McLean Bible is now looking for a new Senior Pastor, but Lon Solomon is planning to stay on in a teaching role. But coming on board to teach is the New Interim Teaching Pastor David Platt. This post is an analysis of Lon Solomon’s statement to McLean Bible and an overview of David Platt. Plus this explores the problem with David Platt’s theology of being “radical” and what McLean Bible can now learn from Jonathan Hollingsworth.
“This is the unavoidable conclusion to Matthew 10. To everyone wanting a safe, untroubled, comfortable life free from danger, stay away from Jesus. The danger in our lives will always increase in proportion to the depth of our relationship with Christ.”
David Platt in Radical
So, after grieving this, I went to our elders and told them that God had shown me that it was time for MBC to trust God’s leading and begin searching for our next God-appointed Senior Pastor. I told them that I would like to be the most supportive and helpful person imaginable in seeing MBC make this transition smoothly and biblically.
Lon Solomon in his blog post to the church
“There are a lot of people out there willing to exploit those who give up their whole lives for a cause. For every radical who gets on a plane, there’s a con artist waiting for him on the other side. And sadly, sometimes that con artist is a church or a mission agency. Before I left for Africa, everyone told me to watch out for kidnappers and hustlers and pickpockets, when in reality, it was the people I least expected who posed the biggest threat. The world needs people who genuinely want to help, but just because you have the best intentions doesn’t mean everyone else will. Should this stop us from reaching the world? Of course not. And don’t think it will. But we should expect a little opposition along the way.”
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 NLT
How being “radical” is the new legalism.
There is a lot of interesting news regarding McLean Bible that I will go through with this post. Lon Solomon the Senior Pastor is going to be stepping down but still be involved in McLean Bible according to his message posted on the church blog. Also coming on board to preach is the new Interim Teaching Pastor David Platt. This is not the first time I have written about McLean Bible and it will not be the last time either. McLean Bible earlier on joined The Gospel Coalition, which is highly corrupt. As you may recall The Gospel Coalition went to bat for C.J. Mahaney and supported him as the largest evangelical Christian lawsuit at the time was aimed at Sovereign Grace Ministries for the cover up of child sex abuse. That lawsuit, by the way, is not over and is scheduled to resume in time. The last I heard Susan Burke is working with the plaintiffs to re-launch it eventually here in Virginia. This bastardized statement from The Gospel Coalition speaks volumes about problems and corruption in the organization. I wrote about McLean Bible joining The Gospel Coalition in “Not a Sermon Just a Blog Post; McLean Bible’s Affiliation with The Gospel Coalition.” In light of how The Gospel Coalition behaves my previous question still stands. Why would a person who has been the victim of a sex crime, a rape, or a molestation want to attend McLean Bible given the company it chooses to keep? Does McLean Bible understand child sex abuse or sexual crimes? That question is fair game in light of the behavior of The Gospel Coalition. In addition McLean Bible’s church planting network New City Network has a growing relationship with 9 Marks of Capitol Hill Baptist Church. You can read about that in “Why is McLean Bible’s New City Network Promoting 9 Marks’ Church Revitalization Conference?” And then there is a post I did that profiles and asks questions about Kenji Adachi’s All People’s Community Church. McLean Bible I would suggest is engaging in idolatry in some of these church plants. Kenji Adachi’s is only the newest example. You can read about that in “When Neo-Calvinist Church Planting Becomes Idolatry: Kenji Adachi and All Peoples Community Church.” What happens is that you connect the dots and what I have been writing about for the past couple of years starts to come to fruition. Today’s post is further evidence of the theologically hijacking of McLean Bible. It reveals a church that is shady, dishonest, not transparent with its members or attenders, and one that has deep problems that are problematic. But before we continue we must ask who is Lon Solomon? After all McLean Bible is Lon Solomon’s
circus, I mean show.
Who is Lon Solomon?
