NewSpring attacked my family, but I’m the jackass? 45

In November of 2010 Perry Noble and Shane Duffey released a leadership podcast entitled Ignoring the Jackass where they took great delight in belittling and literally demonizing bloggers who dared criticized Noble’s teaching or NewSpring’s methodology. This was almost a full year after they took the Maxwell story public and months after we had filed our suit, meaning that both Noble and Duffey, as well as NewSpring itself, were defendants in a case where their staff had taken their teachings to heart and tried to destroy one of Noble’s critics.

You might have expected, if they thought that what Maxwell and his friends did was wrong, that they would have changed their aggressive rhetoric. Not so. The fascinating thing about this podcast is that it represents Noble’s advice to other pastors and leaders. A year and a half after they’d come after me, Noble shows no signs of having learned anything as a leader.

(For NS readers, as you continue reading consider how much risk Noble and Duffey are putting NewSpring in with this kind of talk. Wouldn’t you expect that they’d have a duty to keep quiet at least until after the case was resolved?)

The partial transcript reproduced with commentary below is taken from Noble’s leadership podcast.

To introduce the idea of the jackass, Noble and Duffey start with a quote from their 2009 Unleash conference.

Ignore the Jackass. In Greek, jackass is translated blogger.

Perry says the Lord gave him this idea. He continues, still from the 2009 conference, by criticizing bloggers who copy and splice parts of sermons.

Who has time for that? The jackass. You’re watching right now. There’s a reason you have time to do that. You have no friends. The reason you have no friends is you’re a jackass, and I will say that to you. Everybody in this room had wanted to say it to you, unless they’re jackasses. That’s your problem. That, and you’re either demon possessed or oppressed, because when a move of God is working and people are getting saved and lives are getting changed, who would criticize that? God or Satan? Ask yourself that question. ‘I’m going to blog about you.’ I don’t read it. I don’t. If we ran out of toilet paper, I’d have someone copy and paste it and we’d use it for that, but that’s about it. That’s what I think of your blog.

This is really as close as Perry ever gets to arguing his position, but it’s a typically abusive and irrelevant ad hominem attack. Although these were in the early days of Pajama Pages, Noble was aware of this blog, so much so that he sent his youth pastor as an emissary to meet me to try to stop it. He was also very aware of my friend Chris Rosebrough, who was sitting in the audience and at whom Rosebrough says Noble was looking as he delivered the taunt. A couple of points about what Noble is saying here:

  1. Mob mentality. Noble assumes every one of the several thousand pastors in the room agrees with him, which, if you’re Rosebrough, was probably intended to be threatening. 
  2. Malevolent motivations. Claiming that other believers are demon possessed is a terribly reckless assertion for such an influential pastor to make, unless he really thinks that his critics are unbelievers. By framing his enemies as outside the family of God, it makes it much easier for his followers to bare their fangs against them.
  3. Movement morality. Noble assumes that he is proven right by results. Every false teacher in history worth the church’s attention has always had mass conversions with life change. That’s not to say that Noble is ipso facto a false teacher, but a lot of flash and activity doesn’t give you a free pass to do and say anything; based on Paul and Peter’s warnings, it puts you first in line to have your message carefully examined by other believers.
  4. More mistruths. He said he doesn’t read blogs, but did habitually read this and other blogs like it. He read them so much that managing his reactions to them became a problem.
  5. Miserable muck. Was it really necessary to drive home the point by talking about Perry’s bathroom preferences, which say more about Perry than it does about the bloggers, I think.

After playing the Unleash clip, Duffey describes Perry’s talk as “very provocative.” On one hand, Noble and Duffey will admit that their speech is provocative, yet on the other hand they grow faint at the thought that other people might object to what they say. Perry enjoys the buzz that his bad-boy, anti-church antics create, yet won’t allow space for other Christians to push back.

