The Rise and Fall of J.D. Hall
I’d never heard of J.D. Hall until a couple of years ago.
He crossed my radar with the publication of a book called ” Help! Arminians Are Giving Me Nightmares Again”.
I’m a Calvinist, but I don’t believe such hyperbole is helpful in theological discussions.
The hyperbole got Hall a lot of attention and a lot of new friends who were more famous than he was.
He was in the club now.
That club was the ‘elite” of the Reformed Baptists and Calvinistic non denoms.
Now, the Pyro guys were retweeting his tweets and James White spoke highly of him and he was somebody he wasn’t before.
Soon he was invited to speak at conferences and hosting his own where his new friends came to speak.
The problem with getting in a club is you stay in the same way you got in.
Today, that means being a champion of one viewpoint and excoriating those who don’t share it.
To keep the attention, you must always have someone to excoriate that the club leaders are excoriating too.
You prove your fidelity to the faith of the club by how often and how harshly you condemn those whom the elite condemn.
You must be faithfully against something, as well as for something else.
Hall was very faithful.
In harassing young Braxton Caner he was harassing Ergun Caner by proxy…and Ergun Caner had been a deserving target for a long time.
Surely, this was the work of the Lord.
No, it wasn’t.
It was immature, cruel, and unworthy of a Christian minister.
It inflated the reputation of a man at the expense of the reputation of the Savior.
It reflected a heart set on “truth” and utterly devoid of grace and mercy…which is always a half truth…which is a lie.
J.D. Hall has gone silent these days…which is a state he should get used to.
None of us know whether or not he contributed to a young mans death by suicide…that’s beyond our knowing.
We can assume that his actions did nothing to help him.
What all of us in social media should understand is that we all could be in his shoes…that often the thinnest of lines separate being a reformer from an abuser.
We all should pause and reflect on whether we’re doing God’s work, God’s way.
The price of admission to club membership can be your very soul.
I’m off to make my own application…
“It was immature, cruel, and unworthy of a Christian minister.” Agree 100%!
Thank you for the summary and advice Michael. I had not heard of either Hall or the Caner family. There seem to be so many clubs out there like Hall’s. If you hear of any clubs for people who don’t know it all, please let me know.
I’d like to make one of those clubs here, but so far it’s not working.
Every time I get in the middle I get shot at from both sides…
I really doubt it is his fall. His supporters will surely stand behind him…..just like Driscoll, and others.
I think he’s toast…his friends have gotten very quiet.
Only time will tell.
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? (Rom 11:33-34)
I guess there are some folks who would answer: “me’.
Spot on Michael, the tongue (or keyboard) is a raging fire…can be used for purification or destruction.
I’ve spent so many years walking that line…and falling off that line.
I don’t ever want to be responsible in any way for damage to people who don’t deserve it.
I don’t think it’s beyond our knowing. I think JD Hall’s horrifying behavior clearly played at least some role in the boy’s suicide.
I looked at “pastor” J.D. Hall’s website yesterday and the phrase from The Princess Bride came to mind. “You hideous, vomitous mass”.
Is it any wonder at all that Christians are hated because we are lumped together with the likes of this so called “man”.
No wonder the media loves to get hold of garbage like this and wave the flag of ‘lookie here’.
On a positive note, I saw that the ever gracious Warren’s have been gracious and kind to Pastor Caner. Lord bless and comfort them, the Caner family and those in like situations.
Paige, yes! Hall is a train wreck. God bless the Warren family. The more I read of Rick Warren and his wife, the more I respect them.
I have/had never heard of J.D. Hall. i always thought you were referring to the former University of Kentucky basketball coach.
I forgot all about that book! Yeah, what a doofus.
Still, I get the feeling alot of people are going to wish they wouldn’t have tried to connect an innocent man with the death of a teenager.
Great article. Just a thought about part of it, though. Since “None of us know whether or not he contributed to a young mans death by suicide…that’s beyond our knowing,” why even introduce such unprovable speculation it into the article? It’s like a politician asking his/her opponent if they still beat their dog… Doesn’t seem an altogether fair move, esp. compared to the compelling arguments you make about “what gets them into the club, keep them in.”
Grace Admin: I am guessing that Michael said that because so many other bloggers are accusing Hall of exactly that thing. Although I believe Hall’s behaviour was despicable, I don’t believe that his tweets were the cause of that young man taking his life. It is a tragic story and I hope we will all learn from it.
https://phoenixpreacher.com/?p=18866#comment-87821 That Christian Post article is actually in error. JD Hall did sort of apologize for his actions as it stated, but it was BEFORE Braxton died, not after. I hope someone at Christian Post corrects their timeline on that.
