John Piper Introduces New Conference Geared to College Students: Guess Who is Speaking?

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It all started off with a Tweet:

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and then another tweet:

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More tweets will be forthcoming, you can be sure.  What is this conference?

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Here is the important info most poor college students will need to know:

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I thought surely, you-know-who wouldn’t be there.  Right?  Remember, Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) removed Mahaney’s speaking schedule from the SGM website, ironically after I posted a link to it here.  But look who I found scheduled to speak at the conference.  Yup, there he is on the bottom row surrounded by his best buddies.

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They don’t get it.  They just don’t get it.

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I was communicating with pastors and some of them don’t get it about C.J. Mahaney.  They don’t understand why we should be concerned.  Here was my response:

As far as CJ goes.  I have a question for those who continue to say “what’s the big deal about CJ.”     How many people would it take to tell you a story before you believed it?  Some read Brent Detwiler’s 600-page account which includes personal e-mails from both sides and claim that is one-sided.  There are over 20 churches who have left even before the new polity has been decided.  A group of SGM pastors have written a letter discussing these key issues.  There have been pedophiles who have been tried and convicted connected with these cases.  There is a civil lawsuit which represents scores of people who have disclosed their testimonies.  The and closed) sites have been around for over 5 years and you can read hundreds, perhaps thousands of first-hand accounts.  What will it take for pastors here to say that there is something very bad going on?   Do you have to see it or hear it with your own eyes in order to believe it?  How many witnesses does God require?

The above is why I believe C.J. Mahaney has no business speaking.  He is a distraction.  He does not represent a godly shepherd who tends sheep.  He has no business being behind a podium as a “church leader.”  Does he even fit elder/pastor qualifications?

If you would like to share your opinion with any of these speakers, I have compiled a list Twitter account names.  There are 9+ months until the conference.    If you are on Twitter, here is my list of people/groups connected with The Gospel Coalition and Council for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood and some Southern Baptist Seminary folks in there as well – they all seem to do things together, don’t they?  Feel free to go through my list and add more people to your Twitter “following” list and happy tweeting.  ~ja

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62 comments on “John Piper Introduces New Conference Geared to College Students: Guess Who is Speaking?

  1. that is a really scary thought. How much possibility is there that CJ stepping down is just a front and will be over turned again and CJ will step back into control? I feel uneasy about how nonchalant the announcement was, and then of course, the lack of action on John Piper’s end and other big name pastors/teachers. This is just me venting, but people saying they don’t care about CJ, or what is the big deal with him, can get really confusing for me. A lot of people are annoyed by how many links I share on fb about abuse, fundamental belief systems, and SGM church crazy. It makes me wonder if talking about abuse is even worth continuing to talk about. Friends say that the whole conversation needs to change, but until the whole foundation is razed and rebuilt, the conversation isn’t going to change.


  2. caleigh – People don’t like conflict. They are uncomfortable with it. TGC is uncomfortable with it. They ignore it. I spent my whole childhood speaking out about my abuse and people heard me, but chose to not do anything. I promised myself that if I ever heard of abuse, I would speak out. I don’t care how long it takes. That squeaky wheel. . . . . . .

    Keep talking, caleigh. We are the voices of those who cannot speak.


  3. They are rehabing CJ even before the trial. They have cold hard hearts. And we must continue to warn folks about them and what they are willing to ignore. Calvin had a cold hard heart as evidenced by what he practiced when he had power. So what do we expect?


  4. that is a really scary thought. How much possibility is there that CJ stepping down is just a front and will be over turned again and CJ will step back into control?

    Like Medvedev fronting for Putin as President and Autocrat of Russia, followed by Putin coming back into office directly. Or George C Wallace and his wife switching off as Governor of Alabama to get around the term limits.

    Except Humbly(TM), of course.

    They are rehabing CJ even before the trial.

    And so the Humble One(TM) begins his triumphant comeback. Just like Jimmy Swaggart and Ted Haggard.


  5. Hey Julie Anne. How scary is it that this stuff is targeting our young people?

    Remember who forms the on-fire rank & file of any Revolution or takeover — Young, Restless, and Righteous, on fire for The Cause.


