This is the overview of The Wondering Eagle for 2016. The top posts and issues that were written about. In the end 183,000 people read and 288 articles were written. This has been a busy year and I am looking forward to the next one. I hope you guys enjoyed it.
“The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.”
“It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero
He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations
1 Chronicles 16:15 NIV
This blog was born out of pain. Likewise this blog is driven by pain. This blog revolves around pain. I am not going to go through the entire story, as I have written about it enough. I was unsuccessfully recruited by an Air Force Captain into Jordan Kauflin’s Redeemer Arlington. In the course of time I faced a horrific betrayal and learned why rape and sexual assault are a problem in the military. The situation was never resolved. And for all intent and purposes I feel stuck. This blog writes about Redeemer Arlington and covers it. In the picture up above you can see the first page of a diary that Andrew gave me. I blocked out the name but left the signature. The signature is pretty messy and unique, I also worked in banking for years and I have never seen a signature quite like this one. How does a person go from getting stuff like that to facing a false accusation that could have destroyed a person’s life? Jordan Kauflin and Redeemer Arlington can you explain this issue to me? This blog while writing about Redeemer Arlington also writes about a lot of things. I write about the Evangelical Free Church of America, Acts 29, modern evangelicalism, doubt, faith crisis and atheism. For myself personally I am more to the edge of everything. Having said that let me give you the stats for last year. 183,000 people have read and 288 posts have been written. This blog got the Evangelical Free Church of America back into the Community Evangelical Free Church situation which was one of my goals. To the best of my ability I think I responded to all the emails, if one feel through the cracks please let me know. Below you will find the top ten stories for the year and the fifteen that I personally like. In the case of both Fellowship Memphis and Community Evangelical Free Church there are multiple stories that were written so I will use the top one. Down below I will also offer some hints for what is coming in 2017.
Top 10 Stories Covered in 2016
- To top the list is the situation in Steve Estes’ Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania. The post “Steve Estes and Community Evangelical Free Church (CEFC) in Elverson, Pennsylvania: A Painful Story of Domestic Abuse, Inappropriate Church Discipline, and Failed EFCA Polity” has been read 8,090 times. The story is horrific and deals with a rogue church in the Evangelical Free Church of America. Steve Estes practiced church discipline on an alleged rape victim. He did it to preserve his job and protect his son (Brock Estes). Brock had allegedly raped his wife while intoxicated and pointed a loaded gun at her. The situation went all the way up to the head of the church in Minneapolis, Minnesota where the EFCA is headquartered. There have been 49 articles about CEFC that have been written. This will still be written about.
- The next story deals with another corrupt church this time in Memphis, Tennessee. The church is John Bryson’s Fellowship Memphis which is the model of multi-ethnic church planting in the Acts 29 network. In this story the worship pastor was into voyeurism and allegedly recorded women and 2 children in the church restroom. Its my belief that child pornography was created in an Acts 29 restroom. When Rick Trotter was let go he went to another church and allegedly did the same thing. You can read this in “The Sordid Tale of Rick Trotter, Bryan Loritts, John Bryson and Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis and Downtown Presbyterian Church.” That has been read 3,502 time and there are 31 articles that have been written.
- The next read post deals with a prominent Acts 29 church in St. Louis, Missouri. It aggressively follows the church’s website which is why it has been read over 2,000 times. Its about the mysterious removal of Darrin Patrick. You can read about that in “Darrin Patrick is Removed from The Journey in St. Louis Amidst Questions; My Main Question…Will One of the Key Charges Also Be Applied to Matt Chandler?“
- The fourth article has been read 1,142 times and its about the Evangelical Free Neo-Calvinism project. This includes the information for the Eastern District, EFCA West, Midwest District, EFCA Southeast, North Plains District and Hawaii. Its technically called “Evangelical Free Church Neo-Calvinist Project.” The EFCA is a major and modern denomination the growth of Neo-Calvinism in it deserves to be followed and watched.
- The next article deals with Wayne Grudem’s un-orthodox views of the trinity. Plus it poses the question since Wayne Grudem has been involved in the translation of the ESV, with his un-orthodox views can the ESV Bible be trusted? Or has the ESV been re-defined? “Wayne Grudem’s Un-Orthodox View of the Trinity and the Question that Must Be Asked: Can the ESV Bible be Trusted?” has been read 1,027 times.
