‘Reverend’ Matt Slick, self-styled missionary to the internet, has been on my radar for some time now. He’s a slightly less brash but more egotistical version of Mark Driscoll. (Yes, I know it’s hard to believe anyone could be more egotistical than Pastor Mark . ) He runs a vanity project website called CARM - Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry. Despite the typically grandiose title, the site is nothing more than a platform for Slick to peddle his obnoxious, ultra-fundamentalist Calvinist opinions. Read it and you’d think you’d stumbled across a great bastion of Christian truth, written by a huge team of experts with a direct hotline to the Almighty.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Almost all the content is written by Slick himself, and a right load of old cobblers it is too. It saddens and angers me that there are folk out there who will be conned into believing that Christianity is really how Slick tells it. It also saddens and angers me to read the sorry tale of Slick’s daughter, burned into rejecting God altogether thanks to the twisted gospel she has been indoctrinated into.
Like all Calvinists, Slick is a deceitful hypocrite. He preaches predestination and God’s sovereign control over the universe and everything that happens in it. Then he comes out with this sort of thing:
What’s the point, Matt? If God loves Rachael and predestined to save her before she was born, she will be. If didn’t, she’s off to burn in hell for eternity, and there ain’t nothing you or your prayers can do about it. A few years ago on CARM you proudly announced how your were raising your daughter “in a biblical Child rearing program”. Fat lot of good that did you - and her.
Slick is a homophobic bully, who quashes any dissent with an iron fist. Mention that you are either a Universalist or an atheist and you will be banned from CARM’s discussion boards immediately. He’s also incredibly touchy about being criticised - to the extent that he has a whole page of replies to his critics on CARM - a lot of it pathetic bleating about people being ‘disrespectful’ to him. Ooh, get you, Matt. And yet, like all hardcore Calvinists, he cheerfully writes off the vast majority of the human race into eternal torture. He - and they - make me throw up.
As I read the words of this troubled soul, I felt a huge amount of sadness for her -and her whole family. Pity for her dad, walled-up in this prison of hellish belief (talk about your God being my devil!). I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have had that kind of childhood - to have had to suppress and swallow all that anger and confusion and doubt and questioning. I thought better of all the ways my teenage children are often quite happy to think of me as the biggest idiot in the world! They are not remotely scared to yell and shout at me. Thank God.
I remember a talk by Archbishop Rowan (I can’t find it in book or internet) in which he talked about the “purification of atheism” - how in the exiled, post revolutionary Russian Orthodox communities living in Paris and Europe, writers began to speak of atheism as a movement of the Holy Spirit, as a de-throning of the hideous idols we had set up, and then dared to call the god of Jesus. No wonder people with good hearts looked at this and thought, “to hell with it all!”. -especially to the god of Ivan Karamazov, imposing universal order, and justifying everything that is, subjecting all to its almighty ego, always competing with human beings for existential space - a true, man-made idol. I urge all readers to look at David Bentley Hart’s “The Doors of the Sea”, a short, almost polemical book that rages against this kind of god.
May this poor soul find healing, purification, and peace through atheism. The early Christians were accused of…atheism. I pray that God may hold her, in whatever she comes to believe. Please God, send her some Christians who don’t try and out-argue, or explain it all away, but who just show love.
Amen to that, Jess. Bless you for your kind thoughts towards Matt Slick. I find it hard to see past the contempt I feel for Calvinism and those who promote it, to the poor souls who have been bullied into believing it.
Nietzsche’s famous quote springs to mind:
“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”
That is one hell of a story. I am a bit hurt, and shocked, and bewildered, and distraught, and sad… This is a family that have completely fallen apart because of the choices of this young girl, and the methodology of fundamentalism in the modern world. The poor girl! The poor family!
IMO, Calvinism does not cause this dilemma, christ does. The bible is so full of enigmatic statements that conflict with our moral compass and our understandings of science - it is a polarizing and conflicting force in the lives of all thoughtful persons. We must reconcile seemingly contradictory and opposite views that cannot work from any one single extreme. Fundamentalism poses this threat to the lives of Christians; yet so does liberalism. It cannot be escaped from. We are all victims of the same plot. Jesus said:
This is the plot we battle in; it is an ideological battle which cuts to the very heart of families. We will ultimately cut our member off if it causes us to stumble; or we will reconcile that wounded soul to ourselves… some way… any way! The church (and families) have always gone through this dilemma - Christ himself went through the same dilemma with his siblings. When you look at the great men of God; they all went through the same battle - Cain and Abel; Noah; Abraham; Moses; David; Jesus… the battle of perception and truth! I still don’t know how I will go when I am fully tested. Although my children work together as a unit now; they have not been fully tested by their own unique perceptions. I am slightly concerned when love enters the picture, as was the starting point for Matt Slick’s daughter. My two beautiful daughters will no doubt be confronted by moral choices when cupid strikes.
