The story of Jordan Root and Karen Hinkley, and The Village Church of Matt Chandler. A story of a woman married to her pedophile husband and the church that tried to put her in discipline while claiming Jordan was “walking in repentance” Its a story of Neo-Calvinism mirroring fascism and church discipline, membership covenants run amuck.
“Karen was placed under church discipline because she filed for an annulment after Jordan’s confession of pedophilia and withdrew her church membership. (TVC has yet to accept her membership resignation.) Jordan was not placed under church discipline. The *sin that Jordan has confessed to, use of child pornography, is defined as a crime. Why won’t The Village Church call it that?”
Amy Smith’s Question to The Village Church
“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”
Proverbs 28:13 NIV
“In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act”
I really wanted to tackle Mark Driscoll’s return to preaching. But the situation that erupted at The Village Church in Dallas/Ft Worth so disturbed me that I want to focus on that instead. Let me state that before I journal my thoughts there is something I want to convey. The author of this article understands and empathizes with what the Chandler family has gone through in regards to a brain tumor. My own father, who spent three decades treating them as a Neurosurgeon was stricken by a grade 3 tumor in 2012. The doctor’s originally gave him a three year window. Today his tumor is in remission but he still undergoes MRI scans at Stanford every couple of months. Each time he has his MRI scan its an emotional roller coaster ride for my family. So I empathize deeply with the Chandler family. Here is what The Wartburg Watch is saying, Matt Redmond as well as Spiritual Sounding Board on this situation. This is going to be a very stinging critique of a whole host of issues regarding The Village Church, Jordan Root, and their treatment of Karen Hinkley. My heart grieves with Karen and I am in awe of her bravery and courage. I stand with and support her. Toward the end of this post I also want to give Matt Chandler some options to consider, and outs for him as I still believe he has a lot of potential. A man’s soul is tried not when life is comfortable but in crisis and adversity. In this season of The Village Church we will get a window into the soul of Matt Chandler and its leadership by how they react to this situation. Unlike the situation with Mark Driscoll, and CJ Mahaney hopefully Matt Chandler will act like a man and not flee but own the mistakes and work at correcting them. As I will hopefully explain if he does that he can redeem this mess. If not then he will be another nail in the corrupt, decadent system that is called Neo-Calvinism.
Before I continue I am wondering if Matt Chandler, Steve Hardin or Trevor Joy can pass a word to Jen Wilkin. I believe she attends the Flower Mound campus. After the Newtown shootings in December 2012 Jen Wilkin wrote a post at The Gospel Coalition called “A Day of Hatred” where when speaking of Adam Lanza Jen writes, “I have not pulled a trigger, but I have harmed my share of victims. The killer lies dead, but I live on to harm again.” I suggested this at Wartburg Watch, and I suggested at Jen’s post at the Gospel
Corporation, whops I mean Coalition and I will suggest it again here in light of the Jordan Root story. If Jen Wilkin is capable of harming another person on the same scale of Adam Lanza, meaning she can walk into an elementary school and go on a shooting rampage, can I suggest she turn herself into the Dallas/FW Police immediately. I don’t want to hear about another massacre committed by someone in total depravity. I don’t want to be journaling about the problem of evil as I spent half my thirties raging against it.
Matt Chandler has been the darling of the Neo-Calvinists and as we all know the Reformed Industrial Complex continues to roll forward. In the spirit of the Reformed Industrial Complex I decided to name this post after Matt Chandler’s 2012 book called “The Explicit Gospel” as nothing could be more appropriate in light of what I read about Jordan Root and Karen Hinkley. There are a number of issues that I want to dive into that deeply concern me. If this is the behavior that many churches think is “normal” and “healthy” and “Gospel Centered” then I think it shows how far off Christianity has drifted. Even worse I have known people running around clinging to Matt Chandler almost as if he’s the fourth member of the trinity. And just like John Piper I would suggest that there is a personality cult that has arisen in a group of people who follow and worship Matt Chandler. One of the biggest downfalls of Neo-Calvinism is that you have made celebrity pastors idols and you are worshipping the pastor instead of the Lord. These documents that I read at Amy Smith’s website contained the densest Christianise I have ever encountered. Many evangelical Christians have their own language but the language in the Village Church communications was in a league of their own. I almost needed a translator just to be able to read the documents in English. The documents revealed as to how one sect is actually living in a bubble to where their communication has become so obtuse, so difficult to comprehend that Christians outside the Village Church had trouble reading it.