Lon Solomon is the Senior Pastor of McLean Bible. Lon arrived on the scene in 1980. Lon Solomon is a former Jew who described himself as a former pothead, with an Afro who explored Eastern religions. He had an encounter with a man named Bob Eckhart who brought him to the Lord. In a Washington Post story Lon described his spiritual conversion. “I finally got to Matthew, Chapter 11, where Jesus said, ‘Come to Me, all you who are heavy laden, and who are burdened down, who are overwhelmed, and I will give you rest,’ ” he said. “And when I read that, I’ll never forget looking up and saying, ‘Bingo! Bingo! That is exactly what I’m looking for.’ “ With that Lon Solomon converted to Christianity much to anger of his Jewish family. Lon also served on the board for Jews for Jesus, which evangelizes Jews and tells them about Jesus. However Jews for Jesus also has controversy as many former members have likened it to a cult. You can read their stories here. From 1980 onward McLean Bible grew and moved to Leesburg Pike in the former National Wildlife Federation’s headquarters which is where the main location, Tysons Corner, is today. Other church locations include Arlington, Loudoun County, Montgomery County, and Prince William County.
Analysis of Lon Solomon’s Statement
I am going to do some analysis of Lon Solomon’s statement. My comments in the section are going to be in red.
My Dear Church Family,
I came to MBC as your Senior Pastor in August 1980 as a 32-year-old man (by 5 days). I only passed the congregational vote on me by 3 votes, but I came anyway, more sure that Jesus had called me here than I was of my own name. Over the last 36 1/2 years, that certainty has never left me for an instant, which is why I stayed even through some very difficult days, both as a pastor and a person. It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to serve as your Senior Pastor for these past 36 years. I am so proud of our church family at MBC, and I am so proud to tell people around the globe that I have had the privilege of serving as “the Senior Pastor of MBC.”
Lon after once attending McLean Bible years ago I would venture to suggest something far different. McLean Bible pursuit of church growth is far more reminiscent of what the British did in empire building. I often wondered Lon, as to whose kingdom you are advancing at McLean Bible? Yours or the Lord’s? One additional point Lon. You are not the Senior Pastor of McLean Bible. You are an evangelist. A pastor visits in the hospital, makes calls on a nursing home, helps out and gets to know people in the congregation. I am not trying to be difficult but in a church with the size of McLean Bible which resembles more of a Fortune 500 company at times there is no such thing as a Senior Pastor. That just is not feasible. The size works against it. The mega church model which you embraced is toxic for Christianity Lon. Its time to put the mega church model to bed permanently. The mega church model needs to be euthanized.
In these 36 years, God has showered our church family with amazing mercy, and displayed His omnipotence before us in some of the most awesome ways I’ve ever seen or heard of. People always ask me why God has been this way to MBC. Of course, I cannot answer a question like this, for it is totally above my pay-grade to speculate regarding why Almighty God chooses to do what He does. He is sovereign. That is all I ever say to people. But if I had to guess at some concrete reasons why, I would say it was because (1) we have sought to be a church that obeys Jesus in everything; (2) we have sought to be a church that, in Jesus’ name, cares for and about the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40), including especially children and adults with disabilities, the poor, the needy, and the disenfranchised; (3), we have sought to be a church that proclaims the truth of God’s Word without compromise or equivocation, even when those truths are not popular in our culture; and (4), we have sought to be a church that humbles itself before Jesus, and seeks to make decisions, not based on human logic alone, but also based on prayer and seeking the face of God.
Lon, your presence and attitude is very arrogant. Its not big enough for the auditorium you preach in. But its clear that I have concerns with McLean Bible so let me get into them. I would disagree that McLean Bible is a church that obeys Jesus on everything. From some of the disagreements with some of the staff over the years which the Washington Post alluded to, to McLean Bible joining The Gospel Coalition. No…McLean Bible has not been a church that has honored Jesus in everything. In regards to point 2, again I will go back to what you say about the “least of these.” McLean Bible joined an organization (The Gospel Coalition) that frankly steamrolled sexual assault victims all to preserve conferences and the Reformed Industrial Complex. Attacking and criticizing alleged sexual assault victims is about money with The Gospel Coalition. The brand needs to be protected. You say McLean Bible cares about the “least of these” but you are going to be incredibly selective on how you define the “least of these.” Plus it begs the question in my mind. If The Gospel Coalition does not have a problem with child sex abuse allegations, what about McLean Bible? If we poked around McLean Bible would we find allegations of child sex abuse that were covered up? After all look at what Fairfax Community Church which is nearby has done? On point three I must ask the question….when you silently go in a Neo-Calvinist direction in a dishonest way and join Neo-Calvinist organizations while not being public about it , or letting members of your church know. How is God honored in your dishonesty?
