What would have happened at McLean Bible if Todd Phillips stayed? Would the church have been theologically flipped? Plus there are additional concerns about David Platt’s sermon on June 24 that I need to raise. And I have to be honest, in the course of time as I keep finding and dealing with corruption wherever I go in evangelicalism, the truth of the matter is that I will probably pass out of it and be a nothing or an atheist in the course of time.
“Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country.”
“The first sign of corruption in a society that is still alive is that the end justifies the means.”
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
Romans 12:3 NKJV
My McLean Bible (Frontline) mission trip in 2007
Todd Phillips on Bluefish
Todd Phillips was a pastor at McLean Bible who lead Frontline for years. We are going to look at him briefly today and ask a couple of questions, especially in light of the direction McLean Bible has gone.
When Todd Phillips was at McLean Bible
I wrote about my history with McLean Bible in the following post called, “The Wondering Eagle’s History with McLean Bible Church.” When I was involved at McLean Bible it was from the 2006 to 2009 time frame. Before I continue let me state that one of the problems with evangelical Christianity is that it is very much personality driven. I am also familiar with Roman Catholicism as that is what my family is. Catholicism is not as personalty driven. Now sometimes this does work out as I have seen and met from time to time some good Protestant pastors. One of those in my opinion is that of Todd Phillips. When I was at McLean he led Frontline. He was incredibly gifted, good speaker and very healthy in how he engaged with people. I heard a lot of good things about him at the time. If I remember correctly when I was there the succession plan for Lon Solomon called for Todd Phillips to eventually replace Lon. That is what was said, and I thought he would be a good pick. Well, those of you who were at McLean Bible know that Lon allegedly changed his mind and wasn’t ready to leave. In response Todd Philips left McLean in 2011 and went to Texas. He served in Frontline for a total of six years from December of 2004 to March of 2011. Afterward he served as a pastor at Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas and is today committed to his project called The Last Well. Todd Phillips leaving McLean Bible I believe was a huge mistake, and one that the church never recovered from. If Todd Philips became the senior pastor then the door would have been closed for David Platt. And in the process the church would not have been theologically flipped. Personally I was not as impressed with Lon Solomon because there were times that I thought that he was arrogant. I honestly believe he meant well, but sometimes he just came across as arrogant. So Lon did not did not influence me like Todd Philips did.
What Troubles Me Now
From 2009 until 2013 I had my faith crisis but today due to a number of circumstances I am on the edge spiritually. This will be looked at in more detail in the next section. I am not a fan of mega churches and have no plans of getting involved in one again. They are huge, act like corporations and people get lost. You can’t pastor a church the size of McLean Bible as it works against itself. Now having said that, let me also say the following. When McLean Bible was theologically flipped I saw it coming and wrote about it as it happened. You can do through all the posts I wrote from 2015 through 2017. While I thought Lon could be arrogant I was disturbed in how he was treated, and bothered in how he was driven out. I was troubled by some of the information I heard from many different sources of what happened behind the scenes. Of how staff was forced out and how some are suffering today. It also bothers me that many people who liked McLean Bible are faced with the choice to leave because of what happened. None of this should happen, and it troubles me greatly.
Likewise it also troubles me when I see a church move forward and act like no wrong act was committed To march ahead and ignore the pain and trauma that was created is not right. The previous Sunday I attended and listened to David Platt teach about elders and church leadership. To know what happened behind the scenes and see David Platt and McLean Bible carry on like nothing has happened is disturbing. To put it in the language of what David said, there is unconfessed sin and McLean Bible hasn’t acknowledged it. All this needs to be raised and one of the compelling reasons why McLean Bible is written about here at The Wondering Eagle. What I would like to see is honesty and transparency from McLean Bible. And a church admit its errors and approach those that were hurt and right the wrong and help them out. Is that too much for a church that professes to teach the Gospel to do? That is lacking at McLean Bible and has been especially apparent since 2015 through 2017.
Eric Nichol from Fairfax Community Church on the Virginia sex offender registry.
