Bible-Believing, Military Chaplains: Avoid the Wrong Endorsing Agency
You need to do your research, so you can avoid Bible-censuring, homosexual-friendly, ecclesiastical endorsing agencies.
by Sonny Hernandez
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11)
I. Exercise Discernment
Representing Christ in the US military requires doctrinal integrity and an implacable commitment to herald His Gospel. If a Bible-believing chaplain is going to represent Christ, then he must also be biblically qualified (1 Timothy 3:1-8), maintain doctrinal integrity, and acquiesce to a Department of Defense (DOD)-approved ecclesiastical endorsing agency that has a robust statement of faith and policies implemented to provide the indemnity for their chaplains to promulgate the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) to the service members they serve.
Representing Christ in the Armed Forces also requires chaplains to encounter false teachers who are wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15-20), who profess to believe (Titus 1:16), and masquerade as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). How should a chaplain or a member of the military know who truly represents Christ or that which opposes Him? According to Christ: “you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:20).
II. Ascertain Endorsing Agencies
If a prospective Bible-believing chaplain fails to probe endorsing agencies and yields to an endorsing agency that blatantly disregards biblical rectitude and obfuscates doctrine, the chaplain may find himself in disarray by foreswearing his subservience to Christ. As a result, the prospective chaplain may also find himself engulfed in compromise (Hebrews 10:26), and his career in danger if he actually put his faith into practice (Matthew 28:18-20), especially if he is endorsed by an ecclesiastical endorsing agency that is homosexual-friendly and censures Bible-believing Christians in the US military.
As a military chaplain, I feel blessed to be endorsed by an ecclesiastical endorsing agency that is approved by the DOD called the Associated Gospel Churches (AGC). The AGC has a statement of faith and policies that are obsequious to Christ which provide protection for my evangelistic endeavors to proclaim Christ as Lord, which ensures the free exercise of religion will be provided for the Airmen that I serve who hold the same convictions.
Military chaplains must be prepared, sound in doctrine, and ready to contend with homosexual advocates who demand equality but execrate anyone who opposes them. Homosexual advocates have an agenda, a social experiment of perversion, which possesses devilish attributes that are at enmity with God. In the battle of religious liberty, Bible-believing military chaplains must carefully investigate endorsing agencies that will approve of their endeavors of placing the banner of Jesus Christ at their area of responsibility so that the love of God (Gospel) will be circulated among all Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines, instead of the counterfeit love that rejoices in iniquity and condones the sin that God will one day judge (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
A. Consider the case of the Coalition of Spirit Filled Churches
David Plummer is an endorser for the Coalition of Spirit Filled Churches. Plummer writes for a gay advocacy group called the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy that hypocritically criticizes Bible-believing chaplains. In a Forum article titled “Civilian Endorsers Support LGBT Servicemembers,” Plummer is mentioned as a participant in a forum in which several endorsers “agreed to take part in an undertaking geared towards LGBT service members.” In addition, Plummer’s endorsing agency, the Coalition of Spirit Filled Churches, suggested their chaplains (VA & military) attend an annual meeting in which a homosexual activist (Dr. Rita Brock) is scheduled to speak.
Plummer appears to be friendly toward the homosexual community, but he is less charitable toward those who herald the Gospel, as he openly criticizes Bible-believing military chaplains that exercise their faith. Recently, the Air Force Chief of Chaplains was accosted by an anti-Christian hate group (led by Michael “Mikey” Weinstein) for praying at an award ceremony by the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty (a 501c3 organization) to honor a public figure for defending and advancing religious liberty in the military. This was not a political event. The event’s emphasis was religious liberty. Now, a self-professing Christian endorser (David Plummer) is openly criticizing the Chief of Chaplains by warning chaplains to not do the same:
David Plummer ATTN: Active Duty Military Chaplains (and Reserve or Guard Chaplains wearing a uniform!). Please always be mindful of your presence at political gatherings and even mere perceptions of the same (such as “award” programs). Whether you are in uniform or not, your presence at such and certainly participation in such implies — whether your intend it or not — agreement and support for the same. And when you do, you automatically exclude some of the very people for whom you are charged with providing pastoral care. Consider the following a cautionary tale.
Gordon James Klingenschmitt David Plummer I can’t believe you would side with Mikey against your fellow Christian chaplains on this. Seriously? It was a conference of chaplains, for chaplains, and those who want to support chaplains. The fact Congressmen attended does not make it illegal for chaplains to gather in uniform to discuss their own political survival with their own lawyers and endorsers. Good grief.
