What A Fellowship!

pipermacI wanted to address some comments Kent Brandenburg made a few weeks ago. Writing on the cherished Fundamentalist practice of separation, he states,

Alright, so Charismatic doctrine is unbiblical.  I run into Charismatics all the time going door-to-door (I’ve written a very helpful tract to give them too, that we hand them), and they are not only contradictory to the doctrine of our church, but also the doctrine of the church period.  The young evangelical I referenced chose to call it an “odd ball view.”  Odd ball view?  It’s false doctrine.  It contradicts scripture.  That’s bad enough. We could stop there, but it does far more damage then that, and John MacArthur himself, this young man’s pastor, has written a scathing book against the odd ball views.  It was one of MacArthur’s early books, that went into a second printing, and he makes it look very bad and dangerous and hurtful.  He’s correct on all fronts.  Bravo John MacArthur in your true exposure of these false doctrines!

Writing a book is fine.  But what does Romans 16:17 and 2 Thessalonians 3:6 tell us to do?  It says “mark and avoid” and “withdraw ourselves” from these.  I’m not nitpicking.  I’m talking about applying what God commanded us to do.  Talk to God about it.  He’s the one that said it.  Are we nitpicking if we report what God said?  If so, well, then I guess I’ll be nitpicking.  And then he implies that we lack discernment, and that’s why we can’t have guys like Piper preach for us.  If he came, we’d get all confused and not know what we believe.  Right.  No, it really is wanting to obey passages of Scripture—that black stuff on white paper, those words.  That’s how we’re sanctified, is by the truth.  It’s in those pages we see the face of Jesus, which changes us into His glory.  Are we changed into His glory when we don’t do what He said?  No.

First off, I appreciate being called young. I was actually flattered a bit; especially seeing that I am probably older than Kent. It’s like that time a couple of Christmases ago when I went into the grocery store to get a bottle of wine for some recipe my wife was making and the lady at the register carded me by asking for my driver’s license. I was befuddled. “Really?” I exclaimed, “I’ve never been carded before in my life! You just made my day, mam!”

But moving along to the point at hand.

Kent was troubled by this post I wrote. Even more so with the comments I left to an individual underneath it regarding John MacArthur’s relationship with the Resolved Conferences, John Piper, and I guess by extension, C.J. Mahaney; but mostly Piper.

Kent represents a vocal group of Fundamentalist finger-wagging gatekeepers who have always been critical of John and his “affiliations” with alleged problematic individuals like Piper and Mahaney.  John’s relationship with them is viewed as an insidious form of compromise. As my commenter noted, for John to write a hard-hitting book against charismatics and then embrace a charismatic like Mahaney is confusing to folks.

Let me respond with a number of thoughts. Oh, I should add this one note: I do not speak in any official capacity here. These items reflect my own personal take.

First. Do Kent and his friends genuinely believe John is blissfully unaware of Piper and Mahaney’s “issues”? Or perhaps they think he doesn’t care? Believe me: John knows and he cares. The difference is that he understands the value of what they say on those areas of biblical importance, and when that comes to the Resolved Conferences, those areas are the Gospel message, the glory of God, the life of Christ, etc. Charismatic issues were never at the forefront at those conference. Any “confusing” questions about those issues can be dealt with at other points when they arise.

Second. John and John have been friends and acquaintances for sometime. Long before the popularity of “conferences.” Piper has come a few times over the years to speak at TMS and the TMC. The first time I heard him speak was back in the mid-90s for a TMS morning chapel and it was Piper at his best speaking on the glory of God in preaching.  Rather than throwing him under the bus, MacArthur graciously looks past those problem areas and emphasizes those profitable things Piper has to offer Christians as a whole.

Third. That does not mean MacArthur has “no opinion” about Piper or Mahaney. If you would ask him what he thinks of their problematic areas, MacArthur would not hesitate to tell you, all the while doing his best to be gracious toward them. Additionally, I know for a fact MacArthur has spoken with Piper on these things personally, though I am not privy to all that was discussed.

Fourth. Piper has been asked to speak at conferences with MacArthur, not necessarily his church. Though Piper has been in the pulpit at Grace on a few occasions, most of the venues under scrutiny by Kent and his friends are conferences.  There is a different tone, feel, and purpose with conferences than worship at a church. Though I am sure Kent will wrinkle his nose at this, I hold who speaks and what is said at a conference more loosely than who preaches and what is preached in a church pulpit. They are in two separate arenas for my discernment filter.

The reason being is that speakers can show up unexpectedly last-minute at a conference or say something off the wall that may not reflect what the conference is about specifically, or the conviction of the other conference participants particularly.

Additionally, planners for conferences may not, if ever, solicit the opinion of the other conference members about who it is they are inviting and who will speak with them. Hence. Just because MacArthur is on a platform with Piper or Mahaney does not mean he endorses either directly or by the so-called “platform association” the unspoken “problem” areas of their theology.

