news flash: conservative evangelicals *still* not fundamentalists

My headline may come as a shock to some. That would be those who equate talking about error with separating from error. But, sadly, while conservative evangelicals are more bold in their criticism and rebuke of error, they can’t quite bring themselves to treat false teachers as the Bible calls for them to be treated.

A case in point is the recent brouhaha over Justin Taylor’s rebuke of Rob Bell. Already many pixels have been brought to bear on the specifics of the case, some in support of Taylor, others attacking him. One interesting little detail is noted by Christianity Today’s Liveblog, but is largely overlooked by most commenters, and is the point that launches my post today.

This is the detail noted by CT:

Taylor updated his post, changing some wording and deleting a reference to Cor. 11:14-15: “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” Instead, Taylor ended the post with the following paragraph:

  • Let’s remember to pray. Rob Bell needs to know and teach the liberating gospel of grace—including that Christ absorbed the Father’s wrath on behalf of those who trust in him and repent of their sins. And there are tens of thousands of folks who look to Rob Bell as a biblical teacher and leader. May God give much mercy.

Doesn’t that demonstrate my point about conservative evangelicalism? Almost… but not quite… separation.

What does the Bible say we are to do with false teachers?

  • Romans 16:17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
  • 2 Corinthians 6:17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you

I don’t know any passage that admonishes us to pray for false teachers. Peter says of them:

  • 2 Peter 2:12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction,

Unfortunately, the conservative evangelical is yet afflicted with the tolerance syndrome of new evangelicalism and can’t quite bring himself to persist in the forthright language of Scripture.

Pray for false teachers? I think not. Pray instead for those poor souls who are duped by them.

And about those conservative evangelicals…

Are we trying to kid ourselves, fellow fundamentalists? The instincts are all wrong on their side. If we can be accused of having separation on a hair trigger, it seems one must go an extremely long way before the conservative evangelical will pull the trigger at all. Their phasers are always set on ‘stun’, to borrow another metaphor.

I’ll have another post up shortly that illustrates the same point.



  1. Brian Ernsberger says:

    It always goes back to the Evangelical’s repudiation of the doctrine of separation. Since that doctrine is not really in their arsenal, they are helpless to really do anything with those they may disagree with on issues regardless of how strong their disagreement. The only time Evangelicals ever practiced any kind of separation was when then left Fundamentalism, even then they misapplied the doctrine.

  2. Keith says:

    And what will the fundamentalists do with Bell that is different than what the evangelicals are doing (publicly disagreeing)?


    • Hi Keith

      For one, we won’t be praying for him. For two, we won’t be attacking those who expose his heresy, as many so-called conservatives are doing to Justin Taylor – see his comments.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  3. Christian Markle says:

    Hold the presses… It would appear that some have jumped to conclusions on praying for false teachers. Although one may not find a chapter and verse that includes the word “pray” and phrase “false teachers” in the same context. It should not take any of us long to give at lease one chapter and verse about praying for all men — even being thankful for potentially bad men (that one should get your attention! I will give the reference at the end of my post)

    Brother Don,

    I understand your concern for the lack of clear direction from Brother Taylor on how to properly deal with a false teacher like Mr. Bell, but the answer is not to abandon scripture in order to support it (ie disobeying a biblical exhortation to pray for all men). Prayer for Mr. Bell is a given in this situation—what we need to do in addition to prayer is to mark and avoid (Romans 16:17), warn… with tears (Acts 20:31 cf Col 1:28), shun their babblings (2 Timothy 2:16-18) and possibly deliver unto Satan (1 Timothy 1:19-20), but always careful not to strive, be apt to teach, patient and in meekness instructing with the hope that God will give them repentance (2 Timothy 2:24-26). And for the most part I believe Brother Taylor did this. So what else would you have him do?

    Certainly we separate from idolatry and any connection to its practice (2 Corinthians 6 cf 1 Timothy 6:1-5), but in what way does Justin Taylor associate with Bell? I am honestly asking. Are they or have they ever been connected in some way? There are some that are not attempt to defend the faith form the inside out that i think should be separating, but is this really that scenario?