And it is my dream and hope for MBC that these (and similar) spiritual tenets will always form the foundation of our church family.
Several years ago, Pastor John Piper wrote to his people at Bethlehem Baptist Church and said: “I am less competent leading Bethlehem structurally and organizationally than I used to be. For about 30 years, I was usually able to see through the complexities and formulate feasible and exciting plans…This is no longer the case. Bethlehem is more complex than it used to be, and my energies and abilities for this kind of organizational planning are diminished.”
When I read this, I knew precisely what Pastor Piper was trying to say: namely, that he was tired.
Oh please Lon can we stop the BS. Now I know John Piper really has his cult like following. I have written about the personality cult following which you can read in “The Little Red Book…of John Piper?” But for once can an evangelical Pastor have an original thought and not quote from John Piper? Is independent thought possible in the evangelical Christian framework? It is so awful that people think John Piper is the model to follow. So John Piper stepped down once, and then in time C.J. Mahaney had to also step down and follow him. Now there is you…and you are quoting John Piper in the process. Let me ask you this Lon Solomon if child sex abuse stories or other allegations of illegal activity come out of McLean Bible like they did Sovereign Grace Ministries, are you going to go run and hide behind Mark Dever’s rear end at Capitol Hill Baptist Church? Is that what you would do Lon? I for once wish evangelicals could stop with the celebrity pastor bull crap. It looks incredibly pathetic…really it does.
My dear brethren, over the last 36 1/2 years, I have sought, as unto the Lord, to give MBC every ounce of strength in my body. I would not go back and change one iota of this! But I am tired. Not tired of walking with Christ, not tired of praying and reading God’s Word, not tired of sharing Christ with people, and not tired of preaching the Word. I am tired of trying to run the demanding operations of our large and complex church. And I am concerned that, if I am too proud to admit and confront this, I will end up hurting the very church family that I love so much. MBC needs a Senior Pastor who can be fully-engaged in every level of leading our church!
Lon Solomon with all due respect humility and your name do not belong in the same sentence. If I recall correctly wasn’t there a pastoral transition plan with Todd Philips? This was when Todd Phillips led Frontline. Something happened and suddenly Todd Phillips left Washington, D.C. in 2011 for Lakepointe Church in Texas. Was that a part of your humility as well? If I am wrong then I invite correction.
So, after grieving this, I went to our elders and told them that God had shown me that it was time for MBC to trust God’s leading and begin searching for our next God-appointed Senior Pastor. I told them that I would like to be the most supportive and helpful person imaginable in seeing MBC make this transition smoothly and biblically. And I told them they could count on me to work with them, to make this transition the most Christ-honoring process possible, and to make it a model for other mega-churches who will be facing this same transition in their futures.
Lon Biblically is one of the most abused words in churches today. You would be amazed as to how much spiritual abuse takes place because of “Biblical” beliefs and action. No Lon…the church doesn’t need more mega churches if anything the mega church model needs to be trashed and join the Soviet Union in the dust bin of history. Besides earlier on you talked about honesty but when you look at some of the dishonest issues, those do not need to be carbon copies to other churches.
And so, for the last year, your elders and I have been working together to establish a plan that, by God’s grace, will achieve these goals. And we believe that we have been able to lay out a plan that is both pleasing to the Lord and practicable for our church family.
I spoke to our church family this past weekend (Feb 11/12) and began to unpack this plan for all of us. If you missed this message, I want to urge you to go to our website and listen to it. It is massively important that everyone fully understand the plan ahead of us as a church family.
And, Lord willing, I’ll be speaking part 2 this coming weekend (Feb 18/19), laying out this plan again and in more detail.
But please let me mention a couple of the key points from last weekend:
1. I am not resigning from the staff of MBC. I am stepping back from the full and comprehensive organizational duties of Senior Pastor to devote more time and energy to Acts 6:4 in the role of Senior Teaching Pastor and I will continue to serve as a member of our Board of Elders.
