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David Platt, MBC, SBC Conspiracy

David Platt, McLean, and The SBC Conspiracy

McLean Bible Church used to be one of the most influential churches in the country. And then they hired David Platt. A documentary exposing David Platt is on the horizon. McLean Bible Church spent and lost a million dollars to prevent the contents of the documentary from reaching the public. While the documentary may be released as soon as next month, Evangelical Dark Web has reviewed some of the documents that will be featured in the film. What it revealed was a conspiracy to join the Southern Baptist Convention and conceal this from the church members, for joining a denomination violated the church’s constitution.

In March 2016, McLean Bible Church entered the Southern Baptist Convention. Dale Sutherland was the pastor applying for membership in the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia (SBCV).

In an undated letter, likely also in 2016, the trustees of MBC sent a letter to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee (SBCEC). Larry Cooper, William “Bill” Steele, and James Godwin were the names on the letter. However, the letter hints at a much deeper relationship.

Our church’s elders and senior leaders have been working with Clint Clifton, Send City Missionary for Washington DC, regarding the details of a partnership with you. Also, our Associate Senior Pastor Dale Sutherland has met with Kevin Ezell from the North American Mission Board to discuss this partnership. At this time, we believe it best to cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention in order to more effectively plant churches and send missionaries around the world. Currently, we do not desire to formalize a partnership with any State Baptist Convention or local association in our area.

A church Clint Clifton and Kevin Ezell were contacts for Dale Sutherland. Kevin Ezell, as head of the North American Mission Board, spent a considerable amount of time recruiting megachurches into the Southern Baptist Convention. The most notable include Greg Laurie and James MacDonald, whose operations benefitted from real estate purchases. McLean Bible Church was another prize for the taking in Ezell’s empire.

That year they began giving to the SBCV to the tune of $31500. In 2017, this number would skyrocket to $275168. From there the payments are individually noted. From there the payments were frequent and in various amounts, one as high as $100000, others as low as 1 or 2 thousand. 

Enter David Platt

Dale Sutherland expressed interest in David Platt in 2015, but it wasn’t until late 2016 that the correspondence went somewhere. The pastors of MBC, notably Mike Kelsey, express excitement that Platt is finally able to preach at MBC on July 9, 2017.  During the correspondences, MBC touted its status as a Southern Baptist church. But before then David Platt would accept the interim lead pastor role at MBC. David Platt writes on January 22:

That does lead to one other thing I noticed on the McLean website. It says at a few different places that McLean is nondenominational. I loved your answer to the SBC question the other day, and I’m not saying the website should say SBC everywhere, but it would  probably help me in the short-term, and definitely in the long-term, if it wasn’t described so explicitly/formally as nondenominational.

Platt is interested in maintaining his personal reputation with the Southern Baptist Convention. Platt knows the church is Southern Baptist but also that the church website insists otherwise. So he wants that changed, not for transparency but to save face. Sutherland responds by saying, “Great. I will look at the website and at a minimum pull those references and find a way in the near
future to emphasize the connection more.” Sutherland clearly indicates that the congregation is unaware. But worse, Lon Solomon was unaware as well.

In coaching David Platt for a dinner with Lon Solomon, Dale Sutherland writes, “Remember he doesn’t understand the IMB or the SBC so he doesn’t know the impact of the decision.” As MBC was involved with the SBC well before February 2017, it’s clear that the other pastors concealed this business from him.

On March 8, 2017, a blogger emailed Lon Solomon, in light of the announcement whether MBC was a Southern Baptist Church. Considerable effort was made to keep longtime pastor Lon Solomon out of the loop, concealing the business with the Southern Baptist Convention from him.

David Platt immediately takes issue as interim pastor with MBC’s insufficient giving to the Cooperative Program. This giving was then not itemized on the church’s budget.

From there, MBC clearly operates as a Southern Baptist Church. Mike Kelsey makes sure that he can use MBC’s SBC status to get 50% off at a Southern Baptist Seminary. David Platt registers for the 2018 Annual Southern Baptist Convention (the first since he was installed). MBC was eligible for 7 messengers. Platt appears to be the person who registered to determine eligibility.

Yet in 2021, David Platt would lie to Ashley Clayton of the SBCEC insisting:

Dear Ashley,

As a follow up to our communication earlier this week, it would be helpful if you could send a letter to our elders (feel free to email Larry Cooper at Larry.Cooper@McLeanBible.org, and copy me) clarifying the following:

  • That you (on behalf of the SBC Executive Committee) recognize that McLean Bible Church is an independent, non-denominational Bible church, and we are not affiliated denominationally with the SBC.
  • That you unintentionally miscommunicated to one of our members concerning the above reality in a recent email.
  • That your original understanding from the beginning of MBC’s giving to SBC entities was that MBC was partnering together with SBC entities for the sake of mission, including planting churches in metro D.C., and supporting missionaries around the world, but that we were not becoming a Southern Baptist church or joining a denomination; and that your understanding of this partnership today is unchanged.
  • That MBC is included in the SBC church database purely for the sake of accounting purposes as MBC partners together with SBC entities on mission.

Obviously, you can also feel free to communicate anything else in terms of the fruit of our partnership together in missions.

Thank you, brother!

David

Conclusion

McLean Bible Church was a Southern Baptist Church operating deceitfully to its members. The elders conspired against Lon Solomon to join the Southern Baptist Convention and to conceal this from their members while they reaped the benefits of the partnership, the least of which was Mike Kelsey’s tuition. David Platt was perhaps seen as a prize replacement for Lon Solomon since he was a famous celebrity and pastoral free agent. So in courting David Platt, MBC took steps to solidify their affiliation with the SBC, while their members remain none the wiser.

In the meantime, the money kept flowing in both directions, and the church shrank, never to recover from David Platt’s wokeness or his locking down during Covid.

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