So… who is DMD referring to?

Our friend Dave references “a blogger” who answered his question regarding appreciating Piper without having one’s fundamentalist convictions questioned. That blogger, according to Dave, answered the question:

Here’s his answer: “So I would answer the question, No.”

He carries on discussing this as if that is all there is to the answer. He never links to the unnamed blogger so that you can read the context and judge for yourself if DMD is representing him fairly (bad netiquette, Dave).

As you know, it is possible that Dave could be referring to my answer given on this site. We don’t know for sure, because the quoted portion above isn’t exactly like my answer.

However,  Dave does offer a quote from the comments section that is word for word from my comments:

And I really think it may be unbelievable because in the comment section that follows, the same man writes, “Well, I am not saying don’t appreciate the good that such men do, although we may debate what is good and what isn’t.”

So … let’s make these points:

  1. It really isn’t legitimate to attack another blog without providing links so that readers can evaluate context.
  2. It has never been my position that it is wrong to use or appreciate the work of men with whom I would not join in ministry partnership with.
  3. My complaint on this point is that so-called fundamentalist educators, pastors, leaders have been guilty in recent years of unreserved enthusiasm for men with serious ministry flaws. My answer to Dave’s question wasn’t a bare “No” as he suggests. I gave reasons for it which he conveniently ignores.

I’d be interested if Dave would have the courtesy to deal with the entire argument, not misrepresent what was said for his own purposes.

don_sig2

Comments

  1. Don,

    Surely you know that only those sweaty, revivalistic, and non Calvinistic preachers would misrepresent what others believe, right? To assume Dave would now do unto you what he deplored in Danny Sweatt is, well, over the top. NOT!

  2. Nathan, part of the problem is the difficulty with on-line communication. We read something, think we understand what we read, then post our own ideas about what we thought we read. I think both of us are experiencing that problem.

    With respect to the question of Dave’s that I answered in my blog post first of all, the question wasn’t “can I respect Piper”. The question was, “can someone say they appreciate Piper without their fundamentalism being questioned”. There is a world of difference between the two notions. So I think here you are confusing my initial post and my subsequent reply. They are not incompatible.

    Second, as I read it over, I think my problem in answering Dave’s question initially is that I read his question to be “express appreciation without reservations or qualifications“. The part in italics is my interpretation, Dave may or may not have meant that, but I took it that way. Hence my post.

    So… can we express appreciation for a Piper as fundamentalists? My answer is Yes, with reservations and qualifications. I think we confuse the issue with unqualified endorsements because we have serious issues with Piper, what he stands for and what he does. That is the point I am making.

    On another note, I notice on Dave’s rejoinder today he says:

    This is not a new problem—most of us who’ve been around for any amount of time can recall instances where the case against new evangelicalism, or so-called pseudo-fundamentalism, was marked more by personal invective than substantive use of Scripture and careful application of the same to the case at hand.

    That’s an interesting choice of words: “so-called pseudo-fundamentalism”. Just who were the pseudo-fundamentalists? Jack Van Impe and Jerry Falwell. How did they turn out?

    Why does Dave use “so-called” in his comment? Is he suggesting that Falwell and Van Impe were really fundamentalists all along? Or what? Is he suggesting that Dr. Bob Jr. was wrong in that controversy?

    It seems to me that an argument is being made for a kind of fundamentalism that isn’t fundamentalism. That would be why I interpreted the initial question the way I did in the first place.

    Maranatha!
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  3. Hi Nathan

    Thank you very much for your reply. If you are excitable, that makes two of us. I try to be gracious in my communication on line, but I know (and I am sure you are aware) that I often don’t succeed. So thanks very much for sticking it out with me.

    I think I should call to your attention I deleted point 4 of my post above. I think I was going too far with that one. An example of letting temper get the better of me. I have a quote from C. S. Lewis that I think I will post a bit later on this point.

    Now as for this issue:

    1. I don’t think we have to offer pedantic disclaimers every time we might refer to someone.

    2. I do think that when we are in a position of influence especially, we have to be extremely careful about what we say about people who are fairly close to our own position but with significant differences. (For an example see my sermon summaries from yesterday and the disclaimer I offer for using material from MacArthur.)

    3. I am concerned especially about people in our schools who are so enthusiastic about people whose differences with us are both profound and subtle. For example here, I know that there are people in some of our schools in positions of influence over young men training for the ministry who are raving about Mahaney and offer no warnings about his charismatism and his music. I also know of some who have dog-eared copies of Desiring God on their desks that show more wear than their Bibles. And it is quite obvious that many of our young men are coming out of our schools as absolute fans of the Conservative Evangelicals – which would be fine if we didn’t have significant differences with them.

