Three months ago, my career was going precisely to plan. I had just published my first book and had begun receiving invitations to speak at major conferences and large churches. My platform was growing. My radio show was doing well. And I was publishing regularly in Christian periodicals. Life was good until . . .
I blew the whistle on the Moody Bible Institute.
Since then, I’ve been fired from my job as a national radio host. I’ve had speaking engagements cancelled. My use of a studio at the offices of a Christian magazine has been revoked. I’ve received vicious hate mail. I’ve lost friends. And I’ve missed several golden opportunities to promote my book at a time crucial to its success.
It’s been brutal, both professionally and personally. But I knew this would happen.
I’m not naïve. I’ve been in Christian media and ministry far too long to think I could take on a giant like Moody and not suffer consequences.
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So why did I do it? Why did I take such a risk?
As is the case with many consequential decisions, it’s complicated, and would probably take a book to explain fully. But I’ve tried to document the main reasons here because I believe they’re not just important to me, but to anyone who wishes to be faithful to the call of Christ. Plus, they help show how the events at Moody impact the broader mission of the church, and why her success is so important.
Obeying God vs. Man
The main reason I blew the whistle on Moody is simple: I felt God prompt me to do so, and I knew I must obey God rather than men.
“The main reason I blew the whistle on Moody is simple: I felt God prompt me to do so, and I knew I must obey God rather than men.’”
But this fall, when I discovered that the issues were far more severe and widespread than I had imagined – and that many faculty were in distress, and a group of alumni had launched a website to address the problems – I sensed it was time to act.
Yet I admit, I was scared.
I didn’t want to lose my job or my platform – or jeopardize the success of my book. I believed passionately in what I was doing and had invested untold hours and personal resources to pursue what I truly considered a calling. Yet I had a growing conviction that if I shrunk from speaking the truth at this crucial hour, my voice would become worthless.
Several years earlier, I had felt similarly compelled to publish an article about a radical communist who was actually headlining a major evangelical conference. However, a media-savvy consultant strongly warned me against it.
“Julie, when you have 50-thousand Twitter followers, you can say whatever you want,” he told me, “but not now. You need to ingratiate yourself to these evangelical heavy-hitters, not confront them.”
Yet since then, I have noticed that by the time a Christian leader gets 50-thousand Twitter followers, he’s often made so many compromises that he’s lost the ability to speak prophetically. Without meaning to, he has sold his soul – one quenched prompting of the Spirit at a time.
“(B)y the time a Christian leader gets 50-thousand Twitter followers, he’s often made so many compromises that he’s lost the ability to speak prophetically. Without meaning to, he has sold his soul – one quenched prompting of the Spirit at a time.”
Still, some might argue that publicly confronting another believer or Christian institution is never right – that doing so is somehow un-Christian. Sometimes I wish I could believe that. It certainly would have made my life easier the past few months. But that’s not what I see in Scripture.
Jesus confronted the religious leaders of His day publicly – and regularly. And He wasn’t particularly nice about it, referring to them as “whitewashed tombs” and “brood of vipers.”
Similarly, in Matthew 18, Jesus instructed believers to tell the entire church about someone’s sin if that person persisted in unrepentance after first being confronted one-on-one, and again with witnesses. This was the pattern I chose to follow when I finally addressed issues with Moody. Yet as the founder of an online Christian ministry recently noted, Matthew 18 applies to a sin between two individual Christians. It’s not a directive for confronting errant public leaders and institutions.
I couldn’t find a biblical argument to excuse myself from speaking out against the wrongdoing I discovered at Moody. Yet it was hard to go public. And I vividly remember staring at my first blog post and trying to muster the courage to hit publish. That’s when the following tweet popped up on my phone:
You can be a coward and still speak on a multitude of controversial issues, as long as said issues have a base where you desire to reside. Courage is speaking on that one issue that your base will not when doing so may ostracize you from them and leave you alone in the cold.
— Kyle J. Howard (@KyleJamesHoward) January 4, 2018
My jaw dropped when I read that tweet. I don’t know Kyle, but what he wrote spoke powerfully to me. And I knew what God was asking me to do.
The Evangelical “Machine”
Another factor that drove me to blow the whistle on Moody was something veteran producer and talk show host Ingrid Shlueter called the “evangelical industrial complex” or “celebrity machine.”
Shlueter encountered this “machine” while working as an assistant producer for Radio Host Janet Mefferd. In 2013, Mefferd discovered that celebrity pastor Mark Driscoll had plagiarized, and confronted him about it on her show. Everything Mefferd said was spot-on, yet she received virulent backlash – not just from Driscoll, but from his publisher, fans, and other heavy-hitters loyal to Driscoll. The opposition became so intense that Mefferd eventually removed evidence of Driscoll’s plagiarism from her website and apologized.
