An overview of the upcoming EFCA Conference called “Reformation at 500” at Trinity International University. A number of well known speakers are tackling a number of different topics related to the Reformation. One of the main speakers at this conference is Al Mohler. In light of Mohler’s behavior at T4G in joking about child sex abuse, the purpose of this post is to ask the question. Does the EFCA also believe that child sex abuse is a riot and something to laugh about?
“I never learned from a man who agreed with me.”
Robert A. Heinlein
“You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives. “
Clay P. Bedford
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT
The Evangelical Free Church of America is holding a theology conference on February 1 through 3, 2017 at Trinity International University at Deerfield, Illinois. The conference is called Reformation 500: Theology and Legacy – God’s Gospel and the EFCA. The conference cost is $175 for ministerial association members and $200 for non-ministerial members. Sorry I didn’t write about this during the early bird pricing. Greg Strand at his blog Strands of Thought wrote about it and promoted it earlier in January of 2015. In addition they are having a pre-conference on the issue of Genesis and the Age of the Earth involving Al Mohler who leads the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and John Collins from Covenant Theological Seminary. In addition Dan Busby will also speak. For those of you who do not know Dan is the President of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Dan actually will open up the conference and explore issues such as trust, accountability, and integrity. He will also talks about issues from where I am at – Washington, D.C. and talk about religious liberties, IRS tax laws, and medical insurance.
Description of the Conference
The Conference is about the anniversary of the Reformation. Here is how the Evangelical Free Church of America describes the conference.
2017 is the 500th anniversary of Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses, what traditionally is known as the beginning of the Reformation. We join the celebration in giving thanks to God for this rediscovery of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our emphasis will be on the theology of the Reformation and its ongoing historical legacy, with a specific focus on the biblical gospel of grace, rediscovered by the Reformers (Luther referred to himself and the movement as Evangelicals, not Protestants), and its impact historically on the EFCA.
A Look at the Speakers
The conference line up has some very popular and exceptionally gifted and talented speakers.
I have written quite a bit about D.A. Carson, 29 articles to be exact. D.A. Carson teaches at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and is a Research Professor of the New Testament. He has been on staff since 1978. He has published 28 books with his most recent being “The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures” which came out in 2016. D.A. Carson helped co-found The Gospel Coalition and is a council member. D.A. Carson is also remembered for something dark and sinister that this blog remembers and wants him to retract, and apologize for. D.A. Carson in defense of C.J. Mahaney lashed out at a sexual assault victim in Sovereign Grace. A person who was raped as a teenager. You can read about that incident in detail in “From D.A. Carson to Steve Estes the Following Question Must be Asked: Is the Evangelical Free Church of America a Safe Place for Sexual Assault Victims?” On Thursday morning D.A. Carson is speaking on “The Heart of the Reformation: Justification.”
C. John Collins is the next speaker. Collins received a BA and BS in Computer Science and Systems Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned a Masters of Divinity from Faith Evangelical Lutheran Seminary. Then he obtained a PhD in Biblical Hebrew linguistics form the School of Archaeology and Oriental Studies at the University of Liverpool. Today C. John Collins teaches Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary at St. Louis, Missouri. Collins has published several books with Wayne Grudem to include “Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible: A Guide to Reading the Bible Well” , “Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible’s Origin, Reliability, and Meaning,” and “Translating Truth: The Case for Essentially Literal Bible Translation.” You can read Collins Amazon page here. Collins has a close relationship with Wayne Grudem and was the Old Testament Chairman for the ESV Study Bible. He served as the ESV Text Editor for the English-Greek Interlinear New Testament and is the Old Testament Editor of the English Study Version Study Bible. When it comes to the ESV I have deep concerns especially when Wayne Grudem doesn’t even have an orthodox view of the Trinity. You can read about that in “Wayne Grudem’s Un-Orthodox View of the Trinity and the Question that Must Be Asked: Can the ESV Bible be Trusted?” Collins is known for his position that the Fall of Man was a historical event. He has been one of the most active individuals in that debate. His contribution to this topic was in “Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care.”
David Luy is also speaking at this conference. David earned a Bachelors of Music at Wheaton, and then a Masters of Divinity at Trinity. He obtained a PhD at Marquette University (Good choice Dave, that’s my alma mater) in the area of Systematic Theology. David teaches at Trinity and is interested in Systematic Theology and he has a deep appreciation for the Reformation and focuses on the historical development. He lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin which is on the Wisconsin/Illinois border with his family. David has also recently published his first book I believe. It’s called, “Dominus Mortis: Martin Luther on the Incorruptibility of God in Christ.” On Thursday afternoon David Luy is speaking on “The Heidelberg Disputation: The Theology of the Cross Versus The Theology of Glory.”
