Hohn Cho, a lawyer and former elder at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church (GCC), accused the influential California megachurch of “awful patterns” of siding with abusers and endangering victims in an article published today in Christianity Today (CT).
Cho’s testimony confirms The Roys Report’s (TRR) investigation last March, which detailed how MacArthur and GCC excommunicated and shamed Eileen Gray for refusing to take back her child-abusing husband, David Gray, in 2002. Even after David was convicted in 2005 of child molestation and abuse, the church continued to support David and spurn Eileen, TRR reported.
Cho told CT that after TRR’s initial story published, GCC’s elders tapped him to review the decades-old case. When he did, he became convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that David Gray was guilty and GCC had committed a terrible injustice.
In a 20-page document submitted to the GCC board, Cho reportedly wrote: “Now that the facts are indeed known, it is not too late to ‘do justice’ even at this late stage, almost 20 years later. One’s own integrity, and upholding justice and righteousness, and being faithful even in the small things, even for something 20 years ago, all matter immensely.”
Cho told CT he expected MacArthur and the elders to right the wrong. To this day, the church and MacArthur have not admitted any error or issued any apologies concerning the case.
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Instead, Cho said many GCC leaders refused to even read the TRR article. And MacArthur refused to reconsider Eileen’s discipline, citing claims of her “bizarre behavior,” Cho said.
GCC Elder Board Chair Chris Hamilton told Cho he would need to “walk back” his findings if he wanted to remain on the board, Cho told CT. Instead, Cho and his wife resigned the next day—an event TRR reported last April.
“They sided with a child abuser, who turned out to be a child molester, over a mother desperately trying to protect her three innocent young children,” Cho told CT. “And that was and is flatly wrong, and needs to be made right.”
Pattern of endangering victims
After learning of the injustice done to Eileen Gray, Cho reportedly learned of other cases where GCC had counseled women to return to their abusers. This included a case from 2022 where woman claimed GCC leaders told her to return to her husband, despite evidence of him searching for incest porn and behaving inappropriately with the couple’s daughter.
Cho said God kept “placing reminders” in front of him of women endangered by GCC’s counseling practices. “When my wife and I were asked by a friend to pray for a woman my wife happened to know . . . we were horrified to discover the same awful patterns of counseling were still happening at GCC,” Cho said.
“This is when I sadly came to believe beyond any personal doubt that GCC congregants who we still love could effectively be playing Russian roulette if they ever needed counseling at GCC, especially anything involving the care of women or children.”
Likewise, eight women told CT that GCC had urged them not to report their abusive husbands and fathers to authorities. Instead, church leaders reportedly quoted the women Scriptures on forgiveness and submission and told them to return to situations they feared were unsafe for them and their children.
The accounts are consistent with teaching by John Street, chair of the graduate program of biblical counseling at MacArthur’s The Master’s University and Seminary, which TRR reported last April. In lectures posted online, Street claimed that a Christian wife should endure abuse by an unbelieving husband the same way a missionary endures persecution.
The woman in the 2022 case told CT that whenever she moved toward getting a restraining order, GCC leaders would warn her against a “heart of retaliation” and claim that seeking legal protection was “un-Christian.”
CT reported that the woman once called 911 in fear during an argument with her husband. Domestic violence officers dispatched to the scene reportedly told the woman not to return to her husband. But GCC pastor and elder Rodney Andersen urged her to submit to him “as unto the Lord,” according to court filings obtained by CT.
GCC pastors also reportedly downplayed the woman’s evidence of abuse. A filing by the woman obtained by CT reportedly showed photos of her child touching her husband’s pants zipper and selfies by the husband with the child naked. GCC pastor and elder Brad Klassen said in his declaration that the woman told him about pictures taken by her husband but didn’t have “evidence” of abuse, CT stated.
The woman and her husband reached a settlement in the case in January. But the woman told CT that GCC’s betrayal harmed her profoundly.
“I hit subzero spiritually,” she reportedly said. “I was doubting if God is real. I thought, If God is real but we’re supposed to submit to church leaders when this is going on, I’d rather die.”
Several of the other women told CT that at some point, they felt somewhat responsible for their husband’s behavior. The women said they hoped their prayer and submission would change their husbands. But when it didn’t, they sought help from the church.
GCC pastors told them to stay with their abusive partners, CT reported, and to reconcile, rather than seek legal protection.
