9Marx Shuts Down Comments

By | September 25, 2016


“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.” 
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

“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

by David Hayward, naked pastor.com

by David Hayward, naked pastor.com

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.


Submit Comment

newest oldest
Notify of

There’s a new article over at 9Marks about “Divide and Prosper” church planting that I would like to comment on, but can’t since that ability appears to have been “deleted” permanently. Coming into a traditional non-Calvinist church as pastor by stealth and deception (lying to the pulpit search committee about your theological affiliation) and then proceeding to split the church in a takeover is not church planting! While the article is a history of “Peaceable Division,” the weeping and gnashing of teeth caused by the young, restless and reformed to wrest churches out of the hands of good people that don’t agree with their theology is anything but “peaceable!”

Feel free to post a link and comment on it here, Max. Thanks.

Eric F

I appreciate that this website has taken the time to examine and explain the 9 marks situation to me. I arrived at this website upon noticing that I can no longer post any of my thoughts on the 9 marks articles. The only reason I would go to their website is because they were permitting open discussion about the gospel. Most of the articles bear no resemblance to the true gospel therefore, most of the time they require dissenting opinion which is for the purpose of discussion to find out the truth. Now that they demonstrate that they are not interested in receiving feedback on their thoughts, it is not worthwhile to even read their thoughts. They make it clear that they are not genuinely interested in people. They are now only noise.

Thanks, Eric, I agree with everything you’ve said. I think that the 9Marks website will see a dramatic decrease in traffic because people were likely only visiting it to look at the comments given the poor quality of most of the articles on the site.


A. Amos Love

Hi Eric F

I always enjoyed your comments, and your wisdom, at 9 Marks

Did you comment on a 9Marks article using Disqus? If so, you should have access to any comments that were posted.


Eric F

Thanks A. Amos Love. I always appreciate your comments as well and your fervency against false authority, as we know the truth is that we already have one leader and one authority in our Lord Jesus Christ who we need to all submit to.


Purging dissenting comments from a blog is to remove a historical record. I thought only fascist and communist dictatorships altered history!

Blog moderators certainly have the prerogative to block or delete certain comments. Rude, crude and offensive input should go the trash. However, I don’t view any of the 9Marks’ comment strings on the recent articles cited to be in that category. When critical thinkers come on with civil perspectives on any blog, I always view them as helpful for the topic at hand, whether I agree with them or not.

If you can control the dialogue, you can control minds. New Calvinism is all about indoctrination. We see it everywhere – seminary training, manipulative blogs, social media chatter, church sermons, small group discussions, conferences targeting our youth, taking Biblical text out of context. These are deliberate attempts to advance a religious ideology which has nothing to do with preaching the Gospel. What may be good for the good of the reformed movement has nothing to do with the Great Commission.

To delete what you don’t want to hear – or others to hear – is sort of like burning history books.

Thanks for the comment, Max. I’ll add the following observation:

In my experience, many male Evangelicals, who call themselves Neo-Cals, are very thin-skinned and whiny despite claiming to be Godly complementarian men. Guys like Leeman and Dever’s other minions give long talks about how they’re strong stoic dudes who would die or suffer terribly to protect women. Then they flip out on Twitter if a member of the “fairer sex” submits a comment that’s content they don’t like. In my experience, women bloggers and commenters are treated very differently than men by the authoritarian Church leadership crowd that claims to respect them.

If Leeman can’t handle getting polite criticism on a blog article without doing a “poor me” Twitter-string, I doubt he’ll defend women and children in more stressful circumstances.

Thanks. Janna


“In my experience, women bloggers and commenters are treated very differently than men by the authoritarian Church leadership crowd that claims to respect them.”

I sadly agree Janna. Women are treated by the New Calvinists as lesser citizens of the Kingdom, while claiming otherwise.

New Calvinists keep talking about “hills to die on.” Well, they may very well die on Mount Complementarity. I keep thinking that women ensnared by the oppressive belief and practice of New Calvinism will rise up en masse and declare “Wait just a darn minute here!” … and then drag their sorry husbands/boyfriends out of the mess. That may be the Achilles heel which brings the reformed movement to a halt. If, ESS doctrine doesn’t kill it first!

