Why I Blew the Whistle on Moody

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 My use of a studio at the offices of a Christian magazine has been revoked.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.

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.’”

For several years, I knew things were not right at Moody. It weighed on me, and a few times, I expressed my concerns to management in vain. But during those years, I didn’t sense God wanted me to publish, so I was content to wait.

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.”

I’ve seen this happen to others, and I didn’t want it to happen to me. And this realization made it increasingly hard for me to remain silent. Plus, I realized that fear of man is never a good reason to shrink from doing what one believes is right.

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:

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 first witnessed how the machine works in 2010. I had produced an exposé about the promotion of leftist-inspired social justice at my alma mater, Wheaton College. The piece revealed that Wheaton’s education department was teaching its students to be “agents of change” for “social justice” based on the ideology of far-left radicals like Bill Ayers, who bombed the Pentagon, and Paulo Freire, a Brazilian Marxist.

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.”

For more than 130 years, Moody has been a bastion of truth, and through the work of its graduates, a light to the nations. I recognized that if she fell, it would deal a severe blow to the entire evangelical movement. That awareness of both the severity of the problem and the magnitude of what was at stake drove me.

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.

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58 thoughts on “Why I Blew the Whistle on Moody

  1. Ted

    Thank you for your courage and godly stand. Your blogs are expertly and humbly authored.

  2. Ailin Zimmel

    Julie, I admire your integrity and courage in speaking up about these concerns at Moody. This needed to come to light. Although it has cost you dearly to do so, I am confident that God will honor your sacrifice through other means. Thank you, and God bless you!

  3. A sister in the Lord

    Amen Sister! bless your heart Julie, on your journey to answer His call in your life.. yes, it’s not about destroying the institution and the leaders, it’s about refining the gold, and destroying the dross of His Kingdom Church… and it’s a painful, but very much needed process…. some call the #metoo movement a “bandwagon”… no, it’s nothing like a parade… instead it’s more like a procession of refugees leaving their home/country, a place that is no longer safe for them… and in the case of the Church, it’s a procession of spiritual refugees, leaving the institutional church where it is no longer safe for them to stay… and there are those called to stay, and fight and be a voice on behalf of those who have been forced to leave…

    also, the evangelical industrial complex “gatekeepers” have lost control due to the internet, and now the “gatekeepers” are using other tactics to destroy the credibility of and silence those speaking out regarding the evangelical industrial complex and its celebrities… people who are speaking up are “poking the enemy in the eye”, as I have been warned by someone… but we do not need to fear… so Julie, stay strong in His mighty power, and know that we can do all things through Him Who gives us strength, by the power of His Holy Spirit living in us, even in the midst of difficult situations, hardships and troubles, as Paul refers to in Phil 4:14…

    God is maturing His Bride, as that is His plan for us per scripture… I think we are seeing a season of growth in the Ekklesia… but again, part of that include a painful process… but healthy… sigh.. =) (I don’t know of any emoticon for a forced grin ;)

  4. A sister in the Lord

    ps… in all honesty, the Matt 5:11-12 has been a challenge for me =) (forced grin again) … for me, ” to rejoice and be exceedingly glad – yah right!!!) can only be accomplished by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, as the tendency of my flesh is to be angry and/or snarky in response to the leaders attempts at minimizing and dismissing and abdicating any responsibility for the abuse of power and related responses… thankfully, the Holy Spirit has made progress with my attitude =) (that’s a true smile), and I can honestly say I can “rejoice and be exceedingly glad” much more about this journey addressing abuse of power than I could a year ago… Thank You Lord! but it’s not been an easy shift… and I’m still not there… but definitely making progress!

  5. JENNIFER L KANALAS

    The backlash that you have received is truly shameful, and I am so sorry. However, I am very thankful that you have had the courage to do the right thing. That sort of courage is a rare commodity.

  6. Thank you, Julie, for fearing God more than man, and otherwise reflecting Christ.

  7. Linn

    I think it’s often easier to take a stand when non-Christians are involved. When it’s your own, it’s so much tougher. Years ago as a missionary of just a few years on a very strategic field, I realized that church practices did not line up with the mission doctrinal statement, but I was expected to do what the churches did. My fellow, much older and experienced, missionary colleagues weren’t saying much, and the nationals who disagreed didn’t want to stir the pot. I didn’t want to stir the pot, either, but I attended a conference where i was expected to participate in worship practices that our board didn’t approve. I carefully explained that I signed a doctrinal statement, so I needed to live in accordance with what I signed. My pastor put me on church discipline, and i immediately called my director. I was brought before the church elders to confess my “sin”, and I said what I had always said-that I couldn’t because I signed a doctrinal statement. Then, it was my director and me with the national church board, all of whose pastors were endorsing the practices I could not do. As things did not get resolved, and I felt like I was in the eye of the storm, God brought me home to care for an aging relative.

    What was so distressing is that everyone, on both sides of the argument, had been compromising for years and would not come to a decision. I turned out to be the first person to politely say “no.” There had been no dialog; just a lot of “let’s hope this goes away.” It did not go away, the national church had become independent (which was a good thing), and the mission organization kept playing along because they didn’t want to let go of a ministry that had required a lot of effort over 75 years.