    So. #3 is the kicker for me. I read Dave’s question in light of that. I think some of what I mention in #3 is going on to some extent in that locale, based on what I hear and read from grads. So I am very worried.

    Look, if we don’t have significant differences with the CEs, then we ought to just quit criticising and join in with them.

    But I remain convinced that there are significant differences. Their music? Can’t go there. Their commitment to Baptist distinctives (Piper mostly)? Can’t go there. Their friendliness with charismatism? Can’t go there. There openness to the blasphemer? Can’t go there. (And PTL for John MacA, who at least stood up and said what needed to be said.)

    Because there are significant differences, I believe their needs to be significant distance. I believe that the young men in our movement are not getting a clear picture here at all and are being poorly taught and led on this point. So that is what animates a lot of what I write about.

    I hope that helps. I still have worries, but I really do appreciate your correspondence here.

    Hang in there, we’ll all get this figured out eventually.

    Maranatha!
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  4. Dave says:

    Don,

    I am sorry you are troubled by my non-attribution. I made choice not to do so for two reasons: (1) I thought it would be better and more charitable not to directly address you; and (2) there was no need for anything else you said to establish context, etc.–you stated twice that your answer to the question was no. You can now try to finesse that answer with explanations based on how you were interpreting my question, but it is not my fault that you answered carelessly. And that was the point of my title–I didn’t see how you could really mean what you actually said (twice). Also, the fact that you let your comments section run in the direction it did seems to suggest that you are much more sympathetic to the original no answer than your current protests.

    As for the matter of using so-called, here’s Webster on it:

    Main Entry: so–called
    Pronunciation: \?s?-?ko?ld\
    Function: adjective
    Date: 15th century
    1 : commonly named : popularly so termed
    2 : falsely or improperly so named

    I was using it in the first sense. Please indulge a suggestion–perhaps you should not pass such hasty judgments on what other people write.

    • Dave thank you for the comment. I appreciate the warning about hasty judgements.

      I still maintain that the way a man talks about someone like Piper can bring his fundamentalist bona fides into question. I don’t think we can answer the question with an unreserved ‘yes’. I don’t have a problem calling him a brother and expressing thanks for what good he does, or (perhaps) even using his material. But as a fundamentalist, when recommending him to others (or not), I think it is incumbent to always express those significant differences that make him questionable (in my mind extremely questionable) as a resource.

      As for the link, I think it is proper to provide links so readers can judge the whole argument for themselves. But whatever…

      Last, on ‘so-called’, would you say that Dr. Bob Jr was right in that argument and that the term was correctly applied?

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  5. Hi Nathan

    Well, I guess we will have to just stand in disagreement then. No problem. I am glad for the interaction and your willingness to stick at it with me. I am glad Dave chimed in. I think our positions are different, but I don’t know what else we can say to make the distinctions clearer.

    Maranatha!
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  6. Dave says:

    Yes, I think the term pseudo-fundamentalism was a legitimate description. For the record, I am pretty sure it was Rod Bell who coined the term and others picked it up. It became popular at that time, yet never reached a level of clarity that the self-identifying moniker “new evangelicalism” did. Others preferred the term neo fundamentalism, but that actually got tossed back and forth (i.e., used by both sides toward the other).

    I didn’t link because I don’t believe there is an argument to be checked out. You did not qualify your answer; you gave the reasons for it. So, unless you’re suggesting that your reasons actually serve as qualifications (that is, turning your “no” into a “yes and no” answer), then there is no point in going back and forth. You’re arguing against something I didn’t say (by your own admission) and something that I don’t do (and Nathan has provided eyewitness testimony to that).

  7. My perception is that fundamentalism isn’t coming out very strong against conservative evangelicals and is not showing the difference between them and us. They are more concerned with the Dan Sweatt branch of their own group. I think they want the perception that they’re fair ‘cuz look, we’re pounding on these guys, see the balance.’ I’m not saying, however, that I don’t think some pounding shouldn’t occur. I, like many within fundamentalism, think that the Hyles, SOTL and many of the hybrid spin-offs are worse than John MacArthur. I think this might be why new groups form with new names—for the purpose of differentiating. But I do believe that the conservative evangelicals are MORE DANGEROUS to fundamentalism than the Hyles etc. group. Don understands that. I don’t know if Dave sees it that way. My perception is that he doesn’t. I think that is noteworthy. It looks like it is Don’s perception too.

