An exhaustive overview of Cru’s (formerly Campus Crusade) Christmas/Winter Conferences in December 2015 and January 2016. This reviews each Cru conference in detail. While Eagle recommends several Cru conferences in good conscious he cannot recommend Washington, D.C. (Radiate), Denver or Minneapolis (TCX) this year. This also explains why Cru needs to learn how to practice and teach discernment.
“I’ve seen many friends make bad choices in their 20s. For some, regular partying quickly turned into alcoholism; for others, prescription drugs led them into dark places. For me, it was religion.”
Mike Anderson of the Resurgence
“There is no higher calling or greater privilege known to man than being involved in helping fulfill the Great Commission.”
Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand.
The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.
Hosea 14:9 NIV
***As you will see in this post I have had to research and write a lot about multiple conferences. If there is more information that I have missed then I welcome that being shared. Any mistakes I also welcome correction.***
In 2009 Wanda Martin’s daughter was involved in Campus Crusade at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. UNC Chapel Hill is the flagship university of the UNC system. In 2009 Crusade brought in Mark Driscoll to speak. Wanda knew next to nothing about Mark Driscoll and was excited, because she had heard good things about what Mark Driscoll was doing in Seattle. Though she wanted to hear Driscoll preach she didn’t attend the Crusade talk with Mark Driscoll per her daughter’s request. But afterward Wanda’s daughter didn’t tell her about Driscoll’s talk, though she was interested in hearing about it. A week later she was puzzled at her daughter’s silence and she took her daughter out to lunch and asked, “Well what did Mark Driscoll speak about?” Her daughter mentioned not much was memorable, and that he was questioned about anal or oral sex. It stunned Wanda, and when the “sermon” was uploaded it horrified her. That event in Crusade was written about in this Wartburg Watch post. That experience in Campus Crusade, combined with Dee Parson being a Sunday School Teacher in David Horner’s Providence Baptist in Raleigh, North Carolina and being embroiled in a child sex abuse cover up and the church going after her and her husband Bill is what led to the rise and direction of The Wartburg Watch.
But there is more, much more as many parts of Cru struggle with discernment. In 2013 Cru at North Carolina State University brought in C.J. Mahaney to speak. C.J. Mahaney the man who led Sovereign Grace and is allegedly responsible for covering up child sex abuse. C.J. Mahaney the man who also allegedly practiced blackmail against Larry Tomczak, and fled church discipline to hide behind Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Why do parts of Cru feature and promote a man who doesn’t even meet the basic qualifications for Elder? He is no longer above reproach and should someone who has engaged in blackmail be featured and given a platform before students? Is blackmail “Gospel Centered?” Why would parts of Cru promote someone who has engaged in alleged criminal activity? What about the persistent allegations of Mahaney covering up child sex abuse? What about Mahnaey’s blatant lie? And those hurt who call him out on his lie as this family has done? Then there is another shocker that happened in my backyard in the Washington, D,C. area. Cru at George Mason University, which by the way has a hardline Neo-Calvinist agenda, is recommending and promoting to its students one of the ground zeros in the largest lawsuit in evangelical history – Sovereign Grace Fairfax. That experience led me to write this post, and afterward I was attacked by one of the Cru leaders at George Mason, Brett Miller. Brett’s behavior led to this post on the Wartburg Watch. If Brett Miller is going to imitate the “I can beat you up” dude bro style of Mark Driscoll, I wonder if Brett is going to give an expository talk about the Biblical basis of oral sex at George Mason Cru, just like Mark Driscoll. If you don’t believe me you can read Mark’s sermon on oral sex here.
