Posted in theology

The Fall of JD Hall: Chris Rosebrough, Phil Johnson, Justin Peters process this tragic event

By Elizabeth Prata

Sadly the fall of pastors and teachers into reproachable public sin is not news these days. Since the earthly visible church of Christ is composed of unforgiven sinners and of forgiven sinners (wheat and tares mixed), sin is going to happen. It is especially lamentable when a public Christian person or a publicly known pastor falls. In the case of JD Hall, he was both publicly known Christian online and a pastor of a local flock.

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Jordan D. Hall was the author at Pulpit & Pen, a polemics/discernment blog. Pulpit & Pen changed to Protestia. He was also host of the Polemics Report podcast. And of course, he led a local flock in Montana, a flock who loves him.

I used to read his work in earlier days. I was always impressed by the thoroughness of his writing in reporting on scandals, and his insight with discernment. I was never happy with his boasting or his combativeness. He also appeared to be uncorrectable, sometimes even reviling others in a maniacal glee. I was disappointed with his occasional use of his platform as a revenge vehicle against others who rebuked him, or even just disagreed with him.

So I stopped reading and listening. It wasn’t a matter of tone, it was a matter of the qualifications the Bible puts out as being qualified for the office. These qualifications include being temperate, self-controlled, not given to anger, and gentle, things I was not seeing in Mr Hall’s work. I moved on, but I always appreciated JD’s courage.

Being a discerner myself, part of my ministry is presenting information about discernment issues. I am aware that my discernment role which is energized by the spiritual gift, often has a bad reputation. This is partly because it is hard to remain gentle. Swimming in sin, having to watch and talk about to write about such blots against Jesus, is deeply grieving to us. A certain jadedness can creep in, unless balance with other endeavors is achieved. Unless we focus on Jesus and His light and holiness. Unless we keep a repentant and teachable attitude. Soft. We love Jesus so much and see so much that opposes Him in evilness, that it’s easy to get harsh and forget that there but for the grace of God go I.

On May 11, 2022 Mr Hall was found by police to be suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon and was charged also with multiple traffic violations while driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs. In addition, there was also an undisclosed and undescribed “incident” at his church subsequent to his arrest that led to Hall’s prescription drug abuse coming to light.

And he must have a good reputation and be well thought of by those outside the church, so that he will not be discredited and fall into the devil’s trap. (1 Timothy 3:7).

Hall was removed from public ministry at Protestia and The Polemics Report, and he resigned as his church’s pastor. His resignation was accepted. His church is lovingly caring for Mr Hall by encouraging him to seek professional help, to seek medical help for his declining health, and ministering in general to him in urging to reconcile with God and family. (Church statement here)

That is the news, and it is sad, but that is not my point of this essay. What we do online is not in a vacuum, or it shouldn’t be. We are PART of a large body of believers. We belong to a local church (or we should), and we are part of the global Body of Christ. That means what we say and do impacts others. It also means we are recipients of love and care and concern from others within our church and from without.

JD’s prowess with reporting was well known but also obvious were his flaws. We all have flaws. But certain of those flaws were a concern to three other men in online discernment work, all of them ordained and two of them pastors to a local flock themselves. They are Pastor Chris Rosebrough, Pastor Phil Johnson (who pastors a Sunday School class of several hundred) and Justin Peters, a global speaker, evangelist, and noted discerner.

They processed this sad event in a Zoom call recorded on Youtube in Pastor Rosebrough’s Fighting for the Faith channel. The link is below. I encourage you to watch, as a model of HOW to speak of sinful falling of another, and to earnestly hear the warnings about discernment. Also to be encouraged by their love for a fellow believer.

The three men had been involved with the younger Mr Hall for years as mentors, encouraging him, warning him, helping him. The three men were sorrowful for the man’s fall, and spoke of how they had engaged with him even recently, privately still concerned and loving as to his mental and physical health. They expressed worry over the fact that Mr Hall seemed to reject their advice and care in these private conversations, but they were not rejecting towards him. They expressed their deep love for the man as a brother in the faith. In fact, the encouraging part of this entire sordid episode is that unbeknownst to us, unless the men had described their care, we’d never know.

There is more care and love in the Body than we can see. So much goes on behind closed doors, behind closed hands in prayer, and behind sorrowful hearts, than we understand. I was tremendously encouraged by the moral and spiritual example the three men displayed in their talk than I was discouraged by Mr Hall’s sins.

I was also heartened by Mr Hall’s church’s response to their pastor’s difficulties. Again, much love is displayed for a fellow believer. I pray the church you belong to would react the way that Mr Hall’s church did. They didn’t whitewash the issue and they didn’t ignore it as so many other churches do when their pastor falls. They faced it biblically and lovingly. Wow.

Bad things happen to people and bad things happen because of sinful choices people make. But the idea is, how do we individually respond, and how do those around us respond. We should all be so blessed to have strong and loving mentors. We should all be blessed to have a strong and loving church. So many churches I see in my world don’t know how to deal with a sinful person or worse, how to handle a fall from grace by their pastor. They reject the person, or they ignore the sin. Neither is appropriate.

Please tune in to see how a graceful handling of a fallen pastor is spoken of and handled. I am praying for JD, and I prayed in thanks to the Lord for good men like Chris, Phil, and Justin. What will heaven be like with all that love abounding that is sinless and without blot or stain? Jesus is magnificent, and even a small peek through a glass darkly of such love flowing from these men is enough to make me tear up in wonder and praise.

Author:

Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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