Day Eleven of the Thomas Chantry Trial

By | August 15, 2018

Defense Attorney John Sears filed a motion over the weekend asking the Judge to declare a mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct. He based this on Susan Eazer’s “observable non-verbal communication.” Judge Astrowsky denied the motion stating that there was nothing presented in the motion that warrants a mistrial.

In the gallery today for the first time was Tom Chantry’s friend and co-author David Dykstra. The book, “Holding Communion Together,” was published in May 2014, by all reports was very controversial, sold very few copies and is now out of print. Earl Blackburn, one of the ARBCA “insiders” wrote the Foreword for the book and said,

“Christ is still building his church, and, believe it or not, he is using our Reformed Baptist movement in some truly remarkable and amazing ways in this broken world; one eternal soul at a time, one church at a time. It is our earnest prayer that all, especially church leaders in every branch of Christendom, might carefully read, mark, learn, and profit from this book.”

It doesn’t appear that Blackburn’s “earnest prayer” was answered!

David Dykstra is also one of the ARBCA “insiders.” He seems to be a permanent fixture on the Administrative Council.

It would seem Providential that David Dykstra was in the courtroom this morning as he got to hear Judge Astrowsky state that if this were a trial of ARBCA cover-up they would be convicted.


I doubt the Judge’s words will have any impact on this corrupt group of ARBCA leaders. In fact, today another member of their gang sent this out to the dwindling ranks of faithful followers:

In case the words above appear too small, here is the text:

 Today’s update is a reminder of what is involved in holding to and standing for the truth. At this time issues such as “fake news” and internet gossip (attack blogs) and plagiarism (stolen information passed off as one’s own) infect our culture. For decades, people checking out at grocery stores have been exposed to lurid magazines with lascivious gossip about all manner of people. How then can a Christian keep himself pure and unspotted from the world in such a corrosive environment?  As always, God’s Word directs us to the right and narrow and true way.  The Westminster Larger Catechism displays what it means to properly honor and obey the 9th Commandment–“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” It is included for your meditation and practice.

Steve Martin

ARBCA Coordinator

Steve risks being censured by his gang of leaders for quoting from the Westminster Larger Catechism instead of the 1689 London Baptist Confession, but I would bet if he picks up the tab at their next gathering at The Cheese Cake Factory all will be forgiven!

Back to the trial.

Just a note for those of you, who like me, are not familiar with court proceedings. Prior to the jury coming into the courtroom to continue the trial in the morning, the Judge and Council for both parties conduct business, such as arguing and ruling on motions like that mentioned above. This is done so as not to prejudice the jury.

The next item of business concerned new information Prosecuting Attorney Susan Eazer had obtained over the weekend. She had discovered that Tom Chantry had been interviewed by the Arlington Heights, IL Police Department for severely spanking a child, leaving bruises that were still visible two days later. This occurred in 2004 at Christian Liberty Academy, the school where Chantry taught 5th and 6th-grade children.

Of course, John Sears argued against allowing this information into Court at such a late hour, saying that it should have been properly argued in a pre-trial evidentiary hearing.  Judge Astrowsky, after hearing arguments from both sides, agreed with Sears and ruled the evidence of Chantry’s ongoing abuse would not be allowed. (Of course, I am condensing  20-30 minutes of legalese into a few sentences!)

Judge Astrowsky made another comment which I agreed with, saying he would never send his kids to that school!

It should be noted that back in 2016 when I first started investigating this story I sent an email to Christian Liberty Academy alerting them to the fact that Tom Chantry had been arrested and charged with physical and sexual assault of Children. I suggested that they send a letter to the parents of every child that had been in a class taught by Chantry. As usual, I received no response!

I have filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Arlington Heights Police Department and as soon as I receive the Police report I will post it.

At 10:08 A.M. court was finally resumed. John Sears continued his direct examination of the defendant, Tom Chantry. It was more of the same from Friday. Tom never did anything he was charged with, and the only thing he ever did, the thing he had to apologize to every member of Miller Valley Baptist Church for, was disciplining a child with light, corrective swats over his clothes without the permission of his mother!

If you believe that I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you!

You may recall Tom testified on Friday that some people at Miller Valley Baptist Church missed Bob Selph so badly that when Tom would start to preach several individuals would start to cry. Today Chantry expanded on this by saying one of the individuals who cried was P.W. Chantry said she never would speak to him. P.W. is the mother of Victims 3 and 4. I am not certain what the strategy of the Defense was here. Perhaps Sears will argue in his closing that P.W. encouraged her children to make up stories about Chantry because of her strong dislike for him.

Chantry was then led along by Sears’ questioning to show how the mother of Victim 1 had a similar dislike for Chantry. He said there was a constant underlying friction to their relationship. I believe Chantry’s words were “the relationship was always strained.” She had invited Tom to conduct a Bible study at her house but then protested about how Tom led the group and, incredibly, she was the one responsible for keeping Tom out of the pulpit in October/November 2000!

At the end of Sears exam, Chantry agreed with his assessment that Chantry had only done what was reasonable and appropriate in each case of “disciplining” children who were in his care. (I believe you will find this wording in the legal statutes of Arizona.)

At 10:37 A.M.  Susan Eazer began her cross-examination of Tom Chantry. I was amazed at how sharp Chantry’s memory was when it came to remembering details that portrayed him in a positive light or enhanced his storyline, yet when it came to damaging questions he simply couldn’t remember the details! Chantry couldn’t remember ever having uttered the infamous line to Eric Owens, “I have done something from which I cannot recover.” Likewise, Chantry couldn’t remember saying the line he used to deny abusing one of the victims, “If I did it, I must have been sleeping.”

