On my 100th post, my milestone, is to offer guidance on a journey of which I hope you will join me. From allowing and encouraging more people to publish, to bringing on a couple of more authors is part of my goal. Plus I want to document and preserve the stories about Sovereign Grace, write about problems in Neo-Calvinism, and the Evangelical Free Church of America. I also want to write about and keep an eye on churches in the Washington, D.C. area. I also want this to be a refuge for skeptics, atheists and those outside the faith who think different. I don’t want them to feel pressured instead a place to kick back. I want this to be a home for Blue and others like him. Will you join me?
“The search for the truth is not for the faint hearted”
Vincent D’ Onofrio
“Consciously or not, we are all on a quest for answers, trying to learn the lessons of life. We grapple with fear and guilt. We search for meaning, love and power. We try to understand fear, loss, and time. We seek to discover who we are and how we can become truly happy”
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.“
Matthew 7:7-8 NIV
On May 8, 2013 I faced a false accusation given birth to by an Air Force Captain and Care Group Leader at Redeemer Arlington. It was a horrific betrayal. Not only did it thrust me into the darkest season of my life, it threatened my name, reputation, and employment. This vivid write up of how I managed it for 408 days can be read in detail here. That post was my 98th post and indeed is strategic because I want others to not only know what happened but read in detail something horrific and why that drives me today. As I write I have a drive, a passion and I’m still hurting and trying to heal from something traumatic. The question I want to pose is this…why is the modern evangelical Christian church so destructive and full of harm? Why are so many people getting hurt? Plus you have to remember that while I was struggling to deal with the false accusation from Andrew White I eventually got involved in Fairfax Community Church (FCC) and stumbled across information online while researching FCC. FCC had placed a violent sex offender in a position of trust and was concealing that information from the congregation. FCC under the leadership of Rod Stafford was abusing their authority. I had learned yet again how steeped in sin many pastors and churches are both in corruption and multiple other issues. So I write this to say the following which I want to be crystal clear in communicating. I want this to come across loud.
I don’t want another person to go through what I endured. I don’t want to hear of another person being hurt in a church, ministry or by a pastor. It has to end.
This is the goal of my blog. It was never my intent to start a blog but Andrew White left DC, I stood accused in a false accusation. So much was hanging in the balance, and I was frustrated beyond belief and in knots. When you are consulting with an attorney who is explaining to you why you have a defamation of character lawsuit in your hands from someone who boasted of his faith and how they were in the “healthiest church they knew” well…something is clearly wrong. I embraced this in an effort to deal with the problem at hand. It has grown into something I did not foresee happening. The goal of my blog is to represent the person in the pew, the person hurting, and as you will see below even the skeptic. People are getting hurt by churches and ministries today and it needs to end. It is a major sin that no one is speaking about with the exception of a few bloggers. Churches are silent about it. That is unacceptable and not something that should be tolerated. Here’s the deal some people only think of their experience or of a problem within a church or movement. I think that was the flaw in blogs like SGM Survivors, people become so immersed in discussing SGM/SGC that they don’t realize how the problems of SGM/SGC are affecting other churches or in some cases fueling atheism. (I also want to say that people become atheists for many, many reasons and not just corruption or spiritual abuse. I get that before someone points that out to me) What many people fail to see is the bigger picture, the broad landscape and how their movement is linked to other movements in the end. For example if you spend time at ex-Christian.net you will realize that there are former Christians who have been deeply wounded by the church. Corruption in evangelicalism is one of the issues feeding atheism. Corruption and abuse is a rampant problem and that is why this blog exists. This blog was born in trauma, it was born by an Air Force Captain and member of Redeemer Arlington. I was at the end of my rope and frustrated in wanting to clear my name from a crime that I was falsely accused. So with that said this blog, the Wondering Eagle is the legacy of Andrew White. For an Air Force Officer and Air Force Academy graduate this blog is the fruit of his faith. I will also say that this blog will have some bite to it as I am a no nonsense kind of guy. My BS detector works well, and I see a lot of stuff that is being excused or passed off as spin. I can’t be a party to it. I fought too hard for truth in my lifetime in dealing with differing movements. From Agnosticism/Atheism to Mormonism to Sovereign Grace I had to fight hard to stay away, remove myself or leave the movement. Or in other words if I value truth enough to push back from Mormonism at one point of my life why then would I turn around an ignore corruption in a church that I attended like Fairfax Community Church? So with that let me remind you the following. This was my first post that I wrote explaining this blog, why I hoped to be proven wrong, and why its important to write about the negative.
