07 February 2012


by Dan Phillips

"Careful" has become a shudder-inducing word for me. Like "gay." In fact, very like "gay."

That's too bad, because it's a really good word in itself (like "gay"!; I'm going to stop saying that). It's a great word, in fact. Your kids are going on a hike, or to play touch football, or to the shooting range. "Be careful," you say. Right. Or I was chatting with a lady police officer the other day, and parted with "You be careful" and a prayer for her safety.

But lately the word has joined "nuanced" and "helpful" and "thoughtful" to give me the shudders. I don't think any of the words are irredeemable. But what I do fear is that all those words show up frequently in the writing of elites who think God's truth and damning error are nothing really to "get het up about," and certainly not worth passion or bareknuckled, plain-spoken, frontal, clear, and — let's just say it — masculine rhetoric. Not worth risking angering anyone, or being perceived as angry.

Isn't it good to be "careful"? To be sure, "careful" is a necessary and important adjective in many contexts. Don't we want to make careful distinctions between trinitarianism and tritheism,  between the Biblical gospel and libertinism, between inerrancy and bibliolatry, between elder leadership and totalitarian thralldom, and a hundred other things? If we preach on prophecy, don't we want to be careful, sticking to the text and avoiding wild conclusions and leaps or cowardly equivocations?

Of course we do. But as used in those contexts, "careful" means factual, warranted, clear-cut, concise, unambiguous, forceful. It is a servant of truth, an enhancer of truth. It serves to make the truth of (say) the Trinity and the Gospel clearer and more obviously distinct from error and false teaching.

So when is it bad? I think elites are sometimes — and I want to be careful here, haha — using the word as a code-word for "dainty" or "harmless" or "toothless." I think they are using it sometimes to mean "nobody (and no ruinous error) actually got hurt." I think they are using it to mean "false teaching and particularly its purveyors are treated with kid gloves." I think they mean "false teachers are treated with great respect." I think they mean "false teaching is described, but inoffensively." I think they mean "nobody is made to feel too bad about perpetrating or embracing heresy or ruinous idiocy."

Plain enough?

See, that paragraph is an example. It was plain, wasn't it? It also had necessary qualifiers and distinctives, didn't it? It wasn't unnecessarily inflammatory, was it? Isn't that being careful, in the best sense?

But no elite is likely to link to this as a "careful" post — any more than they ever do to any of my posts, whether they're about atonement in Proverbs or repentance in a false teacher or anything else.

Why? Truth is, I don't really fully know. And I am also pretty sure (being honest, not sugar-coating) that my very real shortcomings, which I'm trying to overcome but am still a work-in-progress, haven't helped.

But I've come to think that it's partly because They are deeply, deeply concerned that no one feel too bad or get too worked up about soul-damning or otherwise ruinous false teaching. Perhaps we might reluctantly be forced to conclude that some course or doctrine is unadvisable, but we don't want anyone too upset, and we want to protect the respectability of apostates and false teachers and their enablers. (For instance, we won't apply those labels; that wouldn't be careful.)

These elites seem deeply, deeply concerned that false teachers and incompetent/irresponsible leaders remain dear colleagues and beloved friends whom they wish nothing but well and happiness and bunnies. They seem  deeply, deeply concerned that, at all costs, they themselves be seen and lauded by all as careful, thoughtful, helpful, nuanced, judicious, measured, and all those dainty things. All the blood drains from their faces at the thought of being thought angry. "Oh merciful heavens and frisky penguins, not that!"

You see, now, those paragraphs weren't careful. They make people look bad if they are more concerned about their reputation and collegial relations and Club membership than they are about God's truth and Christ's church. And of course, they would admit none of these things of themselves. That is part of being careful: not describing anyone or anything in terms that person wouldn't apply of himself.

But I ask you who have reached out to cultists and other false teachers: how would that modus operandi work out? I wager that every one of you is shaking his head ruefully. Cultists and false teachers never describe themselves in unflattering terms. Mormons, Roman Catholics, you name it: overhear their conversation, and it's all about various facets of their error. Confront them about those very errors, and they deny it. RC to RC will talk about praying to this or that dead person all day long; but if you say "You worship dead people, and that is idolatry," and they'll say they do no such thing. Disagree, and you're "ignorant." Then, once you've left the room, the conversation resumes exactly as you described it.

These elite will embrace select apostates to Rome as great and esteemed friends. But they will shun more frontal, edged, bareknuckled, passionate-for-truth, doctrinally-sound folks like the plague. They will feign both blindness and deafness, then carry on as if no one had said anything, congratulating themselves and "disappearing" contraries, so that they never happened.

The question I think we are left with is: which best serves Christ and His church? Which more effectively alarms sheep against wolves, encouraging and admonishing and instructing the former while exposing and refuting and repelling the latter?

Our problem of course is that we are ever the pendulum. Dainty brothers will say I've painted a caricature, an extremity, and that's not them. Then they will turn around and depict what I advocate in terms of hateful, (truly) ignorant, screaming, all-caps Courier font discernmentism at its worst and blindest and dumbest, and will say that that is what they reject.

So I'd just come down to specifics: Elephant Room 2. I'll ask the non-careful questions. Questions like:
  1. Who was right, who was wrong?
  2. Who was proactive, who was reactive?
  3. Who warned sheep and opposed wolves openly and proactively, and who made the pasture easier pickings for the predators?
  4. Who put himself out on the field during the time of battle and risked criticism and discomfort to guard the truth, and who stayed in the faculty lounge sipping tea and tut-tutting and holding top-secret discussions?
  5. Who, now, by his actions, continues to extend legitimacy to the predators or those who failed to warn against them or sufficiently oppose their false teaching?
  6. What are the consequences for either, now that the dust is settling?
  7. Did we learn anything?
  8. Will anything change?
  9. When sounds of explosions and gunfire fill the air, who do you want to see at your door: a man in a smoking-jacket with a teacup and a bag of Constant Comment, or a rough fellow in camo, armed and trained and ready to go?
So in sum, trying to bring this bristling double-decker to a close, I offer this dialectic:

We should be careful to be Biblical, to be accurate, factual, on-target, articulate, proportionate, and appropriately concerned for showing that love which has God and His truth first in affection, and man a close second — and which remembers that truth and love are not mutually exclusive.

We should not be careful to sell out God's dignity, honor and truth and the health and wellbeing of His church by avoiding offending anybody, making our false priority to avoid trouble, to avoid disagreement, to blunt the edges of the Gospel or of truth, to protect the credibility of false teachers and enable their continued harming of souls, to avoid being unpopular and ill-thought-of by those among whom the truth is ill-thought-of, to avoid all criticism, to protect our reputation and popularity among the elite.

We should care about doing our best to see God's truth triumph decisively over error — first in our own lives, then in our churches — more than we care about how we ourselves are perceived.

There. Have I said all that should be said? Absolutely not. Have I said all that could be said? In no way.

Have I said something that needs to be said? I think so.

Have I said it carefully?

Probably depends on who you ask.

Dan Phillips's signature


DJP said...

Special meta rule: I am likely to delete comments from anonymous commenters and/or empty profiles.

Tom Chantry said...

Good rule. Perhaps it should be permanent.

Sheldon said...

Perhaps I am wrong (wouldn't be near the first time or likely near the last)but it seems that a great deal of this problem stems from reversing the priority of the Great Commandments. It seems if we really were intent on loving God and upholding the majesty of His name above all else, most of this type of "careful" could and would be avoided.

