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Saturday, January 22, 2011 | Comments (139)

So yesterday we posted an interview between Phil Johnson and John MacArthur. You can download it for free right here. It’s a great interview with much that is helpful—I highly recommend it.

But I heard this morning that some folks have been getting kind of fussy about one of John’s comments in the interview. The first criticism forwarded to me was from Ed Stetzer, one of the men who endorsed Darrin Patrick’s book. His initial tweet said, “JohnMacArthur criticizes @DarrinPatrick’s book…Read this book endorsed by Keller, Dever, me, etc!”

Apparently, Stetzer wasn’t happy—the complaints he made in subsequent tweets echoed the sentiments of other comment threads in the blogosphere. Same old stuff out there—MacArthur is a big meanie, doesn’t get it, misrepresented Patrick, unjustly attacks brothers in Christ, etc., etc.

Tim Challies, who plans to interview John MacArthur in the next week or so, asked for questions from his readers. A number of them had heard the cyberspace chatter too, and they wanted Tim to ask John more about Darrin Patrick’s book.

Well, let’s start with what John said in last Sunday’s interview with Phil Johnson:

My theology was framed up as not my own. You know there’s a new book on church planting, written by a guy named Darrin Patrick, and he says if you want to be an effective church planter, develop your own theology. You know, when I read that, I almost fell off the chair. What? I mean, can you think of anything worse than to have some guy develop his own theology? This is ultimate niche marketing, you know, develop your own style, your own wardrobe, and then your own theology.

And here’s the extended section from Darrin Patrick’s book:

One of the common errors of young men who surrender to ministry is to simply adopt the model of a church that they have experienced or idolized. A similar mistake is to blindly adopt the ministry philosophy and practice of a ministry hero. The man who is experiencing head confirmation is thoughtful about his own philosophy of ministry, his own ministry style, his own theological beliefs, his own unique gifts, abilities, and desires. In short, there is uniqueness to the way he wants to do ministry. (Church Planter, 37)

That paragraph comes from chapter 2, “A Called Man,” which is supposed to help potential church planters and pastors discern a call to ministry. Patrick says part of understanding a call involves head confirmation, by which he means thoughtful planning about one’s particular ministry—i.e., “How specifically can I serve this church?”

Once again, John MacArthur has cut through the clutter to zero in on a fundamental error represented by that paragraph. Here’s the essence of John’s concern, not just with that paragraph, but with the whole book: It’s unwise for Darrin Patrick to encourage young church planters to develop their own theological beliefs. It’s especially unwise when it’s coupled with promoting radical individualism in the ministry.

I once heard Iain Murray speak about young pastors learning to fulfill their own ministry calling. He acknowledged the need for a young man, at the outset of his ministry, to follow the pattern of his hero, mimicking his preaching style. At the same time, Murray warned against merely becoming a clone of another man. A man must study himself, using mature and sanctified judgment to assess himself honestly, to figure out who he is and how God intends to use him. Over time, he’ll own his convictions and God will use him to preach the Word effectively to his own generation.

If that’s what Patrick meant, then his editors, friends, and endorsers could have done him a great service to help him write more clearly. As one commenter said, “Patrick should have communicated more clearly, or the editor should have caught it. We are most certainly responsible for the impact of our words, so we need to use them responsibly.” As it stands, Patrick’s words are misleading and dangerous to tell young men to be unique about “the way he wants to do ministry,” especially when that’s connected with his theological beliefs.

Leaders in the church are not to develop their theology; they are to receive it from those who have preceded them in life and ministry. Paul told Timothy, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). What Timothy heard from the apostle Paul was not a theology Paul developed for himself. No, Timothy heard divinely-revealed truth from Paul, and the apostolic command was, “Preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2). To obey that command, Timothy had to work hard: “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

Here’s what church planters really need to hear: get yourself out of the way and serve others by giving them the Word of Truth, exactly what you received from faithful men before you.

Pastor, church planter . . . take the “once for all delivered to the saints” faith (Jude 3) from the previous generation of faithful men, and hand that sacred baton to the next generation of faithful men. You’d better determine to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). The whole counsel of God should consume you, and you should crucify yourself, and your style (Galatians 2:20). People don’t need to see how well you’ve assimilated the culture around you into your ministry and your message; they need to see Jesus and hear Him confront them and their fallen culture (cf. John 12:21).

Pastor, church planter…are you more concerned about contextualizing yourself and your ministry, or about connecting yourself with the saints of old? Are you focused on developing your style and promoting your individual brand, or are you devoting all your energies to understanding what God meant by what He said, and giving the unvarnished truth to others? If it’s the latter, you need to stay connected with faithful expositors of God’s Word and the historic, apostolic faith.

I understand the modern church planting movement is very popular, is full of energy and zeal, and has the ear (and eye) of the newest generation of Christians. With so much influence, it’s not enough that today’s church planters just talk about Reformed theology; they also need to understand it deeply, imbibe it fully, and practice it consistently. Therefore,

1. Don’t be so thin-skinned. John MacArthur has always tried to separate himself from the message he preaches. If you criticize what John has said, he doesn’t get hurt or offended; he simply points you back to Scripture and asks you to make your case. It's God's authority, not John MacArthur's, that John wants people to recognize when he preaches.

By contrast, many young men in today’s church-planting movement have embedded themselves in the message they preach. The authority is centered in what they think, not in what the Scripture actually teaches. So it makes sense when they get hurt, offended, and feel attacked when you make a critical comment about their message—their message is an extension of their personality, and they feel the criticism personally.

2. Listen. John has more than fifty years of preaching faithfully, more than forty years in the same pulpit—don’t you think you ought to listen? Don’t despise the older generation; don’t dismiss their wisdom; don’t ignore their criticisms of you. Proverbs is full of wisdom like that: “The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence” (Proverbs 15:31-32; cf. 10:17; 12:1; 13:18; 15:5).

There’s obviously a lot more to say, but we’ll have to continue this conversation another time.

Travis Allen
Managing Director


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#1  Posted by Michael Riccardi  |  Friday, January 21, 2011 at 11:06 PM


That was outstanding. I kept on repeating the phrase, "Spot-on!" to myself at many turns. You nailed so many points that need to be addressed.

Thanks for this. I pray that the Lord would multiply the truth in your comments throughout the church, the evangelical landscape, and especially the YRR guys.

#2  Posted by Steve Cornell  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 5:22 AM

It appears that misunderstandings could sometimes be avoided if the concerns/criticisms/critiques started with: "If, in saying this, he means......" Or, "The way he frames this could cause some to think he means...." You, Travis, do this above: "If that's what Patrick meant...." It would probably result in more light than heat if we used lines of generosity like these.

When I read the lines from Patrick, I am not sure I would have thought: "Hey this guy wants us to come up with our own individualized theology!" I have not read the book, so perhaps the point is built on prior references. In the quote itself, he makes an important point about trying to become someone you are not. Motivation for this is often a form of self-marketing by reading where the "success" comes from. We see this in the rush to Willow Creek and Saddleback to package the methods of "success."

So, it might be better to say, "Patrick is making a really good point when he says...." "But (and I don't think he intends to push this) we must respect the tension between learning from our mentors and recognizing the gifts God chooses to use in and through us that might differ from our mentor." Then go on to explain verses as the ones above (or, Hebrews 13:7).

But John also makes a needed point about the dangers of radical individualism in ministry today----with an eye to marketing. Packaging too often trumps substance today. I & II Corinthians are great books for cutting to the root of some of this.

So I am simply suggesting that when you see a fly on the wall, don't point a canon at it. A fly swatter will do. Canons require splinter collecting ministry teams.

I know John is not thin skinned. I appreciated getting to know him when he spoke for our 10th anniversary 15 years ago. I also know that John is open to correction and change.

Time and space doesn't permit but a worthy extended discussion could be focused on development of theology. As you well know, (and I realize you are not saying it) we make no claims of infallibility for any theological systems.

Steve Cornell

#3  Posted by Matthew Ens  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 6:46 AM

This is so true. Church isn't entertainment, its worship. Separate yourself from the message and preach the Word. It is not about you, it is about Christ. Let's give Him all the glory.

Great post Mr. Allen.

#4  Posted by Russell Woodbridge  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 7:05 AM


Good post. Unrelated question for you. Were you at Southeastern around 1995? I am not sure how to contact you besides using the comment field.

Russell Woodbridge

Kiev, Ukraine

#6  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 8:25 AM

Having read Patrick's book and MacArthur and Co.'s posts and defenses, there is one glaring issue that I feel hasn't been addressed. Besides the fact that I think MacArthur's criticism of the passage on page 37 misses the spirit of what is being said, I feel it also fails to fall in line with the remainder of what Patrick is arguing for in his book, making this a sort of proof-texting problem.

On pages 59-65 Patrick argues that the effective pastor must be wholly dependent upon the power of the Holy Spirit to become a "better preacher, leader, shepherd, and cultural exegete." This seems to conflict with the radical individualism that Patrick is being accused of here. Likewise, on pages 69-71 Patrick takes a stand on the elders being "Guardians of Truth" saying they "must not only passionately and systematically teach truth, they must also consistently and directly refute error." Again, little wavering on whether elders are free to develop their own theology in the sense MacArthur seems to be taking it.

Instead, what I think is clear to those who take the passage on page 37 in its full context (both in the subsection on "Head Confirmation" as well as in the entirety of the "Man" part of the book) is that Patrick is longing to decry those who are buying into cookie-cutter models of ministry (i.e. Purpose-driven, pre-packaged Lifeway material) as well as those who simply try to emulate their favorite pastor (as sadly many a minister has been known to do). He is decrying ministry clones, not historical theology. In fact, as someone who has been to Acts29 Bootcamps where Patrick has taught, I know that a big message as of late has been, "Don't try to be Driscoll. Run the race set before YOU."

I can be charitable and see how in isolation MacArthur might come to the conclusion he has, but to buckle down and make this another hill to die on seems almost prideful given the clarity the larger context brings to this argument.

#7  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 9:16 AM

Todd writes,

I can be charitable and see how in isolation MacArthur might come to the conclusion he has, but to buckle down and make this another hill to die on seems almost prideful given the clarity the larger context brings to this argument.

A couple of thoughts:

Phil Johnson has already noted that he knows John has read Patrick's book all the way through because he has read John's marginal notes. So for folks to say John is basing his overall criticism on hearsay or perhaps a passage out of context is mistaken.

Secondly, consider Travis' final comment: John has 50 years experience as a pastor, preacher, and minister. That is probably double the life-time of many of his most vocal, and dare I say, uncharitable critics who have been tweeting about his remark over the last day or so.

Have any of these young guys ever thought that John as an older, wiser minister, may be able to see things with greater perspective than they are giving him credit? It seems to me they all automatically assume John is responding to all the Darrin Patricks in the world as a petty, narrow-minded old timer who doesn't like all these "youngins" messing with church. Rather, it just may be that John has some insight that they are all missing because of his seasoned experience.

#8  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 9:36 AM


Before writing I took all that you have said into consideration. I read where Phil said he believes MacArthur to have read the entire book, which seems to exacerbate my critique, not diminish it. I also look upon MacArthur's years of experience as a cause to praise God for his faithfulness in sustaining this man's ministry, but not as reason for championing his position. In fact, I do not believe that anything you have said truly addresses my post. I think the totality of what Darrin Patrick has written and said stands in support of what I have argued here, with the present attempts made to criticize it failing because they view a single passage too narrowly.

Moreover, in response to your question about whether "young guys" have ever thought to look to MacArthur's age and wisdom for direction, I wish to offer you some Scripture: "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4.12). Too many people want to defer to MacArthur based on age alone, but I think that if a pastor is in line with what Paul has instructed Timothy to do then age isn't an issue, and might even be a detriment to seeing the truth in a given situation.

#9  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 9:44 AM


He is decrying ministry clones, not historical theology.

I haven't read the book, but I've heard portions of it, and what I've heard is consistent with your comments. Based on your comments and what I've heard from the book, there is a glaring absence of seeking a biblical philosophy of ministry and an encouragement to create a self-styled philosophy of ministry.

Obviously every church is unique in some form or another, but when it comes to "doing church", there are very clear biblical mandates and a consistent historical practice. It sounds, based on what I've heard, that Patrick is encouraging guys to jettison tried and true patterns of ministry and start their own style of ministry.

I completely agree with "Don't try to be Driscoll." But I would end it by saying, "Try to be biblical." We are told constantly at the seminary, "Don't try to be MacArthur clone [primarily in preaching], focus on being faithful to Scripture."

Help us out here... how much does Patrick emphasize pursuing a biblical philosophy of ministry? How much space does Patrick devote to fulfilling the biblical mandates of the "what" and "how" of ministry? When discussing the preparation stage of setting us a church, does he encourage deep biblical study on the issue? You mentioned pastors need to be a "cultural exegete." Does he back that up with Scripture? Is that a biblical role of the pastor?

Some of the passages I've heard out of the book sound more like a corporate management textbook than biblical instruction. Would you agree?

#10  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Hi Russell,

Yes, it's me. Great to hear from you! I'll follow up with you offline a little later today.


#11  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 10:44 AM


I would point out that Paul's words in 1 Timothy 4:12 speak to spiritual maturity, something a young man can certainly have if he, as Paul goes on to elaborate, takes heed to himself and doctrine (vs. 16).

Honestly, has Mr. Patrick earn such unquestioned respect? I am personally unfamiliar with him. All I know about him is that he pastors a church in St. Louis some where called "The Journey" and he came under fire for having a Bible study in a local tavern. Patrick has written one book, the cover of which reminds me of something I would see on a "Dark Horse" published graphic novel. Again, John is not shooting from the hip at some fellow he refuses to "understand." He raises his comment based upon his years of experience as a minister in one pulpit. Patrick has yet to obtain those years of experience, yet his fans seem to insist I give him equal respect. However, their knee-jerk reactions against John on such places as Twitter certainly don't earn my respect, so I would much rather give John the benefit of the doubt with regards to what he stated.

#12  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 11:04 AM


Honestly I don't have any interest in standing in as an apologist for Darrin Patrick. I feel like he is very committed to biblical Christianity and the defense of sound doctrine, but ultimately it is up to you to make the decision for yourself on this. I would suggest reading his book, particularly the first 100 or so pages covering the called "Man" which seems to be where most of the controversy is coming from. Overall, I didn't find it to be the best church planting book out there, but I certainly don't feel that it is anywhere near being a corporate management textbook.


As I said earlier, I have attempted to give a wider context for Patrick's comments that I believe disprove the criticisms being made against him. You admit to being "personally unfamiliar" with Patrick himself and many of your criticisms seem to be here-say or prejudices of taste. This is dangerous ground for all involved. We must keep to the text and not get caught up in personality wars. I do not condone the knee-jerkers and certainly recognize that they exist. My defense of Patrick comes purely from what he has written and said and is not in anyway an attack on MacArthur or anyone else affiliated or sympathizing with GTY.

#13  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 11:41 AM


I also have one question I wanted to ask specifically in regards to this post. I have been following this controversy as it has developed through the blogosphere and Twitter and was surprised with some of the accusations you made in regards to Ed Stetzer's Twitter activity. To the best of my knowledge none of the comments Stetzer has posted on Twitter have been deleted, nor do I feel that the one comment which names MacArthur explicitly is derogatory towards his brother. Clearly Ed is not a disinterested observer, but I think it would be wrong to cast his activity in a negative and/or sinful light. What evidence are you basing the claim upon that he has been anything less than transparent and charitable here?