Due to the problems of corruption, decadence and abuse of Neo-Calvinism and the struggle by some in Cru to be able to practice discernment and exhibit critical thinking skills; I have decided that every year, I will do a review of each Christmas and winter conference in Cru. I will review the agendas, and speakers to see what is being promoted. If someone like John Piper or C.J. Mahaney is going to be given a platform then I will offer strong pushback. People who are allegedly involved in covering up child sex abuse or who have taught that a woman should submit to her domestic abuser as John Piper has done (watch the video here) should not be given a platform in Cru. In addition Cru should not be promoting the patriarchal agenda of the Neo-Calvinists. When they give a platform to someone questionable in Denver, Washington, D.C. or Minneapolis…it legitimizes it. This is written by someone who loves Cru, and as you will note there are some conferences that I whole heartedly endorse. In my past I went to one Conference in San Diego (now LA) and then to TCX twice. With that said I am going to review each conference and analyze the speakers the agenda. Please note in this analysis I don’t pay attention to the featured worship artists or musicians performing at the individual conferences. So with that out of the way…let’s dive in!
Radiate – Washington, D.C.
The theme of Radiate this year will be “With us” and deals with God’s promise throughout scripture to be constantly with us. Radiate is for college students in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. The line up for speakers is Shane Sebastian, Kenji Adachi, Paul Tripp, Curtis Allen, and Heather Holleman. Let me write about each speaker in detail. Shane Sebastian is the Executive Director of Global Missions with Cru. He has multiple degrees to include a BA from the University of California Irvine, MA from Hope International University and a Doctorate from George Fox Evangelical Seminary which I believe is in Oregon. Kenji Adachi converted to Christianity from a non-practicing Buddhist home when he was younger. He worked for American Honda for nearly five years before attending Dallas Theological Seminary. He pastored for 12 years interestingly enough at Ambassador Bible Church, a local Evangelical Free that I wrote about recently. It’s a small world in evangelicalism (Let’s que the music!). He is also listed as a Church Planting Resident at Fellowship Memphis. Fellowship Memphis is an Acts 29 outfit according to the Acts 29 website. He is planning on planting a church in nearby Fairfax. (Note to Kenji…there is already one nearby…) Heather Holleman is another speaker who teaches English at Penn State University and she also works for Cru with her husband Ashley. She has written books both about faith as well as how to write better. She has an active blog which you can access here. Heather is also speaking at Greensboro (Encounter). The next speaker is Paul Tripp, who leads Paul Tripp Ministries. Paul Tripp is known for pastoral counseling. However there are a number of issues that need to be raised in in regards to Paul Tripp, I will go in greater detail below. Paul was involved in Mars Hill Seattle and served on the Church Board of Advisors and Accountability before he resigned in July 2014. However there is also a lot of controversy about Paul Tripp’s departure from Mars Hill according to Warren Throckmorton. You can read more about Paul Trip’s involvement in Mars Hill here and here. Plus, I personally like the questions Rob Smith asks in this post here. The final speaker at Radiate DC is former Sovereign Grace Pastor Curtis Allen who is the Senior Pastor at Solid Rock Church in the D.C. metro area. Curtis is known as the rapping pastor, and was a former gang member. You can read about his interaction with Brent Detwiler in this post here. He is known for calling Brent Detwiler a “division homeboy.” He has performed at many Sovereign Grace conferences which you can read about here. Solid Rock Church has left the Sovereign Grace denomination which you can read about at Todd Wilhelm’s post here. Having studied and researched Radiate D.C. I have to say that I in good conscious cannot support or recommend this Christmas conference. My reasoning and explanation will be explained below.
Encounter – Greensboro, NC
Encounter is for college students in Kentucky, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee. It appears as if the theme for the conference is “Your Kingdom Come.” There are a number of speakers lined up for Encounter, including James White, Heather Holleman, Keith Bubalo, and Jeff Miller. James White is the Senior Pastor of Christ Our King Community Church in the Raleigh-Durham area. James also is a member of the National Training and Leadership Development Advisory Board for the YMCA. James has worked for Cru for 19 years. This is the second conference James is speaking at as he also is scheduled to speak at the Winter Conference in Fort Worth. Heather Holleman teaches English at Penn State University and she also works for Cru with her husband Ashley. She has written books both about faith as well as how to write better. She has an active blog which you can access here. The next speaker is Keith Bubalo who has served as Cru’s Executive Director of Global Missions for 11 years. He has also led Cru at the University of Pennsylvania and Michigan State. He has written several articles at Cru Press Green which you can read here. The last speaker on the schedule is Jeff Miller. Jeff Miller is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Bible Church in Richardson, Texas. Jeff graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary and is pursuing a graduated degree from Duke University’s Divinity School. In researching this I spent a lot of time studying the website for Trinity Bible (I did a post about discernment recently which you can read here and here) and I was pleased when I looked at the Trinity library that there were no books by C.J. Mahaney. However, you may want to get rid of Mark Driscoll’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” as that is one of the many books that Mark Driscoll plagiarized. If you want to read more about it you can do so here and here. In looking over the Encounter Conference there are really no red flags and I find it to be sound and strongly recommend it.
