Friday, December 10, 2010

Pardon Me?

Apparently, according to some, the church should accept racial division in the church.

Well not exactly but one pastor writes an article that complains about the following line from the affirmations and denials of Together for the Gospel:

We deny that any church can accept racial prejudice, discrimination, or division without betraying the Gospel.

This author goes on to say,

Who can argue that the church should accept discrimination and racial prejudice, but to say that “division” betrays the Gospel is to say exactly what the New Evangelicals said in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. Division over error is how the Gospel (which by the way includes the whole of Scripture, not just salvation truth) is kept pure and protected for God’s glory, yet we are led to believe that “division” betrays the Gospel. Unity at all costs is the heart throb of New-Evangelicalism.

What’s the problem?

Here’s a pastor, trying to influence people, who has painted a picture for his unsuspecting readers that simply is not true.

You see, the T4G statement cited has nothing to do with division over doctrinal error. It is about division over race. You can read it for yourself right here. And when you do, it is easy to see that this author has clearly misrepresented what the denial is all about. I wouldn’t think it would be that hard to read the 112 words that make up Article XVII (17 for those who don’t know Roman) and understand what it is talking about.

If you can’t follow it there, let me simplify it for you: Article 17 is about race, not doctrine. It affirms that any church that separates or divides on the basis of race is denying the gospel. In other words, you cannot legitimately cite Article 17 from T4G with reference to separating over doctrinal error. It is not addressing that point.

Furthermore, if you are familiar in the least with the T4G men, you know that these men all have a commitment to fighting doctrinal error and even separating over it. In fact, they do it in a way that is much more public than many fundamentalists, simply by virtue of their visibility. The author references this issue with one of these men in his article apparently fails to understand what actually happened. In fact, one of the complaints about these men is that the T4G speakers are all Calvinists and they have not invited any non-Calvinists to share pulpit fellowship at the conference. In other words, one of the complaints is that they have separated over the issue of Calvinism, at least in this conference.  Separatists complaining that others have separated from doctrines they consider to be wrong. Ironic, eh?

Now, to be clear, while I have greatly enjoyed the preaching at T4G, I think the T4G men are deficient in some of the ways they go about this doctrinal separation. I do it differently, and think they should. But to say that they don’t believe in separation over doctrinal error is simply wrong.

I don’t think this pastor is intentionally misrepresenting this. And I don’t think he is arguing for racial division in the church. I simply think he has an axe to grind, and he is reaching for anything that might help him make a point he wants to make. He doesn’t care enough to understand what the point of Article 17 is all about.

I don’t know this guy, at least to my knowledge. But doesn’t he have some friends who would read this article and point out that he has made this error? Apparently not because I first saw this article a few weeks ago, and I noticed this; now it remains unchanged. I assumed that this pastor’s friends would have pointed it out by now so it could be corrected. But apparently no one has. Today, it has been republished on another blog of questionable repute that quite frequently misrepresents people (myself included) in an attempt to bolster the blogger’s own (misguided in many cases) opinions.

Listen, there are some reasons to be concerned about some of the things this author talks about in the article. But he could have, and should have, made that point without this error.

You don’t help your point when you support it by misrepresentation of another.

Hopefully someone in this man’s circle of friends and relationships will point this out to him.

But I won’t hold my breath that any change will be made. It’s not the fundamentalist way. We have learned too well that when you say something, you stand by it no matter what. And when someone points out the weakness, you double down and say it louder.

I am sick to death of this kind of stuff. I am sure that I have been guilty of it at times, and when I find out I am, I try to go back and fix it. I have on different occasions edited my own articles here when I find out something is different than what I said. I have even removed articles for that reason.

Here’s my point: We, as preachers and teachers of the Scriptures, of all people should have a higher commitment to truth. And faithfully teaching the Scriptures is incompatible with misrepresenting what others believe.

Let’s do better than this, people. 

NB – After writing this this morning and saving it for posting, Dave Doran has written a similar article posted at SharperIron. Our articles were written independently. In fact, Dave hasn’t talked to me since I beat him 2&1 a few weeks ago.

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