9 Marks is a system in the Neo-Calvinist world that encourages the practice of church discipline. From my understanding the network is designed to pass off members to each other and even invoke discipline if necessary. 9 Marks churches transfer membership to other 9 Marks churches. In addition to this being cult like my mess with Redeemer Arlington stress tested the system and revealed as to why its not sustainable or healthy.
“A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”
A fool spurns a parent’s discipline,
but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.
Proverbs 15:5 NIV
Mark Dever’s 9 Marks
Redeemer Arlington is a 9 Marks church in Arlington, Virginia that is closely tied to Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Redeemer was the final church plant of Sovereign Grace Ministries before it erupted in child sex abuse scandal. Mark Dever has long been close to the Kauflin family and Mark Dever from what I have heard has spoken highly of Redeemer and have even encouraged some of his people to go there. Over the years I have interacted with people who once called Capitol Hill Baptist Church home. And they have told me what Dever thinks of Redeemer Arlington. In addition I have also heard how Capitol Hill Baptist Church transfers information on people and possible discipline situations to Redeemer Arlington. A few years ago I got an email from someone who left Capitol Hill Baptist and went to Redeemer Arlington. The first Sunday this person was at Redeemer Eric Simmons comes up to them and says hi to the person knowing their name. Simmons then allegedly recalled information that was shared only at Capitol Hill Baptist and it freaked out this person. This person had not interacted with Redeemer leadership but that brief conversation revealed that the church knew a lot of information that was collected and shared by her previous church. This blog regularly gets together with people and meets with them in bars, coffee houses and sandwich shops to hear information about these places. This person I spoke to was distressed that all this information was shared behind her back and without her consent. For this person it was cult-like.
One of the notes Andrew left on my desk when he was evangelizing me.
Some Background Information on Andrew White and Redeemer Arlington
Andrew White was an Air Force Captain who was stationed at the only Air Force Base within the District of Columbia. That base is Joint Base Anacostia Bolling. Bolling from my understanding handles administration issues for the United States Air Force. Andrew and his wife Jillian were involved in Redeemer. They also became community group leaders. Now Redeemer is a 9 Marks church and membership covenants are heavily pushed in that organization. In order to be in a leadership role at Redeemer you have to sign a membership covenant and commit to following the leadership. You can’t be in a church leadership role if you are not in a covenant membership. How do I know this? Well Andrew took the party line of Eric Simmons and Jordan Kauflin and boasted to me how he was a covenant member. I found it odd to hear someone boast of their church membership, but he did. As he was a covenant member he led the community group. Andrew was evangelizing me and triggered a false accusation that threatened my name, ability to earn income and more. In the darkest season of my life a covenant member under Jordan Kauflin’s discipleship showed me in abusing his rank of Air Force Captain why rape and sexual assault are a problem in the military. For the entire story read the posts written about Redeemer and Andrew White. When Andrew left Redeemer in 2014 his membership was relinquished. In Redeemer as in other 9 Marks churches people are let go and their membership is transferred to another 9 Marks church. An example of that is Redeemer Arlington and Capitol Hill Baptist Church. So Andrew was released from Redeemer and his membership was transferred to another church in the Colorado Springs area. That church was most likely 9 Marks or something similar.
The Flaw That Exists in 9 Marks and How My Story Highlights It
9 Marks pushes church discipline and I have heard of situations where one person left one 9 Marks church and went to another and their home or original church reached out to the new church and shared information. The new church told the member they needed to deal with this issue or face church discipline. This is how 9 Marks is supposed to work. The first sign that 9 Marks is a failed system occurred when C.J. Mahaney fled Covenant Life Church another 9 Marks church and took refuge at Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist. Mark Dever’s own behavior revealed why 9 Marks is worthless. You can read that analysis in, “9 Marks: What is it? How Mark Dever Undermined it and Made it Worthless.”
Now what should have happened according to how 9 Marks should have functioned is that when this abuse situation came to the attention of Jordan Kauflin at Redeemer Arlington the following should have transpired. Jordan should have not only reached out to Andrew White but also the leadership of Andrew’s church. Jordan should have explained what happened. Andrew probably was in a leadership role in that church and they should have known the story and more. After all how many times on a church membership application does one see the question, “Have you left a church under conflict or do you have unresolved issues with another person?” I have seen that question fairly regularly as I study church membership packets and information. Jordan should have kept the other church which was most likely 9 Marks in the loop and if that would have been followed chances are this mess could have been resolved.
But that is not what happened. When Jordan, myself and Andrew White had a conference call in 2015 what I thought was the start of resolving the conflict didn’t happen. It became clear that Jordan had reached out to Andrew but his church was not involved. They probably did not know what Andrew did. Then when Andrew broke off the discussions and didn’t come close to what a lawyer told me needed to be done Jordan told me that Andrew said he was sorry. What had happened is that he said briefly he was sorry for what he did but we didn’t discuss or even start the process of reversing the ramifications or harm for what he triggered. When Andrew ran and warned me not to contact him – which I had honored – Jordan let him go and the effects of the false accusation remained in effect.
Now we are seeing the problem duplicate itself again. Jordan Kauflin with this issue hanging over him is leaving one 9 Marks church and going to Christ Covenant in Atlanta, Georgia. Jordan gets a “get out of jail” free card. This issue just hung and dragged into my life even popping up in my Mom’s hospital room before her death. Its clear and very much unlikely that Jordan Kauflin will face any consequences or discipline. Since Jordan comes from what was described at “SGM Royalty” over at SGM Survivors he will get a pass. This just shows the flaws of how items like church discipline and membership covenants are unevenly applied. Favoritism affects it and church discipline is sometimes applied throughout the network and then other times it was not. Mine was severe in my case I learned why rape and sexual assault is a problem in the military through a false accusation.
Can This Abuse Happen at Other 9 Marks Churches? Absolutely
What I wrote above can happen at any 9 Marks church. Its a reason why you do not become a covenant member at Garrett Kell’s Del Rey Baptist. Could this happen at Mike Law Jr’s Arlington Baptist? Absolutely. Does this apply to Nick Roarks’ Franconia Baptist Church, yes it does. Can this occur at Tim White’s Winchester Baptist Church? It very well can. Where humans are involved it will be an issue because issues like favoritism, tribalism, and more can influence or distort the process. The way you find out if a system works is to stress or pressure test it. Engineers can stress test bridges to make sure they are functioning and holding up. It can lead to improved safety as a result. 9 Marks was first stress tested by the Sovereign Grace Ministry scandal. Then it was stress tested by my mess and the false accusation I endured. Both of those situations show that 9 Marks is a flawed and bankrupt system. I am writing this during the COVID-19 pandemic where toilet paper is in short supply. My advice if you are in a 9 Marks church is the following. If you have “Nine Marks of a Healthy Church” use it as toilet paper. Because at the end all its good for is wiping the shit off your ass.