Rubio Maintains Lead but Cruz Gains in World's Evangelical Insider Survey

In this months survey, the gap between evangelical insiders in World’s poll and GOP survey respondents remains wide on Donald Trump. No participant in World’s survey chose Trump as first choice for president.
Ted Cruz gained ground and Marco Rubio remained first in the results.
As I noted yesterday, it worries me that support for Cruz is rising. His views lean toward the Christian dominionist wing of religion and that is just one reason I believe he cannot appeal to independents and moderates.
His governmental experience is very limited. He was elected to the Senate in 2013 and if elected will have been a Senator about as long as Barack Obama was before his first term. Republicans were rightly worried about Obama’s lack of experience in 2008. Cruz will face the same attacks from the left. In a time when fear seems to be prevailing emotion, Cruz’s thin resume’ does not inspire confidence.
Rubio has a bit more experience in the Senate but much more previous experience in state politics. Of the two, Rubio seems more electable. While he may hold similar positions as Cruz, he articulates them more frequently in general political terms rather than apocalyptic religious ones.
While I have not and probably won’t endorse a candidate until much later in the process, I know what concerns me and I know what I can’t endorse. Right now, Cruz falls into that category.

Gospel for Asia Is No Longer a Member of Independent Charities of America

 

From GFA's website (until 12/16/15)
From GFA’s website (until 12/16/15)The seal is gone.

The Seal is gone. 
I have confirmed that Gospel for Asia is no longer a member of Independent Charities of America. A representative of the company which manages memberships has indicated that GFA was denied membership last week. As of now, the Best in America Seal of Excellence touted by GFA has been removed from most locations on the GFA website (for some reason, it remains here at the time I wrote this).
I have not been able to learn what triggered ICA’s action. I do know that ICA was aware that the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability terminated GFA’s membership.
In October, I reviewed the ICA criteria for membership. It seemed to me at the time that GFA did not comply with several ICA standards.
One of the major standards used by ICA is approval by the Office of Personnel Management for participation in the Combined Federal Campaign. I have contacted OPM to inquire if GFA is still an approved charity.
UPDATE: Today a Maguire & Maguire representative alerted me that the reason GFA was denied membership was because they failed to turn in their 2014 audit and their modified 990 form as required by their membership standards. Maguire & Maguire provide management services for the Independent Charities of America.
 
 

Remembering the Prophecy About Mark Driscoll's New Church and Daddy Issues

In late October 2014, just after Mark Driscoll resigned at Mars Hill Church, he showed up at Robert Morris’ Gateway Church pastors conference. He was originally scheduled to speak at the conference but stepped away from the program as the troubles at Mars Hill became more difficult.
In one of the sessions, conference speaker (and apparent co-director of the new The Trinity Church in Phoenix) Jimmy Evans gave a prophecy about Driscoll. According a witness who wrote down the prophecy on an Instagram account, Evans told Driscoll:

You led a great movement as a brother, you will lead a greater one as a father, your later years will surpass your younger.

In a September 3 Q & A session at the Living Springs Grace Association conference in Phoenix, Driscoll provided more detail about the “word from the Lord.” Listen to Driscoll’s description in the first two minutes of this segment of the Q&A (Listen to the entire sermon by going to this amazing website).

Transcript of the first 1:35:

I was trying to make sense of everything that was going on and what I was to learn from it and I was sitting in a pastors conference with a bunch of charismatics and pentecostals because they tend to be the most encouraging and loving I’ve found. And so they invited me just to come and observe and learn and not teach but just to learn and so I was there at this large pastors conference and I’m sitting, you know, near the front row, and I’m just kinda on the verge of losing it all the time, emotional still, and this pastor gets up and says, well before I speak, I have a word for Mark Driscoll, and I was like, aw man, I do not want a word. I just want to sit here and be anonymous and not get the prophetic word. And so, he got up and gave a word that was a word from the Lord and it just cut me to the heart. And what he, the basic gist of what he said was, you left ministry as an angry older brother and you’ll return as a loving father.
And then he pulled me aside afterword in his Ford truck cause that’s where the Shekinah Glory dwells and the good stuff goes down. So we sat in his truck and he said, you started off as a guy who was angry with some bitterness and you attracted a lot of angry bitter young men with father wounds and they picked up on your tone of anger and bitterness.

