Gospel, Discernment, and Passion 2013!

It is my prayer that this post will prove to be a connection between the matters of presenting the gospel and that of the area of discernment among the body of Christ.

First, I note that each contributor has a different set of giftings for which I am very thankful. When The Pilgrim was the primary owner of the blog, we were blessed in the addition of good men who I believe continue to take Defending Contending in a solidly, biblical direction. Chris, who took over from The Pilgrim, has a huge heart for evangelism and outreach as does Bill Phillips. Manfred, Fourpointer, and Abiding Through Grace have helped to bring a solid reformed perspective to this part of the blogosphere. The Pilgrim and I set a tone for world missions and also the need of discernment in the Body of Christ.

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Yet, each contributor is only human. We make mistakes, and further, we all have areas of sin that the Holy Spirit has to work to correct in our lives. None of us have arrived, nor would we ever want to portray such a picture. As our long-time readers will remember, there are times that we have each had to ask forgiveness for something we wrote, maybe that was in haste or in anger. Through all of this we continue to move forward and desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.

For the record, we are not always in agreement with our thought processes, nor with a particular point of doctrine that we seek to understand. However, there is no question that we all love the Savior and desire truth in the inward parts of our heart and soul. My fellow contributors may not even be in full agreement with this post, but I believe I can safely assert that we all have the same desires – purity in the church and a church that is fervent about spreading the gospel message!

Recently, both Chris and I have posted a few articles that have dealt with two areas that are not diametrically opposed to each other. Conversely, they are actually a very necessary part of how we are to operate within the confines of a local church setting. His approach and strong desire for the presentation of the gospel has been matched by my own desire to have a spirit of discernment as we present our case before the thousands of readers we see come to DefCon every week.

In the midst of this, some have questioned our decisions either to bring a spotlight on a pastor, or in not going far enough in our condemnation. This is my main reason for writing this, especially in light of what we are seeing take place at Passion 2013 right now in Atlanta, Georgia.

From a gospel perspective, I believe that if more people were being presented with a Christ-centered message versus a man-centered message that there would be far fewer who were in attendance. The problem with Passion 2013 is that those in attendance are being driven by emotion. Further, they are seeing this event being openly endorsed by men such as David Platt and Justin Taylor. This event is not only being endorsed by well-known ministers, but men who should know better are also involved in preaching there such as John Piper.

The question we are faced with is, “Does such an endorsement automatically place men like Piper, Platt, or Taylor under such a cloud that we have the right to call their salvation into question and classify them as unbelievers?”

This is where the discernment perspective must come in. There are wolves who have always sought to infiltrate the church of the spotless Lamb of God. There will always be wolves. There can be no doubt that the salvation of a person is a matter that ultimately can only be known between that individual and the Sovereign God of the Universe. However, the Scriptures make it abundantly clear that we can be fruit inspectors and that by the works of others we can have a clearer picture as to their spiritual condition or lack thereof.

Taking this to another level, we must also consider discipline as found in Matthew 18. First, we must recognize that discipline is to be practiced between fellow believers, but that some aspects can only be effected in a local church setting. As an example, if I have offended another brother contributor, I have the responsibility before God to make that right. However, should things heat up and we have a falling out, neither my church, nor the church where the fellow contributor is in fellowship, have the right to bring another under discipline if they are not a member or in fellowship with that particular assembly.

Therefore, for those who lack in discernment in evangelical circles, we at DefCon can only bring warnings to others. We cannot bring ultimate judgment against another. Further, many seek to use Matthew 18 to make the point that if we have not taken our grievances to that person in question that we have no right to make public our concerns. This also comes from a poor understanding of this passage. The level of discipline is first to be enacted and finalized at the level to which it is either private or public knowledge. For example, if a brother contributor and I have a disagreement and we resolve the matter without it going public in any form or fashion, it goes no further. Restoration has taken place.

However, a person who has a public ministry and has openly stated where he stands or is showing a lack of discernment has taken the matter to a public level. There is no more private conversations necessary for the testimony at stake is no longer just a personal one, but is a dispersion against the Bride of Christ before a lost world.

