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The Elephant in the Elephant Room

Friday, October 28, 2011

One of the more recent entries to the conservative Christian conference line-up is the Elephant Room, the brainchild of James MacDonald. The idea was to bring Christian leaders together for some brotherly sparring over “elephant-in-the-room” issues. Pleased with the results of the first conference in March 2011, they’re prepared for the second in January 2012. This Elephant Room “Round 2” is being promoted like a prize fight: “Your ringside seat awaits,” and “You know the rules…No wavering. No Sidestepping. No excuses.”

MacDonald recently lit up the blogosphere when he invited T.D. Jakes to join ER2. Does he really intend to extend the boundaries of Christian brotherhood to a well-known anti-Trinitarian modalist, prosperity preacher? MacDonald received a fair bit of well-deserved criticism and, rather than rethinking his decision, he dug in his heels and defended it. He doesn’t think Jakes is still a modalist. Jakes is still a’ comin’ to ER2.

(Stir up a little controversy, you get instant publicity and free promotion. You gotta admit, it’s kinda clever.)

I’ve very much appreciated the thoughtful criticisms posted by Thabiti Anyabwile, Carl Trueman, and Phil Johnson. At some point, you should read those posts; they are instructive on many levels.

But I’d like to go back to Round 1 of the Elephant Room and the video Mark Driscoll posted on his website. That particular session was about the place of culture in the church, specifically asking whether or not it was a good idea for Perry Noble to open his 2010 Easter service with AC/DC’s blasphemous song, “Highway to Hell.” (No, I’m not kidding.) Evidently, that’s how Perry and his peeps “engage the culture.”

When pressed, Noble justified his decision with an overt and unashamed appeal to pragmatism:

We had a guy come up to us several months later, and he had received Christ, and he said in that song is where he felt God speak to him and tell him, “That’s the highway you’re on.” And so, people have asked, “Does the end justify the means?” I don’t know, ask that guy in heaven. I think he’s probably gonna say yes.

To their credit, MacDonald and others felt Noble had gone too far in engaging the culture. As MacDonald voiced his disagreement, Noble claimed biblical precedent for what he did:

What do you do in Acts chapter 17 when Paul quotes two, quote, secular rock songs when he’s reaching the Athenians? What do you do in Matthew chapter 2 when God uses astrology [he probably meant astronomy, right?] to reach the wise men? I mean, how can we say those methods were not effective? … God meets people where they are and brings them to where He is. That’s why we do what we do.

(Let’s set aside Noble’s sophomoric understanding of Acts 17 and Matthew 2 for a moment.) MacDonald was undaunted in his criticism, recognizing the clear contradiction of “taking something that is blatantly offensive to the gospel and the cross, and bringing it into the center of the church.” Spot on and well said.

And then Noble asked MacDonald a critically important question: “Does God’s Word directly contradict what we did?”

That was a good question. In fact, that is the question we should all ask about our life and ministry. What does the Bible say? Would God approve or condemn what I think, say, and do? At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. God is the final authority, only His opinion matters.

But Noble didn’t get a direct, clear-cut answer. In fact, the message loud and clear was “we can agree to disagree on this.” Some of the men expressed strong disagreement—opinions I agree with completely. But, unfortunately, MacDonald just as strongly affirmed Noble’s prerogative to do what he did without fear of condemnation. That was less than helpful.

We have Mark Driscoll to thank for not letting it go. He brought it up again, and in a way MacDonald couldn’t avoid (remember, no sidestepping!). He asked, “Do you think it was a sin against God.”

Just to remind you, Noble played a song that scoffs at divine judgment and revels in rebellion in the worship service of a church that purportedly belongs to Jesus Christ. Not only does he say God used it, but God approved of them doing it.

At the end of the day, the church leaders in the room were clearly reticent to say what Perry Noble did was sinful. In fact, at 42:51, James MacDonald summed it up by saying, “I definitely don’t think it was sinful for him to do it.”

Look, I’m no one special, but I just can’t let that go. That’s terribly misleading to allow people to come away from that video believing what you do in a worship service is simply a matter of preference. There are preference issues, but we can never think they don’t matter in the eyes of Christ, the sovereign head of the church.

James MacDonald has positioned himself as a mentor to these younger pastors. Two of them asked the senior pastor in the room, “Was that wrong? Was that sinful?” Love demands a better answer than they received. Mentoring them demands speaking the truth, not your opinion, in love.

I’ll go on record as saying I think what Perry Noble did was a sin. It doesn’t have to do with his motives (God knows and judges motives, not me; 1 Cor. 4:5). It has to do with what he did, what he intentionally planned and performed in a worship service.

As long as Noble calls his gathering of people a church, he’s professing it to be an assembly of the saints of God, a gathering of God’s people who come to exalt the holy and living God by expounding His holy and living Word. Nothing unholy or unfitting belongs in that service.

On what grounds do I say it was sinful? Go back to the incident with Nadab and Abihu, Leviticus 10:1-3.

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said, ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’”

What was the sin of Nadab and Abihu? They offered “strange fire.” Strange, as in alien or foreign. And I think it’s intentional that the Holy Spirit didn’t get more specific in describing, delineating, or defining what was strange about it. Whatever it was—and this is the principle the Spirit intends for us—the fire was strange; it didn’t belong, it wasn’t fitting or appropriate.

Nadab and Abihu died because they made a bad judgment call in their ministry. They were innovative rather than submissive, and by so doing they publically diminished the holiness, the separateness, the otherness of God. That was sinful.

Noble committed the same sin as Nadab and Abihu. He offered strange fire in his service to the Lord. I couldn’t say it any better than MacDonald did: Noble took “something that is blatantly offensive to the gospel and the cross, and [brought] it into the center of the church.”

Has anyone else committed that sin? Certainly. None of us is without fault. But when we learn of our sin and error, it’s up to us to repent, confessing what we did as sin and striving to never do that again.

Will Noble repent? From what I saw on that video, he didn’t seem to be in a listening frame of mind; he was all about justifying himself, even bragging about his profane decision. And even if he were inclined toward repentance, I’d think it would be difficult to be confronted and find your way to a humble and contrite spirit while several video cameras are capturing your every expression for a live audience. Perhaps that’s an argument against the Elephant Room as the best venue for hammering out these kinds of issues.

That Elephant Room session was full of swagger and bravado, the epitome of hipster coolness. But the biggest elephant in the room on that day was the failure to fear God, the failure to speak with conviction when His Word is so clear.

While watching that video, I couldn’t help but remember the prophetic words of David Wells in God in the Wasteland, that “God now rests too inconsequentially upon the church.” Wells continues, saying, ”If God is at the center of worship, one has to wonder why there is so much surrounding the center that is superfluous to true worship—indeed, counterproductive to it.”

Whenever the clear voice of God in His Word is blunted or diminished, whether by ignorance or neglect, God will rest too inconsequentially upon the church. I fear we’re becoming a generation that’s doing church in a way that is counterproductive to true worship. And I’m concerned it’s because we don’t fear God as we should, and we’re becoming accustomed to doing what is right in our own eyes.

“To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn” (Is. 8:20).

Travis Allen
Director of Internet Ministry


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#1  Posted by Lori Amos  |  Friday, October 28, 2011at 12:29 PM

Dear Lord, Deliver us from being accustomed to doing what is right in our own eyes.

#2  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Friday, October 28, 2011at 1:21 PM

Wow...5 minutes in and I'm sick to my stomach. When Noble mockingly says "I was predestined to do it"...blasphemy. I can't believe he makes such light of the situation. Im going to finish listening to it in a few minutes.

Side note, I like Greg Laurie. I hope he doesn't jump into this hooplah.

#3  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Friday, October 28, 2011at 3:34 PM

Okay, I've listened to the full post and I think that Travis Allen's critique is spot on. I agree that James takes a fairly strong and accurate stance until the end when he backs off at the last minute and basically says what he condemned moments before - "we can't hide the righteousness of our actions behind the excuse 'I meant well'" (i'm paraphrasing). As Travis said "It doesn’t have to do with his motives (God knows and judges motives, not me; 1 Cor. 4:5). It has to do with what he did, what he intentionally planned and performed in a worship service."

I couldn't have said it better myself Travis, and I too will come out and say that what Noble did was sinful and blasphemous, and I think is horrible that he plans to do this again.

