, unchained. I know what it means to live at the cross and to walk in daily repentance.  I know what it is to fear God and the joy of holiness.  The chains that bound me for decades are gone.  The blood of Jesus has washed me clean!  Hallelujah!”

“God has even seen fit to restore my dead marriage.  He not only saved me, God saved Amy as well.  Days of depression and anxiety are gone and her strength and joy is found in the Lord.  In March she wrote me in only [sic] of her many letters to me:

I used to get so angry at women who said that one day I would look back on all of this and be grateful.   But crazy as it may sound, I am so thankful for our many afflictions, Chad, because through them I have been brought closer to Christ.”

And so on.

Chad has eliminated all online traces possible of his former self—most certainly including his old blog (which is also now apparently infected with malware it’s waiting to download onto your computer should you dare to visit it). I would venture to guess, however, that we will soon enough be hearing from the new Chad. I would be surprised if he hasn’t already signed to write at least one book with a Christian publisher in the evergreen “He was lost to the sin of sexual addiction, but now he’s found—and now he and his long-suffering wife are the happiest Christian married couple ever!” genre.

And now, if I might, on a more personal note:

Chad! Great to hear from you! Sounds like you’re feeling very good about your time at Pure Life. That’s wonderful. I guess you and I don’t share beliefs about hell anymore! But so what? When it comes to what’s behind Door Number Death, even the most religiously inspired must admit that ultimately they, too, are necessarily speculating. The important thing is that you’re now feeling better and back with your family. How beautiful is that? The best of luck to you in whatever preaching or writing opportunities are surely awaiting you now.

Hey, so, one thing I wanted to ask you about, Chad.

Before leaving for Pure Life Ministries you were an unwavering defender of the idea that God blesses same-sex relationships the same as he does straight ones. Your blog post “Homosexuality: God’s Gift to the Church” is typical of your forthright and unabashed work on this matter. So is this, which you wrote not long before leaving for Pure Life:

Scripture has nothing to say about “same sex relationships” as we know them today. Not a word. All 6 times it comes up in the Bible they are unanimously about cultic worship, abuse or rape. None of them have a loving, mutual relationship in sight. … What, exactly, is “sinful” about a loving, committed, same-sex relationship? Can anyone tell me what it is about this that makes it sinful, apart from just saying, “God said so”? In other words, we can no doubt come up with all sorts of reasons why murder, adultery, incest, lying, stealing, lust, etc are “sinful” which don’t rely solely on “God said so.” So what is it about a same sex loving relationship that is “sinful”?

I am so glad that you and your wife are happy again, Chad. I just hope, with all of my heart, that part of your new belief in hell is not the conviction that destined to go there are so many of the people whom you once so passionately argued had a rightful place in heaven.

 

UPDATE: About five hours after I published this post Chad and his wife Amy launched a new blog. Called Desire Mercy, it’s about how God wants them to share the story of their struggle for the benefit of others.

FOLLOW-UP: The Bible and sex addiction?

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter. If you shop at Amazon, help support John by entering the site through this link right here--Amazon will then send John 3-4% of the cost of anything you buy before exiting the site again.

 

  • David C Thompson via Facebook

    But can he listen to Beethoven without vomiting?

  • Logan Judd via Facebook

    Of course he believes in Hell now; he’s been there for seven months.

  • Kathleen Grimes Ricker via Facebook

    David, you beat me to it. Of course, his expression looks a bit vacant, but maybe they just did a really good job with the lobotomy scar. Seriously, who goes from not believing in Hell to believing in Hell?

    • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

      Fear is a powerful thing.

    • dan(chicago)

      I’ve seen that look in the bar. It’s a come hither look.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leavalencia Lea Valencia Noring via Facebook

    Very disturbing. :(

  • Mary Wisner Miller via Facebook

    I wish him well. That is about all I can say. He just put on a different pair of glasses with which to view the world.

  • Randy Arnold via Facebook

    If I had just spent 7 months at a conservative Christian rehab center, I’d believe in hell to. I would have just spent seven month there….

  • Scott

    The sad thing about fundamentalist brainwashing is that it is often quite effective. We’ll see where he is in five years.

    • DR

      I believe in some kind of concept of hell and I’m not a Fundamentalist.

  • Tom Blegen via Facebook

    he may believe in hell now because he’s been there! from your quotes of his writings he used to write freely and now it looks like he only writes cliches… too bad. i hope the best for him.

  • Mary June Rose via Facebook

    I believe in hell. I also believe in equal rights for everyone. The two are not mutually exclusive (nor do you suggest that, thank you).

  • Mindi Palmer Fried via Facebook

    Randy, I kind of hoped that was what the conclusion was going to be…

  • http://www.facebook.com/cullen.carter3 Cullen Carter via Facebook

    He only believes in Hell because he obviously experienced it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/caciona.r.bernstrom Caciona R. Reece Bernstrom via Facebook

    so sad, to be silenced by ideology blanketed in the name God

  • Rhea Flanery via Facebook

    Interesting…

  • http://www.facebook.com/grm.siri Grm Siri via Facebook

    Do those “Christian” rehab centers also believe in waterboarding?

  • John Hewlett via Facebook

    How stupid….all of it

  • Melody

    God help us. It’s sad when someone who previously had a brain loses it to the brainwashing efforts of the Christian Right. This truly makes me sick.

    • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

      Maybe it will be temporary, too. “Sudden” changes leave me suspcious – whatever the change from/to is, perhaps because gradual change is more in line with my experience of the things of Change. Sudden stuff makes me think of a kid who goes from one new fad to another because it’s what their friends/everyone at school is into – like my overwhelming need for a wishing-troll doll in seventh grade. I never became a lifelong collector.

      Or like taking the wrong psychatric medication for a mis-diagnosis. That new antidepressant feels good for a moment, but will probably make you even more sucidal than you were sometime down the road.

      • Lissy

        Really change is HARD and takes awhile in my experience, too, Shadsie.

  • Wayne Johnson via Facebook

    I’m very sorry to see this. We knew he was going to an openly hateful brainwashing factory, but I hoped he would hold onto his inner strength.

  • http://redheadconfetti.blogspot.com/ Emma

    I’ll just ask the same things I’ve asked before:

    If the 10 commandments didn’t tell you not to murder, would you? Do you really need that threat of eternal punishment to be good?

    Ugh! Most people are good for the sake of being good, it’s societal, it’s good for us all. Those who need hell to be good, need those 10 commandments, well, they scare the crap out of me. Unfortunately, my mother’s family are those kinds of murderers-in-waiting :(

    • Lissy

      Wow, good point! (“Those who need hell to be good”) Never thought about it like that before! As someone who has lived in fear much of her life, I will say that a life lived in fear (based on fear, whatever) is NO LIFE AT ALL. When I am focused on how much God loves me, I know my fear is less, and I am kinder and more loving myself. Why would anyone pick a life lived in fear?

  • http://www.facebook.com/john10423 John Gragson via Facebook

    what a shame. i hope he manages to find that “God is love” again.

    • Diana A.

      This.

  • Wayne Johnson via Facebook

    Some of us are close enough to the edge that we have to make decisions about this and that. Maybe the ones who are blessed enough to not care at all about it are the ones who are really in grace.

  • Tyler

    John, I’m interested to know a little bit more how you feel about an appropriate Christian response to sexual addiction, and addiction in general. I grew up in a fundamentalist evangelical tradition, and when I realized in college that I may have an addiction to sex, I was instantly thrown onto the “turn or burn” track, both in my own mind as well as the individuals who the university brought into speak on it at least twice a year.

    I spoke to a Christian counselor who tried to feed me a line of bull about “letting the Holy Spirit do the work” and my grandmother was convinced that I just wasn’t praying hard enough in order to make any headway.

    I’ve been focusing on secular therapy for a while now, but part of me wants to believe that my faith in God can come into play here too without me having to jump on board the crazy train.

    • Don Rappe

      12 step programs are often helpful with addiction. They depend on relying for help on an undogmatically understood “power greater than ourselves”, after the admission of our own powerlessness.

  • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    The old site infected by malware thing… is that accidental? If it’s accidental, it is just an oversight, but if it’s *on purpose* that is LOW and VICIOUS. Well all change and flow through the river of life. I’ve posted things online in the past that I’m now embarassed about and hope people who know me now never read, but it can probably all still be found somewhere if you search (like my guy discovered when he did the Wayback Machine to find and preserve some of my old artwork. I went ARGH at him, but didn’t infect him with anything). As for old sites and journals I didn’t want anymore, simple deletion sufficed.

    As for Hell… I almost… don’t care anymore. Here is a glimpse into the mind of a genuine depression/bipolar sufferer: When things go south in life or when I’m particularly plauged by the thoughts of worthlessness that naturally go with this kind of brain-profile, sometimes I think “Even if I go to Hell, when I die, I’ll at least not be a burden upon the living anymore.” If you’re scared of what I just said, then you should be grateful every friggin’ day of your life that God/genetics/the Universe/evolution spared you this issue. It’s not that I don’t have joy in live – I do have it, it’s just when I wallow in my darker thoughts, I sort of have an “I give up” attitude.

    I prayed the “magic prayer” already. Even though I think atheism is logical, I cannot bring myself to abandon my lingering belief in a Sacred Zombie kept out of a weird need for hope just to make people who think I’m intellecally stunted like me either. Maybe I’m a horrible sinner because my anxiety about social situations and natural interoversion has kept me out of church for almost a decade… Maybe I’m a sinner becuase I defend “sinners” online… I don’t know. All I know is that God has got to love me as I am or not at all.

    And while I kind of want there to be a temporary Hell for us *all* to go through (whatever is necessary for the breaking of our pride and the development of empathy), I don’t want it to be eternal just because I don’t think I can be happy with eternal life with the thought that some people didn’t make it.

    • Lissy

      In my opinion, depression of any kind IS hell. It is an awful, awful thing. I’m so sorry that you have had to deal with it, and I am glad that you are able to find joy in life. For so long, the only joy I found daily was in my cat.

      • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        Cats are awesome. Mine frequently afflicts me with curses: http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com/2012/07/cat-curse.html – a humor piece I wrote.

        My fiance’/common law hubby/aesexual life-partner is the one who helps me keep it together most of the time, mostly by being as much of a creative nut like I am, and with a surreal sense of humor. Also by putting up with every aspect of my disorder. I know I’m Hell to live with sometimes. He’s a paitent man. He took care of his sister when she was dying of a liver disorder and took care of both of his parents in old age and through their cancers. He even spent part of his childhood with a younger brother who was rendered serverly mentally-handicaped/practically vegitative due to a baby-hood fever. (The brother died young). I think I’m the first person in his life who’s suffered from severe emotional disorder / teh-crazy, but, it’s like he was prepared for me, or something.

        In part, I want a kind of “Hell” for everyone, not just because I sometimes just want my species to go extinct (Here’s a short fiction story of mine! http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com/2012/06/solas-city.html ) but because I see (or find myself on the abuse end, usually on the Internet or by employers) by proud people who seem to think they’re the pinnacle of human evolution/the greatest thing in the universe and wish, just *wish* the people who think they’re perfect could feel as utterly *worthless* and question their right to be alive every once in a while, like I do. I think that if we felt each others’ pain a little more, we might be less inclined to hurt one another and be more *worthy* of anything remotely “heaven-like.”

        • Lissy

          Read your cat post- wonderful! I think that everyone goes through Hell eventually… it’s just whether or not they learn to be more compassionate through that experience. Will be exploring your blog more when I have time! I’m so thankful that you have someone to enjoy you, even when you feel like Hell!

  • Lissy

    I’m not very sure on whether there is a hell or not (have other things I’ve been learning from God lately, and as I don’t tell people they are going to hell, I don’t feel the need to “know” is pressing), but this quote concerns me in Chad’s post “Love doesn’t win. God wins. And it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a holy, living God (Heb. 10.31).” Doesn’t the Bible say God IS love? So how can love not win if GOD wins? How can it be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a LOVING God?

    It seems to me this is where fundamentalists have started contradicting themselves. Half the time God is loving and wonderful, and half the time He is “holy” and to be feared. Do people not understand “fear” in the Bible (in reference to God) means “reverence?” These seem contradictory to me.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

      Love doesn’t win. God wins. And it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a holy, living God

      That statement bothers me as well Lissy. How can one separate God from one of his greatest attributes? How can people honestly sing the beautiful words of Just As I Am, or read the words of the 23rd psalms, or this beautiful passage from Isaiah, and not see that and love are inseparable?

      Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. (Isa 49:13)

      I am on the dubious corner when it comes to hell, thinking it is something contrived to try to scare people into conforming to the religious or cultural ideals. I also wonder how can people consider eternal life a gift as suggested by that famous passage in the book of John, and also make it a curse. I don’t think it can be both.

      • Lissy

        It’s just infathomable to me. The deeper my relationship with God gets, the more loving He becomes. Perhaps people have a hard time because parents instill fear into us as children (even my parents who are wonderful and I’m best friends with), and they are the closest example to God we have.

  • Nathan

    I’m hopeful that Chad finds peace one day. I so wish evangelicals could find a way to balance a big God with a loving God. But, the only way they can experience a big God is if that God is angry and ready to punish. Fear is a tool in the same way that a hammer is a tool to use on a screw. Will the screw go in the wall? Sure. But, it will never hold, because it wasn’t intended to be beaten with a hammer. It was meant to be guided in slowly by the Beloved.

    I categorically deny the notion of “fearing God”…God has no desire for fear, and that word is a horrible mistranslation that evangelicals cling to.

    • Diana A.

      I agree.

  • Bob

    I feel sorry for his wife. It must be horrible making love to a man who is thinking only of other men. Or maybe they’ve given up sex altogether.

    • Jackson

      from what I remember, he wasn’t gay, he was addicted to porn – and porn is straight, gay, and any and everything in between. Sex addiction is a pretty hard thing to turn from, from what I have read.

    • DR

      He’s straight.

  • dan(chicago)

    Well that happened pretty darn fast. With the unemployment rate hovering near 9 percent maybe I need to find a Holy Roller sexual rehabilitation facility, get cured and certified, then go on tour. Beats my former gig displaying data on web pages.

  • Erika Beseda-Allen via Facebook

    i knew this was going to happen. :(

  • Carl

    I have been thinking about Chad for a while now. I’m saddened that he has had his particular joy diminished by brain-washing. I pray that he will come to his sense soon.

  • Kerry Rafferty O’Connell via Facebook

    “a very conservative Christian rehab center” sounds like absolute hell to me… No wonder he changed his mind.

  • Aeecee

    Hell is a myth just visit Tentmaker Ministries and study the their material. They Hell is a myth and that Yeshua is savior of all mankind.

  • DR

    Well for the record, I still maintain some kind of belief around the concept of hell. I can see why you’d ask the question of whether or not Chad has reversed his position on homosexuality (I hope not), but speaking from experience, one can hold a belief in a consequence like hell and still believe that being gay isn’t sinful. I think a lot of people do. I’m cool with being in the minority with that obviously but it is interesting that it is equated with a “Fundamentalist” belief, a lot of the Liberal Christians I’m hanging with have a similar mindset.