I give him credit, he is a smart individual and was well prepared and coached. Ms. Eazer really couldn’t crack him. She finished her cross-examination by writing the names of every witness that had testified for the prosecution, one by one on a piece of paper which was projected onto the big screen. As she wrote the name she would briefly describe what they had accused Chantry of doing and ask Chantry if he denied ever having done what she just described. Chantry would deny it. I thought the technique was effective. The list was lengthy as were the charges. Chantry denied it all. I was left with the impression of how could so many individuals have similar stories of abuse inflicted by Chantry, yet they were all untrue and Chantry’s version was the correct version? It just wasn’t reasonable.

Eazer also had a dramatic last question. She said: Mr. Chantry you have said these charges are the worst thing that has ever happened to you, do you think it was the worst thing that ever happened to the victims?

Chantry said, “Would you repeat the question,”

Eazer replied, “I have no further questions” and walked back to her table.

At 2:41 John Sears began his redirect. He asked Chantry a few questions including the reason why Chantry left MVBC. Tom replied that he left because the trust had broken down between the elders and himself and he had been humiliated by the “forgiveness tour.”

The redirect ended at 2:53 with Chantry declaring, “I am absolutely not guilty of any of the charges.”

Susan Eazer then called the father of Victims 2 and 5 back to the stand for rebuttal. His testimony was passionate and powerful. He stated again that the tutoring was Chantry’s idea – he came to them with a written proposal. He did give Chantry permission to discipline his child but never thought it would be needed because his child was so well behaved and had never been a problem, and he would never give him approval to spank his child bare-bottomed or doing anything else he had done to his son.  The tutoring sessions came to an end when he found out how frequently Chantry had been spanking his son and that the spankings were bare-bottom spankings.

In the cross-examination, the sense of disgust this father had for Tom Chantry was very evident. He said he was sorry he had not better protected his son but he was betrayed by a pastor they loved and respected. Chantry’s abuse of his son had caused his son to hate him.  It was a very sad scene. I thought Sears handled the situation very well and I commend him for it. But my heart really goes out to the victims and their families. Such devastation has occurred because of Chantry’s horrific acts.

At 3:50 John Sears again submitted a Rule 20 motion, asking the Judge to dismiss the case because the State had failed to prove the charges.

At 3:56 the motion was denied.

For the next hour the Judge and both parties worked on the Final Instructions that will be given to the jury on Wednesday.

Wednesday will include the reading of these instructions to the jury, closing arguments and then the case will be given to the jury to decide.

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are you Jewish, by chance?


Paul, I would submit that ‘obey’ is a mis-translation, and I already covered why I consider the concept of submission to be much misunderstood. I am not denying that there were ‘elders’ called out in the various local congregations, but that such were positions of authority, rather than of responsibility – to love, serve, protect, admonish (their followers to seek knowledge, wisdom and God’s direction, not to ‘obey’ them). Their calling was to ‘lead’ the flock, or be the spearheading examples of godliness and sacrificial living for those they served. It was distinctly not, as Jesus commanded, to ‘rule over them’ like the leaders of worldly institutions. But the Institutional Church has ignored this directive, and made all manner of excuses for why they must rule over, dictate to and control the thoughts, beliefs and outliving of the followers of Christ.

There are an ever growing number of children of God who are spurning the authority of mere men, under the guise of being ‘The Church’, and returning to the freedom of conscience that God has graciously granted to each of us. We will all answer someday to him, and, contrary to what so many would have us believe, I do not think his concern will be with how we contributed to the success of the man-made institution known as ‘The Church’, but if we loved him and were willing to exchange the pursuit of our own interests for the good of others. I used to believe, as so many still do, that that simply entailed ‘doing church’. The rampant abuses of said institution are leading many to ask hard questions and even risk being called ‘heretics’.

Paul Gordon

I wonder why of the 28 major translations I have consulted 25 translate the Greek peitho with the word obey. I wonder what you know that these translation committees do not know.
I don’t intend to argue with you about this JHenry. My experience has been that when people experience authoritarian leaders the come away with a sunburn effect that makes them wince when even a normal degree of Godly church authority is being exercised in a biblically wise and loving manner.
I can sympathize with the pain such people feel but to remove all scripturally wise and Godly authority from the Bible is an impossible task. Therefore I am not at all surprised that your effort to do this despite your confident assertions are not convincing.

My experience has been that when people experience authoritarian leaders the come away with a sunburn effect that makes them wince when even a normal degree of Godly church authority is being exercised in a biblically wise and loving manner.

Yes, this is often true if they don’t just abandon Christianity or organized religion all together. You and Jhenry both contribute a lot to this blog, in my view, and I don’t wish to insert myself into any debate the two of you are having. I do, however, appreciate you bringing your scholarship and experience as a good pastor to this blog or any blog, for that matter.

That perspective can be hard to come by, as debating emotionally charged subjects online can get tiresome for everyone. Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Van Helsing

Oh Henry! You finally “outed yourself.” You write as if you personally witnessed the French Revolution, put a number of priests to the guillotine, and ran around shouting, “liberty, equality, and fraternity” only to see your “new society” lapse right back into the one razed at the Bastille only much worse. From out of that “utopian ideology” sprang the seeds of Marxism.

Unfortunately, your unbiblical musings and meanderings are ONE of the major reasons why blogs like “Pyromaniacs” begin in the first place. These intelligent men read drivel like yours and feel compelled to respond to it just as I am doing now. I would suggest that you really study (perhaps for the first time in context) the biblical qualifications for pastoral eldership (Titus 1:5-9, 1 Tim. 3:1-7, 1 Peter 5:1-4) and then vainly dispute with God about them.

If you want to abolish the biblical leadership aspect found in God’s Word and replace it with “we the people” or by holding hands and singing “Kum ba Ya, my Lord” then I would wonder about your salvation as a Christian. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones also experienced much frustration with the likes of “Christians” like you and it prompted him to wonder if those who profess Christianity are really regenerated to begin with. Jones’s wife, Bethan, admitted that she believed she was a Christian when they married but then realized that she was not after hearing one of her husband’s sermons. In your frustration man, resist throwing the baby out with the bathwater!

