19 October 2011

Open Letter to the Gospel Coalition

by Frank Turk

UPDATED: I am certain that this Open letter did not inspire James MacDonald and Thabiti Anyabwile to get on the phone -- guys like that have calendars that have to align.  But today at about 8:30 central time, Pastor MacDonald tweeted this:

While it's not a press conference, it is a response on-par with the original twitter angry-eyebrows.  We should note it and keep it in mind as we think about this letter and what it has asked for.

Gentlemen --

First of all, when I look at the list of men on the council of the Gospel Coalition, I am humbled. Some of you are my age in years, but you have committed yourselves to the local church and the necessity of the Gospel and have served God in ways which, frankly, I will never approach. You are all pastors, church planters, and ministers of the Gospel who are personally faithful, and have blessed not only your congregations but all of the English-speaking church with your commitment, as Paul said, to fill up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, to make the word of God known.

After all: I am just a blogger. On my best days, I am a street sweeper with a half-worn broom who tries to keep the broken glass off the sidewalk where the kids play.  It's a role which I have sought after, and which I possess, and which gives me a certain kind of reputation. I will never attend seminary, I will never pastor a church, and I am fortunate that anyone finds my reflections our common faith of any use at all. In that context, I thank you for your attention. I will be uncharacteristically brief.

On your site, you lead with this video:


It's a simple confession of what you intend to do as a parachurch organization -- and I think that's an important distinction to make. You are, as you say there, not a church or a denomination. You are a helper to the church.

Sort of inside the tent of that, the following appeared from James MacDonald a few weeks ago:

What particular action that ought to be taken toward this is not my place to say at all. This is a man of a lifetime of good faith, and we should see him as such. The lunatic fringe are the ones who would call for his dismissal or his removal from all good company.

Here's my comment on the matter, and you can take it for what it is worth, namely free advice from someone who has chosen to work in the secular world rather than in the household of God: It doesn't matter what action you take on this matter.

What matters, in order for you to be true to your mission statement, is that you do actually do something. That is: In order to promote Gospel-centered ministry to the next generation; in order to get the Gospel right, and to get it out; in order to avoid detracting from the local church; in order to serve the church; in order to demonstrate the lowness of Evangelicalism by juxtaposing it against the healthly fellowship which should be shared by men of good faith; in order to clarify the difference between fads/distractions and eternal relevance; in order to underscore biblical convictions; in order to put the Gospel at the center of the matter; in order to demonstrate the unity of your aim; in order that you do all these things well, you must do something.

By no means does that mean you must either have some sort of shunning, some sort of group hug, or some sort of steel-cage match -- by no means does it mean that someone must lose their standing either in your assembly or in the eyes of the larger church or the world. What it does mean, however, is that quietly scooting the matter under the rug is, frankly, cowardly, confusing to weaker brothers, disorderly, passively deceptive, and unkind to those involved in the sense that Prov 27:6 helps us to define kindness and friendship among men who serve Christ.

So I exhort you: this matter is a public matter, and it speaks directly to the core mission of your Christian associations. Make your action to resolve it public without teasing anyone's voyeurism; make your action public to teach the weaker brother how men of mature faith treat each other in disagreements; make your action public so that Christ can be glorified by the way you take each others' fault and work through them together for the betterment of each other.

I think you are those kinds of men. May God either prick or console your conscience on this matter as you seek to do his will.


Mark | hereiblog said...

I like it, bro. Of course, that's because I agree. :)

Doulos2Christou said...

And may God grant His increase to these words. Pray that the Lord would be pleased to move among our TGC elder brothers so that we avoid another episode which might smell of the Caner/Geisler disaster. May He grant grace and wisdom to all involved. Thanks, Frank.

Frank Rue said...

I feel like they may have already addressed this in the post here:


Particularly in their point number three.

You tell me; this post from 10/12 may be more about the Trinitarian debacle and less about the ad hominem attacks on Thabiti, but, in case you hadn't seen it, I figured I'd point it out.

Reformation said...


An important aside. Mahaney-SGMgate. Challies shuts down inquiry at his blog and it's widely reported. I have no use for it.

There is an utter absence of scholarly, investigative, thorough, intelligent, deliberative, unemotional, and extensive inquiry.

Yet "attaboys" are offered by some "top names."

I'm an old retired US Marine. Cowardice is not in the vocabulary.

Several in high levels have offered affirmations without, repeat, without substantive evaluations.

As Marines would say, "We have a leadership problem."

Phil, be cautious and very scholarly on this Mahaney-gate issue. I could say much more, but this shall suffice.

(Rev.) Donald Philip Veitch

Frank Turk said...

Um, I'm sure Phil will do his best.

He didn't write this post.

John Dunn said...