    • Melody

      There’s nothing wrong with having a personal belief in some kind of hell. What I object to is people saying “There IS a hell in the traditional sense) and insisting that everyone who doesn’t believe that is either backslidden or not a Real True Christian©. They act like they’ve seen it with their own eyes, when all they have is a mistranslation of the Bible and Dante’s Inferno to back them up. I don’t consider someone a fundy just because they believe in some concept of hell. Just the ones who cling to that kind of belief for dear life and condemn or judge others who question it.

      • vj

        yup, it’s the condemnation and judgment that ring alarm bells for me – saw something on fb today: “your beliefs don’t change the world, your behavior does” – it was intended as in inspiration to go out and do good stuff, but I guess it’s true about ‘negative’ beliefs as well…

  • Blake

    Why does he feel that an all-powerful, omniscient, creator-of-the-universe is not terrifying unless there is a hell?

    • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

      Win!

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrewchow01 Andrew Chow via Facebook

    Thanks for sharing this John. I have often thought of Chad and hoped he recovers from his struggle which I felt was immense. It’s not often that we are given a cross to bear, but Chad has one that few can comprehend, much less bearing it with grace and courage. I like your personal response to him. It’s something that I would say too, but of course, you say it so much better. If you have the opportunity, please give my regards and respect to Chad.

  • Paula

    This reminds me of someone I knew who was involved in a sect, then “deprogrammed” in super-dramatic fashion, then — long story. Later in life being with him was like being with someone who was so shattered there was no There, there. No core, no center, no self. Like his psyche had been so pummelled he no longer trusted his own gut.

    If this guy writes that book, then fair game. You have to take him on. But he sounds like a poor, lost soul without any solid sense of self after all he’s been through.

  • TheIntellectualGerbil

    hi john,

    i am afraid there goes a friend … i listened into a few of the podcasts on the site of that ministry and am sorry to say but what i heard there does sound more like a sect than something holy …

    chads “transformation” also seems eerily familiar to what happened to a cousin of mine who went to a cristian camp to find herself. liberal when she took off, arch-conservative and in the rigid clutches of an almost cult-like conservative group when she came back.

    their brainwashing-techniques are quite effective. needless to say my cousin now is convinced that everyone who is not following her way is going to hell (that actually is a blessing for me because this disqualifies me from being singled out and shouted at as the hellbent homo, since the whole family by her standards is far to liberal to make it anyway).

    it would be interesting however if any of the “counselors” in that facility actually have a degree in psychology or social science and therefore are in any way qualified to treat someone. from what i’ve seen on that site (to be fair i only glanced at it so i could have missed something) it looks like the kind of organisation that would be shunned by anyone, who actually is qualified to counsel someone with a sex-addiction.

    so i am pretty sure all that was done there is to get chad to supress his sex-addiction. that will last all of 6 to 12 month or so … suppression does not work, it is not a replacement for real therapy.

    chad might find back to his former beliefs … if there are any ties left to people with a more balanced world view. from what you have written it seems they instructed him to sever all ties (which again is a usual tactic to keep someone from actually getting impulses to think about what has happened) but maybe someone will reach him … or he will seek out real help when he finds out his “therapy” did not work.

  • Hannah Grace

    I have a lot of mixed feelings. What happened is obviously terrible, and my heart is broken for this man who was attacked when he was so vulnerable, after losing his job and his family. He’s like Job. The way individual lives are held up for public scrutiny within the Christian community, especially its public figures, chills me to the bone, whether it’s conservatives who do it or not. I feel like there could have been a sweeter way to talk about this obviously troubled, brainwashed man manipulated by the church, but maybe that’s just my gut reaction. It was making LGBT issues somehow the most important part of the issue that totally seemed to miss the point. I mean, I’m a lesbian, I care a lot about LGBT issues. But the man was just brainwashed. Who cares where he stands on this issue? I don’t care about this vulnerable man maybe perpetuating a system that abuses me, when his maybe doing that was caused by him being horribly abused by a manipulative, dangerous church. I think we need to be worrying about our brother, who will probably fall out of this hyper-religious state, feel like it’s a ‘fall from grace’, feel horrible, maybe lose his wife when he still struggles with sexual addiction because brainwashing didn’t address the underlying issues, get hopeless, and maybe attempt suicide.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      You might want to read the link I provided about the fuller story behind Chad’s firing, Hannah. His was a rural 80-member church. His congregants asked Chad not to post articles on his FB page about inherently difficult subjects, insofar as they understandably felt his personal views would naturally be mistaken for the views of the church as a whole. He agreed to do that—but then reportedly, and on numerous occasions, failed to live up to that agreement. So in March 2011 he and his church very amiably parted ways. Also–and as all involved knew—Chad, a student pastor, was planning to leave the church anyway when he graduated that June.

      I think it’s safe to say that Chad was by no means “horribly abused by a manipulative, dangerous church.”

      And he also wasn’t “attacked when he was so vulnerable, after losing his job.” As I said in the post, he was everywhere heralded as a hero in the cause of the Christian left. In that regard he was sitting on top of the world.

      Finally, I wouldn’t insult my old friend Chad by suggesting that he was “brainwashed.” That’s a subjective call that it’s none of my business to make. If he says he’s happy, that’s good enough for me. But he has gone public with the new him. And it is my business to politely ask him what I did—in the same public arena in which he came and addressed me.. I don’t care what he thinks about hell. I care if he’s going to start preaching against gay people.

      • Hannah Grace

        Hm. Well said. I guess I didn’t understand the full story. My mistake.

        Though when I said “horrible, manipulative church” I didn’t mean his church, but the organization that he went to, to get help. I was really unclear, sorry. But it does sound really abusive to me…I guess that’s a subjective opinion, and maybe it’s patronizing to call him brainwashed, but it also sounds really scary for someone to go someplace for months and be told what to think, and come out a really different person.

        Otherwise agree, you’re right, didn’t know the context well enough :)

      • Hannah Grace

        I think I reacted so strongly because I identified with him really strongly on a personal level, despite not really knowing much about the situation, because I’m so familiar with how destructive churches can be – how they can just use all of your vulnerability and sweetness and desire to please God and be a good person to control your heart and your thoughts. I mean, that’s what ex-gay stuff can do. And I really hope he’s able to deal with what I fear may be an emotional roller coaster, especially now that he has a fear of hell to chill him and make him afraid to find his own inner truth. Problems with sex stems so strongly from a need for intimacy, love, connection, and often something that triggers your brains ‘happy chemicals’ if you’re feeling depressed. I fear an angry God won’t give him the love he needs. I hope so much that he’ll be ok.

        Sometimes I get angry at fundy christians. Sometimes I just feel like it’s broken people trying to make other people as broken as they are. “For our battle is not against flesh and blood….” It’s important to recognize that it’s unhealthy structures that people are caught up in, and that although you don’t want to deny someone’s agency, sometimes people really are a bit lost. Maybe we all are, and it’s just a merciful God who will draw us near with his grace. I hope he finds that.

        • Jeff Straka

          I do find it quite telling, Hannah, that when you Google “pure life ministries” the related suggestions include “exodus international” and “focus on the family”. Points towards an unhealthy program.

    • TheIntellectualGerbil

      i think the question about LGBT was raised by john to see what remained of chads beliefes. i had a second look at the website and read a few of their documents. they deal in all the usual lies on lgbt-issues so it would be surprising if that was not imprinted upon him in the course of his “therapy”.

      • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

        It sounds as though poor Chad may have been subjected to a straight version of “ex-gay” therapy. Since it doesn’t work as a therapy for gays, it seems likely it won’t work for what ails Chad either.

        Sadly, it does sound as though the new Chad is a heavily indoctrinated fundamentalist who’s put his own will on the back burner. Time will tell if he’s able to start thinking for himself again.

  • Scott

    “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding ! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast ! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” – Orwell, 1984

    The resemblance is surreal…

    • Diana A.

      That’s exactly what I was thinking when I read John’s blog and Chad’s Unchained blog post. I am so sad.

  • mike moore

    I feel unusually sympathetic/empathetic for this guy. It sounds like he’s traded one set of demons for a new set of demons.

    Pure Life Ministries ought to be ashamed, as they have once again instilled the fear of hell into the poor guy, which is not a road to happiness.

  • Skip Newby

    John, I tend to agree with Hannah Grace.

    There are many unknowns (at least for me) regarding his motivations for seeking “counseling”. I wonder if the loss of his family wasn’t one of the greatest reasons, and possibly that his wife isn’t as liberal as he is/was?

    Chad seemed like a troubled man before all this happened. I also have difficulty thinking that his recent fundamentalist training will be any good in that regard.

    Peace, Skip.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dbocock Bo

    Hi John,

    I love your website and your writings. You are definitely very encouraging.

    I remember Chad and followed his blog. I always felt I wasn’t getting the whole story, most notably when he left for therapy. Reading this post makes me wonder, especially with his connection to Pure Life Ministries, if the sexual pornography addiction was specifically gay porn. I seem to think you are alluding to that. Is that right?

    My heart goes out to Chad but I can see why he hopes this works–to save his marriage and the mental anguish of his children. Unfortunately, most gay men I know in straight marriages, ultimately leave them. I would think he owes it to his kids to stick around at least until they’re grown. Hopefully he’ll keep his sanity. And, find the real healing to his anguish.

    Bo

  • Sharyn McIntosh Brogger via Facebook

    This makes me sad.

  • http://icarusalways.blogspot.com/ daemon

    The PureHell ministry website is certainly a scary one to read and listen to. Just check out the Frequently Asked Questions about their Live In Residential Program. Having been subjected to this type of spiritual abuse myself (residential ex-gay program) it is sufficient to say the fox is guarding the chicken coup (no pun intended) while they continue to brainwash the new inductees of their cult, I am sorry, religion.

    I feel poorly for this guy, but he is the one making the choices here. What he finds and receives are his own and on his head, it is just too bad that he involved another person and children in his own messes and hopes that the “church” and “God” can bail him out of the righteous mess all he has made of it. Now he can add the fear of “hell” back in to his life as he continues to create his own here on earth.

    daemon

  • Laurie McNeece

    I’ve thought about Chad a lot over the last several months, especially during my time at Wild Goose Festival, which he turned me on to after attending last year…I read his Unchained post with sadness and foreboding….Part of me feels like he has accepted this new “realization” out of desperation as the only way to preserve his family. I hope he has truly gotten a handle on his sex addiction (and NO, I’m pretty sure he’s NOT gay!) however I fear that after the honeymoon period is over and life settles back into its usual chaotic, yet humdrum rythym that old monster may once again rear its ugly head-GOD I HOPE NOT! Maybe, just maybe, he has genuinely had a shift (not coerced) in his worldview and it is authentic for him. If so, I wish him and Amy all the best. Chad, if you see this know that you have a friend in Madisonville who thinks of you every time I play Mumford & Sons. Namaste, my friend. Be well. >

  • Diana A.

    I think I’m sick, sad and heartbroken. Sounds like he won back his wife and lost his soul. I think this place brain-washed him. Sad.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

    Chad: “Love doesn’t win. God wins.

    1 John 4:8: “God is Love”

    Chad sounds very confused. Does he conflate love with sex? Does he have a clue what Love is? I hope his marriage survives. No family should have to suffer like that….like mine did, but his confusion is obviously not over yet. He needs to stay away from fundy organizations that distract him from looking into his own heart and probably tell him how evil the heart is. That’s their power play. He must free himself to do his own introspection and trust his heart because that’s where the Spirit speaks to us. Therefore, in essence, the fundies are telling Chad and others not to trust the Spirit of God as it speaks to the individual.

  • Stephanie

    My heart breaks for Chad. I have heard about what goes on in those so-called Christian treatment centers, especially to homosexuals. Chad has just been through Hell on Earth – literally. He probably has been brain washed and probably has a raging case of PTSD as well. He needs prayers. I have no doubt that if he received the kind of treatment that others have testified to receiving over the course of 7 straight months, this poor man has been broken spiritually, emotionally and mentally.

    Please do not bait him, just pray for him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.kear.12 Mike Kear via Facebook

    How sad. :(

  • Mary

    I guess my first reaction after reading this article…. and the back & forth of poor Chad…

    is…. if he indeed have a sexual addiction…. why didn’t he seek help from a number of professionals there are that specialize in this particular addiction? Why go to a “Christian” group?? If I had cancer, I certainly wouldn’t seek out a faith healer first. I would go to the experts in my particular form of cancer!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.fulstaff Jim Fulstaff via Facebook

    Brainwashing is sure a terrible thing. It’s like a military tactic but instead of defending is hating. Jesus was a nice guy, why do people insist on making him look like a douche-bag?

  • Shelley Robinson via Facebook

    Because he was probably put through it, right?

  • Matt

    So sad. Praying for Chad that he finds true peace with himself, exactly the way he is.

  • Holly

    From the welcome post on Chad and Amy’s site: “My need for Christ far outweighs my need or desire to write, and if at any time I sense in my spirit or by the counsel of trusted friends that my motive is anything less than honoring the work God has mercifully done in my life and bringing Him glory, I will close my mouth.”

    That hit me like a ton o’ bricks.

    =/

    But I hope he’s genuinely happy and this “renewing” is the start of a good thing for him and his family. I hope he doesn’t snap like a rubberband stretched beyond its limits. True change takes a long-ass time. But who knows?… maybe he’s the exception to the rule.

  • Melanie Stanley-Soulen via Facebook

    I was afraid for him….

  • Nancy

    John, You noted, above, some highlights from Chad’s blog. He said…“Love doesn’t win. God wins.” Really? God created the universe, and all of us in it, just so He could win? And apparently Love was the opponent. Love loses and God wins. Seems like a contradiction to me.

    • http://www.buzzdixon.com buzz

      God wins

      God is love

      Ergo, love wins

      • Diana A.

        Kind of my viewpoint, but it seems that Chad has been taught differently.

  • http://www.unchainedfaith.com Amy

    I don’t really know much about Chad or his situation. But I did want to throw something out there.

    I keep seeing people referring to Chad’s alleged “sex addiction.” I think folks may be conflating sex addiction and porn addiction, which are two entirely different things. They have vastly different treatments when a person goes to a real therapist. Unfortunately, in Christian programs, they are treated identically even though they have different root causes. Not only that, but what many Christian programs label “sex/porn addiction” are neither of those. Sometimes, it’s just a heavy dose of guilt over the occasional viewing of adult material. Looking at porn once a month is not an addiction, but the church will tell you it is because you keep doing it. Real porn addiction interferes with living and relationships. For a pathetic dramatization which will give you a good idea about the faulty ways the church views these issues, see the movie “Fireproof.”

