12 October 2011

Open letter to Chris Rosebrough

by Frank Turk

Dear Chris --

Back on 2 Oct 2011, as the Elephant Room controversy was really kicking into high gear, Pastor James MacDonald re-tweeted the following from Rick Warren:


And I knew I have most of the open letters I had to write lined out for me for the rest of the year. To keep the "open" readers of this letter fully informed, Warren's bit.ly link is to this blog post from Thabiti Anyabwile which outlines the massive failures of the Multi-Site church movement. But as I made a mental list of the open letters I had to write based on this tweet from Warren via Pastor MacDonald, I knew the first one had to be to you.

Now, why is that? They didn't mention you there -- didn't even link to a post that you had, at that time, either worked up or worked over. Why would I think of you when Rick Warren decrees that a pastor calling the Multi-site trend "from the Devil" is "burning [other christians] while the world goes to hell."

Well, that's easy: I owe you an apology. Back when you were kind enough to exhaust a couple of hours with me to do an interview about the Mike Horton dust-up, we talked briefly about whether or not Rick Warren was in the tent or out of the tent -- and I told you you probably couldn't convince me that he was out. Well, you never know what the future holds.

Let's think about a couple of things:

Thabiti's article is stellar. The high point for me was probably not the high point for you (you being a wicked Lutheran and me being a wicked Baptist), but when he says this:
A very thoughtful pastor pointed out this morning that we surely need a better theology of the unity of the church beyond the local church. But I think the multi-site, multi-campus strategy that is not speedily and intentionally moving to church planting unravels the local church with an absentee pastor model. Indeed, “church” becomes a strange moniker for this situation. A “church” is not just an assembly, it’s an assembly that is also a “family” where the members do all the one anothers and also a “body” where the joints are connected to supply to one another and a “flock” kept in a corral where the shepherds feed, bind, lead, and guide in personal relationship. Multi-site churches reduce the family, body, and flock to an anonymous assembly. In that way it trades in the lowest common denominator (assembling) while effectively mimicking “local.”
The argument is pretty much over. Sure: there are no bible verse numbers decorating his statement, but even the marginally bible-literate observer can fill in Titus 1&2, 1 Cor 1-3, Acts 2, Rom 14, etc. to get Thabiti's rudimentary point. Everything after that is simply working through the yeah-buts.

His context was from the Gospel Coalition website, and to the TGC Network of readers and pastors who may or may not have seen Pastor MacDonald call congregationalism "from Satan". That context is not a watchblogger context -- it's not a reactionary, discretionless context where someone is always finding something from someone else with which to make an example of them. If anything TGC is usually too genteel to name names (except when they link or otherwise recognize the remarkable Carl Trueman, selah), so when Thabiti unleashes the frank facts about his position and those who are making an idol of their ministry, their personality, their technology and their pride, it's a stunner. But it's not like this is Thabiti's usual approach. It's not like he's one of the bloggers Warren and Perry Noble and many people kvetch about when they are put under the open-source microscope of internet discernment. But it's the right kind of stunner.

And his motive? Pastoral. He wants those who are doing this to reconsider and, insofar as is necessary, reverse course. He didn't throw anyone out of the church or under the bus. It was a post we could all read and get something out of, from his tone and his biblical reasoning to his actual point and how it applies to our local churches.

But Rick Warren dismissed it with a single tweet -- and said this post was "burning other Christians." This post -- where no one was called out, and no one was particularly exemplified, and no one was told to do anything but repent from putting "me" ahead of the church and the welfare of God's people -- has broken out the torches and the pitchforks. This from a guy who says he always learns something from his critics -- or tries to. This from a guy who says that doctrine matters to him deeply. This from a guy who wants to gain friendship and credibility from the T4G crowd and, I think by association, the TGC crowd. The bridge too far for Warren is not, for example, T.D. Jakes appearing at the Elephant Room: it is when a third-world pastor tells first-world trend setters that their view of the local church is, frankly, not God's view.

You know: I see Rick Warren as, in many ways, the average SBC pastor. He has all the strengths and weaknesss of the breed. So when he fibs a bit in public because he wants to be a gracious guest in whatever circle he is in, I can offer good will and read that as polite manners and not wobbly doctrine. When he writes books that do a lot of trading of translations to find the right version of a verse of Scripture to make his point (even if that translation isn't a good translation or taken from the right context), I can offer good will and chalk that up to baptist populist homiletics, for good and ill. And when he simplified the Gospel to "Come and see," I can offer good will to cut him the slack he requires to make his point that, in some sense, the call to be reconciled to God is an announcement and an invitation from God to all men -- a sort of grammar school view of how Christ may be lifted up. He means it for the sake of evangelism and not for the sake of anything else, if we off him good will. In all those things, I have a history of giving him the benefit of the doubt and saying he definitely means well.

That is, until we find him here excluding the good will he requires of others when someone indicts a trend he endorses. His willingness to actually trade in good will is here exposed as fraudulent, and his reaction to biblical counsel from a credible source is simply a giveaway for who he really is and has been all along. Because now it's easy for him to say, "I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it." It's easy for him to now say that he has better things to do than actually engage this issue, "like ministry". He can toss out the critic as someone who is burning heretics and therefore not deal with him at all. He puts himself in the place of the uncorrectable teacher, which means that all the good will we have granted him for all the other issues has to now be questioned.

So that leaves me with some unenviable questions to consider. Why should we grant him good will in his abuse of Scripture when he rebukes those with kind, pastoral biblical counsel? Why should we grant him good will when he intentionally waters down truth and the Christian message when he slanders those offering him the truth as the Bible expresses it? Why should we offer him good will toward his double-minded talk about the Gospel in other cases when, in this case, when the cause of the Gospel is utterly clear, he calls the counsellor with Christ in mind a person callous to the world as it goes to hell?

There is only one answer to those questions, and it prompts me to this: to you, Chris, I apologize. I was wrong about Rick Warren, and he could not have made himself clearer. Please forgive me for contesting your good judgment with what was essentially only my act of good will. I was wrong, and I hope you and others will forgive me for it.

Please keep up the good work at Fighting for the Faith, and my God richly bless you for it.







153 comments:

Thomas Louw said...

Frank admitting you were wrong is big of you, admitting it in a public forum, I am impressed.

Frank Turk said...

This is not the first time. My opinion is that it is what makes my fans loyal and my detractors so hot: that I really do think about these things and admit publicly when I step in a dog-pile is a feature you don't find in most places in the blogosphere.

That's not to say, "yes, what a humble boy am I."

It is to say: part of straight-talk and real love is truthfulness, and that starts in my britches, not in someone else's.

baptistthinker said...

Excellent article there Frank. Loving it.

Coram Deo said...

Regarding Warren I knew you'd come around eventually, Frank. At base you actually care about the truth, I think.

Better late than never!

In Christ,
CD

P.S. - Thabiti's Elephant Room missive re: the Jakes invitation was also stellar. Anyone who hasn't read it should.

Thomas Louw said...

Frank.

When you wrote the review of Dan’s book you remarked how pastoral it was, how it came from a place of genuine care for people eternal state.

Later a commenter remarked how Dan’s writing in WTG differs from his style as a blogger. At that moment I got a smile, because I always viewed Pyro’s as just a little bit over the top and sometimes too harsh. “Could you not have said it friendlier?”

Mostly agreeing what was said.
Then one day my comment was deleted and then Dan took the time to e-mail me and explain why.

Instantly I saw the guy’s heart and went on the hunt and found a few sermons, loved them, loved him.

And now, today’s has done the same, shown the true Christian faith in action.

Our Master and Saviour did the same, all heart in “hugging” and “whipping”

DJP said...

Your characteristically good thoughts have me reflecting about the "rock-star" meme. I don't generally resonate to the griping. It often smells like envy, jealousy, and simple crotchety contrarianism.