#14  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 11:42 AM

We **ALL** have to admit, at one time or another, to being a bit jittery and quick to draw conclusions, when anything new comes down the pike and is brandished as new and improved; such as the New Perspective on Paul, the New Calvinists (and I have not even heard anyone from the YRR group give a good definition for what this even means), and now this. And I am not saying John MacArthur’s current response to Darrin Patrick was done in error or done hastily, without much reading and seasoned thought. I simply do not have all the facts. But the abuses we see every day among Emergents, Pentecostals, and with Charismatic Calvinists adopting contemplative prayer (and what have you), is it any wonder John MacArthur and so many of the rest of us have our senses on high alert?

Individuality in the church spawns pastors who make the pulpit their stage...inevitably!!! They seek to entertain their congregations with their titillating, highly unique performances, when delivering a sermon. This type of preaching draws attention to the pastor and away from God’s Word. John MacArthur can NEVER be accused of using these practices. He keeps himself in the background and gives God’s Word preeminence, which is as it should be. This is not to say he is not gifted, because he has a very commanding voice, and has an incredible ability to draw you deep into God’s Word, and knows how to give due emphasis where it is most effective. I simply do not remember too many times drifting in thought when I hear his sermons. And the very reason so many people are drawn to his ministry is that he is NOT the gift (the superstar in the pulpit), but keeps our total focus on the ONE who is.

And if you are YRR, and want to be effective in the pulpit, go ahead; imitate JM’s style, PREACH THE WORD!!!

The YRR’s can learn so much from this “wise, seasoned and reformed pastor.

#15  Posted by Caleb Kolstad  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 11:43 AM

I like what Rainer wrote about criticism in the local church.

Thanks for this Travis.

#16  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Looking back at Acts and other teachings of Paul is good for pastors,

so the church would be healthy.

Thanks for standing for the truth.

God bless.

#17  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Steve Cornell,

Thanks for your helpful comments. Church Planter is only one illustration of John's larger concerns having to do with the ministry model currently in vogue. (You can hear hints of those larger concerns in his follow-up article.)

I don't know if you're referring to John's very brief comments as shooting a cannon at a fly on a wall. The Gospel According to that's a cannon! But I am looking forward to hearing more of what he has to say.

Thanks again for stopping by.


#18  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 2:27 PM


Yesterday morning I saw Ed Stetzer's Twitter page, and above the entry I quoted were two tweets critical of John's comments. When I returned to his page a little later, the comments were gone. Now, I'm assuming that I was looking at Stetzer's Twitter page (perhaps my eyes need to be checked); I'm also assuming--if it was indeed his page I saw--that he has sole control over his account.

I'd hardly call what I said an accusation of something sinful, but it was clear Stetzer wasn't happy about John's comments. Ask him and see what he says. In fact, feel free to ask him if he (or someone else) posted and removed comments from his Twitter account. If he says "no," let me know and I'll be glad to ammend my post. And if he says he doesn't share any of the sentiments that are critical of John MacArthur, I'll gladly retract that part too and apologize.

Thanks for your comments.


#19  Posted by Aaron Crossley  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 3:06 PM

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone spend his life to decry men who should be his friends."

#20  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 5:01 PM


I will agree with you that Stetzer seems to be less than happy with the remarks on GTY, and yes, there are some posts that do not name MacArthur but could probably be understood as commentary on this affair. But I would not go so far as to say that they imply, as you said, "MacArthur is a big meanie." As well, I have had email correspondence with Ed and he assured me that nothing he has posted on the matter has been deleted from his Twitter page. I do not mean for this to take the focus off of the main discussion at hand, but I feel like it would be wrong to allow offenses to be multiplied by any additional misunderstandings or misrepresentations.

#21  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 5:55 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#22  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 5:59 PM


I verified the tweets I had seen are in fact there, as you've pointed out, and I've ammended my article to reflect the current situation. Don't know what happened, but it's fixed now. Thanks for helping to sort it out.


#23  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 7:11 PM

Seems we all need a golden rule lesson. I am proud of JM for not

getting offended. We all need to do the same. God is mighty!!

#24  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 8:17 PM

This little funny video kinda sums up some of the silliness involved with some of the church plantings I have witnessed lately:

One church plant in my home town has the pastor setting up shop directly across the street from the sister church he asked to fund his leaving (which the BIG church gladly funded) about a slap in the face to the sister church!

One of the church planters I know personally tried to recruit half of the office staff and many members from the church he was serving as associate pastor for his church plant...he was caught, his reputation was tarnished, and he abandoned the vision that he said was from God and is now in another state working another church (no...not a typo)

Gotta love that market driven the business world I think it is called "dog-eat-dog"...yeah that's it.

#25  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 9:29 PM


I've gotta thank you for the link to that video--I'm still laughing! The "dotted eighth note delay"...priceless.

Thanks for breaking up the monotony.


#27  Posted by Deepika Rao  |  Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 5:23 AM

Yes. true..Appreciate John's principle of "Speak the Truth in Love". Blessings to you all...

#28  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 6:14 AM

Glad to assist Travis :-)

On a monotonous note :-(...take a look at the picture in the link below. This scene is of a modern day youth group in one of the nations largest churches...looks much like any nightclub scene the world has to offer! Note also the collapsed basketball goal in the corner...just in case a game breaks out during worship maybe?

The issues raised in this blog regarding church planting and church planting philosophy comes, in my educated/experienced opinion, directly from modern day segregated youth groups such as is seen in the link attached. When the church becomes like the world...oh wait, John has already written a book and fired that cannon (I guess it was not a big enough cannon)...


#30  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 9:55 AM


Perhaps we are getting off the topic of the blog, but while Christians need to be discerning, I think we should be careful about passing judgment on a youth group based on a picture. To be honest, the picture could be the youth group at my church with which I volunteer. As I am involved with the group, I know the desire of each of the youth pastors is to see each student become a disciple of Christ. The Word is preached faithfully, there is a strong emphasis on Bible study, and the MacArthur Study Bible is given to students who attend the discipleship classes. I agree with the blog that ministry should be guided by the Word of God, but I fail to see what in the picture says that this group is not seeking to be faithful to God’s Word. May God help us be discerning but also encouraging to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

#31  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 11:33 AM


Thank you for changing the post. I hope I didn't come off sounding like I thought anything ill was intended by this. With so much information moving so quickly we are all susceptible to these kinds of errors.

Et al.,

I know this is just another distraction from the original post, but over the course of the last several comments I have become increasingly saddened by the way that I feel some of you perceive the churches and ministries of guys like Darrin Patrick, Mark Driscoll, and other lesser known men serving inside the Acts 29 network. I can't speak for organizations like Exponential or the various North Point/Andy Stanley knock-offs, but as someone who is a member and serving in an Acts 29 church and who has attended and knows the people and pastors of several other churches in the network it hurts me to think that their gatherings would be seen as "market driven" or stemming from "modern day segregated youth groups" by those who I would be inclined to view as our allies in Christ.

Churches who support Acts 29 are as a rule very committed to authentic community, reformed soteriology, a strong view of local church membership, and personal service and accountability. There is no easy-believism or come-enjoy-a-nice-show-and-maybe-buy-into-Jesus pandering. Please, if you view Acts 29 affiliated churches this way, look up the nearest one on the Acts 29 website and go visit it some weekend. I'm not trying to say that these are the only good churches out there, but I do believe that they deserve a lot more credit for their biblical fidelity than the cartoons and caricatures above seem to give them.

#32  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 2:04 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#33  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 2:48 PM


I appreciate your candor and concerns.

Obviously, a very strong perception exists that the ministries you've mentioned are somewhat shallow and market-driven; they seem to have become the next generation of the church-growth movement. I realize the YRRs see themselves as coming out of all that, perhaps reacting against that, but philosophically and methodologically, it would seem the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree.

Speaking for myself, I often hear YRR-styled leaders announcing the plans they've made by studying the demographics, executing their plans by pouring a lot of time, energy, and money into brand marketing (e.g., conferences, fliers, social media), and using statistics (it's all about the numbers) to trumpet the success of their plans. Are demographs, marketing, and statistics essentially sinful? No, but I think they fail to see how influenced they've been by their church-growth roots and how the philosophy/methodology they practice seriously weakens and compromises the theology they profess.

I do appreciate their emphasis on the local church, and how they want to see Christians love one another compassionately, sacrificially out of love for Christ. I appreciate their acknowledgement that Reformed soteriology is biblical, but I sometimes wonder if they fully understand it. (Out of curiosity, do you know if Acts 29 churches are truly Reformed in their soteriology--i.e., are they five-pointers?) I also appreciate how they wish to uphold preaching as the main focus in the church service, but again I wonder if they really grasp what it is to derive their sermons from the exegesis of a text that's faithful to its context. Some of the preaching I've heard goes immediately to application--it's based either on no interpretation, shallow interpretation, or even faulty interpretation.

So, at this point, I wouldn't go so far as to say these folks are not "our allies in Christ," but there is a perception, based on some degree of reality, that these brothers are seriously misguided. They seem to have a lot of zeal that has yet to be informed by deep theology, needs to be reigned in and directed by a consistent methodology, and coupled with a large dose of humility to produce a teachable spirit.

I hope that helps you understand where at least some of us are coming from (And just to be clear, I'm not claiming to represent an official Grace to You position--John MacArthur speaks for himself.)

Grace and peace,


#34  Posted by Richard Roderick  |  Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 3:05 PM

As someone who has read the book, which I very much appreciated, I didn't walk away from it without points of concern on things. A point of concern is not the same thing as a cry of heresy. The response by Ed Stetzer seemed completely different then the response by Darrin Patrick (which I resonated with). It's almost as though John MacArthur was the first person to disagree with something in the book. I'd like to call peoples attention to the endorsements of the book itself. You will see even Mark Dever (one of the endorsers) didn't agree with the full contents of the book but still appreciated the message as a whole.

Phil Johnson pointing out that the issue was a general point of concern in the current era of young pastors by John MacArthur spoke volumes of the context in which he read the text. This caused me to think of the text in the light in which John MacArthur saw it instead of only in the light in which I saw it. That is exactly what I am looking for from the wisdom gained in years of ministry, to help me see things in a different light. To understand how some may take what is innocent at heart can also be used to justify a world of bad behavior.

The very issue being raised has greatly enriched my thinking on the issue as I am exploring what God is working out in me.

Darrin Patrick's response has been so godly that if my view of him could have improved it would have, but after reading the book, my view of him as a man was already quite high. Like Mark Dever I would endorse it and not be ashamed to say I had issue with a point or two.

#35  Posted by Terry Thomas  |  Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#36  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 5:31 PM


"I think we should be careful about passing judgment on a youth group based on a picture."

The scene IS identical to just about any run of the mill night club in anywhere USA. There is a stage with a band performing, and there is a basketball goal set off to the side...just in case.

Why is it that folks who claim to believe in the sovereignty of God in all things resort to such pragmatic activities to draw and maintain crowds (not speaking of you Mary just in general terms)? I think John MacArthur summed that question up when he said that such demonstrations are really a manifestation of Arminianism (see Ashamed of The Gospel)...folks don't truly believe that God's Word is sufficient and that He is truly sovereign so they resort to pragmatism to help out a bit.

"To be honest, the picture could be the youth group at my church with which I volunteer."

I am sorry to hear that.

This is taken directly from the site I linked to:

"Our philosophy of ministry is centered on reaching unchurched students, bridging them into small groups for discipleship, and then sending them out to reach other students."

No talk of preaching the Gospel to a lost and dying world so that the weight of their sin can be felt as they see themselves as totally depraved before a Holy God in need of redemption whereby they can repent and come to faith in the Lordship of our all-sufficient Savior Jesus The Christ...just a reference to getting "unchurched" people into church so they can be "bridged" into discipleship (whatever that means) then sending them back out to bring in more.

Now, perhaps the Gospel is to be found somewhere...but it does not have a place in what they deem their "philosophy of ministry". So, I am sorry if you perceive that I am a bit harsh but I do NOT apologize for standing firm on the truth that the Gospel and lost souls are worth fighting for...not playing games over!

#37  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 6:11 PM

"Remember God is the only one to laugh at the wicked for they are foolish in their ways. Why, cause God has no sin!! We are not to do so."

Really...someone should have told Elijah that...1 Kings 18:26-28

So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. "O Baal, answer us!" they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.

At noon Elijah began to taunt them. "Shout louder!" he said. "Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened."

So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed.

#38  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 7:28 PM

Travis et al.,

I can speak for myself and for the meetings I have had with top pastors and church planting coaches within Acts 29 and tell you that I cannot recall once when I heard someone discuss planning strategies around demographics or specific marketing niches. This may hold for others in the church planting world, but for my experiences with Acts 29 I would say this is a radically poor representation of what's going on. That's not to say that they aren't culturally aware, but I believe there is a difference between being COGNIZANT of the culture around you and being CONFORMED to the culture around you. To be honest, this is a distinction which I have felt those associated with GTY and the larger realm of MacArthur influence have failed to comprehend, choosing instead to lump everyone not like themselves into the same category of "pragmatists" or "conformists."

As far as theology goes, Acts 29 does not require their churches to be "Truly Reformed" in the non-historical way that that phrase is currently being used. What they do expect is historical truly reformed soteriology (four-point Calvinism) with the obvious letter being left up to individual congregations. In fact, for anyone interested, the core doctrine of the Acts 29 Network is published in an easy to find location on their website.

As for the "unteachable spirit" and other posters who have mentioned people being offended that MacArthur would "criticize" Darrin Patrick, I think that it might help if one were to step back a little and take in the whole situation. To start with, there is already a distrust when it comes to MacArthur's commentary on Acts 29 pastors. For years I have felt that Dr. MacArthur has been radically irresponsible in his remarks concerning Mark Driscoll. Compare his approach to the approaches of other men such as Piper, Mahaney, or Mark Dever and I think you can see a completely different response on the part of such "unteachable" spirits. This is then compounded by the fact that MacArthur's comments towards Patrick were not of the "points of concern" variety--as some have said--but were almost mocking in nature. Dr. MacArthur didn't say, "I wish Patrick would be more careful with what he says here," he simply assumed he knew what Patrick meant and then began deriding it (and as I have argued, I believe MacArthur failed to understand Patrick's meaning in the first place). Sure, there is much experience to be gained by the "YRR" (which, BTW, I think has become a derogatory title), but the caricature of an "unteachable" spirit can, in my opinion, be as easily ascribed to the myriad of MacArthur followers. We are all sinners saved by grace, and the stream of holier-than-thou commentators on both sides is overall not being productive.

#39  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 7:39 PM


I think you need to take a little caution with what you say:

"The scene IS identical to just about any run of the mill night club in anywhere USA. There is a stage with a band performing, and there is a basketball goal set off to the side...just in case."

Prior to moving to Louisville I served in a fairly traditional SBC church in Gainesville, FL. This was a church where hymns were led by a cheesy worship leader and praise choir, the middle-aged country pastor wore a suit and tie, and the gospel was presented without fear in every sermon. And the band played on a stage and a basketball goal was set off to the side. Do you know why? To be cool? No, it was because the previous pastor had run the church into so much debt building the new facilities that they couldn't finish the sanctuary, so the only meeting space they had was the all-purpose room that was already built. Was this church being "pragmatic" and "manifesting Arminianism"?

#40  Posted by Tim Boan  |  Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 11:22 PM

I often wonder when I read some of the dialog in these blogs how much any of this builds up the church? The sin of pride will cause your senses to fail so much that your conscience may seem to be right in your own mind, yet this same sin could very well dishonor our Lord. I understand the motive to stand and guard what is right and what is good. You who complain of correction only cause an issue to be drawn out more than it should be. The mature men of faith seem to fall short in showing evidence of love in their defense. However, I can only ask where was this Darrin's mentor, and why wasn't this strange idea corrected at an earlier stage? Our culture hates authority and loves new ideas. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, forever. Stop bickering and murmuring, put God in the center and lose the pride. Let's keep Christ central and fight sin all in one accord! God keep our sights on your glory, not our will but yours Father, fill us with your grace Lord, for it is our hope, grace to all.
#41  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 11:35 PM


Tell me it does not look like a night club...


