Aimee Byrd

Inside the word. Outside the box.

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Valerie Hobbs wrote and important piece in 2017 on abuse in NAPARC churches. She shares several horrific stories of women seeking help from their leaders but are instead met with re-traumatization and abuse. Please take the time to read this and some of her great suggestions for reform. It angered me to read, as I see how things have only gotten worse. Since my own case of “gross spiritual abuse” in the OPC (as one well-known expert called it) is so public, I am hearing from others with very similar stories as Valerie documents. Too many others. It’s ongoing. It’s atrocious. We are way past a few bad apples. I just can’t understand why the good men in the OPC are not taking the reins here, saying, This is enough! No more abusing our most vulnerable! There is NO Christ in this!

Are we powerless to do this in our own denomination? If so, there is a serious problem with our ecclesial government.

Why does the outcry have to come from the bottom and not from the top? Why do the vulnerable have to pay when they speak? Why do we become your enemies for telling you the truth (Gal. 4:16)? This is the truth: it is clearly time for the denomination to hire a professional third-party investigative team, like G.R.A.C.E. Here is a revised letter that I have sent to a number of church officers in the OPC. It is an urgent plea to shepherd the flock by seeking the help we need. (There are some steps being taken to raise more awareness that is apparently needed, but not the very necessary one of hiring professionals. We are chasing our tails here. Reading Valerie’s post really clarified that for me):

First of all, I want to say that I am grateful for each of you. Just a little over a year ago, I did not know any of you. The church officers that I was friends with in the OPC whom I thought would be there for me to do something about the spiritual abuse that I was under either abandoned me or were not well-equipped to spot and confront it properly. Each one of you has stepped in and invested your own time and effort into helping in different ways. You have expressed empathy for me and concern about what is happening in our denomination.

Because much of the harassment, reviling, and plotting against me was public, I have confronted it publicly. However, as you know, the most painful part infiltrated my own church. I have not shared that story. I am thankful that I see fruit in confronting this, but it’s come at a cost to me and my session. My session humbled themselves to seek the help of one of Diane Langberg’s associates to learn more and rebuild. But confronting the harm done has wreaked havoc on our congregation.

I have learned a lot about the “process” of discipline in the OPC, both formal and informal. While put together with care and good intentions, there are some serious problems. I have much to say about this, but do not want that to be the focus of this letter. I have written some about it with the intent that those in the denomination would want to take action for reform in these areas.

Because my case is more public and because I have spoken into some of these issues, other victims of spiritual abuse in the OPC have reached out to me. Some women have now come to me wanting to work together at collating stories from other victims to publish. There are multiple reasons for this. Telling your story is part of the healing process: being heard. But this is bigger than each one of our individual cases. This is a real problem of spiritual abuse in the OPC, the system that perpetuates it, the theology behind it, and the men who can do something about it. This is about the name of Christ and the love for his bride. And we know there are many more victims and will continue to be if nothing is done. We also have our children in mind, who see behind the curtain of the church.

The OPC has a real problem—the bride is being clobbered by the gatekeepers.

Maybe you know that when victims of abuse seek counsel on confronting abuse and when those with the authority to do something do not act justly, they are counseled to the next step of publicly exposing it. Sadly, we have seen over and over with scandals in both the secular world and the church that this step is painfully necessary for action: Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Larry Nassar, Tullian Tchividjian, Bill Hybels, Mark Driscoll, Ravi Zacharias, or collectively The Southern Baptist Convention, Sovereign Grace, The Crowded House, the Anglican church in the UK, and ACTS 29. They all had to be publicly exposed first. At the cost of the victims. Do we really want the OPC added to this list?

This is why I am writing you. I know you care. I know you have already taken on some of the cost yourselves. I know that you also care about the OPC as a denomination. This is a turning point. I am asking you to get ahead of this at a bigger level now. Let’s be different than the others. Before more women come forward with their stories, you can lead the way and join with us. There is a better way. I know you can’t do it alone. I know it is overwhelming. Here is my suggestion/request: it is clearly time to hire a third-party investigative team like G.R.A.C.E. They are trained for this. They aren’t friends with any of the accused. And they do not have invested interested in defending the OPC—they are victim-focused.

Rather than the victims publishing their stories, wouldn’t it be better for the OPC to lead the way, inviting men and women to come forward with this third party collecting and collating them? Wouldn’t it be better to get a report with professional recommendations for reconciliation and moving forward?

Don’t we want healing and care for the hurting? Don’t we want holiness and good character in all our leaders?

I keep quoting Diane Langberg’s powerful statement in her book Redeeming Power :

“Our responses to the vulnerable expose who we are.”

This isn’t the only step needed. Along with this, for the future of the church, we need to examine the theology and the underlying assumptions about men and women, as well as about laypeople and spiritual authority, that is perpetuating abuse and inhibiting the growth of the church. These are topics that I am pursuing in writing but would love to see our leaders addressing. Some of the basic elements of personhood that Diane Langberg outlines: voice, relationship, and power, are stunted, neglected, ignored, or plain taken from women in the church. It is a strength in leadership to work with the marginalized to gain understanding about how a victim is impacted by the decisions and process of the system and how justice is even perceived. The church needs reform in preventing, recognizing, and dealing with abuse. Leaders need to be trained in this.

It starts with valuing the voices of her women.

Will you join me in this? I think the first step is in recognizing the severity of the problem and the need for outside help. Is there any way set up in our denomination to make such a decision and actually hire professionals? We are past the point of individual complaints and charges (although they are still needed). We are past the point of waiting for and relying on committee reports from the inside. Maybe that would be a step in addressing some of the theological issues, but we need outside professional help for some diagnostic matters and care for victims. I know I am asking for something unprecedented. But that is what is needed now. We are way past the scenario of a few bad apples. The system is being used to protect abusers. I am seeing more and more victims ready to move to advocacy now. The OPC doesn’t have two years or even one year to take this through the usual process to GA. That doesn’t care for the past, present, and future victims—many of whom were traumatized by trusting the system and the men in it. The process isn’t even accessible to the most vulnerable.

It’s a matter of what is more important in our denomination—the people or the system?

