Monday, April 29, 2013

When "last word" doesn't mean anything

Pastor Jon Speed and Marcus Pittman of Babies Are Murdered Here made a video last month about Abolish Human Abortion.
There are many pieces of material in the video that are false and easily refuted, but we have wanted  to carefully prepare a substantive response, so it is taking a little longer than we hoped. We have only one full time abolitionist to BAMH's at least 2 full timers, after all, and quite a few other full time evangelists team up with BAMH.

However, I post this brief clip of the full-form video, starting at the 12:35 mark or so, to show Pastor Speed's hypocrisy.

First, the clip that is most relevant for our purposes today:

Note his words about no matter what response AHA should make.
Note also that this video was posted 27 March 2013.

And now, I present to you, dear reader, some obvious counter-examples.

(Link, screenshot captured 29 April 2013. 29 April 2013 comes after 27 March 2013 on the calendar.)

 (Link, captured 29 April 2013) Note the other abolitionist who noticed BAMH's hypocrisy.

Captured 05 April 2013.

Another thread, 31 March 2013.

Some other passive-aggressive status updates and such that obviously are aimed at AHA:

"...with nobody in command" (screenshot)
Almost two weeks after (screenshot)

Judge for yourself who is being honest here.

Ready, fire, aim

Michael Coughlin has written an ill-conceived hit piece on abolitionists, and one of his comments was so ludicrous that I had to comment.
I don't know whether he will publish the comment, but I figured I'd save it for posterity and publish it here just in case.


Maybe if AHA spent as much time protesting idolatry instead of attacking the brethren

1) This is a hypocritical statement, sir. Unless you believe we are unregenerate, then you have also offered a criticism of brethren. By your own standards, you have "attacked the brethren".
If your reply appeals to the basic concept of "Wounds from a friend can be trusted", then why didn't you consider that's precisely what we are doing? How is it that criticism has suddenly been equated to "attack" in these sorts of interactions. It makes no sense.
Are you "attacking" the lost when you do street preaching? Of course not. Be consistent.

2) You did not inform yourself before writing this article, and so your criticism is actually much closer to an attack than what we do or intend to do. We don't pull the trigger until we know whereof we speak. You could learn from us in this.
I'm asking you to acknowledge that you spoke rashly without knowledge, and that you will pray for God's grace to be slower to speak and quicker to listen in the future.

3) Protesting idolatry? Just what do you think abortion is. and what is its source, if not idolatry?

4) Here, read this, please.
What you should have done is asked us about this before speaking.

5) If by "protesting idolatry" you mean speaking out against the errors of Rome, we have done that many, many times.

6) However, Romanism has not resulted in the deaths of 55 million innocent people in this country in the last 40 years. 
Historically speaking, for all of Rome's evil activities and persecutions, I doubt one could plausibly lay 55 million deaths at her doorstep since the first uppity thought occurred to a bishop of Rome. 55 million is A LOT.
And what's more, Rome has put the evangelical church to shame with her pro-life work over 40 years.
Yes, Rome is evil. Yes, Rome preaches a false Gospel. But there are worse things, such as a sin-addicted culture that rejects the Gospel outright and murders children left and right.

we’d believe AHA was really trying to be Christian

Oh, I get it. Our engaging in public criticism of a church about which you know basically nothing for reasons about which you know basically nothing is enough to cast doubt in your minds as to whether we're Christians, despite all we've said and done, all the times we've preached the Gospel and refused to secularise our message.
In that case, sir, we are not at all interested in what you think about us. You should repent, however, of this wicked way of thinking about brethren. It is entirely unbecoming.

Grace, peace, and clearer thinking to you,

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

9Marks on Parachurch Ministries: A Review

I was invited to read this here article from 9Marks, ordinarily a ministry I hold in high regard, about parachurch ministries. Once I'd read about half, I decided a note-taking walkthrough would be more beneficial than a mere reading, and once I had reached the end I realised just how problematic the entire piece was.

The article gets off to a pretty bad start:
From Joel Osteen to John Piper, from Creflo Dollar to Tim Keller, from Joyce Meyer to John MacArthur, it’s difficult to find Christian leaders who don’t lead a parachurch ministry.

Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, and Creflo Dollar? These are not Christian leaders. They are not even Christians. So much for discernment.

No Scriptural commands. This is just his own opinion.
It exists primarily to protect the church.

1) Says who?
2) What does "protect" mean?
3) The church needs protection?

The church has a unique and high ministerial calling that stands above all others: the right teaching and preaching of the Word.

That is not all the church is called to do. The church is commanded to make disciples of all nations, baptising them, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded. Teaching and preaching the Word is necessary and awesome, but to say it's "above all others" requires argument, which he didn't give.

A good biblical model for parachurch ministries is found in Acts 6

1) This is again a mere assertion, not an argument.
2) Nothing says that this was a parachurch thing. The church is supposed to provide for widows (cf James 1:27, 1 Timothy 5:9-16). This was a church thing.

And so, it appears that what would become the church’s office of deacon was established to protect the primary ministry of the church, that is, the ministry of the Word.

He arrives at his conclusion via an unwarranted jump.
The primary ministry of *the apostles* was the ministry of the Word, sure. But the church is not the same thing as the apostles, and neither are modern elders.

Not all gatherings of Christians are “church.”

Here is where the article's assumed and problematic jumps back and forth between Visible Local Church (hereafter, VLC) and Invisible Universal Church (IUC) commence.
So, if he means that not all gatherings of Christians constitute a VLC, agreed.


A healthy parachurch ministry avoids acting like the church.

It *is* supposed to act like the IUC.
There are certain things non-VLC entities shouldn't normally do that VLCs do, certainly, such as establish elders.
But what about the other things he mentioned that VLCs do?

--commit themselves to each other
IUC is supposed to be committed to each other, to love each other, etc. We are supposed to love the brethren. Look at the way the churches participated in Acts, the way the churches accepted Paul in the various epistles like Philippians and Philemon.

--gather regularly
"Parachurch ministries" can do this.

--teach the Word
"Parachurch ministries" can do this.

--celebrate communion
To be honest, I have always taken it as a given that the Lord's Table should be celebrated among VLC, and that does seem to be the actual practice of the earliest church in Acts.
Acts 2:42They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts 2:46Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
And of course, 1 Corinthians 11:17-33.

If communion is not to be closed, however, it is open to not-strictly the people of the VLC on any given day; rather members of the IUC can partake as well.

--baptise converts
Like Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch? Or Philip in Samaria? That guy was just a crazy renegade! He should have been disciplined for his impudence, daring to take it upon himself to baptise people who were getting saved.

Or like Luke 9:
49John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us.” 50But Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.”

--discipline their members
It's true that there are specific instructions in the NT for expelling persons from a VLC for specific reasons.
But here are a few things to think about:
1) If someone is excommunicated for good reason from a solid VLC, should I as a member of a different VLC just ignore their excommunication? Isn't that part of the point behind the SBC's "letters of __ standing", sent from one church to the church a particular person is applying to join?
2) Are the following Scriptures only directed at people who were within the walls of the one particular VLC and were excommunicated?
2 Tim 3:1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
Sentiments such as Psalm 101:7He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house; He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me.
Is it totally OK for me to accept a Titus 3:10 person into my church, given how they acted before?
10Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.

A "parachurch org" can just as easily create a code of conduct modeled after Scripture as a VLC can create a confession/bylaws/constitution. And a "parachurch org" can fail to do so just as easily as VLCs can and do.

--establish a biblical structure of leadership

If Acts 6 is an example of a parachurch org, then this can be done as well, since one could be at least forgiven for thinking the biblical structure of leadership would presumably be the way the Acts 6 parachurch org was set up.

--pray and give together

Parachurch orgs can do that just as well as VLCs can. Why? Because they're supposed to be populated by members of the IUC.

So, it turns out that there is not really a whole lot of difference here. Sure, a VLC is distinct from not-a-VLC, but not all not-a-VLCs are created equal.

parachurch leaders will tell “the Church” what “the Church” needs to do. They will advise it to partner with become more relevant,

These would be poor examples of telling a VLC what to do. But there are other ways that VLCs get stuff wrong. For example, numerous of them DO partner with Romanists, and numerous of them ARE becoming more "relevant" in a bad way. It is a good thing for them, a helpful and loving thing, to offer correctives and admonish them.