Klingenschmitt makes a good point. Why would any self-professing Christian, who endorses an ecclesiastical agency that self-professes to believe in Jesus and calls themselves spirit-filled, agree with the same convictions of an anti-God, anti-Christian hate group like the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF)? This is the contradiction that I will discuss further in this article. In addition, Klingenschmitt continued to challenge Plummer further:
Gordon James Klingenschmitt So now you’re against chaplains rights to publicly lobby to object to the LGBT policies that are threatening their religious freedoms? Glad I’m not one of your chaplains, since you apparently won’t go to bat for them when the chips are down…
David Plummer I do not go to bat for those who are willful regulation violaters. If a chaplain cannot live with the rules that DoD sets before them, then they need to have the INTEGRITY to resign their commission and move on. The military employs chaplains to perform or provide for the Free Exercise of Religion of the servicemembers — not of the chaplain, nor the chaplain’s faith group…
1. Absentminded responses regarding chaplain policy
Plummer’s response to Klingenschmitt is confounding, but not surprising. In Plummer’s dialogue with Klingenschmitt, Plummer asserts that:
The military employs chaplains to perform or provide for the free exercise of Religion of the service members, and not of the chaplain, nor the chaplain’s faith group.
The first part is certainly true, but the second part is patently false. This is not the first time Plummer has advertised this erroneous assertion. In an open letter to another endorser, Plummer stated:
The point is clear: The military chaplaincy does not exist to serve the needs and agendas of chaplains and their endorsing bodies.
Plummer’s dialogue with Klingenschmitt did not reveal Christ-likeness, but rather contradiction. Plummer has a historical background of asserting that the DOD should be governing what chaplains and endorsers do or think, which can be seen in his writings for a gay advocacy group (Forum on Military Chaplaincy) [emphasis added]:
In conclusion, I am sure that it is with good intention that your faith group feels that it needs to produce a handbook of chaplains’ rights that specify what chaplains can and cannot do. It seems to me, however, that DoD has already done so and vetted it thru various Instructions and Regulations. To do further seems to me to be a matter of the tail wagging the dog. This is not just awkward, it is potentially dangerous to the very institution of military chaplaincy.
By contrast, Air Force policy (AFPD 52-1, Chaplain Corps) clearly contradicts Plummer’s falsities [emphasis added]:
3.6.2. Chaplains must adhere to the requirements of their endorsing religious organizations.
The “needs and agendas” of chaplains and their endorsing bodies are to serve the needs of like-minded faith adherents within the US military by practicing their specific faith tenets and providing the opportunity for US troops to do the same. Air Force regulations not only support but also require this – while Plummer disputes it.
Plummer clearly ignores the fact that chaplains are hired and maintained to be “faith group representatives”. From the Armed Forces Chaplains Board declaration in Rigdon v Perry:
Chaplains are “on loan” from and remain fully accountable to their faith communities. Chaplains are able to function within the military only through the ongoing endorsement of their faith communities. Thus, chaplains serve as representatives of the variety of religious traditions within the United States.
Chaplains can never be government religious officials without violating the Establishment Clause. Fulfillment of their mission requires that chaplains be true to their endorsers’ beliefs in order to reflect the diversity of the nation and the military. Chaplains minister to others in the context of their endorsing faith group’s beliefs and directions; they have no authority to do otherwise.
Plummer seems to be confused about the Constitution as it pertains to religious pluralism:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…
According to the First Amendment, religious pluralism provides all Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines the ability to exercise their faith according to their conscience. This is why the Department of Defense approves voluminous ecclesiastical endorsing agencies of all faiths to protect the free exercise of religion for the servicemen and women who serve. This includes Bible-believing Christians that serve, and also Bible-believing Christian chaplains.
Despite his insinuations, I have not seen Mr. Plummer identify what specific regulation the Air Force Chief of Chaplains allegedly violated that earned his scorn in the dialogue with Gordon Klingenschmitt. Given the Chief of Chaplain’s responsibility to protect religious liberty in the Air Force, it seems proper and appropriate that he should not only be there to acknowledge and honor those who have protected religious liberty, but also to pray at the event.
This is why it is important for military chaplains to ensure they carefully review their respective endorsing agency’s statement of faith and policies, as they could have their endorsement rescinded if their endorsing agency doesn’t support the exercise of their faith. As an endorser, Plummer made it clear that his policy is he will not “go to bat” for a chaplain who is a “willful regulation violator,” yet he doesn’t even accurately understand what the regulations are. He erroneously asserts that chaplains only perform or provide for service members, and not the chaplains or their faith groups, and he fails to understand Air Force regulations requiring chaplains to adhere to their endorsing requirements.