In his book, Something’s Not Right, Wade Mullen notes that abuse is a community concern. Abusers abuse because they can. There are many in the OPC suffering from trauma from spiritual abuse. Psychiatrist Bessel Van Der Kolk says in his book, The Body Keeps the Score, that “Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health…social support is the most powerful protection against being overwhelmed by stress and trauma.” This isn’t just private expressions of care. “The critical issue is reciprocity: being truly heard and seen by people around us.” We do not have this. Victims are ready to come forward and tell their stories. From where I’m standing, I can tell you that the OPC is not safe for many. Please let that sink in. I am saying that the church is not safe!

Respectfully,

Aimee Byrd

69 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the OPC on Abuse

  1. Graham Dugas says:

    You should leave these OPC men to their own devices and their own puritanical notions of male leadership. It’s time for you to exit the OPC.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jeff D. says:

    Do you consider it abuse when someone, or even many are critical (even harshly) of your writings?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Melinda says:

      If Ministers of the Presbyterian Church in the US can dismiss the treatment of Aimee as criticism of her writing, then it is clear why same church has a problem with spiritual abuse and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see those attitudes tolerate and enable other forms of abuse.

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      1. Jeff D. says:

        It quite amazing that the times I’ve posted here (and it hasn’t been many), it’s twisted. Melinda, can you please tell me where I’ve “dismissed the treatment of Aimee as criticism of her writing”?

        I really did ask a simple question, and it’s a serious question. I suspect I know the answer, but I am concerned that a certain atmosphere is being created. I maybe wrong.

        Our church doesn’t have problems with spiritual abuse (no, and I’m not in denial) I don’t believe you’re referring to our church in particular in your comment, but I suspect that our church is like the majority of churches in the OPC. We’re simply seeking to love our people and win the lost; most people have no idea what’s going on here with Aimee (where that lack of knowledge is right or wrong). Please do, come and check us out before making such an outlandish statement. By the way, it’s not abuse to call your statement outlandish.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Jeff, genuine question: Do you have a particular objection to an organization like G.R.A.C.E. doing an investigation of spiritual abuse? Seems to me that if there is none as you say, then such an investigation would be exonerating. Given that spiritual abuse is not also criminal, seems to me there’s no prevailing threat in a discovery of the facts. And on the other hand, if spiritual abuse were found, wouldn’t it be worth it to address it so that one could say as a matter of fact and not mere sentiment, “our church doesn’t have problems with spiritual abuse?”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jeff D. says:

        Kerry. In principle I wouldn’t have a problem with an outside organization doing such thing. I don’t know who G.R.A.C.E is though. I’m assuming it is “Christian” organization, but there obviously would need to be some criteria. I don’t often, but if preach on the doctrine of hell and they think that is abusive, then no, I wouldn’t be open to an organization checking us out in that way.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Fair enough, Jeff, but don’t you think that warrants your own investigation of G.R.A.C.E. to see if what Aimee is asking here is reasonable and theologically compatible with Christian orthodoxy rather than clapping back with a question insinuating she’s blowing the problem out of proportion?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Jeff D. says:

        I’m not sure how you come to the conclusion that I think she is blowing things out of proportion. I’m asking, just as you did, a genuine question. Why do you find suspicious in my question?

        If and when G.R.A.C.E contacts me, I’ll look. I’m simply trying love my people (which I fail at doing), preach the gospel, and reach the lost (like most OPC pastors). Sadly (in some respects) I have checked in here a few times.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Jeff, this isn’t really all that difficult. You asked, “Do you consider it abuse when someone, or even many are critical (even harshly) of your writings?”

        That you had to ask that question in response to a piece of writing that clearly involves events and people beyond Aimee and her book demonstrates your insinuation. I have no doubt it was a genuine question, but that doesn’t negate the obvious insinuation.

        In any case, abuse isn’t merely a failure to love to one’s utmost. I would encourage you to at least do your own investigation to understand it better. I prefer the book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderan. https://www.amazon.com/Subtle-Power-Spiritual-Abuse-Manipulation/dp/0764201379

        And while I can’t say one way or another whether G.R.A.C.E. is the right organization to do anything, it certainly seems more than reasonable that one might explore their organization first. https://www.netgrace.org/

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Cynthia W. says:

      Jeff D., how many people attend your church each Sunday?

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      1. Jeff D. says:

        What a strange question. But I have nothing to hide. I print 49 bulletin. No need to assume Anything from that, whether good or ill.

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      2. Cynthia W. says:

        Jeff D., I don’t know why that was a stranger question than any other, but thank you for giving something like, although not exactly like, the answer.

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      3. Jeff D. says:

        Cynthia, sorry, I was typing on my phone earlier. I usually print about 40 bulletin. I don’t count how many people attend. An elder does, but I don’t. And yes, I do think it’s a strange question to ask.

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    4. Graham Dugas says:

      It appears Jeff, that will not get your answer because any challenge to Aimee IS perceived as “abuse” and will not be sincerely addressed. I see only deflection, sidestepping, finger pointing, characterization, blame shifting, endless quarreling and evasion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Danny Patterson says:

        This is ridiculous, Graham. Aimee is has said time and time again she doesn’t mind critiques of her books, writings, etc., but what has been said about her and done to her is for more than that. Your minimizing of what has actually happened in just one example of the massive problem here.

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  3. Graham Dugas says:

    It does not take a year or two for a properly written overture to be approved by GA. Just get it there by the deadline and they can vote on it this summer.

    Deadline: May 12, 2022

    STANDING RULES AND INSTRUMENTS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE OPC [Chapter 5, Point 13]

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cynthia W. says:

    That is a very powerful appeal with a variety of useful suggestions. Best wishes for a response exemplifying the spirit of the Gospel.

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  5. The Rev’d Jeff you are being extremely disingenuous, so disingenuous in fact that some might call it gas lighting which is another practice of abusers.

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    1. Graham Dugas says:

      This is a typical smear. You can’t cite anything specific. Instead you characterize his replies with a broad brush. This is abusive.

