Analyzing the Growth of Reformed Theology/Neo-Calvinism in the Evangelical Free Church of America: The Eastern District

Today I unveil the first completion of a long term project of determining the rate of Reformed/New Calvinist theology in the Evangelical Free Church of America at The Wondering Eagle. This is a year long effort at this blog as I work through 17 districts. In this post I reveal my findings in the Eastern District

“My own earthly father has been known to answer this question this way- Arminians are Christians, barely.”

R.C. Sproul Jr. quotes his father on Armenians barley being Christians.

“The New Calvinism is robustly gospel-centered, cross-centered, with dozens of books rolling off the presses coming at the gospel from every conceivable angle and applying it to all areas of life, with a commitment to seeing the historic doctrine of justification finding its fruit in sanctification both personally and communally.”

Tim Challies quotes John Piper

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave  his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 NLT

Before I get into this post which is the second of two posts by the way I want to define what is Neo-Calvinism which has a strong Neo-Puritan bent.

  • Neo-Calvinism has authoritarian leadership which has little if any accountability. For example I present issues with Mark Driscoll and C.J. Mahaney as an example.
  • It embraces a complementarianism  structure that is patriarchy centered.
  • Its rooted more in the Old Testament than the New Testament and deals with dominionism issues.
  • Views the church as the final authority and often avoids civil responsibility or accountability. For this example I would present Sovereign Grace and the Acts 29 network in how parts of it functions.
  • Election which is more of a determinism or fatalism.

Brad Sargent has a good list here, plus I also used that Tim Challies post in discussing John Piper. For further reference Roger Olson wrote a good post a while back that I will also link to in today’s post.

 

 

Neo-Calvinism in the Evangelical Free Church of America Project at The Wondering Eagle

At The Wondering Eagle I am going to undertake a massive project of which today’s post is the first installment. This project will carry over for at least a year and I’ll have my work cut out for me. What I am going to is research and write about each district in the Evangelical Free Church of America.  To the very best of my ability I am going to find out which churches are Reformed/Neo-Calvinist and get some numbers to calculate the growth of Reformed Theology throughout the denomination. There are 17 districts and over 1,300 churches throughout the United States. At the end of this project I will use the numbers I have created and write a final post. Today I am unveiling the results from the first district – The Eastern District of the Evangelical Free Church of America.

I will unveil my numbers at the bottom of this post but to give you some understanding let me explain how I arrived at my numbers, or how I determined the baseline.

  • If a church is affiliated with The Gospel Coalition, Acts 29 or 9 Marks it is included in the list. A couple of examples are Redemption Hill in Washington, D.C. which is affiliated with Acts 29. Cornerstone which is in Annandale a suburb of Washington, D.C. which is headed up by Bill Keynes is affiliated with The Gospel Coalition. Another example is River Vale Community Church in River Vale, New Jersey which is headed up by Kevin Hanley and also affiliated with The Gospel Coalition.
  • Other churches that are reformed but not affiliated with a Neo-Calvinist network are included. In these situations I examined the doctrinal statement and came to the conclusion they are reformed. An example is Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania which is led by Steve Estes.
  • In other situations I examined the recommended resources to see what books the Senior Pastor is reading, consuming or pushing. For example Keystone Church in Paradise, Pennsylvania is one such example. The Senior Pastor Keith Rohrer  writes about his favorite authors such as  C.J. Mahaney and John Piper. (I wonder if Keith knows about Mahaney’s “Gospel Centered Blackmail?” If he doesn’t he can read this post that I wrote.) But you can also see the recommended blog resources that he features in the blogs he likes and that reinforces how he made this list. Here is another example that made the list. Joy Community Fellowship in Haddon Heights, New Jersey which is headed up by Mark Savidge. When you look at the recommended resources you see an obvious Neo-Calvinist bent with individuals like John MacArthur, Jerry Bridges and Wayne Grudem.
  • In other situations in examining the website there was not enough information to go on, so I did not include them in the list. If there was reason to doubt, then I did. For example there are a couple of churches that did not have doctrine statements and explained what they believed. Others were extremely basic and didn’t share enough information to make a determination.
  • In some situations I could not find a website to review. The reason for this is that the church has most likely closed. There are exceptions to this such as Grace Community Church in Charlotte Court House. I could not find the website however, I did find a newspaper article about its second anniversary which I linked to this article. If I cannot find a church online then expect to find an asterisk next to it.

