On April 30, 2018 Eric Saunders who leads McLean Bible Arlington gave a deeply disturbing talk about church membership. As McLean Bible continues to move in the direction of 9 Marks this post examines Eric’s talk in the perspective of what has happened at McLean in a theological coup. Does Eric’s talk about membership, unity, and more hold up in light of what happened because of a cabal between Dale Sutherland and Mark Dever? Does this play out in light of Eric Saunders action, especially as he was a part of the coup?
“Ignorance is not too dangerous. If you combine it with power, then this is a toxic mix.”
Yuval Noah Harari
“Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.”
And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.
Acts 17:11 NLT
Influence of 9 Marks on McLean Bible
I listened to a sermon the other day from McLean Bible Arlington and there is a lot of ground to cover. McLean Bible is moving more in the 9 Marks direction. I have been checking 9 Marks to see if they will show up. Meanwhile the flood of people leaving McLean Bible continues. If anyone who was a former member of McLean wants to publish their story of how they lost their church they can do so. This blog will support all former McLean Bible members who are spiritual refugees. Eric Saunders is the campus pastor of Arlington. He gave a deeply troubling sermon called, “CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: DISPLAYING GOD’S CHARACTER TOGETHER (1 CORINTHIANS 12:12-27)” Let’s look at this talk and then below I will explain why this must be rejected.
Remember that Eric Saunders is Part of the Coup and What Eric Said
Eric Saunders is the Campus Pastor of McLean Bible Arlington. Eric is from Chesapeake, Virginia. He graduated from Liberty University and served in an organization called WorldHelp. He was a pastor in Portsmith, Virginia and then moved to Raleigh, North Carolina to attend Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where he earned a Masters in Divinity. He was a lay pastor at Christ Our King Community Church. Eric is married to his wife Jenique. Eric replaced Nate Keeler at McLean Bible Arlington, when Nate went up to Delaware. Eric was also part of a theological coup at McLean Bible. Mark Dever conspired with Dale Sutherland to tip McLean Bible into a Neo-Calvinist church. In April of 2016, 77 staff members accepted buyouts in the face of layoffs. In 2017 another 55 staff members accepted buyouts. In a one year period at least 132 people were purged from the staff. While this was going on McLean Bible was hiring a number of Neo-Calvinists from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and elsewhere. After all 9 Marks has a close relationship with the Neo-Calvinist Baptist seminary. I believe 9 Marks holds a church discipline conference there. I wrote about that in the past which you can read in, “SEBTS Church Discipline Conference, 9 Marks, Jonathan Leeman and Eric Cartman say “Respect my Authoritah!” So you have to remember that Eric is part of the coup that took place. You have to consider that what is said comes from a Neo-Calvinist background.
In his talk that he gave at McLean Bible Arlington on April 30, 2018 this is what was communicated. I listened to this talk twice before writing this post. Eric explained that unity of the Gospel happened in a local church through membership. Its how “leaders know how to lead” and in the process he invoked Hebrews 13:17. (Note to McLean Bible you guys have to forgive Eric, many Neo-Calvinists like himself act as if Hebrews 13:17 is the only verse that exists. Yes there are 23,145 verses but Hebrews 13:17 is the only one from his perspective) It was also explained by the young pastor that membership help keeps people accountable in the local church. Eric defined membership as the following. “It is a commitment to follow Christ and to display his character together in a local church.” There are three main parts of Eric’s sermon on church membership.
- “We commit to display to God unity in a world of division.” After all the Gospel produces unity.
- “God’s sovereignty in a world of insecurity.” Church is not in searching for where you belong, but in trusting in the sovereignty of God.
- “Display God’s care in a world of selfishness.” A church that commits to each other
In a Church that I Believe Will One Day be 9 Marks this is why Eric Saunders Sermon Should be Rejected
This sermon that was given by Eric Saunders bothered me deeply. The reason why is because of what is coming down the pike and because of the theological coup that recently took place. Dale Sutherland conspired and worked behind Lon Solomon’s back allegedly with Mark Dever from Capitol Hill Baptist. Dale basically served to Dever McLean Bible on a plate. And in the process he also became Lon Solomon’s Judas Iscariot. The only thing left for Dale to do is kiss Lon on the cheek. So in light of what happened there are a lot of issues with Eric’s sermon. People are already leaving McLean I have received a few emails from people who are homeless, As the church continues to move more toward’s Mark Dever’s theology the flow of refugees will uptick. That is a given.