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    2. Jeff D. says:

      I’m not big on “The “Rev’d” thing; I’m good with “Jeff.” 🙂

      I can see how one might view my question as disingenuous, but I’ve already stated that it was a “genuine” question, in the same sense as Kerry’s question was (see above). Since you don’t know me whatsoever, there’s no need for you to assume that I’m lying. Surely I thought about what answer Aimee may offer, but that doesn’t mean I know the actual answer.

      If my question, in your mind is “gas lighting which is another practice of abusers,” then yes, I am guilty. But your statement is part of the genuine concern that I do have. Among the genuine concerns that are present of abuse, a culture is being created in which one can not be critical of Aimee’s writings without being labeled, “abusive.”

      If my concerns are unfounded, great, I’m willing to be corrected, and I’ll move on.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aimee Byrd says:

        Hi Jeff,

        If you’ve followed my case and categorize it as mere critique, then it will do me no good to try and answer your question. I’m going to go ahead and listen to what actual experts on spiritual abuse say. Your sealioning the comments section here is a demonstration of why the sheep need outside, professional help. This isn’t only about the numerous OPC church officers involved in my case, but the many others who are being clobbered by those who should be caring for them and the system that enables them. Go ahead and look into GRACE. If things are as you suspect, and all the “supposed” victims are making it up for attention, or can’t take correction and critique, they are smart enough to figure that out.

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      2. Jeff D. says:

        I did not “categorize it (what you have gone through) as mere critique.” I ask a particular question. That’s it.

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  6. Cassaundra Wolf says:

    Thank you so much for this, Aimee. This hits so close to home.

    I’ve always appreciated your writing on every topic you have tackled. I am the family member to multiple sexual abuse survivors (two were victims of Nassar), so I am glad to see you writing this letter that addresses a greater problem within the Church, more broadly, and your denomination, specifically. It’s tragic that such advocacy is needed in the Body of Christ, but I am so thankful that you — again — are lending your talents to this cause.

    Like

  7. Andrew P says:

    Well then, I’ll explicitly say what many think Mr. Jeff D. is implying; because based on my observations, it’s true. Incidentally, I’m someone who is not part of a NAPARC denom, and has no real dog in this hunt. I’ve only watched from afar.

    Ms. Byrd’s case against abuse in the OPC is badly weakened by the fact that she doesn’t appear to distinguish between the nasty, slanderous criticism she’s received and the legitimate, probing criticism (and yes, at times over-harsh for someone who is not a trained scholar but a laywoman).

    It seems to me that she sees herself as a prophetic voice to a very traditional denomination, poked a hornet’s nest, then got in high dudgeon about the angry swarms that emerged.

    I would echo those here who say if she is not happy with her denomination, she should leave. I see analogy here to marrying someone in the hope that someday they will change.

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  8. Gretchen says:

    Sounds like you truly have issues. My OPC is just fine and you threw it under the bus.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Moira says:

    Oh, Jeff, if you read that article and thought a question about Aimee’s sensitivity to criticism of her writing was just the right thing to bring up, you are beyond blind. In the post, she likened what she’s talking about, without giving details, to the Weinstein, Driscoll, Zacharias, and Nassar scandals. Have you listened to her podcasts? It isn’t literary criticism that is keeping her up at night. It’s not your church that’s keeping her up at night. I’m assuming she’s hearing stories that would turn any reasonable, caring human being’s stomach, let alone a follower of Christ. Your question so misses the mark, it would be laughable, except that you’re a pastor publicly displaying your blindness and bias, in a roundabout way proving her point for her. Please let that sink in. Many of us, with no kingdom to protect, read your words and think, “This is the problem she’s talking about.” No abuse problems? Fine. Why the knee-jerk verbosity then? This article came out just yesterday, and you completely dominate the comments. It’s either odd or suspect. Your activity here creates an impression whether you like it or not, but that was your choice.

    Thank you, Aimee, for spending your time and energy on this. I’m sure it’s beyond taxing and painful. My husband and I have had a bird’s eye view of NAPARC churches as we’ve moved frequently due to military and professional demands. We attended these churches, thinking the good theology would inform good practice. Unfortunately, none of this, NONE OF IT, is at all surprising as we’ve been uncomfortable for years with the rotten fruit we’ve witnessed. I wish I could say otherwise. And so many of the men in authority seem susceptible to something akin to the Dunning-Kruger Effect. They don’t know what they don’t know. This is why your writing is so important. We need to hear female voices. We must because without them, we miss too much and His Bride suffers. If you can bear it, please keep up your work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Graham Dugas says:

      (i)Why the knee-jerk verbosity then? This article came out just yesterday, and you completely dominate the comments. It’s either odd or suspect. Your activity here creates an impression whether you like it or not, but that was your choice.(i)

      Maybe he is “verbose” because he has to restate his question ten million dofferent ways until he gets a straight answer. That’s the “impression” I get.

      Like

    2. Andrew P says:

      “We attended these churches, thinking the good theology would inform good practice.”

      An interesting statement, in light of the fact that Ms. Byrd twice states above that BAD theology is informing BAD practice in NAPARC churches.

      I’m curious what bad theology precisely she is seeing within the OPC; and, again, why it isn’t significant enough to drive her to a new denomination. Granted, we all draw our lines in different places. But if I had the wealth of churches you have in the US, I certainly wouldn’t stay in one that I found theologically errant.

      Like

  10. Sara says:

    What a totally ridiculous article. Please leave the OPC.

    Like

  11. RCollins says:

    It sounds so simple, just get G.R.A.C.E to come in and investigate. What, specifically, would they investigate? The denominational staff? The BCO? Would they work at the presbytery level? or individual churches? What are they looking for? Under who’s authority would they operate? What, in our standards or even biblically, gives them the authority to be hired and then to operate? What is their operating model? How do they define the spiritual abuse (which is an exceptionally vague term) they would be looking for?

    Liked by 2 people

  12. In order to for the denomination to act, it needs something on the docket for the upcoming General Assembly. You should have your session draft an overture as soon as possible or you will miss the opportunity.

    In the meantime, you should advise the individuals privately reporting abuse claims to you that they can immediately get G.R.A.C.E. involved in their individual cases to get the ball rolling.

    Like

    1. Charles says:

      Beware this advice. Mark is a pretty rabid culture warrior who discerns she-devils among the Byrd crowds.