Mark Driscoll’s DNA? How healthy is Acts 29?
One thing that stuck out at me as I read about the story of Jordan Root and the way The Village Church treated him, and the way it treated Karen is that I realized that Acts 29 still has an STD. That STD is a “Spiritually Transmitted Disease” that remains in the name of Mark Driscoll. Its obvious as I read the details that women are barely human and don’t have a word or much of any rights at all. Even in the face of someone like Jordan Root who engaged in illegal criminal activity (more to say about that below…) the woman has little to no rights. Not only is this complimentarism on steroids but it shows the biggest flaw in that line of thinking. What do you do when your husband is engaged in criminal activity? Here is the reason why I am wondering about the spiritual health of Acts 29. This happened at ground zero for the Acts 29 movement. I was impressed when Matt Chandler gave Mark Drisocll the boot and kicked him out but this behavior still shows how Mark Drisocll’s DNA is still coating the system. Furthermore this behavior that happened at ground zero of Acts 29 leaves me to wonder if this behavior is but scratching the surface. Are there other situations going on that The Village church is complicit in covering up and hiding? Since this is happening at ground zero is this culture duplicating itself at Acts 29 church plants in states like Nevada, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma? This issue shows the problems in the culture of Acts 29. Its this reason why I am hoping that after filing a RICO lawsuit against Mars Hill Seattle that Rob Smith will focus on the Acts 29 issue and purge and deal with the legacy of Mark Driscoll’s DNA. Cultural issues are not changed overnight – if at all. This is previously the reason why I had a hard time believing or accepting people from Sovereign Grace churches that were carved out of Covenant Life Church who proclaimed “my church is different” when CLC was ground zero for the corruption of Sovereign Grace. BTW…Matt Chandler I have a question…is this why you stayed silent on the child sex abuse in Sovereign Grace and refused to speak out and confront CJ Mahaney? I mean if the church and network you lead is trying to discipline a law abiding woman while saying a guy addicted to child pornography is “walking in repentance” does that explain why you were silent about the abuse in children and their cover up within Sovereign Grace Ministries? Or is the root of this behavior a deep and fatal flaw of Neo-Calvinism in that it is nothing but determinism? God has foreordained and created Jordan Root to be a child pornography addict and since the Lord has willed it then one should submit and reporting it to the police is sin. After all in that train of thought going to the police is rebellion against God since the Lord is “sovereign” in that manner and method. If that is the case than I would say that line of determinism and thinking of Neo-Calvinism is more Islamic in its approach and belongs in a Sunni Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan or Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Membership Covenants…a New Form of Slavery?
Baptists split in the years preceding the Civil War and the factor in that split was slavery. Some Baptists believed that slavery is “Biblical” at the time and it was okay and right to own another human being. This is how the Southern Baptists were founded. In light of what I read at Amy Smith’s blog and the correspondence between Steve Hardin and Karen Hinkley, it becomes clear to me that Steve Hardin still believes that he can own another person and that Karen is nothing but property. In Steve’s eyes Karen is nothing but property of The Village Church. On the Village Church plantation Karen is to report but instead of picking cotton she is to blindly submit to a pastor drunk on authority who is greedily reaching for more Kool-Aid while returning this segment of the SBC back to its roots in slavery. This authority borders on being cult like, highly questionable and un-Biblical. I almost became a Mormon in college years ago, one of the challenges is that many people who want to leave Mormonism cannot. The church won’t let them leave, or their family will be destroyed by someone who do leaves, thus forcing some to stay to preserve their family. Steve