18 June, 2008

Pastor Caught in Reformed Website Scandal

Battle Creek, Mi - John Hodges, the associate pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Battle Creek, stood before an emotional and confused congregation this past Sunday and tried his best to explain what was going on with the church's senior pastor, Dr. Charles Hollingsworth.

"I know we are all in shock," said Hodges from the pulpit. "Believe me, I'm hurting from this too. But I think one thing that brother Charles needs right now is our prayers and our support. He's been placed on sabbatical indefinitely, but we want to work with him and spend some time trying to help him through this deeply troubling period of his life."

The trouble for Hollingsworth began about a month ago when the church installed a piece of software called Covenant Eyes on all of the church's computers. The Covenant Eyes software is intended to help guard against someone surfing the web for explicit material through accountability, remotely monitoring all internet sites visited on a particular computer and logging them so that they cannot be changed. The program then sends the information to designated accountability partners. In the case of Liberty Baptist various members of the Deacon's board were assigned to keep the pastoral staff accountable. While the main intention of the program is to guard against surfing explicit websites, the log information shows every site visited, including sites designated as "safe." Thus, it was not long before pastor Hollingsworth's accountability partner made some shocking discoveries.

"I got his weblog in my email, and I was looking it over carefully," said deacon Patrick Downes. "Everything looked fine to me, I didn't see anything inappropriate, but I kept seeing this one site over and over again called monergism.com. From what I could tell he was visiting this site a lot. So I decided to take a look and see what it was all about."

Downes describes what he found as "shocking" and "disgusting." As it turns out monergism.com is an entire website devoted to Calvinist and Reformed writings, cataloging everything from the Puritans to contemporary theologians. Downes soon found out that Hollingsworth had been deeply engaged in reading the works of John Owen, John Calvin, Sinclair Ferguson and C.H. Spurgeon.

"My heart sank when I found out he had been visiting all of these sites," said Downes. "I immediately contacted brother Hodges. We went into the pastor's study one night when he wasn't there and started up his computer. As it turns out he'd been downloading articles and even printing them out. We also found he'd started up a friendship with a local PCA [Presbyterian Church in America] minister, having coffee with him and things such as that. It was just terrible."

For the time being Hodges has been named interim pastor of Liberty Baptist while Hollingsworth has been placed on "Sabbatical." Hodges, who is supposedly overseeing his "rehabilitation," told TBNN that he has put Hollingsworth on a strict reading diet of Ergun Caner, Dave Hunt and Charles Finney. TBNN was unable to reach Hollingsworth for comment. Hodges further noted that Liberty Baptist is planning to buy the popular Net Finney software to ensure this kind of incident does not happen again.


Anonymous said...

I thought this was a comedy site...not a news site!

UncleChicken said...

He'll certainly die of malnutrition on a reading diet like that!

Unknown said...

Hilarious! Let me say, from Covenant Eyes staff, that we appreciate the accurate reporting of what our software does despite the satirical purpose of the story. Keep up the good work!

Luke Gilkerson
Internet Community Manager
Covenant Eyes

Darrin said...

"had been deeply engaged in reading the works of John Owen, John Calvin, Sinclair Ferguson and C.H. Spurgeon" ... talk about theo-porn!
Probably even believes Sola Gratia!

Chasburge said...

Great stuff. Consider yourself linked and will be visiting more.

Anonymous said...

I went through a very similar process when the deacons discovered I visit this site... My prayers are with him that they give the same grace that Christ has extended to all lost sheep...

Anonymous said...

It's a good thing they caught this thing early! But extracting the poison may not be as easy as reading Caner, Hunt, and Finney.

What that young minister needs is the three volume "Works of Arminius," F. Leroy Forlines' "The Quest for Truth," and "Why I am not a Calvinist" by Walls and Dongell. That should help him on the path of righteousness (one can only pray!).


Jonathan said...

"...if we'd wanted you to think for yourself, we would've told you! Cut that out!"

-beautiful piece - it's sad how many people think that reading, thinking about or discussing a (possibly) contrary opinion/idea/theology is the same as subscribing to it and supporting it.

Keep up the good work!

Stephen Newell said...

I don't know whether to laugh or be scared at this part:

"We went into the pastor's study one night when he wasn't there and started up his computer."

Just the very thought of someone intruding when I'm not there, without my permission...ooooh.

Unknown said...

Wow... talk about taking things to far. You know what, if you believe in something you should not be afraid to let other people look into other ideas. If you are so sure that you are right then you would know that no matter what, people will never find the REAL answer somewhere else and that the only TRUE satisfaction will come from the truth. If you don't know for a fact that they will only find the truth with your answer, then how can you know you have the right answer in the first place.
I will be praying for you Charles!