On the Debrief Show video blog with Matt Brown, Mark Driscoll told bloggers to blog so of course, I must. About what, you ask? Calvinism and the garbage that it is, according to Driscoll. Watch:
After saying Time magazine dubbed him one of the thought leaders of the “young, restless, and reformed” (YRR) movement, Driscoll added:
I don’t hold to the five points of Calvinism. I think it’s garbage, so blog about that, but anyways, because it’s not biblical.
It is my impression that Driscoll restated Calvinism in several ways over the years (e.g. here) to try to make it more acceptable so I don’t think this is a tremendous departure from the past. I will defer to Driscoll watchers to comment about Driscoll’s devotion to the five points. However, what is notable now is his dismissal of the system as “garbage.”
Even more interesting is Driscoll’s psychological analysis of his former YRR mates as “little boys with father wounds.” Calvin and Luther are father figures as is God. Calvin and Luther are “dead guys” who are distant like their earthly fathers. In a way, he provided an armchair explanation for why conversion could be viewed as a psychological experience rather than a spiritual experience. I wonder if he realizes he did that.
In any case, Driscoll left Mars Hill and told many people that he was ready to be a spiritual father — who we should revere apparently.
The rest of the program before and after the Calvinism disclosure is a rehearsal of the need for fathers and how one’s father image effects one’s God image. I might take it apart at a later time, but for now I have done my blogging duty.
Here in another life Driscoll discusses Calvinism and Arminianism. He named one of his sons after Calvin so at that time he was on team Calvin. In this sermon, he certainly didn’t think the five points were garbage. He agreed with them, albeit with a caveat on limited atonement.
Given that one’s view of God is related to one’s view of one’s earthly father, I can only guess that his view of his earthly father has changed.
In 2019, Gospel for Asia is celebrating 40 years in business. This comes the same year GFA settled a fraud lawsuit (Murphy v. GFA) for $37-million. The settlement was just finalized with about 26,000 claimants seeking just over $109-million. Not everybody will get what they donated but this shows that donors weren’t happy.
On their Patheos blog, an unnamed staff member wrote a glowing vanity piece about GFA founder K.P. Yohannan. I would like readers to compare that piece with an email from David Carroll to Yohannan from 2015. This email came to light during discovery in Murphy v. GFA. At issue in the case was the use of donor funds. Plaintiffs Garland and Phyllis Murphy contended that GFA didn’t use all donor funds as donors intended. As a part of fund raising, GFA made representations that the funds were all going to mission work and were urgently needed. The discovery process pulled back the curtain on GFA’s claims and found that the reality wasn’t always what they claimed.
The narcissism in this article is obvious. The blog is GFA’s and the person writing it is an anonymous GFA staffer and yet readers are expected to take the following statements at face value:
They, and others like them, can look back and stand in awe of how an Almighty God has blessed their ministries abundantly and beyond imagination.
I know a man exactly like that. His name is Dr. K.P. Yohannan. He is one of the humblest and most dedicated men I have ever known. Forty years ago, he responded to God’s call to minister to the millions of people in Asia. Little did he know that in 2019 he would be able to look back at the remarkable things the Lord did over the past 40 years.
By any objective assessment, GFA has not had such a good record since 2014. The organization has been embroiled in scandal, membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability was removed, they lost other symbols of financial integrity, they lost their registration as a charity in India, at least one of their schools in India closed due to financial problems, and they have to pay a $37-million settlement to donors. Yes, K.P. is a remarkable CEO.
Leaving aside the fact that GFA hasn’t had a great record of late, the picture presented is that GFA is taking all of that money using it to help the poor and needy. Since all of this is done for the Lord, surely there wouldn’t be any deception or double talk.
Now let’s pull back the curtain a bit.
In the fraud lawsuit, an email from Chief Operating Officer David Carroll to CEO K.P. Yohannan surfaced which presents a different picture. Here is the email.