The double standard and hypocrisy evinced in this video reminds me of something I saw recently in a local church:

I was told by some friends of ours to try a new local church. I decided to listen to a sermon by the pastor on the "elephants in the room" of doctrine (ironic considering this post today eh?). In it, the pastor took a basically half-conservative, half-liberal stance. Basically, he said that smoking, drinking and tattoos all are okay under Christian liberty and you shouldn't judge anyone for it. But he also mentioned that one shouldn't offend a weaker brother (trying to save face I think). Then he ended the sermon by saying something hyprocritical to the point he just made about not offending your brother, he said "If you don't like that I have earrings, then I HOPE I OFFEND SO BAD so you can realize that you have a stumblingblock to the gospel". How does one go from "don't offend a weaker brother" to "I HOPE I OFFEND YOU SO BAD"? His claim was rather weak in saying that sometimes Paul restricted his liberties, and other times Paul chose to offend the pharisees (I contend a misinterpretation of the true offense here), and in this case he was choosing to offend.

Perhaps it would be a good time soon to speak against the danger of 1 Timothy 3:6?

#4  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Friday, October 28, 2011at 3:46 PM

Oh yeah, and when Driscoll says that Jesus taking the form of a man was God "contextualizing", I think that was the most blasphemous of all. Jesus becoming man was not some tactic to make the gospel appealing to men. It was necessary in the plan of redemption for Jesus to bear the punishment of sin on man's behalf.

I would find it hard to sit at the same table with Driscoll and Noble.

#5  Posted by Lauren Jordan  |  Friday, October 28, 2011at 3:55 PM

Travis, this video really made my stomach turn... I have never heard of these men, except for Greg Laurie, and I am still shaking my head at their conversations. It was like watching a side show...mocking, laughing at each other. Preach/teach the Word, and the Holy Spirit will do the drawing -- It's all about bringing glory to Him, not us... you don't need worldly props or gimmicks to save the lost... His Word alone is sufficient.

Thanks, Travis, for sharing this in light of Scripture. I received this quote from Dr. McGee on FB, and thought it appropriate.

"Worship is empty when the rules of men are substituted for the Word of God." - Dr. J. Vernon McGee

God's continual blessings be with you and all at Grace to You.

#6  Posted by Jason Tarr  |  Friday, October 28, 2011at 4:53 PM

I pray that James MacDonald does not quickly become the "elephant" in the room.

#7  Posted by Jason Johnston  |  Friday, October 28, 2011at 6:56 PM

I kind of liked Driscol when I first heard him,but the more I listen the less I like. There is something shady about these guys in a way that seems to be the polar opposite of Benny Hinn or Joel Osteen,it's like they are re-inventing the wheel to run themselves over.

The lack of discernment is astonishing,I am very thankful to God Almighty for Grace to You. God Bless those who fight for truth.

#8  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, October 28, 2011at 8:37 PM

In the video, those guys love to tell that Jesus met the people right where they were. I'm so sick of hearing Jesus used as an excuse to compromise, to sin.

Yes, he stepped into their filthy lives, I guess. Yep, He went on their turf. But what happened when He met them on God's turf....at the Temple? I haven't heard anyone mention that? What did He see going on there? They were desecrating God's Temple! How did He feel about the culture then? They were selling animal sacrifices for a profit, they were scamming. They were opportunists using God's place and commandments for their gain. But, hey look. That's how it was being done. It had become the norm, the culture. Corrupt? Sure. But ...again, that was the culture. No one was making an effort to stop it. The one going to sacrifice didn't have to drag his animal with him and the one selling the animals made a little cash on the side. It was a win win. And I imagine the one going to Temple was happy as long as he had to simply go through the motions of sacrificing and as long as it looked like worship. Kind of like today in some of these churches. No muss, no fuss. Funny how things stay the same.

But this Jesus saw it differently. He disrupted that happy little flee market. He didn't care about the culture then. He didn't politely go in and remove everybody. He didn't sit down with the money changers and ask how business was and then tell them a parable. Nor did He just shake his finger at them saying, "Shame, shame." He got radical! He got physical! He got mad. He got so mad, He got so personal that He got Himself on a hit list for sure!

So if they want to use what Jesus did on earth and how He is went into the culture, they might want to recall what His position was in the Temple that day. Sure He walked where the people walked, the common man, the sinner. He wasn't afraid to go to them. But that was never an invitation then or now to take the culture and impose it on God's temple. I know of no evidence where Jesus took something erotic from the culture, something violent from the culture, something trendy from the culture, something entertaining from the culture and then tweaked it or blended it with orthodox worship so that the Temple would draw more sinners.

By the way, I love listening to Matt Chandler and yet, he and Mark Driscoll seem pretty tight. I hope Matt doesn't get sucked in.

#9  Posted by Patrick Driscoll  |  Friday, October 28, 2011at 9:18 PM

Thanks for shedding some light on this Travis. It's so disgusting when the church is worldly. The men in the video seemed rather proud of themselves for being, as you said,"innovative rather than submissive."

The Gospel Coalition still has a few clear thinking, godly men. I wonder if they might be planning to do some house cleaning......... SOON.

#10  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Friday, October 28, 2011at 9:28 PM

Thanks for sharing an example of pragmatism carried to the point where an attempt is made to justify the means by the end result. We should all examine our hearts and actions. How easy it is to try and rationalize what we do with the false idea that our intentions are right. How right are our intentions when we are not guided by scripture but what seems right to us? Isn’t this an example of pride? It is hard to rationalize that singing a rebellious song aligns with letting no corrupt talk come out of our mouths but only what is beneficial to those who hear (Eph. 4:29). It also doesn’t seem to match the singing referred to in Ephesians 5:19 or Colossians 3:16.

It seems there are many in the church today who claim to be believers but who are biblically illiterate. But it is understandable if churches are spending more time being culturally relevant than they are preaching the word. God’s Word is the light to our path. May it be preached in season and out of season. Thanks GTY for your ministry.

#11  Posted by Scott Davidson  |  Friday, October 28, 2011at 10:58 PM

I was having a conversation previously with the pastor at my church and he mentioned that when we finish building our new church (have not broken ground yet) that to "celebrate" we were going to have an open house type of gathering for the community. Sounds great. It was what he said after that threw up the red flag for me. He mentioned that they would bring in secular bands to bring people in.

I should have questioned him on the spot but I did not. It is this mindset that leads me to fear God's people are being led by those who endure themselves to the culture. Is my pastor a bad guy? No. But I do not agree with this mindset and I fear that more and more people in the church have this same mindset that he does. I see it as a big problem. People profess to love God yet do not want to separate themselves from worldly things.

#12  Posted by Aaron Baykov  |  Saturday, October 29, 2011at 3:30 AM

Brothers, Sisters, Travis, (Humans),

That video was posted freely on the Mars Hill podcast, and I've watched it a few times. We can understand the concern about the video. It's all necessary.

But why are the blog commentators so quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater? Let's not lose our focus, in that, each of these men individually are the byproduct what they believe to be honoring to God. Correct or incorrect. They all stood by their indictments and, as J.M. pointed out brilliantly, had certain levels of conviction that were "wrong". Gospel Coalition is God's army, we're blessed to have any of those fellows get up and do what they do. I can agree there's need for discernment, the question really gravitates toward methodology (which is still very important, but), not the sum-total of their efficacy in ministry. So I hear my family attacking our brothers disqualifying them for ministry, it just seems unjust. Most of us can't even say who's worth assigning blasphemy or disqualification for ministry, except maybe Travis cause he follows them pretty closely; so to make those kinds of statements aren't fruits of love or correction, and doesn't edify anybody. Travis, I would agree with you. (And perhaps Jesus put that particular passage in Leviticus in my path a few weeks ago for a reason) So I feel you on that entirely. Sometimes what tends to happen is we fail to recognize that all of those men are grown men with ministries that exceed their flaws. Because God's greater than some human flaws. By the comments it's almost as though we view them like some politicians found in a scandal and not some brothers who need correction. Travis, if I know the focus of your interaction with the parties and persons of this particular evangelical sect, I know you weren't trying to throw anyone to the lions. Another prevalent detail in the direction of these comments regarded fear of God and using secular means. Can it be fairly stated that not all things secular are ungodly? If we can do that, then we can worship God regardless of the band. Lauren, it could be said that what you've posted is where a lot of reformed Christians are at, if that's the case then the matter really boils down to the substance of Noble's faith. He gave testimony, all poorly used support aside, that he really wasn't convinced that the evangelizing methodology used predominantly in churches today was effective. How can you not sympathize? That's understandable. He's faced with the same commandment we all are, but didn't agree with the more common means of doing it, and so he did seek other means. (which is pragmatism, totally). But where the correction is made is in reaffirming faith in God's role in effectual calling. He knew he'd catch heat for that, (we all have consciences), and you can see it in his attitude when he brazenly mentioned the future continuation of his choice, but it boils down to faith. Pragmatism is defeated when you're convinced you have the solution.

