26 October 2011

Open Letter to D.A. Carson & Tim Keller

by Frank Turk

Dear Dr. Carson & Dr. Keller --

As I begin to write this, I do so with a personal sense of indebtedness to both of you.  I am not merely grateful for your books and lectures and sermons which have taught me so much: I am grateful for the spirit with which you have done it all.  That is to say: while I am well-known through a reputation of being quite a pill for the sake of the Gospel, you both are known as fatherly men who have a graciousness I am certain I lack, and it is that spirit from which I learn much all the time.

Recently, you have both penned a detailed statement about the nature of the Gospel Coalition, and about its duties or relationship to its readers and also its council members.  I found this essay instructive, and useful, and clarifying in the context it was coming from, but in my view, it misses the point of the concerns of almost all the critics of the dust-up over the Elephant Room.  I wanted to offer to you an outsider's perspective on what just happened and why it is not enough merely to say what you have said so far.

Let me start here: the internet is an astonishingly-big and astonishingly-tiny place.  For example, this blog gets more readers daily that most pastors have to preach to on a weekly basis.  We have the same reach on the internet as the Huffington Post (according to Technorati and Google, anyway) -- and yet I have only met a reader of this blog once in "real life" in a non-church setting.  The people I work with have no idea I'm internationally known for talking about Jesus -- they only know me as a guy who is serious about his family, his church and his work (in that order), and who thinks Jesus is a real person.  So when we think about what we are doing here, we have to keep it in the right perspective.  On the one hand, we may be highly influential to a certain cadre of readers; on the other hand, we are not hardly Glenn Beck or Piers Morgan.

But we do influence others -- other Christians.  It would be a particular sort of false humility to say that we didn't set out to do this in the first place.  Of course we set out to influence people -- hopefully, for the better.  The Gigabytes of resources on each of our sites speaks to this plainly -- your coalition, by assembling broadly like-minded influencers and authors and giving them an interconnected portal through which they can cross-pollinate and help others; our little gang of street fighters by speaking toward the prevailing church culture, against its excesses and foolishness, and with the love of Christ in its multifaceted brilliance -- in a way to cause offense, conviction, illumination, repentance, renewal, and finally joy.

To that end, I think it would only be through invincible ignorance that people reading this blog could not know where Dan, Phil and I stand on matters of first importance.  And while we are not uniformly identical in convictions (for example, I am a-mil with post-mil sympathies; Dan and Phil are pre-mil with not much sympathy) [/joke], we all bend the same way and don't really have a lot of internal disagreements.  But what we offer the blogosphere is a clarion call to what we believe -- and the open opportunity for any who disagree with us to disagree publicly, charitably, and for the sake of resolving the disconnect.  We have even been known to apologize when it turned out that we (and by "we" I mean "me") were wrong about something.

Some people find this too tawdry.  Many of them are people who, frankly, can't frame disagreement as anything except trying to destroy another person.  Their refrain is universally, "you would be better off doing something else, like ministry."  Others on that side think disagreements ought to only be private things and cite the Gospel of Matthew while ignoring the book of Acts, the letter to the Galatians, Paul's instructions to Titus and Timothy, Jesus' interactions with his detractors, and so on.  My fear is that you two fall into this camp, as implied by your recent essay.

See: that essay says a couple of things.  The first is the interesting distinction between "a boundary-bounded set and a center-bounded set."  This distinction is interesting as demonstrating kinds of unity, but I think this distinction always overlooks the problem that a center-bounded paradigm is never really center-bounded at all.  You know: your explanation uses oversimplified examples of boundary-bounded sets and then compares that to the robust example of TGC which (you say) is center-bounded.  But when you explain how the center-bounded criteria work out, it suspiciously looks more like a filter to keep out those with serious problems than it does like a center mass around which all of you orbit.

But you want to perceive yourselves and your organization as something which is, in the final account, attractional and not institutional or proscriptive -- so you describe yourself as center-bound.  Fair enough, I guess.

But here's the second thing: as an attractional vehicle, you have drawn people in who, frankly, need you.  They need the collected wisdom of your group, insofar as God has given it to you, to help them in their spiritual life.  And to maintain your self-perception as center-bounded, as essentially attractional, you abhor real conflict.  For example, in the video where Mark Dever briefly discusses the pitfalls of multisite with Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald, it strikes me that they only agree to disagree because, it seems, this doesn't really matter.  That is: the Bible is not very clear (apparently -- Driscoll's interrogative that "ecclesia" means "assembly" "according to who," as if someone said mother wears army boots, simply ridicules the idea that the NT speaks simply and clearly about the matter, denigrating the whole discussion with his characteristic application of humor) (Thx to Steve McCoy's insightful commentary on this video, btw) on what the local church is and is not as a community with any kind of polity.  The video ends with a classic "agree-to-disagree" and leaves the matter unsettled -- and worse, because Dever is a kind soul, he allows himself to be denigrated by the other two for his biblical convictions.

The result, then, is that there is no real conflict and no resolution.  To some, this is great -- because this is a secondary issue, these men of good faith do not have to convince each other, and the discussion is friendly, and we can see that somethings don't have to come to blows.  Selah.

But let's hang on a second: if I give this video all the benefit of the doubt, and concede (for the sake of the blog post) that it doesn't matter if your local church is local, what have I actually learned here?  Have I learned what to do when the actual essentials are at stake?  Have I learned what to do with and for a brother who is publicly coming undone?

The answer, I am sure you can see, is no -- no, this does not instruct me on how to be a real brother to someone.  It doesn't tell me how to live as if James 5 and Prov 27 are true.  And let's face it: the problem with the internet is that someone on it is wrong!

Not just in the "fields of ripe heresy" sense of wrong: the internet is also wrong because it is filled with people who, in spite of a good core intention to expose heresy and false doctrine, don't really love anybody.  They don't want good to come to those they think are getting it wrong.  They want to call down fire on folks rather than call them to repent, forgetting that Jesus is Lord and Christ both in the Acts 2 definition and the Philippians 2 definition.

This is so critical, gentlemen: most people reading the internet for spiritual guidance are desperate for help.  I think they really want to know better than they do.  And they will learn something from the internet -- for good or for ill.

So they find TeamPyro, or they find the Gospel Coalition, and they find other things, too.  And in the last 4 weeks, they have found James MacDonald endorsing T.D. Jakes as a brother in Christ.

Now, fair is fair: he has recanted a lot of stuff, and with respect to your joint essay, I grasp and accept your point that endorsing someone and merely interviewing them are two different things.  The White Horse Inn has interviewed skeptics and atheists and heretics, and nobody is calling for their resignation or expulsion from good company.  But in this case, if what we were trying to do is learn Calculus or Trigonometry, a lot of the work is missing.  We have a problem stated, and we have various statements that a solution was found, but getting from start to finish leaves the people who, attractionally, came to your site to learn about how this faith works, lost.