As I Cling to a Thread
And then there is another factor that has to be written about as well. Early in David Platt’s sermon on June 24 he talked about how people are hurt by the church and that there are many who are done with Christianity. I have been there, and chances are good that in the course of time that is where I will be again. This blog was born out of psychological pain from someone who tried to get me involved in Eric Simmons and Jordan Kauflin’s Redeemer Arlington. At the time it was affiliated with Sovereign Grace Ministries. I endured a false accusation that was deeply painful and the situation was never resolved. I won’t go into all the details you can read all the posts I have written about Andrew White and Redeemer Arlington. This is the primary one that deals with what happened. “How I Managed a False Accusation Given Birth to by a USAF Captain and Care Group Leader from Redeemer Arlington for 408 Days.” But there have been other problems as well which I have seen or dealt with. For example I have seen how sexual abuse or how sex offenders have been handled wrongly and put people at risk. This has happened four times in multiple churches or ministries between Wisconsin and the Washington, D.C. area. The first situation occurred at Elmbrook Church in 1999 with Daniel Vargas. He sexually abused a number of people as a you pastor and then fled to central Wisconsin where he committed suicide in a motel room. I got involved in Elmbrook after that happened and saw the scars from the incident. You can read more about that in, “How I Learned Evangelical Christianity is Struggling with Child Sex Abuse: An Incident at Milwaukee’s Elmbrook Church in 1999.” The next situation also took place in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area at Wooded Hills Bible (today Wooded Hills Church) with a dentist who was a registered sex offender who wanted to work with kids. He had a sexual relationship with someone who was 16 if I remember correctly. That created a lot of issues and challenges. The third time was when I was being invited to Sovereign Grace and Redeemer Arlington in the midst of the SGM lawsuit for allegations sex abuse cover-up. Then I had the situation at Fairfax Community Church led by Rod Stafford. I stumbled into information and learned that Fairfax Community Church (where I was involved) had misled and lied to their congregation. They had a pastor on the Virginia sex offender registry and did not disclose that to the church. This happened as I was reeling from the false accusation from a person in leadership in Redeemer Arlington and trying to rebuild the pieces of my life. Fairfax Community Church was not healthy at all. As a result of the situation with Eric Nickel I was the one who ended up being the whistle blower and it was deeply uncomfortable. I did so because I feared that a sexual abuse situation would have happened, just like Elmbrook in Wisconsin. And I didn’t want to be racked with guilt knowing that I could have prevented someone from being harmed. You can read about that in, “Why Does Fairfax Community Church have a Care Director on the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry?“
So over and over repeatedly I keep running into these situations which reinforces the problems inside evangelical Christianity. I keep going from one corrupt church and run into problems at another. I research places deeply and yet there seems to be problems no matter what I find. What I actually need is something that allows me to relax and not be alarmed or run into situations. And yet this problem keeps continuing. Let me share something but I will not say the church name. Where I have popped up in the past for church I bumped into something that was deeply troubling. I was considering doing an event, perhaps a men’s event, retreat or something like that action. It would have been the first one I would have gone on in a decade. So I was thinking about it when I picked up the bulletin of where I show up from time to time and looked at their announcement. I was shocked to realize that my church was bringing in someone for an event who I had written about previously at this blog. He had connections to one of the many stories I have written about. Right there in the sanctuary of this church my stomach turned to knots. And I wondered to myself and privately asked, “Will I ever escape this problem?” Then shortly after that I had another disturbing situation that is crushing. My first evangelical church – Fresno Evangelical Free, (Today The Bridge Fresno) where I was baptized and had my first Bible study is bringing in a man to speak who actively covered up his brother-in-law at Fellowship Memphis who made child pornography in a church. You can read about this in, “Why is Bryan Loritts Speaking at The Bridge Fresno on July 8, 2018? Is Andrew Smith Aware of the Dark and Deviant Scandal that Took Place at Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis?”
So all I am finding is one corrupt situation after another. And there is this other reality as well. I will never hear an apology followed by action to correct pain from a false accusation I endured from someone once involved in Redeemer Arlington. Then even the memories that I cling to have are being threatened by corruption. Who in their right mind would bring in a person that allegedly covered up child pornography and have him speak to the congregation like The Bridge Fresno is doing? Then in addition while I steer clear from the Neo-Calvinist camp I run into issues in standard evangelicalism. I have bumped into people who think the culture wars are what faith is about. And I have bumped into people who think faith is about control of a bicameral form of government or a Supreme Court nomination. Christian nationalism is also disturbing. So what is going to likely happen is that in the course of time is that I will probably become an atheist or nothing spiritually. All the experiences I had and the stuff I bumped into and keep bumping into since coming back to the Christian faith are a serious problem. And that is why the hypocrisy from McLean Bible and what David Platt preached is so damning to be honest with you. I am not saying this will happen tomorrow or next month. But its something that in all honesty I think will happen. And the reality is that I will not be able to stop it when it does. The greatest threat to evangelicalism is corruption, and how many people stay silent and thus enable that corruption. You see it with the Neo-Calvinists, and you see it with the traditional evangelicals. And you can’t escape it at all. I am not expecting a church to be perfect. But is it too much to ask a church to follow the law in the same way a public elementary, fire department or more would do if illegalities took place? That is it for the day guys, know that you are loved.