My Migration Away from Grace Community Church and The Master’s College
Quick History: I was saved in 1971. Then, in 1986 I became acquainted with biblical counseling and started taking classes at The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation in San Diego. I completed my training under Dr. George Scipione and I received a Certificate in Biblical Counseling in 1990. At that time, I joined the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (now referred to as the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, ACBC). I then proceeded to get a MA in Biblical Counseling from Trinity Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana in 1997. During this time, I was also associated with the Master’s College (now University) and Grace Community Church. I taught a course or two at Master’s and was a speaker at a number of conferences sponsored by both the church and the university.
But in 2008 I was turning a corner away from the way of thinking promoted by TMC, GCC, and ACBC, and published Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life, a book that demonstrated the centrality of the gospel. In it, I was particularly responding to their overemphasis on the imperatives and quantifying most every problem of living in terms of sin. Then in 2011, I published Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus, a book that applied the gospel to parenting, and that was when Grace Community Church decided to blacklist me. I did try on a few occasions to explain my perspective and not burn the bridge with them as I was continuing to hope that I would be able to influence them toward a fuller understanding of the grace I found in the gospel. It was to no avail and my relationship with them ended.
This is now: On and off throughout the years since then, I’ve had one or two interactions with the people at TMC and GCC, and every interaction made me realize how far away from their perspectives I have journeyed. I admit that during the first 10-15 years of knowing them I was unable to see the problems that were endemic to that wing of the biblical counseling movement, and I now regret any association I may have had with them then. There is nothing more that I can do about mistakes of the past but to ask for understanding and forgiveness.
Some of you may be wondering why I’m writing this now—if I’m just trying to protect myself in light of the recent revelations about trouble at GCC and in the biblical counseling department at TMU. My answer to that is this: Of course, I don’t want to be associated with the despicable teaching/pastoring that has recently come to light. But this isn’t a new turn for me. I turned away from it more than a decade ago. In the past, I have been accused by leaders in the biblical counseling department at TMU of having a “decline in sound theology” and of being on a “slippery slope toward apostasy.” But those slanderous accusations were made some time ago and I have no association with the leaders there now. I count that as a good thing.
In the years since I became more convinced of the centrality of the gospel, I’ve changed my message. Most recently, I’ve looked at the way that the Lord honored and celebrated the value of women in Worthy: Celebrating the Value of Women (2020) and in my recent release Jesus and Gender: Living as Sisters and Brothers in Christ. Both of these gospel-centered books were co-authored with Pastor Eric Schumacher. In them, we push hard against any misogynistic or patriarchal teaching that devalues the image of God in women and discounts women’s pleas for help in abusive marriages.
I hope that in this very brief history you’ve heard my heart. Like you, I hope to continue to grow in grace and in the knowledge of God. And like you, I look back at the things I believed 30 years ago and aside from bedrock creedal truths, I can see how I’ve changed and hopefully grown. I hope you can see this as well.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Please pray with me for the welfare and repentance of these individuals and institutions. I am,
Under the Mercy with You,
April 8, 2022