Brannon Howse – “I believe Mark Dever is a fake pastor.”

By | January 19, 2019

I have copied a brief section of Brannon Howse’s video where he and Tom Littleton discuss Mark Dever and 9Marx abuses.  Howse says he would “run from these type of people.” I agree with their analysis. You may view the complete video here.

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I understand you have a very limited scope in bringing this video to the attention of your readers. That said, I really did find much of it inflammatory and intellectually irresponsible. Ridicule & misrepresentation of a complicated subject (which Dever’s work on ecclesiology is, like it or lump it), a misleading presentation of the historical facts, and a constant worldly rhetoric (turn on any political broadcast today to compare) do not edify anyone. I’ll return to this point at the end of my comment, but this is terrible source to draw from in your work on this website.

I know you are not attempting to engage in an anti-plural elder polemic, but the video very clearly is, and that is drawing numerous negative comments, especially since you write, “I agree with their analysis.” It is unclear what the scope of this comment is. There is no acknowledgement that the plural elder view is primarily held to by it’s many proponents out of a desire to be faithful to the Bible. It is portrayed as a novelty, and without historical warrant. There is also the suggestion that a pastoral staff & deacons model is somehow not subject to the actual abuses described in this video, which in the comments you seem to agree consist in:

1. A deficient view of Christian liberty, with an accompanying overuse of Church discipline.
2. Engaging in “conflict resolution,” without a genuine interest in dialogue. Instead the intent is to control. This might be re-stated as an elder model that cannot ultimately be superseded by individual, because the elder’s can proceed to church discipline before the individual can fairly appeal to the congregation.
3. Church’s without a sufficiently experienced eldership, or an eldership consisting solely of young seminarians.

I will follow this with a second post…


These are not issues with “a plurality of elders.” Most church models are susceptible to them. Some of the issues are actually ones that I think Founders may have a partial solution for, such as historic confessionalism, which should prevent members being disciplined for differences on non-essentials. Perhaps you disagree.

My frustration, and reason for writing: I am not a Dever troll. I do attend a church with a plurality of elders, but we pre-date Dever, and do not have membership rolls, so it isn’t the same model. I have found this sites’ work to be factual, and very high quality, especially regarding ARBCA, which is what drew me here (I am not, nor have been a member). For this reason, I was very disappointed to listen to this post calling 9Marks churches in general “fake churches,” and their pastors, “fake pastors.” Furthermore, it always upsets me to see biblical issues (doctrine) slandered on the basis of man’s actions, especially when the non-connection is evident.

Lastly, I actually share most of the concerns about Dever models. I live near the Village Church, Dallas, TX, and am quite aware of ways his model has led to abuses and deficiencies there. So again, I am not a troll, but genuinely alienated by the needless offensiveness of this video, and it’s wordly style of argument.

Thanks for your feedback, Craig. Todd can comment more about church polity issues. I’m fundamentally a congregationalist who thinks that elder-led churches almost always attract abusive clergy members.

However, my biggest problem with Mark Dever is his long-standing and ongoing slander of child sexual abuse victims who were attached to Sovereign Grace Ministries churches. Several of these victims have had their stories backed up by criminal convictions for many years.

However, Mark Dever has never publicly apologized for strongly suggesting that they were all liars out to get his friend and business associate CJ Mahaney. He also privately trashes victims behind their backs.

Other 9Marks Pastors seem to have tacitly adopted Dever’s hostile attitude toward child sexual abuse survivors. He bears responsibility for that.

As the link I included indicates, one of Dever’s many side businesses is a 40-hour gig for the Gospel Projects for which he was paid $15,000 in 2016. That comes to $288 per hour.

Many people working full-time, at $8 an hour, barely make $15,000 a year, Craig. Dever probably gets paid a high salary by his church. He also solicits speaking engagements on his church website and makes much money appearing at conferences.

I too have issues with the video, Craig. However, I don’t see how anyone can deny that Dever is a fake pastor given his lack of integrity and the scant time he spends caring for his flock.

You are definitely not a troll. I very much appreciate your comments.


Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Thanks, you’re entitled to your opinion about the video, Craig. My hope is that people read the material here and make up their own minds about it.

Best, Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


Some history:

Dever was over in the UK with Roy Clements in the early 1990s, pursuing an academic career at Cambridge, when he was made aware of Capitol Hill Baptist Church. The church was in a weakened state, devastated by its last pastor’s sexual sin. Dever saw an opportunity to implement his theories, which later became known as 9Marksism.