    I don’t know what type of problem Chad had or has. I do know that if he had a diagnosable problem, that program he did won’t solve it. But if it was of the “I like to sometimes look at porn” variety, then it’s possible he’s now “cured.”

  • http://wilkinsonweb.com Dan Wilkinson

    Wow…there are just so many issues here I don’t even know where to start. Part of me feels extraordinarily sad for what he’s gone through (and is going through), part of me is hopeful that he has and will continue to move forward in his life, part of me is just plain confused about what he means and where he actually stands on a whole slew of issues. I wish him the very best…I really do…and I will pray for him…that he will find deep and lasting peace in his relationship with God and his family.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pagandenma Kathleen Young Rybarczyk via Facebook

    Because Hell IS a very conservative Christian rehab center. Duh.

  • Melanie Stanley-Soulen via Facebook

    I just read the new blog pieces that Chad wrote. I am praying for grace and love to continue working in the mush that’s been created. When someone is so desperate and in pain, s/he is very vulnerable. This is why I was afraid that being immersed in a guilt and fear driven “therapy” model he would cling to what he heard.

  • Christy

    So…I stomached through a Glenn Beck tirade once about the end times and the last days and the book of Revelation and the Muslim conspiracy to take over the world and destroy America and the mark of the beast and how Israel all plays into the geopolitical prophecy…

    and as crazy as I know Glenn Beck is and as far from my Baptist school days as I have come and as much as I have learned and grown and studied on this spiritual journey and deeply know the loving God I never knew before…

    he scared the bejesus out of me, and, for a few hours, I was right back there – afraid he was right, worried that I was wrong.

    It wore off after a couple days. But it was a powerful reminder that you can take the girl out of fundamentalism, but it is much harder to get the fundamentalism out of the girl.

    A couple of stanzas of “Just as I Am” and that slow organ music and many of us would be in the same boat. Fear is a powerful motivator. I hope his life is better, and, yet, my heart breaks.

    • Lissy

      Your comment was wonderful, but I busted out laughing when I got to the “Just As I Am” part! It’s sad though because it is a wonderful song, in and of itself.

      • Christy

        Years of altar calls with weepy ministers begging you to walk down that aisle will do that to you. And…in those circles the doubt is thick. So, one more time down the aisle for good measure…and this time, Jesus, I REALLY mean it.

        I grew up in the church of “I’m-really-gonna-be-good-this-time-I-know-I’m-so-worthless-and-undeserving-in-your-sight-Please-don’t-strike-me-dead-this-very-instant-for-being-so-hard-hearted-and-send-me-to-hell-because-I-really-truly-love-you-with-all-my-heart.” It sucks.

        • Lissy

          Interestingly, the more I focus on God, my OWN journey, and loving others in this life, the less concerned I am about hell. Maybe that means I don’t “fear” God. I don’t know. But I see the grace of God more and more, and that is beautiful!

          • Christy

            It is beautiful. A wonderful discovery, Lissy. So glad you found it. I’ve found too that life is about the journey, not the destination. If one is on a Divine path here and now, one will know, and how can a divine path lead anywhere but where we are meant to go.

        • Shannon Skarda

          I think we went to the same small town Baptist church. I was constantly worried that I might not really be saved. What if had died before I rededicted my life to Christ for the 4 th or 5 th ime.

        • Gordon

          This is hysterical. Every former Baptis (and maybe even some current ones) will SOOOOO get this! Thanks for a nice Sunday chuckle!

    • Don Rappe

      Surely listening to Glen Beck must be one of the rings of hell. :) But to me, fear of God and fear of hell are two very different things. Because I fear and love God I have no fear of hell. And, if I fear hell, I must be losing my fear of God who loves me with an eternal passion. If hell means centering my personality around those aspects of myself, such as hate, greed, cruelty and irrational fear, which God does not love, then I can acknowledge it (as opposed to believing in it). But if, by faith, I center myself around what pleases God, don’t I become a “memory” of the eternal living holy God? Isn’t this eternal life? Just asking.

  • http://wilkinsonweb.com Dan Wilkinson

    So after pondering this some more while making Mexican Pulled Pork and standing next to a VERY HOT broiler, I had a few more thoughts about the “hell” aspect of this story:

    I don’t understand at all how changing one’s mind about the nature and/or existence of hell has anything to do with recovery from addiction. Nor do I understand how (potentially) having a wrong theological understanding regarding hell is something that one needs to “repent” from. Since when is (potentially) being mistaken about a specific theological doctrine a sin?

    • Christy

      Got a few hours, my friend, for me to break down the fundamentalist theological perspective?

      Cliffs Notes: Believing the right thing = True Christian in good standing with God

      True Christian = going to heaven = not going to hell = most important thing

      Believing the right thing = salvation by faith alone (without proper faith how can one be saved?)

      Getting out of sin (addiction) cannot occur without the “right” understanding of one’s proper place in the above formula.

      Not believing the right thing is a sin in these circles: virgin birth, young earth, six day creationism, Great flood, rapture…literal hell.

      • http://wilkinsonweb.com Dan Wilkinson

        Christy, I keep trying to make sense of what you’ve written…any way I look at these ideas, they just don’t add up for me. But then I realize that that’s the point. I just can’t rationally and/or biblically buy into that way of thinking about things…

        • Christy

          I understand. I can’t now either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nwbuckeye Pat Hux via Facebook

    I followed his blog from the time he was in the news for being fired from his church. Loved the blog. He said it just right. So, the shock of his repenting of all that is just jaw-dropping.

    Did anyone save any of those blog posts from Dancing on Saturday? I’ve been trying to tell a couple of friends what he wrote, but his blog is so infected with malware that all those wonderful titles are now baited traps.

  • Terri Antonovich via Facebook

    What did Jesus say about homosexuality ? What did Jesus say about hell/ hades/Sheol ?

  • David J Martin

    My problem with Chad and in general the term “fearof God” is one of interpretation. As St. Paul wrote when we were chilfred we thought, acted like children. Fear for a child is overwhelming dread which often times separates him/her from those he/she loves for a time. No parent intends this nor does our Father. “Fear of God” in the theological sense refers to us never intentionally creting such a rift with the Father. Further, what Father does not chastise and even punish the child for wrong doing – with mercy and compassion – to guide his/her child. What Father would delight or even want his child to suffer without end ? St. Therese of Lisieux once interrogated by the Inquisition as to her belief in hell responded – I can not know light without knowledge of darkness, nor good without knowledge of evil, thus though Believe there is a heaven, then theremust be a hell. Pausing she continued…however since my Lord Saviour Jesus has revealed Our/His Father as merciful, loving, unconditionally loving and forgiving Father…I am not sure anyone is inhell save Satan and his minions.

  • jack

    Why is it that when people go through such amazing transformations, it always includes going public, in a big way!? Blogs, books, videos, gospel conferences, movies…why don’t these people just ever move to a local church, work with people in a small arena, and keep the heck quiet about their experience. Humility, and quiet servanthood would go a long way in convincing people that their ‘change’ is genuine and eternal.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

      Maybe they want to let everyone know that they are not the person they were before, and it runs the risk of getting out of hand because they can end up simply tooting their own horn.

      Maybe they think their story will help others, which of itself is not a bad thing. Many of us tell stories of our past in the hopes it will offer support or guidance for someone going through something similar. And that often a beautiful way of offering community, support, understanding. This place offers many examples. but again, there is the flip side as well, where one goes overboard. Maybe because they need to keep convincing themselves, maybe because the attention, sympathy, accolades or paychecks are desirable.

      We should always ask ourselves “why are we doing this?” being completely honest with ourselves. Not an easy feat, but one we need to do from time to time.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      bingo, jack.

    • Jeff Straka

      Especially after only 6 weeks of being “released” from the program. I’d be interested in hearing how he’s doing a year from now…

  • Rhea Flanery via Facebook

    To me his ‘issues’ were never about whether or not he believed in a literal hell, but rather with the fact that he couldn’t/wouldn’t commit to his wife and stick with the marriage vows that he made. They are totally unrelated, in my book.

    • Michelle M

      I agree. His sexual addiction and belief in hell are two entirely different things. One does not affect the other. Only a person bound and oppressed by religion would think that they are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tedrion Jeremy L Wunders via Facebook

    He’s a heart felt man, and entitled to his beliefs. So far he hasn’t said anything destructive from what I read, but..that being said…falling back on the false traditional teach of “Hell” as a reason to “fear” God is lacking the true respect our Heavenly Father deserves. I’m just gonna leave this here… http://thelivingtruthfellowship.org/joomla/bible-teachings/articles-by-topic/lifeanddeath/265-what-does-the-bible-say-about-hell Its a fascinating article. :)

    • Christie

      Thank you so much Jeremy!

    • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

      I skimmed it. I’m not too keen on anihilationism, either. I actually tried to explain the concept once (the blog being mostly atheists) when the topic of Jehova’s Witnesses came up, since that is in their theology. I said something along the lines “Don’t get too mad at them when they come to your door interuptting your bath or your videogame, because they aren’t telling you to go to Hell, they think what happens to you is what you think happens to everyone anyway.”

      And to that, I got an analogy of a kid coming to class passing out cookies to all the other students, but *not* to the black kid.

      I have no idea how someone read racism into it, but their point was they still could hate on anihilationists for bieng religious twits because they were “passing out Heaven” to the few instead of giving everyone an equal share of “Nothing” to everyone, I guess.

      It certainly does make a good case for Universalism… I don’t want Nothing, but I don’t want to leave anyone out, either. Beyond that, annhilation just doesn’t jive with my ideas on conciousness – born out of my own thinking long and hard about it and personal experience. People who don’t believe in an afterlife seem to think “It’s like going under anestesia.” I’ve been put under. I don’t think death is like that because being put under, the last I feel and know is being woozy, and after that, I awake, the time between being non-existant for me. If that non-existance is forever, than for me, “feeling woozy” constitutes “Eternity” by default. For those who expected me to “be in darkness” for hours – sorry, didn’t happen. The best I had the last time I went under for something (under less hars drugs) was a really nerdy dream I was shaken awake from.

  • Marina Lawson via Facebook

    i can appreciate that sense of sadness … i have watched – with shame – how “religion” has torn people apart. those who were already skeptical are encouraged to mock any mention of the possibility of ‘God’ — because ‘religious folks’ have made God to be this evil demon … and not a source of unconditional Love and Grace. those who ‘believe’ find themselves saying, i don’t want to be identified with ‘that God’.

    it’s a no win … and i squarely blame ‘religion’ … and NOT The Great Physician, Comforter, Amazing Grace, Father, Friend, etc.

  • Angela De Benedetto Fioresi via Facebook

    I don’t know of Mr. Holtz or his former or current stances other than what I have read here.

    As a Christian with just the tiniest smidgen of faith left, I honestly feel that his walk is his and if he found a different path that he believes is right for him, then how does it affect any one of us?

    I can’t speak for anyone other than myself but I feel strongly that everyone is entitled to enjoy civil liberties even if I am not in agreement with their decisions.

    • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

      Of course. And if he believed those things privately. none of us would likely be having this conversation.

      It’s taking what many of us believe to be teachings that are very harmful to those who hold them and others and encouraging (scaring others into?) believing the same things that makes it a matter for public scrutiny.

      And is it just me or do the same civil liberities not also protect those who wish to criticize those views? Free speech is to be able to express your views, not to also muzzle any criticism.

  • Rhea Flanery via Facebook

    My wife doesn’t believe in hell, but she has NO PROBLEM being in a monogamous relationship with me. Perhaps the only way for this man to do that is to believe that if he’s not faithful, he’ll spend an eternity in torment? *shrug*

  • Liz Dyer via Facebook

    He seems very defensive. Perhaps I missed something but for the most part the comments didn’t sound like a personal attack. I am very glad that he has been able to put his marriage/family back together and I am glad that he has his addiction under control but I don’t understand what that has to do with believing in hell. Is he saying that if we don’t believe in hell we aren’t respecting God? or that God will punish us if we don’t believe in hell? or that we can’t be whole and healthy if we don’t believe in hell? I felt like there was something between the lines but maybe I’m reading more into it than is there. I don’t know – he just sounded very angry.

  • Dennis Dawson

    “After seven months being treated for sexual addiction at a very conservative Christian rehab center” Chad believes in hell.

    I’d be pretty convinced after one day.

    ~D

  • Liz Dyer via Facebook

    oh Wow! I just read some more comments and have found that I was having the right feeling. Chad does believe that “not believing in hell” is a “sin” and that he could not conquer his addiction as long as he did not believe in hell. WOW! That is pretty extreme even for an evangelical Christian.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

      I wonder if the mindset was born out of “because you have an un-repented sin, then you are going to hell.” sort of theology? And because hell, sin and repentance must be linked, then belief in hell, is necessary for forgiveness and redemption?

      I don’t know, of course, its a total guess, but a little bit similar to theology I grew up with.

      • Lissy

        I REALLY like you! Gonna check out your blog when I have time!

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

          aww thanks Lissy. Be prepared for self deprecating anecdotes, humor, cats, personal musings and the odd rant, but mostly humor. I decided a long time ago, that I needed to have the purpose of trying to catch a little joy out of life and share it. Somehow telling stuff on myself seems to work.

      • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

        Wow. Completely reversing cause and effect there. Going to hell for doing bad doesn’t mean you can’t do good without the threat of hell. I echo others he and elsewhere that have said that people needing the threat of hell to want to do good is disturbing.

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

          Which why, to me, the concept of hell is not workable. For some, sure the Big Stick approach may work, and work well. For others it doesn’t.

  • Marina Lawson via Facebook

    forcing ones self into believing that it requires in a belief in a great, evil, and damning place called hell in order to conquer addiction (or our inner demons) is emotional blackmail — even if it is self-inflicted.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

    homey don playdat.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

    I saw it, thought “ugh, a troll comment” and moved on. Such comments have no value to me because of the destructive nature they contain.

  • http://www.facebook.com/phil.stewart.5015 Phil Stewart via Facebook

    Who was it – Nitsche, Lenin, who?: “If God (and Hell & Satan) didn’t exist, Man would have to invent Him..” Maybe this Pastor was looking at some human, not Godly retribution — losing his job, being blackballed by the bigwigs and going to work @ WalMart.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrewchow01 Andrew Chow via Facebook

    Sad. Progressive or not, we fall so easily into the trap of judging others self-righteously. To me, Chad has a better understanding of Christ than the people who criticize and ridicule him.

    • Melody

      I honestly don’t think he does. The fact that his comments have such a judgmental, proselytizing tone tells me he has fallen for fundamentalist theology and attitudes. Others’ self-righteousness must be pointed out, to bring them back down to earth with the rest of us mere mortals.

      • Gordon

        If you’re right, then this is the first time I have ever encountered someone who transitions from progressive to fundy. (Or is it fundie?) I think Chad is just a guy out of rehab and he’s all juiced up on what “saved” him. He needs time and the smartest thing for him to do is stay off the Internet and pay lots of attention to his recovery, his wife and his children.