#13  Posted by Renee Stanton  |  Saturday, October 29, 2011at 5:26 AM

"But the biggest elephant in the room on that day was the failure to fear God, the failure to speak with conviction when His Word is so clear."

Thank you for this! Why don't we fear God anymore? I'm so sick of all of this. And now our own "reformed" leaders are getting sucked into all of this too? I just don't get it. Seriously, sometimes I feel like I'm in the "Twilight Zone" or something. Do they know how discouraging and confusing this is to the sheep? Do they even care?

" We had a guy come up to us several months later, and he had received Christ, and he said in that song is where he felt God speak to him and tell him, “That’s the highway you’re on.” And so, people have asked, “Does the end justify the means?” I don’t know, ask that guy in heaven. I think he’s probably gonna say yes."

O.k. , so using that logic, we can pretty much do ANYTHING in the worship service, as long as someone says they got saved because of it. So is porn o.k.? I mean, God could use it to convict someone of their sin, and hey, it really would "p*ss off a bunch of religious people". After all, wasn't that one of the reasons Noble gave for playing "Highway to Hell"? Why not do something to REALLY make them mad! It is completely mind boggling to me that they are even having this discussion. You don't know how encouraging it is to have someone taking a firm stand against this. Thank you!

#15  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Saturday, October 29, 2011at 8:49 AM

This is a true story & a most recent one. I think it speaks to what the others are trying to do in and with God's church.

There is a man that supports his family by being a musician, a secular musician. He has played music all his life. In the beginning he was infatuated with heavy metal music & learned to emulate the greats of that generation. He could play anything from Jimi Hendrix to Yngwie Malmsteen to Kiss to whatever. Nothing he couldn't play & with no lessons. I guess one might say it was in his blood. Today, this man refers to metal music, heavy or otherwise as testosterone music geared toward mostly guys.

Now this man has a 17 year old son who also is very gifted musically. A good kid. But into some really heavy metal. In fact, so heavy, even this father who understands perhaps better than anyone his son's attraction to it, is concerned about how extreme the music is. They have talked about it. But the father could tell that the talks just didn't penetrate much. He could relate to that as well.

One day, the son calls the father to say he is on his way home & needs to talk to him. This father is curious. Is it serious? The son tells him something really good has happened to him that day. The father is thinking of all kinds of possibilities. Did he get more hours at his part time job? Did he pass his test at school? What could it be?

The son walks in the door & curious eyes fall upon this young man who is normally very subdued & rarely shows emotion. He is grinning from ear to ear. The good news? It was The Good News! The Gospel of Jesus Christ. A friend shared it with him at school. A friend who unlike this young man is churched. A friend who comes from a Christian family. This friend is in the young man's band & yet never before that day shared The Gospel.

I don't know the details of what was said? I don't know if the friend was complete or how accurate or how inept or even nervous he might have been when he shared? I don't know if it was difficult for him or even why he had waited for so long? All I know is the Holy Spirit did the work. The Holy Spirit used the entire presentation or maybe a single word & this young man's heart and eyes opened and he said for once in his 17 years, it all made sense!

The father was floored by his son's presence. He said his son spoke with a confidence he had never heard or seen from him before. He was lit up! And a peace. There was an incredible peace.

This young man leaned forward & told his career musician dad that he was concerned about him. He said he didn't want him left behind or in hell. He said this son of his looked him straight in the eye which was also uncommon.

This young man voluntarily smashed the cd's that he had paid for with his own money. All the dad was so concerned about.

You see, the power in in God's Word. It didn't take a metal band or any kind of rock band or flat screen TV's or concert style worship services to lure this young man. Holy Spirit. That's it.

#16  Posted by Anthony Huy  |  Saturday, October 29, 2011at 9:16 AM

Travis -

Great article. I appreciate your biblical thoughtfulness and analysis on why you thought it was a sin for Noble to do what he did. I have seen other sessions of the Elephant Room and have enjoyed them, but I have not seen this one. I will though.

One thing I would like to say though - in bringing forth such a clear and thoughtful article, I don't think statements like this ...

"Let’s set aside Noble’s sophomoric understanding of Acts 17 and Matthew 2 for a moment."

... fits well in your article. It could be me, but the reading of it felt prideful and arrogant. It's so hard to write a critical article in the name of the Lord, and you did so well with it, but to call Noble's understanding of Acts 17 and Matt 2 "sophomoric" and not provide reasons for that ... well, that felt a bit like a cheap shot and name calling.

I only bring this up because while I enjoyed the article, though taken slightly back by that one statement, I'm a bit disturbed by some of the comments on here. I think we might do well to be slow in writing off the entire ministry of a man or the entire ministry of a whole room of men based solely on a small clip. To say things like these pastors are "shady" or imply they need to "preach the word" or to say they are the "polar opposite of Benny Hinn or Joel Osteen" without engaging the issue that might be causing this is irresponsible. On a sight of a ministry that is very intentional about truth and showing where that truth comes from and in an article that is clear in it's articulation about what is wrong, broad stroking a group of pastors that is not perfect but may in fact be walking as best as they can with the Lord seems so inconsistent.

I for one do not feel I have enough knowledge on each of these men's ministry to write them off.

In Christ,

Tony

#17  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Saturday, October 29, 2011at 10:51 AM

#16 Tony - Originally I had wondered if we were giving too much "air time" to these guys? But I took my time & talked to others & thought about it. Talked to God & asked,"What is this blog all about really? Do we need to discuss these things? Do my comments expose further unpleasing worship or am I encouraging it by talking about it?"

Then I realized, they don't need my help. These are not unknown pastors. These are very public pastors with very large churches. They have a great deal of influence. Though some I had not heard of & others I had barely heard of, they are all still known to many others at least in their respective regions if not nationally.

I wondered,"What if I had not learned of these pastors? What if I was clueless to what their churches were doing & how they were leading? Do I need to know?" I decided it was good for me to know. I try to prepare myself to mentor others, young & old. If they are exposed to these churches & these leaders or at the very least similar churches and leaders, I want to be prepared to guide new Christians & those that have not yep made a commitment & don't really know God's Word or the character of God.

As John said in the previous blog, we have to define what a biblical church is & I might add, less we end up doing a rock concert with stand up comedians every weekend with a little theology thrown in here and there. Somewhere else, can't remember where, John was asked if it annoyed him that some churches with this kind of leadership & practices have the word grace in it's name, to which he replied (paraphrasing), "No, it bothers me they call themselves a church!"

I want to be able to help others find a church where the theology is solid and the worship is acceptable to God. These "pastors" have opinions about it but I want to lead someone to God's Word on worship, not their take. I want them to compare true worship to this seeker sensitive type of worship & see the difference. I know there are young people that are actually sick of their culture & are seeking young pastors that are not ashamed of the Gospel & not ashamed to show how very serious they are about honoring God. These young people have had Saturday Night Live up to their eyeballs! They come looking for the opposite! They are looking for brave men to take a stand.

I'd like to challenge Mark Driscoll & Perry Noble & Steven Furtick & any of the other shock pastors to take one Sunday & announce that for the next 30 days, the church will remove all flat screens, all secular sounding music & any deliberate attempt to blend in with the culture. No hip dress & no hip hair styles. Plain expository teaching and preaching. See what happens? If attendance is obviously low, you might realize those not there come only if you give them their comfort zones. If the attendance doesn't drop, then you have misjudged your members. Honor God's Word & let the Holy Spirit lead any visitors.

Thanks, Travis for helping me stay out from under my rock!.

#18  Posted by Earl Little  |  Saturday, October 29, 2011at 12:24 PM

Any readers who have not read several excellent articles on Finney I would encourage to do so. Finney is Hegel’s apostle to much of modern evangelical Christendom as was Schliemacher to modernist Christendom, which as Machen proclaimed, is not even the Christian religion (read Peter Jones One or Two).

