Monday, October 31, 2011

The devolution of ACNA

Anglicans Ablaze has this disturbing news. I'm not surprised at the response however, noting that the two evangelical Anglican heroes, J.I. Packer and the late John Stott, not only did little to contend for the faith but were active in the ecumenical movement within Anglicanism. As I have said, the actions and non-actions of leaders have consequences for later generations. In this case, there is a real possibility of the apostasy of conservative Anglican churches.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Joseph Prince and Joel Osteen: Birds of a feather

It seems that the Word-Faith Prosperity preacher Joel Osteen has decided to invite Antinomian Prosperity preacher Joseph Prince to his *ahem* "church." Indeed birds of a feather flock together. You will pardon me for not wanting to waste my time listening to drivel although it is livecast in about 1/2 hour away from the time of posting.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Back and forth on Meek's "Personal Knowledge"

Some time back, I have had a short exchange with another guy over my Amazon.com review of Esther Meek's [Polanyian] epistemology as seen in her book Longing to Know. You can read the entire exchange here. Here is an excerpt from one of the last comments:

The denigration of certainty is inconsistent with the Christian faith because it posits a false dichotomy between certainty and confidence. We are to have both - certainty because of the surety of God's autopistos revelation. and confidence because of our relationship with Jesus Christ. As I have said, the problem with Meek is not that trust and confidence is wrong, but that she denigrates certainty, and she deals with the fiducia part of faith instead of the cognitio and assentia which is what epistemology is supposed to deal with.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

More on FV and Baptists

Recently, I have heard an informal presentation of one Reformed Baptist position of Covenant Theology. Now, this is informal and not meant to be representative of the theology of all or even most Baptists, neither is it official and necessarily well thought out, but it illuminates one possible manner in which Baptists can appropriate Federal Vision (FV) theology while still remaining Baptists (proving that FV is NOT necessarily a Presbyterian issue).

The manner lies in the understanding of how one enters the Covenant. In that informal presentation of one Reformed Baptist position, the statement is made that "There is no external federal relation to Jesus Christ." I am sure that the presenter was not consciously using the language of the Federal Vision, but this statement reveals to me one manner of how Baptists can be FVists too.

FVists also believe that there is not external federal relation to Jesus Christ. In traditional FV theology, the practice of infant baptism and oftentimes even paedocommunion is due to their arguing as follows:

P1: Infants are included in the Covenant of Grace

P2: There is only one vital federal relation to Jesus Christ

C: Therefore, infants are in true vital federal relation to Jesus Christ and are to have all the benefits of believers including baptism and partaking of Holy Communion

FVists who are Baptists can reason as follows:

~P1: Infants are not included in the Covenant of Grace, which is only for believers who profess their faith

P2: There is only one vital federal relation to Jesus Christ

C: Therefore, infants are not believers, not in true vital federal relation to Jesus Christ and are not to be baptized much less partake of Holy Communion.

As it can be seen, Premise 2 is one of the distinctive teachings of the Federal Vision. Premise 1 is basically the difference between the Reformed and Presbyterian, and Baptists.

Just for contrast, the Reformed position is this:

P1: Infants are included in the Covenant of Grace

~P2: There is more than one federal relation to Jesus Christ (namely two ways: external and internal)

P3: Baptism is initiation into the Covenant community, while the Lord's Supper is for those who can discern the Lord's Body

C: Therefore, infants are in the external form of the Covenant of Grace (as all professing believers are even those who eventually fall away), but cannot discern the Lord's body, so they are baptized but cannot partake of the Lord's Supper.

Contrary to what John Piper thinks, FV is a threat to Baptists too.

Saints and Sinners Radio Podcast: Refutation of John MacArthur's case against Infant Baptism

I know this may be somewhat dated, but anyway here is an interesting refutation of John MacArthur's case against Infant Baptism by the Saints and Sinners radio show.