2. Consider Plummer’s Dilemma: Christ-like or corrupt?
As previously discussed, Plummer writes articles for and supports the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy. He openly criticized the Air Force Chief of Chaplains for simply praying at a pro-chaplain event. Plummer’s practice of intolerance toward other Christians may extend to the chaplains he endorses, as a chaplain once endorsed by Plummer has written three times to the Air Force Chief of Chaplains because he does not like my beliefs. Of course, this makes sense since this one time Coalition of Spirit Filled Churches chaplain is now a board member of the infamous God-hating, homosexual advocacy group that is led by Mikey Weinstein. This is disconcerting because, in my opinion, Weinstein’s agenda is to deliver homosexuals “out of the closet” by putting Bible-believing Christians into one.
Do Plummer’s practices sound like those of a spirit filled Christian? In my opinion, absolutely not. Spirit filled Christians in the Bible prayed because it is the primary work of God’s people (Philippians 4:6), and because it is a commandment (Colossians 3:17), which is why Plummer’s criticism of the Air Force Chief of Chaplain for praying at an event for chaplains is rather disconcerting – especially since he believes he is a Christian. Has Mr. Plummer failed to test the spirits as he should have (1 John 4:1-3)? It is plausible that he has devoted himself to spirits, just not the spirit of truth (John 16:13), but the deceitful ones that suppress the truth (1 Timothy 4:1). In addition, Christians in the Bible handled homosexuality with correction and discipline (1 Corinthians 5 & 6), not by criticizing or denouncing those who opposed it. This is why Plummer is openly censuring the Air Force Chief of Chaplains for praying at a pro-chaplain’s event, and why he aligns himself with gay advocacy groups that demands tolerance, yet become intolerant towards anyone that calls homosexuality sin.
III. Contend Faithfully
To Bible-believing military chaplains who are currently serving: It is imperative that you contend faithfully as you discharge your duties as a military chaplain. Do not be be mute, but shout from the housetops (Matthew 10:27) about the necessity for repentance and faith in Christ alone (Mark 1:15)! If you are inaudible, then who do you think will suffer? The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who affirm Holy Scripture as the very Word of God will be the ones who are neglected. This is why you must preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:1-8) and stay connected with your Bible-believing ecclesiastical endorsing agency that defends your convictions.
If you contend for the faith, you may forfeit popularity, and you may be held in disrepute. You will have other chaplains who have made their career out of silence, and they will tell you to do the same. Nevertheless, remaining silent is something you cannot do if you are a Christian, for how can they hear without a preacher (Romans 10:14)? If those you serve do not hear the Gospel, then this is not proof of your Christ-likeness but of your compromise, as the Bible commands believers to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).
If you contend for the faith, you will be reviled by many, to possibly include endorsers like David Plummer. A recent article I wrote in defense of a Major who was being investigated after years of keeping an open, highlighted Bible on his desk resulted in Plummer telling me I should have “the integrity to resign” because of my convictions. Does Plummer suggest I resign because he does not like my beliefs? If this is true, Plummer is articulating his position as an endorsing agent that the Department of Defense’s policy on pluralism extends only to those with convictions that are commensurate with his own.
This is why military chaplains must be bold, loving, and ready to contend for the faith. If you are accosted for your faith by those like Plummer, who seem to be outspoken against Bible-believing Christians, you do not need to be silent. I responded to Plummer when he criticized me for writing an article defending the rights of the Bible-believing Major, which can be seen here.
Remember, according to Christ: “you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:20) – and you will be known by yours, as well. Never forget that many will profess to bear fruits, but will boast in their futility; many will profess that Christ is Lord, yet they condone lewdness, and there will be many who will claim to be faithful to witnessing, Scripture, and Christ, but are nothing more than wolves in sheep’s clothing. If this is the case, have no fellowship with them, and expose them (Ephesians 5:11).
Chaplain (Capt) Sonny Hernandez is a US Air Force Reserve Chaplain assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. In April 2015, he was selected as the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Individual Mobilization Augmentee Company Grade Officer of the Year, and in May 2016, he was selected as 445th Airlift Wing CGO of the Quarter, first quarter. Hernandez earned a Doctorate from Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The opinions expressed here are solely his and do not necessarily represent the views of any government, military, or religious organization. Sonny Hernandez wrote this article as a civilian on his own time on an issue of public interest.