Considering Some of the Issues at Remnant: From Idolatry of Celebrity Pastors to Warped Views on Membership Some Thoughts to Contemplate

There are a number of issues at Bryan Laughlin’s Remnant Church in Richmond, Virginia. Some of the issues at hand I have written about over the past two years. In this post I compile a number of older posts for attenders and members at Remnant to read about and consider. This will look at a number of issues from 9 Marks, to church membership to problems with celebrity pastors in the Neo-Calvinist world. 

“Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.”

John Adams 

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”

Henry David Thoreau

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”[a] and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 13:9-10 NIV

The Richmond train station which is around the corner from Remnant. 

When I started writing about Remnant there are many issues going on that need to be examined or looked at. You can read the narrative about Remnant in “The Disturbing and Cult-Like Behavior of Acts 29 Remnant Church in Richmond, Virginia is Adversely Affecting Lives.” There are a number of issues ongoing in Remnant that I have written about which are common in the Neo-Calvinist community. Below you will find links to articles that I have written about in the past that apply to this Acts 29 church in Richmond.  

 

Celebrity Pastors 

There are a number of issues with celebrity pastors that need to be addressed at Remnant. In the four articles below you will find some of the issues with celebrity pastors. 

  1. The celebrity pastor in Neo-Calvinism has become nothing more than a personality cult. Its similar with what existed in the Soviet Union with Joseph Stalin, or in China with Chairman Mao. There are traits and marks of the personality cult which exist. In the following article this historian leaned upon my graduate education to write about the personality cult of John Piper. The article is called, “The Little Red Book…of John Piper?” 
  2. Next is a response to an article John Piper wrote about whether or not a Christian should arm themselves. The article I wrote highlights how if you want to kill someone’s faith have them read John Piper, Mark Dever, Matt Chandler, Kevin DeYoung, etc… Why? Many of these people are telling people what to think and not how to think. People need to wrestle with theology and belief. That is not happening in Remnant or Neo-Calvinism. If people thought through some of these issues they would be far healthier and people would be more mature. You can read about this in, “John Piper and Guns: How the Celebrity Pastor Movement is Crippling People’s Faith.” 
  3. The following article I wrote about when I was being recruited to Eric Simmons Redeemer Arlington here in the Washington, D.C. area. I was into Christopher Hitchens and I had an USAF Captain trying to get me into Mark Driscoll. I saw all the issues coming out of Mars Hill Seattle and I was baffled as to why the Christian would not care? I mean Mark Driscoll allegedly was so abusive that Joanna Petry wrote at her blog that she felt that if Mark Driscoll could murder her husband, he would. For me as an atheist I was puzzled as to why I had someone trying to get me to listen to such a questionable character. This article talks about how celebrity pastors become needlessly divisive. After all some people are rejecting Christianity because corrupt individuals like Mark Driscoll, C.J. Mahaney, Mark Dever, etc… are being promoted above the Christian faith. “How Celebrity Pastors Become Divisive: Mark Driscoll, Andrew White, Eagle and the Launch of Paul and Jonna Petry’s “Joyful Exiles
  4. John Piper is highly flawed and needs to exit the stage. The amount of damage this guy has done is incredible. This article that I wrote is a response to when John Piper said cancer was a gift in an article. I gave that to my Mom and told her that her pancreatic cancer was a gift from God. This was when I was a kool-aid drinker. This article is about how a mother confronted her son in tears and challenged him years later in pain. “My Mother’s Pancreatic Cancer, John Piper and Me.” 

 

Issues with Neo-Calvinism 

There is a lot to go through in regards to Neo-Calvinism culture that will apply most definitely to Remnant. These articles below will explore those different issues. 

