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Former ARBCA pastor Thomas Jonathan Chantry has been arrested and jailed, again. On September 10th, 2018 Tom Chantry was arrested on 9 (nine) criminal counts and booked into the Yavapai County jail in Arizona.

You may remember hearing and reading that Thomas Chantry was arrested and jailed in December of 2016. (See this article for the 2016 arrest record: Thomas Chantry has been arrested and is now jailed in Arizona. )

You may also know that Tom Chantry recently went to trial and was convicted of aggravated assault (See this article for the details of the convictions).

While awaiting sentencing on September 28th, 2018 for his crimes against children, Chantry was arrested again on multiple counts stemming from his time as an ARBCA Pastor at Miller Valley Baptist Church.

Chantry was arrested on a total of nine (9) charges. The counts break down as follows: four (4) counts of aggravated assault, four (4) counts of child molestation and one (1) count of child abuse.

The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said that Tom Chantry is currently being held on a One Million Dollar Cash Bond. There are a number of factors that go into setting bond this high: the severity of the offense, prior criminal history of the defendant, prior violent or prior sexual offenses of defendant and how likely is the defendant to flee if released on bond.

Chantry was facing the possibility of a retrial for 4 counts that previously resulted in a hung jury during his trial in August 2018.  Now he is facing not only a retrial, but a new trial for the 9 counts as mentioned above. These 13 criminal counts provide the real possibility of ensuring Tom Chantry goes to jail for life.

Please remember to pray for the victims and their families as they continue to walk through this immensely difficult situation. Pray for strength, peace and comfort. Always remember, the Lord is merciful, gracious and kind beyond measure, able to “heal the broken heart” and to bring peace and comfort to the soul. 

Please pray for repentance in ARBCA and Tom Chantry himself, especially among the network of leaders orchestrating the cover up of Chantry’s heinous crimes. Pray that as God’s justice is served in part temporally in this world that His kindness would lead them to repentance. God have mercy on their souls. 

 

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Who is ARBCA? This question is a very important question to ask as the Thomas Chantry Child Abuse Case has now made its way to court.

As a former deacon and member of an ARBCA church, I learned when dealing with those who enable and cover up for abusers like Tom Chantry, it is very important to “define terms”. Abusers like Chantry and those in ARBCA who are covering up for him are absolute masters at redefining words, confusing terms, and manipulating phrases. They pride themselves as the final determiners of the meanings of words or phrases. When confronted with the truth you will undoubtedly hear them say things like, “that does not mean what it says” or “that’s not the reformed understanding of that” or even “our forefathers didn’t believe that”. Words no longer have a plain meaning when dialoguing with the so-called “theologians of ARBCA”. These men “taught by men” and not “taught by God”, being ignorant and unstable, twist the truth to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16). These men claim “most things” instead of “some things” are difficult to understand. Even saying boldly that “regular” Christians can “understand the basic tenants of the gospel, but not the deep truths of scripture” (without them of course). They do this so that they can take their hearers captive “shutting you out so you will eagerly seek them” (Galatians 4:17). They attempt to exalt themselves above not only the church and the scripture, but God Himself.

Who is ARBCA? These men are ARBCA. They formed ARBCA, they meet together annually as ARBCA, they attend each other’s conferences, buy and promote each other’s books, even cover up each other’s sins and they will do everything and anything to defend ARBCA, all the while “thinking they are offering a service to God” (John 16:2).

It is so important to define in certain terms who “ARBCA” really is as the Chantry case moves forward. As the men known as ARBCA are implicated further and further into the cover-up of the savage abuse of children by Tom Chantry, they will undoubtedly attempt to redefine, manipulate and confuse who ARBCA really is. They will try and redirect blame to an arbitrary entity that they pretend somehow is not really connected to them at all. It sounds ludicrous, but it has already been done.

Read Tom Hick’s words from an “off the record” meeting at  First Baptist Church in Clinton, Louisiana on October 15th, 2017 concerning ARBCA’s cover-up of Tom Chantry’s heinous crimes. (the entire transcript will be available online soon)

Pay particular attention to the “formal, independent informality” of it all. It becomes quite ridiculous.

Hicks said, “Back in 2000, Tom Chantry and his church, Miller Valley Baptist Church, had a dispute that needed to be resolved. Miller Valley Baptist Church requested a council for assistance. A 3-man informal council was formed independently of ARBCA’s Administrative Council. This was an informal council. That means ARBCA’s Administrative Council had no formal authority over it. The Informal Council itself had no authority over Miller Valley Baptist Church, or over ARBCA. The Informal Council’s role was only to listen to what happened in the dispute and then make recommendations. That was it. And all of this is consistent with Baptist polity.

Imagine this same scenario for a moment with a police department instead of ARBCA. Listen to how illogical and twisted it is.

