Prominent Elder Resigns from John MacArthur’s Church

By Julie Roys
Hohn Cho Grace Community Church
Hohn Cho, a prominent elder at John MacArthur's Grace Community Church, has resigned citing "conscience and convictions" that aren't aligned with other elders.

A prominent elder at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church (GCC) has resigned, stating in email leaked to The Roys Report that his “conscience and convictions” were not aligned with other GCC elders.

“My dear friends, after much discussion and prayer, on Friday I resigned as an elder of Grace Community Church,” wrote Hohn Cho, an elder at GCC since 2014. “It has become clear to me that my own conscience and convictions are not aligned with those of many of my brother elders, and based on what I myself have taught and advised in the past, I believe that it is appropriate to depart in such cases.”

Cho does not explain the source of his disagreement with his fellow elders. The Roys Report reached out to Cho for comment, but he did not respond.

However, his resignation comes about a month after The Roys Report published an exposé revealing that John MacArthur and GCC shamed and excommunicated a wife for refusing to take back her child-abusing husband. A follow-up article revealed that MacArthur and GCC continued to shun the wife, Eileen Gray, and support her husband, David Gray, even after David was convicted of sexually molesting and physically abusing children.

Neither MacArthur nor Grace Community Church has responded to the controversy. They also did not immediately respond to requests for comment about Cho’s resignation.

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Cho, a California attorney, has written articles in the past decrying sexual abuse for Pyromaniacs, a blog by Phil Johnson, a GCC elder and executive director of MacArthur’s broadcast ministry, Grace to You.

In a February 2019 article entitled, “Missing the Point on Sexual Abuse,” Cho writes that sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) “has been exacerbated by the relative lack of oversight . . . and accountability” within the SBC.

Cho’s article commends Al Mohler, president of The Southern Theological Seminary, for apologizing for his support of former Sovereign Grace Ministries President C.J. Mahaney, who was accused of covering up sex abuse. Cho also criticizes controversial Pastor Doug Wilson for calling Mohler’s apology “gratuitous and unnecessary.” Cho noted that Wilson, who is accused of mishandling sex abuse himself, has never “issued a material apology or owned up to a significant mistake in thinking.”

The article concludes that both Wilson and Mahaney have “badly missed the point, whether it’s their responses to sexual abuse cases, their attitudes and actions toward survivors, or their doubling down on a continuing strategy of stonewalling and diversion after being called out on it.”

In a follow-up article, Cho writes that complementarian churches (those that stress male leadership) should be “the safest places for women.” 

“The ones under authority are to submit to the one in authority—but the one in authority should be trembling under the weight and responsibility that the Word of God places upon those in authority,” he states.

Cho adds, “What an opportunity we have to demonstrate a church culture that cherishes, values, and protects women, because the Bible commands us to cherish, value, and protect women. That is my prayer for the church universal, and that is how I would strive to serve any church where I might have the immense and weighty privilege to help as a servant leader . . .”

In addition to serving as an elder, Cho sometimes preached at GCC. He also pastored a fellowship group at GCC, called Cornerstone.

Cho clarifies in his letter that he is not resigning for “any reason of sin or disqualification in my life, as affirmed by numerous fellow elders, my family, and my own heart and conscience.”

Cho adds that he was saved through a ministry of GCC, baptized at GCC, met his wife at GCC, and all but one of his kids were dedicated at GCC.  

“GCC is the only church home I have ever known,” he writes. “I love the people there.”

Cho says he is transferring his membership to another local church and is “looking forward to immersing ourselves within our new church home.”

Hohn Cho’s email about his resignation from GCC:

Hohn Cho Resignation
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41 thoughts on “Prominent Elder Resigns from John MacArthur’s Church”

  1. if one simply disagree out of conviction and conscience and steps down from leadership, why does one need to leave the church body (the only one he has ever known) altogether ? This shows you the toxic culture at GCC. If you are not with John, then you are against the whole church body. They turn on you like savage wolves…what a sad state. Likewise, that same culture is pervasive of other worshippers of John in other churches. If you don’t agree with John, your christianity is called to question and in time you also get isolated and booted out of your own church. This cultic poison has to be stopped. the truth must be told. thank you Julie. Thank you Hohn.

