As I struggled to find a way forward in a false accusation and in my darkest season of life an unlikely friend came forward to love me, care and get to know me. His name is Carson Wilson and he was a member of Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church. He read my story about Andrew White and Redeemer Arlington on Dee Parson’s The Wartburg Watch. This is an open letter to a friend and a look back at how I knew Carson. This is also about Capitol Hill Baptist Church and issues with 9 Marks. Finally its also a letter saying thank you for the grace and time you spent with me.
“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Winnie the Pooh
“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”
When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. Their names were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. 12 When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.
Job 2:11-13 NLT
***Note Carson Wilson is a pseudonym***
Before I get into this letter I need to start out by saying how I met you. Your life intersected with mine when I was in my darkest season. As you know Andrew White tried to get me involved in Eric Simmons Redeemer Arlington. Andrew was a colleague of mine and I was in the midst of a profound faith crisis. Andrew gave birth to a false accusation on May 8, 2013. A military officer who Jordan Kauflin personally discipled taught me why rape and sexual assault is a serious problem in the United States military. Overnight I found myself in the darkest season of my life. I cried, shook and went through something psychologically traumatic while Andrew then focused on recruiting another person to Redeemer Arlington. I don’t know why my life wasn’t destroyed and the experience left me in a daze. I still can’t believe I learned why rape and sexual assault is a serious problem in the military. After all it was something I read about in the Washington Post, Time or Newsweek. Carson my life can be a testimony to cults and harmful religious groups…from Mormonism in college to Sovereign Grace in my thirties. I managed that false accusation for about 13 months which you can read in this post “How I Managed a False Accusation Given Birth to by a USAF Captain and Care Group Leader from Redeemer Arlington for 408 Days.“ Dee Parsons who writes The Wartburg Watch not only helped me as I tried to put the pieces of my life together, she also asked if she could tell my story. When I asked her why she told me that it was important because it dealt with Sovereign Grace. She wanted to write about Eric Simmons in the past and this was an opportunity to highlight the final SGM plant before the denomination erupted in crisis in 2011. Plus she also said my story of forgiveness combined with my faith crisis needed to be heard. So I agreed and I penned three posts for her in “Eagle’s Story – Part One“,”Eagle’s Story, Part 2 : Atheism, An Illness, A Friend and Redeemer of Arlington” and “Eagle’s Story – Part 3: How Often Should You Ask for Forgiveness? 70 Times 2” These posts about Redeemer Arlington started to be published in late July of 2014. You are one of the many readers of The Wartburg Watch, you actually discovered it while Googling Mark Driscoll. So after reading my story you reached out and wanted to meet. I remember sitting in my Honda Accord at the time checking my email and seeing Dee pass on your note to me. So we picked a time to meet in Arlington and we connected. I remember when you told me that you were from Capitol Hill Baptist Church and you asked if we could meet and talk from time to time. One of the things you did was encourage me to write a blog. You thought I would be a good writer. Here we are three years later, and I have written about 400 posts, have been read by 200,000 people and created a blog that is writing heavily about the Evangelical Free Church of America. Thank you for encouraging me, to be honest I didn’t plan to do this but I am grateful this is being done.
Looking at 2 Friendships: Andrew White and Carson Wilson
I was in a lot of pain when you met me, and yet while I was in the darkest season of my life you wanted to get to know me. I was managing and struggling with a false accusation and warned about stalking. (Yes this came from the same guy who invited me into his home, asked me to change the password to his computer, and walked me through his wedding album, and showed me pictures of his daughter. I know who invites a stalker into their home….) You knew the challenges the false accusation posed and yet you prayed for them. You knew the hurdles I had to go through and yet you prayed for then. You texted me often and called me up frequently. In the course of time you told me that Andrew White was a tool of Sovereign Grace. A tool is a person that is used by an organization to recruit people into them. Years ago I saw how Mormonism used missionaries as tools to recruit people. I don’t know if I am at that point where I want to believe that Andrew was a tool of Redeemer Arlington. Instead I think he was just a guy who was profoundly lost, confused and quite lonely. I think he wanted to go to the Air Force Academy but I think he struggled with finding his identity in the United States Air Force. I think Sovereign Grace plays to that need especially when you are lonely. After all let’s be honest….the Washington, D.C. area is a hard, lonely and difficult place to live.
