Former ARBCA Pastor Calls on Corrupt Leaders of ARBCA to Repent

By | September 8, 2018

“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” -Winston Churchill

Jon Cochran, pastor of Portico Church, Orange, CA

 

Jon Cochran is proof that there were some good men in ARBCA. Unfortunately, their numbers are dwindling as 22 churches left in 2015 over the “Divine Impassibility” controversy. (Don’t ask!) Cochran and his church left in 2017 because of  the obvious corruption in ARBCA leadership as it related to receiving Thomas Chantry’s former church, Christ Reformed Baptist Church into the ARBCA Association.

More good men will undoubtedly leave after ARBCA published it’s most recent document, “ARBCA Membership Process of Christ Reformed Baptist Church Hales Corners, Wisconsin, and the Case of Thomas J. Chantry.” The report is dated September 5, 2018 and was disseminated to ARBCA churches yesterday. I will deal extensively with this report in the future, but for now let me just share with you one ridiculous quote written to apparently justify ARBCA’s inaction on the sordid Chantry trainwreck:

“We must emphasize the importance that the place and priority of competent authority and jurisdiction holds in matters such as this case. No individual or entity has authority or liberty to take any action related to such matters unless the entity (i.e. church or State) possesses appropriate jurisdiction. After the exercise of such competent authority by appropriate jurisdiction, other individuals or entities should act based on the facts, the evaluation of those facts, and the actions taken by the appropriate jurisdiction. Until then, any actions regarding an accusation either violate the authority and jurisdiction of the State or the authority and jurisdiction of the local church and tend toward interference in the judicial processes of the State, or toward gossip, slander, or schism among Christians and churches. Any investigation of an allegation, evaluation of evidence/information, and determination of guilt or innocence conducted by anyone or any entity other than the due process established by God, in the local church or by the secular government with jurisdiction, violates God’s directions for handling accusations and is itself sin. While such matters certainly draw the interest and concern of individual church members, as well as local churches, we must exercise restraint, discipline, and patience in responding to such interests and concerns. That restraint, discipline, and patience must be directed by a robust understanding of God’s provision for competent authority and appropriate jurisdiction in such matters and a submission to such authority and its processes and outcomes.”

Such divine language, such lofty thoughts, such total lack of any common sense! What’s ironic is Don Lindblad’s statement given in a deposition conducted by the State’s Attorney, Susan Eazer. (You will recall that Lindblad is one of the inner circle of corrupt ARBCA leaders. He was Chantry’s “advocate” in the 2000 ARBCA investigation, served as Chantry’s go-between in 2006 and 2009 when one of the victims Chantry sexually molested was attempting to contact Chantry, listened in on the 2006 conversation between Chantry and the victim, and was sent to Christ Reformed Baptist Church in Halls Crossings, WI to attempt to convince the church members that all was well with the imprisoned Chantry. Oh, and one other thing, Judge Astrowsky had to admonish Lindblad for being evasive on the witness stand!) Here is what Lindblad had to say:

“Well our association has gone on record as believing that the subsequent charges are not true.”

And let’s review what ARBCA said again:

“Any investigation of an allegation, evaluation of evidence/information, and determination of guilt or innocence conducted by anyone or any entity other than the due process established by God, in the local church or by the secular government with jurisdiction, violates God’s directions for handling accusations and is itself sin.”

Portico Church was one of only 2 churches that voted against the reception of CRBC Hales Corners church into the ARBCA Association at the 2016 ARBCA General Assembly. They are to be commended for doing so.

Last night Pastor Jon Cochran sent a powerful email out to all the pastors in ARBCA. He called on the corrupt leaders of the ARBCA to repent.  Not surprisingly, it appears Cochran’s email had the opposite effect on ARBCA leaders.  I am told they have drawn their knives and gone after the good pastor! Unfortunately, Pastor Cochran is not the first pastor to experience the wrath of the ARBCA leaders.  If you dare cross them they go after you.

Here is a good summary of the reasons Portico Church withdrew from ARBCA:

 

Below is Pastor Cochran’s letter, followed by the letter he submitted in 2017 withdrawing his church from ARBCA. My hope is that other upright pastors still in ARBCA will be emboldened to do the same.

