“To “walk in the light,” in the context of 1 John chapter 1, is an honest relationship with the Lord and with one another. Honesty about our sins and failings and weaknesses and shortcomings. No more sweeping anything under the rug, but stepping out from the shadows of denial and evasion and posing into the light of plain honesty. It is humbling, even painful, to face ourselves. But humbling ourselves and owning up, moment by moment, is how we live in reality with the living God.”
-Ray Ortlund, “Good Morning, Amerika”
The T4G reunion tour was back in Louisville, complete with C.J. Mahaney. The gospelly-centered celebrity leaders, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, and C.J. Mahaney make up a powerful team.
Reminiscent of the young teenage girls who caught a glimpse of the Beatles, the T4G fanboys were going ga-ga at the sight of their idols and the scent of new books! Tripping over themselves to nab a prized front row seat, any pretense of “preferring one another in love” was out the window, as were several other Christian virtues, but more of that later.
“The truest test of our faith is the way we are with each other every day. When the primacy of love is subordinated to doctrinal correctness and orthodox exegesis, cool cordiality and polite indifference masquerade as love among theologians, biblical scholars, and faculties across the land. When absolute control and rigid obedience pose as love within the family and the local faith-community, we produce trained cowards rather than Christian persons.”
-Brennan Manning, The Wisdom of Tenderness
“Doctrine is not an affair of the tongue but of the life.”
-John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
The 2016 Together For the Gospel conference has come to a close. Judging by worldly standards, it was a rousing success.
10,000 gospelly-centered men filled the KFC arena in Louisville to worship their favorite Christian celebrities, and occasionally Jesus Christ; be led in singing by Mahaney’s right-hand man, Bob Kauflin (who continues to remind us he is not a cessationist by screaming out an ill-advised YES! in the middle of a hymn), live Tweet thousands of ridiculous sound bites from their home-boys (like this pearl of wisdom from Matt Chandler – “Okay, we’ll let you live.” Paul: “Fine, to live is Christ.”), and add boatloads of books to their libraries.
No word on how much cash each of the celebrities pictured above walked away from the conference with, but I’m sure it made a nice deposit in each of their gospelly-centered bank accounts.
Following what can only be characterized as a bizarre introduction in which Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney’s $215,000 personal public relations man, attempted to justify why he and his celebrity buddies allowed Mahaney, a man credibly charged with leading a conspiracy to cover-up the sexual abuse of children in his denomination, a prominent role in the conference.
Mahaney took to the stage! He cracked open his CrosswayTM ESV Bible (available in the T4G bookstore during the break) to the book of Job. Mahaney, who fancies himself a modern-day Job, delivered the very words of God (his description of the Word preached) to his adoring fans.
My takeaway was that although covering up sexual abuse in your denomination may drive nearly half of the churches out of the denomination, thousands of members from the church, some perhaps never to return, and untold suffering for the families and victims of abuse, this all pales in comparison to what Mahaney had to endure in his season of suffering. But if one is humble enough to apply the message from Job, ultimately he will be drawn closer to the Savior and the Savior will graciously, in His kindness, restore you to the gospelly-centered celebrity club!
The T4G gospelly-centered celebrity club, in a brazenly “in-your-face” display, allowed two other top leaders from the Sovereign Grace denomination to hold out a break-out session, the purpose of which was to recruit other churches to join the Sovereign Grace Churches denomination!
Michael Newham, in his blog, Phoenix Preacher, had this succinct analysis of Mahaney being allowed to speak at the T4G conference:
Mohlers introduction wasn’t just intended to bring Mahaney to the microphone…it sent two other messages.
The first message was to the protestors outside the building and online.
That message was that these leaders do not care about either the protests or the victims they represent.
Evidently, the “tenth mark of a healthy church” is that the leaders have no conscience.
The second message was to those inside the hall…the 8000 from all over the world who came together under these leaders.
That message was that Mahaney is one of our own and you will accept him as one of your leaders.
They willingly acceded to the tyranny in hopes of being a tyrant one day themselves or lest their current tyranny be exposed and they need powerful friends.
This…is the modern template of what it means to be a “Reformed pastor”.
Richard Baxter and Jesus wept together.
This brings up an interesting point. Please watch the short video below.
The theme of the 2016 Together for the Gospel conference was “Protest.” It is not at all clear what the celebrities wanted their disciples to protest, but the speakers loosely related their message to the Protestant Reformation. Dr. Mohler covered the five “solas” thoroughly in his presentation. I personally join with Dr. Mohler in the belief that I am saved through faith alone, by grace alone, in Christ alone, yet I cannot help sensing that lost in the celebrities emphasis on correct doctrine are the resulting works which should be an evidence of ones salvation. It is easy to rail against the Roman Catholic’s works-based salvation, yet lets not forget what the Apostle James said:
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.
But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?
-James 2:14-20 NASB
Tuesday, outside of the KFC Yum! Center was a small group of protesters. This group consisted of some who had been sexually abused and some parents, former members of Mahaney’s church, whose daughter had been sexually abused.
Janet Mefferd, Christian talk-show host, posed the million-dollar question to the Christian celebrities speaking at the T4G conference:
To my knowledge, not one of the men spoke with the protestors. A few conference attendees did, but sadly, note the quote below taken from The Wartburg Watch:
Most T4G attendees didn’t pay any attention to the protesters; however, around 10 of them paused long enough to listen to the dissenters. One of those standing with the SGM victims lifted his voice and said: “We are protesting one of the main speakers. Do you want to know who?” Some standing in line had no idea. One woman in the crowd yelled: “It’s all lies!” and two young guys chanted: “We love CJ, We love CJ” as they passed by.
-The Wartburg Watch
At the top of this article are two quotes dealing with doctrine and life. Sadly, most at the T4G conference may have great doctrine, but it appears they need to be reminded of 1 John 3:18-19, “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him.”
I quoted the parable of the Good Samaritan at the top of this article. Before we go trashing the Roman Catholic Pope it may be wise to reflect on whom more closely demonstrates the heart of the Good Samaritan, the heart of Christ – the T4G celebrity Christians, or Pope Francis.
Finally, here is the voice recording and transcript of Mohler’s introduction of C.J. Mahaney. I cannot determine Mohler’s intent in making this statement. It was in very poor taste, something unbecoming the President of SBTS. I am left to wonder if perhaps the Southern Baptists are no longer drinking grape juice for communion? Was it an attempt to portray information garnered from Googling the internet as frivolous and untrue? When Mohler sarcastically stated that “I now know it to be true because I read it about C.J.” was he aware the source of the trivial information he discovered was none other than the Humble One’s own blog? As I stated earlier, the whole thing is rather bizarre, but then, so is C.J. Mahaney.
“C.J., in getting ready to introduce him, I decided I would Google to see if there was anything on the internet about him. (Laughter from the crowd.) And that’s where I discovered, having discovered this on the internet, that C.J. cheers for the Washington Redskins and the Washington Nationals, and against the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Yankees, and Duke basketball. (Cheering from the crowd.) That is a section that is entirely missing from any biographical material on me. (Laughter from the crowd.) But I now know it to be true because I read it about C.J.”
-Dr. Albert Mohler