Sir, I need to share with you where I am over this situation. I will try to summarize for brevity sake. We have a saying in our country: The numbers don’t lie. The published FC-6 reports show westerners that we have either sent money to the field raised for National Ministries and Bridge of Hope to fund the hospital and the corpus fund, or our FC-6 filings are filed wrong. Either way, this is a huge problem. It appears to those reading these that we might have been dishonest to the donors (fraud), or been dishonest to the Indian government, (a PR nightmare at least). Sister Siny’s report below will, in my opinion, do little to satisfy those who are printing out and analyzing our FC-6 reports. I am sorry for not expressing more confidence than this. I think we may have used money raised for National Ministries and Bridge of Hope for the hospital.
I think that India feels that we raise money and send it. I think that India feels that we raised money and sent it to them and they can legally use it any way they deem fit. I hope that I am wrong, but I am doubtful. I also don’t think that it is an intentional wrong, but if I am correct, it is a huge wrong. We’ve spoken at hundreds of churches with tears asking for the National Ministries and Bridge of Hope support, and the FC-6 that is public says that we sent much of that money for the hospital and the reserve corpus funds.”
“It doesn’t matter that we have now moved the money out of the corpus fund because according to the public FC-6 reports, we have been building them up for years. Moving the money only serves to confirm the feelings of guilt to outsiders.”
“I think the only way for us to handle the inquiries raised by Bruce and others is to refer them to our Indian office. Mr. Throckmorton (unless a miracle happens) will get this information and may even begin an investigation of us. We can say all we want that we don’t have anything to do with the Believers Church or the field and that you are only the
spiritual head of the church and that finances are handled by others but you, but as a practical matter, that will not hold up. Can the field find a way out of this situation? I too am very nervous. I have always believed in total accountability of the field, yet the FC-6 reports provide numbers that, as a former auditor, I cannot just explain away with a simple explanation. I, and the world, will need numerical proof now, and I do not have the ability to get it from the USA end. Only the field can explain it, and I am in the hot seat in this crisis and I feel a lot of pressure.
If I say, well, it is not my problem, it’s a field problem, it’s as good as saying we are guilty of misappropriation, If I say “The FC-6 reports are filed inaccurately on purpose, due to the hostile environments we work in, it gets the field in trouble and turns the attention to them. I get the feeling that, although we are not financially dishonest, we are financially reckless — the stockpiling of money in the RBC [Royal Bank of India] account
and then the hurried transferring of it to the field, the Hong Kong account, et cetera. Sir, may I please have my name taken off of the RBC account as soon as possible?”
There is much in this email which is inside baseball. One would need to follow this story closely to understand all of what Carroll is worried about. But note this: He is worried. He is worried because GFA was caught in misrepresentations and feared that Bruce Morrison from Canada and/or I would investigate the matter further to expose it all. And we did.
For the purpose of this post, I want to highlight one misrepresentation. K.P. Yohannan told people that he had nothing to do with finances in India, that he didn’t control anything financially there. However, here is what David Carroll said about that.
We can say all we want that we don’t have anything to do with the Believers Church or the field and that you are only the spiritual head of the church and that finances are handled by others but you, but as a practical matter, that will not hold up.
Carroll could see there was a problem with donor funds going into a corpus fund (a kind of rainy day fund) and being spent on a medical center and other projects instead of on what donors intended. Yet, GFA was officially denying all of this. Eventually, the ECFA removed GFA from membership when these discrepancies could not be cleared up.
GFA still hasn’t admitted publicly that anything was ever wrong. They haven’t been readmitted to ECFA membership. They were sanctioned by a federal judge for delaying discovery during their fraud trial. There isn’t an indication that anything has changed. For all we know, reality is still much different from what they are presenting.
One aspect of the fraud case settlement which might serve to bring GFA into the light is the addition of two new board members to GFA’s board. Plaintiff Garland Murphy and an unnamed person will be added. Provided GFA honors the intent of the settlement, there may be some light at the end of this tunnel. For now, the public would do well to discern reality from image.
