by Mike Ratliff
And Elisha came again to Gilgal when there was a famine in the land. And as the sons of the prophets were sitting before him, he said to his servant, “Set on the large pot, and boil stew for the sons of the prophets.” One of them went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine and gathered from it his lap full of wild gourds, and came and cut them up into the pot of stew, not knowing what they were. And they poured out some for the men to eat. But while they were eating of the stew, they cried out, “O man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it. He said, “Then bring flour.” And he threw it into the pot and said, “Pour some out for the men, that they may eat.” And there was no harm in the pot. (2 Kings 4:38-41 ESV)
In a private discussion with friends over the last few days the question has been raised about three primary examples of well-known reformed theologians or pastors who if we looked closely at their theology of salvation and the gospel of Lord Jesus Christ we would say that these are our brothers. However, there is a problem. These same three men are involved in things that many of us consider extra-biblical and outside of the true mission God has given the Church. John Piper is a good theologian, but he is also closely associated with Mark Driscoll who is both emergent and the leader of the Acts 29 Network. He has also invited Rick Warren to speak at his conference this Fall. Mark Driscoll is reformed in his theology as well. He has made statements that he has turned away from his emergent roots, but the Acts 29 Network claims to be the source of “new Calvinism” which is missional and lines up nicely with the emergent goals. Lastly, we have Matt Chandler. His theology is right on, but he is also pursuing some things in his ministry that are troubling because they are highly subjective in their foundation.
Why are each of these things troubling to those of us who take our theology seriously? We take our theology seriously because we know that there is only one truth and that is God’s. Our doctrine is the doctrine given to us by our Lord. He is the author of it, not men. We approach our faith objectively not subjectively. What is the big deal about that? It is theologically dangerous, at best, to elevate subjective revelation as if it is primary. We see the charismatic people do this a lot. I have seen men such as Benny Hinn make up theology on the stage as he goes along. It is ridiculous. This is not how God operates in the Church. This is not how the Church is to operate in the world and in its relationship with God. We have God’s truth and we must obey Him by faith. We believe Him and obey Him. He gives us the grace to do this. This is not legalism. It is not done according to the flesh or will power.
In any case, as we look at men whose theology looks very good, but who have compromised in one form or another with people or groups or theologies or concepts that are, at best, red flags to those of us who “take our theology seriously,” what are we to do? Some would have us do nothing because to point out these things is mean-spirited and makes us a “hater.” While I concede that we can descend into “haterism” if we are not careful, that should never be our focus. We should be taking our theology seriously because we do all we do for the glory of God and the edification of the Body of Christ. If there are other motives then perhaps we should keep silent. However, if that is our motive then like those sons of the prophets who could not eat the potage because of its bitterness, we must cry out, “O man of God, there is death in the pot!” Let us cry out to God Himself because what we are observing is beyond our ability to reconcile with reason at times. How is it that such men who have all the right theology could be so deceived?
I think the answer to that is actually found within each of us. Our hearts are beyond our understanding. They are desperately wicked, who can comprehend them? There are times that God takes His hand away so that I can see the wickedness within. Ugh! It is then I realize that I can only do what I do with His Word in the Body of Christ by His Grace, by Him working in me. I can do nothing. Therefore, when we see these men who should know better succumbing to heresies and taking the route to apostasy, we should understand that they have done this because they are operating outside of their surrender to the Lordship and will of God. They are doing this on their own and God is allowing it. This corruption is coming into those ministries and God is not setting there helpless to do anything about it. He knows what is going on. He knows that we see it as well. He knows those of us whose hearts ache because of this and that we are drawn to pray for these men to repent and be drawn away from the deception that has clouded their reason.
Yes, we must do two things. We must warn the Body of Christ of what is going on and why it is a problem and we must pray for these men and their ministries. Perhaps God will grant them repentance. All for His Glory!
Soli Deo Gloria!