Now, I will leave this biblical rebuke of JHenry in the hands of Janna the moderator and watch how she will handle this since that will tell me much about the real agenda of this blog. Is this blog just a self-congratulatory offshoot of FB or was it meant to get to the truth of what is really wrong with the issues of clergy sex or physical abuse of children? Eliminating the legitimate and biblical authority structure in the church IS NOT the answer and never will be so drop the bogus issue. We do not live in a perfect world but in a world of gravely flawed and sinful people. The best we can do is hold fast to the Lord, study the Word regularly, remain vigilant and, like the blog, attempt to expose sin and darkness wherever possible.


VH writes: “I would suggest that you really study (perhaps for the first time in context) the biblical qualifications for pastoral eldership (Titus 1:5-9, 1 Tim. 3:1-7, 1 Peter 5:1-4) and then vainly dispute with God about them.”

Now there is a gracious and respectful response to someone who holds a different opinion than you. Obviously, such persons have never done any ‘real’ study, or at least not done it ‘correctly’ or they would undoubtedly have arrived at the ‘right’ opinion, which you, I take it, have.

And that’s after accusing me and ‘drivel like mine’ of leading to the worst crimes of the French Revolution, Marxism and doubtless every other error introduced by ‘liberals’ who question the authoritarian, hierarchical, patriarchal structure of the long corrupt Institutional Church. Thats a heap of abuse in such a short space, but I am accustomed to the blowing of fuses by the protectors of fundamentalist orthodoxy. (And no, I don’t think the liberals would have me any more than the conservatives, because I refuse to kowtow to either of their extremisms, so no use trying to shove me off on them.)

Thankfully, the fate of the world does not rest on my shoulders, and God raised us men long before me to ‘abolish the [authoritarian] leadership’ of the state church, and replace it with the truly Godlike freedom of conscience that denies your church, or any other, to claim the rights to dictate by force who God is, what he has said and how it is to be understood and applied. All in defense of ‘biblical qualifications for pastoral eldership’ or, ‘Why we select group of men have the right to rule over all you peons’. Tyranny is evil, whether it comes from the state, the church or – at its worst – the two aligned.

I had to laugh at the ‘Kum by ya’ reference, a favorite of the superior Reformed folk in my past, as they condemned all of the inferior churches and individuals who didn’t get it quite as ‘rightly’ as they did. And, like you, they of course doubted ‘the salvation’ of any who thought or taught one iota differently from them. Ah, the bliss of being the sole arbiters of truth and righteousness. Looks like God might be out of a job.

Then you turn your sites on Janna: “Now, I will leave this biblical rebuke of JHenry in the hands of Janna the moderator and watch how she will handle this since that will tell me much about the real agenda of this blog. Is this blog just a self-congratulatory offshoot of FB or was it meant to get to the truth of what is really wrong with the issues of clergy sex or physical abuse of children?”

No doubt she is shivering in her boots as you threaten her with your disapproval if she dares to disagree with you and your view of the world. Because, obviously, anyone who does not agree with you has a false agenda, is ‘self-congratulatory’ and does not want to ‘get to the truth of what is really wrong with the issues of clergy sex or physical abuse of children’. Reminds me of the church I escaped, where God forbid anyone simply have a different take on the problems of life and possible solutions. I’m sure that Janna, and all others, are so thankful that you have arrived to give us all the ‘right’ answers.

I’m afraid it is arrogance, judmentalism and authoritarianism like this that is driving more and more people not only from the institutional church which is being slowly taken over by closet Calvinists, but from the very ‘christendom’ they seek to impose on the rest of the world. Like all of the martyrs of the Institutional Church, we simply ask to be left alone to seek God and do as our consciences dictate.

I’ll just tip toe through the tulips, humming ‘Kum by ya’ and ‘Let there be peace on earth’ while you smart guys solve all the problems. If you don’t destroy one another first, as you fight over who is the most orthodox, most holy and the only ‘true church’. Good luck.

Sorry, Janna, if that is too harsh, feel free to not publish.

You provided a beautiful answer. Van Helsing is the last anonymous troll I would turn to for advice of any kind, much less Biblical advice.

I think it’s time for Van Helsing to fly, fly away. However, I will discuss that with Todd as this is his blog.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


Thank you, Janna. I’m sure most on here would agree that it’s fine to have differences of opinion, and even debates over doctrine, but when the rhetoric becomes personal and demeaning to another, I think it’s crossed the line from confidence to arrogance.

I keep thinking of the victims when I write posts and read other’s posts. And I wonder if they’re reading, and if they are, my wish is that they would be given hope – that they would know that there are many out here, who have so much admiration for their courage, even though we cannot possibly begin to fathom their pain. I hope to encourage them, comfort them, and let them know that there are many, many people who care. Thanks from the bottom of my heart to you and Todd, for being the voice for the voiceless.

May we all keep a tender heart as we’re posting, and remember those who are still hurting. Let us not contribute to their suffering any more.

Thanks, Rae. Todd has communicated with Van Helsing regarding personally attacking people. Personally attacking others is one thing. However, if someone fundamentally attacks the integrity of this blog, which has been several years in the making and is respected by many people including a lot of victims, I question whether he should be commenting here reguarly.

Certainly moderating the comments of such an individual takes up a lot of energy. Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


Kum bay ya, my Lord, kum bay ya;
Kum bay ya, my Lord, kum bay ya;
Kum bay ya, my Lord, kum bay ya,
O Lord, kum bay ya.

Hear me crying, my Lord, kum bay ya;
Hear me crying, my Lord, kum bay ya;
Hear me crying, my Lord, kum bay ya,
O Lord, kum bay ya.