Yet Shlueter, who resigned her job in protest, hinted that Mefferd had been strong-armed. “All I can share is that there is an evangelical celebrity machine that is more powerful than anyone realizes,” Shlueter wrote. “You may not go up against the machine. That is all. Mark Driscoll clearly plagiarized and those who could have underscored the seriousness of it and demanded accountability did not. That is the reality of the evangelical industrial complex.”
When I published, I didn’t just take on Moody. I took on the machine. This is why I suffered much more than a cancelled show and the loss of a paycheck. In the machine, friends protect friends whether they’re deserving of it or not – and whistleblowers get crushed.
“When I published, I didn’t just take on Moody. I took on the machine . . . In the machine, friends protect friends whether they’re deserving of it or not – and whistleblowers get crushed.”
I felt an obligation to inform Wheaton parents and alumni and asked to air my piece on Moody Radio. But Moody leadership killed it – not because my piece wasn’t important or true. In fact, Board Chair Randy Fairfax (who was just a trustee at the time) sent me an email thanking me for “the determination and integrity” in my reporting, and for “seeking to honor . . . the alumni, parents and students of Wheaton.”
Yet Moody killed the piece because Wheaton was our friend.
My piece eventually aired on Sandy Rios’ former show on WYLL, and led to significant changes within the education department at Wheaton. But Sandy took a lot of heat for what she did. And had it not been for her grit and courage, the piece might not have ever broadcast.
I witnessed the machine in action over and over during my time at Moody. Management killed commentaries and show topics, and even scolded me once when I published an important article elsewhere that negatively impacted a ministry partner.
I came to realize that the machine, though “Christian,” was synonymous with the world, and I could not serve it and serve God.
I also realized that if I shrunk from publishing because of the machine, it would win. And maybe the machine wins anyway. But if there’s one thing the #MeToo movement has shown, it’s that sometimes the vulnerable, armed with truth, can prevail. I knew I had to try.
What’s at Stake
Yet, the consequences to me personally for blowing the whistle on Moody don’t even register when compared to what’s at stake. The evangelical church is facing a major crisis of orthodoxy. Increasingly, we’re succumbing to all sorts of liberal errors – from embracing the LGBTQ agenda and a leftist-inspired form of social justice to abandoning the inerrancy of Scripture and what it teaches about origins, the fall, and redemption.
This crisis is especially acute at Christian schools. In fact, theologian and historian Carl Trueman argues that the “cultural Battle of Waterloo will be won – or lost – on the campuses of Christian colleges.”
In this climate, college administrators and professors should be vigilant to preserve true Christian doctrine. But as Trueman laments, very few administrators “choose fidelity to their faith over institutional prestige.” And many professors “are marked less by their knowledge of their subject than by their ability to spout angry clichés about privilege and power and hegemony.”
Against this sea of theological drift and outright heresy, Moody has traditionally stood as a beacon of orthodoxy. So I was shocked when I discovered that there are professors at Moody who reject the institute’s historical understanding of inerrancy – and some who support liberation theology and causes like Planned Parenthood. I also discovered financial mismanagement and ethical lapses at the board level and realized that the situation at Moody was dire.
“But if Moody’s house is truly going to be cleaned and set in order, it will require repentance . . . the kind that prompts public confession, tears, and further resignations.”
I am heartened that since publishing, the board has adopted the Chicago Statement on biblical inerrancy, which will moor Moody to a solid anchor. I’m also encouraged that the board recognized the need for change in leadership and removed the institute’s top three officers.
But if Moody’s house is truly going to be cleaned and set in order, it will require repentance – not the kind that crafts public statements designed to contain the damage, but the kind that prompts public confession, tears, and further resignations.
Yet what’s wrong at Moody is what’s wrong with much of the evangelical movement – and perhaps what’s plagued the church since its inception. As Paul lamented two millennia ago, “Everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” This is what makes the “machine” evil, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
The interconnected network of ministries, businesses, and prominent leaders could be leveraged for the good of the Kingdom. It could be used as a tool to bring correction and accountability, instead of as a weapon to punish whistleblowers and protect the powerful. But that would take courage. And love. And sacrifice.
It would require the church to imitate Christ.
Despite what I’ve observed, I am hopeful this can happen. I still believe in the church, and I truly believe we are better than this.
I’m also hopeful about my future. God has been faithful throughout, and there are some exciting developments I hope to announce soon.
So, to those of you who have been praying, please continue. Satan would love to see the problems at Moody destroy the institute, but God can use them to refine her and strengthen the church. If we obey Him, I’m confident He will.
75 thoughts on “Why I Blew the Whistle on Moody”
I fear the only real solution to the dilemmas of not only Moody but other Christian colleges is going to be making the transition away from accepting any dollars from the federal government. These loans and grants come with strings attached to Title IX stipulations, making it difficult to implement biblical commitments to some issues.