Another point I will also say deals with the direction I intend to move in. Each blog develops their niche. For example Julie Ann Smith writes about homeschooling and the fringes very well. She writes about the patriarchy movement and you can tell when you read that you know she is well versed in it. Dee Parsons meanwhile writes about child sex abuse, Neo-Calvinism, and membership covenants. That is her niche and she does it very well. Todd Wilhelm writes a lot about Sovereign Grace, 9 Marks and Capital Hill Baptist Church. When you read his posts you can see the pain of his experiences but also the depth of his knowledge. There are some areas I am going to avoid. For example…I want to respect and leave Julie Anne Smith to write about homeschooling and patriarchy. She excels in it, knows it best and I want to let her develop and shine in that area. As she is the expert I want to let the expert write and teach and encourage her. As such I never had a brush in the homeschooling movement and I can’t write about what I don’t know. My experience has been in conservative evangelicalism. That includes both seeker sensitive, charismatic, and the Evangelical Free Church and some Baptist. I also was involved in Campus Crusade for Christ. I’ve also seen Neo-Calvinism adversely affect all of the prior organizations mentioned. But I want to aim this blog not at the fringes, but more the mainstream. So on this blog you won’t see articles about the homeschool movement, a lot about patriarchy (complementarism will come up though…) and the fringes. With that said I hope many of you will come along on this journey. I would like to involve you and offer a direction that I intend to move in.
Let Others Write, Publish Their Own Articles, Add Additional Blog Authors
In the course of time there are several things I want to offer to you – the reader. I want to give you a platform to share your story or publish your thoughts. As long as its well researched, sane, and honest I will allow many people to publish their experiences. You guys are the experts and I want to give you guys a platform. You’re free to do it however you want to do it. You would have control over the process. If you had a particular experience in a SGC, Harvest Bible Chapel, or Acts 29 church you are free to post your story here.
In the course of time I would like to bring on a couple of other writers to help carry the load and further develop this blog. What would be ideal is someone who has had a faith crisis, and can speak to many issues regarding evangelical faith. In time I would like to also have someone or two who was involved in an organization like SGM, Acts 29, or is deeply familiar with John Piper who can write and push back hard and draw from experience. I would like to bring on someone who is pretty conservative and is trained well so that they can write and push back against The Gospel Coalition and John Piper and do so in a way that they are not viewed as being emergent or liberal. In order for this to work it needs to be someone fairly conservative so that the Neo-Cal crowd can’t dismiss or downplay them. But more people need to push back, and there is a lot of crap in evangelicalism right now. It also would be nice if its someone trained at Trinity Evangelical, Southern Seminary or another institution. I would like to share this blog with a couple of people in time and be able to draw upon shared experiences.
Concern about SGM Survivors
When I was in my faith crisis Andrew White, an Air Force Captain started to invite me to Redeemer Arlington. I knew nothing about Sovereign Grace and I started to research it and found SGM Survivors. I read everything I could about Redeemer Arlington on SGM Survivors. Every post, every comment…I data mined that website for information. While I over reacted to Andrew White, I am grateful that SGM Survivors existed and that I was able to educate myself. Today I am fearful that we are going to lose SGM Survivors in the near future. Here’s the problem…we lost SGM Refuge and all the stories that were posted at SGM Refuge vanished. SGM Survivors is going away as well I fear. Kris is not posting, editing, or writing no new posts. In many ways she has basically quit. SGM has reorganized itself into Sovereign Grace Churches. They have done a few church plants and are resuming operations. Now there is nothing CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Churches wants more than to have the blog and negative internet presence go away. What happens if SGM Survivors disappears? What will happen to the stories of Pam Palmer, Taylor, Noel, Set Free, Happymom, Exclcer, etc…? Especially with churches like CLC, Sovereign Grace Fairfax, Crossway, etc… still existing and operating? Its my concern and contention that these stories should not be forgotten. Therefore as part of this blog I am going to propose the following. If you were involved in SGM or a former SGM church and you told you story at SGM Survivors or SGM Refuge you are free to send me your story. I am willing and happy to create a page to document the stories. Plus I can tag and run them again so that they can follow the individual churches or pastors involved on the internet. If a SGM church has changed its name than I can run it under the new name. Its your call..but if you are interested I would be happy to do that.