Now, here's what's not necessary: we don't need the reality TV version of whatever it is that has happened, is happening, and will happen between the various parties at TGC, including any trumped-up drama.  But when someone publicly makes an error of this size, the broad stokes of the public resolution are, frankly, necessary for the sake of those you started your internet site up for in the first place.

For example: After the controversy broke out, James & Company at the Elephant Room revised the mission statement.  No explanation, no comment that it was a good idea to reframe their approach.  Certainly no insight into why it's easier to rewrite the statement than to rethink the invitation to Jakes.  One day the mission statement was one thing, ad the next, it was significantly revised.  There is a step missing there -- namely, why is this action more wise than, for example, revising the guest list.  Mark Dever's name was removed from the list with no explanation -- is that relevant, or just a schedule conflict that can't be resolved?  Thabiti Anyawbile wrote a brilliant plea against allowing Jakes to attend -- and there was no public response to it from MacDonald & Company.  How does one process this?  All the public activities are completely disconnected except by theme.  There's no didactic or practical narrative to help the person you attracted in sort it all out.

For me, as an intermediate observer of the blogosphere and the internet, this is confusing at best.  Imagine what it looks like to the person who is a rudimentary reader of the internet, and a novice at understanding the political dynamics of a group of men who, let's face it, are all kings in their own castles who are also, they all say, servants of Christ more than they are great men.

What is missing here is how to seek resolution of tough issues -- and how to read through an issue like this and both exercise good judgment and call back a brother who is making a critical error.  And of all the people who are on the internet, it has to be said that you two are the best equipped and the best suited to help the rest of us out.

Saying what you might do is an interesting approach -- and it is the approach of the essay you have already written.  But showing the rest of us how to actually do it would be invaluable.  It would actually put into play something the Evangelical church lacks -- an education on how to exercise spiritual responsibility, and turn a brother away from wrong-doing and toward the right path, the right orbit in our center-bounded life which is around Christ.

So I ask you as a fan, and as your far-removed student, and as a Christian who is indebted to you: help us understand how to resolve this matter.  Please do not let the weak single tweet from James MacDonald that the parties #AgreeToDisagree stand as the milestone to this event.  That activity would be helpful to so many people for so many reasons that they cannot all be listed, but the one most important must be said: it will glorify Christ.

My thanks for reading this note, which is already too long.  May God richly bless you, and may your reward in him be great.


The Bible Christian said...

I was waiting for this to come and I wasn't disappointed, you were kind but firm and right on target. I wait in hope for action on their part.

Eric O said...

Multisite Churches,
I lean towards the non-multichurch side of the issue. I did appreciate The other side's defense that the multisite churches have their own Elders, discipline etc. and that the Sunday sermon is just one of many other teaching times of the church, as such, many other men (say other than Driscoll) do teach in the local multisite.

I took away from the discussion that two of the major points against multisite is that it limits the use and raising up of other gifted teachers and that it can lead to the celebrity preacher problem .

If I understood them correctly, the sermon is the only time Driscoll preaches, other men in the local church teach the other venues such as Sunday school, small groups, etc.

Cant the same arguments be made about larger churches such as Grace Community? I happen to love the way MacArthur teaches, you just don't tire of hearing him teach. If I lived in his area, his church would be on the top of my list. One of the top reasons being his teaching. I suspect most of his flock are at Grace Community because of him.

Is it fair to use many of the same arguments against multisite...against mega churches?
A church such as Grace could be broken down into 300 member satellite churches which will allow for more opportunities to raise up pastors and would limit the effect of making MacArthur a celebrity pastor.

FX Turk said...

The question of the biblical nature of Multisite is not the point of this post. It is in this post only as an example of the way TGC treats conflict.

Next subject.

Larry said...

When we speak of John MacArthur's church, John would tells us that it is God's word that keep folks at this church. We have to focus on Jesus and not the pastor. It seems to me that so many are focused on the super star men that they can't see Jesus. The local church with a local pastor who truly cares for the folks he ministers to, is the biblical view. I know that is to simplistic in our world today but I wish to hear what God's word is telling me and if I have a concern I can call my local pastor.

FX Turk said...

I am deleting further comments on multi-site. I am not kidding. This letter is about something else, and if that topic gets derailed by people wanting to carry out a debate which Driscoll, MacDonald and Dever did not, I will force the issue to move it someplace else.

Please do not make me run around as hall monitor on this. The topic is how godly men can resolve conflict with each other, and how it can benefit their readers and followers -- not whether video venues are good ideas for church. Stick to the topic or get deleted.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for addressing this issue. I have been somewhat distressed by it. Hopefully Carson and Keller will handle the situation in a more forthcoming manner than has been the case thus far.

Chip Byrd said...

I am a PCA pastor who stumbled on your blog about 3 or 4 months ago. Great work. It is beyond mind-boggling what people accept to be "gospel ministry." Keep up th good fight.

Robert said...

I hope that Carson and Keller, as well as others at TGC, take the time to read and understand what you are saying here. I couldn't understand why they worded some of that statement the way they did (saying they "might" do something leaves a lot of wiggle room). If something happens with this it will give me more hope that they will start taking the issues with Driscoll seriously as well. I certainly hope that happens and that repentance and edification will come from it.

Steve said...


Perhaps you've answered this before; if so, I apologize.

When you post these open letters, do you also email them to the addressee?

Just wondering if it's safe to assume that they have definitely received the letter, or whether someone else would have to bring it to their attention.

Jamie said...

I must say by way of gratitude that I have become a fan of your writing. Not just for the style but also for how this style converges with appropriate content make a point as softly as possible. I fully realize that not all topics can be approached with the same “softness” but that certain topics based upon their nature, demand, at times, a more harsh approach. And I think this distinction is usually missed in most internet discourse. So thank you.

I also think you have, without stating it, addressed an issue that relates to the “style converges with appropriate content” by recognizing that, as the Preacher wrote “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.” Prov 25:11-12 and is why I think you wrote to Carson and Keller. I am sure neither of these men, if they take up your charge, will be able to say anything to McDonald that many have not already stated. Yet a “Word fitly spoken” must come from someone fit to speak it. That is, we tend to accept rebuke, or correction if you will, from those we respect; so that the counsel of sound words from strangers are largely dismissed being alone. I am not saying this is right but I am not so sure it is all that wrong. If we don’t consider the source we are apt to be tossed to and fro particularly in the Omnidirectional wind of the internet.