Such a relevant post for our time. What is conspicuously absent from the mega-church, rock-star CEO pastor types is genuine brotherly transparency, public accountability to the gospel, and a humble Spirit-borne willingness to own personal sin and fleshly failings. Perhaps this is the greatest weakness of consumer-driven church models . . . an outright aversion to deal honestly with tough and controversial issues, lest the particular franchise "brand" lose stock in the evangelical market place.

Too much franchise and business model. So little genuine Spirit-wrought fruit.

May Christ give glorious resurrection life to his Body once again.

Reformation said...


Lest unclear in the last post.

Since Jun, have downloaded 1200 pages on SGM-Mahaney-gate. I had about one month of inquiry before the extensive download of insider-info by Mr. Detwiler at: http://www.scribd.com/sgmwikileaks. After reviewing those 600 pages seven times, Detwiler if "far, far" more right than wrong. Phil, be most cautious.

Thus, 1800 pages here in this old Marine's binders. That, 1200 pages, beyond the 600 pages from an insider, Mr. Detwiler. Phil, be careful and closely investigate Dever's endorsement. Many, many eyes and reputations are under current review.

I'm old, retired and read for a living. (Aside from a criminal law course, my days are spent studying the history of SGM.)

Phil, do not follow poor Al Mohler and poor Ligon Duncan in their reactionary and unscholarly responses. It really stinks.

More surprisingly, the support from Ray Ortlund and Carl Trueman, men with PhDs, yet with hasty, undeliberative, unrigourous, and unscholarly reviews. I expect scholarship from PhDs but we didn't get it here. (Carl's endorsement was so "qualified" as to be virtually useless...as, surmisingly intended.)

As to Challies, well, he's a modest fellow in terms of scholarly attainments.

Please tell John to stand back and do intensive and scholarly inquiry. Not the mush we hear from T4G.

It's far worse than the blogs and press are reporting. Do the reading and, perhaps, you'll get it and avoid the endorsements of Dever, Duncan and Ortlund.

Donald Philip Veitch

Reformation said...

Thanks, Frank.

The words apply to the entire set running Pyro.

Frank, the homework.

That's the point.

Donald Philip Veitch

Frank Turk said...

Frank R --

I am aware of that link. It espouses what they may do, or what the boundaries are of what the could do. It doesn't -do- anything.

I avoided writing this post to Dr. Carson for my own reasons, but his essay there is a fine example of listing the options, not doing any of them.

Frank Turk said...

Ref --

You've had your (off-topic) moment of disputation.

Back to the topic at-hand, please.

Frank Rue said...

You know, now that you point out what it very subtly *doesn't* say, I see what you mean.

Trueman's retort on the problem of para-church ministries and their lack of divinely-appointed, biblical guidelines for accountability and discipline was excellent, as well.

Parachurch organizations will always enable such problems to fester in the name of "keeping the peace/unity". I'm glad you've said something and hope it's heard.

I'm still trying to follow this ^^^^ other guy's non-sequitur. Good luck with that.

Brian said...

James MacDonald is a great guy and I believe he and HBC is truly being used by the Lord to bring many into the kingdom. Unfortunately, however, he brought this on himself by retweeting it. So, perhaps everything could be cleared up by him answering the following question(s)- "James, do you believe that Thabiti Anyabwile is more interesting in picking fights with other believers than he is in faithfully proclaiming the Gospel to the world? Because yor retweet of Warren would appear that way."

Canyon Shearer said...


The last church I under-shepherded had some really nasty things swept under the carpet that very few knew about...they festered there and ultimately brought the church down. We cannot afford to have the gangrene of sin (hidden or open) go ignored.

Reformation said...

Copy Frank. The justifiable notice has been rendered. Back on topic.

dac said...


Please sit down

I agree with you

It is a difficult thing to strive for unity in the Gospel, which is a worthy task that they have undertaken. Yet, with the things that have been said, those same things cannot be ignored.

It's a conundrum. A regular gordian knot.

Sad really.

Robert said...

I can only see one person (so far) at the TGC who has acted appropriately with this whole matter...Thabiti. I don't see how anybody over there has not voiced their concerns on the TD Jakes invitation to ER 2012 and even worse nobody has done anything about the retweet of Warren's ridiculous comment about Thabiti voicing his concerns (which are justifiable and credible) about the actions of a fellow member of TGC and whether he feels comfortable staying a member of the coalition because of those actions.

I can honestly say that I would expect a much different reaction from the other contributors to this blog if one of you decided to invite Jakes to a conference that you are pretty much in charge of. And you don't even call yourself a coalition. And I'd also expect that the person receiving counsel/rebuke would take it well. That is just based on what I have seen here, though.

CR said...

So, Dan is not the only person that gets mistaken for Phil.

thomastwitchell said...

"So, Dan is not the only person that gets mistaken for Phil."