“Back in 2000, Tom Chantry and his church, Miller Valley Baptist Church, had a crime take place that needed to be reported. Miller Valley Baptist Church requested a police presence from Prescott Police department for assistance. A 3-man extra duty investigation team was formed independently of the Prescott Police department. This was an extra duty police investigation team. That means Prescott Police Department had no formal authority over it. The extra duty police investigation team had no authority over Miller Valley Baptist Church, or over the Prescott Police department. The extra duty police investigation team’s role was only to listen to what happened during the crime and then make recommendations. That was it. And all of this is consistent with the Arizona Police Officer Standards and Training manual.”

You can see how absolutely ridiculous this would be in any context, but especially in the Church of God. As Christians we expect this behavior from the world, but certainly not in the church of God. It is a shame.

Consider for a moment when all the ARBCA pastors stand before God on judgment day and give an account of the covering up of Chantry’s abuse. Will they say, “Lord, Lord, we formed an informal council in your Name”, or “Lord we independently cleared Chantry of abuse informally in your Name”, or “Lord we considered it a formally closed matter in your Name”? What will His response be?

ARBCA is not an arbitrary entity. It’s not really even an association of churches, because the church members are kept completely in the dark on most matters. This was completely evident when ARBCA men returned home from the 2017 General Assembly and did not provide their respective congregations with the announcement concerning the cover up of Tom Chantry’s child abuse spree.

Tom Hicks and Fred Malone not only withheld this information from their congregation, but from Mitch Axsom as well. Sadly, this did not change Mitch Axsom’s mind and he is as involved in covering up Chantry’s sins as are Hicks and Malone.  ARBCA is really just a boys club, an old boy’s network to be more specific. The club members are ARBCA.

FBC Clinton, Louisiana Staff who are covering up Tom Chantry’s most grievous crimes against children. Tom Hicks, Fred Malone & Mitch Axsom.

Tom Hicks Jr. is ARBCA. Fred Malone is ARBCA. Mitch Axsom is ARBCA.

Earl Blackburn is ARBCA, David Dykstra is ARBCA, John Giarrizzo is ARBCA, Tom Greene is ARBCA, Jamie Howell is ARBCA, Bruce Kronheim is ARBCA, Don Linblad is ARBCA … Tom Lutz, Steve Martin, Mike McKnight, Dale Smith and Tedd Tripp are all ARBCA.

All these men and the current names on ARBCA church pastor list represent what ARBCA is whether they still “formally” belong to the association or not. You see the associational acronym is not the connection, but rather the spirit at work in these men to abuse, lie and suppress the truth in unrighteousness is the connection. I don’t know of a God fearing man that could read just the public record information available and in christian conscience remain a part of this organization. There is evil at work in ARBCA, plain and simple.

ARBCA as an organization may dissolve in the near future, but these men will continue to “creep in unnoticed” to the church of God (Jude 1:4). Rest assured if the heat of accusation gets turned up too hot they will not disband, but just reform (no theological pun intended) into another “old boys club” and continue on down the proverbial path of destruction.

I have watched Tom Hicks under the careful direction of Fred Malone and with the help of Mitch Axsom already lay the foundation for this move early on in his career at First Baptist Church of Clinton, Louisiana. Having seen the full police reports, listened to the lead investigator and having read the testimony of multiple victims concerning the savage abuse they suffered at the hands of Tom Chantry, Tom Hicks has already carefully constructed a fire escape route. Read his own words and notice how he makes ARBCA an arbitrary entity that somehow doesn’t include him. Also, notice how he sets himself above the law of the land and it’s proper authorities.

Hicks said, “Did ARBCA cover up abuse back in 2000? I want to state very clearly that we are not here to defend ARBCA. What’s important is the name of Christ and the good of the churches. And if ARBCA did any wrong, we will confront them, and, and deal with them. But we also want to make decisions based on the available evidence. Some have accused ARBCA of a conspiracy to cover up abuse back in 2000. And our own research in the interviews with people inside ARBCA , and outside ARBCA, we have found no testimony that neither the Administrative Council, which is the leading body of ARBCA , nor the churches of ARBCA had any knowledge of child abuse of any kind from the Informal Council’s investigation. We believe that accusations of a conspiracy to cover up abuse by ARBCA are unfounded based on the information we’ve collected from the original witnesses.

Notice he says, “And if ARBCA did any wrong, we will confront them, and, and deal with them.As if he is not ARBCA and as if he has no part in their sins. He assumes himself an innocent entity outside of ARBCA, when he is in fact ARBCA and a current participant in covering up the heinous sins of Tom Chantry.