Hear me singing, my Lord, kum bay ya;
Hear me singing, my Lord, kum bay ya;
Hear me singing, my Lord, kum bay ya,
O Lord, kum bay ya.

Hear me praying, Lord, kum bay ya;
Hear me praying, Lord, kum bay ya;
Hear me praying, Lord, kum bay ya,
O Lord, kum bay ya.

Oh, I need you, my Lord, kum bay ya;
Oh, I need you, my Lord, kum bay ya;
Oh, I need you, my Lord, kum bay ya,

Do you really think I’m afraid of an anonymous, cowardly troll like you? Or that I care what you think of this blog?

Janna L. Chan (blog team over)


Yes, I understand your concern about anonymous posts being more conducive to honesty among those who have been hurt and I do understand the problem of moles as well.

These are my thoughts if I were to start a Facebook support group page:
1. It would be private, somehow we’d have to have a core group that could reach out and invite others they/we know have left ARBCA churches that want a place to be validated and supported. I’m not sure how that could be facilitated. OR, maybe not make it private so people can find us, but have people that want to join required to answer questions privately to the moderator to try to weed out those that would be moles.

2. All posts would be moderated prior to going up on the wall….also a way to weed out those moles.

3. Strict guidelines, such as no attacks on others that have posted. Not a place to argue, have theological debate, but rather a place to find comfort and validation.

Those are just my thoughts on it. I’m not sure how people could post anonymously in a Facebook group like this.
I will see if it’s possible to have a facebook group that shows up publically but does not show the posts people have made unless joined. That way the page could be found by people but any JoBlow would not be able to read anything posted there…if that is possible that would be a plus.

At this point, I am just gathering info as to how many might be interested and how to figure out to set it up. If someone else thinks they have a better idea and is willing to set it up and moderate please do and let me know so we are not duplicating.

Hi Marsha,

I think that this is fundamentally a good idea. Here are some thoughts:

1) I don’t think that you can moderate comments on Facebook. If you manage the group, you can only delete comments after they are posted.

2) I don’t think that you can entirely weed out moles on any online platform. Therefore, online groups may not be a good place for people who really need privacy.

3) I don’t think that Facebook is a good space for writing long comments, as it doesn’t allow people to write in paragraphs.

I certainly don’t mean to throw cold water on a good idea. I just thought you should know about the above issues. Thanks! Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


There are indeed such private, moderated facebook groups. Postings can be kept ‘private’ to group members only, but it is not possible to comment anonymously. And I am assuming we all know that nothing we post anywhere is truly ‘private’. I belong to several such groups, and, for the most part, with proper moderation, have found them to be peopled mostly by sincere people looking for information or sharing genuinely. Apt moderators remove inappropriate comments and/or commenters. Those who are victims of some sort of abuse, be it physical, sexual, emotional or spiritual, may be unwilling, however to be exposed and name names, either for their own safety or in order to protect children, family members, etc. from retribution. That is why I prefer to comment anonymously.

Van Helsing

I, also was a member of CRBC in Hales Corners, WI for about four years. I heard many of Tom’s sermons and that was the main reason I joined – I heard the Gospel preached. I, and others, were fooled by Tom’s ability to preach and teach. He was exceptional at making Scripture come alive and then applying it to one’s life. This was an awesome thing for me since I came back to Reformed Theology from the lifeless crypt of papism (Roman Catholicism) and was starving to be fed.

I then began to notice certain things about Tom over time that really bothered me. For instance, I once had an important spiritual question for him and tried over a few weeks to get his attention after worship only to be coldly blown off (curtly dismissed – he was very good at that). Finally one Sunday, I was determined to get his attention but he was purposely ignoring me (again) after worship so I went up to him as he had his back turned to me and said loudly and in frustration: “What’s the matter Tom, are you afraid of me?” He immediately turned around (actually quickly turned around irate) and replied with a dismissive serpentine snarl: “No, I am not afraid of you.” After that, I avoided him and wondered if such a man was fit for ministry to begin with.

There were many other things that suggested Tom as being infit for ministry that I will not mention since I am sick of all this stuff. Time for sentencing and time to move on.

I think that we’ve all seen the answer and the answer is NO! No matter the outcome of the trial – God, not ARBCA, finally had to take him out of the ministry forever. For that, I thank God so that other kids can rest assured that they will not be punished in God’s name by this narcissistic, twisted and misfit of a man.


My family attended Christ Reformed Baptist Church in Hales Corners, WI. We are thankfully to have left that church just prior to Tom Chantry being arrested. We eventually saw that this man loved to preach but had a coldness towards people, especially children’s behavior after church.

As a Father, I’m very thankful my children were kept safe from harm. I’m also thankful that I never allowed my children to attend “catechism training” during Sunday School by Tom Chantry at this church. We were among the many fooled by this cover up!! I read your summary of every day of the trial and it sickened me even more!!! We respected Walt Chantry and trusted that Tom had been vetted properly by the Elders. This was a horrible example of leadership and it’s scary to think how many MORE could have been abused in Wisconsin!!

Justice will come soon. I pray that justice will be swift and that it will bring some closure to these victims and their families. The ARBCA will be punished soon!! There is a LOVING God and an army of TRUE godly Pastors sacrificing their lives for us every day in our churches. Let’s pray that these hurting families and the victims receive the comfort they deserve after being subjected to this man’s anger and wicked lusts!

Van Helsing

Now I am confused because the position of “elder” implies authority – not absolute authority but “responsible” authority – otherwise why is the term even mentioned in the Bible? It is human nature for leaders to emerge among groups for their mere survival and is how God planned it, methinks. Not everyone is EQUAL except in dignity before the Lord. This authority must be exercised very judiciously and needs to be checked or counter-balanced at times by the members of the church. An elder disrespects the congregation if he fails to be transparent on important issues. Any elder in opposition to this principle should be lovingly called to account by the congregation – not in malice or in anger lest they become like ARBCA – but in a gentle spirit of inquiry to insure Biblical accountability.


