The Subtle Secrets of the Gospel Project

“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made…”  –Genesis 3:1

Does your class use The Gospel Project?  Are you learning anything?  It obviously has a lesson to teach us but many have been asking The Sapulpa Messenger, what exactly is that lesson? Good Christians come to class eager to have the gaps in their Biblical knowledge filled in.  However, many of you have noticed that something is a little “off” with this material.   A handful of you had spotted the trouble quite easily but were labeled as complainers.  Most others have missed the subtle whisperings of a strange doctrine carefully woven in with our traditional views.  So what is it about The Gospel Project that has bristled the hair on the back of the necks of so many of our faithful watchmen?  To answer this question we should examine the people who were responsible for putting it together. See the organizational chart below:

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The Gospel Project is under the oversight of 2 editors and a board of 11 members as depicted above.  They are listed below with more detail.  Click where it says “CLICK HERE” next to each name to find out what they’ve been hiding.

The Two Gospel Project Editors

stezer - CopyEd Stetzer –General Editor

Stetzer is a frequent speaker at Founders  conferences. “The Founders”  is a Calvinist group dedicated to pushing their belief that Baptists are historically Calvinists and should return to their “founding” Calvinist roots.

The Founders say:

Founders Ministries, Inc., is a ministry of teaching and encouragement that seeks to promote both doctrine and devotion expressed in the Doctrines of Grace [aka TULIP] and their experiential application to the local church

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Trevin Wax –Managing Editor

Mr. Wax is also a member and writer for The Gospel Coalition (Not to be confused with The Gospel PROJECT for which he is editor).  This group is similar to Founders but more modernized.  Their website says:

“We are a fellowship of evangelical churches in the Reformed tradition…”

Among the men Wax claims to have had great influence on him are creepy Calvinist John Piper, 9Marks’ Mark Dever, and child-sex-scandal-cover-up champion CJ Mahaney.

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What About The Gospel Project Advisory Board Members?

The 100% Calvinist editors are kind of a discouragement, maybe the Advisory Board Members will make up for the inevitable editorial bias.  Let’s look at who we’ve got.


dacarson - CopyD. A. Carson

D. A. Carson is one of the most popular Calvinist writers ever.  He has written volumes of books and articles on the reformed movement, Calvinism, and the TULIP.  In 2007 he also authored the confessional statement of the above mentioned Calvinist group The Gospel Coalition.  (not to be confused with The Gospel Project.)  This man is a die hard Calvinist and he is not even a Southern Baptist.

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maxresdefault - CopyMatt Chandler

[We have wrote a post on Chandler called It Takes a VillageLink here.] Matt Chandler is pastor of The Village Church and the president of Calvinist church planting group Act29.   Acts29 is the Calvinist version of the Home Mission Board except they don’t limit their church plants to Baptist Churches but do require their churches to hold to Calvinism. Chandler’s church made national news when they exercised discipline on  Karen Root, a member who signed their contract, for attempting to leave her husband when it was discovered he was involved in pedophilia on the mission field.

The statement of faith for Matt Chandler’s church is strictly Calvinist.  There is also an article on the church website entitled What is Calvinism? by Geoff Ashley.  While Matt Chandler sets on the advisory board of The Gospel Project his subordinate pastor Geoff Ashley is also a writer.  Both these Reformed thinkers have contributed numerous writings to The Gospel Project.

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James-S.-MacDonaldJames MacDonald

[For more information on MacDonald see The Day Satan Showed Up for Church. Link here.]  James MacDonald is the high stakes gambling, foul mouthed, anti-Baptist congregational pastor and founder of Harvest Bible Network.  He authored the 2011 article Congregational Government is From Satan and received strong criticism from Southern Baptists.  His churches are elder controlled and riddled with numerous cultish controversies. His church’s statement of faith holds to strict Calvinism and believes that  God chooses some and damns others without any free will.

“It is God’s divine decision to save a person…”

He also was a member of The Gospel Coalition but resigned in 2012 when his fellow Calvinists attacked him for collaborating with prosperity preacher T D Jakes.  Yes, he is a Calvinist, but he also has a plethora of other serious issues to deal with and is not a Southern Baptist.  Well, he wasn’t until his mega church network joined the SBC in 2015.  Nothing brings about a Baptist conversion like a job at LifeWay.  Did we mention he hates congregationalism?

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achin - CopyDaniel Akin

Danny Akin is President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a council member of The Gospel Coalition.  He is a good friend of Calvinist maniac Mark Driscoll whose abuse of discipline, plagiarism, vulgarity, and all-round meanness we wrote about in our post entitled When Mars Hill Attacks.  Consequently, Akin’s pal Driscoll is quoted throughout The Gospel Project .

