An open letter to Karen Hinkley, formerly Karen Root of The Village Church. A letter of support for this brave and courageous woman. My goal of this letter is to encourage her forward, let her know she is not standing by herself. I call her “The Iron Lady” because as a student of history her tenacity and bravery reminds me of Margaret Thatcher in many ways. I want to emphasize and push back against the egregious behavior of The Village Church, especially Steve Hardin and Matt Younger and let The Village Church know that they are in the wrong. The treatment of Karen is unacceptable. This letter was emailed off to Matt Chandler, The Central Elders of The Village, Steve Hardin, Matt Younger and the campus and staff of Dallas Northway Campus.
“He is a man of courage who does not run away, but remains at his post and fights against the enemy.”
“Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.”
“A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.”
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 NIV
I want to spend a significant amount of time in writing you a letter that will offer you emotional support. I want you to know that there are many people in your corner. I want to build upon the brief level of support I wrote about yesterday. I will get into it more later but let me state that the way The Village Church treated you, especially by Steve Hardin and Matt Younger at the Dallas Northway Campus is a disgrace. It was wrong, heinous and unspeakable. Its about time someone pushed back, and called this out. I’m grateful that my East Coast Mom who authors and writes The Wartburg Watch is going to be talking about the situation at The Village Church all this week. But the behavior by Steve Hardin and Matt Younger is outright despicable and wrong. Someone needs to push back and say the unthinkable, and I have no problem pushing back and speaking my mind. Many of my thoughts are going to be communicated in these posts and I am honored to go to bat for you against Steve Hardin and Matt Younger. Someone needs to teach them a thing or to about how to engage a female. The Neo-Calvinist crowd is a laughing joke of Christianity. The sad part if that many people who should be teaching are not, and many pastors who are not qualified to teach are teaching. This spiritual tyranny has to end, but let me get into the letter as I have many things to say.
Law School, History & “The Iron Lady”
I knew this story was going to break in time I was just waiting for when. Recently my East Coast Mom (Dee Parsons) told me you are considering law school. I find that to be great and honestly hope you pursue law school. There are so many benefits and needs right now, especially for a woman of your caliber. Susan Burke the lawyer who went after Sovereign Grace Ministries over child sex abuse successfully made a bald man in Louisville sweat nervously. You should sweat nervously if you are going to be engaged in child sex abuse cover up. By the way speaking of CJ Mahaney did you hear about this hush fund he approved to buy a SGM Pastor’s silence and prevent him from joining the lawsuit? The lawsuit was beating against the doors of SGM, and he still doesn’t get it! He’s still engaging in corruption! Is this hush fund “Gospel Centered?” The scale of corruption by CJ Mahaney would have made him a good candidate to work in the Richard Nixon White House. After all I view the SGM scandal and subsequent information hemorrhaging out of the organization to be the theological version of Watergate. The only difference is that Richard Nixon had more character in resigning and bowing out. Mahaney doesn’t have the character to do anything remotely similar. Anyhow but moving on maybe one day in the future you can work for Susan Burke. Or maybe you can work for Boz Tchividjian at G.R.A.C.E. and help protect children and be an advocate against child sex abuse. So in many ways I am excited for you, but I want to spend some time diving into some history for your sake Karen. Let me tell you a little about myself. I am a history nerd, and studied history in college and grad school. If I remember correctly the main grad school essay I wrote dealt with the Dawes Plan in Germany during the interwar years of the Weimar Republic. But the reason I find history so fascinating is that it is so applicable and valuable. I mean for example…I spent a lot of time reading about communism in the Eastern Block, the differing faces of communism that existed, fascism in Europe, and totalitarian forms of government in Europe and beyond. As I buried my head and mind reading parts of speeches and books by individuals like Lenin, Stalin, Goebbels, Hitler, Khrushchev, Castro, Mao, and other dictators I never….NEVER in a million years would imagine that the principles behind totalitarian governments in Europe or the Soviet Union would apply to modern theological movements such as Acts 29, Sovereign Grace Ministries, The Village Church, parts of the seeker sensitive crowd, and beyond. Who would have imagined that the drive to control and enforce a train of thought in the Village Church would be similar to the coercion techniques used in the former Soviet Union? So its with this that I gladly drink from the well of history (as well as scripture to as the Bible is highly important as well) and drink from it so that I can learn more about the value of history. There is a reason why many totalitarian movements in history try and control education and your access to competing thoughts. Information is power, and knowledge is a threat. So with that I want to step back and introduce you to one of my favorite heroines in history. When you did this act of stepping forward and calling out The Village Church and the darling of the Neo-Calvinists Matt Chandler I immediately thought of you as The Iron Lady.