The facility I referenced has probably unlimited resources. It is designed that way, and promoted that way I should point out, for the cultural relevancy value.

What I have done is point to the truth by pointing out an obvious problem that I and others of note see. I think Travis hit the nail on the head when he pointed to one of the major issues within this modern church culture...the practitioners already know everything and are nearly unteachable. This is a huge problem that I have witnessed first hand...up close and personal. May God grant us eyes that see and ears that hear.

#42  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 11:40 PM


Sounds like you've made some sweeping assumptions yourself, but to have judged MacArthur as having been "radically irresponsible in his remarks concerning Mark Driscoll," well, I don't know what to say.

So, in your view, John was "radically irresponsible" to denounce Driscoll's prurient speech about the Song of Solomon? John was "radically irresponsible" in correcting him and saying that kind of talk has no place in the pulpit?

At least we all know where you're coming from now.


#43  Posted by Michael Riccardi  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 12:47 AM

Compare his approach to the approaches of other men such as Piper, Mahaney, or Mark Dever...

Man. If that one hasn't gotten all sorts of mileage over the past 5 years.

If these other respected men had reacted to Driscoll differently than they have, perhaps in a way more akin to MacArthur, would that change your opinion of Driscoll's philosophy? If so, your confidence is based in the wrong place. Evaluate Driscoll and his philosophy of ministry on his/its own merits, not on the basis of others' opinions of him, good or bad.

#44  Posted by Jane Wilson  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 1:25 AM

I just want to add that my generation (40-somethings) miserably FAILED to learn (from thier parents, pastors, or Bibles) the thread that runs the course of Scripture to honor elders. A quick read of 1 Timothy 5:17-25 is just one place where we are all reminded that the younger have a lot to learn from the older, and especially those whose works for the kingdom are "clearly evident". I think John MacArthur fits the description of 1 Tim. 5:17. My generation grew up with a deceptive chip on our shoulder that we would do better, be better, be "real", be MORE spiritual, "show them"- the older guys who were so dull about their faith. And we would NEVER be caught in their shoes. Never mind the trials they suffered to learn of God, their tearful prayers for US, and the humility they had that we did not. (I'm just being honest.) Instead of walking humbly before God and learning of His servants- even those who did not impress us, but were quietly faithful to the end... We came into the church scene with something to prove, and did not care whom our attitudes, clothes, hair, style, programs, music, or content offended. We so purposed to "do things right" where ministry is concerned. And stepped on a lot of precious toes that God honors, and admonishes us to give "double honor". This was a slap in the face to those who went ahead of us, and taught us the truth... even in their imperfect manner. And we had the gall to throw the older generation under the buss because we thought we could say it better, more winningly, and with more "sincerity". (We at least nailed the moving music- and got most of the great "boring old" hymns ditched.) And where the older guys recoiled, well, we just started our own churches with OTHER 40-somethings, and no older, wiser men to get in the way. God have mercy on us. John MacArthur has a burden on his heart for the church. And we, at every age, should be humble enough to give him the benefit of the doubt and ask, "Why would a Godly man, a faithful elder preacher of the Word, take issue with this? What should I learn of him? What am I missing here?" Then we should start with our own immature zeal, our quickness to take offense, and lay it down at the cross, putting to death the unteachable attitude. It seems the primary point is being willing to accept the SIMPLE preaching of the gospel as handed down by other faithful men of old... being WILLING to be connected with them. Not demanding to make it "new", and chic. The gospel is what is at stake. And we get so quickly offended when it is not presented or accepted the way WE want to hear it. Our style, our way, with our personality attached. We don't WANT to take it the old way. But it is my generation who is missing out the most. We have so often scowled at the hands that seek to feed us, and give us good insight so that we do not fall into error. There is error to be fallen into... and we would all do well to sit up, lean forward, and quietly listen.

#45  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 5:52 AM

I am not saying it outside of God's word. It was fine with

Elijah cause he did it the right way. I am not trying to stretch

God's word. Only by right motives Elijah can laugh at the wicked,

but not on his own terms. One thing we should pray and do the same.

Elijah did laugh then stopped, so he would sacrifice the right way.

Fire came from God to burn it up. and command the people to capture

the false prophets to put them to death. It better to walk away when the wicked does it own works, not join them in their ways like Psalms


#46  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 6:15 AM


When I speak of MacArthur being "radically irresponsible in his remarks concerning Mark Driscoll" I am thinking first about his statements in 2006 when he brought up the issue of "The Cussing Pastor" in an article for Pulpit Magazine. These comments were based on here-say (MacArthur doesn't acknowledge contacting Driscoll at any point until sometime in late 2008 or early 2009), and not just here-say, but here-say from a book in published 3 years prior, concerning events occurring even farther back than that. Needless to say, they weren't necessarily contemporary remarks for the context of late 2006 when MacArthur said them. And yet this became fodder for hundreds of pastors who follow MacArthur and don't actually know the first thing about Driscoll or his ministry but wish to attack him anyways.

Beyond that, Driscoll has repented publicly for his language and behavior in the pulpit on numerous occasions, starting in the Fall of 2007. This has led to what I find to be one of the most distressing, distasteful, and dare I say despicable phenomena I have seen displayed online by my brothers and sisters in Christ: people have actually had the nerve to criticize and reject this man's repentance! Even MacArthur himself, when he finally took the time to acknowledge Driscoll's repentance in the Spring of 2009, criticized and rejected it. What kind of witness is this to the world? I'll be honest, it makes me angry just to type it. The Song of Solomon issue--a dispute that I think has points on both sides--led to similar instances of people rejecting the public repentance of their brother as he admitted error in certain aspects of what was discussed.

All of that leads into the Patrick affair, where we find MacArthur once again making a polarizing statement about a brother who he has seemingly had no contact with, and then when he is called on it, instead of tempering his words with salt and showing what would look to reasonable people like humility in his actions, he and the machine around him begin digging in their heels and trying to rework the comments to distract from what was in all honesty a public misstep. No one has truly addressed the fact that MacArthur was wrong in his reading of Patrick. I agree that he was making a valid point, but that point does not apply to the passage which he is trying to make it from. This is a prime case of eisegesis. The longer MacArthur and GTY hold out on admitting it, the more the image of them as being prideful and unteachable will persist.

#47  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 6:40 AM


I appreciate your thoughts. I just lost a neighbor next door

that I knew for 21 years. I been praying for salvation for

him. He was 81 yrs. I wasn't trying to be in error. In Proverbs

says it's good to keep silent for times are evil. OK??

God bless.


#48  Posted by Heath Lloyd  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 7:45 AM


This post, you nailed it! Home Run! Thank you for saying this.

Heath Lloyd

SEBTS - 1996

#49  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 8:54 AM


A couple points of clarification.

Mark never repented of his Song of Solomon shtick. Repentance would mean he'd stop teaching it (he didn't), and he'd remove it from his website (he didn't). Not only was his language beyond vulgar, his exegesis was atrocious. I guarantee you no commentator came close to the conclusions he did. He should be embarrassed it's still available on the church website.

Some on various blogs have noted the irony that many are treating John the way they think John treated Darrin, namly, they're missing the context. The interview where John made his statements was not on radio or television. Though he mentioned The Church Planter, it was a brief aside to his overall answer to the question of whether he has ever changed his theology. Also, he was speaking in front of his congregation. He wasn't speaking to A29 or seminary students, or any particular niche group. I'm curious, did you listen to the entire interview?

The context of John's remark was the importance of seminary in teaching young men tried and tested theology. The Church Planter advocates developing your own. John did not say he understood the book to advocate developing one's own theology from scratch (remember... he's read the entire book). He's simply saying that contra The Church Planter, young men need to learn their theology from others, not develop it on their own.

The critical phrase in Patrick's book (which John quotes in his blog from Friday) is "In short, there is uniqueness to the way he wants to do ministry." The entrepreneurial mentality seems to be the essence of modern church planting. Obviously every church will be unique in some ways, but church planters should not pursue uniqueness--unless being biblical makes them unique.

#50  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 9:29 AM


Contrary to what you seem to be implying, my opinions of Driscoll--or any other person--are not based primarily on what others think of them. My opinions of a man as a shepherd, however, are influenced by the way in which he goes about correcting and instructing others, and it is this that has bothered me in regards to MacArthur's remarks towards Driscoll and others.


Mark did repent of parts and remove the Song of Solomon "schtick" that caused the biggest commotion, that being the one in Scotland which a number of MacArthur's references in his series are directed towards.

Second, I don't get your remarks about context in regards to MacArthur speaking in front of his congregation. That all goes out the window when you put it online for anyone with an internet connection to access. Besides, if he is misrepresenting Patrick, the forum has little to do with whether it's okay or not. As for if Patrick really "advocates developing your own [theology]" I would recommend you read my argument in comment #6 and engage with that, something no one has yet tried to do.

Lastly, the multi-site discussion is being had all over. If MacArthur wants to chime in on it I doubt anyone has a problem. Mark Dever disagrees with multi-site and yet him and 9Marks have a very good relationship with Acts 29. MacArthur is not facing a "storm on Twitter" over his view on multi-site because the storms on Twitter have nothing to do with whether MacArthur agrees or disagrees with someone; they have to do with his perpetual misrepresentations of people and what most consider to be an arrogant and condescending tone towards them.

#51  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 9:44 AM

It came to mind, I am reading Elijah and Elisha now this moment.

Elijah was the only prophet left and God told him that God reserved

7,000 in Israel that don't bow to Baal and kiss Baal's feet.

Who do we follow? Culture's way or History's way or God's way?

Elijah is the greatest example of a prophet to Israel and death can't

touch him. Remember the army tried to kill him on the hill. Fire kill

them, why God protects His children. Awesome.

#52  Posted by Ekkie Tepsupornchai  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 10:09 AM

Todd, I do appreciate the points you bring out regarding Darrin Patrick's book. In particular, your quotes from the book in post #6 would seem to dispute the perception that Darrin is endorsing the development of one's own theology. Oftentimes, a statement can only be understood in the larger context.

That said, while statements often need to be understood in the larger context, there really is no correct or acceptable biblical context (that I can think of) with regards to "developing one's own theology." If Darrin truly elaborates his approach based upon sound biblical principles, then that's great, but it doesn't erase the non-biblical notion of developing one's own theology. There is just no way that such a sentiment could be adequately rationalized in my opinion.

#53  Posted by Joshua Berdiel  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Hi Todd. I just logged into gty and was not aware of this issue regarding Patrick's book and MacArther's remark about pg 37 of the book. To be short and to the point, I don't think anyone is questioning Patrick's orthodoxy, it is more with just the comment of "own theology". The idea that Patrick is trying to get across not being a clone of another pastor and just resaying what that pastor says word for word is true. We should follow the wisdom of the godly men before us to keep alive true bibilcal orthodoxy, but not just verbally copying and pasting what that wise man said in the past. The major problem is with the above statement mentioned. Rather it is being taken in context or out of context, a statement like that can do alot of harm. Someone strong in their faith can understand what is being said, however I believe MacArthur is conserned with the young in Christ or the non-regenerate reading a statement like that and believe that one can make the Bible say anything I want it to. Although Patrick may not have ment that, one could draw that out of what was said. If anyone is writing a book that is speaking about the the manner one should guide the LORD's flock, one nust be careful of every word. The idea of a man being called by God and him having his own theological beliefs should never be in the same sentence. Theology is what the Bible teaches as doctrine thus there can only be one right one. One's own theology can be doctrinal sound, but the way Patrick worded it could make one think he is saying make it up yourself. MacArthur faced a similar situation in one of his books years ago where the wording that the editor edited appeared that he supported a work based salvation that was against the rest of what his book taught. Once John saw this, he sent out a new edtion of the book making his stance clear to orthodoxy. John did this because he knew that pastor's are held to a higher standard (James 3), and because of this he made his postion clear. Patrick needs to do the same.

#55  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 12:28 PM


Sorry about your neighbor. My retort to you was simply an effort to demonstrate that sometimes calling attention to the foolishness of those who are in error may be just the thing to do. Not ALL the time...but sometimes.

Further, my reference to Elijah is to show that such a great prophet of God actually employed the practice.

Finally, and even more up to date, I think you will discover the same tactics used by Paul when he addressed the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians 4:8-12

#56  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 12:28 PM


Thank you for your response and for engaging with my earlier post. I think you make several good points about watching how things are said and how the readers may take it. In fact, I agree that if there is a big confusion over what Patrick means in these pages that he should work to clarify it further.

That said, I believe that the problem with MacArthur's handling of the situation is that he did not deal with it with the qualifications that you have made described above. On his initial remarks MacArthur never said, "This can be taken the wrong way by some," or "Patrick needs to be careful with the way he words what's being said here." Instead, he assumed an intention and proceed to blast it. When faced with people questioning his reading of the text, MacArthur still refused to couch his response with the appropriate qualifications given the clear intentions of Patrick in his book, and simply further entrenched himself in his position and attempted (purposefully or not) to redirect the attention away from his misrepresentation of Patrick's writing. This is why so many are upset and what still has yet to be addressed by MacArthur and the GTY community.

#57  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 2:33 PM

Jane Wilson: Bingo!


#58  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 2:33 PM


Even your portrayal of the history of John’s dealings with Driscoll, such as it is, doesn’t justify your characterization of “radically irresponsible.” All your inflammatory adjectives reveal how intractable and entrenched you are in your negative opinions of John. In fact, your representation of the situation tells me you’ve heard only one half of the story.

If you think this comment thread will bring out the other half, it won’t, but here’s a quick word of warning: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Prov. 18:17). So, here’s a small bit of examination…

#59  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 2:35 PM


Like John, I’ve also been through Patrick’s book; in fact, I’m going back through it as a result of all this. I guess I could begin by telling you all the things I found helpful so you’ll think I’m a charitable fellow, but hey, I’ve got a day-job that demands my time, and this is only a comment thread, after all.

I did find a number of things I agreed with, but it’s the underlying philosophy that concerns me. Patrick’s ministry philosophy and methodology surfaces from time to time, and like the section John paraphrased, it’s subtle but very real.

Because of time, just one example will have to suffice for now. In chapter 3, “A Qualified Man,” Patrick says this about “He must not be a recent convert” (1 Tim. 3:6): “Obviously, this qualification, along with the rest of the qualifications, is subjective, which is why the local church should be intimately involved with regard to this qualification issue.”

Does Patrick really mean the character qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are subjective? Patrick’s friends would say, “Well, no, he means it’s up to local church leadership to determine a man’s character qualifications according to objective biblical standards.” Patrick’s detractors would say, “The rest of the qualifications are subjective? What?!”

Regardless of the point Patrick intended to make, there are many young potential church planters and pastors who look up to Patrick, Acts 29, and all the men who’ve endorsed his book; they are the ones who need clarity on that point. And when men in their mid-30s are the ones examining men in their mid-to-late 20s for ministry qualification, they’re going to need clarity on that point as well. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor. 5:10).

Patrick’s explanations of each qualification in “A Qualified Man” were unforgivably brief, and it was downright dangerous not to deal with the entirety of 1 Timothy 3:6: “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.” Listen, no matter what you may think you know about John MacArthur’s motives, he’s been around long enough to watch many young men become “puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.” He speaks out of deep concern as he has seen many young men enter ministry unprepared and unqualified.