When interviewed in 2009 by Trevin Wax, Daniel Akin stated:

“I received a lot of criticism for my friendship with Mark Driscoll, and for inviting him onto our campus.”

He is also criticized for his other Calvinist buds who influence the young minds at his seminary:

“A lot of folks over 50 are not only unhappy with my interaction with Mark Driscoll, they are unhappy with my interaction with men like John Piper, Ligon Duncan, or Tim Keller.”

Akin keeps his Calvinism ambiguous but his support and promotion of Calvinist groups on his campus rivals that of Al Mohler at Southern.  Baptist Press printed the following in July 2009:

“Akin expressed a deep appreciation and kinship with Founders Ministries, a group that, according to its website, seeks the recovery of the SBC’s Calvinistic roots. Akin noted 10 points of appreciation for Founders…”

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greee - CopyJ D Greear

[For more information on Greear see this Link here.]  Greear is a Charismatic Calvinist or Neo-Calvinist.  His church is listed in the church finder directories of 9Marks, Acts 29, and The Gospel Coalition.

His recommended reading list on  his website includes a boat load of Calvinists.  Radical Reformission (Mark Driscoll), The Cross Centered Life (C.J. Mahaney), Nine Marks of Healthy Church (Mark Dever), Desiring God (John Piper), The Holiness of God (R.C. Sproul), Humility: True Greatness (C.J. Mahaney), and Don’t Waste Your Life (John Piper), Lectures on Calvinism by Abraham Kuyper.

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mason - CopyEric Mason

Eric Mason is the founder and pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia.  This is another Calvinist Acts29 church.  Like Chandler above, Mason is also on the board of directors for Acts 29.  Creepy Calvinist John Piper sung his praises in his 2014 article entitled The New Calvinist and the New Community.

“By multi-ethnic I mean the fact that the New Calvinism has sprung up with its own natural expressions among African Americans, Latinos, and Asians. African Americans like… Eric Mason” –John Piper

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thorns - CopyKimberly Thornbury

Thornbury is dean of Students at Union University.  Little information is available on Kimberly because she is eclipsed by the outspoken Calvinism of her husband Greg. Religion News Service interviewed him in 2014 and concluded:

“Gregory Alan Thornbury is a Calvinist Christian and president of The King’s College in New York City. “

Both Thornburys are also members of the Calvinist group The Gospel Coalition.

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drnoh - CopyJay Noh

Jay Noh is a professor and the Director of the Chicago Extension Center of the Southern Baptist Seminary.  This seminary headed by Al Mohler is considered the Calvinist stronghold of the SBC.  Virtually no information on Dr. Noh’s personal beliefs is available anywhere.  Since he’s at Southern we presume he is a Calvinist disciple of Mohler but there is insufficient evidence to draw any conclusion.

Calvinist: PROBABLY

joethorn - CopyJoe Thorn

Joe Thorn is the pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, Ill.  He is no closet Calvinist either.  He loves writing and discussing his Calvinism so much he has even written an article entitled “The Joy of Calvinism.”

In 2007 he led two Baptist churches to disband and re-constitute into one single hardcore Calvinist church.  In 2008 this new church abandoned the “Baptist” name and joined the Acts 29 network.

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juan - CopyJuan Sanchez

Juan Sanchez is a council member of The Gospel Coalition and pastor of High Pointe Church in Austin, TX.  The church website says:

“As for our ministry philosophy, we gladly identify with ministries such as 9Marks, Desiring God [John Piper] and The Gospel Coalition.”

In fact their Constitution appears to be a straight clone of the Calvinist elder-controlled 9Marks model.  Just in case there was any doubt, they tossed this grenade out there too:

“When we say that we are in the tradition of the Reformation that means that we embrace what are sometimes called the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace in salvation, and at other times Calvinism. To find out more concerning what we believe about Calvinism, please click here [link to a document called ‘5 Points’]  “

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collin - CopyCollin Hansen

Born in 1981, Hansen is the editorial director for the Calvinist group The Gospel Coalition. He has his own wikipedia entry which states:

“Hansen is considered an expert on the New Calvinism, a term that was coined for the title of his 2008 book Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey With the New Calvinists.  He has been quoted on the movement by TIME magazine and The New York Times.”

Let’s see… editorial director of The Gospel Coalition AND author of the book that coined the term “New Calvinism.”  Yea LifeWay, let’s pick that guy for The Gospel Project too.

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  • Total Calvinism: 100%
  • Plus 2 of the Board aren’t even Southern Baptists!