One of the women CT interviewed, Wendy Guay, told her story of abuse by her father, a former GCC pastor, to TRR last April. According to documents and eyewitness accounts, Guay confessed his abuse to MacArthur but remained on staff for three more years. And decades later, when Wendy asked MacArthur for help exposing her father’s abuse to the elders of the church where he pastored, MacArthur refused and shamed Wendy for her “obsession.”
“It takes a tremendous amount of courage, humility, and vulnerability to even seek help from the church when there has been abuse in the home,” Guay told CT. “Women have hidden, persevered, and tried to handle things on their own until there was no other choice.”
Call for repentance & independent investigation
This afternoon, Eileen Gray called on GCC and MacArthur to repent.
“Many precious ones have been deeply hurt by GCC’s actions, causing some to turn away from their faith in Christ,” she wrote in a text to TRR. “God’s name and character have been misrepresented by GCC. It is my prayer they repent.”
In a Facebook post, Cho stated that CT’s article “accurately reported” his comments and added that he’s praying for the abuse victims mentioned in the story, GCC and “particularly John (MacArthur).
Many others responded to the recent revelations on social media.
David French, who helped found The Dispatch and now writes op-eds for the New York Times, tweeted that “a responsible organization would commission an independent investigation and leave no stone unturned.”
A responsible organization would commission an independent investigation and leave no stone unturned. A church should not play (as the story says) "Russian roulette" with the lives of women and children.
— David French (@DavidAFrench) February 9, 2023
Rachael Denhollander, a well-known abuse survivor advocate, tweeted, “This is not a one-time mistake. When a case is handled this badly, when women and children are destroyed this thoroughly, it is a product of beliefs which are driving the ministry and the movement. . . . And if your ideas are crushing God’s children, you may want to reevaluate them in light of Scripture.”
This is not a one-time mistake. When a case is handled this badly, when women and children are destroyed this thoroughly, it is a product of beliefs which are driving the ministry and the movement. And it will happen over and over.
— Rachael Denhollander (@R_Denhollander) February 9, 2023
Denhollander’s husband, Jacob Denhollander, added that he’s “proud of how Hohn has pursued justice for those who were wronged . . . He is the sort of leader that gives me hope for the church.”
Similarly, a Master’s University alum and former GCC member using the pseudonym Meg Wise tweeted: “I cannot tell your how HUGE this article is. . . .Hohn Cho, a VERY respected elder, like SO RESPECTED, spoke the truth & advocated for Eileen Grey. He pleaded for repentance. And he basically got kicked off the board.”
TRR reached out to MacArthur and GCC for comment, but they did not immediately reply. However, the church published the following message on its website,* saying it does “not discuss details publicly arising from counseling and discipline cases on social media, nor do we litigate disputes about such matters in online forums. Grace Church deals with accusations personally and privately in accordance with biblical principles. . . .”
*This story has been updated to include GCC’s statement.
53 thoughts on “Former Elder at John MacArthur’s Church Confronts ‘Awful Patterns’ of Endangering Abuse Victims”
Calvinist/Reformed Theology wrongly teaches that Godis so sovereign that He decreed everything that will come to pass before the foundation of the world- saying that EVERYTHING that happens is “God’s will” and for “God’s glory”, including rape (John White).
This gives the abusers the perfect rationalization to excuse their sin and the leaders to also excuse the sins of others. After all, if rape and abuse happens “for God’s glory” then the rapist or abusers is simply participating in a situation that ultimately brings God glory.
Such a twisted view of God and His love. Definitely not Biblical.
Just a thought… Can this story be explained from a timeline. I’ve read a lot about this entire story. There are so many perspectives and there is the truth. When did the information actually come out vs the narrative. Honestly, I do not know what is true.
I believe that is the reason that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the discerning of spirits.
Reginia… That’s why I have questions. Discernible facts. This seems like a time travel movie. The timestamps and storylines are confusing. As a former officer, I have to deal with facts. Working in the courthouse. Court records could be statements from a hearing does not mean they are facts. The Holy Spirit gave us the ability use deductive skills. I am nor was a journalist. But been involved with many investigations. More data from a linear standpoint would be a great assistance.
GCC’s once loved and esteemed very own elder Hohn Cho’s impartial investigation to the Gray case provided the truth and remedy. GCC’s elders and members refusal to listen and accept the truth from a man co-equal in integrity confirms its blind worship of a leader who can do no wrong, and beyond any form of accountability.