  6. once a person or group gets into power and control and impression management, they have to keep it up or the whole house of cards will tumble.
    I am so sickened by these guys, linking arms in covert aggression against victims of their abuse. Those who stand with the abusers and back them up on the pretence of ‘neutrality’ and ‘non-judgement’ are in fact NOT being neutral and NOT refraining from judgement. They are condoning evil and abuse. God tells us what he does with such churches: he spews them out of his mouth.

    Keep up the good work, Julie Anne.


  7. Every time I hear another news item like this, I… Well, I don’t think “terrified” is too strong of a word. It just seems like they must be aware of these crimes, but they do nothing? Inaction and apathy are two of the most evil attitudes a person can have.


  8. I also have difficulty understanding why – and I’ve found John Immel at Spiritual Tyranny knows the territory. He provides a lot of ‘aha’ moments. This is from his latest, “Begging the Cool Crowd”. This passage is about leaders who will not address the problem with CJ:

    “So the only real explanation of their ongoing embrace, (or at best casual indifference) of CJ Mahaney is that they don’t think anything disqualifying has been done. Maybe, at the outside, in the scope of all possible worlds, they might think there was some measure of over zealousness, but make no mistake, they agree with the roots of CJ’s actions: the doctrine. They agree that HE is a faithful steward of “Sound Doctrine,” and the fallout is persecution for righteous actions. Whatever errors CJ may have committed are tossed into the pot of “we are all just sinners” and “I have not been given the grace to perceive” and “I have recently become aware of some leadership deficiencies.” But they, at no point, see any of the details as disqualifying. Indeed, they CANNOT see his actions as disqualifying because they gave their endorsement to him while he was taking the actions. So to denounce CJ is to undercut their coolness. The National Leaders are convinced that they alone are divinely elected and predestined to Church Leadership coolness, so that ain’t never gonna happen.

    And I further submit that just like the preachers I talked to, they want to BE like CJ. Vicar Charles Joseph has successfully painted himself the poster child for all things Reformed Theology. The “National Leaders” admire the poster. They want to be him because of his tenacious commitment to put Reformed Theology into local church practice: no average feat considering the doctrine is so fully hostile to any human practice and demands wholesale abandonment of most every expression of human existence. They assume the doctrine is the cool people standard, so they are never going to throw one of their own under the non-cool bus. The Reformed Theology crowd assume they are the king of the theological hill, and everyone else is just not cool. Don’t doubt me here: The fraternal order of Super Cool Reformed Theology Aficionados will never abandon their self-asserted right to demagogue the church polity high ground.”


  9. Bene D – I think you nailed it. I heard an audio of CJ with 3 or 4 others – I think Russell Moore and Randy Stinson were part of it and one more person. They were talking about complementarianism. CJ behaved very oddly in the audio compared to the other men – very insecure, yet trying to grab attention. There was a point in the recording where the men were giving him all kinds of accolades because of the way SGM churches have the complementarian system down. It’s even part of SGM membership agreement. They all wanted to learn from him and he set the bar for the rest of the churches. All the other guys in the panel were seminary graduates with high levels of education. CJ? Nothing.

    My question is: what is CJ giving these guys that makes them endorse him so highly even to the extent of turning a blind eye to abuse in his churches and allowing him a speaking platform? He has to be giving them something. What is it???


  10. I have to laugh that every single time I type complementarianism, my computer tells me it is misspelled. That’s right it’s misspelled – it’s a made-up word!


  11. At least – thank God! – CJ Mahaney is not speaking in any of the main sessions, according to the schedule. He has only one breakout session. But, guess what the title of his speech is? drum roll please……”Humility: The One Thing You Can’t Leave Home Without” !!! Aaargh! What is wrong with these people???!!!!


  12. Ack!!! Marge, I missed that. If there’s one thing that multiple witnesses have brought out, spiritual pride would be it.

    So again, the question is: how many witnesses would it take before these guys get a hint that he has a problem in this area? They’ve heard it from members, care group leaders, and countless pastors already. How many witnesses does the bible require?


