25 October 2011

Total, wild-eyed randomness: Camping, Driscoll, abortion, atheism

by Dan Phillips

Hi kids.

I don't have one big cohesive post; several are in the works...or, well, close to the works. In the same city as the works. City, continent, whatever, they both start with "C." As does "cosmos."

So in the spirit (but not the letter) of old-school blogspotting...

Say, did I say "C"? (Say that out-loud.) I honestly expected to be just one voice of many on Harold Camping's latest false-teaching FAIL, coupled with Family Radio's reported "So, yeah, then that happened" plea for funds. It may simply be that smarter writing heads see that Camping is all done and, at 90, unlikely to do much more damage.

There'd be some irony, there, though, wouldn't there? Many are (rightly) keeping a sharp eye on younger men who are flying under cover of formal affirmation of the doctrines of grace, yet doing damage.  I'd suggest that here's an older man who entered the Reformed community, complete with a nasty set of unrecognized baggage, and came to do great damage.

So now Camping has pronounced the Church Age over and done with, and falsely set three dates for Christ's return. Yet he continues to have an international platform, and still that platform can plead for prayers and money that they can "continue to minister to you, and to teach God's word daily." Roll that over a bit. What are they saying? Family Radio is saying that they have been ministering, and have been teaching God's Word, while Harold Camping has continued teaching and misleading many (and shaming Christ's name) on that station.

While we are looking for concrete expressions of repentance among younger spokesmen who have erred in significant ways, is it amiss to seek the same from Camping, or the platform which exposed international audiences to his false teaching?

With Camping's false teaching recorded and in print, if it isn't disowned decisively, how can we be sure that this won't be yet another unpaid bill nibbling around the edges at least of reformed teaching, continuing to do damage?

Since writing that, Jeff Jones brought this article to my attention. Now, the writing-style is a bit odd, and it's third-hand, so I'm not sure what to make of it. But (if it's to be believed) there's Camping quietly retiring, privately changing his mind, and so forth. But what of all the damage done? What of the teaching that is still out there, and the people still radiating the message?

This should be the topic of a post, but let me just say: the circle of the offense should equal the circle of repentance. You don't broadcast false teaching, then whisper "I may have been mistaken" to someone. You don't slander a public figure publicly, then drop him a private email saying "Oopsie, sorry, my bad" — and leave up the slander.

So if Camping has repented, if Family Radio has repented of being any part of giving him an international platform, I look for something a whole lot bigger. As big as the circle of deception, to be precise, if not bigger.

Speaking of dubious teaching in reformed-type circles, note the Sola Sisters' expression of concern about Mark Driscoll's little "My Chats With Demons" bit. It's just classic Driscoll though, isn't it? A sprinkle of sex, some really good and solid affirmations about Christ and redemption and the Bible, and then just some whaaaaat? stuff, all wrapped up in a Micky Mouse t-shirt. It can't be new; Driscoll alludes to the then-forthcoming Death by Love, a book with just those same features. Well, not the shirt.

Enough on that. Now turning to the less-alloyed:

Trevin Wax had a pretty terrific post titled How I Wish the Homosexuality Debate Would Go. Wax envisions a very clear-headed brother on a show where a host tries haplessly to land the usual "gotcha" moments, and finds his guest not to be as easy a target as others have been. In the course of landing many golden points, Wax has his preacher say:
...Christians believe people are more than their sexual urges. We believe that human dignity is diminished whenever we define ourselves by sexual urges and behaviors. Consider this: married men are sometimes attracted to multiple women who are not their wives. Does this mean they should self-identify as polygamists? Not at all. And surely you wouldn't consider it hateful for Christians to encourage married men not to act on their desires in an effort to remain faithful to their spouses. It is the Christian way, after all.
So doing, Wax very effectively makes a point I've tried to make in a number of ways, and which Denny Burk recently expressed very effectively.

Now Trevin's envisioned TV interview intersected with another current topic to give me an idea. One of the current presidential candidates who says that he is pro-life found himself in some miry muck under what should have been completely predictable questions about abortion and rape. That led me to develop how I wish the abortion-for-rape debate would go.

Finally, if you don't regularly visit Fred Butler's blog, you really should. Fred doesn't blog every single day, but when he does, it's "cherce." Take this post linking to an almost three-hour discussion/debate between a couple of well-behaved atheists and a couple of presuppositionalist Christians, one of whom is Sye Ten Bruggenvarfman, or some name like that. (I actually love everything that Sye does; he just needs to change the name to Johnson, or Turk, or something like that.)