- The next post is an analysis of the Eastern District of the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA). This District is led by Eddie Cole who formerly led Salem Church in Staten Island. Eddie is a very loving, kind and pastoral individual. The EFCA is fortunate to have him. This article is called “Analyzing the Growth of Reformed Theology/Neo-Calvinism in the Evangelical Free Church of America: The Eastern District.” It has been read 866 times.
- Mark Driscoll is back unfortunately , and he has infected the community of Scottsdale, Arizona. After fleeing Seattle, Washington he took root in he American Southwest. The post is called, “A Wolf Rises in Phoenix: Mark Driscoll and The Trinity Church” and has been read 802 times.
- Early in the year Washingtonian magazine wrote about the scandal in Sovereign Grace. It dealt with corruption in the organization and the child sex abuse issues as well. The post is “Washingtonian Magazine Writes about Sovereign Grace Ministries and Child Sex Abuse Problems; Analysis of the Article” and has been read 762 times.
- Sovereign Grace Fairfax changed its name earlier this year, and the next post dealt with that topic. Called, “Sinfully Craving a New Church Name? Sovereign Grace Fairfax Becomes Redeeming Grace Church” this has been read 728 times.
- The final post that made the top ten occurred right before I started to write about Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania. I came out and started to blog in my own name. I decided to do it in time, and I wanted the people in Elverson who were challenging Steve Estes to know that I respected them. Plus I wanted Steve Estes, Merle and Dave Stoltzfus to know who I am when I started to write. “Revealing My Identity and Bracing for the Long Haul; On Monday We Get to Work” has been read 679 times.
15 Personal Favorites From 2016
These are some of my personal favorites that I enjoyed writing about from 2016.
- I attended the Reason Rally in June 2016. It was the highest profile atheist event in the United States. That said its population turnout was much lower this past year than it was in 2012. I attended, listened to the talks, took notes, and just hung out for the afternoon and talked with atheists. I wrote a couple of posts about it which you can read here and here.
- The next post is one of my most personal posts. Its sensitive, revealing, plus I published my picture after being baptized. Its about Fresno Evangelical Free Church in Fresno, California. Here’s why I wrote about it. This blog writes about the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) and I wanted to let the EFCA know the role that they played in my life. I wanted to convey why I love the EFCA and how the denomination is changing due to Neo-Calvinism. I wanted to point back to a different time. Writing about the EFCA is personal for me and I hope after you read this post you will understand why. This is called, “A Personal Reflection on Fresno Evangelical Free Church; Known Today as The Bridge Fresno.”
- At Desiring God a clinical surgeon from Boston wrote a piece about why she walked away from active medicine to be a stay at home Mom. While I respect the decision I am also concerned about possible guilt trips that were placed on readers and this being a part of the complementarian gender wars. Called, “Critique on Kathryn Butler’s “From Medical Doctor to Stay-at-Home Mom” at Desiring God as Coming from the Son of a Neurosurgeon” this led to an exchange between the Desiring God author and Dee Parsons online.
- There are two articles about atheism that I want to feature together. One is the claim Christians make that if someone leaves the faith they were never a Christian to begin with. My take? Pure garbage. The article is called “If they leave the Christian faith they never were a Christian to begin with…” A Pushback Against that Line of Thought as Inspired by a Recent Godless in Dixie Post.” The second article is about the de-conversion of Shannon Low who is with the Order of Elijah. In the article I explain why sometimes people need to leave the Christian faith to find themselves. Sometimes they need to push back and how we are all on a journey. This is called “Order of Elijah’s Shannon Low De-Converts from the Christian Faith: When it Becomes Necessary to Leave.” I do know that this was received warmly by the Order of Elijah and it has a had a good life on Twitter.
- In 2016 this blog has written about a number of Evangelical Free Churches in the United States. They range in differing topics and are quite diverse. They go from questionable counseling, to the influence of C.J. Mahaney on a pastor, to a possible church hijacking while another church fears that from occurring. They go from the Bridge of Newbury Park, California; Clovis Evangelical Free in Clovis, California; Fort Gibson, Oklahoma; Del Rey Church in Playa del Rey, California; Fellowship Church in Dallas, Pennsylvania; The Bridge Fellowship in Reseda, California; Oakhurst Evangelical Free in Oakhurst, California; Church of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California; and the Anthem “Family of Churches” in Southern California.
