On August 12, Andy Wood, incoming pastor of Saddleback Church, addressed in a tweet a growing chorus of voices calling on him to explain why he featured Mark Driscoll as a speaker at his leadership conference in May, 2021.
In the past I interviewed Mark Driscoll to help pastors learn from his mistakes. Since then additional controversy and pain has come out. My choice hurt and confused many people. I regret the pain, confusion & distraction this caused. I humbly apologize for my mistake and error
The reaction was quick and negative. Investigative reporter Julie Roys pointed out that she had posted devastating evidence of history repeating itself at Mark Driscoll’s new church before Driscoll spoke at Wood’s conference. Author Sheila Gregoire pointed out that Driscoll didn’t consider his behavior to be mistakes.
I also weighed in with my opinion and asked some questions.
Acts 29 said it in 2014 and more than 40 of them recently said it again to Christianity Today. Perhaps you could discuss why it was a mistake to platform Mark Driscoll. In other words, what did those elders find, why is that harmful in a leader and how can pastors avoid it?
I decided to follow up on the tweets by contacting A. Larry Ross Communications who I assumed was representing Wood and Saddleback. I asked Wood if he knew that Acts 29 had evicted Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from membershipm in 2014. I wondered if Wood knew Driscoll’s elders had investigated him, found him to be disqualified to be an elder and offered him a plan of restoration, all in 2014. Finally, if Wood knew those things, then why did he still believe platforming him was a good idea in 2021?
From A. Larry Ross, I received this answer to my questions yesterday.
We appreciate your questions and commitment to thorough journalism and the truth.
Andy stands by his original statement that he regrets his decision to platform Mark Driscoll at the Echo Leadership Conference. Currently, Andy is choosing not to respond to questions to prioritize and focus on his new role as Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church.
Apparently pastoring Saddleback will require so much focus that Rev. Wood will not be able to think about anything else. He won’t be able to think about his regrets, or why he regrets what he regrets, just that he regrets them. In fairness, he did say he is choosing not to respond, so perhaps he is able, just not willing.
In any case, it is important to note that any advantage Driscoll might have gained by being platformed by Wood in 2021 is essentially nullified by last week’s tweet and this statement released today.
In late July, I wrote here about an anti-critical race theory conference slated for September 24 in my hometown of Grove City, PA. After the CRT controversy at my college (Grove City College), this announcement wasn’t good news. What made it worse was the scheduled participation of Lost Cause advocate Jon Harris. As it turns out, Harris will not be able to speak at the conference due to a memorial service for a family member scheduled on the same weekend.
Another change in the good news category is that the conference is now homeless. Last Friday, I was informed by Andy Frey, pastor of First Baptist Church, Grove City, that their church will not host the conference. Early last week, I reached out to Pastor Frey and informed him of the issues raised in the July post as well as some new ones which have come up. He was unaware of that information and took the matter to his deacons. At their regular deacons meeting last Thursday evening, they voted unanimously to pull out of participation.
As of today, the conference organizers have not removed First Baptist from the conference website. Also, oddly, the organizers added Jon Harris’ pic back to the website with a caption explaining why he is not presenting.
Above, I mentioned new issues relating to Harris. Not only does Harris think highly of the Confederate South, he also has high regard for another white supremacist regime — Ian Smith’s white rule in Rhodesia. In a Gab posting, Harris waxed nostalgic about whites sticking up for their past against “the barbarian hordes.”In any case, the CRT conference is homeless for now. Lord willing, it will stay that way.
UPDATE (7/28) – Jon Harris announced today on his podcast that he will not be able to speak at the CRT conference due to a memorial service for a family member scheduled on the same weekend. I continue to hope that the organizers will reconsider having this conference.
UPDATE (8/12) – I was informed by Andy Frey, pastor of First Baptist Church, Grove City, that their church will not host the CRT conference described in this post. I reached to pastor Frey and informed him of the issues raise in this post as well as some new ones which have come up. He was unaware of what I raised and took the matter to his deacons. At their regular deacons meeting, the vote unanimous to pull out of participation.
