NewSpring’s curious silence 63

I don’t have much more to say about this whole thing, but I’m surprised at how quickly NewSpring’s leaders seem to have gone to ground after their big splash on Friday afternoon.

I’ve learned that they actually sent their statement as a press release to the local newspaper, intending to get this on the front page last Saturday, though after I told my side of the story their communication apparatus has completely stalled.

Although the staff on every campus have been told they may not visit this site, there must at least be someone who has taken a peek at my rebuttal of their statement. Their official blog is still displaying exactly the same text as it did on Friday. Here, in order of ease of correction, is what I’m waiting for them to fix.

  1. The meeting was in April, not February. This is a no-brainer, and anyone who goes back to my February posts can see that NewSpring wasn’t even on my radar. You can also see Brad Cooper’s comment from March 7 inviting me to meet him for coffee. This is such an insubstantial change, why wouldn’t they make it, unless they want to pretend that my rebuttal doesn’t exist?
  2. There were four active harassers. I really don’t understand why they repeatedly refer to three rather than four harassers. Was this just a mistake? Is there one they dare not talk about? If they really believe there were three, perhaps they’d have been smart to have asked me for a few more details on the day they fired Maxwell.
  3. I didn’t seek to denounce the church from the pulpit. Their insistence that I did could only have been arrived at through a torturous process of misinterpretation. I challenged their attorney on this point on Friday night and told him that I expected them to correct this. The longer they leave this unfounded accusation on their site, the more it appears they really want the world to believe this about me.
  4. I didn’t email Wilson about the adoption. A search through their email archives will make this obvious. They probably understand how that error puts their claim of noninvolvement in question, so they might be reluctant to acknowledge their mistake by being seen to correct it.

I don’t expect to agree with every aspect of their statement, but these are four points that they already have enough evidence on hand to fix.

It’s been six days since they asked everyone to read it.

How many more days will we need to wait until they bother to get it right?

63 thoughts on “NewSpring’s curious silence

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  1. Tommy F Dec 10, 2009 1:11 am

    JDuncan

    You wrote: “they already have enough evidence on hand to fix”

    This is the problem, isn’t it? They don’t seem to be very good at handling or understanding evidence.
    They just ignore it. What a weird world to live in, where you get to choose the facts you like and ignore the ones you don’t.

  2. Phil Naessens Dec 10, 2009 3:50 am

    Dr. Duncan,

    In my ministry I’ve been through most if not all the things you’ve gone through with these folks and all I can say is keep exposing and keep telling the truth. I will be doing a podcast about this hopefully later today and should be up on Friday morning here, Thursday night on the east coast.

    God Bless You Sir!

    Phil

  3. sb Dec 10, 2009 6:07 am

    James
    When exactly do you work? Do you spend all of your time obsessing over NewSpring? I wonder how it would do for someone to sit in on everyone of your classes and be critical of you? It’s a good thing I am not God…I pray for God to bring you peace and that you focus on your life and your blessings rather than trying to destroy a church obviously blessed by God. By the way, where do you go to church? Do you go? If so, get involved in that church. If Perry is doing something wrong at NewSpring, let God be the judge…that is what He does and He is a better one than you ever thought about being!

  4. Josh Dec 10, 2009 7:01 am

    I was thinking along the same lines. As PR focused as PN is, I’m really amazed at NS’s sloppy handling of this affair. Why doesn’t he just call Duncan and say “I’m terribly sorry that some NSers engaged in this conduct. I didn’t know about, nor would have tolerated, what these individuals did to you. I respect your right to disagree with me and if anyone from NS ever does anything out of line to you in the future, I will personally intervene.”

    He could post something on his blog saying the same thing and send out a news release if he wanted. He’d look like a strong and conscientious leader. If Duncan did sue NS, taking public steps to make amends and ensure something like this doesn’t happen again would be a wise step for NS. If a volunteer punched an attendee in a fit of rage, I would expect NS to pull the volunteer from service (which they have done here), but I’d also hope someone from the church would pick up the victim from the ground and tend to his wounds (which they have not done here, figuratively speaking).

    By trying to ignore Duncan’s story, it gives the impression that either PN doesn’t believe him or that it just isn’t something that merits his attention. If it’s the former, why not issue a rebuttal. Duncan’s allegations seem credible and the conduct he describes and NS’s handling of it, are both appalling. If there is another side, they should air it, because this story isn’t going away soon. Frankly I’m surprised the national media hasn’t picked it up yet. A Dateline piece could write itself.