  13. More like “Narcissism: The One Thing I Can’t Leave Home Without”

    Julie Anne, they won’t. Their gospel is not God’s Gospel. It is a gospel of predestination and election and they are the ELECTED. They are the “ones we have been waiting for”. Their whole system is flawed and does not follow the simple Grace message of Christ- “come and be filled with Living Water”.

    They have no understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit- I saw this when I went. I would talk about the Holy Spirit and the fruits of the HS; they would look at me like “a deer in the headlights”. This was my start in seeing the error of Calvinism. What Bene D said about the article of John Immel was good- this article was right on target. These men will not get it, they can’t for they do not know the fullness of Gods grace and working of the Holy Spirit. They only know Calvins Institutes and that is where they rest their hat on. Scripture for them has to run through this paradigm.


  14. HUG, Is Ted Haggard associated with Piper and the guys above?

    No. I cited Haggard only as an example of a preacher who went down in a scandal who immediately Planted a New Church and hit the comeback trail HARD.


  15. Julie Anne, they won’t. Their gospel is not God’s Gospel. It is a gospel of predestination and election and they are the ELECT.

    i.e. They are GOD’s Court Favorites, GOD’s Special Pets.
    All bow and scrape before the Predestined Anointed Elect!

    So again, the question is: how many witnesses would it take before these guys get a hint that he has a problem in this area?

    Infinity plus one.

    GOD’s Predestined Anointed Elect Can Do No Wrong. GOD Hath Elected Them to Do His Will before the Foundation of the World. It’s All Predestined.


  16. Frankly, I am getting very, very weary of these Christian celebrity/popularity contests. To me, that is all that these conferences are. What, are these redundant names the only people in all of Christendom who have “true” insight that they just must share with the rest of us? The whole thing seems like one big high school class – you know – where the “in” people rise to the top and get themselves elected and selected for the limelight over and over again. I wish they would all just go away. Most Christian conferences are merely a stage for these performers and for my part I am about finished attending any such galas.


  17. Thank you, PASTOR (I’m really not yelling, just drawing attention to the fact that you are a pastor who gets it – lol) Jeff Crippen! You give some of us an ounce of hope. Please keep talking.


  18. @ Jeff Crippen, Hooooray!!! We need more like you behind the pulpit. Pastor worship is very popular these days. Celebrity Pastor worship is really popular.

    I see these conferences as nothing more than a money making scheme. Conferences are never balanced with the other side of the story anyway, so as to let the individual make up their own minds. That would be a healthy debate. But, if that be the case, then it should be preached from the pulpit free of charge, minus the 10%, or a Wednesday Night Bible Study, rather than a “make an appointment, and don’t forget your registration fee” conference. I am sure that they will be indoctrinated to “buy my book”, or have access to the books/CD’s/DVD’s on sale in the lobby, when there is only one book necessary, the Good Book, as it used to be called. Jesus recommended The Law and The Prophets. I don’t remember Jesus referencing any other book, or the Apostles recommending purchasing their latest book, either. Search the scriptures daily to see if those things are so. Ask the tough questions, and research the answers. Don’t rely on a conference to dictate what you are to believe. Indoctrination comes in many forms.


  19. I became aware of this conference when I saw a tweet from the Young Adult Pastor at my former church. He is a diehard fan of Mahaney, Piper and their tribe. The tweet reads as follows:

    “Urbana seemed “Gospel-Lite” in recent years. Hope CROSS conference will remind us the Gospel is central to Missions!”



  20. I’m reformed and a Calvinist. I point that out not to start an argument, which I think would be a distraction, but because I don’t want to be dishonest. I do see that there are aspects of reformed theology, which I love, that are very susceptible to abuse. Our enemy, the devil, uses distortions and half truths more than outright falsehoods. So sometimes what I believe to be sound theology is used for evil rather than good. Sadly, I know of no theological tradition that has not seen abuse. I take that as a warning against looking for devils in the wrong places. I would also encourage not judging a theological tradition by those who grab the spotlight. That’s a bit like judging American life by popular films.