…………………… (original post)
In September of this year, Rocky Springs Presbyterian Church (Harrisville, PA) plans to host a conference on critical race theory at the First Baptist Church in Grove City, PA. Given the speaker lineup, I don’t expect a fair treatment of CRT. I once attended First Baptist and hate to see it used as a site for a politicized show like this.
In any event, the main reason I write about the conference isn’t that more anti-CRT is coming to my town. I have yet to write about the fiasco that happened at my college over CRT. I do hope to visit aspects of that issue sometime soon.
The biggest problem I see is the platforming of Lost Cause advocate Jon Harris. Harris and his apparent alter identity “Joseph Jay” are full throated supporters of the Confederacy. According to Harris, the South had the moral high ground in the Civil War (or War Between the States as he calls it). Lost Cause history and theology view the South as the virtuous side which fought for traditional Christian values. The horrors of slavery are minimized and abolitionists are dismissed as liberals and atheists.
Blogger Bradly Mason did a thorough run down of Harris’ support for the Confederacy and the Lost Cause version of history in this Twitter thread. I will pick out a few items here, but if interested, you can get the full effect by consulting Mason’s thread and following the links he provides. A curious aspect to Harris’ support for the Confederacy is an apparent double life as a “Professor Joseph Jay.” Mason documents the details in the thread, but here is a summary.
In 2011, Harris wrote a paper for The Master’s Seminary titled: “Sacred Conviction: Biblical Authority and the Road to War in Antebellum America.” This paper is a thorough defense of the South as defender of Christianity and a rejection of what Harris casts as the ungodly North. The title of the first chapter is: “All [Northern] Ground is Sinking Sand.” On the first page, Harris lets Presbyterian minister and staunch defender of slavery James Henry Thornwell speak for him with this quote about the North and South in the Civil War:
In one word, the world is the battle-ground – Christianity and Atheism the combatants; and the progress of humanity the stake.
Harris initially denied it, but according to Mason, he later admitted that he wrote the paper. The Master’s Seminary professor Nathan Busenitz acknowledged that Harris attended the seminary briefly at the time the paper was written. Busenitz added that he was prohibited from disclosing Harris’ grade due to privacy laws. This same paper was then later published by Lost Cause publisher Shotwell Publishing in 2018 under the name of Joseph Jay. When the two documents are compared, they are indeed the same paper. Chapter headings are the same and the content is the same, word for word.
Either Joseph Jay plagiarized Harris’ work, or Harris published the paper under the pseudonym Joseph Jay. The latter seems likely since Harris recommends the book on his website. It gets more bizarre. On a Lost Cause radio show hosted by Confederate sympathizer Ed DeVries, Harris was interviewed as Professor Joseph Jay. So a lame pseudonym wasn’t enough, he had to impersonate a professor and move on to academic fraud.
The paper is revisionist history of slavery and the Civil War. According to Harris, a few quotes from Lost Cause historians telling us that the war wasn’t about slavery is supposed to prove his point. Harris fails to mention the statements of the slave states about why they seceded. He also fails to mention the Cornerstone speech of Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States of America.
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North, who still cling to these errors, with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics.
Harris/Jay also tells us that slavery wasn’t so bad. He/They side with Southern Presbyterian and slavery defender Robert Lewis Dabney (Note below that the paper and the book are almost identical).
Throughout the paper and book, Harris tells us the Confederacy was the noble cause and slavery was not that bad. Perhaps, he advises, it was even beneficial if you consider the spread of Christianity among the slaves.
At heart, the Lost Cause position is a denial of history and appears to be a denial of racism. This is a powerful deception for many White people. In my opinion, CRT hysteria among White evangelicals is a current symptom of this problem. In the face of the horror that is America’s racial history, I suppose it is natural to want to raise up psychological defenses. However, we cannot live in denial and walk in the light.
I certainly hope the two churches will consider canceling the workshop. If ever there was a town where CRT is not being taught in the schools, it would be Grove City. All a workshop like this will do is spread misinformation and create suspicion and division in the community. And certainly, we do not need any Lost Cause nonsense here or anywhere.
