Monday, November 17, 2014

In which my tweet about the Herald Society is vindicated

On my "to listen to occasionally" list of podcasts is Tony Miano's "Cross Encounters". I can't remember which episode it was, but some time before the November 2014 Herald Society conference, he spent some time hyping the conference and encouraging listeners to attend. My interest was piqued when he specifically stated that this year's HS conference would not feature very much street evangelism or open air preaching (OAP), but would rather focus on sermons wherein the conference attendees would sit and listen to someone talk from the stage.

This struck me as a bizarre waste of time and energy - could not sermons like these be recorded beforehand, or preached lectured at one's own church or something in some sort of collaborative effort, and later made available for download to whoever wanted them? The whole point of calling your conference the Herald Society would seem to be to get heralds together. You get however many dozens of people interested in OAP, doesn't it make a ton of sense to actually go out and herald the Gospel all over the place?

If an OAPreacher is a candle illuminating darkness within our culture, what happens when you get 50 of those candles together in one place? That much more brightness and illumination, right? So when we read things like Matthew 5...

14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

...wouldn't it be a good idea to go ahead and shine that bright light to those who are in darkness? How is it a good idea to take that light, all those OAPreachers, and hide them behind the walls of a building, using all their time to preach around 20 (probably pretty lengthy) sermons in 2 1/2 days?

So, knowing going in that Miano had set the expectations for this year's Herald Society meeting, I tweeted the following as the Herald Society was taking place:
OK, so I admit it was a bit snarky. Perhaps if I'd replaced the ! with a . it would have been a little more straight-laced, but if that's what your conference is, be proud of it. Why gripe about someone pointing out the truth about your conference? If someone had tweeted something like "Abolition Against the World For the World conference - turning Memphis right side up and yet not a single Southern Baptist elected leader in attendance", I mean, sure, that's fine. It would be a true thing to say. It would be up to the tweeter to explain why that was a bad thing.

Turns out, though, that my tweet actually did bother a couple of petulant people.
Notice here that persistent sower of division Shane Dodson links us to a picture of a couple of people doing OAP in the city of Philadelphia. Like I later tweeted, that's great! That's what I think makes the most sense when you have 50 OAPreachers in one place. I see one or two in that picture, including the one taking the picture. Where are the rest of them? More on that in a moment.
The attendee, as a reminder, being Tony Miano during his podcast some weeks before.
Here Dodson accuses me of ignorance. It's true I've not attended a HS meeting, and it's also true I have no plans ever to do so, for numerous reasons, one of which is that it looks like that when one attends a HS meeting, one sits in a pew for 8 hours a day.
But how am I speaking out of ignorance when I got my information straight from Miano, who not only was in attendance but indeed was a featured speaker? More on that in a moment as well.
Thankfully, Sye takes the time to let me know he is displeased that I say true things that he doesn't like. I guess one can draw one's own conclusions about all that. I don't think it would confirm my feelings about much of anyone if they stated the obvious about a conference I attended or spoke at.

But, lest someone think that quoting Miano from before the conference isn't necessarily the best way to go in terms of evaluating its activities, I present to you the following clip of audio from Miano's podcast from after the HS, during which he discusses with Jeff Rose, the organiser, how the conference went:

Excerpt of Tony Miano's and Jeff Rose's review of the 2014 Herald Society

In short, my tweet is vindicated as accurately representing the reality of the Herald Society conference.

A few other thoughts on what they discussed in that audio:

At the 40-second mark of this clip, Miano says it:
"We're spending little or no time out on the streets during the conference."

Like I said, it's a shame that Sye and Shane have a problem with the truth when they don't like the truth or when it is spoken by someone they don't like. Mature men tend to get over that kind of thing.

Moving on...

Rose, at the 1-min mark, says "we see public proclamation as a calling, as a specific calling..."
This "calling" business is an enormous problem that not only is squarely based on the extrabiblical traditions of man, but also causes these men to fall into hypocrisy and make incoherent claims like those found in Miano's book Should She Preach?.
One of Miano's favorite whipping boys is Bill Johnson of Bethel Church. Firmly in the current of the StrangeFire conference, Miano goes after Johnson frequently for the unbiblical, nonsensical false revivalism featuring stupidity like gold dust falling from the ceiling of the auditorium during "worship time". Due to American evangelicals' extreme lack of discernment and his resulting popularity, Johnson is an easy target. Miano's concerns are justified. The claims of divine revelation at Bethel Redding Miano and his friends rightly decry. Miano is a self-proclaimed cessationist.