        That’s not judgment, Chad, it’s just good advice from an older person who has seen and learned a thing or two.

        • mike moore

          wise words, I believe. (wish I could be that nice, you’re a good example.)

    • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

      To say that “love doesn’t win” doesn’t seem to be a particularly good understanding.

    • Driftwood2k11

      Chad doesn’t have a better understanding of Christ, he has a better understanding of his fear, and that’s what motivated him. Love didn’t motivate him, fear did, and it won out, as can be plainly seen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gina.cirelli.1 Gina Cirelli via Facebook

    I am “saddened and ashamed” that he did not get the psychiatric help that he so obviously needs. God works through many many channels, therapists being one of them. To trust a cult to do what a medical doctor should do is not a good life choice.

    • Driftwood2k11

      Exactly this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrewchow01 Andrew Chow via Facebook

    It’s so easy to judge someone for their belief in the afterlife, and the choices they make for the life that God has given them. It’s so much harder to walk in the other person’s shoes, and walk a mile with them in their journey. I respect Chad in every way and wish him the best on his journey with Christ. I know that he has Christ on his side, and that’s all that matters.

    Thanks, John, for sharing this. It’s enlightening to see that progressives can be just as self-righteous judgmental bigots as conservatives. Hypocrisy runs across artificial labels. We are so proud of our own understanding of the tiniest aspect of religion that we forget we judge others who are humans, children of God, with feelings and their own burden and understanding. I, too, am sad and ashamed as a Christian.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john10423 John Gragson via Facebook

    Angela: we as Christians profess to follow Christ, not the Bible. also, many people who say they DO believe the Bible fail to read it.

  • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

    I know nothing of Chad except for what I’ve read here in this article (and a couple of the ones John linked to), and the comments. And I have to say that if *I* was Chad, and I went through and read these comments, I’D be a little defensive too! Granted, no one made any “personal” attacks, but so many of the comments were dismissive of his experience (and let’s be open to the fact that if his experience was true, then it is nothing short of miraculous), the program that was so helpful to him, and conservative Christianity as a whole. Sure, I understand the skepticism about such things, but just imagine for 3 seconds (if it doesn’t pain you too terribly) that you identified with ANY of those things (i.e., an experience of your family being rescued from sure divorce/separation, Pure Life Ministries, or conservative Christianity) … How would you feel going back through and reading those comments?

    Please don’t misunderstand where I’m coming from. I’m not trying to condemn anyone (particularly people whose philosophies I likely have far more in common with than some of the theology I currently see Chad espousing)…but I do think if you have an empathetic bone in your body, and an ounce of experience “walking in someone else’s shoes”, you could not possibly be surprised that Chad might feel a little offended here…

    If you don’t believe me, go back through the comments and replace the words “fundamentalist” or “conservative” with liberal, and the name “Pure Life” with the organization that has most touched your life, and apply those comments to your own journey, and then tell me what that’s like. Or better yet – and perhaps more apropos – let John publish snippets of your life story on HuffPo, and read the comments. I guarantee you’ll feel judged – perhaps even attacked – and you’ll notice how glib people can be… as if they know you or your situation based upon a few words on a computer screen. I imagine that’s how Chad must have felt reading through some of the comments on this post, because I sure would have…

    I don’t honestly think that anyone here meant any disrespect or harm in the slightest. But I do think that many of us who comment on John’s blog can be so comfortable with each other, that we can communicate with a level of freedom that is tantamount to the communication we have in the safety of our own living rooms. There’s nothing wrong with this, so long as the people in your living room aren’t “outsiders”. There’s things you say in the safety of like-minded friends that you simply would not say in public. And this here blog is quite PUBLIC…so do keep in mind how your comments may come off to someone who may see the world in vastly different ways than you do. Consider that what may be harmless speculation or rants against institutions that so many of us have already agreed are unfavorable, may sound to people who have genuinely found peace and freedom in those institutions. To THEM, it sounds like an attack – whether you meant it or not.

    Now, as an observation that I could be TOTALLY incorrect about, I’d like to perhaps contribute something that may help this community grapple with what they may be seen as a “loss” (i.e., a friend who has apparently gone to “the other side”).

    Sometimes, people who are highly addicted (and yes, if his porn and sexual activities almost cost him his family, I would say that it meets the definition of a sexual addiction) have a history of never having learned good boundaries. So part of their journey is learning really strong boundaries. What is KEY to recovery in those who are in groups like AA, NA, etc., is to learn to relegate some things over to “a higher power”, and it’s not uncommon for them to become very black and white about their addiction, and by extension, about other things in the world. I would suggest that it’s not only common, but NECESSARY.

    For an alcoholic, the rule of thumb is simply NO DRINKING. For successful people in AA, they cannot do the whole “only drink in moderation”. That’s the whole point: they have no moderation when it comes to drinking. And when you have to see the world in black and white when it comes to alcohol, it’s easy to extend that to other parts of life. Obviously, sex addiction is a little different than alcoholism because sex is such a crucial component to intimate relationships.

    But for someone whose sexual appetite has no bounds and is out of control, and for whom God is important, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me that Chad would find help in concepts such as hell, and a God who has a wrathful side. Understanding that there are real, severe consequences to some of our actions (in a physical, emotional, AND spiritual way) is a necessary framework for some people so that they can institute some boundaries in their lives.

    I also recognize that for others (perhaps MOST of us here), such concepts are rather unhelpful – in fact, they’re downright damaging to our personal growth and development.

    Chad, if you’re reading along, I recognize that my little theory here might come off as naive or even patronizing, and if that’s the case, then please forgive me. Like most people here (I think), I mean no harm or disrespect. I am simply stating my understanding of emotional and spiritual formation, and your story fits very well with my understanding of it. But gain, I don’t know you, so forgive me for putting you in my little box. Feel free to bust out of it if you so desire. I’m more than happy to have any of my assertions corrected.

    But IF I’m right (or to whatever extent I may be right), then please recognize that the theology that has been so helpful to you in recent months, can actually play a very dysfunctional role in other peoples’ lives. Please recognize that so many people here right now have been born and raised in what you now espouse, and it has proven to be the SOURCE of unhappiness, dysfunction, addictions, etc. for them. IF I’m right, you may one day find that you’re so settled and stable, that the black and white framework which you now find helpful, may not fit your future developmental needs – you may back off of it a bit. At least that’s how it’s happened for me. Maybe you’ll find it to be true the rest of your days…Who knows?

    I think many of us do rejoice in what Christ has done in your life, and many of us genuinely pray that you’ve been so fundamentally changed, that when the temptations of old come again, you will weather them with aplomb.

    Peace and Love

    • Diana A.

      This is a good and compassionate response. Thank you DJ.

    • Melody

      Liberalism doesn’t lead people to commit suicide because they’re gay. It doesn’t cause children to have nightmares or sleepless nights (like I did) because they aren’t sure whether they “really meant it” when they asked Jesus into their hearts, all due to a fear of hell. Liberalism doesn’t oppress women, gays, and ethnic minorities. I appreciate your sentiment, but these are all dangers of conservative and fundamentalist Christianity. That’s why your argument doesn’t work.

      • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

        Melody, the only “argument” I made (if any) is that I think Chad is justified in feeling judged and responding defensively. I made no statements whatsoever about the merits of conservatism or liberalism.

        You would do well to stop demonizing people though. There are lots of ways to be “conservative” (just as there are lots of ways to be “liberal”)…and not all of them lead gay people to feel suicidal or cause people to have nightmares.

        Now, vulnerable question for you. I’m curious…did you thoroughly read what I wrote? Because I’m not really sure what you’re responding to. I don’t know what “argument” you’re talking about, and it leads me to believe you’ve missed my message and intent. Could you expound a little bit on what you’re talking about?

        • Melody

          Seriously? Who was I demonizing? Now who’s being judgmental?

          You’d better believe I read your whole post. The argument I’m referring to is perhaps more of a question: how we would feel if “conservative” or “fundamentalist” with “liberal.” That doesn’t work, for the reasons I mentioned. Maybe I should have specifically used the word “fundamentalist” so you wouldn’t get so defensive. (Having to qualify everything on the internet so people don’t misunderstand you is so annoying.) But if there are different ways to be conservative (other than degrees of conservatism), I’m not aware of them. Having grown up in the most conservative part of the country, I can attest to that.

          • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

            Melody,

            You just stated that conservatives lead people to “commit suicide because they’re gay” and “cause children to have nightmares”, and implied that they “oppress women, gays, and ethnic minorities”. You cast a pretty broad net there. You don’t think that sounds like demonization of conservatives? That’s not a judgment of your character, that’s an assessment of your words…and feel free to correct me, but you’ll have to explain how that doesn’t demonize people who identify as “conservative”.

            From my vantage point, what you did was laud liberalism and talk about the evils of conservatism (without mentioning the goods of conservatism, or the evils that liberalism can lead to if taken to extremes) . It seems like demonizing to me. Again, I’m willing to be wrong about that…

            As for this argument/question…I think you actually proved my point.

            The reason I asked that question was because it seemed like people were oh so surprised that comments here would make Chad feel like he should be on the defensive. So, for such people, I was offering a challenge to take those same messages, and apply them to themselves, but replace words like “conservative” with words like “liberal”.

            As an example…if someone said about you (after reading of a personal journey of your own):

            “God help us. It’s sad when someone who previously had a brain loses it to the brainwashing efforts of the Christian Left [feel free to insert any other ideology to which you might subscribe]. This truly makes me sick.”

            How would you feel? I dare say you’d be a little defensive, and understandably so. I’m not trying to throw your own words in your face here. Believe me, I resonated with your comment (when it said “Christian Right”)…but can you see how that might come off as very dismissive, belittling, patronizing, and/or disrespectful to someone who is part of the Christian Right? Or to Chad? Or even, dare I say…a Fundamentalist?! Can you imagine how that would make them feel as they read it? Nevermind what ideology is objectively superior…how we treat people is generally more important than who is right and who is wrong.

            I have very little love for fundamentalist ideologies…but belittling other people who hold them (by implying that they don’t have brains) doesn’t really help anyone out. And, let’s say that said fundamentalist one day questions their beliefs…do you think that such comments indicate to them that you would be a safe person with whom they could work out new beliefs?

            Let’s say that Chad begins to question his newest theology. After the sorts of statements made about him here, do you in your own heart imagine he would see this place as a safe or an unsafe place to upnack some of those doubts and figure things out? Again, in my own estimation, I didn’t find anyone’s comment to be an attack – but I’m talking about perspective here. And when I put myself in Chad’s shoes…I think I’d deem this an unsafe place.

            And just so it’s clear, I’m not putting myself above the fray. I get VERY easily triggered, and I am pretty well known for letting off a litany of dismissive statements myself…I’m trying to do better…

            So, I’m simply not shocked that Chad might feel somewhat attacked based upon some of the comments I’ve read here, and I can’t blame him for feeling the need to defend himself. And I think others in this forum would feel the same if similar statements were made about their journeys in a conservative-leaning forum. That was my only “argument.”

            What you’re pointing out (i.e., the evils of conservatism and the merits of liberalism) are peripheral to my argument/question, at best. And in fact (as I stated earlier), your reflex to laud liberalism could be construed as the very sort of “defensive” response that Chad made. Given the examples you stated (and acknowledging that there is in fact a correlation between extreme conservatism and things like oppression of gays), I can’t blame you for that…but neither can I blame Chad for feeling the need to defend himself and his recent experiences. That’s my only point.

          • Gordon

            What are the evils that extreme liberalism can lead to? Examples, please.

          • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

            Hey, Gordon.

            To answer your question, I think a great example might be the sort of unbridled passions associated with hedonistic types of living. If I could speak really broadly (please forgive me for gross generalizations, I’m more nuanced than this, but I think it illustrates the point): let’s say that conservatives focus a lot on sexual constraint, and liberalism focuses on sexual liberty. Extreme liberalism, then, would say that there are few (if any) rules about sexual activity. I think that sort of unbridled sexuality

            would be pretty bad for families and for society. (This is precisely why conservatives fear things like gay marriage, because they feel as though it’s a slide to extreme liberalism – which, I think is mostly erroneous, since gay people’s desire to marry is actually a sign of a slide towards conservatism…but that’s whole different discussion.)

            Most liberals are not extreme liberals though, thus very few would suggest that an orgy every night is a model way to live one’s life. This is (to me at least) a good thing.

            A great book that has been helping me see the good of conservatism and the potential blindspots (and even evils?) of liberalism is “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Religion and Politics” by Jonathan Haidt. Check it out! SUCH a great read!

            I’ll give full disclosure about Haidt, just in case you think I’m a complete nut job who couldn’t possibly be rational enough to make a good book recommendation because I’m duped by conservative propaganda :) Haidt is a professor of developmental/moral psychology at UVA, and a self-avowed Liberal (who happens to be a secular humanist and agnostic).

          • Gordon

            If an orgy every night was the sign of extreme liberalism, I would have one question: Where do I sign up?

          • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

            Do a Google search, friend. I’m sure there’s a swinger’s club near you ;)

          • Melody

            No, I did not say conservatism led to these things. I said liberalism DID NOT. Did YOU read all of what I wrote? I am so sick of having words put in my mouth. Fundamentalism does all of these things. I hope you get it now. I shouldn’t have to keep clarifying myself. It gets old.

          • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

            Actually, you DID say conservatism led to those things. Your own words explicitly stated that conservatism AND fundamentalism led to all kinds of evil. When I called you out for demonizing them, you called me judgmental, and asked “Who was I demonizing?” But then you also doubled back and clarified. So with your clarification, the answer to your question (if it isn’t already abundantly clear) is: fundamentalists.

            And again, I would suggest that you’d do well not to demonize people. I know first hand the dangers that fundamentalism poses to little gay boys…I was one of them, and I was so damaged. But implying that fundamentalists have no brains doesn’t really advance your cause, or mine. It doesn’t really help anyone. And it certainly doesn’t help folks like Chad.

            Let me ask you another really vulnerable question. Did you consider what it would be like for Chad to read the words you wrote? What did you imagine his response would be? How did you feel as though those words would “guide” him back to the sanity you are so sure he needs to return to? Did you consider how much those words might SEEM like the fundamentalism of liberalism to an outsider observer?

            I really don’t mean to pick on you, but you’re the only one who has engaged me here, and you seem to insist that everything you say is justified…which may be true. (Again, you and I probably agree philosophically on most points regarding Chad’s theological “conversion” – if it can be called that…it’s just that I don’t know him or his situation well enough to actually make as confident a judgment about it as you do.)