But among the things that have started to bother me is how the rock-stars use their status. I don't have any problem with Pastor X being a "rock-star" if he's a rock-star for his passionate, credible, unapologetic, fruitful preaching of Christ and His Word. I love seeing such a one use that for the furtherance of the Gospel. (See: every time John MacArthur appears on Larry King.)

What bothers me is how irresponsibly some of these fellows use that status to give credibility and prominence to those who are not working in the same direction they are. And invariably the objects are other guys with massive churches, which (though I hate the feel of cynicism) does give the smell of... I don't know... big-for-the-sake-of-bigness, or something.

Rather than anointing some famous guy whose doctrine, character, or both are wobbly at best, the Big Names ought to be finding relatively young, godly, right-prioritied NOBODIES and giving their 50/150/250-member ministries a boost.

Or you get the very thing you're lamenting here.

Plus: Thabiti, a good brother, has really been particularly burning it up lately. This post you link to was stellar, he caught buckets of grief, and he responded with superhuman grace. I didn't even know about Warren's smug, smarmy, slimy smirk.

aztexan said...

Now that the blinders are off, you might scan (or re-scan?) some of this stuff. Researching a wolf as prolific and as filthy as Warren will keep anyone busy for a very long time. But here's a start:

The Pied Pipers of Purpose (.pdf)

Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven? - Berit Kjos

Warren's Peace Plan & UN Goals - Kjos

Rick Warren's Controversial New Initiative

"Rick Warren" Category Archive - Lighthouse Trails

"Purpose-Driven" Category Archive - Lighthouse Trails

stratagem said...

Frank, I just keep coming back to your message of a couple weeks back, which fits this situation as well: Are the Rick Warrens and multi-campus kingdom-builders of the world winning people to Jesus, or to themselves? I can't know the answer because it's not for me to judge, but it's definitely the right question.

aztexan said...

stratagem: >>Are the Rick Warrens and multi-campus kingdom-builders of the world winning people to Jesus, or to themselves?<<

They're winning people to the one-world religion of Antichrist. Seriously. That's the goal, and they're doing it well.

Robert said...

Just to echo DJP's thoughts on Anyabwile...I read his article on TD Jakes invitation to ER and was amazed at how he responded to the comments with such grace and humility. I'm not trying to make him into an idol, but I can definitely see God's grace shining through him in how he has written both his blogposts and his comments.

And Frank, thank you for exemplifying both humility and grace. Humility in admitting your error and grace that you have shown towards Warren and others as well. That is probably one of the things that I have seen most prominently in this series of open letters and I know I need to show more grace to people. Especially considering how much God shows me in spite of my sin.

What is really upsetting to me in reading this is not that Warren tweeted it in the first place...I think most people know to exercise much discernment with what comes out of Warren's mouth. No, what really upsets me is that James MacDonald retweeted it. Why? What purpose does that serve? And how can I look at how he says he is approaching the invitation to TD Jakes as being credible when he does something like this? And does he think that this is somehow going to bridge the gap between himself and Anyabwile when Anyabwile was saying that he was unsure about his status with TGC over this whole mess?

I hope MacDonald really looks at what he has done here and repents (or at least clarifies his retweet - although it seems a bit late for that)because now he is endorsing this comparison of Nero to Anyabwile. And Nero didn't just fiddle while he watched Rome burn, he set fire to Rome in the first place (or so it is assumed). I'd say that this retweet puts MacDonald in the same position as Warren as far as handling the pastoral advice of a fellow undershepherd and brother in Christ.

This is just really, really sad. I feel for brother Thabiti because he was already lamenting the position he was in...I can only imagine it is getting harder for him with stuff like this.

Thomas Louw said...

“They're winning people to the one-world religion of Antichrist. Seriously. That's the goal, and they're doing it well.”

I doubt that this is part of some human conspiracy. I think they are sincerely wrong on many levels but, I believe they are blind to the outcome of what they are doing.

The ‘seeker sensitive’ model has depraved the world of the gospel and open the way for the “emergent” guys but, I doubt that they have meetings in dark basements planning and ironing out strategies.

aztexan said...

T. Louw: >>I doubt that this is part of some human conspiracy.... I doubt that they have meetings in dark basements planning and ironing out strategies.<<

What is the basis of these doubts? And must all human conspiracies take place in "dark basements"?

Robert said...

aztexan,

I'd say that even if people are saved to Christ by Warren's or other multi-site churches, it is not God's way of affirming their methods. I think people forget that God brings about blessings through many misguided efforts. Just reading through Genesis gives a clear view of that - Jacob deceptively getting the biorthright and blessing, the twelve tribes coming from one man married to two women and having relations with their maids, Abraham being deceptive about Sarah only being his sister, Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers, etc. Do these guys think that we should look at the results of their efforts and decide to copy them?

aztexan said...

Robert,

Not sure I follow you. Are you reading me correctly? I'm very much against Warren, Purpose-Driven, ecumenism/syncretism, etc.

Mike Ratliff said...

Frank, this was a very gracious and well thought out piece. I know I have been quite rough with you over last several months and after reading this post, I see now where you are coming from and I ask you to forgive me brother. - Mike Ratliff

Robert said...

aztexan,

I wasn't arguing against you, just adding to what you are stating. I have seen some people who have been saved through churches like that, but in the end they go somewhere else because they need spiritual growth. Just because some good comes out of bad methods doesn't justify using them. If we're doing it wrong, we need to repent and do it right.

aztexan said...

Well said, Robert.

Frank Turk said...

Mike --

I'm still a little stunned by your overall hard-shell fundamentalism on the subjects which have passed between us, but thanks for the conciliatory words. That in itself speaks to your own objectives, and I still have plenty of good will toward you in spite of our differences.

:-)

David Regier said...

So.

MacDonald uses hyperbole about congregationalism.

Anyabwile uses hyperbole about multi-site.

Warren castigates Anyabwile on Twitter.

MacDonald retweets Warren's castigation.

Frank changes mind about Warren.

Rosebrough gets the letter.

There we have the state of the church in America.

DJP said...

I'd never expect such flattening from you, Regier! Thabiti was right. What hyperbole? The title? OK, the title, then nothing after that.

stratagem said...

aztexan - As I said, it's not for me to judge what their motives are. Your judgement on that could be correct, or it could be another nutty conspiracy theory. I was merely saying that the question Frank asked about TheNines conference was the right question.

Robert said...

DJP,

And Anyabwile even addresses the whole reasoning behind the title in his comments to a reader. Of course, it takes time to read through the comments and all. But he also really addressed it in the post where he details what he is responding to...I thought that was fairly clear and that there was a bit of sarcasm there. Oh - gasp - not sarcasm! Somebody should have addressed that with that Paul guy...

eric opsahl said...

aztexan,
They're winning people to the one-world religion of Antichrist. Seriously. That's the goal, and they're doing it well.

Is that statement a bit dramatic?

Is it fair to make such a broad statement?

Do you have special insight into the minds of those Multisite pastors?

Do You really think multisite Pastors like Driscol have the goal of a one world religion?

candy said...

James MacDonald was not the only person to retweet Warren's comment. I saw that comment retweeted by some YRR pastors. Since Mark Driscoll really likes Rick Warren, so do they.

I think Thabiti has set a new standard of gracious, strong, and truthful posting that should set us back on our heels and consider how we communicate in the Body of Christ. I was blessed by subsequent posts of his that showed he truly examined himself and apologized for offending by words that were careless. He did not back down from truth though.

In conclusion, how do the YRR group (who shun this blog many times) come to understand the subtle methods Rick Warren employs to win them over? He has tweeted other snarky tidbits recently to point out Christians who warn the Body about some of the nonsense that is happening lately.

Tom said...