Troubling situation on many levels. Thanks Michael.
It was immature, cruel, and unworthy of a Christian minister.
Any ideology or belief system, religious or non-religious, can strip you of your humanity if you’re not careful.
Nonnie is correct.
There are more than a few people saying he caused the young mans death.
I was shocked to hear something that came out of James White’s mouth in this Sept 2013 video — listen to his statement made at the 1:59:10 mark.
Why oh why does there has to be a club. Are we so insatiably insecure that we need to float into the tiny bread crumbs of belief. And who are we to judge? Yes, I really do not like the pack fodder mentality that goes with megachurches and such. I am not fond of celebrity preachers either, good or bad. There has to be a instilled sense when the Holy Spirit says to each of us, “please be quiet now!”. I’ve heard it many times in my life, and when I consciously ignore it, that’s when trouble starts. I believe we need to stand up for what is right and grounded. But thank God, he gave us a brain, thoughts connecting with scripture being the glue. Let’s use it. When ego plays a role you know as well as I we begin to start down a wrong path. Why don’t these leaders do something about the sexual abuse in the churches? The misogyny in the churches? The lack of support critical care of our children? Or even opening their doors to accept the lost children on the border. Keep your mouth shut and have your actions speak? Just seems very cowardly. Is that what we want with anyone. Especially someone who calls himself a pastor, just because he’s on tweeter and radio? Give me a brake here. We all need to wake up! Thank you for an insightful perspective and never stop being “human”. God Bless!
Thank you, Ivan.
Suicide is all the more tragic because the underlying depression that fuels it is so often treatable. As a sufferer of intermittent and chronic depression I am grateful for all the things that alleviated my symptoms and made life livable. There were times when abusive people could without question facilitate a downswing and a potential dangerous situation.
At this point our role is to learn from this, to grieve with this family, to warn ourselves as Michael is doing against being complicit in the suffering and to get out of the way.
Like I said elsewhere all the principles involved have something to live with that is worse than anything we can impose.
I just want to live and make room for others to limp forward. I have a son who is vulnerable in similar ways. I want margins for him and for others and nets to catch.
Well said, Dread. I have been there as well.
Thank you for that.
I too have a child who is vulnerable to such…and I fear for him when I’m gone.
Josh…glad you’re here…
Troubling situations these past few weeks. Just wondering how much outrage we can handle.
I’ve been talking about that with friends all day.
Every time I think I’ve seen it all, I see something worse…
“Just wondering how much outrage we can handle.”
Now come on – does everything have to produce outrage? If some of you folks are getting outraged every time something troubling comes up in the news or on this blog, well you have no room for real outrage when it is needed.
Here is some advise – if you can’t do anything about it – don’t get outraged. I mean really, has even Mark Driscoll done anything to cause actual ‘outrage’?
Hitler did – Driscoll???
It’s getting to the point where rage is our second tongue.
I think we’re losing our collective sanity.
I think it is a blog / FB persona thing.I don’t generally see outraged people in my daily life. I was at work today for 10 hr with 15 other people – no one outraged … and we have the business news on 4 big screen TVs all day 🙂
There’s a lot of finger pointing at JD Hall (its justified) but some criticism of his puppeteer Seth Dunn is due also. Mr Dunn went to 1st Woodstock on the Sunday Ergun was preaching, Mr Dunn was asked to leave after he verbalized his feelings (psychotic) toward Ergun.
I loathe Ergun Caners actions and lies…but dragging a kid into the matter is evil.
I would protest if Caner spoke here…but not his family.
I don’t think it will stay on blogs and Facebook…the kind of hate I see will boil over eventually.
“Any ideology or belief system, religious or non-religious, can strip you of your humanity if you’re not careful.”
Well said, MP.
As a parent the one thing that caused me to lose my temper was when anyone messed with one of our children. I still have that in me even though two of our children are into their 30’s and our youngest is 28. If I found that a pastor had done to one of our kids what this man did to the young Caner I would have paid him a very quick visit.
How does a pastor do something so moronic? If he was my pastor I’d be out of that church pronto. At the very least he should step down for a season until he grasps the gravity of what he has done and publicly repents.
If the man has a conscience how can he not consider the possibility his actions may have contributed to this boys suicide?
How low are we setting the bar for pastors these days? Scandal and unrepentant sin being such a regular part of the church landscape makes it clear all churches need a mechanism in place to act swiftly when these things take place. Our inability or unwillingness to do so helps create the broad brush so many use to paint the church with today.
