04 September 2006

Iceberg Ecclesiology 101

by Phil Johnson

he following is a sample from the premier issue of Pulpit (Sep/Oct 2003). This piece was featured in a regular column called "Christianity Astray" which column critically assessed various fads, ideas, and evangelical apostasies that had somehow won Christianity Today's seal of approval. I hope to make "Christianity Astray" a regular feature of the new Pulpit blog. This piece also makes a nice rejoinder to something the iMonk recently posted:

Too Late to Steer the Titanic
Christianity Astray
by Phil Johnson

Perhaps you page through each month's issue of Christianity Today as we do—baffled and disconcerted to see that venerable magazine being used as a platform for so many of the dubious fads and disturbing theological trends that constantly flourish at the fringes of the evangelical movement.

Until now, all we could think to do was wince and file the magazine in the circular file.

But from now on, we're going to vent our frustration by writing about it.

This section of Pulpit is devoted to exposing and responding to the latest aberrations seeking acceptance from the evangelical mainstream—in the pages of CT and elsewhere.


September 2003—The August 2003 issue of CT features a cover article suggesting that there may yet be hope for those denominations that abandoned biblical Christianity last century in favor of modernism, liberalism, and neo-orthodoxy. The cover illustration features a tiny tugboat with a church steeple nudging the massive bow of a gargantuan ship.

Both the illustration and the article imply that the liberal "mainline denominations"—groups like the United Methodists, PCUSA Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Disciples of Christ—are slowly being turned toward orthodoxy.

"We may soon witness a new thing under the sun," the article breathlessly announces. "Contrary to folk wisdom and traditional sociological theory, the mainline Protestant denominations may be poised for a historic change—a return to orthodox Christianity."

The facts actually cited in the article itself hardly support such a rosy outlook. In fact, the authors more or less begin by acknowledging that "the mainline Protestant denominations seem as liberal in theology as ever."

The article cites, for example, the case of a Methodist bishop recently exonerated by his church's hierarchy after "asserting that Jesus was Joseph's biological son, that he never performed any supernatural miracles, that his body was never raised from the dead, and that the orthodox creeds of the historic church are true only to the extent that they mean something different [from what] they say." Church officials actually praised the bishop and censured his critics.

In one of those wonderful, providential twists of perfect irony, on the same day the CT article was released, World magazine published a feature article reporting on the groundswell of support for acceptance of homosexuality within the mainline denominations. (World's editors apparently aren't as giddy as CT about the future of mainline denominationalism.)

Not that the authors of the CT article ignored the growing influence of gay activism among mainliners. Of course they see it too, and they mention it as one of the issues denominational reformers must face. But far from seeing this as a disheartening trend, the CT writers say it is "high-octane fuel" for renewal, because of the backlash the gay-rights movement is expected to generate within the denominations.

"Likewise with abortion," the article says, noting that staff members in United Methodism's national office are so committed to abortion-on-demand that they regularly "march with the prochoicers, boycott prolife demonstrations, and are working behind the scenes to eliminate the church's nominal opposition to partial-birth abortion."

So how does CT find a glimmer of hope in that? Again, one of the main theses of the article is that the politics of abortion and gay-rights issues could finally galvanize and mobilize lay church members to unite for reform.

For that very reason, the authors of the CT piece think the brightest prospect on the horizon is a loose conglomerate of lay-led renewal movements seeking to reform the denominations. "Contemporary renewal groups have greater staying power and more supporters than ever," the article triumphantly assures us.

Best of all, according to the authors of the CT article, the lay reformers have gone parachurch: "This time around, the renewal movements within the denominations are being fueled by evangelical parachurch movements that stand outside the denominations."

And yet "they are committed to staying within their denominations rather than leaving."

The exquisite incongruity of those statements seems to have escaped CT's editors.

Of course, the vast majority in the evangelical mainstream that originally gave birth to CT have always believed that once a denomination's leadership officially embraces and institutionalizes liberal apostasy, the most effective way to fight the drift is from the outside.