The brothers completely demolish the atheists' non-position position, and it's instructive.

Just goes to show you: Listen and listen and search and search, and still the atheist position just can't get beyond "Oh yeah? Well our nothing is 'way better than your something! Because! So there!"

So there are some chewables for you on this fine Tuesday morning. Er, afternoon.

Dan Phillips's signature


stratagem said...

Dan, when you are talking about men younger than Harold Camping flying under the cover of orthodoxy, you weren't talking about Pat Robertson, were you? Or did you mean "a lot younger"? ;0

Daren Redekopp said...
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Shaun RW Little said...

I came here to see that one of the haters had already came to give you the wonderful one star rating. After reading the post, I had to wonder if these people even take the time to read the article, or if they just see you're criticizing Mark Driscoll and hit the 1 star button on a twitch reflex lol.

Anyways, great post brother. Your comments on the whole Camping thing reminded me of a situation that happened in a church I used to attend. The pastor there had invited a Word of Faith evangelist to speak at his church about once a year. The first couple years I was a new Christian, and although the things the guy said made me cringe, I didn't think myself learned enough to stand up and critique him to my former pastor.

Well on the third year the evangelist came I just couldn't take it anymore and felt confident I could make a solid case to my former pastor and expose the guy as a charlatan. So I put the evangelists false teaching under the scrutiny of God's word and emailed it to my pastor at the time. To my relief he sided with me 100% and agreed never to have him back again. I thought 'Yes VICTORY!', but then I realized the damage the evangelist had already caused. The pastor never once told the congregation he made a mistake, nor did he ever point out how unbiblical the mans teachings were. In fact I was shocked to hear him quote the evangelist a month or two later as if he endorsed him. Many in the church were deceived by this man, and still espoused the evangelists false views. They thought he was a saint and a prophet, but he was nothing but a greedy charlatan and a heretic. Although my former pastor told me in private he was wrong, he never once stood in front of the congregation in an attempt to correct his mistake and refute the false teachings that were brought to the church.

Daren Redekopp said...

Thanks for that principle on repentance: that the circle of offense should define its extent. Helpful and sobering.

DJP said...

Stratagem, ROFL. That will be hard to top.

stratagem said...

I just downloaded the whole 95MB mp3 debate off Fred's blog, I am really looking forward to listening to it. Sounds facinating - thanks Dan.

Frank Turk said...

I have watched the Driscoll video twice now, and I'm still flabbergasted. He's actually talking to Demons?

I got nothin'. How did that fly under the radar for 2 years?


stratagem said...

Yeah I saw that on the Sola blog yesterday - but think how many charismatics boss devils around like they are short-order cooks.

Not that there's anything wrong with that!

Tom Chantry said...


We live in an age in which the church is truly beyond parody.

The Squirrel said...

Best Use Of A Bunny Graphic In A Blog Post On A Tuesday


eric opsahl said...

We live in a world where "Demons" are real and active..right? does the problem concern talking to them...or is renouncing them taboo as well? What do I make of reputable missionaries who have firsthand knowledge of Demonic activity.

DJP said...

Never build or establish one syllable or dot of theology on the basis of a missionary story, would be my first recommendation.

David Regier said...

Maybe he meant denoms.

'Course, you can't tell those guys anything.

stratagem said...

"Never build or establish one syllable or dot of theology on the basis of a missionary story, would be my first recommendation."

Isn't THAT the truth?

Dan, based on Bibliology and leaving missionary stories and flakey Driscoll behaviors aside, what do you see as the answer to eric's question of whether we can/should renounce demons? I'm interested in that myself.

DJP said...

See what I just Tweeted on that, Strat.

Anonymous said...

What exactly does it mean to renounce a demon?

Demon! I don't believe you exist!

Word Verification: mingstry, a missionary to China?

eric opsahl said...

38 John said to Him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to hinder him because he was not following us."
39 But Jesus said, "Do not hinder him, for there is no one who shall perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me.
40 "For he who is not against us is for us.

stratagem said...

Dan - this is all I found:

My next book project: Systematic Theology of Missionary Stories. I project seventeen... no, forty thousand volumes.

Very witty - should I take this to mean that you don't feel it's ever appropriate, then, to rebuke demons? Or, that you don't really have a point of view on that? I don't have a very solid opinion on the subject, but would be interested in whatever thoughts you might have. thanks.

stratagem said...

