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The fourth pastor has resigned from Bethlehem Baptist Church (John Piper’s long-time ministry of note).
A total of four pastors have resigned from BBC in the last four months!
While others also have had the integrity to resign, Daniel Kleven is the only one who spoke up and spoke loudly about what was actually happening.
It was one of the hardest things to do because, as Daniel Kleven states . . .
“I am anticipating a wide variety of responses and questions: some people will be very upset with me for speaking with her; some will feel betrayed; some will be deeply grateful that I spoke with her; others will be confused; others may genuinely want to understand.”
After reading the extensive interview, there are at least 5 takeaways that are worth highlighting.
#1) Credible Because of Commitment: Daniel Kleven was a meaningful and substantial part of the ministries of BBC, and local church over the years, no less the Director of Admissions at the college and seminary. He speaks from a position of service, commitment, and support. When such individuals speak out, there ought to be a fair assumption that what is said is legitimate and credible. Individuals who have shown that level of commitment ought to be given at least the benefit of any doubt. They ought to be given an audience and a substantial opportunity to explain their perspective!
#2) You Will Find It A Hard Call: Kleven clearly and repeatedly shared his reluctance to speak out on the issues. However, as he states, “I didn’t want to do it, it felt easier not to speak. But I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling: I don’t want to speak with her; but should I? . . . . It isn’t always crystal clear, it feels like a judgment call that requires wisdom. Some people, like me, have spoken or will speak; others will remain silent.” . More often than not, it will be a hard call.
“There is only deception and truth. People who choose to remain neutral are giving safe passage to lies. Elie Wiesel powerfully said, ‘I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormenter, never the tormented.’”
#3) Put Your Name On It: Kleven refused to take the road of commenting “off the record,” and he also refused to be complicit in covering up the facts of the situation with those who asked. It has been well stated that error is halfway around the world before the truth has its boots on.
“Have you shared this information with anyone else? — Yes. Along the way I have repeatedly said “I am happy to follow up with anyone about any these things, and nothing I share needs to be confidential. Put my name on it, and send people to me if they want to follow up. I am not hiding anything.”
#4) Telling The Truth Is What’s Accomplished: Who hasn’t heard the words, “Nothing is going to change! There is nothing to be accomplished by speaking out?”
When Kleven is asked what he hopes to accomplish by speaking out publicly and personally, he states . . .
I’m not hoping to “accomplish” anything, other than telling the truth, and defending it if I have the opportunity. I’m not a member of this church anymore, and have thus given up my right to advocate for specific outcomes. Whatever those remaining at BBC and BCS will choose to do as more and more comes to light is up to them.
#5) Be A Voice For Others: Anyone who has belonged to a toxic ministry or church, or has talked to those who have been deeply hurt by the words and behavior of ministry leaders and pastors, understands how consequential those words, actions, responses, attitudes, and decisions are.
“Again, while I did not consider my own story something worth sharing publicly, I do believe that I have been a bystander, a witness to things that others have experienced, and this was what tipped the scales for me in the direction of sharing publicly.. . . .
In fact, I believe that sometimes not speaking does more dishonor to the name of Christ than speaking would do. I do not believe that Christ is honored by secrecy, by hiding, or by deceit. He is not honored when people hurt others in his name. And he is not honored when other people remain silent in the face of those actions.
1. “Here are a few of the quotes that influenced me [Daniel Kleven]:
“Abuse is not someone else’s personal and private matter that we can ignore out of a concern for minding our own business, nor is it a matter to be only attended to by a select few in leadership positions. Abuse is a community concern. Therefore, the question must be asked of each of us: In what ways am I perpetuating an abusive culture through my silence or tacit endorsement of those who are in the wrong?” (178).
“What can we expect, beyond words, that can assure us of the sincerity of the community’s newfound resolve to end abuse? One action might surpass them all. And it is this: to open all the windows of the darkened house until every nook and cranny is covered in light so that all the damage can be seen. It is to surrender to that light, even if it means there will be no possibility of retaining or regaining legitimacy” (179).
“People often defend their silence by saying, “I don’t want to take sides.” More often than not, that is simply an excuse for not pursuing truth. Who do we usually hear that from? The leadership attempting to maintain order. And even after the truth has been established, those who chose not to pursue the truth often want to remain neutral. But there is no remaining neutral. Bystanders must take sides, either to be arrive supporters of the wounded or to actively turn their backs. There is only deception and truth. People who choose to remain neutral are giving safe passage to lies. Elie Wiesel powerfully said, ‘I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormenter, never the tormented.’” (180).
“A safe community gives people the freedom to say, “Something’s not right.” A safe community searches for understanding until what doesn’t seem right is clearly identified, named, and described. A safe community addresses what isn’t right, even if it means putting their own reputation on the line. And if the system itself isn’t right, then a safe community will consider whether its presence is part of the problem. A safe community gives no room for the language of abuse to spread, because it keeps the lights on. In that light, truth moves freely. People do not keep their stories to themselves for fear of how others will respond” (184).
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— Link to another article on the situation
written by Daniel Kleven — director of admissions at Bethlehem College & Seminary.