Warning: The episodes IMO are really polemical, especially the earlier ones.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

VFT Book Review: Seeds of Turmoil by Bryant Wright

The WSC blog has posted my review of Bryant Wright's book on Israel and the end times, entitled Seeds of Turmoil: The Biblical Roots of the Inevitable Crisis in the Middle East here. An excerpt:

One thing that is certainly a plus point is Wright’s insistence that we as Christians ought to love and pray for the salvation of both Jews and Muslims. To the Jews, Wright tells us that we should learn from the apostle Paul who “had great sorrow and unceasing grief in his heart for his Jewish brethren” and thus we should similar love them and desire “for each Jewish person to know the love of Christ” (p. 135). On page 152 addressing the Islamic perspective, Wright similarly says that there is “ultimate hope in only one person—Jesus Christ,” furthermore adding in page 165 that we should be “praying for the Jews of Israel and the Arab Muslims to come to repentant faith in Christ so their hearts can be transformed from hatred to love, from revenge to forgiveness.” This theme is repeated once again in page 175 as he proclaims that the ultimate hope is found in God’s grace that is “available to all—Jews, Arabs, Gentiles.” Through all this, Wright makes it plain that the only solution for the conflict is salvation is by grace through Christ alone for both Jew and Arab

[more]

Sunday, October 16, 2011

TGC and the silencing of opposing voices

"I've received from an employee of TGC (The Gospel Coalition) just last week an email basically telling me to shut up about James MacDonald because I'm effectively opposing the work of the church." — Carl Trueman (05:23 - 05:38, here)

Pastor Mike Abendroth just did a radio interview with Dr. Carl Trueman on the MacDonald-Jakes Elephant Room debacle, which is very illuminating. What is disturbing in and of itself however is the above quoted sentence made by Dr. Trueman.

Here we have, apparently, an employee from The Gospel Coalition attempting to silence the warning of James MacDonald's compromise. Apparently, Trueman is big and influential enough to warrant a "reprimand" by the unappointed spokesmen of "Reformed Evangelicals." Unlike the "watchbloggers," whom the BIG-Shots [Caps intentional] can safely ignore because we have less influence, Dr. Trueman as a minister and a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia cannot be easily ignored. Apparently, they decide to try to do damage control and silence the messenger.

Sounds familiar? This is the disgusting tactic of politicking. This behavior is totally un-Christian! This is from the world. Only the world silence controversy with tactics other than resolving the controversy from a doctrinal perspective. Worse still, apparently, criticizing MacDonald's action entails "opposing the work of the church." Since when did MacDonald become the standard of orthopraxy?

This revelation is disturbing, and throws up a lot of questions and doubts over the fidelity to the Gospel of The Gospel Coalition in their actual practice, notwithstanding their damage control piece in which they absolve themselves from any responsibility for MacDonald's actions whatsoever. Maybe one of the "New Calvinists" can help me here: How is the action of one of the TGC employees to Dr. Trueman in line with the Gospel? Do they believe that it is in line with the Gospel that the actions of one man is equated with the work of the church in toto? Does MacDonald possess infallibility when he does ministry ex cathedra?

I hope for the best, but it seems that TGC is on the downward slope. May God have mercy on them and especially the flock under their care, and on us all

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Christians, the Church and the siren song of influence and outreach

Back when I first started blogging, there was the temptation of fame, of influence. The nature of the blogosphere is such that just about anyone with a keyboard can gain instant recognition just by posting about any type of content whatsoever. Technological advances tend to influence how we behave even though the technology itself is amoral, and the idea of self-publishing — through first the blogosphere, then Facebook and Twitter — democratize and revolutionize communication such that every Tom, Dick and Harry with an Internet connection can gain influence and followers, regardless of whether he has anything worthwhile to say.

I am sure much has been written about this social phenomenon, and anyway my focus is not focused on the impact of technology on people, which has not been something I am knowledgeable about (besides personal observation). Yet what such technology has done is to enable our desires including sinful desires of the heart to manifest itself. The Christian blogosphere is thus hardly less civilized at time, to our shame, compared to its secular counterpart. Note that this is not an indictment of anyone and anything. As I have said, technology is amoral; what is sinful is not technology per se but the people using the technology. In other words, don't blame technology for the sinfulness of men!

My focus here however is on the facilitation of the sinful desires of our hearts arising from the need for significance, which lies behind much of our lusts for fame and influence. I am not here pointing the finger at anyway, as I myself have fallen prey to it. With the ability to gain a following at the ease of the click of a button, the temptation for self-aggrandizement is greatly multiplied. Even those of us with a message and burdened with the need to help others can be contaminated with this sinful desire for fame. Who does not after all love to be respected and have their opinions highly esteemed? Are any of us even the most selfless and godly free from the temptation to seek glory and honor for ourselves?

