Monday, August 07, 2006

Repentance, Forgiveness, and Restoration (Oh My!)

There will be lots o' Lewis in this post, but let me start with this passage:

We want, in fact, not so much a Father in heaven as a grandfather in heaven . . . whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, "A good time was had by all" . . . I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since it is abundantly clear that I don't, and since I have reason to believe, nevertheless, that God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction . . . The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word "love."

-- C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

We are currently in danger not only of operating with a trivial love, but also with trivial grace and trivial forgiveness.

Okay, let's be real from the get-go: Forgiveness is the obligation of the forgiven.
Who are the forgiven? Well, if Jesus has forgiven you your sins, you are. It is the Christian's calling and duty to forgive.

Let's also be real about the fact that it can be very, very difficult to forgive, even for believers who know it is required, even for believers who want to do it. This is why, by the way, the Lord's Prayer has the two transactions connected: "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us." The God/me forgiveness is inextricable from the me/others forgiveness because the latter is not possible without the former.
So not only is forgiveness the duty of the forgiven, the forgiven is actually equipped and enabled to forgive.

So now we know forgiveness isn't optional. Not for Christians anyway. Now we want to know, What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is the releasing of the forgiven from obligation. Forgiveness is not forgetting, because for most of us humans, forgetting is impossible anyway. The whole "forgive and forget" thing is very nice if workable, but can be a huge burden on the one struggling to forgive a wrong committed against him, because the confusing conflation of the two acts may make his efforts to forgive more difficult than they need be. Someone who is trying to forgive may wonder why he or she can't forget. "If I've forgiven him, why can't I forget about it?" The burden of memory is unavoidable; but mucking up the work of forgiveness with the demand to forget is avoidable.

Forgiveness is not dependent upon repentance. You don't have to be sorry for what you've done for me to forgive you. This is why "Forgiveness is the duty of the forgiven" is so important, because it makes my forgiving you about glorifying God (because of what He's done for me). Forgiveness necessarily entails a seeking amends with the offender, but it is not contingent upon the offender's interest in seeking forgiveness.

I am assuming the work of forgiveness has already been enacted between Dr. Foster and those he has hurt. Maybe Dr. Foster doesn't know about that -- remember, you can forgive someone without them knowing about it or expressing any interest in it -- but I trust that those who've been hurt are working on ways to embrace forgiveness.

Those of us looking in cannot rush this process. It's none of our business, really. Even though it has affected the church as a body so deeply and strongly, the people who have been hurt are individuals, and the work of personal reconciliation is their work, not ours. It's on God's timeline, not ours. We can't rush somebody else's forgiveness, and we can't demand it.

Let's talk about repentance: Repentance is also the obligation of the forgiven. In order to accept the forgiveness offered us by God, we have to repent of our sin against Him and repent of our sin against others.
Repentance is initially, but not merely, a changing of one's mind. It is not merely a changing of one's mind, because when the mind is truly changed, the body necessarily follows. It is, biblically speaking, a change of heart. It is my will doing a 180.

Does it go without saying that a repentant person admits his offense and he admits his offense is sin? He does not color it, excuse it, dismiss it, or spin it. He comes clean. He acknowledges the offense for what it really is. Going to C.S. Lewis again: "A man who admits no guilt can accept no forgiveness."

A repentant person recognizes repentance is an all or nothing offer. A repentant person pours himself out, a living sacrifice to those he has wronged. Repentance is not deal-making (I'll do this if you do that). A repentant person cannot demand forgiveness, he cannot make forgiveness a prerequisite for his repentance. Many repentant people go a very long time, sometimes their whole lives, without receiving forgiveness from those they have wronged.
A repentant person works hard at releasing the person he has sinned against from any more burdens or obligations to him. He demonstrates his repentance not just "making up" for what he's done wrong (in some cases, that is impossible), but by being a different person to the person he's wronged. In his words and deeds, a repentant person says, "That is how I used to be to you; this is how I will be to you now."

