10 February 2012

Faithfulness, "Fruitfulness," and the Twisted Notion of Evangelical Celebrity

by Phil Johnson

econd Timothy 3 begins with a stern, prophetic warning: "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty." And then Paul gives a dead-on job description for the typical 21st-century celebrity: "People will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God."

But get this: When Paul says "People," he is not talking about People magazine or the secular celebrities that grace the cover of that periodical. He is predicting a time when those traits will be characteristic of church leaders. Notice that the people he is describing "hav[e] the appearance of godliness, but [deny] its power" (v. 5).

We are living and ministering in a time such as Paul described. Watch today's rock-star pastors on their YouTube channels and you will see every characteristic Paul listed played out in vivid detail on the church stage.

So what are Paul's instructions to Timothy? Should he mentor these guys, invite them for Elephant-Room-style dialogue, become a headliner in their conferences, or publicly embrace and encourage them in the hope that he can harness their popularity and perhaps influence them for good? Not at all.

With regard to pastors and church leaders who promote and model innovative, worldly, self-loving ministry philosophies, "reckless [church leaders], swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure"—Paul wants Timothy to be a separatist: "Avoid such people" (v. 5). In fact the Greek term is active, aggressive: "from such turn away."

Paul then reminds Timothy of his singular duty to be both a student and a herald of the Word of God: "As for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed . . . . All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work" (vv. 14-17).

This has been a repeated theme in Paul's counsel to Timothy. First Timothy 4:6: "put these things before the brothers." What things? "the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed." Verse 11: "Command and teach these things." Verse 13: "Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching." Chapter 6, verses 2-4: "Teach and urge these things. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing." Second Timothy 1:13: "[Hold fast] the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me." Chapter 2, verse 15: "Present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth."

New Testament pastors are called to be simple and single-minded in the carrying our of a single task. Yet, amazingly, the straightforward clarity of Paul's charge to Timothy seems utterly lost on many 21st-century church leaders. They have been blinded to it by the quest for celebrity and a worldly standard of success.

What's ironic about that is that even the great apostle Paul would not have measured up to their notion of "fruitfulness" and prosperity. Both of his epistles to Timothy end by noting how many unfaithful former companions forsook him when the cost of standing firm became too high. He was neither popular nor "fruitful" by the Elephant-Room standard of fruitfulness.

That ought to make us stop and reassess the direction of the contemporary evangelical movement. I, for one, don't want to go where the movement seems headed.

Phil's signature


Larry said...

Ezek 14:9 And if the prophet is deceived and speaks a word, I, the LORD, have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. 10 And they shall bear their punishment--the punishment of the prophet and the punishment of the inquirer shall be alike-- 11 that the house of Israel may no more go astray from me, nor defile themselves anymore with all their transgressions, but that they may be my people and I may be their God, declares the Lord GOD."

Kevin Zuber said...


Phil, will you have something to say about all this ER nonsense at the Shepherd's Conference? Please.

Irony, The "word" in need to type in for "verfication" in order to post this is "ching" . . . as in "cha-ching!"

Tom Chantry said...

From the Elephant Room Purpose Statement - and yes, this is one of the bits that never got edited out: “Fidelity and fruitfulness, both matter.”


1. Is it possible to have fruitfulness without fidelity? Are these really even potentially opposed to each other?

2. If fruitfulness is not defined by fidelity, exactly what does define it?

DJP said...

Really deft, excellent catch, Tom.

Proof that even a terrific post can be enhanced by terrific comments.

Rich Barcellos said...

OK, let me quote myself - shame, shame:

If we used Acts 2 as a paradigm for ministry and canon for success, then Paul and the early Gentile Christians were failures. In fact, most pastors and churches for 2,000 years would be considered utter failures using Acts 2 as a litmus test.

For any who might want to justify large congregations with small group Bible studies from this text (something I am not opposed to in principle), I think it important to remind ourselves that the new covenant church was in its infant stage of development at this point in redemptive history. The daily temple meetings in Acts 2 do not correspond with the first day meetings we see later in Paul’s predominantly Gentile churches and the daily home meetings in Acts 2 do not correspond with Paul’s “house-churches.”