What you’ve decided is a mocking, ungracious, uncharitable tone is actually an expression of utter dismay. I’ve heard John speak in private contexts about these issues, and he has a tremendous heart of compassion for pastors, church planters, and Christians who need to think and act biblically about church ministry. He wants to see them succeed, and he has legitimate concerns about Patrick’s book undermining their preparedness.

Okay, now I need to get back to work. I've got a lot to do.


#60  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 2:36 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#61  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Thanks for the info on the scriptures. :) And God bless.


Any whom hurts one, should read proverbs. JM would advise it.From what I read, Ed Stetzer does not seem nice at all. When I read a book, I must

find out if it's pleasing to God or not. Why protect him, his words are

his and not last forever, And God's word only one that lasts forever. Just letting you know.



#62  Posted by Joshua Berdiel  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 3:17 PM

I agree with you Travis. The main point that John MacArthur is trying to get across in these discussions is the fact that when it comes to the pulpit and the men behind it, one is held under the strictest standards and if and author, rather intentional or unintentional, tries to undermind what the Bible states it needs to be said. I also agree that John was not trying to "attack another Christian", but rather was trying to make sure a fellow brother doesn't go down a road that can be very dangerous. Proverbs 27:5 says, "Better is an open rebuke than hidden love". I rather have a godly person that has walked longer in the faith tell me the truth for the greater good of the gospel than being quiet about their feelings and continue to let me walk down troubled roads.

#63  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 5:33 PM

Does anyone know if JM and Patrick have talked about this or plan to?

#64  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 8:32 PM

That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.

-- Ecclesiastes 1:9

This is nothing new and is really becoming, if not already, the norm - to bring a preconceived notion of ministry apart from the clear teaching of Scripture. I have been to nearly every church around here now and what is described and pointed about by John MacArthur strikes to the heart of the problem across many, if not most churches today.

I'll give a great example that many can relate to; Malachi 3:8 ""Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings."

Then the preacher goes on to lay a "guilt trip" on the congregation all based on what they either grew up hearing or was taught in seminary; rather than looking at the plain teaching of God's word. This is serious because God would rather have someone give $2.00 cheerfully toward Him, than $20, $50 or $200 grudgingly. People believe they are storing up treasure in heaven while they may actually be forfeiting them because of the heart-attitude. Preachers wonder why people don't give as they think they should.

Sometime I wish I had never come across such Biblical preaching from the resources at GTY, NOT-- because even the most Godly preacher I know; many, probably most, in his flock who have been there 15 plus years & bury their heads in the sand on issues such as election or flat out deny they exist.

I received an email from one attending this church for 20 years and said a Catholic friend asked where "Sola Scriptura" was in the Bible and was asking for help with verses. I gave him some advice about the probably reason for the question and what to expect and how to handle this and I was scorned for being straight-forward. So I just told him I pray God uses him as a tool to reach his friend or acquaintance.

Sometimes when I hear "Mac daddy" preach and something will catch my attention that I have never heard before or doesn't sound quite right; I go to Scripture and see if it is true and most 99% of the time I come to agree that this is what God mean by what He said.

We are living in a time when people do not want to hear the command to repent and believe the gospel and truth is relative and you are narrow minded and critical. I'm sure at times we all our & the criticisms do, at times, have merit, but we must be dogmatic about the gospel and the command to repent and to believe. May God help us all who love His word as He has given it and defend it and the Author to death if necessary and put on a thick coat of Teflon and march forward in obedience to our Commander in Chief, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. God bless all of you and I'm committed to supporting GTY in prayer and in finances and do it with great joy; knowing the Holy word of God is being faithfully preached & be it!!

#65  Posted by Ryan Helms  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 8:12 AM


I really appreciate this.I am a SBC pastor so I watch these theological joustings carefully. What frustrates me about Stetzer and the other SBC guys who endorsed the book, are the incosistencies in the outworking of their theology. It seems to me the gospel calls for our conformity to Christ and apostolic doctrine. Paul conforming to Christ and Timothy conformig to Paul. It is very frustrating dealing with men who confess sound theology but their theology seems to have little to no effect on their ministry. Which causes me to believe the theology they really believe is what is actually in their ministry. SBC life is filled with this narcisstic theology that is individualistic idolatry. Our individual conformity to the gospel produces congregational conformity to the gospel and pastoral ministry is the primary example of that conformity. For a pastor to develop his "own theology" really diplays the post modern influence of our day. How arrogant really. Are we wiser than the prophets? Are we more systematic than Christ and the Apostles? Oh how I pray that our pastors would saturate their minds with biblical doctrine and drink deeply from the wells of the patristic fathers and the reformers so that our ministries would be driven by conformity to Jesus' commands. The gospel rightly understood and believed is a gospel rightly practiced. SBC life is often like a plethora of religious theologies shaken up and poured out. Ministries are so radically varied from one SBC church to another but for the first time in my ministry discussions are coming about regarding how theology affects ministry. I am very thankful for Dr. MacArthur and the staff of GTY.

Ryan Helms

New Zion Baptis Church

#66  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 9:22 AM


Attempts have been made to contact Patrick. We are waiting.


#67  Posted by Greg Corron  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 11:45 AM

I can sympathize with Darrin Patrick's views to a certain extent about developing one's own theology. After I became a Christian, I started questioning much of the preaching I was hearing coming from the typical mainstream evangelical church. That led me to discover Reformed theology. Since I am a former Catholic, I have a deep distrust of any kind of teaching that assumes that it has earned the right not to be challenged. I think the current Reformed movement has adopted that attitude, excluding or marginalizing those who have legitimate questions that have not been properly answered.

The Reformed movement is gradually becoming yet another human authoritarian system, where obedience to church norms takes precedence over the individual, biblically informed conscience. One church I attended for a while even appointed a former bar bouncer as the chief elder. The transition was a natural one for him. He already knew the right body language and the intimidation techniques. Questions were squelched or ridiculed, not answered. Prayer requests I offered to address serious injustice against my own family members were carefully reworded into something completely different to conform to their theological system. Frequently in these churches, the ends justifies the means: by any means possible, preserve the teaching that was handed down to you.

I am convinced that orthodox theology is not complete. There is still work to do in describing how the conscience of the believer works so that he is actually free. Church leaders can neither praise nor condemn heroes of conscience from the American revolution, the abolitionist movement, or the civil rights movement. There is a huge blank area in their teaching on human dignity, freedom, and justice. If our theology cannot explain and judge significant moments of our own history, moments when inspired and brave individuals laid their lives on the line against real injustice against their brothers, then it is not complete. Theology must explain and inform everything, especially the big things, not just church activity and the personal sphere. Is it any wonder that most Christians are less outraged today against the enormous injustice of abortion than the patriots of America were more than 200 years ago over a small tax on tea? Their theology tells them it is wrong, yet strongly discourages a response similar to the Boston tea party, the abolitionist movement or the civil rights movement.

So, I sympathize to some extent with the person who says, "We have to develop our own theology," even if he is misguided. But I would revise that statement slightly to say, "We have to continue to fully develop our theology." I sympathize with him because he recognizes that our theology is not functioning as it should. It does a good job with the heavenly things and even the "creaturely" things like feeding and clothing the poor, but it shies away from matters of human dignity, justice, and freedom of conscience.

#68  Posted by John Draper  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 11:47 AM

I've not yet read the book by Patrick and have great respect for Dr. John MacArthur. I'm grateful for so many years dedicated to getting men grounded in the word of God and having the right foundation for the future of gospel ministry in coming generations. Dr. Ed Stetzer also has dedicated years to helping a rising generation of church planters stay gospel-faithful and relevant. I wonder if Mr. Patricks point is that church planters is not similar to the thought of men in ministry needing to be "Berean Christians" when it comes to theologies they inherit from the servants of God before them? You've got these writers known among U.S. evangelicals, and the truth is there's something yet to be learned from new Christians who haven't even had the time to develop (or receive) their theological framework... like the man born blind in John 9. The more he was asked about what happened to him, the clearer his theology became. Of course, the men interrogating him were offended by his presumption: because they had years of theological experience.

Much of the theology of the Reformers was culturally contextualized, as were the writings of the church fathers. On Sunday nights I've attempted a small group study on "Spirit-Led Leadership" from the Book of Acts. Last Sunday, I mentioned the pre-conversion conditioning (God's sovereignty in the development) of Saul of Tarsus. We noted his testimony in Galatians 1, that he did not go up immediately to Jerusalem, but went to Arabia. His Point? My theology and gospel was not received second-hand. No one could say he was a clone of the other apostles. In fact, had he told them that he was called to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, at that point I'm utterly convinced they would have tried to dissuade him... which is exactly what they did to SImon Peter, after he entered a Gentile's home to preach the faith.

We should definitely receive the wisdom and the tutelage of seasoned preachers. We should also not be surprised when the Spirit of God shapes the particular perceptions afresh that will be necessary for doing ministry in new contexts.

#69  Posted by Tim Terry  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Travis-great defense on behalf of Dr John MacArthur. I just read Dr MacArthurs comments in reference to the particular section of the book and found them solid. GOD birthed me into His Kingdom some 35 years ago and Godly Christian mentors such as Dr MacArthur, Edwin Lutzer, Alister Begg and others need to be about discipling the next generation now more than ever. There is a remnant of humble, biblical, servant shepherds and always will be. BUT, the vast majority of whats showing up as pastors, ministers, christian writers-speakers among us is right from 2Tim3:1-7 and 2Tim4:3-4. But sometimes its men running before they have something to say. 2Sam18:19-30. Thanks for speaking the truth in love. GTY Coach Terry

#70  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 1:00 PM


You make an excellent point concerning the actions of Paul in Galatians 1. Oddly enough, MacArthur acknowledges in his own commentary on this passage in Galatians that, "The Twelve had contributed nothing to Paul's knowledge or understanding of the gospel or to his authority to preach it" (p.41). Since there were no seminaries or Puritan libraries available in 40AD it would seem safe to say that even MacArthur admits Paul must have developed his own theology. And so if Paul was able to do it without half of the Scriptures, what is to keep a Spirit-led, Bible-reading, called young man from doing it as well?

Really this is what makes me laugh about the whole ruse: unless you intentionally carbon-copy the life of someone else, everyone develops their own theology. MacArthur and his defenders here keep saying things like, "how I pray that our pastors would saturate their minds with biblical doctrine and drink deeply from the wells of the patristic fathers and the reformers," but my question is, How is that not developing your own theology? If anyone developed their own theology it was Luther. He might have read the patristics, but he wasn't inheriting their ministry. Many of the patristics would be Catholics or Orthodox today. They got the person of Christ right, but many of them were way off on soteriology and ecclesiology. Luther had to develop Reformed theology out of 1000 of near darkness. And I can guarantee you that MacArthur himself did not just receive the ministry of the Reformers or Puritans without developing something himself seeing as how he believes in true baptism whereas almost all of them were paedobaptists and the ones who weren't were usually Arminians. Oh, and they thought drinking was okay.

Developing your own theology is about studying the Bible and tradition deeply and then taking in the parts that seem to be the truth (we can't say ARE the truth since we have demonstrated we all believe things in error). And how are we to discern the truth from error in those whom we are studying? By being dependent on the Spirit to guide us--which, by the way, is pages 59-65 of Darrin Patrick's book.

#71  Posted by Joshua Berdiel  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 1:29 PM

Todd, I love your zeal, but I think your are going alittle to far defending Patrick now. Your statement saying, "Since there were no seminaries or Puritan libraries available in 40AD it would seem safe to say that even MacArthur admits Paul must have developed his own theology. And so if Paul was able to do it without half of the Scriptures, what is to keep a Spirit-led, Bible-reading, called young man from doing it as well?", is not biblical. The Bible makes it clear that the writings of the NT saints was from direct revelation from the Holy Spirit and is subpost to be follow strictly ( 2 Peter 2:16-21). This means though men may have wrote the Bible, it was directly the words of God. To compare Paul developing theology that was divinely imparted by God to a man saying make your own unique theology is as different as night and day. We as believers due have the Holy Spirit guiding are steps and is their for us to be able to discern, but not in a way to where a Christian can say my own unique, one of a kind theology is the same as a God breathed one. I see you are a big fan and supporter of Patrick, but you have to stay within the boundries of the Bible to defend him, not with statements like that.

#72  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 1:32 PM

John and Todd, You may want to read Galatians 1 again. Paul does not say he developed his own theology. He explicitly says that he received direct revelation from Jesus Himself. Luther is also a poor example. He accepted the theology passed down to him. It wasn't until he was studying to teach that he understood the truth about justification. At that point his thinking began to chang, but he was reacting to a system of extra-biblical truth. John M. Is not saying men should blindly accept what is taught them, but the should still learn from trusted Bible teachers, of course being diligent to verify what they are being taught. Maybe it's just symantecs, but there is a difference between saying "make the truth your own... or own the truth" and saying "develop your own...." Todd, you keep mentioning that reliance on the Spirit removes individualism. It does not. That is utterly subjective. Eph 4:11-12 is there for a reason.
#73  Posted by Joshua Berdiel  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Sorry I ment to type 2 Peter 1:16-21 in my post.

#74  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 1:47 PM


Paul wrote Scripture, but when he was off learning during those three years spoken of in Galatians 1 that is not what he is doing. He was developing his theology. You may also want to make sure that you aren't building meaning into words that they do not have, i.e. 'unique' does not equal 'not God breathed.' Would you say that your theology is unique? Do you line up with every point of John MacArthur or someone else's theology? Have you gained these insights into the Scriptures through the same experiences as everyone else? Do you hold to every jot and tittle of the Bible correctly without ever understanding something wrongly, even stuff like eschatology? If so then you are the only person I've ever heard of like this. Whether you like it or not, by definition, your theology is unique to you.


"Luther is also a poor example. He accepted the theology passed down to him. It wasn't until he was studying to teach that he understood the truth about justification. At that point his thinking began to chang (sic), but he was reacting to a system of extra-biblical truth."

So, what you're saying is Luther developed his own theology? Yeah, that's what I said too.

Also, I'm not saying that the Spirit removes individualism; I am saying that being Spirit-dependent in our learning is what differentiates developing your own theology in the way Patrick wrote it from the radical individualism and post-modern hermeneutic that MacArthur and his supporters are seeing there.

#76  Posted by Ryan Helms  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 2:24 PM


I agree with much of what you said. My point was that we have no right to make up our own theology. No man should be accepted if his theology departs from sound doctrine. Certainly a man's style will be different from other pastors but the core essence of theology should be consistent with the pattern of sound doctrine. Interestingly, this is the point I believe Paul is making in his use of the phrase "rightly dividing the truth" in 2 Timothy 2:15. Paul used patterns and makes a word play for Timothy. Timothy is to study to rightly divide the word but must do it according the pattern that Paul gave to him. How easy it is to deflect scrutiny and criticism of one's theology when one can easily say "oh that is my theology, I came to it on my own, the Lord gave it to me". That is very dangerous. It places theological authority on the individual and who could argue against it because the Lord gave it to them. That kind of authority goes beyond what the false prophets at Galatia were claiming. Chapter one seems to imply that some were saying their teaching came from angels. Paul makes it clear that the Galatians had left the gospel regardless of where the source of error was. But this self styled theology claims God's authority. That seems only different from divine revelation in that it is divine interpretation. Dr. Nettles addresses this kind of thing in fall issue of The Founders Journal. On page 36, he is critiquing Dr. Land's theological position but carefully says, "But we must not question this too far lest we question God Himself, for Land believes "God led me to this understanding of election". So I will forgo any further criticism." Land's divine interpretation removes the theological authority from himself to God. This is what the passage means to me because God led me to this understanding. That is dangerous ground.