Hardin and The Village are largely duplicating the cult like behavior of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Not only that but Karen’s efforts at getting an annulment show that she is in “sin” and instead she should submit to Jordan Root? Steve Hardin I have a question during this time did you order or command Karen to have more sex with Jordan? Do you honestly think that would have cured Jordan’s interest in pre-pubescent 4 year old girls? Steve Hardin according to your biography at The Village website it appears you have three daughters. Those three daughters are Grace Ann, Hannah, and Hill. Steve Hardin would you have wanted your daughters to be treated in the same way you treated Karen? Do you think the way you treated Karen was right? Or healthy? Did you respect her boundaries? What would you do Steve Hardin if Grace Ann was married one day to a man who got sexually aroused at the thought of 4 year old pre-pubescent girl? Your behavior Steve Hardin illustrates how Neo-Calvinism is toxic and that you are Lording over Karen in the same way your ancestors probably Lorded over an African American on a plantation in the south. What is deeply disturbing is that you can or will not let a 29 or 30 year old woman walk away from the church. You can not treat her like a full bodied and responsible member of society. Instead you have to treat her like a 4 year old child. Do you honestly believe God is glorified by your behavior? Do you honestly believe that God is glorified by how you treated Jordan? A man who is sexually attracted to 4 year old females being sexually abused and yet you take Jordan’s word give him full benefit of the doubt and then threatened Karen with church discipline, and question her motives? Good God! Not only is that backward but that is a disgrace. It illustrates why many evangelicals are in denial about the problem of child sex abuse. Steve Hardin, Matt Chandler, Matt Younger and every member in leadership at The Village hear me out as I say this…every member who walks through the door of The Village Church is precious. They are priceless, valuable and good as gold. They are not property and they are not your personal ATM. They are also not your own personal ticket to a comfortable middle class lifestyle. Too many pastors feel a sense of entitlement. Instead those who walk through the doors at The Village are sheep that the Lord commands you to respect and love. The Lord’s sheep are not to be harmed. You have abused your authority and you have revealed the problems of Neo-Calvinism, and 9 Marks; and you have never learned from the mistakes of Sovereign Grace. Instead your are duplicating those mistakes. Actually I would go farther in saying that many evangelicals have never learned from the pedophilia cover up in the Roman Catholic faith. This situation at The Village church is quite telling in that area.
Furthermore in the fact that Steve Hardin believes that he can go after Karen Hinkley for church discipline after she annulled her marriage illustrates how amuck and jacked up Neo-Calvinists are about church discipline. Its even uglier when you consider that Neo-Calvinists who come down on people like Karen like a hammer on tissue paper then turn around and let many Neo-Calvinists leaders engage in allegedly criminal or questionable activity and get a pass. What does that mean exactly? CJ Mahaney can blackmail Larry Tomczak, drive him from the organization, allegedly engage in cover up of child sex abuse in SGM and then he can flee discipline and run into the warm inviting arms of Mark Dever at Capital Hill Baptist and flee Covenant Life Church. He can hide behind Mark Dever’s skirt. Now that’s being a man! Meanwhile Mark Driscoll who was all about authority and discipline in Seattle ended up fleeing from Seattle and leaving a mess in his wake. It makes me wonder… in the spirit of Neo-Calvinism is Matt Chandler going to be next? Is he going to flee like CJ Mahaney or Mark Driscoll? If he does flee is that foreordained by God in his sovereign nature? This is a huge part of the reason why I respect and deeply admire Dee Parsons and Deb Martin. Those two women in North Carolina…have more courage, integrity, leadership skills, and yes – balls – than men like CJ Mahaney and Mark Driscoll.
Does The Village Church Believe that Child Pornography is a Crime?