Frank writes: So that leaves me with some unenviable questions to consider. Why should we grant him good will in his abuse of Scripture when he rebukes those with kind, pastoral biblical counsel? Why should we grant him good will when he intentionally waters down truth and the Christian message when he slanders those offering him the truth as the Bible expresses it? Why should we offer him good will toward his double-minded talk about the Gospel in other cases when, in this case, when the cause of the Gospel is utterly clear, he calls the counsellor with Christ in mind a person callous to the world as it goes to hell?

Frank,

Can you point me to this good will that you and the rest at Pyro extended to Rick Warren?

Thanks.

Tom

aztexan said...

eric opsahl:
>>Is that statement a bit dramatic? Is it fair to make such a broad statement? Do you have special insight into the minds of those Multisite pastors? Do You really think multisite Pastors like Driscol have the goal of a one world religion?<<

Multisite is part of a much larger movement; and, as with any movement, there are those - especially at the top - who know exactly what it's all about, and there are those useful idiots who are duped into an unwise alliance unawares. My comment referred to the former group, not the latter.

David Regier said...

My comment needed one more line:

And Aztexan calls it the apocalypse.

DJP, my point is not to flatten. I agree exactly with what you said about Anyabwile, who has been gracious, thought-provoking and clear throughout.

But there are elements of this that look like a middle school lunchroom.

aztexan said...

>>And Aztexan calls it the apocalypse.<<

No. I call it setting the stage for the Apocalypse by rolling out the ecumenical scarlet carpet for Antichrist. Again, I'm not referring to multisite itself, but to the much larger movement back of it, of which Warren is a high-ranking "Cardinal," if you will. "Big picture," people. Focus.

dac said...

In his post the right reverend Anyabwile does not even get to the anecdotal evidence - he simply declares multi-site churches as antithetical to Christianity.

Ipse Dixit, as it were. He declares it so a priori.

One observation - making an accusation is not proof.

A second observation - how do not all of his arguments apply to large churches, say Metropolitan Tabernacle in Spurgeon's time or Grace Community today? I mean if your going to make unsupported statements with no knowledge of how a specific churches are run,and then make an over generalization applying those issues to an entire group, why couldn't you say the same thing about large churches - that they have become those self same anonymous assemblies that Frank is so (rightly) concerned about?

Now several caveats before I get flamed and my arguments ignored.

1. Of course some multi site churches are what the right reverend Anybwile states they are. Just as are some large churches, and for that matter some small churches.

2. And yes, I do believe that churches should not be anonymous assemblies.

3. And finally, I am not stating that Grace Community or Met Tab has those unchristian characteristics, I am simply making an argument by analogy to show that the original argument is specious. So don't make this about how I am somehow dissing Pastor MacArthur's church, because I am not.

and in conclusion...

All churches have difficulties exacerbated by their size, whether they be small, medium, large or multi site. It is not that they don't have inherent structural concerns, it is how those issues are addressed. As in example, you may wish to consider the lesson of how the first mega church dealt with their issue of becoming an anonymous assembly and evaluate if perhaps multi site churches may also be taking steps (or indeed took steps before they went multi site) to address the right reverend Anyabwile's concerns.

Robert said...

Tom,

Are you serious? Just go stroll through the series of open letters...especially the ones to Piper. There was a lot of discussion regarding Warren in the comments sections of those in which Frank showed much grace to Warren.

DJP said...

Please, don't anybody think that DAC is even in the universe of accuracy.

Read Thabiti's post and comments for yourself. DAC's wrong. Thabiti's right.

Back to FRANK'S POST, now.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Chantry said...

Just in case anyone found Frank's 1400+ word letter too much to digest, may I simplify? In three words?

Farewell Rick Warren.

christianlady said...

Please, more healing amongst brothers and sisters...please?

I liked what I saw there Mike.

Blessings!

Tom Chantry said...

(Everyone's going to know I was chuckling while I wrote that, right?)

dac said...

djp

If you will provide one item from his post that I have inaccurately made a claim, I will gladly retract my statement. If (or when) you do, It may take some time for me to acknowledge as I am off to do ministry. or something.

Tom Chantry said...

Besides, Dac, to get Frank's point you don't even have to agree with Thabiti. You only have to get that for Warren to respond to Thabiti's criticism by implying that he's burning heretics is a failure to show grace to a brother - the same grace some have shown to Warren, and the same grace Warren himself seems willing to show to Muslims, Jews, Catholics, heretics...

Robert said...

I was chuckling as I read it, Tom. I hope that the heaps of responses from your open letter haven't swayed your opinion of contributing at this site. I, for one, am appreciative of your pastoral tone...which fits in well with the same pastoral tones of Phil, Frank, and Dan. Y'all just all have different personalities.

Just Jules said...

The bridge too far for Warren is not, for example, T.D. Jakes appearing at the Elephant Room: it is when a third-world pastor tells first-world trend setters that their view of the local church is, frankly, not God's view.

Excellent. Well done, Frank.

olan strickland said...

All that has transpired between Warren, MacDonald, and Anyabwile over the modalist heretic Jakes has only served to expose the folly of Warren and MacDonald.

Through it, Warren's ecumenical recipe is discovered: in essentials, LIBERTY; in non-essentials, UNITY; LOVE all except the faithful: call them Pharisees and legalists.

Keep watching and see if Warren doesn't go further and deeper into this unbiblical methodology (2 Timothy 3:13).

Tom Chantry said...

JJ,

I was just about to go grab that exact quote. It sums up the whole piece rather nicely. Again, Dac, read that quote. You can completely disagree with Thabiti's point and still scratch your head and say, "Why of all things was this the tipping point for Warren?

christianlady said...

My post came after you Tom, but I didn't see your post until mine came up. Please know I'm not referecing your post.

Robert said...

Tom,

Warren only shows conditional grace to those who are willing to open their arms to him and add to his numbers. And that isn't really grace anyways. It is just self-love.

Tom Chantry said...

christianlady,

It didn't cross my mind; I knew you were referencing Frank/Mike.

fishformen said...

Having read all this and the link. I surmise the T and RT expose the reality of the the message from the Caribbean. A hit dog does holler!

Tyler Wallick said...

Frank - I like reading your stuff of Pyro and like that you have some different perspectives than DJP and Phil on some stuff. Your defense (?) of Warren always puzzled me, as I could never figure out why. I can now call you orthodox :)

Brian said...

I've been listening to a lot of the old Way of the Master radio programs - which has tons of MacDonald quotes on them - and this whole ordeal really shakes me up quite a bit. You hear the term slippery slope all the time, but in my mind I always think it's a bit more gradual, like a slippery slight incline. I hate to see what's going on with MacDonald. I pray that he will repent.

What really shakes me up is when I see this and apply it to myself. I pray that the Lord will keep me humble and help me to avoid those same pitfalls.

sujetosalaroca.org said...

Frank,

But what does the retweet say about McDonald? I am depple troubled by all this "Let's be controversial" in the reformed circles. My guess is that McDonald learned from Noble "how to make angry (he used another phrase)" the conservative. Really sad. Would love to read your take on MacDonald's tweet.

sujetosalaroca.org said...

Sorry I meant to say "deeply troubled."

Frank Turk said...

Tom --

What I like best about blogging is that every word of it remains forever inscribed in the vast library of Google's server farms. That you have missed any of it is not surprising as it is quite voluminous, but you can use google to remedy that gap.

I also like the internet because it always assumes guilt. For example, I am assumed to be guilty of hardness and villainy when, let me say plainly, the examples of such things are few and far between (though not hardly absent). But note: Mike was worried that I was jumping out of the apple cart over Rick Warren -- and he wasn't alone. Someplace I had to be defending Rick Warren or standing up for his stuff for that to happen, didn't I?

So that said, here would be the key post which shows my good will toward Rick Warren:

Talent

Do with it what you will.

christianlady said...

Good point Brian, we always have to watch ourselves. I am so blind sometimes (I hope not most times).

Blessings!

Robert said...

