“Would you like me to teach you how to trust God? Start with your money.” — Johnny Hunt.
I am downright disgusted at the number of pastors/clergy who use their positions to become wealthy. I also am suspicious of people who use the title of Doctor when it is an honorary “doctorate” from what one person called “dubious paper mills.” I am referring to Johnny Hunt, who, in my opinion, appears too smooth, too well-off, and too self-assured. There are other pastors in the SBC whose lives and ministries seem to mimic Hunt’s lifestyles. Let me be perfectly blunt. I did not intend to join an SBC church when we moved to North Carolina. I had my fill of rich, smooth-talking SBC pastors in Dallas. Names such as Robert Jeffress, Jack Graham, Ed Young Jr., and Paige Patterson come to mind. However, my kids wanted to attend a church many of their friends attended. So, against my better judgment, we joined because I thought the pastor looked like a straight shooter. He wasn’t. At the end of 7 years, I was brokenhearted and started this blog.
Over the years, I have begun to listen to that “inner light,” the way the Spirit speaks to me. And something tells me that Hunt is a gifted “preacher” who used his charisma to become wealthy, well-connected, and influential within the SBC. But, of course, most of you know the story. He was fingered in the Guidepost investigation for molesting an adult woman. He denies it while simultaneously saying that anything that happened was consensual. Here is a link to some of my posts on the matter.
I visited his self-named website.
I notice on Wikipedia the following:
He has earned degrees from Gardner-Webb Collegeand the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has also received honorary doctorates from Immanuel Baptist Theological Seminary, Covington Theological Seminary, and Tennessee Temple University.
It appears that he is using the “Doctor” title based on honorary doctorates conferred by some dubious institutions. In 2009, Robert Parham wrote New SBC President Has a Resume Problem. Parham has since passed away. I wish he were still around.
When Georgia Baptist Convention editor Gerald Harris wrote about Hunt’s nomination,(ed.:SBC President )he included a paragraph about Hunt’s education: “Immanuel Baptist Theological Seminary in Sharpsburg, south of Atlanta, awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree and Covington Theological Seminary in Rossville honored him with a Doctor of Sacred Laws and Letters degree.”
Clearly, Hunt’s colleagues know about his degrees from two dubious, Georgia-based entities that lack credible academic standing and legitimate accreditation.
What about those institutions?
Two dubious institutions gave the new SBC president a title that he proudly bears. By identifying himself with the “Dr.” title, Hunt legitimizes these diploma mills and encourages by example other ministers to take educational shortcuts ”shortcuts which deceive churches about the real quality of the academic training of their clergy.
That places the question mark of integrity over the SBC.
Robert Parham is executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics. (ed. It appears he passed away in 2017)
Any person who uses a title he didn’t earn should be ashamed. But does he know how hard it is to get a doctorate? Perhaps not.
Hunt and Ravi Zacharias
Hunt was present for the opening celebration” of the massage parlors. I wrote Pastor Johnny Hunt Drags the SBC Into the Ravi Zacharias Scandal.
But the always verbose Hunt was not finished. He informed Baughman that Ravi Zacharias’ plan was to”make the gospel known through the profits of the company.” Alrighty then, gospelly-centered sex trafficking. Sounds O.K. to me – said nobody ever. ( RZIM “took in $32 million in donations in 2019, according to reports filed with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.” Just how much money does an organization need to “make the gospel known?”)
Johnny boy was still not finished. When Baughman asked him about the sex charges Hunt replied he had “absolutely never heard such a charge and I was a regular customer.” Really? Do tell more, Johnny. Why were you frequenting the establishment? And please define “regular.”
Hunt, at the minimum, has poor judgment when it comes to his friends.
Johnny Hunt seems focused on money and appears to enjoy living well.
Writing in Medium, Paul Walker posted Johnny Hunt SUES the Southern Baptists for Defamation and Loss of Earnings.
Hunt had Nashville-based Cole Law Group file a lawsuit on March 17th in the US District Court in Nashville.
The complaint accused current SBC leaders and Guidepost of intentionally causing him “personal anguish and harm” and stated that Hunt had been made “a scapegoat.”
The decision to smear Pastor Johnny’s reputation with these accusations has led him to suffer substantial economic and other damages. He has lost his job and income and current and future book deals, and the opportunity to generate income through speaking engagements.
Hunt portrays himself as a victim, but it appears he has never apologized to the actual victim.
And he’s NEVER uttered a word of apology to the people whose lives he has irreparably damaged.
At every turn, there appears to be dishonesty and obscuration.