      Like

  13. Melinda says:

    Thank-you for your last response Jeff.. As I understand it, you acknowledge that spiritual abuse has been perpetrated against Aimee, but you are commenting on her blog where she details and documents the nature of the abuse and ungodly behaviour against her to raise a separate issue, that of genuine critique of somebody’s work being silenced for fear of being mislabelled as abuse.

    Nothing you have posted here so far can be said to be abusive BUT to me and obviously others in this thread, your comments display a viewpoint that enables abusers and fails to care about victims. I will take your word and assume your sincerity so I can only conclude that you have been educated to accept spiritually abusive practices as the norm and are unable to discern abuse, from critique and identify patterns of harassment bullying, vilification and ridicule from those in authority that in totality are abusive because of their sustained and pervasive nature.

    Your first post appears to be a classic case of deflection. Rather than respond or comment on the content of Aimee’s post, you raise a separate question that by your own subsequent admission reflects your concern is not responding to abuse in the church but rather with an unsubstantiated perception that criticism is being mislabelled abuse.

    Regarding gas lighting, this was in response to your insistence that what you asked was a simple question and no acknowledgement at the time that the insinuation is that rather than suffering abuse, Aimee just can’t stand criticism of her work. Your question communicates abuse isn’t the problem-THIS (silencing of critique) that’s the problem.

    Jeff, I’ve answered your questions so can you answer a couple of questions for me:

    Can you please indicate which of the comments from Genevan Commons https://aimeebyrd.com/2020/06/19/genevan-commons-and-the-qualifications-for-church-office/ posted here are criticism of her work? If you believe many are genuine critique, then perhaps indicate a % of criticism vs personal attack.

    Can you please indicate which of the comments befit a Christian leader?

    Like

    1. just ... K says:

      Thank you Melinda for the sanity, and for pointing out the elephant in the room. (Which apparently a few of the male commenters here chose to swallow while fishing for gnats.)

      The kindest thing I can say about Jeff’s question in the context in which it was raised is that it was obtuse. More critically, it’s an ad hominem in the larger context. Something which one of Jeff’s supporters had no problem picking up on and running with.

      Totally uncool. But highly illustrative of the larger problem being addressed.

      Hugs Aimee. I’m not part of the OPC, but my experiences in another denomination mimic those of the women you’re speaking out on behalf of. For Christ’s sake, thank you.

      Like

      1. Andrew P says:

        “Thank you Melinda for the sanity, and for pointing out the elephant in the room. (Which apparently a few of the male commenters here chose to swallow while fishing for gnats.)”

        White males. Heteronormative, cis-gendered white males, thank you very much. Probably boomers too. Definitely of the patriarchy.

        And always “fishing for gnats.” Little things like mixed-metaphors. ;D

        As for the repeated accusation that a number of MEN didn’t respond to the content of the post, it’s probably because there’s little to say. For my part, it involves people I don’t know and situations of which I am not aware. It’s an open letter, and I’m not an intended recipient.

        I primarily commented here because of the repeated assertion that something is theologically amiss with the OPC, which got my attention as I have friends in the OP, and I was curious to hear more from this POV.

        Like

      2. just ... K says:

        “As for the repeated accusation that a number of MEN didn’t respond to the content of the post, it’s probably because there’s little to say. For my part, it involves people I don’t know and situations of which I am not aware..”

        My apologies.

        The elephant has not been swallowed. Mr “P” is rather brazenly riding it….

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Andrew P says:

    Apology accepted. 🙂

    Like

    1. just ... K says:

      Half the harm that is done in this world
      Is due to people who want to feel important
      They don’t mean to do harm
      But the harm does not interest them.
      Or they do not see it, or they justify it
      Because they are absorbed in the endless struggle
      To think well of themselves.

      T.S. Eliot

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Andrew P says:

        Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
        If I could put a notion in his head:
        ‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
        Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
        Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
        What I was walling in or walling out,
        And to whom I was like to give offense.
        Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
        That wants it down.’

        Robert Frost

        Like

  15. Jeff D. says:

    It seems as this did not go through; I posted it yesterday. It comes from Al Mohler’s Briefing yesterday and I believe speaks to my original question:

    “We’re told that one of the problems documented here was harassment from fellow students and administrators. But as you look at the lawsuit, as you look at the report from this organization, as you listen to the conversation, a lot of this harassment comes down to the fact that for example, in the case of Moody Bible Institute, administrators ask questions of this student. And in many cases, that is now defined as harassment. One student telling another student that homosexual behavior is sinful is clearly categorized in almost all these studies as a form of harassment. If there is any legitimate charge of what would be rightly called harassment, these schools should deal with it. But that has to come in a form that genuinely represents harassment, not just a confrontation on moral grounds.”

    Take a look at the second to last sentence. But, don’t miss what is being expressed in the entire paragraph either. My question was quite simple.
    Now, some feel it was not appropriate for this original post. Okay, I see the point, but disagree.

    That’s all from me.

    Like

    1. just ... K says:

      “When you start to exercise your voice and agency, those who’d prefer you stay silent and powerless might try to use your past trauma against you by suggesting you have a lot of healing to do, are clouded by bitterness, and are emotionally unhealthy.” Wade Mullen

      Jeff, you continually try and frame your input as simply the “legitimacy” of your question. I don’t believe you have the right to frame your input as a simple binary. That would be like asking if the question “What time is lunch?” is a legitimate question. If it’s the first thing you ask of the bereaved at a funeral, it may be a theoretically “legitimate question”, but that legitimacy doesn’t excuse you of the charge of being a complete jerk for asking it how and when you did. Context matters.

      Quoting Mohler doesn’t excuse you. You’re not on campus. You’re on Aimee’s blog. A place where a women has openly shared that she writes books, yes. She has also shared her pain over the degrading, misogynistic jokes, barbs and “sermon dedications” she was made a butt of – and her disappointment in a church that won’t take that behaviour on the part of its men, seriously. She has been mature enough to realise that the issue is not limited to her own experience and in this post has raised the issue as it pertains to others. You can disagree with her writing AND disagree with how she has been treated AND take the time to notice other people who are being hurt by church procedure.