Instead we elevate the desire to love and accept other men above the glory of God and all chaos ensues.

It is almost as if He put those commands in that order on purpose.....

DJP said...

Yeah. Really don't feel like "Well, Faithful Brother B says X. What do you say to him?" today. Maybe unless they use the screen name "Don King."

Fred Butler said...

Special meta rule: I am likely to delete comments from anonymous commenters and/or empty profiles.

Indeed. This is one of those posts by which trolls can smell the blood of Christian men.

DJP said...

Sheldon, I'd hold out one of the potentially game-changing posts every one of them ignores as an example. Anything ad hominem in it? Unnecessarily inflammatory? I don't think so.

So what's the problem? I can't mind-read, and the feigned blindness continues, so I can only guess that it's that it doesn't leave wiggle-room, which is to say it doesn't allow dignified embrace or enablement of false teaching.

But truly, I'm guessing. Because there's a great gulf fixed. Ask ANY academic: it's like liberals and conservatives. Conservatives read liberals' books; liberals pretend there aren't any conservative books worth reading. To the former, the latter exist; to the latter, the former don't exist except as knuckle-dragging Troglodytes.

Ditto elitists towards nons.

Anonymous said...

Who was right, who was wrong?


Seriously, after all the postings over at TGC about this event, with all the "thoughtful" commentary about what Trinitarianism is or isn't, what is an acceptable way to approach comments made in a public forum, and how "unhelpful" it is to bring race into the picture, you would think that someone would have finally gotten around to saying:

"Oh, and by the way, it was wrong of him to do that."

Rhology said...

Someone claiming to be an open and frank discussion of differences doesn't do themselves any favors by singling out critics to whom to deny access.

This is fail. Breathe it in.

Tom Chantry said...

Excellent. Two further thoughts about "carefulness" which dovetail with what you're saying here.

1. The "Careful" folks are so "nuanced" in expression that they give the impression that what concerns them most is other people not being careful enough - even when something must be said. They're like the folks who care more about imaginary violations of the Geneva Convention than about 9-11. Yeah, terrorism was wrong, but we're not being mean to those terrorists, are we? Similarly, some of the "careful" crew might eventually agree that falsehood has been propagated and must be refuted, but they won't do so until they have first rebuked others for doing it wrong. It seems to some of us that when heresy is being embraced in evangelical circles, the top priority should not be to rebuke those who sounded a tad hysterical (in your mind) as they responded.

2. The real problem of the "careful" crowd is that they are overly "careful" even in the above rebukes, and so they are made obliquely, leaving everyone to wonder who and what they were rebuking. It's easy to read into indirect statements.

Since I don't want to be guilty of this second point, let me be specific: have another look at the opening two paragraphs of this eventually helpful post.

Eventually they got around to saying that what Jakes continues to teach is heresy, and that MacDonald is wrongly calling a group of dedicated, faithful pastors sellouts and traitors to their race. You might think that either of those two points would get top billing, but oh no. The post begins with "Controversy customarily generates its share of purple prose." What? That is your chief concern? Moreover, while they rebuke "purple prose" they give no example. I'm sure there has been some purple prose somewhere on this subject, but you could literally assume that they mean any blog post anywhere on the subject. Who knows, maybe they do mean that - their repeated reference to "bloggers" gives the impression that only the Gospel Coalition is really qualified to speak on this. But their very carefulness leaves the matter indistinct. "Some of you have been naughty, and we think you know who you are."

Pathetic, isn't it?

DJP said...

I disagree, Alan. I am blocking those who love to foment dissension everywhere from a safe distance while hiding in anonymity. That's cowardice. I'm blocking cowards, not critics.

This is not a new observation, and it's not just mine.

You may still not like it, though, if you wish. I can try to live with that.

Pastor Steve said...

Do you think part of the problem is we have become too global and have failed to really lift up the local church?

No longer are we concerned with protecting our local flock, but we are now more concerned about gathering a national flock that we will never see, never talk directly to, never see when they fall, but they will buy our books, hit our blog, listen to our radio show, and come to our conference.

FX Turk said...

I have a parable about "careful":

My brother-in-law David used to be the guy in charge of a military vehicle which had three purposes:

1. To move around and not get hit

2. To site targets accurately and destroy them

3. To follow orders explicitly

All of these purposes involve a measure of being "careful". In #1, it is to move in such a way that one is careful not to be spotted, or targeted, or able to be hit. In #2, it means you have the right target at the right time because your vehicle is supporting other movements -- if you hit the target too early, the enemy could redeploy to that target and put the rest of your company in danger; too late, same difference. But it also has to be the right target and not the day care center next to the mortar bunker. #3 means you do everything you're ordered to do, not more and not less. Carefully following orders does not mean getting locked up because you have the paralysis of analysis: it means you understand the objectives and your place in them.

That's what "careful" ought to look like, rather than assembling a ship in a bottle.

Rhology said...

Oops, DJP. I was referring to the ER2's denying access to Chris Rosebrough.

Y'all here have gone about 10,000 times farther in furthering open discussion than ER2 did.

Sorry I wasn't sufficiently clear.

Rhology said...

Apologies to you too, Frank. I didn't communicate my meaning nearly clearly enough.

Tom Chantry said...


I think you're on to something, and I would go a step further: If you try to love your neighbor without loving God more, you will love your neighbor in an idolatrous manner which will, ironically, not prove very loving in the end.

DJP said...

Yes, Sean; and "we should have done A, B, and C - and next time, we will." Or it wouldn't hurt to say "Brothers X-Z pointed this out, and we've learned to at least consider it the next time they ring the bell."

DJP said...

Oh, thanks, Alan. I get it now.

That whole context-thingie strikes again!


Sheldon said...

I know that if someone impugns the honor of my wife, I will clearly, plainly, and, if necessary, forcefully correct them of their error regardless of what that may do to my reputation with the impugner or any other onlookers.

How much more so should it be when the honor of God is impugned by false teaching, heresy, and apostasy?

Regardless of motives spoken or unspoken, I do not see this type of reaction from the "careful" crowd.

DJP said...

Tom, some would absolutely hate it, but I think your analogy is far more apposite than I wish it were.

Kevin Zuber said...

"As the dust settles over ER 2 . . ."

My concern is / has been for the sheep (what James Mac; Mark D. do is between them and the Lord) . . . (and I believe both need to repent . . . for several things . . .)
But the sheep have been injured, and continue to be injured.

Now here's the rub -- some sheep will follow the leader no matter what -- they label critics "haters" and defend their pastor regardless, heedless. Then there will be those who hear and are moved by the those who are warning about false teaching, calling for "careful" (the first sense in Dan's post) biblical analysis, calling for repentance -- these may become increasingly frustrated and vocal (perhaps shrill). Then there will be the vastly larger group of sheep -- they are just confused, told one thing by the so-called elites, another by those who have been are "careful" (first sense again) critics, and informed by the media that T. D. Jakes has made a Trinitarian confession (CT, et. al.) Those sheep in the middle -- inside HBC and out -- need a clear, clarion call for biblical orthodoxy and who's not in (Jakes!) and who's giving the real dividers (false teachers, waffling pastors) cover.
The elites may not be intentionally misleading the sheep but they are not helping them with "nuance" and "carefulness" (second sense). Those sheep need some clarity (the Carson / Keller piece was NOT clear--as many of the comments there pointed out).

