An Open Letter to Glen Schrieber EFCA Superintendent of Southeast District (Did The Lord Will my Mom’s Painful Death for my Sanctification?)

A horrific Tweet from Glen Schrieber’s EFCA Southeast creates today’s post. Does the Lord intentionally bring about pain to conform people to the image of Jesus? My Mom recently passed away after a long illness. My question to Glen Schrieber and EFCA Southeast is the following: Did the Lord will my Mom’s passing for my sanctification? Is that what the EFCA teaches and believes? 

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

Vicki Harrison 

“A rose will still be a rose in heaven, bit it’ll smell ten times sweeter.”

Meg Woodson 


When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?

John 11:33-37 NIV

***For those of you unaware Glen Schrieber is the District Superintendent for EFCA Southeast.  If you would like to read a biography of him you can do so in “Analysis of the Southeast District of the Evangelical Free Church of America.” ***

The EFCA Southeast District Superintendent 

My Mother’s Funeral on April 12, 2017 

Dear Glen-

I am in very much in a daze. I feel lost, and like I am in a fog. Let me tell you about my Mom’s illness and eventual death. My Mother became ill in late December of 2016 and went into the hospital. My Mom was dealing with vasculitis, steroid induced diabetes, low grade lymphoma,  and cryoglobulinemia. Just as we worked at solving one area, another got worse. It was a complicated situation. My Mom left the hospital in February and went into a hospital bed in the living room. We had a home health nurse that helped out and my sister took care of my Mom. I am really proud of my sister for the hard work she did.  One particular difficult issue is that my Mom had open wounds, and the diabetes prevented those wounds from healing. So infection was a risk for my Mom. She had an open sore on her right foot and a broken tail bone and open wound on her lower back. It was painful for my Mom. Due to the medical illness I traveled home to Fresno, California from Washington, D.C.  four times over a four month period. When my Mom went into the hospital on March 20, 2017 a few days afterward I traveled back to California for the final time and helped my Mom in the hospital. It was hard to spend so much time in the hospital. This was some of what transpired in a hospital room and what I witnessed Glen:

  1. I held my Mom’s hand when she asked for it and at times she fell asleep with me holding her hand. 
  2. I played with her hair which she liked and kissed her forehead regularly. 
  3. I saw my Mom deal with delirium and be unable to recognize me at times. She had no idea I was her son and during these occasional situations I was bitten. I had eyebrows pulled out. And Mom almost broke my glasses. 
  4. I waited outside her room as the nurses changed her wound dressings. I heard her moan in pain as the doctors gave her increased fentanyl to manage her pain. Hearing that pain was difficult, it was so hard Glen.  
  5. I was there as I tried to get my Mom to eat. I tried to always get her to take one more bite. 

On April 1, 2017 my Mom was moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The doctors decided that they had done all that they can do. At 6:24 that evening before my eyes in the ICU I watched my Mom die. I watched her blood pressure go to zero over a 20 minute time span. I watched my her pulse get worse and I watched her heart stop beating. I was a wreck as I wept and sobbed over my Mother. This was not supposed to happen at all. I traveled to California to help my Mother get better…not to die. As I watched my Mom’s skin color change I sobbed over her and cried hysterically. I thanked my Mom for the way she loved me. I sobbed as I told her that I will miss her. I felt so sick. Mom wasn’t the only one who died, as a part of me died also. The next few weeks were a blur. There was my Mom’s wake and then her funeral. Some of this is like a fog to me in all honesty Glen. Last week I finally flew back to Washington, D.C. to try and go back to work. I was in California for almost a month. I was in an emergency leave situation with leave exhausted. But my company has been understanding. 

On April 23, 2017 I had my birthday. I turned 42. I was apprehensive about the day occurring. For me in this valley of grief I am walking one day at a time. Day by day, step by step. When my birthday came I cried in the morning. All I wanted is to hear from Mom and hear her say “Happy Birthday David!” and hear her sing. My Mom did that my entire life. I cried in my apartment knowing that I will never hear my Mom speak again. That afternoon my sister and Dad called me to wish me a happy birthday. They had just visited my Mom in the cemetery. My family is in shock in many ways. We are three weeks out from burying my Mom. We are still getting legal documents and more from the funeral home who handled my Mom’s funeral. But April 23 was a terrible day because I had to weep in a shattered family with my Mom gone. Its against all this pain and suffering that I saw the following Tweet by your District Office EFCA Southeast. 

Glen I have to ask this in light of the pain and grief my family is going through. So here it is…

Did the Lord bring about my Mother’s death to sanctify me? Is that what the EFCA believes? 

