Posted on Friday, May 20, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517
 
Well, well, well. Carl and Aimee really thought they had me. It was an all-out ambush. And while I did take a few arrows I nevertheless was left unpersuaded by their argument. 
 
If you are wondering what I am referring to then take a listen to the latest Mortification of Spin podcast. In short, our disagreement is over the nature of teaching the Bible in Sunday School. Specifically, whether or not teaching the Bible in Sunday School is an exercise of Spiritual authority. I believe it is. My friends disagree depending of the circumstances involved. 
 
Aimee has followed-up our discussion with a post going into greater detail and raising some good questions along the way.
 
I state at the outset that Carl, Aimee and I agree that the office-bearers of the church are clearly to be men and that the tasks of preaching and administering the sacraments are to be carried out by the church’s elders. We also agree that there is some pretty goofy stuff being written and taught under the umbrella of “complementarianism.” Our concern is that complementarianism seems to be morphing into patriarchy in some cases. We get worried when we hear complementarianism nearly equated with the gospel itself. Carl and I agree that the Danvers Statement is a proper reflection upon the Scripture’s instructions regarding gender roles. I am unaware of where Aimee stands in regard to Danvers. 
 
I can also tell you that for anyone out there who believes that Carl and Aimee are falling into the slough of liberalism then you don’t know them well. You may disagree with them about Sunday School and teaching but don’t accuse them of being liberals. They certainly are not. Our disagreement is not about what the Bible teaches in regard to leadership in the church. Our disagreement has to do with a specific area of application. 
As I understand their position, Carl and Aimee believe that teaching the Bible in Sunday School is not necessarily an exercise of spiritual leadership and therefore presents no problem to male headship. I point that out because some of what I write in this post is not in response to things Carl and Aimee have suggested but rather to place my position in its broader biblical context. Our disagreement is over the specific application of male leadership in the context of Sunday School.
 
No Inconsistency Here
If you listened to the podcast then you heard that my cohosts believed me to be inconsistent in my position given that my church had recently hosted Rosaria Butterfield for a weekend event (Friday women’s banquet / Saturday address). “Was that not a woman teaching and therefore exercising authority over men?” they pleaded. But I maintain that there is a clear difference between, for instance, a former radical feminist and university professor addressing a mixed gathering on a Saturday event and women teaching men the Bible on the Lord’s Day. 
 
I understand that different churches are going to apply the Bible’s restrictions in 1 Timothy 2 in different ways. For instance, there are some churches that would not have allowed Mrs. Butterfield to have addressed a mixed congregation on Saturday or any other day. But I am not embarrassed to exercise a certain level of sanctified common sense. I believe people understand the difference between a special event on a Saturday and the regular ministry of the Word on the Lord’s Day.
 
Too Bold a Line
Throughout the history of the church the ministry of the Word has extended beyond preaching on the Lord’s Day gatherings. This seems to be the case with the very first church (Acts 2:42ff). So, the fact that Sunday School is a relatively recent development in the history of the church has little if anything to do with how the ministry of the Word functions during that hour on the Lord’s Day. In other words, the relative newness of Sunday School does not alter the fact that the exhortation from God’s Word is typically an authoritative act. 
 
Not surprisingly I believe that the line Carl and Aimee draw between the worship service and Sunday School is too bold. Don’t misunderstand. I agree with them that the service of Word and Sacrament is different from Sunday School. We don’t administer the sacraments nor do we preach sermons in a Sunday School class. But in Sunday School the Word of God is most certainly taught and for the purpose of exhortation. I do not see how teaching the Scriptures in such a setting on the Lord’s Day is not an act of spiritual leadership.  
 
In my communication with Aimee she has presented a paradigm which is helpful and certainly allays some of my concerns. But I remain unconvinced. 
 
The connection between authority and teaching 
1 Timothy 2:11-14 – “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” 
 
In his indispensable commentary on the Pastoral Epistles William Mounce writes the following in his comments on 1 Timothy 2:11: “The historical reading of the text sees Paul limiting the scope of women’s ministry and grounding that prohibition in the creation of Adam and Eve before the curse of the Fall. If it could be proven that elsewhere Paul allows women to teach overseers (i.e., men) authoritatively within the context of the household of God (1 Timothy 3:15), then it would have to be concluded that Paul is inconsistent or that vv 11-14 have been misunderstood” (p. 117). 
 
