Spiritual Authority

Rebellion in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church

My Story is being told in an effort to expose and depose some Abusive Ruling and Teaching Elders at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh; to initiate a conversation on the proper nature and scope of spiritual authority; and as groundwork toward warning the East End neighborhoods of the spiritual dangers they’re likely to find at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Friendship (EPC).

Here’s an excerpt from MY STORY expressly written for the Elders of the 34th General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (June 19-21, 2014):

As “the consequences of sin is death,” so the death knell of the EPC sounded the moment her Divines mandated we all bow to their Evangelical Lie. By making it essential that everyone regard their stronghold of rebellion as a non-essential liberty—her Divines betrayed themselves as speaking in the voice of the Dragon. I implore EPC elders to “become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed” (Romans 6:15-23), for you have exchanged the Word of God for a lie! And just as Eve was induced by the Liar to doubt, disbelieve and disobey the Word of God, so have You been seduced by the Serpent to Rebel against the Most High.

“Rebellion NOT!” You say. “We have our hermeneutic that proves differently.”

Excellent! Let’s examine your hermeneutic. Please teach me. Nowhere (that I can see) have you grounded in Scripture the rightness of your lawless weapon. So far I’ve only seen offered as reasoned defenses “contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’” and mere “speculations and pretensions set against the knowledge of God.”

Please read my story and engage me!

related posts:
Köstenberger’s syntactical analysis of 1 Timothy 2:12
Obey your leaders and submit to them


my Archimedean Sword

He who digs a pit will fall into it, and a serpent will bite him who breaks through a wall. He who quarries stones is hurt by them, and he who splits logs may be endangered by them. If the iron is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more force. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success. If the serpent bites before it is charmed, there is no advantage to the charmer.

   Ecclesiastes 10:8-11

I, David Johnson, launched Spiritual Authority two years ago today as a response to Elder Carl Schartner’s email to me of June 8, 2012, in which he requests I engage their new EPC “spiritual authorities”—the Presbytery of the Alleghenies—in a process of discovery toward a resolution of my concerns of spiritual abuse at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh.

Days before, in a June 4, 2012, email, I had reiterated my charge of spiritual abuse along with my intention of openly telling my story—if session refused to “make the proper decisions toward Fourth Presbyterian becoming a safe church for everyone.”

I wrote, “My request is that you positively assure me that Fourth Presbyterian has taken the actions toward becoming a safe and healthy Body of Christ. This assurance must include Ross stepping down from his position of spiritual authority, with assurances that he will not teach or preach or be in a position to make spiritual decisions for Fourth Presbyterian.”

In his June 8, 2012, email, Carl had told me that session had accepted Ross’ resignation and that for a “season” of time Ross would not teach or preach at Fourth. Carl then placed this mess into the hands of the Presbytery of the Alleghenies. So two Junes ago I set up this blog—SpAu—in anticipation of an engagement with the Presbytery . . . only to wait all Summer long for nothing to transpire.

After three months of waiting, in a September 18, 2012, email, Carl informed me that the Presbytery of the Alleghenies was not interested in getting involved because I was no longer an active member at Fourth. He also wrote, “it is possible that the session would seek to restore Ross to the elder role at some point in the future. . . . It is also possible that session would ask Ross to teach in some capacity or, possibly, to preach.”

As Carl’s answer to me indicated a level of discernment that was blind to the spiritual dangers he had opened the Body of Fourth up to—I didn’t get back to him until Providence brought us together at the Kephart’s home on February 10, 2013, where I detailed for Carl what I was about to bring against themif the proper decisions toward restoring Fourth back to health were not made.

I do not believe Carl understood the gravity of our situation nor the severity of my Sword—which brings me to the telling of My Story today.

I hope my ax is sharp enough to slice clear through the roots of rebellion at Fourth. As I begin to swing my iron—I want the Wolves of Fourth Presbyterian to know: they are surrounded with levers of exposures from above and below and from every direction on the ground. With just a pinch of pressure I will rain down rods of shining light into their pit of darkness. My war machine is engineered to thoroughly expose and depose them. From the heights of the EPC GA. To the depths of our local Pittsburgh community.

As I consider this SWORD a war machine, I want it understood that my war is being fought with spiritual weapons—fought with nothing but the Word of God and the word of my testimony. That is the ground I want engagement on. And as a public concern I want this battle fought out in the open (unless Fourth’s session is willing to agree to my terms). Since threatening me last year with legal action I’d like them to be aware of recent decisions that have secured my First Amendment protections to use media technologies to out them.

The way things are leveraged against them—if they are foolish enough to try to silence me with a lawsuit—they could possibly trigger the Streisand Effect and expose their machinations to the world all the more brilliantly than I could ever do on my own.

Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”

Elders of Fourth, I was hoping to put you behind me with assurances of safety by now. As I am moving forward with another battle on a larger front, please know: in the not too distant future my story will reach a tipping point beyond which you will no longer be able to mitigate your exposure. You need to decide now how long you want this war to last. I still extend grace to you along with my ultimatum. But please know: by the end of the Summer Locusts—by the end of the singing of the cicadas—if you have not surrendered to my terms—I will begin a ground campaign that will use you men as examples and fulcrums in leveraging a most severe war against the priests of the Whore of Babylon.


related posts:
My Church Abuse Story
Ross Kronenbitter Fourth Presbyterian Church Abuser

The Ministry of Authority

Dietrich Bonhoeffer from Life Together:

“Whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister” (Mark 10:43). Jesus made authority in the fellowship dependent upon brotherly service. Genuine spiritual authority is to be found only where the ministry of hearing, helping, bearing, and proclaiming is carried out. Every cult of personality that emphasizes the distinguished qualities, virtues, and talents of another person, even though these be of an altogether spiritual nature, is worldly and has no place in the Christian community; indeed, it poisons the Christian community. The desire we so often hear expressed today for “episcopal figures,” “priestly men,” “authoritative personalities” springs frequently enough from a spiritually sick need for the admiration of men, for the establishment of visible human authority, because the genuine authority of service appears to be so unimpressive. There is nothing that so sharply contradicts such a desire as the New Testament itself in its description of a bishop (I Tim. 3:1 ff.). One finds there nothing whatsoever with respect to worldly charm and the brilliant attributes of a spiritual personality. The bishop is the simple, faithful man, sound in faith and life, who rightly discharges his duties to the Church. His authority lies in the exercise of his ministry. In the man himself there is nothing to admire.

Ultimately, this hankering for false authority has at its root a desire to re-establish some sort of immediacy, a dependence upon human beings in the Church. Genuine authority knows that all immediacy is especially baneful in matters of authority. Genuine authority realizes that it can exist only in the service of Him who alone has authority. Genuine authority knows that it is bound in the strictest sense by the saying of Jesus: “One is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren” (Matt. 23:8). The Church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren. Not in the former but in the latter is the lack. The Church will place its confidence only in the simple servant of the Word of Jesus Christ because it knows that then it will be guided, not according to human wisdom and human conceit, but by the Word of the Good Shepherd.

The question of trust, which is so closely related to that of authority, is determined by the faithfulness with which a man serves Jesus Christ, never by the extraordinary talents which he possesses. Pastoral authority can be attained only by the servant of Jesus who seeks no power of his own, who himself is a brother among brothers submitted to the authority of the Word.

False Pastor Bob Coy

Since I’ve been waiting to post a comment on CalvaryChapelAbuse.com for eight hours now, I’ve decided to post it here while they’re working to fix the traffic problems. Alex’ site is getting pounded with numbers. Over 26,000 visitors in the last 48 hours, with 3,587 of them presently online!

What’s behind the recent flurry of interest in Calvary Chapel Abuse?

Well, some Evangelical Idol of Calvary Chapel fame got caught in some “moral failure” and. . . well, perhaps Michael Newnham has broken it down best when he asked this most poignant of questions:

So when a megachurch with ten satellites loses the personality they were built on. . . what happens now?

For me, it’s an opportunity for dialogue, for education, for engaging in real spiritual warfare for the outright deliverance of those who have been swallowed by the beast. . . who—trapped inside the belly of Leviathan—are made to believe darkness for light, made to play the Whore and not the Bride, made to serve deviant wolves in a most toxic of church environments.

Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities (Revelation 18:4).

And so here’s the comment I am waiting to drop at CCA in answer to Tommy who told me we don’t have the right to judge Bob Coy; and Leave it at that and let him and The Lord deal with “what really happened.”

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Let me clarify something for you, Tommy. (( #298 ))

It is not only the right, but the responsibility of the Body of Christ to judge the ministry, theology and character of every one who assumes to stand before any congregation as their purported Christian leader. They are all accountable and subject to the scrutiny, judgement and correction of the entire Body of Christ in accordance to the Word of God (1 Thess 5:11-22). For if one member suffers, we all suffer (1 Cor 12:26); and although we are to take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, we are, however, called to expose them (Eph 5:11).

Now when anything is exposed to the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Eph 5:13-14).

The entrancement of light shining upon the people of Calvary Chapel is no true godly light at all. It is but woeful darkness masquerading as light (see Isa 5:20), full of poisonous lies and toxic substitutes for the real thing.

So to clarify my position in all this—Bob Coy does not come under my fire for whatever sins he’s just been caught doing, but for being an institutional Wolf and False Pastor in a House of Bondage the Word of God calls the accursed Whore of Babylon!