Noble says it’s too easy for people to criticize now because of the Internet and because they can do so anonymously. Sure, but this is a claim made on a podcast that is distributed to pastors around the world through . . . the Internet. And, yes, some criticism is done anonymously, though savvy Internet readers take that into account when they sift through information online. I don’t know of a single blog that’s critical of Noble that is written anonymously.

Next, this question from Duffey:

The people that I’ve seen who criticize you and/or our church really come at you from two ways. They either criticize how you teach scripture (PN: Sure.), or they criticize the method we do church. (PN: Yes.) Tell me which of those two, if either, sting the most?

If bloggers are focusing on preaching and church methodology, things are working properly. This is good news. What’s more important in a pastor’s duties than the way he preaches and the way he leads his church?

Duffey, again:

Most of our conversation until this point has probably centered around bloggers, or people outside the church, hating.

Where’s the hate? This claim is so tired and lazy, but surely it cannot be hateful to criticize a pastor’s handling of Scripture or his methodology. You can’t get 20 minutes through a Noble sermon without hearing him criticize the teaching or methodology of other churches. If the mere existence of criticism is hateful, Noble… Well, you fill in the rest.

Noble says of bloggers:

Most of the time all these people want to do is tear down. In fact, I would say [that] all they want to do is tear down and kill and destroy. Somebody else wants to do that. No, seriously. Who is the accuser of the brethren?

Here we go again with the demonizing. What did Paul do when he found false teachers? What did Luther do when he found corruption? Sometimes tearing down can be a positive thing.

Instead of blogging, Noble wants disputes to be resolved quietly:

If you have a problem with someone, try to have a conversation with them, either through email, either through letter, either through a phone call.

Words not to live by, apparently. I contacted Noble by regular mail and email well before the harassment happened to see if he wanted to meet. His response: a phone call behind my back to my boss.

Duffey then notes to Noble that “one of the worst things about giving attention to some of these jackasses is the distraction and the toil it takes on the church,” to which Noble gives this example:

What I used to do is, I would read something that somebody said about me or our church in a negative manner, and I would literally get up from my desk and I would walk down the hall and I would go in about five or six offices, and I would go, “Can you believe what so-and-so wrote?” And everybody was like, “No,” and I’d pull it up online and I’d show it to them, and then everybody on the hall is P.O.’d  for the rest of the day, angry. And it wasn’t the critic’s fault; it was my fault. As a leader, I was focusing my staff … on incredibly negative, draining stuff rather than, “Guys, this is what people are saying, but this is the mountain we’re climbing. This is the hill we’re taking. This is what we’re called to do.” And God rebuked me for that as a leader. He was like, “You are a fool.” And I had to repent of that sin and come back around and go, “You know what? I’m wrong, God. I’m sorry. I helped focus people on the wrong thing, rather than Jesus, his Gospel and the mission he’s given us.”

Remember how he said that he didn’t read this stuff and would only use it for toilet paper? One of these statements isn’t true. Not only did he read them himself, he got so worked up that he would go through the office and stir everyone else up as well.

One of the questions we had going into the case was how Maxwell and his friends came to know about Pajama Pages and be so worked up about it. You don’t suppose that he learned about it from work, do you?

(Another side note to NS readers: Did you notice how Perry acknowledges “fault” for his staff’s angry reactions? In the middle of a case about his staff’s angry reaction where their official defense was that it was the critic’s fault? Does it concern you just a little that there was nothing governing him to keep these kinds of damaging and potentially expensive outbursts to himself? Is this how a leader should demonstrate self-discipline?)

Lest anyone think that Perry doesn’t want to hear anything negative about himself, he reassures us with this claim:

I want to hear unfiltered criticism from people who love Jesus, love this church, love me, and have everyone’s best interest in mind. That person can always, always be trusted. But if they don’t have those four qualities, I don’t have time for them.

Doesn’t have time? Not even for “a conversation with them, either through email, either through letter, either through a phone call”?

Anyway, after saying he wants unfiltered criticism, he describes a four-level filter.