“. . . the position of “elder” implies authority – not absolute authority but “responsible” authority – otherwise why is the term even mentioned in the Bible? It is human nature for leaders to emerge among groups for their mere survival and is how God planned it, methinks.”

You do realize that this is pure assumption, right? Assumptions that have been pushed on the masses for literally centuries by those who – you guessed it – claimed to have authority over them.

I would submit to you that the concept of ‘submit’, along with the authority it supposedly suggests, has been long distorted, resulting from the twisting and misapplying of verses to mean quite other than what they more naturally imply.

You were much closer to the actual role of elders when you speak of the responsibility of the elders, which is to serve, guide and protect. I encourage all who really want to understand the passages that speak of elders to carefully examine resources that explore the applicable verses in their original language and context. I believe you will discover that the sort of headship that was proscribed had nothing to do with authority and everything to do with responsibility.

Even our all-powerful, perfect Creator, the only true authority in the universe, when issuing commands to men allows them the choice of whether or not to submit. In actuality, the concept translated into ‘submit’, and even the English word, holds the connotation of the individual having personal autonomy. When we submit to God, or one another, we are not ‘compelled’, but must lay aside our right to do as we choose and trust the guidance of another. Such true submission to God cannot be done once and for all; just as Jesus sweated drops of blood to arrive at ‘not my will but thine’, we will struggle again and again to lay aside our own fleshly desires and notions in order to follow God’s guidance in our lives, one decision at a time.

Note that the analogy of scripture for the ekklesia is that of a body, with the elders being the head. Now the head is in no way shape or form the ‘authority’ of the body, but the facilitator, that seeks to coordinate the gifts and responsibilities of each member in order to obtain ultimate function for the whole body. It is not so much in authority over the body as the member with the responsibility to see that everything is working together as it should. It is the ‘heart/soul’ that decides the direction the body is going to take, and the head’s job is simply to get it there. Recently scientist have rediscovered what was once held to be true but since rejected, which is that the heart actually has functions much like a brain, giving credence to the heart being the real center of control of a person.

Just as a person submits to God’s will in trust, they will be more likely to submit to the leadership of a wise, godly, servant-hearted elder whom they see as only seeking the welfare of all. But the sort of self-claimed authority to ‘rule’ that the institutional Church has asserted from its founding is ascriptural and without justification. There is absolutely no suggestion that a pastor, elders or any other hierarchical organization has the authority to dictate to a local congregation what they must unquestioningly believe or do. The listener is always charged with studying God’s Word and seeking the guidance of his Spirit – not to rote submission. The only examples of ‘discipline’ exhort the entire congregation – not the elders – to put out those who are exhibiting blatant, destructive sin, so immoral that even the heathens would judge it reprehensible. This, as I said earlier, is akin to granting one a jury of peers, rather than asserting that some man or council has the right and authority to be the judge and jury.

These are the false teachings which, in my opinion, have brought us to the place we are at, in which mere men fight with one another over who has the right to determine what the bible actually means, how to apply it and who gets to judge whether or not others measure up. The religious Pharisees of the day continue to create new doctrines and legislate new restrictions in their attempt to achieve purity and piety, and in the end create division, legalism and hypocrisy. Just what Satan loves to see, and nothing like what Jesus set forth for his body, which was not to be like the institutions of men, with ‘rulers’ who war and clamor endlessly to rule over one another.

If God himself respects the god-like power of reason and choice he created man with. allowing men to disobey and do evil (which, of course the authoritarian Reformed folk deny) why would we think that mere men have the right to use greater force to control our ‘wickedness’? Rather, we are to proclaim God’s Word, and allow his Spirit to convict and lead men as he sees fit, knowing that all believers are in a different place in their process of becoming like Christ, and responsible to God alone for their actions.

It is not the job of men to build God’s kingdom, nor to produce Christ-like righteousness. Those are things that only God’s Spirit can do. It is the job of the body to support, encourage and assist one another, as we seek and trust God to do the necessary work within his body.

Van Helsing

No, it is something that anyone who can see and accept reality would say! Are you able to do that or have you been bewitched by ARBCA also? Eazer does not understand who she is dealing with here. You do not hide in plain sight for 20 years by being stupid or non-sophisticated.

Hi Van Helsing, I did not approve one of your comments, because it contained some gratuitous sexist comments.

Todd is also very concerned about what he thinks is your bigoted attitude toward women. He’s told me that he’s happy to step in at any point and tell you not to question the intelligence or capability of women anymore.

Almost all the people who have commented here are easily able to abide by this blog’s comments’ policies. By contrast, it seems as though Todd and I have to ask you to stop doing something almost every time you post a comment.

This really isn’t a space for people who want to talk about how much they hate liberals or imply that women lawyers are inept just because they’re women.

Perhaps you should consider posting elsewhere. There are plenty of blogs that will let you post material that disparages women and liberals.

Please think about that.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


This trial has been incredibly intense to follow. So I know it must be very stressful for Todd and Janna. thank you! I will be praying all day for justice for the victims and their families.
This case has made me think long and hard about our time at an ARBCA church. There were so many ‘not quite right’ things going on. One that stands out most is the treatment and distrust of children. Children were viewed as unrepentant lost souls, the church’s approach to bringing them into the flock was to encourage ‘firm’ disciplinary methods – lots of spanking . Another thing that always struck me as weird was that they wanted children to learn that their place in the church family was last. One of the ways they did this was at church dinners and picnics children had to eat last. When questioned about this, I was told it was to teach them to have a servant attitude. However men always went first, so much for teaching the children how to be servant, most became bitter. The men were obviously alpha and had no need to model servant behavior to the souls they said they sought to save.
I bring this up because I feel that this attitude towards children helps ARBCA justify coddling and protecting their elite group of men – after all they are saved and the children lost. Lord have mercy!
Also. Never understood the number of large families in a church that openly disliked children.