Because reconciliation pretty much means that the "obligations" of sin are not separating any more, reconciliation requires both a forgiving offended and a repentant forgiven. It can't really work any other way. Offender and offended may continue to work together, they might even live in the same house. But proximity and functional cooperation are not reconciliation. For true reconciliation to occur, the sinner must be truly repentant (see above for what this entails) and the sinned against must be truly forgiving (again, see above).

Before I say this next thing, remember my promises both to "talk hard" and not to mean unnecessary offense:
I have read Dr. Foster's latest posting, and as with his "I accept this" release last week, I am unimpressed. Why? Because absent in both is repentance. There is no acceptance for any of what has transpired, no recognition of having done anything wrong. Those of you wondering why he cannot be restored to his position need to think hard on what reconciliation and restoration entail. That efforts are not ongoing to get him his job back speak not to the lack of forgiveness, but to the lack of repentance.
---

Do you want to know what the greatest sin in the world is? It is likely not the Holocaust or 9/11 or the slaughtering of the American Indians. The greatest sins in your world right now is the one between you and God you have yet to repent of, the one between you and another you have yet to repent of, and perhaps the one between another and yourself you have yet to be forgiven for. The greatest sins in your life are the ones separating you from God and the ones separating you from others. Let nobody pretend reconciliation is easy. The forgiveness between you and God cost an innocent Man his life.

To quote C.S. Lewis again, "Forgiveness is a beautiful word until we have something to forgive." What steps are you taking, what efforts are you making to culture the spirit of forgiveness in your own life? Remember that forgiveness is the duty of the forgiven. So perhaps start with reminding yourself of the Great Commandment. Remember that forgiveness is an irrevocable calling, and it is an ongoing obligation (Mt. 18:22). Remember that you should forgive to the extent to which you've been forgiven. (Hint: That would mean a lot. ;-)
And remember that forgiveness is ongoing. The Lord's mercies are new every morning. Prepare yourself for the realization that forgiving someone doesn't make them suddenly sinless.

Lewis one last time:

To forgive the incessant provocations of daily life . . . How can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us." We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God's mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what he says.

-- from "On Forgiveness" in The Weight of Glory

The work is hard. Forgiving you meant Someone's death. Perhaps forgiving someone means dying to self.

Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
-- Luke 6:37c-38

I say "Yea, God!"
And . . .

Peace.

(In exploring these ideas, I cannot help but recommend Robert Jeffress' invaluable book, When Forgiveness Doesn't Make Sense. I even stole the idea for the first Lewis quote from him. If you're so inclined, do read it. It is excellent.)

23 Comments:

At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jared...all I can say is "wow"...you hit it out of the park with this one! Thank you for your thoughtful comments throughout this process. -Chelle

 
At 7:17 PM, Blogger judas icarus said...

Jared,

You were also in attendance at the Red Caboose and other places Foster gathered folks, true?

Well, according to many.... he basically utilized the same method of "apologizing" there, at those gatherings... AND in the minds of many of those that gathered, that are supporters of Foster.... that WAS Foster being repentant....

Not surprising in the sense that they just want/wanted it to be all over... and David "spoke"... and that was good enough for them....

But, David Foster is a studied man.... and he knows he is mincing words on his blog(s) and elsewhere.... which is simply another indication of where even he may very well be a "slave" to his own "talking head".....

I'm sorry... but I don't know that we will ever really know an unrepentant David Foster..... or hear him actually speak repentant words that ring true....

If what he is doing (and has done) regarding publically "admitting his faults" and saying "I recognize that there are issues"... and etc... are not continued examples of his apparent inability to step up to the plate and hit his own ball out of the park... via being authentically repentant... I don't know what is....

I don't think anyone has or is burning him in effigy (as some have charged) and I don't think anyone has or is interested in writing his pastoral epitaph....

I think there are those that actually care enough about him... and desire to speak to his heart based on their concern for his eternity....

