young? conservative? Hold on!

My on-line friend, Jon Gleason, wrote me in response to the current controversy. I thought it would be worth reposting here with his kind consent. His embrace of separatistic principles is not unlike mine. Both of us came out of evangelical backgrounds. Those who are moving leftward are perhaps naïve about the problems they will encounter as they join up with evangelicals. May this current controversy be a “Hold on!” moment for them as Jon describes below:

Dear Don,

I am glad you commented on your blog on Thabiti Anyabwile’s recent article. I’ve been watching events with great interest, because Pastor Anyabwile is saying many things I was saying and thinking some 22 years ago. While some may think nothing is going to come of this, I’m not so certain.

As a student at Biola University and then at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, I held a position which is virtually identical to many who would today be called “conservative evangelicals”. If I could sum up what I believed back then, it would be thus: “I’ll hold to the truth of God’s Word; I’m absolutely committed to it. I oppose apostasy – but I’m not one of those wacky second degree separatists.”

God’s Word is powerful, and so is obedience. If you obey, you occasionally have those “paradigm shifts” as new areas of obedience open up to you. We might call them the “Hold ON!” moments. That can happen when you realise, “I’m in fellowship with those who are dabbling with heretics!” My “hold ON!” moment came when Biola invited a music minister from the Crystal Cathedral to speak at a music seminar. I couldn’t overlook the fact that he was aiding the propagation of Robert Schuller’s heresy, and Biola thought it was acceptable to bring him in.

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the Jakes-shakes continue

Another blog reacting to the TD Jakes invitation and defense by James MacDonald.

What makes this one interesting is…

  • That the author is a pastor in the Harvest Bible Fellowship, James MacDonald’s organization.
  • That the author is a graduate of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary
  • That some of the author’s co-bloggers are also graduates of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. (One is the son of a very close friend from ‘back in the day’.)

Given those connections, the separatistic bent of the blog post makes a bit more sense. (Although it remains to be seen if actual separation will take place.)

Along with making the post make a bit more sense, these facts raise some interesting questions:

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elephantine update

Thabiti Anyabwile comments on the Mark Driscoll / James MacDonald / T. D. Jakes love-in. You need to read it.

Money quote:

 And we kid ourselves if we think the Elephant Room invitation itself isn’t an endorsement of sorts.  We can’t downplay the associations by calling for people to suspend judgment and responding ad hominem against “discernment bloggers.”  We certainly can’t do that while simultaneously pointing to our association at The Gospel Coalition as a happy certification of orthodoxy and good practice, as Driscoll seems to do here with MacDonald. [emphasis added]

What a blessing it would be if men like Thabiti and the more conservative evangelicals would finally see that this is the crux of the fundamentalist-evangelical divide, and then get on the right side of it.


is a modalist a Christian?

First, what is modalism?

Modalism maintains that there is one God who manifests Himself successively as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit but who is not contemporaneously all three. [Believer’s Study Bible, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), Glossary.]

The ESV Study Bible expands on this with this paragraph:

One of the most fundamental ways to misunderstand the Trinity is tritheism, which overemphasizes the distinction between the persons of the Trinity and ends up with three gods. This view neglects the oneness of the natures of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. At the other end of the spectrum is the heresy of modalism (also known as Sabellianism, named after its earliest proponent, Sabellius, 3rd century), which loses the distinctions between the persons and claims that God is only one person. In this view, the appearance of the three persons is merely three modes of existence of the one God. For instance, God reveals himself as Father when he is creating and giving the law, as Son in redemption, and as Spirit in the church age. A contemporary version of modalism is found in the teaching of Oneness Pentecostalism. [Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2514-15.]

Sabellius, the man usually credited as the earliest proponent of the view was excommunicated by the Bishop of Alexandria in 260 or 261. The Sabellians appealed to Rome (the church in Rome played an early leading role, but there was as yet no papacy). In 262, the Bishop of Rome held a council and condemned Sabellius and his modalism along with tri-theism and subordinationism (an early variant of what would become Arianism).

False doctrines like modalism were condemned by the church in the third and fourth centuries. That settles the question, right?

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when is a link not a link?

A friend of mine posted an article to which I objected. I objected privately, so I’m not going to post a link. We had a brief and I think courteous exchange of views. But the whole discussion gets me thinking about the whole paradigm shift that the new media is. That is, I think we are still getting used to the internet (or, as one of my hockey bloggers calls it, “the AlGore”).