So exactly how many open letters are going to be created from this whole mess? It sounds like the problem is going to be compounded unless there is repentance or retraction from MacDonald. I am really wondering how this is going over with the members of TGC and how unified people can feel with this retweet on the heels of TD Jakes being invited to ER.

Once again, somebody with a huge platform doesn't work out the implications of what he has done/said. There is something in Proverbs about speaking quickly that could probably be applied here...

goodtheology said...

Chris has been doing lots of stellar work lately. What has really impressed me is his thoughts on Rick Warren having Robert Morris preach at Saddleback. Robert Morris is a word faith guy, who said only a few weeks ago that all your money is cursed from God the minute you make it, and the only way you can redeem it is to give the first 10% to the church. The reason why you have trouble in life is because when you use your money to pay off your bills and mortgage before you give to the church, that means your house has the curse upon it. The only way to lift the curse is to redeem it through tithing to the church.

Why Rick Warren is cool allowing that in his church is a mystery to me.... :/

Frank Turk said...

"Aztexan" -- (BTW, I am going to pilfer your handle for a new character in City of Heroes because it is awesome)

If you are right, and the antiChrist is coming, what are we supposed to do about it?

I ask because it seems to me that there is are two classic unbiblical responses to that question, and the eternal biblical response to that question, and I think that where you are headed is not in the latter category.

Frank Turk said...

sujeto:

Please re-read the second paragraph of the post as it is what it is.

Tom said...

Robert writes: Are you serious? Just go stroll through the series of open letters...especially the ones to Piper.

Robert are you serious? :) While Frank's open letter to Piper did say that he didn't consider Warren "anti-Christian," I'm not sure there is much else good will shown to Warren.

Frank described Warren and his teaching as glib, simplistic, mediocre, often muddled, inconsistent, anti-intellectual, misusing Scripture, and untruthful.

So, if by showing good will you mean Frank didn't label him a heretic, I'll grant that. But, that's where the good will apparently stops.

But, all that aside... I'm still amazed that Frank would grant "good will" to Warren but not grant good will to the teenagers at HBC.

Oh well.

Tom

Tom said...

Frank,

I stand corrected: Warren is not a heretic AND he's a good speaker.

Let the good will flow...

Tom

Frank Turk said...

Olan --

I'll bet RW never goes completely, overtly heretical, and he never completely self-corrects. My money is that he maintains his position as his own most important adviser and he stays in an orbit just outside orthodoxy, but just inside real apostasy.

He can't do otherwise without leaving the SBC, and he'll never leave the SBC. Or rather: they will never let him go.

Frank Turk said...

Tom:

I also spent the better part of 3 blog posts in the comments defending Warren against the most unfair critics. That has to be worth something.

Why is the tribal memory here at the blog completely inverted to your understanding? Did I slip LSD into the bandwidth somehow and fool everyone into thinking I thought Warren was a good guy when in fact I was savaging him?

I hope I have the patent on that -- it will be worth millions.

thepaperthinhymn.com said...

"I'll bet RW never goes completely, overtly heretical, and he never completely self-corrects. My money is that he maintains his position as his own most important adviser and he stays in an orbit just outside orthodoxy, but just inside real apostasy.

He can't do otherwise without leaving the SBC, and he'll never leave the SBC. Or rather: they will never let him go."

I think this will hold true. He'll continue to do questionable things and invite questionable people and defend his actions at his convenience. This is all just more of the same.

Frank Turk said...

Regier --

I can only write one open letter a week, dude. I have a more-important blog to edit and it contributors to round up like cats. Like Ministry.

Jugulum said...

In response to Warren's tweet, and in the same vein as Frank's post:

People who ask for charity in how other people speak, and don't give charity in how they themselves listen... are doing it wrong.

Robert said...

If you are right, and the antiChrist is coming, what are we supposed to do about it?

Somebody should do a post on this because it would really be useful. Too many people are trying to label people as the Antichrist and find all the evidence to back up those assertions without pointing to Christ for the lost. And it isn't like we can thwart the plan that is laid out in Revelation if we actually know who he is anyways, right?

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

@ David Regier @ 6:17,

This is what happens when people get involved in circular debates. This person ends up chasing that persons tail and the next person chases another persons tail, and round and round we go, and where it stops, only heaven knows. And the sad thing about this type of polemics is it takes our focus off Christ.

BUT, we have seen a rash of circus clowns lately, enough for Phil Johnson to devote an entire article to. And many of these people, as you well know, flock together and defend their very own. So, it does seem like a pile on type of polemics, and I suggest that as we see the last days fast approaching, it will only get worse. There will not be enough discernment ministries to effectively fill the commandment to defend the faith.

It does at times seem to be a disagreeable ministry, I freely admit, but it is a command from God, and if God deems it necessary, shouldn’t we also? .

“Holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict (Titus 1:9).” There are two distinct and EQUALLY important commands here, to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

I agree, it is a bit overwhelming, and that is due to the fact of the plethora of circus clowns lately, who have stormed the pulpit with their twisted view of God’s precious Word, but their mouths will be stopped one day; once and for all!

Tom Chantry said...

*sigh*

Life was so much easier in the Seventeenth Century. If we could all just learn to think like the Puritans, we wouldn't have to worry about who the Antichirst is.

JR said...

Good letter, Frank. I always appreciate these.

Could it be, however, the tweet and retweet were only a reference to the unfair Furtick poster that originally accompanied TA's post? A poster TA later applogized for, admitting it was in poor taste?

We really don't know that he read the post. I mean, since Warren told Piper a couple of years ago that he is reading through Edwards' complete works I cannot imagine he had time to read much else. ;-)

Robert said...

MET,

I'd add that the church at large needs to repent of not following both commands from Titus 1:9. I'd say that is why we have gotten where we are with some of the crazy trends we see these days. Nobody took the time to "refute those who contradict" back when things started slipping away.

Sir Brass said...

Tom,

I hear ya. It used to be so easy to figure out who the Anti-Christ was :P.

olan strickland said...

Frank,

I agree. My point is not that Warren will ever be overtly heretical but that his covert heresy will continue to manifest itself as he includes people further and further away from biblical orthodoxy into the camp.

Overt heresy is always more easily detected than covert heresy. That is why I mention Warren's "secret recipe."

BrettR said...

I live in a small town that is just a bathroom stop on the interstate for people on their way somewhere else. We have three types of churches: conspicuous Mainline LIBERAL!!!, house churches led by blog commenters, and seeker-driven RW-type churches. Everything that drips out of the mouths of the mega-church rock stars becomes common place, state of the art within 5-15 years here. If RW issues Thabiti a one way ticket to Gehenna, that is all that needs to be said and on to the sermonette, thank you very much.

Thank you for this letter and the good critical thinking and helpful self-analysis, Frank. While others are busy filling in their end-times fantasy league rosters, there are those in Nowhere Special, America who appreciate someone pulling back the curtain.

donsands said...

"This from a guy who says that doctrine matters to him deeply."-Cent

Warren seems like he doesn't give a hoot about the depth of the Bible. And yet he says he does.

Just doesn't make sense to me. I know Christians, (most Christians really are this way I think) who don't have such a great zeal for the Bible truths. Thsy are truly quicken and serve the Lord, but doctrinally they are quite shallow. Rick seems to me to be like this. Yet he says he isn't.

Thabiti is just the opposite. What a man of our Lord, and the Word of the Lord. Full of truth he is. To spurn him is unexceptable. Warren needs to be more like Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile. In fact he should aspire to be like him.

I don't like Warren as a pastor. As a fellow Christian shallow in the truth I like him.

Chris Rosebrough is a fine man of the Word as well.

Thanks for another incredibly written letter Frank. Always good stuff for us, the Body of Christ to read and ponder.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

@ Robert at 8:01,

You are so right, Robert. When there is an imbalance in Titus 1:9,we see all types of unfruitful consequences. Both of these exhortations need to be balanced and upheld for the body of Christ to be healthy.