Carson, these are some of the differences that I noticed between you and Andrew. You could handle criticism of Mark Dever fine. When I said something that was difficult about Mark Dever you explained why I was wrong, but you could articulate and explain yourself. When I told Andrew that C.J. Mahaney is a fraud, Andrew blew and got so angry that he could not work for a day. In my lifetime I have never seen a person become that angry or obsessed with an individual. I say this next part not to disparage Andrew but to be honest. I also say this knowing that I have at one point in my life drunk the Kool Aid of John Piper and Joseph Smith. Andrew greedily drank the Kool Aid and dismissed other points of view and couldn’t practice discernment. I remember when Dee Parsons read a pile of Andrew’s emails (which she preserved due to the false accusation I endured) and told me that Andrew was deeply naïve. In contrast you were good in practicing discernment. When Jonathan Leeman told you something or you heard Deepak Reju or Mark Dever say something you often went to The Wartburg Watch and other sources and looked for another point of view. It turns out that there are a number of people inside Capitol Hill Baptist that like to read The Wartburg Watch. You weigh what you hear and you think it through. That’s good, but I also think part of that comes from being burned by another church you were involved in. I won’t say which one it is as I want to keep you anonymous but Warren Throckmorton wrote about it. Another thing is that Andrew entered my life when I was confused, he made a mess and threatened to destroy my life through a false accusation. He walked out and refused to address or deal with the pain or issues that he created. In contrast while I dealt with Andrew’s problems you came alongside, prayed, talked, listened and helped. You got into the thick of it which meant a lot to me. Andrew’s love was superficial, false and conditional on only getting me into Redeemer Arlington. The pressure I was under to attend Redeemer Arlington was ridiculous. In contrast Carson you loved me for who I am, never pressured me to go to Capitol Hill Baptist Church and wanted to get to know me regardless.
When Andrew White, Jordan Kauflin and myself had a conference call on May 18, 2015 to start to resolve the problems that existed you prayed for that conference call. When Andrew broke off the discussions, ran and left the false accusation intact, and did not neutralize it, I struggled and you prayed that the false accusation would not harm me. When Jordan Kauflin didn’t have a clue on how to resolve the situation and told me, “well Travis said he is ‘sorry'” you prayed that the false accusation could be resolved. If I can say Carson the stench of bullshit that wafts out of Redeemer Arlington is pretty strong. This blog The Wondering Eagle ultimately is a statement. Its a statement on the health of Redeemer Arlington. Its a statement on the health of Andrew’s faith. Its a statement on the leadership of Redeemer Arlington. Finally its a statement on the problems of Sovereign Grace and former Sovereign Grace churches.
Your Thoughts on Mark Dever and a Source
We had a lot of talks about Mark Dever. You like Mark Dever and he did something profound that touched your life. I wish I could say what Mark did but if I did then you would no longer be anonymous. You also viewed Mark Dever as a politician. You did tell me that there are many people inside Capitol Hill Baptist who are botherd by Mark Dever’s relationship with C.J. Mahaney. In one of the congregation meetings you told me that Mark was allegedly asked about C.J. Mahaney’s ties to Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Mark Dever allegedly said that C.J. Mahaney was listening more to his attorneys than his friends. One of the issues you and I spoke about is about why Mark Dever stands by C.J. Mahaney. You believe they are friends and yet I think its something far darker. Let me explain, over at The Wartburg Watch, Deb I believe documented how much money Al Mohler took from C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace. $200,000 is obscene and un-ethical especially when in the third world country we call the United States people in Sovereign Grace were eating oatmeal for dinner, and gave up meat. Other amounts of money have been given toWayne Grudem, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Mark Dever. I wrote about it in detail in the following post called, “ When it Comes to C. J. Mahaney; What the Evangelical Christian Church can Learn from Deep Throat and Watergate.” So we know Mark Dever took some money from C.J. Mahaney…my question is how much are we talking about in the end? What would it take to allegedly purchase the allegiances of the Senior Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist? $100,000 or $200,000 or more? These are questions I have, but that is what I believe happened Carson. I believe C.J. Mahaney is deeply corrupt and that Mark Dever was corrupted in the process.