For example, when the allegations first surfaced, Hunt denied even knowing the pastor whose wife Hunt was accused of assaulting.
However, he later admitted to Guideposts that he had known the couple for at least two decades. Indeed, he conceded he had a “major influence on said pastor’s life and career.”
Walker goes on to say that Johnny Hunt is a very wealthy man.
The Hunts 4,400-square-foot home sits on about three acres in the woods outside Woodstock. Real estate websites estimate it’s now worth upwards of $1 million.
…Hunt also owns two other houses — they bought another property in Woodstock worth around $350,000. In 2020 he splashed out another $1 million on a beachfront home in Florida,
…Throw in the passive income from his 14 published books and an endless round of speaking engagements — he spoke at a Conference in Georgia this past weekend AFTER he had filed his lawsuit — and you can see that Johnny Hunt is hardly on the breadline.
So, maybe a few churches and Christian organisations have grown a conscience and decided not to invite Hunt to their next conference.
Just how wealthy is Hunt? Perhaps he is more affluent than Walker imagined.
The Baptist Press posted Pastor Johnny’ is the head of a family empire that feeds off the SBC.
In 1981, a contemporary Christian music group named NewSongformed at Morningside Baptist Church in Valdosta, Ga. Later, the members of that group migrated to First Baptist Woodstock and one of Hunt’s daughters married a son of the group’s lead singer, Eddie Carswell.
Through these family ties and through the success of NewSong, Hunt became connected to another network of profit-making and ministry.
Today, he is related to no fewer than 10 nonprofit and for-profit businesses, as attested by tax records, event publicity and other legal filings. All are intertwined with his family.
His family manages the various family businesses and gets $$$ for doing so.
His wife, Janet, operates as the family bookkeeper for some of the businesses. The Hunts have two daughters, Holly and Deanna. Holly is married to Pete Hixson. She runs her own business called 3H Travel, while Pete is a speaker, consultant and special needs advocate. Holly manages most of Hunt’s travel. Deanna serves as treasurer of a Hunt-related nonprofit called It’s a New Day and is married to John Carswell, son of Eddie Carswell. John owns several businesses, including a motorsports company and several of the conferences that platform Johnny Hunt and Pete Hixson. The Hunts have five grandchildren some of whom are part of the family businesses
I have been a regular critic of the NAMB. Older pastors go to continue to be paid well. However, the SBC has rules: you can’t know where your money goes if you contribute to the NAMB. The NAMB appears to be a client of Hunt who recently had to resign due to his little slip-up, but not before he directed business for financial gain for the family.,
In 2018, at age 66, Hunt left the Woodstock pastorate and became senior vice president of NAMB, which has headquarters not far from Woodstock, in Alpharetta, Ga.
There, the entanglement between the denomination and the Hunt family business grew more intertwined.
NAMB has been a frequent client and collaborator with the Hunt enterprises — meaning while he drew a salary and benefits from the SBC agency, he apparently had the influence to direct denominational business to the financial gain of himself and his family.
But the NAMB ain’t talking, which is a problem in my book.The NAMB is secretive about finances.
BNG contacted both Hunt and a NAMB spokesman for response to the content of this article but received no response from either.
Specifically, BNG asked Hunt: How do you explain the network of family businesses that seem to feed each other and draw on denominational funding? How is this not a conflict of interest?
And BNG asked NAMB: What has been NAMB’s relationship with Johnny Hunt Ministries, NewSong Ministries, WinterJam, Xtreme Conferences, Jubilee Conferences, It’s a New Day Ministries or any other business affiliated with Johnny Hunt? Do NAMB’s policies allow an employee to direct business to organizations they lead or benefit from financially? And does Jim Law still serve on board of Hunt-affiliated businesses?
Although NAMB is one of the most secretive organizations within the SBC, seldom answering questions about its personnel or finances,
No less than 10 businesses owned or formerly owned by Hunt are listed in the article.
Go to the article to see them all. Here is one.
New Song Ministries Inc. / Xtreme Conferences. In addition to managing the band New Song, this business manages concert performances, including the Xtreme Conferences for students and WinterJam Tour, a concert series. These events are promoted in Southern Baptist churches. Hunt and his family benefit financially from this side business.
With reported assets of $1.1 million, this organization in 2020 took in $12.9 million in revenue and reported expenses of $13.3 million.
Those involved in leadership are Johnny Hunt, past CEO and frequent headliner; Eddie Carswell, CEO; Pete Hixson, speaker; and the Hunt grandchildren, who are employees.