Finney- A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing-Phil Johnson

Charles Finney begat Ergun Caner Tom Chantry-fantastic articles

The Legacy of Charles Finney by Michael S. Horton (9 pages)

Charles Grandison Finney- Kevin T. Bauder part 1 and 2

Finney’s Influence at Critical Issues Commentary issue 53 Bob Dewaay

Charles G. Finney: How Theology Affects Understanding of Revival By Iain H. Murray article at Banner of Truth Trust

This article appears as Chapter 2 in

Pentecost Today? The Biblical Basis for Understanding Revival

Finney’s theology Charles Hodge

Charles Finney vs. The Westminster Confession- by Michael S. Horton (34 pages)

Mark Driscoll, in his article "A Pastoral Perspective on the Emerging Church" discuses how as a young church planter in the mjd 90’s he along with Brian McLaren. Doug Pagitt and others came under the influence of Leadership Network-are you familiar with Peter Drucker (who idolized Kierkegaard) and his strong influence on Bob Buford-the current Emergent gaggle boldly say they are Hegelian. It should be no mystery that you see the dialectic process, change, dialogue move some of the YRR furher and further away from those who use the Scripture’s clear, antithetical diadactic. These YRR are dabbling with Contemplative spirituality which can easily synthesize into interspirtuality where the cutting edge emergents are heading-see teachers section at spirituality and practice . com where Brian McLaren and Richard Foster are listed with everyone from Marianne Williamson to the Dalai Lama.

Driscoll article at Criswell Theological Review, Spring 2006 at criswell wordpress .com

#19  Posted by Anthony Huy  |  Saturday, October 29, 2011at 3:08 PM

#17 - Rebecca,

I appreciate the things you have to say. Much of it I would say Amen to. Some if it I would need time to process and pray through. The main point of what I was saying was that before we throw a pastor's name in with Benny Hinn and Joel Osteen, let's make sure we have done our homework and are current and are dealing with actual issues and not stereotypes.

- To say that a person dresses hip and has plasmas and hence must not exposit the word, that's a stereotype. It's as much a stereotype as saying a church full of elderly people wearing suits and singing hymns are simply traditional and not filled with the Spirit. That would be unfair for anyone to say that. I would say listen to their sermons, get a feel for what they stand for and what they preach. If they preach things that are wrong, than point that out, deal with that, address the issue. I agree, we have a responsibility if we are leading others so they are not caught up in false teaching.

- Please lets stop confusing the issue of truth with what a person wears or doesn't wear. It is content that matters. As long as the style is not dishonoring to God, which dressing hip is not, then it's a non-issue. If we make it an issue, I think we are way off in our understanding of what God cares about.

- To say that if you unplug the aesthetics / style of a church and watch if members leave or stay - i'm not sure that is an accurate barometer. If you go into a church of people that deeply love the Lord through hymns and introduce a worship band that is singing God glorifying, cross centered songs, but that are filled with electric guitars and bass and drums and such, it is likely those that love hymns may find a church more suitable to their desired expression of praise. That doesn't mean they were not committed to the Lord or to the work the Lord was doing in that church. Again, I just don't feel that style is the issue. Content is. How a preacher dresses is not the issue. What he says is the issue.

- I'm a Young Adults Pastor at a Calvary Chapel in Orange County. I have heard very little of Mark Discoll's preaching. I have heard him a couple of times on round table discussions. Honestly, he is one of the sharpest and most biblical guys I have heard on the round tables. Here is my challenge to people here that care deeply about truth - listen to Driscoll's latest message and see what he has to say. Was it comedic? Was it a gimmick? Was he expositing?

#20  Posted by Anthony Huy  |  Saturday, October 29, 2011at 3:08 PM

#18 - As far as Driscoll is concerned and the emergent church - I was under the impression he broke from it. This is what wikipedia has to say:

His description of his association with, and eventual distancing from the Emerging church movement:[11]

"In the mid-1990s I was part of what is now known as the Emerging Church and spent some time traveling the country to speak on the emerging church in the emerging culture on a team put together by Leadership Network called the Young Leader Network. But, I eventually had to distance myself from the Emergent stream of the network because friends like Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt began pushing a theological agenda that greatly troubled me. Examples include referring to God as a chick, questioning God's sovereignty over and knowledge of the future, denial of the substitutionary atonement at the cross, a low view of Scripture, and denial of hell which is...a mistake."

I'm not a Driscoll follower by any means. Again, my point is this is about truth - let's do our homework.

Blessings to each of you!

#21  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Saturday, October 29, 2011at 7:24 PM

#19 Anthony

Noble and Driscoll's words are enough to convince me that they don't exposit the true word of God, not simply their clothes or modern electronics.

#22  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Saturday, October 29, 2011at 7:45 PM

#19 Tony I used all my characters & still didn't explain myself well enough. I have listened only a little to Mark Driscoll in the past. Can't recall listening long enough to object to his understanding of doctrine. I do recall that he had confidence.

But then, I hear about his blog & the sexual content that was on it. He must have gotten some real heat 'cause he deleted it. Then there was some matter of offensive language from the pulpit. Even the movie industry gives a PG rating so parents will know to perhaps expect some profanity. When you hear kids in line at McDonald's using that kind of language, it sounds smutty because it's intended to be. Kids use it because they can & it makes them feel cool. They defy any adult to tell them to knock it off. They have total lack of respect when they do that out in public.

So a pastor uses that language in a place that I assumed was built to worship a Holy God? If that isn't to shock the listener or if that isn't an effort to appeal to a certain culture, then to whom is he trying to appeal? If you say,"Nobody" then that suggests he just spoke with no consideration for anyone.

My point was not about whether casual dress or formal dress is better or contemporary worship music is better than the old hymns. It'a about the distractions...the gimmicks that distract from the message. It's like trying to have a conversation with someone at dinner while he is constantly texting someone else. So too with our worship. Get rid of the gimmicks because they are distracting. Who needs them? Oh, that's right. The ones that find worship boring. We wouldn't want to leave them out, would we?

My idea was for all of them to get real generic with their style for a few weeks, take away the props that attracts the culture (props being dress, language, rock music and electronic gadgets and the like..the new age stuff) and just preach. Let the Word of God be on display.

I like spiky hair but if you want me to hear God's message, lay off of the super spiky hair so I can stop wondering how you got it that way & listen.Like trying to listen to the lady with the big pink hair on TBN! I'm sorry, I can't stop lookin' at your three feet long eyelashes & big pink hair!

If Driscoll or Furtick or Noble have messages with sound doctrine, what a shame that they allow it to be overshadowed by their need to blaze a new trail.A pastor should be leading in worship, not rebellion. What next? Worship centers where you can plug in your laptop, sit on a bar stool & get a little work done while at church? Maybe the new age pastor will never show up?All new messages will be delivered by Skype while he's kicked back in the lazy-boy in his den?

Driscoll has put a package together that he knows is an attention getter. I think he hopes it is stereotyping. I think they all do. It makes them more acceptable by mainstream culture.

#23  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Saturday, October 29, 2011at 9:05 PM

#12 "But why are the blog commentators so quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater?"

I must ask...who has decisively concluded that there is a "baby" IN the so-called bath water?

On a similar note but different focal point I wonder where the outcry is against the well known televangelist/pastor/stadium speaker from California who very recently preached a sermon titled "Two Ways of Salvation". In this sermon this well known pastor comes across almost apologetically when he states that technically there are two ways one can be saved...he explained (and this is my paraphrase here)...one is by keeping the law and the other is through faith in Christ, and since keeping the law is practically impossible it is simply much easier to place one's faith in Christ.

That is heresy! and a total lack of understanding of the intention for the Law, the doctrine of Justification, and the eternal plan of redemption...yet I have heard nothing from the evangelical community with regards to that 2 part sermon...troubling times in deed!

#24  Posted by Patrick Driscoll  |  Saturday, October 29, 2011at 9:17 PM

Aaron #12 --- You seem to be in a hurry to make excuses for these men. You mention their human flaws and lightly characterize them as

"brothers who need correction." Let's get serious. These are seminary trained pastors with many years of ministry experience. They should know better but they DON"T. They will give an account for the thousands of souls they are leading. If you think McDonald, Driscoll and Noble are getting harsh criticism in this blog, I will remind you of Hymenaeus and Alexander. The Apostle Paul handed them over to Satan so they would learn not to blaspheme. 1Timothy1:19-20

#25  Posted by Patrick Driscoll  |  Sunday, October 30, 2011at 6:07 AM

Anthony #19 and #20 --- Yes, let's do our homework! Check out Mark Driscoll teaching Song Of Solomon. The next time you are away from your church, let him come and preach to your Calvary Chapel.

