31 October 2007

Please Please Me

by Phil Johnson

From time to time we pull classic comments up out of an old thread's combox. This is one of those. It's a fitting footnote to Monday's post, and in a field of hundreds of e-mails and comments filled with unsolicited advice about what style of blog we ought to be operating, the comment that prompted this reply was the best so far:

L__________: "It seems to me that TeamPyro could learn a thing or two from the L'abri model."

Tell you what: You donate a retreat center in the Alps (or better yet, the Sierras) where we can dialogue around tables with coffee and hot chocolate, and we'll give "the L'Abri model" a try. K?

But this isn't L'Abri; it's a blog. We've never advertised our blog as the place for people to come for help and handholding while they work through their personal doubts. (We're happy to offer that kind of counsel when we legitimately can, but let's be honest: the ratio of sincere answer-seekers to people with already-fixed but contrary opinions is really pretty low around here. We do, however, work hard to make the distinction.) If you seriously are contending that we are never patient or thorough with people who raise legitimate questions, you prolly haven't read the blog very long.

Still, we're not here to offer expertise on anything and everything in the realm of philosophical apologetics. (See Triablogue for that, but be forewarned: they aren't always avuncular, either.) We're mainly posting commentary about selected biblical, doctrinal, and church-related issues that we have studied and feel strongly about, along with an occasional note of humor or satire. And then we're providing a forum for the candid discussion of those things.

We do still happen to hold the (ancient, not "modern") conviction that not all points of view are equally valid. In fact, it's our conviction (along with the best of the primitive saints) that the most valid points of view are those that most closely reflect what the Bible says. And we definitely are trying to get closer to that mark. We're not going to deliberately blur whatever seems clear to us just so postmodernized people will think we're "nice."

Remember, people who came to L'Abri in Schaeffer's time usually weren't drive-by contrarians writing graffiti on the walls there, and they weren't people who handed out public scoldings while decrying public scoldings, or pleading for open-mindedness while ending their diatribes with remarks like "That's my opinion. I'm sticking to it."

In fact, visitors to Schaeffer's home at L'Abri didn't generally come to argue at all. Most of them were really, sincerely raising legitimate questions and looking for answers or help to overcome their doubts. When they asked questions, they received thoughtful replies—and they were expected to give thoughtful consideration to those replies. They didn't swarm the place with vitriol and snark whenever they didn't like the answers they received.

That said, if someone has serious questions or doubts and wants to be gently stepped through a series of answers, email me. You'll find that when someone is sincerely seeking help, there are few more patient counselors than I am. But if you're someone already devoted to a lie who just wants to play to the gallery here, you're not going to be mollycoddled.

As I said, we work hard to make that distinction. Fair enough?

Phil's signature


Phil Johnson said...

Note to all members of TeamPyro:

We'll be voting on the new dress code (Lederhosen and a soul patch) before the close of business today.

DJP said...

Well, I vote "Yes" on accepting donations of chalets in the Sierra, if that's of any help.

For strictly theological purposes, you understand.

Jim from OldTruth.com said...

Give me the truth, don't worry about being "nice" to me. Truth is the nicest thing there is.

Thanks for your blog Phil, not to mention Spurgeon.org, GTY, and your excellent S&T sermons. Don't get discouraged by the "you're not nice enough" crowd.

Anonymous said...

Why am I craving a Ricola?

Jonathan Moorhead said...

mollycoddle: to treat someone very indulgently or protectively.

~Mark said...

Hey Phil,

thanks for being there. I meet a high percentage of pastors and teachers these days who seem to assume that every question asked which is a common or seemingly obviously-answered question (for example: dinosaurs in Scripture)is deserving of immediate scorn.

It's refreshing when someone who has the knowledge also has the patience and wisdom to apply it in answering or pointing to the answer.

There's a time to be quick and a time to counsel, and you seem to do a pretty good job of knowing which is which, and better yet, are willing to acknowledge that there's a time for each.

Rock on,


(Gonna hafta get you and the team on our radio show someday...)

greglong said...

What's wrong with Rochester, MN?

donsands said...

Jesus told us to go the extra mile, and also tells us to kick the dust off at the end of the mile if you have to.

Lane Chaplin said...

Very well said, Phil.

beachbirdie said...

Right on! (oops...70s vernacular for "well said".)

I appreciate you all very much, you've been incredibly helpful to me.

Happy Reformation Day.

SolaMeanie said...

Lederhosen and clogs are fine, but I get very nervous every time I see the word "avuncular." It makes me think someone is going to put a stent into one of my heart ventricles.

SolaMeanie said...


Ricola drops are all well and good, but blowing an Alpenhorn in your neighborhood might well set off a riot. Be warned.

