Today I received an e-mail from one of the members of the old ExCharisma e-mail loop at YahooGroups. In it she described an apparently horrific outcome of my decision to bring the group here to the Highway and discontinue the old one. She wrote that she has "had to field emails from former exCharisma people who are drifting so badly that they no longer consider themselves Christians."

In my weblog I have described my departure from a PCA church and that, too, has resulted, according to her letter, in causing former ExCharisma members to leave their own churches and to feel that I gave them bad advice in leading them to Reformed churches. The damage I apparently did is enormous, according to her:

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The exCharisma forum that we leaned on for support was jerked out from under us almost overnight, without even consulting us. You always did say it was your forum. I guess you proved that in the end, because it certainly was not ours, and you seem completely unconcerned about what happened to us or how we felt about it.


If there is any truth at all in what this sister has sincerely written, then I will publish my response here for all the former members of the old group to see. And if anyone here is aware of any former members who have fallen away from the faith because of me, please forward this message to them:

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Hello,

It's good to hear from you, even if what you have to say is hurtful. I miss the old ExCharisma too. ExCharisma has not almost entirely dissolved, though. It has been multiplied into the Highway's Open forum, Theology forum, Prayer forum, Church Locator forum, and one forum specific to Charismatic issues. When an ExC member has a question about theology that isn't directly related to Charismatic issues, he or she posts it in the Theology forum. So the little "ExCharisma" folder that is now specific to one thing is not nearly as busy because the others are sharing the burden. That is what I hoped to achieve by moving the Yahoo group to the Highway.

Another reason I did so was that I was overwhelmed with moderating the group, especially after my co-moderator left. Then there was my personal life, going back to school, starting a new career, and dealing with some heavy issues here at home. I was in "survival mode" when I made the admittedly hasty decision to move ExCharisma to the Highway. It wasn't long after that when my former church stepped up it's own b.s. when they should have found grace to help instead of boldness to find fault. I have come to believe that one of the biggest reasons why Presbyterian denominations last only about 40 years before they stray from the faith is because of the clergy/laity distinction that encourages the "ruling" elders to accept whatever the Trained, Professionally Qualified "teaching" elder dishes out. In spite of her confessional Standards, the PCA still wrestles with what ought to be obvious as heresy.

The CMA is also Presbyterian in its system of government, but not bound to a confession as specific as the Westminster Confession. And its ministers are co-elders in pretty much the same sense as the PCA is (on paper at least). They have been around alot longer than the PCA and have not strayed nearly as far from where they started. I dunno what to make of that. But the real reason I have ended up at a CMA church for now is that I have lots of friends there from the community (and only a handful from my former church). I really haven't got any idea if that's where we may put down roots. I'm quite gun shy having been burnt by what I considered to be an ideal church.

I am unaware of any from the old e-mail group who have, as you put it, "completely fallen away from the faith." No one has written me to say so, to blame me, or to rebuke me for leading them to bad choices or down a wrong path that I supposedly no longer follow. Had I known of any who strayed, I would have left the ninety nine to pursue the one and coax them back with me to where I hope to end up still - back to orthodox Christianity under Biblical government.

I am the same guy I always was, but my sojourn through this wilderness has given me a renewed heart for those who have "tried the church thing" and found it so wanting that they don't know who to trust anymore. I've come almost full circle to where I was when I first started ExCharisma (which at the time was as much for my own benefit as anyone else') - longing for only the genuine, permanent back-to-basics faith of my childhood. I'd like to think that our time laboring in the Word was not wasted. But the burden I bore by the time I moved the group to the Highway was beyond the time I had to devote to it. I had become a sort of "cyber pastor," which was never my intention or desire. My hope all along was to point people to good Reformed churches, and that purpose remains unchanged.

Please pass this message along to the former ExCharisma members who you have fielded e-mails from who are, as you say, "drifting so badly that they no longer consider themselves Christians." I'd really like to hear from them, to apologize for hurting them, and to share my own sojourn and my desire to see us all in good Reformed churches that remain faithful to the infallible word of God. Ask them to write me, to chew me out if they need to. I can take it, and I want to repair whatever damage I may have done if I can. But I stand by my decision to relocate the group to the far greener pastures of the Highway. If I hadn't done that, the only other alternative at the time would have been to hand the group over to a new listowner and unsubscribe. And I'm sure that doing that would have been more damaging than the course I chose.

Love in Christ,
Robin

Last edited by Robin; Thu Feb 14, 2008 2:21 PM.