One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

I get it. I do. There’s a certain kind of high you get.

Some prolific Christian speaker is a complete mess theologically, but for some reason, their books are selling like hot cakes. In fact, it’s likely because they are a theological mess that their books are so popular, what with loosing women and living your best life now. These types tend to attract a massive following.

And we, the theological gatekeepers, legitimately see the danger in the wholesale consumption of the tonic they’re peddling. So we speak out.

And, unsurprisingly, we’re met with objections.

“Judge not!”
“Touch not the Lord’s anointed!”
“Haters gon’ hate.”
Et cetera.

But despite the resistance, we press on. Because we know that the prosperity gospel is a false gospel, and that the preacher who is opposed to the doctrine of the Trinity is well outside the pale of orthodoxy. And because we genuinely want our brothers and sisters in Christ to know the Truth and run from the lies of the enemy.


Eventually though, we hit a wall. We realize that T. D. Jakes and Joel Osteen are going to keep pumping out the same books with new titles quarterly. We’ve said our piece, now it’s time to stop throwing pearls before swine.

But it felt good, didn’t it? It was exciting to be the one with the corrective. The one with the solution. The one doing the calling out.

Suddenly, we stumble across something new. An error. But this time, it’s not from the low hanging fruit of the Jakes’ and Osteen’s. This time it’s from a more familiar face.

The likes of Tim Keller, John Piper, et al.

And just like that, the gloves are off. That same adrenaline rush is pumping through our veins. And we type the words into our social media profile we’ve typed so many times before. This time though, it’s not about someone we see preaching a false gospel, but someone with whom we disagree on some secondary issue.

“False teacher.”

But are they? I’ve literally seen this accusation lobbed at Tim Keller because a staff member of his was a donor to the Bernie Sanders campaign. Not Tim Keller. A staff member.

A few days before that I saw the accusation that Keller is a wolf because the guy who runs Redeemer NYC’s social media has a very liberal view on homosexuality. Not Tim, but a guy who works for him.

A couple weeks before that I saw John Piper called a false prophet because he didn’t tell his congregation how to vote in regards to a same-sex marriage bill in Minnesota. The same article said he was clear in his opposition to it. He just didn’t tell his congregation how to vote.

I’ve seen Piper raked over the coals for saying things like, “Sex within marriage, for Christians, should be an act of worship. Eating pizza, for Christians, should be an act of worship.”

Here’s the bottom line. Piper, Keller, and a host of other solid brothers in Christ are frequently being identified as “dangerous” by armchair theologians across the land, and I pray that it stops. Soon. It does nothing for the spiritual growth of the Body of Christ to find the most well-known names in our streams and pretend we’re more spiritually tuned up than they. How does this display the fruit of humility?

As I’ve said before, there is a time to speak. But there are also times to remain silent. I fear too many of us theology hobbyists are doing damage to the testimony of the unity of the Saints.

If there is one true faith, one true baptism, one true Spirit (and I believe there is), then what distinguishes us from the actual wolves and false teachers ought to be our confession on the primary issue of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

These men affirm that salvation is by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone. They are genuine brothers. I have secondary differences with them as well. But if you call them false teachers you are bearing false witness, and I call you to repent.

And you know what, while we’re at it, let me just tack this on at the end. Doug Wilson is a genuine brother in Christ as well. I see probably weekly an accusation against Doug of heresy because of his adherence to Federal Vision. Here’s the problem though. Every time I ask someone to tell me specifically what it is Doug teaches that is heretical, not one of them is able to turn up a shred of evidence of any heresy.

So. To recap:
Tim Keller is a brother in Christ with whom I have secondary differences.
John Piper is a brother in Christ with whom I have secondary differences.
Doug Wilson is a brother in Christ with whom I have secondary differences.
John MacArthur…
Matt Chandler…
Etc., etc., etc.

Stop calling them false teachers. Just stop.


The list could go on, but I’ll wrap it up for now.

One thought on “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

  1. Take a step back and think about how these two things are the same, though… they both relate to identity.
    The people who are pushing back against Osteen do so because they strongly identify their faith with Reformed theology, and he doesn’t meet that standard. The people who are pushing back against Piper and do so because they strongly identify their faith with conservative republican politics, and they don’t meet that standard.
    The question then becomes, how should we define the boundaries of our faith? If someone publicly identifies as a Christian but votes Democrat or Libertarian, do we question them? If someone publicly identifies as a Christian but is not a 5 point Calvinist, do we question them? What defines the boundaries of our identity?

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