Monday, August 17, 2015

Married White Male Seeking Another Male Or Three To Share A Hotel Room Next April For Together For The Gospel

Advertising on my blog that I am looking for other dudes to share a hotel room in a somewhat unfamiliar city. How could this go wrong?

Eight years after I went to Together for the Gospel I am planning on going again next April. The venue has changed and one prominent voice, C.J. Mahaney, is absent and some new voices are in his place. I am curious to see what the atmosphere is like. When I was there it was laced with a lot of triumphalism, all the cool kids were there and knew stuff that the rest of the church didn't. There was a top secret resource for attendees so we could network together. It all seemed kind of cliquish in retrospect.

As we head for 2016 the Reformed movement has taken some prominent hits and the fervor seems to have cooled a bit. With prominent names getting some bad press, from founder C.J. Mahaney stepping away amidst legal troubles to Mark Driscoll (never a speaker at T4G, to the credit of the conference organizers) stepping down and seeing "his" ministry implode to Tullian Tchividjian stepping down from Coral Ridge after a short and controversial stay as pastor amid revelations of marital infidelity. Much of the Reformed world seems to be victims of their own success, sniping and backbiting becoming prominent. Some perhaps some humility is in place. We will see. The main guys are still there, Mohler, Dever, Duncan, Piper, Anyabwile, MacArthur and that plus the fellowship and "free" books makes it worthwhile. As a bonus I very likely will be able to take some Amish to southern Indiana to help defray the cost of driving.

So anyway, if you are thinking of or definitely going to Together For The Gospel next April and need to split some of the costs, give me a holler. I am willing to split with as many as 3 other guys assuming we can find a couple of air mattresses.

I haven't gone to T4G since the first time I went, partly for monetary and health reasons and largely as a protest against the notion of a "conference for pastors and church leaders" which seemed to be intended to exclude "lay members", although an awful lot of the guys there in 2008 were not clergy. The speakers are generally all defenders of the institutional church status quo and that rubs me the wrong way. None of that has changed but I am secure enough in where I stand in regards to ecclesiology that I can go and just enjoy the teaching, the singing and the fellowship without feeling the need to make some sort of protest statement (like the nutjob charismatic that crashed the stage last weekend while John MacArthur was speaking). I am more hungry and thirsty for solid teaching and comradeship around a common understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ than I am for a protest against a deeply flawed church system. When they are talking about issues of the Gospel rather than church specifics or baptism I am in complete agreement with everything they are saying and I am in agreement with the T4G affirmations and denials (with the exception of article V on the centrality of expository preaching but even there I would prefer expository sermons over any other kind).

So there you go, hit me up if you wanna shack up in Kentucky.


Neil Braithwaite said...

From the list of speakers, "Together for the Gospel" seems more like "Together for the Institutional Church." I might prefer calling it "Together We Divide."

Denominations/Institutional Church = Dividing Christ

By definition, denominations are divisions of Christians based on doctrines, creeds and traditions. The Apostle Paul makes it perfectly clear that there should be unity within the Ekklesia - not divisions based on following certain men or different interpretations of doctrine.

"Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that YOU ALL AGREE and that there be NO DIVISIONS among you, but that you be MADE COMPLETE in the SAME MIND and in the SAME JUDGMENT. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” HAS CHRIST BEEN DIVIDED? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" 1 Corinthians 1:10-14

The answer to Paul's question, "Has Christ been divided?" is an emphatic YES!

The conference will probably be full of those who say: I am of Mohler/Baptist. I am of Duncan/Presbyterian. I am of Dever/Baptist. I am of MacArthur/Grace Covenant. I am of Platt/Baptist. I am of Piper/Baptist. I am of DeYoung/Reformed Church. I am of Anyabwile/Baptist. I am of Chandler/Baptist.

All these men lead divisions within the Ekklesia - plain and simple. They promote their denominational doctrines while pretending to be united.

And I'm sure they are all being well paid to attend this event in hopes of promoting their specific "brand" of division and increasing their memberships and church bank accounts. Maybe also with hopes of selling more books and religious trinkets to their supporters.

The Apostle Paul would be both shocked and dismayed if he witnessed the divisions among the Ekklesia like we have today. And based on Paul's judgment, these men may not want him giving a speech at this event. Or maybe they can just quote the above passage? Highly unlikely.

Men who promote this kind of division within the Ekklesia and reject unity of "mind" and "judgment;" which plays a huge role in keeping the Ekklesia, as Paul puts is, "incomplete."

These men and all who follow them will answer for their deeds.

Arthur Sido said...

So if these men are advocates for the institutional church, which they are and I have mentioned, is there nothing of value that they have to say? There are plenty of people who bang the drum for a more faithfully Biblical model of church and yet are anything but orthodox on many other issues. I am looking forward to the fellowship with brothers I have not seen in a while or have never met in real life and learning from these brothers in Christ even if they are representatives of institutionalization. If I only listen to people I agree with 100% that pretty much means talking to myself in the mirror.

Neil Braithwaite said...

Scripture can answer your question. But are you committed enough to live by scripture - no matter how uncomfortable it gets? Or are you more committed to rubbing elbows with men you consider honorable ministers of the gospel, when you know very well the divisions they are a big part of is clearly warned against in scripture and results in tearing the bride and body of Christ apart?

"1. But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; AVOID SUCH MEN AS THESE." (2 Timothy 3)

Maybe God wants you to warn these purveyors of division in the Ekklesia to turn from their ways and seek the "same mind" and "same judgment" and restore Christ's Ekklesia to completeness.

These men are Shepherding Backwards!

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep." John 10:11-15

A warning to all who breed divisions in the Ekklesia and financially benefit on the backs of their flocks: Take heed to the Jesus' and the Apostle Paul's scriptural words and examples and also the following passage from Ezekiel:

Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been FEEDING THEMSELVES! Should not the shepherds FEED THE FLOCK? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have DOMINATED THEM. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.”’” Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did NOT search for My flock, but rather the shepherds FED THEMSELVES and did NOT feed My flock; therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am AGAINST the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will NOT feed themselves anymore, but I WILL DELIVER MY FLOCK FROM THEIR MOUTH, so that they will NOT be food for them...”’ "...I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,” declares the Lord God. “I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick; but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with judgment.” Ezekiel 34:1-10,15-16

Arthur Sido said...

Neil, I published your latest comment because I don't generally delete comments but I reserve the right to not publish anymore comments that accuse men you don't know of grievous sin because you think they are wrong on matters of ecclesiology. While I agree with some points and have made them myself, I also believe that these men are my brothers in Christ and as such slandering them is off-limits. If we are unable to speak with clarity and charity about areas we disagree with our brothers on, perhaps it would be best to just be silent.