Well its not like there are a plethora of choices. It's like... "lip-balm?"

Reformation said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Reformed and Renewed said...

Of course Frank, I can for my self only hope that these men, which have become role models to many of us, ordinary street sweepers. That they Stay true and focused to what they say and what they do. and uncompromised. As dfar as I can see much preaching that goes on, is unclear and unfocused. I pray they get right what they set out to do.

prophecology said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
K. Dietz said...

Just based on a general understanding of MacDonald's ecclesiology, I can't begin to understand how he might agree with Warren's tweet. I give MacDonald the benefit of the doubt that he was retweeting just to stir up more of a rebuttal against Warren, who was clearly out of line. People don't always RT out of affirmation.

Still, you're absolutely right that SOMETHING needs to be done. Maybe it's as simple as MacDonald clarifying what he meant. However, If he does nothing, I expect the sheer volume of accusations flying in his direction may force him to go the way of Mahaney. Tragic, really.

Frank Turk said...

One spam comment deleted; one failure to heed good counsel comment deleted.


Tom Chantry said...

One spam comment deleted; one failure to heed good counsel comment deleted.

One reader scratching his head trying to figure out the difference between these two...

Robert said...

K. Dietz,

The problem with your assumption about MacDonald's thinking here is the fact that one would think that his theology would keep him from inviting TD Jakes to a conference. That is why Thabiti Anyabwile wrote the article that Rick Warren tweeted about in the first place. And honestly, I'd say that Anyabwile having such concerns and not voicing them would be more like watching Rome burn while fiddling, although unlike Nero he wouldn't have started the fire in the first place. Leave it to Rick Warren to totally blunder that.

I agree with Frank. The fact that nobody from TGC has said anything publicly about this is upsetting. Of course, I had the same concerns over Driscoll lumping all cessationists together and saying they are essentially atheists and also videos of what he calls discernment and nobody at TGC publicly saying anything about that. Of course, I also think that apologetics is just as critical when talking to people inside the church as it is when talking to the lost. We have to be able to draw some lines and maintain some order, after all.

Alex Guggenheim said...

Often men point to their orthodoxy to disguise their other erring views and practices. Whether some good men who might believe MacDonald has overstepped vital bounds or not, thus warrants dismal, should be swept by one indiscriminate charge of "lunatic" remains to be debated but MacDonald, if he continues as he has, will find himself there by public consensus whether TGC responds that way or not. But maybe he will curtail himself sufficiently to always play at the edge without falling over. He does seem to like it there which speaks something to which those endorsing his ministry should pay close attention.

But what I see, as of late, with the TGC and many peripheral leaders in the modern Reformed churches who promote their association with TGC in response to such issues (another person already mentioned SGM) are features that mirror the Fundamentalists of the 60'- 80's and their silence or justification of such excesses with few voices speaking out.

Obviously their pedigree is not the same as those Fundamentalists and no such suggestion is being made but they are on the path of developing a form of silence and justification to obvious breaches in sound judgment, associations and some doctrinal issues, that will not add to whatever potency as an coalition that they wish to retain but will, instead, diminish their gravity in the eyes of those who consider their resources and influence.

Tom Chantry said...

We should have seen this coming. That a number of good and honorable men participate in the Gospel Coalition is beyond question. It is also clearly a good thing to want to love Christians outside one's own ecclesiastical boundaries. But the very public nature of this fellowship made this moment inevitable.

Sooner or later each member of the Gospel Coalition needs to ask, what matters more: the Gospel, or the Coalition?

Michael Lawmaster said...

"Sooner or later each member of the Gospel Coalition needs to ask, what matters more: the Gospel, or the Coalition?"

It is not only for the Gospel Coalition but for us all. Excellent comment Tom.

Robert said...

Good comment, Tom...I was thinking the same thing right before I popped back in here and read it. Too many people are in the coalition to allow time for making sure nobody has a serious issue with what one of the others might be doing. What is disturbing to me is the lack of response to the one voice that is raising a reasonable concern.

Also, I wanted to throw out the fact that this little snippet from a footnote from "God's Wisdom in Proverbs" seems to apply here (at least to me) - "Horrible teaching bears horrible fruit." This is a different application than from the book, but I certainly think that teaching is not only done in Sunday School, seminaries, or sermons. These guys are teaching by example and they have learned from examples in their past. I'd say that it is telling that many people (not all, but many) seem to get defensive whenever a prominent older pastor from California offers advice to a group (and some of the leaders of that group) that would seem to have a strong following within TGC.

Internet said...

The Gospel Coalition pastors and other big name Reformed preachers form a grouping a bit like the USCCB [usccb.org]. However, unlike the USCCB, Reformed pastors publicly rebuke one another (and especially non-Reformed ministers) because they have no closed-door forum (nor a higher authority) to iron out their collective differences. This is the Achilles' heel of Calvinism and Protestantism in general.