Paul’s use in verses 11 and 12 of hasukia (“quiet” or “quietness”) almost certainly does not mean that women must remain silent in the congregation. It most likely refers to a “quiet” or gentle spirit being willing to learn and follow the leadership of the church’s overseers. On this my cohosts and I agree probably agree. 
 
It is clear that spiritual leadership in the church is a task given by God to men. In the church women are prohibited from exercising spiritual authority over a man. And, as the text demands, this prohibition extends to teaching. It is difficult, I believe, to make the case that didaskein (“to teach”) is meant only to apply to preaching sermons in Lord’s Day worship services. 
 
We do know that this is not a blanket prohibition against women teaching. Indeed, the church desperately needs qualified women teachers. For instance older women are to teach younger women (Titus 2:3-4). Timothy was no doubt instructed by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5). Aquila was accompanied by his wife Priscilla in instructing Apollos (Acts 18:26). So Paul does not seem to be prohibiting a woman from assisting her husband in giving instruction in some cases. Again we must exercise a certain level of sanctified common sense in our application of this principle. 
 
What is clear is that Paul links teaching directly to the exercise of authority. It seems to me that the burden of proof is upon those who suggest that didaskein (to teach) applies only to preaching sermons on the Lord’s Day.
 
Not once in the New Testament is there an example of a woman called to or assigned the task of biblical exhortation or spiritual leadership over men. The role of spiritual leadership via exhortation from the Scriptures is given to men solely. 
 
No heartburn
I agree with Aimee’s concern about the “err on the safe side” principle. I cringe when I hear that. I also agree that on whichever side we land in this debate it is important that we not sow confusion about leadership in the church. Carl and Aimee believe that women may teach men in Sunday School in such a way that confusion over leadership will not result. Again, I am not convinced. 
 
I am thankful for the back-and-forth on this topic. I believe it is a very healthy discussion that is actually shedding more light on the nature of church leadership. One of the concerns that I share with Carl and Aimee is that often times the most prominent voices on the subject are those which lean into patriarchy on the one side or Rachel Held Evans on the other side. One of the reasons I do not have heartburn over the fact that we disagree is because I know Carl and Aimee’s commitment to the inerrancy and authority of the Scriptures. I also know their commitment to affirming the leadership of qualified elders over the household of God. May we enter this discussion with hearts and minds willingly subject to God’s Word and quick to assume the best about those with whom we disagree. 
 
* Regarding the picture of Aimee Semple McPherson - I just couldn't help myself. 
 
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517
 
My mind boggles over both the swiftness and comprehensiveness of the new sexual revolution. It is a revolution that has as one of its goals the complete overthrow of Scripture’s teaching on the nature of humanity and the sexual boundaries which are vital to human health and flourishing. 
 
Today brought news that the Obama Administration, finding free time between battling international terrorism and record-breaking under employment has issued a decree to our nation’s public schools: Conform or else. 
 
The following guidelines explaining the new “obligations” of public schools are from the joint report issued by our nation’s departments of Justice and Education:
Respond promptly and effectively to sex-based harassment of all students, including harassment based on a student’s actual or perceived gender identity, transgender status or gender transition;
Treat students consistent with their gender identity even if their school records or identification documents indicate a different sex;
Allow students to participate in sex-segregated activities and access sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity; and
Protect students’ privacy related to their transgender status under Title IX and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
As you can see, there is no sitting out this revolution. You will be made to care. The new revolution’s battle for our children’s minds and allegiance now has the formal support of the state. The culture war has been brought into the living rooms of every household. The report from the Obama Administration makes clear that any school which does not comply with the rules of the new sexual revolution will face the retaliation of the Federal Government. 
 
The indispensable Rod Dreher issued the following words last evening:
“My government is the enemy of my church and my family. It has come to that. I figured it would one day. But not so soon.”
 