Another thing you spoke with me about is how the Washingtonian article “The Sex-Abuse Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch” on the alleged cover up of child sex abuse in SGM was received at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. If I remember correctly there were many people that were disgusted with the alleged cover of child sex abuse in Sovereign Grace. Carson you had a good pulse on the system there at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Another thing you also told me about is how some there feared the “Care List” As you know Carson in my faith crisis I discovered Christopher Hitchens and there are two things Hitch is known for. One is Johnny Walker Black, and the other is George Orwell. With names like “Care List” every day is 1984 at Capitol Hill Baptist. What a twisted use of words, “Care List” for church discipline, very Orwellian indeed!
The other thing I also did was connect you with Dee Parsons. We drove up to Little Italy in Baltimore and had dinner in an Italian restaurant with Bill and Dee Parsons. There Dee re-told the story of being in a scandal at David Horner’s Providence Baptist. There was an alleged child sexual abuse cover up. You were amazed when you heard the details face to face of what happened. If I recall you also told Dee about Nick Roark, who is the Senior Pastor at Franconia Baptist, who also has roots in Providence Baptist. Dee asked you a lot of questions about culture, life, how young people view Mark Dever, and more. After that dinner which you enjoyed you reached out to her and gave her ideas on topics to write about. When Dee called me up from time to time to talk she also frequently asked how you were doing. Dee wanted to attend a service at Capitol Hill Baptist and feel it out and observe. She still plans to do that as well. As someone at Capitol Hill Baptist you often told me how Dee Parsons got it. How she understood 9 Marks, the key role Jonathan Leeman played and more. You were amazed by how many of her articles were spot on. You also encouraged me to write about a number of things. From Redeemer Arlington, to C.J. Mahaney, and even Mormonism. I know you want me to write more about the LDS faith especially since I explored it in college. I have already written a couple of articles and am trying to figure out what else to say. I want you to know that I have reached out to some Mormon bloggers and asked them if they wanted to re-tell their story of leaving Mormonism. Another thing I want to do one day is look at the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible. I don’t believe it was formally adopted by the LDS faith and yet it influenced it. Some of the LDS doctrine on Godhood and I believe baptism of the dead came from Joseph Smith’s re-translation of the Bible. One thing I want to do is ask if Wayne Grudem is a modern day Joseph Smith. Here’s why I say that…Joseph Smith knew the importance of controlling the Bible if you want to control the theology. That is what I think the Neo-Calvinists have done with the ESV, and that is why I think Wayne Grudem has been involved in its translation. After all if you control the Bible you win the game. I wrote about the issues in the ESV in this post called, “Wayne Grudem’s Un-Orthodox View of the Trinity and the Question that Must Be Asked: Can the ESV Bible be Trusted?“
9 Marks and China
We have also spoken a lot about 9 Marks as well in the time we hung out. I think the biggest problem with 9 Marks is the church discipline and the membership part. However, I also think 9 Marks is not about creating a “healthy church” instead, I think its about advancing reformed theology. There are many churches that have the tenets of the 9 Marks yet 9 Marks would reject them in all likelihood. The reason why I am opposed to reformed theology is that it makes the problem of evil worse. I wrote about this in how John Piper responded to the Newtown shooting in Connecticut. “How Reformed Theology/Neo-Calvinism Makes the Problem of Evil Worse: John Piper, Adam Lanza and a Massacre in Connecticut.” Basically Neo-Calvinism creates a God who ordains evil, which if you are going to accept that version of theology then you have to accept that Adam Lanza was doing God’s will and that since the Lord ordained it the massacre in Newtown is a form of worship to God. Let me ask this question as well…did the Lord ordain C.J. Mahaney’s corruption? But when I look specifically at 9 Marks there is a major flaw it has in the program. Jesus theologically said that his followers would be known by their love. Love is absent from 9 Marks, that is a glaring problem as it going against what Jesus teaches. Then there was the time when C.J. Mahaney fled Covenant Life and hid behind Mark Dever’s “Gospel Centered Rear End.” In the process Mark Dever violated 5 of the 9 Marks. I wrote about that in this post called, “9 Marks: What is it? How Mark Dever Undermined it and Made it Worthless.” Another problem with 9 Marks is that it is a theological caste system. Mark Dever has crated a modern day caste system that subjugates people in the pews. I think we can both agree that individuals like C.J. Mahaney, Mark Dever, Jonathan Leeman and others will never face church discipline. That is why 9 Marks is a farce. If C.J. Mahaney’s alleged criminal activities don’t warrant it, then nothing will. But I think what also influences this matter is all the money that Mahaney gave to Dever. Is Mark Dever going to practice church discipline on his business partner for T4G? Of course not people are fools if they think the leadership of these places of subject to church discipline. They are not and will never be. When I hear the news that Mark Dever of C.J. Mahaney are facing church discipline they will be breaking out the parkas in hell!