      In context it’s not a binary issue over the legitimacy of a question.

      We will have to agree to disagree.

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      1. Jeff D. says:

        Just..K says, “and her disappointment in a church that won’t take that behaviour on the part of its men, seriously.”

        And that is where you are wrong. Period.

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      2. just ... K says:

        Jeff, you get full marks for vehemence – but it still doesn’t give you the right to frame my reality on your say so. The compassion you’ve shown here has been underwhelming – to the point that you undermine the validity of your own assertion.

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      3. Jeff D. says:

        “Vehemence.” What?

        Oh, call someone or someone’s position a name and that’s supposed to persuade people. Unfortunately, that is the result at times. Your last comment was just plain wrong, and I’m surprised that you stated it, and now surprised that you’re are sticking with it.

        Let me remind you what you said, “and her disappointment in a church that won’t take that behaviour on the part of its men, seriously.”

        I’ll state it again. You are wrong. There is no “vehemence,” in that my comment. It’s just a fact.

        For those who have been following the story, know that Aimee has herself reported on what action the church (where these things are adjudicated) has taken on this issue; whether you agree with it (and some do) or whether you don’t (and some do).

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  16. just ... K says:

    Jeff, you are aware in logic that something can’t be A and non-A simultaneously, right?

    I have a life and can’t respond to you at length right now. (actually I can’t see from the way you argue that pointing out your error will help you at this point either.)

    But it’s your foot – you mangled it.

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    1. Graham Dugas says:

      Jeff, can’t you see that your honest question: “Do you consider it abuse when someone, or even many are critical (even harshly) of your writings?” has been answered in the affirmative by all the heat you have had to endure?

      Like

      1. Melinda says:

        Jeff do you care to answer the honest questions posted above? Graham Dugas feel free to weigh in here too.

        Can you please indicate which of the comments from Genevan Commons https://aimeebyrd.com/2020/06/19/genevan-commons-and-the-qualifications-for-church-office/ posted here are criticism of her work? If you believe many are genuine critique, then perhaps indicate a % of criticism vs personal attack.

        Can you please indicate which of the comments befit a Christian leader?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Jeff D. says:

        Melinda, et. al.,

        1.  I never said that the stuff from GC was a criticism of her writings.  That has been brought up at least twice now.  You’re attributing something to me that I never said, or even indicated (although, see #3).  Danny Patterson has said that “Aimee doesn’t mind critiques of her books, writings, etc.,”  Great; finally an answer.  The answer I thought Aimee would give. Danny said that Aimee has said “time again she doesn’t mind critiques of her books…”  Again, great.  I apologize (“I’m sorry”) if I have missed it.  I haven’t been following as closely as others.

        2.  Again, I did ask a very simple question, which in my mind could have been answered with a “yes” or “no.”

        3.  I haven’t taken the time to look through all the comments that are posted at the link you and others have offered.  Just looking at it now, I don’t know most of the men.  I don’t know if they are a “Christian leader,” – I’m assuming you are using that in a bit of technical sense.  I’m not going to walk through every single comment.  I do find some to be very inappropriate; I certainly don’t find them all to be so. It does appear that some are referencing her writings.  Sorry, I’m not a numbers guy, I can’t give a percentage.  I’m not saying a majority of the comments are, but again, see #1.

        4.  I personally am not minimizing what has happened to Aimee.  And neither has our Presbytery.  I do know this, that our Presbytery, which has spent hours on this “case,” is a fine of a Presbytery as any other in the OPC.  We are men, who love our people, and that includes people on both sides.  There are men at Presbytery (any Presbytery) who don’t see eye-to-eye on every jot and tittle.  There are many details that are brought out in a presbytery meeting that most people are not aware of.  But, as a regional church, we have addressed this issue.  So, the comment above that, “a church that won’t take that behaviour on the part of its men, seriously,” is just factually wrong.  I can’t stress that enough.

        Finally, I’m done.  My question has been answered, not by Aimee (at least not here), but by Danny.  I appreciate the answer.  Let me remind you of the quotation from Al Mohler (see above).  I trust then, with the answer Danny gave, that what Mohler is saying in the paragraph is not being played out here with Aimee’s writings.  
        Let me remind you, that I pointed to the second to last sentence of that paragraph, which again, is this, “If there is any legitimate charge of what would be rightly called harassment, these schools should deal with it.”  Our Presbytery has dealt with what has taken place.  Will some people find our decision to be adequate?  Of course not.  Will some people find our decision to be over the top – you better believe it.  Here is the fact, it is absolutely wrong to believe and to espouse the following about our Presbytery, “a church that won’t take that behavior on the part of its men, seriously,”  Wrong!  Wrong! Wrong!

        Like

  17. just ... K says:

    Jeff, I’m glad to see you referencing a little more of the bigger picture in your response. Thank you for taking the time to breathe a little.

    I wish I didn’t have to respond to you, but as I am the poster you are “quoting” in the following statements, I’m not okay with letting them slide – for a couple of reasons.

    In your last post you say:

    “So, the comment above that, “a church that won’t take that behaviour on the part of its men, seriously,” is just factually wrong. I can’t stress that enough.”

    “Here is the fact, it is absolutely wrong to believe and to espouse the following about our Presbytery, “a church that won’t take that behavior on the part of its men, seriously,” Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!”

    I’m going to deal with these statements on a personal level, and then evaluate them.

    PERSONALLY:

    Jeff, placing something into quotation marks means that you are quoting the exact words of the original speaker, it also means that you have not excerpted statements to change the context or meaning of what was originally intended. Your words: “the comment above … a church that won’t take that behaviour on the part of its men, seriously,” is false. Putting that statement into my mouth is untrue.

    My original comment was: “her disappointment in a church that won’t take that behaviour on the part of its men, seriously.” If we are going to get technical, the SUBJECT of my original sentence was AIMEE and her disappointment. You have substituted, so the subject of my sentence it is now the OPC. And YES, it matters. Context matters. (I’m remaining consistent here.)