MLD, I agree that if there is nothing you can do about it, then don’t get outraged. I am not terribly outraged at Driscoll, I just vehemently disagree (could that be outrage? maybe, maybe not) with what he said 14 YEARS AGO. Hey, I am artistic, does that make me a puss? Maybe back then, MD would think so, but perhaps not these days. I did post a comment about MD on Rachel Held Evans site, but my most stinging verbage was reserved for his “to the death” defenders…aka…fanboys. There are many instances where I have withheld my outrage but just not posting a comment on a website. Or sometimes I ignore a story that could cause outrage. Anyways, it was just my $0.02.
“Just wondering how much outrage we can handle.”<<<<
Is anything happening to you personally or are you taking on rage that belongs to someone else?
If it weren't for the Internet, would you even know about these things?
I recommend spending one's emotional energy on one's local church and neighborhood.
Calm down. Let the people involved do all the handling. You can pray.
“Just wondering how much outrage we can handle”.
Xenia (40) and MLD, just posing a question, that’s all.
Ol Brannon Howse still has J D radio show on his network. Of course Brannon has gone through so many programs that I suppose he is happy to have a club member on.
J.D.Hall, ManaGAWD, gets mentioned quite a bit online these days.
As the God’s Predestined Elect(TM) whose online harassment contributed to Braxton Caner’s suicide.
Braxton Caner as in 15-year-old kid.
Suicide as in “Shotgun Wound to Head”.
P.S. HE was the guy who wrote (original title) “MOM! THERE ARE ARMINIANS UNDER MY BED!”?????
If you encounter anyone who is that obvious about Theo-Ideological Indoctrination — RUN AWAY! FAST! (And ask any survivor of Cambodia’s Killing Fields how far “Purity of Ideology” can go. And HAS gone.)
My prayer is that hearts would change and both sides could be reconciled. I think that would honor God and be a witness to the world what kind of God we worship.
I lean much more towards Calvinism than Arminianism and at the same time I’m sad to see the case of Ergun Caner…I do not revel and rejoice in his sin because he’s “not on my team”. It is without hyperbole that I say it truly makes my heart sad to see the vitriol on both sides towards Caner and by Caner.
I feel dirty as a believer having read much tonight of Driscoll’s antics AND those who to me seem to revel in “him getting his”.
Having read Hall’s defense of how he interacted with Caner’s son, then his “apology” followed up by several posts of justification, it’s disgusting. He try’s to sell he was concerned for the spirituality of the boy. One can only believe that if they are as hateful…and dishonest as he. IMO it is likely he reveled in what he (exaggeratedly) called the gross sin of the boy as just another chance to go after his dad.
Numbers 25:8 “..He drove the spear into both of them…”. This is what God thinks of fornicating believers. Kids who are unstable kill themselves all the time. This kid came from a Christian family, yet lives like a fornicator at 15? He is clearly mixed up. We are not supposed to live like pagans. I don’t know what his Dad or family taught him, but the problem lies there. The vitriolic attacks on a preacher like Hall are not coming from a Christian worldview. The pagans post christian influence on this site jump out.
I believe this is your first visit to our site…and I sincerely hope it’s your last as you are clearly a godless ass.
If you truly believe that murdering wayward children is the heart of God and that death by suicide should be easily dismissed as a discipline issue, then not only do you not know Jesus you are the devil incarnate.
My prayer for you is twofold…that you get saved and that you never have children.
A Darwin Award blessing and a classic blast.
I knew someone would comment appropriately to Mr. Hesford. Thank you.
I was offline last night or I would have done so sooner.
I am utterly ashamed and convicted and confess that I often lauded the behavior of The Club. Weeping!
. . . and now, almost a year later — we have yesterday’s fiasco contra Karen Swallow Prior! May be time for an update, Michael.
