Pulpit & Pen reached out to Joel McDurmon on March 6, after hearing that he was out at American Vision. We did not get a response. However, Gary DeMar, the past and yet current director of the parachurch organization has announced that McDurmon was relieved of his position by unanimous vote of the American Vision board.
After attempting to defend Rushdoony’s theonomy in a 2015 debate, McDurmon immediately set about writing a book, The Bounds of Love, which abandoned the core theonomic distinctives of theonomy (McDurmon denied strict adherence to Mosaic penology for First and Second Table commands). It is worth noting that McDurmon continues to use the term ‘theonomy,’ but has redefined it beyond recognition, something noticed by most other theonomists.
Gary North, McDurmon’s father-in-law and Rushdoony’s son-in-law wrote in No Other Standard (pg 211), “The most distinctive aspect of theonomic ethics, if not also its most controversial application, is its endorsement of the continuing validity and social justice of the penal sanctions stipulated within the law of God.”
Losing the theonomy debate seems to have taken a toll on McDurmon’s worldview, which soon afterward took a hard turn leftward, a tragic over-correction of the wheel. Within a period of just a few years, McDurmon would go on to be a ‘woke’ Social Justice advocate who would explicitly contradict his predecessors including Rushdoony, Bahnsen, North, and even his predecessor at American Vision, Gary DeMar.
In a concillatory post, DeMar explains that the donations to American Vision have fallen through the floor (I suspsect the downturn coincides precisely with McDurmon’s abandonment of theonomy and embrace of progressivism). He writes…
As a result of a downturn in AV’s finances, the Board has determined that AV’s leadership needed to change to help get us back on more solid financial footing. In a unanimous decision of the Board and Joel’s gracious resignation, I am at the helm to help with fundraising and product development.
To help mitigate some of AV’s financial problems, I am not taking a salary. As I mentioned in a previous letter, I am working on several projects, doing radio interviews, and finishing up some book projects. I’m traveling at the end of this month to produce two video projects as well as meeting with people to help advance AV’s presence in the broader Christian market.
Sources close to American Vision say that McDurmon’s resignation might have been gracious, but it was not his idea.
American Vision spent years promoting theonomy and political conservatism. Why would donors continue to give when its director is actively opposing those princples?
For more on the death of theonomy, read Embers of a Dying Fire.