    My original statement was a reflection of my understanding of this post: https://aimeebyrd.com/2020/10/19/who-is-valued-in-the-opc/ and this one: https://aimeebyrd.com/2021/01/29/a-plea-for-reform-observations-from-the-trial-in-the-pse/. As I said yesterday – this is Aimee’s blog. She has spoken here. I commented about Aimee, on her blog and SHE supplies the context.

    Yesterday, you were in such a rush for judgement against my voicing this that you made this rash statement:

    ““and her disappointment in a church that won’t take that behaviour on the part of its men, seriously.”

    And that is where you are wrong. Period.””

    In a later post you said it again:

    “”Let me remind you what you said, “and her disappointment in a church that won’t take that behaviour on the part of its men, seriously.”

    I’ll state it again. You are wrong. There is no “vehemence,” in that my comment. It’s just a fact.””

    I gave you due warning that you were being illogical, so to cover yourself in your later post you edited me. Not cool.

    I wrote my sentence out of a concern and in an attempt to reflect the heartache of Aimee. Jeff, you dominated the comments yesterday, over and over again where do you reflect the personhood of Aimee? Take a look – before I made a comment about you mangling your foot – where do you reflect her honestly or even try to reflect her at all? When I read you and look at the attitude you espouse I can sympathise readily with why Aimee does not feel seen or heard by the OPC. Your own attitude weakens your assertions. Jeff, why did you feel justified in editing her out of a sentence? A sentence in which she was the point of reference for the sentence to be understood in its entirety? Why do you feel justified, after she has shared a post filled with feeling and pain (not only hers) into turning it into a theoretical legitimacy issue on a subject of your own choosing?

    Why did you turn my comment into a straw man argument?

    EVALUATION

    If I had not been busy yesterday, I probably would have had to make some logical deductions – and those can be tricky when deciding motives. But as things turn out, you’ve done the work for me.

    The reason why you can’t look at my statement rationally is because you have an agenda for being here:

    “Here is the fact, it is absolutely wrong to believe and to espouse the following about our Presbytery, “a church that won’t take that behavior on the part of its men, seriously,” Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!”

    Jeff, you can believe this as gospel truth, you can die on this hill, you can proclaim it as loudly as you please from any treetop or mountaintop of your choosing. You can start a blog. You can be as vehement as you like.

    But – it isn’t a fact, and even that misquoted statement, as it stands is not “Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!”

    Here are the FACTS (and I’m not making a career out of this, it’s off the top of my head – if Aimee wishes to correct me – I’m totally open):
    a) Men in Aimee’s denomination made comments about her, dedicated sermons to her etc.
    b) Some people felt that some of the comments and dedications were inappropriate.
    c) The church looked into and made a ruling about what had occurred.
    d) Some people agree that the church has dealt with the issue satisfactorily.
    e) Some people do not feel that the church has dealt with the issue satisfactorily.

    Jeff you are fully within your rights to say that you think the church did an awesome job, justice has been served, the OPC is perfect, the men are a smashing success – make that a double – or whatever else you’d like to add.

    Aimee is FULLY within her rights to say that she thinks the church failed on this issue. That the issues have not been adequately addressed. That she believes the OPC should reform. That she doesn’t feel the OPC is acting in the best interests of women. And she has said it. Openly. Here. In her own space, on her own time, on her own blog.

    Within the scope of the facts it CANNOT BE SAID: “Here is the fact, it is absolutely wrong to believe and to espouse the following about our Presbytery, “a church that won’t take that behavior on the part of its men, seriously,” Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!”

    You CAN say: “Here is the fact, some people believe and espouse the following about our Presbytery, “a church that won’t take that behavior on the part of its men, seriously,” Under debate! Under debate! Under debate!” But I (Jeff) think they’re categorically wrong.”

    It doesn’t matter how hard you try to smash your opinion over people’s heads. You CANNOT make your opinion everyone else’s absolute truth. It doesn’t work that way. Stating the issue under debate as a premise over which there is a concluded certainty isn’t reality – it’s a logical fallacy.

    I can understand that you feel loyal to your denomination. I can understand that you want everything to be good and safe and normal. But Jeff you’re defending your denomination whilst showing a great deal of unkindness and lack of concern for PEOPLE. You don’t give the impression of having even looked at the story that Aimee directed us to at the beginning of the piece. These women were a part of this story. You commented and POOF the people disappeared. The mission to take on Amy – apparently the enemy of the peace and prosperity of your denomination, seems to have taken over. You seem to see an enemy. I see a watchmen on a hill.

    If Aimee’s writings are genuinely of such concern to you – please start your own blog. Write about them. Debate them. But be morally honest. Be intellectually honest. Be kind. Do it on your own time in your own space.

    To anyone reading. Christianity is meant to be a religion of incarnation. A Mighty God – above anything that we can imagine – stooped, touched, took on our flesh. He came to know hunger, pain, betrayal, nakedness, exhaustion – so that when it says that He can sympathize with us – we can believe that it is true. He has walked. Breathed. Slept. He was in our form – he knows it from the inside out. Men in the church – have you tried to follow this example, so that when a women comes into your church and says, “it feels different for me” – have you taken the time to try and see behind her eyes? To all of us – What did it feel like to be a person of colour and walk to work after George Floyd’s murder? What happens to someone who has been sex trafficked – what would church feel like for them? What does the world look like when you were abused as a child – does that affect how you perceive authority? Are you able to incarnate enough to try to understand?

    Oh church, we have an example to follow – a path that has been set! We are meant to offer hope, healing. We are meant to shine a light into darkness and RESCUE the oppressed and afflicted!

    Places like this comment section break my heart. Are we telling the world that we devour one another? That we cannot disagree honestly or kindly? That we are a pack, not a flock? Last time I looked, that’s pretty much what people were hearing.

    Take a moment to look around. This is the internet. People are watching.

    I come here because Aimee has pulled on this string. This otherness. Her suffering has taken her past herself. Look at the post after this one it’s beautiful!

    Aimee. Thank you for having us here.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jeff D. says:

      So sad.  I wasn’t taking your comment out of context.  I know, and we can let the reader figure it out, that I knew, the subject of your sentence was “Aimee and her disappointment.’  You’re protesting too much on this one.  The words you added didn’t change anything. I stand by what I said in my previous post. No need for further comment (see previous post), at least from me.