I speak of this of course from my self-identification as a member of the ODM (Online Discernment Ministry) tribe. We desire after all for God's truth to be made known and obeyed, but we need to periodically examine our hearts that we do not become the mirror image of that which we despise. Dare we think ourselves free from the snares of Satan? Do we think that Satan only works for the formal embrace of error? Satan is happier if we formally denounce error while materially embracing it. Not only will Satan have us, but to the world we are seen as hypocrites, which we will have become, and the truths of the Gospel are mocked at because of our hypocrisy.

The desire for fame and influence is the snare of the devil, regardless of how one wants to parse it. It robs God of His glory, because we desire to share the limelight too. It makes "fame" and "influence" the idols that we embrace, and it gets even worse when it masks itself as our service to God. "We want to make God famous," says one. "We want to impact more people for God," says another. Do we see how pernicious and tenacious these sins are? We see this in the so-called celebrity pastors where personality cults are cultivated intentionally or unintentionally ("I am of Piper." "I am of ___"). But it does not stop there. And for those of us who are against such: are we doing it because we covet that same influence but we don't have it? Again, no finger pointing here, but a question to reflect on.

As I reflect on this, it dawns on me that this is probably one of the reasons why Christians and churches fall. The road to hell, after all, is marked with good intentions. Why do we do what we do? Why do I blog? Why do you twit? Even in doing church, why do we want to "impact more people for God"? Or conversely, why are we against people "impacting more people for God"?

If we cannot give a Christian response to these, then we have a problem. The siren song of influence and fame clouds a man's path and ministry. Will we sacrifice obedience to the Bible just for a chance for a voice "for Christ"? Or to appear magnanimous? To appear loving to fellow "Christians," regardless of whether said persons are truly believers as defined by the objective standard of the Bible?

Church history is littered with the wreckage of apostasy, which starts with small compromises based upon good intentions. What's wrong with compromising on the "minor things"? What about just inviting someone who is not that sound, but deemed to be relatively orthodox except for the error of being "just a Presbyterian," to be a speaker at a Christian conference for pastors? Surely nobody is going to be so stupid to just follow that guy blindly? What's wrong with just having a friendly dialogue with a heretic, as long as one does not deny the Trinity and makes plain to everyone that denial of the Trinity is soul-denying error? Is anyone after all that dumb to think that anyone I dialogue with is a Christian leader to look up to? What's wrong with adopting a "missional attitude"? After all, as long as we make plain that we do not compromise biblical teachings (as we interpret them), aren't we after all asked to be "all things to all men"?

The diving line is razor sharp. What seems reasonable to us and of little difference now may come to result in apostasy in the future. This is especially so in the area of influence, since it feeds into our natural desire for significance which has however been distorted by the Fall. The Devil is all too willing to allow us short-term victories as long as we lose in the long term, and that has seemingly been his modus operandi for a long time. Satan capitalizes on our weak spots in his attacks, never our strong ones.

We must not allow our desire to impact people for Christ therefore be an idol. Christian ministry is not about "changed lives." Satan can give you some changed lives to sate your lust for influence, then waylay you with the lure of more in exchange for compromise, little by little destroying the Gospel influence you bear, while you are totally unaware of what is going on because the compromise is called for little by little. Just as the frog in a pot of slowly boiling water will not perceive the change in temperature before it is cooked, Satan is very patient in attacking us. Satan is not stupid! While overt error is always present, Satan gains more with subtle error slowly luring people away from the purity of the Gospel — little by little slouching towards Sodom and Gomorrah.

How do we fight the Devil and his snares? The only way to do so is to die to self. We must die, and our ambitions also. Even our goals and dreams of ministry must die with us. Stop having dreams of revival. Reformation and revivals may come and hopefully do come, but it is not our job to create them, which we shouldn't anyway if we believe in the predestination of God. Serve God without regard to reputation or the number of readers and followers you have, as if that is ever important in the first place. Be indifferent to statistics in general — you are not holier or more godly if you have a big church or a small church; many followers or little followers. So what if you have more influence for now? So what if you have none? What does God calls us to do? To be "world-changers"? I challenge anyone to find where God ever tell us to be such in the Scriptures, because it just isn't there.