Either way, at no point, does Matthew 18 give us the freedom to state to the world that the person who is offending others is an unbeliever. We are told and given the right by Christ that if such a person goes all the way to the final step of discipline that they are to be placed outside of the protection of the local church. They are then to be TREATED as one who is an unbeliever. The entire process is to continue giving forth the message to them and seek to provide restoration. This was a primary purpose for the writing of 1 and 2 Corinthians. Matthew 18 was fully enacted, but 2 Corinthians was necessary for the church to see their error in not admitting the brother back into fellowship. In this case, the man in question was in grievous sin that was not even found among the amoral society of Romans. Yet, at no point in either book does Paul question this man’s salvation!

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So, let us look further at the events currently unfolding at Passion 2013. There are some there who are teaching another gospel and are openly teaching or practicing or promoting heresy. This, in my estimation, includes Louie Giglio. It also includes groups or individuals that are practicing doctrines of demons. This group would include David Crowder, Christy Nockels and the band Jesus Culture.

A thorough expose on these groups can be found at Apprising.Org, and I highly recommend any person with questions to go and read my Christian brother’s blog posts before making any negative comments about my inclusion of these groups or individuals. Suffice it to say for now that these music artists are highly charismatic and further give evidence that Jesus is merely a byword, not a Person Who has changed their way of life. For further information, I would highly recommend reading the following post as well on the connections of those leading Passion 2013.

In addition, you have a woman, Beth Moore, who is clearly in contradiction to the teaching of God’s Word. She is considered an elder, teaches and preaches to men, but further is openly involved in the Roman Catholic teaching of contemplative mysticism. This type of meditation and mindless repetitious prayers were openly condemned by our Savior during His earthly ministry. Beth continues to refuse to be corrected and has continued a slide further into the acceptance of Roman Catholics as being on the same road to heaven as Christianity.

The Bible makes it clear that there is only one way to heaven, and what the Roman Catholic system teaches is not salvation by faith through grace alone. Beth is no longer just endorsing religions such as Roman Catholicism. Her teaching shows that she is promoting a completely different gospel. While we would pray and hope that she will see the error of her ways, we can only conclude at this point with the words of the apostle Paul in Galatians 1 – if anybody, even an angel, preach ANY OTHER gospel than what we have preached to you, then let them be accursed. This is not my words, nor is it my decision. Her actions and words bring condemnation upon her and her ministry.

So what about John Piper? Personally, I have learned much from several of his earlier books with the exception of his teaching of “Christian” hedonism. A very poor choice of terminology and shaky theology at best is at play here. However, in more recent times, there have been growing questions about his connections, his endorsements, and I am convinced that this has produced questions about where his theology is changing to from books such as “Future Grace.”

His endorsements are wrong, and I have not seen one thing that convinces me that he is preaching at Passion 2013 with the intention of bringing biblical clarity to the thousands who are gathered. Actually, he now openly endorses the ungodliness that is in place, holds hands with Beth Moore, and has even been captured on video practicing contemplative mysticism! This certainly does bring him into question and at this time, I believe we are only left with two conclusions. First, his lack of discernment continues to drive him down the road towards full-blown apostasy at the expense of biblical truth. Second, while I am not prepared to question whether he has ever come to a point of saving faith, I am prepared to learn from the words of John MacArthur, who has in the past noted that a person who evidences no change, has no fruit, and continues in full-blown apostasy must be concerned as to whether they were ever saved to begin with.

Sadly, the problem is compounded by the inclusion of heretics like Judah Smith, who co-pastors a church with his wife in Washington. His connection includes preaching at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church and Mark Driscoll fully endorsed this event. Yes, this is the same Driscoll and Warren that are so openly welcomed and share pulpits with John Piper. These men all have the same thing in common – they are students of humanist authors like Peter Drucker, who died as a heathen pagan – without Christ.

