Grieved To See

This post is about the grieving I feel by the hypocrisy I’ve seen in the last three days among the Christian community, specifically among pastors. As I write this, I’ll say upfront – include me in that bunch. This not about them, but about the very subtle reality that it’s easier to preach than to live. So big caveat to my statements below: I am among those who often fail to live up to the principals I expound.

Praise God for the gospel that forgives and that calls us to repentance, and forgives while we stumble through repentance!

Grief #1 – Strange Fire

This week John MacArthur, whom I respect beyond measure, is hosting a conference called Strange Fire. It’s streamed live on the internet and I’ve followed it with interest. I don’t take the stand of the cessionist, but I find it good to hear and learn from all perspectives. However, what has grieved my heart has been to hear the broadstroking, stereotyping, and downright bullying and name calling from the pulpit at this conference, and that specifically done by John MacArthur. So many things I can say about this, but the one thing that stands out to me is this: John MacArthur stands for the exposition of the word, not the exposition of opinion. It seems to me then that the force by which he presents his condemnation should be matched by the force of his exegesis of the word. Of all people, this should be true of John MacArthur. But that has not been my observation from a good chunk of this conference. Sad and grieved to see this. Why preach for decades on the need for careful exegesis of the word and then in 3 days, without presenting deep evidence from the word, blast the ministry of 500 million Christians as valueless and devilish?

Grief #2 – Childish Tactics

I’ve been slow to open the door of being influenced by the ministry of Mark Driscoll. While there are many things he does amazingly well, there are things he does that I just downright disagree with. The last year or so however, one of the primary things that has encouraged me has been his effort to cross what what he calls “tribal lines”. I appreciate this, I love this, I am encouraged by this. In fact, today, our men are headed to a cross tribal conference called Act Like Men that Mark Driscoll is at the spearhead of. All this to say, I had great hope, for myself, that his ministry may have an impact on my life. A las, I’m grieved to see his childish tactics today. In response to the Strange Fire Conference of MacArthur, Mark Driscoll, who was named in the conference for his “charismatic” stand, decided to specifically go to the Strange Fire and pass copies of his new book. Last I saw on facebook, security was getting involved. My thought: Why? Why be so hypocritical? To preach and push for unity across tribal lines on one hand and then to do something like this that heightens division in the body of Christ is sad. Imagine the headlines as the world looks in on this scene. Why not followup with a conference that promotes your own beliefs, or why not promote a public discussion, or even a Christian debate. By why this ridiculously childish reaction that reminds me of those that stand at the Harvest Crusade with their signs. Grieved to see this and so utterly disappointed.

POST SCRIPT – Remember my caveat above.
POST SCRIPT 2 – Putting saving faith in men is idolatry. Having heroes in the faith is needful. Imitating men who imitate Christ is commanded.


  1. This is very disappointing indeed. I see a lot of these kinds of things happen now and again because there are a ton of different leaders (and even friends with different theological views) whom I respect very much and look up to. I often times use their lives and character as a template for myself to try to mimic. Then, out of the blue, they say or do something off-base, and I have to remember, as you mentioned that it is easier to preach the Gospel than to live the Gospel. I wonder how many would call me a hypocrite if thousands followed me, as they do these men. Sometimes these leaders bring it upon themselves by making damning and divisive statements, but they are ultimately regenerated and redeemed sinners like me. Just as I make some ill-advised decisions that I reap the repercussions of later on, they sometimes do the same.

    You put it well when you said: “Putting saving faith in men is idolatry. Having heroes in the faith is needful. Imitating men who imitate Christ is commanded.”

  2. Tony, I just listened to a teaching about putting our “hope” in men–even men of God, and how, yes! our faith will be built on nothing more than quick sand if we do so. Esteeming men is good. Exalting men is grossly wicked. I pray for the Driscolls and MacArthurs and every person who seeks his own interest. I, too am grieved with you. For them, for those who hold them high in blind exaltation and for us. God have mercy. Keep us humble, O Lord.

  3. It makes me sad too. It’s fine to disagree with a brother, even strongly, but there are lines of love that should not be crossed with brothers in the Kingdom of God.

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