So resist the siren song of influence and fame, even if and especially if done in the name of outreach and evangelism. Crucify the flesh, and die to it. For only in so doing can we overcome the world, as Jesus has done.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What Thomas Keating teaches about the practice of Centering Prayer

Chris Rosebrough recently did an interesting podcast on the topic of Centering Prayer, as focused on the teachings of Thomas Keating, one of the founders of the "revival" of Centering Prayer in "Evangelicalism." Very illuminating indeed.

Rise and Fall of an Evangelical Empire, and the Gospel Coalition

Over on his TGC blog, Colin Hansen has posted a blog article entitled The Rise and Fall of an Evangelical Empire. Hansen posed an interesting question to us in the question over why the Christian landscape is littered with the corpses of Gospel and evangelical ministries. In his trip to Northampton, Hansen notes the apostasy of Edward's former church. and muses over the rank apostasy of formerly Christian institutions and churches, from Harvard to Yale to Princeton, the modern Methodists and other established denominations.

To this, Hansen only has for us the following advice: to "take every precaution to guard our confessions and plead with the Holy Spirit to give our descendants the new birth," while taking assurance that "God remains the same, and only God deserves our worship." "The history of redemption is littered with the rise and fall of evangelical empires," after all.

Now, Hansen's advice is certainly biblical. But his prescription is shallow, as we shall see.

First of all, the fact that God is sovereign also includes with it the knowledge that God works through means. God does not intervene supernaturally most of the time, otherwise miracles would not be termed as being exceptional. God works in the world through means, and therefore perseverance and apostasy of Christians and churches, while definitely sovereignly determined, occurs through acts and situations of which men are very much involved.

Therefore, since the sovereign will of God is not for us to discern (Deut. 29:29), our lot in life is to follow the decrees of God. And from our limited perspective, the means are important. We are responsible to work on the means without regards to what God has already foreordained of the destinies of men. Thus, we are not called to be a quietist in just letting go and letting God, but to actively engage in utilizing the means for the salvation and perseverance of believers and the church.

Secondly, the problem with evangelicals in general is their poor knowledge of history. This shows in Hansen's analysis of history. While I cannot claim to be a historian, Hansen has omitted important events in the history of the apostasy of these Christians churches and denominations. Edward's church for example was already being compromised during his day by the "half-way covenant," which ultimately led to his eviction from the church. The apostasy of the mainstream denominations including the Methodists lies primarily in the embrace of Liberalism, which was basically the adaptation of Christianity to Enlightenment thought in an effect to make the faith more acceptable to their contemporary "Enlightened" society (c.f. Schleiermacher). Liberalism is probably the most prominent example of Contextualization, and it is a puzzle to me why supposed Evangelicals want to resurrect the dead corpse of "contextualization."

George Santayana once said that those who do not know history are destined to repeat it. Today Evangelicals are committing the same mistakes as their predecessors, all the while thinking they are still embracing the Gospel. What "Gospel" exactly is being embraced? We note here that Tim Keller has no problems with theistic evolution. Is that compatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? John Piper has invited Federal Visionist Doug Wilson and Purpose Driven pope Rick Warren to the Desiring God conference in 2009 and 2010 respectively. What kind of "Gospel" is being embraced if salvation by faith and works is considered an acceptable "gospel" — the "gospels" of the Federal Vision and the Purpose Driven paradigm?

Hansen speaks of "taking every precaution to guard our confessions." My question is this: What use is a confession unless it is truly confessed in the life of the church and Christian witness? Is a dead profession of belief any good if we are only interested in formal and not material orthodoxy? But if we truly desire to guard our confession, then why is the Gospel Coalition still compromised in dalliances with heretics and heretical doctrines? Is the Gospel Coalition actually serious about being centered on the Gospel, or is this all a series of play-acting for big name pastors to get more influence and fame? Is the goal more invitations to guest preach, to preach at big conferences, to "reach more people with the Gospel" while selling out the Gospel itself in order to gain the speaking privileges in the first place? Note the mute response to the selling out of basic Christian orthodoxy by James MacDonald, with a mere sorrowful response by Thabiti Anyabwile (whose ministry is after all affected by this compromise). I would love to see a rebuke of James MacDonald for his selling out of the Gospel, but I doubt that would happen. And just in case anyone objects to the language used, noting that the interview has yet to occur, please do note that the issue is not even about Sabellianism at this moment but the fact that MacDonald thinks that the definition of the Trinity is not even important. One wonders why anyone cannot believe in Isis or Baal or even just the Golden Calf since after all as long as we identify the God we worship as "triune," we can define the word "triune" to mean anything we want including making the term inclusive of all forms of syncretism.