You know you want them. Pastor Mark’s signed notes are essential evangelical merch. All you have to do is add your email to Pastor Mark’s email list and you can have a chance to own these authentic notes the research for which may or may not have been paid for by Mars Hill Church.
In the real world, if you fake your credentials or tell stories about your accomplishments, there can be consequences. In today’s evangelical subculture, Christian celebrities often avoid the fullness of these consequences. I could talk about Ravi Zacharias who passed off honorary doctorates as earned doctorates for many years and said he was a professor at Oxford when he wasn’t. He had to fess up and took a little heat over the matter, although arguably it hasn’t slowed him down much.
Today, I will examine a claim from David Barton. He seems even more immune from consequences than Zacharias. First, I want to note some cases similar to Barton’s which resulted in real consequences for people and then ask why Barton is above it all.
The Fake Statistician
Amy Apodaca was a statistician for the Army until it was learned that she faked both masters and doctorate degrees. Apodaca told the Army she had degrees from major universities including Yale. However, she only had a BA in sociology from U of TX in Austin. In 2014, Apodaca was forced to resign her job.
The Fake Professor
In 2014, David Broxterman was a popular professor at Polk State College in Lakeland, FL until officials discovered his doctorate was fraudulent. He claimed to have a doctorate from University of South Florida but did not. He was arrested and charged with stealing his salary since it was garnered until false pretenses.
Luggage C.E.O. Had to Pack His Bags
In 2018, Ramesh Tainwala was forced to resign as CEO at Samsonite because he referred to himself as “Dr.” when in fact he did not have an earned doctorate. Tainwala actually attended classes at the Union Institute in Cincinnati but did not complete the degree. He rarely used the Dr. designation and the company bio did not refer to a doctorate. Even so, the company took the allegations seriously and said in a statement that the resignation was in the best interest of the company and shareholders.
The Principal Busted by the School Paper
In 2017, Amy Robertson was going to be principal at Pittsburg (KS) High School. That is, she was until the school newspaper staff discovered her graduate degrees came from a diploma mill. Once this became known and accepted by the administration and school board, Ms. Robertson resigned.
On September 7 2016, self-styled historian and Project Blitz promoter David Barton placed a video on his Facebook and YouTube accounts proclaiming that he had an earned doctorate. He said he had chosen not to talk about it before, but he claimed he was now showing it to his audience. After I disclosed that the degree came from Life Christian University (which gives degrees to people without ever attending their diploma mill), Barton, the next day, removed the video from both accounts. Here is the video claim:
Barton began by chastising progressives for doubting his claim that he had a doctorate. He said he has two honorary doctorates and then for reasons that became clear later, he pointed to what he called his “earned doctorate,” but he didn’t say where he got it. He hid it behind another diploma. At the time, that seemed strange since there is no reason to hide an earned degree unless one has something to hide.
As it turned out, the diploma was given to him by Douglas Wingate, president of Life Christian University. Barton didn’t take any courses or go to any classes. Wingate’s diploma factory just gave it to him. In Missouri, a doctorate from Life Christian University issued like this can’t be called “earned” according to state authorities. Joyce Meyer had to remove the phrase “earned doctorate” from her website in connection to the piece of paper given to her by Wingate’s “school.”
Barton ended his bragging video with this sentence:
So for all of you critics, sorry to pop your balloon but I do have an earned doctorate.
However, the piece of paper that he kept partially hidden isn’t an earned doctorate. He appeared to know that because he hid it and took the video down as soon as it became known. Now what?
To my knowledge, Barton has never addressed this matter publicly. Only one Christian media outlet – UK’s Christian Today (not Christianity Today) wrote about it. Many people in Christian leadership know about this and about the compromised material in Barton’s speeches and books. And yet, Barton continues to show up in large evangelical churches like Gateway Church, on conservative talk shows like Ben Shapiro’s, and in major evangelical political initiatives like Project Blitz.
Barton also claimed to play Division One basketball while in college (his college said he was not on the team) and to translate for the Russian Olympic gymnastics team (they had their own translators). However, no significant Christian media investigation took place after those claims came to light. Nor did any of the Christian organizations which claim high standards of integrity take any action or require any answers.