Would this author contend that, say, Pirate Christian Radio, CARM, or Grace To You (if you doubt GTY's status as a parachurch org, why was John MacArthur mentioned in the opening paragraph?) are therefore exhibiting signs of poor health, because they tell VLCs not to partner with Romanists and not to give in to passing fads of "relevance"? These are parachurch orgs, after all, admonishing VLCs of which they are not a part.

(1) Christ loves the Church. (2) This love for the Church expresses itself in a concern for her purity and faithfulness. (3) Lack of purity and faithfulness are met, in the example of Rev. 2-3, with letters of reproof and exhortation. (4) We also have the mind of Christ. (5) Therefore, if we love the Church as we ought, we will also be concerned with her purity and faithfulness, and speak up to exhort and reprove our fellow brothers and sisters as need arises.

to patch holes in the gospel by caring for the poor

I am unsure what this statement means, but it does not bode well for the strength of this author's overall powers of discernment.

But if this inclination is not tempered by a clear understanding of the differences between church and parachurch, these well-meaning church members will pressure the church to look and act like a parachurch ministry.

This sentence circles back on the rest of the article, like a snake swallowing its own tail. The proper differences haven't been substantiated or laid out in Scripture yet.

Parachurch ministries often have the luxury of ignoring secondary doctrines.

VLCs often do too. Not all VLCs have extensively detailed confessions of faith to which they subscribe, if not slavishly, quite strictly. A significant number of VLCs in America don't have much of a confession at all, don't require any sort of explicit assent to it if they do, don't take action if a member, say, blogs or Facebooks things contrary to that confession or even teaches those things in Sunday School or small group, and wouldn't have the cojones to initiate church discipline toward such a person in any case.
What's the difference again?

I didn’t care that much about the mode of someone’s baptism when I was in a parachurch ministry.

The author might have been in the wrong parachurch org.
Perhaps he'd like to direct his criticism at Dr James White and Alpha & Omega Ministries, for allowing real live pædobaptists like James Swan and TurretinFan to post on his blog and even occasionally sit in for him during his Dividing Line broadcasts.
There are also VLCs in this world that allow for membership to both credobaptists and pædobaptists. I am friends with a man in South Africa who attended just such a church for years.

But a healthy parachurch ministry should avoid pressuring a church to dismiss church doctrine that may not have much meaning in a parachurch context, but which has a real impact on the health of the church.

The author needs to flesh this out more. To what is he referring? How would such things deleteriously affect the health of the church? Does criticism create a negative impact on church health? How so?
The leaps he is making are severe.

MARK 5: No argument here.
Let us note, however, that where the "rocks of history are strewn with the shipwrecks of parachurch ministries", those same rocks boast the corpses of many, many VLCs as well, probably more than "parachurch orgs".
We *all* need to heed the warnings of Scripture. It is possible for a VLC to lose her lampstand. It is possible for a presumed member of the IUC to be a false convert, or a hidden reef, a concealed antichrist.
2 Corinthians 13:5 applies to all professing Christians, not just those who don't happen to be meeting with their VLC at the time or who do things with other Christians outside their VLC.

MARK 6: No argument here.
Again, though, the same things can be said of VLCs. There are VLCs in the world that boast tens of thousands of members, and "parachurch orgs" that have a handful.
The danger of pragmatism is that we can begin to trust in skill, techniques, or programs more than we trust in the Spirit’s work or in the clear commands of Scripture.

Has the author been paying attention to recent patterns and issues within the Southern Baptist Convention at all?

MARK 7: No argument here.
Again, though, the same things can be said of VLCs. There are VLCs in the world that boast annual budgets worth $tens of millions, and "parachurch orgs" that have $a few dozen to their name.

I was speaking to a friend about her move to the head office of a large parachurch organization. She said that,as she began to get to know the office culture, she made two lists of people in the office: one list of those who were godly, and another list of those who were in power. And she said—tellingly—that they were different lists.

Replace "parachurch organization" with "VLC" here, and is it any less credible an account?

Nothing so endangers the health of a parachurch ministry than suppressing discussions about gospel faithfulness out of fears that it might hurt the donor base.