Calling Athanasius.

But then they probably won't see Dan's post here (they apparently didn't see the others he posted on this debacle before it happened) . . . they definitely wont see these comments.

mike said...

is it possible that the environment of academia is so very polluted with the political correctness virus that is has now spread unchecked into christian academia?
when the prevalent belief is in the intrinsic value of humans, far beyond the point of love for the crown of God's creation, but to the point of new commandment #1 thou shalt not offend, or thou hatest God.
makes incredibly fertile ground for a man like Driscoll, who gains entrance by numerical success, and passing the pastoral exam with a 78. then can run amok unchallanged, because we no longer posses any ability to disciple, as we have abandoned the concept of discipline as unloving.
i would propose that the very most loving thing that any of those men could ever do for and of the ER@ folks is to clearly and bluntly tell them of the very real dangers of blasphemy against a Holt Living God.
Proverbs tell us that the BEGINNING of wisdom is the fear of God. is it possible that many are getting so learned that they do not remember that first thing?

Brad Williams said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but this is something that I have noticed.

The tendency to rebuke and be careful is neatly divided across the cessasionist/continuist divide. Just check and see if it isn't true in general. If it isn't, I recant for my poor powers of observation.

RyanJRoss said...

I have been guilty of using this word in that way; however, I am generally trying to do two things: (1) provide a communicative self-check before making a hasty response in an unwise way and (2) show a carefulness to those with whom I disagree.

For example, last week I had a meeting with my elders who denied important points in the Westminster Confession Faith, a standard to which my denomination adheres. Upon their denial, I responded with, "I want to be careful here, but I would urge you to re-consider the Scriptures. Afterward, I would encourage you to make thisknown to the Session."

Given the nature of the discussion and those so involved, I wanted to be "careful" to show respect for their authority as well as communicate my disagreement in a manner they would be more inclined to receive it.

I am curious if others have found themselves in such a predicament. I do not believe I was making concessions for the sake of popularity, but I certainly wouldn't wish to blunt the forcefulness with which I would like my elders to understand the severity of what they are doing.

In many cases, I presume we would be better suited without the word "careful."

Thank you for the post! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am going to add this blog to my feeder. I was unaware of it, until I read Trueman's (endorsing) post.

Kevin Zuber said...

@mike "the environment of academia is so very polluted with the political correctness virus that is has now spread unchecked into christian academia?"

Well, I'm part of that an the answer is "Yes, largely . . . not totally . . . but largely . . ."

Tom Chantry said...

Truman: "It is a great thing to limit one's feudal ties for it gives great freedom to speak."

And that, my friends, is the other side of this. I've been asked repeatedly what I think of Justin Taylor's comments, of Kevin DeYoung's comments, and of Trevin Wax's comments. My answer is that I think they are all, especially Trevin, in an untenable position. "Feudal ties" is not a bad way to put it.

mike said...

the crazy thing about that pendulum that Dan mentioned, it seems that it is swinging faster nowadays.

one of the sad things i found reading the comments of several of the TGC blog posts over the past year, is that the vocal minority of commentors object forcefully to the fact that one who lies is a liar, and one who teaches heresy is a heretic. and that vitriol of righteous indignation is often met with "careful" retreat.

one cannot risk being labelled a hater, racist, or judgmental.

mike said...

and for what it is worth, and in my case not much, i find the tacit yet clear enough endorsement of Jakes as a whole by MacDonald and friends not that much more troubling than the tacit yet clear enough endorsement of MacDonald be CALLED by God to do these ungodly things.

Jay Beerley said...

The "real world" fallout of "careful" being the goal as if it is opposed to authoritative conclusions, is indeed the destruction laid out on the sheep. I think Thabiti's post today was very poignant on this.

For my real world example:
I pastor a small (under 100) church in small, West Texas town. I'm sure all of them think the Elephant Room is at the circus or zoo. But what happened this Sunday? Hey, the local paper ran an op ed from some religion writer on the East Coast who says Jakes is now a Trinitarian. So, I had to take time Sunday night to fill people in on why Jakes did not indeed do such a thing. And on the importance of words and how dismissing things as "semantics" is of no help to anyone. We then went on in our 1 John study with chapter 4 and the expression of Trinitarian love in the life of true believers.

Just thought I'd share how I watched all of this unfold fully aware and my people who were unaware of these events even taking place now have to weed through the muck and mire. I enjoy the privilege of leading them through it, but I think that's certainly an aspect that has been ignored: how this whole deal affects people who are ONLY aware of the resulting "careful" language.

Terry Rayburn said...

This "careful" thing can be as nauseating as what we call "political correctness".

Eph. 4:15..."speaking the truth in love"...(in the immediate context of 4:14 and 4:16) is the solution.

If we speak the truth in love, by definition we won't shy from the truth.

If we speak the truth in love, by definition we will be neither "careful" nor "uncareful" except that love in the situation requires it.

We can be "careful", pretending it's love, and be so wrong that the truth is ignored or decimated.

We can be 100% right, but without love we are...take your pick...noisy gongs, clanging cymbals, "nothing", etc. (1 Cor 13).

DJP said...

Thank you, Jay. Important note.

Robert said...


I am most concerned about questions 7 and 8. Most of the other questions are clear-cut, but whether or not people learned anything and whether things will change is still open. Although, sadly, I think that many who need to both learn from this and change what they are doing won't do either. I pray that they will, but I just haven't seen much indication that it will happen.

This kind of reminds me of what happened with Israel and all the false prophets saying the exile wouldn't last long while Jeremiah spoke the Word of God.

I am glad to see your response in light of the accusations lobbed by Keller and Carson towards anybody who has been critical of their lack of public response. I never thought of anybody here as really having the sin of contempt with regards to this matter. Really, I saw much of TGC as being the person on the wall who didn't sound the horn when the invasion came. And God says the blood of the people destroyed is on such a person's hands.

Terry Rayburn said...

By the way, even "speaking the truth in love" doesn't eliminate all the difficulties.

You still could be crucified.

C'est la vie.

Robert said...


You raise a very important issue that has been neglected. What is the collateral damage from this whole mess? I think that most of the people involved in this mess didn't work out the implications of what they were saying and doing. This seems to be a growing epidemic. What I don't get is why should it be so hard to call out heretics and make them own their beliefs in order to protect the flock. Isn't that what the leaders of the church are supposed to be there for? Not just to put out lofty thoughts and make sure things keep running along smoothly, but to rebuke, correct, encourage, and exhort. It is a dirty job, but if you read the Bible you know that going in.

The Squirrel said...

Excellent. Carefully worded, even.

This post needs to be read far and wide!


DJP said...

Thanks, Squirrel. But will it?

lee n. field said...

I was going to say use "accurate", but you covered that.

I suspect there is no word that won't be bent, nuanced, or "spun". Carefully bent.

Aaron said...

@DJP: read far and wide, yes. But reading and doing are two different things.

CCinTn said...

The Mugging Parable was so brilliant. I’m still chewing on that one. Today’s post really couldn’t have been worded any better. As Robert pointed out, God will hold accountable the watchmen on the wall who don’t cry out when there is danger and when the enemy is near. I dare say that those at TGC are certainly leaders and as such are in the position of protecting God’s flock. What the inner circle did in allowing the mugging was inexcusable and their actions afterwards are no better.
As far as ‘far and wide’, I think that many of us are now engaged in conversations with people who know nothing about Christian blog sites. I think that the collateral damage is still on-going and will be, I believe, substantial. On the other hand, I am praying that God will use this to refine His Church. I pray that there will be a renewed interest in theology and doctrine among God’s people.