One thing I would also like to say, if there is any mistake in the analysis such as a church being listed as reformed when it is not, or when it is and I missed it; well I invite feedback and correction. Just email me at wonderingeagle261@gmail.com and I will correct it. Also for the record I am neither Arminian nor Reformed, I am somewhere in the middle. The current crop of Neo-Calvinist leaders such as John Piper, C.J. Mahaney Mark Dever and their minions are deeply corrupt and I wouldn’t trust them to feed my goldfish. Also for the record if you want to read the problems with 9 Marks this is one of the most read posts at my blog. It’s called “9 Marks : What is it? How Mark Dever Undermined it and Made it Absolutely Worthless.” That said, there are a couple of reformed people I respect such as Matt Redmond, and Wade Burleson. Having explained all that here is why I reject Reformed Theology. I need to write a long , detailed post on it, but Reformed Theology makes the problem of evil worse. It leads to a corrupt God, and it ultimately makes acts of evil as acts of worship if God foreordains every act, especially as there is no free will. It puts a whole new twist on situations from a shooting in an elementary school in Connecticut, to flying a 767 into 1 World Trade on September 11, 2001. It also removes accountability from people especially if the Lord foreordains every act. In short order you have determinism which is all John Piper is about. I’ve written about the problem of evil here and how I found a working answer to it for me. In the process I also thank Pam Palmer and the other Sovereign Grace families who filed a lawsuit against C.J. Mahaney for teaching me as to how you deal with the problem of evil. Having explained all that below you will find all the churches in the Eastern District, a link to their website, and if they fall in the Neo-Calvinism camp.

 

Virginia/Washington, D.C.

  1. Redemption Hill (DC) (Reformed – Acts 29, TGC)
  2. Cornerstone (Annandale) (Reformed – TGC, 9 Marks)
  3. Ambassador Bible Church (Chantilly)
  4. Grace Community Church *(Charlotte Court House)
  5. Great Bridge Community Church (Chesapeake)
  6. Holy Nation Church (Fairfax)*
  7. Grace Memorial Church (Fredericksburg) (Reformed – 9 Marks)
  8. Grace Church (Lynchburg)
  9. Crossway Fellowship (Manassas)
  10. Valley Bible Church (Radford) (Reformed)
  11. Arise RVA (Richmond)(Reformed – Sent Network)
  12. Grace EFC (Strasburg)
  13. Hope Fellowship (Warrenton)
  14. Warrenton Bible Fellowship (Warrenton) (Reformed)

Central & Eastern Pennsylvania

  1. Faith Church (Allentown)
  2. Iglesia Evangelical de Fe (Allentown)
  3. New Beginning Church (Ashland) (Newspaper article)
  4. Christ Church of Beaver Springs (Beaver Springs)
  5. Christ EFC (Bethel)
  6. Carlisle EFC (Carlisle)
  7. Grace EFC (Cressona)
  8. Fellowship Church (Dallas)(Reformed – 9 Marks, TGC)
  9. Trinity EFC of Dauphin (Dauphin)
  10. Cornerstone Christian Church (Duncannon)
  11. Cornerstone Church (Easton)
  12. Community Evangelical Free Church (Elverson) (Reformed)
  13. Narrow Road Communities (Enola) (Reformed)
  14. South Mountain Bible Church (Fayetteville)
  15. Jesus Messiah EFC (Hanover)
  16. Community EFC (Harrisburg) (Reformed – TGC)
  17. Susquehanna Valley EFC (Harrisburg)
  18. Grace Community Church (Herndon)
  19. Hershey Free Church (Hummelstown)
  20. Lebanon Area EFC (Jonestown)
  21. Open Bible Church (Lansdale)
  22. Iglesia El Faro (Lebanon)
  23. Christ EFC (Leighton)
  24. Crossroads Community Church (Leighton)*
  25. Lancaster EFC (Lititz)
  26. Hope EFC (Matamoras)
  27. West Shore EFC (Mechanicsburg)
  28. CrossWay Church (Mohnton) (Reformed – TGC)
  29. EFC of Montrose (Montrose)
  30. Hope Community Church (Mount Joy)
  31. Evangelical Free Fellowship Church (Muncy)
  32. Grace Community Church (New Tripoli)
  33. Ridgeview EFC (Northumberland)
  34. Kimmels EFC (Orwigsburg)
  35. Hope in Christ (Palmyra)
  36. Keystone Church (Paradise)(Reformed)
  37. Fellowship Bible Church (Philadelphia) (Reformed – 9  Marks, TGC)
  38. Liberty EFC (Philadelphia)
  39. Redemption Church of Philly (Philadelphia)(Reformed)
  40. Pine Grove Community EFC (Pine Grove)
  41. El Portico (Reading)
  42. Shippensburg (Shippensburg EFC)
  43. Pocono EFC (Stroudsburg)
  44. Community EFC (Thomasville)
  45. Calvary Chapel EFC (Valley View) (Reformed – TGC)
  46. Trinity EFC (West Willow)
  47. Bible Fellowship EFC (Yardley)(Reformed)
  48. Immanuel EFC (York)

