It is my empirically justified belief that modern Protestant Evangelicalism, and particularly its seminarian elite, have little comprehension of the nature and principles of Justice, including that of due process. In this, the seminarians have seriously failed to uphold the triumvirate of concerns that Christ Jesus deemed primary: judgment/justice, faith, and compassion (Matt 23:23).
If one does not comprehend the nature and principles of Justice, one cannot comprehend the Justice in the Justification in the Atonement. Nor can it be safe and prudent to allow such ignorance judge the world and even the angels (1 Cor 6:2–3). It is of little wonder that there exists no jurists on the current U.S. Supreme Court who emerge from a Protestant / Evangelical background.
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Righteousness (tsedeq) and justice (mishpat) are the foundation of his throne. (Ps 97:2, 89:14)
In holiness (hosiotēti) and justice (dikaiosynē) before him all our days. (Luke 1:75; cf. Eph 4:24)
Justice is distinct from righteousness. Indeed, there are approximately 25 instances in the Old Testament and 2 in New Testament Scriptures, where these two concepts are expressed side by side within the same verse. Presuming that God does not engage in semantic tautology, it becomes incumbent to tease out a semantic distinction between the two concepts.
Justice, unlike righteousness, is necessarily public, in that it involves a balanced adjudication between two or more entities. As such, the attributes and principles that constitute Justice must be transparent and comprehensible to all honest and reasonable parties who are thereby governed. This also becomes true in the administration of Justice.
Transparency, as a necessary attribute of Justice, is explicitly expressed in the Greek New Testament, even if corrupted by English translations; and this in regards to the most important passage concerning the Justification in the Atonement.
But now the [Justice] of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the [Justice] of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s [Justice], because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his [Justice] at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Rom 3:21–6)
Virtually all English Bibles translate dikaiosuné as righteousness instead of [Justice]. But this is profound error. But this is an honest error. There was little understanding in Hellenist society of the Hebrew’s concept of righteousness, and correspondingly no term to describe it. The best term that the Greeks proffered in regard to righteousness was hosiotés, which biblical scholars define as faithful conformity to a or God’s standard. It is a derivative of hosios (ὅσιος), which is the Greek word used in Plato’s Euthyphro dilemma.
Is that which is holy loved by the gods because it is holy, or is it holy because it is loved by the gods?
But the Hebrew / Christian concept of righteousness involves more than mere conformity to a standard, even God’s standard, as exemplified on the Sermon on the Mount. It involves not only ethics (principle) but ethos (attitudes, motivations).
Because of this deficiency of understanding and terminology of the concept within Hellenist culture, the Septuagint Jewish translators of the Hebrew Scriptures, shifted the Hebrew word for righteousness (tsedeq) to the Greek word for justice (dikaiosuné), and the Hebrew word for justice (mishpat) to the Greek word for judgment (krisin). The tsedeq-dikaiosuné and mishpat-krisin transcription does not consistently work even in the Septuagint, although this will prove a tedious work in progress to demonstrate the flaw. Paul, on the other hand, when confronted by similar linguistic dilemmas would create new and simple compound words to avoid such confusion in the interlocutors to whom he wrote, such as in the case of arsenkoites (1 Cor 6:9).
This assertion is further buttressed by the fact that Romans 2 and 3 speaks of the rationales and judicial principles by which God will judge the world; principles such as impartiality (Rom 2:11); correspondence of this judgment with intellectual integrity and/or the truth of objective realities (Rom 2:2); judgment according to that which one knows, judges others by, and practices, even if haphazardly (Rom 2:14–5, Matt 7:2); judgment also according to published law which corresponds to ontological realities and the pristine best that can be attained within ontological realities (Rom 2:14–5, 4:15, 5:19).
Furthermore, in the most pivotal verse of the Justification passage . . .
It was to show his [Justice] (dikaiosynēs) at the present time, so that he might be just (dikaion) and the justifier (dikaiounta) of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Rom 3:26)
. . . the same etymological family of Greek words are being deployed. Semantic consistency is mandated. Furthermore, if righteousness involves motivations and attitude, it becomes difficult for humanity to perceive God’s righteous motivations and attitudes in the Atonement, since such motivations and attitude are, by nature, subjective and beyond scrutiny by human minds. However, the principles of Justice are manifested in the Atonement and can be objectively scrutinized.