Anonymous said...

Labeling anonymous commenters and/or empty profiles as cowards makes me want to scream: HATER!!!

All better now.

DJP said...

Yeah, Stan, I reached saturation level long ago on spectators who like to hide behind a screen and call out "You two... fight for me, will you?"

Oh, and then call out criticisms of what ensues.

Kevin Zuber said...

The misinformation spreads http://zionica.com/2012/02/07/td-jakes-makes-a-trinitarian-confession/

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Barnabas' introduction of Paul into the body would be educational for how, if Jakes truly has converted he should be introduced to the body. Barnabas didn't just say "Take my word for it, he's ok!", but rather he gave proofs that Paul had left his former life of persecuting Christ and His body and was a true brother in Christ. All I've seen in the rejection of Jakes' authenticity has been, "Well we said so, so it is! Just believe us!" They don't seem to be as careful or concerned as Barnabas was when he introduced a known enemy into the body as a friend.

Anonymous said...

The older I get the more I love plain speech and those who use it.

Thank you, Dan.

Phil Johnson said...

I'm guessing the article Jay referred to is this stunningly clueless report by Terry Mattingly, who ought to know better:


That will be read and published far more widely than anyone's blog. Yet I have no expectation that the same people who lob grenades at unnamed "bloggers" will respond to Mattingly's article with any plea for more care. After all, Mattingly has written for CT. Criticize a CT alum? That kind of thing is just not done.

Anonymous said...

In other words, "“Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...


Possibly THE MOST IMPORTANT ARTICLE you have written to date. I will read and re-read this article; it is that good!!!!

Something tells me, if you are accustomed to getting manicures, you would not be willing to turn the tables over in the temple, like Jesus did. Too soft on love, makes for a very weak Christian.

Also, great comment by Mike @ 8:08.

CCinTn said...

Thanks Phil...Mattingly's article says: ”Well, he might not be able to keep doing all of that if millions of evangelicals think he is some kind of heretic. So he makes this one statement and he's cleared with most evangelicals and charismatics, most of the time. He's on his way to being more acceptable to just about everybody. That's big, in the post-denominational world in which we live.”

The 'statement' referred to above was Jakes' alleged affirmation of the orthodox view of the Trinity and, while not implied, his rejection of his prior Modalistic view.
While I'm sure that this was one of Jake's motives for participating in ER, how could MacDonald and Driscoll not see this, or did they?

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Just so it's not confused, that's another reason I am unconvinced of Jakes authenticity - because McDonald/Driscoll & co were not careful to have him do what Christians do when they're wrong, to allude to Frank's post last week, and renounce what they did wrong and go hard after what's right.

Robert said...


That article is ridiculous. The natural follow-up to Driscoll's question about the Trinity would have been the following:

Do you recant everything that you have taught about modalism? And are you willing to call it heresy? Because that is what it is. I guess that isn't careful, though.

DJP said...

< blinks >

Yeah... maybe it would have been helpful if someone had had the foresight to write a whole article of specific questions that would have had to be asked if anyone were to be able to believe Jakes had actually repented. Beforehand. Yep, that would have been great.

BerlinerinPoet said...

This post is fabulous and SO what I have been thinking after spending some amount of time in the blog world.

The "careful" always link what they are doing with love...as they...completely judge you for being harsh and judgmental. But how loving is it to ignore people who are slipping away from Christ?

DJP said...

Beautifully concisely put, BP.

CCinTn said...

To everything there is a season.
There is a time, place and necessity for those gifted with great intellect to articulate with precision those things that make up theology so that fuller understanding of the richness of God’s Word may be achieved. Producing volumes dedicated to such things have been done through church history and thank God for these men.

There is also a time, place and necessity for those gifted at taking this high protein, high fiber food and feeding it to the sheep. A wise under-shepherd does many things not the least which is leading the sheep to the good food and keeping them from the bad food that they might otherwise ingest. We need those who can take the deep things of scripture and of doctrine and explain them so that God’s Word is more easily understood by those sheep who should be moving from the milk to the meat and more importantly how they are to then apply themselves to the Word.

There is also time, place and necessity to protect the sheep with all due might. I think David was very ‘careful’ when he fought the lion and bear while protecting his father’s sheep. This is something that all believers can do when they recognize the danger but God has charged certain ones with this role of protecting His sheep.

The late responses from TGC were just that. Late. The Carson/Keller response was to me, essentially useless. There was a time and place right after the announcement of Jakes as a guest for vigorous discussions behind closed doors but once the error became magnified with MacDonald’s public antics it was time to take a more firm approach. It’s about protecting the sheep after all. They didn't though.

I don’t remember Paul telling the Peter and the Jewish and Gentile believers that he would get back to them in few days or week to prepare a proper and careful response to Peter’s error. Paul saw the error as an assault on the Gospel itself, happening in a very public venue and he addressed it immediately and publically. Oh yeah, and coming from the guy who also wrote 1 Cor 13 and all the other things relating to how brothers are to get along with each other, he did it carefully.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Robert said...


The lack of effort to listen to such advice could show that they didn't really care to know the whole story to begin with. Or that they just wanted to believe Jakes is Trinitarian so badly that they are willing enough to put blinders on with regards to his past and any efforts to correct previous teaching. Of course, one could argue that the latter scenario is just an indication of the first.

The sad thing is that these guys aren't just working out what they want to believe about Jakes...they're broadcasting it for everybody else to see that they are saying that he is Trinitarian...and with their influence, that means more and more people will believe it.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brad Williams said...

Also, if TD Jakes really did renounce modalism, why aren't those modalists getting upset that he frequently fellowships with?

Solameanie said...

I am speechless. In a very good way.

In fact, this post almost makes me want to be a leaky canoneer long enough to insert this in...well, not really. But I'll yell "amen" loudly enough for them to hear in Katmandu.

Rhology said...

Beforehand. Yep, that would have been great.

There's always next time, DJP.

Solameanie said...


I see your point about cessationists/continuationists, but it really does depend on the subject, or at least it USED to depend.

At one time, the Assemblies of God was very strongly against the so-called "Latter Rain" movement, E.W. Kenyon, Copeland/Hagin etc, condemning it as heretical as far back as the 1940s. Whether they take that strong of a stance these days, I don't know. But HSAT, you do indeed find a lot more excusing of things in hyper-charismatic circles.

Scot said...

If one is unwillingly in his or her "careful" analysis to not call out specific persons for their actionsc then maybe you need to reexamine your harmtiology. We don't wage war against thin air, but our own hearts. The hosts of ER2 made conscious choices to do what they did. Even if they don't fully understand their choices, criticizing and calling for repentance is meant for the good of those heading down a dangerous path. It's meant to draw attention to and betterunderstand our own wicked hearts and fight to notify sin and bring forth the fruit of righteousness.

This is especially to me as my new wife and I work on our young marriage.

Brad Williams said...


I'm talking about on the board of TGC specifically. Look who has the most regrets, and note who spoke out first. I'm not talking about hyper-charismatics, I'm talking about continuationists like Carson, Driscoll, MacDonald, et all. Who's not? Dever? Thabiti? Dan? Phil?