Why would you expect a Calvinist Dream Team filled with the All-Stars of the Reformed movement to abandon their beliefs for The Gospel Project and not sneak in their pet theology?

The sum of editors and advisory board members of The Gospel Project is not only 100% Calvinist but it includes some of the most dangerous Calvinist propagandists of our day.  Through their  Acts29 network these people have planted Calvinist churches around the country including at least 12 within 100 miles of Tulsa.  Sadly, they have gutted and converted other churches as well.  They are all intertwined in various Calvinist groups, conferences, and events.  Like snakes in our Baptist garden they have written and taught subtle forms of their heinous theology with the intention of leading us and our children and grandchildren into their abominable system.  They are prolific writers who are masters in propagating their doctrine without using recognizable Calvinist terms.

Try asking one of these guys if they’re a Calvinist and you will probably get a 15 page essay about God’s sovereignty.  (Take JD Greear’s page “Are You a Calvinist” for example. ) You most certainly will not get a direct answer to your question though and that is because they realize how unpopular it is to answer “yes.”  They’re banking on one thing:  Given enough time and enough trust, they can sprinkle in the right amount of Calvinism to infect your brain and make you comfortable with their terms.  Then it’s simply a matter of putting all the pieces together in their deranged puzzle.

In light of all this, you should not be surprised to learn that The Gospel Project is steering students directly to the Calvinist treasure troves on the internet. For example if a student were to like something they read and want to learn more,  their Gospel Project will point them to an “additional resources” page.  Here is just a sampling of what you will find on The Gospel Project “Additional Resources” page (link here):

  • Sermon: J.D. Greer “Tyranny”  –Calvinist
  • Sermon: Tom Schreiner “To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice”  –Calvinist
  • John Piper: “Strengthen Each Other’s Hands in God”   –Calvinist and non Southern Baptist
  • Sermon: David Platt: “The Promise of a Kingdom”  –Calvinist
  • Sermon: Eric Mason: “Characteristics of a Deeply Repentant Man, Part 1”  –Calvinist
  • Sermon:  Gary Inrig: “A Strong Beginning”  –Calvinist
  • Sermon: Alistair Begg: “The Source of Wisdom”  –Calvinist
  • Sermon:  Tim Keller: “If God Is Good”   –Calvinist
  • Juan Sanchez: “The Psalms (Overview)”  –Calvinist

Surprise!  The only sermons made available by The Gospel Project for students to  “dig deeper” are exclusively Calvinist with maybe one or two exceptions.  If they like what they hear they are directed further down the rabbit hole.  For example, the John Piper sermon linked in The Gospel Project is on his Desiring God website.  This puts students one click away from the largest repository of Calvinist material ever assembled and marketed for consumption.  Think we are making a big deal out of a couple of links and sensationalizing something?  Check out The Gospel Project “additional resources” page with your own eyes here.  Oh and by the way, those sermons listed above are just the ones they have listed for the Summer of 2016.   There is way more than we care to list here going back years.

Quite clearly, The Gospel Project is not an innocent attempt at rebooting Southern Baptist Sunday school curriculum.  There is a definite agenda behind it and some paid leaders at the Church at Sapulpa have been informed but for some reason have taken a stand for The Gospel Project.  What would it take to switch to another non-biased Southern Baptist curriculum?  Do we need to hire another full time minister to find a solution for us?


When an opponent declares, “I will not come over to your side,” I calmly say, “Your child belongs to us already. What are you? You will pass on.  –Adolph Hitler

Some will never buy into this bad theology.  Maybe that’s you.  Maybe you’ve studied enough to know the code words to watch out for, “Reformed”, “Doctrines of Grace”, “Total Depravity”, etc… But what about everyone else?  This is being used in the nursery, with the children, and with youth.  Many of these kids will not be taught anything other than The Gospel Project their entire Christian life.  What chance do they have?  As shown, the students that really take the time to get into the material are rewarded with Calvinist sermons and lead further and further from the truth.  So don’t be surprised when you look around and discover a generation whose faith is built on the TULIP but they got there without ever hearing the label “Calvinism.”  We know what they’re doing.  The evidence is undeniable.  The First Baptist Church of Sapulpa has refused to abandon this material in spite of complaints for 2 years.  But why?

Are we so hell-bent  on self destruction that we have no preference as to the method that gets us there?  While the church at Sapulpa plays games and tinkers with current trends like contracts, elder rule, and church discipline the core of the gospel itself is being eroded in our classes.  We need to turn from the follies of the inexperienced and the youthful desire to always try something new.  We need to embrace our heritage and act like Baptists once again.  Perhaps it’s time for the grownups to take charge.