And thus the point. As even the God of Scriptures has explicitly expressed; in order for justice to be done, it must also be seen to be done to all reasonable and honest parties.
Accordingly, Justice has not been done by the fellow pastors / elders of The Journey megachurch in St. Louis in the firing of and ensuing public humiliation and disgrace of Darrin Patrick, founding pastor of that church. Indeed, these pious pastors have expressly violated the due process provisions, as delineated in Scriptures (Matt 18:15–17), concerning serious and unrepentant sin of any member of a church. As an outside observer, who was confronted by a public announcement of the Darrin Patrick’s sin and disgrace in Christianity Today, I am still at a loss as to what exactly Pastor Patrick did, which is worthy of the accusations, aspersions, innuendos, and whiffs of wrongdoing claimed by these elders, and which sufficiently justifies the defrocking, practicable expulsion, and public defamation. And indeed, this lack of knowledge is true for the two bit malevolent and malicious gossip mongers, with their own agendas, on the comment boards.
But while Darrin Patrick’s actual sins are still yet shrouded in the opaque shroud of mystery, the injustice and infidelity of a cabal of his fellow pastors at The Journey Church is plainly evident for all to see; at least for those who can still see what is in front of their noses. To paraphrase Paul, “there is an [injustice] among these [pastors], and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans” (1 Cor 5:1).
The Particulars of the Case
On April 13, 2014, less than a week ago, Christianity Today publicized a “Removal from Office Letter,” made public by the elders of that multi-site megachurch. The crux of the claims are as follows:
The initial and now confirmed accusations were not of adultery but did violate the high standard for elders in marriage through inappropriate meetings, conversations, and phone calls with two women. (I Tim. 3.2). Additionally, the Board has been engaged for several years now in uncovering and confronting other deep sin patterns in Darrin that do not reflect the Biblical qualifications for an elder, such as
- abandonment of genuine Biblical community (Titus 1.8)
- refusal of personal accountability (failure to be a fellow elder according to I Pt. 5.1)
- lack of self-control (I Tim. 3.2)
- manipulation and lying (Titus 1.8)
- domineering over those in his charge (I Pt. 5.3)
- misuse of power/authority (I Pt. 5.3)
- a history of building his identity through ministry and media platforms (necessity to be “sober-minded” in I Tim. 3.2 and avoid selfish gain in I Pt. 5.2)
These patterns and lack of turning away from these sins reveal that Darrin has not been pursuing a personal walk with Jesus in a manner that reflects his pastoral calling and position as an elder in the church (I Peter 5.1–5, I Tim. 3.1–7, Titus 1.3–8).
As already noted, no specifics to justify these aspersions have yet been given. Furthermore, some of the scriptural verses that have been cited could not, at least not in my febrile imagination, be viewed as justifiably applicable for defrocking and practicable expulsion. The document appears to be like those depositions, typical in lawsuits from our secular lawyers, with various baseless accusations, hoping that one of the bits of flak might stick in the public imagination and/or give a misty impression of a comprehensive pattern of misconduct; as the writer for Christian Today curiously placed in single quotes, ‘Historical Pattern of Sin.’
Furthermore, there are blatant inconsistencies in the document itself. If the “accusations were not of adultery,” and adultery is to be defined by biblical standards (“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” – Matt 5:28), by these Inquisitors who insist upon “the high standard for elders in marriage”; in what way was Darrin’s “meetings, conversations, and phone calls with two women” inappropriate, such as to warrant defrocking, practicable expulsion and public disgrace?
In stating that “the Board has been engaged for several years now in uncovering and confronting other deep sin patterns in Darrin that do not reflect the Biblical qualifications for an elder,” my first overwhelming impression is that the Board has long been on a witch hunt to find plausible cause to expel one who is unlike the others. My first overwhelming conclusion is that this is a palace coup, not unlike that which James Macdonald of the Harvest Bible Chapel delivered against Scott Phelps and Barry Slabaugh in September 2013, and which was only lifted a year later in the aftermath of the Driscoll affair, with whom Macdonald had hitherto had close relations.