Eastern New York

  1. Calvary Protestant Church (Baldwin)
  2. First EFC (Brooklyn)
  3. Latin EFC (Brooklyn)
  4. New York Chinese (Brooklyn)
  5. Evangelical Free Church (Clinton Corners)
  6. Faith EFC (Dix Hills)
  7. Living Word EFC (Elmira)
  8. Dix Hills EFC (Huntington Station)
  9. First Ithaca Chinese Christian (Ithaca)(Reformed)
  10. Great Commission Bible Church (Jamaica)
  11. Grace Church (Lake Katrine)
  12. Park EFC (New City)
  13. South Shore Community Church (Oakdale)(Reformed)
  14. Grace Gospel Church an EFC (Patchogue)
  15. Community Bible EFC (Richmond Hill)
  16. Roosevelt Bible Church (Roosevelt)* (Newspaper article about the area)
  17. Lighthouse EFC (Rotterdam Junction)
  18. Sound Beach Community Church (Sound Beach)
  19. Bethel EFC (Staten Island)(Reformed TGC)
  20. Salem Church (Staten Island)
  21. Totenville EFC (Staten Island)(Reformed – 9 Marks, TGC)
  22. Pierce Hill Christian Fellowship (Vestal)(Reformed)
  23. Valley Bible Church (Warwick)
  24. Integrity Christian Fellowship (Yaphank)

New Jersey

  1. Montgomery EFC (Belle Mead)
  2. EFC of Blairstown (Blairstown)*
  3. Northern Valley EFC (Cresskill)
  4. Calvary EFC (Essex Falls)(Reformed)
  5. Faith EFC (Freehold)
  6. Iglesia Evangelica de Fe (Freehold)
  7. Beacon EFC (Galloway)
  8. Joy Community Fellowship Church (Haden Heights) (Reformed – TGC)
  9. Hoboken EFC (Hoboken)
  10. Vroom St. EFC (Jersey City)
  11. Christ Chapel (Kinnelon)
  12. Ocean County EFC (Lakehurst)
  13. Lincroft Bible Church (Lincroft)
  14. Grace Fellowship EFC (Milford)
  15. Mt. Laurel EFC (Mt. Laurel)(Reformed – TGC)
  16. Montvale EFC (Montvale)
  17. Iglesia Evangelical Libre (Newark)
  18. Grace EFC (Oak Ridge)
  19. Joy Community Fellowship (Pittman)(Reformed)
  20. Windsor Chapel (Princeton Junction)
  21. Bethlehem Church (Randolph)
  22. River Vale Community Church (River Vale)(Reformed – TGC)
  23. Sparta EFC (Sparta)(Reformed – TGC)
  24. Hope Community Church (Pilesgrove)
  25. Trinity EFC (Teaneck)
  26. Welling Up Church (Teaneck)*
  27. Hope EFC (Wantage)(Reformed – 9 Marks)
  28. Bethany EFC (West Orange)

Eastern Maryland

  1. Christ Power Church & Ministries (Baltimore)
  2. Stillmeadow EFC (Baltimore)
  3. Rock Creek Church (Derwood)(Reformed – TGC)
  4. Mountain View Community Church (Frederick)
  5. Seneca Creek Community Church (Gaithersburg)
  6. Tri-State Fellowship (Hagerstown)
  7. Cornerstone EFC (Pasadena)

Delaware

  1. Reflections Bible Church (Middletown)
  2. Summit Bridge EFC (Middletown)
  3. Grace EFC (Newark)
  4. Peninsula Community Church (Selbyville)(Reformed – TGC)
  5. Crossroads Church (Wilmington)

Percentages of the Eastern District Which are Reformed

In the Eastern District there are 126 Evangelical Free Churches. Now on the front page the Eastern District it says that there are at least 130. If that is a glitch on my side I will be happy to correct, but I’ve run through my numbers a couple of times, however I am also human.  The bulk of the Eastern District is located in Central and Eastern Pennsylvania with 48 churches. From my studying of 126 church websites and running all the Eastern District churches through the 9 Marks, The Gospel Coalition, and Acts 29 directories I discovered that the Eastern District has 30 Reformed/Neo-Calvinist churches. That accounts for at least 20% of the district. As of today there is only one Acts 29 church affiliated with the Eastern District which is Redemption Hill in DC which is headed up by Bill Riedel. The greatest rate of Reformed Theology/Neo-Calvinism is in Virginia and D.C.  with 42% of the Evangelical Free being Neo-Calvinist/Reformed. This is followed by New Jersey which is 25% Neo-Calvinist/Reformed in the Evangelical Free. The average is 20% in the other states which is where Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware fall. Eastern Maryland is at 14%. Now here is another thing that is troubling and disturbing. A number of these churches below have been theologically hijacked in their history. For example let me choose two from this list to make my point. Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania began in the 1970s, however if I were to talk with many people who had attended there I would be willing to bet I would learn about a church that was theologically hijacked to Reformed Theology in the late 90’s or early 2000’s. Another case is Tottenvile Evangelical Free in Staten Island, New York. The history of the church dates back to 1915 and its joining the Evangelical Free in 1958. At some point it also was theologically hijacked as well, and if I were to take an educated guess it would be in the late 90’s early 2000’s. The churches listed below are all the Neo-Calvinist/Reformed churches in the Eastern District.