#26  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Sunday, October 30, 2011at 8:44 AM

#19 "It is content that matters."

AND

"Honestly, he is one of the sharpest and most biblical guys I have heard on the round tables. Here is my challenge to people here that care deeply about truth - listen to Driscoll's latest message and see what he has to say. Was it comedic? Was it a gimmick? Was he expositing?"

Really???

Here is my challenge to anyone questioning the validity of another's ministry. Verify ALL things by the infallible Word of God. If the bible is against such or does not support such teaching then it should not be accepted as normative for the Church. This challenge, however, would not be accepted in many of the groups represented in the YRR crowd. With so-called "new revelation" driving many of their ministries coupled with the latest urgings to not listen to notable Christian leaders from the past biblical authority is not very...authoritative.

Here is an example of unbiblical teaching: Mark Driscoll has a series on Spiritual Warfare. In the teaching series he explains in detail how he personally converses with demon spirits. He says in one instance (and there are numerous instances): " ...I then ask who sent you, and I check all this over and over by the white throne (huh?), invariably its Satan..."

In my opinion this self-aggrandizing nature serves to elevate him above and beyond the capacity of "normal Christians". This is demonstrative of an attitude that is prevalent in the Charismatic movement and is now really starting to take center stage with these YRR guys. The notion, however, that Christians carry on conversations and one on one battle with demons is reflective of New Apostolic Reformation ideology. It appears to me that these guys will grab whatever works to stay in the shock and awe lime light.

That is an honest assessment from one who does care deeply about the truth!

#27  Posted by Gene Coombs  |  Sunday, October 30, 2011at 11:26 AM

I agree that we should have the fear of God when we come to worship Him at the place we have set apart to call the house of God. We should reverence the time to preach the word of truth not profane the place or the time we have set aside to worship. I do have a question about your message. What do you mean by the statement: "God will rest too inconsequentially upon the church".

Thank You

#28  Posted by Robin Moore  |  Sunday, October 30, 2011at 1:05 PM

<<<<<>>>

Exactly! If church pastors can't be held accountable for appropriate discipleship and mentoring standards, then "the Church" will never maintain the ability to be salt and light to a lost world.

We have partnered in ministry with Walk in the Word for over 2 years and will be ending that partnership at the end of 2011. Partially due to the handling of the ER 1 (very disturbing how he chastised David Platt while letting Noble walk) and now the inviting of a false teacher to ER 2- we are done. Such a shame. Dr. MacDonald - you have a gift from God in teaching and preaching, we exhort you to use it wisely for His glory and no other's.

Thank you pastor MacArthur and staff for being willing and, more importantly obedient, to take on the tough job of delivering truth in love ...............even to other pastors. May God bless you all.

#29  Posted by Taylor Lett  |  Sunday, October 30, 2011at 7:15 PM

I'm sorry, I agree that there is a line, a point at which contextualization becomes Spirit-dismissive rather than Spirit driven, but getting there by equating a rock song with strange fire is poor exegesis at best.

Aaron's sons offered strange fire, presumably almost immediately after God laid down the very cut and dry law about what to burn before the Lord. They were smitten for disobeying explit instructions and scorning God's revealed right sacrifice.

Without hearing the full message, I can't speak for Noble, but it isn't a stretch to envision an easter message beginning with that song and moving into something along the lines of 'has not one of your own prophets said...?' and continuing to lay out the reality of Hell, and the plan of salvation.

We all contextualize. We are all pragmatic. To my knowledge there aren't an awful lot of sermon's preached in Ancient Hebrew or Koine Greek. Grace to You uses modern tech to spread it's views. You even used sarcasm, a western convention, and modern vernacular in this article. Unfortunately, when we recognize that as a spectrum rather than two points, it requires a little more grace and thought than just calling someone a sinner for contextualizing things we wouldn't.

I don't think Paul's example gives us carte blanche to create seeker driven churches, but he did use sporting events, war, slavery, idols, and racist pagan poets in his writings. The key to contextualizing is making Jesus shine by the example rather than masking His reality.

#30  Posted by Russell Laurea  |  Sunday, October 30, 2011at 8:18 PM

Have we quickly forgotten how much we all utterly need God's grace. I am by no means justifying what these men are doing and why they are doing it, but for those who quickly and easily pass judgement from a 5 minute clip or some bad information on some of these men have some self examination to do. Not to be self righteous or arrogant but wouldn't you rather stop and pray for these men instead of spending 5-10 minutes posting a response filled with judgement? I know most of us here are merely pointing out our views and opinion but if we want to talk about sin how about we examine the condition of our heart as we type our responses and write our articles. If we want to rebuke these men why not send them personal emails or some how meet them face to face to discuss these situations. I am sorry Travis, I am a daily reader of your articles and I enjoy them but if you read the bulk or of the responses aren't you a bit concerned that you might lead some to sin in causing the passing of judgement? May God bless you brother.

In Christ,

Russell

#31  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Monday, October 31, 2011at 5:54 AM

#30 Russell Laurea

There is only one truth - the Bible. It is Holy and perfect, and teaches us everything we need to know about God and how to be saved and live as Christians in love.

Only the truth matters, because it is a matter of life or death eternally.

THEREFORE – If people speak blasphemous against what God clearly says, it will have consequences, because it keeps you from the truth. We MUST speak the truth as intended by God, and demand that our brothers do the same.

You will never be able to live righteous and be a true believer if you are not hungering and thirsting for the truth. We are to become like Christ – right?

About how to address an erroneous person, the Bible gives some guidelines:

1) Go to your brother and tell him his fault

2) If he won’t listen, bring others (Maybe he don’t like you)

3) Tell the whole church, so they all can plead with him

4) (Pray it never comes to this point)

#32  Posted by Robin Moore  |  Monday, October 31, 2011at 6:16 AM

Taylor -I did see the entire Elephant Room video, all 6 hours of it and more than once actually. I don't think the whole scenario of the topic discussed has been represented here, but I would encourage both you and Russell to consider Travis' comments regarding Perry Noble's attitude and openness to rebuke - in short, he wasn't. This is also apparent in several videos available on the internet in which he is preaching at his church.......with the same in-your-face "this is who I am and how I do it" attitude.

As far as not "judging" - we are most certainly called to judge AND expose false teachers. Of course we should pray for them and those who are being taught by them, but this is not an either/or but rather a both/and.

Having been raised as a child (am now a much more informed 49 yo) within the Mennonite community, I am all too familiar with the damages done by false teachers. To not judge and expose is NOT the loving, Christ-like thing to do, Russell.

#33  Posted by Patrick Driscoll  |  Monday, October 31, 2011at 6:44 AM

#30 Russell --- I can't answer for everyone who responded but I for one have not forgotten how much I need Gods grace nor do my opinions come from "a 5 minute video clip or some bad information"

as you suggest. I completely agree with your admonition to "examine the condition of our heart" because when we do that in the light of Gods Word, the Holy Spirit leads us to repentance and changed behavior. If that is true for us in the pew, then how much more for those in leadership? Regarding your suggestion to rebuke these men in personal e-mails or face to face discussions, good luck with that. I could be wrong but I believe they would laugh it off and scoff at the notion that they need to repent.

#34  Posted by Blake Gentry  |  Monday, October 31, 2011at 11:11 AM

While his intentions may be honest, the negative implications most certainly outweigh the positives in this situation. He may be trying to reach the lost, but what is he potentially doing to his own flock in the process?

"...whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." -Matthew 18:6

We also can't forget that every time we gather to worship, it is primarily to bring glory to God and to edify believers, not to bring in the lost. By all means, bring them in and preach the Gospel to them, but don't let your attempt to appeal to outsiders cause you to starve your flock.

#35  Posted by Russell Laurea  |  Monday, October 31, 2011at 11:35 AM

Rudi- I agree we must continually and constantly eat of the nourishment of God's word and strive in becoming more Christ-like

Robin- Thank you for the correction and your thoughts but can you give me scripture reference that we should judge them? Yes we should expose them for their false teaching as what Travis did and I don't disagree with the article but my argument was that maybe he is leading some to sin by causing some to pass judgement in pointing out the speck in another person's eye . I also know that by their fruits we can know them but I can't help but remember James 4:11. Believe me, my home church was almost destroyed by false teaching and yes we rebuked, corrected and exposed and it was ultimately God who pruned and dealt with those who were teaching false doctrine.