            I just want to hear some of the rationale for it…WHY is what you say justified “nice or not”? It’s one thing to say that you feel he’s misguided. It may even be vitally important for him to hear that. But don’t you think it would be more helpful for him to know WHY you think he’s misguided, without ad hominems about brainless fundamentalists? That was a throw-away line that, if you had said it to me in a similar situation, would have made me feel as though you were unsafe, and not actually willing to hear about my experience. It’s not the sort of thing that would engage me in productive relationship and conversation. If I would have responded at all, it would have done so defensively, and I would try to get on the offensive – and aggressively at that! I would do to you exactly what you did to me – I would minimize your experiences, and try to get you to think that you were benighted, and your world view was doomed. I don’t think it’s mere coincidence that that is precisely how Chad responded.

            To me, some of the statements that were made about Chad reminded me of the sort of dismissive treatment I received FROM fundamentalists (and conservatives) when I was coming to terms with my sexuality…and I just don’t think that’s a good way to treat people – no matter what side of the liberal/conservative divide they fall on, no matter how right or wrong I think they are…I think it’s counter-productive, and damaging for everyone involved.

          • Melody

            Ok. I give up. You refuse to read my original comment. I’m done trying to reason with the tone police.

          • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

            Melody, I’m really sorry that I’m frustrating you so much. I think I’ve read your original comment many, many, many times. Unless of course I’m missing what your “original comment” was (I’m assuming you mean your first reply to my comment?)

            Honestly, I have been trying really hard to understand your point of view. And I’ve asked several qualifying questions to help get at that, but you haven’t answered many of those questions, and you haven’t clearly articulated what you are getting at in your original comment. At least not that I’ve been able to see. Sometimes you just have to talk to me like I’m 4 … in a comment thread with over 200 comments, it’s easy to miss things. So if I missed something, I’m sorry. If I’m not seeing what you think is blatantly obvious, please forgive me. But communication IS a two way street, so it’s not ALL my fault here that we seem to be missing each other, is it?

            My best understanding of our conversation here is this:

            1.) I made a point that many people here have said unhelpful things to Chad, and that they shouldn’t be surprised he’s on the defensive.

            2.) You (intended) to comment that my trying to get other people to put themselves in Chad’s shoes “doesn’t work” because fundamentalism is evil.

            3.) I (intended) to communicate that the group one might be deriding is irrelevant to my point. Regardless of how evil or lovely a particular group is, to make blanket statements that come off as dismissive to that group is not a good way to treat people.

            Please point out where you disagree with any of the above. I’m really trying to understand. But if I’ve truly exasperated you and you’ve truly checked out, I understand.

          • Melody

            You got it right this time. The part that frustrated me most was your insistence that I was blaming all of those things on conservatism, when I actually said liberalism didn’t do those things. Yes, I included the word conservative in there. But the fact is, both conservative (i.e., anti-gay, anti-choice, complementarian) and fundamentalist variants of Christianity have been very damaging to the cause of Christianity, mainly due to the damaging of their followers. They are teaching women to be subservient, gays that they are abominable, and that anyone who believe the way they do will burn forever. Liberal Christianity does not teach that. Again, if you say there are different ways to be conservative, I’d love to know what you have to say. Like I said, I don’t know of any. Thanks for your patience; I am in fact feeling better. A good night’s sleep does wonders.

          • Melody

            Looking back, I guess I really was arguing semantics. I tend to get hung up on quoting exact words rather than the general idea. You did get that right.

          • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

            You are correct, in one of my overly verbose responses, I WAS still pushing the conservative thing, after you had stated that you really meant fundamentalist…that was my bad. I should have apologized for that awhile ago.

            I have a very strong tendency to get caught up in making my point (often on a huge soap box), so forgive me for that.

            I THINK I understand what you were saying now, and I don’t disagree with you about the dangers of fundamentalism (never did).

            As for conservatism, I have several Christian friends with a conservative orthodoxy who aren’t quite as condemnatory as the stereotype. They, for instance, don’t necessarily approve of me marrying my husband, but don’t believe that I’m going to hell for it. They simply think that I’m wrong, and believe that God would have me celibate (some are even precious enough to believe that God would zap me straight and I could someday marry a lady as cute as you! No worries though, I would never do that to your gender. I – unlike them – have to live with this orientation, and have had the privilege to know that no such zapping will occur. So no woman-chasing for me!)

            I also recognize that there was a time in my life where the mere OPINION (by someone else) that my pursuit of a same-sex committed relationship was sin, was enough to do damage to me. And there are probably lots of folks out there who are in that boat. I’m at a point in my faith now, however, where I’m able to live in communal tension with others who believe differently than I on this subject. Like you, I bet, I do put my foot down when I see strident fundamentalists spewing hell & brimstone, shame, and disgust for others. That sh*t really gets me worked up! I don’t tolerate that.

            But maybe I’m lucky in that the majority of my friends who hold to conservative beliefs aren’t like that (well, at least the ones I continue to have fellowship with…I had to leave a lot of the kind you’re more familiar with behind because they were toxic to my own development.)

            They’re not all the same though. Really. If you’re ever in the DC area, maybe I could introduce you :)

          • Melody

            And frankly, I’m sick of your guilt trips. I will not engage you further since you refuse to quote me accurately. By quoting something I didn’t write, you’re being just as disrespectful as you accuse me of being. I don’t have to justify my words to you or anyone else. I’m done with you.

          • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

            Also, I do apologize if I’ve come off as trying to guilt you. That wasn’t my intent. Nor did I feel that I was quoting something you didn’t say. I mean, I copied and pasted everything that I quoted from you…so it’s not like I’m being a dishonest prick here. I mean, do you really think I get off on misquoting people, and you in particular?

            I don’t know you at all, Melody. I have no ill-will towards you. But it seems that from the start of this conversation, you’ve had nothing but contempt for what I’ve been trying to communicate. (At least that’s how your frustrated comments come off to me…maybe I’m taking your words too pesonally.)

            I have several times kindly asked you to point out where I am misunderstanding you. I’ve given you details about how I am interpreting your words, and asked that you point out where I am misinterpreting you. But not once did I quote you inaccurately. That would be impossible, since I went to comments under the author “Melody” and did a copy/paste. I’m sure that I’ve misread and misinterpreted you though. Again, I’m sorry for my part in that.

            You’re right, you don’t have to justify your words. And you have every right to be done with me.

            I would like to point out though, that I have never been rude to you. You seem to want to make me out to be this villainous jerk, and I’m honestly at a loss for how/why that is.

            Perhaps it’s simply because I’ve challenged some of the words you’ve said. And that has naturally point you on the defensive. But isn’t it ironic how when I attempt to address where – in MY opinion – you are “misguided” in the way that you treat people, you want nothing to do with it. But yet, it’s all fine and good for you to treat Chad in that way? (And lest you say I’m misquoting you here, this is a copy and paste: “He has been woefully misguided. He needs to hear that, nice or not.”)

            I hope I’ve addressed you nicely though…

            I’m sorry I seem to have made an enemy in the last 24 hours. It’s quite ashamed since, from everything I DO know about you, we really ought to be allies. Shutting up now.

          • Melody

            You’re right. We are allies. I overreacted. Let’s move on and be friends from now on. :-)

          • Melody

            You haven’t made an enemy of me, DJ. I was frustrated last night, and my feelings spilled onto this thread. I don’t think you’re a jerk. I appreciate your attempts to understand things and clear the air. Thanks.

          • Gordon

            Look at you two! Getting along and stuff! Have a great weekend. ☺

          • Allie

            To be fair, studies have shown that fundamentalism and authoritarianism are closely linked, and authoritarians DO have defective brains… or to be more precise, they have difficulty with logic and an ability to simultaneously hold two contradictory statements to be true without noticing a problem. Not all fundamentalists are also authoritarians, just most of them. Not surprising when you observe that it’s impossible to be a believer in Biblical inerrancy without the ability to ignore conflicting passages in the Bible.

          • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

            Hi Allie,

            I don’t know that I would use the word “defective”, but I see your point. I guess my point is really about how helpful it is in a conversation to insist on such points with people who show signs of fundamentalism.

            I mean, really…in a conversation with someone who had a pervasive developmental disorder, would it be polite to constantly suggest that they have disordered or defective brains? That kinda seems mean to me. So why is it OK to do with fundamentalists?

            Also, not to belabor the point much more, but I often see signs of liberal fundamentalism on this here site (though, I bet if I did a quick search, the literature would reveal a much tighter correlation between conservatism and fundamentalism than liberalism and fundamentalism).

          • Melody

            And you’re right. I would feel defensive in his position. That’s human nature. That still wouldn’t make it right. He has been woefully misguided. He needs to hear that, nice or not.

    • Laurie McNeece

      Thank you DJ for such an eloquent and loving response. You brought up things that made me think about some of these issues differently. Who are any of us to say what we’d do if we had to walk a mile in his shoes? I truly wish him and his family well, and hope he finds peace and joy in his new life >

  • http://www.facebook.com/mikekingmoore Mike Moore via Facebook

    need to qualify … I like John’s approach to this, not Chad’s.

  • http://www.facebook.com/derrick.perry.9275 Derrick Perry via Facebook

    Angela maybe the thing that makes god holy (ie set apart) is love. Maybe gods love is so radically more benevolent then ours that holy was the best way to describe it?

  • Adele Sakler via Facebook

    Andrew, calling a spade a spade is NOT judging. i am so sick of Xians using the don’t judge mantra in exchange where people are legitimately expressing concern when they see bad/abusive stuff happening. SO glad i am NO longer a Xian.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gina.cirelli.1 Gina Cirelli via Facebook

    “Why is it whenever someone says ‘with all due respect’, they really mean ‘kiss my ass’?” One of my favorite quotes from Mass Effect. Anyway, last I checked, the place that Chad went to for treatment didn’t encompass the entirety of Christianity.

  • Elizabeth

    Chad, like DR, I don’t know you from Adam. My sum knowledge of you is that you commented on John’s Lazarus post, which I read at the time and stuck with me as well. Many of the commenters here get rambunctious, myself included. I hope you can trust me when I say, we didn’t mean to hurt your feelings or belittle your experience. We get carried away. It’s easy to judge someone else’s experience as less of a struggle than our own. As far as homosexuality and/or Hell are concerned, your eloquent comment shows you’re still thinking it through. You still think we’re worth talking to.

    It’s a start. All the best to you and your family.

  • http://www.Energy4Less.JoinAmbit.com Fred Knowlton

    Chad,

    First I want you to know I love you and consider you my friend and brother!! I wanted to reply to your last post but posting was blocked :( I want you to know, that as a former Outlaw Preacher(though still one in my heart) and as a “member” of the Emerging Church I in no way discount what you have been through or believe now. I may not theologically agree with some things but that in no way changes my love and friendship with you. We are all family in Christ and your journey is YOUR journey, not MINE. You have my full respect and support. You have to do what God has called you to do, for HIM, for YOU AND for your FAMILY. I am proud of you for saving your family!! Your children are blessed and lucky to have you as a father. No matter what the differences between us, I hope that we can stay in touch. I am sure we have much to learn from each other and can pray for and support each other as friends and family in Christ!!

    Much love and hugs to you and your family!!

    Love,

    Fred Knowlton & family

    fmk509@hotmail.com

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      I haven’t blocked any commenting to this post, if that’s at all what you mean. (Though I have put on moderation “Timmy,” who uses a spammer’s program to keep changing his IP addresses [and, over the months, his screen-name], because fundy troll are nothing if not devious cowards.)

      • http://www.Energy4Less.JoinAmbit.com Fred Knowlton

        John,

        I was referring to Chad’s original posting back in May. A few people were able to respond, but their responses weren’t exactly “nice” and The ability to post was cut-off. I am glad I was able to post here and I hope Chad sees it.

        –Fred

      • mike moore

        fun!!! how do I get one of those spam/rolling IP’s? I want to send a bunch of mean comments to Chik-Fil-A using names like “Vig P. Ness” and “Emily Rugburn.”

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

          It may require getting an rolling IP account from Latvia which is routed to the basement of your parent’s house.

          • Elizabeth

            It’s the useful information on John’s blog I keep coming back for. It is entirely possible I may soon be living in the basement of my mother’s house.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            It happens Elizabeth, and often it is a wonderful arrangement for everyone involved, short or long term. Living with extended family is really not as bad as one may assume, especially if everyone seems to get along. Good luck.

          • Elizabeth

            Thank you, sdparris. Still, a Latvian IP address may prove helpful.

        • Gordon

          That’s the second time you’ve made me laugh out loud today, Mike. Thanks! I needed that.

      • Natalie

        What about not-fundie trolls?

        • Gordon

          A fundie troll. Isn’t that redundant?

          • Natalie

            I’ll crawl back under my bridge until i’m needed.

          • FishFinger

            I don’t think you understand what a troll is.

            Hint: it does not translate to “Internet asshole”.

          • Gordon

            I was trying to be clever and funny. Missed it this time! Sorry Natalie.

  • http://www.desiremercy.wordpress.com Chad Holtz

    Perhaps against my better judgment, I want to say something. I’m both saddened and ashamed by what I see here. Not for my sake, but the sake of those who call themselves followers of Jesus and for the ministry that is happening at places like Pure Life that is being slandered and muddied.

    And I’m ashamed. Ashamed because a year ago I would have joined in the party with all of you. I would have secretly hoped for my downfall (“Yeah, we’ll see where he is in 6 months from now…”) while voicing my anger or disapproval or sadness over the fact that someone no longer is part of what I consider to be “right” even though I claimed to be a liberal.

    I can testify to this, and I realize you have no reason to believe me (nor motivation to do so) but it’s true: The comments I read here are far more “fundamentalist” in spirit and far more coercive and “brain-washing” then ANYTHING I ever encountered at Pure Life!

    It would be funny if it weren’t so sad, but the very people who claim to have the market on “love” and “open-mindedness” are really very mean when one of their own testifies that they found freedom from their sin in Jesus Christ.

    Rather than rejoicing with me, my family and “true” friends over the fact that a marriage that was headed for divorce is now better than it ever was, 5 kids who were full of anger, despair and even suicidal inclinations are now vibrant, thankful and thrilled to be with “daddy” and that I, who was once so consumed with lustful thinking and addiction to porn, affairs, etc., is now FREE (and I don’t say that lightly) after 20 years of thinking the only freedom I’ll ever find is to die, the bulk of you “Christians” are crucifying me and remarking how “very sad” it is that I now believe that Hell exists and people go there. Probably all of us lest we repent. Jesus once asked, “When the Son of Man returns will he find faith on earth?” Looking at this comment thread, one would have to say, “My God, no.”

    As for Pure Life, it is not a cult or a brainwashing camp. Again, based on the tenor of the folk commenting here, I have no reason to think you’ll believe my word (as one who was actually there!). *Never* was I told I had to believe X, Y or Z. The conclusions I have come to about faith and life were through months of prayer, fasting, Scripture study and walking the beautiful prayer trails of Kentucky or spending time near an old wooden cross on the ridge. It wasn’t Pure Life that saved me – it was Jesus. Things I once only gave lip service to or wrote neat blogs about (like the power of the Gospel to save lives) became a heart matter for me while there. I learned what it means to truly repent and to live in daily repentance. And yes, I learned (not through being water-boarded but through digesting Scripture for 7 months) that God is to be feared. We have made Him so small in the churches today. And the ways in which we throw around idle words and so easily judge another (self included) is evidence that we don’t fear God or even think He is watching or caring.

