Thinking Out Loud

February 15, 2013

The Wartburg Watch

The Wartburg Watch

Over the years I’ve linked to articles at The Wartburg Watch (TWW) but only in the last few weeks am I developing a deeper appreciation for the site itself. This article constitutes some highlights from things I looked at this week.

The earliest post from March 2009, sets out the purpose:

Are you sitting in your church thinking that something is amiss? Do you think you are the only one who feels this way? Did you try to express your concerns to your pastor?  Did he claim you are the only one who has come to him regarding this matter? Did he seem annoyed that you are questioning him? Did he make you feel like you had done something unbiblical by speaking with him?

Well, join the club! You are not alone. There are HUGE changes occurring in evangelical circles, and they are drawing national media attention. Time magazine just published an article on “The New Calvinism” in its March 23, 2009 issue.  There are new websites and blogs written by average churchgoers who are very deeply troubled by these trends. A rise in authoritarianism and far reaching church discipline are having a detrimental impact on many congregations.  When a little old lady is perp-walked out of her church for simply asking why the church she has attended for 50 years no longer has deacons, you can rest assured that something is terribly wrong in Christendom. We’ll link to the 911 call in an upcoming post.

Wartburg Watch is primarily the work of two people, Darlene Parsons and Wanda Martin, or as they’re known at TWW, Dee and Deb.  They define their goal “is to shine a light into the darkness, exposing hypocrisy, heresy, and arrogance while also examining trends that affect the faith in the public square.  Truth and transparency are of utmost importance to us.”

And the name?

“Remember where Prince Frederick hid Martin Luther when Pope Leo wanted him killed? It was Wartburg Castle. It was here that Luther translated the New Testament into German. This coincided with the invention of the Gutenberg Press. Luther’s writings dominated most of the publications from this press. We believe the Internet is today’s Gutenberg Press.”

I suppose if you’re going to reference Luther, references to the Wittenberg Door (spelled rightly or wrongly) were already taken.

TWW has a huge following. It’s not unusual for an individual article to generate 300 or even 400 comments. (Thinking Out Loud readers, please take note!)

A look at TWW’s home page on Wednesday yielded some interesting stories…

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When Sherwood Pictures emerged as a powerhouse in Christian film, my wife lamented that the role of women in these pictures was secondary if not tertiary. There’s always the aspect of men being strong leaders in their homes and not allowing other things to distract from their commitment to spouse and children, but the films (Facing the Giants, Courageous, Fireproof) are about men (police, firefighter, football players) and the popularity of the movies with women is largely due to the opportunity of being able to go to a Christian film with their husbands knowing the men will enjoy the (sports, suspense, law enforcement) content.

TWW connects the dots between the Kendrick brothers of Sherwood Pictures to an independent film festival, and the Vision Forum, part of Vision Forum Ministries, a conservative, fundamentalist organization which, according to TWW advances:  militant fecundity (no birth control of any kind), patriarchy, what’s called ‘the Quiverfull movment’ (large families), homeschooling, stay at home daughters, no college education for daughters, hyper-Calvinism, young earth creationism.  TWW documents the Kendrick brothers as having an association with the Vision Forum going back to 2009.

It would explain some things, wouldn’t it?

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In between the articles about Bill Gothard, Rob Bell, Mark Driscoll, Calvary Chapel and even Michael W. Smith (don’t worry it reflects on him positively), is this a little gem of a piece which shows that TWW isn’t just about hard-hitting Christian scandal stories.

The title sums it up: Why a Father and Daughter Changed Their Opinions About Abortion. Not your average Wartburg Watch article; but I’m so glad I read it.

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C. J. Mahaney and Larry Tomczak, together again after all these years, but not for the best of reasons. In the 1970s, the two were frequent speakers at the early Jesus Music outdoor youth festivals, founded Take and Give Ministries and a church in Washington, DC known as Gathering of Believers. The church would go on to become the genesis of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM). For whatever other reasons they parted, doctrinally, Mahaney embraced — and was embraced by — the New Reformed movement, while Tomczak is decidedly charismatic.

But they share the home page links on TWW because of lawsuits and accusations.  Mahaney is central to stories of the entire SGM movement unraveling, while Tomczak is accused of spanking and depriving a female of food.

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In a world where everybody vents their anger issues and doctrinal preferences online, TWW is a balanced and thoughtful look at the things that take place in the life of the (capital C) Church. It offers original reporting and commentary on a variety of topics such as you do not see elsewhere.

Thanks, Dee and Deb for the hours of work you pour into The Wartburg Watch.

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