Here are the problems with what Eric Saunders said in his April 30, 2018 sermon. One of the major red flags is Eric quoting Hebrews 13:17 early in the sermon. Neo-Calvinists abuse Hebrews 13:17. The people at McLean Bible Arlington are not slaves, and nor should they be treated as such. But others problems exist in what was said when you consider the theological coup that took place at McLean Bible. For example Eric talked about how membership is crucial because people need to be accountable in the local church. Who is Eric Saunders accountable to these days? Don’t tell me the elders as the elder board at McLean Bible is a joke. What about Dale Sutherland? Who is Dale accountable to? Will he be held accountable for working behind Lon Solomon’s back and allegedly conspiring with Mark Dever? That was shady, dishonest and uncalled for in my belief. To undermine a senior pastor like that is very much inappropriate.
In his sermon Eric said, “We commit to display to God unity in a world of division.” In theologically hijacking McLean Bible did that produce unity? Those who have left or realize that they must leave to put them in a position where they are spiritually homeless is that unity Eric? Here is the other problem as McLean Bible drifts toward 9 Marks that will cause more division. And covenant membership in any 9 Marks church must be rejected. After all look what was promoted at 9 Marks in the past by Sam Emadi. Its about church membership and in my opinion comes very close to what Eric Saunders taught. You can read that article in, “Why You Will Join the Wrong Church.” I actually wrote a response to Sam’s article in, “Sam Emadi’s Disturbing 9 Marks Article Helps Explain Why Neo-Calvinism Struggles with Spiritual Abuse and Why One Should Expect More Scandals.” 9 Marks will produce spiritual abuse and problems. That is how the program is designed as its flawed. They reason why you do not covenant in membership is because you are signing a legal document that was already been vetted by an attorney. So for all the talk about avoiding conflict McLean will take the first step against legal action against you. Do you honestly think that any of the membership covenants at Capitol Hill Baptist or Matt Chandler’s The Village Church have not been vetted by an attorney? You are dealing with corporations and businesses in many ways. Mark Dever has a vested interest to protect his network. He needs to sell his books in the McLean Bible book shop.
But here is another problem do you think the church will be able to intervene or help in domestic abuse or other situations? When a woman at McLean Bible Arlington is being beaten by her husband in the privacy of her home and gets the courage to file for divorce, do you think McLean Bible will help or hurt? McLean Bible in a covenant situation will likely threaten church discipline on the female for not being obedient to her Elders (i.e. Hebrews 13:17) and likely encourage her to go back to her abuser. There is precedent for this in other 9 Marks churches. In May of 2015 at Matt Chandler’s The Village Church a female annulled her marriage to her husband. The female’s name is Karen Hinkley and her husband is Jordan Root. Jordan was addicted to child pornography and Karen was practically stalked by her 9 Marks church after she annulled her marriage. When she left the Dallas Fort Worth area to move to North Carolina The Village Church pursued her wanting to bring her under church discipline. You can read more in, ““The Explicit Gospel” at Matt Chandler’s “The Village” Includes Child Pornography, Church Discipline and Membership Covenants.” It is the belief of The Wondering Eagle that such questionable and unethical forms of church discipline will start to happen at McLean Bible. When that happens this blog will be all over it in covering the situation.
Here is another problem with Eric’s sermon. Eric painted a very pollyanna picture of the church. Toward the end of his sermon he talked about how beautiful the church can be. How he and his wife were moved, and how people helped others build budgets and help others walk through difficult valleys. It sounds so beautiful had it not been what happened to some of the former staff at McLean Bible. Between 2016 and 2017 at least 132 staff members have been purged from McLean Bible. Many took buyouts and after the fact some realized that the buyout was not as significant as they thought. Some had their employment careers cut short. Later in life they are learning they are unemployable. They can’t collect unemployment from Virginia because of how they left the church and how Virginia law is structured . The physical stress has led some former staff to have medical issues and even mental health concerns. And all that so that Dale Sutherland can turn over McLean Bible on a platter to Mark Dever. Does that sound ethical? Is that how a church should treat its staff? What about helping the least of these? Has Eric Saunders grieved what former McLean Bible staff are going through? According to one of my sources from the Acts 29 network, Acts 29 is now encouraging people who relocate to Northern Virginia to go to McLean Bible. After all the church is now “Christian.” What does that mean? Well it would mean that Lon Solomon is not a Christian, nor was Todd Phillips, Jim Supp, Ken Sun and so many others. Maybe this is why Lon is no longer preaching. You must silence the heathen and the heretic.
The Wondering Eagle is calling on people at McLean Bible Arlington and the other locations to reject membership covenants. You can read more about the problems in them in the following post, “Neo-Calvinist Membership Covenants: The New Berlin Wall Amidst a Theological Cold War?” Membership covenants in a Neo-Calvinist church is a modern form of slavery. It is about control, not honoring the Lord. If Dale Sutherland, Mark Dever and Eric Saunders want to honor the Lord they can start by being transparent. If any former members of McLean Bible want to publish their stories of this church The Wondering Eagle will let them publish. That is it for the day guys, remember to reject what Eric Saunders taught.