The implications of the new sexual revolution are much broader than what is happening in our schools. Christians are already being targeted by the state for not agreeing to add their labors and talents to the solemnizing of homosexual weddings. What will surely increase rapidly is the social and economic ostracism of Christians. Christians will increasingly be denied professional advancement, educational opportunities, and participation in public life on the basis that they refuse to accept the new moral insanity. 
 
Sadly, the church has in too many cases equipped our young people with a facile “being Christian is fun” theology which will quickly wither and die under the heat of this new revolution. Likewise the Joel Osteens and Steven Furticks of American evangelicalism will find out just how impractical their ministries have been.
 
I happen to be preaching a brief series through Genesis 1-3. The series seeks to address foundational questions such as “Why is there something rather than nothing?” and “What is God?” In the coming two Sundays I will be preaching on what it means to be human. One of the things we learn in the opening pages of Genesis is that God created mankind in his image “male and female.” This basic distinction is obvious throughout the created order. It is necessary for reproduction and human health and happiness. It is a reality coded into every cell in the human body. It is obvious in our physical construction and the basic functioning of our bodies. And it is the reality which the Federal Government of the United States is now demanding we deny.
 
The consequences of this denial of obvious truth will carry with it devastating results for human health, reproduction, and public safety. And, of course, souls lie in the balance. So the church must stand opposed to the new sexual revolution. We must not pretend that we can afford to ride out the storm. We must ride into the eye of the thing. We do this for the glory of God who is being openly mocked by human creatures supposing themselves to be sovereign. We do this for the sake of sinners who are choosing to imbibe the very poison that is killing them. We do this for the sake of our children who are the primary targets of the new, federally backed revolutionaries. 
 
Two books that will help you in understanding the history, major players, philosophical foundations, and ultimate goals of the new sexual revolutionaries:
 
 
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517
 
I am thankful for Jared Wilson’s latest post over at his blog on TGC. Wilson takes on the issue of celebrity pastors. The post is worth reading. 
 
I must however admit to feeling a bit of incredulity when I first read Wilson’s post. Even more so was my surprise (dismay? disbelief? disgust?) over the many retweets by well-known folks expressing appreciation for Wilson’s boldness. You see, I happen to know this guy from England who teaches at a seminary in Philadelphia who began raising these concerns several years ago and was both ignored and criticized for it. At least one blogger at TGC took this friend of mine to task for suggesting that we had a celebrity problem in the broader reformed-ish community. I'm waiting to see if he will post a similar correction to Jared's piece. 
 
So, better late than never I suppose. 
 
Wilson asks, “What are some specific, practical things that can be done to work against the idolization of the successful pastor?” He follows with five excellent suggestions.
 
I would add a couple things to Wilson’s already good list:
6. Take a break for two years from speaking at any conferences. 
I’m serious. Just stop. If you are one of the top men who consistently find yourself center stage at the highest profile events deliberately give yourself a lower profile. If celebrity has become the problem that Jared Wilson suggests then it seems to me that those who have obtained celebrity status will desire to reverse that trend.
 
7. If you are a conference organizer reach out to some lesser or unknown but competent pastors to speak at your event. 
Don't misunderstand. I'm not suggesting that we promote mediocrity or incompetence. There is nothing noble about promoting a bad preacher or shallow thinker. But the Lord has given more than 8 gifted men to his church. They are out there, these lesser known men. Now, I know what you are thinking: “No one will attend.” Perhaps. But isn’t that the proof that we have a problem with celebrity? If we are going to truly do something about our heavy lean into celebrity culture then we have to stop feverishly promoting the same handful of men. It is not an easy cycle to break. We want to see the guys who are the very best speakers/preachers. They will draw the crowd. And they, in turn, love the large platforms and privileges that go along with that faithful patronage. I am not seeking to cast aspersions on anyone’s character. If I were treated like a celebrity; if I received a $5,000 gift bag I am quite sure I would love it. We are sinners after all. Treating a sinner, even a saved sinner like a celebrity is dangerous for his soul and ours.
 
I truly appreciate what Wilson wrote. I hope he will be heard as enthusiastically as others have been ignored and mocked. 
 
 
Posted on Friday, May 06, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517
Tom Chantry is NOT happy with the MOS team. His latest blog entry uses words like “ignorant,” and “galling” which seems to confirm his own assessment that he sounds “irritable.” Indeed. 
 
