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Thursday, October 28, 2010 | Comments (62)

Which job should I pursue? How do I spend this money? Which person should I marry? What church should I attend?

Big or little, we’re making decisions every day, and many times throughout the day. The choices we make as free agents demonstrate a major outworking of the imago dei; it’s one of the main ways we bear God’s image. And as Christians, we are constantly mindful of our mandate and greatest desire to live every moment for the glory of God.

But do we? How do we know we’re living for the glory of God, making the right decisions?

It seems increasingly common to hear of Christians who profess a desire to live for God’s glory, but also seem relatively unconcerned about knowing if they’ve followed God’s will. They seem at ease, unperplexed, and confident about decision-making. Why? Because, they say, God is speaking to them, telling them what He wants them to do.

Now that the rabid subjectivism of charismatic theology has thoroughly saturated the broad but shallow ground of evangelicalism, it’s bearing some ugly fruit. It showed up in Blackaby and King’s Experiencing God books as a mystical approach to decision-making. Rick Warren chimed in with his first blockbuster, The Purpose-Driven Church, instructing us to catch God’s wave, and ride it out. (Cowabunga.)

But those guys are complete amateurs compared with this younger crop of mystics. It has become fairly commonplace nowadays to hear how God told someone to plant a church, make a strategic decision, and even leave a church. Here are a few recent examples:

  • God told this guy to plant a church in a gay bar.

  • God guided this church planter with prophetic dreams and visions, which eventually led him to plant a church in a former night club; according to the video, they were trying to get one of the go-go dancer cages back to use as a coat rack.

  • And finally, God told this guy to leave his ministry, wander the cities of the earth, and listen for the Spirit to tell him what his next move is going to be. Even sympathetic friends were scratching their heads about his new direction.

The sad thing is, those men are all shepherds, influential pastors who are leading entire congregations into the darkness of their own subjectivism. Would they advocate the same approach to personal decision-making they’ve used to make ministry decisions? If not, why not? If so, doesn’t anyone see how reckless that is?

All that aside, here’s the good news: you can make decisions with bold confidence, knowing you stand on the firm ground of objective truth. God’s Word is clear, and it has a lot to say about knowing His will.

You want to know how to follow God’s will and live for His glory? Stick around, and don’t touch that dial—”Following God’s Will” is coming up next on the GTY Blog.


Travis Allen
Managing Director


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#1  Posted by Tom Fogarty  |  Thursday, October 28, 2010at 8:39 PM

Cowabunga? Stick around, and don't touch that dial? What is this, the 50s?!

Maybe if you don't learn from the theology of these guys you insult, you could at least learn a little bit about how they reach this generation. I know the Word is what this generation really needs, and I think these guys know that too. None of the men you've insulted here would tell anyone to throw out their Bibles and listen to God's voice outside of the Word.

One thing of note is you haven't once used God's Word in this post to either correct your "opponents" or to back up what you're saying. If you believe what you're saying, I'd prefer to see you magnify God through His Word rather than attempt to ridicule Godly men like Driscoll, Chan, and other important figures in this generation of Christianity.

I did however, find this post challenging and it gave me something to think about.

Thank you

#2  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Thursday, October 28, 2010at 10:21 PM

Thanks for stopping by to comment, Tom. You'll have to forgive the tongue-in-cheek 50s references...I don't know what got into me.

Yes, I'll be the first to admit these guys know a lot about reaching this generation. They are new media savvy, and I appreciate how adept they've been at getting their message out.

But that's right at the heart of our concern. What is this generation learning from these men? What they do, not merely what they say, is a better barometer for what they truly believe. And that's true for all of us, isn't it? The methodology we practice says more about our belief system and worldview than the theology we profess.

"A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher" (Luke 6:40). Students often learn more from the way their teachers live than what they teach—they mimic their habits, follow their methods, and learn how they make decisions. So, that’s what we think is at stake.

As for using God's Word to instruct, correct, and support our points, you’re absolutely right. We’ll get to that in upcoming posts; this post was meant merely to introduce the series.

Finally, if you’re taking away any insult from this post, keep in mind that I’ve merely challenged what these men have said. If challenging someone’s words is insulting, you’d better put a helmet on.

Again, thanks for your comments. You made some good points and I look forward to hearing more from you.

#3  Posted by Scott Cunningham  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 5:12 AM

Travis,

What do you mean by "free agents" in the following sentence?

The choices we make as free agents demonstrate a major outworking of the imago dei; it’s one of the main ways we bear God’s image.

Scott......

#4  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 5:36 AM

Tom #1,

I think it is bit of an over reaction to say Travis was "ridiculing" these men. Since when does critiquing and questioning one's theological practice equate to ridicule?

These men invoke serious authority when they claim "God is telling me" thus and such. You had better be sure God is telling you such and such to make such dogmatic claims. Yet, what I see from them is a vague uncertainty. Chan, for example, says he has to go on some sort of walk about to determine where God wants him to minister next. Is God unclear? Why didn't God tell him in the first place? Why an entire year or more to discover God's will in matters of ministry especially when he already had a thriving ministry? This type of decision making process is alarming and it is troubling to see it being modeled for younger, less mature Christians as a means to true spirituality.

#5  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 6:23 AM

Scott,

By "free agents" I simply mean that when we make choices, we are choosing what we want and acting in accordance with what we want. No one is holding a gun to our head to make a decision or act against what we want.

I fully accept the notion that human freedom is limited to a certain set of boundaries (e.g., of sin, of creatureliness, of finitude).

Thanks for the clarifying question.

Travis

#6  Posted by Tim Mallon  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 9:18 AM

Hello,

I am just trying to understand your post. So you are saying the way, for example, that Francis articulates his move, that God is leading him, or that he feels this where God wants him, is not the way that he should say it? So instead, he should just say that He wants to move, or that the desire of his heart is to move and being Spirit-filled, walking with the Lord, that He is free to do that in God's will. Is that correct?

