“If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.” CS Lewis
When I became a Christian at the age o 17, I had a view of God that compelled me to want to follow Him. The God who created the universe loved me and wanted to have a relationship with me. Thankfully, for many years, I encountered pastors and parachurch folks who actually seemed delighted to see me and to encourage me in my faith journey.
Was I a sinner? Of course. Was I encouraged to seek forgiveness to walk the walk? You bet. I enjoyed church, especially the sermons, which motivated me to learn more about my faith as well as being a source of peace during hard times.
I learned to read my Bible while at the same time having pastors who taught me that I needed to major on the majors and minor the minors. I would say that I am at least as well read as many long time followers. I suspect that, for groups like 9 Marks, there is no such thing asa minor matter. It is all a hill to die on and they are darn sure that God smiles upon them for all of their rules.
I believe that this pandemic is exposing the problems inherent in the 9 Marks system. Their views on the church have become so inwardly focused that they appear to be in danger of redefining what constitutes the church. They have invented a system that is full of rules and regulations, many of which are conjecture. Yes, they quote Scripture but they often interpret Scripture through their own peculiar lens.
These are the guys who dreamed up the concepts of retroactive church discipline, not giving communion to members in nursing homes, delaying baptism until people are judged to be old enough while exhibiting the *correct* attitude which means they are saved unto membership, 9 Marks style.
This group has more *how to* books on covenant membership than you should have time to read.
9 Marks: Don’t stream services during pandemic because Dever knows it’s wrong to do so.
This pandemic has opened my eyes into their increasingly rigid rules for *how to run a church,* especially in the midst of trials in a society. A TWW readers in the UK first drew my attention to the fact that Dever was not posting church services online during the pandemic.
Stupidly, I wasn’t sure if I believed this to be true. How could a church ignore the possibility of reaching out to and providing comfort for their membership, as well as t heir community, during a time such as this? However, Jerome jumped right on into the conversation ands provided this for TWW readers.
Huh?!!!! Why? This made absolutely no sense to me. Just about every church in every denomination in my area are offering online worship during this time. My own Lutheran church, which takes worship quite seriously, is doing the same. But none are as faithful as 9 Marks who really know how to do it.
9 Marks covenant membership means that streaming a sermon is unbiblical…
So, here is the infamous Twitter thread which proves that 9 Marks is *against* online services which must mean they are unbiblical.
— Mark Dever (@MarkDever) March 16, 2020
Here is his letter to the congregation, informing them of the only possible Biblical response to online streaming…
Here are Dever’s extra biblical or unusual beliefs:
- A covenant membership means that a service streamed online cannot be a substitute for meeting together. Therefore, even when they can’t meet together, they will not allow their church to stream a service, even for comfort and learning during a pandemic. No Scripture referenced.
- Since they can’t meet together as a church, Gods grace will be absent from the streaming a service. It will mean absolutely nothing God’s eyes. No Scripture given.
- It is somehow healthier for church members not to meet since doing so would disrespect God’s strange providence. No Scripture given.
- Dever believes that this pandemic is God’s strange providence. Why?
- He believes that even if the CDC recommends that the church not physically meet for 8 weeks, his *opinion* still stands. I wonder if he would reconsider if it was 6 months? What is the Biblically correct cutoff date after which Dever is biblically allowed to encourage members via posted sermons and services?
- Dever believes that not streaming their service will cause his *covenant* members to reflect on their life, their community, helping others and praying for others more so than if they did stream the service. Are we then to believe that an allowed 9 Marks services when they are all present do not encourage people to pray, help others or to reflect during regular services? Sounds like his church members are pretty weak.
- He appears to believe his church body is really stupid since they might mistake a live stream as being the real thing. Dumb sheep theory?
- Live streaming will interfere with the *chastening* benefits for the soul.The definition of chastening is (according (to Dictionary.com )
“to inflict suffering upon for purposes of moral improvement;”
It appears that Dever knows God’s reason for this pandemic. Joyfully suffer, even if it is needless to do so, because its good for you.
- He’s super excited that his members will be mourning over the loss of their service. Someone might interpret this to mean “They’re going to miss me.”
Mark Dever appears to be convince that his way is *God’s Way.* I understands what he’s saying. He’s building a monument to his understanding of the right way to do church membership. I am grateful to God that He has allowed me to be in the company of many leaders and churches who have encouraged me to seek the freedom that we have in Christ. I truly don’t get Dever, 9 Marks or his acolytes.
The one thing I’ve learned from this pandemic is that there are church leaders who have placed an extra=Biblical burden of rules and regulations on the lives of their people. Jesus had something to say about that.Matthew 23:4 NIV.
They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
To those stuck in such churches, don’t try to change them. You will merely get beat up. These guys are the masters of church discipline and imposed guilt. Run. Find freedom. It really doesn’t have to be this way. Instead seek and find love and goodness beyond the manmade rules.
In the meantime, you can bet that Mark Dever and the dudebros will live stream T4G and charge you an arm and a leg for listening to their wisdom.