The Wondering Eagle is looking at David Platt’s sermon from June 24, 2018 about the qualifications for elder. While the sermon is good, it fails in light of what happened at McLean Bible from 2015 until 2017. The scheming and power plays allegedly by Dale Sutherland in church leadership which David Platt condemns are actually what brought him to power. Also worth asking are the qualifications for elder going to apply to Larry Cooper? Or is their dishonesty allowed and okay in the “greater good” especially if it gave McLean Bible, David Platt?
“Church leadership is so different then worldly leadership. Church leadership is not and must never be characterized as a power struggle marked by politics and power plays?”
David Platt’s sermon at the 14:33 mark. The Wondering Eagle would like to know if this applies to what Dale Sutherland and Mark Dever allegedly did in the 2015-2017 time frame?
“A church rarely revolts against or rises above the religion of its leaders.”
This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a [a]bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not [b]given to wine, not violent, [c]not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not [d]covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a [e]novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
1 Timothy 3:1-7 NKJV
David Platt is doing a series at McLean Bible called “12 Traits of a Biblical Church.” This blog writes regularly about McLean Bible and has penned other posts recently. The last two posts I wrote are as follows. I wrote about what Eric Saunders from McLean Bible Arlington preached about Biblical membership and why it should be rejected. You can read that post in, “Eric Saunders Recent Message on Biblical Membership to McLean Bible Arlington Must be Rejected. Today’s Wondering Eagle Explains Why.” And as I write about how this church was theologically hijacked I asked if the 132 staff which was purged were forced to sign non disclosure agreements as a way to keep their spiritual abuse silent. You can read that in, “Were the Purged Staff at McLean Bible in 2016-2017 Required to Sign Non-Disclosure Agreements, and Thus Allegedly Silenced About Their Spiritual Abuse?” So let’s look at what David Platt taught on June 24, 2018 and discuss it.
What David Platt Preached About Elders on June 24, 2018
The sermon that David Platt gave is based on 1 Timothy 3:1-16 that deals with the qualifications of elders. This sermon was to set up McLean Bible for its congregational meeting on June 27, 2018. This blog attended and wrote about the congregational meeting, You can read that post in, “The June 27, 2018 McLean Bible Congregational Meeting Write Up.” But getting back to Platt’s talk, it is part of a series about 12 Traits of a Biblical Church. He started it off by discussing how some people have been encouraged by certain pastors or church leaders. The teaching pastor of McLean Bible counts himself as being one of those people. Then Platt talks about how countless people have been hurt by bad leaders and those in ministry who should not have been. Again David Platt includes himself in this camp also. He then mentioned how many people have been pushed away from not only church but Christianity altogether by scandal and problems. So according to David Platt church leadership is crucial. The evangelical church culture in the United States is not healthy. Any unhealthy churches have unhealthy leaders. Leaders affect all they interact with, and Platt enforced that early in his talk.
He then moved into the subject of elders. According to Platt the church is led by elders who are servant leaders. After elders you have deacons who he stated are leading servants. Elders are overseer that it used in different ways. In his talk Acts 20-28-32 is quoted in discussing the role that Elder/Overseeer play in a church. Platt says there are four responsibilities elders have.
- Elders lead the church under the authority of Christ. An overseeer is not the ultimate leader, as Jesus oversees the church. Elders belong to the church, and Jesus holds the entire church is held accountable and that unrepentant sin must be held responsible. Platt claimed that McLean Bible has processes in place that hold elders accountable. Plus there are processes in place for people who become pastors. Church leadership is different than the secular world leadership. Church leadership should not be taken lightly. Church leadership should not be engaged in politics and power plays at a church according to Platt.
- Next, elders care for the body of Christ. You shepherd the flock and elders protect the flock from wolves. Elders are to be on guard against wolves, false doctrines. and people who can attack the church from in both external and internal methods. It is the responsibility of the elders to protect the church. Elders are responsible for feeding the sheep and to nourish the church.
- Third, elders teach the word of Christ. One key competency is that an elder must be able to teach. The ultimate leader of the church is Jesus. Jesus leads through his word which is physically present. Elders must study and know the Bible and leave out their own thoughts, opinions, beliefs, etc… If an elder is not teaching God’s word they are not fit to teach at all. David Platt said that the minute he does not teach the word of God properly he is no longer qualified to teach.
- The final issue that Platt looked at is that elders model the character of Christ. It is important to know that age is not on the list for qualifications or disqualifications for elder. After all Timothy is young. The church should not be influenced by worldly success. Business success is not a qualification for leadership. The world has a different definition for success. As McLean Bible goes against the culture Platt stated that only males can be elders, which is scriptural. While females can not be elders they still have a role in the church. The character qualifications are critical. Leaders should be imitated by the church. David Platt asked what happens if people imitate himself or other leaders? According to Platt elders should not addicted to alcohol, pornography, food, and more. Plus is the elder patient? Is he a leader in his home? Can a man lead his family and caring for them. Is he self controlled if single? If married does he serve his wife? Is he kind and hospitable and a friend of strangers? Is he known as being blameless among strangers. If a person is not above reproach then he is not to be an elder.
McLean Bible has a board of eight elders of which David Platt is one of them. They are adding more pastors to McLean Bible in order to serve the 10,000 or so people who attend or call McLean Bible home. After all to be a member of McLean means that you should be cared for. A plurality of elders should be working together for others to serve them.
