A quote used by David Hall without attribution…
“We Resemble What We Revere, for Ruin or for Restoration” – so Senior Pastor David Hall preached the morning of May 22, 2022 at Midway Presbyterian Church. This service was not unlike many recent ones where the hypocrisy of the church leadership was on full display. David Hall’s assistant, Marc Harrington, led corporate prayer highlighting the need for repentance emploring God to ”transform” relationships and that the Lord would ”keep us from cold and unforgiving hearts”. This he prayed while stating that he stands with a ”clean conscience” before the Throne of Grace even though it has been 19 days since the Standing Judicial Commission of the PCA exonerated Ruling Elder Phil Dudt from the false charges he was a chief participant in bringing, and yet he and the Session have been silent. So zealous was Pastor Harrington that he even fabricated witness testimony outside of RE Dudt’s trial and tried to pass it off as legitimate evidence. Praise God the highest court of the PCA was not so easily fooled by such a malicious act of dishonesty… but beyond this prayer, the sermon brought by Senior Pastor David Hall likely raised eyebrows of the more well read members of the congregation…
The phrase “We Resemble What We Revere, for Ruin or for Restoration” was uttered several times from the pulpit by Senior Pastor David Hall to drive home a point on the dangers of idolatry. Paying no mind to veiled messaging of this sermon that suggested strongly that anyone currently opposing his authoritarian rule at Midway is ”blaming the Pastor” or ”Herald” because they are either ”jealous” or ”materialistic” like Demetrius in the Book of Acts – it is worth examining the phrase and its context.
The origin of the phrase is from ordained Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) minister Gregory Beale (popularly known as G.K. Beale), who has been named the first J. Gresham Machen Chair of New Testament and has affiliations with both Reformed and Westminster Theological Seminaries. He authored a popular book in 2008 titled ”We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry.” Those familiar with the work will find close parallels to aspects of it and what is currently happening at Midway, which makes David Hall’s use of the word for word quote without attribution abundantly ironic.
”It seems, frankly, utterly unthinkable to me that authentic preaching would be the echo of another person’s encounter with God’s word rather than a trumpet blast of my own encounter with God’s word. Now to be sure, my sermon should be an echo. It should be an echo of the voice of God. But not an echo of an echo of the voice of God. So that is my conviction.”John Piper
David Hall used G.K. Beale’s quote to ask the question ”Who do you resemble now?” speaking of idolatry and quoting portions of Isaiah. Beale expounds at length from the Book of Isaiah to similarly decry idolatry and its crippling effects (see pages 250-260). The disingenuousness of a pastor using ideas and quotes without attribution aside, one has to wonder if David Hall considered the context of the book he appeared to be leveraging (without attribution) for his sermon. Most hypocritically, David Hall stated that the behavior of the seven Sons of Sceva in Acts 19 ”cannot be tolerated” – their crime? “Stealing” the Apostle Paul’s ”wording”…
Consider the blatant unrepentant nature of the Session at Midway Presbyterian Church under David Hall’s leadership. Higher courts call out their errors, call for apologies, overturn their unjust and unbiblical rulings and yet — they cling to their own idol of being right. The Session is uncorrectable. Don’t believe it? Try to correct them and you’ll receive an education on your “need” to submit to the ordained men God placed in authority over you and why their special discernment demands your trust…
Idolatry of Self
Consider G.K Beale’s thoughts (with attribution) from the Introduction to his book, We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry:
“What do you and I reflect? Our presupposition of this book is that God has made humans to reflect him, but if they do not commit themselves to him, they will not reflect him but something else in creation. At the core of our beings we are imaging creatures. It is not possible to be neutral on this issue: we either reflect the creator or some thing in creation.
This book is not intended to be a comprehensive book on idolatry in the Bible but primarily and attempt to trace one particular aspect of idolatry as it is sometimes developed in Scripture. We will focus specifically on idol worshipers being identified with the idols around them. A number of the biblical passages that we will study express the idea that instead of worshiping and resembling the true God, idolaters resemble for the idols they worship. These worshipers become as spiritually void and lifeless as the idols they committed themselves to. We see that people are judged as their idols are; ironically, people are punished by means of their own sin: “Do you like idols? Then you will be punished along with them.“ It is difficult to distinguish between being punished like the idol and becoming identified with the character of the idol. Sometimes the idolater may not be viewed as reflecting the character of the idol but only suffering the same fate (e.g., being burned in destruction). At times it seems both are true.”
Conversely, we will also discover how people are restored to the true worship of God and reflecting his likeness. Therefore, the main thesis of this book is: what people revere, they resemble, either for ruin or restoration.”G.K. Beale: We Become What We Worship, page 16
Compare to David Hall’s words ”I wanna leave you with, what I hope will be memorable contrast, the difference between those who worship idols and those who worship the true risen Lord. We resemble what we revere. We embrace the things we love, and it begins to filter into our lives. These Ephesians loved Artemis. You resemble what you revere, for ruin or for restoration. So what are you resembling now? What does your life resemble? Christ? or some other worldly power or notion? For all of your moments and all of your choices are working toward resembling what you revere... if you love him and revere him you will begin to resemble him. But you always look around an notice that people resemble what they revere.”
David Hall must revere G.K Beale very much since his words resemble his very much.
G.K. Beale dedicates the final portions of his book to this idea that people must be image bearers of Christ as opposed to the idols they are crippled by – which can be the idolatry of self (a notion Beale decries again and again throughout his book).
It is no secret to readers of The Midway Guardian that Midway Senior Pastor David Hall has a power problem – the self-justifying sermons, the pride, the political maneuvering to protect his earthly power, serving as a prejudicial moderator in trials involving false charges, attesting to false statements that achieve his political ends… all of these and more are a testament to an idolatry of self. As G.K. Beale has written ”When we’re committed to something else that doesn’t have the Spirit of God, we become as spiritually inanimate as that thing to which we are committed.”
The real question is whether or not the idolatry of self resembled by David Hall and practiced by the Yes-Men on his Session, who like King Ahab, have sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord (I Kings 21:20) through their slander of their brother and equal RE Dudt, will be their ruin… or whether they will humble themselves and repent, resemble the savior they proclaim, Jesus Christ, and in so doing find restoration.
Midway Presbyterian Church is waiting. The wide readership across the PCA and other reformed communities of The Midway Guardian are watching. How long must they wait before a prideful Senior Pastor humbles himself, discloses the Standing Judicial Commission’s ruling against his Session’s actions, admits wrongdoing, and seeks forgiveness and restoration?
Whether that day ever comes or not, one thing is most assured ”what people revere, they resemble, either for ruin or restoration.”