This post at The Wondering Eagle is a response to Andrew Jones article about skeptics. This will offer a very different take on what the Leawood campus pastor said about skeptics. My hopes is that this will bring about some discussion on this topic.
“It is by doubting that we come to investigate, and by investigating that we recognize the truth.“
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.
Colossians 2:9-10 NIV
Christ Community Church’s downtown location with Tyler Chernesky leading the church in prayer.
This blog which writes heavily about the EFCA has a lot of respect for Tom Nelson’s Christ Community Church in the Kansas City metropolitan area. This blog has written several articles about this church. You can read more in, “Tyler Chernesky of Christ Community Church in Kansas City on Friendship and Proverbs. Seeing What was Taught in a Sermon Play Out in Kansas and Missouri” , “Jonathan Neef of Christ Community Church in Olathe, Kansas on the Process of Grief” , “Tom Nelson’s Christ Community Church in the Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas Area Turns 30 in 2019” and “Nathan Miller from Christ Community Church in Olathe, Kansas Writes About How Nature is Good for Your Soul.” Today’s write-up is about a blog article that deals with a post that Andrew Jones composed for the church magazine. Andrew is a campus pastor at Leawood, Kansas. He grew up in southern California before attending college in Indiana. He then went onto Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and after graduating joined Christ Community Church in 2010. In my research I also found this article from Made to Flourish that was written by Andrew.
Andrew wrote a blog post called, “Dear Skeptic.” In the post he talks about skeptics and maybe someone who attended Christ Community Church. He claims to identify having not grown up as a Christian. He encourages the doubter to keep attending. The church, as Andrew writes, is more relevant than ever. They will talk about how they discuss hard topics in society. In the post he continues to say that it is okay to have doubt. Doubt at Christ Community is not only welcome but allowed. Christians are not all hypocrites. Yes its sad that many churches are imploding due to moral failure but not all Christians are like that according to Andrew. He tries to make a case that you can find community in Christ Community. Its not perfect but there is community that can be created. He closes out the post by saying that the church needs you and they would like to have you attend. And that even if you are on the fence the door is always open.
How a Skeptic Will Respond to Andrew’s Post
A skeptic is going to view Andrew’s post with a very negative perspective. It will be read with suspicion, reservation and doubt. Many people will have deep concerns and will find this to be fluff. But there will be a lot of other issues that will happen as well that need to be raised.
The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind has Crippled Evangelicalism Perhaps Permanently
Skeptics are very different from evangelical Christians. They are deeply committed to science and education. They are very intellectual and many like philosophy. They can ask questions that can be frustrating for many evangelical Christians. A few years ago I wrote a post that explained why many evangelicals will not be able to reach atheists. You can read that in, “Why Evangelical Christians will be Unable to Reach Atheists with the Gospel.” If you want to have a deep discussion on the problem of evil good luck trying to have that in an evangelical church. The same applies with the problem of pain and suffering. Evangelicalism is anti-intellectual. If you are Neo-Calvinist then you have to deal with the fact that reformed theology can make pain and suffering or the problem of evil worse. Mark Noll once wrote a book that once claimed that the scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not evangelical mind. Mark Noll is correct. Many evangelicals are fighting the same battles today that Catholics fought in the 1500’s. And many can’t engage in intellectual conversation. You can read more about the scandal of the evangelical mind in, “From Mormonism in Montana to Sovereign Grace in the Washington, D.C. Area; The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind Comes Full Circle.”
Its Not the Hypocrisy that is the Problem its the Corruption
This blog actually misses regular hypocrisy. A pastor having an affair or stealing money is very vanilla. Many atheists and skeptics are much more accepting to hypocrisy. It should honestly be noted that atheists have their scandals as well. What stands out in evangelicalism is the corruption. And the corruption that this blog keeps dealing with is staggering. In writing this blog for five years I have learned dark situations about almost every church I attended or was involved. But let’s look at a few this blog reported and wrote about.
- This blog dragged out a story from an EFCA Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania. What happened is that the Senior Pastor’s son allegedly raped his wife while drunk. He also loaded a gun and pointed it at his wife. Realizing that she could be killed in a domestic abuse situation she filed for divorce. So what happened is that the Senior Pastor Steve Estes and Community Evangelical Free Church then practiced church discipline on an alleged raped victim. It was so over the top it was sick. You can read more in, “Steve Estes and Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania: A Painful Story of Domestic Abuse, Inappropriate Church Discipline, and Failed EFCA Polity.”