    Not that any one here sought to actually ask me (save John in the OP), but I am doing FANTASTIC! Far from being “sick” or “gutted” or any of the other fanciful terms used of me and my family, I have never known the joy and peace I now know. I have an intimate walk with Jesus of which in the past I publicly mocked yet secretly desired. And contrary to what people who have no fear of God think (I know cause I was one of them) to fear God is not the same as being “in fear.” I realize my great NEED of Christ, where as before I was more like the “christian” Jesus refers to in Rev. 3:17. Pure Life provided me with an atmosphere and opportunity to fall back in love with my first love, which I had lost.

    Those who know Jesus will rejoice at such news. I pray you would.

    grace and peace,

    Chad

    • David S

      Hi Chad. I can’t speak for anybody but myself, but I certainly don’t have any ill will towards you. Heck, I don’t even know you and have never read anything you’ve written (save what’s been quoted herein). In the eight paragraphs of you response, I hear the voice of someone who feels wounded and defensive. That may be a natural reaction, but one I don’t think is warrented. In the comments to this article, there are two strong themes – people who know you who are grieving the loss of the friend they knew, and people voicing the harm and hurt that they have experienced at the hands of the conservative church. I don’t think your comments really address either of those points. Perhaps you will consider speaking to the substance of the comments – I really don’t see most of them as personal attacks (as it seems you did).

      Also- conspicuously missing from your comments is the response to the core question of John’s post. Do you still affirm the relationships of people who are gay, or have you joined with those who condemn those relationships and the people in them?

    • Dave

      Chad, I’m super glad you responded to this post. Thank you. And I am even gladder that your path has brought you and your family away from death and closer to life. I do rejoice with you that God has freed you from a poison that was killing you. As a person who struggles with addiction I know how life-destroying it can be and how sweet it is when it is driven out, hopefully forever. It is my prayer for you that God who has begun this good work in you will continue the process of giving you abundant life. We never arrive in this life, we just get closer. We obviously don’t all take the same paths or are in the same places or even agree in some really basic places, but we have a common bond. Much love, brother. I wish you all the best. God is at work in all of our lives and He isn’t finished with any of us yet.

      • mark s

        Amen to dave on his comment.

        We all must believe what we must believe to maintain our connection to the spirit, oddly, this is not the same for us all, nor is it the same for us as we continue to experience life in the spirit. We all tend to see the flaws in those we disagree with as being more significant than the flaws we see in ourselves. And, this is probably the greatest flaw that we as Christians all seem to have.

        Jesus spoke of “the Log in our own eye” , “first make things right with your brother before you pray”, “forgive us.. as we forgive” None of us know the mind of God, and i feel that it is the greatest of sin to act and speak as though we do. Someday, perhaps we will know the answers, someday perhaps, we will understand the futility of being recognized as having that knowledge. True liberalism to me, means to embrace the right of others to be conservative, as well as to embrace the rights of the left. Otherwise there is no distinction between our factions.

        • Natalie

          I think most people don’t have problem with his more conservative beliefs as they are with his lack of answering Johns question. His defensiveness is also unsettling to most and doesn’t help him AT ALL. It only helps serve the idea that he’s been assumed into Happy-Happy ism.

        • Dave

          “True liberalism to me, means to embrace the right of others to be conservative, as well as to embrace the rights of the left. Otherwise there is no distinction between our factions.” Wow. That perfectly captures what I think. Of course living that out can be so hard. I think that’s what Jesus is saying when He says “Love your enemies”.

          • mark s

            amen to that also dave..

          • Shannon Skarda

            Very true. Liberals need to open minded enough to not judge those more conservative than themselves. Its personally tough for me. I have some very conservative family but I love them so much and would be such a heel if I couldn’t respect their views as they respect mine.

          • Shannon Skarda

            Additionally why is everyone questioning Chad’s experience? As i read these comments many seem condescending. Why wouldn’t you just take him at his word that he is at peace? Maybe I don’t understand his views but I believe that everyone has her own spiritual life.

          • Melody

            He ISN’T at peace. HIS condescending comments to us indicate he has been brainwashed by fundamentalist charlatans. And it’s obvious you care more about liberals respecting your views then respecting ours, since your conservative views are responsible for oppression in our society. When gay teens stop committing suicide because they’re told they’re an abomination, when women are on equal footing with men in the church, when ethnic minorities are on equal footing with whites in America–THEN I’ll respect your views. The truth is more important than being “nice.” And Chad telling people he is ashamed that he once agreed with us and that hell is unequivocally real indicates that he is not in his right mind. Stop defending his words.

          • Gordon

            I agree with you Melody. If I had a troubled sibling who found happiness in the KKK and then turned their life around, I would NOT be happy that they were at peace. I know that’s extreme, but so is the place where Chad spent 7 months.

    • Gordon

      Chad, please calm down and stop being so defensive. Saying that Jesus would not find faith on earth because of the comments here is a little over the top, don’t you think? Jeesh.

      Speaking for myself, I am glad you’re doing FANTASTIC. That’s great. I am rejoicing at the news and I’m sure many others here are as well.

      I wonder, however, if maybe the problem some are having with what you’ve recently written is your use of the word “fear”. If by “fear” you mean reverence and respect, then I get it. If by “fear” you mean cowering in terror in front of a wrathful God, then no thank you. The ministry of Jesus was to introduce the Father-nature of God and do away with the law. It was replaced with love. With respect to whether there is a hell or not, I don’t give a flying you-know-what. Religious people who use the concept of hell as some sort of fear tactic to control and manipulate their followers are despicable.

      Finally, I must echo other requests that you please answer John’s question about your position on homosexuality and same-sex relationships. Have you changed your mind and heart about that? I hope not. The stuff you’ve written that John has posted here is really excellent.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

      Chad,

      I too am glad that you seem to be doing well, however I can help but have a very healthy dose of skepticism. Why?

      You are in the triumphant phase. You played by the rules and it worked. You’ve conquered the beast, in a way, making all things right in the world, or so it seems. Its a great feeling and right now everything lines up.

      Why do we say lets see what happens in six months? Because that is when the afterglow starts to wear off and life starts becoming real again. What got us into the mess to begin with rears its head again, and we find ourselves once again struggling. If, as you said, you had an addiction, expect it to happen. Its rarely a one time shot, but something people have to make conscious choices over for a while, sometimes for a lifetime. God sure can help you with the struggle, but the choice is ultimately yours. (its that free will thing He saw fit to give us you know.) Having seen friends and family members struggle and repeatedly lose the fight with addiction, I can attest to how devastating it can be. I sincerely hope you are an exception to the rule. If you aren’t, its ok. God is patient, forgiving and allows for do-overs.

      Expect life to continue to throw you curves. Your marriage took a big hit. Your relationship with your friend and family is altered. Hopefully for the better, we all want that, but experience has taught several of us that reality often is not what we want. I do hope your relationships continue to be strong and thriving.

      Life is the ultimate lesson plan, sometimes we ace the tests, sometimes we get F’s. Thankfully, we often get to retake those failed tests. The trick is to not get the same grade next time, which can be easier said then done…Personally, I keep making Fs or D- on the “do not worry” quiz.

      Finally, if hell is the capstone belief of the Christian faith, then I must ask, for what purpose does it serve? And why is it so important to you? Does it matter that you have decided to go the conformist way and others haven’t? Is one’s belief in a horrible afterlife that important? Or is it something else that is important: that freedom in Christ, the realization that He loves us where we are, where we were, where we will be, warts and all? To me the concept of hell is of far lesser importance then the concept of life, living it as best we can, with the purpose of Loving God with all that I am, and my neighbor as best as I can (which is somewhat impossible at times despite best efforts).

      Good luck Chad and let us know how you are doing. You really do have people who want to see you thrive, be happy and succeed.

      • vj

        lovely, sd :-)

    • Susan

      Chad,

      I’ve prayed for you and your family over the past year, and I wondered how you were. I’m glad you and Amy are still together and are happy. Peace to you too!

      As for all this arguing, can’t we find something better to do with our time?

    • Melody

      You SHOULD be ashamed, Chad. But not for the reasons you mentioned. I pity you.

    • Tim

      I agree with the other responses to your response here, mostly. I do at some level hear some judgment in the posts, but the judgment doesn’t seem like the personal “What a prick who thinks he can fix everything in very short order and is now better than everyone?” but rather more of “Haven’t we seen this before in our own lives and in others, and hasn’t it always failed?”–so the judgment is more about disbelief and perhaps some lack of faith, not about anger or hatred.

      I also see both sides of the argument. I, for one, do not think that fear of God (even the cowering kind) is an unequivocal bad. It all depends on the context and use. The God of the Bible did often deliberately scare people, but that was never the end, but rather the means. I don’t rule out him doing so nowadays. However, I also have to believe that Love does win. Your putting that as opposed to God winning (when God is Love, you know, as in one is the other) is perhaps a little foolhardy, but in the afterglow of conquering something bothering you like that it is a preferable attitude to “I beat it” by a mile.

      But I do want to uphold some of the comments here about the pain the conservative church inflicts. Being LGBT or in any way “non-traditional” in matters of sexuality isn’t something that people ask for. What we want is the ability to live our lives in peace and to walk humbly with our God (or without).

      Trust that there are faithful LGBT people who agree with you on a whole lot of theological ground (I’m gay, lean Pentecostal, and love both the deep personal nature of the Evangelical churches and the social-justice inclination of mainline Christianity). We just want you to love and accept us where we are, as we would have hoped to love and accept you where you are and were. Even if we don’t grant that our sexuality is a sin (and I don’t) that really matters much less than how we love and treat each other. Your sexual struggle does seem over the top and addictive. It is good you got help. It is good you are doing well. Hallelujah. However, it is not the only possible good in the world. There are other, equally loving, equally valid ways of living ones life in grace (and I would probably go farther here than John in being unorthodox).

      Much love, good Brother, and my best wishes.

    • mike moore

      Chad, since I’m one of the guys who was feeling very emotional for you … I felt sad for you, thinking you are trading one set of demons for, quite literally, another set of demons … I’d like to respond to your post.

      I’m truly happy you’ve found happiness for yourself and your family. You’re turning your life around, and that’s good. I hope the pendulum upon which you are swinging settles down into a nice balanced life.

      But to preach hell to others, especially to non-Christains who have lived far more moral lives than you (by your own admission) is just fucking evil, and worse, you know this.

      You’re reducing God to some vile being who isn’t even as nice as an abusive parent.

      “Look Adam, look Eve, here’s a beautiful garden … but don’t eat from that apple tree, or bad things will happen.” One frikking mistake and two completely innocent beings are plunged into, comparatively speaking, a living hell … a place of which, by God’s very own design, they had a complete inability to comprehend or even conceptualize.

      Did any of your kids, when toddlers, wander toward a busy road with cars rushing by? Did you just sit there, saying to yourself, “oh well, I told ‘em to stay away from the street … it’s their fault if a Mack truck runs them over”?

      Would you hand down an eternal punishment of hell to your, or anyone’s, innocent children for disobeying you? Because that is what you are now preaching of your God.

      Eternity. An eternity in hell. Why? Because I say “no” to your foolish and petty God? I look around me and see that people’s faiths and their religions, far more than money and power, have been and continue to be the true root of evil in this world.

      What is this earthly life compared to eternity? “A fraction of a blink of eye” would be a gigantic overstatement. And yet your God is willing to place people like me into hell for not figuring things out in this infinitesimal moment? Because we look at people like you, and say, “I sure don’t want that?”

      People like me look at 2000 years of Christian “love” and reject it for the pure evil it has so often perpetrated.

      People like me reject your “loving” God because if hell exists, it means your God treats his children worse than the most abusive human parent of whom we have ever heard.

      People like me reject you and your “loving” God because every day of every year for my entire adult life (52yo, now) I have felt nothing but hate radiating off of the majority of Christians and mainstream Christianity.

      I come to John Shore because, for the first time in my life, I’ve found an amazing family of people who seem to follow Jesus and understand – far better than I – what love really is. I don’t consider myself a Christian any longer, but unlike you (today) the people here at least seem to understand that love trumps all the other bs that your religion spews.

      I’m one of John’s most harsh readers … as such, I’d like say: if you’re not feeling the love you’d like here, maybe its because you’ve returned to a message of hate.

      • Christie

        AMEN, AMEN and AMEN!

      • Gordon

        Wow, Mike. I follow the John Shore blog for the exact same reasons you do. I never knew there were Christians like this. I abandoned my faith over 25 years ago, and I was an ordained minister of music. But reading and contemplating what is written here has sparked something over the last year or so. I find it very compelling.

        • Michael

          Gordon, I have had a similar experience with this blog. About a year ago when i discovered it i was at best a non practicing Buddhist and at worst (not that im condemning them) an atheist. Now i am studying to be a (christian) minister. This blog has most certainly brought me closer to the traditional view of god, but showing me that Christians can be sane. that being said, even i have sometimes found the interpretations on this blog to be more liberal than i care for.

      • Jill H

        Mike, my love– you must share your own words and your own stories in some public forum for us to enjoy on a regular basis.

        I suffer withdrawal from it. I wish I was kidding. ♥

    • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

      My own confused and jumbled thoughts are below. I don’t recall ever mentioning “brainwashing” myself and I thought those comments were harsh, but said nothing to challenge them because, as I said in comment to some other comment “Fear is a powerful thing.” All humans groupthink when in a particular group, and let their particular group influence them to more or lesser degree, even if you pride yourself on being a natural nonconformist – it is inevitable. Think about it.

      All I would ask, for the sake of yourself, is to be careful that this is not a quick-fix. Quick-fixes are what Americans seek, but they tend to fall apart after the euphoria wears off. Christian retreat I went to to boost my self-esteem as a teenager, full of psycho-babble prattle that I recognized from the secular sources that were trying to do the same thing for me? Euphoric for a while, but didn’t stick. Probably, becuase, as I found out later in life, I do have a serious brain disorder and must learn to live – lifelong- with my ups and downs (I even try to use them rather than deny them). My father the recovering alcoholic? He got clean when I was a kid. It’s been over twenty years, but he still calls himself “recovering” because he knows how easy it is to slip back into an addiction. (Meanwhile, he doesn’t condemn others who celebrate occasions by drinking, he just cannot partake).

      From my experience and observance, weeding oneself out from an addiction or other mental illness issue is a lifelong thing – one cannot just pray hard enough over a weekend or even a few weeks and just be insta-cured, and one certainly cannot gain the right to be self-righteous about it.