I don’t know if I have the answers and wisdom to be affective. My view of scripture helps, I think. I believe that God has a message to all christians (children of God) contained in the bible, and that is the primary message; but I also believe that there is a secondary message for all unbelievers, and another message, and another message. God works for the good of his entire creation; and the bible speaks to all of the divisions and schisms of the world. Even God’s creation declares the glory of God, and proclaim his eternal wisdom (Psalms 19:1). God speak to generations and cultures that are far removed from each other; and His message will appear different; but the difference is only superficial. I think this is what Rachel Slick failed to see when she asked: “If God was absolutely moral, because morality was absolute, and if the nature of “right” and “wrong” surpassed space, time, and existence, and if it was as much a fundamental property of reality as math, then why were some things a sin in the Old Testament but not a sin in the New Testament?” Although God’s morality is absolute; it is not a morality which is answerable to the cultural divide throughout “space, time and existence”. God can partake of our wars and hostilities without being conditioned by the morality. It is not that God is ambivalent; God transcends our perception of morality. Death, to God, is not really death; war is not really war; a massacre is not really a massacre - and yet to us it is. God can create a lion or a venus fly-trap or a volcano - nature that is designed to kill - and yet God transcends the nature of “right” and “wrong”; as these moral conditions belong to the earth; and the morality also belong to the earth. Yes, God created these moral conditions and conflicts so that our spiritual man will become refined through the experience of “right” and “wrong”. God does not need these moral enigmas - we do!
There are many passages of scripture that are very troubling and difficult to reconcile. This often leads to a divide between a family, church or nation. We are tested by these very things. Rachel Slick had used this divide, I think, to paint her father as a spiritual prison warden. Perhaps this is true - I cannot say. I see that Rachel was lured by her hormones, and she was experiencing ‘voices in her head’ which told her that she wasn’t really a christian simply because she found a riddle she couldn’t reconcile. I hope, once her hormones have settled she will return to the family she undoubtedly loves. Like most teens, she proclaims the love of her new found freedom. That is human - not slick. She is likely a little naive to the real battles of life. I fear I have been over-protective with my children too. Time will tell.
Absolutely. One of my own personal experiences which I will always be mindful… The abyss owned me; for I was her b****.
Thanks for letting us know about this very interesting story, Lothar’s Son.
I had forgotten about Matt Slick but remember years ago some discussions of universalism at CARM, and, if I remember correctly, Tom Talbott was involved in some of them.
My first reaction when reading her story is actually a feeling of relief for Rachael Slick. Despite being an atheist now, I think she is closer to the truth and closer to God since she threw off the fetters of her father’s monstrous theology and his obsessive control of her life. I think her throwing off all christian belief is understandable— though I agree, Lothar, that the specific points she makes about “why” (other than the problem of evil) are simply arguments against fundamentalism. (But I suspect that’s all she’s been exposed to). I was looking at Andrew’s pastor’s blog (Alister Pate) who was discussing A Churchless Faith, by Alan Jamieson here:alisterpate.com/2013/11/04/the-journey-continues/ Sounds interesting and I liked the diagram he posted showing what happens to people leaving “EPC” (Evangelical, Pentecostal, Charismatic) churches.
I pity Matt Slick and suspect that what George MacDonald said about believing such detestable theology being its own punishment applies here. Perhaps this will soften him to the possibility that universalism might be true?
I see where you’re coming from on this, but I can’t agree with you. I don’t think Rachael Slick should bear any guilt or responsibility for any choices she has made which have led to her family falling apart. That guilt and responsibility rests squarely with her father, Matt Slick, and the odious doctrine of Calvinism to which he so wholeheartedly subscribes.
I agree with you that Christ and the Bible pose many tough challenges for us, ideas that do, as you say, conflict with our moral compass. But neither Christ nor the Bible prescribe Calvinism. Calvinism is an ideology of men, and those who subscribe to it must bear the guilt of their beliefs.
That is a rather harsh comment, Steve, and a little uncharacteristic of your usual unjudgmental demeanor. I don’t think I can support your enthusiasm over this family’s pain and struggle.
I don’t know what to make of Alister’s blog “The Journey Continues”. It seeks to understand; but I think there is too much superficial pigeonholing going on. Many people on forums have a churchless faith. Forums are excellent for this purpose, as they are kind of like a net for people who have escaped from institutional churches. The “EPC” diagram, I thought, was a little misleading; as it fails to show the great exiles that take place in every church. Probably the only true church growth is within certain sects. There is something disjointed for people in their faith life and their church life; and I don’t think many ministers have the slightest idea how to understand this. The efforts of the categorizing diagrams are about as close as they can come to try and identify with these groups; which is still very abstract.