I don’t know what you know about Margaret Thatcher but I thought I’d spend some time educating you about her so that you can see what a woman can do, and what can be achieved when you challenge the system. Margaret Thatcher was elected to the Parliament in 1959 representing Finchley, in North London. She would be a member of Parliament until 1992. In the British government Harold MacMillan succeded Anthony Eden who resigned after the Suez Crisis in 1956. Macmillian was Prime Minister from 1957 until 1963 when he resigned and let Alec Douglas Home lead the conservatives. In MacMillan’s government Thatcher was the Junior Minister for Pensions. In 1964 the Labor party, which was led by Harold Wilson won the elections and governed Britain until 1970. In 1970 the conservatives under Edward Heath ascended back into power, and in Heath’s government Thatcher became the Secretary for Education. In 1974 the conservatives were forced out of power. I remember reading this in the Thatcher’s autobiography “The Path to Power” about a decade ago. In the book Thatcher wrote about how she thought the conservatives lacked leadership, Heath wasn’t providing it, and she decided to challenge him for the party leadership. She did, and she won. She led the opposition to Labor and in 1979 lead the conservatives to victory becoming the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain. I’m not going to dwell too much on the details after all I want to tie this all back to you and theology in the end. Thatcher became resolute and strong and very controversial in her domestic agenda for Britain. She took on Labor Unions, became a fierce advocate for privatization; meanwhile in international affairs she led the British to victory against Argentina in the Falklands War in 1982, and was nearly assassinated by the Irish Republican Army in 1984. But do you want to know how Thatcher earned her nickname of “The Iron Lady?” On January 19, 1976…three years before she became Prime Minister Thatcher gave a speech in which she described the Soviet Union in this way. “The Russians are bent on world dominance, and they are rapidly acquiring the means to become the most powerful imperial nation the world has seen” This got the attention of the Soviet press who nicknamed her “The Iron Lady” in an attempt to compare her to Germany’s Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck. I won’t spend much more time dwelling on British history, even as I love it! But I want to show you some video’s of Margaret Thatcher in action in the British Parliament and other speeches. Listen and watch her…look as to how she stands firm, holds her ground, and refuses to give ground. In the process she is charming and quite elegant. In many ways when you stepped forward and called out Matt Chandler, Steve Hardin and Matt Younger, I see many of these characteristics exhibited by Thatcher in you Karen. I see someone who is bold, brave and incredibly courageous. Plus I view you as someone who is intelligent, smart, and witty. But watch some of these videos and see Thatcher debate her opponents or explain herself. (By the way…I used the trailer for the movie The Iron Lady to start this post…but its my opinion that the trailer is better than the movie!) You know Karen in the end I believe that many Neo-Calvinists are insecure and fear a strong woman. They fear someone like Margaret Thatcher. I mean for many Neo-Calvinists Thatcher is breaking every rule possible. But while the Neo-Calvinists point to what Paul wrote that is but part of the story. Look at all the women God used in scripture. You have Deborah, Esther, Lydia, etc…I firmly believe the Lord is using women to push back against this spiritual tyranny of The Village Church and Neo-Calvinism. I see you fulfilling your role in this process, just as Dee Parsons and Deb Martin have done that, as well as Janet Medford. Its not enough for Neo-Calvinists to attack and go after women today but they have to go after them in scripture. When Mark Driscoll preached that Esther was nothing but a slut, I think that is why he went after her in scripture. Esther posed a threat to his twisted and bastardized theology. But returning to Margaret Thatcher I very much would love to see John Piper, Wayne Grudam or Matt Chandler try and put someone like Margaret Thatcher in her place. Man if such an event were even possible I would love to buy popcorn and pull up a chair and watch “The Iron Lady” tear into John Piper. Having explained all that let me move on to the next issue.