    I too am uncomfortable with these conferences. I haven’t been to many, but almost all of the ones I’ve attended have promised everything and delivered little. They remind me of those “Christian” counseling books where after reading the first chapter it’s easy to be convinced that we’ve found the answer to all of our most pressing problems. By the end of the book it’s clear how little we’ve actually found.


  21. Just a caution, there is not a link between believing in predestination and ignoring abuse in churches. iI believe in predestination but have no problem calling out abuse of power. I don’t think it’s wise to tie the main point to a side issue like that.


  22. Hi Craig – Nice to see you 🙂 I agree that abuse crosses all doctrines – Arminian-Calvinist. One look at my e-mails will tell you that. I think in this particular case with Mahaney, the distinction is Neo-Calvinist, not specifically Calvinist. I do think that is an important distinction to make and thank you for your valid comment.


  23. Hi Julie Anne, That explains why I haven’t even heard of many of these names (though I’m familiar with Piper). I guess that makes me an old Calvinist. I’m not sure I like the sound of that.


  24. Craig: Old wine is better than new wine 🙂

    BTW, a couple weeks ago, my daughter and I held a $10,000 bottle of wine. I think the year was 1982. I didn’t think ’82 was too old. That means we must really be valuable, huh?


  25. Pastor Craig, Would you mind elaborating on which aspects of reformed theology you were referring to that you see as susceptible to abuse, and which aspects that you believe to be sound theology? I appreciate your wording: aspects that “I believe to be sound theology.” So often, reformed theology seems to be presented as gospel, literally, and is equated with sound theology, insinuating that any differing view is by nature un-sound.

    The reason I ask is not to open up the Calvinist/Arminian can of worms! I am sincerely curious as to which aspects are important to those of you who seem level headed and recognize there are abuses within reformed theology, or to be more blunt, why you still ascribe to a theology that you recognize is linked with a lot of abuse in its most extreme forms.

    At this point, the mere mention of the word “Reformed” triggers me pretty negatively, and coming away from SGM, I have deliberately been deprogramming and focusing on Jesus rather than theology. I still have little interest in aligning myself with a certain brand of theology. However, I recognize that my perception of Reformed theology is tainted by the SGM flavor I experienced.


  26. Rec Pharisee, I’m not pastor Craig but I do share some beliefs with the neo-reformed groups, specifically the sovereignty of God over all creation and in salvation. But I do think the theology most neo reformed groups lean toward that is a huge link to abuse is a strong membership doctrine.


  27. Hmmm? The Reformation?
    Has anyone ever questioned the Reformation? Or, the Reformers? 😉
    Was the Reformation – good? Or, Dare I question, and say, NOT so good?

    Did Jesus RE-form “the Jewish Religious Sytem” He etablished?
    “The Corrupt Religious System” of His day?

    NOPE – He left it. 😉

    And, Jesus, “Called Out Ones” who would be His Disciples, from “The Corrupt Religious System” into a relationship with Him, Disciples, learning directly from Jesus, NO middle man.

    MY Sheep – Hear My Voice – I know them – And Follow Me. John 10:27.

    From what I can tell – All “The RE-formers” really did was RE-form “The Corrupt Religious System” of their day. It’s still a “Religious System.” It’s still “Corrupt.” It just has a new form.

    Does Jesus want us to follow mans theology – Or to follow Him?


  28. What I am seeing, is that the reformers wanted to much to break away from Catholicism, only to create another form of Catholicism. Both have Augustine in common. Who has the authority to interpret scripture? If you are a Catholic, the Pope, if you are a Calvinist, John Calvin. If you are a Mormon, Joseph Smith. If you are a 7th Day Adventist, Ellen G White. If you are a Jehovah’s Witness, the Watchtower. I could go on and on. All of these people want the sheep to be as dumb as a doornail. They want the authority to themselves. They want to keep people in ignorance, so that their own name will mean something in the end. I am glad to be non-denomination.


  29. chapmaned24,

    I actually wrote a note to my former Pastor, that his “Methodology” and Biblical Interpretations were similar to my Catholic background.