    I think Brother Taylor could have done only one thing more… called for all those who love truth who are connected to Bell to remove that connection. That would have enhanced the biblical approach Brother Taylor did take.

    For His glory,
    Christian Markle

    PS: Oh, about that reference: 1 Timothy 2:1-8 (you might note that chapter 1 does end with false teachers, but that was not my point at all.)

  4. Keith says:

    You won’t be praying for him? You don’t pray for repentance?

    Justin Taylor IS the conservative. So is Piper. So is Kevin DeYoung. So is Doug Wilson. They are all attacking the heretical teaching. What will fundies do that is different than them?


    • Both Keith and Christian ask at least one similar question, and I think it is a worthy question.

      But first, as to the prayers, consider 1 Jn 5.16a. “There is a sin unto death: I do not say the he shall pray for it.” Now, whatever that means, it is clear that the call to pray for all men must be tempered by at least this verse. At a minimum, I think there are some circumstances where we are not to pray for an individual. I would suggest that this might be one of them.

      As to what we would have Justin Taylor or other CEs do, I think there are some differences from fundamentalist practice that are fairly obvious. First, I don’t think we would change Taylor’s original post. He seemed to weaken his conclusion when he did so. Second, we would be calling churches and Christians to check their libraries and get rid of Rob Bell material. I haven’t written about Bell before, to my knowledge, as his materials haven’t become an issue with our people. But I suspect some fundamentalists have already warned about him before now.

      That’s a few suggestions to start with, maybe others can think of some more.

      Don Johnson
      Jeremiah 33.3

  5. Keith says:

    You’ve tithed your mint and cummin

    • I think that is meant as a shot. As it whistles about my ears, I wonder what it means.

      Don Johnson
      Jeremiah 33.3

  6. Christian Markle says:

    Brother Don,

    Please re-read 1 John 5:16. The object of the prayer in this passage is not a person but the sin itself. Yes, I am about as confused as to what the sin unto death is as you are, but it does not say do not pray for the sinner which has sinned the sin unto death. He says do not pray for “it.” Now I am also perfectly aware that that may indicate we stop praying even for the person, but that obscure interpretation, must hold the weight of the much more clear passage I suggested above.

    You are aware that you have logically accused Mr. Bell of sinning the sin unto death. Is that what you intended? A sin which you claim not to understand. Unless you have any other passages to offer for exceptions to praying for all men, you are in a pretty tough position as I see it.

    I would strongly encourage all to review each passage I offered in my post above. The biblical imperatives are the most effective ways of dealing with false doctrine — or any person as the case may be.

    For His glory,
    Christian Markle

    • Hi Christian,

      I am not sure that the distinction in 1 Jn 5.16 makes that much of a difference. I have certainly called Rob Bell a false teacher and as such I certainly think he falls under 2 Pt 2.12, quoted above in my original post.

      As for 1 Tim 2, please note that the purpose of these prayers is expressed in v. 2 “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” It isn’t a generic prayer for all men that is in view.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  7. Christian Markle says:

    Yes, you are correct…but that does mean it is appropriate for us to pray for all men (including Mr. Bell) “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” The call to prayer by Brother Taylor is NOT inappropriate. You may argue that is not enough, but it is in direct obedience to scripture. To claim otherwise without warrant is to risk a violation yourself. Should we talk about the fact that all sin is a sin that deserves death and the work of Christ was to counter that — take that death for us? Should we talk of the fact that 1 Timothy 2 goes on to say that God “will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth”? Should we speak of the myriads of false teachers who appeared to be hopeless cases (starting with the very human author of this passage)?

    I can see that 2 Peter 2:12 lays out a very serious judgment on those who teach “damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” (vs 1) and especially those who “walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise government” (vs 10). But this is also true of thousands of others who might still be saved….right? Frankly, there is no command not to pray here, so I am at a loss that a person who has experienced saving grace through repentance would be so resistant to requesting that God would work toward the repentance of others. Compassion for the individual and more importantly concern for the Glory of God in protection of his (Bell’s) listeners and possible repentance are all very biblical reasons to prayer. These may not have been delineated by Brother Taylor, but nor were they excluded.