Your Past Marriage to Jordan Root
There are many thoughts I want to convey to you Karen. When addressing your past marriage to Jordan Root let me offer my deepest, deepest sympathies. Romans 12:15 says to weep with those who weep. Pain and suffering as well as probably coming to terms with what happened has been unbelievably hard. In this season of mourning please know others are mourning with you. If you were in the DC area I’d give you a hug, cry with you and listen to you. You would do all of the talking and I would do all the listening. Sometimes there are no words to say when someone is experiencing deep grief. That is one of the things that drives me nuts about some evangelicals, is that some always have a word to say or an agenda to push. During pain and suffering how many act like Job’s friends? Too many Karen…way too many. I know you originally planned to live out your life in an East Asia country. According to what Dee told me from my understanding in preparing for your planned missionary life you sold all your belongings, even your wedding gifts so that you could move to an East Asia country. That was what you had planned and that is what you had done. You and Jordan were in the process of establishing roots overseas in Asia, and that was your commitment. You envisioned, from my understanding to be living out the rest of your life serving, working, and living among the peoples in this Asian country. Then came the bombshell that you probably were not prepared for..honestly who would? Your husband was attracted to pre-pubescent 4 year old girls, and in his opening confession he also confessed to past activity when he was younger. I’m single but as I try to imagine what that is like I can’t imagine hearing that news. You had hopes, dreams, probably plans to start a family with Jordan. You were getting to know Jordan’s family, his friends, old schoolmates as well. Your lives were blended when this horrific secret of Jordan’s pedophilia came out while you were abroad. I don’t know what to say to you except that I am sorry that this happened. I’m sorry that your marriage became a cover for Jordan in many ways. When it comes to evil, and I believe child sex abuse is evil, there is only one choice that exists. You can fight it or become complicit in it. Even choosing not to address it and hoping the issue goes away and electing to be naïve is supporting it in the end. I would not want to be in your shoes as the pain must be beyond description. I just can’t imagine what you endured. So I offer you my deepest sympathies upon this unfortunate turn of events. I want to emphasize that you are not at fault for any of it. None of it Karen…you were the one who was hurt. Jordan Root needs love and care and even in how The Village is handling it they are not providing that in the best manner. You are not the only one being hurt Karen, Jordan is being hurt by how The Village is handling this situation. Also the potential exists for others to be hurt.
The Village Church
On the website for the Dallas Northway Campus, Steve Hardin has the following statement, “My hope is to see God glorified and treasured in the hearts of His people to hope and pray for the Lord to continue to grant His favor upon His church so that many sons and daughters in Dallas and globally will also find their joy and life in Jesus Christ” Here’s my question and I want to ask this out loud…was God glorified in the way Steve Hardin engaged and treated you? Does God exist in such controlling environments? The Neo Calvinist model is broken. It is flawed to its core in having a warped version of depravity. Part of the problem of The Village is that it is led by a celebrity pastor in the name of Matt Chandler. There are too many Neo-Calvinists who feed his celebrity cult, and like lap dogs sit at his feet and drool at the mere mention of his name. Matt Chandler is not a pastor…he is an evangelist. I still think he has potential but there is a lot of work to be done. I don’t want to get into Matt Younger here Karen because in the days to come I want to write a detailed and blunt post to him about his letter