Having now taken the lead at Protestia, David Morrill livestreamed a video on Thursday night answering the over 5-hour exposé released the day prior by YouTube channel ‘Servus Christi,’ replete with first-hand testimony, police reports, and a chat transcript with a member of the leadership at FBC Sidney regarding the current situation there.
In the response video titled ‘Answering our Accusers,’ Morrill is understandably concerned about donors and supporters of his organization asking hard questions in the wake of Jordan Hall’s removal from both the pastorate and Protestia – and only all the more as it becomes clear Hall is being investigated for embezzlement and domestic violence now, both of which Morrill admits he only found out about from Servus Christi’s recent video.
Of course the guys at Protestia didn’t know about it. They’re all just volunteers over there, as Morrill explains. They’re just doing exactly what JD would’ve wanted them to.
But then maybe that’s why the small-town Eastern Montana church they were unofficially a ministry of didn’t come to them first, though they certainly could have asked for their discernment ministry services before going to the police.
Morrill cites Galatians 6:1-2 here, and that’s good. What about 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, though? And what of 1 Timothy 5:19-20?
But let’s do be reasonable. Morrill says he couldn’t have possibly known. He lives in Arvada, Colorado, after all. And that’s a full 1 hour and 1 minute further south than I live in Greeley. Yes, I knew about these things myself even though I also live in Colorado. But that extra hour makes a difference to the signal strength of our interwebs and phone connections out here in the Rocky Mountains, let me tell ya.
Even if they had known, however, Morrill argues that the members of the staff at Protestia don’t have a responsibility to hold one another morally accountable. They’re too busy doing important stuff, like holding the pastors, authors, singers and songwriters outside of Protestia accountable. Yet he wants to lecture others about being tribal? Some discernment ministry.
Despite Morrill’s protestations, discernment should have dictated providing accountability and investing in knowing more about one another’s private lives as a prerequisite of involvement for these volunteers at Protestia from the beginning. Hiding behind excuses about not belonging to the same local church really won’t do, if in fact all of the participants are together members of Christ’s Church writ large.
Or what is the assumption being made here? Can Christians only provide accountability for one another if they are literally listed on the roster of the exact same local congregation? If so, it’s a very curious thing that the Apostle Paul and others traveled all over the ancient world writing letters of encouragement and admonishment to brothers and sisters whose personal situations they were familiar with through letters even over hundreds of miles of separation. Furthermore, it’s an even more curious thing that the saints are still reading and benefiting from those letters some 2,000 years later.
But what exactly is Morrill’s argument for calling balls and strikes on false teachers and blind guides across American Christendom if Protestia couldn’t or wouldn’t even do it within their own organization when it came to Protestia’s founder?
Morrill is all over the place here, and his argument keeps moving the goalposts. He found out in the papers just like everyone else. He didn’t know the police were involved and investigating. None of them did! They’re all just unpaid volunteers here. And did he mention he lives in Colorado?
Just please definitely keep tuning in and lending financial support, Morrill pleads. Their powers of discernment are still good, they promise. They’re just selectively activated when dealing with the indiscretions of people whose doctrine they don’t like, and who they don’t consider friends.
But why again do they need anyone’s donations if they’re mostly unpaid volunteers over there? Maybe this is more an ecclesiastical shake-down and extortion. You pay the protection money, and we’ll make sure nothing happens to your church and ministry – not only refusing to report on it ourselves, but running interference if anyone else does. If you choose not to pay, on the other hand, they can’t make any guarantees.
And how again is it I knew more about the situation on the ground in Sidney, Montana than Morrill did? Like Morrill, I too live in Colorado. But then it’s not about the mileage or state lines, as Morrill implies. If it were, they would have long ago stopped talking about churches and ministries and organizations and figures across the U.S. the way they have since their outset.
But the critical difference in why I both did (and still do) know more about this than Morrill is because this is about personal relationships with the people who are there. Those people know I care about them, and that I care about the reputation and well-being of the Eastern Montana community I’m from.
Meanwhile, Morrill still wants to chalk the whole business up to doctrinal statements and creeds. Critics have it out for Protestia, FBC Sidney, and Jordan Hall here due to their Reformed theology. So they’re being persecuted now. That’s the real reason there’s a stink about Hall’s potential strangulation of a partner or family member and embezzlement of $10,000 from the church itself.
The only trouble with that theory is that you can’t make it stick to the Teflon reason many current and former members of FBC Sidney did put up with Hall’s abuse as long as they did. It was due to, not despite, their having held in common his avowedly Reformed theology. Tragically, then, it was Hall exploiting the doctrine held in common that caused this to drag on as long as it has.
This is to say nothing of those who came forward with details and information which otherwise was being kept under wraps, and potentially would have continued to indefinitely get covered up had it not been made public last week.
My cousin, Micah Hershberger – one of those interviewed by Servus Christi in the recent video – attended Master’s College and was a member of John MacArthur’s church, for crying out loud. Some of our cousins and his sisters and brothers-in-law attended Master’s College, and even Master’s Seminary!
So, no. This isn’t about some axe to grind with Reformed theology; this is about an honest indictment of persistent, longstanding abusive behavior and ungodly attitudes stubbornly ignoring rebuke and calls for repentance by hiding behind doctrine and the ignominy of routinely assassinating the character and reputation of anyone who got in the way.
But this is how these sorts of things drag on for years and decades. When the problem is brought up in a dysfunctional family, there is no appetite for listening to the complaints and resolving them internally. The problem isn’t the problem that way; the problem is that someone is talking about the problem. And they’re the only real problem.
Only that’s not at all a Biblical attitude or approach to sin. And no amount of excuse-making about skillful preaching of doctrine you agree with is going to change that. If anything, where corruption is overlooked and justified on the grounds of sound doctrine, the scandal and stain is only all the greater the more sound the doctrine being taught and preached turns out to be.
And to answer your question, David, of whether a false teacher should be just as accountable for bad doctrine taught as for persistently sinful and unrepentant personal behavior, we must look to the Scriptures. Jesus said of false prophets, “You will recognize them by their fruits.” But the fruit here is not doctrine as you apparently suppose; the fruit Christ is talking about is how we live in light of our doctrine, and what our manner of relating to others indicates about what we actually believe in our heart of hearts. That’s the thing we all need to be meditating on diligently here.
By all means, dismiss that by pointing out the sins of others, and I trust God will judge between us in the end. Until then, I fully expect you to continue seeing only what you want to. But I pray the Lord does rebuke and correct you on this point in short order – both for your sake, and for the sake of those who follow you.
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