And that is a God thing.... : - )

Kind regards,

C. Evan Leonard

 
At 8:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing from an outsider's point of view....it is not you nor anyone else's role to judge his heart right now. It is easy to do so in light of what has happened here. One thing Dave did do is step up and called for peace and unity, and that is an admirable thing to do considering his perspective. Think about it from his point of view for just a second...he has been thrown out from a church he basically created and pastored for many years. He could have allowed an uprising of sorts to get the pastorate back, but no, he took the high road. This obviously shows his heart toward the church. Of course he is not going to feel that he is wrong right away..it takes time for the convicting power of God to work. And as to the previous poster who insinuated the Pastor's salvation was at stake because he does not publically repent....judge not lest you be judged. That is between him and God. What people need to be doing is praying for both sides and seeking the truth (usually in the middle) and not demanding repentance according to your criteria.

 
At 8:57 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Anonymous, my criteria for repentance is biblical. I would be interested in what you think real repentance looks like, if it does not look like what I have described.

Also, I plainly stated that the personal work of repentance/forgiveness between Dr. Foster and those he has hurt is pretty much none of our business. Please read the 6th and 7th paragraphs after the first Lewis blockquote.

I do not wish to judge Dr. Foster's heart. That is God's job, and I leave it to him.

All I can do is see what the man has said and done publicly. I don't apologize for calling it like I see it, especially as others are insisting these letters of his demonstrate repentance.

When he posted the "do not fight for me" letter, I posted it and said it was a very good word. I am trying to be complimentary when possible, but also firm when required.

But I will be honest in saying I think the real first step to healing our church was taken by the elders when they dismissed Dr. Foster. Because the victims in our church could not heal so long as he was present.

Thanks for commenting.
Peace.

 
At 9:18 PM, Blogger judas icarus said...

Anonymous,

I understand your perspective, honestly.... but here's where I think you go off track...

The elders approached David Foster over a period of time and attempted to handle this situation in a loving, protective and honorable way....

David Foster took it "to the streets'... so to say that he stepped up and called for peace and unity is true... but he did it after the fact(s)... and he did it in a public way (his blogs)... and it could be fair to say.... that perhaps his motives were to give everyone the impression that he was/is the "peacemaker" in all of this, and he was taking the "first" initiative....

Now, I'm extremely glad he sent his open letter and turned down the volume on the fringe renegades that threatened to make future BCC services a playground for their misinformed antics.... because he needed to tell them to "stop" and "think". He was the only one they would listen to, I suppose... and that, in itself, says volumes... for some!

But, honestly.... don't you think he could've have prevented all of this... had he had an unrepentant spirit when he sat before the elders and these things were brought to the surface, the very elders he appointed to help govern the church.... which includes him?

I think there ARE issues of his heart... and that's all I pointed out... I did not say or imply that I thought anyone, including myself, should judge his heart.... only that it was in need of being spoken to....

And, I stated that I think there are folks that love and care for him enough to be concerned for his eternity.... and I don't see how I attached his public repentance to that eternity....

You have taken what I have said out of context to make your argument(s) or point(s)... at least from my point of view.

FYI... If you haven't read DF's latest missive.... check out FosteringHope.com.... : -)

Again, I think he has consistently shot himself in the foot with his own actions and words.....

And, he needs more than a few band-aids.... to ever fix what ails him.

Kind regards,

C. Evan Leonard

 
At 6:01 AM, Anonymous Scott said...

At the risk of sounding like Jesse Jackson...Dave is more interested in dropping the big names he's befriended than acknowledging those he's offended. I'm unimpressed with his latest me story.

 
At 6:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott - amen to that. that was totally offensive to me. I'm glad I'm not the only one who picked up on that.(not the first time either)

 
At 7:32 AM, Blogger judas icarus said...

I think it's interesting that his myspace commentary was copy/pasted either from or to his FosteringHope commentary... and the Jeff Fisher blurb was added... after the fact, it seems...

Anyway, I alluded to his high profile endorsees in another section here... and JF and a few others have been through personal wringers publicly, to some degree... so perhaps they can relate better to DF... or DF can relate better to them now.

All I know is.... it's business as usual at Camp Foster. Nothing new... really. Same ol'... same ol'....