    My stand was not as painful as yours, Julie, nor as public (this was before the Internet). Looking back on it, I still would have done the same thing. I experienced God’s faithfulness in ways I had never thought possible. I’m not one to be a “stand out”, but I did learn that it’s important to live by convictions that I know are based on God’s truth.

    I pray that you will see many good things come of your stand for truth after the storm passes. Too much erosion happens to both our faith and our morals when we try to keep the waters calm in order to not cause a “problem.” I was a big “problem”, but a few years after I said no, the mission realized that the best was to sever their ties with the national church organization. Interestingly, their doctrinal stand is not as extreme as it once was, and their churches and pastors have matured.

  8. KD

    I would love to hear Up for Debate again…. maybe on WYLL

  9. Julie, I am continually blessed and encouraged by your courageous stand, your commitment to excellent reporting, and above all your devotion to the truth as presented in God’s word. May you be richly blessed, strengthened, and encouraged as you continue to walk this journey of controversy. Bravo to you for not being ashamed of the gospel, and for having the fortitude to challenge those who repeatedly hid behind a “holy” facade. I pray our paths may cross again sometime. Glory be to God for your faithful service to Him.

  10. Eric Bartl

    I still think what I have thought throughout this ordeal. God has given you a prophetic voice.

  11. Janice Rimkus

    Have followed this story with great interest. God loves truth and He always prevails. Your courage reminded me of the children’s chorus of “Dare to Be a Daniel” – Dare to be a Daniel, Dare to stand alone, Dare to have a purpose firm, Dare to make it known. The Lord used your celebrity (if I may use the description) to put this situation into the public arena. Thank you for standing for truth.

  12. Tom Smedley

    Last August, I dropped a note to Nancy Pearcey about her book “Total Truth.” I called to her attention the sources she was using without acknowledging. Apparently, the Wheaton Mafia is so powerful that even a gifted writer must kowtow to their dictate that certain godly scholars must not be honored. Even if their insights shaped the teaching of Percey’s mentor Francis Schaeffer.

    I’ve had no reply, which is disheartening. One scholar I know called Schaeffer “A successful remarketer of stolen goods.”

  13. jeff pepple

    Stating the truth is always divisive. Always. It was with Jesus, and He did it anyway. The Apostles were branded as divisive, yet they continued sharing the truth because they could only obey God, not men. Luther could not recant from the truth of Scripture, regardless of the dire consequences that awaited him.

    You felt the Holy Spirit lead you to state the truth at a time He deemed best for the issue(s) at hand. It is always better to serve God and let the chips fall where they may. God will honor you through this. He will remain your protection and Sustainer.

    You should not have been fired for reporting the truth. But you haven’t been censored. On the contrary, you have been given a great platform to raise the important and vital issues that should have been addressed years ago. It’s unfortunate that you are being treated unfairly, and in a non-Christian manner by those who should applaud your courageous stand for the truth and integrity of Moody. As you stated, you expected backlash, and unfortunately you were correct.

    Rest in Him, knowing that He is your advocate and will represent you for sharing the truth. Sharing the truth is not easy at times, but you knew that. God bless you for courageously standing for the truth.

  14. Phyllis

    Thank you for all your doing, we need more Christians like you who Wait up on the Lord and act when you feel the sprit is telling you to. I appreciate you letting me know what is gong on , so I can pray for you and the Situations that arise sometimes that is all we have is our prayers

  15. YLB

    I am so thankful for your obedience to the Lord. It takes a lot of courage to uncover and report the ugly truth of the “machine in the Christian world. I was extremely disappointed to see your speaking engagement was cancelled at Harvest Bible Chapel for their Much More women’s conference. However I was not surprised since, as the senior pastor stated during a Sunday service, Moody is our friend and we will support them thru this. My heart was convicted over the many things I have seen at HBC and I know they are part of the “machine”. Celebrity Christianity is an oxy moron but is growing inspite of all the whistle blowing. All I known is God will not be mocked and He will not allow for his people to be bullied and intimidated into silence. Thank you for loving and honoring the Lord more than your career and your success. You are an inspiration. I continue to pray for humble repentance for these leaders that the Lord may bless them and their ministry. To show the world the true Jesus. With God all this is possible.

  16. John Fleischman

    Thanks for the update Julie, but you do not have to explain yourself or your actions to anyone. God spoke- you obeyed- period, your job is done. Those who choose to not heed HIS Word, and work, will reap what they have down.

    Walk away Julie. I know the feeling, and finally asked God to help me understand just exactly HE was getting at when HE asked Samuel why he was grieving over Saul, seeing as how God had removed his kingship. It does seem “wrong” to not “stay” and help, but those “christians” at Moody don’t want your help. The other people who have rejected and ostracized you, don’t want your help. It/they don’t matter.