Can you name a continuationist in the camp that came out in time against this? That's my point. Now, if you say the same thing about cessationist, we could start with three on this blog, and a few at TGC. Seems like a pattern to me.

David Regier said...

When Little Red Riding Hood said, "My, grandmother, what big ears you have!" she was satisfied with the answer, "All the better to hear you with." Likewise, when she said "My, grandmother, what big eyes you have!" she was satisfied with the answer, "All the better to see you with!"

By the time she got to the teeth, it was nearly too late.

But she never would have been in that situation if she had listened to her mother in the first place and not dawdled in the forest, talking to strangers.

Thank goodness for the woodman who split the wolf open, saving grandma's bacon.

Robert said...

I do want to take a minute to thank Dan, Phil, and Frank for all taking the time to post warnings about this beforehand and to expound upon the problems involved with how this was setp up and handled. Because of your work I was able to explain this whole situation to a group of people from my church, amongst whom only one person knew the details of this mess. And I am sure there are countless others who have likewise benefitted from your work.

I also want to encourage you to keep up the work and not to be discouraged by the amount of people who do not heed your warnings and criticize your efforts. Just remember that your Heavenly Father will reward you accordingly for your work in protecting His sheep.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Amen, Robert!

DJP said...

Yeah, Rhology; maybe it'll be like two months in advance, look something like this, and everyone will join voices to make the thoughts in it unavoidable issues.

And that'll be great.

trogdor said...

Anyone remember this careful piece from when the fiasco first started? Consider point 5, which is the one that most directly gets to the heart of the matter - should this be allowed to proceed?

Now, you could read that paragraph and focus on this part, and think that they are totally (rightfully!) opposed to it: "The problem with the Elephant Room was that as initially envisaged it was designed to bring together Christian brothers. To invite someone to such a gathering where that person has not, at the very least, distanced himself from the modalism in which he was reared and which is at odds with Christian convictions in every branch and corner of orthodox Christendom, seemed not only to lack wisdom but to allow tolerance levels to rise to the point where confessionalism is being swamped."

But, they surround that with so much 'care' and 'nuance' on each side, that the whole paragraph - indeed, the whole article - comes across as "there may be problems, but we'll have to wait and see how it's handled and how it turns out". In fact, that's what they say ("Many, I suspect, will now wait to see how the hosts of the Elephant Room handle themselves and interact with their guests in the sessions ahead."), as if there was no chance of this invitation being rescinded or the whole even being canceled.

This is not merely theoretical (although I wish I had it in writing and not merely from private conversation). When I talked (pre-ER2, when there was still plenty of time to stop it) with one of the elders and axed for an update, the first thing he mentioned as justification for proceeding was "what Carson and Keller wrote". I don't want to overstate this, but the gist of the conversation was that there was divided opinion, and they relied heavily on the most trusted scholars/leaders in TGC. I cannot help but believe that if they had clearly, firmly, unambiguously denounced it, the plug would have been pulled. Instead we got wishy-washy wait and see, agree to disagree garbage, and now we're left to deal with the damage.

By the way, the last line of that paragraph is this: "If (God forbid) they were to give the impression that foundational Christian truths do not matter, inevitably serious questions will be raised, and rightly so." So now that they gave that impression, where are the serious questions?

Marla said...

Dan, spot-on. I tend to be black-and-white when it comes to false teachers (especially well-known, well-documented), and cannot understand the 'gray' see-nothing, hear-nothing position. The last three posts by Phil & you have been fresh air.


wv: doging (gotta laugh)

Marla said...

As always, your humor alongside serious commentary makes this my favorite blog.

Ryan said...

"Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person." Why? Because you shouldn't care that much about protecting sheep from wolves? Because defending gospel truth isn't that big a deal? No, I think it's because the truth IS such a big deal that we need to be "careful" to speak as if to actually persuade people who don't already agree with us. Telling a RC "You worship dead people" may draw cheers from some in the Protestant choir, but is it very likely to engender sincere reflection on the RC's part? I'd be interested to hear from any Catholics reading this blog if you're more likely to reconsider your beliefs or to write off the possibility of learning from non-Catholics as a result of Dan's comments.

Peace in Christ.

DJP said...

...because you know Roman Catholics can usually be counted on to be honest and critical about their faith from a Biblical perspective?

My point was not the winsomeness of the observation. My point was that the observation was undeniably true, yet Roman Catholics do deny it, because... (see context in post).

CCinTn said...

While I agree with the scripture you referenced, I would also say that scripture is also chock-full of examples when words of correction were spoken not so fair and lovingly, they were actually quite harsh. Some incidences were because of the seriousness of the sin/offence and sometimes because of the maturity level of the person i.e. that person certainly knew better.
Do we tell an RC we meet right off that they worship dead people? Um, no but how 'gently' do we treat someone who 'knew better' or should have?
I guess extreme examples would include the ungentle way that Paul confronted Peter or when Jesus told Peter "get behind me Satan". How about the gentle way God dealt with Ananias and Sapphiria or how Nathan confronted David over Bathsheba, or when Moses came down from Mt Sinai and found a golden calf?
Can we not find the balance that scripture would call for?

Ryan said...

I did stumble upon a Catholic Bible study on a university campus a few years ago, and they were all reflective about understanding their faith in light of the Bible and were open to hearing me out as a non-Catholic. Though I know now what I could have said to shut down any chance of having an influence! ;)

In any case it sounds like your point is not to dismiss winsomeness as unimportant. Therefore I am appeased. :)

DJP said...

Both witty, and correct.


Robert said...


God converted me out of Catholicism through a lifelong friend who turned me to Scripture and showed me what Scripture said and then told me what was said at the Council of Trent and Vatican II. At that point it became clear to me that the RCC is not based upon the Bible alone...and the things that they add take away from the Biblical truth. And as I have matured spiritually I have only grown to see more of the evils of the RCC (worship of "queen of heaven" - which models worship of OT pagans, to name one) and I pray for the lost in the RCC to be saved out of that false system of belief.

All of that to say that if my friend had not been willign to approach me about the true teachings of the RCC, then how would I have discovered the truth? To quote DJP, God works through means...and we are often those means.

FX Turk said...

Somebody said "bacon."

Rhology said...


Tom Chantry said...

What was that? Bacon?

DJP said...

Ahh, this takes me back to the good old days, when people would create a pool (for charity!) as to how many minutes it'd be before Turk would derail each of my threads.

jmb said...

This post is so good that I thought Phil wrote it, until I re-checked. Not that you're chopped liver, you understand.

So true: Showing the slightest anger is akin to the dreaded "intolerance" today. Of course, when you are then compared to someone who burns people at the stake, THEY are not angry or intolerant.

DJP said...

Oh no, jmb; that's a high compliment. Thx.

Solameanie said...

Brad, understood.

One thing that surprises me (and maybe others). I'm usually pretty up on stuff, but I didn't know Carson was a continuationist. How could I have missed that?

Solameanie said...

I think I can answer my own question. My main reading of Carson has been his critique of the Emergent Church. Haven't read his 1987 book on the Holy Spirit, which I just discovered by Googling.

I humble myself in sackcloth and ashes. ;)

yankeegospelgirl said...

Dan, has anyone told you that you LOOK like a TODDLER, drawing LINES in the SAND? Making a big stink about how you're DEFENDING THE TRUTH?