I remember Pastor Macarthur talking about fasting for his son for nine days and at the end of the nine days a lady brought him a sandwich who had never done so before, and that because of his prayers and relationship with the Lord, that he knew God was communicating to him that he could stop fasting. I think that these men, like Francis, are doing the same, in that, they believe that God's will is objective truth found in scripture and that it is not hard to find, and in prayer over their lives and the desires of their heart, they move toward those desires. Maybe they need to articulate that better though to avoid confusion of discovering God's will.

#7  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 9:44 AM

Tim,

My guess is if Francis said, "I'm leaving because I'm uncomfortable here and I'd rather do something else," there would certainly be a lot of discussion, but it would be different, and he wouldn't be included in this post. Instead, he has invoked divine authority for his decision which is unverifiable.

For Pastor MacArthur decided to stop fasting, we have to remember at least three things: 1) it was a unique situation that didn't involve decisions that affected anyone else, 2) he wasn't invoking divine authority for his decision, and 3) he referred to feeling peace about it, not hearing from God.

#8  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 9:53 AM

Tim,

Just to be clear, all I intended to accomplish in the post was to introduce a series. But good questions nonetheless, and here you go...

When someone uses the phrase, "God told me to do thus and such," he is going beyond what he can legitimately claim. He might as well say, "Thus saith the Lord (to me)," and if he’s prepared to be that bold, then he bears a huge burden of proof. No one should believe him or follow him until he proves it.

If he's not prepared to be that bold, then he should stick with, "This is what the Word of God teaches, and this is what I think I should do, or this is what I want to do, based on that teaching." That’s a humble way of admitting our own fallibility and limitations, and putting the onus of responsibility on ourselves for our endeavors.

My concern with saying, “God told me to” is that it puts a divine imprimatur on our desires, methodologies, plans, and strategies. Some who may question that approach but are too nervous, timid, or polite to press the point, they simply go along with it. Others begin to adopt the same kind of language for their endeavors, and speaking that way becomes contagious. It’s not helpful, and it often causes great distress and confusion in the spiritual lives of regular folks.

Thanks for your helpful question.

Travis

#9  Posted by Matthew Perry  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 10:52 AM

As a 25-year listener to Dr. MacArthur and GTY, I must confess how disappointed I was in this article. Having listened to Francis Chan on scores of occasions, I am saddened to see him lumped in and discounted as a mystic. His whole aim in life is to simply be consumed with Christ. He has said over and over that what is happening with him fits in to the overarching narrative of what happened in Acts. See this video (http://timmybrister.com/2010/10/25/the-weirdness-of-our-generation/). Brister also notes:

"Francis Chan talks about the weirdness of our generation and the areas incongruent with biblical Christianity. I hope we have enough humility and self-examination that we don’t have to wait until our generation passes to discover the things we have uncritically adopted which have little or nothing to do with the kind of Christian faith we see demonstrated in Scripture."

Chan has searched and discerned for a considerable amount of time how all this jibes with Holy Scripture and has never shied away from this. He has looked and examined and prayed to see if what is happening with him squares with what happened to men in Scripture.

#10  Posted by Matthew Perry  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 11:08 AM

And to follow up, after watching the video regarding the "gay bar," he seemed to say that the owner of the gay bar came to Christ, and that owner gave the guy that place to use for a new work! Should that be something one celebrates, rather than not tell it fully in order to make a point about something?

Again, long-time listener and prayerful supporter, but this and other items being sent out against others trying to make an impact for Christ, even if it may be off the conventional path is very concerning.

#11  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 11:17 AM

Matthew Perry writes under #9,

Chan has searched and discerned for a considerable amount of time how all this jibes with Holy Scripture and has never shied away from this. He has looked and examined and prayed to see if what is happening with him squares with what happened to men in Scripture.

I'll zero in on your last sentence. The difference with men in Scripture is that they knew with absolutely certainty what God was saying. God's Will was not revealed to them like a video game where a person has to unlock a series of clues in order to determine what God wants so as to move on to the next level. Chan's justification for his decision to throw this in the lap of God leading him sets a dangerous precedent for the immature believer.

#12  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 11:31 AM

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#13  Posted by Bill Ziegler  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 11:34 AM

I find the local Acts 29 churches remind me of the movie Wild In The Streets from 1968. That of course shows my age but it really is appropriate as the movie was based upon the younger generation telling the older generation you don't get it so get out of the way. "Fourteen or Fight" was changed to "Fifteen and Ready". Here's the end of the story; maybe not just the movie. Everyone either grows older or they die younger! In the movie it started with mandatory retirement centers (camps) for anyone over 35 and eventually the age was dropped to anyone over 30. The leaders were always guys in there 30's leading teens but one day the leader reached 35 and was too old and now considered washed up. Nothing new here. Every generation thinks it's wiser and better than their parents generation is or was. Acts 29 is so driven to not be legalistic (as their parents were) to such an extreme that they are incorporating their own brand

of legalism. They've also gone from business casual to slobs. There God is the God of holes (in their blue jeans) and that's not holy! History repeats itself generation to generation. Just finished 2 Kings this morning. Thank God for a few of the kings but most walk in the way of their fathers and did evil in the sight of the Lord.

#15  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 12:30 PM

Matthew,

The title of the video you mentioned is "Planting a Church in a Gay Bar in the Bible Belt," so, I think I have represented him fairly. And yes, I'd say that's just a bit off the "conventional path." That should concern you too.

But even more to the point of this post is that he's claiming God told him to do it. Doesn't that cause you to raise an eyebrow? Aren't you the least bit concerned about this "God told me to" language?

Travis

#16  Posted by Matthew Perry  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 1:30 PM

Travis:

The video clearly shows that this man felt that God was leading him to plant a church in that area and without provocation this owner who had come to know the Lord crossed his path and wanted to know if this man wanted to use this building which happened to be a former gay bar. Did you not watch the content of the video, or did you just see the provocative title and go from there? If not, that concerns me even more.

