“My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand.” Martin Luther
I often get emails from people who say that this website is one of the few that discuss the following issues.
- membership contracts/covenants as a legal contract
- membership covenants/contracts that are set up in way to deny the freedom of conscience of the individual
- churches which pursue their former members when they resign due to conscientious objection
- retroactive church discipline ( I believe I coined the term)
- the authoritarian culture of 9 Marks (aka 9 Marx)
- the authoritarian culture of The Gospel Coalition (of which 9 Marx is a proud member)
- the seemingly bizarre worship of anything by CJ Mahaney. Mark Dever has yet to speak out against Mahaney and his BFFs.
My understanding on all of the above was seriously impacted by my friendship with Todd.
The Guy From Dubai: What happened?
I introduced Todd, aka *The Guy from Dubai* in a post titled My My Dubai. Todd was an air traffic controller for over 30 years. In his last eight years, he worked in Dubai (UAE). During that time, he became a member of the 9 Marks church,UCCD (United Christian Church of Dubai), which is led by John Folmar who is joined at the hip with Mark Dever. He is also admired by The Gospel Coalition. Sometimes I have trouble figuring out the difference between 9 Marks, The Gospel Coalition and Acts 29. Is there really any difference? Folmar and his wife travel back and forth to Dubai about as often as my husband drives back and forth to big Duke. You can be sure that big bucks are spent to keep him on the conference circuit.
Here is a post that my cohort wrote in 2015: A Crying Need for Reformed Churches in Dubai? At UCCD, Todd was being groomed by John Folmar as a deacon. Remember that. They thought he was quality 9 Marks leadership material until…
As a church leader, Todd would be expected to oversee the book store for the church. Todd, who had been a member of a Sovereign Grace Church prior to coming to Dubai, was well aware of the serious problems surrounding CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries.
So, when he spotted books by Mahaney being sold in the UCCD bookstore, he wanted those sales to stop. In fact, if they didn’t, he was not going to continue to attend UCCD.
9 Marks leaders love CJ Mahaney because Mark Dever (aka the 9 Marks’ Papa Bear) loves Mahaney
Therefore, John Folmar looooved CJ Mahaney. Here is what happened next.
I am a Care Group Leader at our church. My church loves all things put out by 9 Marks, T4G, TGC, etc. When all this stuff on SGM started breaking, I started advising my pastors via email of what was going down. I should add that I attended a Sovereign Grace church in the United States before moving overseas. I had a run in with ___________, an assistant pastor there who headed up CLG’s. I now refer to him as the Care Group Nazi, but that is another long story. Suffice it to say I was told (screamed at) that I should find another church to attend because I was not attending Care Group regularly. My care group leader’s heart was revealed to me, and I shortly thereafter took his advice to find another church. Imagine my shock when I found out this domineering man was made the senior pastor of another SGM church!
Anyway, when CJ fled to Dever’s church I advised my pastor (in the foreign country where I now live) that he may want to advise his close friend Dever to think twice about providing cover for CJ because it could involve him in a messy situation. I believe my message was looked at skeptically. I continued to share information with my pastors via email, and I think I was pretty much ignored. I send stuff to three pastors and only one of them responds, and that rarely. I think this is by design. Well, about a month ago a pastor in my church wanted to meet me for lunch. At that lunch he proposed making me a deacon. He wanted me to take charge of the book ministry. He knows reading is my passion. I said that sounded like something I would be interested in. As we discussed the job he asked if I would have any problem with selling/promoting Mahaney’s books. It hadn’t crossed my mind until that point, but I told him I absolutely would have problems. There was no way I could, in good conscience, have anything to do with selling/promoting anything authored by Mahaney.
At that point he was somewhat put out and said that would be a problem as they consider a couple of Mahaney’s books “go to books” for newer Christians. He said he would have to talk to the elder board and see whether they wanted me to have the job and stop selling books by Mahaney or find someone else for the job. I pretty much knew what the answer would be. I told him whatever they decided was fine with me, but there was no way I would compromise on this.
I never heard back from him until after meeting with another pastor for lunch who said he heard I had turned down the offer to become a deacon. I was a bit aghast. I told him what the pastor had said about discussing it with the elders and asked if that had ever taken place. It had not. Shortly after our lunch, he called me and stated that he had discussed my situation with two or three elders, and they decided not to offer the job to me. I didn’t confront him with his dishonesty, but just said I was fine with that.
As they continue to pump Mahaney’s books, the pastor recently held up the Humility: True Greatness book from the pulpit and highly recommended it. As the RBDs and my local church leaders refuse to stand in opposition to Mahaney, I have grown more frustrated. The leaders have chosen to remain quiet, while I made the conscious decision to speak out.
Todd told *unhelpful* truth to UCCD.
He then began to post some of his concerns to the UCCD Facebook page
Our church has a private Facebook page, so I decided to utilize that forum speak out against CJ. I simply linked to many blog articles that spoke to the facts of the scandal. I included a few from The Wartburg Watch. I figured this would attract the attention of my pastors, and I was correct. Here is an email I received after having posted links:
He received this email from a church leader. It is apparently *unhelpful* for members to read the truth.
As you may have noticed, I have removed several of your past posts from our church’s Facebook page. The posts removed deal with the crisis at Sovereign Grace. I sympathize with your concern for these important issues, however, I feel that the posts deal with the issues at play in ways that are unhelpful for our congregation and the members of the Facebook group.