#77  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 3:07 PM

Todd, did you read Galatians 1 where Paul said he received revelation from Christ and did not develop it? Also, for the sake of clarity, can you briefly describe proper and improper ways of developing one's own theology?
#78  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 3:58 PM


The O.T. in God's word is prophecy and etc. N.T. is the fulfillment

of it.

When I read Isaiah and in Psalm, it talks of our Lord Jesus which

that prophecy came true. Jesus mention alot of the O.T. and the

future prophecy. Jesus forewarn that many will come in his name and

say I am he. and false prophets would rise and deceive even up to

the elect.

God's Word leaves no room for error.

The man born blind doesn't mean he sinned or his parents sinned, He

was born that way cause his eyes didn't work. Jesus healed him. He

didn't have to use theology to heal. Jesus was God.

#79  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 4:55 PM


What you (and others) are trying to combat with Todd is relativism. This generation of "new Calvinists" (or whatever label they want to wear) are well versed in relativism. I will be tremendously surprised if you can point to any scripture whatsoever that will change the mind of someone who adheres to the way of thinking some on this forum are demonstrating. They are not teachable and will not submit to scriptural my humble opinion that is :-)

It is very frustrating to show clearly from scripture the truth only to have one of these guys conjure something else up designed to thwart the truth just shown is a battle that God alone can win by changing the heart of these men/boys (immature Christians according to Paul and John).

Keep trying...I am having fun watching someone else try to convince these guys!

#80  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 5:04 PM

Here’s a parable on church leadership: Part I

A young man finds himself in a position to lead a church. He’s young and somewhat inexperienced, but he has zeal, he’s clever, witty, and his pedigree is not too shabby either. The people need a leader, and they have few options. So…he agrees to take the position.

Everyone is excited to welcome their new pastor, but they’re a bit nervous too. In the past, they suffered under the reign of a leader who pursued his own selfish interests—a man who aspired to build his own dynasty rather than lead the people into the worship of God. Understandably, some view their new pastor with suspicion and immediately register their concern at his ordination ceremony. They want to know his philosophy of ministry. What kind of leader will he be? What school did he attend? How will he treat them…?

Surprisingly, this young man acknowledges the people’s fears and agrees to address their concerns. But first, he requests time to consult with the church leadership team and hear their counsel.

Here’s where it gets interesting…

He displays wisdom by seeking the counsel of the elders who served alongside the previous pastor. They tell the young man exactly what he needs to hear. Their counsel flows from years of collective experience and wisdom. They’ve served the Lord faithfully for many years. They’ve fought many battles together, achieved many victories, and watched many men fall. Their counsel is reasonable, their leadership strategy wise, and their arguments irrefutable. Well, almost…

Before the elders even close in prayer, the young man has already rejected their counsel.

He’s heard enough. It’s time to hear from the men he really trusts—his peers. He can hardly wait to hear what counsel they’ll provide. After all, the church belongs to them, too. They went through the youth group with him. What a blast they had playing together, causing trouble, and rebelling against the youth leaders. Of course, while they played, all the men were busy teaching the Word, protecting the church from error, counseling families, and defending God’s Word from attack. They fought the battles that made the church a safe environment for everyone else—and they bear the scars to prove it.

Part II coming up...

#81  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Part II...

But those scars meant nothing to this young man. Besides, those days are over now. His young friends are older, more mature, and have families of their own. They’ve grown out of their rebellious teenage streak. Now they’re mature, and wise enough provide some perspective to their boyhood friend. After all, they’ll be his right hand men. No better counsel to receive than theirs, right…?

What counsel do the young men give to the new leader? “Do whatever is in your heart. Take a unique approach to leadership. Be novel. Of course, their advice was diametrically opposed to that of the elders.

The elders advised him to serve the people. The younger generation counseled him to serve himself.

What would the young man do? Would he humble himself, respect the collective wisdom and experience of his elders, and search the Scriptures?

No. The counsel of his friends served only to embolden him. With stars in his eyes, he abandons the wise counsel given him by the elders. The following Sunday, the congregation eagerly waits to hear his decision.

What happens next is sad—and instructive. You can read all about Rehoboam’s folly in 1 Kings 12. He was Solomon’s foolish son, and had not a shred of interest in being the kind of leader God wanted him to be. He just wanted authority and notoriety. Turns out—he had neither. And he split the kingdom in two. No small feat in biblical history.

Here’s how it ended: “And when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David.” So Israel went to their tents.”

So, in closing, here’s a probing question to ask yourself, church leader: Where are you seeking counsel? The elders, or your peers? It seems to me the new generation of young church planters would do well to seek the collective wisdom of the men who faithfully preached the Word, courageously fought the battles and humbly carry the scars. They're out there, but who needs that kind of wisdom when you can develop your own approach...?

#82  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 6:01 PM

"It seems to me the new generation of young church planters would do well to seek the collective wisdom of the men who faithfully preached the Word, courageously fought the battles and humbly carry the scars. They're out there, but who needs that kind of wisdom when you can develop your own approach...?"


Perhaps the most famous of the "church planters" said this about his experience with starting "his church":

"I had never been a member of a church. I had never pastored a church. I had preached one time in a church but was not well received. I did not go to bible college(no problem there). I did not go to seminary (again not a major problem). Jesus actually spoke to me and told me to marry (his wife), plant churches, train men, and preach the bible. God had spoken to (this church planter) in one of those weird charismatic moments and told me to start a church"

So, I would have to agree with your assessment, Tommy, based on the testimony of perhaps the most famous church planter of the modern era...

#83  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 6:27 PM

# 74,

I can't argue as well as some Christians on this blog, so I won't even try. But this statement:

"Have you gained these insights into the Scriptures through the same experiences as everyone else?",

bothers me to no end. No one gains "insights" into Scriptures through experiences.

May God bless you, the God of Scriptures, not your experiential god.


#84  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 7:37 PM


You most certainly do gain insights into Scripture through experience. Do you not think that grace makes more sense to you once you've seen grace in action, being part of the family of God makes more sense when you've experienced a truly loving family, etc? God is an experiential God, that's why so much of the Bible is couched in relational terms and parables (i.e. think about Hosea).


It really is a shame that none of your brothers on here have called on you to repent of your postings already. Relativism? You clearly have no idea what anyone of the "New Calvinists" believes. Men like Mark Dever, Danny Akin, John Piper and Al Mohler have very warmly embraced members of the "New Calvinism," and I think that these men--who are severely committed to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture--would be smart enough to recognize if they were embracing relativists. The tone of many of your posts here have been pious and uncharitable and it appears people just let it go, but please don't go around name calling about stuff that you appear to not understand. It's really no good for the body.

#85  Posted by Joshua Berdiel  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 8:11 PM

Todd, you are very good a debating. I still feel you are missing the point though. I do know what theology means. In simple terms one could define it as the study of God. The reason why your comments above were not biblical is the fact you are confusing revelation with theology. Paul never developed theology in the sense you are saying beacuse he didn't need to. He had direct revelation from God and all of his thoughts were based around that. It would be like saying Moses developed a theology and that again would be wrong since he never study anything, it was straight from God were his beliefs were formed. Our theology today is based off of their words, pratices, and instructions they wrote down with divine authority from God through the Holy Ghost. When you make a statement like Paul only had half the Bible and he developed his theology, so what's wrong with a believer to do the same that is wrong. From what he said we now can develop biblical theology, but not because of him developing a thought or theology. It is from God giving him that thought we form doctrine. Furthermore the basic arguement you have fro defending Patrick doesn't hold wait. If one would change the field he was talking about and aply the same princples, the peers of that field would have something to say. If their was a book that was about becoming a scientists and the author said, "You shouldn't use the tools and the discoveries that have been found before you. You shouldn't just build on someone elses discoveries that are true. You need to be unique. Develop your unique biology, and stand out." Same could be said if saomeone printed a book about geography and said, " You shouldn't develop your ideas from the works of others. Be unqiue in your maps and make it your own." If that was the prevailing thought process then we would not have reliable maps and we would believe we can breathe fire.

#86  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 8:58 PM

Everyone has experiences, but the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). It is the careful study of the whole of scripture and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that gives us Godly wisdom and insight.

#87  Posted by Joshua Berdiel  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 9:44 PM

Also Todd unique is defined as existing as the only one or as the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics. Because of this, the way you are trying to use unique is not correct towards biblical doctrine. There is a difference from people differing on a few doctrines, ie rapture being pre, mid or post trib, and a person saying forming an unique theology. Combining both words one could define an unique theology as an abnormal, one of a kind study of God. Unique implies by its definition that it is against the established and again just like many have pointed out that Paul's dealings with Timothy would show anyone that the Bible clearly is against that. Don't misunderstand what I am saying. One shouldn't just blindly believe a man and not check the Scriptures to see if there is truth in what that man is saying, but we can't go the other extreme and throw the baby out with the bath water either. When one throws the word unique with the word theology, alot of people think trying to be hip, a new more understanding gospel, or other know conformity to the world. Patrick, or you Todd may not mean that when you say unique, but that is what everyone else is hearing when you say that. I love you like any other brother I have in Christ and I hope the conversations aren't viewed as attacking but as trying to keep the good old plain gospel safe. Think about it and pray about what has been said in the posts the past few days. May the LORD bless you and your family.

#88  Posted by Joann Goka  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 9:48 PM


As we can all see from this discussion, words are important. How we express ourselves is the only way to convey our thoughts, beliefs, ideas, feelings, emotions, opinions, etc. So here are some of your words that really jumped out at me that perhaps you may want to reflect on.

6 Having read Patrick's book and MacArthur and Co.'s posts and defenses NOTE: you seemed offended regarding it being a "corporate management textbook" yet look how you refer to GTY

12 Overall, I didn't find it to be the best church planting book out there, but I certainly don't feel that it is anywhere near being a corporate management textbook. NOTE: see above comment. Also, considering your adament defense, you didn't find it to be the best church planting book out there. No comments from you as to what you didn't feel was up to snuff?

12 My defense of Patrick comes purely from what he has written and said and is not in anyway an attack on MacArthur or anyone else affiliated or sympathizing with GTY. NOTE: read these words I've pointed out. Some certainly sound attacking.

46 he and the machine around him NOTE: again, a rather derogatory phrase

70 Really this is what makes me laugh about the whole ruse: unless you intentionally carbon-copy the life of someone else, everyone develops their own theology. NOTE: according to Merriam Webster, ruse is defined: a wily subterfuge. I have to wonder why you used that word.

84 The tone of many of your posts here have been pious and uncharitable and it appears people just let it go, but please don't go around name calling about stuff that you appear to not understand. It's really no good for the body. NOTE: your advice here is good. Perhaps you may want to take it.

#89  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 9:58 PM

Keith, I agree with Todd about your use of relativism. If you're going to make that charge you need to redefine the term because none of the leader's in the realm of this discussion teach theological relativism. Also it is unfair to charge them with refusal to submit to the authority of Scripture. The authority of Scripture is generally not an issue.

Elaine, I also agree with Todd that there is a real sense in which life illuminates Scripture in ways pure book learning doesn't. Experiences shouldn't determine theology (unfortunately it does for many), but they can help shed light on Scripture.

Todd, my point in bringing up Luther is his situation was extremely unique. Further, Luther was not trying to develop his theology. He was quite settled in what he believed, but as every pastor should he was studying to teach a lesson. In fact, I think it's fair to say his discovery was accidental in the sense that I don't think he was trying to develop his theology. In the same way, we should learn from our elders, always comparing their instruction with Scripture. To the degree their teaching aligns with Scripture, we should accept it.

That said, would you agree with the following statement?

Our theology should be developed only in the Berean sense that we should receive what is taught, examine the Scripture to verify it's truthfulness, and if Scripture verifies it, then adopt it.

By "taught" I include sermons, lectures, books, e.g. any form of external instruction produced by someone other than ourselves.

This statement means we should not blindly follow what is taught, but we put everything through the Scripture filter. I'm going to presume you agree with that, but would you change it in any way?

Paul and the other apostles' theology was developed (passive) as Jesus revealed truth to them directly. They were not active in developing their theology except in the sense of active listening. From them--the foundation of apostles and prophets--theology is given generation to generation. It is the responsibility of each generation, not to develop their own theology, but to constantly compare what they receive to Scripture. Of course, it's not that simple. Hermeneutics and presuppositions play a massive role (which is why two Spirit-dependent believers can have very different beliefs), but the goal is the same--receive, confirm, give.


#90  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 10:03 PM

Tommy #80,81, and Travis, your faithfulness is very much of an encouragement to me right now. Two of the three pastors of a church I’ve been attending have exposed themselves as anti-lordship Salvationists. Twenty-five copies of Thomas Boston’s “Repentance” are beginning to “float around” the body. I’m not sure how long I’ll be around. Please pray for the spiritual protection of His sheep. May God grant me the grace to be innocent of the blood of those who, in the end, prove to be goats.

Keith, your perseverance is an encouragement as well. With all due respect, I’m not convinced that Paul or John would own them to be “brothers”. I looked up Acts 29. Obviously, I couldn’t find it. This is an example of pride and arrogance that suggest a belief that they are doing God quite a favor. There are many who worship a god of their own making (see Matthew 7:22, 23). They make Him to be the beggar and have never been brought to see themselves as children of wrath (see Ephesians 2:1-3). To put it another way, they are so busy clothing themselves with the filthy rags of their own works (the flesh) they have no time to cloth themselves with holiness (imparted righteousness). Imparted righteousness is the only reliable evidence of an imputed righteousness. Without holiness no one (no exceptions) will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). A life of “busyness” for God will never be accepted as an acceptable substitute for reverential obedience of His word (see 1 Samuel 15:22, 23). –His Unworthy Slave

#91  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 10:28 PM


Thank you for the continued civility and charity in your posts. I really think that we are running into semantic issues with "developing" here. I seems clear to me if we look at what Darrin Patrick is arguing against that developing your own theology in the manner of Paul in Galatians 1--and not in a relativistic, radically individualized, or post-modernist manner--is exactly what he's arguing for. He starts out by saying, "One of the common errors of young men who surrender to ministry is to simply adopt the model of a church that they have experienced or idolized." Therefore, his assertion that, "The man who is experiencing head confirmation is thoughtful about his own philosophy of ministry, his own ministry style, his own theological beliefs, his own unique gifts, abilities, and desires," is in direct opposition to "simply adopt[ing] the model of a church that they have experienced or idolized." He wants to emphasize the importance of knowing your call and not just getting caught up in the ministry of someone else. If Paul had simply sat at the feet of Peter and absorbed all that he was teaching then there would be no evidence of authenticity in his call. But instead, he went out and had his own theology developed by God over the course of three years apart from the ministry of the apostles. Whether it was by direct divine revelation, revelation through the study of Scripture (such as Jesus leads in Luke 24), or through simple Spirit-led study of the Scriptures, in the end Paul is gaining a genuine theology which he will then use as he goes out ministering into the world. This is "developing" a theology. Today we don't need divine revelation because we have the full canon along with the Spirit, two thousand years of historical theology and a vibrant community of living faithful to guide us, but nonetheless, what every man going into the ministry is doing if he is not parroting directly off someone else is developing his own theology. He is developing the reason for the hope that is in him and the doctrine that he will teach to the flock he is appointed.


#92  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 10:29 PM


Now, we do need to be careful because I think this following point has been washed over. "Developing your own theology" is not synonymous with "developing your own truth." In the end, some may develop a theology that is true and others may develop a theology that is radically flawed. I think it is obvious from the remainder of Patrick's book that he agrees with this assessment and asserts that, though every man may develop his own theology, there is such a thing a sound doctrine from the Scriptures. There is never any indication in the book that Patrick doesn't view Scripture as the sole authority for the church and final arbiter of absolute truth. This is something that has been read into the text by Dr. MacArthur and is why there is such a big commotion to begin with.