Hansen speaks hypothetically of Bethlehem Baptist Church losing its missionary zeal, Redeemer Presbyterian going on the theological downgrade, and the Gospel Coalition losing the Gospel. Sadly to say, at least in the latter two cases, the situation is not hypothetical but actual to some extent. Until Keller clearly renounces theistic evolution, and the Gospel Coalition disciplines James MacDonald and takes a stand against the "salvation-by-faith-and-faithfulness-works" Federal Vision and separate from these heretics, Hansen's piece will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

My advice to the New Calvinists therefore is very simple: "Physician, heal thyself." May God grant James MacDonald and John Piper repentance for their respective compromises. Amen.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Marcus Pittman: James MacDonald and Doctrinal Socialism

Marcus Pittman has posted an excellent and succinct post on the MacDonald-Jakes fiasco here. In the process, he deals with another issue: spiritual pride and the issue of the unteachability of the big-name pastors.

Here are some choice quotes:

This brings us to several recent events which both seem to encompass James MacDonald and his Elephant Room guests. In this attempt to make everyone’s theology on equal grounds we have entered into a form of laziness in defending the truth. So much so we can’t even stand on the courage of our convictions and call anyone to repentance anymore.

No one at the first elephant room conference believed in their doctrine enough to call the other to repent.

Apparently no one needs to repent of anything anymore and when someone does call them to repentance those guys are slandered with the title of “Discernment Blogger” who “sits in their underwear at home in their mothers basement.”

These sort of slanderous ad-hominem’s are loaded with pride and are easy to say to those who might not have as large of an audience as some of those on the top of the Evangelical caste system. It’s easy to just toss them aside because they don’t have as large of an audience as you. They’re not in the club, I got it and I understand. You guys up there are like the State, above rebuke and we’re to look at you for guidance. Not the other way around. Were [sic We're] never to question the Evangelical State.

...

We have Perry Noble flat out lying and we have no one willing to simply call TD Jakes what he is…a heretic and false teacher who will go to hell if he does not repent.

...

No one within this elite Evangelical State can be questioned. They automatically know what is best. TD Jakes is more then welcome to participate, not because his theology is worthy of hearing, but because he has a larger audience. has written more books and spoken at more conferences then you ever will.

John Piper and Rick Warren, the two popes of Evangelicalism can do whatever they want and any sort of rebuke goes completely ignored. After all they have sold more books then you, they fill stadiums and they have more followers on twitter than you will ever have. By the way who are you to question the Evangelical State. [sic ?]

His later comment to MacDonald is also very interesting, as follows:

No one is against pastors having a big influence, that is a strawman of our position.

We are against having a sort of Evangelical Caste System. A sort of evangelical socialist state where the leaders of this “celebrity group” refuse to listen to the commoners below.

When the lowly subjects of the evangelical state do speak out, they are slandered as “bloggers in underwear” which is just a really prideful way of saying “I got John Piper on speed dial, so I don’t have to listen to you.”

That’s the issue at hand.

You guys, because of your influence have created monsters and that’s a good thing. You have created hundreds, maybe thousands of individuals that believe doctrine is serious and worth fighting for. That’s your fault.

The problem is, that the monsters you have created now hold correct doctrine and are willing to die for it because most of them have come out of that doctrine.

They are angered, upset and confused that many Godly leaders would shake hands with the perpetrators of false doctrine that your ministries caused them to escape from.

You have created men willing to die for the Gospel, who are willing to do things your political correctness won’t allow you to do.

The problem is not influence, it’s celebrity. There is a huge difference between the two. Celebrity involves all sorts of compromise and politics. One can have influence, and never compromise.

Indeed!

Revisiting the Challies/ ODM issue 2 years on

Back in 2009, specifically April 6th 2009, Tim Challies wrote an article entitled Evil as Entertainment, in which he attacked watchbloggers for treating evil as entertainment, and that those who do so find sick, strange delight in all that is evil and ugly. This article precipitated a fuller response in an article from me on the problems of the New Evangelical Calvinism.