  1. Neo-Calvinism makes church planting a form of idolatry. In addition the movement can act like a parasite in that is cannibalizes Christians from other churches. Many Neo-Calvinist churches aren’t effective and steal people from other churches. Case in point…how many people from Remnant come the local neighborhood?  After all in an African-American neighborhood you have a lot of white middle class attending. I am not trying to negative, just honest. This is about an Acts 29 church that was planted in Fairfax, Virginia which explores this issue. “When Neo-Calvinist Church Planting Becomes Idolatry: Kenji Adachi and All Peoples Community Church.” 
  2. Marshall Segal wrote an article at Desiring God a while back about being dedicated and committed. This article is a recipe for being fried. Remnant is also grappling with this issue. The signs of being a “dedicated Christian” are a millstone that smothers and fries people. You can read about that in, “Desiring God’s Marshall Segal’s Recipe for Spiritual Burnout.” 
  3. One other problem with Neo-Calvinism is how they define sovereignty. Neo-Calvinism is nothing but pure determinism. While many will deny this they still will subscribe to a belief in sovereignty that is warped. Their viewed of sovereignty is more in line with Sunni Islam. I wrote about this with a member of Acts 29 Redeemer Arlington who publishes. Carolyn McCulley went off the rails when her airline flight was delayed in Shreveport, Louisiana. If she believe God was sovereign given her Neo-Calvinist theology shouldn’t she accept her delay as the Lord’s hand at work? “With a Delta Airline Delay in Shreveport, Louisiana Does Redeemer Arlington’s Carolyn McCulley Believe the Lord is Sovereign?
  4. Andrew Hoffman is an Evangelical Free pastor in the San Francisco, Bay Area. He is involved in The Gospel Coalition in the Bay Area. In this open letter that I write him, I state that it is time to admit that the Neo-Calvinist movement has failed, and explain the reasons why. “An Open Letter to Andrew Hoffman (Multiplication Catalyst for ECFA’s Western District on Why Its Time to Admit that the Neo-Calvinist Movement Has Failed…)
  5. After hearing what Travis Jones said about Remnant’s culture this next article applies to The Gospel Coalition and Acts 29 churches. Why can’t many Neo-Calvinists communicate directly. Why do they struggle with speaking to those on the outside. Why are so many evasive when they are questioned? I saw that with an Air Force Captain from Redeemer Arlington. Remnant can be evasive when you ask questions. If you claim you have authority you really don’t, authority is earned by trust. You can read more in, “Redeemer Arlington, The Gospel Coalition and the Evasive Neo-Calvinist Culture Which I Do Not Understand.” 
  6. The following article is a reflection of what needs to take place in order to make Neo-Calvinism healthy. These are steps that Remnant can employ to make their church culture. Right now Remnant is far from healthy. “Eagle’s Recommendations on how to Improve Neo-Calvinism and Make it Healthy.

 

Issues with 9 Marks 

Remnant Church is in Mark Dever’s 9 Marks network. Mark Dever’s 9 Marks network has many problems that this blog keeps writing about. Let’s look at some of these issues which I have written about previously. 

  1. 9 Marks should be rejected and this is why. When the Sovereign Grace scandal happened C.J. Mahaney fled Covenant Life Church and ran to Capitol Hill Baptist Church and hid behind Mark Dever’s ass. In the process he avoided church discipline, violated membership, etc… Mark Dever violated 9 Marks when he gave C.J. Mahaney refuge. The 9 Marks that were violated include discipline, membership, discipleship, leadership, and “The Gospel.” You can read about that in, “9 Marks: What is it? How Mark Dever Undermined it and Made it Worthless.” At Remnant what it means is that Bryan Laughlin, Josh Soto or Doug Ponder will never face church dscipliine. They are above it. Church discipline is for the people in the pews. 
  2. At the 9 Marks website Jonathan Leeman writes a mailbag. In one of them he writes about how he and Mark Dever disagree on communion. Mark Dever doesn’t believe that communion should be given to someone who is elderly outside of church. The question I ask is what is Mark Dever going to do when he is 85 and in a nursing home wearing a diper? Should communion be denied to him? “Analysis of Jonathan Leeman’s Recent Mailbags; Plus What is Mark Dever Going to do About Communion When he is in a Nursing Home One Day?
  3. Sam Ermadi wrote a post last year about how you will join the wrong church and why you should stay. It was featured on the 9 Marks website. I wrote a response which illustrated why 9 Marks will be questionable and abusive, and why this blog will be writing about them for a long time. “Sam Emadi’s Disturbing 9 Marks Article Helps Explain Why Neo-Calvinism Struggles with Spiritual Abuse and Why One Should Expect More Scandals.” 

 

Issues with Church Membership 

Remnant has a lot of issues with church membership. I was contemplating that was I was writing about this Acts 29 church. Let’s stop and consider some of the issues which exist. 