The Macarthur franchise is too valuable to the book publishers, too many livelihoods, pastor, elders, staffs, teachers depending on the franchise are at stake. It is not a church but a business: Macarthur Inc. It is not a church but a cult where its members are Macarthurites. The seminary, university and annual pastoral conferences are production houses for more Macarthurites to train more wolves in sheep clothing and spread its culture of protecting wife and child abusers.
John MacArthur seems to have a pathological craving for people to submit to him, to submit to his teaching, his directives, his brand of counseling, his views of marriage, etc…
But John MacArthur submits to no one. There is no board or superior that tells John MacArthur what to do. John MacArthur has set up his world so that the very thing he demands from those around him is something he never has to practice.
The whole point of setting a Godly example is so the little ones brought into this world will have a Godly example to follow. I’m thinking child/wife abuse is not that example. Has anyone given any thought to what the children have had to endure? Let me provide a little insight from a victim/survivor of both physical abuse and molestation from every single male in my life (yes, from childhood) with 1 exception. My mother was of the mindset that “if you ignore a problem, it will go away”, which is the same mindset she employed when my stepfather molested myself and my niece. Had Eileen Gray not taken the steps she took, those children would have to live the entirety of the remainder of their lives not only having been betrayed by their father for hurting them, but betrayed by their mother as well for not protecting them. Ask me… I know, like I said, from first hand experience. Not only did she not protect me from my step-father, but my mother would not even provide a few days shelter for me when I was running from an abusive spouse. God gave mothers a mama-bear instinct for a reason. If that entails protection from an abusive spouse, then so be it. So many scriptures are being thrown out about the wife’s role biblically, but I’ve seen no scriptures being thrown out about God telling us to obey the laws of the land of which there are plenty. Pretty sure I’m not wrong when I say abuse (in any sense of the word) is illegal. Shall we ask Hohn Cho? Lord God please correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m on Team Eileen Gray for this one.
The Pharisees and self-appointed leaders during Jesus’ time on earth, treated women like dirt, were greedy, did NOT practice what they preach, etc.
Does that sound like the “Sanhedrin” of today?
I wish someone would not only do a psychoanalysis of MacArthur ( especially looking into some of his “roots” such as Bob Jones University ) but also compare the way he IS and the way the Pharisees, Sadducees and The Sanhedrin of Jesus day WERE.
IMO, MacArthur and his ilk are of the same spirit.
I don’t see any pastor as “the standard” to judge other pastors by, but when I see the focus of pastors like Adrian Rogers ( now deceased) , Jim Cymbala and a few others on JESUS, and when I read Spurgeon who said “Jesus’ name is a sonnet in 2 syllables and a poem in 5 letters” ( or words to that effect ) , it makes me wonder why people settle for clanging cymbals.
Would it be possible to get a linear story of the Eileen Gray and John MacArthur situation? When I read the reports, articles, court records and the events with the church. There is confusion with timelines like the movies Citizen Kane or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Please decipher the “what” and “when” so readers can understand the “why”. Which would illuminate and elucidate this whole situation.
I was the wife of a TMS student, and afterwards, pastor. I can affirm everything that Mr. Cho says. I am one of those women. Although my ex-husband was not physically abusive, he routinely took my keys from me so I couldn’t leave our home, punched holes in walls, broke the door down when I needed a bubble bath respite from caring for and homeschooling our six children, hiding and excluding me from our finances, rebuking me with the bible open when I didn’t feel well enough to have sex, and on and on. Ironically, I did NOT leave my husband. I was also so indoctrinated that I would have NEVER left him for fear of punishment by God and the church. I finally grew a biblical backbone after 21 years of marriage and him being fired from the pulpit three times for pride, arrogance, and an unteachable spirit and I asked him to please examine himself (as the scriptures command us to do) and to see if perhaps there wasn’t any truth in the accusations and that maybe God was trying to work in His life. Six days later I was served divorce papers and left homeless, with $3 in my wallet and no access to our finances. I never reached out to our former friends, the MacArthurs, because I knew I would be told to submit to my husband. The generations that will be affected by the abuse his ministry purports is hearbreaking.
Thanks for sharing your story Christy. It lends credence to the claims in this article as well as the uneasiness many of us have felt around MacArthur for a long time.
Eileen Gray shouldn’t have made it through this…yet she did. I am still stunned and DISGUSTED by the way she was treated – and ignored – and shunned – and discredited. Dirty dirty downright DIRTY chauvinistic politics in the halls of churches supposedly dedicated to God
Eileen…I’m sorry dearest. God bless you, beautiful soul. God bless you.
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