    I suggested he put greater emphasis of a “Law and Sin Centered” of a Guilt, Doubt and Works rather than Christ Centered. (in fact the Catholics did emphasized Christ Love more than my former Calvinistic Pastor)

    Some of the SBC “Hyper-Reformed” Preachers are simular to Catholics with the exception that Catholics won’t stuff Election Theology down your throats. The most simular style that Hyper-Calvinist and Catholics have in common is they rarely teach on assurance of salvation.


  30. Mark,

    This reminds me of that famous question in the Bible that asks, “What must I do to be saved?” There was an extremely small simple answer, but many keep adding and adding and adding new things as the requirements, making it a works based salvation that you can lose. Saved on Sunday, lost on Monday, found on Wednesday, questioning your salvation on Thursday, but you had better be in Church with your tithe on Sunday. All this walking on egg shells, and for what? Submitting to Christ is so simple. It is giving all of our burdens on him. But some of the preachers teachers pastors, etc., want us to carry around our own yoke, full of shame and condemnation, and not teaching us the assurance of our salvation.

    I saw in a blog post recently, “You have the Holy Spirit, what do YOU say?”. That was a good question, because what the post was trying to do was to have you listen to God by your own conscience, rather than listening to dead people, i.e., Augustine, Calvin, Luther, etc. If we are really honest, they, and a whole slew of other dead people were right in a few things, but wrong in many others. In my heart of hearts, Calvinism is wrong in many ways, but here is a good example that not all Calvinism is the same Calvinism. My brother was hyper as a kid, and he had to take pills to settle him down. I don’t get some of this terminology to be honest with you. I am just a Christian, not a Catholic, nor a Calvinist, nor a Lutheran, etc. Just a Christian.


  31. Sounds like a lot of us are on the same page, whether we call ourselves NeoReformed, Calvinist, or Just a Christian. I’m a fan of the last one myself. A. Amos Love, I think you answered my question. We were never supposed to place our belief in a system. If being reformed means believing that God is sovereign over all things, I’m down. If it means the 5 points of Calvinism are the mark of a true believer, no thanks.


  32. Ed Chapman

    Much agreement – Well said – MARCH 16, 2013 @ 7:53 AM

    “All of these people want the sheep to be as dumb as a doornail.

    They want the authority to themselves.

    They want to keep people in ignorance,

    so that their own name will mean something in the end.”


    That is what “The Corrupt Religious System” does – But – NOT what they say.
    Mat 23:3 …do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

    And – Does “Tower of Babel” ring a bell when you say…
    “that their own name will mean something in the end.”

    Gen 11:1-9 KJV
    4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower,
    whose top may reach unto heaven; and *let us make us a name,*
    lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

    Sounds like all those Denominations today are about making a name for themselves.

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest… I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}


  33. Ed Chapman

    Much agreement – Well said – MARCH 16, 2013 @ 3:56 PM…
    “I am just a Christian, not a Catholic, nor a Calvinist, nor a Lutheran, etc.
    Just a Christian.” – Me too. 😉

    Seems both Calvinists and Lutherans persecuted those who dis-agreed with them. 😦
    Tortured and killed them – In the name of God – And In “Christian Love” of course. 😉

    Christian-dumb is often a bloody sport.

    NO – IMO – The RE-formers were NOT nice guys – and neither is their theology today.
    Jesus taught His Disciples to follow Him, And Trust Him, Jesus,
    And NOT to trust in – or follow – Man.

    Jer 17:5
    Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm…

    Ps 118:8-9
    It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
    It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

    Why follow Calvin? Or Luther? – Or any “mere fallible human?”

    When we can “Hear His Voice” and follow Jesus?
    Isn’t Jesus, the best – shepherd/leader/teacher?
    Why isn’t following Jesus good enough?


  34. Seth

    I agree when you say…
    “I really see the Anabatists as the true heros of that time.”

    This is Info from the book – The Secret of the Strength – About Mennonites.
    Free PDF download off the internet. –

    Menno, as a Catholic Priest, left “The system,” because Rome believed and acted as…
    “the church stands between God and man”

    Yup – I agree with Menno here. But I now call it “The Corrupt Religious System.”
    Because, that is NOT “the Church of God” in the Bible. The body of Christ.