And, I'm not sure why that should surprise anyone.... it's not in his DNA to do a lot of things.... apparently....

D.N.A. - David needs attention.... and he'll get it one way or the other.....

But, I wish him well and I hope somewhere along his journey... he actually meets Christ... like Saul did on Damascus Road....

That really changed Saul's life.... and turned him into a Paul....

Maybe that is God's New Future tha DF will end up finding and focusing on....

Being more like Paul.... less like Saul....

Kind regards,

C. Evan Leonard

 
At 9:24 AM, Anonymous Joy said...

I was glad to see DF earlier post last week asking everyone to stand down. I think it certainly contributed to a service Saturday and Sunday that focused on praise and worship.

I was and am wary, however. Given the patter of cooperation then trouble-stiring by DF, I was waiting for the other side to surface - one of pride and self-rightousness. This new letter from Foster today feels like the ego is coming to the surface again. If he is going to start another church, please do it and be done with it. Take your faithful followers with you and let's move on.

I love BCC. while DF inspired me to come back when we were church shopping, it has been the other staff and many members-turned-friends that have kept me there. I have interacted and been inspired by so many people at BCC, I can't imagine going anywhere else.

I have forgiven and I am ready to move forward.

 
At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate everyone's response to my post. I was not trying to twist the truth..but it does not seem like all of the truth has come out. Have we really heard a Dave foster side? I know I have not. What is his perspective on the items that the elders raised? In addition, it seems like there are secretive agendas here. On the various blogs I have read, It seems as if the supporters/opposers of Foster coincidentally have the same position when it comes to whether bcc should be seeker-friendly or cater to a wider audience so to speak..and this is the real issue that BCC will have to deal with after all the words over foster are over with. I guess my point here is the fact that people seem to be focusing on judging foster, when what should be focused on is where your church is going to go, since the visionary for it has been lost. And re the recent post on the fostering hope site...while it is not openly repentant, I do not really see anything wrong with that. This blog is to supporters of his, and he wanted to let them know he was doing ok. And, finally, just some food for thought: Perhaps the misplaced anger that Dave displayed over the last couple of years may be because of the fact he felt that his vision of a radically seeker friendly church was attempting to be taken away by elders who he appointed to carry forth his vision. That is just something to think about. It does not justify the anger, but it may explain some of it.

 
At 2:33 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Anonymous, the only reason I bring up Foster's unrepentance at all is because supporters of his continue to say we should forgive him and work to put him back in place, and the reality is that even if you forgive someone, he cannot be restored until he repents.

I am not pesonally calling him to repent. He has not personally hurt me. The business of forgiveness and repentance is between him and those he's hurt. But these issues are on our minds, and that's why I'm talking about them.

There are lots of reasons for people to be angry. I don't care how significant Dr. Foster's are, the things he has said and done are inexcusable. I'm not sure what you mean to suggest about the elders' "different vision" explaining his behavior, but I guess my question is "So what?"
Assuming the elders have a different vision for our church -- and it is not evident they do -- how does that even begin to explain calling anyone worthless, unuseable, and unfit for any job? How does that begin to explain practicing hate on someone who specifically needs comfort and compassion?

If you ask me, all of these excuses and explanations are a big speck/plank situation. That people are falling over backwards to smooth out Dr. Foster's rough edges here while overlooking the hurting people he's left in his wake is astounding. Go to an abuse support group; please tell them their abusers just had some misplaced anger and we just need to understand. See how that goes for you.

