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Pastor Brunson vs a Blogger

Pastor Mac Brunson of the First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, explains how to deal with conflict at church, in The New Guidebook for Pastors (p. 203, co-authored with James W. Bryant), 2007:

Conflict, at heart, is a spiritual matter that involves spiritual warfare. Frank Peretti’s book This Present Darkness is a classic novel about this issue. It is important for the pastor to recognize spiritual warfare and to use the spiritual armor described in Ephesians 6 to fight it. Just be sure you do not fight people. We wrestle not against flesh and blood.

Pastor Mac Brunson describes a church member who wrote a critical blog about him, 2009:

But Brunson said Rich’s persistent criticism over nearly two years indicates the writer has an “obsessive compulsive problem” and is “not very stable at all,” Brunson said.

“What you’re dealing with is a sociopath,” Brunson said.

Brunson employed earthly rather than spiritual means against his opponent, who was blogging anonymously; Jacksonville.com reports:

A blogger critical of First Baptist Church Pastor Mac Brunson wants to know why his Web site was investigated by a police detective who is also a member of the minister’s security detail.

Thomas A. Rich also wants the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to explain what suspected crimes led Detective Robert Hinson to open the probe into his once-anonymous Web site.

Rich also wants to know why Hinson revealed his name to the church despite finding no wrongdoing. Hinson obtained a subpoena from the State Attorney’s Office requiring Google Inc. to reveal the author of the blog.

Alas, however, Hinson’s actions now mean that Rich’s blog is now of international interest. His list of concerns about the church are summarized in this entry. They include the following, all expressed coherently and rationally:

I saw long-term pastors leave while we were told that “God called” them somewhere else…only to find that actually they were fired and some were treated very disrespectfully in their departure after decades of faithful service.

I saw nepotism on full display, with family members put on staff without the congregation being told their ministry titles or responsibilities.

I saw a video testimony featuring the business owned by the sons of the man who gave the $307,000 land gift be played smack dab in the middle of the preacher’s sermon. It looked like quid-pro-quo, pay-for-play, of the worst kind.

I then began to watch the preacher begin to display an attitude toward his congregation of condescension and anger, saying abusive things to his congregation as standard fare in his sermons. I heard of large salaries totaling near $500,000 per year total compensation for Team Brunson. I watched the church sponsor a non-Christian event called “Time to Stand For Israel” that had ties to bio-medical research firms, raising money for an Israeli hospital at which abortions were performed.

The First Baptist Church in Jacksonville is one of the better-known conservative evangelical churches in the USA; the former pastor, Jerry Vines, achieved fame with his comment that Muhammad was “a demon-possessed pedophile”.

(Hat tip: Bene Diction)