 

  1. Redemption Hill (DC) (Reformed – Acts 29, TGC)
  2. Cornerstone (Annandale) (Reformed – TGC, 9 Marks)
  3. Grace Memorial Church (Fredericksburg) (Reformed – 9 Marks)
  4. Valley Bible Church (Radford) (Reformed)
  5. Arise RVA (Richmond)(Reformed – Sent Network)
  6. Warrenton Bible Fellowship (Warrenton) (Reformed)
  7. Fellowship Church (Dallas)(Reformed – 9 Marks, TGC)
  8. Community Evangelical Free Church (Elverson) (Reformed)
  9. Narrow Road Communities (Enola) (Reformed)
  10. Community EFC (Harrisburg) (Reformed – TGC)
  11. CrossWay Church (Mohnton) (Reformed – TGC) get email info
  12. Keystone Church (Paradise)(Reformed)
  13. Fellowship Bible Church (Philadelphia) (Reformed – 9  Marks, TGC)
  14. Redemption Church of Philly (Philadelphia)(Reformed)
  15. Calvary Chapel EFC (Valley View) (Reformed TGC)
  16. Bible Fellowship EFC (Yardley)(Reformed)
  17. First Ithaca Chinese Christian (Ithaca)(Reformed)
  18. South Shore Community Church (Oakdale)(Reformed)
  19. Bethel EFC (Staten Island)(Reformed – TGC)
  20. Totenville EFC (Staten Island)(Reformed – 9 Marks, TGC)
  21. Pierce Hill Christian Fellowship (Vestal)(Reformed)
  22. Calvary EFC (Essex Falls)(Reformed)
  23. Mt. Laurel EFC (Mt. Laurel)(Reformed – TGC)
  24. Joy Community Fellowship Church (Haden Heights) (Reformed – TGC)
  25. Joy Community Fellowship (Pittman)(Reformed)
  26. River Vale Community Church (River Vale)(Reformed – TGC)
  27. Sparta EFC (Sparta)(Reformed – TGC)
  28. Hope EFC (Wantage)(Reformed – 9 Marks)
  29. Rock Creek Church (Derwood)(Reformed – TGC)
  30. Peninsula Community Church (Selbyville)(Reformed – TGC)

I invite your comments, feedback or criticism. This is also being emailed to the Eastern District leadership, staff and churches. Having done that I will now move on to the next district in the denomination.

13 thoughts on “Analyzing the Growth of Reformed Theology/Neo-Calvinism in the Evangelical Free Church of America: The Eastern District

  1. Acts 29, TGC, 9 Marks
    I’m at a loss what the attraction is. If Free Methodist churches are already part of a denomination what is to be gained from the additional associations. I am assuming there is a flow of money so what is gained in return and by whom? Is it driven by the pastor or is there something gained by the congregation?

    In this last year I’ve read so many stories of Acts 29, TGC, and 9 Marks and their proximity to exploitation and abuse I wonder why someone would willing accept their local church associating with these groups.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me to Bill….it astounds me that all this information keeps coming out and people think its fine. In the case of the Evangelical Free I think the District Superintendent Eddie Cole is probably in a difficult position and trying to keep both camps in the church. In the course of time I think the EFCA will most likely face a fracture. It’s headed down the same path as the SBC. The EFCA wasn’t designed for Reformed Theology its roots are in the Swedish and Norwegians immigrant culture it was set up with a lot of autonomy which was designed to allow freedom. Today that autonomy is being exploited by the Reformed crowd.

      Like

  2. I think, just like the Southern Baptist, each EFC church is autonomous. As a church, they can chose to call as a pastor anybody they choose, Arminian or Calvinistic or something in between. The District Superintendant DOES NOT CHOOSE a church’s pastor.This ain’t the Methodist denomination.
    *
    Speaking of the Southern Baptist, you certainly don’t see a lot of infighting over the more Arminian vs Calvinistic theological issues. They really seem to peacefully roll along. Re: Page Patterson and Al Mohler appear to be good friends though they’re in different theological camps but the differences are very, very small in conservative Evangelicalism..
    *
    I’m pretty sure, Wondering, your problem isn’t Mohler’s theology, it’s Mohler himself. Correct?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Revealing My Identity and Bracing for the Long Haul; On Monday We Get to Work | Wondering Eagle

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