The world is now a witness to your lack of charity toward one another as captured by digital media.

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).

Frank Turk said...

Tom --

You ask a question which I think is covered by a very significant maxim:

"Unity in Truth."

Which takes priority -- or does one have to take priority? Do they have to be exclusive?

The answer to this question is really a foundational issue of ecclesiology and even soteriology.

donsands said...

Well its not like there are a plethora of choices. It's like... "lip-balm?"-Thomas T.

Yep: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHVpJGXZ21o

Good word Cent. Lord bless our brothers in TGC. Amen.

Frank Turk said...

"Internet" -

Anonymous people criticizing people who wear their words on their foreheads and show their faces when they do whatever it is they do is problematic at best.

Feel free to do better next time.

DJP said...

"By this shall all men know that you are my disciples: by anonymous snipers lecturing actual laborers by means of misapplied theory."

Learn it, love it, live it.

Eric said...

I've heard before that "someone on the internet is wrong" and now I also find out that the internet itself is wrong.

Robert said...


So Paul was wrong and we shouldn't follow his model? Or his epsitles just shouldn't be in the canon maybe?


Speaking for myself here...I'd say that the truth should define our unity. The Bible should be our guiding source of truth in all matters and when something divides us, we should go to Scripture to bring unity. And if we don't agree on Scripture, then how can we really be unified in everything? The things that Scripture doesn't define clearly can be left for discussion, but I think there is disagreement there, too. The thing is...do you truly believe Scripture is clear on certain issues? If so, then why would you feel comfortable not offering correction to somebody who goes against Scripture on any one of those issues?

Frank Turk said...

Eric -


Frank Turk said...


Preach it.

The Damer said...

Our family relocated this spring but for close to 20 years we had been pastored by a current TGC Council member and have been very thankful for his leadership and wisdom. It seems to me that the Carson/Keller post did in fact hit at this issue in the most direct way that either of those two would. I have it on good information that they have been fireworks at Council meetings and that MacDonald has been at the center of it. It appears that he and Mark Driscoll(especially after the Scotland Incident) are on double top secret probation.

Frank Turk said...

Robert -

I think someone like "internet" has a problem defining a handful of words:

"iron out"

Think of how much his (her?) comment would have been improved if he (she?) could define all those words properly.

Frank Turk said...

Rumors about "double-secret probation" are rumors - gossip. Sinning on our part does not excuse the appearance of inaction on their part. It also doesn't justify either action.

DJP said...

Frank, it's like the end of Raiders, isn't it?

"What are you doing about this open error?"

"We have top men on it."

"But who? Doing what?"

"Top. Men."

Robert said...


I'm sure you're right...Paul's epistles are always the first thing that come to mind anytime that anybody comes out saying that calling people to account publicly for things they have done publicly is something that tears apart the church and that it should not be done. If that is the case, then we need to wipe out some of the canon, right? But then where do we turn for our source of truth and authority? Sounds a lot like the RCC to me - and after hearing my pastor talk about the origins of worshiping the queen of heaven and what the hat the pope wears seems to resemble, I'm less comfy than ever with that!

Tom Chantry said...

Since everyone else has pointed out that the Internet is both a sneaky secret agent and also an ironically hateful prophet of love, let me point out something else: the Internet has completely failed to comprehend Frank's post.

It is right and proper for a response to be private at first, but the issues here are very public, and if there is no public response, damage is done.

Now, for the real kicker: If Frank Turk is not understood by the Internet, he's done!

Daryl said...

Wait wait wait!!

I thought Frank Turk WAS the internet.

Have I been wrong? Am I that someone on the internet about whom we've heard so much???


Robert said...

Frank Turk is a menace and he must be stopped!

olan strickland said...

Seems to me that Driscol and MacDonald like Perry Noble's motive and method of "p...ing" off "religious" people.

What should they do? OOOOHHHH! Invite a modalist heretic to the ER. That should do it!

Then, having cleverly set the church on fire, wait for the Ecumenical Guru to blame the first responders for "setting each other on fire" while the world burns. After all, it was only "religious people" set on fire by such an invitation - those Pharisees and legalists that are against unity.

That puts TGC in a tough spot. What will be their stance? Will the Gospel be more important? Will their "influence" be more important? Will getting along (ecumenical unity) trump the Truth?

Doing nothing, in the end, will be a stance against the Gospel.

Robert said...


Since we've been whisked away into the whole Nero burning Rome scene, maybe we should encourage all involved to read 1 Peter and see how he encouraged those Christians being persecuted throughout modern-day Turkey because of that whole mess. That would be quite ironic for Warren's tweet (and Macdonald's retweet) to lead to something along those lines...

olan strickland said...