The book of Acts records for us what Christ did through the apostles and early Christians upon his ascension into heaven. Pentecost is unique, a one-time event in redemptive history, and so are the effects it produced in Jerusalem. For nineteen centuries, the Christian church understood this. It was not until the early twentieth century that Pentecostals started to read Acts prescriptively. Now it appears that others are falling into the same hermeneutical trap. Acts 2 is neither a paradigm for ministry nor a canon for success. It is the record of the power of Christ working in and through his apostles and fulfilling Old Testament prophecy. We should marvel in it and adore Christ for it, but expecting to reproduce its effects will lead us down a path of error and discouragement.

jozzyboy116 said...

Great post, Phil!

Also, "New Testament pastors are called to be simple and single-minded in the carryibng our of a single task." <--- typos.

Just lettin ya know! :)

Kevin Zuber said...

On my fifth reading of this post . . . the terms "today's rock-star pastors " stood out . . . I mean, that alone is a stunning oxymoron! (Or should be!)

Jay Beerley said...

Great post. I think one of the main emphases in all of this is for older men to come along side of the younger pastors who are so easily influenced by this ideology. 1 Timothy 3:5 is truly haunting. I feel I must pray this over my own ministry all of the time, lest my heart be tempted to allow me just to appear godly and remove God from the equation. It's almost impossible (certainly in our own power) to remove the lens of "but it works" when talking about ministry with young ministers.
May He only find us faithful.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the role of pastor is being slowly and deliberately redefined and that the early Christians would not recognize the Church today.

David J. Dunbar said...

just one response: Amen!

Robert Warren said...

"...proud, arrogant, abusive..."
Leading to what our favorite Lutheran calls "sheep-beating"

Robert said...

Great and timely post, Phil.

If I remember correctly, Paul didn't ever talk about jusging ministry by "fruitfuless". In fact, here is something he did say:

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth." (1 Cor. 3:6-7)

Then he goes on to say this:

"Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (vv. 12-15)

So you tell me when we'll be able to judge the "fruitfulness" of our ministry and what we have done that is right and wrong...although I think we can surely say that if we are not following Biblical methods and watering them down, then we are doing it wrong. Paul didn't say to imitate him as he imitated Christ unless the people resisted or didn't like it...he just said to imitate him as he imitated Christ.

Unknown said...

Your response, with which I completely agree BTW, was called in generations past the dreaded "S" word -- separation. Separation to God resulting in separation from the wrong.

Eric said...


I agree, although I would hasten to add that it is not necessarily "slowly", and in a number of circles the role of pastor has already been effectively redefined as "CEO" (the Steve Jobs visionary/manager/entrepreneur type of CEO). Sad and damaging.

Anonymous said...

Who are you or are you voting for if i may ask?

GW said...

What about Mark 9? Anyone Not Against Us Is for Us? Does this apply to the celebrity ear ticklers?

(Mark 9:38-41 ESV) John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.

Large crowds are not a mighty work. Large buildings are not a might work. But what about a large number of baptisms?

Mizz Harpy said...

"Paul wants Timothy to be a separatist: "Avoid such people" (v. 5). In fact the Greek term is active, aggressive: "from such turn away.""

But that's so unloving, so intolerant, so, so schismatic!

Robert said...


Are believers being baptized or just followers of a pastor?

FX Turk said...


You're new to the idea that some people might not actually be Christians, I think. In those passages, Jesus not talking about people who are openly false teachers: he's talking about people who are like Apollos, if I may say it that way -- people who are full of new zeal and not very full of maturity. I agree, and I think Phil would agree, that we should cut somebody new to the faith some slack for failing to pass an ordination exam.

What we ought not to do, however, is give those who ought to be able to pass muster for church leadership a free pass when they behave in ways that, frankly, put their discernment and judgment in question. And Phil's post today is specifically about /that/.

Phil Johnson said...


No, large numbers of baptisms are not necessarily proof that the truth of the gospel is advancing.

