February 16, 2010

“Conservative” Evangelicalism: Threading a Frame Work for Discussion, Part 1

A final sad spectacle reported with enthusiasm…is the Together for the Gospel conference…. A more adult affair…this nevertheless brings together cessationists and non-cessationists, traditional and contemporary worship exponents, and while maintaining sound preaching, it conditions all who attend to relax on these controversial matters, and learn to accept every point of view. In other words, the ministry of warning is killed off, so that every error of the new scene may race ahead unchecked. These are tragic days for authentic spiritual faithfulness, worship and piety. (Dr. Peter Masters, The Merger of Calvinism With Worldliness)
Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Last week at the Religious Affections Ministries (RAM) blog I had a charitable and transparent exchange with Pastor Will Dudding. Brother Dudding is pastor of a local church in Fremont, CA. Much of what I discussed with Will was within the frame-work of thoughts and concerns I’ve had in regard to certain doctrines and practices of the so-called “conservative” evangelicalism, its star personalities and fellowships.

While not reproducing the entirety of Will’s end of our discussion I am reproducing excerpts from his perspective that I interacted with at RAM. At the conclusion of this article I link directly to the point in the RAM thread where you can see both Will’s and my discussion in their entirety.

For clarity and further development of my thoughts I have edited and expanded upon my RAM thread comments. This I have done because discussion threads limit the scope of interaction. I am resisting the desire to develop a full-blown expose such as I produced in my series on Al Mohler, the Manhattan Declaration and Ecumenism.

I liken the theme of my concern to what Dr. Peter Masters called “the ministry of warning,” which in Masters (and my) opinion is steadily being “killed off.” Killed off in regard to the doctrinal aberrations and questionable methods of ministry that are commonplace in the conservative evangelical community, in some discussions also becoming known as the “new” Calvinism.

Today I present the first in the series of expanded thread commentary as a frame-work for future discussion of conservative evangelicalism.

Brother Will, I appreciate much of your initial commentary to me above in the thread above. However, you wrote, “The attraction to the Sovereign Grace, Desiring God, Grace To You type ministries…

The subject matter of this article has been Dr. Minnick’s commentary on evangelicalism and Sovereign Grace music. Although valid concerns IMO the least of the disconcerting issues of the conferences such as: Desiring God, Shepherd’s, T4G, Gospel Coalition, Resolved, Passion, et. al. is their music choices.

The truly BIG issues, are that you have men, who depending on the personality, are teaching that the charismatic sign gifts are active and should be sought after today (John Piper & C. J. Mahaney), are unapologetic ecumenicists (Al Mohler & Ligon Duncan), or utilize disgraceful speech (“corrupt communication,” Eph. 4:29) in their preaching (Mark Driscoll).

Recently, at a *pseudo-fundamentalist site, Sharper Iron (SI), I read your note about going to John MacArthur’s Shepherd’s Conference next month. What is the “attraction” of those things I noted above that draw you to those conferences? Those IMO far and away trump the danger of their music choices.

FWIW, I would not even have to squirm through CCM if it happened to be used in a conference because I’d be up and out before they finished the 1st stanza. However, with men on the platform who tolerate, stand for and/or propagate disgraceful speech, charismatic theology and ecumenism I’d never show up in the first place. I am obviously referring to conferences such as and in addition to Shepherd’s.

Part of the reason you cited at SI for going to the Shepherd’s Conference is to demonstrate to them separatism. You wrote,
…to influence some of the conservative evangelicals to exercise more discernment concerning biblical separation and unity if we do it properly first….
Unity is created by the Spirit, it is a good thing and should be sought after (Eph. 4:3). At what expense, however, is unity being encouraged and sought after with evangelicalism? Furthermore, and my primary concern is:

How can you teach separatism when you do not “withdraw from” men who are unapologetic ecumenicists and/or Charismatics?

That kind of participation with to “influence” them strategy is what I am now calling “Infiltration Theology” and is nowhere to be found in the Scriptures.

The “influence” you speak of is working exactly the other way around. It is men like you who are being influenced by the evangelicals- their doctrine, music and methods. Some of you have and/or will get caught up in those things and then, furthermore, bring their aberrant distinctives and disdain for balanced, biblical separatism back to your own ministries. A few weeks ago I spoke to a so-called “YF” who has now tragically come to accept as authentic the non-cessationism teaching of Piper and Mahaney.

One pastor (Larry Rogier) who identifies himself with Fundamentalism posted a statement at his blog suggesting there is a mindset that,
The men on ‘our side’ (Fundamentalism) we must say nothing bad about; the men on ‘the other side’ (Evangelicalism) we must say nothing good about.
Broad-brushed misrepresentative caricatures like that do not manifest integrity and must be necessarily dismissed.

Is everything coming from conservative evangelicalism aberrant or destructive; of course not. Is everything coming from Fundamentalism the ideal; of course not. There is IMO, however, more than enough in contrary doctrine and practice of the conservative evangelicals to cause a balanced Fundamentalist, who longs for unity in the body, to step back and instead,

Call on Them to Become the Best of What We Are in Balanced, Biblical Separatism.

But they are not going to do that; are they? Instead I see the rise of this “Infiltration Theology,” such as you noted. An outworking of a theology in which some IFB men decide to fellowship and/or cooperate with evangelicals allegedly for a chance to teach them to obey the principles of biblical separatism. To infiltrate evangelicalism, however, one must be willing to tolerate and allow for their aberrant doctrines, open rejection of biblical separatism and worldly methods of ministry that thus far would never be allowed for or tolerated in their own IFB ministries.

IMO, continued exposure to the conservative evangelical camp, through active promotion of and participation in their numerous conferences and on-line communities, apart from an active and vital ministry of warning will desensitize you and others to what they are and propagate. As Peter Masters noted, to attend T4G (for example), “the ministry of warning (must be) is killed off.”

Sorry for the blunt terms, but they are offered from one who desires to speak the truth in love.

Yours in His name,


Please continue to- Part 2 of this series.

*Sharper Iron

Any who wish to read the thread exchange between Brother Dudding and I, in full context, please
begin here at RAM.


  1. Hey, Lou, your "My Picks" widget obscures the text of your entry unless I have my browser maximized.

    I've posted my own initial foray on this same topic on my own site if you are interested. I'm a day late! I'm also heading a different direction than you on it (though I'm in agreement with your concerns).

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  2. Hello Don:

    I did not know that the new widget might cause any reading problems. Thanks for letting me know. I really like that one too, shucks. I’ll see if anything can be done about it.

    I appreciate your letting my guests and I know about your article. I’ll head over to read it ASAP. May I suggest you post the same comment in Part 2 of this series, which just posted. Here is the link to it-

    Part 2

    While you’re at it feel free to insert a hyperlink to your article as well.

    Kind regards,


  3. Notice to All:

    Today I notified Pastor Larry Rogier that he is BANNED from this blog.