Chantry’s bad mood was provoked by the most recent episode of Mortification of Spin which dealt with whether it was wise for Presbyterians and Baptists to marry. The discussion focused primarily on two issues: 1) Will the children be baptized as infants? and 2) Will the Presbyterian spouse be willing to be re-baptized in order to join a Baptist church? 
 
Chantry points out what he believed were misrepresentations of the positions of Reformed Baptists. Specifically Chantry takes issue with 1) a book recommendation, 2) a connection made between credo-baptism and Dispensationalism and 3) our contention that in order to join a Baptist church or be welcomed to the Lord’s Table one must have been baptized as a believer. 
 
If you are not familiar with Tom Chantry, he is a Reformed Baptist Pastor and blogger. He is an excellent writer. I enjoy his blog quite a bit. Furthermore, Tom is a serious man and it is appropriate that he receive, what I hope is a reasonable response.
 
So, here we go…
 
First, one must remember that the intention of Mortification of Spin, particularly our shorter Bully Pulpit podcasts, is not to present a well-scripted multi-layered and highly nuanced discussion. It is quite intentionally and obviously (sometimes perhaps too obviously!) an unscripted and casual conversation. Our goal on the last podcast was to answer a question from a listener about whether or not her Presbyterian friend should marry a reformed Baptist. Throughout our discussion we mentioned “reformed Baptists” and “baptists.” As many of you surely know this is far from specific in the Baptist world. In the case of our listener’s question did “reformed baptist” mean London Baptist Confession Reformed Baptist or a Calvinistic Baptist or a Doctrines of Grace Baptist or a Baptist who has a high view of God’s sovereignty or an Acts 29 Baptist or a Baptist who likes John Piper or a Baptist whose pastor attends Together for the Gospel? I’m not being glib. The fact is, when one hears “Reformed Baptist” today it could be any one of those options and more.   
 
From Tom’s response I can only suppose that he believed our purpose was to interact with only those Baptists who attend churches conformed to the London Baptist Confession 1689 (or a similar confession). It is understandable. If I were a member of a confessionally Reformed Baptist Church like Pastor Chantry’s I would not want to be lumped in with every other variety of Baptist. But while we did mention “reformed Baptists” I know that at least on my part it was in a less than technical sense. Sometimes, for the sake of brevity if not for sanity, one must speak in generalities. This is particularly true when the subject is something so complicated as the Baptist family tree. 
 
I am not suggesting that LBC Reformed Baptists should not want to be distinguished from the vast sea of other Baptist varieties out there including more general “reformed-ish” Doctrines of Grace Baptists. And I will certainly try to be as specific as I can in the future. Going forward I will try to make it clear when I refer to reformed Baptists whether I am referring to those Baptists who formally embrace one of the historic Reformed Confessions like the LBC or identify as reformed in a broader sense. And perhaps Pastor Chantry can throw a smidgen of sympathy our way considering how hard it is to talk about Baptists, even reformed Baptists generally. 
 
Second, Chantry objected to our recommendation of Tom Schreiner’s book Believer’s Baptism on the grounds that it is not the best representation of the LBC Reformed Baptist defense of believer’s only baptism. I confess to being confused about this one because, while I disagree with Dr. Schreiner’s ultimate point, the book is nevertheless a thorough exegetical study and defense of the believer’s only baptist position. I thought we were being quite magnanimous to recommend a book that might well persuade fellow paedo-baptists to become Baptists. Perhaps a more fitting response would have been: “While I value Schreiner’s defense of believers only baptism, a book that is more specifically reflective of the confessionally Reformed Baptist position would be…” 
 
Third, Chantry took issue with a statement linking Dispensationalism to believer’s only baptism. I understand that Dispensationalism is not a preferred system among LBC Reformed Baptists. That is a good thing. But as someone who was raised in a Dispensational church I know firsthand that believers only baptism is typically seen as part and parcel of the Dispensational system. It is also true that the vast majority of Baptists are, to varying degrees, Dispensationalists. And since we were addressing a broader spectrum of Baptist life than LBC Reformed Baptists only, it was certainly a valid point to raise. That said, Chantry is obviously correct in asserting that LBC Reformed Baptists affirm credo-baptism quite apart from Dispensationalism. 
 