      • Christie

        TRUTH: “one cannot just pray hard enough over a weekend or even a few weeks and just be insta-cured, and one certainly cannot gain the right to be self-righteous about it.” Especially the self-righteous part…

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

        You expressed my concerns on this as well. Its not about the whole theology thing, its about the recovery, and whether its lasting, whether the skills and tools are in place to endure, whether it is is something else entirely.

        I hope for Chad’s sake that he can say in 20 years that, “back in the day” I had a problem, It is still a struggle at times, but thankfully it no longer rules my life or my thoughts.

      • Natalie

        Your thoughts were not jumbled. They were cohesive and well chosen :)

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

          Shadsie’s usually are Natalie.

          • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

            I actually meant to say that my own jumbled thoughts *about Hell* were below, forgot to proofread, and there you go.

            I hope you merely meant the above as a statement of fact and not as an insult on me.

            If my presense offends anyone, I’ll leave.

          • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

            Oops, I read that as “her thoughts are usually jumbled.”

            If you meant “her thoughts are usually cohesive and well-chosen” I’m sorry for jumping to assumptions.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            Your coherence with words is often spot on Shadsie. And trust me, I can jump to assumptions, conclusions and away from hair spiders with the best of them.

          • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

            Of course, I may have been a little goofy in responding. I had to go to the dentist today and I took some anti-anxiety medication before going, because this particular dentist doesn’t have good bedside manner. I’ve had dentists in the past were were good, this one has not been very paitient with me, at all, even with some of my issues explained to her.

            And even then, I feel horrible right now because they didn’t give me enough novacane, so when the drill came out, it hit a nerve hard and instead of laying back and bearing it like a tough person, I jumped up and completely freaked out. I now have some literature for people to go to for general anesthesia and just want to find a new dentist anyway. Other dentists I’ve had in the past have responded to “You’re hurting me” with immeidate relenting and giving me more numbing, this one just got angry that jumped in response to pain-stimulus like any healthy animal.

            I may be able to afford someone better once the Medicare and Disability I won *back in March* finally decides to show up in my mailbox, but if the world has shafted me again, maybe I’m just not tough enough for it…

            To keep it on topic… Hell sounds better to me than life sometimes, if that makes sense.

          • Allie

            Off topic, but Shadsie, I found lessons in autohypnotism to control pain enabled me to visit the dentist with no pain medication at all. This may or may not be a good solution for you, but you might want to look into it. It puts the control of what pain you feel firmly in your hands, not the dentist’s, and I find that walking out without any numbness or feeling woozy is so nice that it’s almost magical. I had a root canal medication-free.

          • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

            Never had root canal and have decided that I never will. I’d rather have teeth straight-up yanked out than go through something that sounds so horrible. Otherwise, knock me out, send me to lala land – do what they did for the wisdom teeth extractions when I was a teenager – I don’t want to be there. At. All.

            Low pain threshold is me.

            And seeing as I can’t afford too much anyway – goverment has been yanking my chain in regards to ‘we will help you, but it seems like we’ve forgotten you,” I’ll let things rot, even slowly die if it comes down to it. I am so pissed off at the world right now I could die.

          • Don Rappe

            You definitely need a different dentist.

    • Timmy

      Hey Chad we are so proud of you for sticking to God’s Will for your life! The enemy wants nothing more than to tear down your story of grace and hope and the love and power of Christ. It means you did something right!

      You will hear “Good and faithful servant!”

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

        You mean he wasn’t hearing it before? And do we have to do this and this and this, in this order and using this method to get to be rewarded with that “atta-boy” statement? And if there is a set back in Chad’s life, is all that rescinded, sorry dude you are screwed, which means the only way to get back into God’s “good graces”is by forcing him to go through all those “lovely” hoops again?

        OR

        Does God already adore Chad, did before all the stuff in his life happen, during this phase and the ones after? Does God understand that, like for all of us, life can be a suck-fest, that it gets hard, that we struggle, fall down, screw up, need help, need understanding, comfort and patience? And knowing that puts people and things and events in place to help us?

        I’d rather take the later then the neener neener mentality of the first.

      • Melody

        And now he’s back as Timmy. GO. AWAY. PLEASE.

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

          Can I confess then when I saw the name of that comment-er I immediately thought of the Comedy Central show South Park?

          • Melody

            Lol! Timmayy!!

      • Elizabeth

        Honestly, someone on Earth who can intone “You will hear ‘Good and faithful servant!’” with a straight face should stick around. It’s like having our own little Charlton Heston.

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

          Ok which version of Charlston? The beard, robe, staff and sour disposition? The futuristic astronaut Charlston and the sour disposition, the Solyent Green Charlton and the horrified disposition, or the NRA Charlton and the defiantly sour disposition?

          • Elizabeth

            Yes. All of the above.

      • Melody

        Fundy troll alert.

      • Shannon Skarda

        Why would you use the word enemy? Some of the comments here are very insensitive but I hardly think anyone here is trying lure Chad to a life of sin or something.

    • Driftwood2k11

      I’m sorry, Chad, but while I don’t have any ill will against you, I can only see you as a coward. You became frightened, you ran and hid, and someone offered to protect you if only you’d follow what they believed, and you did. You accepted that you were the weaker, the shamed one, the one needing “fixed”, and you submitted completely to their ministrations without question. That’s not healthy, that’s abusive, and being in such a relationship will only hurt you, and even now, these people will still profit from you as you tell yourself you were inferior, you were shameful and weak and they made you better, so that abusive relationship never ends.

      Still, you’ve found your new dependency, and I realize that you will hold tight to it. Maybe it will last, or maybe, soon, you will find that it’s promises weren’t all they were cracked up to be. Jesus experienced pain, too, kiddo, but it seems you’ve found a cure-all that got you away from it and all it cost you was your soul, and the people who thought you were a person of principle. Who knew you would throw it away for a little comfort in the face of adversity?

      All my best,

      D2k11

      • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

        Well, Chad says in his post that his decisions came from prayer and reading the Bible. I can’t blame him for decisions made like that. We are determined to let everyone walk their own path, let Chad walk his. We can trust the loving God to lead him into understanding and compassion. Someone mentioned a toddler stumbling…that’s what he’s doing, what we’re all doing. It’s cyclical, and if we truly trust our Jesus, then he will make us more like him.

        Love ABSOLUTELY wins.

        Chad, I’m glad you and your family are doing well, but please remember if you can…this is YOUR walk with the Lord. Your interpretation of the Bible (as you said that’s how you came to your decisions) is YOUR interpretation. You don’t get to apply it to everyone else. You get to love them. That’s it.

        • Driftwood2k11

          I agree, Love absolutely wins. The problem here is the “prayer and reading the Bible” part, and coming to a conclusion that it’s perfectly okay to see other human beings condemned to a fiery, eternal torment for nothing more than being human and making mistakes.

          I mean, I could pray and read the cover of a matchbook but that doesn’t make it right, or ethical, for me to advocate an orphanage catching fire.

    • Matt M

      Chad, God bless you for finding freedom and God bless your family that you are finding healing. This is your story and your journey and I have much respect.

      That said, I struggle to believe that your liberal leanings and lack of belief in hell were a root cause of your addictions. It seems like you just need a lot of structure. And conservative circles provide a lot of it.

      See, I wasn’t raised in church, but I had no problem keeping a moral private and public life. I always had personal conviction and discipline, while my sister couldn’t hold it together. We thought for sure that she’d end up in jail, drug addicted or dead. Then my whole family moved to Florida and we all became radical Pentecostals with reliance of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. I know your feeling of having family and freedom. My parents repaired their marriage and my sister made a BIG turnaround.

      I became an AG minister later on, then left it. I found the conservative, black and white, spirit-first-brain-last to become a performance hamster wheel. It exhausted me and caused me to constantly feel like a dirty, sinful turd…when I wasn’t. My beliefs became more “liberal” as I discovered how many of my conservative views were cutting off relationships from those God was calling me to love.

      My sister and parents have all struggled with self control, and they all still keep tightly to thier found conservative beliefs. For my sister, she feels she needs it or she will lose control again. My mom likes the order and the tight church community. My family is very happy.

      It is unfair for any of us to call you brainwashed, but it’s also unfair to accuse people on this site of going to hell simply because some of us are more on the “liberal” side. Liberal does not equal sinful just as conservative does not equal brainwashed. We all have different needs and ways of finding transformation through Jesus.

      • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

        Agreed!

      • Matt M

        Plus, I forgot to mention that one reason (amongst many) that I stopped being in conservative church circles is because I never really fit in. Nearly everyone at these churches had some form of addiction or extreme personal problem, where I never have. NOT that I’m perfect…not at all. I’ve just never had issues to where I required such heavy structure and accountability. I found myself embellishing things just to fit in. I didn’t want to be forced to feel guilty where I had no reason to do so.

        Your thoughts/theology and ideas will probably return, Chad, and from my experience it is daunting to be shoved out when the come out.

        • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

          I couldn’t agree more…

    • Mike Kear

      This saddens and frustrates me. While I am overjoyed that you have been able to recover your family, there also seems to be a dark side to your reemergence. All the people who loved and supported you when you left to seek help for your lack of sexual self-control are now going to hell? The same people you yourself loved before you went into that place? A hell you disavowed before you went into that place? Now suddenly God is pitted against Love as if the two were enemies instead of synonymous? And Love loses? Fear is now the motivation for righteousness instead of the love and kindness of God? The paradigm shift is too dramatic and seems to be fueled by fear and anger. Something is not right here.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        dingdingdingdingdingding

      • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

        Yeah. Pretty abrupt and strange.

    • Allie

      You did not reply to John’s question about homosexuality. You were asked a straight and simple question: what is your answer?

    • Christy

      Blessings on your journey. I hope it takes you where you need to go.

    • Don Rappe

      Fear of God and fear of hell are two very different things.

    • Tricia Sturgeon

      Chad, although I am glad to see your doing well and that you, your wife and family are happy and have found a semblance of peace, I still find it disturbing and offenseve that one who so vociferously supported LOVE between ALL human beings, now calls those of us who love the same gender, “sinners” who are bound and destined for hell.

      Thats the same mindset a Christian lady that called me last year had when I first came out publicly as a lesbian. She told me that my “lifestyle” was sending me straight to hell. THEN she said if I was so “determined” to go to hell I should kill myself now to “get it over with”. But for ME living a LIE for 30 years was the HELL that so many have told me about. I was miserable! I lied to my friends, my family, and MYSELF for over 30 years. Now I am FREE from all that, happily married to my wife of 9 months and we have a daughter. In our relationship I have found trust, committment, loyalty, and the LOVE I had longed for my entire life!

      Like I said I am glad you and your family are doing well, but please, in your enthusiasm over your new “awakening” dont use this as a weapon against those who dont hold to those beliefs, who just want to live their lives, be happy and LOVE who they LOVE! You have the unique position of seeing BOTH sides of this issue. You have the opportunity also to use this new found life to build a bridge and not a wall between gay and straight, christian and non christian. “Love CAN build a bridge” and I hope in the the love you found you will in fact build that bridge.

  • Hallie Mac via Facebook

    Rhea, as someone who watched her ex struggle, I can tell you that addiction is not as simple as you seem to think.

  • http://www.facebook.com/natalie.jones.3348 Natalie Jones via Facebook

    Hallie, i think what she’s saying is people tend to focus on the negative aspects of Christianity

  • p.

    I’ve been thinking about this sentence lately:

    “We’re all capable of becoming fundamentalists because we get addicted to other people’s wrongness.” Pema Chodron

  • Eliot Parulidae via Facebook

    This is really weird. I like John’s blog, but sending an e-squad to psychoanalyze a man with little influence (apologies to Chad – I don’t have much influence either) and lots of personal stuff to work through strikes me as, well, mean and creepy and 4-Channish. Let’s pick on Pat Robertson instead.

    • Elizabeth

      Ha ha ha! No, really. We shouldn’t pick on Pat Robertson either. He has his own set of issues which he’s displayed clearly for all to see.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Yeah, cuz that’s what I did.

    • Allie

      Eliot, you can’t see it here, but John has been very protective of Chad. I made a post which has since disappeared, I assume because it was too harsh. John didn’t just unleash the dogs and walk away, he monitors this site and the comments.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Thanks, A. But, no, I didn’t delete what I did of yours because it was too harsh. I deleted it because I DID delete the comment to which yours was a response–which left your response making no sense. And it was short (but sweet!), so I didn’t think you’d mind.

  • Wayne Johnson via Facebook

    Sorry, but if a friend of mine ate lunch at Chik-Fil-A I would be ticked off and I would tell him so. This organization is much more virulently anti-gay than Chik-Fil-A.

    But if Chik-Fil-A were the only place where he could get food then I guess I’d be a jerk to give him a hard time about it. So that’s where I’m stuck right now.

    None of my business, except that that business makes its money by calling for harm to me and my friends.

  • Beth Adams via Facebook

    To be fair, Chad put himself out there in the first place. I’ve done some of that myself, although on a much smaller scale, and when I’ve been called out/psycho-analyzed by my friends, it’s fair play. Don’t hold yourself out there for comment if you can’t deal with the fallout.

  • Wayne Johnson via Facebook

    Angela, claiming that you speak for God is using God’s name in vain. That’s Sin #1. Got it?

    • Don Rappe

      In my denomination it was #2, but I guess if we can make them add up to 10, everything is OK.

      • Elizabeth

        *thumbs up*

  • Eliot Parulidae via Facebook

    My mom has this childhood friend who held “prayer meetings” to persuade the company she worked for not to provide domestic partner benefits. She put herself out there, all right. But I would not challenge her because I knew her history.

    Her father murdered her mother when she was a child. After CPS picked her up, her grandmother claimed her despite openly disliking her. Deep in her loneliness, she decided to avoid future catastrophes by becoming the perfect girl. The “perfect woman” she became cleans for eight hours a day, hoping to keep her husband around. She starves herself and makes fun of fat people. She joined an ultra-conservative church because it was the thing to do, and she held those anti-gay protest meetings because she craves their approval.

  • Eliot Parulidae via Facebook

    My mother’s friend is a very sad person underneath. I would cringe to see a blog go after her, even if it was just to tell her that she needed help. The political is personal.

  • Jen Henley

    I choose to believe about hell what C.S. Lewis wrote about it:

    “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.” -The Great Divorce

    • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

      One of my favorite books ever. It’s got the best concept of a chosen afterlife apart from God that I’ve ever seen. And the continual chance to choose Him is always there.

    • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

      That quote is sickening. It’s everything (ok, not *everything*) wrong with the idea of hell.

      WHO is out the *choosing* an eternity or suffering and torment? Huh? I mean, whose out there going “Pain? Suffering? I’ll have me a big forever portion of that. Sign me up, God?” No one. Well… not 99.9999999…% of people, so mathematically, practially no one.

      No, quotes like that say one of two things: 1. you CHOSE to do evil, so, essentially, you chose hell. (um, who hasn’t done evil, exactly? he who is without sin… – and in case you want to clarify “unrepentent sin”, I’d be careful thinking you’ve got it all figured out on what the right thing is to do all the time). Or, 2. you CHOSE to reject God, so you esssentially chose hell, despite all the well-meaning truth-seekers who do not ascribe to a god or a particular version of God (and what a great job we’re all doing representing that God, too, right…).