    1. James, I don’t know how toxic Mr. Hohn Cho would have found the atmosphere at MacArthur’s church, but I have a feeling that he wouldn’t have been in the friendliest of atmospheres. I assume The Cult of Personality at MacArthur’s Church would be stifling, as it is indeed in many other independent fundamentalist baptist churches.

      The cultic adoration I think is fostered all too often by boards of elders that grow senile together with thelr main pastors. Mr. Cho did the right thing for himself even if you had no serious disagreements with his fellow elders. Like compost piles, boards of Elders should be turned over once in a while.

      Many of you should find the following article by Daniel Wallace intriguing:
      ….
      “The case for plurality of elders can be argued along four lines: biblical, historical, theological, and pragmatic. At bottom, I would say that the reason the scriptures teach multiple eldership is at least twofold: (1) mutual accountability is necessary if leaders are to avoid falling into sin; and (2) a church takes on the personality of its leader/s: if there is just one leader, the church will inevitably take on that man’s personality, including his quirks and faults. But if more than one person leads the church, there is the greater chance that the church will be balanced….”—Daniel Wallace

      https://bible.org/article/who-should-run-church-case-plurality-elders

  2. ““The ones under authority are to submit to the one in authority—but the one in authority should be trembling under the weight and responsibility that the Word of God places upon those in authority,” he states.”

    The false assumption that the headship of the husband includes “authority” is a HUGE ASSUMPTION. The Bible does not use exousia/ authority anywhere regarding a husband. The clergy have some terms they STRETCH and even add into lexicons to claim this term for husbands. The book Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch falsely STRETCHES the Bible go give exousia/authority to elders. “Let the elders who rule well…’ 1 Tim. 5:17 stretches prohistemi into “ruling”. Jesus used the Greek word for “rule” in Matthew 20:25-26 and rejected ruling, lording, and exercising authority.” But translators put ruling back into 1 Timothy. This shows their arrogance to twist the Bible AND reject Jesus.
    You know that the RULERS of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,”. Matthew 20:25,26

    All the people of God are deprecated to eldership or pastoral “authority”. EVERY text they use to justify it is twisted. Jesus is SOOOO clear, “not so among you”, but they claim it anyway. There needs to be dialogue about this to work out defense mechanisms and Bible twisting that is claimed to be straight.

    1. Denise C Baptista

      Tim, thank you for this post. I have been wondering about this issue of “authority” for awhile, but i don’t know Greek. If you could suggest a book or two that explains/hashes out this topic, I’d appreciate having the titles. Thank you. Denise

      1. There are FREE tools for saints with no Greek skills to observe translation error. Blue Letter Bible is a free Apple or Google app and a website. With a few clicks you can see:
        1. The Greek words and English words next to it
        2. Definitions of the words, tense, plural, male or female, and the number of times translated different ways.
        3. Other verses with the SAME Greek word so you can see how it is translated there.
        4. Compare many translations including Youngs Literal which fixes many errors, but not all.
        Just these features along would require thick books and Greek knowledge to use at all.

        I have written a free PDF book that exposes the “right to be paid” corruption. It is tricky to untwist because it involves 14+ passages. But I include a little “authority” untwisting also. I can email it to you if you Message me your email on Facebook. If you don’t use that, have a friend message me with your email. This free book is also sharable. I will NEVER charge for what I have received “without paying.” ESV – You received without paying; give without pay.” Matthew 10:8b. ALL of this is SHOCKING. I used to think clergyism was true, but it’s ALL false, titles, paychecks, authority, preach = lecture, reserved ministries, two casts of believers- clergy-laity, the WHOLE PACKAGE DEAL is Roman Catholic. Protestants twist the Bible JUST LIKE THE CATHOLICS do. Clergyism was not fixed at the Reformation. We can fix it NOW.