Portico Church Letter of Resignation From ARBCA by Todd Wilhelm on Scribd

21 thoughts on “Former ARBCA Pastor Calls on Corrupt Leaders of ARBCA to Repent

  1. CJ

    “Such divine language, such lofty thoughts, such total lack of any common sense!”

    It’s a turgid pseudo-intellectual word-salad. This is a stain they cannot outmaneuver or word-vomit away.

    Who has bewitched them?

    It completely misses the main issues and adds to the long history of condescension and conscience binding.

    And, it’s no surprise that maneuvering has begun to buffer ARBCA from civil suits. ARBCA has been marked as harboring a pedophile, because they have harbored a criminal, and NOT because they’re being persecuted.

    I grieve not only for the abused, but for the flocks who have (for decades) been afflicted in the places that should have been safe havens for their souls. Spot on, Vince Wood, when you pulled Peter in to swing his hammer at spiritual bullies.

    Reply
        1. 2samuel127 Post author

          Hmm, not sure what the problem is, this happened a few weeks ago. I will send you a link directly from the site and see if that works.

          Reply
  2. "Joy"

    Have begun to read the Sept 5th ARBCA AC letter and appendices.

    First thoughts: think long and careful before even considering to give up your rights to speak about something, or promise you won’t tell anyone why you left your church. It may be asked of you.

    Reply
  3. Lee

    I was wondering if there is a list anywhere of the 22 churches that left the ARBCA in 2015 over the “Divine Impassibility” controversy. Also, am I to assume that their reasons for leaving involved a lot more than their being on the wrong side of this controversy?

    Reply
    1. 2samuel127 Post author

      Lee,
      Below you will find quotes from the quarterly “ARBCA Update.” The first from the Spring 2016 Update and the second from the Spring 2015 Update. You will see there are links to both. Page 2 of every ARBCA Update has a list of member churches. I counted 75 churches on the list in 2015 and 61 churches on the list in 2016. This is a difference of -14 churches. There were 4 churches added in 2016, including Thomas Chantry’s church. This would bring the difference to a -18. I would guess the additional 4 can be explained by someone not updating the list accurately or timely. You can get a nearly complete list of the churches that quit by comparing the two lists. The 4 churches that joined in 2016 are listed in the article about the GA, on one of the latter pages.

      I read somewhere, but could not find the quote, that not all 22 churches quit ARBCA because they disagreed with the doctrine of Divine Impassability, but they did not approve of driving churches out of the association because of disagreement over this doctrine.

      Hope this helps.
      -Todd

      “Serious discussion and attention was also given to the remnants of the late controversy over divine impassibility. Twenty-two churches left for various, reasons and one church was removed this year because it could not affirm the Confession of Faith’s doctrine of God’s impassibility as clarified by the Theology Committee Report of 2015.”

      https://s3.amazonaws.com/churchplantmedia-cms/arbca_carlisle_pa/sp-2016-arbca-update.pdf

      “Treasurer Jeff Oliver of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Placerville, Calif., echoed some of the concerns noted by VanderMeulen. The last year has been marked by “difficult issues,” he said, including resignations of five members from the Administrative Council.”

      https://s3.amazonaws.com/churchplantmedia-cms/arbca_carlisle_pa/sp-2015-arbca-update-final.pdf

      Reply
  4. "Joy"

    Excerpt from Portico Church’s resignation from ARBCA in March 2017 (under “second concern”):

    “The reception of applying churches into the association belongs to the general assembly. By determining to recommend the Hales Corners church to the general assembly for reception, but failing to, or being legally
    hindered from, informing the general assembly of the issues as they were known, the [membership committee], [Administrative committee], and coordinator undermined the integrity of the process. These groups, in their desire to help, actually overreached and usurped the authority of the general assembly. Again, we do not believe that this was done with malice, but this was the totally unacceptable result.”

    Regarding “overreach[ing] and usurp[ing] the authority” and “undermin[ing] the integrity of the process]:

    — that appears to be what the three man informal committee did when “helping and advising” the Prescott church. If the local church is autonomous, and not under the authority of ARBCA, then one would expect the informal committee to research the matter and give recommendations to the local church, and step away, leaving the final matter in their hands.