Update after two years: pastor JD hall is preaching in small town, rural America. Population less than 5,000. The church he preaches at, I used to go to. We left because of pastor hall. Many of us left at the same time and were treated poorly for leaving, harassed, and lied about behind our backs by said pastor. He is a tyrant and many of the families who were there before he was are choosing to leave. Even his associate and youth pastors have left. He has been called out by those in highest authority next to him and yet, through his manipulation and a smooth tongue, he has stayed and they have been banished. He out right lies and threatens and is in no way worthy of a trusted pastor title. When he first came to the church he is currently in, he was wonderful! Honest and biblical, made many outreach and charity programs for the community! During the oil boom, the church had surpluses of money, much of it was used directly in the community to help people. But the dark secrets behind the walls of the church were not told. Corruption, manipulation, lies upon lies, and more. I wouldn’t trust this man to watch my goldfish, let alone indoctrinate and fill my families heads with lies and threats. He has turned families against each other, broken families, broken up friendships, turned children against thier families…. And yet, he is hailed as a martyr and man of God who is shepherding his sheep. As the years went on he became nor expedition and more controlling. He is a steam roller and if you Get in his way or disagree, he has no problem eliminating you. No matter what position you held or who you are. He even disgraced ul self from John piper publicly saying he wishes he wouldn’t have named his daughter after him. ( probably shouldn’t name your child after an evangelist anyway…. Kind of stalker like). Basically the man is a lie and a cheat who once had a good heart but now just has a big head. I heard it rumored that finally a movement has been stated to oust him from his church …. I know I would sign that petition if asked! Thank you for the article, though I was part of his church when this Twitter fight happened, I don’t think he contributed to this kid’s suicide. I think that sad situation was coming long before JD hall tweeted. However, I no longer feel he is a man of God and his family is treated like crap by him as well. No man of God would treat people the way he does. Thanks for your time.
I know some people are reading “John Doe’s* comment and wondering if it’s legit or not. I don’t know who “John Doe” is, but I can tell you his comments have the ring of truth since JD Hall has also bullied me, many of my friends, and told lies about us. The fact that “John Doe” is not showing his real name, and neither am I, is a testament to the fact that JD Hall goes on the attack when challenged, and will not hesitate to lie and slander to smear the reputation of anyone who speaks out against him. Those who dare speak against him are branded Trolls, Psychopaths, Sociopaths, and a host of other names meant to marginalize and subdue the voices that, when confronting JD with his sin failed to bring repentance, now warn others that he fails the Biblical qualifications of a Pastor . The brave few who use their real names are harassed relentlessly on social media, Twitter, and even via personal messages and phone texts.
Recently JD Hall put out this rant against the “Anons” who have spoken out against him. Notice that even though JD states he’s removed the real name of a man who was speaking against him since “he apologized” – the man’s name is still in the link which you can see here, and follow to read the article: http://polemicsreport.com/2016/08/02/devin-hudson-and-anonymous-sociopathy/
Not only has Mr. Hudson been personally harassed, but JD also allegedly sent creepy texts to Mr. Hudson’s pregnant wife in a bid to harass her too. Again, this sounds too crazy to be true – and yet, we know that harassing family members is something JD has done before. Please take this rambling, self-righteous hit piece with a grain of salt, it is full of lies. If JD has truly forgiven Mr. Devin as he says, then why go on to smear him through the muck in this article?
Most of JD Hall’s respected Pulpit & Pen writers have parted company with him, and little by little, the Calvinist leaders who first gave JD his “status” two years ago, are also parting company. We pray that JD stops thinking of himself as a martyr and that God gives him the sight to see himself as he really is – a sinner like the rest of us, humbled and badly in need of repentance and God’s unmerited Grace.
And now, because JD Hall would literally drag me and my family through Hades for speaking out as I have if he knew my real name, I sign myself. “Jane Doe”.
3 years later and he’s worse than ever! His facts are skewed, his attacks include mocking appearances as well as beliefs, crude language….the list is long. I doubt he’ll ever go away.
For entertainment, I have been following the saga known as JD Hall. I live the same eastern Montana small town.
[Context: My own history (not current) includes 45 years worth of pentecostal/holiness/charismatic evangelicalism. I’ve lived under the tutelage of good and bad pastors. I’ve studied, at length, quasi-christian groups considered cults. In spite of and because of my religious journey, I’ve had my own existential crises along the way.]
All things considered, Hall and his flock seem to be headed for a crash, either simultaneously or consecutively. They appear to be a rigid and legalistic fringe group. I would wager that no sense of oppression exists within.
Home bible study curricula must have prior approval. Acceptable general-reading christian authors are also provided. Community church denominations are ranked (and listed) for the members from “will associate with” (acceptable) to “enemies of the gospel” (unacceptable, including United Methodist and ECLA). A near-levitical interpretation of the Sabbath is proscribed.
I fear an implosion.
The information I’ve shared is public access.
I’ve wondered about the state of the actual Montana church he leads, how he and its congregants are in the community, the community witness — basically, what the real world he and his IRL followers exist in. The internet existence he has, though real enough to be linked to a suicide, is not the full picture. It’s the picture he wants to pain.
Hayseed, I wish more people in the Montana community would speak up about the situation on the ground. I don’t want gossip, I want the truth. He is very pernicious about digging up on-the-ground and also rumors about other pastors and their flock. What I want to know is what the fruit is there in the circle of humanity that God placed him in as a pastor, not the online facade. What does it look like to have a pastor who speaks and behaves as he does online lead your church? What does the surrounding community think of the Christian witness? Are they even aware? I have a hard time finding any such information or blogs of those in the community who would share that information.
