To my Dallas Statement brethren,
I love you deeply. I hope this feels brotherly, as that is the intent. I probably agree theologically with most of you the most. In other words, I might call myself a part of the middle ‘tribe,’ but that’s mostly because of relationships I have built there. Theologically, I am a 1689 guy! So this is as in-house as it gets. A few challenges for you:
- I don’t know how to define “fear-mongering” but I know what it is when I see it. You are often guilty of this– basically making situations sound worse than they really are. I cannot speak to motivations, check your own hearts. But if you think Al Mohler, Mark Dever, and Lig Duncan are in the same danger that the Galatians were in, we cannot possibly have a logical conversation about this. Please make that clear that that is not how you view them.
- You have a responsibility over those you influence. (If you don’t want that responsibility, then stop doing public-wide ministry, and just focus on your own church.) It appears to be your “disciples” who are the worst fear-mongerers of all. Let’s call them the “discernment” types–those who spend an inordinate amount of time telling everyone what is so bad about everyone else. I read someone saying something along the lines of “welp, I guess we know those three guys are not going to be invited to next year’s Shepherds.” Johnny Mac can invite whoever he wants. But if this is going to cause a withdrawing of the right hand of fellowship with the middle group, it is you who is in serious trouble. So, please, speak into the kind of “discernment” culture that you are creating.
- Thank you for writing the Dallas Statement. It is helpful, and informative. It took a lot of work. Praise God for your sharp minds. But please do not expect the signing or not signing of it to be a sort of way to separate sheep from goats! That was not a Church Council/synod/diet/presbytery (or whatever other authoritative meeting term you can think of). I don’t know if there were any Anglicans who signed the statement, but I can tell you Anglicans are laughing at us right now. We evangelicals cannot have our cake and eat it when it comes to ecclesial authority. There is no council that can “settle” the Social Justice debate among evangelicals. You might object: “The truth of God’s Word should settle it!” And I am SUPER sympathetic toward that, but the only way I would have confidence in a document is if the meeting included leaders from all three camps. You cannot just have a meeting with the right and write a statement, and say “sign it, or else you are against the Bible.” Which leads to
- Remember, the middle, and even the left, are your brothers and sisters. I have seen some exchanges online between some in your camp and guys like Thabiti Anyabwile. The vitriol appears two way. But I have already challenged the other side. You must not treat your brothers like they are enemies. Could it be, brothers, that the reason you have a hard time understanding the middle group is because they have so many friends on the left, but you, sadly, don’t have that many, period? (this is an honest question) Your camp has the appearance of pride more often than the other two. We cannot read hearts, but here’s how I discern that: whenever these controversies happen between your camp and some other camp, NO ONE in your camp ever accuses any of you of wrongdoing. It is always the other guys at fault. John MacArthur and Phil Johnson were infallible in that panel Q&A. It is the attitude that says “let’s assess everyone else all the time” that creates that. Until you address that, I do not think you have what it takes to contribute to true unity in the Body of Christ.
Lastly, can you please be open to being wrong on some things? And wherever you find yourself wrong–whether in belief or in conduct– please repent. We will forgive so fast you won’t know what hit you.
To 1689, and Beyond