    — could also apply to withholding information about Tom Chantry’s past from the Hales Corner church so they could decide for themselves whether Tom Chantry was “above reproach” when considering him for an elder.

    Reply
    1. 2samuel127 Post author

      All valid points Joy. I was in contact with Douglas Vandermeulen yesterday. He was the Chairman of the Administrative Council of ARBCA in 2015 and thus he, along with Steve Marquedant who was Chairman of the Membership Committee, and John Giarrizzo who was the ARBCA Coordinator, in my opinion, bear the most responsibility for receiving Thomas Chantry’s church into the ARBCA Association.

      Mr. Vandermeulen seemed most interested in pushing his agenda of ARBCA is an association, not a denomination. I wouldn’t take the bait, but I believe he likely wanted to make a case that as an association they have no authority over autonomous churches in ARBCA. Though I would agree this is true of an association on paper, in reality the way I have observed it works out in both ARBCA and Sovereign Grace Ministries (though they are now no longer a loose association or family of churches, but a denomination) is that they are granted authority by churches in the association. This is not “official” but is the way it works in practice. If you examine the way this played out in the Thomas Chantry scandal you will indeed see ARBCA had authority.

      Reply
      1. Ciaran

        this might have been covered here before, but how would an “association” vs. “denomination” work legally? I.e. if ARBCA defines itself as an “association”, could they at all be held legally responsible for anything related to the Chantry situation, as an organization?

        Reply
        1. 2samuel127 Post author

          ARBCA is diligently attempting to make the point that they are an association, not a denomination. As an association they claim they have no authority over member churches. On paper this is true. As it has worked out in practice, I am of the opinion ARBCA, by default, have operated as if they actually have authority. Just examine all that happened in the Chantry scandal in 2000 and I think you will understand where I’m coming from. At the end of the day it is not my opinion that matters. There is probably a good chance a civil suit will decide such matters. It appears ARBCA leaders are aware of this possibility and thus posturing now to make their claim of no authority.

          Reply
          1. Ciaran

            I’m thinking back over all the years I spent in an ARBCA church, and I never remember ARBCA being treated like a denomination. I.e. It’s associational definition was always considered a very important point of polity and theology and was presented as a very important distinction.

            Having said that, I also remember the clout that certain pastors within the Association carried and we knew that certain churches carried certain weight within it.

            Its like a SBC churchman going on about not being authoritarian like the Catholics or Episcopalians, but then having a Senior Pastor that is basically a mini-Popes in his own congregations. Or a collection of mini-popes in an “elder-led” church. Just sayin.

            As for any potential civil suits, time will tell I suppose. One could perhaps think of jail time as being akin to a “hard penance”, which ARBCA would most likely skate from, but with the possibility of a “softer” penance of restitution in a civil suit. The “softest” penance would perhaps be the best for the various church members of these congregations, and that’s for them all to just leave. Perhaps ARBCA will not skate that one.

          2. 2samuel127 Post author

            Hi Ciaran,
            I agree, I think the best course of action is for members to just walk away. If they are fortunate enough to be in a good church with a good pastor the man should not need much convincing to walk away from the association. At this point, what possible good can come from being aligned with what is, in my opinion, an association run by a handful of corrupt men?

  5. Elizabeth

    After reading Pastor Cochran’s clear, god-fearing reasons for withdrawing from ARBCA and call to repentance of their leaders, and then reading the quoted portion of ARBCA’s September 5th announcement, I am flabbergasted, utterly and completely astounded by their insane lack of self awareness. Are their hearts so hardened by sin that they can no longer think clearly, have they been stripped of any wisdom and integrity they once possessed? Do they hear, but do not understand; do they see, but do not perceive, as Isaiah 6:9 predicts? Are they incapable of realizing that instead of pursuing truth and justice, they have instead doubled down on their sins of “omission, commission, and false witness” as Pastor Cochran mournfully states?