On the one hand, it's true that "the one who is not against us is for us" (Mark 9:40). On the other hand, an equally true aphorism is Luke 11:23 (Jesus speaking): "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters."

Prosperity-gospel peddlars are not "with" Jesus in any meaningful way. They are false teachers and false prophets who "secretly bring in destructive heresies. . . . Because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words" (2 Peter 2:1-3). Those in Mark 9 who are "for" Jesus may not have been card-carrying members of the disciples' circle of relationships, but they were preaching the gospel soundly.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Johnson. It was amazing to read "doctrine" and not"deeds" so many times versus the opposite.

Jonathan Edwards said...

Tell me if and how I'm wrong, but it seems that you are advocating something that Paul refutes in 1 Corinthians 12:25: "that there may be no division in the body." We can't very well function together as a body if we are separating from one another, can we?

Deb said...

I think some of these guys think that when Timothy says that a leader is to be "above reproach" it means out of reach of any criticism, even if it is done legitimately.

Of course, we know that Timothy meant that the leader should be an example of character and speech that is above reproach, not the other way.

Gilbert said...

JE: "We can't very well function together as a body if we are separating from one another, can we?"

But the Bible is talking here about separating goats from sheep. In other words, separating false teachers, those who are about fame and fortune, and bigger crowds and more baptisms, rather than the conversion of souls and the making of disciples. That type of separation is not only optional, it is demanded.

Frank Rue said...

Jonathan Edwards (really?):

Quoting this verse would assume that false teachers are actually part of the body, a common mistake. If they are unwilling to listen or repent from clear violations of explicit biblical texts, then they went out from us but were never *of* us in the first place.

GW said...


I am not new to the idea that not everyone is a christian. I have a huge discussion with one of my kids about this almost daily.

I just think baptisms is where these people are going to point. They cannot really point to actual miracles. They cannot cast out demons in any sort of verifiable way. What are they going to name as their mighty works? That was my point.

Jonathan Edwards said...

Frank Rue,

So you are judging them as unbelievers because they are unrepentant of a particular norm for church leaders, that is, they have stages with theater lights, wear casual clothes, play rock, rap, and grunge, wear bed hair or shave bald with a soul patch, bring a keg and dance band to their church socials, and use a stand-up comedian style in their preaching? Aren't you afraid we're raising these extra or non scriptural standards or methods to the level of essentials, when we admonish to separate over them? Wasn't it Diotrephes who refused to welcome brothers and put them out of the church?

Phil said...

I agree with Edwards here.
I mean how unloving do you have to be to assert that shepherds who trade substance for style, holiness for popularity, and faithfulness for image are not real Christian leaders?!?! I can't believe it! How dare you! Just because they eat mutton and unwitting people into hell through false doctrines so they can gather more money you are willing to split the body of Christ? For shame!!!

Tom Chantry said...

So I clicked on Jonathan Edwards profile: "On Blogger since November 1733."

Well actually, no. Seems this is another Jonathan Edwards.

Jonathan, forgive me my joke. I had so much fun on the blog yesterday, and I just don't know how to let it go. I'm not sure you are tracking with what Phil is talking about though. Who ever mentioned casual clothes? Are you possibly reading some of your own ideas into what is being said here?

Phil said...

While on the topic of people with no discernment arguing on behalf of the wolves, this one goes out to Dan.

Jonathan Edwards said...

Hi Tom,

This--"rock-star pastors on their YouTube channels"---is what I'm left to track with, and then read between the lines. Phil doesn't make that connection, but seems to assume his readers "get him." They are "worldly" and "self-loving." The indicators are supposed to be obvious, but we aren't told what those are. The things I mentioned are outward indicators that might track with Phil.

Could we just be judging a matter of degree when it comes to worldliness? Some evangelicals are just more worldly than others---at what point do you cross the line? And then it reads like preference. It would seem that we need to have some solid evidence of false doctrine. I know the T. D. Jakes example, but he isn't the "rock star pastor" that Phil is talking about. Maybe the "soul train pastor." Some might think that some of the critics are swollen with conceit and lovers of pleasure. And who is the most popular? A lot of evangelicals are pushing themselves all over the internet and radio.