  1. A Neo-Calvinist and 9 Marks church in Cool, California had a post on their church blog. The blog post talked about what a “health member” of a Neo-Calvinist church looked like. From my perspective the article was pretty warped and deserved a strong response, which is what this blog wrote. You can read that article in, “Cool Community Church on What a “Healthy Member” is in a Neo-Calvinist Church; However Drew Buell Forgot One Aspect as “Sound Doctrine” Means Teaching an Individual Why Rape and Sexual Assault is a Problem in the Military.” 
  2. Down in Oxford, Mississippi a 9 Marks pastor wrote about why college students should be a member of their church. The article I believed didn’t fully consider the needs and the time of life college students were in. It can be even more troubling when people are signing membership covenants and giving money when they can’t pay their rent or borrow money from Mom and Dad. You can read about this in, “Responding to Jim Davis of 9 Marks Grace Bible Church in Oxford, Mississippi on College Students and Church Membership.” 
  3. One issue at Remnant is their membership covenant. Membership covenants are a modern form of slavery. They ensnare, hold, restrain, and control people. The next article looked at membership covenants in the context of the infamous Berlin Wall which became a symbol of the Cold War. “Neo-Calvinist Membership Covenants: The New Berlin Wall Amidst a Theological Cold War?” 
  4. Another question to ask is the following. Why would people get involved in a questionable church or even a cult? Especially when there is a lot of information that warns people to stay away. This looks at the issues of churches like Remnant which are cult like or cults. “Why Do People Get Involved in Questionable Religious Groups, Cults, and Sects?” 
  5. In Christianity Today a while back Ed Stetzer wrote a gem. It basically said that if you reject church membership you reject God. That is the why I interpreted it. Its from a Neo-Calvinist perspective and it also makes church membership an idol. You can read about that in, “Ed Stetzer’s Warped View on Church Membership.” 

 

Concern with the ESV Bible 

Remnant uses the ESV, and yet there are issues with the ESV. One of the troubling aspects is how the ESV came about. Wayne Grudem who was involved in translating the ESV doesn’t subscribe to the traditional view of the Trinity. How is that for sound doctirne! And Wayne Grudem is the go to individual in the Acts 29 network and many segments of Neo-Calvinism? You can read more in, “Wayne Grudem’s Un-Orthodox View of the Trinity and the Question that Must Be Asked: Can the ESV Bible be Trusted?”

 

Complementarianism 

In Neo-Calvinism complementarianism theology reigns. Its a part of their view of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Soon I am going to do two articles about how Remnant told a female that she could not be a police officer in Richmond. But to look at the problems with complementarianism, there is a response I wrote to a medical doctor in the Boston area who wrote at John Piper’s Desiring God why she was giving up her career in medicine because of complementarianism theology. You can read that in, “Critique on Kathryn Butler’s “From Medical Doctor to Stay-at-Home Mom” at Desiring God as Coming from the Son of a Neurosurgeon.” 

 

Church Culture Issues

There are a number of issues with the overall church culture at Remnant that need to be addressed. Many of them such as membership issues and celebrity pastors have been tackled. This looks at some of the other issues such as how to choose a church or dealing with betrayal. 

  1. This post I did a couple of years back on how to choose a church. It goes over a number of topics such as running staff through state wide sex offender databases to using the internet to research the place you are considering. You can read that in, “How to Choose a Church.” 
  2. There is another aspect that needs to be discussed. Those who are refugees from Remnant are not alone. They are part of a fellowship of which I am also a part. The fellowship of the wounded deals with those who are broken, hurt and suffering because of fundamentalism. You can read more in “Fellowship of the Wounded.” 
  3. Some of you from Remnant who have left are dealing with shunning, ended relationships and people going cold on you. Betrayal is painful. This blog The Wondering Eagle was born out of an incident from a current Acts 29 (former Sovereign Grace Church) I learned why rape and sexual assault are a problem in the military. It came from an Air Force Captain who was trying to get me involved in Redeemer Arlington here in the Washington, D.C. area. His pseudo at this blog is Andrew White and he gave birth to a false accusation that threatened my name, ability to earn income and more. The situation was never resolved and even popped up in my Mom’s hospital room shortly before her death. Betrayal is painful. In the end people have two choices. They can either be like Peter or Judas. You can read more in “Theology of Betrayal.” 

Read and reflect on all those Remnant. There will be another post in a couple of days about you.