    After re-reading all the documents presented in this blog post, after sitting here shaking my head as I attempt to understand why in the world they would issue such a statement AT THIS TIME, all I can walk away with is the suspicion that the statement is simply a tool, a weapon of aggressive intent meant to silence and attach shame and reproach to each and every individual saint under ARBCA’s jurisdiction, in anticipated precaution of the probability that ARBCA will indeed be charged with Obstruction of Justice, or whatever charges Judge Astrowski meant by his plausibly prophetic words that if ARBCA were on trial, they would be convicted. That’s all that makes sense to me; it’s a preemptive strike to their churches, assuming they will be standing accused by the State of an intended conspiracy to hide the truth. Their issued statement isn’t about Tom Chantry at all, it’s about ARBCA itself, in all probability standing accused before the world for their unmitigated arrogance, for their belief in their supreme wisdom and authority.

    As Pastor Cochran rightly sums up, may God be merciful to us all.

    Reply
    1. 2samuel127 Post author

      I believe you are correct Elizabeth. In my opinion the intent of the ARBCA report is ward off potential civil suits. I have only briefly went through the report yet already found where they have been deceptive. I hope to write about the report in the next week or so. Until then, you can read the entire document and attachments on my Scribd site, found at these links:

      https://www.scribd.com/document/388139243/ARBCA-Report-to-Churches-9-5-2018

      https://www.scribd.com/document/388139445/ARBCA-attachments-to-their-05SEP2018-report

      Reply
      1. Joy

        Regarding the first attachment to the Sept 5th ARBCA letter – I wonder what it means by the “complete report”. Is this the confidential report, or both reports?

        Reply
        1. 2samuel127 Post author

          Joy,
          The “complete report” referred to in the first attachment is not the “Sealed” or “Confidential” report. This report was only signed by the 3 ARBCA men on the investigative committee and was distributed to a very limited amount of men.

          ARBCA for some mysterious reason chose not to attach the sealed/confidential report to their documents sent out to all the churches – despite the fact that Lindblad clearly said it was no longer confidential or sealed. Obviously it is a matter of public record now. All those churches need to see that report and I have taken steps to make sure they will see it.

          You can view both reports at my Scribd site. They are combined into one document, which may be confusing.

          Here is the description I have on Scribd:

          The first section of the document is the “Sealed/Confidential” report which was closely guarded and distributed to only a handful of men. It is signed by only the 3 men on the investigative committee.

          The page after the 3 signatures begins the report which was given wider dissemination and was signed by Chantry, MVBC elders and the 3 men on the investigative committee.

          Here is the link to the document:

          https://www.scribd.com/document/386948520/arbca-2000-reports-confidential-and-sanitized-of-thomas-j-chantry-abuse-of-children

          Reply
  6. Vince Wood

    Regarding ARBCA’s statement, the irony is distressing. In Tom Chantry’s book, Holding Communion Together, he explains how those who would eventually form ARBCA, usurped authority to investigate the actions of another church and censure them without trial. Apparently these principles only apply when someone looks into the actions of an ARBCA leader.

    Secondly, this statement directly contradicts the doctrinal statement of ARBCA, The London Baptist Confession of 1689. This quote is taken from ARBCA’s website,
    21-2. God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his word, or not contained in it. So that to believe such doctrines, or obey such commands out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience; and the requiring of an implicit faith, an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience and reason also.
    Nowhere does the Bible speak of “jurisdiction” nor does the Bible EVER counsel believers to give their brains over to another human. Each believers is to investigate until they are personally convinced. Consider Romans 14:5, “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.”

    In the PCA, where I serve, our constitution presents the following guiding principle, “Therefore, the rights of private judgment in all matters that respect religion are universal and inalienable.”

    For all ARBCA members who are being told that “Any investigation of an allegation, evaluation of evidence/information, and determination of guilt or innocence conducted by anyone or any entity other than the due process established by God, in the local church or by the secular government with jurisdiction, violates God’s directions for handling accusations and is itself sin.” Consider the Word of God.
    Acts 4:19
    But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge;

    1 Corinthians 7:23
    “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”

    Matthew 23:8-12
    8 “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11 “But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    And to the elders of ARBCA, follow Peter’s instruction in 1 Peter 5:3 “nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.”

    Reply

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