Lastly, just as a point of emphasis, the idea of developing your own theology, gifts, etc. as described by Patrick is not in order to stand out, as it appears you have implied at the end of your post. Again, the idea is so that the man is sure of his calling and that he isn't simply trying to walk in someone else's shoes. Remember context--the section is about head confirmation after all.

#93  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 10:46 PM


Yes, I would affirm the statement you have made in regards to developing theology. I think that this clarification goes a long way in trying to bridge what I believe as well has been more of a semantic difference between the sides. We are developing theology, not truth. The truth is always there and the same. We are responsible for rightly discerning it from all the information that we receive (with the help of the Spirit) in order to build our theology. Of course, as I commented above to Joshua, not everyone does this well, leading to some people developing theologies that radically flawed.

#94  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 6:17 AM


Is the post relates to something I heard from my brother 11 yrs ago when he was an assistant pastor.

This pastor didn't want his flock to read or study God's word for themselves and only use the NIV translations.

Seems the point you made is like pulling the arm of the pastor's

side, when the other is doing so. Is it like peer pressure. Right?


#95  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 7:11 AM

"Keith, I agree with Todd about your use of relativism. If you're going to make that charge you need to redefine the term because none of the leader's in the realm of this discussion teach theological relativism. Also it is unfair to charge them with refusal to submit to the authority of Scripture. The authority of Scripture is generally not an issue."

Well, here is THE definition for relativism...which I think is more than appropriate in this context: "Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration."(Wikipedia)

The point I am making with regards to relativism is this: Todd sees things his way and his way is true to him. You see things your way and that way is true to you Gabriel. The problem is someone or both of you are WRONG. When are we going to grow enough in the faith and realize that there is right and there is wrong with regards to scriptural understanding. I believe from 30 years of intense study that the truth of scripture is not determined by who is reading it. I fully believe, and have read numerous references by Dr MacArthur, that truth is truth and it remains the truth universally.

Some within this generation of church planters and some of their adherents seem to find a way to twist things to fit their agendas. For example: you say that developing one's own theology is NOT scriptural; Todd says it IS both cannot be correct. The fact is that no matter what you say, if it differs from a relativists own ideology, he/she will find a way to alter your position so that theirs is seen as a possible alternate...that is relativism and that is what is going on in the debate between Todd and most everyone here.

In terms of submitting to scriptural authority I submit that relativism is antithetical to how can one who practices relativism be in submission to absolute truth?

By the statements have been restricted mainly to those participating on this forum...not the leadership per se. I have never read anything by Patrick but I have read enough from those who support him to question the validity of what he has written.

Finally, thank you Douglas for your comments. I have tried to demonstrate a gracious attitude and accept that these folks are brothers. I wonder what the reaction was when Paul "withstood Peter to his face because he was wrong"...was Paul labeled as being "uncharitable"?

Oh...and Todd calling me "pious", according to this definition, is a good thing: Professing or exhibiting a strict, traditional sense of virtue and morality. Commendable; worthy. I will accept that :-)

#96  Posted by Joshua Berdiel  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 7:11 AM

Thank you for the kind words Todd. I think we are starting to clear things up some. If you are saying "developing theology" for Paul and the other men used to write the Bible in the passive, like how Gabriel worded it in one of the above posts, then I would agree. That being said, in post 70 and in your response to my last posts, it seemed, atleast to me that is, that you were putting a man studying the word there by aggressively developing a bilical theology on par with the men that God used to pen the Bible by what one could define as the passive theology that was given to them. It seems to me, and I may be misreading your words, that you think God giving the saints of both the OT and NT canonical revelation is the same as in your own words in post 70 a "Spirit-led, Bible-reading, called young man" reading the Bible and diserning what is right or wrong. Paul did not in the sense your post implies have to discern God's will the way that a believer has to today regarding one's theology. If you are having, what one could call, more or less, God directly telling what to say and what that means is different from a man praying for the Holy Ghost to guide their study in the Bible. One could come to the same biblical conclusion as Paul from his writings, but that is God showing the believer through the Holy Ghost what was ment by the words in the Bible. It is not on the same level, however as Paul having God imparting canonical, divine wisdom which by enabling him to write what he wrote in the Bible. Also, I don't know if we see Galatians 1:11-24 the same way. When Paul went 3 years by himself, there is nowhere in the text that one could draw that Paul aggressively "developed his theology" during that time. That would be speculating and that would be against what the Bible teaches in discerning the LORD's words and commands, ie Deuteronomy 29:29. The only thing that one could biblical draw from Paul's 3 year hiatus in the above named passages in Galatians is what Paul says in verse 12 which states he, in the passive sense of what you would refer to developing theology, "received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ." That being said, one does develop their theology as a saint by Bible reading and teachings from other saints, but should never be put on the same level as the passive, divinely inspired theology. Like you said in your last post, a person's theology can be wrong, but Paul's could not since it was from revelation. Beacuse of this it is not bibical for you to make a statement like you did in post 70 first paragraph last 2 sentences.

#97  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 7:43 AM

"We are developing theology, not truth. The truth is always there and the same. We are responsible for rightly discerning it from all the information that we receive (with the help of the Spirit) in order to build our theology."

Todd, this a huge leap in the right direction...a position you should have started with.

Here is a bit of brotherly exhortation for you Todd: You came to this debate like a bull in a china shop. You were riled up and ready to defend one of your faith-heroes. You have leveled accusations against John MacArthur, against Travis, against me, and anyone else who has basically said that caution should be taken with the idea of developing one's own theology.

Now after much jockeying back and forth you have succumbed to the truth, which is admirable, but much damage has been done in the process in my opinion.

For all of us...we need to make sure our stand is for God's Word and for His truth alone. When we position ourselves with men who are fallible we end up in such dilemmas as what has been witnessed here.

I am finished with this topic. May God richly bless those who have contributed.

#98  Posted by Ekkie Tepsupornchai  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 8:31 AM

After all that has been said, I hope this is really just a conflict of semantics. I stated back in post #52 that the notion of developing one's own theology can't be rationalized, because I've never considered theology something that I can possess as my own. I've considered it something absolute that I seek to understand more deeply and richly. Essentially I'm equating it as the truth of God's Word. However, if Todd is distinguishing truth and theology as two separate concepts, then I can better appreciate the original notion of developing one's own theology (even if I still believe it is not the best choice of terms).

As for the relativism discussion, truth is absolute, but no one (included our own beloved pastor Dr. MacArthur) has the entire market cornered on orthodoxy. I hope we don't draw the lines deeper than the gospel message itself, which is where Paul drew them (Ga1:8-9). If we discuss various doctrines long enough, we'll find disagreements among us, but for the folks on this board, I suspect those disagreements would not fall under a "different gospel."

#99  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 8:56 AM

Gabriel says: "...there is a real sense in which life illuminates Scripture in ways pure book learning doesn't. Experiences shouldn't determine theology (unfortunately it does for many), but they can help shed light on Scripture."

You put it much better [than Todd], but I still struggle with "experiences can help shed light on Scripture". Not on theology. Our experiences should have nothing to do with the truth that the Bible teaches. Our hearts, as Mary Kidwell reminded us, are deceitful.

And that was my point with Todd's comment. Experience implies something personal, individual to each person. And of course "our" theology can't come from that. Our worldview (everyone has one and brings it into every discussion) cannot determine Theology. We don't know God through our experiences, but through His Word.

Having been in the charismatic/pentescostal movement (interesting enough it was through that view that I read Todd's comments), it always sends me a red signal when someone says anything along the lines of "experiences". That, in one sense, creates a relativistic view of Scriptures and we create our own god.

And most certainly Paul didn't develop his own theology through the experiences he had with God.

I have to agree, however, that sometimes our problem is only semantics.

Grace and Peace.

#100  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 9:28 AM


I'm not sure Todd changed his position on anything. He did subtly admit Paul's theology was developed (passive) by God: But instead, he went out and had his own theology developed by God over the course of three years apart from the ministry of the apostles. Whether it was by direct divine revelation, revelation through the study of Scripture (such as Jesus leads in Luke 24), or through simple Spirit-led study of the Scriptures...

You are simply wrong on the charge of relativism. Todd nor anyone in this post or in Acts29 believes in the relativity of truth. There are many things I don't agree with in A29, but I have never come across anything that speaks to relativity of absolute truth.

#101  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 9:29 AM


I would say that we are pretty much on the same ground now in understanding this, but there is one additional comment I would like to make. I think we should be careful not to assume that Paul and the Apostles were not developing theology in the same manner we do today. Just because they authored divinely inspired, inerrant theology, doesn't mean that their personal theology from flawless. I would point to Peter, for instance. We know that he developed a poor theology when it came to Jew-Gentile relations in a unified body of Christ. He had to be told several times (by Jesus, God, and Paul) that there is to be no division between the circumcised and the uncircumcised, that there is no uncleanliness in regards to food. Now, this doesn't mean that Peter ever wrote Scripture that was his "own" theology or was in error in any way, but nonetheless we do know that he did err in the development of his own theology. I would also point to the majority of the Apostles who never wrote inspired Scripture and thus should not be assumed to have received everything as divine, inerrant revelation from God. It would seem that their theology was developed through three years of sitting at Jesus feet where he was constantly correcting their poor understandings.

#102  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 9:46 AM

Peter wrote 1 Peter and 2 Peter. He didn't use his theology. God help him write those books by the Holy Spirit and what Peter himself learned while being Jesus' disciples, not in college. He was a fisherman.

God's word leaves no room for mistakes.

#103  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 9:49 AM


While there may be some similarity in our concept of development, there is still a significant difference in emphasis. I'm not here speaking about Darrin's book, just the discussion in this comment thread.

Many of us don't like to think in terms of developing theology because that is not the biblical way to think about it. Biblically, we are to receive theology from our elders. Of course, as we all agree, we are not to blindly believe everything we hear, but our focus should be on receiving theology, not developing it. I think this is more than semantics—it's a mindset.

When I came to seminary I didn't come to develop my theology. I came to learn from wise and godly men. My mindset has been to learn what my professors are teaching me. I came to this seminary in part because I knew they held common views of the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. I didn't want to go to a seminary where science subverts Scripture or liberal methodologies are extolled. I wanted to learn from men who taught the Word of God as the Word of God. Because of this, my theology is the same as the seminary doctrinal statement. Not because I blindly accepted it, but because as we studied Scripture and competing views, I was convinced of the views being taught here as more consistent with Scripture.

As a result, my theology is not in any way shape or form unique to me. I own and take responsibility for my theology, but I will appeal to Scripture for it—not my professors. Have I agreed with every jot and tittle every professor has said? Of course not. But those issues where I disagreed are so minor that I don't think they qualify me as having a unique theology.

So a biblical mindset is not "I need to develop my theology," but rather, "I want to learn from faithful men so I can teach other faithful men who can teach others also."

#104  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 9:55 AM

Todd, your choice of words confuse me. =)

Your example of Peter. Did Peter really develop poor theology? I believe he knew better, he acted not accordingly to the theology he had. Paul rebuked Peter because of his (Peter's) hypocrisy (as we can tell by the second part of Gal. 2:14).

Also, I see a difference in saying "my own theology" and "my theology". What I get from "own" is something unique, new, whereas the other is an understanding of a systematic teaching. And that understanding, if we agree that theology is the study of God, can come only through the revealing of God, no?

#105  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:17 AM


I need to take you to task for your #101 comment.

The apostles in no way shape or form developed their theology. It is true they were often confused during their time with Jesus, but the confusion was gone the moment they received the Holy Spirit. Rather than based this on my opinion, here is the biblical basis for this.

It starts in John 14 when Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will give the disciples a "Helper" who is the Spirit of truth (v. 16-17). The Holy Spirit will also "teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (v. 26). That statement is exclusively for the disciples. If you deny this, then you'll have to explain why we're having this debate as two confessing Spirit-filled believers. I certainly won't be brash enough to claim the Spirit has taught me all truth.

Later in chapter 16 Jesus continues discussing the role of the Spirit in general, but in particular for the disciples "He will guide you into all the truth... and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you..." (v. 12-15).

This is verified in the epistles where Paul declares that the things the apostles teach was revealed to them by God through the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10). He says this again in Eph. 3:5, "[the mystery of Christ] was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit."

You made a categorical mistake in combining Peter's theology with his practice. His theology was correct (otherwise he could not be an apostle), but he was still a sinner and did not live up to his theology. Remember, Peter was the first Jew to have good relations with Gentiles. He didn't have any theological issues with mingling with Gentiles. He simply, at one point, feared man more than God. You cannot point to any false theology in any apostle. You may be able to point to the fact that they were sinners, but not that they had false theology. It is presumptous at best.

It is an error to say what the apostles wrote in Scripture was inerrant but they could have taught errant theology. An apostle with errant theology was a false apostle.

Scripture itself is God-breathed, but the Holy Spirit, according to Scripture, directly revealed truth to the apostles even without them having to study. Most of the apostles where untrained fishermen, remember?

#106  Posted by Joshua Berdiel  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 11:01 AM

I do think we are closer to being on the same page Todd. But, as Gabriel pointed out above, I think it is a mind set issue. The example you use for Peter isn't correct. It had nothing to do with theology why Peter did this. He knew the truth. He just sinned. If that was true then the Bible contradicts itself because through revelation from God Peter knew the correct view towards the Gentiles with the Gospel, ie Acts 10. That would be the same as saying Peter's bad theology led him to deny Christ three times in the Gospels. It was not theology, it was sin there too. Paul, Peter, and the other Bible authors developed all of their beliefs from revelation, either by the Holy Ghost, Jesus in the flesh, or from the LORD speoaking directly to them, like much of the OT prophets. That sort of revelation is not possible for us today, because if it was, that would mean what we wrote would be equal to the Bible, and I think everyone would agree that is not possible. Also Jesus talking to the Apostles in the flesh is revelation from God by definition, because he is God and he is revealing the truth of the LORD. It isn't biblically correct to say Peter and all the Apostles didn't have revelation from God. By you saying that you are inadvertently denying the deity of Jesus. The only problem I had with any of the posts was again 70 when you said, "Since there were no seminaries or Puritan libraries available in 40AD it would seem safe to say that even MacArthur admits Paul must have developed his own theology. And so if Paul was able to do it without half of the Scriptures, what is to keep a Spirit-led, Bible-reading, called young man from doing it as well?" I don't know what you ment by that, but it appears to me, and I think most of the other people who have been sending posts to you, that you are comparing Paul way that God gave him truth to the rest of us today studying the Bible and forming theology being equal. That is also not biblical correct. The idea of comparing Paul's revelation and not needing schooling to a young church planter developing a theology of his own accord is scary to most. I don't known if this was your intent but it reminded me of a rebuke that I was given early in my walk. I am a mid 20's Christian and I am lucky to have godly men in my life to set me strait. I was speaking and I kept on saying I or was comparing myself in ways I shouldn't have. Then one of my closest brothers in Christ warned me saying that Satan said alot of the same things when he wanted to be like the Most High. I AM NOT CALLING YOU SATAN, but what I am trying to get across is that statements like post 70 what I qouted above have level of pride that can be very dangerous engraved in them. Please look at the Bible and pray about this. Again I don't mean you are evil or Satan but I mean just like what I ment when I first reponded to your posts, we must be careful what we say. God bless you brother and may the Lord guide your steps.

#107  Posted by Greg Moering, Jr.  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 11:19 AM

Dr. Woodbrige,

I don't know if you remember me or not, but you were the interim pastor at PUCC for a little while. I was really suprised to see you on here. I was just reading through the comments and to my surprise, who do I see, Russell Woodbridge. I would like to keep in contact with you. Do you happen to have a Facebook? How goes it?