of discipline to you. The Kool Aid is strong with Matt Younger as I felt it 1,328 miles away. But returning to the discussion of The Village I explained to Dee that this story has the potential to be the most damning and destructive of the Neo-Calvinist scandals…and let me explain why. In Sovereign Grace Ministries you had an organization that engaged in active cover up of child sex abuse. The word alleged can be dropped as Nate Morales was convicted based upon Grant Layman’s testimony. Then with Mars Hill Seattle you had an abusive system that was causing horrific pain. Remember how Paul Tripp described Mars Hill Seattle? Let me use Paul Tripp’s words, “This is without a doubt, the most abusive, coercive ministry culture I’ve ever been involved with,” The scandal of Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll was about abuse of authority both by pastors and a system in place with membership covenants and church discipline. For Mark Driscoll to lead a church and pastor it is like serial killer Ted Bundy running an online dating service. So in the case of your situation Karen at The Village Church you have the perfect storm brewing here because you have the issue of child sex abuse which came about due to Jordan’s confession of pedophilia. You have abuse of authority and membership covenants which came about due to the questionable behavior of Steve Hardin and Matt Younger. Than you have a celebrity pastor who is an idol for many people who overseas the entire system. Chandler needs to understand that Dallas is not Geneva in the 1500’s. As I explained to Dee on the phone all of these issues are what is going to tear apart Neo-Calvinism in the long run, and many Neo-Calvinist leaders are complete and utter fools because they hold their conferences, and have bullcrap organizations like “The Gospel Coalition” and go around and endorse and write more books. The Neo-Calvinists are destroying the parts of Christianity that are essential. They are warping the Bible in the same manner that the Mormons do. They are teaching a method of depravity that is nothing but outright determinism that feeds problems like this. And to top of it all off they won’t heed of listen to constructive criticism from those outside their movement. I still get a chuckle over the name “The Gospel Coalition” because its arrogant as hell, and “The Gospel Coalition” does not speak for me, and doesn’t represent a lot of Christians. I refuse to believe in “The Gospel” as the way this crowd defines it. Now here me out as I am not Arminian either. I’m just a person in the middle of the road. I’m okay with the simple Calvinists, but not this crowd at all. But is “The Gospel Coalition” going to remain silent about this situation? “The Gospel Coalition” was silent on the SGM situation for 178 days…are they in all their “Gospel Centered” wisdom going to repeat themselves in the same way with Matt Chandler? Are we going to see another heinous and horrific statement by DA Carson, Justin Taylor and Kevin DeYoung like this piece of garbage? Remember folks your business enterprise and making your checking account more fat it at stake! Whoops…did I just say that? I meant to say The Gospel is at stake!!
But getting back to the situation at The Village Church Matt Chandler has never learned from the debacles of Mars Hill Seattle and Sovereign Grace Ministries. That is his biggest mistake that is going to be his downfall in the long run. He’s going to be in the same situation Mark Driscoll and CJ Mahaney are today. All along and in the process unless he changes his course than the only legacy Matt Chandler is going to leave is that he will be part of a movement that is marked by spiritual abuse, abuse of authority, and child sex abuse which makes the Roman Catholic look saintly and above reproach; and in the end he will have contributed to the destruction of Christianity in the United States. Just look at the numbers…the “nones” are growing by leaps and bounds. But all that is at stake in this situation at The Village Church. But like I said the other day all that can change if Matt Chandler repents.