It may surprise the author to know that we abolitionists are familiar with some VLCs that suppress discussion about Gospel faithfulness out of fears that it might hurt the donor base.

MARK 8: More of the same.
One of the best reasons for a parachurch ministry to exist is to bring people together who are passionately committed to the gospel but who might not agree on every secondary doctrine.

One of the best reasons for a VLC to exist is to bring people together who are passionately committed to the gospel but who might not agree on every secondary doctrine.

To be healthy, all parachurch ministries must maintain a deep commitment to the core of Christianity—the gospel—no matter what else they do. Beware of any parachurch organization that does not hold to the gospel with a firm grip.

To be healthy, all VLCs must maintain a deep commitment to the core of Christianity—the gospel—no matter what else they do. Beware of any VLC that does not hold to the gospel with a firm grip.

Most parachurch ministries have a doctrinal confession that clearly articulates the gospel. But does it matter? Is it relevant on a day-to-day basis?...There is almost nothing more corrosive to a parachurch ministry than a doctrinal statement that has become irrelevant.

Most VLCs have a doctrinal confession that clearly articulates the gospel. But does it matter? Is it relevant on a day-to-day basis?
There is almost nothing more corrosive to a VLC than a doctrinal statement that has become irrelevant.

But here is a way for parachurch ministries to be protected by the church: if more parachurch ministries sought accountability relationships from a church, both for individuals and for the organization as a whole, they would find themselves protected from the dangers implicit in marks 2 through 8.

So if a VLC is empowered and asked to hold a parachurch org accountable, that's great and welcome.
But is it "not protecting" the church if the reverse should hold?
Are wounds from a friend trusted or despised (Proverbs 27:6)?

A healthy parachurch ministry needs transparent and honest relationships with evangelical churches,and should invite critique from those churches.

But healthy VLCs don't need transparent and honest relationships with other evangelical VLCs, and should not invite critique from those churches?

Parachurch organizations are not above reproach. Defensive postures on the part of parachurch ministries are indications of illness.

VLCs are not above reproach. Defensive postures on the part of VLCs are indications of illness.

Parachurch organizations would gain much from submitting, as an organization, to the leaders of healthy gospel-centered churches.

This is of course true, but it's almost tautological. Of course Christians are to submit to each other in love, and supposed to admonish each other in love.
And all members of the IUC are supposed to be members of a VLC, and each VLC is supposed to have biblical leadership, in normal circumstances and when possible. Again, the author isn't saying anything to set parachurch orgs apart.


But we should never forget that his chosen method for the expansion of the kingdom is his church.

Yes, the IUC. Plenty of VLCs have fallen by the wayside (such as all 7 from Revelation 1-3) and many more will follow them. Yet members of the IUC do all sorts of things for the kingdom of God. Where is the biblical injunction to restrict all activities for the kingdom of God to the VLC? The author hasn't provided one. In fact, he barely touched Scripture at all during his article.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Witnesses to three murders

An Apology to the Atheist Hub

The Atheist Hub and the Therefore God show invited me on to their program to talk about abortion, their interest evidently piqued somewhat by the comment box debate EssenceOfThought and I had over at my most recent video offering.

We worked out the details of the show, and the program (I guess they actually do it live via Google Hangout) was going to take place this Saturday afternoon Central time. I initially agreed to do it but then upon trying to work out the details of where I would be and all that, given my plans with my family this weekend, I realised that I would not be able to devote the necessary time to sitting in front of my laptop.

I have posted an apology publicly and have privately addressed my apologies to the Atheist Hub, and I would like this also to stand. They did not mistreat me in any way. The cancellation is on me.

I hope we can reconnect some time in the near future. I regret this, as it would have been an enjoyable time, I am sure. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why wait?

So a convicted rapist of a 13 year old girl in Oklahoma is threatening suicide if the state doesn't pay for sex-change therapy.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out of this life, buddy.

I mean, he wasn't even smart enough to molest a child in California. He'd have gotten his sex change, no muss, no fuss. Location, location, location.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

On Ed Dingess and covering for apathy

Dr Ed Dingess has replied to our rebuttal of his original critique of our position. Let's analyse together his reply.

(FYI: It appears that he only remembered he was talking to AHA and not Triablogue halfway through the composition of his article.)

