John Piper’s Successor Latest to Resign as Allegations of Abusive Leadership Mount at Bethlehem Baptist

By Julie Roys
Jason Meyer John Piper
Jason Meyer discusses succeeding John Piper at Bethlehem Baptist Church in an interview with The Gospel Coalition in March 2014. (Source: Video Screengrab)

The successor to John Piper at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis this week resigned in what appears to be a major shake-up at the church amid allegations of toxic and abusive leadership.

Piper’s successor, Jason Meyer, is the fourth pastor to resign from Bethlehem in the past four months.

The others who have resigned include Bryan Pickering, former pastor for care and counseling; Ming-Jinn Tong, former pastor for neighborhood outreach; and Richie Stark, former director for youth and family discipleship. (According to Pickering, Stark’s resignation was not solely due to issues at the church.)

Meyer, Tong, and Stark did not respond to requests for comment.

However, Pickering said in an interview that he resigned over the pattern of abusive behavior by Bethlehem leaders, especially elders, that he witnessed and experienced. 

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“At Bethlehem . . . there’s harm being done,” Pickering said. “There’s unethical behavior. There’s domineering. There’s bullying. . . . cultural, damaging behavior that’s being done, and has been done, for a long time.”

In a statement from Pickering that elders read to the congregation last Sunday, Pickering further explained:

I have seen several congregants (current and former), elders (current and former), and a former administrative assistant profoundly mistreated by elders in various ways. I have also seen leadership act in ways I would describe as domineering. I have also seen patterns of deception among our elders that are deeply concerning. I have tried on several occasions since early 2020 to speak up to others about these patterns of behavior. Increasingly in 2021, especially and intensely since March, I, too, have experienced what I would call bullying behavior. It is now clear to me that it is best for everyone for me to resign.

The Roys Report reached out to Bethlehem Baptist Church and to Kurt Elting-Ballard, chairman of Bethlehem’s Council of Elders, for comment but no one responded.

However, in an email to congregants on Wednesday, announcing Jason Meyer’s resignation, Elting-Ballard and Bethlehem Pastor Ken Currie said they felt “regret” and “a deep sense of loss” over Jason Meyer’s resignation as Pastor for Preaching & Vision at Bethlehem’s Downtown Campus.

Similarly, in a blog published on Bethlehem’s website, Dave Zuleger, pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem’s South Campus, acknowledged the difficult time the church is experiencing.

Bethlehem, a church of about 4,600, has three campuses—Downtown, South, and North. In 2012, well-known author and pastor, John Piper, retired as Bethlehem’s senior pastor. He now serves as pastor emeritus but is not a member of the official pastoral staff or Council of Elders.

“I could try to sugarcoat the troubles of my soul (and probably many of yours), but that wouldn’t be real or helpful . . .” Zuleger wrote. “This is another painful and confusing moment for us. It’s confusing and painful corporately because Jason took the mantle from Pastor John Piper . . . It feels jarring.”

Exodus follows push for reform

According to Kyle J. Howard, a preacher and racial and spiritual trauma counselor, the pastors’ exodus follows a push for reform at Bethlehem regarding the way the church treats minorities and women.

Howard said that in January 2019, Bethlehem brought him in to teach a full-day, staff intensive on racial trauma in the church.

Howard also attended an all-minority dinner with congregants that Pickering had arranged, according to Janice Perez Evans, a former member of Bethlehem who’s half Latina.

Kyle Howard
Kyle Howard teaches about racial trauma. (Source: Twitter)

Perez said the dinner was the first time many of the minority members of Bethlehem had been gathered, and it was a special time to share openly without judgment.

Howard said his visit at Bethlehem made it “abundantly clear” that Bethlehem had “challenges” surrounding race issues.

He added that prior to coming to Bethlehem, he had spoken with several Black pastors in Minneapolis, who all referred to Bethlehem as a “white church within a Black space that doesn’t actually engage . . . or relate to the Black community.” Howard said he also had spoken with several people who had been negatively impacted by John Piper’s theology of “marital permanence,”* a theology maintaining that divorce is never justified, even in cases of abuse.

Howard said he shared his concerns with Pastors Meyer, Pickering, Tong, and Stark, who all supported what Howard was doing.

Shortly after Howard’s intensive, Evans said she and several others proposed to the elders that the church establish a task force to examine whether the system at Bethlehem was racially biased. One of the main concerns, Evans said, was that few minorities sat on Bethlehem’s Elder Council. At the time, four of the 40-member Elder Council were minorities, she said.

Evans described the meeting as “excruciating,” saying the elders grilled both her and others about the proposal. Yet after the meeting, the elders commissioned a “Racial Harmony Task Force,” which Evans said she co-led with Pastor Meyer.

“It will probably go down in my life as one of the sweetest times I’ve seen the Holy Spirit come and work,” Evans said of her experience working with other task force members. “There was such a unity—and it wasn’t in a sense like we all agreed on everything. But it was safe in the sense that we were able to have disagreements as team members and talk through it.”

However, Evans said during this time, she began hearing from congregants and students at Bethlehem College and Seminary that elders were speaking against her and other task force members.

Pickering said he heard other elders express that they felt the task force had “Marxist” and “woke” tendencies, and possibly was driven by Critical Race Theory—a controversial academic movement seeking to explain issues of race and justice.

“That’s fear-mongering,” Evans said. “That wasn’t what drove us. We’re reading Scripture. We’re reading the Word. And we’ve been trained by all of you (the elders).”

Evans said she and the members of the task force put in over 800 hours researching the dynamics at Bethlehem, as well as other churches that had successfully become multi-ethnic. She said in the summer of 2019, the task force presented its 85-page report to the elders. (Evans said the task force had wanted to present the report directly to the congregation, but the elders insisted that the report go directly to them.)

However, instead of prompting change, Evans said the elders responded with silence. Months passed and the elders took no action, she said—and one-by-one, members of the task force left the church.

Then in 2020, Howard said he was disinvited from a conference sponsored by a ministry connected to Bethlehem, called City Joy, because the elders at Bethlehem decided Howard was “too controversial.”

Howard said that after he pushed back, asking the elders if canceling him weeks before the conference was “really the optics that you guys want,” the board reversed their decision.

Yet Howard said all the elders who were supportive of him—Meyer, Pickering, and Tong—have now left Bethlehem. Similarly, he said he doesn’t know of a single task force member who remains at the church.*

“It should be alarming when you have a multitude of pastors or leaders leave all within a very short period of time,” Howard said. “But what I would want to caution us from is to not only look at the power figures but to recognize that these leaders are the overflow of a congregation loss. There have been numerous people who have left that church, especially minorities, and . . . a lot of women, a lot of battered wives . . . (who) are still healing from that space.”

“Systemic” problem extends to college & seminary

According to Pickering, Howard, and Evans, the issues at Bethlehem Baptist Church are systemic and extend to Bethlehem College and Seminary (BCS), where John Piper remains chancellor.

This sentiment was also expressed in a tweet this week by Johnathon Bowers, a former philosophy professor at BCS, who also served the Racial Harmony Task Force, according to Evans.

“Back in October, I resigned from a ten-year career teaching at Bethlehem College & Seminary because of the school’s toxic environment, particularly among the leadership,” Bowers tweeted on Thursday. “My family and I withdrew our membership from the church in December for the same reason.”

Johnathan Bowers Bethlehem College and Seminary

Three of BCS’s 11 trustees serve as elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church.

As recently as August 2020, Jason Meyer also served as both a Bethlehem elder and a trustee at BCS, according to an archived BCS webpage. But by September 19, 2020, Meyer had stepped down as a BCS trustee.

On September 18, 2020, the BCS Board of Trustees “voted unanimously” to hire Joe Rigney as president, according to an article on the BCS website.

Rigney is controversial due to his close ties to Douglas Wilson, someone whose comments on race and women have drawn much criticism. In his pamphlet Southern Slavery, As It Was, Wilson argued that slavery “produced a genuine affection between the races.” Wilson contends his comments in Southern Slavery have been misunderstood.

Wilson also once wrote that wives who don’t do dishes should be brought before church elders for discipline.

Rigney received a Master of Studies degree from New Saint Andrews College where Wilson serves as a senior fellow in theology and a permanent member of the board of trustees. Rigney also calls Wilson a “mentor.”

The Roys Report reached out to Rigney for comment but did not hear back.

Like Bethlehem Baptist, BCS has also experienced significant turnover. In the past 12 months, at least five faculty and/or staff have left the school, including Pickering, who taught counseling classes, and Bowers. Others who have resigned include Travis Myers, former assistant professor of church history and mission studies, Daniel Kleven, former director of admissions, and Barb Waldemar, former dean of women.