Tom and Phil the commenter (the sarcastic one), I would be happy to find out what and who exactly we're to separate from, how, and why, based on what scripture. And then how this doesn't clash with Paul's instruction in 1 Cor 12:27.

Jim Pemberton said...

I think the temptation for younger pastors is to look at what some older pastors have done and view numbers as the sign of success and vie to emulate them so that they can be recognized as fruitful also.

I'm reading a book on leadership written by a man who used to be a pastor. In it he talks about how he went to be the senior pastor at one church that had done well, but had stopped growing at 1000 members. He assessed that it was because the previous leadership was weak. So because of his strong leadership this church started growing again and in only a couple of years it tripled in size. The idea is that if we follow his leadership methods that our churches can grow too.

What he didn't say grew the church was preaching the gospel. Maybe he did preach the full gospel there and maybe he didn't. His claim, however, is that it was all about his leadership.

Lately I've preaching some in a little church less than a mile from my house. The church left a denomination that became liberal and the church became congregational. The problem is they now have very little resources for finding a pastor. The man currently serving as pastor is retired from pastoral ministry and is a member of another church. They've asked me to help out during times when he needs to be away. I don't have a problem preaching in a church that has another traditional background if they don't mind a Baptist filling their pulpit. I've never "felt" particularly called to be a pastor and I've never been to seminary, but there is a need that I'm still able, because of my autodidactic study, and willing to help them at this time. They're actually a beautiful and faithful little congregation and it would break my heart for them to be sheep without a shepherd.

When I teach at a pastor's conference overseas, the pastors who attend come from little churches all over that country. There are simply many more churches than trained pastors to lead them. So the pastors that come are untrained and typically bi-vocational. They were raised up to meet the need to shepherd small local congregations and they are desperate for some education to minister and teach the Bible more faithfully.

The point I'm getting at is this: most pastors minister in relative obscurity and it should be understood that that's a good thing. Praise God that we have some big pastor-led ministries like Desiring God who help supply materials from the conferences that they hold. But that's the exception and not the rule. The majority of faithful pastors are the ones we never hear about.

candy said...

I believe so many events have happened in the past few years that were not helpful and added to the conundrum in which we find ourselves. I still wish John Piper had not invited Rick Warren to the Desiring God Conference, and then declare him to be just fine in his theology.

I wish we had not been quite so hasty to embrace Mark Driscoll when he more or less left the Emergent Movement to embrace the reformed movement. Then the Church gave him such a wide platform that he doesn't even see a bigger church from which he can learn wisdom, according to his own words.

Unfortunately, I see many young pastors resentful of the clarion call to separate from pragmatic pursuits which they believe to be evidence of grace according to the numbers. The Resurgence Conference speakers next year prove that Mark Driscoll, and probably many of the young pastors, obstinately continue down the same path and learned nothing from the ER2 fiasco. It is grievious that they don't see the unfolding destruction.

Tony Byrne said...

A much needed and solid biblical exhortation, Phil! Thanks for this post.

Deb said...

Candy, Amen! Great observations. I agree. And I'm grateful for Phil and Dan and Frank for contending for what is right (even if I don't always agree 100% on every point, I agree and support what they are trying to do. wish there were more men like them.)

Deb said...

Survey the most popular/recent posts at Resurgence, and you will see some key themes such as pragmatism and sex.

Something that also caught my attention as concerning (but won't catch much attention from Phil, Dan or Frank) is that men are generally taught and exhorted on how to get better results, while women are primarily told how to be more obedient and submissive. The men get a pep talk that is geared toward pumping up their self-esteem, while the women get a guilt trip.

Here's a list of the top titles, you tell me:

Win the Man, Not the Argument

Dangers Leaders Face

Do You Want to Make a Point, Or Make a Difference?

A Warning to Women

A Wife's Testing Ground

5 Ways to Make Your Kids Hate Church

Why Christians Go Postal Over Facebook

9 Myths About Sex & Relationships Among Emerging Adults

mike said...