    I think this is what set Danny Sweatt off as well. He just wasn’t able to express it in a persuasive manner, that is, some exposition with good application. I noticed on his site that he preaches expositionally—doing a series through Revelation—but he didn’t get that done at an FBF meeting. What he did do was akin to what would often be done at FBF meetings in the past. Of course, he didn’t know he’d be linked to all over the world and I noticed something like 1500 downloads at sermon audio.

    I’m waiting for some strong smacking down of John Piper and John MacArthur and Mark Dever from the fundamentalists. I’ll hold my breath. I don’t think it will happen. Nathan, could you direct me to some conference download where there was a strong put-down of the conservative evangelicals? I would like to listen to that.

  8. Hey, Nathan, you should listen to my sermon from last Sunday afternoon, where I reference the WWF as an illustration.

    Anyway, re Dever… of the lot of the CEs, I would say that Dever and MacA have the most to offer. And you note some of the key problems. Add Acts 29 to that. But when I read 9 Marks, I thought… this is exactly what I learned in preacher boys at BJU. It was nothing new. When I see young fellows praise him as if its something new, its one of the things that makes me wonder about what is going on in the colleges.

    And we have had automatic removal for non-attendance for 20+ years. I didn’t come up with the idea, I borrowed it from somewhere else. Of course, since it was so long ago, I have no idea where I got it from.

    Anyway… We can see if Kent wants to add anything. He usually isn’t shy about expressing his point of view!

    Maranatha!
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  9. Nathan,

    LOL on the smack down reference. I’ve never been a WWF, but it really is just a figure of speech in this case (as you took it, signified by the emoticon).

    I’d be glad to give Mark Dever credit where credit is due. However, my first sermon in Oct 1987, when our church started was expositional and that began my first ever series, through John. Sunday evening I was doing Ecclesiastes. I’m in the process of finishing the NT right now with a series through Luke. I’m in chapter 6. I did not know Dever or Piper. I had heard of MacArthur and he was a contributor to my understanding of expositional preaching—did you notice I gave him some props in my above comment.

    On church discipline, we practice it consistently and been criticized for it roundly by other churches (fundamentalist and evangelical ones). We also discipline for lack of church attendance (1 John 2:19). You can’t be a card carrying member, that’s not one of the privileges of membership. I’m happy for whatever Dever does right and I’m glad to mention it. I’ve said I agree with all his nine marks. We were already doing those before I ever heard of Dever. He did get them from scripture. I wrote a post saying Dever doesn’t do enough—separation. He does great damage in a number of ways. He point blank told Minnick that he stayed in the SBC to preserve money and buildings. He should exposit Matthew 6:19-34 sometime. These are all the things that the Gentiles seek. You can tell he’s sensitive about the separation criticism. I think because he is converted.

    I believe that what was done to Sweatt was a smack-down. I would expect the same of conservative evangelicals. I really was wanting something with names in it that goes after Piper’s wrong beliefs and practices, Mohler’s wrong beliefs and practices, MacArthur’s wrong beliefs and practices. I want a scholarly work against Christian hedonism. I’m planning on writing against it soon. I think he misrepresents Jonathan Edwards too. We’re not in fellowship with these guys for a reason. It isn’t because we don’t love them, Nathan. I love them. They are dangerous though, among other things because the doctrine of separation is so tied into pleasing our God.

    Where do you get your strong vibes about me?

  10. We don’t just let their names drop off a list. There is a process, but we don’t submit it to a congregational vote either. The leadership issues letters of notice of change of status and appeals for repentance. We don’t believe a clear cut objective rule requires a congregational vote when it is violated.

    The point is, however, that fundamentalists practice discipline on this matter and have done so for a long time. Is there Scripture that says we must practice it exactly the way Dever does? Has 9 Marks become inspired somehow? Don’t think so. But to say that fundamentalists don’t practice discipline on this point is just not correct.

    Maranatha!
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  11. Hi Gathan…

    Relax, friend!

    I know what you mean, but just pointing out that the things Dever advocates are not news to fundamentalism. The way some speak of his work it is as if we got a new tablet from the mount. I am not saying that is what you were advocating, but pointing out that the fundamentalism I know has taught these things for years.

    Maranatha!
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  12. Note: several comments in this thread have been deleted at the commenter’s request. He has a good reason for the request, totally unrelated to the thread in question. I am happy to oblige him.

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