And yes, I know my detractors will say: “But you are inviting them!” Indeed we are, but again, it’s a conference not church.

Fifth. Because I make that distinction between conferences and church, if Piper was invited frequently to preach at our church, and his odd-ball beliefs – (which by the way go beyond any charismatic tendencies like his inviting Rick Warren to speak at his Desiring God conference and his embracing of Mark Driscoll) –  were to be taught from our pulpit and encouraged by the leadership at our church, then I think Kent could have reason to be concerned and write the criticisms he has. Because that is hardly the case, so I think his critique is petty and misdirected.

Sixth. After reading a series of posts that Kent wrote up, I am often left wondering if those individuals of a Fundamentalist stripe have ever learned any ability to genuinely discern. Do all our “associations” without exception have to fall in line under our stated theological convictions? Or is there any room for disagreement or covering over of those areas where our association may be “off”?

Take for instance a relatively unknown association MacArthur has been involved with for a good number of years. Back in the early 90s, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union and the doors opened to the West, Russian Baptist leadership began to seek out John to get more exposure to his teaching. That led to the planting of seminaries modeled after TMS and led by TMS grads, as well as a number of speaking engagements and Russian pastor conferences like what we have here in the U.S.

Those Baptist leaders who early on sought out John are for the most part Arminian in their theology. Moreover, they have weird traditions, like the notion that women can be literally saved by the number of children she has. Certainly there could have been Reformed folks who would nit-pick about John’s “association” with hardshell Arminians, and I guess one could say there were other issues of concern with those dear Russian saints. But rather than avoiding any involvement with them at all, John cautiously took the initiative and so began a tremendous partnership that has had amazing impact for the Gospel in Russia.

Seventh. The “separation” passages Kent uses to prove his point are woefully taking out of context. I’ll break them down for you:

Romans 16:17 says, Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.

Kent writes that no one wants to obey those words and it is not “nitpicking” to demand that we do so. However, in the next post in his series, Kent writes, It’s not plain that Romans 16 is talking about people outside of the church.  It seems like he’s talking about people in the church, people who call themselves brothers, because they cause division.

Is that what those little black words say? In the following verses, Paul writes,

18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.
19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.
20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (Rom 16:18-20)

There are a few characteristics of those so-called “brothers.” They are distinguished from the “brethren” mentioned in verse 17. They “do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ.” They intentionally deceive. It is implied they are not obedient in contrast to the “obedience” of the “brethren.” The “brethren” are exhorted to be wise in what is good as opposed to that which is “evil.” And Paul seems to imply that those who are to be separated from are identified with Satan in verse 20.

Nothing suggests that they are genuine Christians, because of these characteristics. Additionally, if they were genuine believers, why would Paul NOT offer correctives to their divisiveness? Is that implying that they were doctrinally sound in faith and practice in other areas of their life, but their “divisive behavior” just puts them on a banned list for all the other Christians?  I don’t think so. What Paul is saying here suggests a purging of unbelievers by the means of church discipline.

What about 2 Thessalonians 3:6 which states,  But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.

That is another verse that isn’t a stand alone comment from Paul. It is part of a greater context that extends to nearly the end of the chapter. That being, Paul’s exhortation to separate from individuals who no longer worked and were acting like gossipy busy-bodies as Paul describes them in verse 11.  More than likely, they were individuals who were of a “survivalist” cult-like mentality.  They were no longer “working,” but had given up the real life to sit around in the desert and wait for Jesus to show up. In a manner of speaking, the original Family Radio/Campingites.

The situation Paul recommends is to place them in church discipline in which they are admonished (vs. 18).

Now. As far as I am concerned, Piper is a Christian. Hopefully Kent isn’t saying Piper is a lying, false brother who is deceiving the simple minded.  And, I don’t think Piper has ever set a date about Jesus coming back to the point he created some wacky survivalist cult.

Does he have problem areas in his theology and practice? Certainly. But the Resolved Conferences are no longer and to my knowledge MacArthur isn’t involved with Piper in a conference anytime soon.

So let’s have a bit of perspective. Do you all seriously think John has compromised 40 years of faithful ministry to the point of disrepair because he had John Piper speak at a Resolve Conferences? Are Fundamentalist so feeble-minded when it comes to practical discernment within ministry that they have to twist and turn Scripture in order to concoct artificial “qualifications” so as to identify various lines of demarcation for whom to separate from?  Honestly, that mind-set can be just a serious a problem as Piper and Mahaney’s alleged issues.

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32 thoughts on “What A Fellowship!

  1. Overlook the bad points and just stick to the good points ? Isn’t that coming dangerously close to compromise? Just asking.