    If Noble just doesn’t care, that fact alone is troubling. I respect how J Duncan has refrained from making accusations that PN knew or should have known what a fulltime security guard and some volunteers were doing. But he DOES know now. Isn’t he as outraged by what happened as most outside observers are? If so, why not address it? Does he think all is well because they fired Maxwell when he was under criminal ivestigation? Does he think it doesn’t matter because the victim is a jackess (Greek for blogger, according to PN)?

    His silence is deafening.

  5. Chris Dec 10, 2009 10:03 am

    From a legal standpoint, I don’t think PNoble can respond to these accusations any more than he already has through the church’s statement. While we can talk about the biblical reasons why he should attempt to make amends on behalf of Newspring, ultimately the real threat of pending litigation means that he must first consider the legal aspects of this situation. The question is just how culpable NS is for this mess,and JDuncan has made it clear that holds both NS and PN responsible for the actions of those involved. Since the church (as an organization/business) disagrees with that conclusion, there is no way PN can respond without making himself or the church vulnerable in legal proceedings. Bottom line, there is a business aspect to all of this that came into play as soon as JDuncan started requesting monetary compensation.

  6. dave allen Dec 10, 2009 10:21 am

    sb, if Perry we a child molestor, should everyone keep silent and wait for God to judge Perry?

    Maybe bringing the staff of NS’s ungodliness to light –GOD IS JUDGING PERRY.

  7. sb Dec 10, 2009 10:43 am

    Let’s get back in the real world Dave Allen…Perry is not a child molestor and you are putting blame on him that doesn’t belong there. He is not anymore responsible for what someone does of their own free will than you are.
    There is no perfect church…well there is but it is not in this world. Things are going to happen and people are going to do stupid things. Does that make them right, NO! But…if Duncan’s story is true then the law has dealt with the individuals involed and Duncan decided not to press charges on the one person he could have. And NewSpring has also delt with the individuals involved.

    Thank you Chris for shining some light on why there has been nothing said from Perry.
    All this makes you wonder, what glory is God getting from all this fighting back and forth. All of this makes me very sad that there are lost people going to hell and all this time and energy is spen ton tearing down fellow believers. What a waste!
    This will be my last post…I’ve got better things to do with my life…like reaching people for Christ!!
    God Bless all of us!

  8. Phil Naessens Dec 10, 2009 10:51 am

    SB,

    Please define “obsession” for me? I’m curious to what your definition is.

    I think setting up fake twitter accounts, sending porno via email and the other miscellaneous tactics employed by those attempting to silence Dr. Duncan is far more time consuming and obsessed then a college professor jotting down a few lines each day…..whadya think?

    Phil

  9. John Dec 10, 2009 11:05 am

    SB asks,

    “I wonder how it would do for someone to sit in on everyone of your classes and be critical of you?”

    If Duncan was a poor teacher and needed the help I am sure he would listen, if the critic was being critical just for criticism sake I am sure he would try to understand why and it that doesn’t work ignore them.

    But I do know what he wouldn’t do. Using his teaching lecturn toc reate an atmosphere of hostility toward the critic that would lead to harrasment by the other students.

  10. Chris Dec 10, 2009 11:17 am

    The meeting was in April, not February. This is a no-brainer, and anyone who goes back to my February posts can see that NewSpring wasn’t even on my radar.

    Except for the fact that you wrote a post about Lamb and Noble in January of this year. And that you wrote the article to the newspaper in 2007. So much for not being on your radar. That and you have 9 pages and 87 blog posts that mention Perry Noble. I counted. 🙂 I might be a little off though.

    Again what Maxwell did was heinous, egregious, sinful, and wrong. Sorry for that. But all of your blathering after the fact is not needed.

  11. Paul Dec 10, 2009 11:54 am

    Press on in fighting for the truth. Silence is a response…no doubt. Newspring is not oblivious to what is going on either. Iwoudl encourage you to keep holding the beliefs and practices of newspring or any church for that matter to biblical fidelity. One thing is clear, if this situation indeed reflects the worldliness and godliness that is at Newspring, it will happen again. “A bad tree cannot produce good fruit.” Time will tell, but I think more bad fruit will be exposed there as time goes on.

  12. Seth Dec 10, 2009 1:00 pm

    Josh

    “I respect how J Duncan has refrained from making accusations that PN knew or should have known what a fulltime security guard and some volunteers were doing.”

    I do not know where you got that from, Duncan very clearly blames Noble the whole time for letting this happen because apparently to people on the outside, Newspring is all about Perry, but, its only that way because people on the outside make it that way, if you ask me, noble, or any other NS member, staff person, or volunteer, they will tell you that it is about Jesus. I understand how it could seem about Noble, but church attendance has grown during times when he was not preaching (and people knew he would no be preaching).