Complicity or resistance?

Pickering says the issues at Bethlehem church and its schools come down to “misunderstanding how to steward power in a God-honoring way.”

“It’s a cultural thing,” Pickering said, adding that as a leader, he believes he “bear(s) a measure of culpability and complicity. . . . This where I was at when I resigned. I mean, it’s like, I have done all I can in terms of speaking up. It’s not changing. My resignation now is the last thing I can do to say, ‘This is wrong. You guys need to change,’ and to warn the congregation, ‘You’re all in trouble because elders can’t hold each other accountable.’”

Howard agreed and added, “I hope the leaders who have left do speak up. To whatever extent they stayed in the midst of people being wounded . . . there is a culpability there that requires them to speak.”

*UPDATE: Bethlehem Baptist no longer officially holds to Piper’s marital permanence theology, but allows for divorce in several cases, including when one spouse commits adultery or abandons the other spouse. 

Also, though Howard said he doesn’t know of any Racial Harmony Task Force members who remain at Bethlehem, several do, including three elders: Rod Takata, Darin Brink, and Chuck Steddom. 



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105 thoughts on “John Piper’s Successor Latest to Resign as Allegations of Abusive Leadership Mount at Bethlehem Baptist”

  1. Kimberly M. Chastain

    I continue to see a really bad pattern here and in a lot of churches. If you want to look at racism in the church and involve minorities more, then you must support critical race theory. If you want to look at women being more involved in the church and the horrible abuse that goes on inside marriages in the church you must now want women pastors. I get so weary of this pendulum that keeps swinging back and forth. Can we not listen to one another and make God honoring, biblical changes without calling people names and thinking they are heretical? My heart weeps that this thinking is not only at Bethlehem Bapitst, but many churches.

    1. You, Kimberley, presume to say “must support critical race theory”? What happened to the sufficiency of the gospel of Christ? Why add some external philosophy to Christ that has nothing to do with God’s peace through blood bought reconciliation? I fear you don’t really know the source or intent behind CRT, or of those who wield it like an axe to divide people.

      1. I think you misunderstand Kimberley’s point. I think she is *deploring* the fact that it seems that if you want to involve minorities more, you are automatically deemed to support critical race theory; that if you want women to be more involved, you are deemed to want women pastors. To use her analogy, you may support the involvement of minorities and women without wanting the pendulum to swing as far as CRT or women pastors.

      2. Emmitt Cornelius

        And you sir, don’t understand critical race theory which simply studies the relationship of race, racism, power, and wealth that contributes to white dominance in America. And therein lies the problem: CRT pinpoints the problem; the gospel pinpoints the solution. You want neither. Get this: talking about race isn’t what divides us; racism is what divides us. You want to denounce the former while maintaining the latter. White racists’ talk about the peace of the gospel has never addressed treating all people as equals.

        1. Emmitt,
          CRT doesn’t pinpoint anything. It generalizes, stereotypes and paints people with a broad brush – which is how racism starts, isn’t it?

          1. Emmitt Cornelius

            Olsen, Richard, Peter: Let me get straight to the point: You guys don’t know what you’re talking about. What CRT books have you read? Obviously you’re repeating what you’ve heard others say about CRT. You guys prefer to conjure up your or someone else’s self-serving caricatures of CRT rather than deal with the truths that CRTist actually write about: 1) Racism is a social construct, not a biological construct; 2) Racism is embedded in every aspect of American culture and society, including our legal system; 3) The dominant race benefits from racism and therefore has no incentive to be anti-racist. And let me add a 4th: The dominant race has used Christianity and the “gospel” to support slavery, segregation, discrimination, white terrorism (i.e. KKK and white nationalists), etc. You guys are carrying on that legacy.

        2. CRT is a manmade, and therefore sinful, solution to sin. The gospel pinpoints our problem: SIN. The gospel pinpoints the solution: JESUS. There is one race of different colors, but in our sinfulness we hate those who look different, and this happens in every people, tribe, and nation under heaven – not just America. In America the term racism has become a euphemism for hatred that hatefully gets applied to every single white person, even those who don’t hate non-white people. I call it a euphemism because it isn’t applied to non-white people who hate whites. No, they get to be called anti-racists, yet they are allowed to hate others. CRT endorses the hatred of certain people, but we call it social justice, we call it righteousness – but it is hatred all the same, dressed up to look different from the hatred that preceded it. Paul wrote to Titus that “we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another” (3:3). If he were writing to the church today, he would say with great anguish that we are STILL foolish, disobedient, and being led astray, we are STILL slaves to our passions and pleasures, and we pass our days in malice and envy, and yes, hate.

          1. Apparently there is no longer any such thing as the Gospel of Christ, the good news. It’s been superseded and overcome by collective white guilt. Now the good news is the certainty that white people are finally being weighed in the balances and found wanting and will soon be cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

        3. Emmitt, thanks for your comments. I don’t understand why the idea that other races were intentionally, systematically marginalized and dispossessed of both their rights and property by those who founded the country is so controversial and demonized. It’s hard for me to see the history of Native Americans and Africans brought here in any way that doesn’t lead to a call for repentance. Wasn’t their treatment a sin, calling for repentance not controversy? Having said that, can you recommend a good book on Critical Race Theory? I’ve never read a book about it either and I’m hard pressed to say what the Theory is. Also, if anyone can recommend a good book critical of CRT, I don’t understand why it’s so controversial.

          1. Marin Heiskell

            I agree. It’s downright delusional to deny that racism has had an impact on TODAY’S society – politically, socioeconomically, culturally, and even religiously. That’s all CRT examines – theories on why we are where we are when it comes to the different experiences and present circumstances of the races.
            I notice another thing in common with the anti-CRT crowd: this obsession over “white guilt” and “it’s not bad to be white”. If they were equally passionate about the guilt legally, directly, and indirectly put upon people of color….. and all the times that political and social systems, attitudes, and beliefs – past AND present – made people of color feel lesser than, we wouldn’t be here today.
            But they are silent about that. It only matters that white people may feel uncomfortable over learning that their political, social and economic capital was built and established through generations of shady (and racist) policies and beliefs that NOW there’s a problem. The irony is – we are now putting feelings over fact – the VERY thing conservatives claim the left does.
            But looks like they are winning – conservative Texans are passing a new curriculum that removes MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech and “Letters from a Birmingham Jail”, and disallows teachers from condeming the morals (and domestic terrorism) of the KKK. It’s all to “avoid teaching any race is superior.” How this new curriculum does that is beyond me. But hey, this is what happens when we demonize other views and experiences rather than learning to constructively discuss and critically think about them; the pendulum swings WAY too far in the other direction. (Well, in my opinion this is a pendulum swing that goes too far; clearly enough conservatives are loving this new curriculum).

          2. Michelle Schroeder

            Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe
            By Voddie Baucham

          3. Emmitt Cornelius

            “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction” by Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic

          4. andrew engelman

            Because the Gospel is all about leading people to Christ and not about social justice or race or CRT. All of us are sinful and need a Savior. Once you have Christ and the Holy Spirit it is all you need and you dont need extra lessons from secular sources about mans depravity.

        4. Emmitt,
          @ Your comment below.
          Let me get straight to the point. I know individual white people who have been confronted by groups of non-white people informing them that their judgment day is coming, and they’re going to get what’s coming to them. The white people were accosted because they were white. I didn’t need to read a book about CRT to understand what was happening in real life on the street. But I’ll get right on “White Fragility ” and follow that up with “Faultlines”.

          1. Robin Wiggins

            What those people were doing was proving that they were bigots showing partiality, which is a sin last time I checked. There are many people in the throes of a demonic delusion and CRT is but one manifestation of it.

        5. So in essence if I’m understanding you correctly, to be white and critical of CRT means you are defacto a white racist, is that correct? And if you’re Voddie Baucham and critical of CRT you are defacto a……… Help me out here.