Thank you for your understanding, please feel free to speak with me about any concerns you have!
Todd attempted to get the church leaders to understand the problems with Mahaney.
But the boys were having none of it. If Dever loves him, they love him and don’t wish to be confuse with the facts.
Unfortunately I don’t think most Christians in Dubai are aware of the Mahaney scandal, much less Piper and Dever’s support of Mahaney. If they were I believe these good people would be questioning the wisdom of inviting Piper and Dever to speak at their church.
I resigned my membership on March 6th from the United Christian Church of Dubai because my church leadership refused to quit promoting Mahaney’s books. To date they have refused to act on my letter, so I am technically still a member. John Folmar, the Senior Pastor of UCCD, is a gifted speaker and good friend of Mark Dever’s, having formerly served on staff with him at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. It appears he has no concerns over Piper and Dever’s public support of C.J. Mahaney as he has arranged for them to speak at his church in Dubai. Piper and Dever will be returning the favor by having John Folmar speak at their conferences.
Church contracts and retroactive discipline.
Finally, Todd had enough and he resigned from the church. He wasn’t on church discipline when he left. So, case closed? No way. Todd was going to be listed for months on the member care list. Folmar made the ridiculous decision to place Todd on the *member care list* which is 9 Marx speak for “You ain’t getting out of here until you can prove you are a member of a 9 Marx approved church.” In other words, you are not free to leave unless you do exactly what they tell you to do. This is what I called *retroactive church discipline.*
Because this church is in Dubai, it doesn’t have to abide by the laws in the US. In the US, a church MUST let a member leave upon receiving documentation from the member which state he has resigned.
Todd stood firm. He was not going to quickly join another church after his experience with UCCD and SGM. He kept writing letters to the church asking them to remove his name. It took months but Todd prevailed.
Years ago, I dubbed Todd the official™ TWW hero. This was due to his decision to stand up for the SGM victims. Remember, he was living in a foreign country and friendships are not easy to come by.
Todd and his family return home to Arizona and he makes his mark following the Tom Chantry, Anthony Moore, ARBCA, etc.
Todd and his family eventually returned their home in Arizona. He continued to write his blog Thou Art the Man. He decided to follow the Tom Chantry trial and attended all court sessions, much to the dismay of the ARBCA folks. His write ups of the court proceedings were thorough and informative. His ability to get to the heart of the matter caused him to find evidence that the leaders of ARBCA had allegedly known of Chantry’s actions and had attempted to keep things quiet. Todd was dogged in his pursuit despite some criticism. I believe his work led to the resignation of a number of ARBCA churches. Thankfully, Chantry is now a guest of the state of Arizona for the next couple of decades.
Todd was the first to expose the Anthony Moore situation at Cedarville and raised questions about how the university vets their educators.
In other words, Todd does a great job investigating a situation and writing it up.
Todd has taught me much about living out the Christian life.
Todd would have my head if I told you how he lives out the Christian life in some amazing ways. One day, the 9Marks tribe will understand what they missed in Todd in their single minded pursuit of hard core membership nonsense.
Here is what Brent Detwiler wrote today on the closing post at Thou Art the Man.
Todd is a truth teller and that truth has educated the Church which suffers from so many corrupt leaders. This has meant the world to so many victims of spiritual, physical and sexual abuse. If not for his efforts, so much evil would have been covered up. Instead, their stories were told!
Todd is not a man pleaser. He is a convictional Christian. He does what is right, not convenient or expedient. Todd has put himself at risk and persevered for a long time. Why? He loves those who are weak, been abused, and find it hard to speak for themselves. He has defended their cause.
He also hates evil, like God hates evil. He has done so much to expose darkness among evangelical elites. I am so grateful for his work and the many ground breaking stories he covered that others in the mainstream evangelical press were afraid to cover or unwilling to cover because it might decrease their subscription base or followership.
I am also grateful for his friendship. He is one of two men, to whom I owe my life. He sustained me when I could have perished. Todd will lay his life down for you.
Todd loves to ride his bike in the desert early in the morning. He is an excellent photographer and posts on Instagram, He also loves to scuba dive and spent some wonderful days diving in the Maldives while doing some underwater photography. He also finds the most beautiful music.
He is also my friend. I’m so grateful for his support as I have worked through a number of issues, the most recent was being reported to the police. Wade Burleson told me he thought it would be a good idea if we joined forces.
My agreement with Todd is simple. He can post whenever he likes. He will have no set schedule. He’s also agreed to stay away from politics. I suspect the next few months are going to be nuts in that area!
Now, the only thing I have to do is figure out what time it is in Arizona. Right now, they are on Pacific time and in the *Fall back* season, they are on Mountain time. I’m writing this here so I can check it to remember.
Welcome, Todd. Thank you for considering my offer. Given our combined life experiences, you and I could be considered the elder statesmen of the blogging world! We’ll keep those kids in line…
PS: 9 Marks/UCCD We’re still waiting…
Todd has agreed to sign away his privacy rights so UCCD/9Marx could tell their side of the story. Jonathan Leeman sounded like he was going to have a seizure when I reached out to him. They all love to say *You don’t know the whole story.* Well, we gave them a chance and they declined. Wonder why?