A Look at Joe Carter From McLean Bible Arlington and The Gospel Coalition

This post is a look at Joe Carter. Joe is the editor for The Gospel Coalition and the executive pastor at McLean Bible Arlington. There are some aspects that this blog respects about him, and then there are deep concerns about some of the issues in The Gospel Coalition. 

“Come on, you sons-o’-bitches! Do you want to live forever?

Daniel Daly in the Battle of Belleau Wood in WW I. 

“Some people work an entire lifetime and wonder if they ever made a difference to the world. But the Marines don’t have that problem.”

Ronald Reagan 

Blessed is the man[a] who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law[b] of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2 ESV

Joe Carter 

This is a post that this blog has been wanting to do for a while. This blog writes about McLean Bible and its executive pastor at the Arlington campus has been on on my list to do a deep dive. This post is a focus on Joe Carter.  


Background on Joe Carter

Joe Carter was born in Clarksville, Texas which is in the NE part of the state. He attended Excelsior College which is known for online long distance learning and earned a B.A. in behavioral science. In September 1988 he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. In the Corps Joe was an avionics technician and a gunnery sergeant. It appears he separated from the USMC in 2005. Toward the end of his time in the military he also was the managing editor of the East Texas Tribune. The first job as a civilian came as the director of communications for the Center of Bioethics and Human Dignity at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois. That was followed by being the director of web communications the Family Research Council which is known for its engagement in the evangelical culture wars. Carter became the managing editor for Culture11 a conservative publication that imploded after the 2008 financial crisis. He then moved on to become the online editor for First Things Magazine which was followed by the senior editor of Acton Institute, which he left in 2019. In 2009 Joe Carter became the Adjunct Professor of Journalism at Patrick Henry College, which he is no longer doing. In January of 2012 he became the editor of The Gospel Coalition, a position he currently holds. In addition he acted as the communications specialist at the Southern Baptists Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission which he left in 2019. During his career he picked up a MBA at Marymount University here in the Washington, D.C. area and also acquired a degree in theological studies from Midwest Baptist Theological Seminary. Joe has also published several books including, “How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator” and “The Life and Faith Field Guide for Parents: Help Your Kids Learn Practical Life Skills, Develop Essential Faith Habits, and Embrace a Biblical Worldview.” And he also contributed to, “The New Media Frontier (Foreword by Hugh Hewitt): Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting for Christ.”


Joe Carter and The Gospel Coalition 

Justin Taylor introduced Joe Carter to the readership of The Gospel Coalition on January 23, 2012. He did so in the following post, “The Gospel Coalition: New Features and New Bloggers.” On his social media Joe explained his excitement in announcing his work with The Gospel Coalition on January 23, 2012 when he said, “I’m excited to announce that I’ve taken a position as editor at The Gospel Coalition.” In the process Taylor described Carter as a theological journalist. One of the responsibilities Carter has at The Gospel Coalition is to publish a regular post called “You Should Know.” That page is designed to give an evangelical worldview to many topics that are current today. It frequently deals with news, culture, politics, ethics and many other issues. Since 2012 Carter has written quite a number of posts here are some examples: Eugenics, football, prohibition, astrology, Hinduism, and Christianity in Korea, Having said that there are two issues that this blog wants to focus on that I want to highlight. As a person I am someone who lives in the gray and see’s a world that is very gray. Some things are black and white and some things are not. And while I disagree with Joe Carter on Neo-Calvinism and a number of issues I think some issues should be discussed. So let me address one area that this blog appreciates about Joe Carter, and then let me focus on one area that is a major problem for him. 


Joe Carter Takes a Hardline Against Conspiracy Theories

This blog subscribes to a lot of websites and tries to keep current on many different topics. There is one area where Joe Carter is standing alone and making a name for himself in a very healthy way in the view of this blog. We sadly live in a post-truth age. Where people can make up their own facts, establish “alternative facts” and find the media that support different ways of thinking. To make my point consider the impeachment issues between Donald Trump and Richard Nixon of Watergate. Nixon couldn’t escape the scandal and it became his undoing. Trump, meanwhile had alternative news sources that colored, downplayed, rationalized and politicized many issues to the point the truth was obfuscated. One of the issues of today is the rise of conspiracy theories on the internet which has became a major concern in the view of this blog. As I see it, Joe Carter has made a name for himself in criticizing and talking about the problems of conspiracy theories. 