Southeast Winter Conference – Atlanta, GA
The Southeast Winter Conference is for students from Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. I don’t see a conference theme on the website. The speakers for Southeast are Marian Jordan Ellis, Rasool Berry, and Jeff Norris. Marian is the founder of Redeemed Girl Ministries. Rasool Berry is the teaching pastor for The Bridge Church in Brooklyn, New York. Rasool has worked with Cru for 15 years. Jeff Norris is the final speaker from the website. Jeff Norris is a pastor at Perimeter Church in Atlanta. Perimeter is a mega church that has 4,000 to 5,000 members and is a PCA church that subscribes to the Westminster Confession of Faith. Previously he served with Cru at Old Miss, University of Georgia and the University of Alabama. On a quick side note, and correct me if I am mistaken…but I noticed that Perimeter is not a member of The Gospel Coalition. I just have to say kudos! My respect for them rose considerably! Given the corruption in The Gospel Coalition, especially when they are issuing statements like this one by Kevin DeYoung , D.A. Carson and Justin Taylor. I find it beautifully refreshing to watch a reformed church practice discernment. Not only that but I can respect your authority as a result. While I am more in the middle I do recognize there are aspects that can be learned from reformed theology. In this situation I am more open to learning from Perimeter as it distanced themselves from the corruption of Neo-Calvinism. In reviewing the Southeast Winter Conference, Eagle recommends and has no issues with it.
IndyCC – Indianapolis, IN
The Indianapolis Christmas Conference from what I have heard has been popular in the past. College students from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio attend. The theme apparently is “This changes everything.” Here is the breakdown of the speakers for this year. The first listed speaker is Jamie George who is the Lead Pastor of Journey Church in Franklin, Tennessee. He is the author of “Love Well.” The Journey has also been known for planting a number of churches domestically. Brad Jones is the Pastor of Students and Community of Passion City Church. This is the church that Louie Giglio leads. Tyler Reagin is the Executive Director of Catalyst which apparently deals with leadership. If I am mistaken then I invite correction. Earlier in life he served under Andy Stanley. Beth Guckenberger is the Co-Executive Director of Back2Back Ministries. Back2Back is an international orphan carte ministry based out of Cincinnati, Ohio. You can read more about Back2Back here. Rob Murray is a social entrepreneur and co-writer of “Living Alive.” He is Natalie LaRue’s husband and President of the Firehouse Talent Agency and Director of Haiti Made. Haiti Made creates jobs for Haitians with the goal of tackling the orphan and child slavery crisis. The next speaker on the agenda is Bacho Bordjadze. Bacho is a missional team leader for Cru at Ohio State University. His educational background includes a Masters in Biblical Studies from Ashland Seminary and a PhD in Old Testament at Durham University in England. Leeann Willis is the Ministry Coordinator at Kings Domain Summer Mission. The final speaker is Ryan Berg who has lived and worked in both the United States and India. While he has undertaken many issues such as the development of non-profit organizations he is currently tackling the issue of women in the sex trade industry. You can find Ryan’s articles at CruPress Green. In reviewing the Indianapolis conference I see no red flags and find this conference sound. Indianapolis gets a feather up from the Eagle! 🙂
Twin Cities Experience (TCX) – Minneapolis, MN
TCX is the conference I used to attend, that is held annually in Minneapolis. TCX is for college students in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota. According to the TCX website there are three speakers this year. They are Darryl Smith, Candice Siewert, and Bob Thune. Darryl Smith is the national director for Cru’s ministry to high school students. Prior to that he was the regional director of Cru for the southeast. You can read this interview that he gave a while back here. Candice Siewert has spoken at differing conferences for example the Denver conference in December 2013. Its my understanding she currently leads Global Missions for Cru in the upper Midwest. Bob Thune is the next speaker and is the lead pastor of Coram Deo Church in Omaha, Nebraska. His degrees are from the University of Oklahoma and Reformed Theological Seminary. Coram Deo is an Acts 29 church and Bob has been a speaker for Acts 29. After reviewing TCX I in good conscious can not recommend or support it this year. I’ll explain in detail below but my concerns are with Acts 29 network being given center stage and promoted.