Lane Chaplin said...

Stellar, Frank!

Jim De Arras said...

Thank you for being honest. Now it's time to follow the sad trail back to Piper, and Driscoll.

Jim

Frank Turk said...

Tom -- your link to the graphic is broken - please try again.

To the rest: what exactly is the only hope against the threat of an antiChrist? I think this winds up being a massive failing in, for example, the "Kingdom" theology families like the one Andrew Perriman wants us to read Dan's book through. But it is also a massive failing point for, for example, the people who draw those charts and diagrams about the end of the world and publish books like "Iran: the next Step".

The solution is obvious, and identifying any one person as the AntiChrist doesn't change that solution one iota.

Frank Turk said...

"end-times fantasy league rosters"

Wow -- that's an RPG I want a piece of. I'm overcome trying to work out the score card.

aztexan said...

Frank:
Who here is trying to identify Antichrist or fill out rosters or make Hagee-esque eschatological posters? I sure as heck ain't, but there've been several comments which lead me to believe that some (including you?) still are not reading me correctly.

Frank Turk said...

Take a second stab at it, Aztexan. I'm willing to get clarified on the subject.

Tom Chantry said...

Humph. I changed that link three times before I posted it, and it was working, but now it's not. How am I supposed to play Blog Comedian if the Majesterium won't let me link to Benedict?

Robert said...

Maybe it is because you spelled it Antichirst 8o)

DurangoDan said...

Would someone please explain why my previous comment was deleted? I'm not being disagreeable, I just would like to participate in this discussion and I'm not sure which rule I broke.

Sir Brass said...

Tom, just play off me ;). I knew what you were shooting for and provided a good and funny link ;)

Tom Chantry said...

Mine was funnier. More evil. Too bad no one can see it. But thanks anyway.

Coram Deo said...

Tex,

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

In Christ,
CD

David Sheldon said...

What is unfolding within evangelicalism is somewhat nightmarish. And I believe there are tons of sheep out there who will soon enter into a season of confusion as they consider the events unfolding before our eyes. And - we each probably have relationships/or people whom we thought highly of before that we are now scratching our heads in amazement. (Or maybe thought "lowly" and did a turnabout?) Whatever the case, I think we need to keep praying for each other a lot and hang on tight because we are in for a wild ride if our ride is love for the truth no matter what the cost. Truth in the west really hasn't cost us much, externally or publicly, for quite some time now. That is already changing unless we haven't noticed. A measure of grieving as we say what needs to be said will lead us to keep praying and humbly say/blog/preach what is necessary. We need to "cut it straight" without shooting from the hip. This is always a challenge. Good job Pyro. The saints will keep praying for you!

Bobby Capps said...

I know this post was to celebrate your moving over to the family of Warren critics and you used his hypocrisy in that he didn't extend grace or even a teachable spirit to his detractor as justification. However, I urge you to continue to extend extend grace to him and even grace to Chris who spends much of his energy trying to marginalize Warren and his ministry.

Having said that, In the excellent blog which the article rests, I have two questions: 1. Do you really believe that this quote is reflective of the current church culture "A church is large not because the guy up front has unusual gifts, but because God in His sovereign kindness has decided to add to the number?" and 2. Isn't it a bit disingenuous or perhaps uniformed regarding the satellite church model about the local pastoring? I mean if you say that the only role of the pastor is the teaching hour then maybe, but most of these models have pastoral care via on-sight pastors.

Finally, I firmly agree with most of the article especially the idolatry part, but hasn't media (first radio then print then televised church services etc) allowed these popular/gifted men to pastor us for a long time? Wouldn't you say that John McArthur through his media ministry pastors a large portion of the church today (if we're talking about teaching)? I think many guys are struggling to do it right regarding media, and while I think his warnings are spot on, I don't think that his categoricals are.

aztexan said...

Scripture tells us to beware ecumenism (compromise, heresy, unequal yoking, etc.). Just before "The End" (whenever that shall be), the ecumenism of the ages shall be fulfilled, culminated in a one-world state cult with Antichrist as its head and object.

Rick Warren is one of today's leading (if not THE leading) globalist-ecumenists. He is linked head-to-toe, front-to-back with still other top g-e's from around the globe, and is in bed with the UN and its NGO's, including the CFR. He is a "change agent" who endorses heretics, gives his blessing to false religions, and pollutes the church visible with all sorts of nasty errors, many of which derive from Eastern and New Age practices.

He is a facilitator, a field general of the Great Apostasy and the push for globalism, including the one-world fascist state and its false religion. So, yeah, beware Rick Warren, his teachings and those close to him.

Is that any clearer?

CD: I'm not sure what you're getting at. L. Frank Baum was no Bible teacher. :-)

DurangoDan: I meant to thank you for your kind word. 'Preciate ya.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Tom Chantry, I promise that thirty seconds ago the link worked. I laughed. Then I laughed harder at Sir Brass's.

word verification: rebalepl - the real last name of the purple people eater.

JR said...

Frank,

Unlike azt, my question about the furtick picture that Thabiti originally posted, removed and apologized for was not a red herring.

Are you open to the possibility that the picture was what Warren was reacting to, and not the post itself?

Robert Warren said...

"Tom -- your link to the graphic is broken - please try again."

Maybe the Antichrist was upset that Pastor Chantry misspelled his name.

Speaking of taking down web pages, didn't one of Pastor *Warren's apologists take down Ken Silva's site a few years ago? In the words of Sgt. Esterhaus "Let's be careful out there."

*BTW, we're not related.

s.driesner said...

In obeying the latter command of Titus 1:9 (i.e. "rebuke those who contradict"), the motivation must always be love: for Christ, for the truth, for the church, and for the person/group/ being rebuked, in the hopes that that person/group would repent toward God and humbly accept correction, at the very least by examining the scriptures to see whether these things are so (Acts 17:11).

I think its clear from RW's tweet (and JM's retweet) that their assumption is that Thabite's post was not motivated by such love.

Can any of us (given a ministry as large and broad as RW's and JM's) expect to be able to maintain a humble, teachable spirit when the more my ministry grows, the more criticism is lobbed my direction, and the less time I have to slow down, examine the scriptures, and discern whether such criticism is motivated out of love or envy?

Could it be that RW and JM are ironically proving Thabite's point?

GW said...

Who in the world is Chris Rosebrough?

Why isn't this a letter to Rick Warren? 97% of this letter is about Bro. Rick.

Robert Warren said...

"Who in the world is Chris Rosebrough?"

My favorite Lutheran.

aztexan said...

JR: Red herring? I threw out some links for further reading on RW (relevant to the post, wouldn't you say?), then was repeatedly accused of pegging him as Thuh Davil and date-setting Doomsday. WTF, dude? The red herrings ain't coming from me. Read up on Warren and what he's part of. Or don't. I was putting it out there. *scratching head*

Sir Brass said...

Slightly important but not really note: Tom's link is a 403 Forbidden (content exists, just you aren't of sufficient 1337ness to access it), not a 404 Not Found ;).

Vatican plot, I say. Rotten, rascally Romanists. I hurl alliteration at you.

word verf: subbr

Tom Chantry said...

GW,

Who in the world is Chris Rosebrough?

Why isn't this a letter to Rick Warren? 97% of this letter is about Bro. Rick.


Because Frank has actually had coffee with Chris Rosebrough.


Webster Hunt,

Then I laughed harder at Sir Brass's.

Philistine.

donsands said...

"Why isn't this a letter to Rick Warren?"-GW

It's to Chris, about Rick. Chris exposes Rick as a phoney kind of a guy. And Rick is one of those guys that is so well spoken, that it is very difficult to nail him down on his distortion of the grace of Christ alone for who we are.
But he is a law-gospel guy, who acts as if he is deep in the truth, but is shallow in reality.

