With the impending decision from the Board of Directors this week, Caleb (Phil) was moved to write this post which points out the difference between repenting for isolated incidents and repenting of repeated patterns of behavior. Very insightful stuff:
When I first moved into a community of growing believers, it wasn’t long before I began to butt heads with those around me. There were plenty of issues to deal with in my life, but one that I was essentially unprepared for was the slow work God had in store for me to overcome an anger problem that was pretty clear to others. I should say that to start I was clearly not in agreement.
I’d grown up in a “loud” family. We weren’t violent or abusive, but our dinner conversations were regularly aggressive and raucous. As a group, I believe we were proud of our commitment to each other and that when faced with conflict and disagreement, the best recourse was to strongly defend our perspectives until we were convicted of our error. Now, I love my family, but when I took these ideas (and more than enough ego) into the world, I was met with some strong opposition.
I’d find myself embroiled in a debate with the one or two people I thought could “handle” the onslaught of opinion. Anyone who couldn’t handle the heat in my kitchen so to speak, just wasn’t cut out for a relationship with me. Wow…how broken and foolish I was.
Change began to come in some conversations I had with my friends, roommates, and church leaders. The level of my voice, the tone of my attacks, and the sharpness of my tongue had pushed several potential friends away and I had no idea that it really way my fault. My defense had been that my diatribes were justified, and my venom was warranted by whatever I saw to be a large enough problem to address. I didn’t hate or despise the people involved, in fact often I cared for them dearly. Anyone who “knew” me should simply attribute my words and actions as I meant them, not as they might have been construed.
I always believed that these “misunderstandings” were incidental and therefore, not unavoidable. I couldn’t be silent, and these “accidents” weren’t a fault of mine. This is where I learned why seeing and owning a pattern of behavior yields a much different “repentance” than owning an incidental error or mistake.
You see, I was routinely alienating people with my actions. This alienation wasn’t a few little errors, but it was a sort of calculated and accepted risk of having a relationship with me. So, how does all this relate to our experience with Teen Mania? I believe that the idea that our stories are incidental or isolated is a denial of a pattern of isolating behavior. This belief is clearly articulated in the perspectives I’ve heard from Dave Hasz, Heath Stoner and Ron Luce.
There is a willingness to see “mistakes” in previous behaviors, but it seems very rare for a pattern to be acknowledged. This results in sincere apologies for errors and wrongs, but also unwillingness to cultivate real change.
Paul deals with this unwillingness to see patterns of sin in our lives by articulating the difference between metanoya and metamelomai. Metanoya is a noun used for the type of realization that leads to change, whereas metamelomai is simply a verb for regret or having remorse. You are welcome to research and discover these in your own life, but for now we’ll focus on the effects for our purposes.
Regret (sincere, and true regret) is possible, while at the same time denying the truth of the matters at hand. The problem is that we here at (recoveringalumni.com) have made the claim that there is a pattern of abuse and theological error that is more than accidental oversight or a miscalculation. If we focus on the hearts or intent of TM leadership, it is likely that we offer a license to damage other believers. If my friends had accepted my claims that I was sincerely acting in love when I railed against some person or issue, they would have taken away from me an opportunity to change and grow in my walk with God.
I’m excited about the future of TM. I don’t ask any of the leadership to wholly embrace each statement gathered here. Just like my friends didn’t ask me to believe that simply having a loud voice and strong opinion meant that I was needlessly hurting people. It was; however, their impassioned and confrontational approach to me that eventually broke through my wall of belief about myself. I believed that I would never hurt someone on purpose or push someone away because I disagreed with them. What arrogance to think I was so noble.
If we have not made our case, if the evidence is not enough to open the door to the Holy Spirit then we must continue on. If however, it becomes clear to the assembly of God’s people that individuals are unwilling to hear or consider our witness, our role becomes to support and love those who are moving beyond the influence of this organization. To direct the wounded and broken back toward the Grace of God, without a man-made organization in-between is a noble goal. I believe my role in this community would be to help direct these persons toward effective faith instead of giving up. I know that it is by the Grace of God that I am still walking in his fellowship. I hope to make way for others as well.