The prophecy is different in this telling, no doubt influenced by the conversation with Evans in the Ford truck. If this is indeed the Gateway conference word from God, then Evans is helping to bring about his prophecy by partnering with Driscoll with this new venture in Phoenix.
The word of prophecy last October is important now that Driscoll has incorporated a new church apparently with the author of the prophecy. The tone and character of this church will probably be more charismatic and apostolic than Mars Hill. The fulfilling of this “prophetic word” appears to be on the horizon with Driscoll set to return as a spiritual father figure.
In fact, the narrative Driscoll has cultivated is that God has spoken specially to him to get him to this place. Just over a year ago, he was prepared to enter into his elders’ plan for restoration but left that behind because he said God spoke to him and released him from Mars Hill. Now, he returns to ministry as the fulfillment of additional revelation given to Jimmy Evans.
The rest of this audio provides some eyebrow raising commentary by Driscoll on what he perceives to be a massive father wound among young men in America. Driscoll refers to himself as a spiritual father and his wife Grace as a spiritual mother. At 45, he seems to view himself as old.
At 6:21, Driscoll said that he believes

…part of the gifting of apostolic ministry is spiritual parenting. It’s younger leaders looking up and saying that’s like a mom and a dad that I look to and learn from, and I find health and comfort and love under their leadership and in this family of people and churches we look to them in a parental way.

He added that such language can sound cultic if imposed on people. However, because of what he believes is a “massive father wound” in the culture, people learn to look to the pastor and his wife and as parental figures. The rest of his speech dwells on why young men follow “dead guys” like Wesley and Spurgeon. They want distant father figures who do not hold them accountable.
I think some Mars Hill elders might wonder if Driscoll is preaching to himself in the remaining minutes of that speech.
My reaction is that reparenting one’s congregation seems like a prescription for disaster. We have just about put behind us the notion that counselors should reparent clients, I don’t think such a stance should be encouraged among ministers.
In any case, this appeal in September to how he sees his return to ministry might give some clues about the tone and ministry of The Trinity Church. Perhaps, it should have been called My Father’s House or something like that.

News from the Alternative Universe: David Barton Builds Support for Ted Cruz in the Midwest

Bill_of_Rights_Pg1of1_AC
Public domain from Archive.gov

I confess I didn’t see this coming.
In August 2012, when Thomas Nelson pulled David Barton’s flawed book on Thomas Jefferson, I hoped that the event would cause some reflection among culture warriors about the Christian nation narrative that threatens our First Amendment freedoms. I thought debunking the extreme claims would cause reflection about the real heritage of our nation’s founders and the actual role of religion in that time period.
I now realize I was wrong.
If anything Barton now has more power to spread his alternative view of reality. An article in CNN yesterday drove that awareness home. In it, CNN cites a statement from Barton, who now manages Ted Cruz’s Super PAC.

“As Sen. Ted Cruz is rising in polls nationwide, we are excited to establish and build support for him,” said David Barton, the head of the super PACs, in a statement. “Americans know one of the strengths of our great nation is in the ideals held by Midwesterners.”

It is surreal that Barton is in the position to spend great sums of money to promote a presidential candidate who shares his alternative view of America. Let that sink in. As strange as it seems for me to write this, Cruz could win the nomination. If so, we could have a Christian reconstruction/seven mountains theological hybrid in the White House.
Christian historian friends, are you paying attention?
 

Update of Charity Review of Gospel for Asia Australia; Are GFAA and GFA Related?

Earlier this year, Ted Sherwood did a charity review of Gospel for Asia Australia. Recently, he updated it. As a part of the update, Sherwood evaluates a rather amazing claim made by an Australian association of Christian ministries called Mission Interlink. In essence, Mission Interlink claims that GFA Australia is independent of GFA in the U.S.
While technically accurate, it is clear from the evidence Sherwood supplies that GFA Australia wouldn’t exist if there was no GFA in the states or in India.
About Mission Interlink’s position, Sherwood wrote:

GFAA is a member of Missions Interlink, the closest we have in Australia to the ECFA:

Member use of the Missions Interlink logo implies high standards of governance and financial accountability, giving the Christian public assurance of their integrity[iii].

