At the national EFCA blog Jane Schaible who works at First Free Wichita contributed to a response about Rebecca McLaughlin’s new book called “Confronting Christianity.” One issue that was not addressed it appears in looking at the book briefly is that of corruption. The issue of the Evangelical Industrial Complex and more it appears are ignored. First Free Wichita is dealing with a lot of corruption. This blog has deep concerns about First Free and would not recommend it as a place for people to find faith. As evangelical corruption can result in people being driven away from faith it needs to be on the same level as issues such as the problem of evil or pain and suffering.
“A people that elect corrupt politicians, importers, thieves and traitors are not victims but accomplices.”
“If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes.
Psalm 119:64 KJV
Sanctuary at First Free Wichita
We are going back to a church that The Wondering Eagle is covering in the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA). Its one of the churches in the Midwest District of the EFCA that has issues that I keep hearing about. Recently at the national EFCA blog Jane Schaible contributed to a blog post that deserves a response. The article that Jane contributed to is called, “New Takes on Common Questions That Keep People From Faith.” Jane Schaible works at First Evangelical Free Church in Wichita, Kansas. One of Jane’s jobs there is to work at the front desk of First Free. In addition she also teaches women’s Bible studies, small groups, and serves on the Adult Education Team. Jane is currently a student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. According to my research Jane has written at a couple of blogs to include Sister Sojourners (which eventually moved over into the First Free blog) and Called by Glory. Jane is married to Daniel Schaible who works at Pumphrey Machine Company in Wichita. But before we look at Jane’s response on the EFCA blog let’s quickly examine a new book that has been published.
Rebecca McLaughlin’s Confronting Christianity
A new book recently came out that is popular in the Neo-Calvinist crowd. It was published through Crossway Books which is one of the main publishers for Neo-Calvinist material. The book is called, “Confronting Christianity” and is written by Rebecca McLaughlin. Rebecca hold s PhD in renaissance literature form Cambridge University and a theology degree from Oak Hills College in London. Rebecca co-founded Vocable Communications and is the former vice-president of content at the Veritas Forum.
Rebecca’s new book which was published in April of 2019 deals with common objections to Christianity. She seeks to paint a picture of how Christianity is as vibrant as ever. The book deals with issues such as Biblical support of slavery, pain and suffering, the issue of Christianity being homophobic and a slew of other issues. This book has gotten a lot of attention across many parts of evangelicalism. For example you can read Paul Gould’s take on it at The Gospel Coalition in, “How to Answer the 12 Strongest Objections to Christianity.” Rebecca McLaughlin’s book has been endorsed by people such as John Lennox, Russell Moore, Trillia Newbell, Karen Swallow Prior and Jon Bloom just to mention a few. The breakdown on the chapters is below and I grabbed it from the Crossway website.
- Chapter 1: Aren’t we better off without religion?
- Chapter 2: Doesn’t Christianity crush diversity?
- Chapter 3: How can you say there is only one true faith?
- Chapter 4: Doesn’t religion hinder morality?
- Chapter 5: Doesn’t religion cause violence?
- Chapter 6: How can you take the Bible literally?
- Chapter 7: Hasn’t science disproved Christianity?
- Chapter 8: Doesn’t Christianity denigrate women?
- Chapter 9: Isn’t Christianity homophobic?
- Chapter 10: Doesn’t the Bible condone slavery?
- Chapter 11: How could a loving God allow so much suffering?
- Chapter 12: How could a loving God send people to hell?
What Jane Schaible Wrote at the National EFCA Blog
Jane is one of three people who wrote a response on the EFCA blog. The other two individuals are Joey Woestman from Faith Church in Indianapolis, Indiana and Jennifer M. Kvamme from Centennial Church in Forest Lake, Minnesota. But getting back to Jane this is a summary of what she wrote Rebecca’s book is a useful starting point to engage others. According to Jane the book is extensive and addresses a lot of examples as to why people have issues with Christianity. Some chapters focus on Biblical framework and extra Biblical evidence to support the argument. Some chapters are quite raw especially the times Rebecca writes about her own struggles with being gay at times. Here is how Jane closed out her section of the blog post.
“Christians often feel underequipped to respond to logical, non-Christian arguments, and for many, engaging them can be overwhelming. For this reason, McLaughlin’s book could be a very useful resource for anyone in the church who ministers to those asking the kinds of hard questions she tackles.
The variety of topics McLaughlin addresses is admirable, and she doesn’t shirk from attempting to truly confront some of the most common questions that keep people from accepting the Christian faith. Because she has done some of the initial legwork, her book is a great starting point to engage people who ask hard questions. Her sources are abundantly referenced, and additional resources could easily be found by simply looking through her bibliography.
On the other hand, she covers so many questions in this relatively short book, that the non-Christian who is intellectually disengaged with Christianity may not be quite convinced. Though some chapters cover topics more extensively than others, overall, more depth of discussion may be needed for the thoughtful unbeliever.