Certainly, the weight of Scripture seems to suggest that when an organization officially sanctions a bishop who teaches that Christ is a mere man—that organization is no true church, and believers ought to cease participation in "worship" with such a group (2 John 7-9; 2 Cor. 6:14-17; Eph. 5:11; 1 Cor. 10:21). Moreover, a bishop who denies the deity of Christ is at least as gross an abomination as a lesbian "pastor."

And one breeds the other. Where doctrinal apostasy is tolerated, moral decay is inevitable. If evangelical hangers-on in the denominations have been unable to stem the tide of rank heresy for decades, why would anyone hold out hope that extreme moral rot might finally cause a backlash that will turn the denominations around spiritually?

But lay people who get exercised over moral issues can't fix the problem in the denominations anyway. You don't reform a harlot by giving her lessons in how to apply cosmetics. Besides that, Scripture never encourages believers to try to reform the harlot church in the first place. Rather: "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues" (Rev. 18:4).

History would also seem to be overwhelmingly on the side of that perspective. Lay renewal efforts among Methodists, Lutherans, and Episcopalians date back at least to the 1960s—and they have always been colossal failures. The article even tacitly concedes this point. ("In the past evangelicals have tried to reform the denominations, but each time they failed.")

So one wonders precisely what is gained by institutionalizing the renewal movements as non-profit corporate entities and thus giving them "more staying power."

In any case, the CT article is unstintingly positive about efforts to reform apostate churches from within. At one point the article even seems to sound a note of caution about "parachurch ministries [that compete] against the denominations. Every missionary for Wycliffe Bible Translators has the potential to draw funds away from the denominational missionary agencies. Every Young Life group has the potential to lower attendance at local church youth groups." The tone of the article suggests that this would be a bad thing, because it is perceived as detrimental to the denominations' numerical, financial, and political strength.

But (the CT writers hasten to add) the denominations have actually gained numeric strength from the work of the parachurch organizations. "Flying under the radar. . . is the surprising fact that parachurch ministries have for years been giving transfusions of members and energy to the mainline churches." They credit Billy Graham with "enormous courage" for including mainline denominations as sponsors in his crusades, and for channelling large numbers of his converts back into liberal churches. So "the payoff for the mainline was enormous."

Indeed. We have long believed that the apostate denominations would have mercifully died off years ago if not for "transfusions" of cash and people from well-meaning but misguided evangelical organizations.

Meanwhile, are the denominations themselves actually showing any signs of being "turned"? Is it true, as the article claims, that "underneath the surface evangelical forces are reshaping mainline Protestantism"? Nothing in the article gives any good reason to think this may be the case.

Well, OK. One paragraph celebrates the fact that a group of lay Presbyterians succeeded in getting the PCUSA General Assembly to declare it "unbiblical" to worship the pagan goddess Sophia in place of the God of Scripture. But the same paragraph immediately adds, "On homosexuality, however, the renewal movements have succeeded only in fighting normalization to a rancorous draw."

The article also reports on recent joint efforts between the United Methodist Publishing House and Bristol House to publish "orthodox" Sunday-school curricula. We'll reserve judgment on the "orthodoxy" of that curricula until we have an opportunity to review it. But we can't resist pointing out that what's "orthodox" to CT's current core constituency seems to be little more than user-friendly morality lessons virtually devoid of any doctrine, conservative or otherwise. Let's just say this one factoid did little to buoy our enthusiasm about the coming "renewal" in the denominations.

Face it: the mainline denominations have been utterly apostate for decades and remain so today. They have officially championed virtually every liberal cause—moral, political, social, and theological—since at least the 1960s, and they continue to do so at this very hour.

Meanwhile, CT, which was founded as an alternative to Christian Century and other liberal magazines shortly before the birth of the baby-boom generation, is steadily becoming more and more like those journals were fifty years ago. What's "turning" is CT and the evangelical subculture it represents. And perhaps that explains how CT is able to find so much to celebrate in the state of modern mainline denominational Christianity.