Pastor Steve said...

Phil, what would your tips be to a fellow pastor on discerning when someone is looking for a fight vs. when someone is really searching? When should you chastise someone for their views vs. teach them? Thanks.

mkz said...

I had an avuncle once, surgery was necessary. Now I walk more narrowly.


Mollycoddle: to treat someone very indulgently or protectively.

Mollyhock: earnestly contending for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

DJP said...

Pastor Steve — I'm not Phil, so adjust the value of the response downward. But here's my suggestion:

When you answer a question, is there a gain? If there are further questions, are they for clarification?

Or is the question simply repeated as if you'd never responded, or followed by an instant attempt at refutation? Or is it simply replaced by another question, and another, and another, without any gain?

Those behaviors can, I think, be pretty good (not inerrant) clues.

centuri0n said...

The dress code is out. The chalet in the Sierra is fine, and I won't make any "brokeback" jokes ...

... except that one ...

Stefan said...

There should be a chalet in the Ozarks, just for Cent.

DJP said...

Pastor Steve, check around comments 139 and 140 in the meta immediately preceding this one for an illustration.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I'm the odd man out in my circle of friends and family. I actually prefer the truth told to me, even if it's from a crotchety, contankerous, contentious Christian to a lie or shaded truth told to me in love by a well-meaning Christian.

"Tone" is over-emphasized and over-rated. Echoing Jim from oldtruth: Truth is the nicest thing there is.


Stephen Newell said...

A couple of hours after reading this post, I read this:

"As Thomas Jefferson wisely said, 'Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.' To be so unwavering is bondage to tradition or to a pastor or to a principle -- but not to the Lord. We must not be merely orthodox critics but Spirit-motivated doers."

That's from Will Metzger's Tell the Truth.

It dawned on me, considering the proximity in time in which I read this post and the quote above, that many of Team Pyro's readers think you're only the part in regular italics. They never (if at all) see the part in bold italics that you guys do in your daily lives. Thus you're just loudmouthed ignoramuses who ought to just bow at their feet.

Since none of us (okay, maybe most of us) will ever see another's Spirit-motivated doing on this blog, perhaps the critics of this blog could stand to afford the Pyros a little bit of the charity they are so eager to say they are denied by the Pyros. Either that or we could just direct them back to Mr. Turk's previous comments about charity. ;-)

As for me and my house, we will thank and pray for you.

Charles E. Whisnant said...

Phil and the team

Thanks, again for the Pyromaniacs. You move me to study the Word more. The time you guys take to post is amazing, with all the other ministries you are involved with. It must be the mirrors, oh the Holy Spirit's power. Thanks again.


centuri0n said...

Phil is the really busy one. Well, Phil and Dan are the busy ones. All I do is get people all tizzied up, and I kinda enjoy it -- you can't call that work, although I am certain it is "like ministry".

Pastor Steve said...


Thanks for taking the time to answer and point out an example. I see what you mean. As a pastor I have a heart to teach people the truth, but sometimes I think I tend to waste too much time on someone who isn't interested in it.

I have a guy in my church (non-member) who is a preterist and we are beginning to study this together, but he has no interest in coming to our Sunday school class where we are studying how to correctly interpret the Bible, including prophecy. I'm wondering whether to continue to pursue this with him, or to "require" him to come to Sunday school to see if he is serious.

It seems like a lot of people are willing to take my time outside of church to answer their questions, but they won't come to church where there questions are naturally being answered through solid exposition. I feel like I am teaching every lesson twice and spinning my wheels at times.

Devin said...

Aargh. I'm kicking myself this morning because I was "nice" yesterday. I was in an art class in which the subject of Halloween came up and how Americans treat it with near-religious reverence (while simultaneously secularizing actual religious holidays). Our teacher is British, and by no means a religious man, but even he noticed this. Anyway, this conversation led to the dual religious practices of the model and her husband - she was Catholic, and her husband was Pagan, and they both celebrated their own traditions and holidays, she said. In summary, she said, "It's not something we get worked up about; we respect each other's beliefs. After all, whatever works for you, you know?"

To add insult to injury, the student she was having that conversation with agreed with her - and the student attended a Lutheran church. I know because she was the only other person in class who recognized what I was talking about when I mentioned the actual religious holiday yesterday, Reformation Day.

The modern/postmodern mindset has so infected our brains, and I've grown so timid. I largely kept my mouth shut, but thinking about it now, I'm kicking myself for not even questioning the logic of her statement, or pointing out that what she was talking about wasn't religion, but self-delusion; religion-as-therapy; no God that exists independently of her and has actual traits and power, but an imaginary friend she invented. She might have thought I was an intolerant jerk, but at least she would have been forced to think about the idol she'd created.