It's as if we are supposed to hold to the Scriptures, but if something happens to someone that squares with an experience of a Christ follower in the Scriptures, we dismiss it. You said, "The difference with men in Scripture is that they knew with absolutely certainty what God was saying. God's Will was not revealed to them like a video game where a person has to unlock a series of clues in order to determine what God wants so as to move on to the next level." Are you certain that this is what is happening? Are you certain that God did not open this path, and they are giving credit where credit is due? It seems that we are getting on them about being undiscerning about God's call, when we are doing the same thing toward them.

#17  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 1:40 PM

Matthew,

Which video are you talking about? Please be clear, because your accusations against me aren't making any sense.

For the record, I've watched everything I linked to, several times. So, please, no more insinuations about my lack of integrity.

Also, your second paragraph is in response to Fred Butler's comment, not mine.

Travis

#18  Posted by Tim Mallon  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 2:08 PM

Thanks Travis!

#20  Posted by Matthew Perry  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 4:16 PM

Travis:

Just to be clear--my comments were never intended to go after your lack of integrity. It was an inquiry. I was familiar with the background of the man's story which I've indicated above. I'm sorry if this disagreement in perspective like this seemed to infer you had a lack of integrity.

My apologies--I did intend that for Fred.

I have long been grateful to the ministry at GTY. Thanks to Dr. MacArthur's tapes which I first listened to in 1985 were used by God to help me cast my lot as an expositor. I pray he keeps on preaching another 40+ years, if God wills.

#21  Posted by Bill Ziegler  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 5:05 PM

Travis,

I would like to correct something that is amiss in opening post; "The sad thing is, those men are all shepherds"

(1) They are not shepherds.

(2) As Acts 29 church models have Sunday worship or Saturday evening worship and then small group meetings through the week. Prayer is only on the calendar maybe once a quarter or twice a year. In business the axiom is "you can't execute on a plain higher than you plan" and in the bible it teaches "you can't pray on a plain higher than your scripture reading, study, and meditation." If prayer is an after thought for a church what's that say? Ditto small groups when they leave the last 5 minutes for prayer. I asked another pastor of another church plant where that church has prayer as 1 of it's 4 pillars; "when's prayer?" since they too did the Sunday worship and then only small groups. He at least got the point and started scheduling prayer each Sunday before worship.

(3) Benny Hinn and other charismatics always say they have a direct word or revelation from God; does the company you keep matter?

(4) Larry the Cable guys says, "Walmart shoppers dress better!"

#23  Posted by Orlando Delgado  |  Friday, October 29, 2010at 7:44 PM

Hi, may the Lord continue his blessings towards this ministry of GTY. Some months ago I decided to cancel my membership at a local church all my family and I attended. We were very involved in the ministry; the pastoral family was great to us. When I started assisting this church, I had recently, in my house, asked the Lord for His forgiveness and for Him to accept me into his Glory. I became like a sponge absorbing everything ‘Christianity’ (TBN) had to offer. The services at this church were like an extension of TBN, meaning that certain people were speaking in the name of God (more like for God), others telling one another “the Holy Spirit told me to tell you.”

Something happened from the moment of my conviction that a hunger for the written Word of God awakened in me. The church leadership kept on bringing ‘prophets’ to fortune tell people ‘God’s Plan’ with them. Not to mention what God told the leadership they were to do. The situation became so scary to me when a person shouted from one corner of the worship room to the other telling the pastor that the Spirit had just told him that He was going to “fill-up all the chairs in the church with new members.” Later I learned that the pastor had recently resigned from his job to become a full-time-salaried pastor. All the messages were topical in nature with little to none bible exposition, but extra heavy in the music and repeating the same thing over and over, at same time the Spirit ‘speaking’ to them at their will.

Thanks to the solid teaching of Dr. MacArthur, Alistair Beg, RC Sproul, James McDonald, and J Vernon McGee, and more importantly the hunger for the written Word of God implanted in me by Sovereign Grace, I am no longer a member of that church and because of that solid teaching and reading I found a church that is strong in the teaching where my children are learning the Word of God in a biblical way.

All this is to say to be careful with those that speak for God, or God told them to tell you, or God told me I need to do this. Mathew records the words of Jesus in chapter 24:21-25, that speaks about this issue. When individuals ‘speak for God’ in the basis of “God told me to”, the parishioners tend to follow them because it is some sort of telling people there is Jesus in what He just told me.

God spoke to the prophets, and they wrote it down. Then God became flesh and spoke, and his life and words were written down by His followers. There is nothing really that needs adding; the book tells you how everything started, and how everything is going to end, and in the middle it tells you what must be done for salvation. What else do you need from God? I guess the point is, trust God by his spoken recorded Word, and believe in your very core that Jesus is Lord of your entire being, salvation will knock on your spiritual door. Be careful with these subjective, unverifiable revelations some are claiming.

#24  Posted by Craig Kidder  |  Saturday, October 30, 2010at 3:04 PM

Travis,

While I agree with that you are saying theologically, is the purpose of this blog post to help people understand God’s will or to warn them of pastors you think they need to be warned of? After reading this post it seemed to me that your purpose in this blog was to call out Chan, Driscoll, and company. I think that it is fine to do call people out, though I am just not sure that the Grace to You blog is an appropriate vehicle by which to do that. I think that if you were truly trying to help people understand God’s will you would attack faulty ideas (such as subjectivism) and not call out Pastors by name.

I also wonder what is the benefit of calling these Christian pastors out by name. These people are proclaiming the gospel and making disciples. They are calling for young men to be leaders in their families, and they champion expository preaching. Though you may disagree with them, is saying they are leading people into darkness really accurate? Surely we must protect the gospel and call out so called Christian teachers when their life and practice are against the gospel. If you are really trying to teach people to be discerning don’t you think it is a much better approach to teach against ideas. This blog advertised how to know God’s will, but I feel that the only thing people are going to be talking about is GTY’s “beef” with Acts 29.

I watched the Francis Chan interview with Harris and Driscoll. While I, like you disagree with Chan’s approach to making this decision, I think he really is trying to know God’s Will and is trying to honor Him with his decision. Don’t you think that someone like that should receive different treatment than what you have given him? He is not a false teacher. Francis Chan is one of you guys. He graduated from TMC and TMS. I believe the college still has a relationship with him. I know he spoke there 2 years ago.