Reading this book was an intellectual challenge for me, as well as a source of conviction, causing me to ask myself a different kind of hard question: how engaged am I really with the non-Christians around me? Do I know them well enough to discern if they are actually wrestling with these topics? I readily see these stumbling blocks in the culture at large, at a distance, but I admit I haven’t really gone to the lengths McLaughlin has to understand her non-Christian friends’ logic. Through her faithfulness to engage the hard questions of the culture, I’ve been challenged to contemplate my own.
When Corruption Drives People From Christianity
When I look at the description of the chapters there is one topic that is missing and often from many apologetic books. Its a sizable issue and one that I keep seeing over and over as I write this blog. In studying and looking at the EFCA I keep coming across this very issue and I would suggest that it should be treated on the same level as issues such as the problem of evil or pain and suffering. The issue that I am referring to is that of corruption in Christianity, or corruption in evangelicalism.
In writing about corruption I have learned that it is quite rampant and it becomes a major factor as to why some people leave church and Christianity and reject it. Its quite distressing and disturbing to hear pastors who explain their born again conversion experience and then see child sex abuse, financial issues or even child pornography be covered up by a church. Recently I sat down and met someone on the East Coast in my travels who told me of a situation about how their child was groomed for sexual abuse. Then it was explained how the family went to the church leadership and raised the issues and hot a brick wall. I then sat through a service at the church in question and listened to one of the pastors who was involved in the situation preach on God. I almost keeled over and vomited, it was that stressful and revolting. This helps explain how I became a part of the dones and no longer believe in the church in how it is structured. The issue of corruption was raised in a riveting book by the former religion writer for the Los Angeles Times. William Lobdell in his book “Losing My Religion” pens a story about how he became an atheist and how church corruption contributed to it. In July of 2007 William Lobdell wrote what at the time became one of the most read articles on the front page of the Los Angeles Time. He wrote about how he de-converted and extensively discussed the issue of corruption in his process. In the article he says the following about God using the church and it being a tool of God. “I understood that I was witnessing the failure of humans, not God. But in a way, that was the point. I didn’t see these institutions drenched in God’s spirit. Shouldn’t religious organizations, if they were God-inspired and -driven, reflect higher standards than government, corporations and other groups in society?“
The Evangelical Industrial Complex, Jane Schaible and the Corruption Issues at Josh Black’s First Free Wichita
Its long past time to discuss the issue of corruption in evangelicalism and the EFCA. Here is the problem that exists, as I see it. Jane Schaible wrote a response to the book by Rebecca McLaughlin and yet the entire issue of corruption was ignored. I don’t expect Jane or many evangelicals to touch the issue. Jane is a part of what I would call the Evangelical Industrial Complex. The Evangelical Industrial Complex has really made God into a business. First Free Wichita should not be regarded as a church but as a business. Its a place for people like Jane, Josh Black, Mike Andrus and Dick High to draw a paycheck. That is how it should be regarded if one is going to be honest. If people like Jane really care about faith then they should confront or deal with the issue of corruption as it exists at First Free Wichita.
In its past there has been issues of sexual harassment at First Free Wichita which is referred to in the following post, “Guest Post: Why Sean Left Josh Black’s First Evangelical Free Church in Wichita, Kansas.” There has also been the problem of cronyism by Josh Black. Greg Strand in Minneapolis is a strong proponent of the “Significance of Silence” which is core to the EFCA. Josh had no problem violating it when he allegedly fired Dan Curnutt for not being Neo-Calvinist. You can read about that in, “Inside the EFCA are Neo-Calvinists Violating the “Significance of Silence” to Hijack Churches?” I am scared to say this given what this blog has discovered about other evangelical churches, but if I lifted the hood – the decade of time – and inquired about sexual abuse at First Free what would be found? Four decades is a lot of time and many evangelical churches covered up sexual abuse. To my knowledge First Free has not, but that is based on what I personally know. Has that occurred over the last few decades? That is an honest question that I have going forward. Then you consider the entire 9 Marks movement and the Sovereign Grace ministry scandal which I say unfold here in Washington, D.C. Mark Dever who created 9 Marks looked the other way on the issue of sexual abuse inside Sovereign Grace. Why would Josh Black or anyone else want to affiliate with 9 Marks given the problems and the history of the organization. That is another angle to the topic of corruption.
Due to the corruption issues at First Free Wichita I would never explore faith at Josh Black’s church. There are too many red flags and these corruption issues often point people toward atheism or away form faith. All the books by Rebecca McLaughlin are worthless when that issue is not addressed. From my experience and take corruption is too deeply embedded in evangelicalism. Its often beyond salvaging. So I am sorry to pop the bubble of the leadership at First Free but until these issues are addressed any type of evangelicalism or outreach is largely worthless. And with that I have said what is needed to be said. I will be writing about First Free Wichita soon.