- This blog also dragged out another story that was partially covered by the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper. Fellowship Memphis is an Acts 29 church that is a model for multi-ethnic church planting. What happened at Fellowship was one of the darkest stories this blog covered. I will never forgot the day I got an email that almost made me vomit in disgust. The worship pastor at Fellowship Memphis was into voyeurism. He placed a camera in the church restroom and recorded females. In the process he also made child pornography. When caught the church covered it up. When one person wanted to report it to the police they were threatened with church discipline. The worship pastor was quietly let go and he went onto another church in Memphis were he engaged in voyeurism again. One of the victims who was scared to use the restroom contacted me. You can read that story in, “The Sordid Tale of Rick Trotter, Bryan Loritts, John Bryson and Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis and Downtown Presbyterian Church.”
- This blog also covered (and still is) reporting on the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal in Chicago. This blog has played a key role in publishing key documents during the scandal. James MacDonald was enraged over the coverage of Christianity Today at Harvest. In response he was allegedly recorded on a hot mic at Walk in the Word about how he wanted to plant child pornography on the CEO of Christianity’Today’s computer. You can read more in, “Mancow Muller Produces an Audiotape of James MacDonald Allegedly Wanting to Plant Child Pornography on a “Critic’s” Computer. Harvest Bible Chapel Elder Board Promptly Fires Him” and “The Allegation of Child Pornography and James MacDonald. Also a Question for Garrett Higbee.”
- Inside the EFCA you have the story of D.A. Carson attacking a rape victim from the Sovereign Grace Ministries scandal. Carson in defending the embattled C.J. Mahaney went after someone who was raped at 13, and did it in a statement from The Gospel Coalition. This raises the question in mind as to why the EFCA continues to give Carson a prominent platform. Another way to look at it is that Donald Trump slut shames on Twitter and D.A. Carson did something similar through The Gospel Coalition. When you consider the corruption inside The Gospel Coalition this blog would like to ask Tom Nelson, why be involved? You can read more in, “From D.A. Carson to Steve Estes the Following Question Must be Asked: Is the Evangelical Free Church of America a Safe Place for Sexual Assault Victims?”
This blog could go on, the point I am trying to emphasize is that it isn’t not the hypocrisy that is the issue. Its the corruption. Corruption is far worse than hypocrisy.
Evangelicalism has Taken a Massive Beating Due to Politics
Here is another problem that also needs to be raised. At EFCA One Mark Noll talked about the damage the word evangelical has taken since 2016. This blog wants to listen to that talk and the perhaps write a response. Since 2016 the word evangelical has taken a massive hit. The uptick in Christian nationalism has increased a divide and it has pushed other people away from Christianity. Those who embrace Christian nationalism include individuals like Robert Jeffries, Jerry Falwell Jr, James Dobson, etc… In this camp its clear that Jesus died for one thing only. You see Jesus allowed himself to be crucified at Calvary so that years down the road a political party can control the Supreme Court. John 3:16 should actually read, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son for control of the United States Supreme Court.” Many skeptics and those outside the evangelical bubble will lump all evangelicals together. It may not be right, or accurate, but its the reality today. The word evangelical has been redefined and is associated with politics today.
Its Not Safe to Attend Church Today, There is too Much Abuse and Other Issues
While this blog has a lot of respect for Christ Community Church its also safe to say that many evangelical churches are not safe. I have lived through scandal after scandal and am sick of them. I can’t tell you how troubling it is to write about or listen to stories of sexual abuse cover up. This blog remains deeply concerned about sexual abuse inside the EFCA. All I have to do is look at the Southern Baptists and watch all the infighting, scandal and more related to child sex abuse. From my perspective if you want to find God or Jesus the church is the last place to find it.
Christians, Churches, and Evangelical Organizations Don’t Own Their Mistakes. Christians Don’t Say they are Sorry When they Hurt Someone
The last point I want to emphasize to Andrew Jones is the following. Another major problem is that Christians don’t own their mistakes or admit error. Skeptics know they see through the BS in evangelicalism. You will never or seldom hear an evangelical say, “I’m sorry, I’m wrong, please forgive me and let talk about what I did…” You will never hear apologies from many ministries, pastors, churches or denominations. Consider the following.
- Will Mark Driscoll ever apologize for abusing people at Mars Hill Seattle. Good luck.
- Will C.J. Mahaney apologize for Sovereign Grace covering up child sex abuse? Fat chance!
- Will D.A. Carson apologize for attacking a rape victim to defend C.J. Mahaney? Not a chance.
- Will The Gospel Coalition admit that it was wrong to stay silent while Carson attacked a rape victim who was assaulted at age of 13. Oh come on cup-cake you should know evangelicals don’t believe in admitting error!
- Will the EFCA ever apologize in the #MeToo era for giving Carson a platform and acknowledge the rape victim he tore apart. Denominations don’t own error or mistakes either.
Will a Christian own a mistake, say they are sorry and help each other heal? The answer is no. Christians don’t believe in that. But remember they want to talk about Jesus, share about “sound doctrine” and more. But Christians don’t own their mistakes or admit their sin. To expect them to do so is foolish. This post is a counter-point to Andrew and I hope it gives Andrew Jones something to think about.