“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.” ― The Dalai Lama
Update: Mark Dever attended Duke. Andy Davis attended MIT. I’m sorry for the mixup. The rest of my post stands.
On Monday, I shared with you my journey through the postevangelical wilderness. During that time, I came to confess the beliefs of my current church. Prior to joining any church, I made sure that I could, in good conscience, subscribe to the major doctrinal views of that church denomination. In joining the Lutheran church, I had to carefully examine my viewpoints on two topics: infant baptism and communion. As time went on, I began to also enjoy the church calendar which gave a sense of framework to the Scriptures.
Here is a link to the 2020-2021 LCMS church calendar. Here is a partial calendar involving Easter.
The Time of Easter
(One-Year Series only)
First Sunday in Lent
Second Sunday in Lent
Third Sunday in Lent
Fourth Sunday in Lent
Fifth Sunday in Lent
Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday
Monday in Holy Week
Tuesday in Holy Week
Wednesday in Holy Week
The Resurrection of Our Lord
Second Sunday of Easter
Third Sunday of Easter
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Sixth Sunday of Easter
The Ascension of Our Lord
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Day of Pentecost
It’s all really cool. We get to remember what happened at different times. Yes, I know Jesus wasn’t really born on 12/25. The calendar is a way for us to reflect on the various stories such a the Transfiguration of Jesus.
John Folmar: Mark Dever’s BFF and the inventor of retroactive church discipline which was first documented here as having been practiced on my good friend, Todd Wilhelm.
For those of you who don’t know, I met Todd a number of years ago when he contacted me about his rather unfortunate end of membership at John Folmar’s UCCDubai. He decided to leave the church and stand in solidarity with the victims of Sovereign Grace. Mark Dever and John Folmar were best buddies with CJ Mahaney and haven’t, as far as I know, disavowed Mahaney in spite of the preponderance of the evidence of serious problems.
I wrote about this unfortunate set of circumstances in My, My Dubai: 9 Marks Played Hardball While Lifeway/ David Platt Stretched the Truth Little did I know that Todd and I would become friends and work together at TWW. Understand this. Todd left due to the fact that his conscience could no longer attend such a church. So many SGM victims were heartened by his actions.
I had a hard time understanding that Folmar and his well-trained elders could make such a decision. Why not just let him go? Todd spent time looking for a new church and Folmar used this as an excuse to retroactively add him to the *member care list.”(A nice name for a despicable action.) I have been told by a 9Marks leader that I don’t know the whole story. Todd then offered to notarize a document saying they could talk about what happened. No go. In fact, they got a bit peeved at me…
John Folmar”I don’t celebrate Palm Sunday.” He only celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus apparently unlike those Greek Orthodox, RCC, and traditional churches.
It did not come as a surprise to me that 9Marks holds other strange views. Retroactive church discipline is not found in the Scripture. Nor does the Bible discuss the punishment of a decent man who decides to leave his church over practicing freedom of conscience. No, it must all be punished.
Folmar is currently in the US function as an interim pastor in a non-9Marks church. I’ll let Todd take up why this is odd on Friday. In the meantime, let’s have a listen to the 9Marks *expert* Listen carefully to the disdain he holds for those who don’t see the obvious as he so clearly does.
9Marks pastor John Folmar (formerly assistant pastor at Mark Dever’s CHBC) tells us he doesn’t celebrate Palm Sunday, etc., because they didn’t observe these days in the early church. Applying the same logic – why do you have formal, signed membership contracts John?@wartwatch pic.twitter.com/Wdutbb1IvB
— Todd Wilhelm (@ThouArtTheMan) April 2, 2021
He forgot to mention Lutherans who celebrate this wonderful day.
He appears to say “If you must remember Palm Sunday, there may be some things to consider.” How I love to remember Palm Sunday. It helps me to understand why we attempt to make Jesus in our own image. The palms are reminiscent of the time of the Maccabees when the Jewish people won against their oppressors. They used the palms to celebrate their victory. They were looking for an earthly king, something that is quite relevant to us today. What is even more interesting is that in Revelation, we see the palm branches waving once again, to celebrate the coming of Jesus in victory.
It appears that John Folmar doesn’t see how celebrating Palm Sunday is historical and prophetic. It all revolves around Jesus who came first as the king of our hearts which was something the people didn’t really understand. And one day we will wave palm branches in celebration of His Second Coming. I contemplate this on Palm Sunday but, according to Folmar, this is not really biblical like he is biblical.
Yet, I see the palm branches throughout Scripture and Palm Sunday matters. I don’t see the harsh church discipline in the Bible in which 9Marx seems to revel in.
Mark Dever has more rules, lots more rules, rigid rules based on…um, whatever. Why?
Here is what he believes:
- Infant baptism is sinful.
- Spontaneous baptism is really bad.
- Besides, we shouldn’t be baptizing people until they are adults and on their own, because they might “fall away” and hurt the cause of Christ.
I have been trying to figure out why Dever has so many inflexible rules that seem to have little basis in Scripture. Dever is a smart guy. He got into and graduated from Duke. However, smarts when it comes to engineering, medicine, and science are not necessarily smarts when it comes to people. We must control the engines on jets or people die. We should shoot for the very best engineering in our automobiles to cut down on accidents.
However, the faith is very different. There is a coffee mug that is sold in Lutheran stores. It has the word *saint* on one side and *sinner* on the other. We are inherently imperfect and no amount of rules and regulations are going to make us *good Christians.* Sadly, Dever actually believes that if he just waits until someone is an adult, he will be able to tell for sure who will be a Dever type of Christian.
