He’s a separatist! He’s a separatist!

Isn’t he?

So much for the rumor that John MacArthur separated from Piper over his connections to Mark Driscoll, C J Mahaney, et al.

Yet some of our leaders are fine with cooperating on platforms with fringe members of this crowd… are they really coming our way?

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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Interesting report from AtC Conference

Kevin Mungons reports on today’s panel discussion at the Advancing the Church Conference in Lansdale. I am not sure if this is a verbatim transcript or not, it looks a little edited. However, Kevin reports these words from our friend, Dave Doran:

Doran: I doubt we all agree with each other on the right way to solve that problem, but I do think (I’ll speak for myself on this one) that we are committed to the same principles of separation that we have always been, yet I do and have tried to acknowledge that there have been changes that have forced me to think through the applications differently than I have since becoming a pastor 22 years ago…[.in the midpoint of the last dedade, 2005-2006 there were some things that I thought were significant in a change of landscape, both internally and externally

Dever: I’d be curious to hear—what were those changes?

Doran: In early 2005 there was a meeting in which Kevin and I were both speakers. Both of us tried to make a case (I’ll try to say this as tactfully as possible) for drawing a circle, to say that if you are going to identify with historic fundamentalism,  certain theological aberrations have to be rejected. We tried to make an ernest appeal, but I didn’t think that that was actually going to get traction. I would say that outside [fundamentalism] in March 2005, Phil Johnson did his presentation on “Fundamentalism: Dead Right?” We spent four or five weeks going back and forth about it. The month right before that I had asked the folks at Grace [Community Church, John MacArthur’s church] very specifically on the issue of secondary separation, an idea they never publically accepted. But in his presentation, Phil Johnson said “we do believe it is valid, but has not been used properly.” So that was a significant change.

And later…

Doran: Right. And his book was beginning to talk about this. There’s probably a dozen books that began to talk about the problems of the evangelical left. Grudem in his book on Open Theism. Carson, Love in hard Places…the necessity of separating over the gospel. Mohler’s chapter in Horton’s book….so there actually was an uptick of talk about separatism among a certain segment of evangelicalism, that’s what I meant by a change in the landscape. [The evangelicals] were not as thorough and as consistent as I would have preferred…

I am cutting off a bits on these quotations, so please read the whole article for yourself to get the whole context.

It is interesting to note a few things here:

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still no middle ground

Some ongoing reflections on a discussion about “Conservative Evangelicals and Fundamentalists” held in Calgary, AB, June 27, 2008.

See earlier notes here.

Perhaps the most interesting question on our minds for this discussion is just what Pastor Minnick thinks can be done in cooperation with conservative evangelicals. The question was raised by Mark Dever in his recently published interview of Pastor Minnick this way:

“What would we have to do to change for you to be free to preach here?”

The same question has been discussed here and here with the majority of commenters seemingly unsatisfied with the specificity of Pastor Minnick’s answer at that time. You will see a commenter raising the question again in my last post on the subject and the question was raised both in the public discussion in Calgary and in personal conversation. The question is being framed in different ways, but essentially it is the same question. Dever’s articulation of it is as good as any.

Apparently, some are of the mind that very little prevents someone like Pastor Minnick from being free to preach at a Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Some have said that it is merely the connections with fundamentalist institutions that prevent such cooperation.

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so who cares about separation?

The average fundamentalist cares. Do evangelicals care?

In spite of recent interest in the fundamentalist question by Mark Dever and his ministries, doesn’t it seem that the interest is more of an amused curiosity rather than genuine interest?

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do conservative ‘e’s separate?

Mark Dever asks, I think, for fundamentalists to clearly and consistently spell out what separation means to them. I could be wrong, and am willing to stand corrected, but I think he is asking the same question that I thought was unanswered in the Minnick interview (see previous posts).

Here is my initial answer to Dever’s questions as posted in the comment section of the 9marks blog (I add a bit more below my quoted answer):

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is there an answer here?

On another blog, a discussion is ongoing regarding the Mark Dever – Mark Minnick interview. I, along with some others, contend that our friend Mark Minnick didn’t answer the last question Dever asked. Others say that he did answer. I have taken the trouble to transcribe the last six or seven minutes of the interview, hopefully accurately, so that you can analyze what was said and come to your own conclusions.

Here is the transcript, beginning at about 1:01:35 of the interview:

1:01:35 Dever: “What would we have to do to change for you to be free to preach here?”

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when you wish more was said…

Frank Sansone alerts us that the 9Marks interview with Mark Minnick by Mark Dever is now available. I stayed up late to listen to it because, as you know, this is my main topic.

Frank heard about it from Andy Naselli and I see that Greg Linscott is linking to it as well over at his site. I expect this to immediately be the topic du jour in the fundamentalist blogosphere.

Why would that be? Because as Minnick points out very well in the interview: “Associations matter.”

This interview matters because associations matter. I think I understand what Pastor Minnick is trying to do in having communication with Pastor Dever, but even this low-level public association matters (though it is certainly not the same thing as sitting on a platform in a cooperative effort or appearing on the platform of Capital Hill BC, for example).

This interview, I predict will be the buzz this next week because associations matter.

But, oh, how I wish a little more had been said!

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so what to make of all this?

Today’s church is a mix of all kinds of groups, some of them seemingly far removed from traditional norms. Many of the ‘contemporary’ and ’emerging’ groups look at more traditional churches and say things like “If the 50s ever come back, your church is ready.” (That would be which fruit of the Spirit?)

Yesterday, an event was held in Reston, VA called ‘the Whiteboard Sessions‘. Here is the description of the event:

The Whiteboard Sessions is about the power of an idea in its raw, most conceptual form. One simple idea could forever change your life and ministry.  We’ve invited 8 of the most inspiring leaders in ministry to share one compelling idea in just 30 minutes each. They come from different ministry circles and use a variety of methods, but they all have one thing in common: a love for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and a desire to see lost people reached. You will be stretched by their thinking and challenged by their insights. The very idea you resist could be the key to God’s future for you. Who knows, you might even find confirmation for the dream God’s already revealed to you. But whatever the reaction, one thing is certain: you will never be the same.

The speakers were described by some of those involved as coming from the Reformed tradition, the Contemporary Church world, or from the Emerging Church – the ‘right wing’ of the Emerging church, that is (i.e., the allegedly ‘good’ side).

Here are the speakers, most of whom I do not know:

  • John Burke, Gateway Community Church, Austin, TX
  • Darrin Patrick, the Journey, St Lous, MO (Vice President of Acts 29 Church Planting Network – Mark Driscoll’s group)
  • Vince Antonucci, Forefront Church, Virginia Beach, VA
  • Mark Batterson, National Community Church, Washington, DC
  • Tim Stevens, Granger Community Church
  • Perry Noble, NewSpring Church, Anderson, SC
  • Ed Stetzer, Director of Lifeway Research and Lifeway’s Missiologist in Residence.
  • Mark Dever, Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC

The group is very … eclectic … shall we say?

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wiser in their generation . . .

Luke 16.8b…

for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

Something for you to ponder: do associations matter?

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