However, how are we to interpret the actions of, in this case McDonald, who covertly changes the mission without explanation since in doing so it appears there is a tacit acknowledgement of the charges made by the critics? It is sorta like a Seal team who upon landing on the wrong beach in the wrong country simply changes the mission in order to insure the “mission” is successful. Like painting the bulls eye around the arrow. But what ever the reasons McDonald did what he did, being a “leader” he should have known better and it should have never reached the crescendo it has. And being this leader, a Scriptural based rebuke should have been sufficient regardless of source making his actions, at least in appearance, pragmatic.

But as to whether or not Carson and or Keller will heed your advice will largely depend upon what Tom asked a couple of days ago; are they committed to the Coalition or to the Gospel… I hope it’s the latter since this is a great opportunity to for us to see how to administer Godly correction and rebuke.


FX Turk said...

I admit that I depend on the bandwidth of this blog to deliver the Open Letters. I am unaware of any recipients who did not read the letter in question.

Kevin D. Woodson said...

I for one am not totally in agreement in the way conflict is handle as of late, You have read that from twitter Frank. but I see the points in which open letters and the Elephant room takes. One thing I would like to comment on is this. When, like you said to me, Frank, situations happen in open forum, I agree with you Need to be handle in open forum. When theologies are spoken about and differences in thinking like Dever, Driscol and MacDonald in this video included with this post, or even the subject of multi-sites and if they are biblical or not, i is neccessary to ask this question too... Is this something that needs to be spoken about in public forum as this was handle in internet video.
I am all for hearing what preachers are saying, but it seems they need to ask themselves when concidering this(multi-site churches) or any thing involving the church is what does the bible say about the subject.
I agree Frank Paul took a public stance on people who were not going according to Jesus' teachings. So that is my imput in part.

FX Turk said...

I also think it doesn't need to be either/or on Gospel or Coalition if the Coalition really is "center-bounded" on the Gospel.

Think about this: someone who is really seeking the fruit of repentance will be willing to offer his own retractions when he is wrong, and will be willing to offer those corrections no matter what they will mean. In that light, the willingness to lose Dever's participation at ER2 but not Jakes' participation seems, um, backwards.

Chris Nelson said...

I'm sorry but Keller is, well, I'm not sure. He teaches the heresy of theistic evolution, promotes the false teaching of so many Catholic freaks like Ignatius Loyola and his grasp of the Gospel seems tenuous considering the interview he did with his own parishoner, Martin Bashear, on MSNBC. Keller is dangerous.

Eric O said...

Sackcloth and Ashes.

David A. Carlson said...

1. I wish people would get over this whole did you talk to this person directly thing. If someone has a public ministry and puts out material on the internet, surely it is reasonable to respond in the same way. This is not someone from Frank's church, it is not a personally observed issue that should be addressed on a one on one basis before it becomes public. If you put it on the internet, it is public already and can be addressed in such a manner

2. Franks issue is surely a reasonable question that can, and should be applied to any joint activity, "ministry" or not, in which this type of issue arises.

3. I suppose you could rif on his comment about being an amil means he is the only real calvinist* here, and ask him why he partners with non-calvinists, but that would be distracting and tangential to his point, would it not?

*I believe that since Calvin was amil you must also be amil in order to be a "real" calvinist. That whole tulip thing is way too long.

FX Turk said...

I am a-mil by process of elimination, not by deep systematic conviction. I would love for there to be another orthodox choice, but there hasn't been one in 2011 years so i'm not holding my breath.

FX Turk said...

As to Keller being dangerous: I think he's dangerous to Catholics and to Materialists. And I hope, given that I think he'll probably read this letter eventually, that he'll apply the precept here to his interactions with BioLogos. I don't for a minute believe that he's drifting out of orthodoxy, but I do think he has yet to demonstrate the depth of his convictions about what is said, for example, in the book of Genesis.

donsands said...

Another terrific letter that is open. Good for the Body of Christ. Keller and Carson hopefully will read and and sit back and ponder, and then investigate, and have a rock solid answer for all those concerned.

It really would be a very edifying thing to see a bold statement put forth, which would also seperate the genuine from the ingenuous. Jesus did come to bring a sword. Not that we need to sepearte the wheat and the tares in a totally complete way, but we can do what we can to expose darkness with the Gospel light.

Thanks again Cent for taking the time and hard work it took to put this together.

I was reminicing way back when I found blogging, and didn't even know what it was and stumbled upon Phil's. And it was then that he was bringing you in to be a fellow brother to put posts up. What a blessing it has been.

"Keller is dangerous."-Chris

No he certainly is not.

James Scott Bell said...

I am a-mil by process of elimination

Nice to agree.

Re: TGC, if they are gong to form a club that champions the Gospel, they've got to be serious about upholding it in the clubhouse.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Frank, you've done it again. Another excellent letter.

When I first started reading this here blog, I was somewhat shocked at the discourse and exchanges in the comment threads--the fact that people would openly disagree and be sometimes rightly rebuked and challenged--sometimes even banned--depending on the issue at steak. It provided some great discussion with my husband, and we really started to eat it up.

Admittedly, at first, it was a bit voyeuristic curiosity on my part. But I started to see what was behind some of it: a clarion call to the truth, evangelical unity, and even opportunities for gospel seeds to be planted in the hearts and minds of the occasional atheist or otherly-striped individual who ventured to speak up. And even a good sense of humor thrown in at no charge.

I went from seeing the TeamPyro guys as a "gang of street fighters" to godly men who take God's word seriously and have the heart of pastors to reach the world with the gospel. And many times over in various comment threads or various posts, I have been convicted, illuminated, called to repent, and grown to love the truth of God's word more and more. And I've come to appreciate the value of this kind of forum.

I honestly don't read many other blogs--because I cannot afford to neglect my 24-hour-a-day job, but I hope that your encouragement to Drs. Carson and Keller are received with the spirit of exhortation that brings about the same kind of joy that your readers receive here.

Tom Chantry said...


re. point 1 - Well thought, and well said.

re. point 3 - You had me in stitches, but honestly, do you want to see DJP's head explode? He's a nice guy; don't bait him.

Allen said...

Frank,you have the most brilliant, clear-headed, understandable writing style that I have ever seen. You can sum up issues and pose questions with clarity like no other. The Gospel Coalition must respond to these salient questions. Thanks for your efforts to bring this to light.

~Mark said...

"Agree to disagree" is one of the most annoying, dismissive, condescending and frustrating cop-out phrases of this generation.

Thanks Frank for not letting it be enough.

Jamie said...

“I also think it doesn't need to be either/or on Gospel or Coalition if the Coalition really is "center-bounded" on the Gospel.”