 
At 4:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not overlooking the hurting people, however, the only hurting people are not on your side of the fence. You are sensitive about this because of your hurts in the past, which is understandable. However, that does not mean that there are not two sides to every story. Dr. Foster is a human being with frailties like everyone else. I never have justified his anger..it clearly is uncalled for, but so is throwing stones at him. This situation calls for an even-handed approach, not a one sided one. The fact is, like it or not, that Dave Foster was that church..its vision, its identity, everything. I saw that when I went there..and I left because all I got was Joel Osteen inspirational talk for basic christians/non-christians. I did not like it and did not think he was really a good speaker, so this is not coming from a big fan of his. I just wish that people would see from an objective point of view.. and I feel that he should be given a chance to explain himself without people casting stones and being judge, jury and executioner. Yes, what he did was wrong, yes he has an anger problem..but I ask you..who of us does not have some kind of issue that plagues us..do you think you are above reproach? Give him some grace as God has given us grace. Do I think he should be pastor again? not right now. But he does not deserve to be the subject of stone-throwing either. By the way, I mean no offense to anyone here. I understand how pastoral abuse can be myself. I am just calling for more even-handedness.

 
At 5:33 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Anonymous, what qualifies as "objective" and "evenhanded"? I've gone on record numerous times saying I like Dr. Foster, appreciated his teaching, and I have quoted him favorably and complimented him several times.

Does deciding he acted wrongly and deserved discipline mean I'm not evenhanded? If so, despite the odd definition, I'll plead guilty I guess.

As for grace: Good gracious, friend, have you been reading anything I've been writing? I've been talking about grace since I started this thing.

As for the continued call for "his side of the story": Folks, he was the first to bring in the media. He has, by my count, 3 blogs and one supporters blog. If he wants to tell his side, he can do it. Please stop acting like others are denying him a public voice.

 
At 5:50 PM, Blogger judas icarus said...

Anonymous (who speaks of throwing stones)....

I've been seeing this often used biblical reprimand pop up here and there in reference to making any statement or comment about David Foster that doesn't fall in the line with the "reinstate Foster or we're leaving BCC" crew, in particular.

The reality of the whole "let ye without sin cast the first stone" is tied to people that were physically going to stone the adulteress... and Jesus intervened and reprimanded those who had stones in their hands or were thinking about participating.... they all decided they couldn't live up to the challenge Jesus placed before them.... like all of us can't...

But, don't compare saying things like "it has been proven, verified and admitted to (by Dave's acceptance of the elders decision) that David Foster made mistakes, hurt many people, was insubordinate, has "passionate anger" management issues and is not fit to pastor BCC any longer... with casting stones....

No one wants (or no one should want) David stoned.... and the greater majority of people have said he, like any of us sinners, deserves love, grace and mercy....

But... you can't fix things at BCC by reinstating DF.... he needs fixing separate from BCC... and BCC needs fixing separate from DF....

And anyone who wants to follow David Foster to another church... one that he starts or one where he is given pastoral and moral authority over..... rock on... rock on... rock on....

But, this is going to follow DF around for a while.... and when or if he would candidate for another pastor job.... there may be people at that "church" who are curious as to why he was dismissed (and it's now well known that Dave chose termination over resignation for reason's only he, in his Dave Rave way, can give you).... so, do you/we keep the truth from them... because we are afraid of casting stones?

But my biggest point to all of this is:

If someone hurts someone and they finally get called on the carpet and it becomes a part of an even bigger issue... a big enough issue to not only reprimand but dismiss them.... how and why is calling them a people-hurter casting stones?

If they were insubordinate and unrepentant.... how and why is calling them insubordinate and unrepentant casting stones?

I said in a previous post that I don't agree with calling anyone a name that is not accurate or does not describe the truth attached to the person involved....

But this whole casting stones thing is simply ridiculous.... when you compare casting stones with telling the truth....

Maybe you should just say.... you don't want to hear the truth.... and maybe those telling the truth will stop....

But think about what door(s) that closes..... it closes the door that had to be opened in order to bring relief to the many people that DF hurt... the door behind which insubordination and unrepentance had been rampant
but was revealed publicly (which, ironcically, was done on Dave's initiative, not the elders) and the door we can all walk back through leading to the possibility of BCC actually being a church where God, and not a man, is worshipped and those who have been hurt can find
healing....

You want quite a bang for your buck... when you ask it to buy SILENCE... and you just can't fairly compare telling the truth... to casting stones....