This is what I appreciate from this letter to Chris Rosebrough. A great letter to Chris with humility. It edifies.

Trevor said...

Just one minor economic quibble from a business school alum: would the Cayman Islands be considered "third world"? Just a thought - their per capita income was around $43,800 in 2004. [ https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2004rank.html ]

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

@ s.driesner,

You make very good points, and not a single person here (at least I believe this to be true) would find anything disagreeable about your statement.

I think what the issue is for most defenders of the faith, is that we/they HATE every false way (Psa 119:104; Psa 119:128).

Many of us have stated many, many, many times in the past that we often pray for people such as RW and many other false teachers. To not have a heart for the lost would be unconscionable..

Never confuse the lies we HATE and the deception we HATE as being equal to hating the individual. As long as one lives, there is hope that God may yet grant them salvation.

stratagem said...

"For while one says, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are you not carnal?" 1 Cor. 3:4

or Warren...
or Piper...
etc.

kateg said...

Maybe it could be argued that Cayman is third world, not sure they think themselves that, but Thabiti is from North Carolina or something, with previous pastorate in Washington DC.

Frank Turk said...

| I know this post was to celebrate your
| moving over to the family of Warren
| critics and you used his hypocrisy in that
| he didn't extend grace or even a
| teachable spirit to his detractor as
| justification. However, I urge you to
| continue to extend grace to him
| and even grace to Chris who spends much
| of his energy trying to marginalize
| Warren and his ministry.

Well, Bobby: no.

| Having said that, In the excellent blog
| which the article rests, I have two
| questions: 1. Do you really believe that
| this quote is reflective of the current
| church culture "A church is large not
| because the guy up front has unusual gifts,
| but because God in His sovereign
| kindness has decided to add to the
| number?"

As a very committed Calvinist (and playing into the hands of critics who want to call me “doctrinaire”) I must say “yes”. What you speak of here is not always a good thing.

| and 2. Isn't it a bit disingenuous
| or perhaps uniformed regarding the
| satellite church model about the local
| pastoring? I mean if you say that the only
| role of the pastor is the teaching hour
| then maybe, but most of these models
| have pastoral care via on-sight pastors.

Well Bobby: no. Re-read Thabiti-bob’s essay again before you ask me why I say know. The answer is in there.

| Finally, I firmly agree with most of the
| article especially the idolatry part, but
| hasn't media (first radio then print then
| televised church services etc) allowed
| these popular/gifted men to pastor us for
| a long time?


…wait for it … wait for it …

| Wouldn't you say that John
| McArthur ...

AHA! I knew it would come!

| ... through his media ministry
| pastors a large portion of the church
| today (if we're talking about teaching)? I
| think many guys are struggling to do it
| right regarding media, and while I think
| his warnings are spot on, I don't think
| that his categoricals are.

You know what the key difference between Dr. MacArthur and the pastor participating in and advocating for satellite/multisite ministry is? Dr. MacArthur thinks his radio show and podcasts are not a substitute for the local church, and could never be. That you don’t understand this is telling – about your own view, about the movement which inspires you view, and about you understanding of GCC and GTY.

Frank Turk said...

To the question of whether or not the Cayman Islands are the third world, they are part of what used to be called the "West Indies" -- a geographically-associated set of islands that include Jamaica and Haiti. Unlike Jamaica and Haiti, it is a colony of the UK, and as a tax-free zone has one of the most robust economies in the world -- so it is an interesting case study for the effects of Western Civilization (and libertarian political theory) on a remote nation in the modern world.

By geography, it is the third world -- just like Saudi Arabia -- in spite of its economic status.

Frank Turk said...

GW:

I can't write all the letters in one week. What would you do with the rest of your year? What would you do for employment?

Bobby Capps said...

Frank,

I don't think that JMac thinks that nor did I imply that. What I asked, was that in effect, hasn't this been the result of media from prominent pastors (I used JMac as an example because he is one that I am sure has 'pastored by teaching' both you and I)? I believe that prominent pastors have unwittingly become the shepherds of many congregations complete with all the idolatry associated. This surely is a more overt form, but I was just asking you to think that perhaps our 'buy a sermon series called a new book' culture or listen to everything our favorite pastors put out on MP3 is the same.

If you've really thot about the comparison and aren't just pushing back in defense of our mutually respected pastor in SoCal then so be it. Again, I am not saying he intends this, but I do believe it is a reality.

Re: the sovereignty comment, yes I know God is Sovereign over church size, but is it the kind of Sovereignty as when he allows us to be idolaters for his good purposes?

As always, I appreciate your comments, even when you slam me.

Sir Brass said...

Bobby, read this latest article from Thabiti. I think you'll see the difference between men like John MacArthur and men like Rick Warren and their ministries in terms of "celebrification."

Robert said...

Bobby,

I think there is a huge difference between Grace to You, Renewing Your Mind, Truth for Life, etc., and multi-site churches that you hit on: intent. And I would also add that the faithful ministries that broadcast on internet, TV, and radio all work through portions of Scripture that give in-depth descriptions of the work and responsibilities of pastor/elders and how the local church should work. Multi-site churches (for the most part) have a different intent, whether they realize it or not.

Tom Chantry said...

I think Bobby has a point, but it doesn't undo the point that Thabiti was driving at. It is true that media can allow people to be divorced from local church, and that this happens whether or not the pastor-idol intends to be a pastor-idol. It is easier to relate to a guy on the TV or in a book than it is with a local pastor.

This has been going on for some time. Coming out of Confessional Reformed Baptist circles, I can remember hearing of tiny groups of people who gathered in living rooms on Sunday morning to listen to cassette tapes of a guy named Al Martin, because that was (to their minds) a better option than listening to "lesser preaching" in the local assemblies. Martin became their ideal of what a pastor ought to be - and thus their pastor-idol. Did he approve of this? I doubt it; listening to him preach on the role of the local church it seems impossible that he would - but the problem was there, growing out of the hearts of the idolators themselves.

So, yes, the same thing is happening with MacArthur, and no doubt with others. In the internet age someone could pick just about any pastor as his idol; we all have podcasts.

But the difference in what Thabiti was talking about is night and day. It is one thing for a pastor to be made an idol, and another thing for him to encourage the process. Every pastor (but especially an influential one) should avoid any step that encourages the setting up of himself as a pastor-idol. Thabiti argues that the multi-campus model does exactly that.

I have to agree. Having visited a fairly good multi-campus church once, I came away saying, "You know, there were a bunch of pastors on stage today - leading singing, praying, etc - before the Big Name was beamed in to preach. And while the sermon was good, part of the message it sent to me was, 'You see all these other guys up here? They can't preach half as good as me!'"

I can't see how you can deny that that's a world of difference from having a podcast, or a book series, or a radio program.

Sir Brass said...

Tom, having listened to Al Martin preach before, I can't imagine gathering around a radio to listen to him like some do with Harold Camping. He'd blister their ears in his preaching for doing so if they had half an ear. Heck, I get my ears blistered listening to the man at times.

Not saying you're wrong, but proving your point. Those men who are not promoting their own celebrity but who are idolized against their will, do not condone or even promote such a thing in their preaching.

All this also reminds me of something my church puts on its cassettes (yes, we still make them) and CDs that we have available of the sermons preached. It says something like this, "This is not to be used as a substitute for attending a Faithful, Gospel-believing church."

Rhology said...

Because Frank has actually had coffee with Chris Rosebrough.

BRILLIANCE.

Sergius Martin-George said...

"the remarkable Carl Trueman, selah."

I realize there are numerous important issues discussed in this post, but that was just excellent.

I'd also like to nominate for honorable mention DJP's use of the phrase "simple crotchety contrarianism."

Frank Turk said...