Violations against Fidelity and Justice
If your brother or sister sins, go and point out (elenxon) their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15–17)
The due process pattern of biblical justice and due process insists that one expose and prove wrong with solid, compelling evidence against the one who sins, as more illuminatingly illustrated here.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God. (John 3:20–1)
And if the accused rejects the admonishment, two or three witnesses are to be brought into the picture. And if the accused still rejects the admonishment, the particulars of the wrong are to be exposed to the full assembly (ekklēsia) in order to adjudicate the matter.
However, the pastor / elders of The Journey Church have failed to bring the charges to the full church. Rather, they have indicted Darrin Patrick in a Star Chamber and informed the full church of their decision, while proffering but innuendos as to the specifics of the charges and of their gravity. Furthermore, they have seen to it that their Star Chamber decision, without giving specifics of the charges, has been made public.
They be led and shepherded not by one person but by a group of elders . . . people of integrity and character . . . people who love one another as outlined in First Timothy 3. And these men are to submit to one another. No one is above the other. They all submit to one another and are under the authority of God. And when God’s heart and intention for his bride is repeatedly thwarted by those that he has called to lead, God takes action through specific biblical prescriptions to remove that elder from his role and protect his bride.
It is manifestly evident that these pious pastors have differences of opinion with Darrin Patrick; the latter, who refuses to conform and stick to their program. And therefore, this Star Chamber cabal of pastors, who evidently have a vested interest and grievances, have made themselves both plaintiff and judge of their own grievances. Herein, there is an evident and not merely a perception of a conflict of interest.
It is for this reason, among others, that the God of Scriptures, which these pious pastors feign to trustingly obey, insists that such affairs be put before the whole assembly; to eliminate conflict of interest and the appearance of conflict of interest.
In making public these aspersions, without giving specifics as to their factual justification, they are guilty of Kafkaesque justice. Indeed, under secular law, they may even be guilty of public defamation of character and slander.
The pious pastors of The Journey Church utilized a different passage as their sole basis for expulsion.
Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. (1 Tim 5:19–20)
The Greek in verse 20 is “tout de hamartanontas enōpion panton elenche hina kai hoi . . .” The key term elenche is but another variation of the root term elégxō; which like the Matthew citation means expose and prove wrong with solid, compelling evidence against the one who sins. In another words, even that passage insists that the full assembly adjudicate the case, rather than being informed by a cabal of self-interested elders.
Be it true that the God of Scriptures holds church leaders to a higher standard. But what are the particulars, rather than mere vagaries, of those standards? On what particular and specific basis did Darrin abandon genuine Biblical community, refuse to be a fellow elder, lack self-control, manipulate and lie, domineer, self-promote, and abuse his authority and power? It would seem that in failing to give specifics, it is merely a matter decided by sour feelings and self-interest on the part of these judge plaintiffs.
Who Am I?
I am but a grunt on the pew with no credentials and of no consequence, residing in a jurisdiction which has been effectively aspersed as the Nazareth of Ontario; a city suburb which commenters in the hick towns of southern Saskatchewan and Alberta declaim as lacking culture. I am not a fanboy of Darrin Patrick, who I did not know existed until Christianity Today’s article on April 12, 2016. (So much for the success of Patrick’s “history of building his identity through ministry and media platforms.”) Nor am I a fanboy of New Calvinism, especially after a brief flirtation with multi-millionaire James Macdonald and his Harvest Bible Chapel, both in Brampton and Oakville; in which I was asked to submit all blog entries, written independent of the church, under the purview of their elders, just in order to join their small groups; in which I attempted to play peacemaker between two of their own and got shot at in the week thereafter; in which I heard one of their preacher elders use the Gadarene/ Gerasenes narrative (Mark 5:1-20) as the backdrop for the Justification in the Atonement, claiming that just like Christ cast the demons into the pigs, we are to cast our sins onto Christ. And when I vigorously complained in that comparing the pristinely virtuous Christ to the ceremonially unclean pigs, there just might be a judicial problem; that Oakville church did not think a moment about removing that sermon from their website.
[UPDATE April 21, 2016] When Harvest Bible Chapel became aware of the public exposure of this video in the afternoon of April 20, 2016, they took it down, (rather than when I first sent correspondence to the pastor perpetrator, Craig Turnball, in the weeks following the May 25, 2014 sermon). I already have a downloaded copy from 2 years ago. However, I am satisfied that it is no longer there. We can all make mistakes. But the true Christian spirit is in those who repent because of the wrongness of the thing, rather than because it becomes of public disgrace. This incident certainly manifests the power of social media to me; but at the same time, of the sorry state of modern American Christianity.