Denver Christmas Conference – Denver, CO
The Denver Christmas Conference is being held from December 28 to January 2, 2016. The Denver Conference is for students from Kansas, Wyoming, New Mexico, Missouri, Nebraska, and Colorado. In reviewing the website there is no theme for the conference that I can find. The speakers however, are all available and they will be examined in detail. Renee Begay serves in Nations Movement which she was involved in establishing which is Cru’s Native American ministry. Dr. Anthony Bradley is the next speaker at Denver Christmas Conference. Bradley is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at The Kings College in New York City. He is also a Research Fellow at The Acton Institute. Previously , Bradley was Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, where he also directed the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute. He holds a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences from Clemson University, a Master of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary, a Master of Arts in Ethics and Society from Fordham University, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. Adam Go is the Executive Director of Ethnic Field Ministries for the campus ministry of Cru. In reading his bio, I would be willing to bet he went to TCX at the same time I did. Vivian Mabuni works with the Asian American ministry of Cru, called Epic where she serves on the Epic National Executive Team. Next is Anne Marie Miller who has published multiple books through Zondervan. Her most recent is called “Lean on Me: Finding Intentional Vulnerable and Committed Community.” She is a humanitarian journalist who has published articles in various magazines to include Cosmopolitan, and Relevant. Then there is Scott Nickell who is a teaching pastor at Flatirons Church in Boulder, Colorado. In looking over the church it appears to be leaning Neo-Calvinist. After all when the recommended reading list includes Doug Wilson, John Piper and Wayne Grudem that is always a red flag. There is more to say about this but let me move on to the next speaker. Shannon Rants is a Christian counselor who likes to rant (Sorry bad pun…can you tell it’s 2:00 A.M. as I write this?) about gender issues and homosexuality among other topics. Her ministry is called Come Arise Ministries. The last speaker is Brandon Washington. Brandon is the Pastor of Preaching and Vision at The Embassy Church. The Embassy Church is affiliated with Fellowship Associates and Acts 29. Due to the information and the speakers in the Denver Christmas Conference I have to express deep reservations and concern about this conference. The Denver Christmas Conference is not an event I could recommend or support. I will explain why in detail below in doing over all analysis.
Winter Conference – Fort Worth, TX
Winter Conference in Fort Worth is being held January 1 through 5, in 2016. I can not find the topic agenda of the theme for the conference. That said I looked at the speakers and the churches they came from. Tim Hawks is lead Pastor at Hill Country Bible Church in Austin, Texas, and since 1996, the Association of Hill Country Churches has planted 27 churches throughout the Greater Austin area. In studying the website of Hill Country it appears to be the driving force behind Saturate Austin. Tim earned his degree from Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri and a masters from Dallas Theological Seminary. James White is the Senior Pastor of Christ Our King Community Church in the Raleigh-Durham area. James also is a member of the National Training and Leadership Development Advisory Board for the YMCA. James has worked for Cru for 19 years. Dr. Jackie Rose is the founder of the Marcella Project which helps women through scripture training and dialogue. Her theological training comes in a Masters of Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary and DMin in Preaching from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. Paul Eshleman is the Vice President of Networks and Partnerships for Cru. He founded the JESUS film project and served as its director for 25 years. Finally the last speaker is Carrie Louer. She has worked for Cru at Ohio State University for 15 years apparently and is the Executive Director of Campus Field Ministry. You can read some of the blog posts she has written here. In reviewing and looking at this Winter Conference, I find this one to be sound from all appearances and material used. This one gets a gold star by Eagle!