I think that there is a clear lack of bold people in the church today and I am thankful for Macarthur and Johnson's boldness to proclaim the truth. However, when we are dealing with obviously born-again pastors we need to be firm but extend grace. If found out a ministry closely affiliated with my alma mater was calling me out as someone who is leading people to darkness, I would be hurt.

#25  Posted by Jorge Alvarado  |  Saturday, October 30, 2010at 9:22 PM

(for those who haven't seen the videos)

Mr. Early (the first one) said he thought God told him to get a job at a "gay rock and roll bar", then told him he was to plant a church there, and then came through with the plan, almost miraculously.

The second one (Pastor Tim), got "dreams and visions", went and got his Master's of Divinity, and opened a church in a most questionable part of town (though rather well placed strategically), and is now (or was then) becoming prosperous.

The third one (Mr. Chan), just says God's calling him to better things (hopefully), not knowing what's going on, or what's going to happen. All this AFTER starting and keeping a prospering church.

I find it interesting that the people interviewing these guests saw no need to ask for specific examples of "the calling" from them. This speaks more to a "If God told you, or showed you something, it must be right" mentality, which makes any doubting, or need for further explanation, necessary.

Re "The sad thing is, those men are all shepherds, influential pastors who are leading entire congregations into the darkness of their own subjectivism."

There IS a danger there, but, just as history has taught us, "You can't argue with success", right??

#26  Posted by Vince R.  |  Sunday, October 31, 2010at 11:07 AM

I fully understand the compexity of claiming to have had some divine encounter with God and how others may wonder why God is'nt speaking to them. I would definetly put anything I may think I have heard from God to the test of what is written in his word. If it doesnt match up then there is a problem. As for opening a church at a former gay bar, I see that as a victory. I say we we start a church in every former adult bookstore, gay bar, house of prostitution or any other ground that was given up to the devil. Lets take it all back and claim it for jesus. But thats just me talking, I didnt hear this from God, or at least I don't think so... :)

#27  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Sunday, October 31, 2010at 1:08 PM

Craig writes,

Francis Chan is one of you guys. He graduated from TMC and TMS. I believe the college still has a relationship with him. I know he spoke there 2 years ago.

I'm a graduate from TMS. I can testify that there are many individuals who are graduates who no longer "sync" with our point of view. Some have gone really off the beaten path while others not so much. That of course is fine if not full blown apostasy, and as you note, we extend to many of them grace. But the extension of grace does not mean we are prevented from naming them by name, particularly if they have a public ministry; nor does it mean we are prevented from saying their ideas are unbiblical or problematic if such are. We are under obligation to say so, especially if the person was once affiliated with us and now has a far reaching ministry.

#28  Posted by Shelley Sides  |  Sunday, October 31, 2010at 1:31 PM

Thanks Travis, for defining and supporting your original good point. It is such a relief to me. I think, and I am no scholar or anything, but if you do yourself what God tells you to do, you don't need to tell anyone. If you feel you need to tell someone, maybe you are upsetting others and want that as a defense. It is like a person who sins and when confronted says, "Oh it is not that bad you know I am a good Christian." It is using God's name to get out of fair confrontation. I believe you should never say, "God told me you should do so and so..." because I only think He tells me what I need to do to follow Him, I don't think God tells me what someone else should do, right? Well anyway I think this sounds interesting. Thanks for bringing it up.

#29  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Sunday, October 31, 2010at 1:57 PM

Craig,

Thank you for your questions, comments, and overall concern for the good reputation of GTY and this blog.

You believe "when we are dealing with obviously born-again pastors we need to be firm but extend grace." We agree. In fact, when the grace of God appeared, bringing salvation to us, it "instruct[ed] us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age."

In other words, grace is firm, and it sometimes hurts in order to heal. We care enough about the truth and the spiritual benefit of believers to say uncomfortable things, to confront and point out serious error. And the men cited in this post are in error on this issue, and they are leading many into the darkness of their own subjectivism.

Names, personalities, affiliations, associations, or whatever supposed merit exists in a particular ministry--none of that should put someone off limits. If there's a pattern of serious error, it's loving to confront it for the good of those under the influence of those men and their ministries.

Craig, if we shielded those affliated with TMC, TMS, GCC, and GTY from criticism and challenge--whenever they practice serious error--you'd be the first to cry "foul," wouldn't you? You should be.

Lastly, lest this get sidetracked to a discussion about one man, the point in "calling these Christian pastors out by name" is to inform, teach, instruct, and disciple other Christians. The men we used as counter-examples (how not to follow God's will) are by no means unexceptional in terms of their reach and influence. Many follow their manner of living, their ministry methodologies. These men don't have to be wolves to become the subjects of our warnings.

Again, thanks for raising your concerns. I hope that bit of explanation helps you see why we feel compelled to do what we do.

Travis

#30  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Sunday, October 31, 2010at 4:20 PM

I watched the interview with Francis Chan conducted by Mark Driscoll and Joshua Harris. Here are a few quotes from Francis Chan that should give clarity as to why there are concerns with his approach to decision making while holding the office of Pastor:

"I've read the Book. I got this theology in my head. I have all these thoughts and convictions. Let me just start something fresh with all of those convictions rather than constantly tweaking something that I may have possibly taken in the wrong direction for a little while."

"I don't even know where I'm going to end up...let me just erase some of this. Maybe there's more of a fog that I'm in than I realize."

"I just don't want to be deceived."

"Maybe some of it is that pursuit of poverty thing...I don't think so. Right now I believe it is motivated by love."

Whatever he, Chan, may be one thing is for sure...he certainly is confused...and God is not the author of confusion 1 Corinthians 14:33

#31  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Sunday, October 31, 2010at 7:17 PM

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#32  Posted by Thomas Hudgins  |  Sunday, October 31, 2010at 7:21 PM

Returning to the parenting posts, I would love to see one that helps us in the area of Christians dating unbelievers (especially youth). Don't know if we can make it happen, since GTY is "moving on" to the will of God. Maybe, "What is God's will for dating?" :)

Thanks for all the investment into Christian ministries, GTY. I appreciate it all!