But Carson you also told me something that I hope to be able to document and write about here at The Wondering Eagle in greater detail. At a meeting at Capitol Hill Baptist Church they did a presentation about efforts to get 9 Marks allegedly into the Christian community in China. After all if you go to the 9 Marks website they talk about trying to get 9 Marks into India. People were told at Capitol Hill Baptist not to speak about it but you discussed it with me. I would love to write more about that if I can get more information. For example how are they allegedly smuggling the 9 Marks material into China? Is that going to create problems in the house church movement there and disrupt it? Is someone in hiding in Beijing going to face church discipline because me missed a couple of services? Are membership covenants going to make its way into China? Isn’t that ironic? Mark Dever upends the Chinese Communist Party when it comes to his obsession with authority by being even more authoritarian that the Communists! But here is another point of contention I would also state. The United States has exported a lot of religious groups and organizations over the years, from Scientology to Mormonism we’ve created it and shipped it out. Now its going to be 9 Marks. Does the Christian community in China need 9 Marks? I would say absolutely not. If anyone out there has any more information on this please let me know as I would love to unpack and research this topic and write about it.
The Importance of Diverse Friendships
The rest of this letter I just want to spend reflecting on the very diverse friendship we had. There were many times we disagreed on a number of things yet they never become points of contention. The best people you can have in your life are those outside your tribe, thinking patterns or community. Why? They challenge you, get you to think and bring out the best of you. For example that is why I like to befriend and get to know atheists, skeptics, and Christians of different stripes. In this case Carson you challenged me and brought out the best of me many times. You encouraged me to read J.I. Packer’s “Knowing God” or Martin Lloyd Jones “Spiritual Depression.” Funny thing is Andrew and I started to read and discuss J.I. Packer before he shifted in trying to get me into Redeemer Arlington. What would have happened today if Andrew just stuck to that and didn’t pressure me to get involved in Sovereign Grace? Martin Lloyd Jones I have a lot of respect for and I have that work on my pile of material to read. I am open to discussing and learning aspects of Reformed Theology, and yet I reject much of the current crop as being far too corrupt. When you are known for your criminal allegations that is disqualifying for me. But I want to thank you Carson for challenging me and getting me to think differently.
I don’t think you know how much you meant to me during this time. After the false accusation for a long period of time I struggled with it. I spent time researching and looking into stalking. In the PTSD that developed from the false accusation it still plays out. Its why when I read one of the more recent stories about an Acts 29 pastor in Mississippi on The Wartburg Watch who allegedly engaged in stalking I blew. The problem with false accusations is that they divert from legitimate situations. But I want to say that hanging out with you helped me build myself up after the BS that Andrew pulled. You taught me a lot and you blessed my life in many ways. I wonder if Capitol Hill Baptist Church knew how fortunate they were to have you as a member. But thanks for challenging me and wanting to grab a beer from time to time. Thanks for your prayers form the pain of Andrew’s false accusation. Thanks for the times we hung out and talked sports or discussed life. Thank you for being the friend that you are. I will miss you Carson. The next time you pass through the area lunch or a drink (whatever you prefer) is one me. Please keep in touch and again thank you for everything. I will always be here if you ever need anything. Good luck going forward. As you like 70’s music I’ll leave you with a Neil Diamond classic.