“Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.
These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound them: they should not be confounded: appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of Christ. There is – I repeat it – a difference; and it is a good, and not a bad action to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation between them.”
“Never mind the truth or falsehood of the allegations for now. What’s worth notice is that the ad does not deny their truth so much as say that nobody has the right to make the allegations in the first place. Thus, having himself raised a subject, the candidate is presumed to enjoy the right to have his own account of it taken at face value. Anything else would be indecorous.”
And Yet… Essays, Christopher Hitchens, Kindle Edition, Location 635
All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility…”
On Liberty, John Stuart Mill
Yesterday I wrote an article titled “Jonathan Leeman: Parsing Words and Deleting Comments.” The subject of the article was the removal of all comments on an article published on the 9Marks website and Leeman’s lame and dishonest reasons given for doing so. The article, written by Jonathan Leeman, Editorial Director of 9Marks, is titled “Don’t Be a 9Marxist!”
Yesterday I was alerted to the fact that Leeman also removed all comments from another article on the 9Marks blog titled “The Abuse of Authority in Prosperity Gospel Churches.”
The article, written by D.A. Horton, began by stating the following”
“Throughout the duration of my service in the pastorate, I’ve regularly encountered believers bearing scars from wounds caused by church leaders. On a few occasions, these grievances occurred because the person ran to escape accountability for their sinful actions. But most of the time, these injuries happened because of their former leaders’ abuse of authority.
In almost every story, I saw a common thread: this abuse of authority took place in prosperity gospel churches.
A few years ago, I wrote an article called “Nine Marks of a Prosperity Gospel Church.” My comments on the last mark, biblical church leadership, struck a chord with more than a few readers who contacted me about their stories. These conversations—both in-person and online—grieved my heart deeply.
It became clear there’s not been enough reflection on the abuse of authority in prosperity gospel churches. I hope this article will jumpstart a worthwhile discussion that will ultimately recalibrate hearts toward a biblical understanding of authority as a good gift that God intends to be expressed in the context of a healthy local church.”
There are hundreds, if not thousands of “abuse of authority” stories that have taken place in 9Marx churches, (see my article “9Marks Attempting “Brand Enhancement”) therefore it is rather rich that Leeman chose to run this article. I can only classify it as a classic diversionary tactic by Leeman.
Horton states that “most of the time, these injuries happened because of their former leaders’ abuse of authority.” I do not doubt it, and I claim the same reason for the rampant abuse in 9Marx churches. Leeman and Dever do as much admit it themselves. They held a breakout session at the T4G national conference this past April and Leeman also wrote the “Don’t Be a 9Marxist!” article referenced above to address this very problem. Their narrative, however, is that this problem of abusive pastors is not widespread; it is simply the problem of a few young, inexperienced and overly zealous pastors. I have countered these claims in previous articles; a few isolated incidents would not warrant breakout sessions and lengthy articles, and the problem of abusive, authoritarian pastors has been noted amongst experienced, well-known celebrity pastors.
Horton further states that:
“I hope this article will jumpstart a worthwhile discussion.”
His hopes were realized.
Below you will see thirty-five thoughtful comments penned in response to Horton’s article. The discussion was jumpstarted. But Leeman quickly turned off the ignition key and removed the jumper cables.
In classic Marxist fashion, Leeman didn’t like the direction the conversation was headed so he shut it down.
Men like Dever and Leeman are unable to tolerate dissent. They are all about control. Control the message and control the response (if a response is even tolerated). As I have said elsewhere, this behavior may work well within the hallowed walls of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, but it doesn’t play in the real world. Leeman expressed sorrow that he had given these irresponsible commenters a forum in which they could freely express their opinions and has apparently decided comments will no longer be allowed on any of the articles appearing on the 9Marx website.
This decision is guaranteed to contribute to the continued demise of the 9Marks parachurch organization, to which I respond, god-speed. This is an organization whose irresponsible teachings have fostered many abusive pastors, shipwrecked the faith of many, and decimated many churches.
Below are the 35 comments deleted by Jonathan Leeman.
Janna, my blog partner, and technical wizard was able to retrieve them from cyberspace. I ask you to examine them and see if you can spot any “irresponsible, non-substantive, ad hominem” comments. I saw only thoughtful, well-written comments. I think it shameful that Leeman would allow comments and then, after people take their precious time to formulate comments, he deletes them all. This is exactly the type of heavy-handed, abusive, authoritarianism that many of us point out is rampant amongst the 9Marx faithful. It starts at the very top of the organization. If the head is sick, the whole body will be sick.
9Marx has done enough damage. There is no need for this parachurch organization to continue their existence. They need to follow the example of Promise Keepers and go away. Christ’s cause will be better served when they do.