          1. I gave instructions above how to get the book. If you aren’ t on Facebook, have a friend send me your email who is on Facebook.

    2. Excellent summary of the matter. Thanks. We have so entrenched worldly concepts such a ‘leadership’, ‘ruling’ and ‘authority’ into places that they don’t belong! The church!
      I was glad to see Cho use the word ‘responsibility’. At least he got that right. But he blew it with the oxymoronic term ‘servant-leader’. That’s about as useful as a hand-powered electric drill.

      1. Cynthia Wright

        At least he got that right. But he blew it with the oxymoronic term ‘servant-leader’.

        I agree. According to the Gospels, Jesus never said “servant leader”: He said “servant.”

    3. Agree… Seems the Spirit has you on a very similar journey as what I’m finding in my metanoia journey of discovering where we have been deceived, then reconstructing God’s principles based on the Greek…

    4. No group of people will hold together long without leadership. Should an immature Christian have the same influence as one proven to be spiritually mature? There is no good recipe for bad ingredients, and unspiritual people will not suddenly become spiritual with structural change. The church needs gifted, humble leaders who don’t succumb to the self-serving attitudes Jesus warned against. Such men should be esteemed, not challenged. Those who don’t measure up should be held accountable. But abolishing leadership makes as much sense as defunding the police.

      1. NO ONE is saying no leaders. Can you conceive of leaders without titles, authority, reserved ministries, strict lecture truth expression? It’s been in your Bible for 2000 years and VERY clearly. I quoted some above from Jesus. Do you think “all authority” in Jesus is somehow inadequate or insufficient for His people? Matthew 28:19-20. 1 Peter 5:1-4 is a snapshot of leadership and there is ZERO clergyism in it. Every point is disobeyed by hired shepherds.

        In the clergy version of leadership, 94% are spiritually immature, 1% clergy, title wearing bosses are disobedient to the core of their soul, which leaves about 5% who grow to spiritual maturity AND practice what they know DESPITE the corrupt pulpit and pew dynamic. Just because men with advanced Bible degrees know A LOT of the Bible, does not mean they practice it. If you think they do practice it, you have been duped. I can help you learn how much they REJECT instead of practice. They have smooth sounding excuses.

        Example: Luke 6:40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but EVERYONE when he is FULLY TRAINED will be LIKE his teacher.” This is VERY simple and VERY clear, but NOT ONE clergy will even suggest he should “fully train” ANYONE to “be like him”, much less “everyone”. The solutions for this are a COMPLETE paradigm shift from pulpit and pew rituals. Men with zero education in the mountains of Irian Jaya can practice this. “Torches of Joy” An AMAZING story of obedience.

        1. The irony is that by appealing to the bible you are appealing to church authority. The bible, as I’m sure you know, didn’t fall from heaven. Writings were recognized as authoritative, in part, because of the apostolic authority of the writers. And those who ultimately decided which books to include were themselves men in church authority. Without these men we would have no bible to refer to.

          1. The Bible was written by those designated by God, and in the NT the apostles had “authority” – exousia. But no man after them has any. Every attempt to give men today authority is twisted hermeneutically or in translation. Example: “Let the elders who RULE well…” . 1 Tim. 5:17. Jesus used the Greek word for RULE and forbade it’s use along with “exercising authority…not so among you. Matt. 20:25-28. But that doesn’t stop clergy from claiming authority. Men make lousy authorities.

            The Bible is “inspired” as “the word of God.” No hired preacher, no matter the number of degrees is “inspired” by God. Since all hired Bible experts are divided into 1000 different brand names and can’t fellowship together with the saints, you can see they are wrong on many things. Heresy means division. They are also divided between clergy and laity with the rest of God’s people. Did you think there is authority in heresy? The Bible is true and authoritative, thus I make use of it. Even you don’t like what it says when it EXPOSES your false claims. You ignored the scripture I gave and thought it was “ironic”. Let’s discuss this more. Can you respond to the scripture?

