Jon Harris over at the Conversations That Matter podcast has done some very fine work covering inroads by social justice advocates and those promoting CRT from within the Southern Baptist Convention. His recent episode I watched yesterday touched on the current situation with JD Hall, and I’d like to take a little time to answer key points he makes therein about his engagement to this point.
First things first, be it known I have admired, respected, and appreciated Jon Harris’s engagement on the issues he’s covered. Facts matter. More to the point, our handling of God’s Word as Christians is crucial to our Christian life and thought. Moreover, insofar as Harris has championed sound doctrine and vigilance with a calm, measured voice, he’s contributed not just to the substance of the debate in our day, but to the tone and tenor as well. He’s to be commended for that, and I do commend him.
If anything, it’s for that reason of wanting to commend Harris especially, and out of familiarity with his body of work, that the Conversations That Matter podcast would have been an excellent candidate for covering the situation in Sidney, Montana. Jon would have delved in carefully and with grace. And he could have, but elected not to.
This is to say nothing of Jon platforming JD Hall, not once but twice. And that’s because, in large part, I agree with Jon’s stated concern about accusations from some of guilt by association, here and elsewhere. Those are carried too far, particularly when they implicate relatively innocent parties.
On the other hand, the honest trouble is that for going on a decade, JD Hall has been skating by, in Eastern Montana and around the country, in the hearts and minds of many, on a similar prejudice – innocence by association.
That is to say, in Eastern Montana where I’m from, Jordan’s ability to name drop relatively powerful, high-profile names in American Christendom – like John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, Voddie Baucham, and Jon Harris – has contributed to his up until only recently concluded ability to bully and intimidate those at Fellowship Baptist Church in Sidney, Montana, as well as my home community more broadly.
So please understand how when I hear almost only references to how we should pray for JD in this situation, plus how hard this must all be for JD, and hopefully JD is getting the help he needs, and JD has done a lot of good work he deserves credit for – it reinforces the point of contention for me here.
Where was the care and compassion for the people JD has been hurting with help from you been, Jon? Witting or unwitting, passively or actively, you helped him do what he did in some measure by looking the other way publicly. And that is hard to stomach.
But Jon says in his recent podcast episode that he can’t speak with confidence to what all has happened and is happening on the ground in Sidney, Montana. The rest of the story is that this is due to Jon having not wanted to know.
He declined and passed up opportunities in the form of even direct invitations and asks from people in the community who follow his work, to investigate and cover this story using his platform, at very least in recent weeks when he was emailed directly a request that he speak with first-hand witnesses, former and current church-members at FBC Sidney, and those who have observed IRL (in real life) Jordan’s abuses.
Unfortunately, here also, as with the recent F4F video by Rosebrough, Peters, and Johnson titled ‘The Fall of JD Hall’ which I responded to in another recent episode of my podcast, I can’t help but feel frustrated that the warnings given by influential men like Harris were private, and to JD only, all this time, particularly when they had publicly supported and affirmed him other times in a way that was not helpful.
These influential men who speak out now, seemingly as much or more in damage control mode, more to protect their own reputations and influence than to comfort or inform any of the victims of Jordan’s physical and spiritual abuse – many of whom for a decade have lived in fear of their lives and livelihoods where I come from – this causes me to lose well-deserved respect and admiration I felt for at least some of them who, like Jon, have themselves done good work elsewhere and could have done good work here also in a timely manner.
Yet the stated reasons Jon gives for not having been more involved feel hollow. So also, the justification for having platformed and endorsed Hall up until just now, and only when he becomes indefensible due to arrest and the filing of legal charges with the Sidney Police Department – these also make very curious saying anything at all now, at least without saying everything and accepting some personal responsibility here when more could and should have been done months and even years ago.
Here again, a pronounced partiality is apparent which is not godly, wise, or coherent. I reject it accordingly, and I would encourage you to do likewise.
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