Fourth, Chantry pointed out that we erred in stating that in order to be a member of a Baptist church or be welcomed to the Lord’s Table one must be baptized as a believer. He points out that among some Reformed Baptists this issue is not fully settled. He references an appendix in the LBC which does indeed acknowledge that among those early Reformed Baptists there existed some who exercised freedom in extending “Church-communion” with those who were not baptized as believers. 
 
I have never known a Baptist church to extend membership to anyone who was not a baptized believer. Admittedly, I do not possess comprehensive knowledge of the practices of all Baptist churches. That said, I was raised a Southern Baptist and educated at a Southern Baptist University and Seminary. Throughout all those years of education through and service to Southern Baptists I was never once exposed to the possibility that a person not baptized as a believer could be welcomed into membership or receive the Lord’s Supper. 
 
Therefore, I think Chantry protests too much at this point. That an appendix in the LBC acknowledges that some Reformed Baptists do not feel constrained to insist on believer’s baptism to receive communion does not exactly present a compelling case that the doors of Baptist church membership swing wide for those baptized as infants. I would be curious if Pastor Chantry’s church welcomes those baptized as infants into membership and the Lord’s Table. 
 
Chantry makes some fair points. And I do not begrudge him a desire for more precision in our discussion of “Reformed Baptists.” I understand why he does not consider “Reformed” those Baptists who merely embrace the Doctrines of Grace but not an historic Baptist confession. Indeed there are members of my denomination whose commitment to Reformed distinctives is suspect at best. So I will try to be more specific in my use of terms. Perhaps “Baptists,” “reformed-ish Baptists,” and “Reformed Baptists” will be my way forward.
 
That acknowledged, I find Chantry’s charge of misrepresentation to be a bit overwrought. But if nothing else maybe some of the bloggers over at TGC will see that responding directly with candor and charity to a critic is not nearly as scary as it seems at first. 
Posted on Monday, May 02, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517
 
I am currently preaching a series of messages on the first three chapters of Genesis. The sermons are framed around key questions concerning worldview: Why is there something rather than nothing? What is God? What does it mean to be human? Etc. Throughout the preparation I have found certain books to be particularly helpful. Listing them here, of course, does not mean that I agree with every view of the various authors. 
 
Commentaries
Genesis (TCNT) by Derek Kidner 
Genesis 1-17 (NICOT) Victor Hamilton
Genesis by John Calvin
Genesis by Bruce Waltke 
In The Beginning by Henri Blocher 
Genesis in Space and Time by Francis Schaeffer
Creation and Blessing by Allen Ross
Preaching Christ from Genesis by Sidney Greidanus
The Genesis Debate edited by David Hagopian
 
Doctrine of Creation
Last Things First by John Fesko
The Quest for the Historical Adam by William Vandoodewaard
Creation Regained by Albert Wolters
God, Adam, and You edited by Richard Phillips
 
Doctrine of Humanity  
Adam, The Fall, and Original Sin edited by Hans Madueme
The Doctrine of Humanity by Charles Sherlock
Created in God's Image by Anthony Hoekema
 
Biblical Theology
God Dwells Among Us by Greg Beale
God’s Big Design by Vaughan Roberts
Better Than the Beginning by Richard Barcellos
 
Evolution
Darwin on Trial by Phillip Johnson
Creation and Change by Douglas Kelly 
From Darwin to Hitler by Richard Weikart
 
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517
 
I have been asked by some good brothers and sisters about the purpose behind the recent appearance of a new feature on the podcast, Desperate Theologizing. I understand that some of our listeners may feel a little uneasy about some of the entries. And I do understand. Sometimes certain brands of humor can appear to be disrespectful. I can assure you that our intention is not to be mean or disrespectful. 
 
A couple thoughts on the purpose of Desperate Theologizing:
1. Satire and humor are time honored methods of calling out error, hypocrisy, and danger. 
 