    5. Butch Zannini

      So I have a question for everyone here…was Jesus just a servant? Did he not demonstrate His leadership “proistemi” among the disciples and those He interacted with? His perfect leadership? Is He not also a ruler “archon” as he sits a the right hand of God?

      As believers we are still sinful, even at our very best, and don’t get this right every time. But Christ’s example and what He calls us to is a beautiful thing. What wife would not want a husband who puts her needs and desires above his own? What church wouldn’t want pastors and elders who do the same? And if that is lived out why wouldn’t we submit to those people?

      Also Tim, your assumption is ruler means something negative in every context. People who are called to be set over, to preside over, to be protector guardian, to care for, give attention to are all meanings of that word “proistemi” which is a verb and is used in Timothy and also in Romans, 1Th, Titus. Your example in Matthew 20:25 is the word “archon” a masculine noun which means a ruler, commander, chief, leader. These are two different words with two different usages. God’s Word is not the problem and can be trusted fully, but the people who use it wrongly.

      1. Thanks for the dialogue. Jesus was a servant who led by example. He did NOTHING that could not be imitated by ALL. He said his disciples could do GREATER works than He. prohistemi is this and NOTHING more. What is it about your own definition of prohistemi requires titles, paychecks, reserved ministries, strict one way communication, and authority to boss others with no MUTUAL dialogue since “you ARE all brothers”?

        Maybe you have never seen a fellowship of believers that is not in INSTITUTIONAL IDENTITY. EVERY instruction from Jesus and the apostles is anti-institutional, yet you don’t see it due to 500 year old traditions of men. I didn’t see it, but I do now.

        You are right. Prohistemi and archon are two different words so why should prohistemi be translated the same as archon? You want some ruling for elders DESPITE ruling rejected by Jesus. What is not clear about the distinction between 2 words? Ruling is not negative for government or corporation, but it is NEGATIVE for the people of God. They are a FAMILY and BODY by IDENTITY. This IDENTITY must be practiced.

    6. If you are so sure, then you need to publish your book and get reliable people, serious scholars, not just internet echo chambers, to agree with these egalitarian conclusions. Your is a teeny tiny minority view, and one that is held by very few reliable orthodox scholars.

      1. Bob Meredith – I’m sure of what I say because of the Bible, not because of the approval of men. What if ALL ALLEGED “serious scholars” are in an “echo chamber”, a bubble of clergyism ALL expecting the path to a paycheck, title, and dominating truth expression and don’t want to examine the scriptures to see if what they have been told is true like the “more noble” Bereans did with Paul? Acts 17:11. I was in that bubble and escaped by the grace of God.

        “teeny tiny minority” – You expose your ethnocentric wealthy consumerism bubble. The MAJORITY of believers around the world or too poor or too oppressed or both to pay ANYONE nor build a pulpit building. They obey the scriptures despite ZERO education and only a Bible in their hand, and even those who can only receive scripture audibly. They will make FAR MORE disciples than your alleged “serious scholars.” God has ONE plan for both the wealthy and the poor. It works POWERFULLY BOTH places, but the wealthy are to self-ingratiating with their “giving” to obey. “,,,for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Follow the money to see your heart – per Jesus. I’m not saying this to be mean, but to be DIRECT. You have a spiritual need to read my book so you can step out of the bubble of ethnocentric faith. It’s been in YOUR Bible for 2000 years. Let’s discuss this more. We can help MORE elders discover the truth and glorify Christ with obedience.

      2. Bob, Tim’s view on church leadership is growing in numbers of believers who are FINALLY seeing the truth! There is nothing wrong or sinful about leaders in the church who truly strive to be like Jesus. As Tim pointed out – unfortunately, we are still sinners while we remain on earth and our tendency is towards sin, unless we are willing to have believers in our lives that call out the sins in us as soon as they see them AND who are willing to let us reciprocate that for them. Tragically, the elders at Grace Community Church have become so insular (an island unto themselves) that they not only don’t see their sin…they WON’T see their sin!! They refuse to entertain any suggestions,or even the glaringly obvious truth, that they are in sin!