We think the one truly hopeful trend reported in the CT article is seen in statistics that show drastically declining membership rolls in the mainstream denominations while church membership in general is on the increase. We call on the faithful remnant among evangelicals to do everything possible to help keep CT's influence from steering our movement onto an iceberg like the one that sank the mainline churches nearly a century ago.

Phil's signature

33 comments:

Martin Downes said...

Dean Inge, quoted by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his addresses on "What is an Evangelical?" commented that:

"Institutions tend to produce their opposite".

This has been true of seminaries (Princeton is a tragic example but the list is long and getting longer). Evangelicalism is becoming indistinguishable from liberalism on a number of fronts.

Rob said...

Those nasty liberals only interested in peace. How's the war in Iraq doing btw? We got there how? Right conservatives. And better yet Fundamentalist Christian Conservatives like GWB.

Hmm I wonder if there's any correlation?

Rob

Steve said...

Phil said: "I hope to make 'Christianity Astray' a regular feature of the new Pulpit blog."

Given the direction CT continues to take, it should be very easy to find fodder for this feature.

Great to know that Nathan Busenitz will have a hand in all this. I've appreciated his work on Faith & Practice and my limited interaction with him.

DJP said...

...CT, which was founded as an alternative to Christian Century and other liberal magazines shortly before the birth of the baby-boom generation, is steadily becoming more and more like those journals were fifty years ago

And WORLD shows signs that it is becoming like CT.

David said...

Mark Robert's Church is "utterly apostate"?


I think Imonks post is better. He focuses on the trees as well as the forest. There are bastians of hope within denominations. To light an indiscriminate fire undermines your broader (and accurate, in my opinion) post.

John Dekker said...

I get really sick of people saying "the mainline denominations have been utterly apostate for decades and remain so today", or words to that effect.

It may be like that in the US, but in most other countries it's *not* the case. Here is Australia, for example, we have some great mainline denominations.

Sometimes I wonder hoe "World" magazine got its name...

Phil Johnson said...

David:

What I said is that the denomination is apostate. If Mark Roberts himself disputes this, let him propose a resolution simply affirming the gospel and denouncing unbelief—without wiggle-words—at his next denominational convention. If his resolution passes with a simple majority,I'll post a retraction.

John Dekker:

Same goes for your comment. I'm not talking about the Sydney diocese, but the Anglican church worldwide. When they have purged the openly homosexual and outspokenly Christ-denying ministers from their midst, the evangelical minority can declare victory. You and I both know that is not going to happen in our lifetimes, unless Christ returns to wreak vengeance on His enemies. But until it does, I'll stand by my remarks.

Brad said...

Didn't the Southern Baptist Convention make a fairly impressive turn from liberalism in the early nineties?

centuri0n said...

There is a critically-important book on this topic -- two actually which I have just finished.

The first is absolutely indispensible in documenting what Phil is talking about historically -- Evangelicalism Divided by Iain Murray. Drawing the global impact of the parachurch and "ecumenical" movements in tracking the church away from evangelicalism and orthodoxy, this book is must-read for peop;le concerned about the health of the church. Especially people who have any influence at all on CBA.

The second is David Wells' Above all Earthly Pow'rs. It's engrossing, methodical, and insightful -- and it tracks the misguided attempts of the church in the 20th century to be "seeker friendly" at the expense of hard doctrine. Brilliant stuff.

As usual, Phil is dead on and you should all listen to him. Since Dan is the Tuesday regular, you can read the rest of what I have to say about this on Wednesday.

donsands said...

CT & World seem to be relaxed, and even numbed to the seriousness of the Lord's truth. Is it that they have lost the fear of God. To have a genuine fear of how we represent the Word of God seems to have slipped away.

But there is hope, when we do make stands like you are doing here.
Keep on.