          1. Marin Heiskell

            No, being White (or Black or whatever other race) and anti-CRT doesn’t make one a racist. That’s such a harsh label that I don’t find to be accurate in this circumstance, and throwing that around is lazy, unproductive, and does little more than put others in “defense vs listening” mode. The perspectives I have seen you post do make you biased (and we ALL have biases). Again, WHY does so much of your anti-CRT argument center on how white people feel? Where was this passion when the lack of Black history in curriculums left Black students feeling as if “ya’ll were slaves – but that’s not our fault – then MLK set you free, so get over it”? Where were the conservatives marching and pushing for a more inclusive curriculum that demonstrated Black history IS American history? The silence speaks to how it didn’t matter because it wasn’t impacting white kids. THAT is the bias. That doesn’t mean you (or any anti-CRT person) doesn’t care or dislikes non-Whites, or think Whites are superior. It just means there is bias towards making White kids feel comfortable, and that bias is at the expense of non-White students.
            And BTW, I have been the only Black student in a classroom at a Christian school where that “slavery to MLK” narrative was taught and NOT ONE person demonstrated nearly the same passion on how that made me feel as you are on how white students feel about CRT. Why is that?
            I have yet to hear how studying a theory on the lasting impact of racism on the construct of our society is so evil other than “what about how the White kids will feel”? I had to study theories in school that I disagree with – including “race science” that said Black people are genetically and intellectually inferior (the anti-CRT crowd was silent then, too). But I was learning how to critically think, discuss, and debate – to back up my views with data, facts, and by conducting studies (which I also learned how to do). I wish parents were more concerned on how their children will learn to think, discuss and debate for themselves rather than this “only teach MY kids what I believe in and NOTHING else!” approach. We are raising a generation of robots who spit out what mommy and daddy said.
            I believe it will backfire.

        6. Robin Wiggins

          By the way, Emmitt, as a peremptory strike against you telling me I don’t know what I’m talking about with CRT, I am a professor at a U.S. university, have my JD and two other graduate degrees. Have developed courses in constitutional law and my recent textbook includes multiple chapters on that subject as well as on the civil rights act and other laws protecting minorities. Been at this gig for almost a generation and went through law school back not many years after former president Obama. I knew about CRT before it was known by that name. Just curious what YOUR creds are that give you the status the sneer at those of others. Waiting…

          1. Emmitt Ciornelius

            FYI, I have an earned Ph.d. and have actually read CRT books, not just chapters on CRT. Have you read any books by CRT authors, not just their critics and second hand info. As a researcher, have you spoken with any individuals in CRT studies to listen to their concerns. Having credentials is one thing; using them constructively in the pursuit of objectivity and truth is another. And if you truly understood the Civil Rights movement, which you mentioned, you’d have a better understanding of CRT and its role in the struggle for equality today. Glad you’re not teaching my kids!

        7. CRT is not critical, not about race, and not a theory. It is just another outing of Marxism in its continually failed attempts to create a ‘victim’ class that it can leverage to oligarchic power for its leaders.

          1. Emmitt Cornelius

            Please share with the rest of us your readings of CRT works and specific insights from which you draw the conclusions that CRT is not critical, not about race, not a theory, is marxist, and promotes a victim mentality. If you can’t produce, stop making blanket statements as if they’re authoritative.

        8. Thank you for pointing this out !! The church in America has mostly remained silent on this issue, especially if one wants to discuss the most pressing issue- the almost complete extinction of a race of people who were here in America first. Instead of preaching the Gospel, and New Testament conduct instructions, they were systematically wiped out. Bounties were placed on them. Where was the church when this was going on ?? Genocide and slavery issues will never go away. Because it’s simply unacceptable.

      3. Well . . . white Christians with conservative temperament (and therefore conservative political and religious inclinations) had a long, long time to apply “the sufficiency of the gospel of Christ” to life in the 13 Colonies and then in the United States. It seems that the “gospel of Christ” was mostly concerned with individuals “getting saved” rather than loving your neighbor. Applying “the gospel of Christ” to loving our neighbor didn’t go very well, did it? See the lists of race riots in Wikipedia, if you are unaware of how white people can go berserk – even against other white people.

        Why should people that are being mistreated wait for conservative white Christians to be open to change? A lot of white Christians decided to rebel against King George, despite what the Bible said about respecting government leaders, true? The least we can do is try to explain (beyond the spiritual illness we all suffer from) why things are the way they are. CRT is one of those explanations.

        If conservative white churches in the so-called Bible Belt had worked during the 1950’s to end the evils associated with segregation, wouldn’t the 1960’s have been different?

      1. Emmitt Cornelius

        Please apply your statement to white Christianity in America, which supported slavery (race), segregation (race), Jim Crow (race), discrimination (race), KKK (race), white nationalism (race), etc. since this country was invaded by white (Christian?)Europeans.

    2. Failure by individuals does not amount to changing biblical theology. The Bible does not permit women to teach over men and CRT in all its horrible doctrine does not right any wrongs made by fallible men. We need to understand this and not fall into heresy.

  2. Anyone who thought it was a good idea to bring in Kyle James Howard for guidance… well that is a major red flag. Even if there were some issues with bullying, advocating bringing in Howard raises major concerns.

    1. Sphesihle Nxaba

      Honestly, this is the main reason why this report is tainted for me. I love Julie Roys and her work is usually outstanding but a simple Google search shows you that Kyle James Howard is not a good source for anything. The man’s tweets alone are full of bullying and disunity. He is exactly the same as Phil Johnson but on the side of the debate. And it’s weird how prominently he features on an article that literally has nothing to do with him on balance.

      1. I don’t vet sources based on whether I agree or disagree with their views, but whether they are part of the story. To say Howard has nothing to do with this story, when his visit precipitated the formation of a Racial Harmony Task Force, which appears to have played a prominent role in recent developments, seems off.

  3. Wow… what a bombshell report..

    I had held some hope for the Evangelical movement in the U.S. because of preachers like Piper… well that is now finished.

    Abusive behavior by church leaders (elders, pastors, boards) has been one of the greatest problems in the U.S. evangelical church over the years.

    The problem is, if theoretically these “leaders” are being led by the Holy Spirit and are amongst the churches most spiritually “mature” christians… then how can they be abusive in their leadership roles…?????? What I have seen over the years and have read, I see no other result than the U.S. evangelical church becoming much smaller over the future decades… young adults are leaving the church in droves as they see it too and are saying “No Thanks”….

    1. They are saying “No thanks” to lies and hatefulness and arrogance and abuse. And this is coming from one who is an evangelical Christian writ large, and unabashed Jesus freak who can no longer stomach going to a building called a church.

      1. Mega churches are not churches. They are fiefdoms. I have read a lot of medieval history. My conclusion is I see nothing more than fiefdoms. The king aka pastor, the knights aka elders and church management. Then the serfs aka the congregation and like all fiefdoms challenging the king can be dangerous. My proof??? Article after article from here or religious news or Christian post that tell stories of greed and pride and lots of justified wealth. Always justifying the wealth. No Jesus. But hey who needs Jesus when the god of hubris works just fine.

    2. Michelle Schroeder

      Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Don’t believe everything you read in the above article,

  4. I know it’s trendy–but not Christ-like–to obsess about race, to make everything about pigmentation and the ugliness of Jim Crow (which few living people have ever experienced), but it’s just another distraction forced down our throats by bullies probably just as toxic as Piper. The issue with Piper and Beth Bap, which I attended in the 90s, was arrogance and the exaltation of men over the Lord. I’ll never forget a March for Jesus put on by Piper and a couple other mega pastors from downtown Minneapolis in 1996. It was the first time I saw Piper in person. After a few thousand of us marched to praise the Lord, we all met in a parking lot near the campus, thousands of folding seats were set up. Piper and the other two pastors so-called stood up there at the podium heaping praise on each other to the point of inducing nausea in anyone with the discernment of the average babe in Christ. Each man stood up praising the other two to the heavens, while the exalted ones sat in their favored seats feigning modesty, until it was their turn to stand up before the thousands and return the favor. My wife and I looked at each other and realized that what we were witnessing had nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with three narcissists basking in the praise of men. This was before the scandals, before the Reformed Resurgence, back when Mark Driscoll was nothing more than an unknown Bible study leader in Seattle. My wife and I knew right then–it practically slapped one in the face–that the Piper movement was a lie, and possibly a lie straight from hell.

    1. Jennifer Eason

      If the evangelical church would stop putting out Narcissist Bait (stages, spotlights, adoring masses) we might find more men of humility and grace who are willing to be our shepherds.

      1. True. It would also help if we understood what a shepherd actually was. It was a low class servant, a person not highly regarded in society, expendable, expected to give their life for livestock if need be. In the bible it sometimes seems to be a boy who’s the shepherd, one who is practically forgotten (remember David whom Jessie didn’t even bother to go fetch when told one of his sons would be king?)

        This was why Jesus referring to Himself as a shepherd was an odd thing to the people of the day. His disciples were expecting a great conquering king, they got a humble guy who referred to Himself as a blue collar nonentity. He was and is a great king, but not in the way they expected.