        1. Bob Meredith

          Tim’s view is radical. He does not believe in Elders. He believes in some Pseudo-churches where there are no elders who are paid. Paul was clear that the elders should be paid. Here is Tim’s reputation.
          “This is part of my calling from God. I have been kicked out of several churches after planting seeds of scripture that confront their systemic errors. I just go to another church God directs me to go to, and do the same. It’s a prophetic work. I’ve been equipped by God to do it. I confront clergyism and institutionalism with scripture. All hired Bible experts are blind to their corruptions. Even our Bibles are falsely translated on clergy issues to make it appear that leaders can “rule”, expect money for leading, etc.” http://www.newfoundationsinternational.org/blog/refuse-cunning-and-deceitful-ways

  3. This is what male leadership looks like…… having been given the role to protect. I have been blessed by men such as this and so thankful, as he said, when it is done right, this should be the safest place for women…. and children. May the Lord bless his family as they move on.

    1. Cynthia Wright

      Mr. Cho has resigned from a position of leadership, giving much praise to the organization he is leaving and a tiny, vague explanation, “conscience and convictions not aligned,” before going on to emphasize the benefits to himself and his family of his decision.

      I find Mr. Cho’s decisions perfectly reasonable, but I don’t understand how his actions could be considered an exemplar of “male leadership” … unless that phrase was ironic, in which case, well played.

      1. Mark Gunderson

        We may hear more from Hohn Cho in the future, or we may not.

        Optimistically, I would like to think he is still in discussions with remaining elders on important topics like the Eileen Gray case, and does not want to jeopardize that just yet. I don’t know what a resignation letter that went right up to the point of getting him disciplined, without crossing it, would look like. Maybe that’s this.

        But it could be that he said the minimum to appease his conscience and maintain some personal integrity or he could be talking about some other issues that coincidentally came to a head right now (at least it’s possible).

        The unequivocal takeaway though is this: A long time elder who is also a legal professional has placed a public vote of no confidence in the GCC elder board.

        That doesn’t help GCC’s case.

        1. Cynthia Wright

          Interesting points. As I said, I think Mr. Cho and his family should do what they think is best for themselves. I just don’t define that as “leadership,” male or otherwise.

  4. Wow. I wonder if they’ve decided whether they will allow him to leave, or if they’ll chase him down and make him come back so they can turn around and throw him out.

    1. Margaret Oldenburg

      Great response. I did laugh out aloud because it is so ridiculous how GCC will NOT let you resign from a church. I thought this was America!

  5. It will be interesting to see how GCC responds to this. My bet is that they will have little or no comment. Certainly they will deny it has any connection to what they have done (and not done) in response to abuse within their own ranks, but probably only if someone raises the issue.

    I see this resignation as a sign of cracks in the walls GCC has put up. How far things will crack open remains to be seen. I suspect it won’t be much, because most of the people who are still there at this point have bought into MacArthurism pretty heavily.

    I hope I’m wrong. Change is definitely needed.

  6. Hohn Cho is a man with integrity, honour and courage as he stood up to his own convictions in the face of relentless pressure to comply with the practices and attitudes of a church that appears to be distorting and subverting scriptures to justify their own prejudices and misogyny.

    1. My thoughts exactly. Sadly many so called believers are less keen to follow Jesus and much more keen to use scripture to support their own personality profiles and behavioural preferences in others. To put it most simply – they expect Jesus to follow them. These are the adjective Christians (conservative Christians…etc.). These people don’t change due to regeneration, they just think they do and try to convince others they have. In truth, narcissists are incapable of submitting to anyone, probably God too.

  7. Charles Forrest

    Im sure the decision didn’t come easy and gut wrenching. May the Lord bless Hohn and family for their integrity and commitment to follow Christ than man.

  8. Very understandable on why a person would want to leave GCC or the Masters College…

    But is he the only one that decided to leave the train-wreck… Nobody else???

    Given all the serious issues I would think there would be a crowd of people walking out the door……….

    But alas it seems that no one else is leaving…..