Of course, then there was that whole David and Goliath controversy, although it didn't get quite the local media and blog coverage this Foster/BCC thing has gotten.... and I wonder... was David accused of throwing stones.....? : - )

Kind regards,

C. Evan Leonard

 
At 9:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem I have is, what exactly is the truth? What the elders say? Just because someone accepts that he has been fired does not mean he admits what was alleged. And my problem is, jared, when this blog first started, before you had even heard any part of any story, were predisposed against Foster. That kind of typifies what I am seeing here. You had meetings with elders, and automatically believed what they had to say without hearing from the other side. Now that dave is in a weak position and out of the picture, you have people questioning his salvation, saying he is unrepentant, so on and so forth which are judgements you and I cannot make. This is what I mean by casting stones.
Think about it. Here is someone who has issues that have root causes we do not know of. Do I think he was maliciously trying to hurt people? I doubt that. He has already been called on the carpet and the issues exposed. What he really needs now is prayer. As far as where he goes next, that is between him and God. And if he tries to do something not of God, it will surely fail. Leave the man alone in peace and let him go where he feels God is calling him to go. Ultimately we do not know if he is repentant or not or an intentional people hurter. And as far as insubordination goes, this is just my personal opinion, and I know he set this up this way, but I believe the Pastor is the spiritual authority of the church, not any elders or anything else. I believe in spiritual accountability, but not in this elder system. This is not the only church in Nashville that has split that had such a system. By the way, to compare this situation to David and Goliath is completely invalid.

 
At 10:54 PM, Blogger judas icarus said...

Hey, Anonymous....

Yes, that comparison was invalid for some....and it was meant to be placed in my response to make a larger point... in a glib sort of way....

I ask you one question here....

Who had the ability to bypass all, if not most, of the actions, commentary and examination... publicly....

The answer is obvious, by now... I think....

And, you are falling into that "do as I say, not as I do"... if you just read your own words here....

You say people were predisposed.... hmmm? How can you know that.... well, you can't... but you are making a comment, offering an opinion... and examining what you are "seeing and hearing"....

No one is doing anymore than that... here.... we're just focused on a different point.... which is not just about David Foster.... but the past, current and future history of BCC. Which, the sum of all parts, is more than one man.

Please be open to the polar opposite perspectives here.... and know that there are those here that are open to your polar opposite perspectives...

But to say we can't determine or discern the truth because we haven't heard the other "side".... is simply ridiculous....

Many of us have not only "heard" the other side.... we've actually "seen" the other side in action....

I'm not sure where you fit in to the overall picture at BCC... but you honestly can only speak for yourself.... which is all everyone here is doing....

There is no, nor was there ever, some conspiracy to "oust" David.... in fact, there was more a conspiracy (of love) to keep him at BCC....

He chose to be terminated.... signed off on the elders decision... but has said... "although I don't agree"... which in effect is saying.... he has a side... but he isn't giving it... or voicing it.... and I think the reason why... is... he doesn't want to... because to accept the elders decision but not agree with it.... allows him to keep up the image of.... "I did nothing wrong, really".... "I just had some issues".... but read everything here... and realize that.... DF is just one facet to the whole picture here....

Quit making him... the most important... or the only facet....

No one here is piling on him.... I think it's more trying to express what they have experienced... what they have deduced.... what they have been given bona-fide information and evidence of.... (which you should attend a meeting... perhaps).... and a very large consensus of people are in agreement with the final decision...

They were all at BCC this past weekend.... joining hands, praising God... and saying.... onward....

I believe that even the harshest critics have empathy and compassion for David Foster. There have been consistent calls for prayer, support and forgiveness.

No one is really questioning him about anything.... at best, they may be making suppositions based on what they have gleaned from a variety of sources.... including personal relationship and observation.....

And, if it is all that important to "defend" himself.... or even necessary to him.... I can't imagine he doesn't have more than ample avenues in which to do so....

And, you ask.... what is the truth? Perhaps that will ultimately come to light via these various forums for discussion, commentary and reflection.

But, at then end of the day... this I know to be true....

God moved the hearts of the elders to dismiss David after months of agonizing over it.... with numerous attempts to make things work....