PS: I guess I ought to add that to my way of thinking, it's OK to ask the Lord to rebuke them, but not to rebuke them directly.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I suppose it would be helpful to actually know that it was, in fact, a demon before proceeding.

Steve Talas said...

Driscoll; It's like a horror movie for Halloween

Johnny Dialectic said...

The Mickey Mouse tee-shirt thing is so 2008.

stratagem said...

Stan - what else could it have been? A figment of the imagination, a ghost, or an angel are the only other options aren't they?

donsands said...

Driscol is way out there in left field, even foul territory as sometimes he is.

Mark reminds me of Jimmy Swaggert. I used to be a big follower of Swaggert as a new believer back in the mid 80's. He was a man's man, etc.

Fred Butler said...

Thanks for the love brother. I'm glad I could recommend Dustin and Sye to you all. I think those who downloaded the message will enjoy the debate for the most part. Particularly for the instructional aspects of their engagement.

Sir Brass said...

*cough*Sye TenBruggencate*cough*cough*

That's Ten-Broog-En-Kaat



donsands said...


Cold, huh? Take some NyQuil bro.

lee n. field said...

"Never build or establish one syllable or dot of theology on the basis of a missionary story, would be my first recommendation." --DJP

Missionary stories received first hand from a participant, or missionary stories passed through many mouths, worn smooth and changed through too many tellings into Christian urban legends?

I've heard too many of the latter.

Sye TenB said...

The atheists are not so much well-behaved anymore :-) Jim has blocked me from his blog and Alex has resorted to deleting my comments on his. I had an hour-long chat with Alex yesterday (which can be accessed through my multimedia page or their "Fundamentally Flawed" - ironic, I know - podcast) and they now both refuse to engage me again. Pray for the both of them folks.

Thanks for the shout-out Dan (despite butchering my name - again :-)

DJP said...

Dude, people can't manage D-A-N P-H-I-L-L-I-P-S. How can anyone do TenVarfenklavemann?

Yeah, well, I just got to the part where they hung up on you. Not so nice.

Again I say: they got nothing, and by jingo, they insist on standing on it. It's truly amazing. "I answered your question." Yeah, not so much.

Charlene said...

Most days the comments here are just as good as the post! Thanks for this. Lots to think about.

Sir Brass said...

Indeed, the bunny graphic is stellar. It needs to be shamelessly used more.

Robert said...


Seeing you spell out your name just made me realize that Phil actually is in your name...hmmm.

DJP said...

Sye, as I listen to these guys continue to whimper and grumble at your friend, I'm getting this picture. It is a courtroom scene. Goes like this:

Disputant A: All right! Let's get this trial going!

Disputant B: Absolutely. So, what are the laws, and who is the judge?

Disputant A: We don't have to tell you. AND we've already told you. Now let's get the trial going.

Disputant B: How can we have a trial if we don't know what the laws are, and who will judge and enforce them?

Disputant A: You're just trying to avoid a trial! Let's go! Argue your case!

Disputant B: How can I argue my case if we haven't agreed what the laws are and who the judge is?

Disputant A: You're afraid to argue! You have no case! Bailiff, throw him out! He loses!

Robert said...

So for all the people wondering about how to handle demons, here is some clear instruction we have:

"Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you." (James 4:7-10)

All I see there is the command to resist the devil. And then there are a bunch of other commands that we should be taking care of as well. I would think that if there was some way we were supposed to actively fight against demons, James would have included that here. I love James...it is a very practical book and has tons of instruction for direct application. I think that most Christians would be well-served to do a thorough study of the book to help with Christian living and to ignore people who have to talk manly and make themselves seem like super-Christians by the things the speak of and the way they talk/carry themselves. Of course, what do I know? I'm just a fellow sinner working out my salvation with fear and trembling.

Robert said...


How much of that type of attitude do you think there was at Mars Hill (why would anybody name their church Mars Hill when you look at this?) when Paul spoke there? We read that many sneered at his teaching, which makes me think they didn't handle his argument objectively at all.

stratagem said...

Robert - since I'm the one who asked the question, thank you. Since you're the one who actually knew enough or cared to answer the question that was asked, let me ask a follow-up: do you think that asking the Lord to rebuke demons is off-base? (I'm not looking for an argument, because I honestly don't know the answer - but I've always assumed it is OK to pray that He rebuke them but never really had a solid reason for doing so).

Robert said...