Thanks, Max, for the great comment. I would add that, in my experience, it’s not just Evangelical men claiming to be New Calvinists who treat women like dirt. I think the problem stems from authoritarianism, rather than theology, although I concede that Calvin was certainly an autocrat.

Traditional Calvinists (Old-Cals, I suppose) have long had congregationalist-type organizational structures, which seem to be better for all marginalized members of society, not just women and children. Thanks. Janna



“Traditional Calvinists (Old-Cals, I suppose) … seem to be better for all marginalized members of society, not just women and children.”

Agreed, while the basic reformed tenets are common, “Old” Calvinists are a different animal than “New” Calvinists. As a non-Calvinist Southern Baptist, I have worshiped alongside classical Calvinists for over a half-century. I have found them to be respectful to all members of the Body of Christ and civil in their discourse with others. New Calvinists are militant, aggressive, authoritarian, arrogant, and mean-spirited.

Old guard Calvinists of the Founders Ministries within the Southern Baptist Convention have conducted a “Quiet Revolution” for decades (that’s actually what they call it). In that silent movement of sly indoctrination here and there, they have been determined to take the SBC back to its racist Civil War Calvinist roots, which discerning Christians distanced themselves from over the last 150 years. This new thing – New Calvinism – is nothing but quiet! However, it is accomplishing what the old boys could not … Calvinization of the largest non-Calvinist denomination in America. Sad to see a once-great evangelistic group fall to their aberrant belief and practice – within a generation, the SBC as millions have known it will be gone.

Thanks, Max, for the great comment. I’ll respond more later but am wondering if you’re comfortable telling us (here or by email) how you found this blog.

I’m trying to market this blog better and would love to know how some of our great commenters found us.


That’s a great analysis, Max. As someone whose roots lie in traditional Calvinist Churches, I find it bizarre that folks from the SBC call themselves Baptist Calvinists who don’t believe in infant baptism or traditional Reformed forms of polity that genuinely embrace congregationalism. In that sense, I’m not sure that the basic tenets of Old and New Calvinism are genuinely similar, all protestations from the New Calvinists notwithstanding.

The so-called New Calvinists also embrace the concept of flaunting a Church’s wealth and spending its dollars on flashy things such as lavish conferences for pastors and $100,000,000 construction projects that a Church doesn’t need for any reason. Managing money in a frivolous thoughtless manner has always been anathema to Calvinists. There’s nothing wrong with having money, but you’re not supposed to throw it around for the sole purpose of saying, “look how rich our Church is.”


Bill M

Leeman is only being consistent with how dissent is handled in the 9Mark “not a denomination”.

I agree, Bill, which is why Leeman’s logic is so nutty.

Apparently it’s okay for members of 9Marks Churches to post anonymous comments on blogs they that’s content they don’t generally like, such as Thou Art The Man. However, by contrast, it’s clearly a sin for anyone criticizing Leeman or his “not a denomination” to comment on publicly posted material without necessarily obviously disclosing their off-line identities.

Bill M

Thanks for keeping an eye on them, I had read the article and comments earlier but was unaware they had since delete all the comments. It was a petty act but not surprising.

Helping victims of abusive Church groups is an honor and a privilege, Bill.

Thanks for reading!

It was in more than petty, in my opinion, as Leeman directly or indirectly claimed that most of the comments about his article were ad hominem attacks and therefore not worth reading or publishing. I considerate that slander, on an ethical level, given the high-quality content of most of the comments Leeman deleted.

In addition,you don’t have to throw out the whole barrel of apples just because a few of them are rotten. Leeman could do what Thou Art The Man does: decline to approve inappropriate comments while publishing thoughtful and intelligent commentary.

Thanks again for reading, Bill. Janna

Scott Shaver

Would be nice if somebody could find a way to remove Russell Moore’s egocentric postings. There’s a guy who really needs to get over himself.

Thanks for doing all this research, Todd. At least 9Marks is no longer pretending to want to dialogue with people who do not agree with what its pastors and other leaders have to say.