Well it's not about you.

The age of rational thought and masculine debate is over.

The age of simpering, smirking twits is here.


Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Brad and his suggestion, "...continuationists like Carson, Driscoll, MacDonald, et al. Who's not? Dever? Thabiti? Dan? Phil?"

My husband has made this same observation many times regarding continuationists, or as Dan would say, leaky canoneers.

Is continuationism at the root of many a problem?

DJP said...

Thanks for the reminder.

Brad, that's a sharp observation. I had not thought of that. What's the correlation? The leaky canoneer balks at the "GTM" card, while the sola-scriptura guy says, "Yeah, you're going to have to make a Biblical, rational case that deals responsibly with facts and consequences"?

Tom Chantry said...

Wait, wait, wait! STOP the comment thread. Do not miss the chance to bask in the awesomeness of this statement:

The age of simpering, smirking twits is here.

Now THAT was so good I thought Phil wrote it!

Robert said...


I'd gladly agree, but I have seen the same type of attitude amongst some cessationists. Granted, it is much less frequent, but it exists. Although, maybe allowing for continuation of sign gifts shows a pattern of allowing things into the church that don't belong their in the first place...and isn't that what this is really about? I mean, if the trend follows, we should expect to see T.D. Jakes in the pulpit at HBC. He did it with Furtick after ER1, right?

DJP said...

Goodness. My autobio will be titled, "In The Shadow of Phil."

He being disengaged yet commenteth.

Robert said...

At least you aren't being called Phil as much these days! 80)

Rhology said...

He being disengaged yet commenteth.

LOL And I was about to click "Unsubscribe"...

Scot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aaron Snell said...


"Thanks, Squirrel. But will it?"

This is actually a question I have in all of this. There are two groups who could possibly be rightfully rebuked for not reading and heeding your advice: MacDonald and Driscoll (the ER2 proper), and the leadership of TGC (the council). The warnings you gave were all the good things that could be said about them - wise, "careful"(!), helpful, gracious, etc. The only reason I use the word "possibly" is this: did they actually see them?

Dan, do you have any good reason to believe that the inner circle of your parable were aware of your suggestions and counsel? Like I said, there are two groups here that need to be kept disctict, and I would say that Teampyros's initial stand against the ER1 and 2 - plus the history with Driscoll - would explain why MacDonald and Driscoll might not care a lick what's being published on the Pyromaniacs blog. But the leadership of TGC is another matter. Yes, you guys have a large readership, and I'm happy to be one of those numbers. But is Keller? Is Carson? I think they should be reading you. But do they?

Aaron Snell said...

Let me also acknowledge that yours, or Phil's or Frank's, is not the only voice they could have heeded.

Anonymous said...

Regarding just one point of Arius's Thalia, Athanasius stated: "..., this which you vomited forth,...". So, surely you can't be labeled a 'hater' Dan since you have not even utilized such terminology from 4th century apologetics.

Sad to say, in one fell swoop, elites can give credence to someone teaching/espousing error or heresy and undermine all the efforts of those who are trying to bring the truth to those walking in darkness. Where is the love and care for these lost individuals? It just makes it that much more difficult to not only explain why that individual is still wrong but also the error of leadership.

May we have more Dr. White's and Carl Trueman's who are willing to take a stand for the truth.

Thanks for the post Dan. Excellent piece! Thanks to TeamPyro for their stance on this issue.

Tom Chantry said...

Aaron, as you already noted, there were other sources. TGC needed to go no further than their own blogs.

As for the perpetrators of the ER, reread the comment thread from this post and see if you notice a theme. It's fairly evident that someone at HBC is paying very close attention to what is written about them.

John Dunn said...

You really weren't careful enough in your comments directed toward the fuzzy bunnies and the frisky penguins. Please repent.

You really shouldn't paint these noble creatures with the same brush as the ivory tower elites.

At least they know predators when they see them and have the decency to warn the others!!

rom623rom828 said...

As a Mac HBC attender for about 5 years, I'm just wondering what to make of all of this and what action to take for me and my family-- stay or look for another church?

Most, perhaps all of you, are writing from a perspective outside of HBC. I agree with about 99.9% of all the blogs written here at Pryomaniacs.

On the otherhand, its not all bad at HBC -- still some solid teaching -- but what to make of all of this -- stay or leave?

Aaron Snell said...


You are an attender; but are you a member? Have you talked with your pastor?

Andrea said...

"Did we learn anything?"

Obviously I don't know if the people mainly involved have learned from their mistakes or from the biblicly careful critics who so wisely expressed their rejection of heresy.

But I have learned something, and am anxious to be sure that my local congregation has the opportunity to learn from this situation, as well.

Step one. I approached my pastor after our luncheon/theological question time Sunday and asked him what he knew about this whole debacle. He didn't know about TGC, and was only vaguely aware of T.D. Jakes. Rather than delve into the whole story, of which my own grasp is limited, I asked him to do some research and to spend some time after our next luncheon talking about why trinitarian thought is essential to Christianity.

I similarly approached another of the leading men of our church, and hope to address all the elders in turn as I can.

Step two. I am going to go through some books on systematic theology that address the biblical basis and importance of trinitarian doctrine so that I can give educated comment to the discussion which I hope will ensue.

I am going to redouble my efforts to train my children on these issues, especially since there is a significant member of our extended family whose theology was deeply influenced by the non-trinitarian belief system of the Jehovah's Witnesses. I will be careful, from now on, to call her belief that Jesus is not God but just "a" God heresy.

Anyone who knows some good books on the subject that will enable me to grasp as completely and clearly as possible what is at stake, please share them. Email: newell.andrea@gmail.com

Thank you to team Pyro for taking care to preach the truth of God's Word, and for using the divine standard to hold prominent teachers and leaders accountable. Pray for us poor layfolk who lack your gifts and learning, but share your passion for God's word and for Christ's church.

And keep those early warnings coming, Dan. Some of us are listening.


Gabby said...

Careful in the Lord is good; careful in man not so much. "You shall be careful therefore to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left." Or, "be careful to obey all these words that I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children..." Or "everything I command you you shall be careful to do."

Perhaps all this careful business we're witnessing so much of these days is simply a case of fearing man more than God.

DJP said...

Rockin', Andrea. Well done.

Here are two writers I like a lot, on the deity of Christ.

Rob Bowman also wrote a very good book on the JW's and the Trinity (1989), but I fear it's out of print.

candy said...

I have read this blog since the day it started. I am forever grateful for the stand it has taken for doctrinal truth and gospel integrity. I am sure what follows may garner me a hurtful rebuke or sarcastic comment.

I think it is extremely important to expose false teaching and questionable actions that bring horrible consequences. I am thankful that this blog addresses issues head on. I also am alarmed by the inroads taken by false teachings, actions geared towards unity at the expense of truth, etc.