Paedobaptism is a sin
Did you know, for example, that Mark Dever will never take or give communion with his good buddy Ligon Duncan. This was reported in 2010 (forgive the pagination) by a little-known blog, TWW. Todd also reported on this in Is 9Marks View of Baptism Biblical?
If you scroll down on the page, you can read Dever’s The Sin of Infant Baptism. Then, you can view a 10-minute video on infant baptism, spontaneous baptism, and not baptizing people until they are out of their parent’s home, living on their own.
Spontaneous baptism is wrong according to Dever.
Watch the video carefully. Dever practically pats the heads of those involved in the conversation when they agree with him. The engineer is getting his ducks into nice, neat rows. However, Todd proved that the Bible is not opposed to spontaneous baptism. In fact, he gave some examples of such in Acts. Here are two of the examples he gave.
- Acts 2:36-41: “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”
- Acts 8:34-39: Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.”
I have been told that at the Summit, they used to (maybe they still do) practice spontaneous baptisms.
The baptism of children is probably wrong in most instances.
This treatise by Dever used to be posted at this link. https://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/we-equip/children/baptism-of-children/ It is no longer there.
Again from Todd’s post:
Baptism of Children
The Baptism of Children at CHBC (2004)
We, the elders of the Capitol Hill Baptist Church, after prayerful searching of the Scriptures and discussion conclude that, while Scripture is quite clear that believers only are to be baptized, the age at which a believer is to be baptized is not directly addressed in Scripture. We do not understand the simple imperative command to be baptized to settle the issue, nor do we understand the imperative to be baptized to forbid raising questions about the appropriateness of a baptismal candidate’s maturity. We do understand that the consideration of an appropriate age for a believer to be baptized is a matter not of simple obedience on an issue clearly settled by Scripture, but rather is a matter of Christian wisdom and prudence on an issue not directly addressed by Scripture. Though the baptisms in the New Testament seem largely to have occurred soon after the initial conversion, all of the individuals we can read of are both adults and coming from a non-Christian context. Both of these factors would tend to lend credibility to a conversion. The credibility of the conversion is the prime consideration, with the effect upon the individual candidate and the church community being legitimate secondary concerns.
We believe that the normal age of baptism should be when the credibility of one’s conversion becomes naturally evident to the church community. This would normally be when the child has matured, and is beginning to live more self-consciously as an individual, making their own choices, having left the God-given, intended child-like dependence on their parents for the God-given, intended mature wisdom which marks one who has felt the tug of the world, the flesh and the devil, but has decided, despite these allurements, to follow Christ. While it is difficult to set a certain number of years which are required for baptism, it is appropriate to consider the candidate’s maturity. The kind of maturity that we feel it is wise to expect is the maturity which would allow that son or daughter to deal directly with the church as a whole, and not, fundamentally, to be under their parents’ authority. As they assume adult responsibilities (sometime in late high school with driving, employment, non-Christian friends, voting, legality of marriage), then part of this, we would think, would be to declare publicly their allegiance to Christ by baptism.
With the consent and encouragement of Christian parents who are members, we will carefully consider requests for baptism before a child has left the home, but would urge the parents to caution at this point.
I found this argument interesting. In my paedobaptist church, we invite children 5th-6th grade to participate in 2 years of confirmation classes prior to them receiving communion. I have been a confirmation guide for several years. I have been impressed at the depth of the teaching for the students. They write papers based on sermons. They memorize portions of Luther’s Small Catechism. By the time the two years have finished, the children exhibit an understanding of the Gospel and how to express it. I feel more than comfortable when they receive their first communion.
Mark Dever’s Anthony Moore problem:
Anthony Moore was an intern at Mark Dever’s church. Dever is always surrounded by a cadre of young men he is training at any one time. We must assume he has used his *spidey sense* to ascertain the Christian walks of these guys. Dever sent Moore on to Matt Chandler’s Village Church where he was fired in 2017 for sexual misconduct. Todd wrote a post; Cedarville University Professor Reportedly Fired From The Village Church For Sexually Abusing a Male Subordinate
Dever spent several months in close, daily contact with Anthony Moore while Moore was an intern at his church, yet Dever apparently was totally deceived into thinking Moore was a solid Christian! As you can see from Dever’s Tweet below, he promoted Moore. Five months after this tweet Anthony Moore was fired from The Village Church for feeding on Christ’s sheep! Wolf alert! One year after this tweet Moore had garnered a job with his old cronies from SWBTS at Cedarville University, but more on that later.
Moore’s name was listed on the CHBC website as a successful intern until 2020, long after Moore had been outed as a sexual molester. It appears that Dever was unable to accept the fact that he was not able to judge the Christian character of one of his interns with whom he had close daily contact. Yet he claims to need to wait until someone is in their 20s, maybe 30s so the church can best judge their character.
He claims this rule is necessary to prevent the church from having a bad witness to the world. I am not smart enough to get into MIT but I am smart enough to know that all churches at one time or another can present a bad witness to the world unless they are willing to be humble about who they are. 9Marks stands as a group of churches that I warn people to avoid. They are churches that actually believe that if they try just a little harder, they can present an awesome witness to the world. Well, they are abject failures. I know. I receive calls from decent folks who are *disciplined* for minor disagreements.
It is my opinion that people should avoid 9 Marks churches at all costs. And whatever you do, never, ever, ever sign one of their confounded membership contracts. You will regret it. And, if we can help you to get out of your covenant/contract, please email us. It will cost you nothing.