In Getting Jefferson Right, Michael Coulter and I include a chapter on Jefferson and slavery. Although Jefferson wasn’t the worst master, he allowed his task masters to treat slaves cruelly. He paid slave catchers to pursue runaway slaves, and he refused to provide freedom for his slaves when Virginia slave laws allowed it.
UPDATE (7/26): Despite being defended in an email by the conference organizer, Harris is now missing from the trio of speakers on the conference website.
I still hope the whole conference is scratched. Grove City is a small, mostly White town. My impression, based mostly on the reports of my children over the years, is that there is notable racism in the schools among students. Bringing in people who associate any efforts at racial equality with CRT and Marxism will only heighten negative stereotypes and prejudices. If anything, Rocky Springs and First Baptist should offer an anti-racism conference.
What a difference it would make if the PCA and Baptist churches would team up to repent of racism in the history of both denominations. Specifically, the PCA exists due to slavery and segregation. Tobin Grant lays it out in a 2016 article:
The PCA was primarily made up of churches who had opposed integration and civil rights. Its leaders openly stated that they were continuing the legacy of confederate churches. As in 1861, the PCA was going to keep the faith pure and free from liberalism.
Most of the PCA was in the deep south. A majority of Mississippi’s churches joined the PCA, giving it the greatest share of PCA’s congregations.
The narrative most commonly heard in PCA churches is that it formed to protect and keep the faith and avoid the slide into liberalism. But this is akin to the belief that the south seceded because of states rights: the southern states claimed they had a right to make their own laws, but they made this claim only because they were on the verge of losing slavery Likewise, the PCA formed to avoid liberalism, but this liberalism was defined as support for integration and racial equality.
Rather than host a conference criticizing anti-racism efforts, I think a PCA church might want to spend more time learning than teaching, repenting than condemning.
The Hindu has this report of raids on headquarters of K.P. Yohannan’s Believers Church.
Makes me wonder when the U.S. authorities are going to come calling on Gospel for Asia.
GFA says they have no legal ties with Believers Church but K.P. Yohannan is in charge of both groups. Also, for years, GFA sent money to Believers Church via front groups in India. They were finally caught doing that and lost their government registration in 2017 (as the Hindu article says).
This all started with a group of former staffers who dared to question what GFA did. I got involved in 2015. It has been downhill from there for GFA.
Yesterday, GOP voters in Maryland elected Michael Peroutka to be their standard bearer in November’s race for Attorney General. Long time readers of this blog might recall many articles here about Peroutka’s involvement with the racist League of the South. The League was one of the white nationalist organizations involved in the Charlottesville riots in defense of the Confederate statues there. They have a long history of racist demonstrations and agitation. One of the stated objectives which Peroutka has been quite vocal about is Southern secession. I have a load of info about him and his Institute on the Constitution here and here.
While there are quite a few posts that come to mind on the occasion of his primary win, this one came to mind first. Once when speaking at the League of the South annual convention, Peroutka closed his part of the program by asking the audience to stand for the “national anthem.” However, instead of singing the U.S. national anthem, he led the audience in a rousing rendition of “Dixie.”
Here is the video:
Peroutka has said he isn’t in the League anymore. He has repudiated racism and said he didn’t see racism while he was in the League. Well, if you believe that, maybe you’ll believe Dixie is the national anthem.
David Barton and friends have been traveling around the country on a post-COVID, pre-midterm election scare out the vote tour. Reporter Allen and the Daily News folks were on top of it. Allen noted that Barton’s 2012 book on Jefferson “was voted the least credible history book in print by the independent History News Network.” Oh, and Allen just happened to cite a certain blogger and his co-author, who opined on Barton’s The Jefferson Lies. What was it The Blogger and Michael Coulter said?
“Barton misrepresents and distorts a host of Jefferson’s ideas and actions, particularly his views and practices regarding religion, slavery and church-state relations,” they said in a co-statement.