We actually have a good example to follow here, although it is from an angel:

"But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argues about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'" (Jude 9)

So I would say that it is definitely OK to ask God to rebuke demons and the devil. Although, I would say that we are not personally affected (as far as true harm to us) by demons because we are saved, but we can certainly see them at work in the world and there is certainly spiritual warfare...we fight against powers and principalities in the world.

Stefan said...
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Stefan said...
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Stefan said...
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Stefan said...

Robert and Stratagem:

Driscoll is completely off-base, but this is a subject that we do well not to treat with flippancy. Frankly, the response of some of our good brothers in this comment thread is somewhat perplexing. Even if other Christians make too much of a thing, can we wish a thing into non-existence by the power of mockery and deflection?

Eric and Stratagem raised legitimate questions that were completely brushed off and dismissed, not actually answered one way or another, until Robert offered his helpful reply.

The greatest problem in the world is just our own plain old sin, but it would be naive to think that we live in a world in which there is not supernatural activity taking place, at the centre of which stands the triune God Himself. In fact, our entire biblical worldview is founded upon the principle that we live in a world in which forces both friendly and adversarial to God exist and are at work.

So to this end, in addition to what Robert cited from James and Jude, we have Peter's warning to "be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8-9).

And Paul advised the church in Ephesus to "put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm." (Ephesians 6:11-13)

Standing against these warnings, however, is the reassuring declaration from Paul that the Son of God ultimately has command over the forces of the universe:

"And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him" (Colossians 2:13-15).

Is it for us to personally engage with the demonic realm? Absolutely not! Can Christians be brought under subjection to such forces? It doesn't appear so. In any case, we are Christ's, our Great High Priest and Intercessor who died on the Cross for our sins, adopted as the children of God the Father, and it is to God that we are to turn in prayer to seek help for everything.

(Sorry for the multiple deletions and reposts.)

donsands said...

"Can Christians be brought under subjection to such forces? It doesn't appear so. In any case, we are Christ's..."-Stefan

Satan comes as an angel of light. His temptations are very masterful. He is a dark and deceptive being and force in this age.
His ministers are ministers of righteousness. So, we need to be in the Word.
Surely the devils in this world bring many other temptations to non-Christians, and Christinas as well.

This is such a good blog to come and read and be edified.

Lord bless.

Stefan said...


You're quite right that we need to be careful. I meant that it doesn't appear that Christians can be brought under complete subjection to such forces, but that doesn't mean that we're necessarily entirely immune from their influence.

And yes, the best antidote is to remain in the Word...and prayer.

Robert said...


That is a particularly ugly can of worms that you put on there!

DJP said...

You're right; we should have chosen prettier worms.


Sterling VanDerwerker said...

It is TENBRUGGENCATE, a fine dutch name. Not as hard as it looks. As a Dutch-Anglo-American, I know how americans feel when confronted with weird Dutch-anglo-Americans... My last name is VanDerwerker (Americanized from Van Der Wurken,.. or something like that).

I wanted to change my name to Roy Rogers! Likely Sye would admit the same thing too,.. just think:

Sye Rogers and His Horse "Toronto" (after the Toronto Maple Leafs)


Sterling VanDerwerker said...

It is TENBRUGGENCATE, a fine dutch name. Not as hard as it looks. As a Dutch-Anglo-American, I know how americans feel when confronted with weird Dutch-anglo-Americans... My last name is VanDerwerker (Americanized from Van Der Wurken,.. or something like that).

I wanted to change my name to Roy Rogers! Likely Sye would admit the same thing too,.. just think:

Sye Rogers and His Horse "Toronto"

Robert said...

Actually, I think I might call PETA and see if they want to sue whoever owns that can...those worms are being enslaved in there!

Honestly, the picture suits the title quite well...

Matt Aznoe said...

I will admit that when I first listened to the Driscoll video, I thought you guys were taking it out of proportion... until I listened to some of the audio linked in the Sola article. I can definitely see where he is getting off track.

But on the other hand, what are we to do with demon possessed people today? It would appear from Acts 19:11-20 as well as the example of the disciples that we can confront demons in Jesus' name as empowered by God. So how do we approach this from a Biblical perspective? If there is someone in your church that you discover is demon possessed, what would you do?

As far as demon possession of a believer, a demon can only possess that which is empty. If we have the Holy Spirit already dwelling within us, there is no place for the demon to go. But they can then oppress us, and thus the need for the armor of God.

stratagem said...