Patrick- Thanks for your response and yes I also thought about how they would respond to rebuke especially by someone they do not know. I also believe it is the responsibility of men like Piper, MacArthur, and probably even Sproul etc. not because of their spiritual stature or positsion but because these men have close enough relationships with Driscoll, and Mcdonald and the others to openly rebuke them. I believe Piper rebuked Driscoll before openly though i don't know how he responded. Whether they listen or not, we are all accountable to God for every idle word we speak or what we don't speak. I would end this discussion by just saying lets take care of our responsibility of building up firm disciples within our perspective ministries and be good stewards of the Gospel entrusted to us, and live out 1st Corinthians 10:31.

In Christ,

Russell

#36  Posted by Jesse Jackson  |  Monday, October 31, 2011at 1:03 PM

Travis Allen: Director of Internet Ministry,

I respect GTY opinions and insight so I will respectfully ask if you have contacted James MacDonald or any of the Elephant Room 1 Pastors regarding the issue you have addressed in your post?

If you haven't I would have to ask why?

If you haven't I would have to ask is calling out a brother in public Biblical? - before going to them first and discussing a Sin issue (Paul confronting Peter - Galations 2:11-21) This was done face to face before Paul wrote it in a letter.

Maybe I know nothing, and shouldn't have posted this, but a post like this should be used for direct discernment after the blogger has confronted face to face the person that needs discipline. By not doing so, it creates HATE, and LARGE divisions in the CHURCH. Yes, I said church, for James, Mark, Steve, Greg, David, Perry and Matt are all my brothers, and if you are in Christ they are yours as well. It is better to rebuke in love and build up, so that we can rejoice in repentance and restoration, than to put them on the outside of the wall because they did something different, and the outside world want nothing to do with Jesus because they don't see Him, but us acting like Pharisees.

I encourage Travis to contact them, at least James, and talk it out as Brothers - then Re-Post, so that others may be taught, encouraged, and discipled.

Thanks for your heart to advanced the Kingdom.

Jesse

#37  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Monday, October 31, 2011at 2:16 PM

Paul rebuking so strongly the Galatians would find no grace from some of you who ask for love and being tolerant. Nope. Paul would had been called unloving, uncaring, even not a Christian and who knows what else.

Also, I find it interesting that it is assumed that he who rebukes is the one who doesn't ever pray. As if there was only two options: either the person rebukes (hence they are not praying) or prays and be quiet. Again, should I bring our brother Paul to your minds?

As for those who request a private approach to public matters, can you tell me why? If Paul publicly rebuked Peter to his face because of a public matter, why can't we talk about public matters in public media?

Jesse... Paul confronted Peter publicly. Where do you get the idea that the rebuke was private? Galatians 2:14 says "[...] I said to Cephas IN THE PRESENCE OF ALL, [...]" (caps mine).

Russell... following your reasoning... did you contact Travis before posting your comment here? Did you pray for Travis before wasting your time posting here?

It would do this conversation REAL good if some of you could just stay on topic. I suggest if you have problems as to how Travis or gty should approach the important issues discussed in this blog post, you take it to them privately (as per your own "ethics"), instead of diverting the real issue into something else. Thanks.

#38  Posted by Russell Laurea  |  Monday, October 31, 2011at 3:30 PM

-Elaine-

Please Re-read my responses. If you see my focus and my concern it is on the sin of passing judgement. As a matter of fact I did pray for Travis and no I did not contact Travis and if He places his email openly somewhere on this site I would gladly bring this conversation into privacy and deal with the concern I have on a personal level. Elaine if what I have written in any of my post offended you in anyway or has stumbled anyone who has read it I do apologize. I see the matter at hand and the direct topic Travis sought to address and like you said to follow my own ethics this will be my last post, and lastly I agree with open rebuke, but what if this manner of open rebuke causes another to stumble, or worse yet cause another to sin and that is my concern that I seek to be answered? Thank you Elaine for your thoughts. May God bless you sister.

In Christ,

Russell

#39  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Monday, October 31, 2011at 4:14 PM

# 38, Russell,

Every comment posted here goes through the moderators. It's very easy to get a hold of them.

The Gospel, which is the truth of God, is a stumbling block for many people. It offends a lot of people. Have you ever offended anyone with the Gospel? I have. It's not a comfortable place to be. Ultimately we all come to a point where we must consider who are we going to serve, who are we afraid of, God or men?

I suggest to you that what you see as a personal offense taking place here, it's only exposing the truth. These matters are vital to the church of Jesus Christ, the truth is vital. If anyone, in coming to the hearing of truth, is offended, what are we to do? I assure you that in the issue at hand many people are being offended, and it's not the ones that you seem to care so much for.

Aren't we to feel offended when the truth and the Gospel are being dragged in mud like a joke? I mean, Perry Noble is not offending us when he offends God? It should offend us! But some worry about hurting the feelings or offending those who offend THE Almighty? Something is really wrong with Christians.

Isn't James McDonald offending us, the body of Christ, when he calls a heretic (TD Jakes) a brother? Isn't he putting the truth on the stake here, the truth of a triune God? And we sit and worry about hurting James McDonald with our words of strong disagreement?

Slaves that won't fight for their Master and His Word aren't worthy of being called by His Name.

#40  Posted by Taylor Lett  |  Monday, October 31, 2011at 4:56 PM

#32 Robin,

I think you misunderstood me. My suggestion was not to watch the whole elephant room, but to consider the potential context of the song HtH in a church service.

Perry Noble's attitude was not the central issue of Travis' article, rather whether or not God's Word contradicted his actions, and the implications in greater church life.

I don't think it does, based first on the context of the verse, and second some of the crude examples we see throughout the Bible of sin and it's consequences. That song could be well used given the right circumstances to highlight Jesus inserting Himself into a fallen creation that was quite literally on the Highway to Hell. Again, it is difficult to call this sin when we see Paul making use of idols, fighters, and pagan poets in the most sacred of teachings.

So, again, was it sin? Maybe. But it wasn't sin because of the song, rather the possible use, context, and motivation.

#41  Posted by Taylor Lett  |  Monday, October 31, 2011at 5:49 PM

#37 Elaine,

Maybe he wouldn't (Paul find grace from some). At the same time, let's not pit Paul against himself. He used strong language about sin (and good works). He used what could be deemed inappropriate cultural examples. He condemned false teachers, but praised God when real Jesus was preached, even from impure motives. Jakes aside, I don't think we can use fractured Paul to create a theology of condemnation for the Elephant Room in general.

#42  Posted by Dorcas Maldonado  |  Tuesday, November 01, 2011at 9:30 AM

I am so grateful for the ministry of GTY. Thank you Travis for your blog. Reading your comments further encouraged me to get into God's Word. In our culture and the days that we live in it is not enough to believe something is wrong. We need to know what God's Word says about it. Little devotionals simply do not prepare us to stand for the Truth and against satan's lies. Thank you for so clearly pointing out the error of using the base things of this world to lead people to our glorious Savior and for using God's Word so effectively.

#43  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Tuesday, November 01, 2011at 1:43 PM

Aaron Baykov:

Greetings, brother. Good to hear from you.

One thing I'd like to address in your thoughtful comment is this: "Another prevalent detail in the direction of these comments regarded fear of God and using secular means. Can it be fairly stated that not all things secular are ungodly?"

While it could be argued that "not all things secular are ungodly," AC/DC's song, "Highway to Hell" is clearly ungodly.

It's a mark of spiritual immaturity to see how far we can go before crossing the line, and it's a mark of spiritual maturity to see how close we can come to pleasing Christ, who is the Lord of His church, with everything we think, say, and do in the company of HIs blood-bought saints.

That's all we're trying to say in the post. Thanks for your comment.

Travis

#44  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Tuesday, November 01, 2011at 1:57 PM

Anthony Huy (#16):

I appreciate your concern, Tony, but my comment about Noble's take on Acts 17 (Paul quoted rock stars) and Matthew 2 (God used astrology) had nothing to do with arrogant pronouncements of condemnation.

At the same time, I do want readers to know how I think about his use of those passages to justify his actions. I chose the word "sophomoric" because I think the definition fits Noble as one who comes across as "intellectually pretentious, overconfident, conceited and immature."

An accurate understanding of either text (and if you've seen the video, you know I'm being kind to set aside his use of Isaiah 20) does not support his conclusion: "God meets people where they are and brings them to where He is."

I'd like to see Noble go deep into Scripture and come out with a more soberminded approach to the church of Jesus Christ. Like all of us, Noble will be judged by Christ for everything he does and doesn't do in that church.

