It’s official. JD Hall has been removed from office at Fellowship Baptist Church in Sidney, Montana, is now under church discipline, and has been separated from his pulpit and pen at Protestia.
Even as I talk about his downfall, I find myself not happy to be proven right. Actually, I’m sad – both for him, and for those many who have continued following and embracing Hall to the last, and for so many others who knew better but preferred to keep quiet for fear of repercussions, and for those more who have been victimized by him in the meantime.
The trouble with being proven right here is that the thing I said would happen has happened, and will happen even more. That is, the causes Hall has associated himself with did not gain credibility, nor even did those causes lend him credibility in the minds of those who know better. Rather, Hall has tarnished the validity and rightness of good causes he’s touched – good causes I myself have cared for. And the result will be that many will seize on Hall as an excuse to either abandon or else dismiss those causes.
Plenty who know better kept on allying themselves with him for years, and called refusals to join in where they did – like I stated before we moved to Montana – juvenile and childish. Why? Because JD Hall “is a fighter.”
Well, so is a mad dog. And that’s what I told them he was for a long time. But they didn’t want to hear it because he was their mad dog. And now he’s bitten them. So you can see how well that worked out.
But there’s also a frustration I feel at the hypocrisy. Those who were content to sick Hall on their political opponents inside and outside the church seized on any loose bit of gossip, then they inflated it through conjecture, magnified it through hyperbole, then roundly pronounced anathemas and sent their targets off to Hell and ill repute in the minds of Hall’s followers. Yet in moments like this where there is so much more a guarded treatment of the scandal about Hall, a very obvious partiality is apparent on their parts. And I sincerely do not understand how that inconsistency is supposed to be respectable. Moreover, it is not respectable, nor godly, nor praiseworthy or commendable.
JD Hall bullied the 15-year-old son of Ergun Caner to the point of suicide, and caused men and women I knew in Sidney when we lived there to literally fear for their lives. As my eldest son will be 15 next month, I shudder that Hall’s time as pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church was not concluded years ago. His nature has been known for a long time! But some didn’t want to believe their eyes and ears. And others were simply too afraid to stop him, or else concluded they needed him too much to do the right thing about him.
This man caused a former co-worker of mine who attended his church – even moved his family across the country to attend Hall’s church – to call me up on my way home from work one day to ask if I could meet him and his wife at their home. I’ll never forget the fear in their eyes when they asked me to alert the FBI if they suddenly disappeared. Whether this was paranoia on their part, I don’t know. But the church should be a place you go to ask for help with out-of-control civil authorities. It should never be the other way around where you have to consider going to the civil government for protection against the ecclesiastical authorities.
The fact that more than one person I’ve known who attended Fellowship Baptist Church left on such terms that they sincerely expressed a fear for their physical safety still disturbs me greatly – no less when I consider that other discernment ministry bloggers and celebrity pastors have associated themselves with Hall over the years, and lent him credibility by their association with and making excuses for Jordan.
But this right here is what is broken in the American church today, as well as in too many pockets of American society. Unfortunately that includes rural Eastern Montana where many of the long-time inhabitants learned long ago that there can be a darker and more frightening aspect to living a long way from civilization.
Don’t misunderstand me. I like fighters. But without apology I prefer fighters who are fighting what is evil and defending what is good, not those who either cannot or will not distinguish between the two when their hubris and ambition get in the way.
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