    The essence of the 1 John 5:16 is: if one sin a sin which is not a death-sin then you can pray for God to give life, but if it is a death bringing sin, I do not say that you shall pray for it (no command not to pray, just not a command to do it) and the objective of the prayer in this context must be that God will grant life despite sin — that the consequences for the sin will be removed. No one is suggesting this type of prayer!

    Prayer for repentance is always an appropriate prayer while the person is still alive or we are calling in question the power or willingness of God to change that person! This is dangerous ground both doctrinally and according to the law of love.

    I implore you, dear brother Don, to re-think this line of thinking.

    For His glory,
    Christian Markle

    • Well, brother, I don’t agree with you. I think you are arguing like a new evangelical. I’ll leave it at that.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

      PS: I want to add something… My reply above will sound hard-hearted and perhaps overly critical. I do think we need to be careful about the overly tolerant spirit that characterizes new evangelicalism. I don’t think the Lord prayed extensively for the ‘whited sepulchres’ who opposed him. I don’t think it is right to isolated one passage on prayer and let it dominate all our thinking about prayer. We need to have a holistic theology that encompasses the entirety of biblical teaching on prayer. I think the passage in Timothy is not requiring general prayer for all men in general, I think it is very specific in what is prayed, who to pray for, and why to pray that prayer. And I have offered a passage that limits the prayers we might offer. The whole doctrine needs to be more thoroughly fleshed out to settle this question, but I don’t think the sense of Scripture is that we must pray for all men everywhere, especially those who are blasphemers.

  8. How is praying for repentance a sign of tolerance? Wouldn’t tolerance mean not wanting someone to repent? If I’m praying for repentance, I think that shows I do not tolerate a person’s actions.

    For your holistic theology of prayer, may I suggest a few other verses to consider, a comment, and then offer a question:

    Matt 5:44 and Lk 6:28 both say to pray for our enemies (those who persecute us). Lk 23:34 records Jesus praying for those who crucified Him. In Rom 10:1, Paul prays for all Israel to be saved (wouldn’t that include the Pharisees?)

    Regarding 1 Tim 2: “I think the passage in Timothy is not requiring general prayer for all men in general, I think it is very specific in what is prayed, who to pray for, and why to pray that prayer.”

    What is prayed: salvation and knowledge of truth (v. 4)
    Who to pray for: “all people” (v. 1, 4); notice the same people God wants to be saved are the people He wants people to pray for, so unless you believe God only wants certain people to be saved, the prayer appears to encompass all people (Thus, you would need a clear passage of Scripture saying not to pray for someone to qualify it)
    why to pray the prayer: God wants all people to be saved (v. 4); for kings and those in authority so that believers will have lives free from trouble so they can spread the gospel (v. 2)

    Finally, a question: is there a verse that says we should not pray for blasphemers?

    So, far in this study into a holistic theology of prayer, I’ve seen a verse that commands prayer for all men, a verse that could possibly exclude people who have committed the sin unto death (though we don’t know what that sin is), and a claim that we shouldn’t pray for blasphemers…yet no Scripture to back that up. So, is it wise to condemn people for doing something if we don’t have pretty clear teaching from Scripture to condemn them for it.

  9. tjp says:


    I think you’re right about not praying for certain men. In fact, God tells Jeremiah not to pray for apostates, especially after they have been repeatedly warned (Jer. 7:16; 11:14; 14:11).

    Have a good one!


    • Well, several commenters have the notion that we must pray for the souls of apostates. I think the Bible gives us a different mandate. I may be repeating myself from comments above, but I want to include the whole argument in one place.

      First, I am asserting that the prayer for all men is a general command to pray for liberty to preach the gospel:

      NAU 1 Timothy 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

      The call is to general prayer for peacable lives in order to give attention to gospel ministry, as seen in vv. 3-4. To extrapolate that into a command to pray for every person in the world goes beyond what the passage is calling for, especially in light of other passages.

      Specifically, 1 Jn 5.16 teaches us that there are situations where we are not to pray for some men. Christian Markle argued above that the verse speaks about praying for the sin, not the man. Not sure how you can pray for a sin without praying for a man.