Northwest Cru Conference – Portland, OR
Cru’s annual winter conference is for college students in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Oregon. The theme for the conference is based off 1 John 3:1 and is love. The speakers for the conference are Matt Mikalatos, Nicole Lewis and Chris Hoke. Matt Mikalatos has published articles at Discipleship Journal and Wittenberg Door. He has published 6 books with the newest being “The First Time We Saw Him.” Influences on Matt include Flannery O’Conner and G.K. Chesterton. The next speaker is Nicole Lewis has worked for Cru for a while. I’ve poked around on the Internet but have not been able to find much about her. It appears she has spoken at the Denver Christmas Conference but she is based out of Portland working on the Global Missions Team. The final speaker is Chris Hoke a jail chaplain and a minister to gangs and violent offenders in Washington State. He’s been interviewed on NPR which you can find here. In looking over the conference Northwest seems theologically sound. The best way to find out of course is see what material is being pushed in the book store. One question Eagle does have about Northwest Cru is the following. I honestly would ;love to write about it if someone ever got back to me. When Mars Hill was running people down and eventually imploding I read how one of the leaders of the Navigators in Seattle was concerned and voiced deep concerns about the church and tried to steer people away from Mars Hill. My question is the following…did Cru staff in metro Seattle also practice discernment and protected Cru students from a wolf like Mark Driscoll? Or did they say, “it’s healthy, and the Gospel is being taught there…” and encourage people to get involved and recommend it? If you were involved in Cru in Seattle I would love to hear from you and find out how Cru in Seattle responded to that mess known as Mars Hill.
Radiate Los Angeles – Anaheim, CA
Cru’s Christmas Conference used to be held in San Diego but was moved to Anaheim, when that happened I have no idea. Radiate is for college students in California, Hawaii, and Arizona, Radiate Los Angeles is held in mid-January and the only speakers I have been able to find have been JP and Donna Jones. JP Jones is the Senior Pastor at Crossline Community Church in Laguna Hills, California. Here is the doctrine and values of Crossline. He graduated from Talbot Seminary and for the past 24 years has been an Adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology at Biola University. He began Crossline in his home with a Bible study which was attended by 16 people. JP has traveled and spoken with Cru for years. He is a “Master Teacher” on a DVD series called Life Together through Zondervan. I noticed by the way when studying Crossline Community Chruch’s website that Kenny Luck is on staff. For those of you who do not know Kenny Luck built and directed the Men’s Ministry at Saddleback Church which is Rick Warren’s home church. In looking over what I have seen, and at this point it is limited because I can’t see the entire speaker line up, I would venture to say that Radiate is theologically sound and I support this conference.
Analysis of the Christmas/Winter Conferences for 2015/2016
I want to be clear that I support and love Cru. I planted and helped build a ministry at Marquette University which I still support. I strongly support the Christmas/Winter conferences in Atlanta, Greensboro, Los Angeles, Portland, Indianapolis, and Fort Worth. However after researching, studying and looking at the speakers of Washington, D.C., Denver and Minneapolis I in good conscious as a Cru supporter cannot promote or recommend those conferences for this year. There are multiple reasons which I plan to discuss here. Now before I continue I want to state that I am not opposed to having students learn about reformed theology. However there is a reason why I am concerned with the Minneapolis conference but not opposed to the Atlanta conference.
