February 14, 2011

The RAP on Mark Dever: What is the “Militant” Separatist to Do?

In January Brother Don Johnson posted something i don’t understand1 at his blog an Ox Goad, eh. This article included an e-mail by Dr. Dave Doran published at his personal blog, which he had previously sent to Dr. Rick Arrowood. Doran’s article (01/24/11) was under the title, Arrowood, Dever and Me.

Dave Doran was reacting to Rick Arrowood’s open letter in which, among related subjects, he expressed concern about Doran’s intention to share a platform with Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) pastor Dr. Mark Dever at the Feb. 22-25 Leadership Conference at Calvary Baptist Seminary (Lansdale).2 While some men may appreciate certain elements of Mark Dever’s ministry, many more have deep reservations about any degree of public ministry cooperation with him, as with many of the so-called “conservative” evangelicals. In Doran’s e-mail, which you can read for yourself in black and white, Doran offers his reasons for participating.

That said, let me offer my thinking about why I don’t believe my speaking there needs to be justified…. The shortened version is simply the answer to these questions:
(1) Do Mark Dever or CBTS extend Christian recognition and fellowship to those who deny the Faith?

(2) Do Mark Dever and CBTS oppose the granting of Christian recognition and fellowship to those who deny the Faith?

(3) Do Mark Dever and CBTS obscure the distinction between the church and the world by denying the transforming power of the gospel, by embracing worldly approaches for the church’s growth and/or worship, or by failing to articulate and practice genuine church membership and discipline?
I suppose someone could disagree with me about these, but my answers to these questions are, respectively, no, yes, and no. (bold added)
Those are Dr. Doran’s personal reasons for insisting there is no need for him to justify a cooperative ministry effort on the platform with Mark Dever at the Lansdale conference. Immediately following his three questions Doran added further explanation. Pay particular attention to the underlined portion as we move ahead.
“Since I believe that Christian fellowship and recognition is limited to those who embrace the Faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3), that we cannot ignore or disregard God’s commands about separation (Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Thess. 3:6-15), and that the distinction between the church and the world must be guarded (1 Cor. 5; 1 John 2:15-17), these are the biblical justifications for and biblical boundaries of ministerial cooperation and fellowship.”(underline added)
Are there any concrete reasons why militant, biblical separatists should avoid a cooperative ministry with Mark Dever? Does Mark Dever embrace any “worldly approaches for the church’s growth and/or worship?” Is there a clear “distinction between the church and the world [that] must be guarded?”

Mark Dever at SBTS
I have listened to and transcribed an interview with RAP artists Shai Linne and Curtis “Voice” Allen.3 Mark Dever hosted and conducted the interview. Pastor Dever’s comments included the following:
“I’ve been listening to both of your music, actually for some time, but a lot lately getting ready for this interview.”

“Is it expositional rapping… With you [Shai] the music is so word heavy that its almost like I’m attending a conference and just hearing an incredibly artfully given sermon.”

“In trying to get more of your music to listen to I am encountering a problem. CD’s seem to be disappearing.”

“It’s [Shai’s music] lyrically more intense…more complex, dense.

“I’ve listened to this [RAP/Hip Hop] for a few years anyway and you gave me your Atonement album and I loved that. Shai asked, “What is it that you [Dever] loved about that?” Dever replied,

“The rhyming, I love words, and the complexity of the rhyming, it’s dazzling. Forget Jesus in this; I’m artistically interested. Then as I understand it I’m fascinated. It has the Gospel clearly…. It is more theologically dense than any other kind of music I’ve ever heard. I love Bach’s oratorios, but this beats them as far as theological density.”

In discussing RAP being used in congregational music Dever said, “Christopher’s brother who is a member of our church who is going to uhhhh, let’s explore this idea of using this music congregationally.”

Christopher (unknown last name) speaking, “One of Shai’s songs, “Jesus is Alive,” in a Philadelphia concert and everyone knowing the words and singing that together…” Dever, “Yeah, I was singing along with it…I’ve heard it enough.”

“I can testify as one Beethoven lover that I have listened to this [RAP] music on and off, with all the rest of my music, for a few years. But the last three days just only listening to this, and listening to it again and again, I liked it when I began, I like it even more now.”

“[The Atonement] is a wonderful CD...If you’re listening and you haven’t listened to any of this [Christian hip hop music], that would be a great place to start [listening to it]. Something similar would be Curtis Voices’s Not Guilty.”

“I just want to give a word of testimony about Storiez one of your most recent ones Shai. That’s amazing, it’s very fun and clear. For people who have any kind of dim view about the medium [RAP/Hip Hop] I think listening to your stories is a very bright, cheerful, in a really fun rhyming way. I would say it’s a five stars out of five stars kind of success.

“I haven’t shared it with my wife yet because she wouldn’t give it back. So, I’m going to share it with her soon after I finish listening to it a few more times.”

“Get [Shai Linne’s Storiez] for one of your ministers who works with children in your church, and I bet you’d encourage them.”