    Duncan

    I am sorry for what happened. and I know you claim about them bringing up money first and lawyers first and things like that, but you have to remember, you went to them with claims of harrassment, if someone came to my business, and started talking harassment, I too would get a lawyer. Its common sense.

    Also, Why do you go after the church? I think suing or seeking damages from a church is like suing God. There for someone who claims to want to do everything by the Bible, suing a fellow christian, main a church, seems a bit, unbiblical. Maybe even along the lines of hypocritical. I understand how much oain you and you faimly are in, my dad and step-mom had a mis-carraige a few years ago, but there are many passages in the Bible about seeking revenge and retribution for damages to you. With that said, I believe the people you should go after is really the ones who did this to you, if in fact you wanted to go after someone. Newspring did NOT do this, people who are apart of this did, but not the church itself.

    Thats just some food for thought from my perpestive.

  13. JM Dec 10, 2009 2:30 pm

    SB,

    What do the people you’re reaching for Christ think about what has happened at NS?

  14. dave allen Dec 10, 2009 3:01 pm

    SB, in the real world, a family fearing for its safety is pretty close to molestation. False letter of resignation, false twitter accounts–these are attempts to destroy a man’s reputation and his means of supporting his family. I would think if someone did that to you, you too would stand up.

    This man has a good point about the atmosphere created by the leadership. Perry posts his disdain for criticism all over the internet. Instead of ignoring them he wants to punch them. The actions of this staff are reflective of the leadership which discipled them.

    I think God is judging him now and NS perhaps also.

    Even David had the decency to hear Nathan.

  15. Josh Dec 10, 2009 4:30 pm

    Seth,

    From what I’ve read, Duncan blames Noble for creating a culture of hatred against critics at NS, but that he doesn’t necessarily believer PN had any first hand knowledge of what was happening. In other words, the culprits were probably motivated in part by the culture of hostility towards descent created by Noble, but Noble wasn’t a co-conspirator. That’s a significant difference.

    Chris,

    From a legal standpoint, I don’t think PNoble can respond to these accusations any more than he already has through the church’s statement.

    From a legal perspective, you’re somewhat right. No attorney wants his client to speak, ever. I speak from experience; they tend to say things they shouldn’t say. At the same time, by refusing to even acknowledge the legitimacy of Duncan’s allegations, PN gives additional ammunition to Duncan were he to file suit. The case against NS wouldn’t be that it directly ordered Maxwell and the volunteers to harass Duncan, but that their conduct was known by and encouraged by senior leadership. It would be that Noble and other NS leaders created the climate of hostility that implicitly approved and encouraged the actions of the four conspirators. His attorney would make great use of every blog post and sermon bit calling critics jackasses, theatening (in jest, of course) to run them over, or to physically attack them. The fact that senior leaders were following the fake Duncan twitter account would be placed front and center, as well. Noble et al would claim they had no knowledge, and when they found out what was happening (the horror!), they acted decisively to fire Maxwell and suspend the others. But if they were so outraged, why not call Duncan to apologize? “When you discovered what happened, Mr. Noble, did you or anyone from the church contact Mr. Duncan to make sure you knew the extent of what had happened?” “Did you do anything to ensure you had the full story besides rely on the statement given to you by the gentlemen involved?” The best answer to questions like that would be: “I had no idea it was going on. When I found out about it, I was horrified. While I disagree with Mr. Duncan on many things and feel his blog efforts are hyper-critical, I will not tolerate anyone associated with NS treating anyone in that way. I immediately called Mr. Duncan to express my regret about what Maxwell and others had done, and told him to contact me directly if anyone from NS ever stepped over the line again.” That kind of answer wouldn’t implicate the church at all, and would actually support the church’s defense that Maxell and the others were rogues.

    Further, PN does (and should) have other considerations. He’s the pastor of on of the largest churches in the country. If the national media gets hold of this story, NS will be tried by the jury of public opinion. If this story became a controversial news topic, you can bet that attendance and giving will fall, at least temporarily. (Since we know that PN uses the scoreboard approach to church health, I assume he’ll be concerned about these things.) What will the public opinion be? Again, Noble is either ok with what these guys did, or he isn’t. If he isn’t ok with it, why not say something…anything…to let the church know his feelings. If he is horrified by what they did, saying nothing isn’t really a viable public relations option. Imagine how this would play on tv: Q: “Are you sorry about what happened to James Duncan?” A: “Our attorney has advised me not to answer that question.”

    There may be a tension between protecting the church from liability and protecting the integrity of the church. But there is ample room to say something. Just pretending like Duncan is a crackpot extortionist is misplaying his hand, IMO.