But I think that is precisely the point; we will see if the Coalition is Gospel centered or not. It is difficult to see how McDonald et al, could think offering a national platform to Jakes was a good idea; surely someone should have said (and maybe did) “wait a second, he’s not even a believer.” If no one did ask, what does that say about the theological discernment McDonald et al. possess; and if it was asked what does that say about the leadership of McDonald et al that the objection could be so easily dismissed. It seems that pragmatism (at least as demonstrated in the Dever, Driscoll, McDonald re: multi-site vid) however it is dressed leads one to make unwise choices and eventually sets one adrift from sound Doctrine.

While it doesn’t need to be an either or, it seems by default it will be.


Robert said...

I guess the thing I wonder with this whole mess is whether anybody really has looked at whether or not what they are doing (including inaction) is the wisest course of action. Surely the Bible calls us to listen to wisdom (just read Proverbs) and shows us the disastrour results of not acting wisely (covenant with Gibeon, Saul's rash vow for troops not to eat, Jehoshaphat - which is most relevant to this particluar case). I hope that the people involved will love the counsel being given and that those who need reproof or rebuke will accept it lovingly as well. Otherwise, I fear that nothing will be learned from this.

FX Turk said...

What if the core factor in fueling the action (or inaction) on this matter is merely a failure to grasp what it is they are doing through the internet in the first place? you know: maybe there's not a doctrinal crisis in play at all. Maybe what is happening here is that TGC sees itself as merely the 21st century version of a tract society -- a megaphone for Gospel truth -- rather than something which is plugged into social media and then, therefore, has a greater responsibility than the old tract societies did.

My opinion is that it's most likely that they simply don't understand what they have wrought here, and how the context is different than the context of publishing organs in the 60's and 70's when, if we can be frank, these men were in college.

A way to check this theory is to see how many people the organization employs to craft and manage its social media strategy and tactics. I'll bet they have no full-time employees dedicated to this matter in spite of having direct access to guys like Justin Taylor and John Piper who are very successful at executing this sort of thing.

I don't think this is a doctrinal squeemishness issue: I think it's a matter of time and resources, a matter of strategy based on objectives.

JR said...

To what effect do the initials SGM shadow this issue? Talk about contoured language and nuanced explanations. I'm still cloudy over that whole fracas. Or Piper inviting Warren? Or Francis Chan's wanderlust?

How do we determine what is the jurisdiction of entities like The Gospel Coalition? To what extent are they to bother with providing clarity on situations that people could get the wrong idea about? Is mediating conflict required of them in the same way it would be of a denominational leader or presbyter?

Seriously wondering...

Good letter.

JR said...

As I was framing my questions, Frank...the comment you were writing basically addressed them.


FX Turk said...

You know: I don't think they should become the Jimmy Carter of Evangelicalism, flying in to every conflict to mediate a non-binding resolution.

I know for a fact that there are 52 members of the Council -- you can see the list here. If any of these 52 men publicly say or do anything which decouples from the "center-bounded" definition found in the foundational documents of TGC, those of us who benefit from TGC will have a fair expectation that somehow, TGC will work through that with the decoupler in a way which resolves the issue and informs those of us who benefit from TGC that the center of the coalition remains in tact. if it's more than a decoupling -- that is, if a second council members publicly calls the decoupling for what it is and asks for some sort of explanation from the decoupler, TGC ought to somehow facilitate that both for the good of the coalition and for the good of the readers of the web site.

Does that make sense? They don't need to be the doctrine cops for the English-speaking church. They just need to be serious about the commitments they say they have toward the Gospel, the Coalition, and the people they say they are serving through their medium.

Robert said...


I agree with what you're saying. The problem is that I just don't see it happening...at least not yet.

Unknown said...

I am sure there are hundreds of examples of great contemporary public men of faith confronting other men of equal stature that we do not know about and may never know about. That is great and those things likely should be written in dust. The problem is that there are people like me who do not see this kind of example anywhere and have never seen this kind of example play itself out. I thirst for an example of proper confrontation/separation/public retraction done well. I have already and likely will in the future say something that is in error. Hopefully it will not become internet fodder. How do I do a retraction the right way when there are so few models to look to? Who do I look to if there is a dust up in our small community that I need to confront publicly with grace and humility?

To be honest, I didn't think this was the best written open letter in the series. I got lost somewhere in between centered and attractional. But the focus of the letter was spot on and is of paramount importance to us little minded guys in Liberal Outpost, America.

donsands said...

"How do I do a retraction the right way when there are so few models to look to?"

Look to Simon Peter, and the Holy Writ my friend. And also pray the Lord will fill you with His Spirit and grace to set things right.

Matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FX Turk said...

A retraction is simple:

"I did or said [x]. I was wrong. [offer self-correction] I apologize. Please forgive me."

This is not complicated. If you believe you really are a sinner, apologies should come pretty easy, and not be a big fat surprise to you.

Some say that the the lack of errors in your public record is a sign of maturity. I disagree: I think the willingness to say plainly that you were in error in public when you have made an error in public is the real sign of maturity. Tracking that statistic would open some eyes, I think.

Kathy said...

No narrow circle can contain our gracious sympathies, wide as the election of grace must be our communion of heart. Much of error may be mingled with truth received, let us war with the error but still love the brother for the measure of truth which we see in him; above all let us love and spread the truth ourselves. --Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening October 25.

GW said...


You say in the article "To some, this is great -- because this is a SECONDARY issue, these men of good faith do not have to convince each other" which you then disagree with.

Were is the/a list of the primary issues and the secondary issues? How are we supposed to know which issues are ok to disagree about and which ones require bulldog determination?

I started wanting to ask this question during the recent Friel/Johnson video.

FX Turk said...


There's no list, but here's a layman's way of framing this:

The Gospel is the central non-negotiable and is always of first importance. The consequences of the Gospel are the ones most people would say are secondary.

let the mayhem ensue.

Unknown said...

So why are there so few examples of something so "simple"? And that is just a public retraction from a pulpit, let alone confront and/or separation. Separation is tricky when you know that you are going to see that person in the produce section.

I am looking for examples, and I am not alone. I know the formula. I can rent a teleprompter. I read biographies of great Christian men so I can learn from an example not get simplistic how-to plans. I go to conferences not as much to hear the main voices of influence but to hear from other man-folk on how they are doin' it in obscurity.

Sometimes a map through the mine field isn't enough. Seeing a set of footprints ahead would be nice.

GW said...

infant baptism ........ secondary?
baptism mode........... secondary?
baptism saves.......... secondary?
cessationism .......... secondary?
mysticism in worship... secondary?

David Regier said...

Frank, I thought you heard what a pack of coyotes sounded like this week.

Then you go and toss them a bunny.

Tom Chantry said...


I'll reference the Second London Confession again at this point: All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints; and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted.