Even without the media coverage, I am aware that many leaders in organizations like Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, American Family Association, etc. know the issues. And let’s not forget the fact that Barton’s book on Thomas Jefferson was pulled by Christian publisher Thomas Nelson. They have been made aware by their ideological fellows, and yet they continue to use Wallbuilders materials and feature Barton’s work. I don’t know if evangelicals on a large scale will ever figure out how they have been misled.
Apodaca, Broxterman, Tainwala, Robertson and Barton. One of these names is not like the others. Maybe four of them should have chosen evangelical Christianity as their area of endeavor. They might still be in business.
On this day in 1826, former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who were once fellow Patriots and then adversaries, die on the same day within five hours of each other.
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were friends who together served on the committee that constructed the Declaration of Independence, but later became political rivals during the 1800 election. Jefferson felt Adams had made serious blunders during his term and Jefferson ran against Adams in a bitter campaign. As a consequence, the two patriots and former friends fell out of touch. Mutual friend and Philadelphia physician Benjamin Rush hoped to bring the men back together. Rush was on good terms with both Adams and Jefferson and after the end of Jefferson’s second term, endeavored to help them bridge the distance. In his letter to Adams on October 17, 1809, Rush used the device of a dream to express his wish for Adams and Jefferson to resume communications. This letter is part of a remarkable sequence of letters which can be read here. In this portion, Rush suggests his “dream” of a Jefferson-Adams reunion to Adams.
“What book is that in your hands?” said I to my son Richard a few nights ago in a dream. “It is the history of the United States,” said he. “Shall I read a page of it to you?” “No, no,” said I. “I believe in the truth of no history but in that which is contained in the Old and New Testaments.” “But, sir,” said my son, “this page relates to your friend Mr. Adams.” “Let me see it then,” said I. I read it with great pleasure and herewith send you a copy of it.
“1809. Among the most extraordinary events of this year was the renewal of the friendship and intercourse between Mr. John Adams and Mr. Jefferson, the two ex-Presidents of the United States. They met for the first time in the Congress of 1775. Their principles of liberty, their ardent attachment to their country, and their views of the importance and probable issue of the struggle with Great Britain in which they were engaged being exactly the same, they were strongly attracted to each other and became personal as well as political friends. They met in England during the war while each of them held commissions of honor and trust at two of the first courts of Europe, and spent many happy hours together in reviewing the difficulties and success of their respective negotiations. A difference of opinion upon the objects and issue of the French Revolution separated them during the years in which that great event interested and divided the American people. The predominance of the party which favored the French cause threw Mr. Adams out of the Chair of the United States in the year 1800 and placed Mr. Jefferson there in his stead. The former retired with resignation and dignity to his seat at Quincy, where he spent the evening of his life in literary and philosophical pursuits, surrounded by an amiable family and a few old and affectionate friends. The latter resigned the Chair of the United States in the year 1808, sick of the cares and disgusted with the intrigues of public life, and retired to his seat at Monticello, in Virginia, where he spent the remainder of his days in the cultivation of a large farm agreeably to the new system of husbandry. In the month of November 1809, Mr. Adams addressed a short letter to his friend Mr. Jefferson in which he congratulated him upon his escape to the shades of retirement and domestic happiness, and concluded it with assurances of his regard and good wishes for his welfare. This letter did great honor to Mr. Adams. It discovered a magnanimity known only to great minds. Mr. Jefferson replied to this letter and reciprocated expressions of regard and esteem. These letters were followed by a correspondence of several years in which they mutually reviewed the scenes of business in which they had been engaged, and candidly acknowledged to each other all the errors of opinion and conduct into which they had fallen during the time they filled the same station in the service of their country. Many precious aphorisms, the result of observation, experience, and profound reflection, it is said, are contained in these letters. It is to be hoped the world will be favored with a sight of them. These gentlemen sunk into the grave nearly at the same time, full of years and rich in the gratitude and praises of their country (for they outlived the heterogeneous parties that were opposed to them), and to their numerous merits and honors posterity has added that they were rival friends.