#33  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Sunday, October 31, 2010at 9:42 PM

I think it is a little far fetched to call Driscoll and Chan mystics. I have listened to Chan speak multiple times about his decision to leave Cornerstone and he more or less says the same thing. (i believe he even says it it in the video link) He feels like the spirit led him to do this by what he has read in the scriptures. In fact I just recently heard him state in sermon I tracked down that he didn't here gods voice literally say to him to leave his church or anything like that. But to go to where people need to be ministered to. I think both Driscoll and Chan are great bible teachers who's main concern is teaching people what it means to be true disciples, not just counterfeit Christians who think they are saved. They are both expository teachers and I know Driscoll is a Calvinist. His theology is not much different then what GTY teaches. I listen Driscoll almost as much as GTY and there are some minor differences but he is definately not a mystic or in the same league as Benny Hinn any any of these TV prosperity gospel preachers.

#34  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Sunday, October 31, 2010at 9:46 PM

@ post #31

I understand what Keith said of Francis Chan. I was in a group to watch him on video. When he was telling about the book of Jeremiah when God said before you were born, I knew you in the womb. He made

a expression like being shocked and really confuse about it and did'nt know what the verse meant. Yes, God is not the Author of confusion.

I saw that same video, He was not confused.. that was intense emotion as he went on to say that his mother died while giving birth to him and that god had determined that etc etc. Did you not watch the rest of the sermon? He goes onto say that he made his decsion not because he heard a voice telling him to but that because the bible is telling him to. All he is doing is a missionary trip in our country.

#35  Posted by Andy Bailey  |  Monday, November 01, 2010at 7:34 AM

It looks as if this new blog series will generate more interest than the series on families and parenting. I am a little disappointed that the articles on parenting didn't receive more interest.

Anyway, the truth matters! And it matters more than people's feelings. If someone is in error, the most loving thing to do is to point out error, even though people might not like it. Even Paul called out people by name: Alexander the coppersmith, Philetus, and Hymenaeus.

The unloving thing would be to say nothing, to allow people to be deceived by wayward teachers or attacked by wolves in sheep's clothing. I am not yet saying that the three men mentioned are wolves in sheeps clothing; I don't have enough information about them to make that kind of judgment. BUT, it definitely concerns me when people do something, and then throw out the statement, "God told me to!" as a justification, and then expect that nobody should question their actions, even if what they are doing goes directly against what God has revealed in the Bible. Talk is cheap. Anyone can say "God told me to". I want to see people back up their actions with God's Word.

#36  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Monday, November 01, 2010at 9:37 AM

Andy:

It does seem like the subject of God’s Will brings out the comments, doesn’t it? As I think about your reference to our last series on parenting, I see a connection between the two. Our parents (if believers) are really the first people we see flesh out this doctrine—and teach us by example how to find and follow God’s will. Not a small lesson. It makes me thankful I didn’t have “radical” parents...

#37  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Monday, November 01, 2010at 3:51 PM

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#38  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Monday, November 01, 2010at 3:51 PM

Andy,

Maybe I missed something, I only watched two of the videos and only one of them in its entirety but which one of these guys said that God told them to do something and it went against God's word? What I know of both Chan and Driscoll is if they say something like that it IS becuase it is stated in the bible. I have literally heard Chan say in a sermon he DIDNT here a voice or anything radical like that, but it is what was revealed to him in scripture. God tells me things all the time, every single time I open my bible God is literally talking to me. I don't think that makes me a mystic or wierd or anything like that if that is what I believe. If this blog is going to be a bash session on two well known Christian leaders I will probably not participate. It seems like the GTY leaders don't like how these other guys do ministry. Are we going to bring up guys that are affiliated with GTY but believe in infant baptism. Is RC Sproul a wolf in sheeps clothing or a wayward teacher? Or on his way to being one? Obviously he believes it is at least implied in the bible, which means he believes God said it because that is what he teaches. But it does not say it ANYWHERE in scripture. I dont think that makes him any less of a man of God or a great teacher.

Anyway, I know, at least two of the three men mentioned are doing great things for the kingdon and great bible teachers. Just like Macarthur is.

The reason I didnt participate in the last series was because it didn't pertain ot me. The last series I participated in was the creation series and that was short lived for me becuase someone implied that I was an "unregenerate messenger of satan" because of a couple of questions I asked. I didn't even get into any theological veiws on the series. Just asked some questions. Anyway, I'll probably continue to follow the blogs but if it turns into a bash fest then I will probably not particpate in this one either. I do love Macarthurs teachings and I am curious about the infant baptism question now that I have posted it. It seems people teaching that would be a wayward teacher just as much as some of these other guys who really believe they are doing what the bible tells them to do.

#39  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Monday, November 01, 2010at 4:10 PM

Micah,

This series is not intended to be a bashing session, but to examine how to make decisions biblically. I don't think Francis can legitimately say that his decision to leave his ministry came from Scripture. He may have seen some principles in Scripture and applied them to his situation, but his decision was not an act of obedience to Scripture.

In the same way when I decided to attend seminary on the basis of my subjective call to ministry it was not out of obedience to a passage in Scripture. God did not tell me to go to seminary in any sense of the term. But I used discernment, wisdom, and counsel to make the decision which I truly believe was God's will.

I'm not sure what future posts will deal with, but I can assure you that GTY is not interested in bashing people just because there is disagreement. Unfortunately, it is seen as acceptable to attack an idea, but once you attach a name to the idea it's called bashing.

Thus far this blog has attempted to touch "hot topics" for the sake of clarity and discernment. We probably won't see a paedo-baptism series on here any time soon, but there are several resources on this website if you want to study it.

