Growing up in John MacArthur’s church, Jeff is most theologically aligned with John MacArthur’s teachings with exceptions such as pietism. Yet he would eventually become disillusioned with MacArthur due to his apparent position retcons. The retcon most discussed in this interview was John MacArthur’s famous interpretation of Romans 13 which allowed for minimal interposition. MacArthur would reverse this stance in July to open his church despite lockdown restrictions. This is the right move, however it contradicted five months of MacArthur and Phil Johnson arguing in favor of obedience to government on ecclesiastical matters. I explained my own observation with Grace Community Church accepting PPP loans. Some of his most ardent supporters were praising MacArthur for returning the money but saw nothing wrong with him applying for the money in the first place, meaning there was no reason to praise this decision. (Masters Seminary would receive funds after this all happened anyway.) The issue, as we discuss, is the level of papal infallibility that people seem to give John MacArthur. This has made Jeff a pariah to many.
Feeling called to ministry, Jeff went to college for ministry only to find the economy limiting potential job opportunities. So, he went to business. God would use this time to train him with necessary skills for future ministry. After creating controversy with his stance on MacArthur, Jeff decided to launch his own platform GateKeepers which produce podcasts, books, conferences, and more. Jeff would also cofound the Freedom First Network, to advance political conservatism. Both operate with the principle of pooling together and cross-promoting talent to build an audience.
With this growth came controversy along the way. Multiple guests Jeff has talked to have invited attacks such as Greg Locke and Michael Brown. Jeff and I had previously interacted over the controversy with Greg Lock. Michael Brown is a hyper-charismatic teacher who has interacted with numerous false teachers, most notably Bill Johnson of Bethel Redding. But “Conversations With Jeff” is about conversations, not necessarily endorsing the practices of others. With regards to Michael Brown, Jeff was told by him not to go easy in his interview, for Jeff’s sake. Having previously seen this interview, I recall there being multiple disagreements. As someone writes on discernment, associating with false teachers does not alone make one a false teacher.
This also leads into a discussion on big tent theology with regards to spiritual gifts and soteriology. GateKeepers is mostly packed with free-gracers, though as mentioned before, Jeff is a Calvinist. This type of unity in the body of Christ where Christians can debate secondary theological issues but adhere to the same gospel is far different than the unity Big Eva pushes where churches should allow for people with worldviews contrary to Scripture.
Towards the end we discuss Trump, politics, and Christian political activism. Jeff was a day one supporter of Trump, whereas I was not. I explain why I would vote for Trump in 2020, but it was never really about Trump for me. One of Jeff’s major emphasizes is shining light into darkness and not just light. And what is darker than politics at the moment? We discuss the hope the potentially exists for America and the failings of Christian political activism in the past and present.
A part of the conversation focused on building a Christian economy, in reference to my response to Andrew Torba’s article. We talk about how Christianity is not a value proposition and can be a crutch that creates an inferior product. We talk about the problems facing industries that do this like film and music.
Overall, Jeff Dornik is someone you can learn from in trying to broadcast a Christian message. His journey shows that you will take heat if you go against the grain particularly when you believe that your crowd is morally wrong. But building a network, producing quality content, and making yourself less dependent on Big Tech are pathways to success.