With affectionate regard to your fireside, in which all my family join, I am, dear sir, your sincere old friend,
I don’t think Rush had an actual dream.* He may have used the dream narrative as a clever device to prod his friend into reconciliation with Jefferson. On more than one prior occasion, Rush communicated his views to Adams via writing about them as dreams. For instance, Rush responded to a political question from Adams in a February 20, 1809 letter via a dream narrative. Adams responded on March 4, 1809 (the same day Jefferson’s second term ended) praising Rush’s wit and asked for a dream about Jefferson:
Rush,—If I could dream as much wit as you, I think I should wish to go to sleep for the rest of my Life, retaining however one of Swifts Flappers to awake me once in 24 hours to dinner, for you know without a dinner one can neither dream nor sleep. Your Dreams descend from Jove, according to Homer.
Though I enjoy your sleeping wit and acknowledge your unequalled Ingenuity in your dreams, I can not agree to your Moral. I will not yet allow that the Cause of “Wisdom, Justice, order and stability in human Governments” is quite desperate. The old Maxim Nil desperandum de Republica is founded in eternal Truth and indispensable obligation.
Jefferson expired and Madison came to Life, last night at twelve o’clock. Will you be so good as to take a Nap, and dream for my Instruction and edification a Character of Jefferson and his Administration?
More substantial evidence for questioning whether Rush reported an actual dream is the existence of a draft of this letter which demonstrates that Rush considered another literary device for his prophecy. A footnote in Lyman Butterfield’s compilation of Rush’s letter explains:
In the passage that follows, BR [Benjamin Rush] made his principal plea to Adams to make an effort toward reconciliation with Jefferson. That pains were taken in composing the plea is shown by an autograph draft of the letter, dated 16 Oct. in Hist. Soc. Penna., Gratz Coll. In the draft BR originally wrote, and then crossed out, the following introduction to his dream history: “What would [you omitted] think of some future historian of the United States concluding one of his chapters with the following paragraph?” The greater verisimilitude of the revision adds much to the effectiveness of this remarkable letter. (Butterfield, L.H., The Letters of Benjamin Rush, Vol. II, 1793-1813, Princeton Univ. Press, 1951, p. 1023)
The evidence shows that Rush considered at least two options to get across his message of reconciliation: a dream or an appeal to a future history book. He first wrote about the history book, then he chose a more creative device, one which he had already used in letters to Adams and which Adams had actually requested in March of that year.
A Dream again! I wish you would dream all day and all Night, for one of your Dreams puts me in spirits for a Month. I have no other objection to your Dream, but that it is not History. It may be Prophecy. There has never been the smallest Interruption of the Personal Friendship between me and Mr. Jefferson that I know of. You should remember that Jefferson was but a Boy to me. I was at least ten years older than him in age and more than twenty years older than him in Politicks. I am bold to say I was his Preceptor in Politicks and taught him every Thing that has been good and solid in his whole Political Conduct. I served with him on many Committees in Congress in which we established some of the most important Regulations of the Army &c, &c, &c
Jefferson and Franklin were united with me in a Commission to the King of France and fifteen other Commissions to treat with all the Powers of Europe and Africa. I resided with him in France above a year in 1784 and 1785 and met him every day at my House in Auteuil at Franklins House at Passy or at his House in Paris. In short we lived together in the most perfect Friendship and Harmony.
Although in a less poetic manner, Rush also wrote Jefferson to suggest a resumption of friendship with Adams. It took awhile (1812), but Adams and Jefferson did resume contact. As predicted by Rush, they carried on a vigorous correspondence until late in their lives regarding their personal and political views. Then 50 years after July 4, 1776, Jefferson and Adams “sunk into the grave nearly at the same time, full of years and rich in the gratitude and praises of their country…”**
*Christian nationalists often point to this story as an illustration of a supernatural event. For instance, David Barton says that Rush had a dream which God brought to pass in a manner similar to those in the Bible. If Barton knows about Rush’s rough draft of this letter, he doesn’t disclose this information to his readers. He doesn’t also consider the fact that Rush often used the word dream to describe his thoughts about other issues.