John Stonestreet at Breakpoint published an article about the dilemma at http://www.breakpoint.org/2018/04/breakpoint-christian-colleges-at-a-crossroads/
Our Christian colleges must reject any and all money that are attached to Federal, State and other entities that require leftist views.
I am a Christian and suffer from spinal Stenosis. The last 5 years have left me with severe insomnia so I turned on my radio and got the BNN supported by Moody. There are some preachers on there of various sorts. The speakers are well known in certain circles but I found something missing or better yet replaced. That would be God’s plan of salvation as mentioned in the Gospels, Acts and the book of John. Baptism has been removed and replaced with the sinner’s prayer.
I wrote them about this major error and the could not give me a reference. So basically they are False Teachers. I know some have even catered to the gay and lisbian and queer crowd. Right on par with sodom and gomorrah.
I read an article in WORLD which brought me here. I experienced something similar regarding a church in NYC that I attended. God progressively opened my eyes to things being taught I knew weren’t Biblical and used one situation in particular to sound the alarm that had me finally writing the Pastor and Elders- to no avail. God brought me into contact with others at the church that He enlightened as well. All of us tried but no one would listen. So we left the church, and a couple went online with it…
What I learned is, do what God is telling you to do and let Him take care of the rest. Doesn’t matter if you are disregarded because you don’t have an MDiv or the like, you obey HIM. There are no favorites with God. God bless and keep you and may you keep Him in your sight.
Good comment, Christine. Many people who have expressed concerns to people with some kind of church or church related title have had the experience of being glibly ignored or criticized with smug contempt but a wise leader can distinguish between a crabby person randomly complaining about whatever and a concerned person saying something that needs to be said even when they would prefer not to have to say it.
Julie, I miss your show so much!! It was unique. I’ve read all your blogs about the Moody situation, and I don’t know what to say. Hopefully they will see the light and fix things. I have had to face my own mistakes & shortcomings… and it’s hard!! I recently tried to change careers and failed miserably. Now I wonder where do I fit in God’s plan or am I just disqualified now? Spending more time in the word, listening for that still small voice …
I’ve listened to Moody since 1987 and some of the best preachers are still here!! (there?) I like some of the newer additions but not all. We all have to change and adjust, but trying to live as a Christian in this society is challenging and it can’t be any easier for a large institution like Moody. The more strongly we adhere to biblical truth, the more we are out of sync with popular culture. How do we reach the lost effectively if we just look out of touch with real life? This is a big issue, and I don’t know the answer, but Moody will probably address it better that I could anyway. Hope and pray that they figure it all out.
I thank God for your integrity and dedication to spiritual truth. I’m not sure referencing the #MeToo movement is the best analogy, however.
What’s is wrong with the MeeToo movement. Truth is truth Dave.
We are praying for you.
GOD IS WITH YOU!
I WILL DELIVER YOU out of the hand of the wicked,
and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.
A while back the Australian prophetic minister Neville Johnson said that there would be exposure, shaking and transfer. Exposure of the wickedness in the church and politicians, a shaking of everything that can be shaken and a transfer of wealth from the wicked to the righteous. We are now seeing the exposure of the wickedness in the church. Judgement starts at the house of God and the evil that was hidden before will now begin to be exposed. God is using you as part of this exposure of evil within the church and since you obeyed his prompting I believe He will now promote you to a greater position to expose even more of the corruption within the church. We are in the last days and the church is not ready. God will discipline the church, but if the church will not humble itself, repent and obey then He will spit it out of His mouth.
You certainly have a good grasp of the pathology within the greater evangelical industrial complex. Failing to adhere to biblical inerrancy and sufficiency is the greatest disease to sicken that complex. Of course, this has been developing for years, until eventually eroding the biblical and spiritual intergity of the evangelical community at large.
However, I do hope that you will abandon the idea that it can ever be fixed. Wasting your perceptive spirit and writing talent on such a useless endeavor would be unfortunate on behalf of the work of the Kingdom. Our mandate is to make disciples, not to acheive a spiritual hegemony. The fact that there is such an evangelical industrial complex at all, is an affront to Jesus and the disciples, who never wasted their time, writing, ministry, or energy, on such an achievement.
Yet, if you want to continue to engage evangelical industrial complesx issues anyway, understand that no such complex will ever stand before Christ to be judged for rewards according to its deeds! That judgment is only for individual believers, and that is precisely why we must focus on individuals discipling them to prepare for the eternal life that is their destiny. Evangelical industrial complexes will not even get a mention in that day, nor will they have any role to play in Gods eternal kingdom.