        But we want a king to lead us in church, not a shepherd to come alongside us and ask “Hey, how can I help? What is the Lord putting on your heart?” To be Christlike is to be a shepherd, not a great king who leads and rules with an iron fist and insists that the people get behind your vision. No wonder we end up with narcissists and sociopaths in the pulpit, it’s what we ask for.

          1. Paul, these are fiefdoms and unless you please the king or his court, you’re just another serf. And paying taxes err tithes to the kings trough. Because God wills it.

      2. Frances Christenson

        Agree Jennifer! I think we can add we might find women of humilty, and grace, too if we followed our Bibles. I know a lot of histronic and angry women in churches as well. We all should think about what kind of kids we are going to turn out for Christian leadership in the years to come if we con’t change the conditions they grow up in.

    2. Robin, please do not presume to tell anyone what they’ve experienced of Jim Crow, You know nothing about the legacy of Jim Crow, or its ongoing de facto effects. Perhaps racism is a only a “distraction” to you, but many of us don’t have the luxury of considering as such. One needs only to review the statistics on racial inequality and discrimination that persists in this country to see the ongoing and pervasive effects of racial injustice.

      I’m sorry that you feel the need to disparage the plight of others without the understanding and love that Jesus told us to demonstrate towards each other.

      1. Peggy, this is so true. When you speak of the de facto effects of Jim Crow you are pin pointing the problem. The era of White Privilege for many is a leftist myth, with the absurd idea that we live in a merit based culture. We do not.

        The luxury of White America was sadly purchased with the oppression of the stolen African and the indigenous Native Americans.

        We have to have a recognition of the past and not reward those who are no longer oppressors as if they are special but want to hit the reboot button and we start from scratch.

        The dominant attitude among white middle class suburban evangelicals is similar to a family whose father sexually abused all the children in the area, said sorry on his death bed and the descendants smile and say well we are not like that so just get over it.

        Prejudice is deep and in short if you have prejudice towards minorities in your heart and mind then you have demons in your heart and mind.


        1. You said, “The dominant attitude among white middle class suburban evangelicals is similar to a family whose father sexually abused all the children in the area, said sorry on his death bed and the descendants smile and say well we are not like that so just get over it.”

          By your assessment then, our justice system is doing it wrong. Is it your view that when someone commits a crime, all of their family is guilty, forever, and all should be punished accordingly, forever? Is forgiveness not a possibility or not to be given the slightest consideration? Is there just eternal white guilt that not even the Blood of the Lamb can erase? Is this a new gospel or something? Is the gospel only for non-white people? Are white people more evil than non-white? Just curious.

          1. Just as the wicked abuser can be forgiven so it is possible for a Nation to be forgiven. The issue is not forgiveness. The issue is the consequence of sin.

            It is important to understand that if the Jim Crow South had not been forced to integrate by the Federal government then Honkey’sVille Alabama would still have lynching’s by Buba’s Baptists because a black boy whistled at a white girl.

            Remember that there was barely a Christian College that was integrated in the early 1960’s.

            Many of those Schools have repented by changing their policies so as not to loose the 501c3 status.

            If they really wanted to repent they could have made a huge impact by selling their properties and given the money to support the very people they rejected. Then the world would have been shaken.

            It was the Secular Society that forced White Christian America to be Christian in its policies if not in their hearts.

            What is so tragic is that terms like Blood of Lamb, The Gospel etc are used to defend a cultural heritage that is utterly antithetical to what the Blood of the Lamb represents, which is sinful men and women be reconciled to a Holy God by the substitutional death of our Lord Jesus.

            While we are on the Subject of the Lamb of God, my prayer for American Christianity is that it would reward the wounds of the Lamb by repentance for the injury, suffering and hatred shown to people for one simple reason…..pigment……

          2. @ Bob Hitching

            You said, “What is so tragic is that terms like Blood of Lamb, The Gospel etc are used to defend a cultural heritage that is utterly antithetical to what the Blood of the Lamb represents, which is sinful men and women be reconciled to a Holy God by the substitutional death of our Lord Jesus.

            While we are on the Subject of the Lamb of God, my prayer for American Christianity is that it would reward the wounds of the Lamb by repentance for the injury, suffering and hatred shown to people for one simple reason…..pigment……”

            I have more questions. Is racial prejudice by a white person unpardonable? Is racial prejudice by a non-white possible? Is is possible for a white person to have not engaged in racial prejudice based on pigment? Is it possible for a non-white to hate a white person based on pigment? Is it sinful for a white person to hate someone based on pigment, but not sinful if a non-white person hates a white person based on pigment?

            What are your thoughts regarding the genocide in Rwanda? That was arguably a tribal conflict but there was hatred and much suffering.

            What about the genocide in Cambodia?

            What about Turkey’s Armenian genocide?

            What about Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Ghengis Khan, the Emperor Nero and other Roman rulers? What about the Aztecs, Incans and Mayans who all practiced ritual human sacrifice? Then there’s the Rape of Nanking, China by the Japanese in WWII where horrendous atrocities were committed.

            Then the inhabitants of Sparta killed their own children who didn’t measure up to their standards. But, they’ve got nothing on us in that regard because we’ve aborted away our future. What about the hatred and suffering of a whole group of people just because they’re babies? And who’s crying out and demanding justice for the millions of non-white babies murdered in this country over the last several decades? Ok, I’ll admit that Margaret Sanger was white and into eugenics and a founder of Planned Parenthood and evil incarnate.

            It would seem from our world’s murderous proclivities that Paul’s assertion about sin entering the world through Adam’s fall is understated. So isn’t it remotely possible that hatred by anyone based on pigment is an operation of our fallen and very sinful nature? Or do you assert only white people are capable of such hatred? Understand, I’m not denying racially motivated sins that were and are committed in this country. Nor do I deny those that were and are committed in every other country of the world.

            Psalm 7:11 says, “God is angry with the wicked every day.” Or should that be retranslated to, “God is angry with white people every day”?

            We all are in desperate need of repentance and salvation. We have all gone astray without regard to pigment. As you said, we all need to be reconciled to God, and that is through the substitutionary atonement of Christ.

      2. I’m sorry you interpreted Robin’s comments that way. I’m sorry you assumed she intended to disparage anything. I’m sorry you assumed she is incapable of understanding and love and by extension likely not a Christian. Of course, that last bit about not being a Christian could be an exaggeration. But she’s surely on report with the Holy Spirit.

        If she’s white, what kind of government sponsored retraining would you recommend since only white people are capable of sin in this area and clearly blind to the plight of others outside their melanin group?

        I mean, it’s not like there’s anything called the sex slave trade flourishing here and around the world. Are only white people in control of that? Do only white people need to repent of sin? Are only white people in danger of the lake of fire. When the sheep and the goats are separated at the last judgment, will the goats all be white people? Are white people even capable of redemption? Or are they most likely the evil spawn from the relations between demons and women mentioned in Genesis 6? I know that view is held by some.

        And isn’t the Bible racist anyway? Shouldn’t Israel apologize to remnants of the Canaanites if any can be found? The Philistines? The Hittities? Men, women and children were slaughtered at God’s command.

        Given the varied backgrounds of the twelve disciples that Jesus handpicked, how long did He give them to sort out their differences before they were fit for ministry? I mean a tax collector, really? And a zealot? And then there were the Sons of Thunder, James and John, who wanted to call fire down upon a Samaritan village because they wouldn’t allow them to stay the night (Luke 9:54). Definitely no Motel 6 at that location. Jesus rebuked James and John and rightly so. There was bad blood between Jews and Samaritans. But, that was the end of the story. Jesus didn’t use that as an opportunity to teach about Jewish versus Samaritan privilege. Both had a common oppressor in Rome. Jesus didn’t call out Rome for its idolatry and brutal reign over the area.

        And when it comes down to it, aren’t we all Canaanites at heart, full of idolatry, all deserving of what the actual Canaanites experienced? If your answer is “no”, then from what have you been saved?

        1. Robin Wiggins

          Thanks for the support. I’m just tired of lies and trendy garbage and Christians so-called who are unstable fools who just follow whatever the media and government like to spin at any given moment.

          I will not apologize to anyone for what I have not done and for what other people did decades before. The Bible is pretty explicit on that point (not that many of these trend followers care one brass farthing about the Bible).

          The biggest problem with the black community is not Jim Crow, which does not exist and has not for almost three generations. It is fatherlessness, it is roughly 75% of all kids being born out of wedlock. It is a culture of drugs and gangs. Factor those out and basically all economic, educational and criminal justice differences between the races disappear. I’ve taught thousands of young black people (and people of all colors) over the decades. There is no intrinsic difference between the races in terms of intellect, ambition or maturity that I can see, and after all these years I could probably put together a pretty good academic study on the point.