I think the distinction made there is crucial: there are errors, and then their are errors which evert (overthrow; turn upsidedown) the foundation (the gospel). For my money that's a far better taxonomy of error than "primary" and "secondary" - language which gives the idea that the rejection of Scriptural truth can ever be a trivial, insignificant thing.

The question which ought to be asked is, does a particular teaching overthrow the gospel. What you are perhaps not seeing is that making a short list like yours tends to obscure that question. Most items on it are in fact a continuum. Does the continuationism of John Piper overthrow the gospel? Not likely. What about that of Benny Hinn? Without a doubt. Bullet point lists have that weakness: you wind up with Piper and Hinn in one box, which clearly won't do.

So I would answer you somewhat vaguely and say, 1, 2, and 4 on your list most often don't overthrow the gospel, while 3 and 5 probably most often do. But none of those can really be definitively answered without more context.

What is interesting in the letter that Frank wrote, though, is that the Trinity is one of the few areas in which absolute clarity is possible. To reject the Triune nature of God is to completely demolish the foundations of Christianity, no matter how vague and unclear James MacDonald might think that the doctrine really is.

Tom Chantry said...

And now I have to sit here and wonder, do I cut and paste my entire comment, reinserting the html code, just to get rid of my unintentional possessive, or do I just let it stand? I think I'm feeling grammatically lazy today.

David Regier said...

Way to get us to read you're post twice, Tom.

Tom Chantry said...

Your welcome.

I did that because I'm such a humble guy, Regier.

aztroy said...

I'd like to write an "Open Letter" to Open Letter writers... LOL!

GW said...


I guess I made a simple list because I am simple minded.

I can go to a church where they teach Arminianism and No-Lordship Salvation OR I can go to a church that teaches infant baptism.

And you guys would all agree that these are secondary issues, so I could go to either church?

See you guys are doing this for a debating society of sorts but I am out here where the rubber meets the road and I need real answers. (What is the emoticon for despiration?)

Don said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachael Starke said...

Okay, if a lady is allowed to call a timeout before the bunny-shredding begins....

This letter, and especially your comment at 7:54 AM, may be the most important one you've written so far, Frank.

With all due respect to you all wanting to bite on the whole primary/secondary thing, please consider letting that thread be secondary (at least just for today) to thinking about Frank's words about parachurch ministries and their social media strategies (or lack thereof).

I'm likely biased because it's my professional background, but I see the general lack of thought the church gives to it. I see the consequences of that thoughtlessness everywhere. The Elephant Room debacle is just the latest, most visible example, of what can happen when an organization does not step beck and consider how the vehicles through which they execute their stated charter will be used in ways that do not permit the vehicle to also alter or corrupt their charter.

Regardless of whether or not TGC pauses to consider these issues, I truly pray every reader here does. It really is that important, and he's laid out a case for why here excellently.

Tom Chantry said...


I truly apologize if my answer seemed flippant, which I think maybe you're saying it did. What I am after is a somewhat deeper approach to the question than merely a ranking of errors.

Putting myself in your position for a moment, here's how I would apply what I'm saying. We have two churches, each espousing some error. You must choose between them. I think the first step in the process is to apply the above standard to the error itself, asking, to what degree (if at all) does this error evert the foundational truths of the gospel?

In the case of the paedobaptist church, if it holds the traditional (Westminster) definition of baptism, it probably does not overthrow the gospel at all. On the other hand, if the church is trending in the direction of hyper-covenantalism, presumptive regeneration of the baptized child, and a re-definition of justification to allow water baptism to play some role, then the gospel is indeed threatened. On the surface, it's a Presbyterian church, so that is the doctrine you would need to examine.

On the other side of the equation, what sort of Arminianism is practiced in church number 2? Does it look more like that of Wesley or that of Finney? If in fact the church's doctrine is Pelagian, then you have your answer: there is no gospel there.

To what degree do the errors, mistakes, and just generally poor trends of any church upset the foundation of the gospel? That's how the principle applies where the rubber meets the road.

If in fact neither church is overturning the gospel, then I would argue that you may legitimately become a part of either one. Other wise questions might be worth asking, but on the question of heresy I think we are better served by asking whether a church has overturned the gospel than by listing various doctrines as primary and secondary.

Dave said...

Thank you for bringing this issue to light. I am passionate since becoming aware (which unfortunately was just a few months ago) of the beliefs of the United Pentecostal Church and that family members of mine have been very active (eg "pastors") within the upc for 50+ years.

The upc has earned the designation of a cult. The "christian" media and Church have knowingly embraced "ministers" of the upc for a number of years, which has helped to provide a false sense of security and allowed a platform for the furtherance/acceptance of its "gospel". (What is a gospel music award?)

So, how does a fellow brother (who btw has preached some pretty good messages about repentance) help? By inviting T.D. Jakes with open arms. I have noticed that the bio for T.D. has been changed. However, the band plays on.

It had been my experience that certain members of the upc prefer to emphasize "pentecostal".

donsands said...

"Sometimes a map through the mine field isn't enough. Seeing a set of footprints ahead would be nice."-Bret

There certainly are footprints. I have good grace-filled brothers and sisters in my life, who are quite fine ensamples of repentance.
Those who are in the broader view of the Church because of TV and the internet, I'm sure there are some.

However, pride does keep the flesh quite stubborn at times, and even covetousness is something which may grip a soul, and keep one from repentance.

King David was stubborn, and his inner being was vexed, until Nathan came with "an open letter", so to speak, and helped him along. God does help us through others. Barnabas and Peter, through Paul, and I'm sure there other examples as well.

THE main thing though is for us who are enlightened to do so, even without the footprints my friend. That's the bottom line, isn't it.

GW said...


No apology is necessary and I appreciate the answer you have given me.

I am sorry if my comment gave you the feeling I was put off.

Now I am off the the layman's dictionary to figure out what you just wrote!

FX Turk said...

Anything that supplants Christ as the only savior strikes at the heart of the Gospel and must be seen as a primary-related issue.

Tom Chantry said...

My comments at 10:26 and 11:06 totaled 602 words.

Then Frank gave the same answer at 11:24 in 23 words.

No wonder my sermons are too long.

FX Turk said...

Yes, but if I preached in your church with that word-count ratio, your people would riot for being not properly fed.

David Regier said...

"Lord, why were there two sets of footprints in the sand?"

"Why, those were Carson's and Kellers. While they were walking, I carried you on wings like eagles'"

Jugulum said...


"Now I am off the the layman's dictionary to figure out what you just wrote!"

To help you, here's a nutshell explanation of what Tom said about the Gospel-threatening versions of infant-baptism and Arminianism. (I'm not claiming these are perfect explanations, but I think they get you close to what Tom meant. Tom, if you see any gross problems, please say so.)