In the Q&A after the formal interview closed you hear Dever say, “Felix…is one of our members here [Capital City BC] and did some rapping for us in one of our member’s meetings...and I would say it was well received by our congregation.”
These are not the comments of a man dabbling with, uncertain over, exploring or researching RAP and Hip Hop.
The interview comments are Mark Dever’s RAP sheet on the RAP, Hip Hop movement within the New Testament church.
The Mark Dever, Shai Linne, Curtis Allen interview is all one need hear to understand that Dever has embraced and is encouraging a carnal form of worship in the church that you would be exposed to in a worldly RAP concert.
“Indeed, a far better quality Calvinism still flourishes in very many churches, where souls are won and lives sanctified, and where Truth and practice are both under the rule of Scripture. Such churches have no sympathy at all with reporter Collin Hansen’s worldly-worship variety, who seek to build churches using exactly the same entertainment methods as most charismatics…. The new Calvinists constantly extol the Puritans, but they do not want to worship or live as they did.”4
In explaining why his sharing the platform with Mark Dever at Lansdale needs no justification Dave Doran wrote,
Do Mark Dever and CBTS obscure the distinction between the church and the world by denying the transforming power of the gospel, by embracing worldly approaches for the church’s growth and/or worship, or by failing to articulate and practice genuine church membership and discipline?”
Doran says, “No.” We now know, however, that the correct answer is, “Yes.” Mark Dever has embraced a worldly approach for the church. So, what is a self-described “militant” separatist to do? What does the separatist do who staked out “embracing worldly approaches for the church’s growth and/or worship” as the “boundaries of ministerial cooperation and fellowship?” Dave Doran wrote,
“The distinction between the church and the world must be guarded.... these are the biblical justifications for and biblical boundaries of ministerial cooperation and fellowship.”
We will continue this discussion in the next.


Please proceed to Part 2

For related reading on the convergence of Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism at Lansdale see Ps. Brian Ernsberger’s Dead Man’s Curve at The Parsings of a Preacher.

1) something i don’t understand

2) Dr. Rick Arrowood, Answering Questions About the Changes We Are Seeing in Fundamentalism
“Who really is changing as we see this new wave of picking and choosing, applying and justifying, defending and mitigating, ‘mixing and mingling’? If it is right for us to ‘platform fellowship’ with new-evangelicals and those in the SBC, why have we not had them preach in our colleges, seminaries and fellowships over the past sixty years? A Southern Baptist teaching theology in a fundamentalist church, college or seminary has his roots in Southern Baptist soil, and when transplanted temporarily to a fundamental church or school brings that soil with him.”
3) Christian RAP: Shai Linne/Voice Interview, Posted at 9Marks October 1, 2009.

4) Dr. Peter Masters: The Merger of Calvinism With Worldliness
“A final sad spectacle reported with enthusiasm…is the Together for the Gospel conference, running from 2006. A more adult affair convened by respected Calvinists [including Mark Dever], 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.”


  1. Lou,

    Tremendous article documenting the the inconsistency of those claiming they are separatists, but not willing to practice separation. This teaches us not to just accept a man's claim that he hasn't changed, but rather to examine the facts in light of Biblical discernment. Both Doran and Dever's true practice is shown in this article, despite what both men may proclaim about separation.
    I think it is important for us to remember that THE FAITH that was once delivered includes the whole body of truth contained in the scriptures. Separation is not just about the Gospel, but about all aspects of THE FAITH, centered around the Gospel.

  2. Brother Rogers:

    Thanks for in a concise way capturing the real crux of the current controversy.

    The new paradigm being introduced by Doran and Bauder is a “Gospel-Driven” separation. What KB, DD, Olson, Jordan, et. al., are converging with NON-separatist evangelicals around Calvinistic soteriology in the form of Lordship Salvation. The doctrine of separation is being redefined to accommodate the fellowship the IFB men are trying to forge with the non-separatist evangelicals.

    In his classic Biblical Separation Dr. Pickering’s subtitle, “The Struggle For a Pure Church” has been supplanted by Doran and Bauder with a paradigm shift to “pure gospel” mantra. They are trying to influence an entire generation to follow them in this new, open-minded way of practicing the God-given mandates for separation.

    Predictably, the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron posted an article to perpetrate the absurd idea that Doran today is no different on biblical separation than Dr. Pickering articulated and practiced. Next week I’ll publish evidence to the contrary for consideration. Everyone will be able to read it in black and white.

    To date we have seen issues such as Al Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration, Charismatic theology, the CCM/RAP culture, ties to the SBC, etc. have all been either tolerated, allowed for and/or excused by Bauder, Doran, and Olson for the sake of fellowship with non-separatist evangelicals. They insist they have not changed and bristle at any evidence that they have.

    Part 2 of this series will post tomorrow.

    Thanks again,


  3. Indeed it is a sad commentary by anyone who keeps reiterating that they are something when their practice says they are not. Truly, "their actions speak louder than their words." Saying you are a separatist, saying you have not changed means nothing when your current actions run counter to those separatist words spoken.
    Some would have us to believe that the SBC is somehow so much better today than they were 15+ years ago. Really? Those same folks note that Dever and CHBC are an anomaly within the SBC (and they are supposed to be the good within the SBC). You have Rick Warren, who has been touted as the successor to Billy Graham as far as being the influencer within our nation. Is Warren a more Biblical centered preacher than Graham? Don't think so, and that is not to endorse or hold in regard Graham. Warren's prominence is a degradation within the Biblical spectrum. Yet, Piper invited him to speak last year. Did Mohler (he spoke) and Dever (if he were there) protest and separate? Did they protest and separate when Piper brought in the foul mouth Mark Driscoll? The answers to those questions is a resounding, NO!
    I am sick of hearing that these men (Mohler, Dever, etc.) are somehow separatists. Stop cheapening the term separatist/separatism by implying that CE men are, when clearly they are not. This is not about differing "applications" of the doctrine of separation. This is also not about where one is in his maturity as a believer to rightfully "apply" the Scriptural mandates.
    This is about a segment of Fundamentalist who wish to move away from our separatist position by embracing "careful, limited forms of fellowship" with Evangelicals; something that has been renounced for decades as compromise and a departure from Scriptural mandates.