  2. Yes. But in this particular case the so-called “compromise” isn’t along what I consider grossly unbiblical grounds. In other words, Piper has some weirdie ideas about the gifts of the Spirit. Likewise Mahaney. However, they are not like T.D. Jakes coming to an Elephant Room, because Jakes is grossly unbiblical with his views of God and with the paganism of the WordOFaith movement. Whereas Piper and Mahaney have weirdie views of God, Jakes has one that is damnable heresy.

    Now I realize Kent will more than likely frown upon my distinction here, but hey, it’s the reason he’s an Independent Fundamentalist.

  3. I’ve been taught to discern between spine issues and rib issues…or another way to say it is blue issues and red issues. There are issues in the Christian faith that are not negotiable, right? And others that may be “gray areas” that are not as significant??
    I mean, how many disagreements can I have on some Biblical issue or another with a brother before I have to stop talking to them altogether? Even my spouse and I have lively debates on certain gray issues and still have not come to a consesus on some of them. Maybe the question is, how GRAY can the issue be and how to determine the grayness at all…???

  4. Surely you believe the principles of II Thessalonians 3 extend beyond merely the particular sin which triggered the teaching. We’ve got a lot of trouble if we only exercise church discipline for the things specifically mentioned in Matthew 18, I Corinthians 5, and II Thessalonians 3, right?

    Suppose a man repeatedly interrupts the teaching of the Word to argue. It’s a stretch to find that problem specifically mentioned in any church discipline passage. So if he persists, despite warnings and instruction, is the church helpless to discipline him? Or do these passages give principles that apply in other cases besides the specifics at hand?

    I don’t find the idea that II Thess. 3 only applies to survivalist gossips very convincing, but perhaps you could elaborate.

  5. Jon writes,
    Suppose a man repeatedly interrupts the teaching of the Word to argue. It’s a stretch to find that problem specifically mentioned in any church discipline passage.

    Titus 3:9-11 doesn’t address this problem?

    I don’t find the idea that II Thess. 3 only applies to survivalist gossips very convincing, but perhaps you could elaborate.

    No, it doesn’t necessarily ONLY apply to survivalist gossips. But we need to be concise when we address what the passage originally meant and taking the “spirit” of that principle and applying it to the appropriate situations today. Pig piling on John MacArthur charging him with compromise because he spoke with John Piper at a weekend conference, rather than obliging the “separation” preferences of a few choice Fundamentalists, is not fulfilling the principle of what Paul is saying in 2 Thess. 3.

  6. This issue is so frustrating in Christianity today. In my opinion and lots of my friends who went to Grace Community Church it is very theologically legalistic. I’m sure that perception is not because of the leadership and John MacArthur, it’s because of the 2nd tear leadership usually who are MTS students who are on a rampage to show the world the pure truth of the Bible as they understand it, these students often facilitate Sunday Schools and groups at the church. There is a culture of, this is what the Bible says and if you don’t believe the way we believe you don’t believe the Bible, this idea leads to a legalistic outlook that would question John MacArthurs purity for being seen with someone else who is not as pure in his spiritual resolve. It happened to Jesus also.

    Fred looks at other points of views with honesty, In my experience this is not the norm in the culture of Grace Community /TMS.

    The Grace Community / John MacArthur legalistic problem is practically unsurmountable in my opinion. That culture says:

    Teach the Bible with confidence and commitment, being diligent to combat the flood of relativistic theology. Grace Community and John MacArthur are beacons of uncompromising commitment to classical (except for Dispensationalism) theology. John MacArthur has not varied in his teaching in 40 years.

    BUT real Grace is about understanding and forgiveness in a Godly way, Grace is given to non Christians at Grace Community but if you call yourself a Christian and ask a question challenging the status quo. Watch out, they’ll say you don’t have a commitment to the Bible.

    When we see Jesus face to face I have the suspicion that he will be much more understanding than legalistic. My guess is that he will say “well done” to John MacArthur and John Piper.

  7. Your second paragraph basically translates to “Nuh-uh”.

    It says every brother that walks disorderly. JMac has taught that charismatic doctrine is heterodox and disorderly. Piper promotes it and lives it. JMac doesn’t separate. 2 Thess 3 clearly condemns this, in letter and in spirit.

    I think you’re just indulging your own separation preferences, and excusing it by finding a “spirit” in that passage that is manifestly not there – the excusing spirit whereby the chaps you think are reasonable and gracious don’t get held to a biblical standard when they deviate from them. Every man has his hypocrisies and flaws, and it doesn’t help to blind yourself to them.

  8. Donovan, very interesting. People always draw their own conclusions, of course. I am fascinated by the idea that Lance Ketchum and Kent Brandenberg are influenced by (or their views the result of) legalism among second tier leadership at GCC / graduates of Masters.