  16. sam Dec 10, 2009 4:48 pm

    Seth,
    Your logic is most definitely flawed. Let me ask you this, when people sued the Catholic church for things done to people by their priests were they suing God? Now, before any of the Perry Zealots gets all out of sorts, i am not comparing Perry to a child molester, i am just showing examples of where people have sued churches for VALID reasons and nobody aside from you would consider it “suing God”.

    Should Christians avoid taking matters before a court? Yes, they should try to reconcile and remedy the situation among each other first. If not, an arbiter should be engaged. If these methods fail and real damages have been shown done to the offended party then there is no other solution but to seek legal remedy. It would be like if a church bus ran into my car and totaled it and the church had let the insurance policy expire on the bus. I go to the church and ask to be compensated for my car because it was the fault of the person who drove the bus. The church refuses to pay for my car after several attempts to seek an amicable solution. Should i just forfeit the money for my car and go with out one that is necessary for my own employment or should i take the church to court to seek the damages done to me? There is not a blanket biblical restriction that believers should NEVER take one another to court. But they should not seek that as their first course of action. One of the persons that did this to Mr Duncan was an employee of the church and therefore the church is liable for his actions. Furthermore, it is unknown what Perry knew or didnt know about this whole sordid affair. Mr Duncan has clearly shown that some higher ranking staff members did have knowledge of what transpired. We can only speculate how much Perry knew.

    Maybe if Perry had attended to matters at his church before jetting around the country trying to make himself famous on the conference circuit, then he would have been better attuned to what has happening in the church. Perry should cancel any pending conference appearance dates and take care of the matters at hand. His leaving the church to attend non-essential functions give the appearance of apathy on his part.

    Newspring is ALL about Perry. It is a personality driven church. If he were to pass away tomorrow then the attendance would severely decline.

  17. KH Dec 10, 2009 5:22 pm

    Seth–suing a church is suing God?

    So just because a building has the word “church” at the end of it’s sign out front, or because someone went to seminary, or they just even stand on a street corner and scream Bible verses at people, they should somehow be divinely exempt from legal action? That’s ridiculous.

    I understand that good things have happened at NS, but regardless, the church is a business, therefore they can be legally and financially responsible when people that represent them act like morons.

    And more importantly–how cowardly is it to tuck tail, claim no responsibility, and hide behind God?

  18. keitho Dec 10, 2009 6:02 pm

    Seth,

    Hard to separate the “who did it” from the church. Disconnect the players from the church context and this whole sorry affair and the purpose behind it, goes away.

    Leaders have to take responsibility, whether they knew about the events or not, or if they were arms length from it or deep in it. Instead of blaming Duncan about a settlement, maybe the church should hold the leadership accountable. Business does that every day. Why does the church get a free pass for tolerating leaders that allow this stuff to happen?

  19. Lucas Dec 10, 2009 10:02 pm

    They will not fix it. If they do, it might lead some of the less brainwashed goats to begin questioning their honesty in the matter. That would be unacceptable.

    As it is, the statement is very ambiguous as to the nature of the staff’s actions. It could very well be that they egged JDs house and tp-ed his lawn a few times.

    No. The statement to NS was carefully crafted and cannot be changed without suspicion.

  20. chris Dec 10, 2009 11:12 pm

    I find it highly ironic and telling that the mujahideen are incredulous with the fact that NS brought attorneys to a meeting but now support JDuncan suing NS.

  21. Seth Dec 11, 2009 12:28 am

    Sam

    A number of things I would like to point out, number one, unlike you, I do not see the church as a building, I find it funny thats the first thing you go to, i did not reference it as a building, I fully believe a church is a group of believers, not a building.

    And yes, they are taking God’s money. Its a pretty Biblical principle. Money given to a church as a tithe is God’s money (yes I know and understand all money is God’s money) so yes, you are suing and robbing God.

    Do you think Jesus would have sued the church if they had done something like this to him? (oh wait, they did WAY more, they killed him) He could have ended it, he could have killed them all in a instance, but he didnt.

    One more thing Sam, I can tell you don’t go to Newspring, if you did, you would know he doesnt make it all about him, The church wouldn’t die, if you ask anyone that goes to Newspring they will tell you its about Jesus, not perry. Try it. Ask one or 2 and see what they say. The only reason you say it is about Perry is because people who are against NS make it about Perry. Perry himself will tell you in a heartbeat its not about him. I know plenty of traditonal churches and such that it is also all about the senior pastor at that church, he has to go to every function, preach on every sunday, and pretty much has to do it all, he does have people to help him, but he feels the need to do it all. They do exsist. I have seen them.