When it comes to regular adult pornography no one is being coerced to engage in sexual activity. Instead it is two consenting adults who are willfully engaging in sexual activity with each other by choice. They are adults making their own decisions. I don’t think my description can be any more clearer. I’m not saying its healthy, nor good but it is made by choice between two consenting adults. Now child pornography is different. Child pornography is much, much different. Child pornography is coerced, violent, and pornography that is done against a person’s will. Child pornography is child sex abuse. Can a 4 year old make a conscious decision to engage and perform in pornography? No in all likelihood a four year old probably does not even know what sexual activity is at that age. When a four year old is involved in child pornography she/he is coerced and forced into the abuse. Child pornography is not a victimless crime..its not the same thing as a teenager sneaking on a computer late at night to look at regular adult porn or an adult looking at regular porn on their Android or I-phone. Now hear me out again…I am not saying that is good, but I am saying that they are two different things. Now here is the other thing that deeply disturbed me when I read the correspondence by Steve Hardin. It appeared as if Steve Hardin does not know that child pornography is illegal and a crime. And The Village Church under Matt Chandler’s leadership is required to report the situation to law enforcement within 48 hours according to Texas law. Here is what the Texas statute says, “The requirement to report under this section applies without exception to an individual whose personal communications may otherwise be privileged, including an attorney, a member of the clergy, a medical practitioner, a social worker, a mental health professional, and an employee of a clinic or health care facility that provides reproductive services.” Furthermore I would also contend that as Christians we are called to render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and render unto God what belongs to God. Likewise we who call ourselves Christians are also to submit and follow the law in accordance to what Paul writes in Romans 13. SIM followed the law and gave glory to God in how they handled the situation with Jordan Root. The Village Church as led by Matt Chandler committed an all time epic fail of Biblical proportions. Then to add insult to the situation while they give a pass to someone mired into child pornography they threaten a law abiding citizen who follows the letter and the spirit of the law with church discipline. This is another case of modern evangelicalism not knowing what repentance is. If Jordan were walking in repentance that would mean he would also accept the consequences of his illegal activity. Repentance is one of those things you kind of know it when you see it. If you want to see an example of repentance can I recommend you read this story about Eric Smallridge in Florida?
Did The Village Church Silence the Dallas Morning News?
It is my understanding that the Dallas Morning News was originally to break the story of Jordan Root and the subsequent cover up by The Village Church. The Dallas Morning News had all the documentation, interviewed Karen Hinckley, and the investigator reporter worked at putting together the story. Then the investigator contacted The Village for a statement and the story suddenly went cold and the Dallas Morning News decided not to run it. There are a couple of possibilities as I analyze this situation, especially with the print media dying. One possibility could be that The Village Church had a member or members of a large corporation or business in the Dallas FW area who called the Dallas Morning News and threatened to pull advertising funding if the story ran. The Dallas Morning News could have been silenced that way. Another possibility is that the Village Church had a member or two who worked in the Dallas Morning News who used their influence to derail and downplay the situation. Either way if that did happen I have a question for The Village Church. Do you honestly believe that you can cover up and hide sin? Have you read your Bible lately? Can I recommend reading your Bible more and Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, and Wayne Grudam less? Ever heard the story of David and Bathsheba? Its in 2 Samuel 11. Could David hide and cover up his sin with Bathsheba? No he could not. Does the Village Church honestly believe they can cover up this sin of Jordan Root? Since you are reading this journal posting on the internet from someone in the Washington, D.C. area how is that cover up doing?
What Matt Chandler Needs to do
When I was in my faith crisis for half my thirties I raged about how Christianity is a cancer. I honestly believed that society would be better served had Christianity not existed. My agnosticism/atheism even drew me to the largest atheist rally in United States history here in Washington, D.C. While immersed in the agnostic/atheism culture I was amazed as to how many atheists were former Christians driven from the faith due to corruption, questionable church practices or the inability for them to intellectually be engaged. But churches that cover up child abuse and engage in entirely questionable activity has driven many a people away from Christianity and into atheism. Honestly I can’t say that I blame them at all. The greatest threat to Christianity today comes not from the way the United States is re-defining marriage, or atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris or others. No…the greatest threat to Christianity today is internal and it comes from men like Mark Driscoll, CJ Mahaney, and churches that engage in illegal activity and cover up their sin. In the process I would say that The Village Church under Matt Chandler has betrayed everything that the Gospel has stood for. Plus The Village Church has also betrayed itself in this behavior.