    I had never before considered that as a possibility, and having now done so, I have decided to never trouble myself with considering it again. :)
    ***

    Fred, thanks for the response. Hopefully I can explore your thinking on this a little further without getting into a pig pile. :)

    I have a question, in light of passages like the one in Titus, and the fact that the principles of II Thessalonians 3 do have broader application than survivalist gossips,

    Would a doctrinally sound and Biblically functioning church allow its pastor to hobnob with Warren and Driscoll the way Piper does / has, or teach some of his “odd-ball” things? If a church is truly sound and functioning Biblically, would they take corrective action (in a brotherly context, not an enemy context, as per II Thess. 3)?

  9. Joshua writes,
    Piper promotes it and lives it. JMac doesn’t separate. 2 Thess 3 clearly condemns this, in letter and in spirit.

    Again, I drew a distinction between speaking along with Piper at a conference and having him actively and frequently visiting our church. Piper has never been actively visiting our church, say for instance, like Steve Lawson does. He has attended conferences with JMac, but as Piper has become edgy with his support of Rick Warren and Mark Driscoll, that has waned and a lot of it due to John’s decision. So in an indirect way, I guess you can say John M has “separated” from him, but not in a vocal, public fashion. Does that encourage you in the least?

  10. Jon asks,
    Would a doctrinally sound and Biblically functioning church allow its pastor to hobnob with Warren and Driscoll the way Piper does / has, or teach some of his “odd-ball” things?

    I would hope not. Like I said above to Joshua, I definitely think there is a difference with actively hobnobbing with a guy like Piper in which he has an influence at your church and among your leadership, and then being on a speaking circuit with him and others at a conference. John has spoken at the same venues with him and has been friendly with him in those venues but you have never heard John teach or promote his “oddball” things. And, in point of fact, as I noted in my article, I happen to know John has personally addressed those things with Piper though I am not privy to all that was said.

  11. Thanks, Fred. I would be shocked if Brother MacArthur hadn’t addressed some things with Piper, and I agree that a conference is different. .

    I’d still like to explore it a little further with you, if I may. Undoubtedly if a pastor at GCC were to teach / do Piper’s “oddball” things, and would not correct course when the church dealt with it Biblically, that pastor would eventually be removed.

    If that happened, should another church, in hosting a conference, bring in such a man as a speaker? Would it be wrong, unwise, or a-ok to use (in a conference) a man who persisted in “Piperisms” despite the Biblical correction of a sound church? Does the Scripture give us any guidance in answering that question?

  12. Hello Fred,

    That does actually encourage me. I’m sure MacArthur would rejoice and have Piper come share a pulpit more frequently if he’d publically reject his charismatic teachings.

    I do wish he’d come out and say it though. If JMac had publically repudiated Piper’s doctrines and warned his flock that no matter how likeable a fellow is, false doctrine is to be avoided in every form, then I very much suspect we wouldn’t be having this conversation, and you wouldn’t need to treat 2 Thess 3 in the way you are to justify him. Charismaticism is disorderly. Separation is having no fellowship. Hanging out at conferences is fellowship (they don’t call it Together for the Gospel because they’ve all separated from each other do they?).

    The teaching of MacArthurs actions is this: even if a chap has disorderly and false doctrines, you can still fellowship in some sense, and it’s something that pleases God. Now people who respect him are forced to either accept he is being inconsistent with the bible (rare) or somehow rationalise away the verses that would rebuke (common).

  13. The question here is, “Is it scriptural to fellowship with those preaching false doctrine?” It’s not about whether it will influence your church. Of course, it will influence your church or Paul wouldn’t write 1 Corinthians 15:33, among other places. Does God fellowship with false doctrine and practice? I’m talking about ongoing false doctrine and practice, that has been confronted and continues. God is One and He will not deny Himself. Do we love Him by continuing to fellowship with it?

    Of course, you could just say that the people who separate are doing a pig pile, because that would help sort things out doctrinally. You either fellowship or you pig pile, those are your two choices, and the passage for that is, um…uh. If you aren’t pig piling, then you’re probably hand wringing. Or maybe you’re a legalist. That’s a convenient one that will usually work, or you could just be stupid.

    I understand someone arguing against separation. It’s like people arguing against evangelism. They don’t want to do it, so they come up with reasons for not doing it. They don’t want to go to church, so they argue against that. They want to gamble, so they argue for gambling. They don’t want Jesus to come back, so they argue against that, because they are walking after their own lust and don’t like the idea of giving an account to God. You don’t leave the convention, because it would be wrong to lose the buildings.

    If you are not separating from the false doctrine, then you are either wrong and need to repent, you are right and those separating need to repent, or you are wrong and you just explain away all the separation passages. Can you not separate and be holy as He is holy, that is, be separate as He is separate?

  14. Kent writes,
    The question here is, “Is it scriptural to fellowship with those preaching false doctrine?”

    Well, honestly, it comes down to how you are defining the limitations of what constitutes “fellowshipping.” Speaking with someone at a 2 day conference doesn’t necessarily constitute “fellowshipping. I’m sure you will argue otherwise, but that just you. Additionally, tell me what recently has John done with Piper or Mahaney, if we add him to the mix? Anything?