  1. Loves Jesus. Not a blogger.
  2. Loves this church. NewSpringer.
  3. Loves me. Staff member. No one else is allowed to know him in any closer sense than a man on a stage.
  4. Everyone’s best interests in mind. Agrees with Perry, to whom God has entrusted the vision for the church. If you disagree with Noble, you disagree with the vision, which means you disagree with God. To see how this unfiltered criticism works, just ask Tony Morgan.

Duffey starts to bring the podcast to a close:

Before we check out, I just want to give you one more opportunity to share whatever’s on your heart in regards to critics and/or jackasses – I just want to see if I can say that one more time – while we’re doing this.

Classy.

Then Perry makes this remarkable admission:

I have done some things. I have taken some shots at people on my blog, or I’ve taken shots at people as I’m teaching, or I’ve taken shots at people as I’m doing certain things that are kind of – I don’t ever call them out by name, but, like, everybody knows who I’m talking about – but I’m even getting convicted of that. That’s just not right. I’ve got something to say to somebody, I need to man up, or woman up. You need to man up and you need to go and say that.

That would indeed be good if Perry were being convicted of taking shots against unnamed targets, though it appears as though the conviction wore off quickly. As I noted most recently here, Noble defames Christianity in general when he attacks the church without naming names. When he calls bloggers satanic without specifying whom he’s talking about, he leaves the reasonable impression that all bloggers who criticize him are demonic. So, yes, it would be good to see him “man up” someday.

Duffey then puts the lid on it:

That’s it for today. We’ve covered everything we could about jackasses, so don’t… (PN: You said that word again. That’s awesome.) I got it in one more time. So ignore those.

Awesome indeed.

45 thoughts on “NewSpring attacked my family, but I’m the jackass?

  1. concernedparent Feb 25, 2013 3:24 pm

    Anna, It is sad that people are losing friends over NS membership. This is also happening in High School and Middle School. I don’t raise the issue of NS with friends I know attend and our children have been advised to take care when they are discussing NS concerns around kids they know attend. I don’t feel it is right to criticize someone for their choice of a church or religion, but it is important to take care because of the defensive actions of NS (as evidenced by issues covered in this blog). I have mentioned the issues to parents who attend other churches and whose kids are being invited to Fuse. Also, it is highly likely you would have lost these friends as soon as you turned down their offer to attend NS.

  2. SallyVee Feb 25, 2013 6:50 pm

    Question for anyone: what are Noble’s qualifications to be a pastor? I assumed he must have attended a theological school, albeit probably a liberal or loosey-goosey one. But in searching just now, it’s hard to find any indication of his educational background.

    Another question: it appears Noble does a lot of public speaking away from New Spring (can’t bring myself to call it a church, sorry). So is he compensated for these gigs? I note he’s featured at some of the most notorious annual enclaves in the nation – Gauntlet, Uprising, Saddleback, and others.

    Here is one standard bio I found:
    http://www.tyndale.com/10_Authors/author_bio.php?authorID=1433

    I find this notation nauseating, and so pathetic that it would make it into Noble’s professional bio. I want to scream: SO WHAT??? The Kardashian sisters can make the same claim:

    Perry can also be found online at Perrynoble.com, where he averages more than one million visits a year, and on Twitter, where he has more than fifty thousand followers.

  3. Anna L. Feb 25, 2013 7:59 pm

    Actually, one of them did put himself in the stoplight, sort of. NewSpring posted this article about him:

    http://newspring.cc/blog/stories/jeremy-bishop/

    I don’t want to get further into his story. Whatever your opinion is about the issue of homosexuality, it’s obvious NewSpring is using him to aggrandize Noble and promote the superiority of his church over others.

  4. Anna L. Feb 25, 2013 8:04 pm

    *I meant spotlight. Sorry

  5. Concernedparent Feb 25, 2013 9:56 pm

    I saw a post on another blog I think quoting a sermon of his, that he attended three weeks of seminary and quit…but I can’t recall where I saw it.