          That said, there sure do seem to be a lot of government officials and white leftists who want to trap generations of black people in government assistance purgatory (which, as well as killing incentive, discourages fathers from standing up for their children) and tell them they’ll never get a fair shake (in spite of affirmative action and how far the culture has come), so they can become slaves in their own minds. They are doing what a few hundred of years of slavery and a century of Jim Crow couldn’t do to the black community. If they were intentionally trying to destroy black people because they secretly hated them could you tell the difference? No thanks, Emmett and Peggy, not going to join you. I love all people, black, white, whatever. I won’t join you in destroying the former so you can stroke your delicate egos.

          1. Marin Heiskell

            Tell my PARENTS – who attended segregated schools until high school (in rural Texas) and were among the first classes to integrate Baylor University – that Jim Crow was three generations ago. My dad (who was among the first Black graduates of Baylor’s law school in the 70s) will turn 70 in September. My mom just turned 68. Do the math, then tell me how you landed on three generations ago.

            Also, I welcome you to read criminal justice data (I discuss a lot with my dad), which shows Black offenders receive higher bails and harsher sentences than White offenders.
            I also welcome you to read about the poor funding of many urban (i.e., Black) public schools, and the impact on its students, teachers, and communities. A lot of issues facing the Black commuity are rooted in generational discrepancies in socioeconomics – some of which were set up by discriminatory policies (e.g., see redlining) that put a lot of Black people on hamster wheels of trying to escape poverty.
            We are in a society in which even 30% of white children are born out of wedlock (a very sharp increase over the last couple of decades), yet the wealth gap between the races continues to grow. So it’s not that simple. (Yet I get its important to you that you find any reason to prove Black people deserve to be in poorer circumstances; your focus is on defending yourself more than anything else).

            You claim to “love” all people, yet you deny their experiences (dismissing them as if they happened a long time ago) and gloss over a lot of other variables that fed into them. There are LIVING heroes (of ALL colors) who survived, marched and protested Jim Crow and you erroneously dismiss their plight as something that no living person has experienced.

            No one is saying you personally did anything – but just as SCRIPTURE repeatedly says that sin (or blessing) can impact “our children’s children” – there are elements of your circumstances that have trickled down from “your parents’ parents”. We can even use the example of faith – my family’s legacy of faith can be traced back to my great-grandparents, who instilled discipleship in my grandparents at a very young age. There are some traditions, favorite verses, and even family Bibles that have remained in my family for generations as sources of instruction and inspiration to “keep walking in His ways.” Why do you think scripture equips and instructs us to leave legacies of faith? Because it can be felt for generations. Tell me how you land on the conclusion that the same isn’t true for sin? The sin of racism was planted generations ago, and we still feel the impact – and will continue to do so until it is addressed. But instead of acknowledging it so that we can collectively repent and replace it with a legacy of love (2 Chronicles 7:14), it’s the defensive, self-centered arguments of “don’t blame me!” “what about me?” “I know what THEIR problem is!” and “I know that didn’t happen to you because of what I read/saw/experienced!”

            Lord, help us.

      3. Robin Wiggins

        Peggy, it is a statistical fact that few people relative to the entire population have experienced Jim Crow. It ended as a matter of federal law in 1964 and 1965. Some states held on for a handful of years, but they too succumbed to the march of progress. The vast majority of people either were not alive or are not old enough to remember a world in which Jim Crow existed. The great majority of people in the U.S. have only known a world in which affirmative action has existed, and in which ongoing institutional racism has been directed towards Asian Americans, i.e., college admissions.

        I told the truth; I won’t put up with you moving goalposts or lying.

        1. Marin Heiskell

          1964 and 1965 is the Baby Boomer era; those in their 60s would not only be alive, but of school age. Interesting you think that is only “a few”, when longer life expectancies and improved health have this generation still thriving and catered to as a significant, influential portion of the population. Heck, look at politics, where they vote at a higher rate (and hold significant political positions from top to bottom in our country), and are among the strongest voting bloc. (I’m also chuckling, because as an Xer, I’m often noticing that Boomers and Millennials are discussed, compared, and catered to as if my generation doesn’t even exit. But you know why that is? It’s that their numbers far exceed that of Xers.

          Also, many states – and especially rural communities – held on to Jim Crow for many years afterwards, through intimidation, socioeconomic pressures (threats of boycotts, etc), and in the name of “tradition”. My dad STILL has his initial “rejection letter” from Baylor in the LATE 60s, which mentioned “we’d love to admit you, but our fellow universities, students, parents, alumni, and surrounding community have yet to feel confident in moving on this issue of integration.” (This letter is also framed and posted on the campus.) We have even read about schools having their FIRST INTEGRATED proms as recently as the last decade.

          Again, Robin – what you say is just untrue.

  5. In her Twitter bio, Perez Evans has her preferred pronouns: “she/her/ella”. And she co-led this task force? Also read that she advocated for this task force after attending Kyle James Howard’s “intensive”. What a mess.

  6. The Scriptures teach a lot about biblical justice and God’s concern for the poor and needy as well as the orphans and widows. Paul clearly states that we treat all in the church as equals, neither Jew nor Greek and support those in need. Do others make more money or blessed with skills that our economy rewards? Yes. Some have it better than others while some have it real rough. Most of us are trying to do the best we can with what we have. The evangelical church has not been too good at dealing with abusive leaders nor their victims. This is a sad fact. I know we can do better and by God’s grace it will happen.

    We definitely need to be aware of philosophies or modes of thought that are contrary to biblical justice. Each person will one day have to account for what they were responsible for while on this earth-this is extremely sobering. No excuses. No blaming.

  7. Richard Stadter

    I feel the title is misleading since the one leaving did not comment. It doesn’t seem right to tie two things together without proof. The last point made- that those who leave should comment- seems self-serving for this type of “journalism.”

  8. Cynthia Wright

    I wonder what a “Pastor for Preaching and Vision” does – just talk? – and what his salary is.

    Also, reading the statement from the various pastors, elders, and stuff, it seems like they never give any detail regarding what was so bad. Specifically, what kind of “bullying” or “toxic” behavior? Specifically, what kind of “racial trauma”?

    It’s almost as if they are all handed the same set of generic cue cards to read.

    1. Dawn Zimmerman

      I’m wondering if you are familiar with the problems with authoritarian leadership widely reported at places like Mark Driscoll’s Seattle church or James Mac’s church or a number of others…. This happened also in the Sovereign Grace Church denomination and was very tragic.

      The former counseling pastor Bryan Pickering at Bethlehem Baptist and professor at The associated Seminary was not particularly vague, given his having to operate under strict confidentiality.?

      Pastor Pickering wrote this which was read out to the Congregation:

      I have seen several congregants (current and former), elders (current and former), and a former administrative assistant profoundly mistreated by elders in various ways. I have also seen leadership act in ways I would describe as domineering. I have also seen patterns of deception among our elders that are deeply concerning. I have tried on several occasions since early 2020 to speak up to others about these patterns of behavior. Increasingly in 2021, especially and intensely since March, I, too, have experienced what I would call bullying behavior. It is now clear to me that it is best for everyone for me to resign.

      Having worked at a MegaChurch for just shy of 20 years, I know how devoted and loyal pastoral staff are by nature. To write this for a public reading must have taken every ounce of God infused courage he had.

      This is another sad day in the Evangelical World. Let us pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ 🙏

      1. Cynthia L Wright

        Dawn Zimmerman, if Pastor Pickering gave specific examples, I didn’t see them. When I read, “I have seen [people] profoundly mistreated by elders in various ways,” I am waiting for the rest of the sentence to read, “such as [specific examples].” “I have seen … domineering. I have seen … deception …,” “for example, these specific situations.”

        No, the gentleman is not required to give that information. I just wonder what is behind the generic language that is typical in these far-too-common situations.

        1. Cynthia, I’ve got a hunch that Pickering can speak more openly to others than to you and I for professional reasons. I hope I’m right, and that he does.

          1. Cynthia Wright

            Robert Perry, I’m sure Pastor Pickering has legitimate reasons for his lack of detail. However, his statement quoted in the article wasn’t addressed to you or me, but to his own congregation, the people to whom, I believe, he owes real information. If he’s not going to be open with them on his way out the door, when to whom, and when?

  9. Hi,
    This headline would normally be read to imply that Meyers was the one accused of abusive leadership. Reading the report it does not seem that that is the case. Can you fix the headline to not allow those who simply read the headline to walk away with the impression that he was accused of abusive leadership?