    Continuing,
    Can you not separate and be holy as He is holy, that is, be separate as He is separate?

    We are separate and holy as He is holy. Where our lines of separations are is different from yours. We actually try to read those “separation” passages as they are meant to be understood and apply them to similar situations that happen in our day and age. We don’t attempt to expand them way beyond what they truly mean.

  15. Hanging out at a Conference, sharing a pulpit and not saying boo regarding your fellow conference speakers’ false doctrines is most definitely fellowship and a lack of separation.

    Try this. Rob Bell, Brian McLaren and the Pope start a conference called “Together for Jesus”. They invite MacArthur. He goes and everyone preaches, but no one criticizes each other.

    Tell me your separation alarm bells aren’t screaming now? Why? Because you know it’s fellowship. You know it sends a message. You know doing so affirms the others in their error.

  16. Joshua writes,
    Try this. Rob Bell, Brian McLaren and the Pope start a conference called “Together for Jesus”. They invite MacArthur. He goes and everyone preaches, but no one criticizes each other.

    Please. That is ridiculous hyperbole. Piper’s misguided notions about the Holy Spirit is not “false doctrine” on the level that any of those three promote. It’s an absurd comparison.

    We’ve had Wayne Grudem come to our seminary for a winterim class and lecture on biblical manhood and womanhood. But that must have flown under your all’s radar, because I don’t recall anyone yelling at us about him and his loopy perspective on prophecy. Is he on the same level as those three heretics?

  17. “Well, honestly, it comes down to how you are defining the limitations of what constitutes “fellowshipping.” Speaking with someone at a 2 day conference doesn’t necessarily constitute “fellowshipping. I’m sure you will argue otherwise, but that just you.”

    It is ridiculous hyperbole, but it just proved my point – that you know conferences constitute fellowship, and it’s not just whacky IFB’s who would get upset at that kind of fellowship. Welcome to our world!

    You seem to have some sort of sliding scale for your conferences as a measure of fellowship. At one end, hanging with Piper isn’t fellowship nor condoning his false doctrines, and at the other, hanging with the Pope most certainly is fellowship and condoning his false doctrines.

    As an outside observer, it seems to me that you only view it as ungodly fellowship if the other chap’s doctrines are bad enough that you can’t stomach it. Which sends a very clear message: the Pope’s errors are serious, but charismatic error isn’t serious. Fundamentalists find that very interesting, given that MacArthur nearly wrote the book on the serious nature of charismatic error. Which is it? Serious or not serious? If it is serious, why the fellowship? Your argument that a 2 day conference isn’t fellowship has already been disproven, so this question still hasn’t been answered.

    This is why I think we’ve got the biblical high ground on you here. The Bible clearly commands separation from every brother that walks disorderly. You’ve invented and walk a standard that is considerably less than that – and there is no spirit in those verses to justify it. They just need to be read and obeyed.

  18. Hi, Fred. Just one little question I’d like to add in today. Putting aside everything that has been said, after Rick Warren’s tweets yesterday, isn’t there anything, even in the tiniest corner of your heart, that wishes you could say, “Man, I’m glad we’ve never had one of that guy’s supporters as a guest speaker?”

  19. Jon writes,
    Undoubtedly if a pastor at GCC were to teach / do Piper’s “oddball” things, and would not correct course when the church dealt with it Biblically, that pastor would eventually be removed.

    At our church,yes. But again. This is church, not a conference. We distinguish between those two venues.

    Continuing,
    If that happened, should another church, in hosting a conference, bring in such a man as a speaker?

    It depends upon what is being spoken on. If that particular man was an expert in Muslim evangelism or Jewish apologetics and the conference was addressing those two things, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Michael Brown is a charismatic. But if I need to find someone who can address the gay activist movement in America and provide instruction on how the Christian church should engage it, then I’d lay aside my qualms I have about his charismania. He’s not coming to our conference to speak on his charismania. He’s there to speak on the subject of evangelizing gay activists. The same could be said about Robert Gagnon, who is a liberal oriented PCUSA prof., but writes solidly against gay revisionism.

    moving along,
    after Rick Warren’s tweets yesterday, isn’t there anything, even in the tiniest corner of your heart, that wishes you could say, “Man, I’m glad we’ve never had one of that guy’s supporters as a guest speaker?”

    No. Of course, this assumes Piper supports him unequivocally in all things. Do you know if Piper and Warren do a lot of things together now? I am just aware of Warren coming (via video) to one of Piper’s DGC from a few years ago. Have they done anything like that recently? Can we really say that Piper is a big supporter of Warren in, say, the same way MacArthur is a big supporter of Al Mohler or R.C. Sproul? Maybe you know something I don’t, but honestly, I never really followed Piper and never really keep up with his goings ons unless someone brings it to my attention.