Infant baptism:
"if the church is trending in the direction of hyper-covenantalism, presumptive regeneration of the baptized child, and a re-definition of justification to allow water baptism to play some role"
We've baptized this kid. Now we can basically assume he's saved--when we baptized him, God actually created faith in his heart. And in general, our baptism in water is part of what gives us right standing before God.

"what sort of Arminianism is practiced in church number 2? Does it look more like that of Wesley or that of Finney? If in fact the church's doctrine is Pelagian, then you have your answer"
People aren't actually enslaved by sin in any real sense. We just need to try harder, and God will accept us. (Possibly: We can be good enough if we try harder, following Jesus' example.)

Brian said...

Frank, good challenges posed to TGC in helping them think/act through these issues. Personally, I would like to hear James MacDonald answer the following question: Can a person be a Christian if he/she does not believe in the Triune Godhead? If not, will the ER be open for people who are Mormon's, JW's, etc?

Also, I find it interesting that The ER's blog (?) post on 10/26 emphasizes the benefits of being present at the LIVE SITE and not the satellite locations..

Aaron Snell said...


Can I suggest that you apend your 7:54 AM comment to the post itself? It is by far the most helpful comment you've made on the subject, and needs to be a piece of the conversation going forward rather than getting overlooked in a meta.

Regarding retractions: I think it's one of those counter-intuitive things, like trying to be "relevant." The inclination on the part of the pastor or influential leader is to think (or at least assume) that a retraction will foster distrust in the minds of the congregation/followers and undermine the people's faith in their leadership. And it's hard not to feel like that would be an undermining of your legitimate gospel ministry. But unless you're retracting with a frequency something like every Sunday, the opposite is probably more the reality - I think more people would see it (as you do) as a sign of maturity.

FX Turk said...

Aaron --

I am convinced that there is no one in the cloud of witnesses involved in this event who doesn't believe what I wrote there explicitly.

As to what people will think, people who are convinced they are sinners who need a savior will follow anyone who has the savior's work in mind, especially when it comes to his own personal reform. People who are taught that they are winners and finished products will want a king, so they can be like all the other nations -- and those kinds of people won't follow anybody but someone they have no doubts about.

Rachael Starke said...

And it's hard not to feel like that would be an undermining of your legitimate gospel ministry.

Especially when, in some circles, public confession of any error is seen as an opening to be deemed no longer blameless and thus disqualified, and thus unemployed,

rather than seen a pastoral modelling of what it means to be a real Christian.

Aaron Snell said...


And thus an unwillingness to retract reveals much about not only the maturity of the pastor/leader but the milieu in which they work, the sea in which they swim. Preach it.

As for the main players recognizing your point, that may be - but put it out in the light for us observers. I know a light went on for me when I read it.


I think you're probably right, and I think the distinction between confession (of personal sin) and retraction (of incorrect doctrine), and the different motivations behind the avoidance of each one, would be a helpful line of thought to develop.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Gosh, reading all these comments was made worthwhile just for this sentence alone:

I don't think they should become the Jimmy Carter of Evangelicalism, flying in to every conflict to mediate a non-binding resolution.


FX Turk said...

Funny how ex-Democratic presidents are all about this, but ex-Republican presidents are glad to stay home.

Nash Equilibrium said...

In Jimmy's case, I think the rabbit attack gave him a permanent emotional scar!

Carl said...

Frank... Trying to say this as kindly as I can... but you do seem to suffer from a case of slightly elevated sense of the importance of your own opinion/blog outfit.

I am not referring to your words of exhortation to Keller & Carson. Keller particularly is long overdue for a sound and stern rebuke for issues spanning from 'multiple gospel forms', fumbling the only way of salvation on msnbc's Bashir interview, to his incessant infatuation with "all things cultural"...

I am here speaking of your high view of blogging (with a Christian tag) endeavors.

Don't be confused for a minute: Public blogging flies smack in the face of the call "to lead a quiet life and attend to [our] own business". 1 Thess 4:11

Keller and Carson need to be called out, along with a number of others. No question on that one, sadly. But your own words betray a sad ignorance of today's church culture's "excesses and foolishness".

A pattern of public blogging by pastors and laymen, I submit to you, is very much part of this foolishness. In many cases it is its trademark signature.

A foolishness wrapped in a folly, therefore, is a call to correct today's church leaders via a public blog regarding comments made on yet another (unnecessarily) public discussion...

DJP said...

Well, if Frank's a nobody with no voice and no influence, then there's no harm here and no problem, is there?

Move along, folks. Nothing to see.

The Bible Christian said...

@ Carl


FX Turk said...

Hi Carl --

I had no idea that there was anyone who thought writing was in and of itself a disobedient act toward God, but now that I have met you, I have learned something.

Thanks for the input.

Tom Chantry said...

So Carl, I realize I'm stating the obvious here, but, given that blogging is an automatic violation of I Thessalonians 4:11, what does that say about reading blogs? About commenting on blogs? About publicly rebuking bloggers on blogs?

To put it another way, if the act of writing a blog post is inherently sinful, could you explain to me how reading one is in any way different from watching a porn video?

The Damer said...

This post made me reread the Keller and Carson article again. It seems to me that was clearly a shot across the bow of the ER's ship. You'd think that they will be a public response if Jakes error is treated in the same way that Noble's foolishness from last year was treated.

I don't know how MacDonald will be able to be a gracious host and tolerate Jakes prosperity gospel.

Carl said...

:) Right, Dan, never mind the point; just sly and move along...

Frank, less sly more straw... Writing was not mentioned in my comment; public blogging was.

@Tom, note the word "pattern", pointing to the need and a desire to have a regular public outlet as a pattern of life. So your comment, too, I am afraid is more of a distraction than anything else.

Tom Chantry said...

So it's OK for you to observe and participate in sinful behavior as long as you don't make a pattern of it? Got to love do it yourself ethics!

donsands said...

"Keller particularly is long overdue for a sound and stern rebuke for issues spanning from 'multiple gospel forms', fumbling the only way of salvation on msnbc's Bashir interview, to his incessant infatuation with "all things cultural"..."-Carl

You seem very critical of Pastor Keller. He seems to be doing the Lord's will in Manhattan. I have just read a quote from him at Justin Taylor's yesterday, and he is fixed on Christ and the Gospel, and also working to be light and salt in a dark and decaying world.
By saying this, I suspect I will also be judged.

rom623rom828 said...

Just curious, if you were a regular attender or member of MacDonald's church, would you still write this "Open Letter to D.A. Carson & Tim Keller"?

Seems that somewhere along the line, an "Open Letter to the Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel (Rolling Meadows/Elgin) would be in order.