    In the scriptures about God’s Vengeance, coals of fire, love your enemy, we are told the absolute minimum in regards to our loving others, including our enemies.
    If they, Moody and/or any of the other people who have rejected you, need food, clothing, drink, or shelter- then, and only then (unless directed otherwise by The Holy Spirit), you give them what they need. They, and all the other pew warming little “c” church attendees have chosen to worship themselves, and thus have also chosen to go to Hell. Their choice, their reward.

    Whenever I need a pick me up spiritually, I watch my VHS copy of Martin Luther, or rent the remake on DVD. I prefer the original movie, as I believe the remake, (unintentionally, perhaps), follows along the same kind of machinery that is the former evangelical church. The original movie, in my opinion, shows so well, the true Heart of Christ, through Martin Luther- who, for the same reasons, did what you did. He didn’t take on anything that God had not equipped him for, nor did you.

    Take heart, (and yes, I can finally say that sincerely, after all these years of following Jesus), Jesus told us this would happen, that we would be persecuted for HIS Sake, but HE also said that HE would be with us, always, and that HE would give us the words to say. They refused to listen to, or heed HIS words spoken to them in love by you, to their own peril.

    Shake that dust off your heel Girl!

    😊

  17. Carol M.

    Julie, I stand with you for God’s Truth to be lifted up and spoken out, and not man’s watered down, twisted and confusing versions…the Church today is, I believe, far from pure…the slippage is extreme…we agree that nothing and no one are perfect but you have exhibited the courage of Christ in exposing that which does not line up with the Word of God! No matter what men say about you continue to Praise and Bless the Lord! You are not alone!

  18. Your willingness to stand firm and expose facts, inspires those of us who face similar dilemmas within our own churches. Hold firm and don’t backpedal for speaking out in the face of this opposition! It appears to me that such a confrontation is exactly what Christian organizations need in this age, and that God is seeing to it that you will not endure this difficulty alone.

  19. karolewithak

    I’m encouraged that you gave up on your plan and went with God’s. The eternal rewards will be well worth the current loss. Maranatha.

  20. Wait, I do not remember you discussing that Moody professors were ever sympathetic towards PP. Was this an implication of a philosophy held by a singular professor, or is this an assumption of what a professor might be sympathetic towards based upon an implication of a political stance?

  21. Linda Justice

    Thanks, Julie, for standing for truth and for exposing Moody’s error. I’m thankful for the impact MBI has had in my life and am saddened by the recent events. I’m hoping that the Lord will work in mighty ways to change hearts and bring true repentance.

  22. Kristie

    God speaks to us through his word.. period. And no he does not have anyone expose Satan’s religious businesses and ministers. Get on board with what God is doing in this dispensation “rightly dividing” and simply live the Christian life. The real one. We are to try to show whomever the error of their way once or twice and then if they refuse truth .. LET THEM BE IGNORANT. Nothing you have done is backed by KJV scripture. Even if anyone at Moody were really saved all your part is is to simply deliver them unto Satan that they might be #1 saved #2 learn not to blaspheme on a personal not corporate level.. PERIOD. Moody is but a small part of the whole corrupt “Satanic religious system” of which God (the real Holy Spirit) would not have you crusade against. Moody sold it’s soul long ago it’s not your job to save it. All the big guys including TV and RADIO are Satan’s . God allows this as Satan the god of this world gathers his own through these means. One day God will expose Satan to all at the Judgment and all his followers will go with him into the Lake of Fire. End of story. Whistler blowers literally put their lives and the lives of their families in danger. That is never something God would have his people do. Scripture never teaches us in Paul’s epistles to be battle starters. We are to STAND for truth not gather an army and attack. Our armour is for our own protection as we are in a battle if we are truly saved as Satan will come against us but that is all. I will not buy your books I do not care about Moody. . TBN etc. They belong to Satan. I care about God’s true word the KJV and TRUTH of what it really says in context and what it really means. Period. Those that will hear let them hear.

  23. Michael

    Thanks for standing firm and presenting the truth. I graduated from Wheaton too, and it’s very disheartening to see how Wheaton has progressed over the past five years.

    When I was a student there around 2010, I was shocked to find out that the Bible courses (which were mandatory) were so inadequate in training students how to confront cultural lies, and the Bible professors lacked the zeal to encourage others to pursue Christ personally, not just academically.

  24. Scott

    Julie
    I’m sorry to hear you stand and bringing this issue to light has cost you so much. I recently read the Eric Metaxas book on Martin Luther. He was attacked by the church for asking hard questions and shinning light on the darkness.

    I support moody and love their ministry. I pray they will continue to evaluate their leadership and make changes. I pray you will find new purpose and a path for your ministry.

  25. I sincerely respect your decision & sacrifice to bring the issues to light at Moody. On a far lessor or rather miniscule level I’ve experienced the same. It’s a burden the watchmen/women contend with. Discernment comes with a sacrificial price. God always honors the risks we take though acting on faith & grows our long suffering and patience along the way. One of my favorite quotes is that eventually the truth will become self-evident. We have teens shortly going off into the Christian College atmosphere & I often wonder what they will face under professors who profess Christ yet are not led by Him.

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