Hicks went on later to say, “Thus, in conclusion, the elders of First Baptist do not believe that there is any evidence that ARBCA covered up. However, if it comes out in Tom Chantry’s trial that ARBCA did in any way have knowledge of this and covered up, then your elders are committing to you that we will act to pursue justice and confront the sin in our ranks.

Again, notice Hicks somehow supposes himself, Mitch Axsom and Fred Malone innocent of the matter and magically detached from the “sins and crimes” of ARBCA. However, he and the whole of ARBCA leadership continue to mislead the people and continue to cover up Chantry’s horrific crimes.

Dear reader, as the Tom Chantry child abuse court case continues and comes to a close please remember who to hold accountable. When you see again and again in clear and certain terms that ARBCA covered up Tom Chantry’s savage abuse of children, remember it is the pastors of ARBCA acting in concert together who are to be held accountable. God will hold them accountable and certainly the church should also. Pray for repentance in these men and God’s mercy on their souls. One cannot participate in this level of corruption and not be in danger of losing their soul.

On a final note, in considering “who is ARBCA” please remember that in the last days they (congregations) will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires” (2 Timothy 4:3). The corrupt men of ARBCA did not become who they are by themselves. The members of ARBCA churches allow these rogues to do whatever they please. Pray for the eyes of the members of ARBCA churches to be opened to the truth of this corruption.

Most importantly continue to pray for the victims and their families in this terribly sad situation. Pray for the Lord of glory to comfort their hearts and give them the peace of Christ that surpasses understanding.

 

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C.S. Lewis said, “Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst.” The reason this is true is because religious bad men “hold to a form of godliness, but deny the power there of ”. The evil of religious men is worse than the non-religious because the lost, religious man thinks he is doing God a service and yet all the while is actually God’s enemy. It is an evil especially hated by God because its deeds are done in the name of God.

The Pharisees were arguably the worst religious men that have ever lived. Jesus hated the teaching of the Pharisees and so did Paul. Their hatred was founded on the basic biblical principle of loving what is good and hating what is evil. Plain and simple, Jesus hates what is evil. All Christ’s followers, by new nature, also hate what is evil.

The legalism of the Pharisees was a powerful catalyst for evil in many ways. The legalistic theology they believed and impressed upon many people served as a rationale for them to commit and justify all manners of abuse. The theological reason for this is simple. The focus of their faulty belief system and false gospel was the Law. Sure, they mentioned the messiah and even gave an obligatory head nod to salvation by grace alone. However, the end result of their life’s teaching brought their disciples under the guilt, condemnation and slavery of the Law. They preached “another gospel” which was really no gospel at all.

The New Testament refers to these Law teachers as “savage wolves”, “hidden reefs” and “those who sneak in unaware”. Notice, they were not standing up in front of their congregations holding a flashing neon sign that says, “Legalism taught here”. Rather, they craftily, subtly and methodically brought their hearers under a “bewitching” message that sounded like the gospel, but that was really not the gospel at all. They made “confident assertions about things they know nothing about”. They promised freedom without the power of freedom.

It is hard to imagine that such men even exist today, but they do. They do not parade around with lengthened phylacteries or with stone-calloused hands, but they are alive and well in our age. These men, among other places exist in the leadership of Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America (ARBCA) and as “pastors” in its associated churches. The message taught by these “Law men” hasn’t changed from Jesus’ or Paul’s day. There is nothing new under the sun. I would like to give you a modern day example of such men and their subtle, legalistic teaching.

On May 3rd, 2018 Tom Hicks Jr., (who works at First Baptist Church in Clinton, Louisiana and writes for the Founder’s Ministries blog) posted an article entitledHow the Gospel Enables Us to Keep God’s Good Law”. This article can be found in its entirety on the Founders Ministries website. The blog post opens with this paragraph:

The Bible teaches that Christians are not under the law as a way of salvation. Christ has set us free from the guilt and condemnation of sin by His bloody death and resurrection. But that does not mean believers are free to live licentious lives. In fact, the grace of God in the gospel enables us to keep His good law, summarized in the Ten Commandments, as an expression of love to God and others. Reformed confessions of faith teach that the law and the gospel “do sweetly comply” (WCF 19.7, SD 19.7, 2LCF 19.7).

This paragraph sets the tone of the whole article, so let’s take a look at it in depth.

At first glance, (and at the high speed of the undiscerning social media finger scroll) this statement may seem biblical and even get a few “likes”. However, let’s take a look at how this statement compares to the gospel of the bible.

 In the first sentence Tom Hicks writes, “The Bible teaches that Christians are not under the law as a way of salvation”.