NoDak: I’m an observer of life in general and behavior in specific. Documented observations of Fellowship Church include:
“Taboo” lists – denominations to stay away from (Catholic, Presbyterian USA, United Methodist, United Church of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran, Judaism); political stances to take, or not (racism, women’s rights, 2nd amendment); what level (there are five) of inter-faith collaboration is allowed with “OK” denominations; Christian writers that are OK and not-OK to study/follow.
Tightly centralized control: Two elders (Hall is one) run things and only elders can vote; elders can only be removed by other elders or by resignation; home bible studies need elder approval; member attendance of a gay wedding results in expulsion. The pastoral position is not subject to “reaffirmation” (“vote of confidence” cannot be taken).
Women must not preach, or teach (men specifically), or have a position of authority in the congregation. A minimum 50% Sabbath service attendance rate is required for anyone to avoid membership cancellation (no vote needed)..
Hall just recently pulled out of the Southern Baptist Convention. What that means for the Fellowship (Baptist) Church is unclear.
As far as Fellowship Church’s presence in the community, it appears to be synonymous with the local persona of Jordan Hall:
Hall recently declared and then pulled his candidacy for the state congressional race. He was a regular contributor to the Sidney Herald newspaper, but has recently been dropped. A couple of public incidents in Dickinson ND in late 2017 seem to be held in low regard locally. Through self-disclosure, Hall suffers behaviorally from Autism Spectrum Disorder (aka Asperger’s).
Congregants of Fellowship are similar to most of the community – decent, hard-working people who are on the inside, looking out. Many have come and gone (see other comments).
What to conclude or predict from these observations is another discussion.
Thanks for the update, Hayseed. I live in North Dakota, and so while I’ve seen lots of bloggers come and go over the years, Hall is closer to my back door than most.
I was told someone in ND was working on a satire book about various church things, and P&P was mentioned in it.
It would seem JD is still up to his bullying and it’s 2020. !!
I called him out for some BS and his response was to call me a liar and a filthy human being. The bloke is a complete asshole. #quoteme
I concur. I was once a calvinist, but even then I was not like those that go on the witch-hunts after Armenians. I never saw it as an issue to divide people. I hope this finds others well… But I have observed the Neo calvinist acting like the Catholic Church where there is no room for discussion.
The Neo-Calvinist Baptist Types are truly despicable (JD Hall is a perfect example). Most Confessional Reformed Types (Presbyterian/Continental Reformed) look at these Baptist wannabee Neo-Cals as posers.
In my observation, Baptists are great.
The Reformed, too, are great.
But why does it seems that when they join together lately, they seem so toxic, rigid, intolerant, and downright annoying?
That’s the rub. It’s like these Neo-Cals want elder led-congregations but still want the pastor to have his little kingdom. No Book of Church Order or church structure for congregations to correct pastors (like they do in Presbyterian Churches), the memorial view of the sacraments, and so on. They want just the TULIP and Calvinist soteriology but then add all the Baptist stuff. It’s like they want their cake and eat it too. I suspect Particular Baptists from the time of late 17th century (who were Confessional and Calvinist) would be rolling over in their graves in this toxic mix the Neo-Cals have brewed.
When I was younger, the writers, etc. I knew were Reformed, not everybody really knew. It wasn’t a focal point of their ministry. Folks
like Stott and Packer, for example, and the folks who put out the
Reformed Journal. This new bunch, like I said, seems rather intolerant
and not at all inclusive.
He is not off the radar. He is still harassing people in Mt and Nd.
It is 2021 and he is still bullying. I wish I realized this earlier but my family and I are the subjects of cruel back biting from that narcissistic man.
I live near the community of where JD Hall preaches. Our family attended the church, and sat under his preaching for 2.5 yrs. We do not attend the church any longer due to a few personal disagreements. I’ll say one thing after reading these comments… You all are spouting a bunch of lies. The church JD Hall leads is a good church that strives to love the Lord and love one another. They work in the community, and open their arms to SO MANY people around here. Even though the church has every right to cast my family aside (again, personal reasons), they do not. They love us even though we no longer fellowship with them. They treat us with respect and kindness. And this includes Pastor Jordan. Stop with all the lies.
Cults often feel that way.
I find it rather creepy that a grown man was corresponding with a young minor in this manner.
Why wasn’t Hall charged with being complicit in this kid’s death?