      NAU 1 John 5:16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.

      Further, we find that instead of praying for the salvation of some men, the apostle Paul specifically prays for the judgement of them.

      NAU 2 Timothy 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.

      NAU Galatians 1:8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

      NAU 1 Corinthians 16:22 If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed. Maranatha.

      Of course, we have the imprecatory Psalms of the OT as other examples

      NAU Psalm 5:10 Hold them guilty, O God; By their own devices let them fall! In the multitude of their transgressions thrust them out, For they are rebellious against You.

      NAU Psalm 9:20 Put them in fear, O LORD; Let the nations know that they are but men. Selah.

      NAU Psalm 10:2 In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.

      These are a few examples.

      Lest someone say these are OT and not NT, let us allow the Lord Jesus to be our guide and certify a Davidic imprecation:

      NAU Mat 7:23 “And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.
      NAU Luk 13:27 and He will say, I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.

      Where is he quoting from? Psalm 6.8

      NAU Psalm 6:8 Depart from me, all you who do iniquity, For the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping. 9 The LORD has heard my supplication, The LORD receives my prayer. 10 All my enemies will be ashamed and greatly dismayed; They shall turn back, they will suddenly be ashamed.

      Now I won’t take time to develop this further, but I think I am on firm apostolic ground in saying that there is no need to be calling for prayer for an apostate and a blasphemer. Unless you call for one of these prayers, or one like them, that is.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  10. Don,

    I think you’re misunderstanding 1 Tim 2. It doesn’t say “make a ‘general prayer for peacable lives'”. It says to pray for people–all people. The kings and those in authority is actually a specific example of the “all people.” It seems you’re taking the “this” in v. 3 to refer to leading peaceful lives, when it is more apparently tied to the command in v. 1 to pray for all men–why? Because God wants all men to be saved. As I said above, the repetition of “all people” explains what the prayer is about.

    So, your exegesis of 1 Tim 2 is lacking–it’s not simply a general prayer for peacable lives, but is a command to pray for all people for their salvation (peacable lives is a subset of that prayer). So, either you limit the “all people” in this passage to simply mean “all kinds of people” (and, thus, God doesn’t want all people to be saved, but all kinds of people) or you allow it to stand as a command to pray for all people for their salvation.

    Now, just as with other commands in Scripture (e.g., “ask and it will be given”, other passages can help us to understand exceptions and limitations to this command. So, 1 Jn 5:16 could be an exception, but the v. doesn’t say “don’t pray for him” but “don’t pray for this” referring to the giving of life in spite of the sin. And, you would have to show that Rob Bell has committed this sin that leads to death (which, so far, you haven’t.)

    The passages in Jer are specific commands to Jeremiah not to pray for the nation b/c God has decided to punish them (IOW, it’s clear that there is no hope for repentance.) Did you receive some revelation from God that Rob Bell is past repentance like Jeremiah did for the nation of Israel? Or was Paul disobeying this command when he prayed for Israel to be saved?

    2 Tim 4:14, Gal 1:8, and 1 Cor 16:22 say nothing about prayer. They are statements of fact and/or commands regarding God’s understanding of these people. However, you are extrapolating beyond the text to say they mean “do not pray for the salvation of this person.” After all, Paul would have fallen into that category before his salvation (i.e., he was preaching another gospel). Would it have been wrong to pray for Paul to repent?

    The imprecatory Psalms are definitely passages of Scripture that we neglect too easily today. However, they do not say “don’t pray for repentance.” Obviously they do communicate the importance of praying for God’s justice, but they don’t negate a command to pray for salvation/repentance.

    Finally, I’m not convinced Jesus is referring to Ps. 6:8 in Matt 7, but even in that passage it makes plenty of sense to assume that David’s prayer to God is one of deliverance (which would include the shame of his enemies, since they are what he is being delivered from). And still, it does not forbid praying for his enemies (otherwise, Jesus would be contradicting it when he tells us to pray for our enemies)

    Ultimately, I think the issue comes down to this: the best explanation of 1 Tim 2 is that it commands prayer for salvation for all people b/c God wants all people to be saved (which also matches up well with Paul’s prayer for all Israel to be saved in Rom 10, and Jesus commands to pray for our enemies). You have yet to present a verse that forbids praying for repentance for all people (1 Jn 5:16 is the closest, but without explaining what the sin unto death is, it’s hard to argue it applies in this situation). Instead, you’ve offered verses that also talk about praying for justice and recognizing that false teachers are under God’s condemnation…but that’s where all lost people are (i.e., accursed, under God’s wrath.)