On 27 August 2015 I sent a link to my review to the National Director, Pam Thyer, suggesting that GFAA was in breach of one or more of their standards. On 3 December 2015, in response to my suggestion that donors should be alerted to GFAA’s misrepresentation when soliciting donations, Pam said that she had discussed the matters I raised in the review with GFAA and had concluded that ‘they do not contravene the MI Standards’.

Sherwood disagrees and provides evidence that GFA Australia is indeed in violation of some MI standards.

Furthermore, it is incredible that MI sees GFAA as separate from GFA. The only real reason GFAA exists is as a conduit to GFA in India. GFAA is sending money to GFA in India in ways that may or may not align with donor intent. Donors in Australia should be aware that their donations may be used to purchase or develop for profit businesses under the control of Believers’ Church.

Gospel for Asia's and Believers' Church's Lawsuit Against Google and Facebook Moved to District Court

Inexplicably, K.P. Yohannan is still claiming that Gospel for Asia and Believers’ Church won a defamation lawsuit which named Google and Facebook as defendants among many others. On the GFA website, Yohannan claims

The High Court thus issued a verdict, directing networking sites to remove and stop uploading any false information about Gospel for Asia and our various ministries. In addition, the High Court also had those who posted this misinformation arrested and the material they uploaded removed.

Yohannan’s web posting links to two articles in the Indian press (here and here) as evidence for his claims. However, as I pointed out previously, the articles don’t support Yohannan since they do not describe a verdict. Instead, the press articles report the initiation of a lawsuit against Google, Facebook and many others by Gospel for Asia in India and Believers’ Church. The case has not been, and probably won’t be, heard by the High Court.
Last week, the High Court transferred the case to District Court. Here is the court order:
GFALawsuitFacebook
 
A source in India told me that the case was sent to District Court (Saket District Court in Delhi) because the amount of damages claimed was too low to trigger the High Court’s involvement.  By statute, cases under 2 crore (about $300,000) are sent to a lower court.
A search of the High Court record reveals no injunction in the case so it is puzzling that Yohannan would claim a verdict when the case hasn’t been tried.
Here is another situation where what GFA says is at odds with information that is publicly available. I call on Yohannan to retract his claims or provide an explanation supported by evidence which can be verified.
UPDATE: A reader sent along a December 3, 2012 email sent by GFA (click the link to see the image) with K.P. Yohannan’s article “A New Type of Persecution” article as an update from K.P. Yohannan. It is the same as the article on the website and was touted to donors and mailing list members.  Apparently, this “news” was intended to help raise funds.

Petition Urges Gospel for Asia Board of Directors to Remove K.P. Yohannan

Former Gospel for Asia donor Jimmy Humphrey wants to send a message to the current board members at GFA. Humphey wants change at the giant mission organization and believes it should start at the top. Over the weekend, Humphrey started a petition at Change.org asking GFA’s board of directors to fire GFA’s founder and CEO K.P. Yohannan. In support of his petition, Humphrey wrote:

I originally discovered the ministry of K.P. Yohannan and GFA through listening to a sermon online, and was amazed at this ministry, and swayed powerfully by the presentation given by K.P. I was a supporter of multiple missionaries for just under a decade, and even gave some money to some various “emergency” situations to strike Asia. Now after recent discoveries, I wonder if the money ever made it into the hands of the people I gave towards. I want to give GFA the benefit of the doubt and believe nothing fraudulent happened, and that the ministry simply grew too big and too complex for the likes of K.P. Yohannan to run. But honestly, at the end of the day, I simply don’t know anymore. As a result, in good conscience I can no longer continue to give or support GFA. A change of leadership is in order.

The petition begins:

Recently it has come to light that the “Gospel For Asia” (GFA) missionary organization lost its “Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability” (ECFA) seal of approval and accreditation, due to numerous violations of the financial standards that the ECFA requires of its member organizations.  The ECFA is regarded as the “gold standard” in the Evangelical Christian community for non-profit organizations, that attests to the fidelity of its member organizations faithfully handling the charity of its donors, acting as wise stewards, in keeping with Christian conduct and the highest of financial accounting standards.

As a result of these violations and the losing of its ECFA accreditation, GFA has suffered severe public reproach, not only in Evangelical Christian circles, but also in the secular media.  The level of reproach brought upon GFA undermines the ability of the organization to carry out its mission, which is to ultimately spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout all of Asia, by training, equipping, and financially supporting native missionaries within each country that GFA operates.