I agree. Those standing for the Gospel ought to be encouraged by those who KNOW the truth. As the apostle Paul told the Christians at Rome, we should be filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another (Romans 15:14).

Being filled with all knowledge is speaking of the Word of God, revealed transcendent knowledge. Without knowing God's Word one cannot also admonish (encourage, warn, advise). The two go hand in hand.

MacDonald needed a warning for his compromise. Instead he received encouragement from Rick Warren. Nuff said.

Frank Turk said...


it's a trap.

Robert said...

Happy to see the update and that MacDonald and Anyabwile spoke together. I still believe he should offer a better response to clarify his retweet because there are so many others who saw it, but at least he has spoken directly with him.

Frank Turk said...

I am now composing a post on the issues of unity, truth, and what it means when we say we ought to seek "unity in truth."

You will all enjoy it, I am sure.

JR said...

I appreciate the ministry of TeamPyro, but what is this...the second or third week on this subject?

It's a tweet, folks. Grasping.....

DJP said...

I already disagree and am offended, Frank, morally obliging you to make me happy again.

DJP said...

Moved to action by the anonymous JR, I go back to delete all repeat posts on topics like Gospel, Bible, holiness and such.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

What constitutes a Christian friendship? It has to be grounded in truth, which is God’s truth, or you have no basis on which to grow a deep spiritual friendship.

I had a very good friendship with a sister in Christ, who once loved the sovereignty of God, as that which is espoused faithfully by Calvinists. She now has accepted the teachings of Jacob Arminius, and has started referring to the Calvinist God as a “monster.”

There was no question that our “Christian” friendship would be dissolved. That is not to say that I would not help her in time of need, pray diligently for her, or try (which I have) to counsel her back to sanity. But to have any basis for a “Christian” friendship based on her hatred for a sovereign God, is simply out of the question.

God considers allegiance to Him as a non-negotiable proposition. We cannot serve two masters (Mat 6:24; Luke 16:13). We ALL need to choose this day whom we will serve, whether it is our friendships with man or our friendship with God.

Thabiti Anyabwile, Mark Dever, Carl Trueman, and Ray Ortland are all to be commended for their courage to speak the truth.

JR said...

C'mon, DJP...

During last week's fracas I continued to mention the slandering picture/poster that accompanied TA's original multisite post. A picture/poster of Furtick that he admitted was in poor taste, deeply apologized for and took down. I don't appreciate teh ministry of Furtick any more than the rest of you, but TA did the right thing. The picture was unfair.

It has never been addressed that this is possibly what Macdonalds RT was referring to. If it is, the whole conversation is worth abandoning.

The RT also doesn't say whether MacDonald was affirming Warren's sentiments or simply getting them out there. Perhaps this is why the TGC hasn't issued anything. You simply don't know he motive of the RT, which comes back to the fact that we communicate more effectively when we use more than 140 characters.

Frank Turk said...


There are more things wrong with that tweet than can be covered in one open letter. I literally have a list of 7 open letters possible from that tweet, and we have worked out 2 of them.

I'll refund your cost of reading if you simply can't abide it.

Robert said...


I'll add that there is a good analysis of how to determine how to wisely choose Christian friends in a book on Proverbs by some blogger. It is somewhere in Chapter 6.

Frank Turk said...

For the record, JR: I think there's no question what Warren was talking about in his original tweet. He linked to the post, not the image -- and the image, frankly, was not in anything like bad taste or poor judgment. It was certainly imflammatory, but Furtick is inflammatory, as is his mentor/cohort/side-kick Perry Noble.

But think on what you are saying here: in Warren's view, the graphic is both defaming a brother in Christ and sending the world to hell. One graphic underscoring the infantile fame-mongering of one guy who, frankly, doesn't grow up pastors but grows up venues for his act. You know: because growing up pastors requires one to "go deep," and they don't do that at his church. He abhors people who say they want that.

If we contemplate your complaint, it gets worse, not better.

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

Robert --

You should link to that book. I'll bet people would buy it.

DJP said...

Turns out I do know JR, and like him; just has no profile. So he's not-anonymous-to-me! (I have Secret Knowledge! Cool!) (Enough exclamation points!)

I do reaffirm, if slightly less stridently, that (A) repetition is the soul of instruction, (B) it's foolish to assume that everyone has read every post, and (C) if a problem is ongoing, so is the need for a solution.

And to many problems, Frank Turk is the solution.

Your Honor, I rest my case.

Robert said...


As sad as this may seem, I don't know how to link in my comments. I'll try what I found by searching for how to, though:

Y'all all need to buy a copy of this.

I guess if this works I won't have an excuse any more...

Tom Chantry said...

As I read this meta - itself a microcosm of the last several weeks, I am astounded.