      You claim that I “have an agenda for being here,” I guess I do. Everyone has an agenda, but it is/was not an ill agenda.  I’m not in cahoots with anyone else.  I was never on GC and happy I wasn’t.  I’m simply a pastor in Presbytery, and in a denomination, that has look at this blog, and one other, and have come to the conclusion that our Presbytery has been given a bad name.  BTW: Aimee is obviously more then welcome to delete any and all of my comments – I know it’s her blog. I also know that I’ve spent way too much time here the past two days. I will repent in dust and ashes. Again, I came here to ask a simple question, and finally got an answer.  Period.  I’m happy with the answer. I sure do wish it would have come earlier, it may have saved a lot of time.

      “Are we telling the world that we devour one another? That we cannot disagree honestly or kindly?”

      I think you should reread some of the blog posts here, and some of your own comments. I don’t believe I was dishonest. I do think kindness is hard to communicate in writing (“that’s what emojis are for” – in my best Dionne Warwick voice), but I have no ill feelings toward you, Aimee or anyone else who disagrees with me.  I hope you don’t toward me.

      I’m done.

      Like

      1. Aimee Byrd says:

        “Sealioning refers to the disingenuous action by a commenter of making an ostensible effort to engage in sincere and serious civil debate, usually by asking persistent questions of the other commenter. These questions are phrased in a way that may come off as an effort to learn and engage with the subject at hand, but are really intended to erode the goodwill of the person to whom they are replying, to get them to appear impatient or to lash out, and therefore come off as unreasonable.”
        Let the reader understand.
        https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/sealioning-internet-trolling

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Aimee Byrd says:

      I am sorry for the last comment made by Graham. I’ve deleted it. Never fails with the sexual references made about women who disagree with men.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Cynthia W. says:

      “Stating the issue under debate as a premise over which there is a concluded certainty isn’t reality – it’s a logical fallacy.”

      Specifically, “begging the question.”

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Gary says:

    Someone mentioned the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Accurate. I don’t think Jeff, Graham, and others realize just how much they’ve strengthened Aimee’s argument for the need to bring in a neutral third party. If their behavior here is at all representative of what Aimee and these women are up against, the OPC doesn’t “got this.” The procedures for dealing with cases are only as good as the people running them. The trial involving Aimee and what Valerie Hobbs documents do not bode well for victims going forward trying to work within the existing system. And then there are the people basically saying, “I wish these women would just shut up and go away.” I’m sure Weinstein and Nassar thought the same. I’m hopeful Aimee is getting reached out to behind the scenes by leaders in the OPC who care about the vulnerable, not the system, and are horrified at the prospect that some sheep have not been safe under their watch. Have the last few years taught us, men, to UNDERestimate the abuse of women in these male-dominated systems? I certainly hope not. Without enough support, public exposure may be the only way forward.

    Like

  19. Jeff D. says:

    And so it is; very dangerous to ask an honest question here. I will never post to, nor visit this page again.

    Like

    1. Gary says:

      Or…alternative response: “It seems that I have struck a sensitive issue here. Maybe I could spend some time trying to understand what’s going on. Do I have a blind spot?” Frankly, I expect this response from a pastor. You’re right. It was a simple question. But why did it elicit such a huge response? There’s something there. The women here are reacting to something very real, and it is not honest to continually defend yourself without at least acknowledging it doesn’t come from a vacuum. Just a hint on what might be going on: we men have been dismissing women that disagree with us since forever. It’s the air we breathe. So, of course, it is hard to see, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. I keep hoping to see a different response from male church leaders, but time and again it rarely happens. And these are the people we are supposed to trust to care for us! Is it ever OK to just listen instead of defending yourself? What misery my wife would endure if I continually dismissed her this way.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. People sure get sensitive over these matters. Being able to treat these matters objectively seems to elude us. The men are on one side and the women are on the other. What causes this?

        Like

    2. just ... K says:

      Jeff, you are the man who said:

      “That’s all from me.”

      “Finally, I’m done.”

      “I’m done”

      ” I will never post to, nor visit this page again.”

      Four separate occurrences, Four separate posts.

      Time seems to be a more reliable indicator of who you are than the witness of your own words.

      Like

      1. Andrew P says:

        You’re not exactly covering yourself in glory here either, Ms. K.

        Despite your comments about ad hominem and the ostensible trickiness of reading into motives, you demonstrate little reluctance in doing so yourself, impinging on the intentions and character of people about whom you really know nothing beyond a few lines of posted text.

        I suggest you moderate your pedantic language and wild rhetoric, and consider your own heart and conduct here. I would venture at least one of these is not perfectly above reproach.

        Like

      2. just ... K says:

        Mr P,

        This is the first and last time that I will respond to something addressed to me that amounts to little more than insinuation.

        As someone who said these words: “White males. Heteronormative, cis-gendered white males, thank you very much. Probably boomers too. Definitely of the patriarchy.”

        I have a question for you. Who are you when you are addressing me? Do you view yourself as simply a fellow sojourner on this planet who is asking questions out of the sincerity of your heart – or are you a “superior” addressing a reprimand to an “inferior”? In the larger context of this blog, that question actually matters.

        Although you will not be direct – it seems that my last comment offended you. If that comment is indeed the intended context for your allegation, I have further questions – where is the ad hominem? What motive have I ascribed incorrectly? And quite possibly the most important question yet – I identified myself on this blog as an abused women. The gentleman under discussion identified himself as a shepherd who holds an official position in the denomination under discussion, and who is a preacher of God’s Word. Why are you holding me to a higher standard than you are holding him? What is worse – the untruth of his own statements or my pointing the untruth out? (Remember, there is a context to his behaviour – mention had been made of sealioning, twice.)

        You accuse me of : “…impinging on the intentions and character of people about whom you really know nothing beyond a few lines of posted text.” Actually Mr P. and this really is the most important thing I have to say to you personally, and why I am bothering to reply to you at all – to anyone who has a modicum of training in a certain field, we know far more that I wish we knew, exactly because of a “few lines of posted text.” I’m going to leave that comment exactly as it stands because – contrary to the spirit of your allegations – I have no intention of turning the unwise behaviour of a stranger into “Exhibit A” on the internet. But those words are not empty. I have never met or spoken with Aimee in any way or in any form beyond commenting on her blog. But if she wishes to know what I am alluding to I invite her to contact me.