    Menno, and the first Anabaptists believed in….
    “man’s freedom of choice and his duty *to obey the voice of Christ* within him.”

    Another Ana-Baptist said…
    “He who has NOT learned what he knows from God,
    but from men, has a faith that cannot stand.”

    And I know the Ana-Baptists must have been doing something right. Because – And this one is a real killer – I mean this got the Ana-Baptist persecuted and killed by both Catholics and the Protestant Re-formers. Persecuted and killed – By Catholics, By Calvin and Calvinists, By Luther and Lutherans… My…My… Tsk…Tsk…

    “The Anabaptists took literally the words of Paul in 1 Cor. 14:30-31: “And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.” They called this the “sitter’s right” and calmly implied that they, when moved by inner conviction, had as great a right to speak and to act as any pastor, any priest, any reformer or bishop or pope. This audacity, this “Sitzrecht from the pit of hell,” Martin Luther and his friends believed, could be dealt with only by fire, water, and the sword.”

    Yup – The Ana-Baptists believed every believer has the right to speak in a meeting.
    What a concept… Sounds kinda like the internet – and this blog…
    But – You do NOT find that in “The Corrupt Religious System.”

    Wow!!! – Every believer has the – “right to speak and to act as any pastor,
    any priest, any reformer or bishop or pope.”

    Have you ever tried telling a “Senior Pastor” or any “Pastor/Leader/Reverend” being paid by a “501 (c) 3, Non-Profit. Tax $ Deductible, Religious $ Corporation; That ALL believers have the “right to speak and to act as any pastor, any priest, any reformer or bishop or pope?”

    I double dare you… 😉

    Yup – It’s been my experience…
    When you challenge the estabilshments – Power – Profit – Prestige…
    Things get very ugly – very fast.

    I quess we need to be thankful these reformed guys only practice “church disipline”
    And NOT burnings at the stake and drowings like Calvin and Luther practiced.

    Thank You Jesus…


  35. Amos, a guy named Leonard Verduin wrote a good book on the Reformers and the Anabaptists, it’s called The Reformers and their Stepchildren. Lot of original source material in there.

    I might add too, that you ll find much more freedom to exercise the right to speak in a Christian meeting of you go to a house church. Most of the house churches I’ve been in promote that in some way.


  36. Seth

    Seems Menno, got grumpy in his old age with all the splits, doctrines he didn’t approve of, and reverted back to the authority of the institutional church and traditions.

    From – “Unity is not the result of group concensus.
    It is the result of many individual commitments to Christ.”

    To – “In the end, Menno submitted to the authority of a new “mediatorial church” — that of the Anabaptist church he had helped to establish. His earlier love for Christ gave way to an inordinate affection for the church. And, thanks to the writings of his old age and of the Dutch and Alsatian (Amish) Anabaptists who followed him, his later position prevailed.”

    Seems Power Corrupts even the best of intentioned believers. Even Menno.

    Maybe His Disciples are to follow Jesus – NOT follow “Mere Fallible Humans?
    And – “*to obey the voice of Christ* within…” Where ever that leads…

    Seems Jesus always taught His Disciples – Follow me… And…
    Do NOT be called Leaders, For there is “ONE” leader, Jesus. Mt 23:10 NASB

    Abraham went out, NOT knowing where he was going. Heb 11:8
    Seems to be a theme with God – Having to “Trust Jesus” daily. 😉

    Maybe His Disciples are to do the same – Today…
    Just, Hear His Voice, learn from, follow, and depend on, Jesus. 😉
    And “Go and Do” what Jesus asks of us – NO middle man…

    John 6:45
    It is written in the prophets, And they shall be ALL taught of God.

    Deuteronomy 4:36
    Out of heaven he made thee to *hear His voice,*
    that *He might instruct thee:*

    Psalms 32:8
    I will instruct thee and teach thee
    in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

    Once again, maybe we can see, Movements, Denominations, “Religious Systems,”
    as Menno first did – “the church stands between God and man” – and leave it?