#40  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Monday, November 01, 2010at 4:12 PM

Micah,

Did you watch the first two videos I linked to? Nothing about Chan, nothing about Driscoll. Can you stick to the challenge I posed--the problem of saying, "God told me to"--rather than talking about "bash sessions," defending these guys, and bringing up infant baptism? We're asking a specific, and legitimate question. As pastors, these men are accountable for their influence on less mature Christians.

So, what of it? Do you think it's okay to make major decision in your life by responding to what God is telling you? If you'll watch the videos, you'll see that these men are not hearing from God by reading their Bibles. What chapter and verse pointed the one man to plant a church in a gay bar? What about God leading the other through dreams and visions?

And if you won't acknowledge the difference between what these men are saying and doing, and the whole tenor of R.C. Sproul's ministry...well, it's sidetracking this conversation--not helpful. This is no bash session; it's a legitimate question. So if you want to contribute and defend the men I've linked to, fine. Just make a defense about the issue we've raised.

Travis

#41  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Monday, November 01, 2010at 4:31 PM

Gabriel,

I know GTY's motives are not to bash, but I also know that the majority of the people who post on this site are not in ministry at GTY. I am curious to see how the next several posts go and if there is anything else posted specifically about Chan and his decision to leave cornerstone and pursue ministry in the inner cities. He does claim he is being obedient to scrpture and for all we know he used the same process that you did when you decided to enter seminary. From what I have heard him state his motive is to fullfill the great commission and he does believe his decsion was biblical. Is it a legitimate claim? I geuss time will tell on that. I have heard his sermons and read one of his books and unless I missed something he doesn't say or teach anything that was unbiblical. In fact the book I read was more or less based on lordship salvation theology, frankly I was surprised by it. I was expecting some free grace easy believism teachings but was pleasantly surprised.

I have checked the resources on the infant baptism and I know where Macarthur stands on it, I can assume that is also GTY's stand. My question was about people who teach that it is biblical, are they also considered wayward teachers?

#42  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Monday, November 01, 2010at 4:57 PM

Micah:

Just for the sake of clarity, your comment about being called an “unregenerate messenger of Satan” during the GTY Creation series doesn’t make sense. That comment was made before you ever posted on our blog. Plus, it was clearly a reference to the men we featured in the video links (such as N.T. Wright and others) who were calling into question the plain teaching of Genesis—not you.

If you check out that particular comment thread, you’ll note we reprimanded that specific commenter, and addressed his ungracious tone for the sake of others like you who did not share our convictions on Genesis. Beyond that, we provided clear answers to all the questions you raised in your comment.

Just setting the record straight …

#43  Posted by Beth Varley  |  Monday, November 01, 2010at 4:58 PM

I cannot wait for this series! As someone who was "rescued" out of the charismatic church I know how things work. The PRESSURE to "get a word from God" and report in next week....I saw many a person completely fall out of church for this alone and many more take a mere fleshly feeling [albeit good things]and confuse them with a word from God. This emotion driven Christianity is rampant and along with it, instead of reading the bible they read a plethora of books by "christian" writers like they were the bible. This is my BIGGEST heartache--to see good people completely deceived due to ignorance and lack of personal bible study [you are shunned if you question things]. These same people tell me constantly they they could never leave this church for one that is bogged down in the minutia of scripture and in the same breath bemoan the fact that the bible is so confusing. Their main criteria for a church is the praise and worship style and how they "feel" but honestly I see nothing they do that glorifies God!!! It took God a while to straighten me out and restore the joy of my salvation. Now I have learned to just be observant to things and people around me and make the most of God opportunities when they present themselves. I guess I have just come to a place where I realize that the more I learn and study the more God puts in my path and opens doors for me to witness. I just get on with may life and try to be a light and be ready in season and out. Boy has it been light and easy, the burden to be a "super saint" was killing me. I have no idea who most of these people you are talking about are but I do know who Rick Warren is and I agree with John MacArthur on this 100%. The buzz word used to be "don't put God in a box" but isn't that exactly what they do with all these programs. God just wants a personal relationship with each of His children and He will use our unique personalities, skills, etc for His glory. What I see in the Word is God isn't looking for super stars, He is looking for humble servants--doesn't is say to do things quietly and our reward will be in heaven? As for calling these "teachers" out-please continue because I have used the material from this website on MANY occasion to try and help lead people out of emotionville. Thank you.

#44  Posted by Beth Varley  |  Monday, November 01, 2010at 5:12 PM

Orlando,

there is nothing new under the sun. My experience was the same as you describe. We serve a big God! Amen!

#45  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Monday, November 01, 2010at 5:36 PM

Tommy,

I never said I was called anything on that particular thread. I said it was implied. I didn't think it would be necessary to explain fully as it was almost a year ago give or take. The person you are referring to (I don't remember his name cause it's been so long) If I remember correctly he was implying that anyone who held any other belief besides the literal 6 day creation was an unregenerate messenger of satan. That was not the only time during the creation series that things were stated in a negative manor. Go back and re-read some of them. I didn't say I was called anything. My whole point in even bringing it up was to state the reason I didn't participate in the last two series was all.

#46  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Monday, November 01, 2010at 5:44 PM

In terms of mystical practices with some of the "New Calvinists" I have discovered a trend that is startling. These guys are into Eastern mystical prayer patterned after Roman Catholic monks...such as Brother Lawrence. Here is one such teaching from a popular "pastor":

Steps for Meditative Prayer

1. Designate a quiet place. In a world full of distractions, we need a quiet place where we can allow God to speak to us. The most effective place to pray is where you are least likely to be disturbed.

2. Give yourself 20-30 minutes. Many people only spend a few minutes each day in prayer. Very few people actually spend time in meditative prayer. It takes time to drown out the cares of the world, sit, prayerfully meditate on God's word, and then allow him to speak to us.

3. Choose Scripture to prayerfully meditate on. Prayerfully select a passage of Scripture that means something to you. Let it either focus on the goodness of God, the promises of God, or the worship of God.