This brings back memories of my own experience in a conservative Reformed church (not ARBCA). Despite all of the teaching about welcoming children, almost insisting on large families, not having children’s church or Sunday School and other common practices in these churches I would not consider them particularly friendly to children.

The former pastor used to introduce his children, one by one, as ‘my depraved son, _________’; until a concerned parishioner asked him why he never introduced himself as ‘the depraved pastor, ________’. Hoorah for outspoken seniors, coming from less authoritarian places. Being very egalitarian, perhaps even feminist – it’s okay, they aren’t demon possessed – she also frequently protested his patriarchal abuse of his wife and children, controlling ever move, going through purses and devices and even searching the trash can when he came home to see if they ate something of which he disapproved. Sounds so silly, but this simply demonstrates the extreme narcissism and authoritarianism that fuels such men, who express their manipulation as desires to make everyone pious and holy. They are sick and – dare I say it? – evil men, and the welfare of those in their ‘care’ matter little to them.

I cannot say whether such men are false shepherds to begin with, or if they are easily deceived into viewing even their most perverse desires as ‘God’s will’; but anyone who views others as disposable people, tools to achieve their goals, has no empathy and is a dangerous person.


To the person who wants a support group:

I can’t find your post in this mess of comments, so hope you will see this.

Is there a particular reason you don’t want it to be a Facebook group? I could set up a private support group but the problem with making a blog support group is what we have here…boat loads of comments. All communication would be in the comment threads and it would get really messy after a while.

A Facebook group would be better because a change of subject can be directly made by anyone in the group with a new post instead of a mess of comments.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’d be willing to set up a private moderated Facebook support group, but I don’t have time to deal with a blog format due to how messy it can get with all the variety of topics in comment threads and the added responsibility of making blog posts to start new comment threads to keep it cleaned up isn’t something I have time to do.

If anyone is interested in a private moderated Facebook support group, please let me know. If enough want that, I will do it.



I’d be game, but I have a suspicion that there are two competing concerns for many here:

1.) The desire to remain anonymous (allows for greater honesty)
2.) The fear of the existence of “moles”.

On the one hand, anonymity seems to create an environment for greater, “raw-er” honesty, but on the other hand, it helps to hide nefarious behavior.

In my mind, the existence of such a group should be for one thing: healing for those who are hurting. In such a group, healing most likely would include fairly brutal honest (deep anger, “bitterness”, foul language, etc.), but I’m of the opinion that honesty like that (as unpleasant as it can get) is vitally important and a necessary step towards wholeness.


Ole Ganny

Marsha, it was me. If you do the fb thing I’ll probably not join. But thank you for starting something. My husband is not on fb and I believe he would respond if it’s in a blog.


Many Reformed Baptist churches are not members of arbca. One important reason is arbca wants to be able to engage in church discipline of the member churches. They believe the 1689 LBCoF affirms association for discipline. I am very glad my church saw this as unbiblical many years ago. Pastors getting together with other pastors for prayer, teaching and counsel is very good when it is voluntary and their churches remain independent.


It is very important to understand, and to share with others, that there is no biblical precedent for elder ‘authority’ nor for ‘church discipline’ by a pastor or group of elders. The pastor and elders are called to ‘lead’, not rule. And when ‘discipline’ is called for, the congregation, not some ‘authority’ was called to put the unrepentant sinner out. I would guess that this is the very precedent that gave us the right to a trial by a jury of our peers. Were the civil magistrates to follow what these religious magistrates claim, we would be at the mercy of a judge, however inept or corrupt he might be.


You say “there is no biblical precedent for elder ‘authority’ ” That simply isn’t the case. is it abused? You bet. But pastors are under-shepherds. Regarding matters of the Christian life they lead and reprove and corrrect. It seems that you are saying that whoever the preaching elder is just drops in for a sermon and a Sunday school class. If someone wants to follow the direction cool if not that’s cool too. The pastor is to apply the Rule of The Bible in guiding the flock.


Trust me, I know full well that this is the official orthodoxy of the Institutional Church, preached in nearly every denomination. I simply discount its truthfulness.

There is no precedent for a ‘teaching elder’ or ‘pastor’, and were we to follow the biblical example we would eliminate the greatest source of abuse in the modern church! Instead of having one so-called ‘authority’ expounding, week after week, his own personal opinions – however derived – we would have men and women sharing, two or three, one at a time, and others questioning and discussing what they had to say. Even Paul praised and encouraged those who questioned his teachings, and sought to hold him accountable to scripture; which suggests that what was viewed as scripture at that time was superior to the words coming out of Paul’s mouth. Ah, such blasphemy, I know. We have all been told what to believe, and we reject anyone who questions our church’s teaching on what is ‘true’ is an enemy, liberal or heretic. (Heard it every week.)

Contrary to what many might claim, what I am suggesting is not total anarchy, but reasonable restraint – the right and responsibility of the individual to think, reason, meditate and follow the Spirit of God. Such approaches, and the temerity to challenge the status quo have instituted the greatest freedoms and improvements to society and state that have ever occurred, even if quickly attacked by authoritarian rulers in church and state.

Do you think the monolithic Church welcomed the Renaissance thinking that insisted that men have individual religious freedom, and the right to believe and worship as they choose? Hardly. Catholic and Protestant Reformers fought one another over who was in charge, who had the sole authority. Meanwhile, through faithful, powerless individuals who were deemed heretics, persecuted, tortured and killed, opened the eyes of men and women to the evil of an all-powerful, authoritarian church and state. Oh, men have never ceased attempting to claw back as much of this authoritarian power as they can, and we can never cease to stand up for the true freedom in Christ that has been granted to each individual.