Apparently we’ve got an Allegory of the Cave situation at work here. While CC prisoners are chained in the direction of the shadows dancing upon the walls, we have (through various reinforcing techniquesthe power of music being one of them) the sheeple being entertained and entrained to believe that they’re actually sitting under true biblical teaching, that they’re actually feeding off the true light of God.

But it’s a distinctly false fire burning in the bellies of these Calvary Chapels, burning in the hearts of these Pastors—with every one of them standing condemned as antichrists for their teaching of an utterly False Gospel; for their setting themselves up as false spiritual Heads of their own ecclesiastical domains; and for their asserting a most unbiblical form of Spiritual Authority. Please knowevery single CC Pastor is indicted for being a Priest of the Whore of Babylon.

From Calvary Chapel’s franchised inception she has been structurally Roman in faith and practice. Her steeply hierarchical model for doing church has been legalistically designed for absolute ecclesiastical domination and control. . . and apparently (as I read above) some people feel most comfortable with this sort of subjection, but it’s not spiritually healthy. It’s not even personally or corporately viable to have some franchised Moses possessing ruling authority over God’s people—it creates spiritually weak and blind followers, to say the least.

From the Chuck Smith outset the Moseses of Calvary Chapel have maintained their domination and control by indoctrinating the church with a false gospel that has invariably placed their congregants deeper and deeper into spiritual bondage (to things like fear and despair, to deceit and self-righteous pride, even to such visionary things as service to the Pastors themselves).

This domination and control is solidified by the assumption of a false spiritual authority. These enterprising Pastors make themselves the decisive ruling powers over their Calvary Chapels, taking ownership over their churches. And while they teach their congregants that they are to be submissive and obedient to their pastoral authority, these Pastors, in turn, don’t consider themselves to be subject to any sort of submission or accountability to the congregations they rule.

It’s a One Way system at Calvary Chapel. Either the Pastor’s way or the exit door. They don’t have body guards in these prisons for nothing.

Paul in Ephesians tells us that we’re to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (5:21). Shouldn’t the Pastors be the foremost models in teaching us what it’s like to submit to one another?

[[ Note: the gifted shepherds and teachers we have among us are tasked with showing us how to wield spiritual authority over the spiritual realm of the Adversary.

By no means is this a spiritual position of authority over other members of the Body, but an authority and empowerment for each other that we possess—so that we all might learn to wield properly and most effectively the spiritual authority every Spirit-filled follower of Christ has inherent access to.

In the words of Jesus:

Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven (Luke 10:19-20).

True spiritual authority is the power to subject dark spirits to the children of light, not the power to subject others to ourselves! ]]

Now when I say “antichrist” I mean it in the most literal sense of the word, for our Greek preposition anti- carries with it the meaning of “in place of” and “against”.

And it is for this reason I take up my sword against Calvary Chapel: the Moseses there have established for themselves mediating positions that essentially come in-between and against God and his people. And they are bloody guilty of some most wicked spiritual abuses against the children of God!

Tommy, you have swallowed the fruit of lies. Or maybe you’ve been swallowed by the beast that keeps you blinded from the true light of life. The chains in CC are spiritual and theological. Let’s pray they’re broken. That soon those prisoners within these dark chapels might experience directly the fresh healing Sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:1-3), face to face, unmediated by the dazzling shine of Wolf Bob Coy’s teeth!


Here’s a couple additional comments I made earlier on CCA on April 5


toward discerning the soundness of any congregation I believe there are two critical issues involving a body’s faith and practice that if not properly aligned to the Word of God will cancel them from being consider a legitimate operation.

These two ultimate issues regard their teaching on salvation and their expression of spiritual authority.

If they employ some sort of hierarchical structure and teach that some members hold positions of ruling authority over others—than this is an unbiblical establishment that should be marked for avoidance and condemnation.

I support this assertion with Scripture here:



If they teach that the acquiring and keeping of a believer’s salvation has anything to do with their willing and / or their running (such as Calvary Chapel teaches) than you have a false expression of the Body of Christ. It is a dangerous house of bondage.

Here’s an extensive teaching on this I put together recently for a friend that covers this issue here:


Please consider what I’ve written, and challenge anything that appears wrong. Please correct me and sharpen me in my understanding.




I believe the proper biblical model for church governance involves a congregational approach to discerning and performing God’s will as overseen by a plurality of elders who are ultimately (ecclesiastically) accountable to the members they serve and stand before.

Here’s a 50 page booklet by Mark Dever entitled “By Whose Authority”. I commend it to you. I believe Dever get’s our ecclesiology right.