Dr Dingess begins with his opinion "that abortion is murder and should never be considered a viable option to manage an unwanted pregnancy". Good, we can agree on that. One of the themes that we will see emerge in our analysis will be: What is the Christian to do about the fact that we agree that abortion is murder, and that abortion is widespread and has happened 55+ million times in 45 years?
Is God pleased with empty words, or convictions held forth and confirmed in action?

Dr Dingess helpfully gives us the entire premise of his argument, namely:
The entire premise of my argument is really quite simple: it is not the place of the Church to abolition (sic) human abortion in our society. The Church, believe it or not, has a higher calling. She is charged with preaching the gospel, baptizing those whom God converts, and turning those converts into disciples.

We appreciate Dr Dingess' clarity of expression here, but we disagree significantly for the reasons stated in our previous article. Dr Dingess apparently holds that discipleship of believers, teaching them to obey ALL that Christ commanded, is not accomplished in the context of performing good works of love, protection, assistance, agitation, etc. Not to put words in Dr Dingess' mouth, but if training in good works aren't included in discipleship, would be propose restricting such discipleship to the consumption of theological treatises and Bible studies?

Yet what does the Scripture say about that?
Titus 2:14 - who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Ephesians 2:8-10 - For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

James 1:27 - Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

And, with tongue half-in-cheek:
Ecclesiastes 2:12 - But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.
(Abolitionists love books; don't get us wrong.)

She extols Christ’s values before the world community.

Not by hanging out behind her walls. Nor by restricting herself to preaching the Gospel. We are commanded by the Lord Jesus and the rest of the Scripture to do ALL that He commanded, to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Dr Dingess seems to be operating under the mistaken belief that preaching the Gospel and zeal for good works are mutually exclusive. They are not. Abolitionists' daily work is living proof thereof. Come to think of it, so was Jesus' own earthly ministry.
Matthew 4:23 - Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.

the Church is not an institution that should focus her time and attention on social transformation or political reform.

Dr Dingess' mistake here is to play with words, such that "love of neighbor" is arbitrarily transmogrified into "social transformation or political reform". Loving one's neighbor is not primarily either of those things.
If, however, the society and the current political zeitgeist entirely accepts the systematic murder of preborn (or Jews, or "Negroes", or the elderly, or disabled), then we are against the world, for the world. If our task of loving neighbor brings us into conflict with the world system, is that not the example of the Lord Jesus and His apostles?
Is Dr Dingess attempting to insulate himself behind a cloak of piety and religious language from the needs of his preborn neighbors? There is no way to know, but this would certainly be a convenient excuse for inaction.
And that's a problem, for the lazy and unregenerate false brother could easily grab onto this type of argument to ward off conviction of sin. It's actually dangerous for everyone's soul. It is one step away from antinomianism and covers for the false convert, which is bad both for the false convert and the church of which he may be a member.

It is likely that if we in the Church did a better job turning converts into disciples, we would have fewer John Wayne Christians running around rebuking pastors and elders for not getting on board with their personal agendas and pet projects.

This is no doubt true, though if Dr Dingess is implying that abolition is a "personal agenda", which is unclear, he needs to argue against what we have contended already.
We would also no doubt have fewer elders and pastors (and members) who waste time and resources doing things the Lord has not commanded while neglecting the weightier matters of the law of God.


The author fails to recognize that a necessary connection between the church and AHA would equate to a divine imperative to adopt the views and practices of AHA.

Rather, Dr Dingess has confused abolition, the ideology and the God-ordained responsibility of His people, with naming the name of "abolitionist" or "Abolish Human Abortion". We don't care a whit if anyone ever uses our symbol, calls himself an abolitionist, or ever talks to us.
Philippians 1:15-18 - Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.

Not that abolition is identical to preaching Christ (rather, it is simultaneous and alongside). Abolition is commanded by God, and "go forth and make disciples" is commanded by God. Both are law. What we mean is that we want people to obey Jesus, not be part of a clique.
It is certainly true that "AHA is not a necessary part of the Church of Jesus Christ." Abolition is, though.

The Church can legitimately exist as the Church without complying with and adhering to the views and practices of AHA.