To even remotely imply that these men have no means of being moved by prayer, by the Holy Spirit... or through discernment of God's will.... is to say... that Foster was a fool for ever putting them in place as elders....

He either believed it, too.... or if he didn't... then he's been "playing" all of us for quite some time now....

Read his open letter again.... and then read it each night before you go to sleep... for the next few weeks...

Dave has spoken... and given his side....

He accepts the decision.... he doesn't agree with it... or he says he differs with it.... and he has said that he hopes BCC (including the elders) will have continued success. He says he prays for continued success.

But no where, even in his letter, do I see him ask anyone to not discuss or opine or examine what has happened.

Beyond that.... he will always be a subject that can and will be attached to BCC's history....

Perhaps we shouldn't talk about historical figures.... because that is what he is to become....

And, to say... it's all a matter of just "hearing" what the elders say.... you seem to contend that there is no "evidence"... tangible evidence.... that may need to be forensically examined... (not just the accounting type stuff).... but the other areas of his history at BCC.

I do understand your concern that people are casting stones.... but I simply see your analogy void of substance. Because.... until David Foster makes it clear he's not.... he has left the impression in many people's minds that he is unrepentant... and the others aspects of his legacy.... demand clarification, yes... but part of that clarification will surely come from those now willing to speak.... and share what they experienced under his mantle of authority at BCC.

Why is that bad? Why is that unfair? Why should we halt the process of coming to terms with all of this? I don't understand your reluctance to fully explore the ramifications and implications that this has on BCC... now and future?

And, what if other things come to light.... other revelations....? Do we become ostrich's....? Sticking our head in the proverbial sand?

Lastly.... if you don't think David Foster and his family are being seriously lifted up in prayer by everyone... on both sides of this.... you don't know BCC or those that have been there and want to see it survive.... as well as DF and his family.

To say "what he needs is prayer" seems to say you feel no one here has prayed. Well, my anonymous friend.... I prayed for three year while on staff at BCC... and for the past 5 years after.... and guess what....

I believe my prayers have been answered.... David needs help and I hope he gets it.... BCC is free of his authority and persona.... and I, along with many others.... have the opportunity to return to the church we've invested years of our live in.... and everyone involved has the chance to get back on track!

It's all good.... it's all real hope for real people living in the real world.... good!!!!

Kind regards,

C. Evan Leonard

 
At 5:13 AM, Blogger Jared said...

my problem is, jared, when this blog first started, before you had even heard any part of any story, were predisposed against Foster

That's not exactly true. I began by making it clear more than once that I like Dr. Foster, that his teaching is what attracted my family to BCC, and that his teaching has been the consistent highlight of the services for me.

I started this blog after receiving information in two places: the first announcement service and a park rally. At the first, I saw brokenhearted men and women worshipfully and prayerfully delivering an announcement that was obviously very difficult for them to make. At the rally I saw a rousing of the troops and lots of spite. I saw Dr. Foster lament that we were in the Tennessean that morning and then later announce triumphantly that "The media is on its way!" to the park.

So, yeah, just going by the spirits beginning this thing, I was predisposed to a) the significance of elders and staff, and b) the contrite spirits the elders and staff demonstrated.

And then once I added the information from a cottage meeting into this mix, I learned that Dr. Foster lied more than once at that first park meeting.

I can't apologize for supporting the right decision. It's unfortunate that discipline needed to be carried out, and I take no joy in it (as some are).

As for "throwing stones": I wish you guys would actually do some Bible study on that. It has nothing to do with pointing out that a thing is sin and that someone has demonstrated unrepentance for that sin. I don't condemn the man. I only observe and reflect.
We could all use a little more context when throwing Bible verses around.

Anonymous, is it safe to say you were predisposed against the elders? I mean, given the details and documentation you still seem to think what happened was unfair. Talk about predisposition in the face of information . . .