“The ship is ready to sink”

From the introduction of Richard Baxter’s Reformed Pastor, 15 April 1656:

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Too many who have undertaken the work of the ministry have so obstinately proceeded in self-seeking, negligence, pride, and other sins, that it has become our necessary duty to admonish them.

If we saw that such men would reform without reproof, we would gladly forbear the publishing their faults. But when reproofs themselves prove so ineffectual, so that they are more offended at the reproof than at the sin, and would rather that we cease reproving them than cease sinning themselves, I think it is time to sharpen the remedy. For what else should we do? To give up our brothers as incurable would be cruelty, as long as there are further means to he used.

We must not hate them, but plainly rebuke them, and not permit sin to continue upon them. To bear with the vices of the ministry is to promote the ruin of the Church; for what speedier way is there for the depravity and undoing of the people of God, than to permit the depravity of their guides? And how can we more effectually further a reformation, than by endeavoring to reform the leaders of the Church?

For my part, I have done as I would have done to me; and it is for the safety of the Church, and in tender love to the brothers, whom I venture to reprehend—not to make them contemptible and odious, but to heal the evils that would make them so—and to do this so no enemy may find this matter of reproach among us. But, especially, because our faithful endeavors are so greatly necessary to the welfare of the Church, and saving of men’s souls; to be negligent ourselves, or to silently ignore negligence in others would not be consistent with love toward either.

If thousands of you were in a leaking ship, and those that should pump out the water, and stop the leaks, were at play or asleep, or merely favoring themselves in their labors, to the hazard of you all, would you not awaken them to their work and call on them to labor so as to save your lives?

And if you used some sharpness and importunity with the slothful, would you think someone had his wits who would take offense at you, and accuse you of pride, self-conceit, or bad manners, to presume to talk so saucily to your fellow-workmen, or who would tell you that you wrong the slothful by diminishing their reputation? Would you not say, “The work must be done, or we are all dead men. The ship is ready to sink, and do you talk of reputation? Or would you rather place yourself and us in hazard, than hear of your slothfulness?”

This is our case, brothers. The work of God must be done! Souls must not perish while you mind your worldly business or worldly pleasure, and take your ease, or quarrel with your brothers! Nor may we be silent while men are hastened to perdition by you, and while the Church is brought into greater danger and confusion, out of the fear of seeming too uncivil and unmannerly with you, or displeasing your impatient souls!

If you would only be as impatient with your sins as you are with our reproofs, you would hear no more from us; we would all be agreed! But, neither God nor good men will let you alone in such sins. Yet if you had undertaken another calling, and sinned only to yourselves, and perished alone, we would not have so much need to molest you as now we have: but you have entered into the office of the ministry, which is for the necessary preservation of us all.

By letting you alone in your sin, we must give up the Church to loss and hazard. So do not blame us if we talk to you more freely than you would have us do. If your own body were sick, and you will despise the remedy, or if your own house were on fire, and you were singing or quarreling in the streets, I could possibly bear it, and let you alone, (yet, in charity, I could not easily do that). But, if you will undertake to be the physician of a hospital, or to a whole town infected with the plague, or you undertake to quench all the fires that are kindled in the town, there is no bearing with your remissness, however much it may displease you.

Take it how you will, you must be told of it; and if that does not work, you must be told of it more plainly; and, if that will not work, and you feel rejected as well as reprehended, then you may thank yourselves. I speak all this to none but the guilty.

And, thus, I have given you those reasons which forced me to publish, in plain English, so much of the sins of the ministry as I have in the following Treatise. And I suppose the more penitent and humble someone is, and the more he desires the true reformation of the Church, the more easily and fully he will approve such free confessions and reprehensions. But I find it impossible to avoid offending those who are at once guilty and impenitent; for there is no way to avoid this except by our silence or their patience: and we cannot be silent because of God’s commands; and they will not be patient because of their guilt and impenitence. But plain dealers will always be approved in the end; and the time is at hand when you will confess that plain dealers were your best friends.

But my principal business is yet to come. I must now take the boldness, brothers, to become your monitor, concerning some of the necessary duties of which I speak in the ensuing discourse. If any of you would charge me with arrogance or immodesty for this attempt, as if I accused you by this of negligence, or judged myself sufficient to admonish you, I crave your candid interpretation of my boldness. I assure you that I do not obey the counsel of my flesh in this, but I displease myself as much as some of you; and I would rather have the ease and peace of silence, if it were compatible with my duty and the churches’ good.

But the mere necessity of the souls of men, and my desire for their salvation, and for the prosperity of the Church, force me to this arrogance and immodesty, if it must be called that. For who with a tongue can be silent when it is for the honor of God, the welfare of his Church, and the everlasting happiness of so many souls?

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Christian Classics Ethereal Library link to complete text in various free formats

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related post: “the final triumph of love” ~Richard Wurmbrand