I wrote to a local radio station (WAVA) that had a married "heretic" couple, (I forget their names, Sarah & Clinton something I think), on the air for 15 minutes each and every day.
I tried to be kind, and explained that this couple, who had a church in New York State somewhere, was teaching false doctrine over their radio station.
They were removed. I don't know if it was from my writing to them or not. But perhaps my writing to them helped.

Very well written article.

centuri0n said...

Brad:

Look at the legalistic muddle the SBC is today and then ask your question again.

david:

iMonk's comments are short-sighted and unreasonable optimistic. Period.

Phil Johnson said...

Brad: "Didn't the Southern Baptist Convention make a fairly impressive turn from liberalism in the early nineties?"

Yes. However—

1. The SBC's leadership never completely sold out to liberal apostasy the way other large denominations did.

2. Even so, I think it might be premature for inerrantists in the SBC to rest on their laurels.

John Dekker said...

I'm not talking about the Sydney diocese, but the Anglican church worldwide. When they have purged the openly homosexual and outspokenly Christ-denying ministers from their midst, the evangelical minority can declare victory.

Well, yes. That's why I'm not an Anglican. But there are plenty of *other* good mainline denoms in Oz.

Centuri0n mentioned Iain Murray - he's a minister of a mainline denomination, you know. ;)

CraigS said...

To totally get off topic...does anyone know how J Spurgeon is doing? I miss his posts...

centuri0n said...

Phil --

You're not in te SBC, but I'd be interested in your view on this: what's the middle ground between what's going on in the SBC today which Dr. Burleson is abominating in this post and his view which -- if I am reading it rightly -- is abandoning separation in practice if not in theory?

J Dekker --

What's your point? Is Iain Murray guilty by association, or was there some other important matter Phil and I have overlooked?

You've read this book, I assume, so you'll be able to tie your point to the book.

John Dekker said...

No, of course Iain Murray isn't guilty bu association - there's nothing wrong with being a minister of a mainline denomination. As the example of Iain Murray shows. :)

Using Iain Murray, of course, as a standard for conservatism. ;)

Phil Johnson said...

John Dekker: "there are plenty of *other* good mainline denoms in Oz."

"Plenty"? I'm tempted to ask you to name five.

But you seem to mean something different from what Yankees mean by "mainline denominations." I'm speaking of a handful of specific denominations that were utterly dominant at the start of the 20th century and bought into liberalism early. (I enumerated them in the second paragraph of the article above.) "Mainline denominations" is a familiar expression, and in such a context it has a pretty clear connotation. I was using actually the expression eactly the same way it was used in the CT article I was replying to.

Also, I don't know the evangelical scene in Australia that well. My limited exposure there brought me in contact with the Baptist Union, which did not seem quite the paragon of evangelical orthodoxy. I believe there are conservative and even ultraconservative Presbyterian groups in Australia. They would not parallel what CT refers to as "Mainline."

In Australia, the denominations that parallelled American "Mainline" denominations were pretty much all sucked into the Uniting Church. As I understand it, the current Presbyterian Church of Australia (the group Iain Murray retains membership in) is made up of the conservative remnant of Australian Presbyterians who did not go with the "mainliners" into the Uniting church. It would more closely parallel the PCA in America, which was likewise formed when conservatives split from the liberal mainline.

In other words, think "Uniting Church" when you see an American use the expression "mainline denominations, and you'll have a better feel for what's intended.

John Dekker: "Centuri0n mentioned Iain Murray—he's a minister of a mainline denomination, you know. ;)"

See above. He's kept his membership in a denomination halfway around the world from where he lives. If the Presbyterian Church of Australia is truly "mainline" in Oz, it's certainly not "mainline" in the district where Murray now lives and ministers. There is a reason for that, I suppose.

Centuri0n: "what's the middle ground between what's going on in the SBC today which Dr. Burleson is abominating in this post and his view which -- if I am reading it rightly -- is abandoning separation in practice if not in theory?"