TD Jakes in the Elephant room is just another step in the downward Harvest decline preceded by Furtick in the Harvest pulpit, precededed by Driscoll in the Harvest pulpit, preceded by a elder board that allows all of this.

Barbara said...

Personally I'm greatly indebted to God's grand Providence in the availability of public blogs and public preaching available on the internet. It is through exactly such outlets that I heard of some guy named Spurgeon who might be worth reading....and because of that, I found a book by that Spurgeon guy and for the first time in my churchgoing life (preacher's kid), at age 40, I got to read all about how God justifies the ungodly. That was news to me. And if not for bloggers such as these I might never have heard of such a thing.

Chris Nelson said...

Tim Keller, does not believe in God's direct creation of Adam. That is heretical as it denies God's word per Moses and our Lord's own words in the Gospels. However, to make up for this heresy, Keller does promote Catholic freaks who tortured and murdered reformers, i.e. Ignatius Loyola. He also idolizes C.S. Lewis who was a false teacher through and through. Keller has no business being in leadership of a Gospel discernment ministry. Look at the interview with his friend Martin Bashear and figure out if he even knows the gospel.

Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, when I read the transcript of the Keller interview regarding the gospel it seemed like I was reading an interview of Joel Osteen.

FX Turk said...

Carl -

Aha. So blogging isn't writing.

Here's a comparative analogy

This Blog Post : The Truth War :: _____ : Writing

Please fill in the blank. This should be instructive.

FX Turk said...

If I were a member of the Chicagoland HBC, I would probably want to have a more complete conversation with the elders of the church than open letters allow.

FX Turk said...

Chris --

I think your statement about Keller and Adam is false, but it is your statement. Please link me to where Keller says this. I an confident I can link you to someplace where he says Literal Adam is theologically necessary.

Oh wait: I already did.

The Damer said...

It appears that we have a little Goldilocks thing going on here. I'd be comfortable to say that if your tent doesn't include Tim Keller that it's too small. I'd also be comfortable saying that if your tent includes TD Jakes that it's too big. Of course, if Frank is in the tent then it's just right(tongue firmly in cheek).

BTW, this really is one of the best open letters that you've done this year. I was starting to lose faith(interest??) in the process.

Robert said...

People who are taught that they are winners and finished products will want a king, so they can be like all the other nations -- and those kinds of people won't follow anybody but someone they have no doubts about.

I wonder how many people fit into this category without even having a clue about it. I am particularly thinking of a couple of churches whose pastors bring worldliness into their churches and then don't accept reproof and correction for doing so. And what is really upsetting is that so many people are willing to accept them with open arms because one says a lot of sound things in his teaching and the other says a lot of cound things when around the right crowd.

FX Turk said...

Well, the Damer continues to be one of the commenters that keeps us on our toes in a good way, and I agree with his last comment, with some qualifications:

-- Is Keller orthodox? Formally: yes. He is a pastor in a denomination which, let's be honest, would take care of business if he wasn't. The PCA is not going to play around, and people who think it is lax need to review the record -- especially people who are looking to run Keller out on a rail from good company.

-- is Keller challenging? Oh heavens: yes -- and that's a good thing. It's good for him, and it's good for the rest of us. You know: he took blowback for his handling of the Bashir Q&A, and he made public corrections of the record. While probably not self-effacing enough for the red meat crowd, prove one thing specifically: he's not above criticism. (Cf. Rick Warren) but think on it: he can go places Al Mohler can't, and speak the truth to those people.

-- Is Keller worth reading? Absolutely. Especially when he treads where most people are afraid to go. He's the kind of guy who offends both Jim Wallis and James Dobson, and you have to appreciate that he can legitimately strike at the idols of political identity from the place where the only thing left will be Jesus and who we are in him.

So that's me on Keller, and you may do with it what you wish.

FX Turk said...

Other note to Damer:

Almost all of them are this good. You just don't get it.


Chris Nelson said...

Frank, I must have missed it, but I don't see any reference in your previous post for Keller endorsing God's direct creation of Adam. I see his endorsement of Kidner who see's Adam as an ape man in some kind of Pauly Shore bio dome. This denies God's direct creation of Adam and is far sillier than almost any other account of origins than I ever remember reading.

Chris Nelson said...

Keller needs to see the theological importance of a sinless Jesus. If Jesus lied about God's direct creation of Adam, that is a significant issue.

donsands said...

"Keller needs to see the theological importance of a sinless Jesus."

Tim Keller doesn't teach that Jesus sinned my friend.
He trusts in the mercy and forgiveness of Christ for his sin, and that Christ is the Savior of the world.

Jugulum said...


To be fair to Carl, he did specifically reference blogging as being a "regular public outlet". He was pretty clear that his idea wasn't "blogging != writing"--it's "blogging != just writing. blogging == writing + a certain frequency of publishing".

Regular blogging differs from publishing The Truth War in that blogging is a weekly (or multiple-times-a-week) outlet for publishing your thoughts. (If John MacArthur had a weekly column in a newspaper, Carl would have to criticize that, to be consistent. Even if the column just contained the same content as The Truth War, spread out!)

The weekly/regular publishing hardly makes it violate 1 Thess 4:11--"poppycock" was right.

James Scott Bell said...

FWIW, Keller states there are "several" ways one can believe in a "literal" Adam and also in "evolutionary biological processes." This would mean he does not believe the Bible explicitly teaches the direct, special creation of Adam. Literal Adam, yes; special creation Adam, no.

FX Turk said...

Wow. Really? You read my old blog post and Keller's article and you come away with "Keller doesn't think God intentionally, specifically created Adam"? All of you?

OK. Tell it to the PCA and see what happens, if you're sure you're not mistaken.

David Kyle said...

Sometimes a map through the mine field isn't enough. Seeing a set of footprints ahead would be nice. ~BrettR

Now thats wisdom a soldier like me can appreciate.

FX Turk said...


Carl has gone mysteriously silent.

To your point, that's laughable. In fact, I did laugh reading it. So writing as a hobby or a career is a violation of Biblical principles, but writing once is not -- and writing comments on a blog once or twice is actually virtuous.

Awesome. Anonymous drive-by commenting has its new lease on life. Nice work.

Robert said...

Sometimes a map through the mine field isn't enough. Seeing a set of footprints ahead would be nice.

It doesn't help to have the footprints, though, if they lead to a blasted-out hole in the ground. Which, sadly, is what we run into with most of the half-hearted efforts that are out there.

James Scott Bell said...

Frank, I got it from Keller's paper. Here is his penultimate paragraph:

"My conclusion is that Christians who are seeking to correlate Scripture and science must be a ‘bigger tent’ than either the anti-scientific religionists or the anti-religious scientists. Even though in this paper I argue for the importance of belief in a literal Adam and Eve, I have shown here that there are several ways to hold that and still believe in God using EBP."