As they say in the military…”Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrott!” What is the deal with the EFCA? Did my Mother suffer and cry out in pain so she could be sanctified?  Is that why I heard her cry? Is the fact that I saw something today that reminded me of Mom and that I cried, well is that Gods plan to? Glen when I saw this I was shocked. I was just shocked. What the hell happened to the EFCA? This is not the EFCA i remember or knew in California or Wisconsin. Is this really what the EFCA believes? That whatever pain exists is brought about by the Lord to “conform me?” What are the other possibilities that this can mean? 

Let me run some questions by you Glen and I plan to follow up with your EFCA District Office in Jacksonville, Florida. 

  1. Did the Lord have Dlyann Roof walk into Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina and kill people so that in their pain they can be conformed into the image of God?
  2. Did the Lord have Adam Lanza walk into an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut and open fire on first and second graders so that those who survived can be conformed in the image of God? 
  3. The youth volunteer in an EFCA church who is sexually abusing a young child. Did the Lord arrange for that so that in the young child’s pain they can be conformed into the image of God? 
  4. The person who was diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumor who is given three months to live, well did the Lord arrange for that pain to occur so that people who are watching that loved one die can be conformed to the image of Jesus? 
  5. On September 11, did the Lord arrange airliners to fly into the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania  to have all those who lost relatives be conformed into the image of Jesus? 

This Tweet that your District Office sent out from Jacksonville illustrates quite clearly how Neo-Calvinism/Neo-Puritanism makes pain and suffering or the problem of evil worse. The EFCA is not designed for this strand of theology. Your denomination’s roots go back to Lutheranism, and after a couple of mergers the Swedish Evangelical Free Church and the Norwegian-Danish Free Church Association became one in 1950. If you need a history lesson on the history of the EFCA Glen, I can build a briefing, come down to Jacksonville and educate you on the history of the denomination that employs you. This strand of theology, which is nothing more than determinism is outright cruel. Its the reason why I am so troubled about churches like James Walden’s Riverside Community Church in Columbia, South Carolina. Its the reason why I am disturbed by the presence of Allen Cagle’s Sunrise Community Church in Atlantic Beach, Florida. Its the reason why I am bothered by the existence of Randy Goff’s Doxa Church in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. This is why I mourn what people are being taught in Chris Kawa’s River Oaks Community Church in Mayville, Tennessee. Its why my stomach is in knots about what is being proclaimed in Coastal Bible Fellowship in Rincon, Georgia. Those prior churches are some of the churches in your district that buy into that kind of deterministic theology as they are either Acts 29, 9 Marks or The Gospel Coalition churches. 

But let me bring this back to the situation before me today, that of the death and loss of my Mother. Do you know Glen how hard this has hit my family? Do you know my Dad feels lost in that he mourns his partner in marriage for 52 years? Do you know my sister grieves deeply? So why would the EFCA Southeast District Office believe that the Lord would bring about my Mother’s death go and create pain to conform me in the image of God? Who the hell believes such a thing, after all where is that in the Bible? After all didn’t Jesus weep when he learned that Lazarus was buried? Is there something wrong with Jesus weeping and mourning the loss of his friend before he raised them again? Does the EFCA Southeast Office have a problem with Jesus Glen? I am just asking these questions. This Tweet is an awful thing to read. For many people it will be different and painful take. But in light of what me and my family are walking through that Tweet was just God awful. That is not the EFCA that I remember and recall. Not one bit! Let’s have some Christian theology come out of the EFCA Southeast District Office for a change. 

Okay Glen?  

By the way one more thing before I sign off. When I was telling the story of Matt Boedy’s Riverside Community Church and James Walden. I emailed you, and I called the District Office and left several voice mails. You never returned my messages Glen. That is not professional. That is not cool. That is not how the church should act. People should respond to people out of common courtesy. I have responded to every one who has emailed me. And this can be busy behind the scenes Glen. So I want to let you know that I have some more stories brewing in EFCA Southeast. When the people involved are ready to speak and tell them, then this blog will allow them to explain what happened. You are going to be a very busy superintendent.  If you pass through the Washington, D.C. area you and I should grab a coffee and get to know each other. We’re going to be interacting quite a bit in the future. 

That’s it Glen, I wanted to address the Tweet your office sent out, and I have done that. 

Tale care of yourself, 

Very Respectfully, 

David Bonner 

PS – This open letter was emailed to the EFCA Southeast District staff and all the EFCA churches in the Southeast District. I usually don’t push back this hard, and email my posts to the entire district, but this Tweet was awful. Those in the EFCA in North Carolina, Kentucky, etc… need to know what the home office is doing. 

PPS – Also people in the EFCA Southeast District may be wondering, what happened  in James Walden’s Acts 29/EFCA’s Riverside Community Church? I have written a serious of articles these tell you a lot. “Disturbing Allegations of Spiritual Abuse at James Walden’s Acts 29 Riverside Community Church in Columbia, South Carolina.” Then there is how Matt Boedy’s story went up to the EFCA President in Minneapolis who allegedly threatened to sue Matt. You can read about that in “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?