    1. I adjusted the headline. But this is one of those situations where the simply telling the facts leaves many questions, especially given that Meyer has not yet said why he’s resigning. I hope in the coming days there is more clarity.

      1. Philip Leeman

        After reading the article, I was left with the impression that Jason was part of the abuse and assumed he lead it as the senior pastor of the church (like MD and JM). But then I reread it and couldn’t find anything specific. So I’m confused by your response about facts leading to questions and putting the burden on him to tell us why he resigned. Why not wait until you know all the facts before you publish? If you or someone you love were in his position and were innocent, I wonder how you would you feel about an article like this being published insinuating your culpability. It makes me sad that you’re not trying to be more careful because I think it undermines your credibility, which ultimately hurts victims because they people that would most need to hear you stop listening or won’t ever be willing to start listening.

        1. Philip, I appreciate your desire for all the facts to be presented at once. And it is always my desire to tell as complete a story as possible. But, I’ve had many people say the opposite of what you said–that after reading the story, they believed Jason was more likely protesting the abuse than contributing to it.

          That said, your comment shows a basic misunderstanding of news. A journalist’s responsibility is to seek all sides when reporting a breaking story–not to wait an indefinite period of time for all sources to speak. Can you imagine reporters failing to report the resignation of a politician, for example, because the politician hasn’t explained why he resigned? That’s not what journalists do. Instead, they report what they can about the breaking news and then keep updating as information comes in. That’s what I intend to do in this case.

      2. My 2 cents.
        A pastor should always speak the truth. But sometimes that truth needs to be spoken in generalities to protect innocent parties or even to protect themselves. I for one prefer the explicit truth. But sometimes as a shepherd, I have had to express that truth in generalities to protect the little lambs. That is what a good shepherd does. He protects. When this happens we sometimes don’t get the clarity that we would wish for. Better the truth in general than no truth at all.
        I do have some opinions about CRT but I won’t express them here. There are too many wolves on both sides of the issue that want to tear each other apart on this matter in this forum. It would not be a safe environment for me to speak my opinion or the truth on these matters here. Some times it is better to leave a hornets nest alone.

  10. The watching world looks at this and says, “Typical arrogant, selfish people. These guys can’t even work together on an issue as non-central to their mission as this.” Think about it. What happens when REAL PERSECUTION comes, and it will. What will the church do then. I love Bethlehem. I love Bryan Pickering and Jason Meyer and Ming Jin Tong and John Piper and Joe Rigney. I know these guys, some personally, some better than others. This article is painting people as abusive, and I do not believe there is really abuse here, although I do believe there are imperfect men trying to navigate the impossible waters of Racial Harmony and Social Justice questions. Men who sre struggling do do what they honestly believe is the best.

    1. Bob I think you have misunderstood. This article does not paint the leaders of Bethlehem Baptist as abusive. Bryan Pickering himself does. Are you suggesting Bryan (whom you say you know and love) is lying to his congregation and willing to quit his job for a lie?

      Most people when faced with wrongdoing at their workplace or in their church leave quietly. The fact that Bryan Pickering has spoken up and left his paying job due to his concerns suggests there is likely something serious going on.

      If you know these men why not talk to them, especially Bryan. What you learn may be difficult, but the truth is important to know. Someone even said it sets us free.

      1. Reese Anthony

        I have seen questionable comments from Kyle Howard online that don’t make me see him as a valid authority.

    2. Bob Meredith,

      you said,

      “This article is painting people as abusive, and I do not believe there is really abuse here, although I do believe there are imperfect men trying to navigate the impossible waters of Racial Harmony and Social Justice questions. Men who sre struggling do do what they honestly believe is the best.”

      the issue is that what these men honestly believe is best has consequences that destroy other lives by degrees.

      i’m sure they’re nice people. although no one can know another person’s motives, perhaps they are honorable.

      but this irrelevant.

      abusive is as abusive does. regardless of motives. regardless of how nice a person might be. regardless of the good honorable things a person might do.

  11. Where there is smoke, there is fire. This situation looks like Mars Hill all over again, with the same “theology.” The end for this church built as a monument to a snake will end just the same. Jesus said that we will know them by their fruit. Where the fruit is bad, the leaders are not letting Jesus Christ be the head. This is just another type of neo-Phariseeism and those following it are on a path away from the one that actually leads to life. That path produces life not victims. It is so ridiculously simple that men like these will never comprehend it.

    1. That true path requires humility and laying down one’s life. To be a leader in that path is to be an underservant, a true shepherd, a lowly nothing, a person not only willing to give up fame and glamour and wealth and comfort but to literally die for those who love Jesus.

      I do not believe there is any way these leaders so-called would ever chose that path. They want glory and honor and book deals. They want thousands to point and whisper when they walk by, they want favored seats at the conferences where the speaker recognizes them and praises their greatness while they wave their hands and feign humility–then get high off the buzz of applause from that crowd in the lesser seats. They want people to tell them “Oh pastor, that sermon was so inspiring!” They don’t want a simple path to Jesus.

        1. Robin Wiggins

          Of course, you know them. I saw Beth Bap from the early days, Bob. Were you there in the 90s? I know their roots and I can see their fruits. You don’t know of what you speak.

          1. Ok Robin. You left. You don’t know them. You seem to have a somewhat jaundiced eye about everyone there.

  12. Brian Granger

    This is what CRT is doing to organizations across America including the church. Its toxic blend of hate and animosity create straw men and boogeymen that don’t exist. They’re basically saying BBC is racist because they have more whites than POCs and so now they need to beg for forgiveness, bow down to the antiracists, and hire a certain number of POCs to atone for their racism. If people don’t stand up and oppose this “consultant” (which is a guy that loves finding racism behind every corner) and the division he and this small team of people have now created, this church will be torn apart. CRT is demonic and hateful.

      1. I have read it. The purpose of the task force report was to address problems with the recruitment and election or appointment of leadership in the church. There was a disparity in the number of minorities being presented as elders and deacons compared to the percentage of minorites in the church. It was usually “another middle aged white guy,” whereas the breakdown in percentages was 21% minorities in the downtown campus, as compared to 79% majority culture people (forgive me if I use verbiage that may offend you). The Elders presented the findings to the church, but it took way too long to address the issue, as it would in any 3 campus, 4500 person church. During that time, many minorities, as well as people who were not on board with the push for social justice, left the church. Some quietly, some loudly. Pastor Pickering was more on the loud spectrum. But he was closely involved, and I do not fault him for going public. Folks, this is a complicated mess. Jason Meyer and Bryan Pickering are a good men, godly men, with good intentions, and godward hearts, and extensive biblical training. I do not know what went wrong. I sat next to Jason for 2 hours one night in a group of 15 or so people, and discussed the issues related to this whole circumstance. I don’t have the answers. But I know this. Jesus Christ is on the throne. We will worship in the presence of Christ one day with “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5). And the efforts that Jason and Bryan put forth were not foolish, nor were they driven by ungodly motives.

  13. There is simply nothing surprising here. This is the logical conclusion of celebrity driven mega churches. The “Calvinistic baptist” movement that deifies John Piper is rife with scandal after scandal. Piper is not even reformed, he is a “higher life” fundamentalist with a sincerely flawed theology of sanctification, the same old “try harder and do better.” His disciples are powerless to restrain the flesh, and long for celebrity. They get it, but at staggering cost, that of abuse of power. If Piper and his lackeys would actually listen to his friend Tim Keller, who actually understands and lives the gospel of grace, their movement would not be such a toxic dumpster fire.

    1. Then Ryan these evangelicals can’t make all the money they make. Fiefdoms these are fiefdoms not churches. Think king and knights and serfs. Not pastor or staff or congregation.

  14. ‘You’re all in trouble because elders can’t hold each other accountable.’

    Sounds like elder-rule church government. I looked through the Bethlehem DNA brochure, but couldn’t find a definite answer.

    Anyway, there are problems with elder-rule church government.

  15. While evangelicals were obsessing over homosexuality, women pastors, and Trump, the much bigger sin of power and lust for power and money has destroyed the American church. Jesus continually spoke about power and pushing people away from God and here we are- Piper, Driscoll, Grudem, RZM, Hybels, McDonald and on it goes.

    1. Because Trisha these are fiefdoms not churches. King and knights and serfs vs pastor and staff and congregation

    2. Corey Reynolds

      “the much bigger sin of power and lust for power and money has destroyed the American church”

      That pretty much sums up the entire race-baiting ‘woke’ movement to a (CR)tee.