In Minneapolis I have deep concerns about a pastor from the Acts 29 network being given center stage and promoted. The Acts 29 network has deep and intrinsic problems within its culture. In short the DNA of Mark Driscoll remains in the network and is appearant in a number of Acts 29 network churches. I want to be clear…I’m not talking about the color of the carpet or worship style. I am talking about deep intrinsic cultural issues that exist in the Acts 29 denomination. When you have pastors dressing and emulating Mark Driscoll you have deep problems and the duplication of a personality cult. If you want to read more about the issues of a personality cult in Neo-Calvinism then in this article you can read about the similarities of the personality cult of Mao Zedong of China and John Piper. But the reason why I am opposed to having Bob Thune and Acts 29 speak is due to how toxic the Acts 29 denomination can be. In addition while problems with Driscoll’s DNA linger, ground zero for Acts 29 had a horiffic church discipline scandal that was abusive, un-ethical, and wrong in the mothership of Matt Chandler’s The Village Church. Karen Hinkley who attended the Flower Mound Campus and was a missionary in Asia sought and obtained an annulment from her husband Jordan Root. Jordan Root is a pedophile who is sexually attracted to children and addicted to child pornography. The Village Church disciplined Karen Hinkley, publicly shunned and went after her for breaking her “membership covenant” and not submitting to their leadership. You have to remember that many parts of Acts 29 just like Sovereign Grace practice the “Shephering Movement” as originally taught by the Fort Lauderdale 5. You can read about the scandal of Karen Hinkley and The Village Church in detail in this post here, here and here. Now The Village Church sets the tone for the network and other Acts 29 churches as Matt Chandler’s church is the model. Will Bob Thune of Coram Deo in Omaha do the same thing? If there is a situation of a wife who learns her husband is addicted to child pornography and sexually attracted to 4 year olds, and obtains an annulement or a divorce will Bob Thune’s church go after her? Acts 29 churches from what I am hearing can be notorious for shunning. Again, I’m expressing concerns about deep cultural issues that permeate a denomination. These are difficult yet serious questions that need to be asked. Now having explained that let me illustrate why I am not opposed to Jeff Norris of Perimeter Church in the Atlanta area of speaking at Southeast Winter Conference. While I am more in the middle of the road theologically like I said I have no opposition to students learning about reformed theology. However just as a quick diversion one thing that deeply troubles me is that the issue of how reformed theology makes the problem of evil worse and is often neglected to be explained. The other problem is that some camps of reformed theology teach a form of God’s sovereignty that is really nothing but determinism. You have a serious problem when you have someone teaching how everything from a bridge collapse to a child molestation being a result of God’s sovereignty. However getting back to the article the reason why I have no concerns about Jeff Norris teaching is the following reason. Perimeter is not affiliated (to the best of my knowledge) with The Gospel Coalition. The Gospel Coalition, which I have likened to a modern version of Tammany Hall, is known for its corruption. Its behavior in the Sovereign Grace lawsuit and in attacking a rape victim in this bastardized statement issued by Kevin DeYoung, Justin Taylor and D.A. Carson is atrocious. Faith should not be acting like the Italian mafia…meaning silent collusion and back room drug deals being driven by the Reformed Industrial Complex. I commend Perimeter Church for not being affiliated with The Gospel Coalition. That shows wisdom, discernment, and critical thinking skills. That’s why I have no hesitation about Jeff Norris speaking in Atlanta and express deep concern about Bob Thune speaking in Minneapolis. Its about discernment and wisdom which Cru desperatly needs today.
My opposition to the Denver conference is over what looks like a subtle Neo-Calvinist agenda. First of all having Scott Nickell speak is the first indicator. Look at the recommended reading list for Flatirons Church. They are promoting Doug Wilson a highly controversial Calvinist who describes himself as a paleo-Confederate who believes that slavery in the American south was beneficial to blacks. Stop and think about that for a second. Currently Doug Wilson is up to his eyebrows in a controversy involving Katie Travis and Steven Sitler. Steven is on Idaho’s sex offender registry for a history of child sex abuse. Doug Wilson’s church arranged a marriage for Katie Travis to Steven Sitler after only two dates thinking it would cure Steven’s pedophilia. Currently the State of Idaho is intervening because Steven Sitler admitted that he gets sexually stimulated holding his infant child. If you want to read more about Doug Wilson, read this post here. So when Cru promotes a pastor as a speaker whose church is promoting individuals like Doug Wilson I have to ask…what the hell are they thinking? Where is the discernment and critical thinking skills in Cru? The other reason I cannot recommend the Denver Christmas Conference has to do with Brandon Washington and The Embassy Church. I find it highly disturbing because Brandon Washington’s ties to the Fellowship Associates. The Fellowship Associates has its tenticles in a lot of questionable organizations…Acts 29, Crossway, etc…. You can read about it here. In addition its mentored by Matt Chandler’s The Village Church. How well you ask? Too well! The Village Church which tried to discipline a wife for annulling her marriage to a child pornography addict trained Fellowship Associates exceptionally well. Recently one of the main churches in the network –Fellowship Bible Church in Nashville was hit with a $37.5 million dollar lawsuit for covering up the rape of a child. My question to the leaders and directors of intermountain Cru is the following. Is it the “Gospel” to cover up the rape of a child? Is it acceptable to promote Brandon Washington’s Fellowship Associates given the serious allegations of child sex abuse cover up? Is it any coincidence that the scandal is breaking out in Fellowship Associates? And is it a result of its cultural links and mentorship of The Village Church in Dallas? I don’t understand why some parts of Cru become more concerned about women instructing men and care less about a child being raped. That I cannot comprehend. Have evangelicals learned from the child sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic church? Those two reasons Scott Nickell and Brandon Washington and Fellowship Associates are why I cannot recommend the Denver Christmas Conference.