A pastor who is a part of a gospel-defined fellowship invites heretics to help define how we grow the church. Those who speak up about it are dismissed as schismatics and quite literally told to move along - two weeks is too much on this topic. Another pastor in that fellowship speaks up about a pair of infantile preachers whose sole qualification for fame is that they hate the church more than atheits do - and we're told that he was being provocative and uncharitable.

Has the world gone mad, or just the church? Is secondary separation the only direction we can go to avoid such nonsense?

Almost they have convinced me to be a Fundamentalist.

Tom Chantry said...

I'll try what I found by searching for how to, though:

Thank goodness he didn't accidentally link to Love Wins!

Robert said...

Tom Chantry,

I'll once again go back to this:

"Horrible teaching bears horrible fruit."

What you have detailed is just a manifestation of this principle that Dan laid out in a footnote from his book.

Robert said...


Only by the grace of God!

JR said...

I just think we are performing some eisegesis on that tweet, which is almost necessary when that medium is used.

Warren is an easy target (not a size joke)...and I think that aiming at the fully formed flaws in his hyper pragmatism would seem more tangible. Or is that subject tired? Wait, there goes my point...

I'm just relieved DJP likes me. And yes...please circle back to the Bible, the gospel, and the cross on occasion.

Thanks, guys.

Frank Turk said...

Dan has just ruined my day, because the domain "thesolution.[all]" is not available.

Dave said...

Galatians 1:9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

Frank Turk said...


Brian said...


Thanks for deleting my comments. Or Frank. BTW, I was dissapointed to find out that the Lifeway Bookstore in Tampa I went to did not carry even one copy of TWTG. And not because they were sold out. After having been out of the country for almost three years I am hungry to get something meaty to read. Now I need to find it somewhere else or just order it online I guess.

dac said...


just to be clear, Warrens tweet was two days after the right reverend had posted his apology and removed the photo of Furick. So if Warren was tweeting about that photo, he had not been paying attention. Or something.

JR said...


Nice detective work.

My argument appears weak.

I'll commence radio silence.

BrettR said...

You wrote that this would be something to benefit the "weaker brother" if you allow me to paraphrase.

I am that weaker brother raised in a church that has done no visible church discipline. I would like to at least see a non-church do it right as an example since I am not seeing it locally. Please, please give me an example of discipline done well. I'm begging you.

There are many of us out here who take a stand on the gospel week after week and get pragmatized and sissy-fied drivel shot pack at us with pea shooters with the throng siding with whatever feels good at the time (pragmatism).

All I am asking for is "some" public display. Has Pastor Dever made any public statement?

And on the update: hate the hash tags, dude. I can agree to disagree with my wife over china patterns; there is no "agree to disagree" over who my wife shares a bed with. That will be settled with the highest caliber that I can get my hands on.

Tom Chantry said...

Brett, re. the update:

As someone said in this meta, tweets are tough to exegete, lacking context as they do. If the tweet in the update was about the propriety of the earlier re-tweet of Warren, then perhaps it's appropriate. On the other hand, if it is an attempt to bring conclusion to the discussion Thabiti began about the invitation to Jakes, it is woefully inadequate.

BrettR said...

Tom Chantry:

Agree. Solid.

Robert Warren said...

Re: #agreetodisagree

"One of the favorite slogans of our age is, 'Let's just agree to disagree'—and then virtually every point of truth is blithely set aside as trivial and unnecessary. That mentality—a refusal to fight for the truth—has done horrific damage to our churches and to the evangelical movement. It is not loving at all.
'Let's just agree to disagree.'
Well, no. How about we just argue until one of us actually refutes the other and we come to a common understanding of God's Word? How is that 'unloving'?"
Phil Johnson

Frank Turk said...

Change is good, unless I have to change. Then I have to ask why you hate me - I'm not that bad.

ANiMaL said...

Glad to see JM respond. Sad to see it ends with #agreetodisagree.

It's so me.

Why don't we just say "I'm sorry"? Why must we say "ok, we hashed it out and, well, we agree to not accuse anyone of wrong doing and we can just agree to disagree."

Am I too cynical? I was very humbled by Thabiti's apology to Furtick whom he had no intention of insulting. His apology read like one.

ANiMaL said...

James 5:16 - "confess your sins"

Americans 10:19:2011 - "confess your reconciliation"

Paul to Peter in front of Everyone: "What the heck you doing?"

Peter to Everyone: "Ok, Peter and I talked and we worked it out."

Gosh, I so see myself doing these things. Am I still allowed to comment if I'm totally guilt of my gripe?

Rachael Starke said...

Can I offer up a clarification that Warren's link was to the Multi-Site post, not the one on the Elephant Room that came later? And it was, as dac mentioned, two days after the picture was removed.

