This is an open letter to Cedrick Brown. Cedrick is the Eastern District Co-Superintendent inside the EFCA. This letter which wishes him well also raises concerns and issues that he should be aware of when it comes to Evangelical Christianity and the EFCA. From corruption to managing Calvinism inside the EFCA there is a lot to consider.
“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.“
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
Psalm 95:1-2 NIV
This blog wanted to take a moment and wish you well in your new position as Co-District Superintendent in the Eastern District. You can read what this blog wrote about you becoming the District Co-Superintendent in, “Eddie Cole Leaves the Eastern District Superintendent Role and Accepts VP of EFCA Reach National in Minneapolis. Meanwhile the District Leadership is Split Between Tony Balsamo and Cedrick Brown as Clause B Takes Effect.” This blog writes about the EFCA, and the Eastern Distirct and I will be breaking stories and looking at situations that develop. As you transition into this role I want to leave you with some thoughts from an outsider who spent close to 20 years involved in evangelicalism before becoming a part of the dones.
The EFCA is focused on getting young people involved, evangelism, church planting and more. Its interesting from my perspective to write and work around the EFCA in the United States and to see what the organization is doing to plant churches and grow. Here is the problem that you need to hear. The greatest threat to the EFCA is not gays getting married to each other in Washington, D.C., Wilmington or Philadelphia. It is not the growth of the nones and the secularization of the society at large. No the greatest threat to the EFCA is internal corruption. If you want to drive people away and create atheists, secular humanists and more ignore the issues of internal corruption. Churches cannot cover up child sex abuse, nor can the cover up domestic abuse, nor can the use church discipline in horrific ways. Its this blog’s belief that before the EFCA focuses externally they need to look internally. Here are a couple of examples that the EFCA will need to face one day. One problem is EFCA Pastor Larry Osborne on going relationship with Mark Driscoll. Larry Osborne helped restart Mark Driscoll after the implosion of Mars Hill Seattle. The EFCA has been silent on Larry Osborne and it raises the question, does the EFCA take spiritual abuse seriously? Then you also had famed Trinity Evangelical Divinity professor D.A. Carson who defended C.J. Mahaney who was bogged down in allegations of covering up child sex abuse. Carson attacked someone who was raped at 13 in a post from The Gospel Coalition. You can read both in, “Why is the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) Silent on Larry Osborne’s Strong Support for Mark Driscoll and The Trinity Church? Does the EFCA Also Believe Women are Penis Homes?” and “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?”
In the Eastern District you need to be aware of the topic of child sex abuse. This blog believes that issue is a major issue to the EFCA organization today. A network of churches that practices both congregationalism and autonomy is heaven for a sexual predator. Under that model this blog is concerned that the EFCA can be at a greater risk. This blog also is concerned about the rise of the Neo or Neo-Calvinists inside the EFCA. In the near future I will be sending you a book that came from one of the stories published here. It deals with how an EFCA church outside Minneapolis, Minnesota which was theologically flipped and became authorterian. The book was written by Amanda Farmer. The EFCA needs to learn how to manage Calvinism. There is no other way to say it. If you want to know my thoughts on the EFCA you can do so in, “How Should the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) be Viewed? Well it’s Complicated.”
You should understand that this blog was birthed in psychological pain and that this writer who has largely abandoned evangelicalism has seen the dark side of religion. The reason why much of evangelicalism is so sick is that Christians, churches and organizations do not say they are sorry. When they wound someone they do not own their mistake and seek to help someone that was taken out so to say. Churches and pastors do not go before congregations and say “we mishandled a child sex abuse situation.” This is done because organizations listen to their attorneys and choose to follow them. Cedrick you have to understand that much of evangelical Christianity is a business. Years ago a small group leader who was also in the US Air Force taught me why rape and sexual abuse is a problem in the military. And that was through a false accusation that threatened my name, ability to earn income and more. It was the darkest season of my life and came from someone who boasted of how much John Piper, Matt Chandler and Mark Driscoll he listened to. You can read about me in more detail in, “Unless You Experience Spiritual Abuse Then You Won’t Understand How Painful it is.” Individuals like me are products of systems that are created which ignore the issues within. This blog acts as a check in many ways. That said the stories I have heard about domestic abuse, sex abuse, grooming, abuse of power and more are troubling and frightening. To meet someone in a diner or coffee shop and hear how their child was groomed for sexual abuse or how a family was caught up in a cult like church is hard to stomach. Sometimes I struggle to sleep after I hear some of the stories that are told to me. And to understand this blog you can read, “What You Should Know About The Wondering Eagle – An Overview of this Blog So Readers Can Understand it Better.”
This blog does takes me up and down the East Coast so I will make a point of sitting through your church sometime in New Jersey. When I come I’ll just shake your hand and introduce myself. I don’t hide behind a computer screen, instead I get out and about. I met and/or listened to Eddie Cole preach in churches here in Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. And finally in closing this blog will look for positive stories to write as well. In the past I wrote about how the EFCA responded to fires in California or Hurricane Harvey in Texas. I try and do analysis here but if I see something worth writing on the it will be written. The posts here won’t be puff pieces but try and provide independent analysis.
In closing I want to wish you well and hope you do well. I have heard some good things about you previously just as I have traveled and written. So take care of yourself and good luck.