It is interesting to compare this post with Dan's post on responding to someone who claims "God told me..." because while many of these "rock-star innovators" are abandoning the straightforward exegesis of Scripture and the teaching of sound doctrine, their sermons are often filled with anecdotes about all their supposed "conversations" with God and how He allegedly defined their ministry style and message. And noone is allowed to question this because (the reasoning goes) who are you to say they didn't hear from God? While accusing those who insist on sound doctrine of being judgmental they take disparagement to a new level, but in a non-Biblical Col 2:18 way.

Aaron Snell said...


You said,

Tell me if and how I'm wrong, but it seems that you are advocating something that Paul refutes in 1 Corinthians 12:25: "that there may be no division in the body."...I would be happy to find out what and who exactly we're to separate from, how, and why, based on what scripture. And then how this doesn't clash with Paul's instruction in 1 Cor 12:27.

Well, Phil did give a Scriptural argument from 2 Timothy 3. Did you see that in his original post? It is the beginning and basis for everything Phil says. There is a direct command in Scripture for Timothy as a faithful pastor, and then by application for all pastors, to separate (τούτους ἀποτρέπου - lit., "from these be turning away, or shunning") from someone.

So who is that someone? Phil gives the context - it is not worldly people from the secular world, but some in leadership in the church. This is common to both 1 and 2 Timothy, because Timothy was dealing with "certain men" who fancied themselves teachers and leaders in Ephesus, but were in reality nothing more than the savage wolves Paul warned the Ephesians about in Acts 20 who would would arise from the elders themselves to draw away the disciples after them.

Paul's scathing and highly unflattering description in 2 Tim 3 is meant to characterize "Christian" leaders. So the direct command to separate in in regards to these kind of "pastors." THAT'S the scriptural argument and scriptural criteria.

To jump into a totally different context like 1 Corinthians (where "division in the body" has a specific meaning defined at length by Paul in the first three chapters, not directly applicable to his point in 2 Timothy) does not treat the command Phil expounded upon fairly.

Another way to say it would be this: how are you going to obey the imperative in 2 Timothy 3:5?

Jonathan Edwards said...


Thank you. I agree that Phil J. proved that 2 Timothy 3 says to separate from someone. If he said, T. D. Jakes, because Jakes teaches that "gain is godliness," I would understand that. But...
1. If there is to be no division in the body (1 Cor 12:25 [not 1 Cor 12:27, a typo by me]), with body parts functioning together, we would need to conclude, it would seem, that the rock star pastors are not in the body.
2. What line of worldliness has been crossed that indicates ejection from the body?
3. Are we talking only a matter of taste or maybe a "lack of wisdom" with the rock star pastors, or are there clear scriptural violations on youtube that conclude a lack of conversion on the part of the teachers?

I can see that Phil might be indicating that rock star pastors shouldn't have met with T. D. Jakes. It seems that he's being purposefully ambiguous about what else he's talking about. Rock star pastors that you can clearly see on youtube are violating 2 Timothy 3 and we should separate from them, whatever that is supposed to be. People in the comment section here would seem to be saying that they are not in the body and that is how 2 Tim 3 and 1 Cor 12:25 go together.

Aaron said...


Obviously the answer is no since as Frank pointed out in another meta, that would make Mormons one of the most "fruitful" ministries of the modern age.

I'll also add this little bit. When we see that many people came to Christ in the early church, the "fruit" of large numbers is never attributed to the charismatic leadership of the apostles, as if they suddenly stopped being the flawed individuals we saw in the four gospels. No, we are shown that it was the work of the Holy Spirit who moved crowds into repentance and faith. So all the mass conversions and baptisms weren't a sign that the apostles and other Christian leaders were doing a great job of appealing to people's "felt needs." The apostles proclaimed the simple truth of the Gospel message and God, in his greatness, moved people to faith.

Last point to others:
Nobody is talking about a stage with lights, a great sound system, or nice clothes (or whatever clothes). Phil (Johnson) is a Pastor at a church that has a stage, has lighting, a sound system, and I'm sure he wears a nice suit on Sunday mornings. So let's not get ridiculous. Phil's point is obvious.

Aaron said...

@Tom: I realize already knew that, so my post was really for others. ;)

donsands said...