My prayer is that those who like Chan, Piper, Platt, and Taylor, who have preached and taught the truth will wake up and see the truth. The truth is that they are being sucked into the whirlpool of expediency, the whirlpool that says numbers are more important than truth, the whirlpool that produces ever-increasing numbers of false conversions, and the whirlpool of apostasy that threatens to swallow all the other whirlpools like the black holes of space. Soon no spiritual light will shine forth from their ministries for error, heresy, and the doctrines of demons will swallow any glimmer from view, or it will ultimately prove that there was no light to begin with.

nouturn For now, I would share the words from the apostle Paul as seen in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”

Today, we MUST have the true gospel of Jesus Christ being preached to the world. The church has an awesome responsibility to reach out to the world and share in love the truth of God’s Word. The world must hear that there is ONLY one way to heaven and that is through the finished work of Jesus Christ.

However, preachers, pastors and ministers of the gospel must not only practice spiritual discernment, but they must also teach their people how to discern between what is right and what is wrong. Conferences like Passion 2013 are filled with thousands who are either not saved, or they fall under the category of being let down by the men who were entrusted with their spiritual well-being.

Pastors who have not stood up to this nonsense should repent for putting their people in harm’s way. Parents who have allowed their children to attend such a conference should also repent for putting their children, whom they were given to protect, in the way of the forces of hell that seek to blind the minds of their precious gifts. Men like Francis Chan, David Platt, Justin Taylor, and John Piper have a responsibility to take a stand no matter what it costs in the way of book sales, or affiliations, or even the numbers of followers they have garnered. If there is a time for men like these to take a stand and apologize for their lack of discernment and for misleading the body of Christ around the world by their open endorsements of heresy, charismania, and yes, even the doctrines of demons being openly endorsed by people like Beth Moore, Mark Driscoll, Louie Giglio and others.

But then again, Paul warned us in 2 Thessalonians that there would come a time before the return of the Lord that apostasy would take place within the church. Maybe this is what we are seeing. I fear for those who have failed in their calling and with their testimony. I fear for what they will face when they stand before the Lord in judgment.

May we not pride ourselves on who we are, nor that we have not fallen ourselves! Brothers and sisters, may our thoughts remain on the Author and Finisher of our faith. May we remember that but for the grace of God, we could be the ones that are where these others now find themselves.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Mark – TJM

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”

“Can we warn about a ravening wolf spiritually while simultaneously throwing an arm around him?”

That’s a fantastic question from a fantastic article recently posted by Worldview Weekend entitled:

Rick Warren’s Infiltration of the Reformed Faith

This is a must-read for everyone who’s concerned with what’s been happening lately in Reformed circles.

Here’s a quote from the article to whet your whistle:

“Rick Warren desires credibility and influence more than anything else, and he has been able to accomplish both over much of the religious landscape in America over the last decade. Some important holdouts have been the celebrity pastors of the Reformed book/conference circuit who were in stated opposition to him for his handling of Scripture and his man-centered, false gospel. All of that is changing quickly. What Rick Warren needed was to win over a leader whose status was great enough among Reformed evangelicals who could deliver the holdouts into his arms. He found such a man in John Piper. . . . Warren’s photo ops with Reformed leaders do nothing for the truth, and they do everything for Rick Warren’s relentless campaign for credibility and influence among those who should know better.”

Read the entire article from Worldview Weekend here.

John Piper, Rick Warren redux.

A few years ago those who observed that John Piper was heading down a bad road when he began validating Mark Driscoll were all but crucified by those who thought the ones raising the concern were jumping to conclusions.

But then the next shoe dropped: Piper invited Rick Warren to speak at last year’s Desiring God conference (and I noticed there were a lot less voices being raised from the defend-Piper-at-all-costs crowd). Rick Warren was unable to make it to that conference but this year Piper is traveling to Warren’s church.

This link contains the video (and other information) for John Piper’s upcoming Desiring God regional conference on “Meditations of a Christian Hedonist” being held at Rick Warren’s Saddleback church.

It appears that the slippery slope some of us were talking about over the past few years is rapidly turning into a cliff.

Will Piper surprise us and preach a non-compromising sermon on Christ and Him crucified to those who’ve been nursing on Warren’s  messages for years (we can only hope and pray), or will things only get worse as the years go by and perhaps next year we’ll see an endorsement of Thomas S. Monson? I guess time will only tell.

Nasty, snarky, condescending, and vitriolic comments will not be approved.