Bobby --

A long time ago, I did a tag-team interview with iMonk (may he rest in peace) on the problems of the local church and the abdication of the pastorate to media ministries. I think the trend started a lot longer ago -- maybe with Whitfield. But the direct cause-and-effect (IMO) is to Billy Graham and his implicit (never explicit) testimony that the local church is ineffective, and that you don't really need a local church to find Jesus and serve God.

If you want to hang that same banner over everyone with a radio ministry, I can't stop you. However, I think that the label doesn't hang the same on every person. When one radio pastor is constantly making fun of the local church, and another is habitually (if not regularly) underscoring the need for a local church, the two are not doing the same thing even though they are using the same medium to communicate.

Just Jules said...

I second that. "Simple crotchety" provided my first laugh of the morning, courtesy of DJP.

Just Jules said...

"The abdication of the pastorate to media ministries". Hmm...that's something to chew on.

Frank Turk said...

On pastor idolatry:

Someone once wrote a blog post on Paper pastors and Porn. A lot of people attribute that brilliant post to me, but I could never have written it.

Has anyone seen that? Am I the only one who remembers that?

Just Jules said...

I'll probably get in trouble for this one, but I would also add "The abdication of the pastorate to small groups".

Bobby Capps said...

Thank you gents for the schooling. Great article on Celebrity btw, thx for the link.

Perhaps it is the celebrity culture that we live in that seeks out the gifted and idolizes them. And few of them that I know have sought it. most hate the fact that believers aren't content to glory in the cross and realize that even those who have found much fruit in their ministry were the weak that God showed Himself strong through.

I have a wait and see attitude toward it, in Anyabwhile's post I just read gives the reason why, "I think that’s especially important (to be cautious assigning self-aggrandizing motive) because the use of these terms implies something sinister about the hearts of the men so labeled."

I just don't see it. Especially with the pastor this post is about.

Sir Brass said...

Bobby, I think to see really where Thabiti is coming from you should see where people in his comments sections have applied the "celebrity pastor" designation on reasonably well-known men in the same way they'd apply it to Rick Warren.

And he's right that we're better off explaining what we mean rather than use a label which has been (in recent times) misused to slander actual good men, even if the term aptly applies to the person you're criticizing (because then the charge can be laid that the person criticized is among that good group so wrongly slandered).

Kind of like how we calvinists will at times avoid using our "key terms", and opt instead of explaining the concepts, simply to avoid using terms which have been mangled (either maliciously or unintentionally) in the public square.

The focus, I think, is that we must strive to be clear about what we communicate and avoid dangerous ambiguity where at all possible.

Bobby Capps said...

Crazy good article on paper pastors!

Phil Johnson said...

Note:

For reasons unknown to any of the moderators, this comment by DurangoDan has been posted three times and keeps disappearing. For the record, none of us has deleted it. We think it got caught in the spam filter.

If we can't get it dislodged, I'll re-post it for him.

Phil Johnson said...

___________________
DurangoDan said . . .

With regard to Aztexan's comments - I heartily agree. As vitally important as it is to address the Warren or multi-site issue from the perspective in which most of you are addressing it, it is also very important to remember what is going on behind the scenes, because that issue is also addressed in the New Testament. We are reminded there that we are wrestling against powers in the heavenlies, and that the spirit of the antichrist is already at work. We all know what his goal is because it is explained in scripture. Ultimately, religious power and leadership over the "visible church" will be held in the hands of one entity. To make progress toward that goal, both multi-site churches and home small groups are being used to implement control - basically a substitute for the real thing. Not all small groups are bad, but many churches are not actually using them in the true service of Christ (I've been there). Those of us who believe in the T and U of TULIP, can readily understand how comfortable an unregenerate person is with leading others down the wrong path. This does not always mean the conspiracy is known by those being used by it. I think that if we who use discernment will remember what Christ taught about false teachers, and the end thereof, we would be even more resolute to publicy identify the false teachings and warn against them. This "elephant room" tactic is nothing but another avenue to bring false teachers into the church (even if unintentional), a religious use of the Hegelian Dialectic. I applaud aztexan for bringing this aspect into the discussion.
___________________

Phil Johnson said...

I think the spam filter likes it better when commenters use paragraph breaks.

I know I like comments better with paragraph breaks, especially the long ones.

Daren Redekopp said...

Ouch.

Eric said...

Tom Chantry is my idol. ;)

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Frank, I remember that post on paper pastors very clearly. It made me repent from comparing/contrasting my loving, hard-working local pastor against the ones who didn't look me in the eyeballs every Sunday and ask about my family, and encourage me personally by name to get away from language like "God told me to. . ." and use what I meant, that I read the word, and God convicted me through it.

Chuck said...

Great letter. I'm in agreement with Don Sands on Warren: seems like a decent guy. I don't doubt he love Jesus. I wouldn't want him as my pastor for any reason whatsoever. "Run away! Run away!"

Also, if I were accused of writing "Porn and Paper Pastors" I would have to REALLY fight the urge not to take the credit. Does that say something about me?

Coram Deo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

Did I stammer? Was I unclear?

Next time, Coram Deo, you try to use anything even remotely associated with me to try publicly to embarrass Phil, I will simply ban you outright. Private questions are easily handled since we, unlike you, blog under our real names, and offer our real email addresses publicly. Choose not to do so? Well then, that's on you, isn't it?

Now you're done on that off-topic line on this meta. Is that clear? I don't know how to be more so. Please, do not test me.

Coram Deo said...

Seems clear enough to me, DJP.

I'm really enjoying TWTG so far, kudos!

In Him,
CD

Sir Aaron said...

My first response is to the post itself. First let me say, I don't like multi-site chuches for all the reasons mentioned here and in the linked post(s). But must confess to having similar concerns with mega churches. It seems chuches build bigger and bigger sanctuaries. To some extent, I like it. It is a great boon to have large chuches with nice facilities and ministries that are only possible with large groups of people. But at some point, what's the difference between sitting in the nosebleed section of a church stadium and being at a multi-site church? My access to the Pastor is about the same. In fact, I might even be able to see the Pastor better on video than at the main Sanctuary much like I'm able to see a Football Quarterback better on TV than if I go to the stadium.

Why don't these mega-churches stop building bigger chapels and instead plant another church?

My second comment is to the whole conspiracy theory nonsense that has come up in the comments.

There is no secret conspiracy to usher in a one world government. People are like sheep. A group of sheep run off a cliff not because they conspired together but because they have the same instinctual drive. Likewise, people desire and perpetuate evil ideas because they are naturally inclined towards it.

If a person's theology is bad, that person will gravitate towards evil ideas and thoughts not because of some grand conspiracy but because it is a person's natural instinct. Scripture keeps us on the straight and narrow. As we get farther from it, we all incline towards the ditch.

When the one world government comes it wont be because of the machiavellian plots of a select group of leaders. Israel didn't get a king because of the secret intrigues of a ruling class. The Israelites desired it and asked for it with full knowledge of what they were getting. God himself warned the Israelites. Their response: We don't care, we want a king. Likewise, we'll get a one-world government because the majority of the people will ask for it because they want it. And that will happen regardless of whatever Rick Warren does or does not do.

Mark | hereiblog said...

Good letter, Frank.

I do have to point to point out my reply to Warren's tweet.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Today Christians fiddle with sound doctrine paving the way for souls to burn. Sad. bit.ly/pcEF7V

:)

Phil Johnson said...

Coram Deo:

If you were looking for a response from me regarding why I deleted your first comment in that thread the other day, here:

I was hoping to save you the embarrassment of having someone point out to you that you had a massive telephone pole sticking out of your eye socket whilst you were worrying out an eyelash in someone else's eye.

I think it's inappropriate for a woman who engages in random acts of demolition for sport to be offering technical advice on wrecking-ball techniques to a man who is well known around here for his grace and restraint.

thepaperthinhymn.com said...

ouch!

Coram Deo said...

I see, thanks for taking the time to respond, Phil!

In Him,
CD

aztexan said...