  16. I think what is most tragic here is for a Church to have a seminar on race, racism, and racial issues. It is a very bad testimony to the body of Christ that People who claim to know and love Jesus and have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, but cannot love other people whom were also created in the same image and likeness of God.

    I’ve never understood that foolishness, that people hate people purely based on the pigmentation of their skin and ethnicity. I’m really disappointed that of all Churches Bethlehem would need a full day seminar to teach people to treat other people with dignity and respect. What a shame!

    1. So just because there was a seminar, then that automatically means there was the sin of racial prejudice present in an overabundance to the exclusion of all.other sinful behavior? What about sermon series then? If a pastor preaches about David’s sin with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of Uriah, is he only doing that because there are adulterers and murderers in his congregation? And does racial prejudice now outweigh all other sinful behavior?

      Is it possible the seminar condemned people of sinful behavior they were unaware of? Is it possible to manufacture sin that the Bible is silent about? Wasn’t Jesus constantly accused of sinful behavior where no sin existed? Weren’t His disciples constantly accused? Doesn’t satan accuse the brethren of sin before the Father day and night?

  17. I hinted at this in a response to Cynthia, but my hope and prayer here is that those who have noticed the issues would flesh it out with specifics, so those involved can repent. I gather here that there may have been gossip campaigns against some people involved, and that meetings may have degenerated into shouting matches.

    Hopefully this can be adequately differentiated from “leaders who get justifiably angry because they’re being sinned against in other ways.” I’ve noticed at times that in our evangelical culture, we have such a premium on an external image of “peace”, per Jeremiah 6:14, that we often fail to respond to the provocation because we’re so worked up about the response.

    I’ve got no clue here what portion is real bullying/etc., and what portion is simply responses to other bad acts. But again, it’s my hope and prayer that Bethlehem find a way to discern this, repent appropriately, and move forward.


    So many questions, I will give just a general response.

    Of course evil is not restricted to any one race or group.

    You are right to identify all the dreadful genocides in recent history as pictures of how hatred swallows up whole bodies of people.

    The simple question for us here is this.

    Does the dreadful oppression of minorities in American history have any connection to the racial stress in today’s American society?

    I would suggest yes.

    I would say the reason for that answer is that White Conservative Christian America has almost always changed its positions on Race when it was forced to by the Secular Authorities.

    Sadly, White Conservative Christian America struggles to recreate reality because the truth is too difficult to deal with.

    I try to wrestle with this in one of my recent books
    The Church Before the Mocking World -Free Ebook

    1. So, what of my question concerning whether non-whites are capable of racial bias in this country? Is that even possible? Are there sins that only some people are capable of committing?

      What must a white baby born today in America be taught about the non-white baby in the crib next to him? What if both sets of parents just came to America? What if the white baby’s parents are recent Christian immigrants who fled from persecution in Moldova and the non-white parents are Christians who fled from persecution in a particular African nation? Are they automatically at odds? Given the opportunity, is the family from Moldova more likely than not to oppress the family from the African nation? Are both families more likely than not to persecute Jewish people? Or, since both families are Christian and filled with the Holy Spirit, is it possible that they are more likely to enjoy mutual fellowship and unlikely to engage in any of the behavior listed above? Or, does CRT now negate the work of the Holy Spirit in individual hearts and minds? Is the Gospel of Christ through His finished work on the cross sufficient for salvation and sanctification, or is it now the Gospel of Christ plus CRT? Would the people of mainland China need to deal with an addition to the Gospel based on the ongoing persecution of the Uyghurs?

      Understand, I’m not trying to defend white conservative Christian America. I’m not concerned with whether white kids are uncomfortable or white people are uncomfortable. I know we are all sons and daughters of Adam and we all have a common ancestry that goes back to the first man and woman. I also know it didn’t take long after Cain killed his brother for humanity to embark on a murder spree that continues. We’ve even legalized murder as long as we can euphemize what it is that’s being destroyed. Call it a fetus or a blob of tissue and it’s fair game.

      So much more to say but I’ll end with this. I see this current movement as a Trojan horse whose purpose is not unity, but division. I predict new “struggle sessions ” are on the horizon where people must publicly confess their crimes.

      ““Show me the man, and I’ll show you the crime.””

      – Lavrentiy Beria, head of Joseph Stalin’s secret police

      1. Marin Heiskell

        All people of all races have bias. Biologically, biases are the mental shortcuts that help us navigate life given the millions of bits of information we are taking in every second. Biases are also shaped by our experiences and environment – even if unintentional. I’ll use myself as an example:
        When I was about 5, I asked my mom why God gave me “ugly” dark skin and “nasty” kinky hair. I wanted so badly to be white or to at least have lighter skin and straighter like my mom – not because anyone necessarily “did” anything to me. But I was inundated with images of white being better, prettier, richer, nicer…and that the “more attractive” Black people were no darker than a Beyonce or Halle Berry and had “good” straight hair. There is a reason that the “doll test” is still compelling to this day – with recent outcomes indicating that by the age of 2, toddlers begin to identify white faces as “nicer” than dark. That is no specific person’s fault. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be aware of it and do all we can to address it. (In my case, my parents put in A LOT of work to build my esteem as beautifully created by God – dark skin, kinky hair and all).
        When biases go unchecked they can grow to negatively influence our decisions (like passing and supporting policies, procedures or behaviors that degrade or objectify others) and negatively impact those on the receiving end. And collective biases impact entire cultures, and so on and so on. It should be ALL of our responsibility to explore, uncover, and mitigate bias when we see it – even if we see it in ourselves.
        Again, we all have biases. We should only fear them if they go unchecked. THAT is where division comes in. Not in learning about bias, but refusing to check bias.

        1. @ Ms. Heiskell

          At the outset, please know that I do appreciate your comments, and I appreciate that you engage with mine.

          I’m sorry for your childhood angst over your appearance. It seems that most childhoods are messy and leave us scared for life in some way. I’m white but can identify. God graced me with a face fit for radio and a voice fit for writing comments on internet blogs. As a homely and skinny kid in school, I was bullied, a lot. I’m fairly certain I’d rather die in a fiery car crash than have to repeat high school. Things haven’t really improved in that area with the passage of time. I still have the same face and voice, although not quite as skinny. Through my own life experiences, sometimes in less grace-filled moments, I think to myself how often life makes the sound a baby does when chewing on its thumb.(I don’t want to get into trouble with inappropriate word choices.)

          I also understand that we all have biases in multiple areas. I’m personally biased against jellied eel and blood sausage, but for others food fit for a king. I also know that partiality, as I believe the Bible would characterize what we are talking about, is sinful and with God there is no partiality. So you are correct. I will always need to check my partiality as I believe God commands us all to do.

      2. Peter it is difficult to engage with you to be honest. I have been asking the same question throughout which relates directly to this article. Is there a case for White oppression of minorities in history being something that needs to be addressed today.

        Engaging with you is a little bit like asking what the time is and you reply by telling me it is raining but maybe sunny later on today.

        Of course all people and all races are capable and do in fact engage in prejudicial words and deeds.

        The question is that we need to ask if history needs to be addressed in its relationship to our contemporary epoch.

        When I first visited America I met a Sunday School teacher in an IFCA Bible Church in Maryland who laughingly greeted me with “You British you gave Rhodesia back to the damn “Nixxxxs”.

        It was also in Maryland that on the Eastern Shore that in the 1960’s there were signs on beaches that said, “No Jews, Dogs or Nixxxxs”

        So to respond to what do you teach a young Black and White child growing up in today’s world,

        When our Nation was founded on Biblical principles Black people were never considered as people but property of white people who bought and sold like animals in the market place

        —But surely that was back in the 1800’s

        Yes but it was against the Law in Virginia for Black and White people to marry until 1967 when the US Supreme Court forced the state of Virginia to change its law.

        — Wol it must have been Christian lawyers that forced the change in the law because we believe the Gospel is what changes society

        Actually it was the ACLU that forced the change

        —-But our founding Fathers would have been against this…..

        Thomas Jefferson had a black Concubine……

        ——- But our country stands for liberty, freedom and equality that is why our soldiers have laid down their lives

        A Black soldier in the second world war was not allowed to use the same bathroom or drink from the same taps as white soldiers in the South.

        1. You said,

          “Engaging with you is a little bit like asking what the time is and you reply by telling me it is raining but maybe sunny later on today.”

          Translation: Peter, are you really that dense? I’ve provided more than enough postulates to support my premise. Even Forest Gump could get it. Or are you deliberately obfuscating the issue, which is way worse by the way?

          Is that about right?