Let’s investigate to see if the bible does in fact teach this? Tom Hicks wants you to think this is a gospel-centered statement. And as Christians we can even say, “Amen, the Law was never meant to save anyone”(Romans 8:3, Galatians 2:16). The error of omission in Hicks statement is that he believes Christians are “under the Law” as a rule of life, but just not “as a way of salvation”. In other words, he believes and teaches sanctification by the Law. Notice he cannot simply make the biblical statement that “Christians are not under the Law”, but has to qualify the statement with “as a way of salvation”. The bible never speaks this way.

In fact, the bible teaches Christians are not “under the Law”, at all (Romans 6:14, Galatians 5:18). Christians are “not under the Law” as a way of salvation and they are “not under the Law” as a way of sanctification either (2 Corinthians 5:7, Galatians 3:3, Colossians 2:6). Christians are not “under the Law” at all according to Jesus, Paul and the whole of scripture. This does not mean (as modern day Law men like Hicks falsely assume) that Christians are without moral character or an objective moral standard of living. Quite the contrary, the law of Christ and the royal law of love govern every thought (1 Corinthians 9:21, James 2:8), word and deed for the blood bought soul of the true believer. Christ is the exact representation and likeness of the Father and the Christian walks by faith in Him “living not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Let’s go on and look at more of the statement from Tom Hicks.

He goes on to write, “Christ has set us free from the guilt and condemnation of sin by His bloody death and resurrection.”

Again, it is not what is said, but what is implied by what is not said in this carefully crafted statement. It is a half-truth. It sounds like good, gospel teaching and in fact, the bible teaches Christ has set us free from the guilt and condemnation of sin. However, do not let this escape your notice, not only has Christ set us free from the guilt and condemnation of sin, but Christ has set us free from the Law (Romans 7:4, Romans 8:2, Galatians 2:19, Galatians 5:1). Jesus must in fact set us free from the Law because the Law is the very thing that brings the guilt of sin and God’s just condemnation upon us in the first place (Romans 7:7, Romans 4:15, Galatians 3:19). The Law brings about wrath (Romans 4:15). That is the very design of the Law according to Paul in Galatians 3. Listen to his words, “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made – Galatians 3:19

Tom Hicks goes on to say, “But that does not mean believers are free to live licentious lives”.

Hicks dangerous assumption here is that believers want to live licentious lives. May it never be! The bible speaks quite to the contrary. Hicks uses this faulty presupposition to attempt to justify bringing Christians back under the Law and therefore back under the abusive control of the modern day Pharisees.

Hicks faulty presupposition yields a faulty practical, conclusion. He says, “In fact, the grace of God in the gospel enables us to keep His good law, summarized in the Ten Commandments, as an expression of love to God and others”.

In fact, biblically, just the opposite is true. Not only does the grace of God not make us Law keepers, the grace of God makes us dead to the Law and alive to Christ (Galatians 2:19). The grace of God in the true gospel enables the Christian to “walk by faith” and that “faith works through love” (2 Corinthians 5:7, Galatians 5:6).

Christ did not die upon the cross to produce a legalistic people bound to a prohibitory set of rules again. If He did then He died needlessly Paul says (Galatians 2:21). In fact, Christ died to purchase a people for His own possession that would walk by faith and thereby fulfill the law of Christ, His royal law of love. Love fulfills the Law. Love does not equal Law, love fills up the requirement of the Law and far exceeds it. Abuse of any kind cannot survive or be tolerated in the church of God when we truly “bear one another’s burdens and thereby fulfill the law of Christ”, “the royal law of love”.

Tom Hicks ends his opening paragraph with an appeal to the traditions of men rather then the citing of scripture. He says, “Reformed confessions of faith teach that the law and the gospel “do sweetly comply” (WCF 19.7, SD 19.7, 2LCF 19.7)”.

Notice, he references the traditions of men, but the entire article is bankrupt with regard to scripture references. It has to be, because the scripture plainly does not teach what Tom Hicks, the men of ARBCA or the leaders of the Founders Ministries believe with regard to sanctification by the Law. The Law does not sweetly comply with the Gospel (no matter who tells you and how “reformed” they think they are). Rather, the gospel is “the end of the Law for all those who believe” – Romans 10:4. The Law is not contrary to the promises of God, but make no mistake the Law is not of faith (Galatians 3:12). Now that faith has come we are no longer under the Law (Galatians 3:25). Is the Law sin? Certainly not! (Romans 7:7) The Law is holy, good and just, if one uses it lawfully (Romans 7:12, 1 Timothy 1:8-9). For we know that the Law was not made for a righteous man, but for sinners.

Dear reader, please hear the scripture, do not let the Law teachers of ARBCA or the Founders Ministries take you captive with empty words or the traditions of men.

Listen to the Apostle Paul:  For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

Does the gospel bring Christians back under the Law? In the words of the great Apostle, “May it never be!”. We walk by faith and that faith works through love. Glory be to God and His Christ forever and ever. Amen.

Author: Anthony Battaglia

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