- The internet is a powerful tool, and its leveled the playing field with questionable or powerful ministries. In this next article I write about how the internet brings those who have been hurt by the church together. I did a lot of traveling in 2016 and I often have to share my story. This post came about due to those experiences. This is called “How the Internet Helps Heal and Bring People Together.“
- In 2015 the darling of the Neo-Calvinist movement Matt Chandler found himself engulfed in a scandal. His church The Village Church in Dallas, Texas tried to practice church discipline on Karen Hinkley who annulled her marriage to a child pornography addict. The Village Church came down on her like a hammer and became quite cult like. This next post looks at the situation after a year and a half has passed and asks the question…has Matt Chandler’s church recovered? This is called “Has Matt Chandler’s The Village Church Recovered from the Karen Hinkley/Jordan Root Scandal?“
- One of the most prominent pastors in the Evangelical Free Church of America is Larry Osborne. Larry is looked up to by many EFCA pastors and has a lot of influence. Larry however, also is one of Mark Driscoll’s strongest supporters. Mark Driscoll taught that women are penis homes and boasted about how the United States is a “pussified nation.” When Mark Driscoll fled Seattle he set up shop in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Larry Osborne has been strongly supporting Mark Driscoll. This next post asks why the EFCA has no concerns about this situation, after all does the EFCA believe women are penis homes like Mark Driscoll has taught? This is called, “Why is the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) Silent on Larry Osborne’s Strong Support for Mark Driscoll and The Trinity Church? Does the EFCA Also Believe Women are Penis Homes?”
- The problem of evil in my belief the single best and legitimate reason to reject Christianity. This issue is complicated further by the growth of Neo-Calvinism which makes the problem of evil worse. Basically you give birth to a determinist faith system. I look at that issue through what John Piper taught in the wake of Adam Lanza’s massacre in Sandyhook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. This is called, “How Reformed Theology/Neo-Calvinism Make the Problem of Evil Worse: John Piper, Adam Lanza and a Massacre in Connecticut“
- Ryan McLaughlin down in Florida did a guest post that was fascinating. Ryan was in the Sovereign Grace movement and told his story on SGM Survivors. He wrote a post about why he converted from the evangelical Christianity culture to the Orthodox faith. Ryan’s post is called “What is the Orthodox Church? Why Would a Former Evangelical Join It?“
- This blog also wrote about Matt Boedy’s situation in an Acts 29 and Evangelical Free hybrid in Columbia, South Carolina. The church is called Riverside Community Church and is led by James Walden. James had allegedly abused his power, breached confidentiality, which in turn led Matt Boedy to sue James Walden. The issue eventually went up to the head of the EFCA President William Hamel who allegedly threatened to sue Matt Boedy. There are two posts out of many that have written about this situation. The first one is called, “Disturbing Allegations of Spiritual Abuse at James Walden’s Acts 29 Riverside Community Church in Columbia, South Carolina” and “Who Would Jesus Sue? Did Former Evangelical Free (EFCA) President William Hamel Allegedly Threaten Legal Action Against a Spiritual Abuse Victim in Glen Schrieber’s District?“
- Jase Heap who is the Executive Director of the United Coalition of Reason is attempting is in litigation to become the first secular humanist chaplain in the United States military. I met Jase at he Reason Rally and find him to be exceptionally talented, and gifted. Sadly one of the issues that exists today is that some evangelicals engage in discrimination against atheists. One of my goals is to call out my tribe, plus The Wondering Eagle is still following this issue and this blog strongly supports Jase in becoming the first secularist chaplain in the United States military. I explain all the reasons why in “An Overview of the Effort to have Secularist/Humanist/Atheist Chaplains in the United States Military; Why this Christian Supports that Endeavor.” Expect more about this issue in the future.
- The hubris and destroyed lives from evangelical Christianity can be profound. There are many shattered lives from fundamentalism. Today I am more to the edge of the movement and I struggle immensely with it myself. This next post is an open letter to a friend. His “name” is Zach and he led Campus Crusade in Milwaukee at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. In due time he pushed back from evangelicalism and was hammered and hurt. “Zach” represents a lot of people, but I hope that one day we can sit down reengage and embrace again. I believe that Zach in in Chicago today. I love this guy and I miss him. I hope before death we can reconnect again. This is called “An Open Letter to Zach (Campus Crusade Student Leader UW – Milwaukee 2002-2004)“
- There are a couple of posts about Redeemer Arlington I would like to highlight that were written in 2016. The first one is the history of Eric Simmons church. You can read about that in “The History of Eric Simmons’ Redeemer Arlington: Formerly of Sovereign Grace Ministries now of Acts 29.” Next is an article that explored The Gospel Coalition culture and the problems within, and how I encountered the problems Jonathan Merritt wrote about as well. “Redeemer Arlington, The Gospel Coalition and the Evasive Neo-Calvinist Culture Which I Do Not Understand.” Finally the last post looked at the issue of how healthy is a former Sovereign Grace church? Is there much difference between Redeemer Arlington and Sovereign Grace Fairfax? You can read about that in “How Healthy is Redeemer Arlington’s Culture? What About Other Former Sovereign Grace Ministries Churches? Should You Get Involved?”