4. Allow God to speak to you. This is the hardest part. Many people never hear the Lord speak to them simply because they don't allow him to. We need to sit and listen for the voice of the Lord. Samuel was open to hearing from the Lord (1 Samuel 3). He said, "Speak, for your servant hears."

On this site there are books promoted which are written by Eastern Mystical proponents. One of the men promoted has a very interesting (read weird) web site: http://www.renovare.us/

#47  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Monday, November 01, 2010at 6:55 PM

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#48  Posted by Simon Caneparo  |  Monday, November 01, 2010at 7:04 PM

We should always ponder whether we are following God's or our very own decisions.

When God speaks usually uses more than one person like in Acts 10 with Peter and Cornelius (Deu 19:15 , Mat 18:16)

#49  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Monday, November 01, 2010at 8:13 PM

Dan,

I am not sure what I said that was hurtful, but If I inadvertantly hurt your feelings I apologize. I'll do my best to make sure it does not happen again. My motive was not to hurt anyones feelings. I am not sure what sermon you are refering to, is it one in Macarthur's archives? I have not had time to listen to them yet. I am still listening to his sermon on 1 John. And you are right, God is not the author of confusion. I was not disputing that with you

#50  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Monday, November 01, 2010at 9:24 PM

Travis, I was not referring to any video but responding to what others have posted specifically about Driscoll and Chan. I have not had the chance to watch all the videos in there entirety. I don't have sound at my home computer and what I did watch was at work and didn't have time to watch all three. You ask if I think it's ok for me to make a decision on what God is telling me? My Answer, I don't know becuase I have never heard a literal "word from god" like some of the hardcore Charismatics you see on T.V. I can tell you I am extremely leary of anyone claiming "God told me this and God told me that" I have had intense conversations with people about specific biblical teachings and doctrines because "God told them different so it cant be true" and then watch them twist up scripture to prove a point. My motive was not to say its ok to do that, what I was saying about Chan and Driscoll specifically is that I don't believe there mystics or wayward teachers. I have heard them both teach more then once and in fact listen to Driscoll almost as much as Macarthur. He is a solid teacher. I also was not trying to say that GTY bashes people or that GTY's motive in starting this thread was to bash people, but I have read threads on here where people seem to get bashed by bloggers who are most likely not a part of GTY ministry or leadership. I get the sense from your response that you were/are frustrated with my posts. I was not intending to do that or trying to upset anyone. As far as the infant baptism thing goes I will rephrase the question in a more general way because I dont want anyone to think I am not acknowledging what Ligonier does or think I am implying Sproul is a false teacher because I don't think that at all. He is one of my favorites also. My question then is What makes a wayward teacher a wayward teacher? I suppose it does not matter as it IS off topic. The whole reason I brought it up was beacause someone else posted something implying that these men COULD be wayward teachers or at least on their way. Some men believe and teach infant baptism and that does not automatically mean there wayward teachers of God's word. Probably not the best example to use. I personally don't beleive if someone is a charismatic leader they are automatically a false teacher or wolf in sheeps clothing. That was why I brought up the baptism thing. I think I will hang back and just see where this series go's before throwing any more of my two cents in.

#51  Posted by Craig Kidder  |  Tuesday, November 02, 2010at 7:59 AM

Travis,

Thank you for responding to me. I definitely see where you are coming from, and to be honest after reading your post I am laughing at myself a little. I am glad that you do not shield people who graduated from Master's and who go to GCC from criticism. You are correct that subjectivism is dangerous and that people do follow the life and practice of these preachers. I was just concerned that you were throwing these guys into a category of false teachers. I now see where you are coming from. Thanks a lot, brother.

#52  Posted by Nancy Medeiros  |  Tuesday, November 02, 2010at 9:43 AM

Hi Travis,

I watched the first video. I've read all of the posts here and confess I seem to be a bit confused. I read arguments for, and arguments against.

I know the voice of God is in His word. When we pray, that is our voice to God. When we open His book, that is God's voice to us. Alex Early explains, "I felt like God was telling me to go there" (in reference to working at this gay bar). Wouldn't this be going against the scripture of 1 Cor. 15:33, "Bad company corrupts good morals."?

(But then, couldn't one argue about how Jesus met with tax gatherers and prostitutes?)

Though we think our hearts are right with God, we are still humans, susceptible to fleshly "feelings" and "emotions". We can however shield ourselves from falling if we are constantly, daily reading, studying and meditating on God's word. (Jeremiah 1: 8 - "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth, meditate on it day and night, so that you may careful to do everything that is written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.")

From the 1 Cor.'s verse, could it be said that Alex Early did not start out biblically? And, if this is a correct assessment, does that nullify what he has done further down the line? (i.e. winning the lost to Christ, planting God in a place where Satan once dominated? etc.)

Well, that's my "two cents" of thoughts. I highly value the teachings of gty.org. I grew up in John MacArthurs church many years ago. About two years ago I learned of this web site and it has changed my life to a deeper relationship with God as it encouraged me to go deeper in God's word.

Thanks for listening.

P.S. Someone made a comment about the two guys wearing jeans with holes in them on video #1. Does God grade us on what we wear? Does John MacArthur have to wear a suit to preach and be heard? Are there bible verses on our attire?

#53  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Tuesday, November 02, 2010at 9:47 AM

Micah,

Thank you for following up with that bit of explanation. I think I understand where you're coming from now, but it did seem like you came out swinging at first.

Just one thing I wanted to mention in your most recent post. You said these men are solid teachers and you like to listen to them. I understand that. I also find them to be very gifted communicators, passionate, etc. There's no virtue in boring teaching.

My concern is how Bible teachers conduct their lives and ministries, and the effect of that on others. It's important that the methodology we practice is consistent with the theology we profess. What we do is just as influential as what we teach.

Our hope for this series is to show a biblical, principled, sensible approach to decision making. So, I'm glad to see you're willing to stick it out. I think you'll find very little to disagree with (e.g., John presenting biblical decision making). The rub will probably come as we apply those truths more broadly to popular or influential teachers.

Thanks again,

Travis

#54  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Tuesday, November 02, 2010at 9:51 AM

You got it, Craig. Thanks for the follow-up.