    So again, I ask: “is it wise to condemn people for doing something if we don’t have pretty clear teaching from Scripture to condemn them for it?” (after all, you didn’t say, “Taylor could have also asked people to pray for God’s just condemnation to come.” You said “we should not pray for false teachers.” And so far, we have been presented with verses that would include prayers for false teachers and no verse that clearly excludes them.)

  11. One more (quick?) comment.

    You mention not praying for a blasphemer, but that’s what Paul was before salvation (1 Tim 1:13). Would it have been wrong to ask Christians to pray that Saul would repent?

    And, is it wrong to pray for the salvation of muslim imams, or Catholic priests, or buddhist monks, or Mormon elders, or…?

    • Ed, the 1 Timothy passage works this way:

      “I urge that [prayers] be made … THAT we may live…”

      The “that” is a purpose statement, it expresses the purpose of these prayers and limits the content of such prayers, in my opinion. The reason for offering these prayers is that God wishes all men to be saved.

      I don’t think I mentioned the Jeremiah passages, that would have been tjp, I think. Not that I disagree with him mentioning them…

      You say:

      2 Tim 4:14, Gal 1:8, and 1 Cor 16:22 say nothing about prayer.

      They are prayers.

      You can quibble all you like about the quotation of Ps 6, but you’d just be wrong.

      As far as your question regarding imams, monks, mormon elders, or even the apostle Paul, it is irrelevant. We are talking about an apostate professing Christian here, not those from unbelieving religious systems.

      Don Johnson
      Jeremiah 33.3

      PS: I have been meaning to add this, a link to a good article on imprecatory prayers.

  12. Christian Markle says:

    Brother Don,

    Could you answer a few questions for me?

    First, could you go on an explain the whole paragraph of 1 Tim 2:1-8 showing how each element fits with the rest?

    Second, do you believe Rod Bell to be a brother in Christ?

    Lastly, could you answer for us how your view would deal with a blasphemer like the Pharisee Saul?

    For His glory,
    Christian Markle

    • For the first question, I don’t have the time to give a full treatment of it here in this place. I acknowledge that the passage calls for something I call ‘evangelistic prayer’, and the call is for that prayer to be offered for all people generally and for kings and rulers more specifically. You can find a series of sermons I preached on the passage here. However, in spite of the general desire of God for the salvation of all men, our enthusiasm for evangelistic prayers must be tempered by other passages of Scripture. You cannot have one passage rule over all the others, they must all rule each other harmoniously.

      I think you meant to say Rob Bell. No, I don’t think Rob Bell is a brother in Christ.

      I think I already answered the last question. Saul was not an apostate.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  13. Don,

    In your answer to Christian about 1 Tim 2, you recognize what I’ve been saying (perhaps reluctantly). “in spite of the general desire of God for the salvation of all men, our enthusiasm for evangelistic prayers must be tempered by other passages of Scripture.” I agree (in fact, that’s what I said). The problem is you have yet to put forth a passage that contradicts this command (other than perhaps 1 Jn 5:16, but as I’ve said, you’d have to show that applies in this situation).

    The passages that you claim are prayers: 2 Tim 4:14 has a future active indicative verb–usually a statement of fact, and the context mentions nothing about prayer. Gal 1:8-9 and 1 Cor 16:22 contain a present active imp (3s). So, is Paul commanding God in these prayers? Again, the context mentions nothing about prayer. It would be like me saying Mt 24:14 is a prayer, and thus we should pray for the salvation of all people. The problem is, it’s not a prayer, and nothing in the context makes it one.