Before I get into the reasons why I cannot support Radiate D.C. let me state that it may not be for what you might think. Just because a pastor is affiliated with Sovereign Grace doesn’t mean they should all be lumped together. Its my understanding and it has been written about in The Wartburg Watch that Curtis Allen has been one of the only Sovereign Grace pastors that ventured into SGM Survivors and held a long and serious discussion. I respect Curtis for that action as that took courage. I think others can learn from him in that manner. While I will write a lot of difficult posts and ask hard questions I also want to recognize and say kudos, as well as good job if I hear of something that deserves to be congratulated. By the way as I know that Curtis Allen will read thus, let me say that yes, I did push the button. But I know I am sinful, but I’ve also worked it out through the Lord. So I want to be clear that he is not what I am opposed about in regards to Radiate D.C.
There are many questions and ethical issues involving Paul Tripp. In August of 2015 it was learned that Tullian Tchvidjian who led Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church had an affair. He also resigned and filed for a divorce. You can read the details about that in Julie Anne’s article here. Shortly thereafter it was learned that Paul Tripp who was counseling Tullian Tchvidjian had released a statement about Tullian’s divorce. When the picture came into clearer focus the business relationships between Tullian and Paul Tripp made one wonder if there was any conflict of interest or ethical concerns. After all how can you counsel someone if they are writing an endorsement for your book as Paul Tripp did for Tullian’s “Surprised By Grace.” Today I remain convinced that many evangelicals struggle with ethics issues and conflicts of interest. There is more emphasis on ethical training in the American corporate world I would suggest than in seminaries or churches. So there are already many ethical issues regarding Paul Tripp that frankly need answers. There are also questions I have in regards to Mars Hill Seattle that I have of Paul Tripp. I credit Paul Tripp for coming out and saying that Mars Hill is “…without a doubt, the most abusive, coercive ministry I’ve ever been involved with.” But here are some questions that I wonder about….did Paul Tripp leave Mars Hill because he saw the writing on the wall? Did he try and bail as a result? Given the implosion has he repented and sought forgiveness for his role in Mars Hill? Has he approached Paul Petry, Bent Meyer and Rob Smith and others hurt by Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll and say, “I’m sorry…” and over a series of conversations work things out? Did Paul Tripp listen to some of the stories of lives harmed by Mars Hill Seattle and Mark Driscoll? On a quick side note…is one of the reasons why the world doesn’t respect Christians is because Christians don’t say “I’m sorry ” or work to resolve pain they have caused? Why hasn’t Paul Tripp been more vocal or call out Mark Driscoll more and challenge him? How can you teach on leadership when you can’t even address your failures? All that gives me deep concerns about Paul Tripp. Again if that has happened please let me know. The final concerns I have is with Kenji Adachi. That membership covenant that I analyzed for Ambassador Bible Church was a humdinger. I already have deep concerns given the environment he came out of. My question is why isn’t Cru advertising or letting people know he’s an Acts 29 church planter? Why the deceit and disingenuous nature? Why conceal it? By the way correct me if I am wrong…but I saw Fellowship Memphis on the Acts 29 website, but I didn’t see Acts 29 on the Fellowship Memphis website. Why the theological dishonesty by Fellowship Memphis? At least with Bob Thune’s Coram Deo you know quite clearly its Acts 29 by its references on the main page. But getting back to Kenji Adachi, why is Cru withholding that information? It’s a ministry…it’s not the Central Intelligence Agency or National Security Agency. Do you think the average person is going to stay up to 2 or 3 in the morning reading, researching and typing away posts like these? That is the second reason why I have grave concerns over Radiate. Its connections to Acts 29 and the concerns I have about the Acts 29 network and its culture which I wrote about with the Denver conference. I in good conscious cannot recommend Radiate D.C.