This is problematic…this reminds me of a dictator who surrenders power but who stays near to the new government and casts a long shadow over the person that follows him. This happens in authoritarian forms of government, and after leading McLean Bible for 36 years to just take a sideline role and turn over the role of Senior Pastor to someone else, Lon that is not your style. This plan is flawed and contains problems, however good the intentions may be. I think its a damning indictment on the mega church model that is used in today’s evangelicalism.
2. David Platt will be joining me in preaching at MBC. Assisting us will be Dale Sutherland, Mike Kelsey, and (as always) an occasional special guest speaker here and there.
In a minute we are going to be getting into David Platt, that is below.
3. Pastor Dale Sutherland (in concert with me and the rest of our elders, of course) will continue leading the daily ministry of MBC along with our senior staff team (as he has been for the last year). Dale is a seasoned man of God. His heart and my heart beat like one for Christ, and he enjoys my highest confidence and esteem.
4. The elders and I are beginning NOW the process of seeking the next God-appointed Senior Pastor for MBC. At present, we have no active candidates for this position, nor are we currently in contact with anyone who is aspiring to this position. We are prayerfully trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us to just the right man, and him to us. And, of course, please remember that any candidate will have to go through the approval process that is carefully laid out in our church constitution, including receiving a 75% affirmative vote from the membership of MBC.
Why does this statement remind me of the pastor search at Covenant Life Church? Claims of no active candidates, when behind the scenes parts of the Elder board is crafting and scheming for one person of a celebrity nature? After all the fact that you guys have David Platt speaks volumes in that regard about pursuing celebrity pastors.
Furthermore, please let me say that Brenda and I and Jill have no plans to leave MBC (until the Lord takes us to heaven)! This has been “our church” for 36 years, and we intend for it to remain as such. So, on the weeks that I am in town but not preaching, please look for me in the front rows, raising my hands in worship, doing my giving in the offering bag, and sitting expectantly at the feet of whoever is teaching God’s Word that day.
I know that you may have some questions that may not have been answered in this past weekend’s sermon or in this letter, and the elders and I want to make sure this whole process is characterized by as much openness and clarity as possible. And so, we will be having a “town meeting” this coming week (THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16–IN THE SMITH CENTER AT TYSONS AT 7:30PM), where the elders and I will delight in meeting with you and trying to answer all questions that we possibly can.
Darn I missed this had I know sooner I would have attended! 🙂
As you can imagine, we as your leaders deeply covet your prayer support throughout this entire process. IN FACT, WE ARE BEGINNING “40 DAYS OF PRAYER” AND SEEKING THE FACE OF GOD AT MBC (just like we did in 2016) AND WANT EVERYONE IN OUR CHURCH FAMILY TO BE AN ACTIVE PART (learn more: mcleanbible.org/40daysofprayer).
We are certain that God has already appointed a man to step into this role, just as He did Elisha for Elijah. And like Elisha, we are trusting the Lord to send us a man who will have a “double portion” (2 Kings 2:9) of the anointing the Lord was pleased to give to me–a man who can take MBC further for Christ’s Glory than God used me to do.
These are exciting days for MBC, and I ask you to join in the excitement and expectation I feel every day, as I wait to see what our great Savior has ahead for our church family.
