Sunday, December 9, 2018

Grieved: Review of The Pulpit and the Pen

Several times this year I came across web posts from a site called Pulpit and Pen. Claiming to be a "discernment" ministry, their writings quickly and consistently grieved me. They seem to be a self-appointed "watch-dog" group - or what I call spiritual police - attempting to warn other Christians about other Christians. 

My first visit involved reading an article where they lambast some women Bible teachers like Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer. I don't mean graciously disagree. Nor do I mean just strongly disagree. P & P self-righteously, rudely, and arrogantly smeared them, ridiculed them, and referred to them as if they are not Christians.

Spiritual Policemen

It takes a lot to make me angry, but when I encounter a graceless spirit from one believer to another, that upsets me. The ridiculous and mean-spirited nature of their post incited me to write my own: Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, and Spiritual Policemen

P & P call out any number of Christians who don't fit their slice of theology. For example, they call Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer "heretical." Rainer, who they liken to a crack dealer,  and Stetzer, whom they love to tear apart, are two of their favorite targets. Such narrow-mindedness does more harm than good to the Body of Christ.

I believe P & P tends to appeal to a very young, zealously Reformed crowd. Though the Reformed movement brings many good things to the Christian church historically, today division often occurs with people who see making people Reformed almost as important as making them Jesus-followers (or worse, they see it as one and the same).

Sadly, with young enthusiasts the spirit of P & P can foster unhealthy arrogance, self-righteousness, and divisiveness. It produces spiritual bullies.

Jesus encountered this attitude: “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not accompany us. Do not stop him, Jesus replied, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”   (Luke 9:49-50).

Reviews of P & P

Recently I revisited the P&P site and once again found myself grieved. I decided to do some quick searches for reviews of their site. With no real surprise, I found article after article posted by various bloggers who shared my opinions of P & P. 

Here are just a few of them . . .

A Public Apology and A Resignation from Pulpit & Pen - Here's a very interesting apology from a former editor of P & P. 

"I must more clearly and vociferously renounce any association with or subtle endorsement of Pulpit & Pen. I can no longer in good Christian conscience recommend including that ministry to fellow believers. While many of the issues P&P raises are valid, many others are not; and even more attack the brethren unnecessarily and often in unfounded ways.  I pray that our Savior may open the eyes of those contributing to come to repentance as He so graciously did for me. Soli Deo Gloria," Landon Chapman

"They have made a god of the Bible instead of God Himself. They have set themselves up as the lone judges of “true” Christianity. That is their concern, not ours. The best thing to do with attention-seeking hatred is to ignore it, and pray for God’s mercy.

Pulpit & Pen reads like a modern-day Jack Chick tract. The writers believe they alone stand as a bulwark against Catholicism, freemasonry, and every other mid-century American boogeyman. There’s not enough time in the day to preach Christ risen, what with all these strawmen they have to knock down.
Pulpit & Pen should repent of their pride and vanity. But they will not, because of the belief that they alone have the truth. It is the kind of gnosticism the Church condemned millennia ago." 

"That is a dangerous and arrogant view for any ministry to have, regardless of how good you may be. . . . Exposing error does not give us a licence to behave badly. In fact if the Lord has given us light we will be held even more accountable for our stewardship in the things we have received. . . . We can all learn from this? That pride can destroy without us really seeing it! We need to see we are all ‘nobodies’, so-called ‘big discernment ministries’ or not, but we should pray that we can be used by an Almighty God who is our everything!"

"When you interact with what they say, you are simply feeding the troll. You are doing exactly what they want. Pulpit and Pen drives traffic by saying outrageous things. Don’t take the bait. If you see something by Pulpit and Pen, just encourage whoever they are interacting with to join the movement and block them. The more Christ-loving people that block P&P the less the venom of the enemy spreads through the Body of Christ."

Critical Thinking

I have taken the approach for all of my ministry and adult life that I don't have to agree with everything an author writes in order to learn good things from them. One pastor I knew used to say that when he listened to or read someone, he would chew up the meat and spit out the bones. 

I think that is very well said.

If someone believes in the divinity of Jesus and the authority of the Bible and has received Him into their life, then even if I disagree with them over some other theological issues, I believe I can learn from them, and I believe that ultimately we are on the same team. What I have to develop is my own discernment and critical thinking (as opposed to having a "discernment ministry" do my thinking for me).