While the D.C. and Denver bother me deeply. The Minneapolis one breaks my heart. I attended TCX and flew from California to Minneapolis for that as a grad student in 2001 and attended again in 2002. Heck I remember intentionally getting enough people on the elevator in the Minneapolis Hilton to exceed the weight limit and have it sink to the basement. (Should I be saying this?) But seeing TCX’s connections to Acts 29 given the serious issues in the denomination give me deep concerns and pause. I cannot recommend the conference I once was a part of today.
Cru Needs to Teach Discernment
There is a reason why I led this post with a quote from Mike Anderson who directed the Resurgence. Alcohol, drugs, pornography, anger and abuse of food are not the only way a person can destroy their life. People can and are getting destroyed by religion today. JP Jones, Candice Siewert, and Matt Mikalatos can be phenomenal speakers but its all going to be in vain if Cru cannot teach people how to practice discernment. People need to be taught how to think not what to think. Because the reality is that the wolves are out there. C.J. Mahaney and Mark Driscoll are not the only wolves in existence. There are wolves in the Evangelical Free Church, Assembly of God, Southern Baptist, Acts 29, and countless other places. All these conferences are going to be in vain if people can’t be taught how to think. People need to be taught at 21, 24 and other ages how to look for, analyze and think critically. After all how many verses are there in scripture about practicing discernment and warnings about wolves and questionable individuals? If people are taught how to think and to practice critical thinking skills at 21, 23, or 25 then attenders of Cru’s conferences won’t be popping up on blogs like SGM Survivors, We Love Mars Hill, The Wartburg Watch, and Spiritual Sounding Board when they are 28, 35, or 40. They won’t be burned out and fried, walking away and explaining online why they are done with church how they feel sick to their stomach at the thought of God. There are people dealing with PTSD because of horrific church experiences and trauma. I had no plans of authoring a blog, but this itself was born out of trauma. A Care Group Leader from a former Sovereign Grace Ministries church in the Washington, D.C. area called Redeemer Arlington pressured me to get involved in a faith crisis. After much conflict he gave birth to a false accusation that took aim at my name, reputation and job. An Air Force Officer taught me why rape is an issue in the military and after that experience he turned around and focused on recruiting another person to Redeemer Arlington while I tried to put my life together again. Abuse, burnout and manipulation is at epidemic levels in evangelical Christianity today and there is an increase in authoritarianism as well. As a result families are being destroyed, friends torn apart, child sex abuse is being covered up, people are being shunned, and in some tragic cases people even are committing suicide. With parables like the Good Samaritan organizations like Cru cannot just go forward and hold conferences or plow ahead and leave the wounded alongside the road. The sheep are to be protected and not abused. The church needs to focus on its internal problems and confront wings and movements within itself. After what I endured from a person in authority in a Neo-Calvinist church I remain convinced that Neo-Calvinism needs to join Tojo’s Japan and the Soviet Union in the dustbin of history, where it is read and studied but no longer functioning and destroying people’s lives. I will do this again next year where I will write and review and offer strong push back if Cru has questionable people speak at their conferences. This post is being Tweeted and emailed to leadership in Cru around the country. In closing I will leave you with Better is One Day which I remember being sung in San Diego by the worship team at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. As always I love you guys!