  20. Recently? 2011.

    http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/john-piper-interviews-rick-warren-on-doctrine

    Piper gave him an effective whitewash. It was a big deal. Surprised you missed it.

    As to the other, really? You would really think it a good idea to have a conference speaker who was removed from a pastorate (or resigned) because he wouldn’t conform to orthodoxy and/or orthopraxy? You really think that God has left His people without anyone sound to address whatever topic, and we have to rely on such people?

    Ok. That’s what you think. I think you will find it hard to come up with Scripture that supports the idea. But all you are doing is convincing me that these extra-church conferences can be a really, really bad idea, because you’ve basically moved everything outside of the remit of Scripture to where anything goes. You don’t have any Scriptural guidelines for what you do.

    But Fred, you should not treat with disrespect those who are seeking to consistently apply Scriptural guidelines. Separation is in Scripture. It may not be easy to apply graciously and consistently, but it is there. And those who say it should apply to conferences are just trying to be consistent. Pig-piles are ugly when they go the other direction, too.

    I’ve probably said all that is profitable for me to say on this thread. Thanks for the discussion, and may the Lord teach us all through His Word as we seek to follow Him.

  21. Jon writes,
    Recently? 2011

    That’s like two years ago. I mentioned that in my post. Anything with in say, the last 6 months?

    continuing,
    You would really think it a good idea to have a conference speaker who was removed from a pastorate (or resigned) because he wouldn’t conform to orthodoxy and/or orthopraxy?

    You asked about a pastor at my church who would be asked to step down for being Piper like. They are not removed from the “pastorate.” They would be asked to step down from being elder or teaching a fellowship group. We are a big church that is different than most.

    Also, as much as I am not a fan of Piper, I don’t believe he is so “unorthodox” that I would put him in the same category of a Benny Hinn, or a Catholic. As far as “orthropraxy” is concerned, Piper isn’t unethical, like he has an unbiblical divorce or whatever. Again, I didn’t like him giving Warren a platform either, but if I learned he would be a co-speaker at a conference where I was speaking, I wouldn’t make a big deal of separating from the conference just because he was there.

    Continuing,
    But Fred, you should not treat with disrespect those who are seeking to consistently apply Scriptural guidelines. Separation is in Scripture. It may not be easy to apply graciously and consistently, but it is there.

    Oh. I agree they are there, but in all the instances in which IFB folks like Kent raise the specter of “separation” none of those passages apply to the examples he provides. It all comes down to IFB preferences of what constitutes Gospel purity.

    There is also a vicious inconsistency. Take Kent’s recent post claiming that Shepherd’s Conference was nothing but a rock and roll conference and his blasting of CCM music. What he claims was the atmosphere among the pastors in attendance, the bobbing heads, swaying back and forth, and other so-called worldly expressions of a rock concert, is a lie. I was there. None of that took place. Now. are you going to separate from Kent because in my thinking, him slandering and lying against SC and the pastors in attendance is much greater than the presence of CCM in worship.

  22. Fred, you wanted something more recent than “a few years ago.” That’s less than two.

    I’m not stalking these guys to find out if there is anymore. Other people do that, maybe. I don’t. But Piper’s response to the brouhaha over Warren’s tweets is here:

    “O Lord of truth and mercy, put in place a Pope most willing to reform the Catholic Church in accord with your most holy word.”

    So he’s better than his buddy at casting it in “spiritual terms” but he is still praying for a pope to be put in place. And as Dan Phillips rightly noted, Scriptural reform and a pope are a contradiction of terms.

    Do you see what is happening here? MacArthur brought in Piper, so now you are minimising the seriousness of Piper’s errors, looking for ways to see them as not that serious, or long in the past, or something. You are demonstrating why this stuff matters.

    Piper is still buddying it up with Driscoll, and was at Passion 2013. If you don’t think that is a current enough evidence of something seriously wrong, there’s nothing I can say.

  23. Hi Fred,

    I’ve never mentioned to you that I like the name Fred. I liked Barney until the congressperson from Massachusetts. He ruined it for me.

    You wrote:

    There is also a vicious inconsistency. Take Kent’s recent post claiming that Shepherd’s Conference was nothing but a rock and roll conference and his blasting of CCM music. What he claims was the atmosphere among the pastors in attendance, the bobbing heads, swaying back and forth, and other so-called worldly expressions of a rock concert, is a lie. I was there. None of that took place. Now. are you going to separate from Kent because in my thinking, him slandering and lying against SC and the pastors in attendance is much greater than the presence of CCM in worship.

    There is a lot of irony to your comment here that I don’t think you’ll admit. I haven’t noticed you as one who admits your own ironies, even if pointed out. First, my criticism of the biblical practice of separation has been lodged against evangelicals and fundamentalists, namely for their inconsistency. You can’t consistently practice a so-called “center bound” separation, which is why the endless discussions. The Bible reveals a boundary driven separation consistently (ironically) which can be consistently practiced.