From an interview with Mark Dever several years ago by World Magazine editor Marvin Olasky:

I had been preparing for 10 years to teach historical theology, so I was not aiming at pastoral ministry, but they had lost their previous pastor under unfortunate circumstances. I preached Sunday morning, and Sunday night was praying about the situation. I felt strangely, subjectively called to pastor that church.”


“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

(Matt. 7:1–5 ESV)

So it’s okay for you to judge us, but
it’s sinful for us to judge you?


Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Hi George, I just trashed your most recent comment. Like the other two you submitted, it was not backed up by intelligent reasoning or credible sources, per the comment guidelines of this blog.

Nor have any of your comments pertained to the specific subjects of the relevant blog articles.

If you just want to personally insult people, there are plenty of blogs that cater to that level of dialogue.

Thanks for understanding.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


Dever may not be one of my favorite pastors, but I think you could have come up with a better choice of video for your claims. This sort of reminded me of using an AMA site to talk about delicious, high calorie desserts.


Apparently, Todd and Brent are the last godly men standing. Good to know we have them.

Is that a very mature thing to say? ?

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


I’m shocked you posted this video. These guys are criticizing Dever for being too liberal on political and social issues…and for promoting a pluralilty of church elders. Is this really the direction you want to go? There’s nothing specific in the convo about the type of abuses you usually focus on.

I’m shocked you posted this video.

Then you’re easily shocked, my friend. 😉

Actually, many of Todd’s articles focus on spiritual abuse of many kinds, including pastors and elders bullying and scamming church members. You would know that if you looked at the content of the blog as opposed to just trolling on Dever’s behalf, as you’ve done before. 😉

According to the following 990 financial form, Mark Dever made $15,000 a year working one hour per week for an organization called the Gospel Projects in 2016. That comes to $288 per hour. This compensation would be in addition to the full-time salary Pastor Dever receives from his church, as well the considerable income he likely derives from being a speaker at expensive seminars and conferences.

So yes, I think he’s a fraud too. Dever is just in the “God business” in my opinion.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Mr. Dever:

For years, an unusually high number of trolls have shown up regarding any articles posted on this site about you. Is there any chance you could ask some of them to articulate anything besides shock and umbrage that anyone would dare to critize you?

That would be a nice change of pace.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


JlC and Tood, I am not trolling on Dever’s behalf. When I clicked on the video all I heard was about irrelevant issues. Perhaps I didn’t watch the video through…I don’t know. JLC your unfounded accusation lessens your credibility. I didn’t even support Dever in my earlier comment. I just didn’t see the relevance of it. but as Tood stated, it sounds like I didn’t hear the whole thing. I actually checked in on the site to see any more news on ARBCA. The Dever thing happened to be here. I wish I hadn’t commented and will now refrain from doing so anymore. I appreciate Tood’s response, as always, JLC’s, however, is over the top and patently untrue.


For what its worth, that video gives me the same heeby jeebies that listening to Info Wars or remembering old ARBCA sermons or getting lost in the madness of the progressive horde on Twitter gives me. Outrage as Art Form.

Again, for what its worth.

And Dever’e a snake.

Just saying…

My sincere apology for making an assumption about you that wasn’t true.

I thought that you had commented about Dever before. I own my mistake.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

By way of explanation, Mark Dever or people affiliated with him likely send many trolls to this site.

They are super annoying however they get here.

I erred by assuming you were one of them. Please consider commenting again. I’m usually a reasonably nice person.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


Dever’s alliance with Keller made another one bite the dust. What is going on? I had believed parachurch orgs were kind of benign, but no more. How did these orgs get so much power?

Great question. At this point, I wonder if people should distance themselves from parachurch organizations in general.

In my view, most of them provide little, if any, value to local churches. They just charge exorbitant membership fees and pay their so-called ministry employees huge salaries.

A fair number seem to operate like cults, which do awful things such as regularly covering up child abuse and other major crimes going on in member churches.

I’m in agreement about your general sentiment toward parachurch organizations. Thanks.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


Jeff Crippen wrote an excellent article about this very thing, the power of these organizations. I hope it’s ok to post the link…? He really does a fantastic job of explaining how these power structures are unbiiblical at best, and downright wicked at worst.


Excellent article indeed! I haven’t thought through denominations, never having attended regularly a denominational church yet how much worse the parachurch organizations? The Top Men are truly accountable to no one

Thank you Elizabeth for the link!

Yes, links relevant to an article are always appreciated. I do suggest that people submit separate comments for each link.

Some email spam filters will reject emails with more than one link, and many commenters sign up for email updates.


Janna L. Chan (blog team member)