The Daniel Plan.

Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan has begun and Jennifer Pekich was there for its inception. Her report from inside the lion’s den (pun intended) can be found here.

Here’s a quote from her article:

Following Dr. Hyman’s talk my best friend arrived to observe the day with me, only to hear Dr. Amen mention in his presentation that he did a brain scan on one of his clients who had a habit of cheating on his wife. The brain scan showed that there were “holes in the pre-frontal cortex of his brain” which controls the impulses. In other words, this man wasn’t sinful, he was “mentally ill.” All he needed was to get on the “Change Your Brain, Change Your Body” program and his personal struggles with sin were remedied. Once again Jesus was removed from the equation. My friend and I were dumbfounded when we listened to the Saddleback crowd cheer. My best friend couldn’t contain it any longer and let out a, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

The best quote from Jennifer’s article, however, was when she made this observation of the event:

I have to admit that visions of the masses being manipulated by Adolf Hitler’s oratory skills came to my mind, only this particular crowd had just been manipulated by a really bad infomercial.

You can listen to Jennifer’s interview about her visit to Saddleback here on the Crosstalk radio show. You can also read an article on this event by Lighthouse Trails here and another article by Marsha West here.

Scott Hodge and his hodge-podge of Roman Catholic meditative monastic heresy.

Chris Rosebrough is tackling an unbelievable issue that has crept into the church: The continued march backward into Romanism by supposed Evangelicals (some of which are the golden calves of Americanized Christianity) through the use of monastic meditation practices. He addresses this in his post Purpose-Driven Roman Catholic Monastic Mysticism (which is where I obtained the quotes below).

Roman Catholic Monastic Mysticism is becoming all the rage among innovative post-modern purpose-driven pastors. Practices developed by Roman Catholic Monks such as the Lectio Divina, The Practice of the Presence of God and the Prayer Examen which was created by on [sic] of the arch enemies of the Protestant Reformation, Ignatius Loyola are openly being promoted by an alarming number of seeker-driven / Purpose-Driven pastors. These so-called ’spiritual disciplines’ are being featured at Willow Creek, Saddleback, and Mars Hill to name just a few.

Rosebrough examines an absolutely astonishing sermon from seeker-sensitive pastor Scott Hodge who teaches his whole congregation that practicing the mystical Lecito Divina (like eating at a five-star restaurant) is somehow better than reading the Scriptures for yourself without the magical formula (like eating McDonalds). This is unbelievable when you consider Hodge is considered an evangelical protestant. What in the world did Luther break from Romanism for if this guy is directing his people to place the yoke back upon their necks and return to the bondage of Rome’s dead religion?

Let me be clear here, Pastor Scot Hodge is not promoting meditative practices similar to Lecito Divina, he’s promoting Lecito Divina itself. He spends the overwhelming majority of his sermon singing its praises and he even walks his whole congregation through a Lecito Divina session that will make your hair stand on end (for those familiar with Eastern mysticism and New Age practices).

To hear this unbelievable “sermon” and Rosebrough’s commentary with it, you can download it by right clicking here. It starts at 1:08:08 into the podcast.

While listening to this sermon, keep in mind that this Roman Catholic mystical practice was developed by men who did not believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone by Christ’s work alone. These monks were trying to earn their salvation through their monkery. These practices are not taught in the scriptures. Neither Jesus, his disciples, the prophets nor the patriarchs practiced Lectio Divina. This Roman Catholic practice is pure monastic mythology and spiritual fantasy and rather than helping you experience God, it is more likely that you will experience self deception or demonic spirits.

For those unfamiliar with Scott Hodge, DefCon dealt with him back in 2007 when his video mocking the sacred ordinance of baptism was making its rounds on the internet. You can check out our previous post on Scott Hodge in the post Narcissism Gone Wild.

The fact that seeker-driven and Purpose-Driven pastors are adopting Roman Catholic Monastic practices in droves proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that chasing after relevance has caused them to abandon Biblical truth and they are now being blown about by every wind of false doctrine. (Eph. 4:7-19) Sadly, this is what happens when you try to marry the church to the ’spirit of the age’.