      That quote condones eternal torture and puts the burden on the victims. Victims of what, you ask? Life. If you haven’t noticed, it’s not exactly always a walk in the park down here. When decent, well-meaning people who make mistakes get screwed for eternity, we have a serious problem with our concept of justice.

      • Diana A.

        That’s the problem with quotes out of context. Even the best quotes can be misconstrued when taken out of context.

        That said, have you had the chance to read “The Great Divorce”? The book itself is not simplistic in its theology. This is not to say that I agree with all of it–I find C.S. Lewis to be a bit conservative for my taste–but I would say that his theology is a bit more complex than what might be drawn from that quote of his.

  • Roger

    Chad.

    I love you brother. We might come to rest in different theological positions; but I praise God for your restored family.

  • http://www.facebook.com/janice.dodd.9 Janice Dodd via Facebook

    I am sorry to say your article was rather hard to follow. I didn’t really understand what you were trying to say for sure. I don’t know if you were an atiest, and then decided to follow the Bible. Or if you were gay, and got cured. What..I just didn’t really get the true reason you were saying that others didn’t believe you.. I am going to withhold my decision on this.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

    duh. thanks, don.

  • http://www.progressivechristianitybook.com Roger Wolsey

    Reminded of the proverb about the butterfly that flaps its wings in one part of the world affecting a hurricane in another.

    Continued prayers for you and your family Chad.

    Roger

  • Stephanie

    Hi Chad: I didn’t read each and every comment, but the ones that I did read seemed to be expressions of compassion and concern for you, not judgments of you. So sorry that you perceived it that way.

    Best wishes to you in Christ,

    Stephanie

  • John (not McCain)

    I’ll believe in hell when I wake up in an afterlife surrounded by people like Chad.

    • Diana A.

      Chad’s a dear sweet man. I don’t like what Pure Life Ministry has done to him (or to his wife, for that matter–I read her testimony too, and it’s as sad as Chad’s is) but the original Chad is a dear sweet man. I hope one day the real Chad Holtz comes back.

      • Melody

        I agree. I think John’s comment here is highly insensitive.

    • Gordon

      You are surrounded by people like Chad. We all are. It’s called the United States House of Representatives.

  • Wayne Johnson via Facebook

    Hope you’re having a great day Ms. Barrett. I’m thinking about the juxtaposition of two things you wrote:

    1) “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” and
    2) “Christianity is far from small! The Holy Bible has been around a while… you heard of it?”

    The vast majority of so-called Christians aren’t following the example of Jesus at all. “Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”.

    http://lh5.ggpht.com/-C9ugUUqRWYY/T-DTbrwypqI/AAAAAAAABAU/ky2UgD-Vw9w/s1600-h/579911_426626447370601_615950686_n3.jpg

  • http://www.facebook.com/john10423 John Gragson via Facebook

    Angela: How can the Bible be the “living” word of God when its contents were decided by a council of bishops 1687 years ago? Did God stop talking to us then? Don’t get me wrong, I do read the Bible and study it for meaning and it is my primary source for authority. But the approach you seem to espouse is idolatry, putting the Bible in place of God. The Bible is the product of human beings trying to find God, but it is not God. John 1:1 might be my favorite verse in the Bible, but the term “λόγος” does not refer to the Scripture, but to something much more fundamental.

    • Shannon Skarda

      Wow. I love this. I struggle with family members who are fundamentalists. I have such a hard time expressing why I don’t take the Bible literally. You have perfectly put my thoughts and beliefs into comprehensible terms. Thank you

  • Gordon

    Mr. Holtz my be lurking, but I doubt he will be posting anything here or answering any questions. I just read his “Brainwashed” post on his new Blog. He feels quite strongly that it was a mistake for him to read John Shore’s Blog and a REALLY big mistake to comment on it.

    I really am fascinated by this guy for some reason. He’s the only person I have ever encountered who actually has transitioned from a progressive to a fundamentalist interpretation of Christianity. For me it was just the opposite as it has been for most Christians I know. But, we have to keep in mind that this man and his wife were traumatized by very serious marital issues. They seem to be clinging to this newfound faith (they write as though up until very recently, they weren’t even really Christian…and Chad was a student pastor of a church!) in order to save their marriage.

    I hope it works. I hope he never cheats on her again and I hope she learns to trust him. That’s a very tall order, however, but it is still my hope. In the meantime I share my friend Mike Moore’s sadness at this “conversion” experience that Chad seems to have had. We now seem to have another outspoken voice out there proclaiming the right-wing fundy nonsense about fear and hell and all the judgment and hate that usually comes with it.

    • Melody

      That’s often the case with people in situations similar to his. Someone really screws up her life, and in order to get some structure, she joins a fundamentalist community. She thinks she belongs and that the rules are for her own good. Then, five years down the road, she realizes she exchanged one extreme for another. I believe this is what’s going on with Chad; he just doesn’t want to see it because things are so much better in his married life (supposedly). I pray he finds the middle ground.

      • Diana A.

        I pray they both find the middle ground. I feel as sorry for Amy as I do for Chad.

        • Melody

          Agreed. It’s a sad situation for all involved.

    • John (not McCain)

      “I hope he never cheats on her again and I hope she learns to trust him. ”

      I wonder if she’ll ever stop wondering exactly who he’s thinking about when he’s making his moves on her. The only question about him cheating on her is will he get caught in an airport bathroom or a bar.

  • http://www.facebook.com/katherine.gundlach Katherine Gundlach via Facebook

    and I would beg to differ on the previously given definition of ‘cult’ (the whole ‘small’ thing):
    cult
    [kuhlt] Show IPA
    noun
    1.
    a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
    2.
    an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
    3.
    the object of such devotion.
    4.
    a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
    5.
    Sociology . a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.

  • http://www.facebook.com/katherine.gundlach Katherine Gundlach via Facebook

    by definition, any religion could be considered a cult. I personally believe in a relationship to God, not any religion.

  • kimj

    Chad is someone I consider a friend. While I’m happy his marriage is restored, I am deeply grieved by his newly found “conversion.” He does sound brainwashed. I am so sad.

    • kimj

      I’ve tried to comment on two of Chad’s new blog posts now and both were deleted. Both were asking honest questions of where he stood now on the lgbt issue as many of us have supported him. Both deleted.

      • Melody

        Wow. Can’t even answer an honest question, huh? Very sad indeed. And I’m sorry that someone whom you consider a friend is being so unfriendly to you. That is truly terrible.

      • Diana A.

        Yeah, I’m not surprised. Sad, but not surprised. I imagine this “healing” of his is very fragile and doesn’t bear much challenge. I’m truly worried about what will happen when the first strong wind comes along and blows the whole house of cards down.

      • mike moore

        Via an email exchange with Chad, I learned he is both disingenuous and unwilling to post any comments which challenge or do not generally gush with approval.

        To quote Chad: “DesireMercy is going to be primarily my wife’s blog where she can, Lord willing, bring a word of encouragement and hope to hurting wives.”

        However, when one reads the blog, it is, thus far, primarily Chad’s.

        The public testimonies, 2 of 3 posts, the single big happy photo with Chad and his kids but no wife, and the authors (Chad and his wife, Chad gets top billing) all make it pretty clear that what he calls “primarily my wife’s blog” is really “The Chad Show.”

        He is a sad and troubled guy, drunk on Pure Life’s Kool-Aid.

        • Ed

          Sounds like he finally got it right

      • Gordon

        I think his deleting your comments are answers in and of themselves.

        • kimj

          I agree. He is not the Chad I knew. Just blows me away. I even left a third personal message because I knew he wouldn’t post it. Nada.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            I determined before posting this piece that when Chad didn’t answer the gay question (as I assumed he would not), I wouldn’t press him on it/ask him again. But of course it is discouraging to learn the degree to which he wants to simply rebuff the question itself. I suppose that eliminates whatever sliver of hope that might have remained.

          • kimj

            Thanks you guys for the imput. I realize I have to let it go. There is grief – it feels like a death occurred. So ill grieve and say goodbye to my friend.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Me, too.

          • Russell Mark

            John – you know better than most that in Christ there is ALWAYS hope. Chad has experienced real soul freedom, but now, even as he sought help for his addiction, he’s been placed into this horribly disingenuous, intellectual and spiritual bondage. SO, we do what we must do and that is pray for him and his wife. And Christ will do what Christ does best – love and reconcile. This story is long from being over, it’s just a new chapter. His is also classic addictive behavior – you find the panacea to all your problems – throw youself at it and avoid having to do the hard work of rooting out the cause of the addiction. Programs like Pure Life fail because they push until they get the answer they want, which is quite often not the real solution. Chad is just beginning his journey, so the question for us is will we stick with him or write him off?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Yes, all as you (very well) say. I don’t have any sense of “sticking with him” or “writing him off” either way. He’s doing his thing. I’m not going to screw with him or anything like that, certainly. If he starts writing or speaking against gay people, I’ll take exception to that. But otherwise, what he does is none of my concern. If he’s happy, I’m glad he’s happy. If he’s not, and asks for my help in any way, of course I’ll be there for him. Same ol same ol.

          • Russell Mark

            Being the nexus of so many life stories, you carry a larger burden, brother, than many of us. We admire you for that. So, do keep us posted, so we can help carry the burden when we can. Shalom

          • Russell Mark

            And let me add, Chad and his wife are certainly not alone on this journey, just as none of us are alone in ours. Christ is not done with Chad…or me either, for that matter.

          • Gordon

            I still have a sliver of hope. Maybe I’m naive, but it’s impossible for me to believe that a Christian who knows and understands that God loves and celebrates the sexuality of gay people could somehow become convinced that he/she was wrong. This guy wrote about his support of our full acceptance in the Christian faith and its churches. And he was right. He was in truth. This organization he joined to deal with his inner demons may have tried to isolate some of his truths and scour them out, but it won’t last. Truth is truth. He’s hanging on tight right now because what he has been through has restored his wife and children to him and I totally understand that. He just needs to be “clean and sober” for a while. He’ll grow and get more confident in himself and the truths that are there, because truth can NEVER be scoured away. His inner truths will begin to surface and eventually he’ll find his footing and his balance again.

            Again, maybe I’m naive…but that is my hope. So, join with me in hope and believe with me. I think there’s lots of power in that.

          • kimj

            I truly hope you are right Gordon. I am backing away for now. Sometimes emotionally it’s healthier to let things go.

  • Melanie Stanley-Soulen via Facebook

    Andrew, you’re making some snappy judgments yourself – assuming that some of the folks who’ve responded don’t know Chad.

  • Brian

    The idea of HELL like the idea of FAITH seems to be a topic that many ministers and whole churches claim to know a great deal about. Really?

    In the Fall of 1993, every one of my personal beliefs was stripped away. I experienced it as a total loss of everything I ever valued. I wandered about the University Campus where I was working and going to school. After nearly a month of constant personal agony, Jesus spoke His name in my heart where I was trying to find relief in the break room (Sort of like your store room John). Immediately all doubt and fear vanished from my heart. In the years following, I have come to realize that my FAITH is actually a relationship I live out on a daily (one day at a time) basis. I have acquired more beliefs from that relationship – more like insights.

    One of them centers on the whole notion of HELL.

    Because I see my faith as the essence of my relationship to Jesus, I also have come to see HELL as a consequence of my SIN. I now define SIN as my turning away from that relationship, leaving me “WITHOUT” Jesus’ presence in my soul. The acts I used to think of as my sins, are the symptoms of my SIN. They warn me that I need to take some time alone and again and pray. Center myself and reaquire my spiritual compass.

    It seems most christians think of Hell as being without God. And I would agree with that as a qualifier of the state of my relationship with God. I would not agree, however, that “sinners” are the ones who wind up there more than believers.

    An individual who has made the effort to conquer their “sins” may well take pride in their accomplishment and take on a new “self-righteous” attitude toward people who cannot seem to stop sinning no matter how hard they try. I think these are the people we witness today who condemn gays, fornicators, drug addicts, alcoholics, etc. But we know what Jesus said about passing judgment. For the people who pat themselves on the back for being so disciplined and holy, where is God? Why do they need Him in their efforts to be “better?”

    I judge no one in this. I just cannot help, but wonder if the (so called) moral outrage by christian evangelicals toward “sinners” is not based on their own “righteousness?”

    A sinner can make no claim to holiness or pureness before God. And therein is the hope of every sinners final salvation (healing). We sinners know we can do nothing on our own or by our own efforts. We must throw ourselves on God’s Mercy. He knows this.

    That is why, in the end, I see Heaven and Hell as being two ways the soul relates to God. Jesus stated, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” Everything and everyone began in Him and will, in due time, return to Him. I think of what lies beyond the veil as being ONE reality only. Those who know they do not deserve what God has to offer by their own failed efforts will find their new reality with God as an eternal (whatever the H*** that means) healing and bliss. Those who tried to do it all on their own and have become so self-reliant that they found it too easy to pass judgement on homosexuals and others (the least of His brothers) have judged the Spirit of God that lifted all sinners up and carried us to the “bossom of Abraham.” These folks may discover that they do not like the God of salve-ation, because it means they can no longer do it on their own!

    Just a thought.

    • Gordon

      Um…excuse me, but I don’t like being lumped in with “the least of His brothers” and all this talk of sin and sinners makes my skin crawl. Also, I’m not sure I understand your point when you write above about “gays, fornicators, drug addicts, alcoholics, etc.” This reminds of when Trent Lott was the Majority Leader in the United States Senate and proclaimed that gay people were no different than alcoholics, sex addicts and kleptomaniacs!

      Yeah, I know what Jesus said about judgment. I also know what he said about gay people and homosexuality. NOTHING.

      Again, maybe I’m missing your point but I’m feeling insulted. Being gay is not a sin.

      • Brian

        Gordon – that is my point. Being gay is not a sin. I’m gay, even though I came out very late in life and only after I struggled with it in the context of what I formally thought of as being my faith. The emphasis on the different kinds of sinners is what I always heard from the Bible thumpers. Sorry if you thought I was lumping you in with anyone, I wasn’t. I was sharing a ver difficult path I followed to finally accept my orientation and preserve my relationship with jesus at the same time. Completely separate from being gay, I know I am a sinner. And I believe Jesus has no problem with that as it helps me to realize how much I need his love to heal my soul.

  • http://www.alnewberry.com Al Newberry

    It sounds to me like this Chad Holtz guy is just so extremely impressionable that he cannot think for himself. He reads Rob Bell’s book and so doesn’t believe in hell, then he goes off to an ultra-conservative addiction boot camp and suddenly believes in hell again.

  • Andrew of MO

    I am just seeing this post today. I really liked his picture at his new blog: Roman collar and all!

    How sad.


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