This blog has rejected the Q Anon theory and pointed out the problems with its baseless and tragic claims. Just Security which is associated with New York University has identified Q Anon as Nazism rebranded. Survivors of Q Anon is springing up at Reddit where people describe how their families or marriages are being lost and torn apart. You can read more about that here. This blog explained the problem with Q Anon and the line has been drawn in the sand over the topic. You can read more in, “The Q Anon Conspiracy Theory is a Serious Threat to the Spiritual Blogging Community.” 

Joe Carter has come out and been prolific in addressing conspiracy theories and the problems with them. For example earlier in 2020 he wrote, “Christians Are Not Immune to Conspiracy Theories” which discusses the problems with conspiracy theories inside evangelicalism. On his social media that is how Joe Carter presented the article. “Turning a blind eye to conspiracy theories gives the impression that such behavior is accepted among followers of Jesus. It is not, and Christians should not tolerate the embrace of the demonic.” But I also notice Carter taking this issue on at Twitter and other forms of social media and he has tackled the subject over at The Gospel Coalition. You can read that in its original form in, “The FAQs: What Christians Should Know About QAnon.” This blog actually wrote about Carter taking on Q Anon in, “Joe Carter From The Gospel Coalition Explains the Problems for Christians Embracing the Q Anon Conspiracy Theory.” For speaking out against Q Anon Joe Carter has been attacked and this blog would say slandered. For example, I am not going to link to it because its a blog that is more a part of the alt-right in my view and petulant garbage that is called the Capstone Report. They advance virulent anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about George Soros which are garbage. They have attacked Joe Carter and gone after him. So in this area this blog is grateful for and wants to single out Carter for his efforts in that area. The last point I want to make is that Carter has spoken out against those who push the anti-vaccination conspiracy theories as well. This blog proudly promotes science and I am looking forward to the COVID-19 vaccine. Carter wrote about the issues with the anti-vaccination crowd which was covered in, “Joe Carter Writes a Solid Article at The Gospel Coalition About Why Christians Should Embrace Vaccines.” 


The Sovereign Grace Scandal, and The Gospel Coalition Attacking a Rape Victim

Sovereign Grace Ministries was a corrupt organization mired in problems of covering up child sex abuse.  This blog has written about this issue in the past which you can read about it in the achieves of this blog. In February of 2013 a rape victim from SGM explained how she was sexually assaulted at a SGM event and called for the organization to be dismantled and rejected. A lawsuit was pending against it at the time. In May of 2013 The Gospel Coalition through D.A. Carson, Justin Taylor and Kevin DeYoung released the following statement. “Why We Have Been Silent about the SGM Lawsuit.” In the process of defending C.J. Mahaney they tore into the rape victim and ridiculed her. It remains awful and inexcusable. Since this blog writes about the EFCA I wrote the following post a while back that asked some basic questions about the EFCA in light of D.A. Carson’s behavior. You can read that post 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?.” According to my research Joe Carter meanwhile has tried to defend The Gospel Coalition and explained that the as a para-church organization it can’t deal with such related issues. To that this blog would say bullshit. The reason why evangelicalism is so profoundly sick and why I have rejected it is because evangelicals never admit error or work to practice the basics. This blog could care less about how talented or academically qualified D.A. Carson is if he can’t practice the basic teachings of Jesus. If he can’t go back and lay down his offering and admit error and work to right the wrongs, then all his work on New Testament teachings amount to no more than a pile of freshly deposited dog crap you can find on a lawn in a park. This blog is still calling for The Gospel Coalition to do the right thing. If its co-founder is going to act like that then it will call the entire organization in question. And if it can’t practice humility in doing the right thing, then The Gospel Coalition should pack it up and shut down. 