IOW, the whole agreetodisagree is in relation to multi-site churches

Trying to move the elephant aside (as it were), it's a great start that MacDonald and Anyabwile have sorted that piece out. It would be even better if the next conversation was between MacDonald and Warren about tweeting first, thinking/reading/pondering second.

I do agree with JR's general point that tweeting "concentrates" the challenges of gracious communicating, even more than blogging does. It's still a very new medium. That doesn't give Christians, particularly shepherds, a pass in stopping to think carefully about how they use it. Pastors are always, always leading. Even if it's in the wrong direction. When they do, they need to model owning that and fixing it.

tingleberries said...

Good call Frank.

From the TGC essay by Carson:
"We disagree not only on some historic dogmatic matters (e.g., baptism, church governance) but also on an array of pastoral judgments (e.g., multisite churches, approaches to evangelism)---which are of course themselves grounded in our respective understandings of theological issues."

Wasn't the point of the elephant room conference to discuss matters of how we "do" church? If they can't agree on ministry objectives/methods, then how do they expect to be "together" for the gospel? The local church is the God-ordained method of the spread of the gospel. If you can't get church right, you can't get ministry right. A "coalition" may be a good thing, but how useful is it if it differs on such an essential issue?

Thanks Frank. Praise the Lord for the work in the lives of the Pyromaniacs.

David Regier said...


There's a chapter in your Proverbs book that really speaks to these issues, but I really appreciate how you handled it in last week's Hitler and Thatcher.

DJP said...

< facepalm >

David Regier said...

Get back to your comic books, Dan.

Frank Turk said...

I'm doubling your Gadfly assignments, Regier.

Rachael Starke said...

I'm doubling your Gadfly assignments, Regier.

Noooooooo!! Please don't do that. His last one made me weep.

In a good way, just for the record.

Noah said...

So off topic, but...

Those last 4 comments were the funniest I've read since the all-Ackbar H&T a few weeks ago on BibChr...


Tom Chantry said...

Can I offer up a clarification that Warren's link was to the Multi-Site post, not the one on the Elephant Room that came later? And it was, as dac mentioned, two days after the picture was removed.

IOW, the whole agreetodisagree is in relation to multi-site churches

Respectfully, I think you're oversimplifying. Thabiti put up the multi-site post just before the Jakes announcement; when that announcement was made he added his voice to those questioning it. Subsequent to that came the Warren Tweet and the MacDonald retweet. How are we supposed to know what another tweet - much later - expressing a personal reconciliation which includes "agreeing to disagree" is about? Thabiti has said that the multi-site post wasn't an attack on Macdonald - so, there are three possibilities that I can see.

1. We agree to disagree about whether multi-site churches are bad.

2. We agree to disagree about whether Anyabwile was attacking MacDonald.

3. We agree to disagree as to whether an anti-trinitarian shill for the prosperity gospel is a good voice to hear from on how to build the body of Christ.

Now, I'm maybe guessing, but Thabiti might have agreed to disagree on the first, probably wouldn't agree to disagree on the second, and certainly wouldn't agree to disagree on the third.

Question is, is MacDonald trying to say anything with today's tweet? Or is it another attempt to brush everyone aside and say, "nothing to see here - there's no elephant in my room.

Just Jules said...


Eager to read your post on unity and truth, as I think it is a watershed issue.

Just Jules said...

p.s. not a fan pf cryptic tweets from prominent Christian leaders.

southerngospelyankee said...

#agreetodisagree Meh. Blech. I'm with everyone else. Whatever happened to the good old-fashioned fencing match? May the best man win and all that. None of this group hug stuff. That's for the care bears.

I missed the Furtick thing. What was that all about?

Rachael Starke said...

@Tom - Thanks. I agree with you on your disagreement with me over the possible meanings of an unclear tweet/retweet/commentary on tweet/retweet.

In all seriousness, those are better helpful questions.

And also in all seriousness, my brain really is starting to to sort of seize up over this thing.

Maybe we need to get Thabiti, James, Rick AND T.D. all in a room to explain themselves, maybe livestream it so we could all understand more clearly.....

Tom Chantry said...


Banging my head on my desk now.

Robert said...


Now can you identify the elephant in that hypothetical room?

Frank Turk said...

I think they agree to disagree on multi-site. And I think they accept that from each other as it is not about the first things of the Gospel.

That's doesn't mean I wholly agree with that, but that's my exegesis.

Tom Chantry said...


I suspect you're right, but then...

...what matters more right now? Multi-site? Alleged Celebrity? Or something a bit bigger? All in all, it's a nothing - a drop in the ocean. I'm glad two brothers can disagree in love (a better terminology than agree to disagree), but there are greater issues at stake, and this "resolution" ignores them.

Robert said...