Dever, Mohler, and Ascol. Beyond that, I won't pretend to be able to untangle SBC politics. As you say, I'm not and never have been SBC, and I'd be the first to tell you that SBC politics leave me utterly mystified.

John Dekker said...

Phil, I know exactly what you intended by "mainline", and I believe it's a defective definition.

Yes, I belong to the Presbyterian Church of Australia, and actually, the Uniting Church formed by splitting from us. ;)

Anyway, one reason I'm concerned about this is that we're trying to convince out brothers and sisters in Africa that mainline doesn't have to mean liberal. That is, just because they're mainline Presbyterian it doesn't mean they need to listen to the folk from the PCUSA.

candleman said...

Hi Phil,

HHhhhmmmm, I can’t wait to see what “Christianity Astray” will have to say to say about the current issue of CT, maybe for a month or so it will get upgraded to Christianity Some-What-Astray.

I currently attend one of the main line denominations you mention in this article. We left a conservative Baptist church, mainly due to the ingrained Ezzo –Growing Kids Gods Way, Ted Tripp, Michael Pearl erroneous and dangerous teachings that seemed to permeate the children’s ministry section of the church. We grew weary of raising our voices against those teachings, and seeing the churches restrooms being turned into the spanking rooms, during church services . After the church planned a weekend seminar with one of these three, we decided it was time to move on.

I find it kind of paradoxical that we left that denomination to go to a “denomination that has been utterly apostate now for decades”, impart due to a teacher that used the resources of Grace Community Church to rise to national prominence while employed at Grace, which helped him gain a platform to promote some of the up surd things he promotes

That said, did I look long and hard at joining a local mainline church, of course I did, and I praise God that after much prayer and searching we have found a church home in a mainline denomination, that locally is faithful to God’s word and it’s inerrancy, faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, preaching sin as sin and the need to repent of it and not gloss over it, and a children’s ministry that doesn’t advocate that we need to carry a “rod” around in our rear pocket in our to achieve discipline in our household.


I thank you for this post, for it is causing me to become more aware and involved in the open leadership positions within my denomination, where from what I gather the real power exists, and to find/start a local
renewal group which is dedicated to restoring sound biblical orthodoxy at the national level to the same degree as I have found it locally. While the words of your post seem to indicate that I am foolish to attended a mainline denomination church, and that I need to move on, I any many others will stay and fight.

While you can’t reform a harlot by giving lessons in how to apply cosmetics, you can bring a harlot to repentance, by being faithful to God’s Word and preaching it without compromise, and with God’s grace and the working and convicting power of the Holy spirit. That is my prayer for my denomination at both my local level and nationally, and I hope that despite your dire pronouncements in this piece it would be yours too.


{{{Candleman}}}

Caleb Kolstad said...

Phil,

I agree with you BUT i have been very pleased to see C.T. allow Mark Dever to write the cover article on the atonement AND i just read the cover article from September 2006 (Young, Restless, Reformed: Calvinism is making a comeback and shaking up the church), and it was well done.

Yes, Christianity today has way too many errant perspectives but they are allowing some good writers to speak from a Calvinistic perspective (atleast in 2006). After this recent article i actually may decide to renew my subscription....

What do you think?

centuri0n said...

Caleb:

I can't speak for Phil, but I think that there's no way to say "CT is doing some things well and we should be encouraged when they do it right once in a while".

What they are good at is identifying "voices" in a "movement" and representing those voices. What they are lousy at is discernment -- which is, of course, different than being an echo chamber for whatever is being shouted in the marketplace right now.

If CT was a church, you could paint "ichabod" over the front door. But it's not a church, and somehow that gives it a lot of latitude -- latitude which injures the actual body of Christ.

It's a scandal, and if you're asking me, it's the same kind of scandal ECPA/CA represents in the church today.

Caleb Kolstad said...