One thing churches rarely concede is that the problem lies with the church itself; not the individual. Churches have become more ritualistic and traditional (even in a EPC setting). Everything is predetermined: the songs; the sermon; the prayers; the liturgy; the amount of time for each segment; it is all a prefabricated 5 minute dinner meal which pretends to be honoring and meaningful. If you don’t catch the excitement of these boxed meals, then the problem is with the individual!? Others who are totally institutionalized see no problem with formula spirituality. They have been born and bred on it; and anything meaningful would actually make them uncomfortable. This is the modern paradox. We are told to seek God in more meaningful ways; and when we do, the church itself is the loose bolt. Rather than address the real problem, we just invent knew packaging formulas of the same problem, and we can call it “pub church”. This is just recycled nonsense that keeps a pastor on a payroll (I don’t particularly refer to Alister. I have spoken with him and he seems like a very great Christian man. I am only generalizing with that statement). I don’t think many are actually addressing the real problems. The business-model church prevents this from happening.
I agree. I didn’t mean to imply that “guilt” was required. She seems to be a great girl with a lot of wisdom and life experience.
You might be right. I don’t know how a loving family can so easily fall apart over a different perspective. It actually scared me! I would hate to be in the same position.
Again, I agree. This is tough, though, for people who have been brought up to know the bible through this one unique lens. Matt Slick is very anti-catholic. He has put himself into the firing line by being so aggressive and hostile to other views, and it is ironic that the big lesson had to come through his daughter. I hope there is a family healing for them; and perhaps a re-analysis of the doctrines that he holds to so fundamentally. Time will tell.
I really do feel for her family’s pain, I honestly do —especially as Rachael doesn’t seem to be having any contact with them. But the whole situation was very ‘cult-like’ and I truly did feel relief for this poor girl.
I haven’t had any personal experience with ‘Pub churches’ so I can’t really comment on whether this is true or not. Might be interesting to start a thread discussing pub churches and what role they play, how they might differ from traditional churches, etc.
I think we’re all broadly in agreement here: we should feel compassion for both Rachael and her father, because they are both victims of a perverse theology. I know that you, Steve (Stef) are a man of great compassion for the oppressed and the downtrodden. And bravo for that. But I don’t think Steve (alec) meant anything by his previous comments other than real compassion for both daughter and father. Goodness, he was far less judgemental towards Matt Slick than I have been. Calvinism is a red rag to the bull in me.
What I do know for sure is that you guys are great. I love your honesty and your compassion. We may see things through a slightly different lens sometimes, but that is because we all see through a glass darkly.
Sorry Steve, I didn’t mean to categorize you as uncaring. My apologies.
I had been thinking about a ‘pub church’ in the past. The idea I have in the NT is that some of the first churches were ‘pub churches’ (indirectly). I am not qualified to run a church; but I was looking into the idea of running a discussion group dealing with the ECF from a pub or similar.
You are really kool too Johnny. I think the same of Steve as well. There are some great people I have met on this forum; I am chuffed.
Yes indeed! There certainly are some wonderful people here and though we don’t agree on everything—(and that’s fine—as you know, I’m all for theological diversity) I think we all get along pretty well. I appreciate your opinions, Stef, and knowledge of the early church fathers especially. Johnny is indeed ‘kool’ and I love his eloquence, passion and tender heart. Your writing, Johnny, is frankly brilliant. As someone who feels sometimes each word I type is like pulling a tooth, I am in awe…
Apparently you are interested in the discussions I start in this way
alecforbes: I don’t remember who said that first, but I believe that atheism can be an act of religiosity, if you think that the choice is between an evil, monstruous God and no God at all.
Jonny: I largely share your indignation, but believe that sadness towards Matt Slick might be more appropriate. And we should also try to forgive him.
For who knows, maybe he will inherit eternal life too
Brilliantly expressed: Rachel, in her atheism, is closer to God than she ever was in the prison of that monstrous theology.
I once saw a debate between Christopher Hitchens and William Lane Craig. Hitchens asked if Craig thought it would be better for him to believe in God as per the wahhabist-extremist-fundamentalist version, or no God at all. He didn’t get a very good answer. I was screaming: no God at all! It would be better to choose atheism, than an idol.
Looking at the same scriptures, and coming to such pity-less, love-less, grace-less conclusions: Yes, good hearted people do this -and they’re not all bigots or patriarchs. Rob Bell posted a really interesting comment the other day on facebook. He talked about debating with a pastor who was quite offended by his theology. Bell said that every time he (Bell) quoted a passage of scripture that spoke of God’s mercy or desire to save all people, the pastor would quote another passage that spoke of God wanting to punish, or sanction violence. (I know, I know, another thread!) Bell said that what struck him was that, for this pastor, both types of passage had an equal weighting, whereas for him, intuitively, such a thought had never entered his head. All along, he’d just been working with the faith that one tradition constituted the most fundamental and basic of revelations about God, against which all other passages had to be interpreted (note: interpreted, worked-with, not dismissed).