God save me from being "nice"!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Devin writes: "God save me from being "nice"!"

Good one! There will be "nice" people separated from God for eternity. And there will be "not nice" people (by worldly standards) spending eternity in Heaven with God because they're redeemed by Christ.

Of course, I'd like to be regarded as "nice" and still be in Heaven to worship God, but if I had to choose between being "nice and unfaithful" VERSUS "un-nice and faithful", then I'd choose to be un-nice and faithful to Christ.

stratagem said...

the ratio of sincere answer-seekers to people with already-fixed but contrary opinions is really pretty low around here.

SO TRUE! (of any discussion forum, not just this blog meta).

SolaMeanie said...


Seeing your on-line handle reminds me of a great quote from Dr. Robert Morey. "Of course doctrine divides. It divides truth from error. That's why we have it."


I was in a WC clone for several years. Eventually I started reading the bible on my own (praise God) and was saved. After that I realized the full counsel of God was purposely not being preached. I still can’t quite understand that type of motivation, because Agape love requires the Truth. Love without Truth is hypocrisy.When I tried to talk to “them”
(BTW they were super nice-outside of one pastor) who commented, “That’s not the way of Jesus, dude.” In their credit though
a couple things did change. Their website removed a techno link to a
UK labyrinth that stated- Jesus was married, and Rob Bell and his
NOOMAS got discontinued from the big screen.
They still have the Ooze link up and along w/ other EC links.
Most all the leadership was “into” somebody or something emergent.
You know the names; Kimball,Pagitt, Intervarsity, Miller, Jones, Bell, etal.
Anyhow, Willow Creek leadership and ilk are guilty (SEE BELOW)
as charged. Will this leopard change its spots? God only knows.
The people who attend are not to blame. BTW, I can’t and don’t
speak for all WC churches, but the clone I was in plans on going
full blown emergent- bit by bit. My personal experience validates
Hybels is going from Seeker-Sensitive to Emergent/Emerging
theology. What does that look like? This, Culture shapes their worldview, and since culture remains in flux-so does their worldview.
If your worldview is not dictated by the bible, then you truly have a

By the way if you are listening-

Here is Hybels refute from 10yrs ago. Has anything really changed?

Myth 1
"Seeker churches preach a watered-down gospel."
Myth 2
"Seeker churches shy away from hard teachings of the Bible."
Myth 3
"Seeker churches are just into entertainment."
Myth 4
"Seeker churches are market-driven."
Myth 5
"Seeker churches are more about psychology and therapy than sin and repentance."
Myth 6
"Seeker churches downplay the holiness of God."
Myth 7
"The theology of seeker churches overestimates what humans can do, including seeking God."
Myth 8
"Seeker churches are influenced by a feminist agenda."
Myth 9
"Seeker churches practice defective evangelism because they don't 'draw the net' at every seeker service."
Myth 10
"Seeker churches oppose tradition."

Pastor Brian said...

Thanks Phil...it's hard to stay faithful without encouragement from men like you.

In our local Reformation Society meeting today (www.alliance.net), we had a visitor comment (in response to our lively discussion regarding the recent admission of failure by Willow Creek), that we should love the body of Christ, rather than criticize them. My answer..."whatever happened to love the body of Christ by warning them." Even in a likeminded group, I find it hard to muster the courage, grace and wisdom to voice the exhortation. Your words in this post (and many others like them at PYRO) encourage me to press on in the face of opposition.

Here's to the 490th anniversary of the providential exposing the heresy of the Roman Catholic gospel, and the ugliness of their church polity! Praise God for His providential workings in the history of mankind, for the good of His people, the building up of the church, and the glory of His own name!

Brian Sayers
By God's grace, bringing biblical Christianity back to New England...from Vermont, the original home of civil unions and the only socialist in congress.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

For Dr. Warnock and Rob Wilkerson:

How would you speak the truth-in-love to "Some Christian pastors embrace Scientology"

From: http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/10/31/christian.scientology/index.html

ezekiel said...


'The people who attend are not to blame."

Then who's fault is it? God's?

Amos 8:11
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:

Doug McMasters said...


Thanks for Pyro!

My vote: I lived in the Sierras and visited the Alps and Schaeffer's chalet a few months back. My vote is for the Alps!!! The cheese and sausages are much better, the air is cleaners, the mountains spectacular, and no lederhosen (or rednecks) in sight!



Here's the deal. There are always exceptions to the rule. The ones that know the deal a WC- AGREED -
That dog don't hunt!

I truly fear the lord as do you. I believe some have no idea what's going down- I didn't for a long time. Once He connected my dots I left, took awhile though.