    Second, as a married man, I would think you know better than to say “was nothing but.” Usually marriage trains us out of that — always going to get you in trouble (and I mean “always”).. My post was so much not that for anyone who would read it. I said that the congregational singing I saw was all good and the choir minus the soloists was all good, that I saw. And I saw a few other things. All that I pointed out that was bad was just what I thought was bad, not everything.

    Third, and this is very tell-tale. You said, “the bobbing heads.” I thought, “‘bobbing heads,’ I didn’t write that.” So I went back to look at that post, and no, didn’t say that. Somebody must have seen “bobbing heads,” maybe you (who were there), or else you just made it up. Once I find a clip of it, I guess I’m going to have to go into detail about what I saw, since you are calling me a liar.

    “In your thinking” is a key part of your statement, which “in my thinking” is like a peak into Popeye’s brain after he’s eaten some bad spinach.

    I answered your criticism of my taking separation passages out of context with some historic basis for seeing what I have written as what the Bible does teach. And I haven’t even gotten started, there are so many passages. You are making the untenable, left-field argument that a passage like 2 Thessalonians 3 must apply only to separation from lazy conspiracy theorists. If that doesn’t prove it to me doesn’t mean that I’m now ripping the interpretation or application from its context. I’ve preached through 2 Thessalonians, took it as a course in Greek years ago. Your answer hasn’t disturbed me the least bit on my historic position. I still love you though.

  24. Jon writes,
    Fred, you wanted something more recent than “a few years ago.” That’s less than two.

    That’s a tweet. What is the context for that particular tweet? Is he really saying he is supportive of the RCC?

    Look, I am not a Piper fan, supporter, or apologist. I think he takes his approach to being “edgy” for the sake of “edgy for God” way too seriously that it damages his credibility.

    You go on to say how MacArthur brought in Piper, but the center of this discussion is Piper speaking at the Resolve Conferences. I checked the speaking schedule for those conferences (which are all available on-line) and the last one where Piper was even noted was 2009. That’s four years ago! That’s before Piper even began to go off the rails with Rick Warren. He hasn’t spoken at any of our SCs for a number of years and the last major conference where John has been present with him that I can think of in recent years was maybe the T4G conference in 2010. And in that case, I don’t judge those men who were there according to some absurd definition of what constitutes separation.

  25. Kent writes,
    You said, “the bobbing heads.” I thought, “‘bobbing heads,’ I didn’t write that.”

    Nope, you’re right. You didn’t say that. That’s my interpretation. You specifically write,

    It was peculiar, when they panned the audience of pastors, to see the pastors “rocking” to that music. They were “rocking” like at a rock concert, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, since it was rock music. I understand that with certain types of rock music that people “rock” more, but they were definitely “rocking” as part of their “worship.”

    and

    Without doubt, when “rock” and “worship” come together like they did at the Shepherd’s Conference there at GCC, it’s akin to, if not synonymous with, the ecstasy of Corinth. They are confusing the Holy Spirit with the affects of the rock music, like the Corinthians were with their ecstasy. Believe me. That swaying is not caused by the Holy Spirit. All that eye-clenching and wagging of the head is not the Holy Spirit. It is not religious affection. It is what Jonathan Edwards called passion. So GCC is a part of this kind of destruction of discernment, while claiming to be almost headquarters for discernment.

    So I guess if I could be specific, you said “wagging” instead of “bobbing” but it’s essentially saying that same thing: That SC was nothing more than a high-octane rock concert that was basically like the ecstasy of pagan religions.

    So. Being there and experiencing none of the things you an observer online claim you saw, you’re exaggerating the truth, which in my book is slandering and lying about what you saw. Does the church you pastor care if you lie like this? There are a multitude of witnesses who claim you are lying with your accusation. One guy even has a video he plans to put up showing how you are distorting the truth.

    Now. I guess you have a choice. Will you double-down and stick by your bearing false witness against my church and the thousands of other men there (and the last I checked, bearing false witness is one of the big ten), or will you admit your mistake in your exuberance with hunting down your fundamentalist windmills and retract your post?

  26. Hi Fred,

    What you are saying that I am doing doesn’t make any sense. If I am in fact doing what you are saying, then I….(1) concocted an idea about trying to find a rock group at SC (GCC) and to see men rocking to their music, and then looked for something, didn’t see it, but said it was rocking anyway, or (2) didn’t see it, knew I didn’t see it, but just made it up to slander and lie about SC (GCC). You are correct that would be very evil on my part if I was doing that. It’s just that the story is more incredible than my lie would be. The lie would be of the proportions of a lunatic. It would also be a strange lie, in that I said, (1) congregational music that I saw, good, (2) choir music that I saw, good, (3) not reporting anything bad about sermons I heard, (4) I heard specifically these three or four things so that I can’t judge other things other than what I saw, and then (5) I saw a rock band (with some very specific descriptions of it) and pastors (not saying all, or even most) were rocking with the rock band music.