Sincerely as your Senior Teaching Pastor,
David Platt Becomes The Interim Teaching Pastor
David Platt is the darling of the Neo-Calvinist movement and for many their idol. For many David Platt is God. He is the President of the IMB which is experiencing massive financial problems. That being said, I think it would be unfair to place the responsibility on David Platt since he was not in the position for long. That said, I don’t believe he has the knowledge or expertise to lead the IMB. I look at David Platt as being an ideological appointment in the SBC. Plus David Platt has also been silent on the C.J. Mahaney controversy especially with T4G, of which I believe he speaks. David Platt has published several books including “Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age“,”Radical:Taking Back your Faith in the American Dream“, “Follow Me: A Call to Die, A Call to Live“,”Because We Are Called“,”What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said Follow Me” and “Risk is Right: Better to Lose Your Life then to Waste It” David Platt served at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, plus he served as the Staff Evangelist at Edgewater Baptist Church in New Orleans. Plus he was the Senior Pastor for eight years at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. Added to that list of accomplishments comes a new role, that of interim teaching pastor of McLean Bible at the Tyson’s Corner campus. By the way David Platt’s appointment further confirms that McLean Bible is a Southern Baptist Church. So can they at least get rid of the non-denominational claim? Its also important to note that David Platt will be teaching in conjunction with Lon Solomon, Dale Sutherland, and Mike Kelsey. One other thing to watch for as well, is the following. Due to David Platt’s connections to Mark Dever through T4G McLean Bible will probably continue on its trajectory and move even closer to Capitol Hill Baptist Church and 9 Marks. I can’t wait to hear the stories of church discipline problems. I predict this blog will be writing about them.
The Problem with “Radical” and What McLean Bible can Learn from Jonathan Hollingsworth
The point person of the “radical” movement is none other than David Platt. David Platt wrote “Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from The American Dream” in 2010.” The book is about leaving behind comfort, safety, security, convenience, and more and poses the question…would you give everything to Jesus? This theology that David Platt teaches has become the new legalism which is harming and enslaving young Christians. People are guilt tripped into taking risks or doing stuff that leads to burn out and being fried. Since David Platt is going to be teaching at McLean Bible its time to introduce the congregation to Jonathan Hollingsworth and his story.
Jonathan Hollingsworth firmly bought into the belief of being radical. He helped the poor, gave away his belongings but he didn’t feel that was enough. So this 20 year old college student dropped out and decided to become a missionary in West Africa. Only when he sold out his life was he being “radical” for Jesus. Jonathan went over to Africa and the mission eventually failed. He dealt with spiritual abuse, and other problems and 6 months later he found himself back in Virginia. The church which sent them told him not to speak about the situation and ordered him to be quiet. The amount of spiritual abuse that Jonathan encountered both in Africa and from his local church pastors was both toxic and harmful. He eventually pushed through the silence and wrote a book in conjunction with his Mom, Amy Hollingsworth. The name of the book is called “Runaway Radical.” I would encourage people at McLean Bible to familiarize themselves with it. To read more about Jonathan Hollingsworth and a couple of interviews I would read these interviews here, here and here. Furthermore I would also recommend Todd Wilhelm’s post called “Radical or Mundane.”
I very much understand what Jonathan Hollingsworth is saying in his own way. My Kool Aid was not David Platt, instead it was John Piper. I left a life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin under the Kool Aid of John Piper. Basically I thought my life was going to be a waste unless I did something grand for God. So I left southeast Wisconsin in 2005 and came to D.C. I had multiple set backs, then a difficult situation exploded in my face. I had a prolonged faith crisis from about 2009 until 2013. Then I met a Kool Aid drinker from Sovereign Grace who tried to get me involved in Redeemer Arlington. And I have been having to deal with that mess. There is a pressure in the church not to speak about spiritual abuse. In my case it was to shut up about a false accusation and the pain and trauma it caused. That is a part of my story which you can read on this blog. The church only wants to hear stories of all going well. I have known a few stories where people crash and burn in the middle of Africa, or elsewhere. Its what makes David Platt’s message so toxic and dangerous. I seem to recall a story a few years back that one of the members of David Platt’s church sold their possessions, house, and all belongings to move to Africa or some place like that. It backfired and in their middle age they came back to the United States defeated and with nothing. In the course of time I predict that David Platt’s “Radical” will have its own burnout crowd and that it will be just as destructive as Josh Harris’ “I Kissed Dating Good Bye”. Its what happens when you have people who advocate and advance legalism. The burn out and the problems which come from it our severe.
Note to Members and Attenders of McLean Bible
This blog wants you to know that if there is legalism, burnout, spiritual abuse, child sex abuse problems or more, this blog will give you a platform for you to communicate your story and tell what happened. Spiritual abuse is a major problem and it needs to be discussed and we need to have honest conversations. I get spiritual abuse after what I went through. But I just want people who are involved and those who have been know that there is a place for them to share what happened. That’s it for the day guys please know that I love you.