If one believes that, one does not believe in the special, direct creation of Adam. Whether that's acceptable in the PCA is something I can't say.

Scott Shaffer said...

In the unforgettable words of Inigo Montoya, "I don't think it means what you think it means."

Jugulum said...


That seems to be the shape of it! Pretty silly.

James Scott Bell said...

Think again, and carefully. Terms mean some things and not others. "Literal" ≠ Special, direct creation.

I'm not taking any position beyond being clear about what Keller is saying in his paper. Maybe he's right that the biblical account can be read to include previous, biological evolution leading to a literal Adam.

Jugulum said...

Johnny D & Frank,

Note the difference between your terms. I'm seeing something that parallels the distinction between providential action and miraculous action.

Frank: You read my old blog post and Keller's article and you come away with "Keller doesn't think God intentionally, specifically created Adam"? [emphasis added]

Johnny: This would mean he does not believe the Bible explicitly teaches the direct, special creation of Adam. Literal Adam, yes; special creation Adam, no. [emphasis added]

Unless I'm misunderstanding the two of you, Frank's saying that Keller does believe that God acted with the specific intention of ending up with Adam, who literally existed, and Keller believes that this can be compatible with theistic evolution. (Even if it actually ends up being internally inconsistent, theistic evolutionists will argue that God specifically intended Adam as He guided evolution--whether that guidance was purely providential or partially miraculous.)

Johnny's language ("special, direct") requires that when God acted with the specific intention to create Adam, it was also direct, or immediate, or something along those lines. (It did not involve a pre-existing organism that God "upgraded", though it did involve dust that God formed & changed.) Something transparently miraculous.

Jugulum said...

Whoops, I forgot to say "100!". *sigh*

Scott Shaffer said...

Tell it to the PCA and see what happens, if you're sure you're not mistaken.

Seeing how they apparently caved when Redeemer ordained female deacons contrary to the Book of Church Order, I wouldn't expect them to take a stand here if Keller is saying what Johnny D. thinks he's saying.

James Scott Bell said...

Jugulum, yes, that's the distinction. Thanks.

Robert said...

Am I going to be guilty of going off topic if I add to the conversation regarding evolution vs. creation? Because I think Keller is smart enough to be able to know how and why people came up with evolution and should know better. He might not actually know that, but he should be able to if he is going to support the possibility of "theistic" evolution.

FX Turk said...

Johnny --

He says he shows how one can do it, not that he personally believes it. Two different things.

FX Turk said...

And we are now swirling off-topic, so I'm closing the comments after I finish what's on my desk in order for the real crackpots to have the last word.

If you're not a real crack pot, please clear the stage.

Jugulum said...

I won't ask you if that means I should get off the stage or not.

Robert said...

Thanks, Frank...I honestly didn't want to zip through that rabbit hole.

Tom Chantry said...

There is just no way no how I am gonna miss this opportunity to be called a "crackpot"!

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Just say no to crack and pot. Both lead to bad theology. So I'm told.

Unknown said...

From Scott Shaffer:

Tell it to the PCA and see what happens, if you're sure you're not mistaken.

Seeing how they apparently caved when Redeemer ordained female deacons contrary to the Book of Church Order, I wouldn't expect them to take a stand here if Keller is saying what Johnny D. thinks he's saying.

Not everyone in the PCA caved; quite a few folks didn't like the idea that female deacons were installed at Redeemer (I believe that some of those concerns were addressed at the General Assembly.). If that was accepted by the PCA, this Presbyterian would have been the first to leave.

The Original Post:

Well-written, sir; I pray that those that needed to read it can do so with the Spirit's discernment and respond likewise.

Carl said...

What is mysterious is the smoke you (& Co.) kick up. No mirrors yet, but lots of smoke...

...to pretend not to know the difference between *public* blogging and writing, *particularly* as this activity pertains to church leaders and laymen as models of Christian humility and modesty. ...or to question consistency of morals for merely commenting and warning against certain practices, as opposed to *running a public* blog outfit with one's name attached all over the public domain, inviting interaction through open comments... (while measuring one's reach and influence by the number of followers...)

Smoke and mirrors.

Now, if you are (sincerely) interested in talking- you can reach me on my private email - you have it attached to my post. I am happy to talk with you privately; I do consider you my brother in Christ.

But please, no more wit and sly. It's juvenile for all but the fan club that is cheering you on here, many of whom fancy this somehow adds to their sanctification and maturity...

James Scott Bell said...

He says he shows how one can do it, not that he personally believes it. Two different things.

So he wrote an entire paper arguing the validity of "several" positions that contradict what he personally believes?

The point of doing that is what now?

FX Turk said...

OK: so I can’t let this particular crack pot have the last word. Please hold it against me.

| ...to pretend not to know the
| difference between *public*
| blogging and writing,
| *particularly* as this activity
| pertains to church leaders and
| laymen as models of Christian
| humility and modesty.

That’s not actually a sentence in English, is it? Let’s assume Carl means, “(It is Smoke and Mirrors) to pretend not to know the difference between *public* blogging and (merely) writing, *particularly* as this activity pertains to (the work of) church leaders and laymen as models of Christian humility and modesty.” That way we can try to make sense of his complaint.

I guess in his mind, if I just kept a journal of all this stuff, it would be unoffensive. Unlike, perhaps, the content of TGC or the content of Carl’s own comments. See: if what Carl says is true, those pastors need to live a quiet life as well. Unless he wants to say that it’s just laypeople who need to zip a lip.

| ...or to
| question consistency of morals for
| merely commenting and warning
| against certain practices, as
| opposed to *running a public*
| blog outfit with one's name
| attached all over the public
| domain, inviting interaction
| through open comments... (while
| measuring one's reach and
| influence by the number of
| followers...)
| Smoke and mirrors.

Again, once we translate this into an English sentence, the accusation leaves itself wide open for internal consistency check. It’s either public speech or it’s not; it’s either the quiet life, or it’s not. Just because I do it once a week and Carl has just discovered how to use the interwebs doesn’t mean Carl’s not guilty – he’s just a novice.

| Now, if you are (sincerely)
| interested in talking- you can
| reach me on my private email -
| you have it attached to my post. I
| am happy to talk with you
| privately; I do consider you my
| brother in Christ.

Well, not so fast. You accuse me in public and then dive into the e-mail shadows because you realize you’re doing what you decry? I actually have no interest. You could have started there, and chose not to, and that speaks for itself.

| But please, no more wit and sly.
| It's juvenile for all but the fan club
| that is cheering you on here, many
| of whom fancy this somehow adds
| to their sanctification and
| maturity...

Unlike your snide remarks and condescension? Awesome.

FX Turk said...

And, the comments are *closed*.