Or we can just sign our membership covenant and shut up. We can blindly follow our political party, and not notice the wickedness, oppression and injustice practiced by our ‘leaders’. Because, literally everywhere we are told to ‘shut up and obey orders’, and anyone who dares to speak out against evil and abuse is a heretic, anarchist, communist, terrorist, conspiracist or whatever the name of the day is. Nonetheless, God works through one faithful man at a time, proclaiming truth and being willing to suffer for it. We should not be surprised when Isaiah’s prophecies prevail, and:

“Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth has fallen in the public squares (including the institutional church) and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.”

Read all of Isaiah 59, and put The long corrupt Church properly in its place along with the rest of those whose lips have spoken lies, whose tongues mutter wickedness and who conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity. We have been duped into believing anything that calls itself ‘church’ or ‘christian’ is trustworthy – guys like Chantry serve to show us how often we have been deceived.


JHenry – You’ve said a mouthfull! And I agree with much of your criticism of the leaders in history. But I’d say that i would look to the NT to understand the issue of shepherds and flock. You wrote: “Even Paul praised and encouraged those who questioned his teachings, and sought to hold him accountable to scripture; which suggests that what was viewed as scripture at that time was superior to the words coming out of Paul’s mouth.” The suggestion that his words were inferior to ‘scripture’, by which you mean the Tanakh, is yours not the text. When we read the totality of his epistles and Acts it can be clearly seen that he believed the people must verify all he taught in their Bible. But he certainly did not believe what he taught was anything other than what Jesus had told him to teach. In the context of all he wrote (that is in the canon) Paul wanted to demonstrate the truth of what he taught about Jesus from the Old Testament-just as Jesus taught the 11 after the Resurrection and then him after His Exaltation.

Paul Gordon

I think resist authoritarianism without Jettisoning authority altogether. The Office of Elder or Overseer as an office of authority is too well attested in Scripture to deny. From the appointment of Elders in every city in Acts 14, to those who are over you in the Lord and admonish you in 1 Thessalonians 5, to the Elders who are leaders to be obeyed and submitted to in Hebrews 13 to the instruction of the Pastoral letters you cannot rule out the office of rule in the church. The issue that must be confronted is not the fact of such of such authority or leadership but its nature. It is ministerial, not magisterial, tender and not tyrannical, humble and not haughty, gracious not unkind, compassionate and not cool or condescending.


Thank you for your good words. I would love to attend a church gathering like Paul describes: “When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. . . . Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.”
Just like you said above.

Ole Ganny

2samuel, over a year ago I began praying for the souls of therm in authority at our former church. (I cannot call them pastors because they were not real pastors) I honestly cannot see Christ in these men. Sad! ?


Ma’am, I would also not grant them the right to be called ‘in authority’, as if forcing their whims upon others is legitimate. More like, ‘in control’, using the powers of personality (brainwashing, thought control) and coercion (threat of discipline).

May you continue to find healing, peace and grant grace to yourself, for most of us simply do not have the framework with which to understand and deal with the authoritarian spiritual abuse that is prevalent in the Institutional Church.

L. Williams

You are obstructing justice with your opinions and reports. In this country one is innocent until proven guilty. You and your inciting a witch hunt is interfering with this process.
I do not know Tom Chantry, nor am I a member of the Reformed Church. I have stumbled across your articles and it seems you have designated yourself as judge and jury. Who has given you that right? What good are you doing with the venomous attacks you are making?
Keep your opinions and judgement to yourself and let so that fact, truth and justice is not obstructed!

Paul Gordon

Justice was obstructed when these crimes were covered up by religious leaders in 2000 not when free American citizens enjoying the rights guaranteed to us under the first amendment discuss these crimes openly. By the way if any false information has been reported by Todd or in any of these comments you have been given a platform here to correct it and give the true information. Simply to slam this exercise of free speech as a “witch hunt” or as an obstruction of justice is a baseless claim made without supporting evidence. Justice hunted down and accused a man of a crime whose trial is proceeding according to law without regard to the reportage or comments we are making here.


The jurists have been instructed to not read any news or other coverage of this trial, so I think you can rest easy that anything said here will not obstruct truth and justice. 😉 I would be more concerned about what Chantry has said . . .

You are about the 100th person on this blog to spout the ignorant idea that private citizens are not allowed to have opinions about someone’s guilt or innocence. Are you suggesting that the U.S. justice system is infallible? Do you think that innocent people are never wrongly convicted and that guilty people never go free?

Millions of people believe that O.J. Simpson is guilty of murdering two people even though a jury has acquitted him of those crimes. Do you accuse them of being on a witch-hunt?

“You and your inciting a witch hunt is interfering with this process.”

Actually, we’re exercising our right to free speech. Free speech is important in our country. The jury has been instructed not to read anything about this case. So no, we are not interfering with their task. If you had taken the time to read the material on this blog, you would see that Todd has backed up everything he says with credible primary and secondary sources. By contrast, you’re just engaging in ad hominem attacks.

Also, in this case, the evidence against Tom Chantry would almost certainly be stronger if ARBCA leaders hadn’t obstructed justice by lying to parents about what they knew regarding the credible allegations of physical and sexual abuse against him. A legal document in the following post proves that:

The relevant ARBCA leaders have obstructed justice, not us.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

L. Williams:

If Tom Chantry is found guilty in a court of law, will you accept that verdict? Based on my 7 years of doing advocacy work against child sexual abuse in churches, I doubt that you will.

Many churches and para-church organizations that cover-up allegations of child abuse cry “innocent until proven guilty” until someone is convicted. Then they say that the trial was unfair , that American society doesn’t like Evangelicals, etc. etc.