  6. SallyVee Feb 25, 2013 10:56 pm

    Here’s something useful, a list of Biblical qualifications for a pastor, taken from the books of Timothy I, Timothy II, and Titus:

    above reproach
    temperate
    holding fast the faithful word
    prudent
    able to teach
    not addicted to wine
    not pugnacious
    gentle
    uncontentious
    free from the love of money
    kind to all
    not quarrelsome
    patient when wronged
    correcting in gentleness
    not quick tempered
    sensible
    hospitable
    not fond of sordid gain
    able to refute those who contradict
    not self-willed
    loving what is good
    just
    devout
    self-controlled

  7. tated Feb 28, 2013 1:43 pm

    What schoolding did paul to preach the word now im no friend of NS or Perry but education means absolutely nothing when it comes to preaching the word of god if you are annointed.

    • Soli Deo Gloria Feb 28, 2013 2:10 pm

      Not so fast. First of all, the most important word in your comment is “if” you are anointed. Having a huge congregation with a lot of converts doesn’t mean that you’re anointed. Perry even said in his sermon last week that he wasn’t called to a particular children’s ministry position that he had but that he was growing that ministry in numbers – he’s said himself that numbers can be gained even when you’re not anointed or called to something. Secondly, someone’s background can say some things about them. After he was a Christian, where did Perry choose to be taught? What’s the theology of that institution? What’s Perry’s attitude to seminary’s (how often has he referred to it as cemetery?) Etc… Third, Paul knew the Bible (as it was the OT only) forwards and backwards. But he was wrong in his conclusion until Christ saved him. But schooling, Paul had a TON and it was used after his conversion.

      And, finally, I have a great friend in his 30’s who is a student pastor and he hasn’t finished undergrad work yet due to ministry and family. But he knows more about the Bible (and cares to know more even today) than the vast majority of the people I know who have finished Bible College and then even seminary. He would also make a better preacher than most of them and he cares about people who are under his care. So, in many respects it may NOT matter how much schooling one has.

      BUT when you are responsible for the shepherding and the souls of 25,000 congregants, I think that it does make a difference if you’re educated or if you’re currently receiving theological training. Especially when you will come out against the Bible’s usage of the term “shepherd” to refer to what you’re “anointed” to be doing as a pastor!

  8. David Strickland Mar 4, 2013 11:23 am

    Let’s also not forget that Paul had a literal, physical encounter with the risen Christ. He spoke to him personally in an audible voice and the other apostles confirmed that Paul preached the same gospel that was given to them. He didn’t have to go to a seminary. He was taught by THE seminary. Not comparable whatsoever.

  9. ConcernedInSC Mar 8, 2013 2:22 pm

    I followed the link that Anna posted and then I conducted a brief Google search of Jeremy Bishop, & his former lover. Jeremy’s ex-lover (who he now refers to as his “best friend”)also posted a public testimony and he admitted that he still struggles with sexual sin and that they are STILL LIVING TOGETHER!

    A quote from his blog, “During a sermon series on Revelation, the pastor was talking about sexual purity which has leaded us to end our relationship and we are now the best of friends. We still live together, have separate bedrooms and are honestly living for God and as roommates. The best part about this entire situation is that it has brought me back to God, rededicated my life with a public baptism and a best friend which I can celebrate with what God is doing in each of our lives.” http://patrickkellett.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-story-at-least-first-40-years-of-it.html They are also very open about their close relationship on Facebook. What I want to know is why NewSpring is allowing two former gay lovers to live together when they force heterosexual couples in the same situation to separate?

    I personally know a hetero couple that this happened to. They were “saved” at NewSpring and baptized but when NewSpring found out about their living arrangement they would not allow the couple to become “Owner’s” or volunteer. The couple displayed unrepentance regarding living together, refused to separate and, as far as I know, no longer attend church because they were angered about NewSpring’s policy regarding living together without being married. I credit NewSpring for doing the right thing in the case of the hetero couple but why isn’t the same action being taken with the gay couple? Even if they are not engaging in sexual activity, what about not “giving the appearance of evil”? That’s the verse that was used on my hetero friends. Why the double standard NewSpring????

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