Sir Aaron:

Your unsupported assertions have completely changed my mind on the whole globalist conspiracy issue. I'm taking off my tinfoil hat; henceforth I will ignore all hard documentation of a satanic plot to push the world toward what the Bible describes. Johnny Revelator, Daniel, Ezekiel, Paul, Jesus and other conspiracy kooks no longer have any credibility with me. Satan is sitting back and allowing our natural depravity to eventually, without any help or (mis)guidance from him and all his power and cunning to meander around to a one-world satanic dictatorship, someday. Ecumenical groups have virtually nothing to do with each other - evidence be damned - and even less to do with secular (but completely accidental!) global monstrosities like the UN. When the Beast system is set up, it will be completely spontaneous - like a song in a musical or the Arab Spring or the JFK assassination - something that God merely mentions as a footnote to the grand scheme of things, strictly a tidbit of His bare foreknowledge of what will accidentally happen, like, a bazillion years from now.

Are you really that obtuse? Go back to sleep, sweetheart.

Chris Nelson said...

We must remember that Piper let this wolf into the fold and now the fold is full of ravenous wolves! Oh the folly of celebrity conference Christianity!

Chris Nelson said...

Now I don't believe for a minute that there are not worthwhile conferences, but Frank, would you consider an open letter to the prominent conference Christians and their inability to discern amongst themselves? It seems like the same ecumenicalism that most evangelicals despise.

Rachael Starke said...

Wow, what a thread. Eschatalogical conspiracy theorists, Monty Python allusions, and TomChantryisms(TM).

That Warren appeared to have read merely the title of T's post, choosing not to engage in the substance of it, tells me all I need to know to be helped in regard to understanding his approach to thoughtful dialog.

It's MacDonald retweeting in kind that really hurts my heart. I honestly am not surprised, and thus not disappointed, that Warren would be so obtuse. But not MacDonald.

And if it helps your humility Frank, I've never thought once that it was you that wrote the Paper Pastor piece. You're welcome.

The Damer said...

Three comments...

1. Chris Rosebrough's podcast is poorly put together and shows little grace and humility. On top of that he's just not very funny, but he thinks he is.
2. This letter put me to sleep. How many more "I hate Rick Warren" blog posts do we need? I'm not a fan or a supporter of Rick Warren or Rick Warren bashing.
3. It's guys like AzTexan and the feeding of his asinine comments that give decent Reformed folks a bad name. "Anti-Christ" really? Come on.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank Turk said...

Damer -

1. If I have any complaints about Chris' podcast, it is that it is too long.

2. Everyone has their own tastes. I promise that there will only be one more blog post here or anywhere else about Rick Warren written by me (unless it turns out that he is actually the antiChrist).

3. We have covered that problem already.

I take the criticisms to heart because you normally add something useful to the conversation, but I think you missed the mark here. I'll review it, and ask you to do the same.

Tom Chantry said...

Perhaps this has been beaten to death, but I don't think it's being caught by some of the commenters, so let me clarify. Frank had a rather public friendly disagreement with Chris Rosebrough about Rick Warren. Now he has reconsidered, given Warren's tossing of Thabiti under the bus. Does Frank want to say something to Warren? I suppose he does, but how would he do so? Or, more to the point, how would the minions of Turk-haters respond?

Frank is a hypocrite! He says out of one side of his mouth that no one should criticize Rick Warren, and then as soon as Warren treads on his toes he writes him one of his dastardly, hate-filled letters!

Or something like that.

Now those of us who read closely could choose to respond to that point by point (Frank never said no one should criticize Warren, Warren didn't exactly tread on Frank's toes, and we're still waiting for an open letter based on hate.) But Frank chose (I believe) the wiser course. He started out by saying, "I was wrong," and by directing his remarks to the brother with whom he previously had a public, if loving, dispute.

Makes sense to me, but then I don't log on to Pyro in the morning just to feed an irrational hatred of one of its posters.

DurangoDan said...

Sir Aaron:

I know that the moderators probably cringe at the thought of this thread including the usually misused word "conspiracy", so I apologize up front and hope to keep this brief (and with paragraph breaks):

In addressing your comments, I would submit that your thinking is flawed in three areas - logic, knowledge of history, and theology.

You stated that people are like sheep and that they don't conspire together to run off a cliff, but instead "people desire and perpetuate evil ideas because they are naturally inclined towards it". But it is illogical to think that naturally depraved inclinations do not also lend themselves, in some situations, to controlling other groups of people for one's own selfish ends. So you have both the sheep, and the wolves.

Historically speaking, we have plenty of examples from around the globe of unregenerate maniacs and
power-mongers who aspired to gain control of everyone and everything around them, stopping at nothing
short of world dominion if possible (try the Roman Empire, and that infamous wretched leader of WWII Germany, for two). In many cases, these were not one-man operations, but were hatched from groups of people who had the means to affect diabolical change to their benefit. This fits the classic definition of conspiracy.

It also occurs in many spheres of society. What do you think goes on in the closed-door meetings of our
politicians? They may not be planning world dominion, but they are "conspiring" to pull off a plan for their benefit. What would you call the meetings held by corporate power-brokers who devise plans for a hostile takeover of another company? Do they send in their plans ahead of time to the Fox News Bureau? That also fits the classic definition of conspiracy. The world dominion operation is more in the sphere of those leaders who have the means to impact the entire world.

When it comes to religion, there has been a decades-old movement, sometimes centered at the U.N.,
sometimes at the World Council of Churches, or more recently, Tony Blair's Faith Foundation, to combine all religions into one. Whether or not this is a "conspiracy" depends on who you believe is at the core of it. These bodies are open about their goals. But who do you suppose is behind it all, really? Is Satan going to appear and hold a news conference exposing his plan?

So I would suggest that you spend some time digging into world history before making such sweeping statements as to what is and what isn't.

Lastly - our favorite - theology. I know there is a mixture of eschatological views represented among the readers here, so I won't go into whether or not the book of Revelation is to be interpreted literally when possible (I believe it is). But beyond that, what did Satan tempt Jesus with in the desert? Satan offered to give the kingdoms of the world to Him. That didn't work with the Son of God. But how well would it work with an unregenerate mortal? One can only imagine. We are told that the spirit of antichrist is already at work. This is to be taken literally.

Thanks be to God, who is at the core of it all, and who planned it from the beginning, for His glory.

aztexan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sir Aaron said...

@Durango:

I posted a counter reply, but it apparently was deleted by an administrator (a first for me here). So I'll just have to close shop on this particular tangent.

Sir Aaron said...

@Aztexan: please see my 11:07AM post to Durango. We'll have to discuss this some other time.

In the meantime, may God bless you.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Frank,

It seems that you had a lot more forbearance and goodwill extended to Rick Warren than many others did, and for some reason that surprised some people. Having read this blog for a couple of years now, I have come to appreciate your style and your use of the gift/talent God has given you, even if it does rub some people the wrong way. You are also frequently NOT given the forbearance and goodwill you deserve. Your willingness to go public and admit you were wrong is a good example to us all. Underneath the rubber mask with the pointy eyebrow is a somewhat balding guy with a day job who truly loves honoring the Lord and exhorting others in the truth.

(I don't like being the last commenter, so someone else please say something. Anything. Well...unless your initials are...never mind.)

Robert said...

I heartily agree with Merrilee...I feel like I could learn much about showing grace to others from you, Frank.

Frank Turk said...

Frank Turk is a menace and must be stopped.

Mike Farrants said...

Jules, you posted

"The abdication of the pastorate to small groups".

What did you mean by that, can you explain more fully. Is this a slam against small groups or against small groups with a certain agenda or methodology? I only ask because I have some reservations about small groups as defined in a certain manner.

Frank Turk said...

Mike --

off topic. Move on.

cb said...

Thank you for this post. I haven't been certain what to make of multi-campus or Rick Warren. You've given me much food for thought and I appreciate it.