- The last post I would like to highlight was written about McLean Bible’s New City Network. How many people go to McLean Bible and do not realize that they are affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. This article is about the New City Network promoting 9 Marks. There will be more to write about this network in 2017. “Why is McLean Bible’s New City Network Promoting 9 Marks’ Church Revitalization Conference?”
What is to Come in 2017
2017 promises to be very busy. Between atheism, fundamentalism, Acts 29 and the Evangelical Free Church of America there is a lot to cover. This is some of what is on my radar.
- I studied German history at Marquette University and did my graduating essay on the Dawes Plan. It was based on primary research in Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. I would like to step back from theology and research and write a post on the Weimar Republic. I want to research how the Republic collapsed, the rise of the Nazis and write about how the Holocaust happened. I want to do this as a trained historian. I am an aggressive reader and on Politico I read that for the first time since World War II the far right is back in Germany. That combined with this Washington Post article leaves me asking the following question. Is Fascism back? What led to its return? Globalization and the fall out from the Syrian Civil War perhaps?
- In 2017 I will continue to work the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) and examine the growth of Neo-Calvinism in the organization. In 2017 the following EFCA districts will be examined. Western District, Forest Lakes, Pacific Northwest, North Central District, North Mountain District, Central District, Allegheny, Great Lakes District, Rocky Mountain District and Northeast District.
- Send D.C. church planting efforts in the Washington, D.C. Send D.C. is one of the hubs from the North American Missions Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
- An overview of McLean Bible’s New City Network and its agenda and efforts. Plus there is much more about McLean Bible and Lon Solomon that I would like to research and write about.
- Redeemer Arlington has a lot going on which deserves future coverage as well. Acts 29 needs a lot of work as well.
- I have been contacted by a person who lost their faith and I asked them to write it up in a narrative, so starting soon we will start to have de-conversion stories. I want to go into the dark areas of faith crisis having been there myself.
- Center For inquiry is a well known atheist advocacy organization. I have to finish an article on their history and overview. Plus expect an article on their Secular Rescue program.
- I want to look at South Africa and look at the Christian church there. The church that led to the outlawing of pornography also resulted in the creation and defense of apartheid. Is that what evangelicals have in mind when they think of the culture wars? There is a lot that can be learned from South Africa. I have been doing a lot of research on this topic already. Its pretty disturbing but it needs to be breached.
- Going back to the Evangelical Free Church I would like to look into their missionary activity in differing parts of the globe.
- An article about my former church in Wisconsin and Third Wave theology. I am transcribing a document now but when its up you will read about efforts to raise a man from the dead and a high school youth program that used to engage in spiritual warfare and demon deliverances in a convenience store.
- How the scandal of the evangelical mind has come full circle. How I saw it in Mormonism and observed it in Sovereign Grace through Redeemer Arlington.
- Posts about differing Evangelical Free churches in differing districts.
- A reflection on the Donner Party tragedy and the cannibalism that took place and spiritual parallels with the modern evangelical church. Make sure you pack a lunch! 😛
- A post about Richard Nixon resigning the Presidency in disgrace and his rehabilitation into the 1990s until his death. I want to compare Nixon with C.J. Mahaney and explain why Nixon understood humility.
- A critique of the spiritual abuse blogging community and asking hard questions about the culture and if they are indirectly enabling or creating more abuse by not diving into the polity or history of denominations. Also can the spiritual blogging community create a circle the wagons mentality and duplicate what The Gospel Coalition does from the opposite side?
That’s a taste for what is in play. So its been a great year. For a professional caught in the rat race of Washington, D.C. who spends about two hours a day commuting and in a busy job, I am pleased with where this blog is going. I actually would like to add another writer in time. For a blog that published 288 posts in a year and had 183,000 people who read that is a lot of work. I hope it is appreciated by the Christian and atheist community alike. I pour a lot of time and effort into this project. I still pray that there can be peace between myself and Andrew White one day. So with that let me close out with a classic. This blog is done in a unique way, and I think this song is more than appropriate.