You are sooo self righteous and blind sided Julie. You went to the unbelieving world to accuse a Christian institution based on no more than just rumors about the institution’s leadership. Did you work in the business office on campus? Did you personally see financial mismanagement? Do you have financial statements to prove your nasty accusations? Yes, Jesus comfronted the unrighteous Jews of his day, but are you Jesus? I feel your hunger for “Success”; Hyper-sensitive, full of yourself. Yes full of yourself. Who are you? All you did with this article is to show how full of yourself ypu are and little about Jesus you’ve been. You wanted to be the heroe, but failed. You Are The Machine. You lack so much more than what you believe you have. Step away for a while, you will find out that your way of justifying your actions, to yourself (mostly), is shallow to say the least, “unfelt” , carnal and self serving.
In Christ Jesus.. a brother
I agree, the metoo movement has it’s own shame to account for.
When in your experience has any Church leaders ever epented for anything?
Julie I have been following your work for the past year since churches in Chicago have fallen in to crisis. I appreciate your courage and thoroughness. You are like a modern day Paul. He suffered greatly for his work but felt compelled to speak, act, pray and encourage the church. Your work is truly inspiring. I pray it catches on.
What’s wrong is the notion that “my truth” takes precedence over “THE truth”. As in the dictate that we must “believe the woman” without question and without verification. The Duke Lacrosse team and Brett Kavanaugh are shining examples.
I don’t think the machine is made up of people that have made little compromises along the way. I believe that it has specifically been planned out and carried out by men that have literally (and knowingly) sold their souls unti Satan. Every celebrity in churchianity that I have researched has a very dark present (not just past). And when the truth is exposed, the serpents bite. People idolize these celebrities, because they touch their hearts. The heart of man is not only desperately wicked, but is the most deceitful thing in all of creation (Jeremiah 17:9). Truth has never been financially profitable in the world. There prophets, the saints and even the Lord were killed to silence them. Today, it’s called censorship. You know one thing that all of these wolves have in common? New Bibles. Every single one of them lead their followers into whichever Alexandrian based perversion they desire, yet intentionally lead them away from the King James Version. David Daniels has recently put together some ground breaking discoveries into the actual history of the Critical Text and anyone reading this that has a new bible, should absolutely look into what he exposes, before dismissing what I say as being invalid. You are being misled, intentionally!
This is part of the problems at Moody and other Evangelical churches, schools, and missions. The Bible and the doctrines of the Faith have been compromised by allowing popular, modern heresies to infiltrate. There is no “prophetic ministers” today. We have the Bible. The heretical teachings introduced in the last 100-150 years were rejected by all the major reliable, scholarly, leaders of the 19th and 20th centuries such as Dr. Walvoord, Dr. Unger, Dr. Schofield, Dr. McGee, and more recently John MacArthur & Dr. David Jeremiah (and their pastor father’s), and many more teachers true to the clear teaching of the Word. These teachers taught the truth about the heresy without attacking those proponents OR uniting with them. In recent years that changed and error was mixed with truth. It was detrimental to spiritual growth, understanding, and discernment. Today there are HUGE mega-churches full of immature, worldly, and carnal Christians because the deeper things of the Word are not being taught. Shallow teaching isn’t satisfying. Fellowship with false teachings or teachers results in compromise. Soon it’s hard to tell the true followers from the immature followers from the false.
I’m afraid at the heart of Moody’s problems is a departure from the doctrines of the Bible. When that happens, the values of the world fill the vacuum. It’s sad when it happens but not surprising. Look at the downward spiral of the mainline denominations. I disagree with the writer. I don’t find anywhere in the Bible that your faithfulness as a whistleblower will result in prosperity at the expense of those who are sinning. I hope you will be OK. What you have done is courageous and right. Many people recognize that, but the machine is firmly established. Keep doing the right thing. Your reward is reserved in Heaven.
Jesus did take on the “theological industrial complex” of his day calling them whitened sepulchers…and they killed him. John the Baptizer was beheaded, and so was Paul who named named. Does that mean they were wrong to do what they did? A snake should be called a snake, Hector. Moody and others in the Evangelical camp got to this point because no one spoke up earlier. I don’t think this train can be stopped by speaking the truth, but judgment will come from the Lord. The Old Testament is a record we can trust. Keep speaking the truth, Mrs. Roys! You’re in good company.
Driving past a Kingdom Hall daily and watching Mormon missionaries peddling bicycles in my neighborhood moved me to (try to) learn more about how cults begin, how deviation from historical Christianity occurs. Cults vary in degree, and I include the prosperity gospel and many other modern deviations as additional examples. Last night I remembered how we have been warned this will happen:
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
My formulation is that Satan never ceases to attack, and he is very good. He knows scripture, used it to tempt Christ, and knows to slowly, subtly, and insidiously weaken us, our churches, our theologic colleges. Moody was/is under attack. Ms. Roys, thank you for action and of course you have suffered from it: 1 Peter 3:14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”
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