That's a thought that sobers me, anyway.

Travis

#45  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Tuesday, November 01, 2011at 2:20 PM

Gene Coombs:

The statement "God will rest too inconsequentially upon the church" is a reference to what David Wells wrote in his book God in the Wasteland."

It's a theme that runs throughout his four-book series (No Place for Truth, God in the Wasteland, Losing Our Virtue, and Above All Earthly Powers) that the modern church has become relatively unconcerned about the glory, holiness, and majesty--in a word, the weightiness--of God.

By failing to think carefully and deeply about the God we claim as our own, His truth has rested upon us and our churches in a shallow, superficial way (i.e., too inconsequentially). We skip along with our church growth shenanigans, using innovative approaches to find "new ways of doing church."

We don't need new ways. We need to return to Scripture and take it seriously. We need to fear and respect the Word of our Father in Heaven. He is our Father, yes, but He is also in heaven and deserves our worship in holy reverence.

My prayer is that the evangelical church once again begins to feel His weight, and that He rests consequentially upon us.

Hope that helps.

Travis

#46  Posted by Skyalr Hartman  |  Tuesday, November 01, 2011at 2:20 PM

I just watched this video before finding this article. I was jumping out of my skin, literally. The fact that Noble played that song didn't irritate me as much as McDonald saying what he did was wrong but affirming him in doing so at the same time.

I'm 21, do I really need to walk up there and tell it to you straight? Sure McDonald said it was an evil song but it wasn't a sin to play that evil song in a church setting?

And I was wondering why John MacArthur wasn't asked to go on. I guess he would have given it to 'em straighter than they'd like.

I'm still frustrated.

Thanks for the article Travis,

Sky

#47  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Tuesday, November 01, 2011at 2:36 PM

Taylor Lett (#29):

By what you've said, I'm not seeing the problem with my exegesis of Leviticus 10. I think I've understood the meaning of that text. You seem to be taking issue with the principle I've drawn from that text, and my application of it to what Noble did in his church. But your argument isn't over interpretation, is it?

I'm having a difficult time understanding how you're more concerned with my exegesis--which I could assume comes from your sincere desire to get God's Word right, which I could assume comes from a fear of the Lord--than you are with someone who didn't merely quote from the song (as Paul quoted philosophers), but actually had his band play the song as part of a worship service.

If the Lord killed Nadab and Abihu for violating His clear command, what does He think about Noble who wanted to play the music and sing the lyrics of a rock band that glories in rebellion against God? Please, Taylor. Be reasonable.

"I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says, 'Jesus is accursed!'" The Spirit of God did not lead Perry Noble to worship the Lord Jesus Christ by playing "Highway to Hell" for the assembly of His saints. That song makes a mockery of the fear of God, which is exactly what Noble did by playing it in church.

It's not my place to condemn Noble. That's not what I'm doing. I'm calling on him to repent. I've confessed and repented for foolish things I've done, as have other Christians. So, why can't he?

Travis

#48  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Tuesday, November 01, 2011at 2:50 PM

Jesse Jackson:

No, I haven't contacted the men from ER1 to rebuke them and call them to repentance. I'm responding in a public forum to what they published in a public forum, which is fair and square. There is no written rule that requires me to contact them privately about what they have published publically.

And I take exception to you saying my post causes division in the church. That's not true (cf. 1 Kings 18:17). Truth is the basis for Christian unity, so calling brothers back to fidelity to God's Word is not causing division, but rather is an effor to strive for true unity.

Travis

#49  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Tuesday, November 01, 2011at 4:18 PM

Taylor Lett (#40):

Are you really saying there is no difference between "Paul making use of idols, fighters, and pagan poets," and playing AC/DC's song "Highway to Hell" as part of a worship service?

If you are, then Acts 17 has to be one of the most misunderstood, misused, or both passages in the NT in our day. Here's what's going on in Acts 17:16-34:

(1) Mars Hill was not a church worship service (v. 22).

(2) Paul called the Athenians "religious," and that wasn't a compliment (v. 22).

(3) Paul's reference to the inscription on the pagan altar demonstrated two things: they were religious, which testified to the sensus divinitatus, and they were ignorant, which testified to their condemnation. Paul doesn't commend, he indicts and instructs (v. 23).

(4) Paul quoted Epimenides and Aratus, not to show he was down with the culture, but to demonstrate the accountability of his audience to God as their Creator (vv. 28-29).

So, if Paul judged all the idols, the inscriptions, and the quotes from poets and philosophers as the product of "the times of ignorance" (v. 30), you really think he'd back you up in wanting to feature that stuff into a Christian worhsip service?

Travis

#50  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Tuesday, November 01, 2011at 4:58 PM

#29 (Taylor)

You said "Aaron's sons offered strange fire, presumably almost immediately after God laid down the very cut and dry law about what to burn before the Lord. They were smitten for disobeying explit instructions and scorning God's revealed right sacrifice. ", presumably to say that only breaking explicit laws of God is a sin and that Travis was incorrect in applying it to the song which isn't explicitly condemned in the Scripture.

I contend that Travis's use is accurate based on 1 Samuel 21 and Matthew 12:3,4 et al. It has always been about the heart and having a fear and holy reverance for God. Nadab and Abihu not only broke the law, but in doing so showed a lack of reverance and fear of the Lord (and implicitly love for God I would add). Leviticus 10:3 says it all "I will be sanctified...I will be glorified", not "you didn't mix the proper oils and spices..."

#51  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, November 02, 2011at 6:42 AM

I see what video meant.. Even without caption.. I see some subtiles. Ok, back to the point.. Christianity is not to debate as those two in the video are doing.. It's like putting strange fire on the altar like Nadab and Abihu did..

Being into the culture is being comfortable and easy-going. Jesus commands us not to be slack in anything or anytime...

Taylor,

about Paul and his harsh speaking.. Paul is right for the Holy Spirit was speaking through him as he was preaching to the lost like to the Athenians.

Two difference with judging and disernment the Paul use. Jesus said in the scripture that when we rebuke someone, we must first take the plank out of our eye, then remove the plank out of the person's eye. Good point there.

God bless.

#53  Posted by Taylor Lett  |  Wednesday, November 02, 2011at 8:27 AM

#47 Travis,

You said:

"Whatever it was—and this is the principle the Spirit intends for us—the fire was strange; it didn’t belong, it wasn’t fitting or appropriate.

Nadab and Abihu died because they made a bad judgment call in their ministry. They were innovative rather than submissive, and by so doing they publically diminished the holiness, the separateness, the otherness of God. That was sinful."

Again, I do ultimately disagree with your interpretation, therefore your principle.

The focus on this text, as you rightly noted, is not what the fire was. The focus is on what it wasn't. It wasn't the approved sacrifice ordained by God.

The sin of Nadab and Abihu wasn't innovation. It was the sin of the Tower of Babel. Men tried to reach God on their terms instead of accepting God's provisional intervention into their lives.

Based on that interpretation, the principle for church today is that God has now provided once for all His effective means for salvation in the offering of Jesus Christ. Nothing else may be offered or ever could To suggest a different sacrifice would be to commit the sin of Nadab and Abihu.

As far as innovation versus submission, it appears that you are setting up a false dichotomy between the two. It is possible to innovate submissively, to tell anew what He has done for us without changing the story itself.

It seems like you agree with that to an extent. If I understand correctly, you suggest Noble could have quoted from the song as an illustration, but not played it in its entirety. I disagree. I don;t understand how that can make sense. It would be like showing part of a painting, but not allowing the whole thing.

I agree that if Pastor Noble intended the song solely as worship without context, it would be sinful. But I listened to the full sermon and that's not how it went. He used it to judge the values it preached, much like Paul per your reply in #49. In other words, calling the song worship is misleading if you neuter the context. It would be more accurate to call it a graphic sermon illustration.

So it looks like our disagreement is threefold. First we have a different interpretation of the focus of the passage, second we disagree on the amount of freedom we have to use negative examples for illustrations, and third about on or not the context of an example ought to be considered.

#54  Posted by Timothy Yakich  |  Wednesday, November 02, 2011at 8:59 AM

I'm 48 y.o. I was saved on October 18, 2009. I listened to heavy metal (Rush, Led Zepp, et. al.), acid rock (Pink Floyd, YES, etc.) and comtemporary rock (Journey, etc.) I was attending churh sporatically and was enjoying the contemporary Christian music but not "Listening" to the sermons much. Truthfully, I tell you, it was the sermon that morning (Oct. 18) that brought me to Christ. NOT the music, not the nice atmmosphere...THE WORD!! And I've been studying and reading the Bible ever since. It was nothing quirky or cool...it was God's inerrant word. These pastors/preachers need to emulate John MacArthur to see how a real man of God properly glorifies our Lord!!