Also, several people have reported that their ARBCA pastors told them that Tom Chantry was innocent as soon as he was arrested. They did not cite any facts in support of this belief. In fact, they later told church members not to read material about the case. Instead, the implication was that these church members should just trust their pastors, as if they spoke the word of God themselves regarding this case.

Are those ideas aligned with American conceptions about pursuing justice?

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


I was wondering the same. I even considered starting a group but wasn’t sure of how to go about it. If anyone is starting a group I want to join.


Hey moderator, anyway you can address the way replies do not fall under the appropriate comment when made before the comment is officially posted? I have learned to wait until the comment appears before I reply, but it is sometimes confusing trying to match up which ‘reply’ goes where. 🙂 Maybe simply not include the option to reply in the received email notifications, since it then shows up as a new comment rather than a reply?

I’ll see what I can do. Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Mr. Jesperson

I like Throckmorton’s answer which is DISCUS. It allows for impeded, nested comments. All of the other ways it is done is just confusing. TWW has had their comment section broken for years. Way too many comments there typically, many more than in Warrens and I gave up trying to have a conversation with someone on their section years ago. They do not want to fix it. What is going on here I saw before when the GFA story was breaking in 2015. There was a lot of talk for awhile because a bunch of former cult members did not have a place to share or talk to each other about the crap that was/is going on. You are now experiencing the same thing with ARBCA. This will pass, but DISCUS is the only solution that I know to managing a hundred or more comments.

Hi, thanks for your suggestion. Many people, myself included, do not like Disqus. They find it complicated to use. I don’t want it because you lose control over your comment system.

No comment system for WordPress is ideal. People will complain about any system. ? Right now, the blog is getting many comments because of the Chantry trial.

If the blog continues to be so busy after the trial, we’ll look into some other options.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Thanks, my first answer was not vert diplomatic. I apologize for saying that people will complain no mater what. That was rude of me. Folks have individual preferences regarding comment systems on blogs. DISQUS has its benefits, yet many people, including me, find it irritating to use and intrusive. DISQUS constantly pressures people to sign up for DISQUS accounts, which is a form of advertising. It is also a 3rd-party system that is not inherently integrated with WordPress. That means that the blog owner ultimately does not have control over comments when using DISQUS.

Here are a few complaints about DISQUS, which make my head spin:

The comment system presently being used on this blog does allow for one level of nested comments. I agree that that many not be adequate for posts getting more than 100 comments. Please understand that this has never happened before. I doubt that any of the articles that are not about Tom Chantry have received more than 15 comments.

I do believe that and am gratified to think that Thou Art The Man has gained many new readers who will follow the blog after the Chantry trial is over. If there’s enough interest, I might set up a separate open-source forum through a system called

It’s not very aesthetically appealing, yet has wonderful features including allowing people to “whitelist” (their commments are highlighted) or “blacklist” (you don’t see their comments) people they like or don’t like. 😉

More later. Thanks! Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Not to belabor my point, yet I did some research and DISQUS has a reputation for selling the info of its users. That’s why it’s free for web site owners. Thanks.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Van Helsing

It really seems like you need PRAYER badly. I will do that tonight and throughout the remainder of this entire fiasco.

Van Helsing

It fits the pattern. Chantry had to go where he knew he would be protected and Giarizzo was their GUY playing his role in the cover-up. Hmmm. Very sorry to hear about your abuse and sorry you had to endure Chantry at that church but it is good that you left. BTW, they only told the members because they knew (at least assumed) that they would not step out of line and would obey their masters.

Ole Ganny

Question: Is there a support group for folks who have been in ARBCA churches but left because of all sorts of reasons? Not a Facebook group. Maybe a blog that we could tell our stories either using our real names or using made up names. This group has helped me see that my husband and I are not alone. Elders, deacons, long time respected members have left these churches.

Van Helsing

Hi JHenry,
It is quite OK if you disagree with me in some areas since I am NOT associated with or connected to ARBCA in any way, shape, or manner. 🙂 I will not spiritually abuse you!

Now, with that said, you are correct about “splitting” or what is sometimes called “compartmentalization” in psychological parlance. It is also referred to Disassociative Disorder. BTW, I have always believed that psychology and psychiatry are just secular forms of a “religion” stripped of its power and tailored specifically by and for unbelievers.

Secular psychology has its own terminology for mental disease and defect and I often simply referred to it as SIN. That often drove my atheistic colleagues bananas (another psych term for crazy) but who cares? I sometimes did refer to it as a sickness or illness when I spoke to other less knowledgeable unbelievers.

Yes, as the psychological theory goes – extreme trauma can break down aspects of one’s conscience (psyche) as it tries to protect itself from the pain being experienced. Again, the theory postulates that the psyche (which actually means soul) then splits or compartmentalizes to seal off the hurt and pain from direct access by the the intellect thus preserving the mind of the individual and trying to return to equilibrium or homeostasis.

If you give credence to this theory then it explains why some people can abuse children on a Saturday without any qualms and then on Sunday preach a sermon that could have come out of the mouth of a Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Hope that helps and remember, it’s NOT Gospel so feel free to disagree if you so desire.


Was he barred only from the church in Rockford or was he barred from all churches?


The church didn’t bar him. When he was released from jail he had conditions he had to meet. He couldn’t go to places where he knew there were children (like a church or school) unless incidentally (like a grocery store).

a former ARBCA church attendee

I would guess that Christian Liberty was already aware of Tom Chantry’s arrest by the time you contacted them. His sister is married to a son of one of the leaders of Christian Liberty. I doubt that they were aware of the details before the arrest because of the coverup. The Church of Christian Liberty is not affiliated with ARBCA. While both are Reformed, that’s where the similarity ends. At least in my experience, CL tends to be a bit more accepting of different viewpoints, more interested in serving, and less focused on church as an intellectual exercise, which was my experience of Walt Chantry’s church.