"There is much debate on how to make a traditional ratatouille. One method is to simply sauté all of the vegetables together. Some cooks, including Julia Child, insist on a layering approach, where the eggplant and the zucchini are sautéed separately, while the tomatoes, onion, garlic and bell peppers are made into a sauce. The ratatouille is then layered in a casserole – aubergine, courgettes, tomato/pepper mixture – then baked in an oven" -Wikipedia
Ken Ham, of Answers in Genesis has an interesting way of sucking people into his “interpretation” of Scripture. He claims that, if one does not see the age of the earth his way, one is in danger of denying the doctrine of the atonement. What question should a Christian ask at this point? We should determine what he means by the doctrine of the atonement. All orthodox Christians affirm the doctrine of the atonement which, simply put, is because mankind was helpless in our sin, we needed a Savior who could atone or make reparation for our sin. That, of course, is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
However, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis here alludes that the age of the earth is part of that atonement. What is he really saying? That you are most likely not a Christian if you don’t buy his young earth / doctrine of the atonement meld.
I met with some Mormons for 1-½ years, discussing their faith and mine. Early on, I learned to ask on a consistent basis what they meant by terms because their definition and mine were frequently different. When I would say that I believed in Jesus Christ, they would chime in: “Well so do we.” The devil was in the details. Their Jesus and my Jesus were not the same person.
Recently, when Campus Crusade changed their name to Cru, I asked a friend to explain why. He said that Cru had no meaning and so they could “infill” it with their own meaning. Could it be that these "brothers" are doing the same thing?
Recently, Chaplin Mike, of the Internet Monk wrote a fantastic article here on why he is banning the word “biblical” when he describes what he thinks the Bible teaches.
“I made a New Year’s resolution this year: I will try my best to avoid using the adjective “Biblical” to describe what I think “the Bible teaches.” The use of this word as a prescriptive adjective to promote positions and convictions is rampant among Christians. The problem is, it usually obscures more than it enlightens, hurts rather than helps, and stops discussion dead in its tracks rather than promoting good conversation.”
Several TWW readers have brought up the recent T4G conference and the list of affirmations and denials on that organization's website here.
I decided to ask the question, “How does T4G define the word “Gospel?” Surely, they have a rigid definition on the website since they are all about the Gospel, right? Well, unless I am mistaken, I cannot find one definition of this important word on the T4G website. How could that be? However, I did find the word "gospel" used 27 times on this page. And it was used in many different ways: “Recovering the Gospel” (I didn’t know it was lost) and “Gospel Church” are two such examples.
So, before I began to analyze their statements, I decided to try to find a definition of "Gospel” that might be appealing to this group of men. Since they are all into 9 Marks and Mark Dever (Mr. 9 Marks) is one of the featured four, I looked at the book, What is the Gospel? (9Marks) by Greg Gilbert and D.A. Carson . You can see it at Amazon here.
Because I am a woman, and I know these men do not believe that a woman should be elucidating theology, I decided to take a review on the site by a man who said the following:
“1. Finding the Gospel in the Bible.
2. God the Righteous Creator. Yes, God is loving, but He is also righteous and expects the same of us)
3. Man the Sinner. Sorry folks, good works or thoughts will not earn our way into heaven! We cannot be righteous in our own goodness).
4. Jesus Christ the Savior.
5. Response – Faith and Repentance. Turn from our evil ways and turn towards Jesus Christ and let Him transform our lives. Contrary to what many people believe, there is a literal hell for those who reject Jesus Christ).
6. The Kingdom.
7. Keeping the Cross at the Center. Do not add and subtract from what Jesus Christ did on the cross for us. Beware of any ear candy some preachers may try to feed you that minimizes or trivializes Jesus' death on the cross for our sins.)
8. The Power of the Gospel.”
Well, no surprise here for me. So, just to be sure, I went on over to see what Al Mohler, another of the four had to say here.
"The wonder of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is this — not one of us is worthy of adoption. In our sinfulness, not one of us has any claim on the Father’s love, much less a right to adoption. But, the infinitely rich mercy of God is shown us in Christ, in whom believers are adopted by the Father. And this adoption, thanks be to God, is eternal and irreversible."
Well, this all sure sounds like the Gospel that I know and love. So, understanding their definition of he basics of the Gospel, I looked, once again, at T4G’s Affirmations and Denials. Folks, I’ll leave this one up for your to decide, but it sure sounds to this “non-brother” that they mean a few more things than their leaders seem to indicate in their voluminous writings. In fact, it sounds a whole lot like what Chaplain Mike was saying about the word “biblical.” The following quotes are taken directly from the T4G website.
1. Apparently the Gospel is primarily the concern of men.
“We are brothers.We are brothers in Christ united in one great cause – to stand together for the Gospel. We are convinced that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been misrepresented, misunderstood, and marginalized in many Churches and among many who claim the name of Christ. “
2. These men are going to band together and “recover” the church. What in the world are they recovering?
“Compromise of the Gospel has led to the preaching of false gospels, the seduction of many minds and movements, and the weakening of the Church’s Gospel witness.
We(men) believe that the answer to this confusion and compromise lies in a comprehensive recovery and reaffirmation of the Gospel – and in Christians banding together in Gospel Churches that display God’s glory in this fallen world.
We(men) stand together for the Gospel – and for a full and gladdening recovery of the Gospel in the Church. We are convinced that such a recovery will be evident in the form of faithful Gospel Churches, each bearing faithful witness to the glory of God and the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Except for one church, all churches that I have attended have been Gospel preaching churches. So, what do they mean when they say we have to recover this Gospel?