Neo Calvinism is a corrupt, decadent movement that has brought more harm than benefit. Its brought scandal after scandal and its justified atheism for many people in atheism. Churches are foolish if they honestly believe they can cover up sin. Yet I want to be frank and give Matt Chandler an opportunity, or a way out. I am not a Neo-Calvinist, not even close, but I still believe that Matt Chandler has potential. To date many of the celebrity pastors have not repented of anything. Mark Driscoll has not repented to Paul Petry, Bent Meyer, Rob Smith and countless others. CJ Mahaney likewise has also been an epic failure as a man in that he ran – first to hide behind Mark Dever, and then he ran again to Louisville. I was impressed when Mark Driscoll was given the boot by Acts 29. I was not expecting to see that happen at all. Evangelicals do a damn fine job of creating a mess but a terrible one of cleaning one up. And that is what Matt Chandler, Steve Hardin, and Matt Younger are sitting on. For the first time in Neo-Calvinism you can actually have a church that repents, owns its mistakes and handles the situation with the respect it deserves. Not only that but I would be impressed and personally I would not mind being proven wrong. Mistakes are opportunities, I learned that in my faith crisis. So with that I am asking for Matt Chandler and The Village to act like men and do the right thing. Confess, come clean, and admit your mistakes. Let Karen Hinkley leave in peace and work at mending the pain you caused her. Look out for her reputation, care for her not in a cultic way, but own your mistakes. If you placed pressure on the Dallas Morning News, renounce it. Say you screwed up. All people want to hear today is an apology, a confession, some sincere remorse and working to resolve the situation. Many people in Sovereign Grace wanted to hear CJ Mahaney repent for covering up child sex abuse and for how he treated many of them in the process. If Mahaney had repented the families would have accepted it and never filed a lawsuit. Are you listening to me Matt Chandler? Steve Hardin? Matt Younger? Many people in Seattle long to see Mark Driscoll repent. Honestly I have to raise the question what kind of Christian doesn’t repent. So for once, for the church, the Lord, yourselves, the Dallas/Fort Worth area, just come clean and admit you made mistakes. Do the hard work now and upfront and you will find many people, myself included who will accept it. If you don’t repent or clean things up all you are doing is digging yourself into a hole. In the process all you are going to do is hurt yourself and others. So please…do the right thing. By the way while I am at it I would be impressed if Matt Chandler and the Acts 29 network repents to Becki Lynn and the city of Michigan City, Indiana for the Acts 29 take over and destruction of Countryside Church. You can read the story at Wartburg Watch here, and the way Pastor Kevin Galloway ordered the “Gospel Centered Looting” of a church in default to the bank here. Then there is this wrap up of the series by my East Coast Mom here. But as long as we are speaking of repentance Matt Chandler lets also remember other people that the Acts 29 network has hurt. That is unless you find it acceptable for a handicapped child to be perp walked out of an Acts 29 church. To read the details see the story of Countryside at The Wartburg Watch.
A Word to Karen Hinkley
Karen Hinkley if you read this I want to communicate a number of things. I under stand you approached my East Coast Mom Dee Parsons and will be meeting her soon. When you see Dee give her a hug and tell her its from her third son in Washington, D.C. You could not picked a better person than Dee Parsons and Amy Smith. My respect for both of them is high. I want to let you know that many people who are reading your story and commenting have a connection to you in this sense. We are all part of the Fellowship of The Wounded. Many of us have been hurt, confused, and are in emotional pain due to the practices of many churches and movements. You’ve been through hell Karen…but you are not alone nor are you walking alone. All of us are by your side and we will march forward with you. Please read my story above, I had a member of a former Sovereign Grace church who thrust me into the darkest season of my life. I can’t even put into words the pain I felt. Dee Parsons knows as she helped me walk and mange a difficult season of my life. May 8, 2013 was the bleakest day of my life. The pain was psychologically terrifying and deeply hurt my family against my father recovering from a stage 3 brain tumor. I made some progress in working to resolve the situation a week ago and that encourages me. But please know that you are not alone. Listen to Dee, trust her and get to know her. There is a reason why I call her my East Coast Mom…and its due to her love, compassion, and courage. I’m sorry that you were frauded in your marriage by your former husband. I’m sorry for the pain you feel. I’m sorry for all the pain you are carrying. I honestly wish I could bear it for you so that would have none of it. If you ever make it up to Washington, D.C. let me know and I’ll buy you lunch or dinner. Romans says that we are to weep with those who weep, and I will gladly weep with you. You are a strong, and courageous woman. You impress me by doing this. You stood up and called out one of the most powerful Neo-Calvinist pastors and churches. What you did was beyond brave. It inspires me deeply. I want you to know that you are loved and cared for. I’m proud of you…many of us are and together we will help you walk forward. I say this with all sincerity. In closing I want to dedicate this video to you. Stay strong girl!