Evangelical Free Church Issues/Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Another area that I believe is missing in many of the blogs on the internet is one that tackles and follows issues in the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA). The EFCA is being split by Neo-Calvinism in the same manner that the Southern Baptists are being torn. The ECFA has had churches embrace the shepherding movement, had churches being hijacked by Neo-Calvinists, and had authority and issues of spiritual abuse. I would like to also focus on issues that are happening in Trinity Evangelical Divinity (TED) school. I am not an expert on many of these issues but I would be happy to give you guys a platform to speak or write about these problems. I care about the EFCA because the first church I got involved with was an Evangelical Free in Fresno, California. I also looked at an EFCA in Milwaukee for a while. If I had my preference I would get involved in an EFCA church, however that just won’t happen. Here in the Washington, D.C. area I have avoided many for issues of Neo-Calvinism, shepherding, and questionable affiliations. If any students or current or former staff at Trinity want to write about problems at TED they are free to do so anonymously. If you were involved in an EFCA that deal with questionable discipline and you want to tell your story anonymously you are free to do so. I would like to have this blog be a place for those who are concerned about the Evangelical Free Church to raise issues and discuss concerns.
The “Local Church” in the Washington, D.C. Area
Let’s be honest….if you live in the Washington, D.C. area this is a hard place to live. Cost of living is exorbitant, the traffic is horrific and the jobs are stressful. In addition people move in and out, and the area is so transitory that it can be hard to find community. There is one word that comes to mind after living here for years that I have heard other people say…and that one word is “lonely.” So living here is hard enough, to deal with crap from a church on top of that is awful. One of the goals of my blog is to focus on local DC area churches if something happens. There are many churches in the DC area and I think it would be good and wise to raise issues with a local church if a problem is indeed happening. Plus I am not focused on negativity, if a local church does something good like handle a child sex abuse situation properly or handles disagreement in a civil manner, or forsakes growth to develop a new ministry instead than I think that should be celebrated as well. But consider the following, these are just a fraction…a fraction of the churches in the DC area. In Chantilly you have Grace Covenant Church, along with Clear River Community Church. In Annandale you have Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church, as well as Del Ray Baptist in Alexandria along with Franconia Baptist Church. In addition you have Open Door Presbyterian in Herndon, Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, McLean Bible, as well as Sovereign Grace Fairfax, along with Grace Community Church in Ashburn. Then there is the infamous Calvary Temple in Sterling. That is some of the fraction of churches on the Virginia side and recently I heard about some Neo-Cal church plants near Fort Belvoir. In DC itself you have Capital Hill Baptist Church, Redemption Hill among so many others. While on the Maryland side you have Christ Covenant Church in Columbia, Maryland and Grace Baptist Church in Bowie. Then there is Church of the Redeemer, and Covenant Life Church. This blog will document and write about local churches in the DC area. There are a lot of denominations, and movements from the Assembly of God, to Acts 29 to ARC. There is an ARC church that opened up in nearby Fairfax. If a church covers up something I would be happy to write about it or have someone tell their story. Questionable church discipline? I would be happy to let someone tell their story. Already there was a situation at Fairfax Community Church (FCC) in which FCC placed a violent sex offender in a position of trust as Care Director. I had no problem writing about FCC and Rod Stafford who baptized me there in 2013. There are several additional posts in the works about FCC.