Haven’t there always been churches and movements that have deviated from the testimony of Jesus? I know I am just a woman, but didn’t the early church, which even had the apostles, have all sorts of heresies and issues? There were all sorts of false gospels floating around. The Gnostics had a field day.
Then there was the mess of the Middles Ages. Lots of Popes and lots of strange teachings about indulgences, the divine right of kings, etc. were floating around. Ah, then there was Renaissance and the Reformation. Luther wasn’t too keen on the Jews (racism, a no no according to T4G) and didn't like certain books of the Bible. Calvin fought hard to meld state and faith with varying results and a beheading and rules to keep people in line.
Then there were the Puritans who weren’t keen on the Baptists and dabbled in hanging people they claimed to be witches who actually weren’t. Not exactly Gospel theology, was it?
Do we really need to go into the racism of a good part of the last century. I guess I shouldn’t bring up the shepherding movement of the 1970s with CJ Mahaney being on board. We must avoid remembering awkward things.
So, I guess these men are trying to usher in a new age of the unchallenged Gospel that hasn't been seen before. Doesn’t Scripture say something about false teachers always being around? Well, these "anointed" men must think more clearly than this non-brother, right?
3. Mentally handicapped need not apply to the Gospel club.
“We deny that there is salvation in any other name, or that saving faith can take any form other than conscious belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving acts.”
Screen Shot of Article X – April 24, 2012
Every week, I volunteer with some teens and young adults at a center for the severely handicapped. These folks cannot eat, several are blind, they are essentially nonverbal and are fed through tubes in their stomachs. Since they are incapable of conscious belief, I guess they are not part of the “saved” club?
4. Faithful discipleship is limited to those who are in a Gospel Church.
“We deny that any Christian can truly be a faithful disciple apart from the teaching, discipline, fellowship, and accountability of a congregation of fellow disciples, organized as a Gospel Church.”
So, Paul in prison was not faithful? What about those who must practice their faith quietly in some countries who would kill them if they openly proclaimed the faith?
5. The Lord’s Supper cannot be administered outside of Church discipline?
“We further deny that the Lord’s Supper can faithfully be administered apart from the right practice of Church discipline.”
Huh? What is the “right practice of church discipline?” Is this another one of those “gospel” code words which means you are out unless you do it this way but they don’t tell you what this way means? Or, could it mean that one cannot participate in the Lord’s Supper if they are not a member of a church? Jesus said that somewhere, right? Could someone find that for me? Could it be that they want us all to go to Redemption Groups and confess all of our sins? Or maybe they just want to control us like the Catholic church used to in the Middle Ages by putting people under interdict?
6. If your church has a woman elder, you will damage the witness of the Gospel.
“We affirm that the Scripture reveals a pattern of complementary order between men and women, and that this order is itself a testimony to the Gospel, even as it is the gift of our Creator and Redeemer. We also affirm that all Christians are called to service within the body of Christ, and that God has given to both men and women important and strategic roles within the home, the Church, and the society. We further affirm that the teaching office of the Church is assigned only to those men who are called of God in fulfillment of the biblical teachings and that men are to lead in their homes as husbands and fathers who fear and love God.
We deny that the distinction of roles between men and women revealed in the Bible is evidence of mere cultural conditioning or a manifestation of male oppression or prejudice against women. We also deny that this biblical distinction of roles excludes women from meaningful ministry in Christ’s kingdom. We further deny that any Church can confuse these issues without damaging its witness to the Gospel.”
Now, here is where the rubber meets the road. In fact, if one does not practice complementarianism T4G style, one is damaging the witness of the Gospel. And they know this how? Where are the stats? Surely they must have some careful research on the subject or maybe one of them had a vision?
For those of you who claim that there is no such thing as the gender gospel, remember this statement. What they are saying is this – if you believe that women can be elders, the witness of the Gospel is shot because the Gospel supposedly hinges on the fact that men should be leaders. Any deviation of this is harmful.
This is not the Gospel. The Good News is effective whether or not women are elders. This is their addition to the Gospel. These men are just like Ken Ham who adds Young Earth to the Gospel. In fact, Al Mohler has also said that this Young Earth thing is so vital that he is going to emphasize it . So, for Mohler, the Gospel now encompasses both men in leadership and young earth creationism.
What makes this even worse is they all seem to disagree about what constitutes women in leadership or in authority. We have Mark Dever who allows women deacons. Others do not. Some let women teach alongside their husbands. Others do not.
Then we have John Piper and Tim Challies who believe that women cannot read Scripture out loud in their churches because it establishes authority. So, are the ones who let women read Scripture in church damaging the witness of the Gospel?
Some of them restrict when women can teach boys. Some say that a boy's baptism means women should no longer teach that boy. Are they better at not damaging the witness of the Gospel?
We had a woman write to us last week who stated that her church believes women should wear head coverings. Is that affirming or damaging the Gospel?
And, if the answer that all of them are honoring the Gospel, that honor is now contingent on not allowing women to do something. And this repairs the image of the Gospel to a watching world? Let this gullible and easily deceived woman offer up a prophecy. I think CJ allowed some women to prophecy now and then although he doesn't like to talk much about it anymore. If T4G is saying a woman has no place in church leadership and if they continue to address each other as brothers with no women in the mix, this Gospel will be rejected by a watching world. And well it should be. This is not the Gospel but merely a set of "preferences" and "thoughts" tacked onto the true Gospel.
From this point forward, when someone claims they are in a Gospel Church, I will ask them to explain their Gospel. It is sad. The most precious thing in this world has been co-opted for someone’s doctrinal agenda. And I say that such a thing is destroying the witness of the true Gospel.
For those men who have read this post and have learned something – you now need to repent!