Travis

#55  Posted by Nancy Medeiros  |  Tuesday, November 02, 2010at 9:53 AM

FYI: This web site happens to have a written account of what Alex Early said on video #1. Sometimes reading the type is better to comment on listening to the video because sometimes we forget what we hear or misquote. So if this can be helpful, it's just an "fyi", nothing more:)

http://thetenthleper.com/2010/10/

#56  Posted by Nancy Medeiros  |  Tuesday, November 02, 2010at 9:59 AM

FYI: This is another video of Alex Early and the story of the Alamo. It shows Alex inside the bar itself.

http://thetenthleper.com/2010/10/

#57  Posted by Nancy Medeiros  |  Tuesday, November 02, 2010at 10:14 AM

Question: Is the Alamo still a gay bar, or have they actually turned it into a church?

#58  Posted by Bill Ziegler  |  Tuesday, November 02, 2010at 11:18 AM

Points to ponder on this discussion.

Satan's first attack on mankind was deception, which was followed by man's hiding, denial and blame shifting.

-Satan's #1 tactic is deception

-Satan first will always question God's goodness

-Then he will twist the truth

-Then he will make it look appealing

"Deceived people always think they are doing the right thing, for the right reason, with the right motive, and are pleasing to God."

The only real protection is "truth", the truth about God, the truth of God's Word, the truth about yourself, the truth about Satan, demons and spiritual warfare!

Is this spiritual warfare or not?

#59  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Tuesday, November 02, 2010at 12:42 PM

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#60  Posted by Jean Selden  |  Tuesday, November 02, 2010at 4:52 PM

Dear Travis:

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I live in Mars Hill country and am appalled by the growth of this so-called church (or campus). I confronted them about their promotion of drinking and was never given an answer. I guess that the scripture that talks of not living only to ourselves but for others and not giving provision for the flesh doesn't apply to the Driscies. The beer bottles in the video were blatantly Driscoll as he wants to do anything to be unnerving. I am sure all of the Gospel Missions in downtown Seattle really appreciate his appetite control, while they serve those and their families that have been destroyed by alcohol.

Your comment about people's actions being much more convincing than words hit the nail on the head. The sad thing is that he is a leader but he is confused as to what camp he is in.

Most Sincerely,

Jean

#61  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Tuesday, November 02, 2010at 6:22 PM

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#62  Posted by Bill Ziegler  |  Wednesday, November 03, 2010at 6:29 AM

#52 Posted by Nancy "P.S. Someone made a comment about the two guys wearing jeans with holes in them on video #1. Does God grade us on what we wear? Does John MacArthur have to wear a suit to preach and be heard? Are there bible verses on our attire?"

Nancy,

Since I posted the comment you mention I'll answer your inquiries.

Are there bible verses on our attire? Yes. The majority deal with women needing to dress modestly (but are men to dress modestly too or only women?) 1 Tim 2:8-9 and 1 Pet 3:3-4. But here's the point it's about putting others first, being humble and not offending a brother or sister in Christ. Phil 2:4, Rom 15:2. And yes, dress can and does offend other believers in Christ. The question now becomes where do you draw the line? Does or should a line have to be drawn? I'm sure you'd agree women can dress seductively and men unfortunately are sight driven by lust... Is that appropriate church attire? Would that be appropriate even at work? Now you say I'm going to an extreme. License is always about going to the extreme and that's the issue here too. Sloppy is just an extreme; taking license with business casual which is the norm today? I asked a guy in a small group (he was 50) setting one time about this subject and he immediately said I was being legalistic and he went ballistic. After he calmed down I then asked if he dresses that way at work? And he said, "No." I asked "why can't you dress that way at work?" His reply was, "the company has a dress code and this doesn't meet it." I asked, "why?" He replied, "it wouldn't represent the company very well in front the customer." (He was a software engineer). I then asked the oldest group member if he thought it could offend others dressing so sloppily? He said, "it pretty much offends everyone in my generation (he was 65). Who are you representing? Yourself or someone else? Who is a preacher representing? Himself or someone else? Is that important? Should you offend a whole generation? There is Christian (spiritual) maturity and also just maturity. Since I'm on my soapbox I'll go for it. Deep down inside it's about attitude and it's a heart issue. Deep down is where rebellion and disrespect reside. Isn't this all about rebellion and disrespect deep down anyway?

John MacArthur doesn't always wear a suit when working. For preachers is it a work attire question then?

Does God grade us on what we wear? What if the answer is "yes"!

The mouth is the heart's witness of it's true attitude; how you dress says volumes and your lips aren't moving.

I'm now stepping down off the soapbox...

#63  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Wednesday, November 03, 2010at 9:29 AM

Nancy,

I understand and appreciate your questions. You've asked about the validity of the arguments in favor of Alex Early's endeavor, and I'll try to address them for you. But what we're trying to accomplish here is to warn against a very popular way of speaking about decision making, namely, "God told me to" (see comment #8).

Back to your concerns...There's a sense in which all of us don't start out biblically. And yet, God blesses us and our ministries--He's the one who chose to put the glorious treasure of His gospel in jars of clay, precisely to bring glory to Him, not us (2 Cor. 4:7).

However, we ought always to strive to conform our lives and doctrine to the Word of God. We ought to be self-critical about ourselves and our ministries, ruthlessly judging them by the standard of Holy Scripture. And we ought to admit and forsake our errors, mistakes, and sins.

What I've just described is not the pattern I'm seeing practiced in some of these new, wildly popular approaches to church planting. And it's even worse when every endeavor is baptized with, "God lead me to ______." As I commented above, people who say such things bear a tremendous burden of proof.

Gotta run for now. I'll try to address your P.S. in a follow-up.

Thanks for your comments and questions.

Travis

#64  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Wednesday, November 03, 2010at 9:46 AM

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#65  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Wednesday, November 03, 2010at 10:07 AM

Dan #61,

GCC = Grace Community Church

TMC = The Master's College

TMS = The Master's Seminary

Travis