I have to agree with yankeegirl (I forgot the rest of the name), in that it ultimately is not about you or the fact that you addressed this way in advance. To keep addressing the fact that you already addressed it and bring attention to yourselves in words and links to past articles, and not ultimately keep it on Christ and the glory of God, which is really what will prevail, only keeps stirring the pot. Is it distressing that so many people did the wrong and "careful" thing? Yes...so many times yes. But, let's put our eyes on Christ and how we, right now, after the fact, can glorify Him in our focus and conversation.
My husband and I recently moved and it has been extremely difficult for me. We left a very healthy church. I was so discouraged and depressed. We visited a new church last Sunday where there is reformed teaching. The teaching was amazing. As good as any leader at any conference. The church probably has 50 people. The pastor wore his fake suede beige suit left over from his Assembly of God days years ago. I asked him if he had kept up on the ER2 controversy, and if he knew who Driscoll is...he really didn't. But...he passionately and eloquently expounded on the Gospel, even in his casual conversation. He just kept focusing on Christ...in a small podunk town in New England....to the glory of God, and the recognition of few men.
Sometimes the blogosphere reminds me of little dogs nipping and barking at the heels of a visitor. They just don't know when to back off and say, ok, I know that visitor knows I am here and I am vocal.

Do we need to keep sounding an alarm? More than ever! That is why I appreciate this blog, but I also appreciate someone like Thabiti, who is slow and yet eloquent in his responses.

I am not even going to follow up on what comes after my comment, because frankly, I am not in the mood for sarcastic comments from the pyro guys. You either understand what I am trying to say or not. Meanwhile, I am just a nobody westerner trying to get used to a whole new life here in the northeast (a very tough spiritual place).

yankeegospelgirl said...

Tom Chantry mistook me for Phil Johnson!

My awesomeness is secured.

DJP said...

It's the beard.

Ba-dum bum.

Tom Chantry said...

The only thing that is truly disappointing to me in Candy's comment is the assumption that "the pyro guys" would respond to her with sarcastic criticism. I, too, have been around for a while, and I cannot find any basis for that opinion.

Some commenters enter the metas like bulls in china shops. Attempts are usually made to talk them down into a reasonable degree of rage; when that fails, sarcasm might ensue. The idea that a long-time commenter making an honest, gentle appeal - whether right or wrong - would be treated with sarcasm is simply not supported by the evidence.

It's the sort of accusation that detractors make. It's not something one expects from someone who's here every day for reasons other than snark. Sad to see the way pervasive rumors can overwhelm genuine discussion among the brethren.

Anonymous said...

You may not get a sarcastic comment, Candy.

You may be ignored, just like rom623rom828

Tom Chantry said...

Well, I always thought Phil might be a Yankee Gospel...you know what? Never mind.

Tom Chantry said...


I know Candy didn't mean it this way, but hers was an impossible comment to answer well. Disagree in any way - and what - are they then accused of sarcasm? That seems to be pre-determined. And when you say, "I won't be reading after I post this," well...

As for rom623rom828, Aaron Snell did post what is a good preliminary answer. For the rest, do you really expect the Three Amigos to start giving specific stay-or-go advice to members of other churches - on their blog?

Rachael Starke said...

Thinking about Candy's exhortation from a different perspective:

I recently was hired by a company, so I thought, for my experience and skills in a certain area. But I discovered after the fact that that may not be true, and that my job is one of almost no influence and authority, even though I still have to get big things done.

I'm seeing calamity on the horizon. I've been pedaling and sweating on my tricycle to get the big trailer I'm towing around the calamity and towards success, all the while politely, respectfully, begging for something with a just a wee bit more oomph.

And all I've succeeded in is seeding their minds about paying an expensive consultant to first say, then do, precisely what I thought I was supposed to be doing in the first place. IOW, they're going to go get the monster truck, and give it to someone else to drive.

I don't at all equate my little skill set to a calling; but I do know that when I'm able to use any skill God's given me to be a real help to someone, I'm thrilled, and thankful to God.When my offer of help is rejected, and damage occurs, it hurts. A lot.

So let's switch back to our host. He's faithfully providing for his family by working a secular job. but what he's really gifted at is preaching and teaching. But he's where he is, and guys like MacDonald are where they are, and people are being led towards a very, very bad place. Real shepherds don't watch another shepherd's endangered flock and think "meh" and go back to their afternoon nap. They do what they can to warn the other shepherd, as loudly as they can, and try and get the sheep to safety. And then weep, loudly, when their efforts are in vain.

Is there some point where it would be good to entrust this situation to God and move on? Yes, no doubt. Yes. But let's at least consider the reasons why it must be very difficult to do so.

Anonymous said...


Candy's comment did not need to be "answered".

As for the three authors here, I expect them to respond to this man who is directly and intimately involved in the topic on which they've posted so passionately and frequently.

Rachael Starke said...

And because of aforementioned work drama, I have to feed my children and don't have time to comment on the one word "masculine" which struck me, and left me pondering. There is a feminine way to care, and maybe that's why I didn't see, on first skimming, the Carson Keller soliloquy as so bad. It felt thoughtful/caring, etc. (I'd missed the last two paragraphs, also). But that's because I'm a woman.

We need both kinds. And we need to get straight which group shows which kind.

I have more thoughts on the irony of Mark Driscoll being all about protecting women from physical wolves, but sitting with a spiritual one and being all chatty, but dinner's getting cold.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I expected more than that, Tom. I expected any/all of the numerous pastors who comment here regularly, in this very thread even, to respond to rom623rom828.

Could anyone give him "specific stay-or-go advice" in a blog thread? Of course not. No on is suggesting that. What they could have said was something like,

"That is a question which really can't be answered in a comment thread, but I would be happy to communicate with you personally and I will be praying for you and your family."

VcdeChagn said...

Disclaimer: I am not a pastor. I didn't even stay in a holiday in last night.


Park here for a week of solid reading: http://teampyro.blogspot.com/search/label/stay%20or%20go

I think your question has already been answered by the Pyro guys, especially Frank Turk.

I know that it helped me as when it was written I was considering leaving a church.

mike said...

In the future, if perchance you think that you may have some knowledge of any form of impending badness, please show caution to appear more humble and winsome by mentioning it once only, and try to do so as anonymously as practical while balancing ....

Ah nevermind,
Brother you smell smoke, you holler until we move. Your record is good enough to warrant an audience

Wv: inocenz. ??? Not too much

rom623rom828 said...

Thanks for all the feedback about whether to "stay or go" at HBC.

I'll mull things over some more.

Charlene said...

I gave this post a 5-star rating as soon as I got to ""Oh merciful heavens and frisky penguins, not that!"

How un-careful of me :-D

Seriously DJP, great clarification on this now-muddled word.

Just don't be so angry next time. (KIDDING!)

Tom Chantry said...

@ Jules,

Your comment wounds, but I believe it only does so because you intend it that way. I don't actually believe that the charge of pastoral indifference works in the way you're trying to make it work.

My thoughts were on the way before you posted. I remain convinced that in no way should Phil (who is a pastor), Dan or Frank (who are not), or any commenters here - pastoral or otherwise - be chastised for failing to post an answer.

That I think this doesn't change the fact that I respect your very helpful participation in this discussion and continue to value your opinions highly.

@ rom623rom828,

For what it's worth, my final (I think) thoughts on what this debacle says about the ministry at HBC are at my personal blog today. (the crbc one, not the gadfly group blog)

I still think Aaron Snell asked a crucial question - although I can understand your not wanting to share that information here. There is a world of difference between merely attending a church and covenenting with it through membership. If you are not a member, it makes sense to go somewhere where you can fully commit yourself to the life of a church. If, on the other hand, you are a member, that means two things. First, while there are legitimate reasons to leave a church, that decision should never be taken lightly. Second, if it is time, there is a right way to leave - and a great number of wrong ways. Loud, angry denunciations of leadership is a wrong way, but so is a quiet, unexplained disappearance. As Aaron said, talk to your pastor.