        I am aware of one person with whom I have engaged at length. I do not know to whom your plural referred.

        Lastly: I would like to thank you for the compliment you extended to me: “…your pedantic language and wild rhetoric.” Usually as women we are called irrational, illogical, over-sensitive and hysterical. All in all, I think I came off rather well. https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/07/09/men-really-need-to-stop-calling-women-crazy/

        To anyone reading – I’ve spent far more time here than I originally intended to. Why?? Because I identify so very strongly with the women in the stories above. It isn’t safe for me to share details of my story publicly (or even my name) – but a church messed up on my situation VERY badly. I’m living with the consequences of escalation due to that church intervention and have required multiple professionals to become involved to try and figure out how to exit my situation safely. I know that the pastor – who was not qualified to interfere to the level that he did, admitted to one of his “inner circle” that he had indeed messed up. However, there is evidence that I was publicly branded as rebellious to save his reputation, a charge he never levelled at me personally at any time. (I was actually encouraged by the pastor to be LESS submissive to my husband.) The church as a whole has officially shunned me. I have never been told why. (Possibly because of a concern about litigation. I have never threatened it, but the body of documented evidence of malpractice is large.)

        Of the five professionals who have become involved in my case – one asked no less than 4 times in a single hour “why are you still alive?” (She could not understand why I have not committed suicide.)

        One of the other professionals after 3 1/2 hours with me asked “How do you still have so much of your sane mind?!?” Because I apparently should have lost it – the isolation and psychological abuse, were REALLY that severe.

        To anyone who has truly found me too verbose or pedantic, I apologise. I’m not here because I think I can do the job better than anyone else. According to some, it’s a miracle that I can string a collection of thoughts together at all. I’m here because I *sincerely* care about what the church universal is doing to hurting women, and how that reflects on the church. I *sincerely* object to willful blindness where people cannot and will not admit that there is a problem. I *really want* to get out of the hell that I’m living in, and try to help as many people around me in similar situations as I possibly can. My being here isn’t just about ME. It’s about US.

        In other words, please don’t let my personal defects detract from an URGENT need, or the *desperate* reality of this situation.

        And again. THANK YOU Aimee for voicing this. Thank you for having us here.

        Like

      3. Andrew P says:

        Ms. K, I’m not offended, and I have no inferiors. And believe it or not, I respect you (and Aimee), though I’m sure we disagree on many things. (I didn’t interact with Mr. Jeff D because everyone else seemed to be piling on him.)

        Thank you for your response, God bless you with your healing, and take care.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. just ... K says:

        Thank you Mr. P. for your graciousness. I have no ill will towards you either!
        ♥️

        Like

  20. Can’t we all just get along?

    Like

  21. Paul K says:

    Aimee, you wondered, “ I just can’t understand why the good men in the OPC are not taking the reins here, saying, This is enough!”

    I think the answer may be that the justice system in the OPC is doing exactly what it was intended for: creating a context in which certain leaders can “lord their authority” over those who don’t have as much authority.

    It’s just very difficult to wrap one’s mind around the idea that the system is working exactly as it was intended. The system is marketed as a justice system, but it functions as an injustice system. So what is it? Is the system what it says it is or what it is?

    Perhaps it can be reformed. But with the embrace of CBMW-style complementarianism, the system already took a giant step in making sure women like yourself are taken out of the authority structures altogether.

    What do we do when we find ourselves so powerless in the face of man’s injustice?

    Like

    1. Enough Paul. No matter what Aimee has suffered, it doesn’t warrant your slamming 370 years of Presbyterian polity with the smear: “I think the answer may be that the justice system in the OPC is doing exactly what it was intended for: creating a context in which certain leaders can “lord their authority” over those who don’t have as much authority.”

      Aimee, I call on you to chasten Paul and his intemperate characterization. The OPC isn’t perfect because those in it aren’t perfect but to suggest that Presbyterian polity is “designed to lord it over” the laity is a slanderous statement. Either the fight takes place within the OPC using their procedures to seek remedy and reform or we dust our feet off and either leave individually or splinter off a faithful remnant branch to form another denomination. But even then, we would have a BCO that is nearly identical vis-a-vis procedures.

      Repent Paul. You have slandered 370 years of Reformed polity.

      Like

      1. Paul K says:

        Hi, Juanita. I tried to be temperate by using the phrase “may be” and phrasing a lot of my thoughts in the form of questions. My thinking is in line with the idea, “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.” If the system gets bad results, maybe that’s what it’s designed to do EVEN IF the original designers never intended those results. “Slander” is usually defined as the crime of a false spoken statement. I’m not sure that’s what I did here since much of what I wrote wasn’t exactly in the tone of absolute certainty. I’m a little confused as to the vehemence of the offense you have taken, especially since a major aspect of the Reformation is to NOT appeal to tradition, but I will submit myself to the punishment the Lady of the Blog deems necessary ;). Not trying to poke fun at you – just trying to lighten the mood.

        Like

  22. LuoBoSi says:

    The initial question of “is it abusive when anyone criticizes your work?” is vastly unfair to Aimee and completely false, and obviously so to anyone who regularly reads what Aimee writes.

    I have been reading Aimee’s stuff for a while now, and I would like to bring to mind her reaction to articles written about the content of “Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood”, such as the articles by Andy Naselli or Denny Burk. In no way did Aimee regard those interactions as abusive, but she rather engaged with the content of what they were saying. They did not agree with what Aimee said, and Aimee did not agree with what they said, but it was normal interactions between people who disagreed. This criticism was never viewed or labeled as abusive because it was not.

    The nature of this accusation (in the form of a question) against Aimee is dishonest and insulting. It is sad that Aimee is treated with more dignity and respect by people who disagree with her outside the OPC than those inside in the OPC. It’s patently ridiculous that something like this would even need to be said.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. dtetheman says:

    The thought that the genius of Presbyterian government was that there was no need for the para church to step in to resolve issues.

    Like

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