    Keitho

    And yes, he did do something about it, he fired and removed those involved and sent them to counseling, also, I am 100% sure he covered the subject in an all staff meeting about handling bloggers and critics. So, it seems pretty covered.

  22. David Strickland Dec 11, 2009 12:46 am

    I think several people are missing the point in all this. While this situation obviously arose out of religious differences, it is no longer about that or who is reaching people for Christ or any other religious aspect.

    This is about one group of individuals harassing, stalking and otherwise wreaking havoc on the life of another individual. What was done is a crime and the leader of the church where these individuals were employed has not made a single effort to make amends in any way whatsoever, unless you count “releasing” one of them.

  23. CG Dec 11, 2009 2:02 am

    How do you know the staff on every campus has been told not to visit this site? Your obsession with this is really sad. This is better than any comedy currently on TV.

  24. Josh Dec 11, 2009 10:43 am

    I find it highly ironic and telling that the mujahideen are incredulous with the fact that NS brought attorneys to a meeting but now support JDuncan suing NS.

    I didn’t notice a correlation, but I wasn’t really looking for one. I’ve read most of the comments and it sounds like most commentators (myself included) aren’t really advocating that Duncan sue NS. I also don’t think it’s unusual that NS brought its lawyer in, either. NS is run like a business so they made a business decision.

    Even though I don’t think Duncan should sue, I do think:

    1. That Noble should apologize and seek reconciliation with Duncan. Like it or not, NSers wronged another believer in a misguided effort to “protect” the church.

    2. NS should offer some monetary compensation to Duncan. 1.5 million is way too much, frankly. But he was wronged and the biblical teaching about not suing other believers doesn’t say wronged people shouldn’t be made whole just because they were wronged by another believer. A Christian who wrongs someone should make amends without having to be dragged into court. No one had to sue Zachias to recover the money he had taken wrongfully. He wanted to make things right, so he did. How much NS should offer Duncan is a matter of opinion. But unless he wasn’t wronged at all, that amount shouldn’t be zero.

  25. keitho Dec 11, 2009 11:50 am

    Seth,

    So firing somebody and having a staff discussion about it somehow concludes the matter in your mind? Let me know how that defense would work if this thing somehow goes to civil court.

  26. Danny Dec 11, 2009 12:26 pm

    James,
    Do any of the NS apologists actually confront you on the issues? Or is it always dismissed as a personal attacks? Some of the ministry methods they use and you disagree with I would defend in a decent manner. I think they are missing opportunities.

  27. Danny Dec 11, 2009 3:05 pm

    Driscoll, Noble, and Warren all in the same room together. Someone please elevate the roof. Not enough headspace in here.

  28. JT Dec 11, 2009 4:19 pm

    Josh,

    In terms of financial redress; I think it would be fair for NewSpring to compensate the Duncans for their wasted adoption expenses, as well as any further financial burden that James Duncan can prove he endured as a result of the harassment. I’d bet that figure would be well short of $50,000. I haven’t seen any real proof that there was interference with the adoption, but it would still be the right thing to do.

    Seeking punitive damages (which is what the $3 million figure was, by the way) is simply not an option here. I understand that $3,000,000 was just an opening number, but it is still absurd, especially given that the millions would be coming from the tithes and offerings of NewSpring members who intended it to be used for ministry. Duncan made a big mistake when he turned his valid complaints of harassment into a bid for big bucks.

    But that doesn’t mean NewSpring can’t make things right.

  29. David J Horn Dec 11, 2009 4:36 pm

    Read this:

    PERRY NOBLE: APPEAL TO REASON USELESS by Ken Silva

    http://apprising.org/2009/12/perry-noble-appeal-to-reason-useless/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+apprising%2F2+%28Apprising+Ministries%29

    @perrynoble RT @RickWarren: If someone gets identity,income,or influence by mocking others,appealing to reason is useless.Prov 9:7-8,13:1,21:24,29:8 (Online source)

    If Noble has the time to Twitter etc… then the very least NS could do is correct their statement concerning this matter with Mr. Duncan.

  30. Paul Dec 11, 2009 7:55 pm

    Josh,

    I think you make excellent suggestions. Part of a heart of true repentance is an attitude to be reconciled and “make right” as best as possible any wrong that has been done.

    Duncan,

    I still do not believe Noble wants to be silent. I’m guessing at some point he’ll rant and rave in one of his “sermons” about the criticism he receives, and somehow make himself out to be a martyr instead of explaining and exegeting the text like a fiathful preacher is supposed to.

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