Cent-

Thanks for your thoughts. I agree with you in part; perhaps i am optimistic in what i've seen this year (2006).

C.T. does not exercise good discernment but i am still grateful that they allow Dever and others a voice at all.

Together for the Gospel,
CK

Phil Johnson said...

Candleman: "I find it kind of paradoxical that we left that denomination to go to a 'denomination that has been utterly apostate now for decades', impart due to a teacher that used the resources of Grace Community Church to rise to national prominence while employed at Grace, which helped him gain a platform to promote some of the up surd things he promotes."

I suppose Grace Church is responsible for Gary Ezzo in the same sense James and the apostles at Jerusalem were responsible for the Judaizers (Galatians 2:12). But there aren't very many in Christian leadership who have publicly opposed Ezzo's cultlike influence longer or more plainly than the elders of Grace Church have.

Still, it's a bit hard to understand why someone would think it necessary to flee into an apostate denomination in order to escape Ezzo's influence. "Paradoxical," indeed.

NeoFundy said...

Color me confused...maybe, Phil, you can clear up a point for me. You wrote, "Of course, the vast majority in the evangelical mainstream that originally gave birth to CT have always believed that once a denomination’s leadership officially embraces and institutionalizes liberal apostasy, the most effective way to fight the drift is from the outside."

Do you mean to argue that evangelicalism has always actually held a "come out" philosophy??? Or perhaps I missed the irony of this statement...

Caleb Kolstad said...

Phil,

Great reply to Candleman. His thoughts did not make alot of sense to me either.

centuri0n said...

neofundy:

Murray makes a strong historical case that up until the Billy Graham crusades started taking the world by storm and started using the Crusades to allegedly gain access to liberal denominational channels in order to preach the Gospel, evangelicalism was held in disrepute among the main-lines because they were so solidly against cooperating even with liberal factions inside denominations.

Evangelicalism has historically not been a denominational issue but a pan-denominational issue with regard to the integrity of the propostional content of the Gospel. So yes: the early evangelicals were into the doctrine of separation.

candleman said...

The reason Phil, is because at least around here, there seems to be independent churches (no national hierarchy), that stridently adhere to sound biblical teaching, but it also seems their children’s ministry departments are also being run by the curricula of at least one of the three people I mention in my previous post. Or the church we have been led to, which at least locally is faithfully preaching God’s Word and maintains a children’s ministry more in line with our views, despite the heresies that the CT article so clearly and painfully paints at other parts of the country.

Your right Phil, it was some of the statements we were able to find by you and others that we were able to present to my previous senior pastor, which caused him to take more seriously our concerns (“well if John MacArthur has a problem with this, I do need to look into this more deeply”), were his exact words. However, correct me if I am wrong, but Gary Ezzo was active at Grace from 1984 to 1995, when he was finally forced out. He was given a long time to develop the foundation and materials that he espouses in his program while at Grace.


{{{Candleman}}}

NeoFundy said...

centuri0n: "...the early evangelicals were into the doctrine of separation."

I think I can agree that old evangelicalism was separatist, however this was only until Fuller Theological Seminary, Billy Graham, and Christianity Today all exerted significant influence toward undermining this. These all contributed to the broad repudiation of separation by most of the evangelical world, and a split between the fundamentalists and the modern evangelicals.

In light of this, I don't see how it is possible to identify modern evangelicalism with separatism. The broader evangelical stream has definitely left this principle of separation far behind, and the stream of separatists in broader evangelicalism actually seems quite small (though, thankfully, growing).

Phil Johnson said...

Neofundy:

From the beginning of the 20th century, the majority in the evangelical movement were separatists. I mean that in this sense: they left apostate and apostatizing denominations for smaller denominations or independency. That's what I was saying in my original comment.

What you are saying is correct also: when the question arose in the mid-twentieth century about whether it was necessary to separate from people who were not themselves apostates, but who failed or refused to separate from actual apostates, the evangelical reaction was different. Most evangelicals rejected what they viewed as "secondary separation."