DJP said...

BTW, our regular and excellent commenter Trogdor is also a member of HBC, struggling through these issues. Anyone wanting to discuss that situation with him on the ground-level should check out and comment on his blog.

Anonymous said...


You have misjudged my intentions.


WV: table

Robert said...


Yeah, I read that post by trogdor and I honestly can't add more than I'll be praying for him to exercise wisdom in how he handles all of this. It is hard to speak to specifics because only he knows the dynamics of the situation within the local church he attends. I will say that it amazes me how he pulls so many resources together for his posts. the Local Churches thing still creeps me out.

Tom Chantry said...

@ Jules,

If that's so, I'm very sorry. Still trying to read your last comment yesterday in another light.

Anonymous said...


"I remain convinced that in no way should Phil (who is a pastor), Dan or Frank (who are not), or any commenters here - pastoral or otherwise - be chastised for failing to post an answer."

I respectfully disagree, Tom and I will expand my comments to add that we should all (pastor or lay person), myself included, be chastised for failing to post a response to rom623. Here's why:

The gentlemen at Pyromaniacs have repeatedly expressed concern regarding the Elephant Room, James MacDonald's embrace of T.D. Jakes and the silence from TGC, apparently to no avail. The Pyros are not alone in this position. Many brothers and sisters have expressed the same grave concerns.

The root of these concerns, as I understand it, is the desire to uphold the integrity of the Gospel and sincere regard for the sheep. It seems clear now that these admonishments and exhortations went unheeded by the "elitists", as Dan calls them. Should we be surprised by this? Probably not, as this is what elitists often do.

However, the warnings were heeded by some. Did the elitists listen? No. But, rom623 did and he came here for help.


yankeegospelgirl said...

How funny. I just now read Candy's comment. I know most everyone else reading already knows this but... I was making fun of Steve Furtick's "haters" video by pretending to shake my finger at DJP in a similar way. She took me literally!

No idea what the point of her comment was supposed to be. I just read and scratched my head.

Tom Chantry said...

@ Jules,

Two thoughts:

First, it's easy to get focused on the leaders and to forget that sometimes their followers are listening also. You're right that we need to remember for whom we are doing this.

Second, there are at least two types of help. One type involves sounding a clarion call: "This is wrong! Pay attention to it!" That is truly helpful, and we need to do it. On the other hand, it is much more difficult to help the individual in the church who needs to figure out what to do. The transition from one to the other is not always seamless. Still, you're right - we need to do this also if we really want to be helpful.

What I would be cautious about is the assumption that this can happen in "real-time" on a blog. I have no idea when Phil, Dan, and/or Frank even saw the comments or what else they were doing at the time. It's a team blog, and there can always be the hope that someone else will have more time to step in and answer a difficult question.

I've interacted with rom623rom828 before, and when I read that first comment I thought to myself, "Well, that's a sticky question, isn't it." Meanwhile I was composing my post for today, which touches tangentially on the question. Then Aaron Snell posted what had to be the first question, and as there was no immediate response, it didn't seem that the discussion was moving quickly. I filed it in my brain for today, when my post would be polished and out in the open.

Why the long exercise in self-defense? Because of this:

You may be ignored, just like rom623rom828

Ignored? When? By whom?

Look, you've brought up some good points. We need to be concerned not only about the false shepherds, but about their true sheep. Excellent point - and well worth remembering. Helping may wind up meaning more than merely pointing and shouting, "Wolf! Wolf!" Another excellent point. But there are some very significant ways in which a blog is not a living room, and we can't always expect help and fellowship to look exactly like they would in another setting.

Tom Chantry said...

@ yankeegospelgirl (aka the other Phil),

Hey, irony can be tough - especially with someone you don't know. Before I posted my comment praising your post I actually had to hesitate and reread. I thought you were mocking the "haters" speech, but was I sure?

You can see how someone thought you were seriously rebuking Dan, and then...oh, let's not complicate it any further. Candy meant you no harm.

Aaron said...

About leaving:

I'm not in your shoes and can't tell you what to do.

As a member, you make a promise to be an active part of the local congregation. You must decide, Scripturally, whether your promise can be broken.

Second, no church is perfect, no congregation is perfect, no individual member is perfect, and no Pastor is perfect. Just keep that in mind as you weigh your situation.

DJP said...


Candy's a good sister, and I love her and her husband in the Lord. We had a delightful dinner together at a local Reformed conference. Sounds like it's rough in NE, and I pray she's blessed in her fellowship.

Anonymous said...


"But there are some very significant ways in which a blog is not a living room, and we can't always expect help and fellowship to look exactly like they would in another setting." Absolutely. A blog and/or blog thread is not a living room (I like that metaphor) and is certainly no substitute for in-person/face-to-face fellowship and spiritual help.

"You may be ignored, just like rom623rom828. Ignored? When? By whom?"

No one from Team Pyro publicly responded to rom623, thus my assertion that his comment was ignored.

Tom Chantry said...

No one from Team Pyro publicly responded to rom623, thus my assertion that his comment was ignored.

You gave them 3 hours and 21 minutes. That's being ignored in a living room, but on a blog? They have jobs. For Frank, those hours included rush hour. I saw the comment right away, had to ponder it, saw Aaron start the ball rolling, and decided to wait. But they get a few hours and then they've ignored him?

Just guessing here, but it wouldn't surprise me if Phil's first read-through of this corner of the blog happens sometime Thursday afternoon!

Look, there's nothing to argue here. You've made some excellent and useful points. I still don't think anybody got ignored, but I appreciate the things you've reminded me of.

Anonymous said...


You gave them 3 hours and 21 minutes. That's being ignored in a living room, but on a blog?

I stand corrected. I'll keep reading and await a response.

yankeegospelgirl said...

Glad to hear it DJ. I just didn't know what to make of her comment.

Yeah Tom, maybe I should have used a few appropriately placed scare quotes to avoid all confusion. ;)

Aaron Snell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aaron Snell said...


Thanks for taking the ball I started rolling and running with it. It's nice to have you fill out the thoughts behind my brief post so eloquently. Now I know how Frank feels on a regular basis :)


I'm sorry there was no further advice for you directly on this blog, but it is my firm belief that any prospective couselor for you on this matter should not give a fuller response until the questions I asked you are answered, whether here (which makes sense, since plea for help was made here) or in private correspondence.


You could always us the [/sarcasm] ;)

candy said...

I want to apologize in public for my outburst. I am just as frustrated over what is happening in the Body of Christ as anyone else. I want to stress again how much I appreciate the Pyro guys, and I don't think I did a good job of voicing my concerns and I made it personal. I did take your comments in a different way than they were intended Yankee, but then again, many nuances are lost sometimes on blogs. It is so different than a real conversation. We may have something going on in our minds we want to express but it just doesn't pan out on paper, so to speak. So personally, to Dan and Frank, my apologies, Please forgive me.

Anonymous said...


My father in law pastored in that neck of the woods way back when and has shared how difficult it was in that area. Definitely praying for you as you shine the light in a dark place. He is with you and at work for your good. Bless you sister.


DJP said...

Oh, sister, we're good (as the kids say), and you're always welcome here. God bless you and hubbie.

I think this meta can be put to bed.