Good post. I really appreciate men like Pastor MacArthur who preach the Word. I cannot stand hearing a man get behing the pulpit and spout off his opinion. Give me the Word, for "faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17).

#108  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 11:24 AM

Gabriel et al.,

I am fearful of assuming that all that the apostles knew they knew because it had been simply revealed to them by the Spirit apart from any studying and that they were never incorrect. In fact, I think Scripture backs this up. First, we can all come up with instances where "all" doesn't mean "all" can't we? :) Second, if it were simply revealed to them why does Luke 24.27 say, "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." This looks like study to me. Third, as it pertains to Peter, he had forgot what Jesus taught him with regards to cleanliness and the gospel. Mark 7.15-19 Jesus "declared all foods clean" with Disciples right there. Yet in Acts 10 God teaches Peter a second time about cleanliness and it is at this point that he learns (as acknowledged in Acts 10.28). Therefore, this would seem to make your strict interpretation of the Holy Spirit "bring[ing] to your remembrance all that I have said to you" invalid, since it seems clear that in this case he didn't.

Also, just to clarify from some other assorted comments, I think that we have to be careful how we use the word theology. As it has been noted, theology simply means "the study of God." By definition that means that someone's theology can be either good or bad, right or wrong. There is objective truth about God and the relative fitness of one's theology is measured against this, but to say there is one theology (as it seems some are) is incorrect. Theology is a discipline to be practiced, not some ethereal object to be obtained like I feel some are portraying it to be. Again, I think that many people are hearing the word "truth" when they read the word "theology", and this is causing most of the confusion.

#109  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 11:36 AM

Todd, I'm in disbelief.

You quoted Luke 24 which is pre-Pentecost to contradict a post-Pentecost reality? Even so, it is direct revelation from God, not study.

Did Peter's actions indicate a change in theology or an absence of righteous judgment? The text actually says Peter, James, and Barnabas feared the circumcision party (Gal 2:11-14), not that they changed their mind on theology or forgot it. Stick to the text, my friend.

Surely at some point in your own life, as in mine, you have sinned knowing full well what you were doing was wrong.

You'll need to come up with some actual biblical backing. And saying "all doesn't always mean all" is not support for anything. You'd have to demonstrate how it doesn't mean all in that instance.

#110  Posted by Agape Jackson  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 3:45 PM

Hi all, I did not read all of the posts b/c it was an overload of info, at least 4 my brain...I think of the passage that says in the last days knowledge will abound and man will be ever seeking but never coming to the knowledge of the truth. Anywho... only those who are "saved" have the ability (Holy Spirit) to discern truth. Therefore, why is The Body debating? Only Trust and obey by abiding in HIM 24/7/365 ... therein lies peace, joy...etc...all the fruits of The which men shall know you are My disciples...that you have Love 4 1 another... the rest will oneday hear -depart from me...etc. Agape....

#111  Posted by Tj Carr  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 7:41 PM

I agree with Dr. MacArthur on this issue, both in the context of the issue at hand, as well as in the context of the broader scope of Mr. Patrick's ministry. As I explore the wesite of Mr. Patrick's "The Journey" church/ministry, I am comfronted with numerous questionable beliefs, tenets and practices, all mixed in with other beliefs that seem more sound, biblically. It seems that Mr. Patrick has unfortunately strayed down the road of the Consumer/Seeker-driven church model and rarely have I seen such churches recover from errant doctrine and practice. I can understand why people such as Dever and Keller would endorse Patrick's book, as both have ministries that are composed of both truth and errancy, as well.

It is refreshing to see Dr. MacArthur stand up for what is right. I do trust and pray that when these issues are confronted, they are confronted in both truth and love - as none of us has perfect insight and perfect understanding. We need to ask God to give us the grace to admonish biblically, as well as the grace to accept admonishment in our own lives, humbly.

Grace and peace be to you all, in the Savior's love!

#112  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 8:28 PM


Three short comments in regards to my thoughts on Peter. (1) I made the "all doesn't always mean all" comment not being entirely unserious but with a little bit of tongue-in-cheek given how cliche this line of defense has become (maybe I should have used a winky face instead of a smiley face emoticon); (2) I'm not sure that the fact that Luke 24 is pre-Pentecost diminishes what I am referring to it for. If the Spirit was really going to empower the Apostles in as unique and powerful a way as it seems you are claiming then what is the point of Jesus walking them through the Scriptures? It seems like he would have been better off saying, "Just give it about 50 days, this will all make sense." (3) I still don't think you have addressed the fact that a post-Pentecost Peter did not recall the teaching he received from Jesus. If the empowering of the Spirit was really to call to remembrance all that Christ had taught the Apostles in the strict sense you seem to imply then Peter's lack of understanding of the removal of the cleanliness laws presents a problem. This is further compounded by the fact that the account of Jesus' declaring the food laws void is recorded in Mark, which many believe to be simply a recording of Peter's preaching, thus indicating that Peter was aware of this event and yet somehow did not have any remembrance of the teaching while resting in Joppa.

On the larger debate over how divine the revelation given to the Apostles was versus how divine the revelation available to us today is, it sounds to me like you are advocating a somewhat Barthian distinction between Jesus as the divine revelation of God's Word and Scripture as the divine revelation of God's Word. I would be utterly surprised if this were the case, as I assume this has more to do with the fact that we are splitting so thin a hair of theology that the boundaries of debating in this forum are not sufficient enough to pick up the subtleties in our intended speech.

#113  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 8:31 PM


Wow! It would be nice to see the claims that The Journey has "numerous questionable beliefs, tenets and practices" and that Mark Dever and Tim Keller have ministries that mix "truth and errancy" actually supported. This is exactly the type of trolling that is not productive to the debate. (I am particularly interested in what issue you take with Dever. I mean, wow!)

#114  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 9:24 PM


Sorry to interrupt your conversation with Gabe. Please don't consider this a gang up of any sort. I wanted to comment briefly on your conclusions. I think you’re building them on some pretty shaky foundations.

(1) When do you think Mark wrote his gospel account—before or after the Joppa incident? Think about how that might turn your argument on it’s head. The passage you referenced (Mark 7:15-19) is Mark/Peter (I'm assuming you agree Peter most likely was his informant) looking back in hindsight. As you know, that’s a common occurrence throughout the gospels as the Spirit of God clarified events the gospel authors did not initially understand.

(2) Are you claiming the 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus were apostles, or became authors of Scripture? Not likely, but it seems to me your argument depends on that. One of the men was named Cleopas. The other is never identified by name. Those things being said, I'm not quite following your logic in bringing up that account.

(3) Not sure if you’re seriously asking the purpose of the Luke 24 account in light of Gabe’s comment, but consider this: Jesus is demonstrating to the disciples—and to us—the power of explaining the Scriptures. Perhaps that’s why He kept His identity hidden while preaching to the two doubting disciples. In a remarkable way, that passage displays the power of God’s Word rightly explained.

(4) Yes, you definitely should have used a different emoticon. (I just can’t bring myself to insert one here, but I thought about it.)

#115  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 9:42 PM


(1) I would assume that the gospel account was written after Joppa, given how quickly the events in the early part of Acts were occurring and the conservative view on the dating of Mark. Either way, I believe the conclusion stands that Peter had not had this specific teaching of Jesus called to his remembrance by the indwelling Spirit but instead had to have it taught to him again later.

(2) You are correct that the Scripture I quoted above was the Emmaus Road passage, but I think that the wording of the parallel passage in 24.45-47 refers to the same activity. I should have probably been more clear in referencing this earlier. Thank you for pointing that out.

(3) My point in bringing up Luke 24 is simply to argue that at least to some extent the Disciples developed their theology through understanding Scripture rightly, much the same way we are to do today under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This was meant in contrast to what I felt was being argued for by others, namely that the Disciples received their theology by divine revelation from the Spirit and without the use of study.

#116  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:33 PM


I'm still very confused. It was Jesus revealing Himself out of the Hebrew Scriptures. The disciples were not studying under the guidance of the Holy Spirit because they did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit. Can you point to the text where it says they learned in dependence on the Holy Spirit? I realize they did not recognize Jesus at first, but that doesn't change the fact that it was Jesus.

I'm also still confused with your use of Peter. Peter was eating with the Gentiles (Gal 2:12) so we know he understood at that point it was kosher to do so. Then when the Jews came from Jerusalem he feared them so he removed himself. His theology regarding Jew/Gentile relationships was in place, he simply feared what the Jews would say more than he feared God in that moment.

When you were a young kid didn't you lie at some point knowing that lying was wrong? There was no deficiency in your knowledge of lying, just in your judgment. Same with Peter. The text is quite clear.

#117  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:47 PM

it sounds to me like you are advocating a somewhat Barthian distinction between Jesus as the divine revelation of God's Word and Scripture as the divine revelation of God's Word.

I don't know what you're meaning here. I think I read something of Barth in Historical Theology, but couldn't tell you what or how much. I'm certainly no follower.

To reiterate what I was saying, I was simply quoting Scripture that clearly states the apostles received their theology directly from the Holy Spirit via divine revelation. Most of the disciples-turned-apostles were untrained fishermen. They didn't have the tools or previous theological training that Paul did. The only Scripture I can think of that indicates apostolic studying is when Paul is in prison and asks Timothy to bring him the parchments. But just like you and I read Scripture more often for personal devotion (different than theology development), Paul likely did the same since this was the end of his life.

Point is Scripture explicitly says the Holy Spirit directly revealed truth to the apostles and prophets after Pentecost. It says nothing about the apostles and prophets developing their theology through study or sitting at one another's feet.

#118  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 11:10 PM


The more I think about the apostles developing their theology apart from direct divine revelation it become more nonsensical. Imagine: you have an Old Testament and nothing else. No Christian commentaries. No Christian teachers. No Christian books. Nothing. Just you, the Old Testament, and the Holy Spirit.

I dare say the apostles had no previous Christian material from which to develop their theology! The most some of them had was Jesus' words, but Paul explicitly gave commands Jesus did not speak, and I am sure that happened in many other places in the NT. They had to receive their theology from God because there was no other way to get it.

As they received it from God, they taught it to faithful men who taught faithful men who taught faithful men, all the way down the line and here we are today. We are to receive our understanding in large part from faithful men. That should be the focus, the emphasis, and the goal.

#119  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 5:22 AM

Okay; this has been great - defending the truth. Since many have departed from the topic - how about a new topic?

#120  Posted by Joshua Berdiel  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 6:58 AM

Todd, I have to again agree with Gabriel. There is a difference between Pre and Post Penecost reality. Also what could have the Apostles studied? The only things they had to study would be the OT and what Jesus told them. I see you have read the Bible but you can't take stuff out of context and form beliefs that the Bible clearly says otherwise, like how your doing with Peter. The Bible does talk about what you mentioned in Mark 7. This is refering to the diet laws of the OT in a sense but its primary purpose is to address the conversation that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees about the washing of hands and conversation there after in Mark 7:1-13. This teaching of Christ was to show what comes out of a man, ie his fallen nature, defiles a man, not forgetting to wash your hands and eating, or any other tradition of man that is against the Scripture. The only reason why that (Thus he declared all foods clean) note is in there is because the source of information, that being Peter, looking back after the events of Acts 10 understood through revelation by the visions he had that the since all men can be clean then all food is clean. The "other teachings" you are refering to that Peter had could only be the revelation he had in Acts 10 and again that was for a greater purpose then just food. The visions that Peter had and it being in threes was by revelation to show that a Jew and a Gentile can receive the gift of grace. With that being said, Peter could and did willfully sin beacause, like what Paul teaches in Romans 7, his is still human. That doesn't have to do with theology. I defined in an earlier post theology being the study of God, nothing more or less. When you combine the inner struggle of man with the enemy to sin with theology, making them one, you are now changing the definition to help support your views. We can't take the Bible and use it as a Scrabble board to spell out whatever we want it to say. The way you are taking things out of context is the same as me using Genesis 19:30-38 and saying it is ok if my daughter gets me drunk and I black out, that she can take advantage of me. That would be wrong because the Bible clearly teaches otherwise. Is the story there? Yes. But with proper context of time period, the surrounding passages, and the Bile as a whole, we know that to be against what the Bible teaches. The Bible can't contradict itself and if the Bible only reveals to us that the Apostles formed a passive theology through divine revelation, which is the only thing it says, we as Christians shouldn't try to put a spin on it to support our views. We must not add to or take away from the good book. We conform to the Bible not the other way around.

#121  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 7:04 AM

Mark. We completely agree with you. The discussion has been interesting, but it has run its course. New stuff is in the works so stay tuned.

#122  Posted by Joshua Berdiel  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 7:29 AM

I agree with you Mark also. Sorry to you and the GTY community for going off of topic. Once I read post 70 the conversation shifted and that was my fault. Love you Todd. I ment nothing personal by anything I posted. I just wanted to make sure a brother isn't getting led astray by bad theology. I guess we will have to agree to disagree about the sub-topic that formed in the post. Pray over all that has been said. God bless you and your future studies of His word. Let the word speak for itself.

#123  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 7:59 AM


"Also what could have the Apostles studied? The only things they had to study would be the OT and what Jesus told them."

Exactly. That's what they could have studied. The point I'm trying to make is not that they had more to study, but that they needed to study this stuff, that it wasn't just intuited in them by the Spirit at Pentecost. I don't see Scripture arguing that "the Apostles formed a passive theology through divine revelation" in as clear and exclusive a way as yourself and others are arguing. John 14 was offered earlier as proof of this, but I feel like the account with Peter shows that John 14 cannot be interpreted so strictly. I do not get what you are trying to say about context with Mark 7. There is a point to the passage as you have demonstrated, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Jesus really did declare all food to be clean here. Peter realized that later. My point is that Peter was there, he heard it, Pentecost came, Peter was indwelt with the Spirit, and yet Peter did not recall this event. His theology had to be developed later through the vision he received from God. My argument is being given solely to demonstrate that John 14.26, when it says of the Holy Spirit "he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you," cannot be understood as saying "the Apostles formed a passive theology through divine revelation" exclusively without the need of further instruction and study post-Pentecost.

BTW, I'm having fun here. Looks like the haters are getting tired of the less controversial stuff, but I have enjoyed those like Joshua and Gabriel who have rolled with things as the ball turned and diverted off course over the past few days. Don't worry, haters. I'm sure somebody will say something and the blogosphere will light up with more rousing conflict in a day or two.

#124  Posted by John Draper  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 10:04 AM

Todd, Gabrielle, and Ryan. Thank you all for your responses. Indeed Paul did receive direct revelation from the Lord (Galatians 1:12) and while he seemed very confident in making this statement, we also could reflect upon Galatians 2:1,2. Apparently Paul is engaged in ministry for some years, since Titus accompanies him to Jerusalem. Yet during that journey he says this about the gospel he's preaching to the Gentiles, "in order to make sure I was not running, or had run in vain." That's a bit of a mind-blower, is it not, when you persistently claim what Paul claimed: that he got his message by direct revelation of Christ? Paul understood that he, personally, was subject to theological fine-tuning. And he was not hesitant to point out Peter's error, even noting that his own esteemed mentor Barnabas was being influenced by conduct incongruent with the gospel. Most reading our posts are immensely grateful for their theological teachers and particularly for the ministry of GTY. I trust I'm not being a proponent of subjectivism when I say that each generation needs to elevate the study of God's Word itself, above what other great scholars may say about the Word. We don't disrespect their ministry if we stay Berean Christians.

#125  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 10:36 AM


By “haters,” who exactly are you referring to? And why would you ascribe motives to people who seem to have lost interest in going back and forth with you?