How can you blame someone who has not entered the knowledge of the Lord?

A note to observers:
If you think you’re may have arrived at Burger King instead of you original intended destination, on your knees, before a Sovereign King Take it the bible, take it to prayer, take it to leadership--make a sober, balanced and godly decision.


Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Solameanie wrote:


Seeing your on-line handle reminds me of a great quote from Dr. Robert Morey. "Of course doctrine divides. It divides truth from error. That's why we have it.""

Thanks Solameanie! I love that quote from Dr. Morey. I've been using this on-line handle for about a year and I derived it from a footnote in my Reformation ESV Bible.


ezekiel said...


"How can you blame someone who has not entered the knowledge of the Lord?"

The WORD says that we are without excuse. If we take a good look at wc, emergent, warren, one thing becomes very obvious. The focus becomes the creature rather than the creator....

John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

That is what makes this so scary to me. Knowing that I sat there for years and thought I was ok, saved whatever you want to call it...to suddenly find out I could not have been further from the truth...

I think that guy out in the boondocks with a humble missionary tracking him down might be better of than we are. All he has seen is God's glory around him. He has never been told about it like us......

Seth McBee said...

Phil...question for you that doesn't have to do with this post so you can email me instead if you would like...

I was reading MacArthur's The God Who Loves and it says the following about the atonement...basically that Christ died for the whole world...does Dr. MacArthur still hold to this view?

Believe. Behold here, admire, and believe the great love of God to a lost world, in providing a Savior, and such a Savior, for them—even His own Son. Scripture speaks of this in a very high strain: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). There was a man-love in God: “The kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared” (Tit. 3:4). That speaks of a love of the species mankind. God’s love for humanity has appeared in two eminent instances: First, in securing, by an irreversible decree, the salvation of some of them; and second, in providing a Savior for the whole of the kind, constituting His own Son Savior to the lost family of Adam indefinitely.
Believe this truth with application to yourselves. If upon this a secret murmur begins to go through your heart, But it was not for me—crush it in the bud, for it is a bud of hell. If you are not one of the demon-kind, but one of sinful mankind, it was indeed for you. The Father gave Christ as a Savior for you, that if you would believe on Him, you should not perish. He sent His Son from heaven with full instructions and ample powers to save you, if you will believe. And is not this love? Believe it, and it will be the way to let you in to a sight of more love.
Behold here a broad and firm foundation of faith for all and every one of you. You may come to Christ whatever your case is, and you may claim His righteousness and His whole salvation for yourselves. You may hide yourselves in Him as the refuge appointed for you by the Father—a holy refuge from sin and wrath. You are as free to lay hold of Him as Savior as the bitten Israelites were to look to the brazen serpent. You may wholly trust Him to save you from sin and wrath. For He was sent by the Father as Savior of the world. And if by the Father’s appointment He is Savior of the world, He is by office your Savior, and my Savior, since we are members of that world of mankind. Therefore we may by faith claim His saving us from sin and wrath.
MacArthur, J., F., Jr. (2003, c1996). The God Who Loves. (208). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

My email is


thanks in advance


"The WORD says that we are without excuse"

Don't you think I told them that?!?!

A pig is always lookin for a mudpuddle. Should I have built a pig car wash? :)

ezekiel said...


The pig wash is here. Eph 5:26. We do however seem to have a big problem staying out of the mire. 2 Peter 2:22

Yes, you told them. We just need to keep telling them.

We are certainly in agreement. :)

But that takes us back to old Amos. Do you suppose the reason that so many suffer from the famine is because He intends it to be this way?

ezekiel said...

seth mcbee,

Romans 5:18Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

Romans 10 as well. Everything comes back to faith....

Tartanarmy said...

Great encouragement thread for me..Thanks.


Scottj said...

I really do have trouble with those who seem to want their own private sessions for Bible study, apart from the times that the Word is taught to the whole congregation. I've found these times to usually be unfruitful, and is a form of manipulation. I will, of course, visit and speak with an enquirer, but barring hospitalisation or imprisonment, I make it very clear that what they will learn from me will be together with others who are assembled together for that purpose.
I can also empathise with those who try to deal with questions, only to be answered with a "yes, but . . ." next question, as though you had said nothing at all. I think I've figured out a formula to put that to a stop: ask, "Just what further information, or confirmation, or evidence, would you require to believe that Jesus is the Christ and that you must repent of your sin and submit to Him as Lord?" If you are dealing with someone who just wants to take up your time, you'll get no answer. This is clearly an ad hominem argument, but cuts through the nonsense pretty quickly, and can save a lot of time and energy.

Scott Jacobsen
Hamilton, Ontario