          My response: I did deliberately widen the scope of the argument to include the entire fallen world. I’ll throw in the multiple crimes of Germany for good measure. After two world wars and the holocaust, is something in the water over there? Don’t they have anything better to do? Is it the demon seed of “whiteness”?

          But we aren’t talking about Germany or any other country are we? We’re talking about America whose founding fathers and founding documents are clearly failures because the founding fathers were sinners who sinned and their sin nature obviously crept into the founding documents. Therefore the documents are also sinful. And they were also white. And even though the preamble starts with, “We the people…”, in 2021 that still should be understood as only referring to white people. So as Lenin titled his book, what is to be done?

          Y7ou really need to get white Christians on board because they have a tendency to be Christian nationalists. If you can show them how horrible they have the capacity to be before the nationalists can get to them, chances are they will shred the constitution with their own hands. You made statements about the founding of this country and how it was built through theft and the blood, sweat and tears of others who had no say in the matter and continues thru today.(I’m paraphrasing, but hopefully that’s the gist. Yes?) I don’t deny the millions of sinful acts that were committed in this country any more than I would deny the millions of sinful acts committed during the formation of any other country of the world including Great Britain.

          So another question. Why is partiality now the greatest sin and apparently only applicable to white people, and by extension, white Christians? Sin is sin, and without repentance we’re all destined for hell.

          So why am I arguing so much against this? The lost world will come up with its systems of belief about everything such as:
          We evolved from nothing! There is no god! Life begins when we say it does! Reality is what an individual decides it is. There’s no such thing as sin, and to believe there is is the result of a psychotic break with reality.
          There’s no such thing as a devil
          This country was founded upon particularly evil principles and should be swept into the dustbin of history. What is acutely absent above is the Gospel. This current movement has been mixed with the gospel and as such is no gospel at all. Yes. Whites have sinned greatly against non-whites and vice versa. It’s been that way since the fall. Why? Because humanity is a psychotic mess as often as not.

          Maybe it’s just a white psychotic mess as per the following:

          Aruna Khilanani’s April 6 live stream “Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind” was billed as a way to contextualize the “Karen” and “right to not wear masks” videos circulating on the Internet.

          Khilanani told her audience about her own rage and that she “had fantasies of unloading a revolver into the head of any White person that got in my way, burying their body and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless with a bounce in my step.”

          But this version of CRT, CRT lite, is presented to the church as a framework for white people to finally engage in racial reconciliation and face the facts of who they are as a people who have meted out misery to multiple people groups. Who doesn’t want to be part of racial reconciliation? But there’s the militant side who fantasize about unloading a revolver into “any” white person. I know someone who is permanently disabled after just such a racially motivated attack that wasn’t a fantasy. They’re not bitter even though their life trajectory has been altered. Was the attack justified because whiteness? There are many who would say, “Welcome to my world” or “Now you know what it feels like” or make some other less than empathetic remark. That’s what I expect from the lost. Isn’t the church called to better than that? Aren’t we warned to “no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes”.

          All of your points about unjust laws, unjust abuse etc. are all well taken. Man’s inhumanity to man knows no bounds. I don’t deny that great sin occurred and was on-going for a considerable time even up to recent times. I also know that Great Britain regularly sent slave ships out from her ports for many years. And who began the abolitionist movement in both countries?

          I also argue against playing what amounts to religious “whack a mole” with sin. While the current effort afoot is ostensibly about stamping out the last vestiges of bias/racism/partiality, call it what you will, I see it a means to divide and conquer what’s left of the Christian church in America. Because of one sin, Christians will be silenced from speaking about all sin. But, knowing what we know about sin and our fallen state, is it remotely possible? Is CRT going to do the work of the Holy Spirit? Or does CRT actually deny the work of the Holy Spirit? Isn’t it another form.of idolatry in disguise? I ask, not as a spokesperson for whiteness or any other degree of skin pigment or as a defender of America. I ask as someone genuinely concerned about the future of the church, not about this country or white people. Countries rise and fall because God wills them to.

          1. @ Dr. EMMITT CORNELIUS,

            Sir, if you are the same person who wrote “Breaking the Silence “, thank you. If not, thank you anyway for engaging. While we will likely have to agree to disagree, I’m honored that you at least read what I had to say and responded.

  19. Emmitt Cornelius

    Peter Hays: I am the author. Thanks for your kind reference to my work and for thoughtfully engaging in this conversation.

  20. Getting back to one of Piper’s views; marital permanence. Divorce is permitted for adultery. Adultery is abuse: it betrays the marriage. So does the abuse that destroys the relationship. We’re not talking here about inconvenient outbursts of anger of disappointment, we are talking about abuse that is destruction of the other person.

  21. I have to wonder…

    Does the opposition to CRT and its demonization as a non-gospel solution (and therefore sinful) belie the fact that the world is addressing a problem the white Evangelical church has ignored, contributed to and might now be now defending. What happens when the church has become oblivious to a major social ill and an ideological Samaritan comes along and pours in the oil and wine? Maybe the same thing that happened when Jesus told the original parable. We are convicted for being the Pharisees we are and we now face the choice to repent of our indifference and loss of authentic religion or….justify and debate as if we haven’t just walked on by. Or maybe the highway robbers are kin to us…

    Bethlehem formed a council to look at their own internal racial environment. Then they shelved it’s report. Was it window dressing that was never intended to see the light of day, just something to appease certain people? Or was it simply that once they found out the cost of true racial justice, that cross was just too heavy to bear? In fairness, perhaps there were parts that went too far and just seemed out of balance. Fine, bring everybody to the table and talk about it. Just shelving it all seems to reveal there was never a true commitment to begin with.

    It appears to me that too many Christians seem to be embarrassed that the world got to this problem before we did. Instead of saying “why didn’t we see this?” We instead say, “that’s not a biblical solution.” I hate to say it but it wouldn’t be the first time the church was late to the party. But there again the brother of the prodigal son just flat refused to attend the party at all.

    As well I wonder about institutions like Bethlehem and thier proud and fervent dedication to biblical inerrancy. Why is it that it is the scriptures that seem to be treated with the utmost protection are those that set men above women and leaders above laity, and yet when was the last time they puffed up their chest and lamented the departure from this passage in the modern church:

    “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant”

    In all of these reports by Julie Roys as well as what I read from David French and Kate Shellnut at CT, I see a single problem running through that is a far greater threat to the witness of the church than issues of gender roles and the “infiltration” of CRT. It is the poisonous power structures protecting the status quo with bully tactics. We are seeing Sanhedrins forming before our very eyes. And with all the talk of “outside the gospel” solutions to racial ills being such a dangerous compromise, out of the other side of our mouth did we claim a porn-star paying foul mouthed real estate mogul from NYC as the salvation of our country? Gospel centric solutions weren’t such a big deal when it meant laying hold of more power for our tribe. As such the gospel becomes no more than a virtue signaling shield or sword depending on if we are winning or losing a battle. Power is the ultimate prize.

  22. Dale R. Swanson

    Hi. Dale Swanson here. I am a white guy, Scandinavian on both sides. I have had inter-racial friends many times in close relationships, over the years. I set up and participated in open gym, hoopin’. It was a phenomenal experience. 3 of us white guys played and communicated about God and Christ. We did this 2 nites a week 4 hours each nite, for 3 1/2 years. We had 5 racial groups and multiple cultural members in this time. Us three white guys found scholarships, celebrated special events, helped with moving, provided transportation. We provided their girlfriends/kids with boxes of food and needs every nite after the hoopin. This was all done with church leadership permission. There were 40-60 inter-racial men who showed up each nite. We talked all the subjects impacting race diversity, politics, friendship, family dynamics, one bought clothes for whoever was needy, I and wife had mani in our home. The players protected us when violence and threats increased

    We talked about Jesus, purity, salvation and what it means to be made in His Image. These conversations were intense, long into the nite and absolutely profound. We did not see color or race, we connected as fellow humans on a journey. It was a profound almost four years. It was philosophical and biblical and it was deep, open and transparent about what it means to live in a Broken World ( Edith Schaefer)

  23. The entire BOE should resign and the church should start over, The issue at Bethlehem Baptist is a systemic problem of neo-fundamentalism taking over, I actually do not consider BBC’s theology wrong per se. But its clearly language that has been put in the theological oven and baked far too long. Pipers words do not fully reflect the language of the Gospels and the first century church (and Jesus) as much as they represent a 17th century theologian (Edwards), Complementarianism, Gods sovereignty.. great concepts but are used in language that goes far past the way Jesus and the first century church did. As a result of the overbaked language in these areas, I believe BBC was attractive to people with abusive personalities and has grown in dysfunctional ways

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