As good as Allen’s article was, it could have gone a little deeper. I wish some enterprising reporter would do a deep dive into Barton’s fleeting claim to have an earned doctorate. Of course that turned out to be a big old story about as true as his NCAA basketball story.
In any case, readers in that part of the country have a little more of the story than people usually get when Mr. Barton shows up.
This looks like an interesting story going into the mid-term elections.
As the Republican party continues to deny the Big Truth (Trump did not win the 2020 election) and pretend the January 6 insurrection was a picnic, many conservative and moderate minded people will look for a third party. While many voted for Joe Biden, there is discontent with Biden and the Dems which may lead people to consider the Libertarians. For their part, there is lots of energy in that camp.
In their party convention held in Reno, NV recently, party offices were swept by members of the Mises Caucus. This group is led by Libertarians influenced by Murray Rothbard, Tom Woods, and of course, Ludwig von Mises, and seems to incorporate a more socially conservative element. For instance, the pro-choice plank was removed from the Libertarian platform as was the following language opposing bigotry:
We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant.
It is hard to say if this will make any difference in 2022 voting behavior. It could hurt Republicans by giving socially conservative voters a place to go besides the delusional GOP. It might hurt Democrats by taking away a few socially liberal voters into a party historically known for personal freedom and self-ownership.
In any case, I may be giving this issue more than a passing glance. There are some links with past work I have done. The Mises Caucus considers Ron Paul an elder statesment, if not a living saint. Ron Paul had a run for president a decade ago. At that time, he had some problematic endorsements of the theocratic variety. I noted the endorsement of Philip Kayser, who thought death a good end for gays, divorcees, etc., which didn’t help matters for Dr. Paul.
Will Paul rise again? Will there be a Libertarian strain of Christian Nationalism which will again rise up and influence the Christian right? The strange bedfellows may rise to sleep again.
For many years, Bill Hwang was a high flying donor for Ravi Zacharias’ ministry. He also was someone who Zacharias put in front of his audiences even though Zacharias knew Hwang had a checkered past. Now some more of those chickens may be coming home to roost. Watch:
U.S. authorities charged Archegos Capital Management owner Bill Hwang with racketeering, fraud and market manipulation as regulators said their manipulation of stock prices cost banks billions of dollars https://t.co/3mG3SZfF4mpic.twitter.com/y7yPs7MqW0
Sometimes a Twitter thread comes along that possesses a level of nuttiness that requires it be preserved. In addition, these threads capture the spirit of the times in such a way that few other expressions do. Here is such a thread.
The author is Josh Daws, host of the Great Awokening Podcast.
The entire thread can be read below by clicking the tweet. I will pull out a few of the 23 tweets for illustration. In short, Daws says teachers are using Critical Race Theory to make white kids feel guilty, then using Queer Theory to make them want to identify as gay or trans. Thus, teachers are really out to create revolutionaries and take kids away from parents; not to abuse them, but to make them into liberals, or something.
CRT instills in these students a negative self-identity as they're taught to believe they're recipients of enormous privilege that was stolen from others and that they are complicit in historic and ongoing injustice. In child terms, they're taught to believe they're bad. 5/23
And it goes on from there. Read the rest if you want to know what the Frightened Right is sharing with each other these days. It really is sad. I can’t imagine being that distrustful and scared of my fellow citizens who are trying to follow their calling as teachers.
Well, actually, I can imagine it. I never had the vivid imagination of Mr. Daws, but once upon a time in my 20s and 30s, I believed the public school was a temple to secular humanism. However, through a variety of circumstances, I faced facts. In our case, anyway, the public school was the moral and quality alternative to the local Christian school. I found teachers who were incredibly dedicated to helping my children achieve their potential.
Of course, there are a few bad actors. However, the current reformers who are scaring Christians into a frenzy want us to believe there is a conspiracy among public educators to steal our children and grandchildren. This is insanity.
For the most part, teachers are our family, neighbors and friends. They need the support of citizens in a good faith partnership for the good of children.