8 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Glen Schrieber EFCA Superintendent of Southeast District (Did The Lord Will my Mom’s Painful Death for my Sanctification?)

  1. Notice that it’s always the bubble-wrapped Highborn who has never known real pain or hardship who is first on Twitter with the glib advice of Pain and Death and Destruction as God’s Omnipotent Will.

    Just like Job’s Counselors.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eagle, I have had more and more concern as I have read your recent blog posts. First, I want to say that i have had a lot of heartache in my own life (some ongoing), and it has been used to conform me to the image of Christ. That’s a long theological discussion I don’t think there is time for now.

    I lost my mom 7 years ago. She was about your mom’s age, and the cancer diagnosis was sudden, untreatable, and devastating. As much as I wanted to be able to talk with her, she had to be sedated most of the time because the pain was so bad. It was two doctor appointments and straight to hospice. It was not easy, I still miss her terribly, and I had to go right back to work (where I deal with little kids), and let God help me through my pain. Part of that was allowing other people to help me. The other part was realizing that life would continue, whether or not I felt up to facing it.

    So, I had to remember that not everything that people were doing around me was directed at me-be it a comment, a song on the radio, a TV episode about losing a mom, or someone celebrating mom. I personally believe you over-reacted to a tweet that was not personally aimed at you, and that it might be beneficial for you to take a break from the blog and get some time to deal with your feelings and the reality of the loss of your mom.

    If we are in our 40s/50s and now even into our 60s, the loos of a parent is a reality. I have found that my choice of how I dealt with that has had a profound effect on the way I deal with life 7 years later. I reach out more, I encourage students/friends who may be missing a parent, and I am ever thankful for the mom God gave me. Approaching 60, I also realize that I am only 15 years younger than my mom when she died. That makes me aware of how I want the remaining years of my life, however they may be, to count for God and the good of others.

    These thoughts are written with genuine concern, and I hope you are able to accept them in that way.

    With prayers,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Linn you missed the point if you think I overreacted to a tweet. Does the Lord bring about pain and suffering for our sanctification? That is the question. Did the Lord arrange to have my Mom cry out and moan in pain in a hospital for me or my Dad’s sanctification.

      Expand the question like I did up above Did the Lord use Dylann Roof to bring about pain and suffering in a church shooting in South Carolina to bring about people to be more like Christ?

      There are a million and one examples I could use, are some of them.

      1. Did the Lord arrange and allow for a massacre in a Batman movie theater in a suburb of Denver so that people can be sanctified?
      2. Did the Lord arrange for terrorist attacks in in Egyptian churches so that people can be sanctified?
      3. Did the Lord arrange for a gunman to kill people at a Christmas party in San Bernadino, CA so that people could be made to be more like Jesus.

      I could go on, but I made my point. This is monstrous in several ways. One it has more in common with Sunni Islam, in that God will,s you accept, “En Sallah.” The concept of a Lord who wept and mourned is lost. Its why I used the verse from Lazaerous to led this post. But tell me Karen, what’s wrong with saying the world is broken, its fallen and and that things like disease, terrorism, murder, pedophilia, etc… are just a part of a broken world and leave it at that?


  3. Eagle,

    You ask: “Does the Lord bring about pain and suffering for our sanctification? That is the question.”

    The answer from the bible is: Sometimes.
    John 9:1-3 is one of many examples.
    The book of Job is another.

    The real problem with Mr. Schrieber’s “tweet” is that far too many preacher-types feel that they must make *absolute* statements about God that come across as, “GOD WILL ALWAYS…” or “GOD WILL NEVER..”

    I have found that when I’ve encountered these vast blanket broad statements about God, and who He is, who He isn’t, what He “always” or “never” does… I can almost always find an example in the bible when God did exactly what he “never” does, or does something different than something he “always” does.

    These “absolute” statements about God only serve to put Him in a man-made box. And thus, we end up worshiping a “god” of our own making.

    God is so much bigger than what these preacher-types promise. sigh…
    Don’t let the “ALWAYS-NEVER ABSOLUTE STATEMENT” preacher types get you down.

    I can’t adequately answer your specific question about your Mom’s suffering. But I do know that the bible (especially Ecclesiastes) speaks of grief honestly, and that there is a time for it. I also know that Revelation says that God will eventually “…wipe every tear from their eye.”

    I also know that my recovery from the events & aftermath of 9/11/01 was hampered by the insistence on my part that NOTHING good could ever possibly come out of that. I have found through experience that that was not the case…. that some good things have arisen out of that event. It took a long time to see it, and even longer to acknowledge it. I don’t know if that helps you now, but it’s merely my experience, FWIW.

    Continuing to pray for you as you & your family as you go through grieving your mother & healing from it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: An Open Letter to Jon Payne (District Superintendent of the Forest Lakes District on Reflecting on my Life in Wisconsin) | Wondering Eagle

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