David Platt than transitioned and spoke about deacons and while elders have a lot of rules there is not as much known of deacons. Deacons play a role of serving others in the church. Deacons has three responsibilities. The first responsibility of deacons is that they meet needs of the community. Deacons assume accountability for certain commands. For example they look after widows. The second requirement is that they support the ministry of the mission of the church. Finally Deacons unify the church body around the word of God inside the church. Deacons demonstrate a Christ like character. Deacons are not advocating for themselves, instead they focus on the church and deacons exist to make sure the mission of the church is maintained. A deacon does not have to have the gift of teaching like an elder should have. Some believe that women can be deacons and others do not. However, David Platt states that McLean Bible believes that women can be deaconess. David Platt boldly stated that he wants a church filled with servant leaders who care for people in the church. People should be shepherded and church leaders should exalt God. Jesus leads his church through elders, deacons and deaconesses. Church leadership is key and instrumental and the goal is to equip and enable people for the work of ministry. In closing David states that he wanted proper elders so that the McLean Bible can reach the world that the church exists.
While it Sounds Good the Talk is Disturbing in Light of the Theological Coup that Ousted Lon Solomon
So how should this talk by David Platt be viewed? Well let me put it this way. If all I knew is based on this talk alone and I knew nothing else, then I would think that what David said would be fine. It wouldn’t bother me as much. While I am more toward the edge spiritually I could tolerate what is said.
There is a major problem that exists. And its in the context of this problem that David Platt’s sermon is intrinsically flawed. From 2015 until 2017 there was a theological coup that intentionally took place at McLean Bible. Lon Solomon was forced out against his will. So were at least 132 McLean Bible staff who were also purged and many took buyouts. In addition the same type of behavior that David Platt condemns – that of factions and party politics – is what brought him to power. He was a direct beneficiary of it. During the 2015 and 2017 time frame members of McLean Bible emailed elders their concerns about the theological direction of the church. Those emails were intentionally ignored. I have heard this from a few people who stated that they contacted their elders, and their concerns were routinely dismissed. In light of what happened at McLean Bible from 2015 until 2017 David’s talk is deeply troubling. And it highlights a deep problem with Neo-Calvinist theology. There is more of a focus on words and not actions. You can say the right things, but not act on those words and its fine. I dealt with this from my situation from Redeemer Arlington. Right words, but a lack of action that was required the right the wrong.
So the question I have is the following? Is what David Platt taught apply to those who were part of a faction who forced out Lon Solomon in the 2015 until 2107 time frame? So for example while Dale Sutherland is not an elder he is still a pastor. From what I was told allegedly Dale Sutherland invited Mark Dever to a staff meeting when Lon Solomon was away on leave. This allegedly was done behind Lon Solomon’s back. At that staff meeting without Lon’s knowledge 9 Marks was pushed. The staff had no idea as to what 9 Marks even was. Then you had Dale Sutherland who allegedly acted in a svengali fashion who persuaded Lon that the church had to let go of staff while simultaneously hiring a number of Neo-Calvinists out of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. So in the context of what happened at McLean Bible David Platt’s sermon has issues. It fails on many levels. While it sounds good in the greater picture it has deep issues. I would like to know how David Platt can comprehend those factors. Is it okay that Dale Sutherland did what he did, especially if it brought David Platt to power? Borrowing from what David Platt said is it okay to not honor the “word of God” from that perspective? Honestly it amazes me that many Neo-Calvinists play with doctrine that way. If I were at McLean Bible I would be deeply troubled to stand back and think of all this in light of what David preached.
Do the Standards of Elder Apply to Larry Cooper?
There is another question that needs to be asked? Do the standards of elder as preached by David Platt apply to Larry Cooper? Let me start with Larry Cooper and re-visit what I think is one of the most disturbing events in McLean Bible’s recent history. At the town hall meeting on September 21, 2017 Larry Cooper repeatedly stated that McLean Bible is not joining the Southern Baptist Convention. Over and over Larry Cooper lied and kept stating that that McLean Bible is not joining the SBC. I attended and wrote up a review of the meeting in, “An Overview of McLean Bible’s Townhall Meeting; Plus is McLean Bible Controlling the Question Process?” Afterward Christianity Today wrote that McLean Bible joined the SBC in 2016. You can read about that in, “According to Christianity Today McLean Bible Joined the Southern Baptist Convention in 2016; If True Why did Elder Larry Cooper Lie Before the September 21, 2017 Town Hall Meeting?” So we have a problem. Someone lied. Either Larry Cooper is lying or Christianity Today is lying. Personally I think Christianity Today is fine as a news source. Sop the question stands why did Larry Cooper lie? He did so repeatedly and willfully. Somewhere along the way Larry Cooper went off the rails. Either he was corrupted at McLean Bible or the U.S. Army failed to teach him about honor and integrity. Larry Cooper according to what David Platt taught is no longer above reproach. So why is he an elder? Or in this case since McLean Bible got David Platt does it mean that the lying that was committed is okay? If so then I wasted 45 minutes of my life listening to David Platt. These questions about Larry Cooper deserve answers that I hope people at McLean Bible will ask and demand answers about. If anyone from McLean wants to meet and talk I am happy to do so. Well that is all for the day guys, know that you are loved.