However, the “Removal from Office” impeachment letter has left the odor of dead and decomposing lake fish in my nostrils. The matter deserves further inquiry.
Who Is Darrin Patrick?
I do not know.
But what I do know is that New Calvinists, especially those who actively promote the Danvers version of complementarianism (Danvers Statement, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) become quick subjects for naysaying and slanderous aspersions in this day, especially by Evangelical feminists. Such groups are ever ready to find and publish the slightest flaw in such public persona. But I have yet to have found any whiff of scandal on the Internet like one might see in Mark Driscoll. Even the wenches from Warthog Watch don’t consider Darrin a person of interest. Indeed, a member of his church confirmed that “there has not, in 15 years, ever been an insinuation of inappropriateness in his behavior, sexually.” And no person from the congregations of The Journey has stepped up to directly complain about his particular faults. Rather the malevolence and malicious slander in the commentariat resort to guilt by association, prejudice and fanciful speculations.
How is this possible? How is it that the only complainants are the pious pastors? Does Patrick and his megachurch have little elves scrubbing up all his social media droppings? Does there exist a vow a silence as a part of membership conditions? It is a megachurch for goodness sake! And since when did Evangelicals respect vows of silence and discretion?
I have listened to a few of Patrick’s sermons and lectures. And unlike that of most other preachers, power and insight exists within the words that he speaks. It was but 8 months ago, that Darrin stated:
I was a youth pastor right after I became a Christian which was a terrible mistake . . . I mean . . . not smart. In our little Baptist church of a couple . . . 250 people . . . whatever it was . . . Great kids . . . I was just was in that age range. So I kind of understood. But then I discovered that the pastor in that little church was an adulterer and was sleeping with multiple women in the church. And guess who found out about it and guess who was trying to confront it . . . the new nineteen year old youth pastor. And then I found out that the deacons knew about it. And they were OK with it because he was such a good pastor. See sometimes pastors hide . . . sometimes pastors don’t grow in their leadership.
Couch psychobabble might suggest that Darrin might be pleading to be caught in his little dirty secret. But if that be so, the squeaky clean Internet presence is so psychologically incongruous with private deviance, especially in the age of Trump. Being but human, I might be deceived. But if that be so, it is a masterful deception.
However, there was an incident, which seems to be belie notions that Darrin is so domineering over those in his charge, and an abuser of power and manipulator. In a response to John MacArthur’s critique of one of Darrin’s books, Church Planter, Darrin pleads:
Sometimes, I fail at this focus. When I misunderstand or am misunderstood, I want to quickly ask, “What is God teaching me?” And He is teaching me through Dr. MacArthur’s critique. For that, I am very thankful! For those of you who have been quick to be critical of Dr. MacArthur, please remember that we all need to be corrected from time to time. Also, ALL of us who are younger need to give a careful listen to the concerns of seasoned pastors, many of whom have forgotten more than we might ever know.
Whatever our disagreements, I want to underscore that we should strive as leaders within the church to dwell together in unity and work together to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Unto that end, I am looking forward to meeting Dr. MacArthur face-to-face in the near future. We share a common publisher, a common calling and, most importantly, a common faith. I look forward to deepening our unity as we both seek to obey Jesus and participate in His mission in the world.
But what was a more interesting tidbit was the appendum by the Church Elders.
A statement from the Elders:
We wanted to write and say that Pastor Darrin Patrick is accountable to and in community with our team of elders. We have asked him to respond to Dr. MacArthur’s concerns on page 37 of Church Planter and to then meet with Dr. MacArthur privately to resolve any outstanding concerns. We as an elder team do not feel that Pastor Darrin’s words in the questioned section need to be reworded or recanted. We believe the context of the paragraph, chapter, and the entire book challenges the notion that he encourages radical individualism for Christians in general or pastors in specific.
What writer has a board of elders on his back with such a short leash? Who exactly is domineering who? Who exactly is the manipulator and the liar? Couch psychobabble might suggest that if Darrin Patrick seems to be squeaky clean, it might be because he has serpents and wolves from within his own organization just waiting to pounce upon the very least faux pas!
