© 2012 John Casimir O'Keefe

Chad “Benedict Arnold” Holtz – Really?

I’m amazed at how fast we eat our wounded. Not too long ago my friend (yes, I still call Chad my friend) was fired from his church. Now, the simple reason is because he didn’t believe in “hell” (as defined by the Evangelical Church), but the reality is, it’s far more complicated. I got to know Chad long before he gained his 15 minutes and went through a public meltdown of his personal life. He was fired, almost didn’t graduate with his Masters, his wife filed for divorce and he was at the point of coming apart at the seams. Besides his understanding of “hell,” he faced an issue so many of us, from both genders deal with, porn. Life was hard for Chad, and yes I can relate – I’ve been there, we all have. Not only did I walk a mile in his shoes, I was the cobbler who designed the shoes. As his life went through some major twists, people voiced their concern and love, and that was great. But Chad needed more than our words, he needed to be in a place where he could process his life and demons and seek healing; and let’s be honest with each other, Facebook and blogs do not offer much in the way of healing.

In this breakdown, Chad sought help. I’m certain he looked in many places and asked many questions. In his searching he found a place called Pure Life Ministries. Why did he pick Pure Life? I don’t know, but I’m sure, it could have been cost, the program or many other reasons. If we’re honest with ourselves, and we asked ourselves the question, “Would I’ve picked Pure Life?” At best we can only say we’re not sure, we might have. Either way, it’s the place Chad selected, for his reasons and I (or anyone) is in the place of second guessing Chad’s choice. I commend Chad for seeking out help, for seeking out a way to deal with his personal demons. You see, his (as it is with all of us) recovery is a process and we should all be supporting him in the process.

I know what you’re thinking now, “So, why did he walk away from his friends?” I’m not sure he walked away from his friends, all of them anyway. I’m pretty sure he was told not to reconnect to areas of his “old life” so he could move forward in his healing. Now, this causes those of us who consider him a friend to be insulted, but I think it’s a good idea. I think he needs to process his journey without hearing others telling him his recovery was based on bad theology. I think if he jumped back into our conversations he would do more damage to his spirit and his journey then we could imagine. Personally, even though I’ll miss his friendship, I understand and support his decision to move on – it’s healthy for him to do so. I’m willing to give-up my friendship with Chad to help him find his understanding of the Divine and comfort in his personal life.

What I find so frustrating is that there are those who walk with me who are completely devastated not by Chad’s recovery, but because he changed his stance on hell. They call him “brainwashed” or “trader” or a “robot” or that he was “programmed.” While some of my friends have been kinder (I think John Shore has been great in processing what has happened). John wrote:

Chad! Great to hear from you! Sounds like you’re feeling very good about your time at Pure Life. That’s wonderful. I guess you and I don’t share beliefs about hell anymore! But so what? When it comes to what’s behind Door Number Death, even the most religiously inspired must admit that ultimately they, too, are necessarily speculating. The important thing is that you’re now feeling better and back with your family. How beautiful is that? The best of luck to you in whatever preaching or writing opportunities are surely awaiting you now.

Because this happened so quickly, we’re filled with speculation, our heads are spinning. We have a great many questions – and, while this may sound harsh, I’m not sure we’ve the right to know the answers. Chad’s journey is one he must take himself, one he must maneuver in connection with his understanding of how the Divine is working in his life. At best, we can simply say, “Love ya Chad, and I hope you find the answers you seek. Let me know if I can help.” But, until Chad takes the time to reach out, we should not be willing to reach in and pull him out of anything – that would cause more problems.


  1. Posted 2012/07/18 at 4:06 pm | #

    Hey John…do you have any contact information for Chad? I bought his computer from him just before he went in to treatment and I recently wrote him a letter (on paper…wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve done THAT!) to the treatment center address…the only address I have. Just wanted to check in with him. Been praying for him and his family. Sounds like his wife must have taken him back, which is something I’ve been praying for. Anyway, I would love to reconnect with him if you have a current address or email. Thanks.

    You can email it to me at randy @ doableevangelism.com

  2. Posted 2012/07/20 at 8:18 pm | #

    John… thanks for this. I couldn’t agree more, although I’m not as optimistic as you about the tone and intent of John Shore’s series on Chad. I don’t think it is his right, but we need to let Chad sort this out his own way. Even so, thanks for bringing a positive and Christ-like voice to this issue. We may not agree with every nuance of Chad’s theology, but I trust in the Spirit of God to move him into the fullness of the “with God” life. Nothing matters in comparison to that. So… I think my progressive friends need to relax and make room for Chad at the table… just as they did for the old Chad.

  3. Ryan
    Posted 2012/09/08 at 4:34 pm | #

    Five years of living in my apartment and I’ve come to the realization today that not once in the 20 foot walk to my front door have I ever put my feet down in exactly the same spot on that short trek. Sometimes my foot is turned a little this way or that. Sometimes my stride, a little longer. One tiny little path and after 5 years my foot has never hit that path the same twice and I’m the baseline for comparison. Apply that to your walk in faith and hopefully it’s alive and active so that your walk isn’t the same today as it was yesterday. Little secret, no 2 Christians have the same faith. I know, shocker. We just happen to be a product of our environment. The experiences we have shape our belief. While most of us have a fire and brimstone and red guys poking us with pitchforks and making us eat William Underwood canned ham some have the idea that a separation from gods presence would make our souls cry out for him like water, That we would thirst to be in the presence of God like we just ran across the Sahara, during summer, wearing a wool sweatsuit. Would never being able to be in God’s presence be enough of a hell? I think so, so do I believe in the traditional fire and brimstone, no. but I don’t believe in puffy clouds and pearly gates either.

    Faith is a journey, not a destination. What he believes should never be a factor in his ability to spread truth. The truth is fundamental and basic and is unaffected by any personal experience.

    you = sin
    sin = death
    Jesus > death
    X = heaven

    solve for x

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