Robert/Stefan - thanks again. Actually the example of Michael is what I had in mind when I asked the question, and actually why I pray rebukes against them rather than directly rebuking. Since I'm not an angel, I wondered if that same privilege applied to us mortals or not. Based on your kind replies, I'll continue to assume it's OK to do so.

donsands said...

Amen Stefan.

"If there is someone in your church that you discover is demon possessed, what would you do?"

Preach the Gospel to him, it is the power of God.

Matt Aznoe said...


Have you ever done that or seen that done where someone who was clearly possessed by a demon? This is an honest question, not an attack. What you say makes a lot of sense, but I am wondering how it plays out practically. It seems to me that there would also need to be a healthy amount of prayer involved as well. Has anyone here actually experienced this and can speak from experience of delivering someone from a demonic possession?

Stefan said...

Not to get too candid here, but of the one instance I have personally witnessed, it can only be achieved through some serious, heavy duty, intercessory prayer.

Stefan said...

And by "achieved," I don't mean that it was achieved per se by believers, but by God, upon pleading and interceding by the believers involved.

Matt Aznoe said...


Thank you. That is the true power of prayer -- it is the admission that we can do nothing of our own but that all deliverance comes from God alone.

Edward said...

I guess I should be posting this at Br. Freds site but since Sye posted here I will also. Br. Sye I listened to the whole debate if you can call it that. It was more of a shout over each other until you got turned off. Sorry to have to say I was on the verge of turning off the the debate because you kept repeating yourself after it was obvious you were not going to get the response you were after. It made for a real annoying experience until the cutoff came. Sorry to have to say it but you could have made better use of the time by agreeing to disagree and go on. Also I disagree with Dustin about not going with evidences. Over all I came away not knowing if I learned anything or not other than debates need some ground rules to keep it orderly and understandable.

DJP said...

This comment responds to that complaint, Edward.

What needed to happen instead is either for the hosts to give an answer (which they could not), or admit that they had no answer (which they would not).

Sye TenB said...

"It made for a real annoying experience until the cutoff came."

How do you think I felt? I was there :-) I think Dan summarized the situation beautifully.

I engaged Alex and his podcast partner a few weeks before that as well, and on that podcast they were asked whether they would worship God if they could be convinced on their terms that He exists. Both gave an emphatic "No!"

Now the question becomes, which argument is best with which to engage them, dinosaur bone soft tissue, or every building needs a builder?

Indeed, exposing their absurdity is tedious and even perhaps annoying, but I refuse to put the Lord of Glory on trial, especially for those who hate Him.

Five Solas said...

It's just classic Driscoll though, isn't it? A sprinkle of sex, some really good and solid affirmations about Christ and redemption and the Bible, and then just some whaaaaat? stuff, all wrapped up in a Micky Mouse t-shirt.

That's the best summary of Driscoll I've seen.

DJP said...

Thank you, thank you, I'm here all week, don't forget to tip your waitress.


donsands said...

Matt & Stef,

Lots of prayer is surely essential as well as preaching the Gospel, and speaking the truth in love with grace.

I suppose demons, or devils, when they posses a human have a particular way so that we know without a doubt the man, or woman, is possessed? I imagine it wouldn't look like in the film 'The Exorcist' would it? If you have seen that film.

I guess this isn't really a rabbit path is it?

Stefan said...
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Stefan said...


I don't want to get into too much detail, but you certainly couldn't have seen it at the time. You would have thought this person were perfectly normal, up until the very day when they were delivered.

As things unfolded on that day, they were saying and doing things that made no rational sense whatsoever, unless understood in biblical terms as a manifestation of demonic activity. I was incredulous as to what I was seeing, and it's certainly something I've never seen before or since.

Afterwards, everything seemed to go back to normal. With the benefit of further hindsight, however, one can see now how much the person has changed since that day, and how utterly God has transformed them, to the praise of His everlasting glory.

The biggest change is that where this person was once hostile to the Gospel, they are now showing the fruit of having been reborn in Christ.

Suffice it to say that as with everything else, it is only through Jesus Christ and Him alone that that we can have the forgiveness of sins, deliverance from evil, and life everlasting.

donsands said...

Thanks Stefan. It feels good to to honor our Lord. He is truly worthy of all all praise and thanks.
He surely does save sinners and rebels, of which I feel like I am one of the worse.

Two of my favorite words in the Word are "But God..." Eph. 2:4

Stefan said...

"He surely does save sinners and rebels..."


"...of which I feel like I am one of the worse."

I must disagree with you on that point. I'm sure I'm worse.

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

A thousand, million amens!