    Apparently, though, I’ve failed to realize that you are the one who determines what is true or false. So, if you say they are prayers, they must be. Just like if you say Matt 7:23 is a quotation of Ps 6:8, it must be (even if Jesus uses a different verb than the LXX version of Ps 6:8). I guess I’ll just need to ask you any question I have about these things :) However, even if it’s a quote (rather than simply a use of the similar language, like I think), it doesn’t change the fact that Ps 6 says nothing about not praying for people’s salvation (b/c if it did, it would contradict Jesus command to pray for our enemies–the people mentioned in Ps 6). It’s a prayer for David’s deliverance (see Ps 6:1-4)

    (BTW, I noticed you have yet to deal with Rom 10 or Matt 5:44 and Lk 6:28.)

    “We are talking about an apostate professing Christian here” So was I. What do you think a Catholic priest or Mormon elder are? Both profess to be Christians, and would very naturally fit Gal 1:8-9 (teaching a different gospel of adding works to faith). I’ve had Muslim imams tell me they worship the same God as Christians, and Buddhist monks believe you could be a Christian and a Buddhist (b/c they are inclusive).

    So again, you think it’s wrong to tell people to pray for a Catholic priest or Mormon elder?

  14. Christian Markle says:

    Brother Johnson,

    Re: 1
    Thanks for the link to the sermons.

    RE: 2
    Thanks for the correction. If in fact Mr Bell is not a brother then 1 John 5:16 which opens with the phrase “If any man see his brother sin…” The context of the latter part of the verse leaves us with contextual placement of the sin unto death being isolated to the sins of Christians (which theologically makes a whole lot of sense due to the lost only deserving to die due to rejection of the Savior). The fact that we do not have a robust view (due to a lack of robust revelation) of the sin unto death leaves us without confidence that this verse applies to any one who is not a brother. Even if one were to grant you that this passage tells us NOT to pray for those sinning a sin unto death, does it not seems very thin to use such a passage of Mr. Bell when you are do not think he is a brother?

    Re: 3 Follow up question: How do you define an apostate?

    — Brother Taylor’s revised ending calls for prayer for two parties: Mr. Bell that he would teach accurately and his hearers. And then ends with a desire for much mercy.

    — Brother Johnson’s OP questions the very practice of prayer for a false teacher. But agrees that one ought to pray for his hearers.

    — It appears that we are not concerned any more if prayer is appropriate. Both sides seem to agree that prayer is in fact appropriate. Some say prayer for mercy others say prayer for judgment (ie impreccatory prayers)

    Do I have this right or have I misunderstood?

    For His glory,
    Christian Markle

    • I think we have beat this horse to death. We are going to keep saying the same things to each other, and I don’t see much profit in repeating the same things over and over.

      To sum up my view:

      The New Testament calls for our prayers for ‘all men’, but since the New Testament indicates some men are under the judgement of God and have gone beyond hope of redemption, we are not mandated to pray for them. These truths are not contradictory, one is a general call, the others are special exclusions.

      It is the tendency of the soft tolerance of New Evangelicalism and its heirs to water down the hard edges of the New Testament with respect to false teachers. This is seen in the way that Justin Taylor changed his post to a ‘kinder, gentler’ stance. The vehement arguments against my view here are also symptomatic of the same errors.

      I don’t intend to go point by point through the other things that have been said, I believe that we have covered everything sufficiently already. I will add the following, however, due to Ed’s complaint regarding the verses I cited as prayers in the NT:

      As for my citation of 2 Tim 4.14, Gal 1.8-9, and 1 Cor 16.22 as prayers, the first two are cited as such in Naves Topical under the heading “imprecatory prayers”.

      It is possible that 2 Tim 4.14 should not fall in this category, but Matthew Henry calls it a “prophetic denunciation”.

      On Gal 1.8-9, Boice has this comment: “The vehemence with which Paul denounces those who teach another gospel (literally, he say, ‘Let them be damned’) has bothered some commentators, as well as other readers of the letter. But this shows how little the gospel of God’s grace is understood and appreciated and how little many Christians are concerned for the advance of biblical truth.” Boice, p. 429.