    1. No professors
    2. No admins
    3. No elders
    4. No pastors
    5. No students
    6. No members

    Is it me, or is there something seriously wrong with the evangelical movement in the U.S….

  9. “We are transferring our membership to a local church…”

    What does this mean? How does one “transfer” membership? Are the membership requirements the same between GCC and this other church? Is “membership” something that transcends different churches such that it can be transferred?

    This is such an odd phrase to me.

    1. Mark Gunderson

      It’s usually in the membership agreement for these kinds of membership-heavy churches that you will only leave for godly reasons and if you do you’ll join as soon as possible to a like-minded church. Not sure what they’d do if you left GCC and explicitly stated you were going to a church with no church membership, like a Calvary Chapel or similar.

      I’m curious though if he really wants to end up at another MacArthurite church.

  10. Thank you for this thoughtful and thought-provoking article. I have great respect for Mr. Cho and the decision he made. I am a Christian woman in the midst of a very painful separation and impending divorce, neither of which I wanted.

    My husband of 2 years was emotionally and verbally abusive to me and my teen daughter, towards whom he was also physically abusive. I had every intention of honoring my marriage vows when I made them, and I continue to wrestle everyday with the idea of a divorce that I do not want and that I know God hates.

    But when my teen daughter is being abused to the extent that she refused to live in the same house with my husband and me – when she chose to sleep in her car and go to a state shelter rather than be in the same house with us – and when I tried counseling and talking with my husband but got only rage and verbal abuse in return and was in fear for my safety – what am I to do? My husband is a professed Believer, but he won’t deal with his issues so that we can repair our marriage.

    It is bad enough that I constantly seek God’s will for my marriage without seeing that some Christian leaders want me to stay and suffer. My husband stormed out of the house in a narcissistic rage and refuses to return or repair our marriage. Please Christian leaders – instead of telling wives to suffer and “live with it,” turn your efforts to confronting and dealing with abusive men.

    1. Well said. Be blessed. I don’t think the Bible’s teaching on women remaining with their husbands, irrespective of the abuse they dish out to them, relates to narcissistic men (who are just entitled child/men who expect everything to be on their own terms). I think it refers to men who are decent, honourable and cherish their wives being in a temporary bad spot, maybe taking meds that alter their personality, undergoing some temporary extreme stresses and takes it out on their wives and lash out uncontrollably and are remorseful afterwards. That is who it is aimed at. It is this type of man who would admire, grieve over and repent of the harm they cause their loving wife who has endured his abuse. The narcissistic man is not in this category at all. He never intended to keep his wedding vows and so, I believe, the couple are not really married in the eyes of God anyway, even if legally married. A godly marriage is between a couple who each take their vows seriously, not when one does.

  11. The reason why he needs to leave is that with John, when you disagree with him, you disagree with God. You are now an enemy of the church. Thats also the training at the seminary, university and conferences they sponsor. They made themselves defenders of the truth when in reality they are defending their own livelihood. It sounds heroic to be defending something when they should be defending abused spouses and children. John, your religion is not pure and defiled when you don’t protect the afflicted ones.

  12. There are serious debates about the Gospel that have been outlined by Charles Ryrie in his book on the Gospel that mentions the Lordship Salvation issue. That may have been the theological issue that caused him to leave the Church. It’s caused a split for some time.

    As for Eileen I think she did the right thing protecting herself and her kids. Did her husband ask forgiveness? It didn’t appear he wanted forgiveness and the idea that he changed over night is ridiculous. People don’t change over night. He was beating up his kids and that’s not something that he could simply change on a whim. Eileen engaged in self defense. It’s stupid to stand there when a person throws a punch thinking “I forgive you”. A smart person moves out of the way.

  13. if it was about doctrine he sure picked a perfect time to quit. in his letter it was clear it was about what he taught and advised…he has written and taught extensively about abuse which is the prevailing issue. why he chose to resign is because his conscience and conviction is not aligned on the subject of ABUSE. all the elders and staffs are covered by NDA’s so that all he could disclose without breaking it.

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