Since he is a cessationist, what in the world does "calling" mean in this context? Not a single time in the entire New Testament do we see the word "calling" or anything close to it used like Miano and Rose use it here. Not a single time is the notion forwarded, as a matter of fact. What we do see in the NT are standing commands to be salt and light, to be leaven in the culture, to not hide our light under a bushel, and to go and preach the Gospel to all people and teach them to obey all that Jesus commanded. What's to stop a Christian from doing that?

As it turns out, lots of things stop Christians from doing that. One of the devil's tools is apathy. Another is the fear of man. Another is a structure that demands prospective OAPreachers jump through unbiblical hoops before the Big Man On Campus taps them on the shoulder with the Scepter of Ecclesiastical Approval and says "Thou hast been a good boy. Now mayest thou go forth with the blessings of thine elder." And the third helps keep Christians from challenging the previous two.

Amazingly, Rose specifically denies (at the 1m20s mark) that any part of the HS conference's purpose was to help people break through the fear of man. Thus he is saying that he has little or no interest during this conference of freeing people from snares.
Proverbs 29:25 - The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.

And why won't he and the other leaders of the HS conference help conference attendees break through the fear of man? Because the attendees may not be called. As a result, however many OAPreachers there were in attendance spent their time listening to talks about the Reformers and their doctrine, rather than spreading the Gospel the Reformers suffered loss to restore to wider popularity than before they lived. These "heralds" invested time listening to stories of past exploits rather than undertaking exploits themselves.

And all because they apparently think it would be a bad thing if a non-called person started proclaiming the Gospel loudly somewhere. What negative could occur in such a case? Is God upset when His Word is proclaimed by someone He didn't authorise through direct revelation to that person's church leadership? Is God's Word not powerful ex opere operato

Theology matters, and so does consistency. These men are charismatics, just a different kind of charismatic than Bill Johnson, but like Johnson, their charismatic theology leads them into hypocrisy and actually acting in ways that are detrimental to the spiritual growth of people who are unwise enough to allow them any significant influence in their lives.

2m50 mark - God saves people thru the proclamation of the Gospel.
---So why aren't these heralds proclaiming the Gospel in such a way as to maximise impact and visibility?
---So why do they limit those who are allowed to proclaim it to those who have "the calling"?

5m mark - critiquing those who engage in unbiblical user-friendly means to "bring people to Jesus".
---Yet what do they expect? They don't set an example. They get a bunch of OA preachers together and then don't go OAP. And they teach that charismatic revelation is unbiblical and rip into Bill Johnson and Todd Bentley. And then they tell a bunch of other people that unless they get direct revelation from God in the form of sensing the "calling to OAP", they don't get to OAP. What a mishmash.

6m50s mark - the Word of God has all the justification we need to stand atop a box... to publicly proclaim the Gospel.
If you're called.

7m mark - When you have to walk into a church and apologise before you tell people what you do, there's a problem.

You mean like if a woman OAP?
Or if a non-called person OAP?
Or if a man whose church leadership has sinfully restricted from OAP?

All that to say, I level this criticism against men who ought to care what the Word of God says, especially because they claim to be Sola Scripturists. In light of that, let them take these words as wounds from a friend, trust them once they examine them in light of Scripture and find them to be true, and adjust their behavior and words accordingly, for the glory of God.


Anonymous said...

This post is pretty darn spot on. While I don't have an issue with people going to an OA conference or any conference and just sitting and listening and absorbing in the wisdom and experienced of seasoned practitioners, I do have an issue with much of the whole Open Air Mystique that people like Miano and Dodson adhere to. You're right that in many ways it's not sola scripture. The Roman Catholic Church have their "three-legged stool" of authority- The Bible, Church Father Traditions, and the Magesterium" These guys have their own three legged stool- the Bible, their personal Preferences/Traditions, and their Local Church Elder Magesterium". Its where all this sub-biblical/un-biblical/a-biblical stuff comes from, where they elevate preference to final authority. Ultimately it boils down to a schismatic ecclesiology which is far too over-developed and which weakens everything it touches.

-Dustin Germain-

Rhology said...

Yeah. I'd add that it's one thing to listen to an experienced OAPer talk about OAPing, and then quite another to go out and watch him do it, then do it yourself and have him critique you. Learn by doing, rather than by listening.
You obey by obeying.