Dee Parsons & The Wartburg Watch
Karen let me tell you a little bit about myself. There was a time when I was a John Piper Kool-Aid drinker. I did something unthinkable and painful. When my Mom was recovering from pancreatic cancer I gave her John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Cancer” pamphlet. It caused so much pain to my Mom that she called me out and boldly confronted me. You can read the entire story here, Dee Parsons has asked me in the past if she can reblog this story on her website and I have given her my full permission. She wants to illustrate the problems with John Piper’s theology. But you know how it is…for many people John Piper is the 67th book of the Bible, fourth member of the trinity. He’s the only one who has a hotline to God which plays out whenever there is a disaster. I just think of him as the reformed Pat Robertson. Pat gets excited to hurricanes and John gets excited about tornadoes and bridge collapses. Anyhow so I drank the Kool-Aid in my own way in life and it led me to come to Washington, D.C. Reality can hit hard….and indeed reality did hit me hard. When I left the fundagelical bubble I was in and everything imploded. To add on to that experience of being burned my faith crisis roared and I was overcome with doubt. I’m not going to tell everything here you can go up top and read my story in three posts. In short order I rejected Christianity…searched in atheism, and was unsuccessfully recruited to Sovereign Grace. Around the time I was being invited to Sovereign Grace I showed up at Dee Parson’s blog where I ranted about how Christianity is a cancer. Dee asked me once if we could talk on the phone and we did from time to time. I remember one time having this two hour discussion on the problem of evil with Dee. It was this push and pull back and forth, back and forth that was intense. All I can say is that David Horner at Providence Baptist in Raleigh lost one hell of a Sunday school teacher. David Horner’s loss I believe is your gain Karen Hinkley. I really view Dee’s blog as Sunday school in a way because I learn so much by her writings. Then I had the bleakest day of my life on May 8, 2013 I can’t tell you what that was like. Dee Parsons was the first person I called that Wednesday morning in May. I remember when she explained to me how I was horrifically betrayed. I made mistakes in the friendship I was in, however I was also I guy in a full blown faith crisis who would come home from work and listen to Christopher Hitchens and some Richard Dawkins at the time. I drank my own Kool Aid In the course of time I approached 140 people seeking forgiveness. I approached as many people as I could think of and I got re-baptized. I’ve had a couple of people who have approached me about writing a book. I’m still chewing on it…I so despise the Reformed Industrial Complex and the regular Evangelical Industrial Complex that the last thing I want to do is support it.
In regards to Dee Parsons you have an incredible person who is there to support you. In short order she is amazing and there is a reason why I call her my East Coast Mom. She does work that many Pastors are not doing today. She walks with people, talks to them, and engages them in the process. Dee Parsons has changed my view on women and teaching. Why? In my humble opinion she she can teach around the likes of Mark Driscoll, and CJ Mahaney any day. She knows her theology, and she is deeply knowledgeable. This week Dee Parsons and her writing partner Deb are going to take us through your story at The Village Church. Its going to be a story of betrayal, spiritual manipulation, celebrity pastors and questionable church activity. Its a story we keep hearing time and time again. When you see Dee in a couple of weeks or so, give her a long hug, and ask how Petunia and Tulip are doing. The last time I stayed with Dee and her family it was weeks later and I was still finding pug hair in my clothes! I remember being at the gym and opening my gym bag and finding more. I remember thinking “Good God!” The other possibility is that pug hair was foreordained in the degree and the amount that I found it. If you make it up to the Washington, D.C. area I would love to hear your story in person. Not only that but the meal would be on me.
I’m going to ask you to keep walking strong. Be brave and courageous as you walk through this season. You are in control of this situation. Not Matt Chandler, not Steve Hardin and not Matt Younger. You were a gem at The Village Church its a shame that you were treated the way that you were. I believe I was pretty direct at Steve Hardin the other day and in some of my comments up above. Next I want to discuss Matt Younger and write a post directly to him. I want to raise a number of issues including pastoral entitlement, Lording over authority, questionable church discipline, and challenge him in a number of areas of scripture. In many ways Karen I am just getting started on addressing some of these issues. It honestly and rightfully angers me that you were treated in such a horrific way. My anger is not emotional but more of a righteous anger. But there are many people who are here for you, and we will walk with you until the shackles of human bondage that The Village Church represents are free. In my post to Matt Younger when I am done he will be familiar with the Emancipation Proclamation. Again thanks for what you have done, thanks for your courage, stand strong Karen. You are amazing in many ways. As I sign off I want to leave you with this Mariah Carey song “Hero” You are a hero Karen Hinkly. You are a hero in going to Asia, facing the situation with your former husband, dealing with The Village Church, and calling attention to this situation. So keep carrying on, keep walking forward and all of us in the greater body of Christ will walk with you, and together we will stand against this oppression that exists in The Village Church.
Stand tall Karen!
Your friend in Washington, D.C.
BTW Karen…as I want this post to be pushback against The Village Church and to contest, and fight for your name, this post was emailed off to Matt Chandler, the Central Elders at The Village Church along with Steve Hardin, Matt Younger, and the staff of Dallas Northway Campus.