      And Matthew Henry: “How confident he was that the gospel he had preached to them was the only true gospel. He was so fully persuaded of this that he pronounced an anathema upon those who pretended to preach any other gospel (v. 8), and, to let them see that this did not proceed from any rashness or intemperate zeal in him, he repeated it, v. 9. This will not justify our thundering out anathemas against those who differ from us in minor things. It is only against those who forge a new gospel, who overturn the foundation of the covenant of grace, by setting up the works of the law in the place of Christ’s righteousness, and corrupting Christianity with Judaism, that Paul denounces this.”

      Here is the Bible Knowledge Commentary on 1 Cor 16.22: “Paul invoked God’s wrath on these false teachers (cf. Gal. 1:8-9) and in the same breath appealed to Christ to return (cf. Matt. 7:21-23; Rev. 22:20).”

      Here is J. Vernon McGee: “Anathema means ‘accursed.’ Paul is saying, ‘If any one does not love the Lord, let him be accursed.'”

      And Matthew Henry: “We have here the doom of the person described: ‘Let him be Anathema, Maran-atha, lie under the heaviest and most dreadful curse. Let him be separated from the people of God, from the favour of God, and delivered up to his final, irrevocable, and inexorable vengeance.'”

      My point in quoting these sources is merely to say that I am not alone in my view of the passages. You disagree. Be my guest.

      I close with this paragraph from the article at I cited earlier:

      The church discipline of the New Testament is not really that different from the imprecatory psalms of the Old Testament. The New Testament also contains curses. Paul cursed Elymas for resisting the gospel (Acts 13:6-11) and damned any who would pervert it (Gal. 1:8-9). Peter pronounced sentence on Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). Paul delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander over to Satan (1 Tim. 1:20) as he did the man living with his father’s wife (1 Cor. 5:5). I personally believe that the final step of church discipline involves turning the sinner over to Satan (under God’s sovereign control, cf. Matt. 18:17-20) so that he may be severely chastened, with the goal of his repentance and restoration (cf. 1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Cor. 2:5-11).

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  15. I’m more than happy to end with this, but I disagree with none of the commentators in your above post…I just disagree that anathemas, curses, denouncements, and prophetic denunciations are prayers (which, ironically enough, none of them said they were). They are pronouncements. I have no problem affirming the need for them…I just have a problem with calling them prayers :)

    And, I couldn’t resist: “I personally believe that the final step of church discipline involves turning the sinner over to Satan (under God’s sovereign control, cf. Matt. 18:17-20) so that he may be severely chastened, with the goal of his repentance and restoration”
    So, you do want repentance after all! (as long as we don’t pray for it) :)

    • I’ve been thinking about this thread today after getting a note privately from a fairly regular reader. He didn’t care to join the thread, so I will post his comment anonymously.

      I would like to urge you, though, to consider whether you’re dealing fairly with someone like Christian Markle to suggest that he’s somehow arguing like a new evangelical because he thinks there is room in the NT for praying for the salvation of false teachers. I believe it is that kind of tendency—the one that likens any difference of perspective to supposed softening of fundamentalist views—that promotes posturing, not separation. I could understand your reaction if Justin Taylor was treating Rob Bell as a brother who was merely mistaken on some things, but he clearly stated the gravity of Bell’s error and called people to pray for him “to know… the liberating gospel of grace.” The compromise of new evangelicalism wasn’t about praying for false teachers to be saved, it was accepting them as if they were. To be more precise about my concern, it is completely fine if you don’t think anybody should pray for the salvation of false teachers, but you are over-reaching when you speak and act as if your view of it is the proper fundamentalist response and to question your view suggests capitulation to new evangelicalism.

      I have to agree and would like to apologize to Christian Markle for my earlier comments.

      I still don’t believe that we must pray for false teachers, and think I can make a case for the opposite.

      But really, in thinking about Justin Taylor’s post, my reaction was more to the fact that he changed his post to a ‘kinder gentler’ approach than I think he should have. It seemed to me to be the typical evangelical caving in from a hardline position. However, in criticizing it, I turned the whole discussion into whether it is right to pray for apostates or not. In the end, I don’t think that really is the point.

      So my apologies to Christian.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3