Thumbscrews: How Conservative Clergy Are Pressured into Silence

Thumbscrews: How Conservative Clergy Are Pressured into Silence October 17, 2018

It would be amusing if it were not so diabolical. The people who control our universities, our media, and our government bureaucracies now feign victimhood. They are la resistance–the resistance.

This is the way evil works: it mislabels things. Up becomes down, right becomes wrong, good becomes evil, and the people who run things become the victims.

For years these people have been denaturing nature, destroying households and families, leveling local communities, all in the name of freedom (which is what they call license); and they have been turning us into serfs. It is all about the progress of history, we’re told. And those who are on the wrong side of history will be crushed.

But the real resistance comes from conservatives and traditionalists. This is so obvious it shouldn’t need to be said. In the old days, when communists were more certain of themselves, and less prone to spin, they called conservatives “reactionaries”. You don’t hear that anymore.

I wish this sort of thing didn’t happened inside churches and denominations, but that’s not the case. We see the maelstrom even in conservative denominations. I can see the beginnings of it in my own denomination. I recognize it because I’ve seen it before, it is deja vu all over again. And just as I’ve seen before, it is catching conservative clergy unprepared. It is the same old thing. They’re frightened into silence, they feel the pressure, they’re in the thumbscrews.

There is a way to resist. But you have to escape the thumbscrews to do so. This isn’t new, either. We see the technique for escaping thumbscrews with the prophets in the Old Testament and with the desert fathers in the early church. The reason we don’t see it more often today is the same reason we don’t see it often in the past. Freeing yourself from the thumbscrews is difficult. But if you’re going to stay true to your convictions, you simply must do difficult things.

Here are a few of the more obvious thumbscrews you must escape.

Let’s begin inside a liberalizing denomination.

Thumbscrew #1: The “Cool Table”

You know what I mean. Back in high school there was the “cool table”. This was the table in the lunchroom where all the popular kids sat. And even though it was universally resented by people who didn’t have a seat at the cool table, everyone wanted to sit there.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, let me break it to you. You never leave high school. Every organization has what C. S. Lewis referred to as “the inner ring”. Churches and denominations are no different.

Progressives have mastered to art of taking over the cool table. I could go into all the ways that they do that, but knowing how the techniques work isn’t my purpose here. I’m just helping you see where the pressure to conform comes from. If you’re going to free yourself from this thumbscrew you need to stop caring what the cool table thinks of you. In fact, I think you need to start feeling contempt for the cool table.

The other side of this. Find your posse somewhere else. In my case I don’t need my local cool table because I belong to another table elsewhere. And if you do this correctly, you can actually enjoy the benefits of belonging to a group that supports your convictions rather than shaming you into silence.

Thumbscrew #2: No Plan B

Now this is something that you can blame yourself for. And this is a good thing because if you’re responsible for the problem you can fix the problem.

Most guys who get bullied into silence get quiet because they have no plan B. They have nowhere to go. They’re afraid of losing a pension, or salary, or friends. You get my drift. And because they’re afraid to lose, they lose. It is really that simple.

Progressives know this. In fact, you have to admire the no nonsense ruthlessness of progressives. Progressives are notoriously two-faced when it comes to this sort of thing. They present themselves as the embodiment of compassion and mercy, but in fact they are vindictive and controlling. And they won’t give you a second thought once they get rid of you.

The secret to freeing yourself from this thumbscrew is actually having a plan B. You need assets, you need options, you need someplace to go. And once you have those things, you will find a spine.

Thumbscrew #3: No Plan B for Your Local Church

Clergy in connectional churches and churches with long histories in their denominations feel this more acutely. Sometimes the denomination owns the building. Other times the identity of the church is so tied to the history of a denomination breaking away is inconceivable.

But this is a huge problem when it comes to faithfulness to doctrinal orthodoxy. And this is one of the reasons why progressives always begin at the top. They know how to apply pressure by controlling a denomination’s bureaucracy.

Anyone who has done any negotiating in the world of business knows it is the party that can walk away that has the leverage. If you want to be free, you need to begin a conversation with your local leadership about worst case scenarios. You need to discuss what it may come to. You need a plan B for your local church.

Now none of this addresses another possibility–that of actually taking a denomination back from the progressives. But you can’t do that until you have first done this.

You must free yourself from the thumbscrews.


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