Issues with Neo-Calvinism
Another issue I would like to tackle is the abuse and issues in Neo-Calvinism. I used to be under the kool-aid of John Piper. How much? Well you can read what I did to my mother after she dealt with pancreatic cancer here. From questionable church discipline to membership covenants and The Gospel Coalition. I have known people who at one point or another thought the world of the likes of Mark Driscoll, CJ Mahaney and John Piper. For Mark Driscoll to be in ministry and run a church is like having serial killer Ted Bundy run an online dating service. CJ Mahaney should not be teaching either especially after the incident of “Gospel Centered” blackmail that he allegedly engaged in against Larry Tomczak. There is much to write on in Neo-Calvinism and I would like to tackle some of these issues. However, that said, I don’t want all my posts to be negative, as I am not trying to be negative; it just so happens there is a lot of crap in the Neo-Calvinist movement. If the Neo-Cal movement embraces things like repentance, deeper grace or moves away from legalism than I would love to write about it. I wrote this post and made a number of recommendations to Redeemer Arlington as well. Plus I also wrote this when Matt Chandler repented in person to Karen Hinkley in North Carolina. After all Matt Chandler was able to do something that CJ Mahaney and Mark Driscoll have been unable or unwilling to do. But in many of these cases someone has to say the unsayable and ask the hard questions. Neo-Calvinism like other parts of evangelical Christianity needs a gadfly and I have no problem stepping up to the plate and asking away. Someone needs to take this action.
Atheist/Agnostic/Humanist/Faith Crisis Issues
I’d love to talk about this some time but why does atheist have such negative connotation? I am aware that there are some people who don’t want to be called atheist and instead humanist, secular or nothing. Back in 2008 I knew next to nothing about atheism/agnosticism and I went from that to a full blown faith crisis where I drank from the well and consumed a lot of atheism. I’d like to use a lot of that knowledge here and have discussions on atheism, agnosticism, and secular thinking. I’m in the process now of working on a post on things that I appreciate from atheism. I’m a Christian and I believe in God but there are things that I appreciate from atheism. The gap between atheism and Christianity is too wide and I would like to create an environment where people of non faith or intense doubters can loiter around ask questions and discuss. I would also like to create an environment where Christians can engage atheists respectfully and in love with no pressure at all and be able to discuss and look at things from differing points of view. For those who will avoid church I hope you will hang around here. Blue, I want this to a home away from home for you. I want you to be able to kick off your shoes, grab a Miller Lite, and relax. I don’t view you as the friendly opposition, instead I view you as a friend. I hope that you and others like you will hang around for a long time. What I am hoping to do in the course of time, is that I would love to run individual stories over the course of time. Stories of current atheists, agnostics or people of other faiths who pushed back and walked away from Christianity. The world, especially the evangelical Christian church needs to listen to you and hear your stories. And I hope that will happen in time. I will be happy to offer a platform here on this blog.
Its my goal that we can all move in this direction together. I want this place to be for you guys. I have differing conversations behind the scenes and if you post and its in moderation it may take me some time to get to it. This is a one man show , but hopefully in time it will grow. Again like I wrote above this blog The Wondering Eagle was born in pain. It was born out of trying to resolve a false accusation by an Air Force Captain and Care Group Leader from Redeemer Arlington. Andrew used to tell me how he was in the “healthiest church he knew” and how the faith of him and his wife Gillian was being sanctified. When he gave birth to a false accusation I privately wondered to myself if a Christian whose faith is so healthy that they can give birth to a false accusation, then what can a sinner do? So on this milestone post let it go on the record that this blog is the fruit of Andrew White a 2005 Air Force Academy Graduate.
In closing I will leave you guys with Savior King from Hillsong. That is another post I would like to do…what do you do with the music from a corrupt ministry? Sovereign Grace, Hillsong, Elevation Church, and Harvest Bible Chapel. Can it be used or are you enabling a corrupt ministry by buying it? That however, will be a discussion for another time. Again guys I love you!