    What if Jesus is looking for people – To take out for His name. Acts 15:14

    What if those – Who are “Called Out” of “The Corrupt Religious System” of their day

    Will come out – And will stay out? 😉

    When the believers do NOT show up – And the money dries up…
    So will “The Corrupt Religious System.” 😉

    Wherefore come out from among them,
    and be ye separate, saith the Lord,
    and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
    2 Cor 6:17 KJV


  37. @A Amos Love,

    I just got back from Church, but after reading your posts, I feel I have just been back to church. Thanks so much for expounding Jesus, the shepherd from scripture. That is what so many church’s are missing these days…Jesus.


  38. Recovering Pharisee, I don’t think I can give your questions the thoughtful answers they deserve in a comment, but I’ll try. This blog has helped me to think a lot about abuse, though my thoughts are still developing. Spiritual abuse, it seems to me, always involves a misuse of authority. Authority may be used to control, in a cult like manner, to feed various lusts and perversions, or to protect leaders from legitimate challenges and criticisms – all of these constitute abuse. I also find a common thread or method in most of the abuse. The abuser uses (abuses) authority to destroy people (victims) by objectifying them. Victims are skillfully and with great evil manipulated into losing a center, a place to make decisions and live one’s identity. From this we can see where reformed theology can play into the hands of an abuser. Reformed theology teaches total depravity. This can be used to beat people down or to build a group identity based on the belief that the group alone sees what a totally depraved world cannot. Our identity in Christ is ignored or twisted into the group think. This becomes even more twisted and dangerous when a leader claims to know God’s purpose in a way no one else can know.

    So, knowing the dangers, why do I still subscribe to the theology? The simple answer is I think reformed theology is a helpful reading of what the Bible teaches. I don’t want to throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water. What I try to do as a pastor is to present teachings in such a way that they’re not as susceptible to abuse. So when I teach total depravity I remind myself that I have a responsibility to teach it in a way that I arm my congregation against its abuse.


  39. @Craigvick, as much as I hate to disagree with you, I think that those in reformed theology really do need to throw away the proverbial baby with the bath water, and start over, beginning with the basics, a back to the drawing board. In other words, as I heard someone very wise say to me once a long long time ago, “Forget everything that you were previously taught.” Our relationship with God is supposed to be on a family level, and I don’t see that in reformed theology. I see it more as a business/corporate/military style relationship, rather than a father/son/daughter relationship. In the family relationship, then we can keep the baby and the bathwater.


  40. chapmaned24, I would certainly welcome a rethinking discussion based on family. Be careful, however, because ‘family’ is frequently put to the service of spiritual abuse. Many cults or cult like churches, are quick to affirm that “we are family” to the point of negating family relationships outside of the ‘church’. “We are family”is also a refrain used to cover up abuse, as in Julie Anne’s original post. Families, we are assured, are able to take care of themselves and do not need the “interference” of worldly authorities. My point is that a teaching that both of us would affirm as being true and richly rewarding in our growth in Christ is often twisted to serve abuse. Should we throw out all talk of family because it’s frequently utilized by spiritual abusers? We would have to throw out some of the most profound teaching in the Scriptures. A better approach, it seems to me, is to make sure that when we teach about the church as family we keep in mind how this teaching has been abused so that we can arm believers against the abuse.


  41. I totally agree with your assessment. That kind of family is like the Hatfield’s vs. the Mccoy’s. I think, therefore, maybe I should re-clarify. Our PERSONAL (individual) relationship with God should be a family type, father/son/daughter relationship, instead of a corporate/business/military style. Our church relationship should be a brother/sister only, which means that we are all on the same level playing field , such as children in a park, running, playing, on the slides, swings, etc. with a loving father (God alone), who is playing with us, and we are having so much fun that we don’t want the day to end. That kind of family. Love. In heaven, there will not be any sort of discipline, no rank, no one above another, no sin, no sorrow…just a lot of fun, playing in the park (heaven).