On my shelf I have a myriad of authors from the Christian community - Charles Swindoll, John MacArthur, Charles Stanley, Tony Evans, Jack Hayford, Jim Cymbala, Loren Cunningham, James Dobson, Eugene Peterson, Elmer Towns, Gene Getz, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, J.I. Packer, Wayne Grudem, Philip Yancey, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lysa Terkeurst, Kay Arthur, and many, many more. Let's see, so far those are Baptists, Prebyterians, Pentecostals, Evangelical Free, Nazarene, Catholic, Reformed and Non-Reformed. No, I won't always agree with everything everyone says. But if a person gives their life in the pursuit of knowing Jesus and knowing His word in order to please Him, I can learn something.

The narrower one's focus - as often happens with some of these young Reformed discernment ministries - just like it happened with the Independent Baptist Fundmentalists in the early and mid-20th century - the more you start banning people who don't agree with you. 

And where does that end? What if they have a different view of eschatology? The Holy Spirit? The gifts of the Spirit? The Calvinism / non-Calvinism debate? The application of the role of women in ministry? The age of the earth? Convictions on alcohol, education of children, or birth control? Before long, I can back myself in a corner where my filter becomes the specific theological camp with which I identify.

Sometimes the need to be "right" needs to be overshadowed by the majesty of One whose judgments are unsearchable and "his paths beyond tracing out!" (Ro. 11:33).

I remember a pastor once showing me a beautiful framed photograph of a rainbow in his office. The picture, ablaze with color, was housed in a black and white frame. He told me, I keep that in here to remind me that God has outlined the world in black and white absolutes. But inside of those lines, there is a lot of color. If I think that everything is a black and white matter, I will miss a lot of the color God has for me.

Calling Out Everybody Who Does Not Agree with Me

A quick perusing of the Pulpit and Pen shows their disdain for a great number of Christian preachers, authors, and leaders such as Mark Batterson, Ed Stetzer, Franklin Graham, Thom Rainer, Sarah Young, Beth Moore, Ann Voskamp, Lynn Terkeurst, and Joyce Meyer, to name a few.

It reminds me of the words of Randall Wallace in his book Living the Braveheart Life:

He [Jesus] was killed by those who considered themselves the keepers of Order, the guardians of True Faith, the keepers of Rules.

I wrote in my selection "World Changer" in the book Moments with Billy Graham from Grace Publishing,

Billy received harsh criticism from certain parts of the Body of Christ because of his open arms, open heart, and open mind. He didn’t believe everyone had to believe exactly like him about everything in order for them to have a relationship with God.  He thought they needed Christ. And he took every opportunity to introduce people to Christ.

I learned from Dr. Graham that if a person belongs to Christ, they belong to me. They may come from a different denomination, theological bent, or hold varying convictions, but if they believe in the authority of the Bible and the divinity of Jesus, and they have given their life to Him, they are my brother or sister.  Dr. Graham did not try to be the Holy Spirit and change everyone.  He learned to love them, to listen to them, and to lead them.

Graham, considered by many to be the greatest evangelist since the apostle Paul, made such an impact in our nation that his body was displayed in the Rotunda of The Capital Building. But for the P&P, rudeness, arrogance, and disrespect are in order. Their article covering his funeral, "Billy Graham's Funeral Attracts Gaggle of Heretics," begins as follows . . .

Like moths to a flame, a gaggle of the world’s most notorious false teachers have flocked to eulogize and celebrate the death and life of Billy Graham. Attendees at the private, invitation-only event included Elevation Church pastor Steven Furtick, survival-slop peddling doomsday felon, Jim Bakker, and wild-eyed prophetess, Beth Moore.

How sad and how pathetic. As Paul Flynn stated, they hold a "dangerous and arrogant view" filled with pride and vanity.

I'm thankful that the wideness of God's mercy and grace far extends that of the P&P. And as I heard Charles Stanley say once, there will be surprises for all of us when we get to heaven!

I discuss the problems that accompany this type of divisiveness in more detail in my article, Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, and Spiritual Policemen.

No comments:

Post a Comment