It is common practice in the blogosphere to link to other blogs or articles online. This is part of the ‘netiquette’ of blogging, especially when you are writing a contrary opinion. The link provides context, your readers can go to your online ‘opponent’ to see what they said in context in order to decide whether they will agree with you or him or neither.

It is also common practice to link to news items of interest with a brief comment suggesting why the link was interesting to you.

I have occasionally linked to Christianity Today when I see articles of interest there, or when I wish to take issue with something said there. Some of my fellow fundamentalists have commented when I have done that without much of a disclaimer. I guess I don’t think a disclaimer is all that necessary when I am critiquing an article. It is pretty clear that I am not agreeing!  (Does anyone think I am ambiguous when I disagree?) And I don’t think a disclaimer is always necessary when I am just passing along a link to say: look at this, it’s interesting.

But what if I was writing an article listing a whole host of sites as “good resources for church planting” or “good resources for spiritual growth” or “good resources for theology”?

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hippo critter?

It’s all very well to call the young, the restless, and the reformed to maturity and discernment, but… well, just read the comments following the post.


together for ?

Yes, it’s the Rick and John show once again. Appearing at your favorite popularizer of Reformed theology web-site or your favorite popularizer of Purposeful theology web-site. So says Baptist Press.

Frankly, I’m appalled at the kinds of slanders that have been brought against this book by people whose methods of critique, if they were consistently applied to the Bible, would undo it as the Word of God.

Which book? Purpose Driven Life.

Who said it? John Piper … see the video at one of the links above.

When and Where? May 1, 2011, during the Desiring God Regional Conference at Saddleback Church.


what do you think about apostles … today?

I grew up in Alberta, Canada, for any who might not know. Alberta is one of the wealthiest provinces in Canada due to huge oilfields. The oilfields were mainly discovered after World War II. Prior to that, Alberta was largely an agricultural economy subject to the ups and downs of world markets. And of course, the Great Depression was a huge downer.

During those years, a radio preacher got interested in the theories of Social Credit. He lobbied the government to adopt these policies, but when rebuffed formed the Social Credit party and became Premier of the province in 1935. He was Premier for eight years, but died suddenly, to be replaced by his right hand man.

The preacher’s name was William Aberhart. He was a complicated individual, very insecure as a person in some ways, and very eclectic in his theology, although we would probably think of him as basically orthodox.

When I say eclectic, I mean that he would pick up new theology as he went along, becoming an enthusiast for some new quirk as it came to his attention. He mostly served as a lay preacher, but at one point he led a Baptist church in Calgary to designate him as its “apostle”. Under him, there served a pastor, but he was the “apostle.”

What do you think of that?

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why not join the CEs?

On SI, regular commenter Ron Bean asked the question:

For the sake of summary, simplicity and specificity could someone (perhaps RPittman, who last used this phrase) list some of these many problems of CE’s?

I responded with a list of four items that came to mind immediately, but I’d like to expand on that list a bit here.

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the discernment deficit

I just posted an article about the default tolerance of conservative evangelicals, part of their new evangelical heritage. This is a second instance of the same affliction.

John Piper blogs today about the death of a Christian politician in Pakistan. In his article, he says:

This is my small tribute to another Christian killed for Christ’s sake. I read his story with great admiration.

I encourage you to follow the link in Piper’s post. In the article, just before a section that Piper quotes in his article are these words:

Extremists wanted to kill him because of his opposition to the blasphemy law and to Sharia legislation, and because of his work for “the oppressed and marginalised”, the Catholic politician said sombrely into the camera.

Do you catch the religious adjective? The Wikipedia article about the man clearly identifies him as a Roman Catholic.

Now… clearly this is a tragic and senseless death. Poor, bleeding Pakistan. We lament the needless loss of life and the intolerance of radical Muslims. We deplore the use of force in the name of religion.

But our concern is discernment. Here we have a prominent Christian preacher, one who influences thousands. One who is ‘Together for the Gospel’. And yet he misses a key descriptor and calls this tragic death the death of a “Christian killed for Christ’s sake.” Really? A Christian? For Christ’s sake?

Well, maybe he missed it. It is just one word in a lengthy article, after all. But we have noted a long pattern of discernment issues for this man in the past. I would urge those who are heavily influenced by John Piper to be discerning. He tends to demonstrate little discernment himself.


UPDATE: Baptist Press shows the same lack of discernment.