In today’s post Eagle comes forward. I explain the history of the name I have used, and how I selected it. I also explain why its time to come forward. I dedicate the first video in this post to Todd Wilhelm. The rest of the post I dedicate to Dr. Eddie Cole of the Eastern District of the Evangelical Free Church of America. I also want to say the following…all the brave individuals I have talked, texted, emailed and visited in a difficult Evangelical Free situation which will start to be told on Monday, you have my deepest respect. I love you guys!
“To live with fear and not be afraid is the final test of maturity.”
“Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears.”
“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. 9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:5-7 NLT
I dedicate this video to Todd Wilhelm! 😛
I always knew this day would come. When and how it would come about would sort itself out in the course of time. In this post today I am going to reveal my name and start writing with that name going forward. But before I do let me re-visit a number of facts and explain how I choose the name Eagle and how I got to this point.
I stumbled across the religious blogging scene by accident in 2009 if I remember correctly. I googled one day “Where does a Christian go in a faith crisis?” It led me to the Christian Monist which I started to read, and then Internet Monk. I lurked for a while before diving into the conversation. When I wanted to start to post I had no idea as to what to choose for a name. So I stopped and reflected for a bit…I came to Washington, D.C. from Milwaukee, and I attended Marquette University. The new mascot for Marquette is the Golden Eagles. So I decided to just use the name Eagle as I was a part of the Marquette community and loved it deeply. So with that I started to write under the name of Eagle. For years I wrote as a commentator. I had no thought or plan to write a blog. I discovered blogging in my faith crisis and it has been a part of my faith ever since. I’ve spent time consuming the atheist side of the web and now spend time processing the differing sides of the church. Even though I still struggle in this one context: I am at peace with God but I struggle with the church. I do struggle with doubt in certain ways. When it comes to issues like the problem of evil I live in the tension. I am not going to get into the entire story because I have written about it before. In my faith crisis I had a friend who tried to get me involved in Redeemer Arlington. When I looked at the history and problems of Sovereign Grace it stunned me. I was outside the faith at the time and spoke about how Christianity is corrupt, then being invited to a denomination hemorrhaging allegations of criminal activity only validated my point. Then the unthinkable happened, a false accusation was leveled at me, Andrew fractured the relationship and worked to recruit another person. I wrote about it in detail here. I tried to resolve it but the process broke down. Andrew broke off the discussions, and Jordan Kauflin said, “well he said he was sorry…” while leaving the false accusation in place. Its my goal to do what I can to help bring the peace to others that was denied to me. The pain from that false accusation drives me in a way that that leadership of Redeemer Arlington does not comprehend. I have dreams and goals for this blog, on Monday you will see the first part. A sincere apology, a couple of phone calls, a retraction of what happened, empathy for the pain that was caused and some honest to God remorse would have left me in tears and put me in a situation where I would have the issues resolved. That would have put this blog to bed.
Why Write Under a Pseudo? And my Name…
Its funny for me that so many parts of Christendom are drunk and hung up on power. Many fear the internet just as they fear independent thought. There are many parts of the church that are outright controlling and operate like mini North Koreas in their polity. They control information, discourage people from researching and arriving at their own conclusions, and do this all under the claim of “don’t gossip or slander.” In the process the word gossip is redefined. They attack, demonize and make the author or person the issue. I learned this from the Cru staff worker at George Mason University who is nothing but a Mark Driscoll wannabe. In terse, rude, and disrespectful language he went for my juggler. Brett Miller taught me why you write anonymous as his behavior helped explain why that course of action is to be sought. Of course here is the problem…if Brett knew my name would he have still afforded me respect? No…he would have attacked me anyhow and claimed that I didn’t know what I was talking about or that I was gossiping, etc… I would have remained the issue anyhow. Here is the post that triggered that exchange. Brett’s behavior actually warranted a post from Dee Parsons. So I have dealt with that side of the equation….I am about to venture forward and deal with a different side of the story. It remained in the back of my mind for a while, so let me tell you how I arrived at this point.
This blog has gone farther than I could have ever anticipated. It was started in pain and that pain drives it today. But as part of that I also have a drive and determination to make sure that others do not get hurt. To be frank…unless you go through some of these situations that are traumatic and difficult you will not understand. Truth is I wouldn’t wish what I endured upon any one. As the blog grew I started to realize that this is going to be a bigger job than I anticipated. But I also found myself interacting more and more with people. If I am going to interact with an organization or ministry even to get a statement how can I do it under the name of Eagle? In the course of time I realized that I could not do that at all. It was going to be limiting and challenging.