"..self-loving ministry philosophies"
I hear it a lot on my big time local "Christian" radio station about "loving yourself".

They asked a call in question the other day: "How have you loved yourself lately. Share a testimony of how you have."

This gospel of God loves me, and he wants me to accept him is huge. No fear and holiness preaching; and especially never mention wrath, condemnantion, judgement, nor hell.

I realize we need to forcus on Heaven, and the goodness of our ssalvation in God's great love and mercy, but the gospel has become watered down big time.

"People will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud,....... lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God."

Have a beautiful weekedn and especially Lord's Day! And as Cent always encourages us: "Be in the Lord's house, with the Lord's people, on the Lord's Day."

"...the truth shall make you free." John 8:32 The whole truth and nothing but the whole truth.

Aaron Snell said...


What does Paul mean in the context of 1 Corinthians by "no divisions in the body?"

Jonathan Edwards said...


If the "body" is all believers in 1 Cor 12:13, then that must apply in 1 Cor 12:25, therefore, no division among all believers. Phil is saying, divide. What would that mean that Phil is saying?

Aaron Snell said...

OK, Jonathan, let's try again. In context, when Paul says,

But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. (1 Cor 12:24b-25)

what does he mean by "no divisions"? Divisions of what?

Jonathan Edwards said...


I admire your use of the Socratic method, which I sent back at you, which you ignored, your seeing your role as teacher here. I'll play student.

Division of what? The body. And we're right back where we were. In 12:13, Paul says "one body" and if that is all believers in a spiritual body, then the instruction of 12:25 from Paul applies. Paul would want no division in the one body (unity), which is an organic whole (v. 12). I can be happy that you think it is the church at Corinth, but you still have 12:13, if you believe that is Spirit baptism there. If the greater ("all believers") applies, then the lesser ("church at Corinth") also does.

Aaron Snell said...


Sorry I couldn't get back to this sooner, but it looks like this post is about to drop off, so we should probably wrap it up.

First, I'm sorry if I came across as pedantic or patronizing - that was not my intent. Nor did I ignore your questions. I was just trying to get to the underlying issue behind your questions that needed to be addressed before an answer could be given.

Second, though, you never really answered my question (and maybe I didn't ask it well enough), but let me just cut to the chase. My point in asking you what Paul by "no division in the body" based on the actual context of 1 Corinthians was this: the Corinthians had at least two problems that Paul addresed regarding divisions in their body. One was the development of personality cults, and the other was an esteeming of certain spiritual gifts above others. So when Paul says, "let there be no divisions in the body" he specifically has in mind these kind of divisions. Certainly he doesn't mean divisions of role or labor. And he certainly doesn't mean the division that ensue from church discipline, right? There are some divisions that must occur in the body, yes?

So to use this as a blank check to apply to Paul's point in 2 Timothy ignores the specific content Paul gives to the phrase in the context of 1 Corinthians.

Now, as far as your questions are concerned, I think Phil has been pretty explicit in a) who he is identfying as a "rock-star pastor" (Furtick, Noble, etc.), b) that he would view them as false teachers to be shunned, a ala the "certain men" of 1 Timothy, and c) the particular qualities that cause him to regard them in this way. False teachers need to be rebuked, and if they don't respond in repentence, then avoided.

Jonathan Edwards said...


If you look at the context of all of 1 Corinthians, Paul starts talking about unity in 1:10, and the division is caused by all sorts of fleshliness and worldly wisdom versus the Word of God. There was also contention over head coverings and the Lord's Table, among other things. He gets back to it again in 12-14 as it relates to spiritual gifts.

I haven't ever said Phil is wrong with his call for separation. I've just been asking questions to probe his application. He doesn't say what separation is. He says the "rock star pastors," but he doesn't flesh out how they fit into 2 Tim 3.

Church discipline is saying that someone is not in the body, that person is regarded as someone unconverted. Is Phil talking about separation from disobedient brothers or from unbelievers?

Aaron Snell said...

Well, I don't want to speak for Phil, but my guess would be he's talking about separation from disobedient professing brothers who need to be treated as unbelievers.