 
At 8:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not predisposed against the elders, just the elder system, but that is another story. Dave being fired for his actions was somewhat fair..but I know if I were a member of BCC I would want to hear both sides and make an informed decision. I guess we will have to just agree to disagree as brothers in christ over this. I do want to mention some other points though. First off, I do believe the elders were wrong in not finding a replacement before the termination. This has been going on for a while now, and one would think they could have found someone to fill the vacuum when they pulled the plug on foster.It seems kind of irresponsible to just leave 4000 people without a strong authority figure (i.e. a pastor). This is especially true for this church, where it is, like it or not, pretty much built around the guy you just fired. I realize that Dave contributed to this, but, the elders had the final decision in their hands. Also, how could you, as an elder board or Pastor Foster let a non-christian speak in front of your church? Both of these items speak to a disturbing lack of discernment on all of the leaderships part. Perhaps there should be a full house cleaning. In my view there needs to be a man of God hired there to lead a CHURCH, not a motivational headquarters, and there should not be any kind of elders overseeing him. If you can find me a biblical authority for elders overseeing a pastor, please let me know. And as I said in a previous post, BCC is not the only church that has split in this town that had an elders system.

 
At 8:54 AM, Anonymous Joy said...

One note of clarification... The elders were in search for a new pastor. The ministerial search company had put BCC on hold. They said that they could not continue looking for the dynamic leader we needed knowing that the person would be working under DF as a Founding Pastor. It wasn't DF personally, but the structure of command that concerned them and potential candidates. In order for BCC to continue the search, the elders had to make a decision to let DF go. That is my understanding of why there isn't currently an immediate replacement. My assumption is now that DF is gone, the search will continue as before.

Concerning Dave Fleming, my take on it is that Dave Foster trusted him since he was leading a church and the elders trusted that Dave Foster's judgement. I think we should think about this particular issue in light of what was done once the issue was known. It seems to me that quick action was taken to correct the situation as best they could. I am satisfied with how this was handled and I am sure the elders have learned from the situation and will vet future speakers differently.

Jared, I really appreciate this forum. Thank you.

 
At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Jonathan said...

Well, that does help, but perhaps they should have gone to a different company in that case. While I understand what you are saying joy about Dave Fleming, apparently, at that point in time, Foster's erratic behavior was already known, so it seems like they should have investigated anyone he brought in. I still think it shows a lack of spiritual discernment on everyone's part, and it really highlights one of the biggest problems of BCC in my opinion..i.e. it has been more of a motivational center than a church.

 
At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Joy said...

Just a quick note... The Elders stated at the meeting that there is really only one company that does this level of ministerial church for our type of church. I don't think they had an alternative. In the FAQ just posted on BCC's website, they have confirmed that the search has once again been activated.

And regarding vetting D. Flemming... even though the elders were cautious of Foster's behavior, I don't think his passionate belief in Jesus Christ was ever or is currently in question. Foster himself stated at Red Caboose Park that he was surprised to find out that Fleming did not believe as Foster assumed he did.

The tone I am hearing from the elders is that they have certainly learned a lesson and will make improvements going forward. That satisfies me.

If you have been disappointed in BCC being more of a motivational center, there are plenty of churches similar to BCC in the Nashville area that have more of a bible focus on Sundays. My husband and I visited the People's Church in Franklin and I found it to be more of what you might be looking for. I am not saying you shouldn't be at BCC, but that we all have choices, particularly when it comes to churches in Middle Tennessee.

Joy

 
At 5:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for that comment Joy. I know BCC is not for me, and I am not a regular attender now, even though I was for a while a year ago or so. I understand what you are saying about Fleming,even though I still think vetting should have been done. As far as the nature of BCC, I have problems with the motivational center concept being biblical. I really believe there are substantial problems with such a concept and I am hoping that one of the results of this schism is that some depth could be added to the church.

 
At 6:20 AM, Anonymous scott said...

I think the Fleming situation is more anti-conspiracy evidence, that even though they were having problems, the elders still ulitimately trusted Foster that this was a good thing. Their actions after the fact show their concern for having a non-Christian teacher on stage. These guys extended the olive branch even after being berated time after time.

 

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