Last Wednesday I was in downtown Washington, D.C. and I was talking with Todd Wilhelm by email. I love that guy a lot! I met him in July 2014 when he came to D.C. A number of people from The Wartburg Watch gathered here in the Fairfax area and met. That list included Pam and Dominic Palmer, Happymom and Wallace, Joy Huff and so many more. I met a lot of people who I love and care about and their stories were deeply disturbing. The following day Todd and I grabbed coffee outside Manassas, Virginia and we talked at length. He told me his story about UCCD and what happened. I listened very intently and the more I listened to him the more I thought, “Man UCCD lost someone really special…” We talk often by email and he feeds me some stuff and I run things by him as well. I view Todd as an incredible resource. Last Wednesday I was thinking that I was going to have to start writing in public using my name. So I got an email from Todd, in return I emailed him back letting him know that I was going to come out of the closet. I was thinking of coming out with my blogging name. Todd thought something all together different which is why I have that video of USAF Airman Randy Philips leading this post. 😛 When I told Todd that no I am not coming out as gay, instead I am coming out with writing in my name. He emailed me back and said, “Oops…I feel bad…” It’s okay Todd…I forgive you! 🙂
But there is another reason why I also wanted to come out with my name. It has to do with what is happening here next week. There is a horrific story out of an Evangelical Free Church in the Northeast United States. It is disturbing and troubling, and when you hear the details some of you are going to have a difficult time with it. To be honest I have spent a lot of time thinking about this issue. A good number of people want this story to come forward because they love and care for people still in this church. They also care for the person whose name took a deep hit. These people are brave, in that they have stood against and challenged the churches leadership. Remember when Karen Hinkley faced church discipline by Matt Chandler’s “The Village Church?” Karen annulled her marriage to a child pornography addict and challenged Matt Chandler’s authority. Remember how many people asked, “Why did so many people stand with the church and not with Karen?” Well…this story involving the Evangelical Free Church in the NE is the opposite of that with many people standing alongside and with a person who faced unjust church discipline. They have challenged a pastor’s authority and stood up to the Elders by walking away and refusing to shun the person at the center of the story. Their bravery and courage is inspiring and that is another reason why I am coming out.
So here it is….
My name is David Bonner, I live in the Washington, D.C. area and originally come from the Fresno, California area. I am 41, and a busy Washington, D.C. individual caught up in the hectic rat race here. In between everything I find time to squeeze out 4 posts a week, and drive a blog that is growing quickly. If you want to call me Dave, David, or Eagle, all the above is fine. I was called worse by a couple of coaches I had in life, so I am fine with what you want to choose. I like all names, Dave and David is who I am. Its who Dee Parsons, and close friends like Scott, Danny and James call me. However Eagle I like also as its a nod to my alma mater Marquette. So feel free to call me what ever you want.
Attention Dr. Eddie Cole of the Evangelical Free Church in the Eastern District
As I said in the introduction I dedicate today’s post to Dr. Eddie Cole. The Eastern District Superintendent of the Evangelical Free. First of all you mentioned in your email to me that pastors are not perfect. In many ways I agree with you they are not. However, let me stop there and tell you a little bit about myself. I would never be a pastor, nor would I desire to be an elder. The reasons are due to the fact that I am broken, and I have my shortcomings. I don’t hide them, nor have I attempted to hide them at all. But that said I wouldn’t want to be a pastor because I believe that if you are going to be a pastor you should be held to a higher standard. Many professions today including civil service, military, medicine and education have high standards. There are procedures in place to root out and prevent people with issues from becoming counselors I believe. The FBI will not take anyone off the street you have to meet their qualifications. Yes pastors are not perfect but I believe they should be held to a higher standard than other Christians. If you want to be a pastor, than you are just going to have to deal with the stress and responsibility of the job. It goes along with the territory. For example some people want to enter the military, well if you want to be in the military be prepared to deploy. You aren’t going to deploy to exotic locations in Europe or the South Caribbean, lounge around a pool, and be served Manhattan’s. No expect to go to places that are rough and see stuff that you will not see elsewhere.
Here is the problem that I got in your email. How does a person spiritually heal when the system is so systemically sick? How can a person who is hurt enter a spiritually broken system and expect to heal? The issues in the Evangelical Free Church of America, like other parts of evangelicalism are systemic. The greatest threats to the Gospel are not external, instead they are internal. I know many people are not going to want to hear his message, especially the religious establishment, but I take comfort in knowing that the establishment was what Jesus clashed with, and the establishment is what had Jesus killed. There are many issues with the Evangelical Free let me name one of them. The roots of the church, that of the immigrants of Swedish and Norwegian descent and the free autonomy is killing it today. The Evangelical Free is not designed for reformed theology and it is being theologically hijacked as a denomination. I already did the numbers for the Eastern District and are working on another district as I prep for another story about the Evangelical Free. I intend to speak with you from time to time as these issues arise. My goal is simple….I stand behind the person in the pew. The pastors already have the Evangelical Industrial Complex behind them. No one speaks for the person in the pew. Its those people who I want to empower and give a voice. This isn’t a fun job but in its current form the Evangelical Free movement has no one holding it accountable. The faith needs that today…otherwise the results of a system like the Evangelical Free are going to be pain, hubris and shattered lives. I would suggest Dr. Cole that the modern Christian church, and denominations like the Evangelical Free need to start practicing collective responsibility. Meaning the denomination needs to be examined, studied and reported on. Change happens when the church airs its dirty laundry. If you want to know my sentiments and why I feel like that…I wrote a post about very topic here.
On Monday I am going to start to tell the story about one of your churches. You are going to get a note from me next week, because quite honestly this situation needs to be fixed and resolved. In the end Dr. Cole I am committed to peace in that I want people to heal. I want people in this community to find healing, a pastor and his elders to repent, and I want the District to lead with responsibility. I am going to be a very different man in that I will roll up my sleeves and get into the trenches. My blog is going to be a little bit more aggressive than The Wartburg Watch. But Dee Parson’s has mentored me and I have no problem learning from her. So I want you to know that my name is David Bonner, and that I am committed to working with you. The next time you are down in the D.C. area I would be happy to take you out to lunch or dinner and discuss some of these issues in person.
In closing I want to leave the readers with a song that was emailed to me by one of the atheists who hangs around here. It’s an honor to have him. Albuquerque Blue emails me a lot of music and asks me to listen to it. I do so, and in the process I have learned that Blue has exceptional taste. A couple of months ago he sent me Disturbed’s The Sound of Silence. I have been addicted to it, and my Android is getting a heck of a workout. So with that I want to leave it here for you to enjoy and partake. I want you guys to know that I love you and care for you no matter where you are in life. 🙂