Clearly, the accuracy of what Rush predicted is uncanny and from a reformed vantage point represents the working of providence. However, the processes seemed to be quite natural in that Rush thought a lot about his friends and worked behind the scenes to make the reunion happen. Given the early chemistry of Adams and Jefferson, their later relationship could reasonably be expected. The spooky part is their common day of death.
David Barton spent an hour or so with Ben Shapiro on The Daily Wire recently and one of the topics was The Jefferson Bible. As Barton likes to say dramatically, Jefferson edited the gospels twice in his life. One of those versions we have today which is often called the Jefferson Bible. However, as Jefferson made clear in his correspondence, the two efforts were part of lifelong process to find what Jefferson considered to be the true teachings of Jesus. He made two efforts, one hastily done in the White House, and one more carefully later in life.
In any case, at 32:28 below Barton starts his narrative about The Jefferson Bible. Watch:
Barton told Shapiro nearly the same false story he told Eric Metaxas when he appeared on Metaxas’ show in 2016. I did a debunking of that story then with links to additional debunkings. You should go check it out.
Did Jefferson’s 1804 Version Include Just The Red Letters?
Let’s just take one claim. Barton told Shapiro that in his 1804 version of The Jefferson Bible, Jefferson cut out all of the words of Jesus — “the red letters” and included them in the compilation. This is false. First, we can’t be 100% sure what was in the final bound version because no copy has survived to this day. Only the version done sometime after 1820 has survived. When Barton asks people if they have ever read either version, he knows they can’t have read the 1804 effort because a copy doesn’t exist.
The reason we have some confidence about what was in it is because Jefferson’s outline for what he wanted to include has survived as have the Bibles he used to cut out those verses from the Gospels. Thus, Jefferson’s extracted Gospel can be reconstructed. The most rigorous reconstruction has been done by Dickinson Adams and published in Jefferson’s Extracts from the Gospels. Barton is aware of this work and knows about Jefferson’s tables. He knows that Jefferson did not intend to include the red letters of John 3:16, John 14:6 or the resurrection of Christ. There is no feeding of the 5,000. Jesus doesn’t walk on water in Jefferson’s version. His red lettered exhortation to “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid” is not to be found in Jefferson’s extraction. Jefferson’s 1804 version ends with John 19:30:
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished.’ and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost.
There is no resurrection or Great Commission in either of Jefferson’s extractions.
I covered Barton’s claims about The Jefferson Bible in my book with Michael Coulter, Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims About Our Third President and included the tables Jefferson constructed to guide his extractions. I have included links to the three images here. If a verse is listed, Jefferson intended to extract it for use in his version of the Gospels.
As anyone can see, these passages leave out almost all of the miracles of Jesus and many of His words. Barton is simply wrong to say that Jefferson took all of “the red letters” and compiled them in a volume. In several letters to friends, Jefferson described his project and said he could discern the actual teachings of Jesus from those added by his followers. He said picking the actual words and teaching was as simple as “plucking diamonds from a dunghill.” This he said to John Adams in 1813 about that 1804 version:
I have performed this operation for my own use, by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and arranging, the matter which is evidently his, and which is as easily distinguishable as diamonds in a dunghill. The result is an 8 vo. of 46. pages of pure and unsophisticated doctrines, such as were professed and acted on by the unlettered apostles, the Apostolic fathers, and the Christians of the 1st. century.
I have covered the other claims elsewhere but I hope this is enough to show that Barton is making things up in direct contrast to the evidence. He has been doing this since at least 2011.
In addition, the claim that Jefferson was inspired by a sermon to give this compilation to Indians is false as well. The sermon says nothing about giving just the words of Jesus to native people. Even one of Barton’s own collaborators, Mark Belilies, admitted that to me. Nonetheless, Barton continues telling the same stories.