Can We Call Them Brothers in Christ?

John-Piper-Rick-Warren3Recently, we received an email here at DefCon that I believe addressed a very valid and important question.  The reader asked our opinion on a discussion he was having with someone regarding Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll and John Piper. The question asked during his discussion was how can a Christian call any of these men a “true brother in Christ,” especially given the various concerns raised about them, even here on this blog. As the head administrator of this site, the task was mine to attempt to answer this particular question. After thinking the matter through, I responded to our reader with what I believe is a balanced and biblical stance on the matter. My desire is to share that response here on DefCon so that others who have a similar question may benefit from it. My response was a follows:

“Hello there. This is the Chris Hohnholz, the head administrator of DefCon. Thanks much for writing to us. I have given your email a lot of thought and will do my best to give you a decent answer. Before I do though, I want to make it clear that I am speaking only for myself. Even though I run this blog, I do not claim to speak for all the writers, not even the author of the article you linked. I say that as a means of ensuring that anything that I might blow it on is not conveyed to my writers.

mark-driscollMy thought on this is that there is a difference between not supporting or endorsing a pastor and declaring that said pastor is not a brother in Christ. To give a separate example, I’m sure you are aware of the chaos James MacDonald has caused with his Elephant Room nonsense. In years past, he has been considered a respected pastor. Even folks of a reformed theology have at least considered him within orthodoxy. Yet with his endorsing pastors who are questionable, and now declaring T.D. Jakes (who is a heretic) to be within the camp, he is NOT someone we would support or endorse. However, does his current sinful behavior mean he is not saved. I do not believe we can declare that at this time. If he truly is saved, I believe the Holy Spirit will bring him into repentance. If he is not, I think we will see him walk further and further from the truth. But until one or the other happens, I will not declare he is not a brother, but I will warn folks against what he is doing.

I think much can be said of the three pastors you have written Todd about. With Warren, I really worry about him because everything he is about is antithetical to the Bible. I think his smiling and charismatic personality carries with it a dangerous man-centered message that will definitely lead people and ministries astray. That alone makes me wonder about his salvation, but I would stop short of that because I simply haven’t seen him teach anything that is directly heretical. Much the same with Driscoll. He teaches orthodox messages, but his willingness to taint that message with foul language, to give graphic sexual messages and his unbiblical “visions” from God make him someone I wouldn’t endorse at all. But I really don’t know about him not being a brother. Is he simply just ignorant on these things or is he deliberately teaching things that will one day bear out as heretical. I can only say that we should be warning folks against him. Piper is the one who really perplexes me. He has preached so many great and godly messages that still continue to edify the saints. Yet, he is willing to lock arms with folks like Warren, he is willing to appear in conferences where contemplative prayer is going on without so much as a peep in refutation. He is giving those folks a platform that they never should have. I do believe Piper is a brother, but he is flat out wrong in what he is doing. As such, I don’t support what he is doing.

I do not know if this answer helps you in any way, but I believe that until these men either establish themselves as heretical or they repent and prove themselves as faithful brethren, our best bet is to warn against what they have said or done, but to reserve judgment of their state of salvation.

Again, I am thankful for your writing to us and am equally grateful for your support of our blog. May God bless you.

Chris Hohnholz
DefCon Administrator”

Quotes (636)

“For centuries the Church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was—a device for wasting time, a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience, a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability. For this she got herself abused roundly by the sons of this world. But of late she has become tired of the abuse and has given over the struggle. She appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god Entertainment she may as well join forces with him and make what use she can of his powers. So today we have the astonishing spectacle of millions of dollars being poured into the unholy job of providing earthly entertainment for the so-called sons of heaven. Religious entertainment is in many places rapidly crowding out the serious things of God. Many churches these days have become little more than poor theaters where fifth-rate “producers” peddle their shoddy wares with the full approval of evangelical leaders who can even quote a holy text in defense of their delinquency.

And hardly a man dares raise his voice against it.”

A.W. Tozer
1897 – 1963

George Barna poll shows Nazarene prophet’s popularity slipping

george_barna01_l WH sign

(IMAGINATION ALERT!!!!)

After reading Pilgrim’s post below, as well as this post about George Barna’s recent “waffling” and his  growing fascination with ecumenicalism (and this follow-up), I decided to combine the two into one FICTIONAL story.

From Jerusalem Post, c. 33 AD:

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By Mariam Zecharyahu
Jerusalem (JP)–A new George Barna poll has found that the popularity of a certain Nazarene prophet, which had been growing geometrically over the first two years of his ministry, is beginning to show signs of slowing, and, in some cases, the number of people opposed to his teachings is actually greater than those who still favor his doctrines.

Yehoshua Ha’Mashiachah bar-Yusef, whose claims about being the Christ of YHVH have divided people everywhere he has gone, continues to enjoy support from the outcasts of society. But among those in power–especially among the very influential Pharisaical community–his claims to being the only begotten of YHVH Himself have brought about only scorn. As one Pharisee (who spoke to us under condition of anonymity) has said, “He is a blasphemer! I was there when he said that he and YHVH were one. What an outrage to mock the Shema like that! Only YHVH is One!” A scribe, who also wished to remain nameless, said, “The man has a lot of gall! To say what he did, that ‘I AM.’ Does he not know, that is a title reserved for YHVH?” Continue reading

Where does Rick Warren go from here?

rick-warren Now that Rick Warren’s inauguration prayer has been examined and exposed by discerning Christians as nothing more than honoring God with his lips, and that same prayer has also angered the unbelieving left, where does he go from here? His prayer was a watershed event that has brought him to a fork in his broad road.

The man who has contributed more to the mile-wide, inch-deep church than anyone else alive today by compromising Biblical truths and blurring the lines between things of God and things of this world has a big decision ahead of him. If human nature and history are any barometer of what’s to come, then we should expect to see Mr. Warren continue to drift leftward ever so swiftly.

As Ingrid Sclueter so aptly observes:

“Rick Warren is faced with the fact that he is either going to have to state that all paths lead to God or confirm, unequivocally, that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. If he explicitly states that Christ is the only way, he will no longer be welcomed in the halls of political power, and he can forget any further snugglefests at the White House, the Council on Foreign Relations, the UN, and Davos.

As it stands now, he really pleases nobody. Straddling a fence gets really uncomfortable after a time. I predict that Warren is going to make a sharp move left theologically very shortly for this very reason. The Purpose-Driven machine has gone about as far as it’s going to go with his present approach. Just as Warren was willing to remove negative statements about homosexuality and church membership at the Saddleback site, he is, without doubt, going to have to delete even more material to move ahead to the rest of his spiritual program for the world.”