In the case of Joe Carter this blog wants to remind people that McLean Bible still has the unresolved Scott Woods situation. Scott Woods is the alleged sexual predator who groomed teenagers in The Rock Ministries at McLean’s main campus for planned sexual abuse. You can read more about Scott Woods in, “How David Platt Never Learned From the Mark Aderholt Situation. The Disturbing Story of how McLean Bible Mishandled Scott Woods, an Alleged Predator in The Rock Ministries.” This blog is eagerly awaiting a report that David Platt promised on the situation. When its released this blog will read, process and write about it. 



Farewell video from New City Network’s Grace Hill Church in Herndon, Virginia 

Joe Carter Becomes Executive Pastor at McLean Bible Arlington 

Prior to becoming involved with McLean Bible Arlington, Joe Carter was involved in the New City Network’s plant in Herndon, Virginia called Grace Hill Church. He worked in a pastoral role with Allen McCullough until he was hired on to become the executive pastor at McLean Bible Arlington. Here is how Joe Carter announced his accepting the job at McLean Bible Arlington. 

Some personal news: I’m excited to announce I’ve accepted a job as the Executive Pastor of Discipleship and Outreach at McLean Bible Church – Arlington Campus. I’m thrilled that I’ll be working for Eric Saunders
and the team at MBC.
Unfortunately, though, it means giving up some other roles I love. After more than 8 years I’ll be leaving the Acton Institute It has been an honor to work at one of the world’s best think-tanks, and I’ll be sad to leave all my wonderful colleagues.
I also have to move on from the church I helped plant, Grace Hill Church . I’ll miss working closely with my fellow pastors Allan McCullough, Nick Jones, Jamie Adams, and Monte McCullough. Being a part of that church has been one of the best experiences of my life. Please pray for Misty and me as we prepare for the changes to come over the next few months.

McLean Bible Arlington is led by Eric Saunders. This blog has written about Saunders before, and to learn more you can  read, “Eric Saunders Recent Message on Biblical Membership to McLean Bible Arlington Must be Rejected. Today’s Wondering Eagle Explains Why.” One of Carter’s first events at McLean Bible Arlington was the Turkey Bowl of 2019. You can read his recollection of the event below. 

Today, MBC Arlington had the Turkey Bowl, an annual co-ed flag-football tournament. I thought it’d be like the games in the Old Navy commercials with everyone wearing sweaters and jogging to the end zone. Instead, the crew was dressed as if they were trying out for the NFL (Pastor Eric Saunders wore cleats and ball-catching gloves), and everyone at the church is ridiculously athletic. They weren’t messing around.
Today is also my two month anniversary as their new executive pastor. I already love the people of this church more than I would have imagined I could, and I can’t thank God enough for allowing me to serve them. I’m looking forward to many more Turkey Bowls to come (though in the future I’ll be better dressed and—hopefully—in somewhat better shape).
According to the resources at McLean Bible Arlington, Joe Carter has only given one sermon since coming on board. You can listen to his take on Ruth

Closing Thoughts

Joe Carter is a complicated individual. In this post this blog presented two sides to this individual. One is someone who is noble and is respected for the way he pushes back against conspiracy theories. Then on the flip side there is his role in The Gospel Coalition and his action like a pit bull online. The Gospel Coalition’s behavior in attacking a rape victim in the SGM scandal is despicable. To be honest, it makes my stomach turn. The longer that Joe Carter and The Gospel Coalition don’t respond to this issue the more it speaks volumes about their character. One of the things I have learned from my time in evangelicalism is that you often can’t take them at their word. They are shallow and have no commitment to justice or follow through. When I often hear about someone saying that they are evangelical my first impression is already shot. So the real tragedy is that nothing will be done. People need to keep that in mind when they interact with Joe Carter. Truth is from this blogger’s perspective is that I would love to be proven wrong. But when it comes to evangelicals its best to have a low expectation. Process this application as you see fit when it comes to The Gospel Coalition or Joe Carter.