This is one of the central points in this dispute.
Dr Dingess capitalised "Church", which leads us to believe that he refers to the invisible church, the universal group of people who belong to Jesus, who have been born again, and redeemed. There are no unbelievers in the invisible church.
Each visible local church will probably contain both unregenerate people as well as members of the invisible church.

But the problem here is identifying who is in The Church and who is not.
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

There are false converts out there. They do not love the law of God, nor the Gospel. They merely pretend, yet they can be part of a given local visible church.
If someone does not love one's neighbor, is his faith not dead, a mere shadow of what it ought to be, and false?
James 2:14-17 - What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

This is nothing new. No one should be assured that he will find himself admitted into Heaven at the end of his life if he refuses to help love his neighbor who is in need when asked to, when reproved for his inaction, for his immunity to reproof and instruction in the Scripture displays a heart of unbelief.
Who is in need more than the preborn child, of whom 55 million have been murdered in this country alone? We asked Dr Dingess that question last time, but we don't see an answer so far.

That insistence, which shows up throughout the website is without merit. In short this method of reasoning is related to the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

Dr Dingess is a bit confused here. One can't help but wonder if he wanted to adorn his poor argument here with some Latin dressing.

There are a variety of ways to oppose abortion and to love unborn children.

Dr Dingess is too ignorant of AHA to know that we have been saying that from the very beginning.

It illegitimately applies the command to love one’s neighbor to the unborn and it also equivocates on what it means to love.

This statement literally caused us to laugh out loud the first time we saw it.
So, Dr Dingess really thinks that saving preborn children from murder "equivocates on what it means to love"? Perhaps Dr Dingess would prefer a 21-gun salute to show posthumous tribute to the dead? Yet what good would that do anyone?
Would Dr Dingess really argue that the preborn are not our neighbors? Yet he thinks abortion is murder. He can't hold to both; he must choose.

This argument involves argumentum ad verecundiam, or an appeal to inappropriate authority.

More Latin dressing. Simply read back and see whether we appealed to Wilberforce or Garrison as authorities. Rather, we reminded the reader of their lives' work as examples of which we ought to be thankful.

It also begs the question on the issue of slavery assuming biblical condemnation of the practice without showing any concern for the need to prove that thesis.

So Dr Dingess believes that antebellum American slavery may have been justified.

Where is the exegetical support that teaches us that all slavery is a sin?

Two responses:
1) We don't need to show that all slavery is a sin. We'd just need to show that antebellum American slavery was, for our point to stand.
2) Even if slavery weren't a sin, it is far from the ideal. We can be thankful for these men's work even if they merely spent their lives trying to move our society from the acceptable to the better.

Otherwise, those who issue the mandates are guilty of asserting “thus says the Lord God,” when the Lord God has not said!

The Lord God has most certainly said that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.


The attitude in the author’s argument demonstrates a seriously defective ecclesiology.

To paraphrase Dr Dingess here: I am also requesting exegetical proofs that such a contention is true. I do not approve of defective ecclesiology. But that is not the point. My reasons for disapproval are apparently far from those of Dr Dingess. If anyone will lay mandates on the Church, I am well with my rights to demand that all such mandates be shown to be the product of sound exegetical practice. Otherwise, those who issue the mandates are guilty of asserting “thus says the Lord God,” when the Lord God has not said! And this, indeed, is a most serious issue, far more than many in the modern American watered-down Christianity realize.

Christ authorizes ministry through His Church and only through His Church.

See here and here, please.

In addition, these cowboy Christians as they are so prone to do, due to their personality, will often turn around and make demands of the Church and her pastors and elders, accusing them of apathy, being misguided, not caring, in need of revival, etc.

Is the accusation the problem? Or is Dr Dingess pre-emptively saying that it is not true, by and large?

the men who are supposed to be their leaders will often find themselves the target of criticism

Are church leaders above criticism?

much of it from a distinctly uneducated vantage point

Is not Dr Dingess expressing his prejudice rather than examining us as in specific?
These are great warnings to heed. Sure, let's avoid these practices. But where is Dr Dingess' evidence that such is true of AHA?

All leaders and ministries must come under the authority and guidance of God’s ordained leaders, under the Church.