You haven’t exactly answered every objection and challenge on this blog yourself. But I wouldn’t call you a “hater.” Maybe “selectively interested,” but not a hater.

#126  Posted by Joshua Berdiel  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 11:05 AM

"Running in vain" in Galatians 2:2 is refering to the Gentiles being in the Body of Christ with the Jews not him tunning theology. Paul is saying in a sense if the Jews and Gentiles aren't one in the church then it is a vain race.

#127  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 11:08 AM


I was just playing around with the "hater" comment. It seems funny to me that people post comments simply to say, "Let's start a new topic," like they own the internet, so I thought I would poke at that a little. I'm sorry if this comment was offensive to you. It was meant to be in jest.

That said, if you would want to share something you feel I have avoided answering over the course of this thread, please let me know. I have no intention in being "selectively interested." The only things I have purposefully avoided addressing are comments that I found to be trolling and unproductive.

#129  Posted by Ben Jenkins  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 12:15 PM

God bless you, Travis and Bro. MacArthur for the work you are doing.

Some insight into Ed Stetzer's comments might be gained by reading the following excerpt from his book, "Transformational Church". In explaining the format of their research he makes the following very telling statement, "We also have chosen to report the names of real churches. There is always a danger in that, be we prefer telling their stories. Some will object that Lutherans, Pentecostals, Methodists, and Baptists are all cited as places where God is at work. So be it. We see God at work in different kinds of churches and are glad to celebrate that here." I didn't read another word from the book. In my opinion, for God to be at work in the context of this variety of theological disparity would put Him in conflict with Himself. God would be a Divine schizophrenic. Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer in this statement perpetuate the ecumenical myth that it doesn't matter what you believe as long as your sincere. The logical conclusion of that of THAT theology is that there will be an awful lot of very sincere people in hell.

#130  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 12:45 PM


What does Galatians 2:12 say? Peter was already eating with Gentiles. His theology was in place. Apparently this incident was post-Joppa. He sinned because he is a sinner, not because he didn't know better.

Will you acknowledge that?

#131  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 1:07 PM

Attention: Todd Burus & all

Paul Defends His Ministry

11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.

15 But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles,

I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.

18 Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. -- Galatians 1:11-18

I hope the word of God settles this in the minds of everyone; Paul received His theology directly from Jesus and goes out of the way to show it was not of any other person. So be it.

#132  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 1:09 PM


Proverb 26:18-19 says, “Like a madman who throws Firebrands, arrows and death, so is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, “Was I not joking?”

That’s twice you’ve thrown down the “I was only joking” card.

To you, this subject may be “fun” and entertaining. Call me a pious prude, but I don’t think the source and practice of our theology and church planting strategy is funny. I’m saddened by all the confusion, as are many others.

So before you toss out another developmental theology jest, maybe you could consider the gravity of what we discuss here.

#133  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 2:42 PM


It appears that you need to look at what you're commenting on before you get so upset. Neither time that I said I was joking had anything to do with "the source and practice of our theology and church planting strategy." The first time was a comment which I said was a serious comment but I had just worded it in a way to poke fun at a specific cliche line in theological circles. The second time was about random posters and had absolutely nothing to do with anything even remotely related to theology. If we're throwing around Scripture references, maybe you should read James 1.19.

By the way, are you practicing the same selectively interested attitude you accused me of? I didn't happen to see any references to the objections and challenges that I am allegedly running away from.


Be careful. The "gospel" is not the same thing as "theology." No one here denies that Christ came personally to Paul and declared the gospel. This is the source of his claim to apostleship as he is defending in that passage. However, what about the rest of his theology? Why was Paul away for three years and what was he doing? Was he passively receiving information through divine revelation for three years, or was he studying the Scriptures and conversing with learned men as the Spirit guide him in developing his theology? As far as I can tell this passage is inconclusive in regards to those questions.


I was wrong to include Paul's admonishment of Peter in my above comments on the development of Peter's theology on inclusion. When I said it I was thinking something slightly different than where the conversation went, but looking back see that it doesn't fit with the overall argument I was making. That said, I still don't believe this addresses the issue of what happened in Joppa and why Peter seemed to have initially developed an incorrect doctrine of inclusion even though Christ clearly taught about it in his earthly ministry.


Hallelujah! Landmarkism is alive and well! In all seriousness, do you think that God is only at work in churches that have flawless doctrine, or is it just churches that have so much of it correct? What is the cut-off for error that you are allowed to hold to? Do you have to be a pre-mil Dispy or will God work through amil's as well? Clearly Arminian's are out. Probably four-pointers as well. Hmm? Guess God isn't as big and powerful as he was in Genesis 50.20 and Romans 8.28 anymore.

#134  Posted by Joshua Berdiel  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 3:15 PM

This is my last post for this subject. The bottom line when one starts saying that Apostles needed to develop their theology, tune it, or anything like that and also say that they had divine revelation you are almost smacking God in the face when that is said. Explain to me how one who has direct wisdom from divine means and bases that around their beliefs, or theology, making those beliefs 100% right, could then develop or tune that. Both of the statements imply improve on. Can any man that ever lived improve on something if God told them this is what this is? I would like to see the people that have that view explain to God how man developed, fine tunned, or perfected on the divine truth the Apostles based their theology on. What would you say to Him, you told Paul this but he developed his theology furhter from life experience. Your revelation was good but Peter had to fine tune his theology to make it better. Then as one's proof for this view is to show Peter sinning being a sign of bad theology and seeing no differnce from the Pre Penecost, ending of the OT covenant of the Gospels before CHrist was crucified to the Post-Penecost realites that pertain to revelation and the role of the Holy Ghost. This is one of the most dangerous mindsets that a professing Christian could have. Comparing the development of our theology in the sense that we are putting on par with divine wisdom, saying that divine wisdom isn't enough, or saying that the Apostles somehow had bad theolgy after revelation scares me to the point of tear-filled prayer for ones with that view. If an Apostle has bad theology and the Bible says it is from revelation, one is saying that God gave them incorrect info. I now realize there is nothing that I can say that will change a person's mind with that view. If 4 days of biblical proof in correct context can't show that to someone, all I can do is pray and hope the LORD will show them the truth. God bless all of you. Sorry again for going off topic. Hopefully a new topic will be here soon so this conversation can end.

#135  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 3:48 PM


God is big that we are a speck of dust in His palm of His hands.

#136  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 5:00 PM


Yes, James 1:19 is a great passage for bloggers to keep in mind. Quick to hear and slow to speak—or type. I do endeavor to follow that pattern. Another principle to consider is letting your words be few, for in a multitude of words, sin is not lacking. That being said, I’ll make this my last response to you in this thread.

The unanswered challenges I’m referencing came from Travis Allen’s comment # 59. He brought up several good points from Darrin’s book and asked for feedback.

I never saw your response, but to be honest, I don’t know what acceptable response could be offered.

You claimed to not stand in as Darrin Patrick’s apologist on this blog, but you have also denied the charge that his book promotes a troubling approach to church planting—a denial I believe obligates you to provide proof and answer the objections of someone who has read the book and asks genuine questions. Even you agreed Patrick’s book is not your top choice for church planting (or something to that effect).

Also, you accused John of taking Patrick’s words out of context, claiming Darrin did not mean a church planting pastor should develop his own theology. But since that first post, you’ve sought to defend that very claim—unsuccessfully in my estimation.

I appreciate your courage for participating in the blog and defending your convictions, Todd. My prayer is that John’s words cause all of us to carefully scrutinize our approach to ecclesiology. What is the church to be? Who is qualified to lead her? What strategy best implements the pattern we find in the New Testament.

May God grant us mercy in those pursuits.

In Christ,


#137  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 7:52 PM


I would be happy to reply to Travis' comment #59. I would say that when Patrick says that the qualifications for being an elder are subjective and thus require the intimate involvement of the local church in testing he means exactly that--the qualifications are subjective. This is not subjective in some post-modern sense of "you can take it or leave it"; it's subjective in the true sense of the word: "characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind." This meaning is the antonym of 'objective', and is, in my opinion, pretty obvious given the context. If you believe the qualifications are not subjective then that means they are objective, which means anyone can judge their self as qualified. Of course that would also require objective quantification of things like "not a recent convert" (i.e. how recent is okay?), which are obviously not present. The way I see it, the only way to read "Obviously this qualification . . . is subjective" in a negative light is if you are attempting to see that meaning there, in which case you have already abandoned proper hermeneutics so what's the point? It appears that Travis is more interested in making a point about the relative youth of the leadership in Acts 29 anyways, which is his opinion of what goes on in Acts 29 assessments, though I doubt he really knows.

As for the comment that "Patrick’s explanations of each qualification in 'A Qualified Man' were unforgivably brief, etc.," I think it is important to keep in mind that this is not the only thing in the book. Patrick is giving a quick look at these ideas in what amounts to a survey of church planting and the church planter. Not every book can be a systematic theology. If all a man knows before going to plant a church is what is written in this book then no church in their right mind would say he's qualified. It's just a survey; it only goes so deep. It is unfair to judge it for what it's never meant to be in the first place.

#138  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 8:05 PM


Hopefully my response to comment #59 helped clear up where I stand on what was said there. Again, I had no intention on avoiding anything. Thank you for bringing to my attention that you desired to know what I thought about what was said.

In regards to your post #136, I honestly think it would do you well to go back and review the conversation had between myself, Joshua, Gabriel, and a few others to see what I was really saying. My argument has never been that Darrin didn't mean what he said; my argument from start to finish has been that Dr. MacArthur misinterpreted the statement and that possibly MacArthur and certainly subsequent commentators have been in error by reading "develop your own theology" as synonymous with "develop your own truth" and then reacting against that fallacious reading.

#140  Posted by Joshua Berdiel  |  Friday, January 28, 2011 at 8:16 AM

I would like to apologize to you Todd for the tone of my last post. I am worried about you brother and my zeal got out of control. You being a member of an Acts 29 church claim to be reformed in your confession of faith, correct. If that is the case then you would then agree with the The Westminster Confession of Faith as being one of the best ways to solve issues like this, correct? Chapter 1 Section 9 states the following, with Bible verses included, "The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly" (Acts 15:15; 2 Pet 1:20-21) That being said, which arguement is stated more clearly in Scripture only, not outside assumptions or influences? The view that myself, Gabriel, and I believe the majority of every other person that posted a post being only the passive, that the Scriptures do not include you view and you would have to add that to the text to have your view, ie Galatians 1 and 2, or the view you have that the verses that you use at best, and I being kind saying that, make a discussion about it. If you are claiming Reformed theology, which Acts 29 churches do, and because of that I assume you do, you would then be forced to side with the masses in this post because the verses we are using are more clear then the verses you have been using. Otherwise your theology really isn't Reformed.

#141  Posted by Todd Burus  |  Friday, January 28, 2011 at 12:46 PM


First, I want you to know that I didn't read any ill intent into your tone earlier. I appreciate your passion and am thankful to have been able to have the dialogue with you that I have on this thread.

As for the issue of interpretation of Scripture, I totally agree with you. My concern with the position that yourself and others have advocated--namely, that the exclusive means for the Apostles gaining their theology was through passive interaction with divine revelation at and following Pentecost--is that I feel this position reads too much into the text. My feeling is that such a belief is motivated by an appropriate concern for defending the inerrant and objective truth of Scripture, I just don't think the two are necessarily related to the extent that we should view the Apostles learning as being identical to the way in which we are told Scripture was written. I have been arguing that Peter's experience of learning about the doctrine of inclusion apart from the Spirit's calling it to his remembrance repudiates John 14 as evidence for the opposing view. I would also argue the following as evidence that we shouldn't assume the Apostles gained their theology solely through the passive means you propose: (1) not all the Apostles wrote Scripture, and therefore we should not necessarily assume that the same Spirit that protected the inerrant transmission of God's Word through writing also protected these Apostles from believing certain things in error. I don't believe Ephesians 2.20 can be made to carry this weight; (2) not all who wrote NT Scripture were Apostles and as such these men almost surely learned theology from study and teachings and not passive reception of divine revelation, yet we still believe that God has protected the theology they transmitted to us in Scripture; (3) the amount of time Paul spent gaining his theology seems awfully long for just passive reception of divine revelation. It would be reasonable to assume that it took this long to wrestle through the many issues that he would later teach on however. None of these observations prove that the Apostles were involved in active study and learning, but taking them combined with the lack of straight forward evidence for the opposing position definitely calls into question any assumption that the Apostles were exclusively passive conduits of divine revelation.

#142  Posted by Kevin Labadessa  |  Friday, January 28, 2011 at 3:09 PM

I have been listening to Pastor John for over 26 years and I'm amazed that people are making such a big deal about his comment in the interview. He didn't attack anyone personally. The teaching of John Macarthur has blessed my life. I support him and am not really interested if the trendy folks are upset!!

#143  Posted by Joshua Berdiel  |  Friday, January 28, 2011 at 3:12 PM

I apologize for inadvertantly lieing by responding more to the off topic post. I am glad we are at least at this point Todd. This will be my last post for you so please listen and pray over what I am going to say to see if this is truth or not. We can assume all apostles had direct revelation from God. If you read Acts 2 it reveals this truth. In Acts 2:3-4, the apostles are filled with Holy Spirit, and more imporstantly for this discussion, the statement "divided tongues as on fire". This is a very Jewish in context so it can be missed if not all the Bible is taken into account. There tongues weren't really on fire, but the symbol is the key. Fire in the OT often was a sign of the prensnce of God and for the use of holiness and purity, ie Exodus 3:2; 13:21; 19:18; 40:38; Isaiah 4:5, 6:6; Ezekiel 1:4. By understanding this fact, one then can know that the Apostles all received divine revelation from God by the purfying fire that was on their tongues from that point on. That being said, this still gives them the ability to sin. Although they are being used by God in that matter, they can willfully do what the flesh, pride, or fear tells them to do, ie Jonah or when Elijah hid in a cave after defeating the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 19:1-8. By knowing these OT truths this clearly proves the revelation arguement and dismisses your Peter, and your (1) and (2) arguements about the Apostles.

As far as (3) arguement about Paul goes. We both agree the text in Galatians only says he got revelation by God and nothing else formed his beliefs, ie Galatians 1:11-24. Your only objection for Paul only having revelation is the fact he spent 3 years away from Jerusalem. Again we both agree with Sola Scriptura so the only thing we can draw is what is said in verse 12, nothing else. Paul did write more books then any other saint in the Bible, OT and NT. Also using biblical history, most scholars believe that Paul's conversion was around 36-37 AD and he wrote 2 Timothy and was martyred around 64-67 AD. One would think that he would need alot of revelation to write that much in the Bible in less then 30 years of Christian ministry. Also we know from what 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 that Paul had so many revelations that he was given a "thorn of the flesh" to keep him humble. By knowing this and taking what the whole Bible says, one then can clearly claim Paul only recieved divine revelation which then disproves your final arguement. Pray over this and may God guide you to the truth.

#144  Posted by Joshua Berdiel  |  Friday, January 28, 2011 at 3:41 PM

Sorry again. I forget to answer (2). THIS IS MY LAST POST. The people that wrote NT books that were not an Apostle received their theology from the 100% pure, fire tongued theology of the Apostles. Then when they wrote Scrpiture, the Holy Ghost gave them revelation to write the Bible 2 Peter 1:19-21

#145  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, January 28, 2011 at 5:09 PM


I apologize for not being clear. Know that we are like grasshoppers to

God. God is mighty and all powerful as He says in his Word. From Genesis to Revelations. No one, I meant no one sees God and know his

thoughts. God is the truth!!! He is not a liar and He is without sin. God is our Creator.

I move on to the next blog but to let you know Jesus loves you and Please read God's Word. Please. Prayer is the best!!

God bless.