Who Are These Elders?
These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules. (Mark 7:6–7)
If I was struck by the power and insight within the words of Darrin Patrick, I was likewise struck by the derivative orthodoxy of The Journey Church’s lead elder Jeremy Bedenbaugh, as well as his lack of insight. As part of a series on Singleness, Jeremy proffers this bromide.
When I make my vows to my wife in my marriage ceremony, I said, you know, richer or poorer, sickness or in health. And I will love you until all eternity. No. What do we say? I will love you until death do us part. There will be an ending of marriage.
Does love for one’s wife end at the graveside? The words of Meat Loaf’s Paradise By The Dashboard Light (1977) came to remembrance.
- I started swearing to my god
- And on my mother’s grave
- That I would love you to the end of time
- I swore I would love you to the end of time
- So now I’m praying for the end of time
- To hurry up and arrive
- I’ll never break my promise or forget my vow
- But God only knows what I can do right now
- I’m praying for the end of time
- So I can end my time with you
This is the primary reason one should never go to pastors and priests for marriage counseling. So caught up in Corbanesque piety, these holier-than-God missionaries do not realize that the Kingdom involves not only a vertical relationship with “the firstborn among many [siblings]” (Rom 8:29), but a horizontal relationship with the many siblings. “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matt 25: 40).
Folly! Does Jeremy not know that marriage is a shadow copy and living metaphor of the best relationship that can possibly be devised and was devised by God; as well as the ethic and ethos governing the Trinity!
Hereby, I began to see glimpses of a theological schism that seems to truly animate this long campaign to find plausible cause to eradicate rival Darrin Patrick from The Journey fold. Elsewhere, Bedenbaugh had suggested that his church as a whole commit to a period of prayer and fasting for 3 weeks; another indication of that ascetic spirit which is in contradistinction with his rival who perceives the back room of a sprawling brew pub as a legitimate venue for mission, and in a region where Southern Baptist teetotalers prevail. As a historical (Reformed) Baptist, I would have immediately repudiated such a church for violating liberty of conscience and promoting asceticism against which I must daily fight.
t may indeed be that Pastor Darrin Patrick has committed a sin(s) of sufficient merit to require temporary or even permanent discipline. Frankly, I doubt it. There is a power within him, which indicates to me divine approval, which is largely absent in Patrick’s rivals. We hear aspersions of evil doings and wicked leadership. But we have not yet heard explicit details of what this man has done, even though his pious pastor peers keep promising to bring them forth. (“So this morning, we are going to be publicly addressing the sins of our brother Pastor Darrin.”)
But this I ask. How does the gnat of moral failure in Pastor Darrin Patrick’s unknown conduct compare to the camel of numerous blatant violations against justice and biblical fidelity by his pious pastor peers?
Let justice be done though the heavens fall.
 Plato, “Euthypro,” ca. 380 BC, in Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vol. 1, Translated by Harold North Fowler, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1966, 10a.
 (Pastor) Scott Hickox, West County Sermon, St. Louis, West County Church, April 17, 2016, http://thejourney.org/media/intersection/west-county-sermon-april-17th-2016, min 1:45.
 Franz Kafka, The Trial, Berlin: Verlag Die Schmiede, 1925, translated by David Wyllie, 2003, http://www.kafka-online.info/the-trial.html.
 Darrin Patrick, Truth and Leadership, Kansas City: MO, For the Church Conference, 2015, http://ftc.co/resource-library/conference-messages/truth-and-leadership, from min 21:00.
 Darrin Patrick, “A Reply to Dr. John MacArthur,” Church Leaders, January 2011, http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/147973-not-radical-individualism-a-reply-to-dr-john-macarthur.html.
 Jeremy Bedenbaugh, Singleness (sermon), St. Louis, MO: Tower Grove Church, October 18, 2015, http://thejourney.org/media/local-church-sermons-2015-16/singleness, 3:50 – 4:06.
 (Pastor) Jeremy Irwin, Hanley Road Sermon, St. Louis, Hanley Road Church, April 17, 2016, http://thejourney.org/media/intersection/hanley-road-sermon-april-17th-2016, http://s3.amazonaws.com/media-audio/2016_04_17_hr_irwin-12460.mp3, min 2:40.