2. Sometimes there will be little or no controversy. Some editions of Desperate Theologizing throw a spotlight on problems so egregious that it is exceedingly difficult to suggest that satire is not an appropriate response. 
 
3. Sometimes Desperate Theology will strike close to home. In other words, sometimes we will point the finger at our own theological camp (Conservative, Reformed, Complementarian). For faithful listeners and readers of Mortification of Spin it is no surprise that we are troubled by many developments within our corner of the evangelical world. The Reformed and Reformed(ish) camp has been offering up a rogues gallery of problematic leaders, fierce brand loyalty, Corinthian-style fanboys, and exotic ideas. Though questions have been asked repeatedly, clarification sought, and direct appeals made, the resistance to critique has stood strong. And so when we see, for instance, elements of patriarchy being imported into the Bible’s teaching on gender distinctives we will point it out, sometimes with satire. 
 
When the leadership of a movement coalesces around a relatively small number of men the dangers of insular thinking and defensiveness are inevitable. At the Spin we hear from people within the top Reformed and Reformed(ish) ministries who are frightened to offer any dissent lest they lose their job or be kicked out of the club. The fear is real. For those seeking to preserve your employment, I get it. But for those of you who simply don’t want to be left out of the email loop please don’t be afraid to speak up. The water outside the club is fine. 
 
Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

 

As you may know, Target has decided to be on the cutting edge of the new sexual revolution by opening up their restrooms and changing rooms to men, women, trangender, ring-tailed lemurs, etc. In other words you may choose the restroom / changing room based upon your gender identity at any given time. This means that Target would rather satisfy the tiny but highly vocal lobby of creepy men who want to use women's restrooms and changing rooms than consider the safety of their customers. It seems to me that Christians ought to respond to the giant retailor by saying a collective "NO!" I understand that Target is cooler than Walmart. I understand that Target has good candy. But I truly believe that now is the time for an old fashioned boycott

 

Posted on Monday, April 18, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

I was deeply saddened to learn the news of Darrin Patrick of Journey Church in St. Louis. Let us not act as though talking about this man's fall is somehow inappropriate. It is no private matter. Far from it. Indeed we must talk about this not to slander Darrin but to warn each other lest we too fall. I am grateful that Darrin seems to be following a decidedly different path than Mark Driscoll who rejected the efforts of his church to shepherd him toward proper repentance. But we must also acknowledge the real damage done to the reputation of Christ and his church through Darrin's sin.

 

In the letter written and posted by the elders of Journey Church there were three things that stood out to me as if surrounded by neon lights. Among the list of sins that led to Darrin's removal as pastor were "abandonment of genuine Biblical community," "domineering over those in his charge," and "a history of building his identity through ministry and media platforms." There is much that can be said about each of those sins. First, I want to commend the elders of Journey Church for taking those sins seriously for that is what they are - sins. Too often domineering leadership and hypocrisy over the issue of community are tolerated in a pastor. This should not be. But I am especially thankful that they recognized that Darrin's pattern of platform building could no longer be tolerated. Please understand, I am not trying to pick on Darrin Patrick. It is clear that platform building has become a growth industry in the Reformed and Reformed-ish world. We seem to not only tolerate it but celebrate it. Carl Trueman's warnings about the rise of celebrity culture within the Reformed world were mocked 5 years ago. But any such mocking today seems like nothing less than pathetic denial. 

 

The fact is, the Reformed-ish ministry machine helped build Darrin Patrick even as it built Mark Driscoll. And while Darrin is responsible for his own sins the king makers within the Reformed world ought to take a moment to consider their own culpability. How many other Darrin Patricks are there occupying our mega-conference stages who are within a hair's breath from a similar fall? To those handfull of leaders who decide who is "in" and who is "out" (and let's stop pretending that you don't exist) let me ask you this: Do you care enough about the pastors in your ranks who spend so much time on the platforms you provide to inquire of their families and elders if they are godly men and competent pastors?

 

One of the disturbing things brought to light by the elders of Journey Church is that Darrin's patterns of sin had persisted for years. Years! How is it that a pastor whose own elders consider him disqualified by sin can find himself serving on the boards of Reformedish mega-ministries? Did anyone in those ministries care enough about Darrin, his family, and Journey Church to ever dare to say to him: "You're doing too much. Your star is rising too high Darrin. It's dangerous for your soul"? Or was his value as a crowd gathering speaker too great to risk peaking below the surface? 