Where is Dr Dingess' Scriptural evidence that this is true?


if AHA is a ministry of God, then darkness has no place in it. And if AHA permits the ungodly and the deceived to partake of Christian ministry, that is a entirely different problem deserving more serious attention.

If Dr Dingess' local church is a ministry of God, then darkness has no place in it. And if his local church permits the ungodly and the deceived to partake of Christian ministry, that is a entirely different problem deserving more serious attention.

Of course, we agree. Yet no one is omniscient. God brings such things to light in the times He chooses. Sometimes false brethren hang out for a long time among the true brethren. May the Lord be merciful to all gatherings of His people to correctly distinguish!

In addition, there is the question of females preaching at abortion clinics as well.

We admit to disagreeing that the outside of an abortion clinic is actually a church.

This is precisely why submission and supervision by pastors and elders is indispensable.

Because pastors and elders would tell us that the outside of an abortion clinic is a church and therefore our women should be silent there?
What room does Dr Dingess' position have for the obvious, that pastors and elders are themselves fallible men and sometimes get things wrong, that we are to test everything in light of Scripture, and that authority is no replacement for truth?


if you don’t do it our way you don’t care, or more subtly, you don’t care like we do if you are doing it differently than we are. We are setting the standards!

We are glad to report that Dr Dingess has misread us. The problem is not that some people prefer to staff a Crisis Pregnancy Center when they could otherwise spend that time preaching outside abortuaries.
The problem is that far too many don't actually do anything.

When you add to this equation the fact that we cannot find a local body of elders and pastors who are actually the spiritual supervisors and leaders of this coalition

If you think about it, it would be strange to insist that a member of the Abolitionist Society of Memphis be subject in some way to elders he doesn't know at a church he's never visited. Each abolitionist is to be subject to his/her own elders, because abolitionists are to be Christians, and Christians are to follow what the Scripture commands.

Who authorized these men to engage in the kind of correction and rebuke of the Church they put forth?

(By the way, what rebuke of the Church is he talking about?)

Can anyone who wants to just decide that “THIS ISSUE” is the most important issue and then proceed to claim it is God’s work

We don't have to "just decide" it. It's not based on our claim. It's what the Word of God clearly says.

If AHA is correct, and you must do as they do and think as they think in order to obey the second commandment


And we also confess there is more than one way to oppose abortion and demonstrate we care about this very important issue.

Yes, we all agree about this.
However, how does this match what Dr Dingess has said above, about how "the Church is not an institution that should focus her time and attention on social transformation or political reform"?
He can't have it both ways. But he has multiplied confusion for his readers by not taking the time to figure out what we are actually saying.

it is highly inappropriate for AHA to assert that it is a divine command and to use pressure and manipulation to intimidate others to get on board or else.

This sort of hyperbolic panic language is actually sort of humorous.
"Pressure and manipulation"? Like what? Does Dr Dingess have some sort of evidence that we have engaged in blackmail or threats to enforce compliance with abolition?
"Intimidate"? By making rational arguments (both written and spoken) and posters that speak persuasively to both the mind and heart?
"Or else"? Again, whom have we threatened? What is Dr Dingess even talking about?


Why is it that every time an evil grabs our attention, the first thing some men do is indict the Church?

As it happens, if Dr Dingess had checked, for example, the archives of our blog from the beginning, he'd see that's not what we started with at all.

Why is it the Church's fault that women are killing their babies?

This question is poorly phrased. Rather, we should be asking (and do ask): What does Christianity look like in a culture that murders its children?
Shall we obey Jesus or not?
One of the problems (far from the only problem) we are pointing out is that far too many in the visible church actually do nothing.

Did not Christ warn us that the world would get worse, that wickedness would grow worse, and that the world would hate us?

We asked Dr Dingess this before, and he did not reply, so we ask again: Shall we then do nothing in the face of evil?
No, rather, the Lord has commanded us to work to effect abolition. If He chooses to use us to accomplish it, glory be to His name, for He is worthy.
If He chooses to use us up in that way and yet we fail in the attempt, glory be to His name, for He is worthy.

This we know: The Lord has redeemed us. We can do no less.

Friday, April 05, 2013

What I did today over lunch

We all have our parts to play in effecting abolition. What can you do today?

(Playlist found here.)