  42. Great discussion, Ed and Craig. I respect you both so much in how you are dealing with such a sensitive subject. And you both write in a way that I can understand without the use of all of those big theological words that make me dizzy 🙂


  43. ^ Thanks Craig. I wish all pastors would tread as carefully when considering this topic. I am finding it refreshing (post SGM) being in a church now where the sermons always talk about both our sin and God’s abounding love. I don’t think there is a magic formula for how much time to spend on focusing on sin versus on Jesus, but I am so thankful to be hearing greater percentage of time in sermons focusing on grace, love, forgiveness, resurrection, etc. From my jaded perspective, the further down the Reformed road preachers go, the more they seem to intellectualize the faith and the fuzzier grace becomes. Glad to hear there are folks like you fighting against that tendency!


  44. Recovering Pharisee, I’m glad you’re in a good place. You’re right about the tendency to intellectualize. When our boasting is in anyone or thing other than the Lord, we create idols. In the reformed world there’s a temptation to boast in our theology. The result can be a Christless, intellectual idol.


  45. Craig and Recovering Pharisee,

    “The result can be a Christless, intellectual idol.”

    That is what I have been thinking for a long while now. I keep asking, “Where is Jesus in all this?” There is something about the college educated theologians that seem to take Jesus out of Christ, or Christ out of Jesus. Last I recall, the Apostle Paul considered his Theological Education as dung, and I don’t recall the Peter, or any other apostle having the title of Dr., either. Another thing that I see a lot of is the preaching of why reformers are not Catholics, rather than why they are Christians. But then again, most cults will always concentrate as to why they are not Catholics, instead of why they are Christians. Why am I a Protestant seems to be the main theme in the reform movement. I just want to tell them, OK, we get it, now let’s move on, and tell us why we are Christians. Then, so much concentration is on “exegesis” that they miss Jesus in the spiritual interpretation of scripture, only concentrating on the carnal side of the story. The supernatural, the spiritual seems to be missing. I get the carnal. Let’s move on to the meat, the spiritual. Just my thoughts.


  46. I fully admit that I have experienced the worst extreme of Reformed Theology and it has left such a bad taste in my mouth that I want nothing to do with all of that over-intellectualizing. It is refreshing to hear Craig bringing humility to the table on this topic, though I am more with you, Chapmaned24. I got so tired of hearing of what is wrong with other local churches, other theology, etc, instead of affirming the things we have to celebrate in our faith in Christ! It is so refreshing now to be in a church that partners with other churches in the community with differing theology for outreach.

    Side note, Chapman… in SGM, many, if not most of the pastors are NOT college educated. All that they required is a crash course yearlong training in their own elite Pastors College. This involved theology study but also had a huge component of cultural indoctrination, in which the pastor students would learn how to carbon copy the small group structure, the preaching style, etc. So though they esteemed highly Sproul, Carson, etc, they themselves still fell into the same traps without years and years of college.


  47. Recovering Pharisee,
    Wow, I am really glad to hear that your church partners with other churches for outreach. I attend two different churches on Sunday with my Brother-In-Law, and both churches do the same. Both churches uplift and edify the congregation. In regards to the education, when I began to do deep study, I learned something that most Christians seem to neglect, the Jews. I think that it is three times that scripture states that the Jews are a light to the Gentiles. Jesus said that salvation is of the Jews (Plural). The Apostle Paul stated that there is an advantage to being a Jew (Even tho the Jews do not see Jesus as the Messiah), and that is because they hold the Oracles of God. The Pope doesn’t, Calvin didn’t, Luther didn’t, Charles Taze Russell didn’t, Ellen G White didn’t, etc., etc. We can and should learn about Jesus thru their eyes, even though they do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, because it is thru the Jews that WE see Jesus clearly, vividly, thru their God given customs and laws. College education, indoctrination, theological study just can’t do the same as it does to have a discussion with devout Orthodox Jews. It took a Jew to teach us from the Bible (Paul, Peter, etc). Not one Gentile wrote anything in the Bible. It was rumored that Luke was a Gentile. But that can’t be, because he was the physician to Paul, who was Saul, and Saul would not have associated with any Gentile, as it was against Jewish Law. Anyway, many Gentile Scholars miss the mark when it comes to the spiritual. All they can do is to dissect the carnal, and it frustrates me to no end, all these so called experts.


  48. Pingback: The C.J. Mahaney and SGM Fiasco, or Why Am I Not Surprised? | Endtime Chaverim

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