 

We've been doing it wrong brothers. It has to stop. 

 

Reformed doctrine and church practice should have been a sufficient shield against the banality and trappings of celebrity culture. But money and fame and influence are powerful drugs. Even the best of men can succumb to their sensual whisper. 

 

It is time to repent. 

 

Posted on Thursday, April 14, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

 

David Murray, one of my favorite bloggers, has launched a new series of posts which I believe will serve us well if we allow it. By "us" I mean Reformed and Reformed-ish pastors. Murray writes:

[For] me the dam has burst. And it’s not just the past week. I’ve had increasing numbers of emails from victims of spiritual abuse over the past years. It’s now time to speak out. It’s time for the Reformed church to take responsibility and clean house. It’s time to stop pointing the finger at the Catholics’ sexual abuse scandals and start exposing the spiritual abuse scandals in our ranks.
 
There have been brave voices in the wilderness here and there who have been calling for reformation in this area for years. But they’ve been dismissed as cranks, as obsessive, as outside the mainstream. That’s what the Catholic church used to say of their victims and critics too. It’s time to listen to these voices and stand with these victims.

We need some correction brothers. We have become as devoted to celebrity as have those in the broader evangelical and charismatic communities. We are also becoming famous for scandals. It is probably no coincidence that these two things tend to grow together. Instead of ignoring or denying these facts we need to humbly acknowledge it and repent. I have found out in less than one week that we have a woefully low regard for what it means for a pastor to be "above reproach" and to have a good reputation among outsiders. 

 

Posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517
 
I continue to receive a great deal of feedback on my post in which I urge the organizers of T4G to not include CJ Mahaney. Some of the feedback (both positive and negative) has been quite helpful. As you can imagine I have heard from those who are convinced that Mahaney is the worst sort of human being and others who strongly support him believing all the charges to be false. But the actual guilt or innocence of CJ Mahaney was never the point of my post. At no point do I try to render a judgment on CJ Mahaney, Covenant Life Church, or Sovereign Grace Ministries. 
 
Some have expressed great frustration with me suggesting that since they “know” CJ Mahaney is guilty of the charges against him that I should have directly condemned him and the other organizers of T4G. Others have told me that since they “know” CJ is not guilty of the charges made against him that my suggestion that he not speak at T4G is unjust. I want to humbly suggest that both sides are missing the point.
 
My opinion that CJ Mahaney should not have been included in this year’s T4G has nothing to do with whether or not he is actually guilty of the charges that have been made against him. No doubt that will immediately illicit charges of injustice on my part. After all, why should a man suffer because of false and slanderous charges? I understand the outrage. Believe me. As a pastor I know what it feels like to be falsely accused. It is terribly painful. 
 
Others have written to me pointing out that Mahaney has not been found guilty of any crimes in a court of law. But of course for the pastor the standard is much higher than whether or not we’ve been convicted of a crime. As one rather well-known pastor Tweeted today: “Pastors, being ‘above reproach’ isn’t a suggestion, it’s a fundamental requirement.” That is true. And sometimes a certain amount of unfairness has to be tolerated in light of that requirement. 
 
I never once have called for the elders of the church Mahaney pastors to remove him from his position. But headlining a mega-conference is not a right for pastors. Pastors must think of their work in terms of duties and responsibilities not rights. If you don’t like that then whatever you do, do not become a pastor. The operative question for pastors in this sort of situation is not, “Do I have a right to this?” but “Will it cause harm?”  
 
One of the clauses of the Hippocratic Oath is, “I will take care that they suffer no hurt or damage.” Some have often extrapolated from that clause the well-known: “First, do no harm.” That is not a bad rule of thumb for overseers in the church. And that is at the heart of my admonition to CJ Mahaney and the organizers of T4G: “Do no harm.” 
 
I have always had a great deal of affection for T4G. I have benefited from those biannual gatherings. I am thankful that so many were blessed once again this year. Indeed, I missed being there this year. But I stand by my position in the original post.