    Now you are saying that what I said above is a lie and slander. There were no pastors rocking, i.e. swaying to the rock beat, and there was no rock music. I’m lying about that specific part with a goal of slandering GCC because of what reason? Fred, I saw what I saw. If I can watch the specific portion of that again, which I haven’t seen in any archives or on youtube. I’ll give you a play by play.

    If I were you, I would be arguing what you actually believe, at least as far as I’ve read, that is, you like rock music. You think it can be used for worship. And it would be a good thing for pastors to be rocking with the music. If that’s a good thing to you, like it is to tens of thousands, then that wouldn’t be slander. The point of the post was really about “the nature of beauty” that Albert Mohler preached in Washington DC and considering various things I saw recently from those Albert Mohler affiliates with and the conflict between what he said and that.

    I would be interested in someone actually showing how what I saw was not what I saw. I would be interested in seeing a copy of what I saw, so I could prove it to someone who is calling me a liar.

    I’ve never said that SC was nothing more than a high octane rock concert like ecstasy at Corinth. However, I did say:

    Without doubt, when “rock” and “worship” come together like they did at the Shepherd’s Conference there at GCC, it’s akin to, if not synonymous with, the ecstasy of Corinth. They are confusing the Holy Spirit with the affects of the rock music, like the Corinthians were with their ecstasy.

    Everything they did at Corinth wasn’t ecstasy either. There is a contradiction between what is scriptural at a true church and then what is unscriptural. In 1 and 2 Corinthians Paul had some commendation for them. What I’m saying is not really different than what Peter Masters wrote in an essay in the last year or two. I just didn’t know or hadn’t seen it at SC until I turned on the live stream the one morning.

    You are correct, I do stand by what I have written. You should look into what you’ve written as to its accuracy. It would seem important for someone who is using “liar” and “slander” as his main charge here. It’s that pot and kettle thing.

    Love you Fred. I believe therefore I speak.

  27. You wanted more recent, now you want older? :)

    The tweet was a few hours after Warren’s, when there was beginning to be some controversy over it. It’s a little hard to buy that there was no connection.

    It’s a fair point that Piper wasn’t, apparently, giving Warren any significant endorsement when you guys had him in. The problem was, he already had established a pattern of dubious endorsements and dubious doctrine.

    But it doesn’t matter. You don’t or won’t see it. I couldn’t see it for a long time, either. There was a time I’d have written exactly the stuff you are writing.

    But even if you don’t see it or won’t admit it, I would guess there’s people at your church, perhaps even right at the very top, that now wish at least a little bit that they’d been a little more careful about separation and had kept a little more distance from John Piper.

  28. Initially, my comment had to do with Piper and Warren working together. That is what I was specifically asking about. Not whether or not Piper does loopy things. Then I merely pointed out John MacArthur hasn’t done anything with Piper since like 2009, particularly Piper coming to our now defunct Resolve Conferences which is the complaint by Kent and others regarding John’s “separation” failures or whatnot.

    As to your comment that there was a connection between his and Warren’s tweets, that’s bordering on the conspiratorial. Maybe. But unless something comes out more concrete, it’s speculation.

    As to us at Grace “not seeing it or admitting it” of course John does. There is no one at Grace rending his garments wishing we could all take Piper’s involvement back. At that time when Piper was coming around to Resolve, John didn’t see the things he was criticized for as a big deal like you do, nor does he see any horrific contradiction or “confusion” between what Piper was known for and with what he personally had taught on previous occasions. What contradiction and confusion that exists is imaginary in the minds of Fundy’s who hold separation principles as sacrosanct.

  29. OK, Fred. No one ever has the least little bit of regret about bringing Piper in, when they see him at Passion, his continued endorsement of Driscoll (which had started back then), etc. If you say so.

    I don’t know how you know who has regrets and who doesn’t.

    And you’re right, it’s only weirdos who think it matters. Although you think it matters to bring someone like Piper into the church, you’ve decided it doesn’t matter in a conference. Only weirdo Fundys think it matters. You’ve not given any Biblical rules for conferences that are different from churches, but it is still silly of me to think, if we are going to have a conference, that the Lord would want us to use similar rules.

    I admit it, I’m confused, but I guess that happens to us weirdos. :)

    I really do understand, actually. I used to say the exact same things. I used to laugh at the Fundys and their separation thing. And I still think that many tend to overstate the case far too often, to demonise people who are brothers in Christ and mostly trying to do what is right, and a lot of other problems.

    But if you don’t practice separation, you get a mess, and once you decide you are going to practice it, you have to try to understand what are the Biblical principles that determine how you ought to do it. Once you cross that threshold, you just might end up drawing lines that you used to laugh at the Fundys for doing, even if you do so more charitably than some of them used to do.

  30. Pingback: IFB Dishonesty | hipandthigh

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