The next person is Scott M Manetsch who is a Professor of Church History at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Scott earned his BA from Michigan State University and his Masters of Divinity and Master of Arts from Trinity. He obtained his PhD from the University of Arizona. Scott joined Trinity in 2000. Prior to that he served as the Assistant Professor of Religion at Northwestern College in Iowa. He is ordained in the Reformed Church of America, and was awarded a Fulbright fellowship where he spent two years performing archival research on French Reformation history at the University of Geneva. Geneva made quite a dent on him as he enjoys spending summers in Switzerland. Scott has published “Calvin’s Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609 (Oxford Studies in Historical Theology)” He is the last speaker at the conference and the name of his presentation is called, “The Extent of the Reformation’s Reform: Word, Church, Ministry and Worship.”
Kevin Vanhoozer is one of the most well known on the staff at Trinity and he also is speaking at this EFCA Theology Conference. One of the privileges in writing about the EFCA is that I get to hear differing perspectives on the key personalities in the EFCA. A few months back one pastor told me that many EFCA pastors view Kevin Vanhoozer as a rock star. I got a good laugh out of that comment. Kevin earned his BA from Westmont College and his Masters of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary. After hard work he was awarded with a PhD from Cambridge University in England. He has taught at multiple universities to include Wheaton College and Graduate School, the Senior Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at New College in the University of Edinburgh. He sits on the editorial board of the International Journal of Systematic Theology and the Journal of Theological Interpretation. He has published 10 books I believe. His most recent is “Biblical Authority after Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity.” You can read Bobby Jamieson of 9 Marks’ review of this book here. On Thursday afternoon Kevin Vanhoozer is speaking on “The Reformation, Sola Scriptura and Tradition.”
Al Mohler is pretty well known but let me state a few words here. Mohler attended Florida Atlantic University as a Faculty Scholar. He then obtained a BA from Samford University and a Master of Divinity and PhD in Systematic and Historical Theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Mohler then joined the staff of Southern Seminary in 1983 as the Coordinator of Foundation Support. In 1987 he became the Director of Capitol Funding and then in 1993 Mohler was appointed the ninth President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I believe at Southern Seminary he led the theological hijacking of this once prestigious seminary. He has published 8 books and his most recent is “We Cannot Be Silent: Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage, and the Very Meaning of Right and Wrong.” Al Mohler is active in his blog, podcasting and is quite vocal in many ways. And as I close this out there is one other fact that needs to be mentioned about Al Mohler. There is the practice of “Gospel Centered” bribes that he allegedly took from C.J. Mahaney at Sovereign Grace. The Wartburg Watch has documented at least $225,000 that were given both to Mohler and Southern Seminary. Its “Gospel Centered” corruption at its finest. On Thursday morning Al Mohler is speaking on “Faith Alone Justifies, Yet the Faith Which Justifies Is Not Alone: Justification and Sanctification.”
Stephen Wellum also is on the lineup to speak at The Reformation at 500. Stephen obtained a B.S. from Robert Wesleyan College and a Masters of Divinity and PhD at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is a Professor of Christian Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Plus, he also serves as the Editor of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. Steve is also the author of “God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ (Foundations of Evangelical Theology)” which was released in November of 2016. On Wednesday evening Stephen Wellum is speaking on “Solus Christus as Central to the Reformation Solas.”
The final speaker at this EFCA conference is Kenneth Young. Today Kenneth is a Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ministries at University of Northwestern at St. Paul. He earned a B.S. in Education from East Stroudsburg University, East in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.in 1973. He then acquired a Masters of Divinity from Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania which was followed up by a D Min in Biblical Counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary. He then obtained a PhD in Systematic Theology from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Kenneth Young has had a prolific and active career in the church. He has done private counseling and has pastoral experience. He has planted a church in the black community of Norristown, Pennsylvania, and the Senior Co-Pastor of a large suburban church in Philadelphia. He was a church planting pastor for the EFCA in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. He also was the Senior Pastor of Salem Evangelical Free in Minneapolis, Minnesota from 1993 to 1996. He then entered academia and was an Adjunct Professor at Eastern College in St. David’s, Pennsylvania where he taught a course for upper level psychology majors. Kenneth has done work in racial reconciliation issues and has been recognized by Christianity Today. In 2012 Dr. Young published “The Trouble with Racial Reconciliation: Why John Perkins’ Theological Approach Works.” On Friday morning Kenneth Young’s presentation is named “The Reformation, Creeds, Confessions and Catechisms.”