I suppose I’d never thought of that way before, but that’s how I just read it. Mercy and judgement, redemption and punishment are not co-equal values and categories - in scripture, or anywhere else.
One Calvinist guy said to me: “you just have the God you want”. Ha! Most of us (me most of the time) are petty, vindictive, tribal, vengeful. We can learn to work with an idol like this very easily. It demands nothing of us, but confirms us in our primary fear. It heals nothing. It will never make us more forgiving, compassionate, loving. I’m sorry if this sounds harsh, but its what I’ve found to be true. By their fruits…Does our faith bear fruits of fear or love? Others will tell us. Our children, certainly.
The following video is a discussion between Matt Slick and Roman Catholic apologist, Dr. Robert Sungenis. I really like Robert Sungenis; I have two of his books. He is putting out a doco/movie in the near future which I think will be really interesting. Matt Slick doesn’t consider Roman Catholicism to be christian; he views them as apostate. Matt Slick takes an extreme view of the doctrines of Roman Catholicism. I do not agree with this extreme view: I do believe Roman Catholicism to be christian… although I believe Roman Catholicism to be the starting introduction of sectarianism (and heresy) into Christendom. Sectarianism (and heresy) was predicted in scripture (Revelation chapters 2 & 3); so being part of a christian sect (and holding heretical views) does not exclude you from the faith; it is the lack of repentance which excludes you from the faith. Faith without repentance is like a body on life support or coma; technically alive - but not functioning as an alive person.
Anyway, I think that Sungenis wins the debate hands down (although I do not agree with Sungenis’ premises or Slick’s). Matt Slick is clearly out of his depth with Sungenis. Note that both parties threaten hell to the other party for not believing the other’s doctrine. This is the game of religion in full swing. Matt kicks off with the discussion on the Roman Catholic belief in *The Assumption of Mary *(4.00) - where Mary was taken (assumed) into heaven after she died. This doctrine began to be formulated in the 4th century. The *pedigree of the Roman Catholic church *is discussed (9.45), which is the succession of bishops from the apostles which gives rise to the papacy doctrine. Then there is the discussion on *Sola Scriptora *(about 14.00), which is a very interesting analysis of Corinthians 4:6 and oral traditions which are inspired. The ‘who’s on first base’ parady (“no you’re better than that…”) gave me a laugh (20.40). It is revealing that Sungenis believes that the doctrine of the trinity originated from the Roman Catholic church (21.30). The discussion, predictably, starts going around in circles; as all religious debates tend to. Matt is clearly shaken by frustration. Part 2 is also amusing.
All the more reason I am losing faith for mainstream Christianity. I know this is a very old post, but I actually stumbled across it via a google search and found it posted here. If you read Rachael’s account, it just illustrates to me the most dogmatic people in religion are nuts and far off base. In fact, the more dogmatic someone is, the less likely I am to believe or trust in what they say. I mean, how many clergy scream about hating gays, only to find out they were found soliciting young male boys for sex. Like, massive cognitive dissonance. The system is corrupt, because people are corrupt. But there is a big difference between a corrupt individual vs a corrupt individual who maintains and pretends that he is righteous and doing the work of God. The louder and more dogmatic the preacher, especially the accusatory type, the more likely they live a secret life of ‘sin’. Experience has taught me this is the truth.
It only makes sense. People that are so focused on sin are basically adopting a sin filled world view. I believe Paul said “To the pure, all things are pure” and Jesus said “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” To be sin minded is a death. People who can only see evil, must be tainted by evil living in their hearts. Sin, to them, is bigger than God. They can’t stop condemning it. Their entire being is one projecting shame onto others for the same things they themselves do.
I think this is why Jesus said “Take the crap out of your eye first” because once you do, you won’t condemn your brother having gone through it and it will provide with you with more compassion and understanding when dealing with others’ faults.
I registered witth this forum just to convey how disgusted I was when reading ‘Username’s’ post. You call the brother a “deceitful hypocrorite”, yet your quote of his shows you have zero understanding of refomed theology. “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother is still in darkness”. Now I don’t know if you hold scripture as authoritative - considering you call Matt Slick a homophobic I’m guessing you don’t. And if you hold to universalism then you really don’t. Sorry. But a man dedicates his life to bringing people to salvation and Heaven and all you can do is slander him?
“You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening, …” That’s the legal agreement I signed to register here btw.