This organization does business with NAMB, as well as Carswell Motorsports (doing business as Midnight Coach) and 3H Publishers, both with ties to the Hunt family.
It appears that Hunt is cashing in on the SBC, and he had to be restored to get back to work.
More than perhaps any other pastor or denominational leader in the SBC, Johnny Hunt has created a system that sustains him and his extended family financially through his networking connections.
That’s likely one of the reasons him being named as a sexual abuser in the Guidepost Solutions report made such waves and why Hunt and his allies have sought to quickly “restore” him to ministry at age 70. He’s not only a preacher, he’s the head of a family empire.
The article is fantastic, and I can’t begin to cover everything that has been found. In addition, the Roys Report posted Johnny Hunt’s Network of Nonprofit and For-Profit Businesses.
Although the NAMB has a conflict of interest policy that discourages “business transactions with a trustee or employee, or a business enterprise in which a trustee or employee has an interest,” it has frequently been a client of Hunt’s and his family’s businesses.
The retreat ministry is now called Refresh by NAMB. Its revenue in 2018 was almost $900,000.
Hunt has created a new retreat for ministers through Johnny Hunt Ministries, called Advanced. The next retreat is slated for October at The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa.
Travel for Timothy Barnabas and Advanced retreats has been organized by 3H Travel, a travel agency operated by Hunt’s daughter, Holly Hixson.
The Grand Cayman Island is hardly a cheap date. However, I noticed they planned it for October, which is prime hurricane season. So maybe they got a discount?
Church father Jerome ((345–420)) warned about clergy and money.
I think today’s evangelical celebrity pastors and leaders are leading us off a cliff.
Jerome (345–420) was the September church father of the month for the 2021 Ad Fontes Patristrics Reading Group. In Letter 52, the biblical scholar, commentator, and translator writes to Nepotian, nephew of his life-long friend Heliodorus, on the duties of the clergy and their way of life (see also Jerome’s excellent Letter 14 to Heliodorus on the ascetic life). This article highlights a few points of Jerome’s practical advice for pastors. All citations are from the translation by F. A. Wright in LCL 262. Another translation of the letter can be read for free at newadvent.org.
Here’s what Jerome taught me.
- Do not seek wealth or worldly gain. The word “clergy” means “lot” or “portion” and is a continual reminder that, like the Levites, God alone is our portion, as we are his. “It is the glory of a bishop to provide means for the poor, but it is a disgrace for any priest to think of wealth for himself” (52.6). A pastor “must not be … greedy for gain” (Titus 1:7), “not a lover of money” (1 Tim. 3:3). Jerome uses a metaphor that would resonate with Nepotian, who had left the military to become a presbyter: “Do not look for worldly gain when you are fighting in Christ’s army” (52.5; cf. 2 Tim. 2:3–4).
- Do not be stingy in giving to others so that you can line your own pockets. Jerome is disgusted by “some who give a trifle to the poor that they may themselves receive a larger sum, under the cloak of almsgiving seeking their own personal gain” (52.9) and quips that “such conduct should be called almshunting rather than almsgiving” (59.9). Pastors should model generous and sacrificial care for the less fortunate. They should not be self-seeking.
- Avoid other clergymen who have sought worldly gain. “Avoid, as you would the plague, a clergyman who … has risen from poverty to wealth, from obscurity to a high position” (52.5). There were “PreachersNSneakers” even in Jerome’s day.
- Prefer to show hospitality to the poor than to curry favor with the rich at your table. “Let poor men and strangers be acquainted with your modest table, and with them Christ shall be your guest” (52.5). A pastor “must be … hospitable” (Titus 1:8). “Avoid entertaining the worldly at your table, especially those who are swollen with office” (52.11).
- Be wary to rely on those outside the church to accomplish God’s work. Since pastors serve “a crucified Lord, one who lived in poverty and on the bread of strangers” (52.11), Jerome warns against wining and dining the wealthy and powerful, playing politics to secure support even for kingdom purposes.
- Use church funds with extreme care and integrity. “To rob a friend is theft, but to defraud the Church is sacrilege” (52.16).
I bet that Johnny hasn’t read up on Jerome, although I wonder… Perhaps Johnny is one of those guys who didn’t come into the church to serve but used his talents to get what he wanted. I don’t see the self-titled “Doctor” Hunt as a faithful servant. Instead, it appears to this kitchen table blogger that he wound up being on the take. He found a system that served him. He is a person that I would avoid, like the plague. That’s what Jerome said. Memorize this and apply it liberally in your lives.
“Avoid, as you would the plague, a clergyman who … has risen from poverty to wealth, from obscurity to a high position”