BTW, I listen ONLY to Christian music now. Praise the Lord!!

#55  Posted by Timothy Yakich  |  Wednesday, November 02, 2011at 9:03 AM

PLEASE READ EPHESIANS CHAPTER 1: VERESE 9 - 14

#56  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Wednesday, November 02, 2011at 10:50 AM

Taylor Lett (#53):

I've done a little reading on Lev. 10:1-3, and I've never come across the interpretation you've put forth here. Perhaps Nadab and Abihu were careless, and not intentional about offering the strange fire, but many commentators see them as intentional in their act.

Nevertheless, one point that cannot be overlooked is that these two men did what the Lord had not commanded them. You wouldn't say God commanded Perry Noble to perform AC/DC's song in the church worship service, would you? Some would say that since God didn't command him not to perform the song, it's completely up to Perry.

That's where I think there's another point that cannot be overlooked. What was the takeaway lesson from the incident with Nadab and Abihu? Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said, ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’”

Perry Noble did not treat a service of worship to the Lord Jesus Christ with the soberminded dignity and honor it deserved by performing AC/DC's "Highway to Hell." Since Jesus Christ is "holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens" (Heb. 7:26), the songs of wicked rebellion have no place in a service dedicated to Him--they are unfitting, unbecoming, and strange; they are that which God does not command.

If you, Noble, and others think it does sanctify and glorify Jesus Christ to perform secular rock songs in church worship services, then, well...as they say, "Good luck with that."

Travis

#57  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Wednesday, November 02, 2011at 11:25 AM

Taylor writes regarding Nadab and Abihu,

The focus on this text, as you rightly noted, is not what the fire was. The focus is on what it wasn't. It wasn't the approved sacrifice ordained by God.

The sin of Nadab and Abihu wasn't innovation. It was the sin of the Tower of Babel. Men tried to reach God on their terms instead of accepting God's provisional intervention into their lives.

I am not sure what you are getting at here. One difficulty with your point is that the Tower of Babel is a bad comparison, because Genesis 11 tells us that God scattered the people because they were dwelling in one place rather than spreading out over the earth. There may had been false religion implied in Genesis 11, but God wasn't breaking them up because of false religion.

When we come to Leviticus, nothing in the text suggests that Nadab and Abihu were trying to reach God on their terms, or in other words, create an alternative sacrificial system. They were directly violating what God explicitly commanded the priest to do when they attended to the rituals of the tabernacle. Many commentators on this passage suggest what Travis wrote, that they were being innovative or modifying the commands about the procedures regarding the offering of the sacrifice. Other think it may have been simple carelessness on their part. Whatever the case, I am not seeing how you are getting that they were making up an entirely different sacrificial system and attempting to reach God on their own terms.

Fred

#58  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, November 02, 2011at 2:52 PM

Excerpts from What to Look for in a Pastor by John MacArthur's.

July 15,2009 GTY 123

After reading or listening to this talk, you should come away realizing that Nadab and Abihu knew their responsibilities as priests. They chose to redefine those responsibilities. It cost them their lives before they were able to suck others in.

JM: Now remember, Jesus is the greatest teacher who ever lived; the greatest preacher who ever lived. They said of Him, “Never a man spoke like this man.” If anybody could pull it off with the nonbelievers, He could. If anybody knew the hot-buttons, wow! He even said, “He needed not anybody to tell Him what was in the heart of a man, because He knew what was in the heart of a man,” because He was omniscient. If anybody knew what they were thinking, He did. He knew exactly what they were thinking. He could find the path, and yet, when it was all said and done, there were a few hundred believers in Galilee, and 120 believers in Jerusalem, and the nation rose up and executed Him, murdered Him.

So if you think somehow, that if YOU ARE CLEVER ENOUGH, you can overpower this market resistance, Jesus didn't, and He was grieved, and He wept at the sinfulness of sin and the hardness of heart. I preached yesterday morning on Mark chapter 3 where it says “He was angry, and grieved at their hardness of heart.”

So, if you want to have a successful church full of nonbelievers, lie to them. But as soon as you start unpacking the truth, they'll bring you down, or they'll be gone. No sense really trying to concoct a message to overpower that natural sinful hostility. They are dead in trespasses and sin. They are blind. They are doubly blind, having been blinded by the god of this world, 2Corinthians 4. Fallen man's thoughts naturally correspond to the thoughts of Satan, not of God.

We're tasked, aren't we, then with the holiness of the church? Paul put it this way in Galatians 4:19, and I think this is where we have to go as pastors to evaluate our ministry. He said this, “My children, with whom I am again in labor,” That's the term for birth pains, “Until Christ is formed in you.” That's a pastoral mandate.

So you keep preaching it and you keep preaching it, and you keep calling them to a higher standard, and you say it a new way and another way, and a fresh way and a different way. If you've preached to the same people for 40 years . . . imagine that! That's like a death sentence for them. Come on! How about a little variety? And how are you going to get them to listen to you week after week after week, year after year, decade after decade? How do you get them to listen to you? You come at it in the magnificent variety in which the Scripture reveals the same truths in all the different passages and parts. And you come at it from all the facets and angles that the Scripture comes at it. And it comes, and even though it's familiar truth, it's fresh in its presentation. The battle never ends, year after year, after year.

#59  Posted by Taylor Lett  |  Wednesday, November 02, 2011at 6:58 PM

Travis,

I'm sorry, In my original comment, my word choice was terrible. Rather than 'poor exegesis at best' which is vague, rudish, and rhetorical, I ought to have clarified. To do that now, I think your exegesis was incomplete, which led to an incorrect application.

I agree that they did what God had not commanded them and thereby insulted His holiness. It would be incomplete to stop there. We need to consider the significance of the sin and the situation.

Matthew Henry speaks of this and notes that their priesthood was only effective as it 'was typical of Christ's priesthood, in the execution of which there never was, nor can be, any irregularity, or false step taken.'

I've already mentioned why that reading doesn't lend itself to your application, but it seems like we're talking past each other there. I just wanted to apologize for my words and clarify what I intended.

#60  Posted by Jason Johnston  |  Wednesday, November 02, 2011at 7:01 PM

Really? Is the Holy Spirit tired of using scripture to convict people? So instead He resorts to demonicaly influenced music? Is this blasphemy of the Holy Spirit or what? Doctrines of demons? A false religion to decieve even the ELECT if that were possible? Are we there yet,oh yes sir,we are there.

but this reminds me of a local church that used the video game Guitar Hero to get youth to come,they battled it out and whoever could play Van Halens' Hot for Teacher the best won an amplifier! Wow,I wonder if we could change the words to "hot for sunday school teacher"? and maybe sing it during the invitation?

I would also like to mention a youth camp I went to were the praise band played Sweet Home Alabama at the start of every service. It was fun at the time but I look back with shame.

#61  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Wednesday, November 02, 2011at 7:39 PM

#60 (Jason)

Amen.

#62  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Thursday, November 03, 2011at 10:04 AM

Taylor Lett (#59):

Thanks for the clarification/apology, Taylor. Have a great day, my friend.

Travis

#63  Posted by Denise Grimes  |  Thursday, November 03, 2011at 4:38 PM

Travis said, "I’ll go on record as saying I think what Perry Noble did was a sin. It doesn’t have to do with his motives (God knows and judges motives, not me; 1 Cor. 4:5). It has to do with what he did, what he intentionally planned and performed in a worship service."

I so agree (on that and much more, really). After all, Uzzah had good intentions of saving the Ark of the Covenant from falling to the ground from the cart, but he disobeyed God by moving the cart HIS way. Instead he as a priest used the pagan way. God was angry with this.

#64  Posted by Lisa Teel  |  Friday, November 04, 2011at 1:14 AM

I think the story in Judges 17 & 18 is a good example of what is happening today. People taking a little bit of the world and a little bit of God and mixes them all up. They think they have something that pleases the Lord. Human thinking and social conditions that says everyone does what they think is right in their own eyes. This man is clearly delighted with himself and proud of what he has done. Sad!

Would anyone else agree with this application of scripture here?

In Christ,

Lisa

#66  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, November 04, 2011at 5:49 PM

Amen, Lisa.