Fast forward to 2011 today. The same attacks on "ODMs" (Online Discernment Ministries) in 2009 are now employed against all those who object to the invitation of Sabellian heretic TD Jakes to the Elephant Room. This time however, Tim Challies is on the side of orthodoxy.

What has happened? The fact of the matter is that Challies' blanket attack on "watchbloggers" undermined the entire enterprise of discernment, whether wittingly or unwittingly. I have foreseen this already and that was why I have opposed Challies and that article of his from the beginning at that time. There are of course "watchbloggers" who may fit Challies' portrayal, but that does not mean that we should throw a blanket condemnation on "watchbloggers" in general. The same weapon that Challies utilized is now utilized against him and everyone else on an even more fundamental issue of the Faith — the doctrine of the Trinity.

As I have said then, the way to deal with errant people who treat evil as entertainment is to deal with them specifically, NOT attack all "watchbloggers." The chicken that Challies nurtured has now come home to roost. As back then, so now, those who object to the compromise of the faith are attacked as "discernmentalists" or "discernment bloggers" who "sits in their underwear at home in their mother's basement." The attack on all forms of negativity threw out the baby with the bathwater, and now any form of negativity including the biblical mandate to separate from first order heretics like TD Jakes, who deny a doctrine that even the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox do not, is ridiculed.

The New Calvinist movement carries within itself the seed of its own destruction. If they will not reverse their course, soon they will be no different from the World Council of Churches.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Ambassadors for Christ: The proper manner of interaction with those outside the faith

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor. 4:1-6)

As ambassadors for Christ, we represent Christ as His witnesses. That means that we have no right to change the message or function as a mediator between God and men. Jesus Christ is our only mediator, and only through Him can people come to have eternal life.

What does this mean for us as we interact with professing believers, and those outside the faith? It means that we operate with this reality in mind. We are united with fellow believers, and that is an objective reality. This unity is shown in the fact that we are united around one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father over us all (cf Eph. 4: 5). But apart from this unity, there is division, for light cannot co0exist with darkness.

As ambassadors, we proclaim the message of God's salvation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our interaction with those outside the faith therefore is one of proclamation. As ambassadors, we deliver the message and implore those outside the faith to repent. That is the antidote to "inward" looking that the Scriptures commands. The antidote to introspection should be defined by the Scriptures, not for our own carnal minds to dream up solutions separate from and opposed to the wise counsel of God.

The participants to the Elephant Room therefore are committing a sin by their implicit endorsement of the Sabellian heretic TD Jakes. That form of interaction and conversation is NOT the form of interaction endorsed by the Holy Spirit in the Holy Scriptures. It is an open violation of Scripture, as it is written:

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. (2 John 1:10-11)

May we take note of this and learn from their mistakes, and not deny our Lord by our actions. Amen.

James MacDonald, TD Jakes and the New Calvinist error

Recently, the blogosphere has heated up with the news first of James MacDonald's interview of "pastor" Perry Noble, and then his invitation of the Sabellian heretic TD Jakes to the same Elephant Room. After rightly taking flak for his invitation to Jakes, MacDonald attempts a defense of his actions, while Tim Challies, Dr. Carl Trueman and Phil Johnson have responded to the news accordingly.

The key issue that has been the focus of discussion is Jakes' orthodoxy or the lack of it. MacDonald has centered his defense in his incredible opinion that Jakes is not a Sabellian. Even if we make the incredible concession that Jakes is merely unclear about the Trinity, doesn't this fact alone disqualifies him as a Christian leader of any sort? Imagine the following:

Person X is unclear about the Deity of Christ, but he is a great Christian leader.

Person X is unclear about Jesus being the only way to God, but he is a great Christian leader

Person X is unclear about the need to be saved from sin, but he is a great Christian leader

It is astonishing that the New [Evangelical] Calvinists have devolved at such a frightful rate. Back in 2009, I wrote an article, which was later submitted to the CREDO500 conference, on the New Evangelical Calvinism as Colin Hanson's book and the formation of the Gospel Coalition around that time made it all the vogue. At that time, there were already worrisome signs of the devolution of the "New Calvinist" movement in the invitation of Federal Vision heretic Douglas Wilson to the Desiring God conference 2009. The invitation of Purpose Driven pope Rick Warren at DG'10 was a shocker as Warren denies the biblical Gospel. Now it seems that 2011 has just broke the 2 year record of YRR compromise with the watering down of evangelical distinctions such that even the doctrine of the Trinity, something even Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox believe in, is being thrown to the wind.