Humphrey calls on the board to take over day to day operations of GFA:

In order to save GFA, we the undersigned call on the independent board of directors to either fire or place on leave the current leadership team of K.P. Yohannan, David Carroll, John Beers, and Danny Yohannan.
We urge the board to take control of the daily operations of GFA.

Click the link below to read the rest and sign the petition:
GFA PETITION
 
 
 

Note to Gospel for Asia: Indian Customs Also Requires Declaration of Aggregate Cash Transfers Over $10,000 (UPDATED)

Advisory: Due to questions presented by commenter JP below, I am investigating this issue again. There is no question that Gospel for Asia’s actions violated U.S. law but it is unclear to me now if GFA violated India regulations. I thought the form I attached below required declarations of aggregate amounts of cash over $10,000. Due to information brought by JP, I am not so sure as of 12/24/15. The information I have gotten is conflicting and so I contacted Indian authorities and will be report the results back here when I get an answer. Thanks to JP for raising the questions. Stay tuned…
……………………………………………….
Original post:
While Gospel for Asia has admitted that GFA groups traveling together to India violated U.S. law by taking aggregate amounts of cash over $10,000 out of the U.S. without customs declaration, little has been said about Indian law.
Those who carried cash to India were told they had $4500 in an envelope which was to be given to officials at Believers’ Church headquarters in Kerala. The $4500 in cash was under the limit for an individual traveler. However, since whole groups traveling together transferred more than $10,000 from GFA-US to GFA-India, someone in the group should have declared the total amount.
As it turns out, Indian law also requires declaration of cash if the total per transfer is over $10,000. This is clear on Indian customs forms which would have been filled out by those entering India. See the customs forms below and check item 10, subpoint ix.
Customs form 1
 
Customs form 2It is hard to imagine that frequent India travelers like K.P. Yohannan and other senior GFA leaders had not seen this form.
 

Mark Driscoll Listed as Director of Newly Incorporated The Trinity Church in Phoenix

The next big thing appears to be just around the corner.
Mark Driscoll is listed as a director of recently registered The Trinity Church in Phoenix, along with Randall Taylor and Jimmy Evans. The address is the same UPS store listed as the Mark Driscoll Ministries address (the church has a different box number):

Mark Driscoll Ministries
21001 North Tatum Blvd Ste 1630-527
Phoenix, AZ 85050

Click here for the Articles of Incorporation. According to the incorporation document, The Trinity Church will be a “Bible based Christian Church.” To these gentlemen, “Bible based” may not mean congregational. According to the articles of incorporation, there won’t be any members.
The same attorney, Steven Goodspeed, who incorporated Mark Driscoll Ministries, also incorporated The Trinity Church in Arizona at the end of November. Goodspeed also handled the sale of The Resurgence assets to Driscoll.
The Trinity Church Directors
 
 
Launch in January?

Christianity Today On the Release of Gayle Erwin's and ECFA's Reports on Gospel for Asia

Bob Smietana at Christianity Today has put together a great summary of both the ECFA and Gayle Erwin reports to the board of Gospel for Asia. I encourage readers to go read it.
Here are some highlights:
In the article, Smietana pointed out the misleading nature of GFA leaders’ communications with the ECFA, GFA board, and the donors.
From the article:

Despite running a ministry that collects hundreds of millions in donations, Yohannan appeared to be unaware of the basics of nonprofit management.

GFA appears to be cultivating a narrative which casts Yohannan and COO David Carroll as incompetent rather than deceptive.
In a first, Yohannan sent a note to Smietana saying he appreciated the GFA review. As I noted in my post about Gayle Erwin’s report, Yohannan did not appreciate Erwin’s candid report.
A scapegoat for Yohannan in his note to Smietana is the rapid growth of GFA. Remember, GFA was a charter member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. GFA has had access to ECFA materials and guidance for well over 30 years. GFA’s website is full of promises to be financially astute, still using the Independent Charities of America Seal. Blaming their growth is another way of passing the buck.
Smietana pointed out that Gayle Erwin was told to rewrite his report on the allegations from the GFA Diaspora.
Smietana pointed out that David Carroll told CBS 11News Dallas that GFA was kicked out of ECFA over minor infractions. Smietana contrasted that claim with the serious problems highlighted by the ECFA report.
Go take a look, there is much more.