So, Tom, do you think this might just be a distraction from the issue by MacDonald? I know we can't see into his heart, but I think that the whole thing kinda stinks as it sits right now.

Tom Chantry said...

I'm not speaking to the motivation in any way, Robert. I just mean that there is more than one issue between these two guys, and I very much doubt that the major one got cleaned up.

Robert said...


I know you weren't...I was raising the question mostly because the people involved at the heart of this need to ask themselves that question when they decide what they are going to do. I certainly hope that they will and that they will follow the guidance of Scripture. Of course, that might have prevented most of this mess in the first place.

Frank Turk said...

Tom --

I did write an open letter on this very subject today ...

... :-)

Frank Turk said...

BTW - when you make comment #100 in a thread, you're supposed to say "100!"

That's anew rule, and I'm going to spill red kool aid on the ones who don't follow it in the future.

Frank Turk said...


DJP said...

So as an administrator, the cool thing is that I could just delete comments that add nothing to the meta, make mine #100, then yell "100!"

Let's see: Ctrl + Home, Ctrl + F, f-r-a-n-k t-u-r-k...

Solameanie said...

Reading through the meta, when I got to a certain point, I was ready to post the immortal "it's a trap" line, but a greater mind beat me to it.

So now I'll just say "good post, Frank." ;)

Tom Chantry said...

BTW - when you make comment #100 in a thread, you're supposed to say "100!"

That's anew rule, and I'm going to spill red kool aid on the ones who don't follow it in the future.

Well, if we're going to conduct ourselves like an NBA fanblog, I'm going to wake myself up every Wednesday morning just after midnight and post "FIRST!!!!!" Not even gonna read the letter, either.

Robert said...


I'll keep that in mind. I'd probably serve the conversation better to just say "100!" Plus, my wife might not be too pleased if I get red kool aid stains on my clothes...

Robert said...

Well, if we're going to conduct ourselves like an NBA fanblog

What NBA fans? You mean there are some left after all of this nonsense with the latest lockout?


Frank Turk said...

Chantry reads NBA fan blogs?

I thought we vetted him before we let him guest post ...

Bob said...

such witty bantor all around. Can we talk about Jesus now?

southerngospelyankee said...

Seeing C. J. in the GC clip reminded me... did you guys choose to say anything about the Sovereign Grace ruckus, or did you keep quiet about it? I thought it looked like a weird situation...

Sir Aaron said...


I am now composing a post on the issues of unity, truth, and what it means when we say we ought to seek "unity in truth."

You will all enjoy it, I am sure

You could really save yourself some time if you just posted the title..."open letter to {insert name here}" and opened up the comments. I mean some wont read your open letter anyways, some will attribute the post to Phil regardless of who actually authored it, and the comments will mostly be off-topic anyways (like this one).

You can pay me later.

Frank Turk said...


I didn't know any of us were affiliated with SGM?

Oh, yeah -- that's right. Unless we side with the critics everytime, we're evil.

Here's Phil's comment on it and I hope he makes good on writing a full post on the subject later this month.

Bob said...

I didn't know any of you were affiliated with TGC. Hmm, gotta get my head out of the sand. Sorry for my interruption.

thepaperthinhymn.com said...

True story: on Oct 14, Steven Furtick tweeted "People who pick apart the theology of a tweet usually reveal their total misunderstanding of the 140 character platform"

I responded back with "because truth about god, the bible, and jesus cannot "really" be communicated in under 140 characters?"

Steven Furtick retorted
"That's exactly what I meant! You nailed it! You're so brilliant! God bless you!!! "

I asked him "you don't agree that every medium we use ought to clearly and precisely communicate truth, be it twitter or a vimeo video?"

and that was the last I heard from him

Dan said...

@Tom Chantry,

I have conclusive "evidence" that the #agreetodisagree hashtag refers to your point #3. Please look closely at this un-doctored un-photoshopped screenshot.


(But, in all seriousness, I understand your concerns. I hope a future post by either one of them clarifies the matter.)

Frank Turk said...


As someone who has had blog posts carried by TGC's web site, I guess you're right.

Frank Turk said...

This post is not about Steven Furtick, [Carla Simon lyric punchline omitted].

Frank Turk said...

This video is also not about Steven Furtick. #JustSayin

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Such a funny video, Frank.

Classic line: The Bible says to judge them by their fruit, doesn't say what to do if the teacher is a fruit.

Robert said...

I wanna burn 'em

I want them to stand up in school and say, "I'm a flamer"

Have you ever wanted to stab somebody in the head with a pencil?

What is sad is that I can actually imagine some youth pastors saying things that are almost this nonsensical.

Chris Nelson said...

I'm glad to hear of the reconciliation. Now I can go to the elephant room site and see that the heretic Jakes has been disinvited. Wait, he is still prominently featured. What did they reconcile about?