Note what James MacDonald, a council member of the Gospel Coalition, says in his defense. He states that "I do not require T.D. Jakes or anyone else to define the details of Trinitarianism the way that I might." Imagine what would happen if the sentence was "I do not require Arius or anyone else to define the details of the deity of Jesus Christ the way that I might." Can we see the absolute mess the latitudinarian view of confessional doctrine brings us to? What is more fundamental than knowing WHO is this God we profess to worship? Does a husband say that he does not require that his wife knows his name before he marries her? If we cannot agree on who is this God we are worshiping, then why can't we just worship an idol while thinking we are worshiping God? Oh wait, that is called the Golden Calf incident and we know what does God think about THAT!

There are those who say that nobody will be de-converted just by listening to the interview. That may be true, but note that the compromise and damage is already done. Whether TD Jakes is a Sabellian as such has already faded in the background. Evangelicals, and YRRs especially, are being taught by this invitation and MacDonald's defense of it that how one defines or denies the Trinity is simply irrelevant for whether someone is a Christian. In other words, how one understands God is irrelevant to being a Christian. In 2009, YRRs are taught by John Piper that how one understands justification is not important to being a Christian, in 2010 it was the Gospel, and in 2011 James MacDonald tells us that how one understands God is not relevant to being a Christian. Is there no end to this New Evangelical Calvinist madness? What's next? An interview with David Yonggi Cho, the pastor of the largest "church" of the world? Maybe the YRRs can incorporate some of the name-it-claim-it rhema formulas taught by Yonggi Cho into their devotions! After all, MacDonald has already said that he is "also excited to hear him [TD Jakes who is a prosperity Gospel teacher] state his views on money, which may be closer to Scripture than the monasticism currently touring [the] reformed world."

In that article on the New Evangelical Calvinism, my last point was on the issue of Christians as ambassadors of Christ. As I have written:

As Christians, we are called to be ambassadors for Christ; to represent our King as His messenger to proclaim His Word. In the secular world, ambassadors represent not themselves or their interests but the interests of their respective countries. Even if they personally feel a certain way, they do not express their personal feelings (or at least aren't supposed to do so), but only such as benefits their countries' interests.

... Ambassadors are to represent their countries, not themselves. Similarly, in Gospel and truth proclamations, we represent God and not ourselves. We are still not perfect and are still sinful, but we are NOT representing our own human frailties but the perfect, infallible and sinless God whose greatness surpasses our puny human frames. ... We are therefore to be bold in our proclamation, because the message we have does not depend on the state of the vessel for its existence and truthfulness. Our job is in presenting it clearly through faithful exegesis of Scripture, and thus let the Scriptures speak for themselves, and we need not ever apologize or try to be humble in its proclamation. In fact, since this is God's truth we are talking about, humility is portrayed in proclaiming it authoritatively, and the "chastened" attitude is in fact false humility which devalues the Word of God by making its proclamation less authoritative than what it actually is.

As ambassadors of Christ, our job is not to be nice or to reach out to heretics via interviews. What do ambassadors do? They promote the agenda of the leadership in their countries. They are not to mediate as a third party between the leadership of their country and that of another nation! Rather, their interaction is pictured as them representing the leadership of their country. [Which is why the Libyan ambassadors around the world are heinous in their conduct during the Civil War] If they disagree with the policies of the countries they represent, they have no right to change the policies when they represent their countries, but must resign immediately!

So similarly, it is not the job of any Christians, much less pastors, to try to build bridges with those outside the faith. Again, it is not the job of Christians to build bridges with those outside the faith. You Christian, you pastor, are an ambassador for Christ. You have no right to write policies! You have no right to dictate the rules of conduct! You have no right to make judgment calls on who is inside or outside the kingdom of God except by applying the truth of Scriptures in this regard! You have no right to proclaim that TD Jakes is a brother since Scripture has already condemned him as someone who believes in another God! Shame on you, James MacDonald! Traitor to the faith and your calling!

May God grant MacDonald repentance for his compromise, or failing which, to remove his lampstand from his place (Rev. 2:5). Amen.