So if we were talking about the kind of "separatism" that requires strict separation from evangelicals who aren't as separate as I am, you're right: the preponderance of evangelicals never practiced it. But my original remark wasn't talking about that. I was talking about evangelicals' relationships with utterly-apostate denominations.

NeoFundy said...

Phil...a couple of points:
"Neo Evangelicalism" seems to have been coined by the movement themselves, as a way to distinguish themselves from the fundamentalists (old Evangelicals, in my understanding). Their intent was not to remain separate from the denominations, but rather to take over the leadership of those denominations. Likewise, it was an open repudiation of separatism itself, not secondary separation. Here is the opening paragraph from Harold Ockenga, found in the forward of Harold Lindsell's book, "Battle for the Bible":

"There is a pressing need for Dr. Lindsell's book, 'The Battle for the Bible' in burgeoning evangelical branch of Protestantism. If evangelicalism bids to take over the historic mainline leadership of nineteenth-century Protestantism, as Dr. Martin Marty suggests, this question of Biblical inerrancy must be settled."

Later, he writes the following:

"In 1955 at the suggestion of Billy Graham, a group of us met first at Bass Rocks, Massachusetts, and then in New York, to launch a magazine which would defend the evangelical faith on an intellectual level."

...(this publication was CT)...

"Neo-evangelicalism was born in 1948 in connection with a convocation address which I gave in the Civic Auditorium in Pasadena. While reaffirming the theological view of fundamentalism, this address repudiated its ecclesiology and its social theory. The ringing call for a repudiation of separatism and the summons to social involvement received a hearty response from many evangelicals..."

"...Neo-evangelicals emphasized the restatement of Christian theology in accordance with the need of the times, the reengagement in the theological debate, the recapture of denominational leadership, and the reexamination of theological problems such as thee antiquity of man, the universality of the Flood, God's method of creation, and others..."

Hayden said...

Candleman,

Stringing together Ezzo, Tripp and Pearl in the same line of "eronous teaching" seems to be a little bit of a stretch, and really off topic. My wife has read books by all three, and some by many others on child rearing and assures me that this comparison is not fair nor accurate.

I also find it odd that you are willing to connect Grace Church with Ezzo in a weird sort of GBA because he was once there. (Make sure you read Phil's article on Guilt by Association for more information as well as GCC's statements on Ezzo)

I am glad that you have found a home in a "mainline denomination" and hope you enjoy your new church. (No sarcasm intended) Phil was just pointing out some concerns he has with mainline denominations not saying that independant churches are perfect.

Phil (Dan and Cent too),

Keep up the good work. I miss the teaching at GCC and also the campus. I really benefit from Pyromaniacs!!! It helps to feed me as I prepare to feed others. I rarely have theological conversations in the church (when I am not the one teaching) I am minstering in, so Pyromaniacs serves as a place "where iron sharpens iron" for me! Thank you for your great ministry!!

centuri0n said...

What?! A blog can be a ministry?!?!

I'm ... I'm ... I gotta lie down ... we've been preforming ministry!

candleman said...

Hi Hayden,

I appreciate your sincere words concerning my new church home.

A few points: Since Grace has already distanced themselves from Ezzo for his teachings, I assume they did that because they were “erroneous.” If you think placing a “broken gun” on the floor, and then swatting your toddler for touching it as Pearl teaches isn’t erroneous, then God bless you. That leaves Ted Tripp, and while his methods are not in the same extreme camp as Ezzo/Pearl, he comes too close for me.

Gary Ezzo wasn’t “once there” … as if he was just passing through one day. He stuck around for 10-11 years, in church leadership.

Yes, I read Phil’s GBA piece, and after reading this post, I think he should go re-read his GBA post again.

And lastly, if you think Phil was just, “ pointing out some concerns he has with mainline denominations”, then I think you may want to re-read this post again.

{{{Candleman}}}