Hopefully I will get to listen to these talks on podcasts as I fight Washington, D.C. traffic in the near future.
A Recap of Al Mohler’s Behavior at T4G
In April of 2016 C.J. Mahaney preached at T4G in Louisville, Kentucky. It was deeply controversial given the criminal allegations that still dog and pursue him. C.J. Mahaney is mired in allegations of the largest child sex abuse situation in the modern evangelical Christian church. There was story after story that poured out on the blog SGM Survivors. Then there was a massive lawsuit which was dismissed on a technicality. Then there was this fraudulent statement by C.J. Mahaney in which he said that he would one day defend himself. Well what happened? When is C.J. finally going to speak up and address the issues? Because of the lawsuit he pulled out of a prior T4G before speaking in T4G this past April. It led my to write a post in which I wondered..in the mindset of Neo-Calvinist theology did God ordain a massive cover up of child sex abuse in Sovereign Grace Ministries? You can read more about it in “Has God Foreordained an Alleged Child Sex Abuse Cover up in Sovereign Grace Ministries/Churches? Is that why CJ Mahaney is so Sacred?“
Let me transition to the next section by saying that I myself love jokes. My favorite Mel Brooks movie is Spaceballs. For me its a classic! Then there was a childhood raised on Bill Murray in Groundhog Day and Ghostbusters. I couldn’t see the new Ghostbusters out of respect for Harold Ramis. Then there is some of the classic comedy on Saturday Night Live. You have Dana Carvey, Darrell Hammond, Will Ferrell, Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin each doing their own impersonations of political leaders. Satire is one thing, to joke about a President in a scandal has a precedent. But who jokes about child sex abuse and taunts people and their families who have been harmed?
Al Mohler would do that…that’s who.
Before introducing C.J. Mahaney at T4G in Louisville Al Mohler joked about what he can find on the internet about C.J. If you want to know what is on the internet, well there are a lot of religious blogs like this one that raise this issue. Instead Mohler laughed and joked about all the material on the internet and what he could find. It was over the top, callous and inappropriate. You can listen to the joking and laughing in that audio clip up above.
Where Does the EFCA Stand on Child Sex Abuse?
At the Reformation at 500 one of the main speakers is Al Mohler. What is troubling is that these issues of corruption in Sovereign Grace are threatening the EFCA and beating at the door. They are first doing so in the context of D.A. Carson and his endorsements and defense of C.J. Mahaney. Given the allegations of money that C.J. Mahaney has given to Al Mohler (documented by The Wartburg Watch), Wayne Grudem, and Mark Dever it is well within reason to ask if D.A. Carson or a pet program at Trinity received money from C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace. It is my personal belief that D.A. Carson has been corrupted.
Then you have this EFCA conference and one of the key speakers joking about child sex abuse at T4G. Where does the leadership of the EFCA stand on Al Mohler’s behavior? If I were to ask EFCA President Kevin Kompolien if child sex abuse is a joke, what would he say? You know what terrifies me? I am afraid if I scratch under the surface, what I would find? And I honestly hope this blog doesn’t go in that dark direction. But what does the EFCA believe when it comes to child sex abuse? Its a serious issue that many denominations and organizations are struggling with. If organizations like the EFCA support and bring on people who joke about child sex abuse what message is the EFCA sending? If Al Mohler made a comment about gay marriage and was affirming of it, the EFCA would move quickly disinvite him, and express their concerns. Yet in one of the darkest sins that threatens the church today – child sex abuse – is the EFCA minimizing it by having Al Mohler speak? Again how ironic this is happening at a conference that celebrates 500 years of the Reformation. Do we need another Reformation? Does someone need to go to the EFCA corporate headquarters in Minneapolis and nail a list of 95 reasons why we need a new Reformation? Again I am open to pushback or differing points of view if I am incorrect. If wrong, then I welcome correction. Also if anyone who attends this conference at Trinity would like to write a review of it, this blog would be happy to let them post such a review. As The Wondering Eagle writes about the EFCA, conferences like this deserve analysis and further study. As always I love you guys please take care!